THE MAN IN STRIPES – As a person who has covered athletic events as a journalist for many years and who has even served as a game official in both basketball and football in my younger years, I have a great appreciation for the men and women who officiate our local athletic contests. 
I reminded myself of this when I learned of the death last week of longtime Jackson resident and high school sports official Richard (Dick) Doty. Doty was also known for his previous work at the Jackson OSCO Plant where he was employed as a pattern engineer, but many more local athletes, coaches and fans likely knew him for his longtime role as a high school sports official.
Sports officials must know all the rules of the game, be physically able to keep up with the kids playing the game, be able to make snap decisions in real time (without the benefit of instant replay), have the thickest of all skins, and understand that you will receive far more criticism than appreciation. It takes a special type of person to do all this, and that’s why there’s a general shortage of people willing to do this for any appreciable length of time.
Well, longtime Jackson resident Richard (Dick) Doty was willing to work as a sports official, and he did it for an amazing 50 years and more than that, he was truly a man for all seasons -- football in the fall, basketball in the winter and baseball in the spring. He officiated all around the area, but was also a familiar figure in all three Jackson County school districts. Appropriately, he was inducted into the Ohio High School Athletic Association Officials Hall of Fame in 2004, but he kept officiating until just very recently. For him, it was a calling and a labor of love and it truly constituted a meaningful -- albeit overlooked -- contribution to high school athletics.
Doty’s calling hours and funeral were held in Jackson and he was buried in his native Scioto County alongside his late wife, Yvetta, who was a teacher at Jackson High School. Those who wish to honor Dick’s memory are asked to make memorial donations to the Jackson High School Athletic Department, Attn.: Pat Stevens, 500 Vaughn St., Jackson, OH 45640, with checks payable to: Jackson City Schools/Memo-Doty Memorial.
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OTHER COMMUNITY CONNECTIONS – 
* Jackson High School graduate Paul Bowman, who is a current member of the Ohio State University Marching Band, had the honor of being a featured twirler during the band’s performance at the Ohio State-Maryland basketball game this past Friday night.
* Congratulations to Nathan Vernon of Oak Hill High School and Kristen Johnson of Wellston High School for qualifying this past weekend for the Ohio State University Honors Band. Both were among the high school bandsmen who performed in a concert in Columbus on Sunday afternoon.
* Jefferson Howe American Legion Post 81 Vice Commander Len Longo proved himself to be an outstanding chef when he prepared the spaghetti for a spaghetti dinner fundraiser conducted last Saturday evening at the Fellowship Hall of the Christ United Methodist Church of Jackson. Among the discerning but appreciative diners were Mike and Becky Gambino, who prepare the delicious spaghetti dinners served annually by the Jackson Area Kiwanis Club.
* Don’t forget that the annual Amy Duggan Memorial Classic will be conducted this Sunday afternoon, Jan. 27 at Jackson’s Northview Elementary School. The fundraising basketball game and auction to benefit Hope Haven’s Special Olympics program and other school programs was postponed from last Sunday due to the winter storm. Patrick Ball is always one of the stalwarts of the event as he not only donates his auctioneering services, but also serves as the public-address announcer and play-by-play commentator. The Playground Legends will once again try to end their long losing streak against the Hope Haven Trotters, but the feel-good points from participating in or supporting this event are always worth more than the points on the scoreboard.
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That’s About It… Be Seeing You.