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Orchids and onions

• ORCHID: To members of the Martin Luther King Jr. Planning Committee of Mahoning County that hosted this week’s MLK Day program, themed “Remembering What is Civil and Doing What is Right.” The three-hour gathering examined ways to address and tackle ongoing racism in today’s society that can have a disproportionately negative effect on minorities’ access to and quality of goods, services and opportunities. The areas of focus were on youth concerns, education and criminal justice. Panelists included Judge John Durkin of Mahoning County Common Pleas Court; Dr. Ben McGee, a former Youngstown City Schools superintendent who’s president of the Mahoning-Youngstown Community Action Partnership board of directors; and Bryant Youngblood, assistant director of the Academy of Urban Scholars High School. The event is a wonderful way to continue King’s legacy.

• ORCHID: To Youngstown fire Lt. Tommy Gibbs, who entered icy waters this week to bring a 16-year-old girl to safety after she had fallen through thin ice into a pond on Jacobs Road near McKelvey Lake. While she was showing signs of hypothermia, her injuries apparently were not serious.

• ONION: To the private ambulance provider that was unable to respond in Youngstown because it had no ambulances available. Luckily, firefighters were able to use a private van to transport the girl to the local hospital. There always should be a backup plan for ambulance service. This incident could have been so much worse. Now, Youngstown Mayor Jamael Tito Brown says the city’s ambulance company will add two more ambulances into service full time, reducing risk of not being able to respond to an emergency.

• ORCHID: To participants and organizers in the weekly “Chess is Life” program held at Southern Park Mall in Boardman and Eastwood Mall in Niles, aimed at teaching children important life skills — along with the game of chess. Chess is Life, an acronym for Cognitive, High-level, Enhancement of Successful Strategies Inspiring Students in Long-Term Intrinsic Focus on the Endgame, teaches kids patience, concentration and accepting mistakes and losing when playing chess.

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Orchids and onions

• ORCHID: To the Boardman High School Spartan Marching Band for winning the Spirit Award and $2,500 from Home Savings Bank for the band’s participation in the Christmas parade in Youngstown. The money will go toward buying much needed new band uniforms.

• ORCHID: To KTSDI LLC of New Middletown, Phantom Administrative of Youngstown and Kiraly Tool and Die, Inc. of Youngstown, for taking advantage of the first round of funding in Ohio’s TechCred workforce development initiative. It’s a good thing anytime local businesses and workers can get training to keep current on the latest technology and market trends. In this case, the program helps pay for the training.

• ORCHID: To the Thomases Family Endowment of the Youngstown Area Jewish Federation for donating $30,000 to OH WOW! The Roger & Gloria Jones Children’s Center for Science & Technology. The money is being used toward the museum’s recent purchase of the former McCrory building at 11 W. Federal St. It’s a move that secures the center’s future in the downtown by allowing to it to stop renting space.

• ONION: To two women from Akron accused of shoplifting LEGOs worth nearly $1,200 from the Walmart in Boardman. The accusation is bad enough, but there’s added seriousness due to reports of two young children accompanying the women.

• ORCHID: To the Youngstown Warren Regional Chamber for procurement meetings it arranged for Lordstown Motors Corp. to link the fledgling electric pickup truck company with automotive and facility suppliers at it embarks on trying to make the trucks at the former General Motors assembly plant. Every little bit helps to help make the company a success.

Orchids and onions

l ORCHID: To the Down Syndrome Association of the Valley, which is hosting classes to teach people with Down syndrome kitchen acumen and cooking skills. A dozen teens and young adults are enrolled in the classes, focusing on cooking, nutrition and kitchen safety at Mahoning County Career and Technical Center.

l ORCHID: To Poland officials for making efforts to explore replacement of the Mauthe Bridge over Yellow Creek in Poland Municipal Forest, which has been closed for almost two years now. A consultant has made a presentation to village council, and plans are being made for a construction meeting to discuss the work. Replacement of the bridge, originally built and named for the former president of Youngstown Sheet and Tube, are planned to include the original steel beams.

l ONION: To the burglar who apparently left his cellphone behind after breaking into a Fremont Avenue, Youngstown, home early Wednesday morning. Police found a broken window, footprints in the snow and a recently dropped cellphone they believe belonged to the burglar. Really? Now, that’s a stupid criminal mistake.

l ORCHID: To local students and area schools that are joining with Youngstown State University in a collaborative arts program themed “Unity through Nature,” paying tribute to nature and Mill Creek MetroParks. Students from Youngstown City Schools, Boardman, Liberty, Austintown, Poland, Lowellville, South Range, Struthers, the Diocese of Youngstown, Campbell, Columbiana and YSU are creating collaborative visual art pieces intended to send a message of strength, power and the importance of unity throughout our area.

l ORCHID: To 17 Boardman school district teachers who received grants totaling nearly $10,000 to assist students with a variety of study tools. The money was raised by the Boardman Schools Fund for Educational Excellence and its partnership with the Boardman Education Association.

Orchids and onions

Orchids and Onions

* ORCHID: To planners creating a pilot program to use a $2.7 million grant to create and implement programs in the Mahoning Valley to establish early intervention programs for families at risk of becoming involved in the child welfare systems. The grant-funded program also will help create tools to prevent child abuse and neglect in the Valley.

* ORCHID: The Jewish Community Relations Council of the Youngstown Area Jewish Federation for sponsoring the annual Holocaust writing, art and multimedia contest, for Mahoning and Shenango Valley students in conjunction with Yom Hashoah, or Holocaust Remembrance Day. Indeed, our young people must be taught about this horrific historical event to ensure that it never is forgotten.

* ONION: To Barbara Brothers who was elected to the Youngstown school board, but last week said she would not take the seat because, the current board “accepts” that the Youngstown city schools are failing, and does not provide leadership in how to address the problems. If Brothers feels that way, then certainly, she has missed her opportunity to work as a member of the board to effect change.

* ORCHID: To Girard Multi-Generational Center for offering its “Matter of Balance” program designed to help manage falls and increase activity levels for senior citizens. Falls become an increasing problem during the winter months, and this program is created to help head that off.

* ORCHID: To owners and operators of local company, US Safety Gear, who recently inked a three-year deal to become the “preferred provider” of game-day apparel for workers at Cleveland’s Progressive Field, home of the Cleveland Indians. Most Tribe fans would agree that’s pretty cool.

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