People who made a difference in the Mahoning and Shenango valleys in 2002:
Many years of efforts by Gov. Bob Taft, state and local economic development officials, local community leaders, General Motors management and United Auto Workers union members paid off in the preservation of thousands of local jobs when GM announced Aug. 15 that it is investing $550 million in its Lordstown complex and will produce its new small car there.
An unidentified group of local suppliers of goods and services to the bankrupt LTV's Warren coke plant saved the plant and 120 jobs by stepping in Feb. 9, a day after the natural gas was turned off, and agreeing to pay to keep the furnaces hot to prevent heavy damage to the plant pending its sale. On May 18, the plant resumed coke production under its new owner, International Steel Group, with 100 hourly and 20 salaried employees working there.
hIsrael Gaither II, a former New Castle, Pa., resident, was named to the No. 2 post for the International Salvation Army. He is serving as chief of staff under Gen. John Larson. Gaither, 58, is the first black person to hold the post. He oversees operations of the international organization spanning 108 countries.
Executives at the former Ajax Magnathermic in Howland are credited with saving the shuttered plant by finding a new owner. Tom Illencik, Michael Faber, Craig Camens, Bill Vennette and Gerry Jackson helped line up the sale to Park Ohio, a Cleveland corporation that renamed the company Ajax Tocco.
Thelma Fitzgerald continues her 30-year mission of collecting and distributing food and clothing for Youngstown's needy from her North Side house.
William Pizzuto of William Pizzuto Co., his daughter Jeanette and other family members fixed up a South Side home for a Youngstown man with nowhere else to go who was living in a house that the company was hired to tear down.
Mariae Brooks and Bill Watterson of the Judson Citizens Watch on Youngstown's South Side created several events this year, including a Flag Day contest and a fair.
Russell Reuthe of Austintown launched a successful project to restore a forgotten memorial to World War II and Korean War veterans in Youngstown's Smoky Hollow neighborhood.
Youngstown State University students in the honors and scholars program expanded their annual Shantytown project on homelessness this year to include more volunteer work.
jMarty Novotny and other members of the 7th Ward Citizens' Coalition in Youngstown, with help from the city parks department, installed a new playground at Ipe Field despite the embezzlement of the South Side playground's funds by the group's former president.
The all-volunteer Streetscape group expanded its annual downtown beautification efforts to address gateways into Youngstown.
Richard Brown Memorial United Methodist Church on Youngstown's North Side added bright, striking new flower beds to three corners of Wick Park.
The North Side Citizens' Coalition in Youngstown embarked on a project to renovate four dilapidated homes and sell them to low- or moderate-income families.
jWendall Lauth of Bristolville, a local historian, discovered the grave of President McKinley's grandmother at Niles City Cemetery while directing renovations of Civil War grave sites.
The Lawrence County Foundation was set up in September to take donations to be invested and then distributed to area organizations and the needy. The foundation is already handling finances for four charitable organizations: The Almira Foundation, the Laurel Community Foundation, the Robbie Green Memorial Scholarship Fund and the Gale Mansell Scholarship Fund.
jMary Cook has spent every Election Day for the past 58 years watching over New Castle's 3rd Ward, 6th District. She was honored for her years of service as an election worker by the Lawrence County Board of Elections. Five other Lawrence County women have 50 years of service. They are: Mary Gabriel, Mary Jane Seidel, Hazel Hogue, Helen Savu and Mary Angie Symbala.
Charles Barletto is keeping the history of the region's steel mills and heavy industry alive. Barletto, known as Chip, had a grand opening for the Lawrence Museum of Industrial Arts and History that includes rare machinery as well as modern and traditional artwork that celebrates the industry. Barletto is expected to open his museum full time in 2003.
jRabbi Simeon Kolko of Congregation Ohev Tzedek-Shaarei Torah Congregation in Boardman saw teenager Hanna Hoy on "Today" talking about efforts to implement the No Place for Hate campaign in her hometown of Hamilton, Mass. The rabbi arranged for Hanna and her father, Steven, to come to the Mahoning Valley to talk to local youths about tolerance.
Frank Anderson, a part-time patrolman for the tiny Washingtonville police department, is credited with saving the life of resident Richard Gay. On Jan. 13, Gay, then 60, was critically injured in a four-wheeler accident. Anderson covered Gay with his coat and kept him still until firefighters arrived. Doctors said Gay had broken his back and would have died or been paralyzed without Anderson's aid.
jFred Owens was named president of the Austintown Growth Foundation early in the year. He has since helped start a process to develop a plan to improve the township.
Phil and Vera Kinsey of Leetonia are helping veterans and Vietnam natives heal from the physical and mental ravages of that war. The Kinseys operate LZ Refuge, a storefront community center in Washingtonville, and make at least two trips to Vietnam each year, taking veterans and sometimes their spouses on humanitarian aid missions. The group takes food and medical supplies to schools, orphanages, villages, etc., and visits areas that served as major outposts or battlegrounds during the war. Kinsey, a Vietnam veteran, said he has suffered for years from post-traumatic stress syndrome.
jHope House Visitation Center in Youngstown created a new library. Cheryl Borovitcky of the International Reading Association's Mahoning Valley Council helped direct an effort to collect books. About 3,700 books were donated. Hope House is designed to provide a safe, supervised setting for visits among family members who have trouble interacting. Borovitcky and Hope House officials feel the books can encourage reading while bringing families together.
jLocal attorneys Douglas Taylor, Ronald Knickerbocker and Joe Maxin and businessman Tim Bodnar of New Springfield donate their time and airplanes each year to fly troubled, inner-city youths to weekend retreats as part of the Beight Farm's aviation program.
Northeast Martial Arts and Cardio-Kickboxing Center held a free "Escape School" for children age 5 through 16. The program taught children how to escape if they are abducted.
jJudge Theresa Dellick of Mahoning County Juvenile Court launched a new program this year, placing probation officers in Youngstown high schools to more closely interact with young offenders. The program has been hailed as successful in reducing juvenile delinquency.
jYoungstown Municipal Judge Elizabeth A. Kobly initiated SLIP, Suspended License Intervention Program. The program helps people charged with driving under suspension negotiate the maze of fines and reinstatement fees of the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles. Once the person's valid license is restored, defendants' DUS charges are dismissed.
jDonald Holsten of Greenville was given the Firemark Award on March 9 by the Emergency Medical Management Cooperative Organization West for his work in emergency medical care. Holsten, an emergency medical services specialist with UPMC Horizon and a flight paramedic with STAT MedEvac, is credited with integrating emergency medical care into the entire health care system and is an instructor for paramedic and EMS classes across northwestern Pennsylvania.
jElaine Schuster, a licensed practical nurse at the State Regional Correctional Facility at Mercer, was presented with the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections' Outstanding Performance Award on May 9. Schuster is an 11-year veteran of the minimum-security prison and is credited with helping work out a solution to the prison's pharmacy-medications program. She has worked with special-needs inmates and became a foster parent and adopted a 7-year-old boy after her biological children were grown.
hAnnette Morrison of Shenango Boulevard, Farrell, and Frank Faylo of Wallis Avenue, Farrell, were named Farrell's first Citizens of the Year during a weeklong municipal homecoming celebration in July. Morrison was cited for her involvement in the Farrell Parent Teacher Association, starting the Junior Achievement Program at Our Lady of Fatima School and her volunteer work with the Farrell Midget and Pee-Wee Cheerleading Association. She is also a foster parent and an officer in various community organizations. Faylo was cited for his volunteer efforts in helping to keep the city clean by maintaining various abandoned vacant properties and even some city-owned lots, including seeing that glass and other items he picks up are recycled.
jCharlie Harper, a longtime member of the Columbiana County Park Board, is known for his tireless efforts on behalf of the parks. Harper also is a Rotary Club member. He was honored in July by county commissioners for his role as chairman of an annual picnic for foster children.
hYoungstown Patrolman Bill Ward rounded up fellow officers and firefighters and cleaned up the nearly forgotten war memorial on South Avenue that was set in place more than 40 years ago. The crew spent hours clearing brush and removing bricks that lined the small concrete approach to the monument, erected just south of Marion Avenue. The flag above the monument was replaced with the help of a fire department ladder truck.
Dozens of Amish and non-Amish gathered to rebuild the home of Rudy and Lizzie Wengerd in Pulaski, Pa. Five of their nine children perished in the blaze that started from their coal- and wood-burning furnace Dec. 3, state police said. About 80 percent of the materials for the home were donated to the Wengerds just days after the blaze and work started on the home the next Monday. It was completed in about a week.
jMariah Smith of Youngstown, a worker at Goodwill Industry in Liberty, discovered a package containing $8,000 on May 2. It was in a pocket of a man's coat that had been donated to Goodwill. Working with Liberty police, the coat was traced to Goodwill's Salem store and then to the man's widow, who was in a nursing home. The money was turned over to the woman's brother, who was also her guardian.
jHermitage Fire Marshal Robert Goeltz was honored by Pennsylvania Fire Commissioner Edward Mann and the state Fire Service Certification Committee on Nov. 15 for his 20 years of devotion and effort to raise the professional level of the Commonwealth's Fire Service Professional Certification Program.
jCharles Booth, president and CEO of Don Booth Co. flooring in North Jackson, donated carpet and labor costs in January to the "Give the Children a Chance" center in the Phar-Mor Centre in Youngstown. Kathryn Hawks Haney of "Give the Children a Chance" said he is the first to help her create a dual senior center-youth area.
hThree members of the Northeast Ohio Disaster Medical Assistance Team spent an 11-day stint at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City in February to train in nuclear, biological and chemical disasters and serve as backup medical personnel for the Games. They are Roger Bair, a Lordstown firefighter and EMT; Thomas R. Baughman a paramedic with Columbiana Emergency Medical Service; and, Mike Kerr, a Hubbard firefighter and educator and paramedic at St. Elizabeth Health Center.
hMembers of the South Avenue Block Watch in Youngstown, led by president Cheryl Soltis and vice president Diane Summerland, responded to March shootings in the area by calling on the owners of the Classique Lounge. Bar owners met with them at a May block watch meeting and hired security to patrol the bar parking lot.
jOff-duty Boardman Police Sgt. Stephen Riwniak helped thwart the armed robbery in May of a Loomis Fargo van carrying nearly $1 million after he saw suspicious activity near the truck in a McDonald's parking lot on Western Reserve Road in Boardman, followed the truck and phoned a police dispatcher.
jYoungstown police praised alert witnesses, including Councilman Richard Atkinson, R-3rd, as leading to the indictments of two Youngstown men accused of mugging several walkers in Wick Park in August and burglarizing an East Side couple the next day. The men also were accused of being involved in a Hubbard rape and burglaries in Hubbard Township and Campbell.
jJohn Hamarik, owner of the Master Golf range in Boardman, began the nonprofit Clubs for Kids program, working in August with underprivileged youth in the Youngstown Area Community Action Council ACCESS program. Each youth received free lessons, a new set of clubs and golf bag and playing privilege on nine holes at a local course.
Volunteers from Casal's de Spa & amp; Salon in Canfield teamed up with the Fredric's Corp. Project Daymaker salon-in-a-Winnebago program to provide free haircuts, massage and makeovers in August for those staying at the Rescue Mission of Mahoning Valley shelter in Youngstown.
Youngstown native Ricky Robinson, president of Clubsmart in Ann Arbor, Mich., created the "America Rises" board game to be sold by the Youngstown YMCA and local NAACP as part of a "Helping Hands Fund-raiser." For each game sold, the organizations get $7.50 and $3 goes to the Twin Towers Orphan Fund.
hFamily and friends of Rebecca Koborie of Sharon, who died in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center, created "Becky's Garden" with donated trees and bushes in the arboretum of Buhl Farm Park in Sharon. It was dedicated Labor Day.
Members of four Wick Avenue, Youngstown, churches exchanged small tokens and shared in an interdenominational church celebration in September at Wick and Lincoln avenues. Participating were members of First Christian Church of Youngstown, First Presbyterian Church of Youngstown, New Beginnings Outreach Ministries and St. John's Episcopal Church to commit to Christianity and to the revitalization of their Smoky Hollow neighborhood.
jSonia Bowes of Boardman brought the Burden Bear idea to Trinity Fellowship Church in Youngstown, where women from various churches and communities gather weekly to sew the simple bears that accompany a Burden Bear verse. The bears are donated to Hospice of the Valley and to any others in need.
jBill Wittman Jr. of the Mahoning Paint Corp. in Youngstown donated Erase-A-Fiti, a graffiti-resistant paint and cleaner, to the Mahoning County Sheriff's Department to target high graffiti areas.
Make-A-Wish Foundation of Northeast Ohio and the Force Racing Team of North Jackson treated kids with life-threatening illnesses to a day at the cycle races throughout the summer at Nelson Ledges Road Course raceway in Garrettsville.
Wick Neighbors, a group of churches, museums and organizations along Wick Avenue in Youngstown, are planning the revitalization of the Smoky Hollow area that contains mostly vacant lots and a ball field owned by Youngstown State University. Dr. David Sweet, YSU president, and the Rev. John Horner, pastor of St. John's Episcopal Church, initiated the idea.
Ninety-five-year-old Mabel Creed, a lifelong resident of Struthers, hugged and waved at students at the new Struthers Elementary School after cutting a ribbon at the dedication of the 750-pupil school in October. A member of the Lyon Creed family, her father donated the land on which the school sits.
Juniors and seniors at Cardinal Mooney High School in Youngstown used extra class sessions and stayed after school in October to craft fleece bears and hats to be donated to patients at the Forum Health Tod Children's Hospital.
Youngstown State University students set a goal to recycle 210 pounds of items; by mid-November, they had recycled 183 pounds. The university also has the state's only "re:Create" program that collects reusable items such as art, craft materials and furniture and distributes them to nonprofit organizations. YSU and surrounding communities have diverted 13,000 pounds on nonrecyclable items through the program.
About 200 students from the Youngstown State University Warren P. Williamson Jr. College of Business Administration organized and took part in "Dare to Care" day in November, volunteering their time at local nonprofit organizations.
Principals at Hillman Middle School and at Williamson and Sheridan elementary schools showed Youngstown school board members how mentors, tutors, reading labs and other devices helped students achieve higher scores on state proficiency tests. All three schools are considered in need of improvement by the state Board of Education. Williamson Principal Linda Gianoglio said percentages in her school are rising: 62 percent of students passed this fall's reading exam, compared to 47 percent in the spring; the percentage jumped from 39 percent to 63 percent in math and 43 percent to 63 percent in science.