10 Valley locals tell why they're thankful this year

SEE ALSO: Valley family thankful after frightful flight

Staff report


Thanksgiving Day allows us time to gather and reflect on meaningful happenings over this year.

Shared here are meaningful milestones for people The Vindicator has introduced to you in its pages.


Jack Kidd, committee member of the Austintown Fitch Class of 1962, said this is his most grateful year in his 70 years of living.

Kidd is partially responsible for making sure two high school friends, Army 2nd Lt. Charles Brown and Marine Sgt. James Prommersberger, were honored for the ultimate sacrifice they made in the Vietnam War.

“I am really thankful for what we have been able to accomplish this year to honor young men who gave that sacrifice,” Kidd said. “I am a veteran myself, and I always believed in that sacrifice,” Kidd said.

The Class of 1962 committee established a Veterans Memorial at Fitch Stadium in honor of their two fallen friends.

“I am grateful to see this project through because it means so much to Austintown,” Kidd said. “I am grateful for the fact I accomplished this. This was monumental in my life.”


Todd Hancock, co-founder and director of Easy Street Productions, didn’t have to think long when asked what he is thankful for.

Hancock and his theatrical partner Maureen Collins have

been staging

musicals in Youngstown for

a quarter of a century. He is an

actor, director and producer for the shows, and he wouldn’t trade it for any other job.

“Someone a lot smarter than me once said, ‘Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life,’” said Hancock. “I’m thankful that for the past 25 years this community has allowed me to have the greatest job on earth.”

Easy Street Productions is preparing for its annual holiday

revue, “Miracle on Easy Street,” Dec. 20-22 at Powers Auditorium.

Earlier this year, Easy Street

celebrated its 25th anniversary by reprising “Pump Boys and Dinettes,” the troupe’s original musical. Hancock, Collins and the entire cast returned to the roles they first performed in the original run in 1990-91.



McNally IV, Youngstown mayor-elect said:

“I am most thankful for my wife, Virginia, and daughters, Cara and Casey, who let me run around the city for the past year campaigning for election to the mayor’s office. I am thankful for my parents and my brother and sisters and their families that they could be a part of our campaign celebration. I am thankful for what I know will be a great Thanksgiving dinner, and I am thankful for the great

opportunity to serve as the city of Youngstown’s next mayor.”


To Drew Rauzan, the past year has been full of things to be thankful for, both profession-ally and personally.

In June, the 15-year veteran of the Campbell Police Department was promoted from detective/

sergeant to its interim chief. A few months later, in November, he was sworn in as the city’s new permanent police chief.

Rauzan said he’s grateful that all of his career paths have come together — he’s also a licensed attorney — and that this combination

allows him to work with a great team of officers at the

police department, and also effect change within his hometown.

“I’m thankful to have the

opportunity to have a positive

impact on a significant number of people within the city,” Rauzan said, “and I would like to continue to make strides with the quality of service we provide to the residents and visitors of Campbell.”

Rauzan added that he’s thankful, too, for his family, especially his parents and daughter.


Rose Ann DeLeon, executive director of the Western Reserve Port Authority, said the “top of my list right now [to be thankful for] is my health. After going through cancer and serious health issues — when you go through something like that, you really look at life and what’s important — family, friends and my work community.”

DeLeon acknowleged she had cancer nearly two years ago, about the time the port authority hired Sarah Lown to serve as her assistant.

DeLeon had to miss work for several months in early 2012, but she said she was “feeling fine” by August 2012. In May 2013, the port authority extended her contract through the end of 2014.


Audrey Tillis, Mahoning County budget director, said she’s thankful for her mother’s recovery from open heart surgery this year. “I’m thankful in 2013 that my mom is still here,” she said.

She also expressed gratitude for the upbringing her parents gave her. “My parents brought me up to have integrity and to do things that were upfront with people,” she said.

That upbringing has helped her achieve success in her career, Tillis added.

“My father was a minister who loved people and loved the Lord. My mom worked in South Side Hospital. Both of them taught us to respect people,” she said.


Diana Colaianni, nursing director of the Mahoning County District Board of Health, said she is “thankful for my family and their good health and their contentment in their life choices.”

Colaianni said she is also thankful to work with a “wonderful dedicated group of professionals who have made my 18 years here very fulfilling.”


Jacqueline Burley said she is “thankful for God’s grace and strength in getting Protestant Family Service through this year’s journey so far.”

The executive director of PFS continued in her thanks with, “We have been able, because of our partners, to help many families with emergency assistance with utilities, food, rent, household items (beds, bedding, appliances, dishes etc.), life- sustaining medications.”

She also noted that partners and donors also make other programs such as Adopt-a-School special needs, Christmas Savings “Making Families Self-Sufficient,” CROP Walk, back-to-school clothing and shoes and water and senior assistance possible. Burley said one of the most important element of PFS is “to lend a listening ear to our clients.”


Randy J. Dunn, who became Youngstown State University’s eighth president last July, said in an email that first and foremost he’s thankful for “my wife, all my family members, and circle of friends. Life gains its meaning from the rich relationships and strong ties with others, and I am fortunate to have many good people in my life.”

He also listed the opportunity to have a meaningful job that has the potential to positively impact the lives of others.

“In some rare cases, when you serve as a university president, what you do at work can even transform the lives of others,” he said. “That’s powerful and gives me a reason to look forward to coming to the office every day.”

He said there are a lot of other good things in his life: “good health, good music, good food and wine, good outlook [most days] ... that all make for a good life!”



native Michael Moritz had a big year. A musician who has appeared in countless stage productions in the Mahoning Valley over the years, Moritz is also the owner of Kontinuous Jams recording studio in Boardman.

He made his way to Broadway last year where he has since carved out a niche as a pianist and music director. His cabaret show with Broadway star Norbert Leo Butz was released as an album earlier this year.

Moritz also is one of the producers of the new Broadway musical “Big Fish,” which opened in October.

For his good fortune, Moritz recognizes the people who helped him along the way, especially his family.

“I’m incredibly thankful for the countless people who have taught and inspired me throughout the years, opened doors to wonderful opportunities, and have encouraged me to continue to pursue my dreams,” he said. “I’m thankful for the most wonderful mom, dad and sister; I can attribute all successes in my life to their love, support and endless encouragement.”

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