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HEROES Good deeds done in the Mahoning and Shenango valleys



Published: Sun, January 6, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



People who made a difference in 2001 in the Mahoning and Shenango valleys:

Joseph O'Grady, a Warren police officer, risked his life to go out on an icy pond in an attempt to save a 13-year-old girl. Despite O'Grady's attempts last February, the girl died. The girl's mother was living in California and didn't have money to attend the funeral. O'Grady was able to raise money to fly the woman here for the funeral.

Daryl Anderson and Nick Radich Jr., Warren firefighters, were injured when they attempted to save a woman during a fire last January. The woman died; Anderson and Radich had to spend several weeks at Akron Burn Center. They are both back to work now.

Lynn King (posthumous) was an educator in the Mahoning Valley for more than 30 years, mostly as an administrator at the West Branch and Leetonia schools. In his four years as Leetonia superintendent, he pushed for a bond issue that passed, enabling the district to receive state money to build a new, comprehensive K-12 school. He was then involved daily in the planning, site preparation and ongoing construction of the school. King died Sept. 28 of complications from heart surgery. The school is slated for completion in June 2002.

Linda Robb, a teacher at McKinley Elementary School in Lisbon, received the prestigious Carnegie Hero award for talking a sixth-grade boy into surrendering a loaded 9 mm handgun to her March 23, 2000, at the school.

Mayor Ralph A. Infante Jr. of Niles presented Petty Officer 1st Class Shawn Coursen with a plaque honoring him for heroism and patriotism in a Niles ceremony. Coursen, 28, a Navy code decipherer, was one of 24 Americans aboard a surveillance plane that made an emergency landing in April in China after a midair collision with a Chinese fighter jet. His parents, James and Susan Coursen, live in Niles.

Talya Havice, a 17-year-old senior at Champion High School, was named one of three Presidential Scholars in Ohio. Havice received a nearly perfect score on her SAT.

David "D.D." Davis and Tony Lariccia, two area businessmen, donated a combined $1.5 million to the construction of a new YMCA in Boardman.

Jason Hollobaugh, 12, of Youngstown, was skateboarding in a parking lot in October when he saved the life of an elderly woman. He found the woman, who was ill, slumped over the steering wheel and called for help.

Dr. Omar Lateef, a Boardman native and third-year medical resident at New York University's downtown hospital, which is closest to the collapsed World Trade Center towers, assisted survivors at the scene.

Mahoning Valley funeral directors and Mahoning County Coroner's Investigator Thomas Pappas provided help at the site of the Sept. 11 Somerset, Pa., crash of a plane that had been hijacked during the terrorist attacks.

Warren police officers Chris Clementi and Jeff Miller pulled four young people from a car crash in February moments before the vehicle exploded into flames. Two youths died, but the other two survived.

The Youngstown City Health District and Ursuline Sisters HIV/AIDS Ministry worked together to restart an AIDS clinic that had closed.

ADT, the country's largest home security company, provided free equipment, installation and monitoring to domestic violence victims in Youngstown.

Heather Rogers of McDonald and Alexis Buckner of Vienna, cousins, created a Girl Scout museum at the organization's council office in Weathersfield.

Tim Mulholland, owner of Mulholland Insurance in Boardman, agreed, along with his St. Patrick's Day Parade Committee members, to do the staging for the Valley's "Tribute to American Heroes: A Red, White and Blue Parade" Nov. 10, presented by The Vindicator and WFMJ-TV. The parade was a tremendous success with 3,000 participants, and it was an expression of patriotism directed at all those who have lain and continue to lay their lives on the line for the country and community.

Peter Orfanos of Warren and John and Marian Scott of Cortland volunteered through the American Red Cross at Ground Zero in New York City.

Angela Kleese, Amanda Nestor and Jaclyn Sears, eighth-graders at Edison Junior High School in Niles, won first place in the junior group exhibit at the Ohio History State Competition in May in Columbus, earning them a berth at the National History Day competition June 11-14 at the University of Maryland. Their project also was one of 10 from across the country to be displayed at the National Archives in June.

Carmen Policy, Cleveland Browns president, donated Browns tickets for kids in the probation rewards program at Mahoning County Juvenile Court to attend a preseason game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Judge Beth A. Smith of Mahoning County Domestic Relations Court implemented a mediation program to handle post-divorce child custody issues. The program encourages divorcing couples to resolve their parenting disputes in a nonadversarial manner.

Tom Yeager of East Boston Avenue and his neighbor, Ron Betters, helped rescue a 75-year-old man from a vicious dog attack in February using whatever garage tools they could find. The victim, Joseph J. Locicero of Poland, had been bitten during an attack by two Rottweilers; the other two men held off the dogs until police arrived.

Dan Bender, a volunteer firefighter for Springfield Township, found missing 2 1/2-year-old Catie Leipply wet and shivering in the woods at dusk March 14 behind a New Springfield strip mine. She had been missing from home for about three hours.

The youth group at Third Christian Church, 241 First St., Warren, and the group's director, Dorothy Edwards, raised enough money to mark the burial site of fugitive slave Charles Washington, who escaped from Loudon County, Va., in the 1850s and traveled the Underground Railroad to Warren. He died in a railroad accident in 1900 and is buried in Oakwood Cemetery, Niles Road.

Nine-year-old Billy Martin of Niles raised money to buy bulletproof vests for police dogs in Warren, Niles and Boardman. His campaign started after the shooting of an Ashtabula County Sheriff's Department dog named Cero.

The employees of Henn Workshops in Lordstown donated $300,000 to the American Red Cross Liberty Fund to help victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The money was raised during Prayer for Peace II with the sale of nearly 10,000 red, white and blue hand-woven baskets in 2 1/2 weeks. The fund-raiser was the idea of Lordstown native Jerry Henn, 46, company president and co-founder.

Irene Was, 80, of Halsey Drive, Warren, received a bachelor's degree in art from Kent State University while surrounded by family and friends on Mother's Day. The former teacher received a bachelor's degree in education from KSU in the 1960s and decided to go back to school. After spending much of the last six years commuting back and forth, she lived in a dorm the last few months.

James Sutman Jr., 28, of Youngstown, moved his company, Iron and String Life Enhancement Inc., from Struthers to 12 S. Phelps St. in late January to promote downtown Youngstown. ISLE provides services to mentally retarded or developmentally disabled people.

Arthur Joachim, 75, of Austintown is still running road races after 20 years. He runs about 100-105 races each year and has competed in well over 1,800 races in 20 years. He wants to run more than 2,000 races before his running career ends.

The remains of Jerry Degnan were released to his brother, Ronald Degnan of Canfield, in May. Jerry, who like Ronald was a Youngstown native and Austintown Fitch graduate, was a private contractor in Vietnam who was listed as missing after a military helicopter in which he was riding crashed in 1967. Jerry's body was misidentified after the crash and buried under the wrong name for several years. Ronald fought with the military to locate his brother.

Michael Moss, 22, of Canfield, was in a Coast Guard vessel on Lake Ontario with three other crew members when it capsized March 23. Two of the four died of hypothermia. Moss survived and returned to duty in May.

Shirley Tavenner-Schreiber, of Lake Tahoe, Nev., 61, initiated two $10,000 scholarships at Fitch High School this year. The scholarships will help pay for the education of one boy and one girl who attend Youngstown State University. Tavenner-Schreiber is a graduate of Fitch and YSU.

Carl N. Frost, Beaver police chief, thought about what his department could do for senior citizens and came up with the idea of having cops visit the elderly. The program has 38 members so far.

Lt. Bill Rafferty of the Youngstown Police Department organized a sale of unclaimed bikes, the first such sale that anyone can remember. Throughout the year, police collect bikes that turn up after being stolen. Sometimes the owners can be found, sometimes not. The sale enabled needy kids to have bicycles.

Martin Turner, Michael Smallwood, Ed Mitchell, Eric Gunn and Michael Scott decided to put to work what they learned from a United Way program meant to bring more minority men into Lawrence County United Way agencies to help area children. In the spring, they used a $1,000 grant from the Carolyn Knox Foundation to hold an all-day youth mentoring program. They have continued to work with the children throughout the year. They also are working with employees from the Pennsylvania Department of Welfare to start a minority scholarship program. The men also are serving on United Way boards, including the New Castle Community Y, American Red Cross, Lawrence County Women's Rape and Crisis Center and Big Brothers and Sisters of Lawrence County.

John "Jack" Butz has quietly been giving his time and money to the New Castle community for most of his life. But until 2001, he was never recognized for that work. Butz was honored by city officials in May with New Castle's first humanitarian award. The award will live on each year in Butz's name and be given to someone who embodies his spirit of giving and service. A scholarship in Butz's name also was started and will be given out each year to a high school senior.

Although she heard a train coming, Shannon Buckley, 15, of Salineville, charged onto a 100-foot-long train trestle spanning a swollen creek to rescue a 5-year-old girl who had wandered onto the tracks and become stuck. It turned out that the oncoming train was on a parallel set of tracks. Shannon's bravery on that April day was honored by the county sheriff's department.

Karen Soyka of Canfield spent four weeks volunteering as a counselor at ground zero in New York City for firefighters and the families of those lost in the Sept. 11 attack. She wasn't connected to an agency -- she simply arrived at the Red Cross headquarters and asked where she could help.

Dana Wagner of West Middlesex, cubmaster of Cub Scout Pack 65, was looking for a way to get his Scouts to improve their schoolwork and offered to let them cut his hair, which extended down to the middle of his back, if they improved their grades. They did, and his hair got snipped March 23. The hair was donated to Wigs for Kids through the American Cancer Society.

Heather Hagan, a newspaper carrier, is credited with saving the life of Mercer County's first woman commissioner March 12. Heather, a ninth-grader at Mercer High School at the time, noticed that papers were beginning to pile up at the door of Josephine McCutcheon. When McCutcheon didn't answer her door, Heather went home and tried to call her. When she got a busy signal, she called 911; rescue workers found that McCutcheon had suffered a stroke and was helpless.

Linda Henry of Greenville hasn't given up trying to find her friend, Sandra K. Baker, who disappeared May 25, 2000. Henry has waged a one-woman campaign to keep Baker's case fresh locally and elsewhere, going so far as having Baker's photo placed on milk cartons and holding a service May 25, 2001, at Kidds Mill Covered Bridge in Pymatuning Township to mark the anniversary of her disappearance.

Francis M. Huzina of Sharon, a trucker, was in New York on Sept. 11 and saw the twin towers of the World Trade Center collapse after the terrorist attack. He stopped to ask firefighters what they needed, then came home to organize a drive to haul two trailer loads of material to rescue workers in New York.

Austintown Township trustees present Karen Beardsley with a proclamation for helping several children, ages 5 to 13, in a neighboring Kenmar Court home after they inhaled poisonous fumes when one tried to make a bomb using drain cleaner in July. A 7-year-old girl was hospitalized for several days after the event; Beardsley was credited with her rescue. The children had been left unsupervised, law enforcement officials had said. Beardsley was checking in on them.

Lake Milton residents gave hundreds of stuffed animals to the police department in August after Police Chief William Moretz asked for donations. The furry friends are given to children who are scared, angry or otherwise involved in a police visit. The program, which has been ongoing for five years, was going to be canceled after a supplier stopped donating the animals.

Selena Gonzalez, 5, of Campbell, with the help of her mother, Christina, crafted red, white and blue ribbons in September and sold them for $1 each, saving the money for a relief agency helping victims of the Sept. 11 attacks. She sold the "Support America Ribbons" to family, friends, neighbors and customers at businesses near the Coitsville motel where her godmother works.

The Rev. Elizabeth Powell of Youngstown was inducted into the Ohio Women's Hall of Fame in October. She was ordained the first female Baptist minister in the Mahoning Valley in 1956 and founded the World Fellowship Interdenominational Church on Dewey Street in 1962. At 99, she is still preaching.

The Rev. Rolando Rojas moved from the Bronx, N.Y., to become pastor of the Spanish Evangelical Church in the heart of La La Land on the city's East Side. Programs for all ages and concerts with hot music have drawn crowds searching for a better life and community instead of the drug activity that gave the area its nickname.

The Rev. Al Yanno Jr. and his wife, the Rev. Paris Yanno, are involved in Heart Reach Ministries, 787 Wick Ave., which helps inner-city children. The Rev. Mr. Yanno became pastor of Metro Assembly of God, 2530 South Ave., which had lost its pastor and almost all of its congregation. Metro is reaching out to its neighborhood and has links to programs at Heart Reach.

Florence Wang, a volunteer from Canfield, organized fund-raising events for several local organizations, including the Mahoning County chapter of the American Red Cross, Butler Institute of American Art, Youngstown Symphony, Leadership Mahoning Valley and Ballet Western Reserve. This fall, she spent two weeks in China conducting a seminar on fund-raising for the Red Cross there.

Heather McMillin of Howland, a waitress at Applebee's in Niles, administered the Heimlich maneuver April 29 to an elderly customer who was choking on her lunch. Rural/Metro Ambulance personnel arrived at the Niles restaurant and said McMillin's actions may have saved the elderly woman's life. The ambulance company gave McMillin a plaque commemorating her actions.

The Ursuline Sisters operate several programs that benefit area residents. Among those are Beatitude House and The Potter's Wheel, which offer housing, job training and educational opportunities to single women with children.

The staff of United Methodist Community Center, 334 N. Pearl St., Youngstown, provides after-school programs, truancy intervention and tutoring to children from low-income families and at-risk children and teen-agers. The staff also offers respite care for parents with unruly teen-agers and remediation programs for first-time shoplifters.

Clarence R. Smith Jr. of Boardman, a local businessman and political leader, donated a priceless collection of minerals his father started decades ago to the new Clarence R. Smith Mineral Museum at Youngstown State University.

Karen Clark-Green, founder of Archangel Dance Theater in Youngstown, oversees programs that teach minority and inner-city kids to dance. The dance company has performed throughout Ohio, Pennsylvania and Illinois. The group was invited to audition for a show at the Kennedy Center and may represent the United States in Prague next April.

Members of STARS (Students Taking a Responsible Stand), DREAM (Directing Responsible Education Among Minors) and PRIDE (Peers Reflecting Intelligent Decisions Effectively) teach their peers about the risks of becoming sexually active, caving into peer pressure and using words that hurt. The groups of peer educators are established at area high schools through Mahoning County's Family and Children First Council.

Pupils and teachers at St. Anne Ukrainian School, Hayes Middle School, St. Joseph the Provider School, Bennett Elementary School, West Elementary School, Kirkmere Elementary School, South Range Elementary School, Campbell High School, Eagle Heights Academy, Lowellville schools, West Boulevard Elementary School, Austintown schools, Springfield Elementary School, Hubbard High School, Struthers High School, Dobbins Elementary School and Boardman Center Middle School were honored by the Red Cross' Mahoning Chapter for opening their hearts and using their imaginations to raise money for the American Red Cross' Sept. 11 relief fund.

Shorty Navarro, owner of Stadium Auto Group in Boardman, gave Youngstown State University $100,000 to develop a scholarship fund for Hispanic students.




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