Then, to be sure he completely undercut his credibility, Garcia-Roberts characterizes Massillon as a dead town, except for its football program. The high school football players "repay Massillon with success and achievement, things the city has struggled to produce on its own for decades." Here comes the clincher: "Once a thriving factory town and home to a Republic Steel plant, Massillon was stripped bare by a mean economy that left Buffalo Wild Wings as the most bustling enterprise around. Tiger football, it seems, is the only thing Massillon has left." When I read that, I just about spit my coffee out my nose. ARE YOU CRAZY? Has Garcia-Roberts ever visited Massillon? If he has, he knows that what he wrote has a certain barnyard smell to it. Fact: In the last 10 years, among Northeast Ohio cities, Massillon is one of the leaders in new housing starts. Fact: Fifty years ago, Massillon was basically a steel town. It has since diversified its industrial base. Heinz, ARE, Sterilite Corp., U.S. Chemical and Plastics, Fresh Mark, and Omni Die Casting are all operating in the city, with dozens of other businesses started in the last 20 years. Fact: The city has doubled in size in the last 25 years through an aggressive annexation policy. Fact: Seven years ago, the city had one "big-box" store: Kmart. Now there are Wal-Mart, Giant Eagle, Target, Home Depot, PetSmart and numerous other retail businesses — all located within the city's corporate limits. Fact: The city's downtown is vibrant and alive, bustling with people during the day and the site of numerous concerts, car drive-ins and other events that draw large crowds. But sometimes, people don't let facts get in the way of their story.I’m certainly not the first reporter to suggest that Massllon has suffered from layoffs. And while I won’t argue that the businesses Russ lists don’t exist, I’ll take to my grave the assertion that in the time I spent tooling around Massillon city, Buffalo Wild Wings was indeed the most bustling enterprise in the town center. Not that there’s anything strange about that; have you tried their Chicken Caesar Buffalito? -- Gus Garcia-Roberts
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