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Today in history

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Today is Sunday, May 31, the 151st day of 2009. There are 214 days left in the year. On this date in 1889, more than 2,000 people perish when a dam breaks sending water rushing through Johnstown, Pa.

In 1809, composer Franz Joseph Haydn dies in Vienna at age 77. In 1819, poet Walt Whitman is born in West Hills, N.Y. In 1910, the Union of South Africa is founded. In 1916, during World War I, British and German fleets fight the naval Battle of Jutland off Denmark; there is no clear-cut victor, although the British suffer heavier losses. In 1949, former State Department official Alger Hiss goes on trial in New York, charged with perjury. (The jury ends up deadlocked, but Hiss is convicted in a second trial.) In 1961, South Africa becomes an independent republic. In 1970, tens of thousands of people die in an earthquake in Peru. In 1977, the trans-Alaska oil pipeline, three years in the making, is completed. In 1989, House Speaker Jim Wright, dogged by questions about his ethics, announces he will resign. (Tom Foley later succeeds him.) In 1994, the United States announces it is no longer aiming long-range nuclear missiles at targets in the former Soviet Union.

May 31, 1984: Youngstown spelling bee champion Janelle Clark is the 45th speller out of 151 to fall in the National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C. The word “ceraceous” was her undoing.

Michael Swofford, the former chairman of the Columbiana County Democratic Party, said he will file a protest over an election that saw Don Gosney regain control of the party.

Hubbard electricity customers can expect rate reductions of at least 28 percent after the signing of a new contract for wholesale electricity with American Municipal Power-Ohio Inc.

May 31, 1969: Youngstown Police Chief John Terlesky estimates the crowd downtown for the Memorial Day parade at 15,000.

Responding to a tip that a bomb would be detonated on Hilton Avenue, Youngstown police arrest three suspects who were fleeing after planting a stick of dynamite at the home of Joseph Pignatelli. The explosion damaged the front porch of the home.

A new war memorial is dedicated at Austintown-Fitch High School.

Youngstown city and Mahoning County officials agree on a method to provide local financing for an interceptor sewer system in Youngstown’s northeast and northwest sections that will be funded primarily by a $837,000 federal grant.

May 31, 1959: Thousands of Youngstown area residents join to honor the war dead at area Memorial Day pageants, including 10,000 who attend Youngstown’s parade.

U.S. Rep. Michael J. Kirwan says U.S. Sen. John Kennedy of Massachusetts, regarded as a front runner for the 1960 Democratic presidential nomination, will visit Youngstown soon.

Seven area men are graduating from West Point: Raymond W. Fisher, John Panko Jr., Robert W. DeMont, John R. Morrison, Lawrence A. Struble Jr., David T. Gray and Michael D. Isacco.

May 31, 1934: Youngstown finance Director Hugh D. Hindman says the city has saved $100,000 through two months of half-pay for city workers and is preparing to rescind the cuts.

Youngstown Mayor Mark E. Moore promises full support for any steel workers who want to continue to work if a strike is called by unions.

The Powell Pressed Steel Co. plant at Hubbard is damaged by fire that started in the paint shop and spread to the stock department. The Hubbard Fire Department called for help from four departments, including Youngstown. Damage is estimated at $60,000.