Apathy toward the Phantoms perplexes ‘puck-nut’ from Pa.

Apathy toward the Phantoms perplexes ‘puck-nut’ from Pa.

A recent article in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review raved about the success of the Johnstown Tomahawks, a first-year Tier II junior A hockey team in the NAHL. I couldn’t help but draw my own comparison to the Youngstown Phantoms of the USHL (the country’s premiere junior hockey league).

Folks in Johnstown, Pa., who practically ran the professional Chiefs of the ECHL out of town three years ago, are now embracing budding college kids for their grit, hustle and determination, turning out in droves to cheer them on. The Phantoms meanwhile just completed another winning season and came within a win of a trip to the finals, and except for a small but passionate fan base, no one in Youngstown seems to care.

I make the trip from southern Butler County, Pa., several times each winter because I enjoy the game and appreciate the efforts of these fine young athletes. They play their hearts out, and they do it for free. They do it for the love of the sport and a chance to pursue a dream. How can you not respect that? In this age of greed and selfishness in sports and in society, how can you not support that?

I’ve heard all the excuses. Fans miss the Steelhounds, they hate current ownership (bet you like them on the Fourth of July), they want pro hockey, the economy is tight. I admit to not knowing all the particulars. I don’t live here, and I’m just an outsider looking in, but from my vantage point it appears that this team and this organization are doing everything they can to be a community asset.

As a Pittsburgh Penguins season ticket holder and a certified puck-nut I see a lot of hockey at many levels (including the Johnstown Tomahawks), and the Phantoms game-day experience is exceptional. The Covelli Centre is a gem, and the product is first class. The only thing missing are the fans.

As a 10-year-old back in the 1970’s my family and I moved from ‘hockey-mad’ Buffalo, N.Y., to ‘what’s hockey?’ Warren, Ohio, forever stunting my growth as a hockey player. I went from indoor rinks in every neighborhood to Sunday morning road trips to Kent State University (home of the Clippers) to find ice as a charter member of the Mahoning Valley Hockey Association.

With the recent closing of the Ice Zone in Boardman and talk of the Phantoms being evicted from the Covelli Centre next season due to lack of interest, my fear is that the Valley is returning to the bad old days.

Thanks to the Phantoms’ players, coaches, and staff for a great season (the playoffs were awesome!) If you need a new home come October, there is a new rink being built in Cranberry Township. We would love to have you and those incredible jerseys here in Butler County.

Wake up, Youngstown. You have something special in the Phantoms. Hopefully you won’t have to lose them to find that out.

Louis McAfee, Zelienople, Pa.

Kill the dysfunctional filibuster

Something is very wrong with Sen. Harry Reid. Now, most people reading this letter are probably going to wonder why I’m bothering to talk about a senator from Nevada when writing in to a newspaper of Ohio. And the answer is that he is the Senate majority leader — the person who is ultimately in charge of the dominant political party of that upper chamber. He occupies a powerful position and, unfortunately, at this moment is failing to perform his duty of making the Senate functional. So I’m offering Mr. Reid and the public a bit of advice.

America’s Senate is broken and has been so for many years now. Part of the reason for this is due to the record-breaking Republican usage of the stall tactic known as the filibuster, which can indefinitely delay legislation any one senator finds objectionable. Often they are able to utilize this technique without even speaking upon the floor of the chamber. It’s a very time-consuming process for politicians to use, and they even continue to get paid while they use it. Indeed, there are rarely “talking filibusters” anymore since mysterious-sounding maneuvers like “secret holds” let them avert that.

This brings me to my advice for Sen. Reid: scrap the filibuster. Do it for real this time. The filibuster needs to be either entirely destroyed or carved into a much weaker form. You want a better government, America? Then dial up your senators and demand they tell Harry Reid to hold a vote to get rid of the filibuster.

No more games. No more fear.

The word filibuster doesn’t appear in the Constitution, so it can’t be defended on those grounds. To Sen. Rob Portman and Sen. Sherrod Brown, if you’re reading this let me make it perfectly clear: bust the filibuster. Let’s not have our Senate end up like ancient Rome’s. A place of rules does not have to be a place of fools.

Robert Heltzel, Niles

Resurrecting ‘I know nothing’

The Obama administration’s response to all the scandals that have been in the news is “I don’t know.” It is as if “Hogan’s Heroes” have been transferred to the executive branch of the federal government.

David Axelrod said the other day that the government is too big for the president to be always aware of what is happening. I agree. Yet, he and the rest of the left continue to call for bigger government.

It is not very comforting to know that the IRS will also be responsible for the collection of our medical data and the implementation of Obamacare. The fact that many Americans seem not to care is probably a bigger tragedy.

Jim McCloskey, Boardman

CCA doing a beautiful job

Both sides of Market Street leading into downtown have well- landscaped lots here and there. They are the work of C.C.A. Inc. halfway house, which Executive Director Richard Billak, his staff and laborers have been doing for 12 years. The C.C.A. has diligently replaced decaying structures and potential slum sites with well manicured plantings and trees. (Their signs within identify their work.)

Mr. Billak is retiring in December. He deserves much acclaim for his part in this momentous task.

The same regard has been demonstrated by the Rev. Gregory Maturi, prior of St. Dominic Church, in his tireless efforts to maintain the South Side neighborhood by the church’s construction and depletion of vacated and neglected houses. Both men are a credit to the community.

Congratulations to Mr. Billak for the high standards set by C.C.A. May his successor follow in his path.

Dolores Falgiani, Youngstown

100 deadliest days for teen drivers

Memorial Day marks the be- ginning of the 100 deadliest days of the year on our nation’s roads for teen drivers. Hundreds of teens are killed in car crashes and their families are left devastated. These deaths are unacceptable. I implore parents to remain vigilant as they play a big role in the fight to end these tragic crashes.

School might be out, but teens still need to be off the roads by 10 p.m., when teen crash risks sharply increase. Although teens may spend more time with friends during the summer months, teens should not ride with or carry other teen passengers. Just one teen passenger increases a teen driver’s crash risk by as much as 48 percent. Parents, please don’t ever sacrifice safety for convenience.

I lead the Ohio Teen Safe Driving Coalition, established by The Allstate Foundation and the National Safety Council to raise awareness about why teen crashes occur and what we can do to prevent them. I encourage parents to get involved and become advocates for their teens’ safety on our roadways. By doing so, I’m confident this summer can be the safest yet for teen drivers.

Debbie O’Malley, Seven Hills

The writer is a leader of the Ohio Teen Safe Driving Coalition.