Orchids and onions

• ORCHID: To volunteers from several local organizations who spent time assisting would-be voters to ensure they are properly registered in time to vote in the Nov. 5 election. The service was part of Tuesday’s National Voter Registration Day, and volunteers helped at the Jewish Community Relations Council of the Youngstown Area Jewish Federation; YWCA Mahoning Valley; Central YMCA; Oak Hill Collaborative; Ohio Urban Renaissance Inc. (all in Youngstown); the Davis Family YMCA in Boardman; and all branches of the Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County.

• ORCHID: To the Youngstown Board of Education that is setting up committees to write a strategic plan for the Youngstown City Schools, in hopes of pulling the school district out of academic distress that it has experienced for many years.

• ONION: Also to the city board of education for waiting so long! The district, this year, received its fourth consecutive overall failing grade on its school report card. That’s unfathomable and absolutely unacceptable. What took so long for the board’s aggressive approach?

• ORCHID: To local donors including young 4-H participants and others who donated their time, effort and money to the new $4.2 million building that will house the Canfield Fair Junior Fair next year. Attending the groundbreaking this week was Shawn Adams, a 4-Her who donated the proceeds from the sale of his 4-H project pig during the fair. He said he wanted to help make a difference and support the new facility.

• ORCHID: To organizers of last week’s building trades expo in Canfield that helped to connect some 4,100 students from Trumbull, Mahoning and Columbiana counties and two counties in western Pennsylvania with building trade professionals about futures in the industry. Representatives from 16 trades plus contractors participated in the event that was coordinated by the association, Western Reserve Building Trades, educational service centers in Trumbull, Mahoning and Columbiana counties, and the Youngstown Warren Regional Chamber. It’s critical to show our young people that, while college is very important, there are other career paths if college isn’t for you.

• ORCHID: To Mahoning County veterans Richard T. Baldwin, Army / Marines, and J. Lori Stone, Air Force, who are among 20 inductees to be honored at the 28th annual Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame induction ceremony in November for their post-military service. The two local veterans were chosen from 145 nominees.


Orchids and onions

• ORCHID: To Akron Children’s Hospital, which this week announced a sizable expansion of its youth behavioral health program in the Mahoning Valley by the end of 2019. Sadly, the need to address these types of youth issues is growing. Akron Children’s recognizes that need and is stepping up with a $2.3 million project at a new space at the hospital’s Beeghly Campus, allowing it to double the number of patient visits in the region within the first 12 months.

• ORCHID: To the city of Girard and the Trumbull County Planning Commission for partnering together to seek a $500,000 brownfield cleanup grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that, if approved, would be used to remediate and redevelop the former Girard Leatherworks property for recreational and commercial use. Teamwork like this on important economic development projects is critical because regionalized efforts generally are viewed more favorably in grant programs.

• ONION: To more than 2,000 people who still have not responded to administrative subpoenas requiring they file their income taxes with the city of Niles. The Regional Income Tax Agency, or RITA, has identified $267,868 in outstanding taxes owed to the city of Niles this year. What makes this situation even worse is that we are certain that city is not alone in this problem.

• ORCHID: To McDonald Board of Education and the district’s teachers union for staying focused in their work to reach a tentative agreement for a labor contract without dragging it on for significantly longer or using work stoppages that would have left students suffering. The tentative pact was hashed out after a seven-hour negotiation session this week. It came with commitment from both sides to stay at the bargaining table as long as it took and with the help of a federal mediator.

• ORCHID: To organizers and participants in this week’s commemoration of Black Monday held at the “confluence” of Campbell, Struthers and Youngstown. The event was much more than just looking back, though. It also pointed out the need to look forward and redevelop our area. “We don’t have the time or the luxury to cry over our spilled milk anymore,” said organizer Derrick McDowell. He’s right. We must keep looking ahead to grow our Valley.


Orchids and onions

• Orchid: To organizers in Austintown, Vienna and Bazetta for coordinating again this year an annual remembrance ceremony of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. So many children weren’t even alive when the attacks happened that we must continue to honor the heroes and all those who lost their lives so that we never forget.

• Orchid: To the folks who rushed to the aid of Cortland police officer Nicholas Mancini last week when he suffered a heart attack and crashed his police cruiser while on duty. Their quick thinking may have helped to save the officer’s life.

• Onion: To all those who allow their pets to go unattended and without being spayed or neutered. The problem has contributed to a record number of cats being surrendered to the local Angels for Animals shelter in recent months, including 520 cats in July and 614 in August.

• Orchid: To all the Angels for Animals volunteers and foster caregivers who have taken in the cats to help ensure they are cared for while they are awaiting permanent adoption.

• Orchid: To Youngstown for being selected for the National Football League’s Helmet Challenge symposium, a $3 million contest to find who can build a better helmet to protect players from traumatic injuries. Youngstown was chosen largely because it is home to America Makes, the Youngstown Business Incubator and Youngstown State University, putting the Mahoning Valley in the forefront of innovation and technology and a leader in the field of 3-D printing and additive manufacturing.


Orchids and onions

ORCHID: To dozens of local school districts in Trumbull and Mahoning counties that have been operating ahead of the curve on social-emotional learning guidelines that recently were adopted at the state level. These important programs already have been successfully implemented for years in most Mahoning Valley school districts.

ONION: To Ohio Democrats who are suing to stop the state’s Republican elections chief from removing thousands of names from the state voting rolls for inactivity. Why do we keep fighting this battle? If voters are inactive for a certain lengthy period of time and after attempts at notification, why not remove them? As we see it, nothing is stopping interested voters from re-registering.

ORCHID: To the family of Janet Casey and the Liberty branch of the Warren-Trumbull County Library for opening “Jan’s Corner,” an outdoor play area donated by the family of the avid reader who was an active library patron before her death last year.

ORCHID: To participants and organizers of this year’s annual Up A Creek benefit concert that raises funds for the Howland Paw Pantry, which provides food, personal hygiene, clothing and school supplies to needy Howland school children.

ONION: To the city of Girard for continuing to tout the spoils of ticket money generated from traffic speed cameras. The city spent more than a half million dollars on new police cruisers, upgraded the police radio system and bought a new video system for the municipal court. Sounds great on the surface, but what they don’t say is that the money came from the pockets of unsuspecting motorists, and almost as much money left the area in the hands of the Tennessee company that owns the camera equipment. That means hundreds of thousands of dollars taken from the local economy.

ORCHID: To organizers of this year’s Canfield Fair. Once again, the fair was a huge success with great entertainment, shows, exhibits and festivities — not to mention all the hard work exhibited by 4-Hers and adults who entered exhibits and livestock. What a wonderful showcase of what our Mahoning Valley has to offer!