3 events highlight enjoyment of water

Hundreds of Youngstown-area residents will hit the water today as three big events celebrating the affinity outdoors people have with lakes and rivers.

Today is the 19th annual Muransky Companies Bass Classic, benefiting the United Way of Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley. It’s also the day for the Kids Fishing Derby presented by Muskies Inc. at Lake Milton’s Harry Meshel Park. In addition, the seventh annual Riverfest begins at 11:30 this morning at the B&O Station on Mahoning Avenue in Youngstown.

Water is the common denominator. It’s not only essential for the existence of life on Earth, it’s a great place to celebrate and recreate. Today, more than ever, we think about water, how valuable it is and how we must preserve and protect the resource.

Who could have imagined 25 years ago Youngstown and Warren people would actually go to the Mahoning River to fish and kayak? The waterway’s reputation as a dump for sewage and toxic industrial discharges was overwhelmingly negative.

But then we began to see the water quality improving, thanks to regulations that have reduced and even eliminated many pollution sources. The fish came back, and people like the Friends of the Mahoning River and Trumbull Canoe Trails Club started promoting the river as a place to preserve and play.

Many opportunities for interaction and entertainment are scheduled for today’s Riverfest, which has been declared a Zero Waste Event. It’s a great reminder about what the Clean Water Act has helped us accomplish and why we must remain diligent with regulations to protect our waterways.

At Lake Milton and Aqua Ohio’s Evans and Pine lakes, meanwhile, many other local folks will convene to fish for fun and community support. Members of the local chapter of Muskies Inc. encourage parents to bring youngsters to their annual Kids Fishing Derby to learn about fishing and how it can be a lifelong activity. Fishing starts at 10:30.

The Muransky Companies Bass Classic contributes in yet another way.

It is a fundraiser for the United Way of Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley. Director of Marketing and Communications Roxann Sebest says this year’s event has generated more than $20,000, all of which stays here in the Youngstown area for the United Way’s mission to educate and empower children and families in the Mahoning Valley.

The brainchild of Altronic executive Rich Pisani while he served on a United Way committee in 1999, the Bass Classic has brought together the area’s finest bass anglers, business and civic leaders and a host of volunteers the Saturday after Memorial Day for nearly 20 years.

Aqua Ohio has been involved since day one, graciously allowing bass anglers special access to its water resources to raise money for the agencies that provide much-needed services in the Youngstown area.

Today, 106 anglers have anted up to compete in the bass tournament, plus another 53 people have stepped forward to serve as onboard scorekeepers entering weights on the official Fin Feather Fur Outfitters ActionTally. All of the bass are weighed and immediately released.

In addition, more volunteers and United Way staffers will be on the shore helping youngsters fish and setting up for the awards ceremony at 2:30 this afternoon.

All in all, today is a great day with three big outdoor celebrations. Water is where it’s at.


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