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Traficanti holds firm on reaction to quake

Published: Thu, July 1, 2010 @ 12:10 a.m.

Evacuating Oakhill was ‘right thing,’ official says




Judee Genetin


Mahoning County Commissioner Anthony Traficanti



Oakhill Renaissance Place


The chairman of the Mahoning County commissioners defended county Administrator George J. Tablack’s decision to close Oakhill Renaissance Place for the rest of the afternoon after the June 23 earthquake.

“I wasn’t here when it happened. I heard that the building shook and that it was immediately evacuated by our administrator,” Traficanti said in a rushed interview as he left the courthouse after Wednesday’s commissioners’ meeting.

“We felt: Err on the side of caution as opposed to anything else; and we did the right thing,” Traficanti said.

Commissioner John A. McNally IV said Tablack called him at 3:30 p.m., about two hours after the quake, and informed him Oakhill workers were sent home for the day because of concerns about possible structural damage to the building.

A subsequent inspection by Kurt Seidler of Seidler Engineering and Pete Triveri, county facilities director, found the former hospital complex structurally safe. Located on a hill overlooking downtown Youngstown, the county-owned Oakhill is the former Forum Health Southside Medical Center.

McNally and Judee Genetin, acting director of the county’s Department of Job and Family Services, which is housed at Oakhill, said they weren’t aware of any other Youngstown public buildings being evacuated because of the 5.0 magnitude quake, whose epicenter was near Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

Genetin said, however, a Canton building housing legal-aid lawyers, public defenders and the Stark County Children Services Board was evacuated and closed for the rest of the day because of the quake.

According to a report in the Canton Repository, the 98-year-old, 13-story Renkert building at Third Street and Market Avenue in Canton was closed by one of the building’s owners. After they were told the building was closed, Children Services supervisors sent two people in at a time to retrieve personal belongings, the Repository reported.

As far as she knows, there’s nothing about the five-story Oakhill complex that makes it especially vulnerable to earthquake damage, Genetin said.

All Oakhill workers returned to the building the morning after the quake, and all county workers at Oakhill will be paid for the hours during which they were evacuated, Genetin added.

“I didn’t notice anything at all,” said Barry Landgraver, director of the county’s Veterans’ Service Commission, which is on Oakhill’s first floor.

He said, however, that people who work on the upper floors told him they felt the building shake and rattle.

Landgraver said a JFS Medicaid worker coming down a stairway told him the building was being evacuated.

“Then I yelled down the hall, ‘Everybody get out,’” Landgraver said. “There were hundreds of people outside. They emptied the building.”

Landgraver added that the city fire department was on the scene.

After he and his staff were outside for 40 minutes, Landgraver said, a deputy sheriff told him the complex was closed until further notice, and he and his staff re-entered the building, shut down their equipment and left.

“I was in the building, but I did not feel it,” said Eva Ibarra, site manager for the Mahoning-Youngstown Community Action Partnership’s Head Start program.

Ibarra said she was on the second floor of a separate building, where her agency rents space in the Oakhill complex, that building being the former hospital administration building. She said Triveri ordered her to evacuate as a precaution.

Although she said she didn’t feel anything, Ibarra said two members of her staff sitting in cars in an Oakhill surface parking lot during their lunch breaks reported to her that they felt their cars shake.


11970mach1(1005 comments)posted 5 years, 12 months ago

So, they were soooooooo scared, they had to get out and go home. But, only AFTER they went BACK IN the building to turn off their computers and get their stuff. And then they got paid to go home. What a scam.

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2exposed(66 comments)posted 5 years, 12 months ago

It was widely reported that the snakes, fleas and mice remained. Traficanti had no comment.

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3author50(1121 comments)posted 5 years, 12 months ago

Are you sure it was the quake and not Two Ton Tony running through the building chasing after snakes, mice, lions, tigers and bears?

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4burford(95 comments)posted 5 years, 12 months ago

You were misinformed. The County issued a memo for all vermin to leave the building.

The Courthouse is older than Oak Hill and no one left the Courthouse.

The County Annex building on Market Street is just as rickety as Oak Hill and no one left the Annex.

Parts of St. Elizabeth Hospital are very old and no one left St. E's.

Stambaugh Auditorium is an old building and no one left Stambaugh.

The First National Bank building on the square is probably 80 years old and no one left the Bank building.

Jones Hall at YSU is an old building and no one left Jones Hall.

Face it. Oak Hill is a bad structure and is a bad investment. Couple that with the poor leadership in county government and you get this lunacy.

By the way, were Traficanti, Ludt, McNally or the 4th commissioner Tablack even at work that day to appear on the scene and supervise the evacuation?

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5palbubba(802 comments)posted 5 years, 12 months ago

"We did the right thing" Arrogance and ignorance know no bounds. If a minor earthquake in Canada can make a building in Youngstown unsafe, the building needs demolished not moved into by county government. Another joke by the valley leaders.

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6snworb56(53 comments)posted 5 years, 12 months ago

WOW... I left Boardman years ago about the time of the Frank Lordi circus. It appears that nothing has changed in Mahoning County. Traficanti is an embarassment. Shame.

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7ytownredux(117 comments)posted 5 years, 12 months ago

While I agree that it was wrong to send the Oakhill employees home, I can see where Chicken Little Helen Youngblood would have found even more air time at the Vindy or local news to make up more stories about how awful the place is, if she and hers were not sent home. Of course it was sound through a 2.0 earthquake.

Of course none of the other old buildings in town were evacuated, because they are NOT owned by the County and could not be. I am sure if any of those mentioned were County owned, they would have made the same mistake across the board to be fair.

Oakhill is a safe, clean and much better solution than Garland Plaza ever was and it's time to just get over it and move on with it and get the rest of the County offices in there and stop the fighting. This building and idea has much more merit than anyone thinks and will be a great thing for the County in the long run.

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8valleyred(1103 comments)posted 5 years, 12 months ago

Further evidence that shows this purchase was a MISTAKE!

We need to vote out Traficanti whenever he is up for re-election just like we voted out Ludt. Traficanti is not the answer to our problems... he is the problem!

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9ytownredux(117 comments)posted 5 years, 12 months ago

Wrong again Valley Red, he may not be the best commissioner ever, but he has principles and really does what he thinks is best for the County and is not in anyone's back pocket.

For him to be an ex-staffer for Trafficant and for me to support him at all says a lot, as I can barely say the name without throwing up in my mouth just a little bit. I would think with your glowing support of Trafficant that you would give Trafficanti a little slack.

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10walter_sobchak(2672 comments)posted 5 years, 12 months ago

When a building is subjected to wind loads, the upper floors displace laterally with respect to the base of the structure, causing an eccentricity of the vertical loads. When an earthquake occurs, the base of the building displaces laterally with respect to the upper floors of the building, causing similar eccentricity. They both have some effect on the building's main lateral force resisting system. The difference is the magnitude. In our area, there is a low risk of seismic activity so, overall, buildings are designed for high wind loading, which is highly possible to occur, as we have seen over the past few years.

The main hazard during an earthquake in our area would be the lateral displacement of secondary units, such as building veneers, interior walls not subject to wind loads, and interior furnishings such as bookcases and cabinets. Of far, far greater concern would have been the Mahoning county courthouse since there is severe deterioration in the tieback steel for the upper level stone and ornamentals. There are structures in downtown Youngstown that are significantly higher and thinner than this building, not to mention, that were designed in an era when earthquake loads were not well understood. No problems with any of them.

So, what we have here is a ruse perpetrated on the citizens of Mahoning County by a political hack (and minions) that are posturing for their present and future benefit. Most competent people can see through the ploy. The commissioners need to grow a pair and not let these type of thug activities overtake them. Tell the people to get back to work and stop complaining. And they wonder why union membership is at an all-time low!

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11yannicontpunclejuby(49 comments)posted 5 years, 12 months ago

they should of never moved from the east side in the first place-they deprived the cafaros of $500,000 which they fed back into the community in the form of bribes -now that dave betras is in charge of y town-i hope he sets things straight

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12howardinyoungstown(591 comments)posted 5 years, 12 months ago

Why not just have the county workers make up the hours that they were paid for but did not work?

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13yannicontpunclejuby(49 comments)posted 5 years, 12 months ago

hey howardinyoungstown why don't you go back to which ever right to work state you crawled out of this is union town-getting paid for hours you didn't work is what working for the goverment is all about-you probally voted for bush

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14ytownredux(117 comments)posted 5 years, 12 months ago

yannic.......... Sarcasm is a great weapon, but you dull the blade when you overuse it. One per topic would give it much more relevance, otherwise you are simply a smarta**.

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15andy(1 comment)posted 5 years, 12 months ago

It is a joke saying the Oak Hill is clean when they only have 1 janitor working in the day time. Also ytownredux were you ever in the building to see if it was clean?

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16ozzi(14 comments)posted 5 years, 12 months ago

you septic tank commo's are very funny,laughing at your own destruction,hows that change you can believe in thing working out for yus.LOL.

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17howardinyoungstown(591 comments)posted 5 years, 12 months ago

yanni I'm not sure how to respond to your comment. If it means anything to you I voted for Obama, but only as the lesser of two evils.

In the primaries I voted for Mike Gravel.

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18ytownredux(117 comments)posted 5 years, 12 months ago

Andy, as a matter of fact, I have been in the building, I took a tour recently throughout the entire building and not just the lobby's and it was very clean. That 1 janitor must do a heckuva job and we should applaud the County Commissioners I guess for finding such a hard worker according to you.

Also Andy, my next door neighbor has worked for JFS for 13 years and LOVES Oakhill. So I guess the joke is on you Andy. I won't even mention that you gave no examples of dirtiness, except seemed to surmise it from you only seeing 1 janitor. Do you run the janitorial schedule at Oakhill? Could this be Helen Youngblood and you know because it is your sole union janitor you are representing to your chicken little best??

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