Michael Wise, founder and executive director of ARTSNCT, the Arts Center of Newcomerstown, was recently recognized by Google, the search engine giant, for being a veteran-led "highly rated" organization.

Wise, who grew up in Newcomerstown, was a Sergeant (E-5), U.S. Marine Corps Veteran. He was a musician in the Second Marine Division Band, Headquarters Company, Headquarters Battalion, Fleet Marine Force.

Google is celebrating highly rated veteran-led businesses around the country during the sixth annual National Veterans Small Business Week. The search engine giant is asking other businesses and individuals to help those who served our country to succeed in their local communities. Google has recognized veteran-led businesses with a special edition challenge coin. Military challenge coins have been used since WWI and were issued to service men and women as symbols of recognition or unity.

After his discharge, Wise located to Washington, D.C., where he occasionally performed with the local community band, as well as New York City’s Big Apple Band, where he was featured as a trumpet player and guest conductor.

Upon his retirement as a human resources director for a private hotel company in Washington, Michael returned to his hometown of Newcomerstown.

He is currently enjoying life near family and friends and is "paying it forward" to his community and its youth by founding and leading ARTSNCT – Arts Center of Newcomerstown.

ARTSNCT is a 501(c)(3) veteran-led nonprofit charity organization dedicated to bringing all forms of visual and performing arts to Newcomerstown, Ohio and the tri-county area.

"I, on behalf of ARTSNCT, am very proud to have been selected for this honor by Google," Wise said. The center uses Google My Business to boost visibility on Google Search and Maps.

"Receiving this honor was a total surprise," Wise said. "Not only is it an honor for me as being the veteran leading this important organization, but it is a great honor for ARTSNCT to be recognized as a ‘highly rated organization’ from the search engine giant.

"The community’s reaction to and acceptance of ARTSNCT has been phenomenal. People walk in for the first time and say, ‘This is not Newcomerstown … this is New York.’ Well, it may not be New York, but it does have a big slice of the Washington, DC arts scene in it.

"I never settle for ‘good enough.’ That term is not in my vocabulary. Every creative decision I make is mixed with a dose of my own OCD … but that’s a good thing."

As an example of the community’s support, Wise pointed to a recent fundraising campaign.

"During the week of my birthday this year, Facebook asked if I would like to create a fundraiser for ARTSNCT, so I did," he said.

"I did not want to appear pushy or greedy, so I set a very modest goal of $200. That goal was reached within the first 30 minutes after it was posted. At the end of the fundraiser we had received $1,225 online and an equal amount dropped off at the center in cash and checks. ARTSNCT looks at donations of this kind as solid approval from the community for what we are trying to do. It sends a message that people believe we are doing something right and that there is a substantial need for this type of organization in Newcomerstown.

"I want to thank and acknowledge the many community members and business leaders that were always there for me during my childhood. All of these individuals treated me with kindness and understanding. They were a very positive influence on my life and helped to give me many good memories that I have carried with me throughout my life and that is the main reason I feel a need to "pay it forward" for our local youth today.

"Thanks go to individuals that sparked my love for and kept me interested in all areas of the arts. My aunt Doris, who gave me my first camera and sparked my love of photography at a very young age. My teachers, such as Dixie Hayes Heck and Elizabeth Norman for giving me my love of singing and the piano; Rachel Sindlinger for giving me my love of art; Richard Smith and Joe Palmer for giving me the love of the performing arts; and Connie Dichler Simmons for teaching me and giving me my love of a playing a trumpet that totally changed the direction of my life by opening so many wonderful doors for me after I ventured outside of Newcomerstown.

"And a very special thanks goes to Phil Clarke. Phil was Mr. Keen, Tracer of Lost Persons in an old but famous radio program of the same title. I met him when I was in the Marine Corps and taking a few theatre classes off base at a local college. He cast me in a couple of his productions and soon became my personal friend and mentor."

Upcoming events at ARTSNCT include:

Nov. 20, 7 p.m. – ARTSNCT presents its last FEUD of 2019 with two teams from Newcomerstown Music Boosters, The MAJORettes vs. The MINORS. The show is free and open to the public. The FEUD will return again on the third Wednesday of each month beginning in January.

Nov. 23 – ARTSNCT will be at East Elementary School taking complimentary photos of children with Santa Claus immediately following the Newcomerstown Christmas Parade.

Dec. 3, 5 pm – ARTSNCT's theatre club, Not Your Average Theatre Group, will present a dramatic reading of "Jack in the Beanstalk" with elementary students at the West School.

Dec. 14 – ARTSNCT will be enacting village people for Polar Express at 6 and 8 p.m. ARTSNCT is welcoming volunteers to help with the enactment and will provide hot food and drink at the arts center between the two runs.

Dec. 31, 8 p.m. to midnight – ARTSNCT presents RESOLUTIONS, its first annual family-friendly New Year’s Eve Party.

One of the many programs that the center provides is free-of-cost arts workshops and classes to local students in grades K-12.

ARTSNCT also has an art club, IMAGINATION: Outside the Box, and a theatre club, Not Your Average Theatre Group, established within the local schools.

The center’s mission is to actively support and promote the education of the arts through training, performance, exhibition, publication, and all other means possible.