By Peter H. Milliken
Mahoning County will participate in a regional earthquake drill at 10:17 a.m. Oct 17, named “The Great Central U.S. ShakeOut,” which is billed as the region’s largest-ever earthquake drill.
The slogan will be “Drop, Cover and Hold On,” and participants will be asked to drop to the floor, take cover under a sturdy table or desk, if possible, to protect their heads and necks, and hold on until the shaking stops.
Dennis O’Hara, a planner at the Mahoning County Emergency Management Agency, announced the drill at Thursday’s county commissioners’ meeting. O’Hara said he believes it is the first such drill to be conducted in Mahoning County.
“Earthquakes can occur anytime, anywhere,” O’Hara said. “Ohio can have them, and we have had them in the past...We want to be prepared” for any future quakes, he added.
Mahoning County residents felt the Aug. 23, 2011, earthquake, which was centered in Virginia, and a series of a dozen earthquakes linked to an injection well on Youngstown’s West Side, culminating in the Dec. 31, 2011, earthquake, which measured 4.0.
The drill will occur during the commissioners’ next meeting, which will begin at 10 a.m. in the county courthouse basement on the day of the two-minute exercise.
The ShakeOut is being coordinated by the Central U.S. Earthquake Consortium and the states of Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Oklahoma and Tennessee. Individuals, families, businesses, schools, colleges and government agencies are invited to participate.
Concerning another matter, Helen Youngblood, president of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 2001, which represents workers at the county’s Department of Job and Family Services, complained after the meeting that she was placed on paid administrative leave Sept. 26 pending disciplinary action.
“They just suspended me for speaking out” based on comments she made in a union meeting, Youngblood said.
“She’s being considered for discipline based on her conduct. It has nothing to do with her union activities,” said Robert E. Bush Jr., JFS director.
Youngblood will be entitled to a pre-disciplinary hearing, he said.
A Wednesday discipline notice from Bush accuses Youngblood, a JFS trainer, of insubordination by refusing to comply with instructions of Lori Murphy, JFS business office administrator, and using threatening language during a Sept. 25 disciplinary meeting concerning another employee.
The notice also accuses Youngblood of failure of good behavior for purportedly sending Murphy an email in advance of that meeting questioning the need for the sheriff’s department to provide security at the meeting — and asking if security is “called for black people only.”
The email also asked: “Do you have a rope for lynching in your office?” Youngblood is black. Murphy is white.
“It’s disruptive of the workplace,” Bush said of Youngblood’s email, adding that he finds the racial references offensive.
NEW PAVING PLANNED
Commissioners voted to advertise for bids for placement of a top coat of asphalt on two miles of Newton Falls Road between Gladstone Road and Mahoning Avenue, where Chesapeake Energy hauled equipment and materials to a nearby oil and gas well drilling site. Chesapeake had placed a preliminary coat of asphalt on that road, said Patrick Ginnetti, county engineer.
The commissioners also approved an agreement under which Pennant Midstream LLC agrees to repair any roads it might damage in New Middletown and in Poland and Springfield townships as it builds a 38-mile natural gas pipeline connecting the Hickory Bend processing facility now under construction in Springfield Township with one in Harrison County.