Orchids and onions

• ORCHID: To Paul and Yetta Gluck of Warren whose generous $150,000 donation made possible the new Paul & Yetta Gluck School of Visual Arts Studio at the Jewish Community Center of Youngstown. This generous couple said they see the new studio as something with the ability to bring people together — a wonderful goal in such a divisive world we live in today.

• ONION: To the cowardly thief stealing political candidate signs on the northwest side of Canfield. That person is a petty thief and an enemy of the First Amendment rights of people who vote. My vote is not for the thief’s likely candidate, but I feel no compulsion to steal those signs. (submitted by a reader)

• ORCHID: To all the organizers and participants that are moving forward next week with this year’s scaled back Junior Fair event at the Canfield Fair. Sadly, the huge tradition of the Canfield Fair was canceled this year due to COVID-19, but we are so pleased to see the kids still will be able to showcase their hard work and projects at the fairgrounds in somewhat of a sense of normalcy. They all should be proud!

• ORCHID: To Leonard Truck and Trailer that donated the better part of five pallets full of back-to-school supplies to Jackson-Milton Elementary School in North Jackson. It included things such as notebooks, markers, glue sticks and so much more, all to help ensure the kids get back to school without need for these types of purchases.

• ORCHID: To amazing Parent-Teacher volunteer associations that seemingly are always there offering their help to teachers and administrators in pulling off wonderful school projects, fundraising events and just about anything else our educators need to help our kids learn in a good environment. As Mahoning Valley students head back, we know this year will be extremely challenging, and we are certain the PTA warriors will be there to assist in any way they can. This week, for example, the PTA was on hand in Jackson-Milton Schools to help sort and ready all the wonderful supplies donated by a local business.

Orchids and onions

ORCHID: To the Youngstown Business Incubator, which continues to grow its additive manufacturing headquarters, far exceeding expectations in the three years it has operated a downtown additive manufacturing building known as “Tech Block Building 5.” Now YBI is preparing a grant application that, if approved, could help fund renovations worth millions. YBI continues to be a wonderful downtown asset.

ORCHID: To the Ohio National Guard for its continued help at Second Harvest Food Bank of the Mahoning Valley. More than 20 members of Ohio National Guard’s 237th Support Battalion have served full time at Second Harvest since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March, and now the state has extended the Guard’s food bank service for our community through the end of the year.

ONION: To the Ohio Department of Health for its illogical decision to ban small outdoor concerts because of COVID-19 social-distancing mandates, while larger indoor events are permitted to go forward. The state doesn’t permit mass gatherings of more than 10 people outdoors, but allows up to 300 to be indoors for events such as weddings and political fundraisers. Even Ryan Tekac, Mahoning County Public Health commissioner, acknowledged that it appeared Austintown Township Park concert-goers were doing a good job with masks and social distancing, but said he was obligated by state order to stop the shows. “We asked the Ohio Department of Health if masks are worn and people social distance, can they be allowed to continue. They said no,” Tekac said. That’s senseless.

ORCHID: To the WRTA and its Executive Director Dean Harris for efforts to bring its public transportation services to broader regions of Trumbull County. As a good neighbor, WRTA already has been running expanded routes in Trumbull County since March, using money provided by the state for a program funded until May. Now the agency will consider whether to allow Trumbull County to become a full member.

ORCHID: To state Rep. Michele Lepore-Hagan, D-Youngstown, for donating $2,500 — what she received in contributions from FirstEnergy Corp. — to the Alliance for Congregational Transformation Influencing Our Neighborhoods (ACTION). Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder and four others are charged in a $60 million federal bribery case related to a $1.3 billion ratepayer bailout of two failing nuclear power plants owned by former subsidiaries of FirstEnergy. FirstEnergy hasn’t been charged, but Lepore-Hagan’s donation sends a message. She had voted against the bailout and said she was “confident” ACTION would “use the funds to improve the quality of life in our community.” She received a $2,000 contribution in 2015 from FirstEnergy and $500 in 2019.

Orchids and onions

• ORCHID: To Tim Harker, who teaches science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) at Boardman Glenwood Junior High School, for being named Teacher of the Year for Ohio District 8, a 12-county region that includes Mahoning and Columbiana counties. It’s quite a prestigious honor.

• ORCHID: To Gabriella Gensamer, a graduate of Western Reserve High School and the Mahoning County Career and Technical Center, for winning this year’s $1,500 Athena Scholarship from the Youngstown Warren Regional Chamber and Community Foundation of the Mahoning Valley, and Annabelle Himes, also a Western Reserve gradate, and Sophie Klase, a graduate of McDonald High School, for being awarded $1,250 scholarships from the Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield.

The scholarships are typically announced at the annual Athena Award Dinner to recognize women who strive toward the highest levels of professional and civic achievement, but it was canceled this year due to the viral outbreak. The three young women have been invited to participate in the 2021 event.

• ORCHID: To Youngstown City School District for giving students there either a Chromebook or iPad to facilitate at-home remote learning as the district starts the 2020-21 year fully remote to protect the health and safety of students and staff during the viral outbreak.

• ONION: To ex-Youngstown Finance Director David Bozanich and downtown developer Dominic Marchionda who have pleaded guilty to public corruption charges. Their actions and the actions of the co-defendants in the case — former Mayor Charles Sammarone and Raymond Briya, a former MS Consultant Inc. chief financial officer — further perpetuate Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley as corrupt and further erode the public’s already suspect trust in government.

• ORCHID: To the Mahoning Valley College Access Program for giving away nearly $20,000 in scholarships to 14 high school seniors and two first-year college students. The program helps relieve the financial burden of post-secondary education. The scholarships are awarded to graduating seniors from Youngstown City Schools and Warren G. Harding High School. Students who receive this scholarship have a chance to win it a second year in a row as college freshman.

Orchids and onions

ORCHID: To board members of the Henry H. Stambaugh Auditorium Association and all those involved with the majestic building and auditorium now and throughout its history. The auditorium this week marked the centennial anniversary of the first board meeting, when original members pledged to create a venue for “enjoyment, pleasure, entertainment and education” of the community. Indeed, the wonderful facility has done just that. This week, the current board passed a resolution echoing the original message. The ongoing commitment to preserve the building and carry out the mission of serving the community deserves 100 orchids.

ORCHID: To those leading the effort to generate interest and raise funds for the Robinson-Shuba Commemorative Statue Project. Crews from “CBS Sunday Morning” will feature the story and plans for the statue in an upcoming broadcast. The statue will be erected in downtown Youngstown. It will depict Youngstown native George Shuba’s famous 1946 handshake with baseball Hall of Famer Jackie Robinson after Robinson’s first homerun in mainstream professional baseball. Shuba was white and Robinson was black, making this an enormous gesture during an era of open racism in America. Dan Pecchia of Canfield, a member of the project committee and president of Pecchia Communications, which is donating services for the project, said the national television coverage showcases the Mahoning Valley as a place where people get along across racial lines. For project information, visit www.robinsonshuba.org.

ONION: To two women who entered Peaberry’s Cafe in Canfield this week refusing to wear masks and attempting to cause a rift when management asked about it. As a result, the business owner decided to shut down for a day to protect his business, employees and patrons. The order for masks comes from the governor. Opponents should take it up with the governor’s office, not people trying hard to operate a business. Furthermore, private businesses retain the right to make the rules for their patrons. Most typically require shirts and shoes, too. If a customer doesn’t like the rules, they always have the option of going elsewhere.

ORCHID: To Lordstown Motors Corp. and investors New York-based DiamondPeak Holdings Corp., which united to bring a $675 million infusion. The deal includes a $500 million fully committed PIPE — private investment in public equity, which is a mechanism that allows institutional investors to invest in private companies — that includes a $75 million investment from General Motors. That’s exciting news that brings even more legitimacy to the local new electric vehicle startup company.

ORCHID: To Sadie Ohl, 13, of Boardman, the youngest vendor at the weekly Austintown Farmers Market. She sold enough customized masks to make it worth returning this week. Ohl also has an online business, “Refashioned closet” on Instagram. We admire her young, entrepreneurial spirit.

Orchids and onions

ORCHID: To Second Harvest Food Bank, Ohio National Guard and countless donors and volunteers who help make possible food giveaways, like one this week at the Canfield Fairgrounds. There, more than 700 families lined up for food donations. Sadly, the food bank has seen a 40 percent increase in demand since the pandemic began.

ORCHID: To Boardman Boy Scout David Wittman, 18, whose final Scouting project was building a track and field awards podium for use at Boardman’ s Spartan Stadium. Assistance for the project came from Home Depot and other volunteers.

ONION: To some members of Youngstown City Council missing the point of working for common good of the city as a whole. We were particularly troubled by a comment made this week by Councilwoman Anita Davis who fears the city’s bike path plans won’t benefit her ward. We applaud Davis for fighting for her constituency, but, at the end of the day, council must base its decisions on the greater good for the city as a whole. The bike path ultimately will offer opportunities for health and recreation to all city residents.

ORCHID: To Lordstown Motors Corp. for continuing to seek innovative ways to market its new electric pickup truck, the Endurance. The company this week announced it is partnering with a global automotive services firm, New Jersey-based Holman Enterprises, to introduce the truck to fleet operators nationwide. This partnership and all marketing efforts will help grow the company and also will help grow the local economy by keeping people employed at the plant. We all must hope for success of the Endurance and LMC.

ORCHID:: To Niles Board of Education for working aggressively to try to save funds by offering retirement incentives for members of the two school district labor unions. To help trigger some attrition savings, the board of education is offering one-time lump sum payments ranging from $2,000 to $8,000.


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