Orchids and onions

• ORCHID: To Mahoning Common Pleas Court judges for finding ways to resume trials during the COVID-19 pandemic beginning July 20. Judge John Durkin’s courtroom is first to be equipped with plastic barriers, allowing some jurors to be moved from the standard jury box. They will gain access to newly mounted video screens to provide video and audio of the trial. Microphones also have been added. The adaptations were made to ensure safety while keeping cogs of justice churning. It’s past time to get back to that — no trials have been held for four months.

• ORCHID: To Bill O’Hara, who has been serving as Western Reserve Joint Fire District’s fire prevention officer for 50 years. What an incredible achievement in a career of serving the public.

• ONION: To the man who decked an Austintown Home Depot employee when he was stopped and asked for a receipt for merchandise he was taking from the store. The incident was caught on surveillance camera. A suspect is now locked up in the Mahoning County jail, charged with robbery — a much more serious offense than theft, due to the contact with the worker.

• ORCHID: To all those who organized and participated in this year’s Juneteenth celebration Saturday at the Youngstown Foundation Amphitheatre. The speakers and participants delivered a clear message, the event was both meaningful and uplifting, and the weather was inviting. As one participant described it perfectly, “This is just to bring everyone together to show love through all of these tough times.”

• ORCHID: To the United Way of Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley’s Women United group for teaming up with the Youngstown City School District to deliver “Jump into Reading” kits to students on Youngstown’s South Side. Beginning Monday, Women United will join Taft Elementary School administrators to deliver books and summer activities including jump ropes to students in nearby neighborhoods. What a fabulous way to get kids both active and engaged in summer reading.


Orchids and onions

ORCHID: To Poland’s McKinley Elementary STEM teacher Jill Marconi and to international best-selling author Kate O’Hearn, who teamed up to shock and surprise student Mila Milosevic, 10, with a call from England. As part of an assignment, Mila had told her teacher it was O’Hearn, her favorite author, who she would most like to meet. Marconi reached out across the pond and was able to coordinate a teleconference including Mila. During their chat, the author announced that three names Mila chose — Mila, Jili and Esme — will be incorporated in her new book. How exciting!

ONION: To former Struthers police Officer Michael Trolio, who received a letter of discipline last week accusing him of being involved in a social media post in which inappropriate language was used. The officer, who has since resigned, was off-duty and, indeed, his speech is protected by the First Amendment; however, as a police officer, he should have maintained higher standards. According to his personnel file, this is not the first time Trolio was disciplined for making “unfavorable statements” posted to social media. He was suspended in 2011. Maybe now he’s learned his lesson.

ORCHID: To Ellen Tressel, wife of Youngstown State University President Jim Tressel, for donating five of 10 new hand-washing stations being set up all around campus in time for students’ August return. The touchless wash stations provide four washing units that allow for hundreds of individual, 20-second hand washes per hour. Great idea! Now, let’s just hope these young people — who often feel invincible — use them!

ONION: To residents who don’t control their dogs that often become vicious to mail carriers, as well as other delivery people visiting the address. The U.S. Postal Service says an estimated 5,800 carriers nationwide suffered dog attacks in 2019, making dog bites among the most serious problems that carriers face. Public awareness of this issue is being raised as part of the U.S. Postal Service’s National Dog Bite Prevention Week. Pet owners, keep your dogs in check!

ORCHID: To three Valley foundations for collaborating on grant-making efforts to help support organizations working toward the region’s re-emergence from the COVID-19 health crisis. The Community Foundation of the Mahoning Valley, Raymond John Wean Foundation and Youngstown Foundation released an updated application this week, the COVID-19 Crisis Relief and Stabilization Application. (It’s available on their websites.) Together, the foundations invested more than $877,000 in the Mahoning Valley since mid-March, focusing almost solely on crisis relief efforts. Now, they hope to focus on investing in the Valley’s resurgence efforts. What a wonderful collaborative effort!

Orchids and onions

ORCHID: To Youngstown City Council’s Community Planning and Economic Development Committee members for pausing to continue public discourse about legitimate budget concerns, a pending lawsuit by a fired director seeking his job back and other factors surrounding the department before moving ahead on creating a planning director and a business retention specialist, filling the open compliance officer position and changing responsibilities of other employees. While the proposed planning department overhaul has been under discussion for quite some time, and the city’s need for a planning director seems critical, there are many new legal and financial concerns that must be considered before Youngstown jumps into the new plan.

ORCHID: To Western Reserve Transit Authority for adjusting busing hours to fit changing rider demand. WRTA’s final weekday runs end now by 9 p.m. While nightline routes are discontinued, a new service, WRTA Late Night, was added to bring scheduled curb-to-curb service using small vehicles until midnight on weekdays in certain areas of Mahoning County. All WRTA bus rides are free until further notice. The flexibility and willingness to adapt services show the agency is eager to accommodate riders’ needs.

ONION: To dozens of Austintown property owners who, according to township officials, are not upkeeping their properties appropriately. During the last two township meetings, trustees took action to declare more than 65 Austintown properties as nuisances. Residents who live in populous areas should be more respectful of their neighbors by keeping their properties better maintained.

ORCHID: To Mahoning County commissioners and engineer for moving forward on a $3.1 million paving project for nearly a mile of the very busy South Avenue in Boardman. The summer project includes an intersection reconfiguration, resurfacing, drainage improvements, curb and gutter replacements, driveway reconstruction and traffic signal improvements, and is expected to improve safety. Many, many motorists may be frustrated with delays early on, but they will certainly be pleased when it is complete.

ORCHID: To the Mahoning Valley Scrappers for hosting a free fireworks display by Phantom Fireworks at Eastwood Field on June 26. The Niles field’s parking lot will be open for “June Boom Drive-In Fireworks,” allowing for enjoyment while remaining socially distanced due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With so many communities canceling upcoming events due to the pandemic, including many July 4 fireworks shows, this fun event will be welcomed and much needed by members of the community.


Orchids and onions

ORCHID: To the organizers and participants of the March for Justice event in Youngstown to protest the senseless killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer on May 25. The protesters were able to express their anger and outrage over the treatment of African-Americans by police in the U.S. peacefully without the violence and looting that have happened at other protests in cities across the country.

ONION: To the people who decided it was a good idea to bust windows at the Choffin Career and Technical Center and United Way of Youngstown and Mahoning Valley during what were otherwise peaceful protests Sunday in Youngstown.

ORCHID: To Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corp. for raising the $20,000 needed to renovate a former monastery on Youngstown’s South Side into a public meeting place. In fact, officials surpassed the goal, raising $21,286 as of earlier this week. The building will be transformed into a place for neighborhood groups and other organizations to meet at no cost.

ORCHID: To the teachers of McKinley Elementary and Poland Middle schools in the Poland Local Schools for holding an event to say goodbye to their students and families for the summer. Teachers lined the sidewalks as the students rode by in cars, giving them a friendly sendoff and ending the school year interrupted by the COVID-19 viral outbreak.

ORCHID: To Eastern Gateway Community College in Youngstown for continuing with its plan to purchase two buildings it leases, giving the school some permanency in the downtown. The school will seek bond financing for about $13 million for the buildings — Thomas Humphries Hall on East Federal Street and its health and workforce building on East Boardman Street — and other industrial and security upgrades.


Take words with you, and return to the Lord. Say to Him, “take away all iniquity; Receive us graciously, for we will offer the sacrifices of our lips.”

Hosea 14:2 NKJV


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