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Youngstown Mayor: Violence must not define us

Published: Tue, September 28, 2010 @ 12:10 a.m.


Among those praying at Monday night’s Community Congress at Trinity United Methodist Church downtown were Gladys Bowers and Thomas Swanson, attending with a group from Union Baptist Church.




Two recent homicides in Youngs-town must galvanize people to take back the city and reinforce the idea the senseless violence will not be tolerated.

That was a message Mayor Jay Williams drove home during Monday’s first Youngstown Community Congress gathering, hosted by the Mahoning Valley Organizing Collaborative.

About 700 elected officials, members of city block-watch groups and citizens coalitions and others attended the two-hour gathering at Trinity United Methodist Church, 30 W. Front St., to discuss and get answers on key issues such as crime, blight, neighborhood safety, better access to healthful foods and job creation.

“It sickens me,” Williams said about the killings of 67-year-old Vivian Martin, a real-estate agent who was found badly burned last week in an East Side home that had been set afire; and Thomas J. Repchic, 75, who was shot to death Saturday while driving on the South Side. “We cannot allow these incidents to define who we are.”

The mayor noted that despite the tough economy, his administration is continuing to invest in and expand partnerships with the city’s safety forces. In addition, he said, a Violence-Gun Reduction Interdiction Program and saturation patrols are continuing in the city.

Williams has issued a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of whoever is responsible for the city’s 19th homicide this year.

“We’ve seen some movement in the [Repchic] case, and I’m hopeful that soon we’ll have some arrests made,” he added.

Several speakers, such as Gloria Hobbs, voiced concerns about the lack of grocery stores and access to healthful foods in Youngstown.

Calling the situation “a food desert,” Hobbs, a member of Trinity United, said the nearest major store is about two miles from downtown residents, many of whom are elderly or disabled.

“I have to take a bus or pay someone to get food,” Hobbs said. “I’m on a fixed income and in subsidized housing.”

Pledging their support for a statewide initiative to finance fresh-food efforts were U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan of Niles, D-17th, state Sen. Joe Schiavoni of Canfield, D-33rd, and Matt Lewis, the Republican candidate for the 33rd District seat.

Making such foods more accessible would help reduce the incidence of childhood obesity and other diseases, Ryan said, adding that obesity in youngsters is placing an enormous strain on the country’s health-care system.

Among the benefits of urban gardens and farms are summer employment for young people, reduced transportation costs and easier access to fruits and vegetables, Ryan continued.

“This is something that is absolutely doable for us,” he added.

Neighborhood blight was on the minds of several people such as Karen Fox.

Fox, a member of the Garden District Block Watch and a 20-year West Side resident, said she’s seen an exodus of businesses and residents from her area, which has led to neighborhood decay. She and other neighbors are trying to maintain vacant properties in their area, she said.

Discussing the value of establishing land banks was Chris Travers, president of the 7th Ward Citizens Coalition, who said such banks would get vacant properties in the hands of responsible people a lot faster, thereby reducing blight.

Several elected officials signed a pledge to support a local countywide Land Revitalization Corp. in place by 2011.


1Woodley(26 comments)posted 5 years, 9 months ago

I have two suggestions for the Mayor and the police Chief. One way to help stop some crime is to have more police visible on the Sputh side, You can start by having police set up speed traps during school time. Every year that I have been here Market and Glenwod Streets have been a freeway for drivers. I believe that there are a lot of people that have no drivers' permits in this city and I know that most of the gang members and thugs carry weapons. If stopped in a speed trap, the police could capture them. This worked in East Cleveland, Ohio. Just allow our police to do their jobs. Another thing is once the police capture a criminal do something to stop the judges and lawyers from Always putting the criminals back on the street. As a victim of crime here in Youngstown, I found that the police did their job, but the lawyers (prosecuters) were very laspe in keeping the offenders from getting back on the street. The city and Y.S.U. seem to be trying to help the city by making us a college town. This is good. But who wants to stay here when you are afraid to go the the local stores because of crime? On any given day after the noon hour you can see numerous young men roaming the streets with no jobs, no education, big cars and a bunch of illigitimate babies. City Hall can stop some of this madness by just enforcing the laws already on the books. I hope that it will not come to an all out war between some of the ill fated young and the the older citizens. Please stop with the same old mundane rhectotic and try to save our city.

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2UnionForever(1470 comments)posted 5 years, 9 months ago

Mayor Jay lacks a plan to stop all the criminal activity on the southside. Murders are defining Ytown as one place to not be and until he does something to rid the streets of the criminals with guns and drugs and he eliminates the urban decayed buildings and houses nothing will change. Get off your arse Mayor Jay and do something now finally!!!

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3Stan(9923 comments)posted 5 years, 9 months ago

Jay has a plan . . ..


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4Attis(1129 comments)posted 5 years, 9 months ago

Resign. And take that worthless chief of police with you.

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5walter_sobchak(2672 comments)posted 5 years, 9 months ago

Zero tolerance for ALL crime starting with traffic violations. Driving in Y-town, without gun-play is dangerous. Stop signs and red lights appear to only be suggestions. Use saturation patrols and drug dogs and use the sheriff and OSHP. Get the democratic and over-matched governor to provide some funds for this instead of letting all the $ go to the 3 C's.

And, get rid of the police chief as he is an embarassment!

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6buster62(24 comments)posted 5 years, 9 months ago

First off, the problem with Youngstown is that you have an African-American mayor and police chief.

They turn their backs on crime in the city. Thier more concerned about what happens with YSU than anything that goes on in the city.

As for MS Hobbs complaining sbout a grocery store, GROW UP. You knew what you were getting into when you went into public housing,

I lived in a Senior high-rise downtown on wood street. Believe me YMHA only cares about one thing, MONEY.

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7city_resident(528 comments)posted 5 years, 9 months ago


Why shouldn't a grocery store open downtown? If someone is on a fixed income, and living in subsidized housing, what makes you think they can afford to pay someone to grocery shop for them? Maybe they also have a hard time finding the money to make the multibple bus trips required? If they are elderly, maybe they can't do it themselves at all?

Why can't people be concerned about more than one thing at a time? This gathering was about all issues facing people living in the area, not just crime.

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8redvert(2239 comments)posted 5 years, 9 months ago

city_resident, I am not trying to be a smart azz here but why not get a list of all the people on this forum and others like it that would like to see a grocery store downtown and together open one?

I know you may have good intentions but could you afford the 24 hour armed guard necessary. While momma is shopping, her own kids would be pilfering it.

Time to bring in the ONG.

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9walter_sobchak(2672 comments)posted 5 years, 9 months ago

There is no real demand for a grocery store in downtown. However, with all the money the WRTA is raking in now, provide these people curb to curb service to a grocery store in the suburbs say 3 times a week. Maybe Giant Eagle would help to make this happen with some assistance at the store.

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10Joe306tow(49 comments)posted 5 years, 9 months ago

@ lombardo: Come on. You lost me @ Direction Card.

You & I both know that more than 400,000 Jobs have been lost under Strickland's Leadership.

Those workers along with their employers paid into the unemployment system for years in case this happened.

Now, what do you suggest? They don't get unemployment or Food benefits for their families.

I hope you see what its like to be Laid-off and receive half of your normal wages.

But remember you still have to pay full price for food, mortgage, and everything else. You would have a tough time as well.

Thank God for the Direction Card, and Job and Family Services having Retraining. So, I could get back to work and Not Starve to death.

Not everyone is a DEADBEAT as you claim. And, good luck with that Republican thing. They are crooks also.

Try looking for or running as an INDEPENDENT candidate. DEMOCRATS and REPUBLICANS have been "PARTYING" on our dime long enough.

Time for real change, NO not that OBAMA BS.

I only HAVE CHANGE in my pockets now instead of DOLLARS, thanks OBAMA you Socialist DickTraitor!

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11mrblue(1175 comments)posted 5 years, 9 months ago

Will someone please stop the police chief from speaking------you can't understand a thing he says. Things that you can make out make no sense. What the city needs is less talk and more action. A weak administration doesn't help either. A grocery store in downtown will not happen simply because no store owner will want to locate there. He will suffer too many loses to make it profitable. Y-town is in real trouble because the criminal element has no fear of the law. They must fear the law-----not laugh at it. Bring back the police officers and find a way to pay them.

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12southsidedave(5189 comments)posted 5 years, 9 months ago

Mr. Mayor, it is way too late to begin worrying about how violence defines the City of Youngstown. The damage was done many years ago.

Yet, there remains many good and decent people in the Youngstown area subjected to senseless violence.

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13lmk10pta(4 comments)posted 5 years, 9 months ago

I was at the meeting last night.What a joke..they wanna create jobs/businesses here! How the hell do they plan on doing that when we have the highest taxes!! Helloooo..I wouldn't bring my business here or open one. Why do you think they are leaving??? Also, the crime here will ALWAYS define us, there is no escape from that. They can all talk the talk..but not a one of them does a damn thing they "promise"!! I wish just one, just ONE, politician was worth my vote!

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14author50(1121 comments)posted 5 years, 9 months ago

Jay Williams makes George McKelvey look good... yikes!

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15Heartland(38 comments)posted 5 years, 9 months ago

Vote Republican and help support poverty pimps like check cashing businesses and JD Buyrighter.. Vote Republican and support real welfare (corporate welfare) queens like WalMart. Vote Republican so more jobs can be exported and crime can go up even more.

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16Lifes2Short(3882 comments)posted 5 years, 9 months ago


Don't always agree with you but you hit it right on this comment....

"Let me get this right, we pay for this woman's housing and likely her income and she is complaining because that area lacks a grocery store. Nevermind the shootings, open air drug deals, teens congregating in the streets, etc. Yeah fresh food is the priority. That's what is wrong with everyone in that area - a lack of fresh food."

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17USMC0331(152 comments)posted 5 years, 9 months ago

marshall law no other way it'll be fixed.
there needs to be serious consequences for the action of these scumbags!! bring back the fleeing felon law. this country is way to soft!! a huge lack of testicals! in other countries you get your hand cut off for stealing. you go to prison or are shot for crossing their boarders. here in the land of the free you get free money a house a job and the right to vote and cant even speak english. someone with b@!#s will do to lead the country and its cities.

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18ohdrama0901(53 comments)posted 5 years, 9 months ago

I'm prone to believe that people had this notion that as long as they are killing each other than it is not their problem. What did you really think was going to happen? Once they have killed and shot up everybody then there's noone left but go after something different. Mayor Williams is not your problem; he stepped into this mess. Youngstown was the OK Corral when this man was a child so how can anyone expect him to clean this mess up? Yes he calls the shots and give orders but it seems like the criminals have more amunition and clout than what the police have. So what do you do about that? Hmmmmm keep thinking because right now there is no definite answer but it looks like somebody better come up with one REAL quick. I have some thoughts like hiring more officers, place armed securities and pay them to police housing projects, all projects need to be gated by a swipe card to enter and exit properties, street lights need to be brightened and added where there aren't any, abandoned houses need to be demolished or sold to a person who will pledge to get it up to code and rent it out responsibly or live there themselves, placing cameras in high crime areas, and putting the responsibility of renters to do semianual inspections of their renters and keeping track by turning in adequate paperwork to the city government like the apartment management does. These are not solutions but it can offer some type of help in cleaning up the city. You have to start somewhere.

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