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Recently announced Nappanee, Indiana, Citizen Of The Year, Ola Yoder stunned the harness racing world with a significant investment buying five sensational broodmares for $690,000 at the recent White Birch Farm dispersal sale held at Harrisburg in November. Ola Yoder turned to standardbreds recently when he took a shot buying Enterprise, a Chapter Seven stallion who won an elimination of the Hambletonian in 2017 and shipped to Sweden for racing the year after. Enterprise since has served well over 100 mares in 2019 at Dublin Valley Farms in Ohio. "I'm retiring from my business a Cabinet Company called Kountry Wood Products" Ola says in an interview on Harness Racing Update. Yoder has a simple game plan investing in standardbreds to sell high-priced, well-bred yearlings in the future feature sales, Lexington and Harrisburg. That is what Ola Yoder wants to achieve. The mares from the White Birch Farm dispersal that Ola bought were; Dragon's Tale - Dam of Workin Ona Mystery and in foal to Captaintreacherous Please Beehave  a Muscle Hill sister to Bee A Magician and in foal to Chapter Seven Belclare  dam of Captain Victorious and in foal to Captaintreacherous World Of Rock a sister to Worldly Beauty and in foal to Captaintreacherous Western Silk (Open) has a 1:49 record with over $1.6m in earnings. Since purchasing these mares in November, Ola Yoder again invested when the opportunity came, just announced last week, this time privately buying the Breeders Crown three-year-old Trotting Champion filly of 2019, Winndevie. Winndevie seen here winning The 2019 Breeders Crown (New Image Media Photo) Winndevie was one of North America’s leading three-year-old filly trotters in 2019 (by Credit Winner), whose late-charging success in the $655,000 Breeders Crown in a lifetime best 1:53 at Mohawk, was her crowning achievement in a glittering career.  To read the recent article on the impact of Ola Yoder and his purchase of Winndevie click on this link. Ola Yoder is our "Rookie Of The Year" in harness racing by making a significant investment in the future of the State of Ohio's standardbred breeding Industry. ...................................................................... Here is some background about Ola Yoder and his Company found on Buzz File; Kountry Wood Products is located in Nappanee, Indiana. This organization primarily operates in the Wood Kitchen Cabinets business / industry within the Lumber and Wood Products, Except Furniture sector. This organization has been operating for approximately 21 years and employs approximately 210 people at this headquarters location and 425 total employees across all locations producing some 1.4 million Cabinets annually. This organization is engaged in manufacturing activities at this facility. Harnesslink Media ...................................................... Below is truly an inspiring story about Ola Yoder, his life and his Faith The visitation room at the correctional facility looked like an elementary school cafeteria that hadn’t been updated since 1974. The walls were taupe but for two bold roller-rink stripes of maroon and blue. The tiled floor was patterned to make the room feel busier than it already was. Vinyl furniture was arranged around the room, creating faux privacy for families and loved ones. If not for the heavyset guards at the north end of the room and the steel-reinforced, bullet-proof Plexiglas, you might feel like you were at a support group meeting in a church basement as much as a prison visitation room Ola Yoder sat in the middle of the room and stood out. Crisp white short-sleeve button-down shirt tucked into black flat-front dress pants. Work-scuffed black dress shoes with black suspenders. This was Ola’s uniform. Work, leisure, meetings, Sunday church, family gatherings, prison visits. A uniform style of dress that discourages physical appearance as a source of pride, Ola and his religious community had learned that simplicity reflects universal values of humility and modesty. His Shenandoah beard and solemn gaze gave away his faith. But Ola never concerned himself much with what others think of him. He sat across from Eli Weaver with an open mind and a full heart. As he had done countless times before, Ola sought to comfort Eli and to understand what he had done. This was Ola’s fourth visit of the year. For Ola, you reach out to someone in trouble in your community and help them…and when you can’t help, you try to understand. You see, in 2009, a life had been taken — the life of a member of the community, a woman who was the mother of 5, and the wife of Eli Weaver. Hundreds of miles from Ola’s home, family, and business, the murder shook him. What would cause someone who grew up learning the ways of pacifism and peace to turn to violence and murder his wife? It just didn’t make sense. How could someone be so troubled as to murder an innocent woman, in their house, with their children present, seated in the middle of an Ohio Amish community? Hundreds of miles west, back in Nappanee, Indiana, an empire continues to grow. Dozens of semi-trailers litter the area behind locked gates. Hidden inside each, packed perfectly, are dozens of kitchen cabinets made by a company whose reputation is highly regarded by customers and vendors alike. Kountry Wood is a huge part of Ola’s legacy, though he’d never say it himself. His children, his faith, his works, his community — they would all be mentioned first, as well they should. But one cannot tell the story of Ola Yoder without understanding the beauty of his products. The company was started just 20 years ago in Ola’s barn. Today, it spans well over 250,000 square feet of factory floor, and it’s growing yearly. The company turns out over 1.4 million kitchen cabinets each year, with under 500 hard-working employees. The factory floor is clean A short tour around Kountry Wood would leave anyone blown away. The factory floor is clean — not clean like a standard factory floor, but immaculately clean like a hospital and biochemical lab. Skilled craftspeople delicately sand and stain at their respective stations. Between those stations runs a factory line that looks more like something that should be producing Tesla Model Xs than Nappanee’s favorite cabinetry. Laser precision guides nearly every step of the process, all the way through custom corrugated cardboard packaging built for each product. A red digital counter hangs from the middle of the ceiling reminding everyone of the day’s goals and current production numbers. Today, like most days, the factory has run so efficiently that by 3:00 p.m. the workers have surpassed production goals and only a few folks remain at work. The employees look happy to be involved. Ola doesn’t allow employees to use drugs of any sort in the workplace; in fact, he doesn’t even allow them to curse on the premises. Despite the dual monitors at every cubicle; despite the computer-guided factory floor; despite the beautiful efficiency…Kountry Wood, like everything lucky enough to be touched by Ola, is steeped to the core in his faith, and it shows. That faith, while understated by nature, is crucial. Ola Yoder is many things. A business mogul by any measure. A researcher tasked with understanding human behavior of the worst kind. A humanitarian. A human, endlessly proud of his wife and family. That faith is a common thread that can weave together all sides of the man. It’s the same faith that guided him to help those five orphans stay afloat after their mother was murdered and their father was imprisoned. It’s the same faith that comforts the man who put his children in that position — who stole their foundation and, if not for Ola’s kindness, almost stole their livelihood. One of several Awards that Ola Yoder has received for helping young people in his community There’s an Amish proverb that provides a thesis for Ola’s life: “The most important things in your home are people.” Ola, like many of his peers, believes that home goes well beyond four walls, a farm, or even a factory. That is the power of Ola’s faith. And now that faith is taking acts to a new level. Ola pulls a black, oversized handle. Hand-formed wrought iron has its own story to tell. A story of a craftsman like Ola, firing and hammering away — removing excess and shaping the remains until he finds perfection. It’s symbolic of Ola’s empire: the pull is simple, understated, without frills or excess, but it forms something beautiful. He and his longtime advisor, Brian Hoffer, walk through the oversized oaken doors. Inside is an amazing space that would drop the jaws of the most seasoned architects. Ola's new event center donated to the Nappanee Community Suited and put together, a lawyer focusing on finance and estate planning, Brian lets a smile break through. Who could help it? After working together since the beginning, Brian feels emotionally tied to Ola’s great work too, and he should. There is simply no reining in Ola’s philanthropic spirit. But, like the few cut from his same cloth in this world, Ola has a hard time approaching philanthropy in the same way he does business. So Brian’s recent guidance has been important in taking some big strides forward. Together with Brian’s guidance and the professionals at the Community Foundation of Elkhart County, Ola has recently opened a donor-advised fund to help him and his wife, Vera make the most of their charity. The fund allows the Yoder’s to help guide funds into the charitable projects that are most important to them, while still benefiting from the expert fund management being performed by the Foundation. Ola paces across the beautiful wood floors and takes in the status of another big project an example of his generous outreach: an event space befitting his community and reminiscent of his spirit. Enormous wooden beams span the ceiling several stories overhead. Like a barn-home made for giants, the new space is open, expansive, and natural and says everything about Ola’s heritage and craftsmanship. He called in a specialized Amish engineering team to ensure the building’s floor was free of supports in an enormous center section. The space is a work of art and will provide a center for activities of thousands in and around the community. While the event space will be used by the community for festivals, events, and fundraisers, it isn’t the only project Ola has his eyes on. He has an unwavering passion for the next generation. And when Ola heard from Foundation president Pete McCown about the good work being done at CAPS (Child and Parent Services), he knew he had to help. As quickly as Ola learns about a new project aimed to do good, he gets himself involved. His new fund is just another tool at his disposal. As Ola walks out of Grafton Correctional, he hears the invasive buzz of gates and barred doors. The low thud of a heavy steel door separates him again from Eli. Faint clangs and muffled yells create a harsh mixture of background noise that echoes through the walls of the sterile prison. Ola knows Eli will spend the next 15 years locked in that institution. He knows much or all of his life may well be spent inside those cold walls. He also knows that his own simple visits warm the days that surround them for Eli,and that Eli has grown in the time he has spent incarcerated. He knows that no soul is defined — and certainly not lost — in its worst moment. He believes firmly in the transformative power of love…a love he expresses to his family and to his community. The most important things in your home are people. For Ola, he calls home his humble farm; his ever-growing factory; his new event center — Sammlung Platz (translated — “The Gathering Place”). He calls home Nappanee, Indiana, and the Amish community. He calls home the whole of Elkhart County, where his fund will impact the lives of thousands. He calls home the many nonprofits offering love and forgiveness. He calls home Grafton, and Eli struggling to live with the heinous things he’s done. For Ola, home extends far beyond the property line. And the most important things in his home are the people. Reprinted with permission of The Community Foundation of Elkhart County  

Columbus, OH -- Richard "Dick" Brandt Jr. notified the U.S. Trotting Association in writing at the end of last week that he was resigning his seat on the Board of Directors as well as his position as Treasurer of the Association. Elected to the USTA Board in 1986 and Treasurer in 2010, he served as a representative of District 1. "With the state of racing in Ohio on solid footing, now seems to be a perfect and comfortable time for me to step aside and grant an opportunity for someone else to help oversee our great sport," said Brandt in tendering his resignation. In addition to his role as treasurer, Brandt was also the chairman of the Rules Committee and an active member of the Universal Rules Committee chaired by John Campbell. Among his many contributions to harness racing over several decades, Brandt was a past president and director of the Ohio Harness Horsemen's Association; past chairman of the Ohio Harness Horsemen's Health and Retirement Fund; treasurer of PACER (Political Action Committee for Equine Racing); past president of the River Valley Colt Circuit and former trustee of the Ohio Standardbred Breeders Association. He is a graduate of The Ohio State University with a degree in industrial production and is currently chairman and director of the Logan Clay Products Company. He is also chairman of the National Clay Pipe Institute and past chairman of the Ohio Chamber of Commerce. Brandt and his wife, Connie, reside in Logan, Ohio. "Selfless and principled -- those are the best words that I can think of to describe Dick and his contributions to harness racing and the USTA," said USTA Executive Vice President Mike Tanner. "He's an unsung hero of the sport, a man who has made a difference, and the Association is grateful for his many years of counsel and service." Kevin Greenfield was selected to fill the remainder of Brandt's term that expires in 2020. As prescribed in USTA Bylaw § 5.04 Vacancies Membership Elected Directors. Any vacancy on the district board of a membership director through death, written resignation filed with the United States Trotting Association office in Columbus, Ohio, removal, or other cause, may be filled from the membership of such district by the remaining membership directors for such district, with the individual so elected to serve until the next scheduled district meeting, at which time an election shall be held for the purpose of electing a membership director for the balance of the term or a new term if the existing term has expired, as provided in article 4.02 herein. The remaining membership directors of District 1 chose to replace Brandt with Greenfield, a respected Ohio breeder who is the president and treasurer of Hickory Lane Horse Farm in Findlay, Ohio, where he oversees the overall operations of the farm and is actively involved in the purchases of the farm's broodmares and stallions. Greenfield is a past president of the Ohio Harness Horsemen's Association in addition to being a shareholder in and past treasurer of the Ohio Harness Horse Breeders Association. Following is the procedure for election of a new membership director for District 1 in 2020. (4.02 Election of Membership Directors. Membership directors shall be elected as follows: (a) Nomination Petition Requirements. Candidates for membership director other than incumbent membership director shall be made by filing a written petition signed by at least twenty-five (25) voting members from the district for which the person seeks to become a candidate to be filed at the main office of the association in Columbus, Ohio at least fifty (50) days before the election. In computing the fifty (50) day period, the day of filing shall be counted and the day of the district meeting excluded. Nominating petitions forwarded by mail shall be by registered mail return receipt requested and shall be considered filed as of the postmark date. All others shall be considered filed at the time they are actually received at the main office of the association.) From the USTA Communications Department

It hasn’t been that long ago that harness racing at the fairs and pari-mutuel tracks in Ohio were losing owners, trainers and drivers to other states because of low purse money. “The advent of the Video Lottery Terminals has really helped give an influx not only to our industry, but the trickledown effect has helped the fairs as well,” said Steve Bateson, a Rudolph resident who is the current president of the Ohio Harness Horsemen’s Association. “The fairs that have harness racing receive support money for doing such and there is also purse support money that comes from the Video Lottery Terminals, otherwise known as VLTs,” Bateson continued. “That significantly increased the purses probably by 2x to 3x in the last six years. “That has made it more of just being a hobby. People can now invest and make money and have fun even racing at the county fairs.” There are seven VLTs in Ohio, four at harness racing tracks and three at thoroughbred tracks. All seven of the tracks have racinos and a percent of those receipts go back into the state racing program. Bateson’s interest in harness racing started at a young age at the Wood County fair aided by his neighbors at the time, Forrest and Winifred Warner, who both were heavily involved in harness racing. “Their love of horses and the industry really drove my interest to the next level,” Bateson said. “I went to races as a kid either with my dad or my grandfather. I owned by first horse with a gentleman from Wood County who was a farmer, D.L. Whitacre, who trained horses. “I had a good experience from just going to different fairs and watching harness racing.” Bateson is the fourth Wood County resident to be the president of the OHHA. “I think the fairs are really the backbone of our sport in this state,” Bateson said, adding that the 66 fairs that have racing are the roots of the sport and that has helped get the industry through the tough times. “It’s been generational and a lot of it dates back to racing at the county fairs,” he added. “The county fair system in this state is stronger than any place in the country. Very few states have as many strong agricultural fairs as what Ohio does and Wood County is one of the stronger ones.” By Jack Carle Reprinted with permission of The Sentinel-Tribune

The Ohio Harness Horse Breeders Association is proud to announce the launch of their new harness racing website.    The adaptive and responsive internet platform will allow harness horse people to easily access information about the upcoming annual Ohio Selected Jug Sale, which is slated for Friday, September 13, 2019 at the Brave Horse Equestrian Center in Johnstown, Ohio.   This year's sale will feature over 200 yearlings by Ohio sires Pet Rock, Cash Hall, Uncle Peter, Racing Hill, Triumphant Caviar, Rockin Amadeus, Western Vintage, My MVP, Big Bad John, McArdle and many more.   Ohio Breeders president Randy Haines noted, "We are excited to bring this new level of information access to the breeders, owners and trainers in Ohio. Since everyone these days has their phone in their hands...we want people to find our sale yearlings at the touch of a button!"   For decades, the Ohio Select sale has been the first stop for owners and trainers to acquire top State-bred harness racing performers. This year will be no exception as the Ohio Select sale has sold hundreds of Ohio Sire Stakes winners and dozens of Super Night Champions.   Current standouts include, but are not limited to: ROSEMARY ROSE p,1:50.3f--'19 ($496,867); QUEEN OF THE PRIDE p,2,1:52.4f, 3,1:51.1f--'19 ($460,479); ROSE RUN SYDNEY 4,1:54.1h ($554,643); FRASER RIDGE 4,1:52.1f ($522,479); World Champion ROCK CANDY p,3,1:50.2f--'19 ($305,626); PURE CHANCE p,3,1:54.2h--'19 ($148,896); BIG BOX HANOVER 2,1:57.4f--'19 and ELVER HANOVER p,2,1:53.3h--'19, etc.   The website includes directions and maps to the Brave Horse Center auction site and links to area hotels are posted along with an archive of sales results from previous years. In addition to the sales roster, yearling video links and a PDF digital catalog will be linked for on-line viewing, when they become available.   A social media, facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/OhioHHBreeders/ is also up and running, which will feature current and former Ohio Sire Stakes winners and performers, as well as news, links and updates from farms and consignors.   The Ohio Harness Horse Breeders Association is a cooperative of Buckeye State equine nurseries dedicated to the promotion and growth of Ohio Standardbreds, and include: Abby Stables, LTD., Cool Winds Farm, Dublin Valley Farms, Hickory Lane Horse Farm, LMN Bred Stables, Inc., Midland Acres, Inc., Rose Run Farm, Spring Haven Farm, Steiner Stock Farm, Sugar Valley Farm and Winterwood Farm.   For additional information, contact Laura Nault at Ohio Harness Horse Breeders, 17605 Clarks Run Rd., Mount Sterling, OH 43143. Email: LJNault@gmail.com. By Chris Tully for the Ohio Harness Horse Breeders Assoc.

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