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Orchids and onions

ORCHID: To organizers and all those involved in this year’s fundraiser — a virtual run — for the Officer Justin Leo Scholarship Foundation, which offers scholarships to area students. Leo, a Girard police officer, was killed in 2017 in the line of duty. In light of this year’s pandemic, Amanda Archer, Leo’s former classmate, created and organized a 72-mile virtual run this summer. About 850 participants from 38 states plus Italy and Scotland registered, raising $20,400 for scholarships and ensuring another generation of students at Girard High School will remember Leo’s legacy of paying it forward.

ORCHID: To donors who helped McDonald Local School District raise more than $15,000 for a rehabilitation project to create a therapeutic room in the high school’s Blue Devil Room. The donations from generous local people and businesses will make the project possible without relying on local taxes.

ONION: To vandals who sprayed purple paint on the band stage at Austintown Township Park earlier this week. According to park personnel, the damage apparently was done in broad daylight by sometime Monday morning or early afternoon.

ORCHID: To Girard football players, Tyler Maddox, DeShawn Williams and Deane DeCiancio, who without hesitation ran to the aid of a woman who had fallen while struggling to manage a large dog. Local police last week commended the actions of these young men, praising their selflessness, courage and willingness to act.

ORCHID: To the city of Campbell and its school system for the successful construction and opening of the new Community Literacy Workforce and Cultural Center, a 70,000-square-foot facility that will offer the public a library branch, gymnasium, concession and cafe space, conference and event space and classrooms for the IMPACT Academy. The facility came about following conversations with Campbell High School graduates who expressed a need for area recreational space. Congratulations to the city for taking initiative to solve those concerns and on completion of the beautiful center located on Struthers Coitsville Road.

ORCHID: To the Youngstown and Mahoning County public library system for moving forward on plans to reopen most of its libraries by Aug. 3. We know there have been many challenges in planning for the libraries’ safe reopening during this pandemic. But certainly, the time is well past due for this publicly funded operation to be open and available.

Orchids and onions

ORCHID: To boosters who organized the Girard FIRST Robocats Robotics Team parking lot bingo fundraiser earlier this week. Participants in more than 35 cars showed up to take part in the fun event that raised money for the team while keeping everyone safe and appropriately distanced. Great idea!

ONION: To the person who left a loaded rifle — with a round chambered — in a roadside ditch surrounded by high grass at a Weathersfield business. Thankfully, a responsible adult found the weapon as he was mowing the grass and called police, who found no record of ownership attached to the weapon. What fool would dispose of a weapon this way? What if a child or someone less responsible had found the gun?

ORCHID: To Austintown Senior Center officials for getting educated and prepared now on the best ways to reopen the facility amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Officials at the center, closed since March, know seniors need a place to go. So, they have been attending meetings with Ohio Department of Aging and the Ohio Association of Senior Centers to gather suggestions, and the center has purchased several new tools and gadgets, such as ultraviolet light cleaners, to help kill viruses, bacteria and mold at the center. Sounds like they’ll be ready when the time is right to reopen!

ONION: To Youngstown Water Department supervisors for allowing workers there to approach one another without masks. This week it was announced that one department supervisor, who works in city hall, contracted COVID-19. Now, another woman who works in the department possibly also has been exposed because she had a lengthy in-person conversation with the infected supervisor, while neither wore a mask. This is why it’s management’s responsibility to ensure employees maintain social distance and not approach zone another without a facemask!

ORCHID: To the energy-conscious Campbell City Schools for agreeing to build a new clean energy system for district buildings. The new system is expected to generate energy on sunny days while distributing a consistent flow of electricity on cloudy days. District officials expect the new system to save them more than $30,000 a year. The $2 million in infrastructure upgrades are funded by grant money, and the new system also will serve as an educational topic for Campbell students.

Orchids and onions

• ORCHID: To Choffin Career and Technical Center in Youngstown and to Mahoning County Career and Technical Center in Canfield, winners of 2020 Gene Bottoms Pacesetter School Award from the Southern Regional Education Board. The schools are being honored for reaching goals related to increases in student graduation rates, readiness for college and careers and credential attainment. They will be honored next year at a “Making Schools Work Conference” in Nashville.

• ONION: To motorists in Poland who apparently think it’s entertaining to drive at high rates of speed by the township’s speed trailer to see how high they can get the number to flash. The move is ridiculously irresponsible and, of course, dangerous.

• ORCHID: To the United Way of Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley for again earning a four-star rating on its evaluation of financial health and commitment to accountability and transparency. It’s the fifth consecutive time the United Way of Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley has earned the top distinction. Its score of 96 makes the local agency among the top United Way organizations in Ohio.

• ONION: To the man who struck and seriously injured a female trainer during a new employee training session at Struthers-based Astro Shapes. The 33-year-old woman, described as slightly built, suffered a broken jaw while she was explaining how to operate plant equipment. The injury rendered her unable to speak and caused heavy bleeding.

• ORCHID: To residents including some military veterans in the area of Austintown’s Starwick Drive who recently lined the streets with some 600 American flags that had been removed from veterans’ graves at Calvary Cemetery and were scheduled to be burned. The flags, in good condition, were preserved and placed in yards all around the neighborhood in the spirit of patriotism over the Fourth of July holiday.

• ORCHID: To SMARTS, or Students Motivated by the ARTS, a Youngstown-based community art school, selected to receive $50,000 in federal relief funding from the National Endowment for the Arts through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, to support programs and jobs. The school was among 855 organizations funded out of the more than 3,100 applications from arts organizations nationwide.

Orchids and onions

• ORCHID: To Ellwood Aluminum, which recently produced test casts of aluminum rods at its Hubbard Township facility where it hopes to gain a foothold in the aluminum-casting industry. The Pennsylvania-based company is launching an ambitious $72 million undertaking here and now is in the process of clearing other hurdles before full-scale production can start.

• ONION: To Major League Baseball for pulling the plug on Minor League Baseball — including the Mahoning Valley Scrappers — this year. MLB informed Minor League Baseball — which has acted as an important developmental tool for the big leagues for more than a century — that it won’t provide players for the 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Yes, these are unprecedented times. We get that. But with the long-term future of the Scrappers still in question, the latest decision brings the very real possibility that the Scrappers may have played their final game here.

• ORCHID: To the Western Reserve Transit Authority, honored as Transit System of the Year in the Ohio Department of Transportation’s 2020 Excellence in Diversity and Inclusion Awards. WRTA is one of eight organizations honored for exhibiting exceptional commitment to the principles of civil rights, diversity and inclusion in the transportation industry.

• ORCHID: To Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost for attempting to hold General Motors to its agreement with the state and demand the automaker “pay back every last penny” of the $60.3 million it received in state tax credits for its former Lordstown assembly plant. This week Yost said this: “Accountability is the key to good business and we’re holding GM accountable for not living up to its end of the contract.”

• ONION: To Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, however, for his soft approach to GM’s attempt to reneg on the money owed to Ohio. Last week DeWine said this: “We don’t necessarily have to get that cash back,” and “We’re not actively pursuing the clawback.” Come on! GM broke the tax incentive agreements when it closed the Lordstown facility in March 2019. It should pay back the funds.

• ORCHID: To Ohioans for not letting the COVID-19 pandemic slow their response to the 2020 Census. The U.S. Census reports that Ohioans have been completing their census forms more often than those nationally. About 66.3 percent of Ohio households have completed their surveys, better than the 61.7 percent average nationwide. If you still need to complete your survey, call 1-844-330-2020 or visit 2020CENSUS.gov.

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