Orchids and onions

ORCHID: To the Struthers community for unifying in the face of tragedy. Residents and volunteers have found unique, visual ways to pay homage to 4-year-old Rowan Sweeney, gunned down violently this week inside his home. Now Struthers utility poles are wrapped in red, and porch lights and lamp posts shine in red lights. A Lowellville Road bridge is decorated, with more community members stepping up to offer time and materials to help with a proposed memorial park in Rowan’s name. Undoubtedly, this has been a horrible situation, but the community has reacted in a way that shows it is Struthers Strong.

ONION: To the Ohio Department of Health and its interim director Lance Himes for recommending that, among other ways of lowering the spread of COVID-19 during Halloween, people should consider leaving treats in mailboxes. In fact, it’s against the law to use a U.S. postal mailbox for anything other than mail that has postage attached.

ORCHID: To decorated Vietnam War veteran Carl Nunziato, whose name will be on the new Youngstown Veterans Affairs Outpatient Clinic. This week, after U.S. House approval, Nunziato was adamant this building should represent not only him, but all war veterans. “Together, we paved the way not just for veterans with disabilities but for all Americans with disabilities.” U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Howland, called Nunziato “a true American hero” who “never has quit.”

ONION: To Youngstown administrators, including Mayor Jamael Tito Brown, who allowed last month’s demolition of the former Anthony’s on the River building without proper approval and allocation of funds from Youngstown City Council. Some council members had lashed out at being circumvented, saying the city likely would see legal action. Indeed, this week owners of the former restaurant sued the city, claiming “their substantive and procedural due process of law were violated by not being afforded notice and hearing” and that there was no legitimate reason for the demolition. Undoubtedly, this demolition decision will be a costly one.

ORCHID: To state and local facility officials for working together to develop plans to soon allow indoor visitation with those with developmental disabilities, in nursing homes and assisted living facilities as cold weather approaches amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Outdoor visitations have been allowed at facilities for several months now, but outdoor visitation will be less viable in colder weather. Indeed, it’s important for families to safely visit and interact with loved ones. We are pleased this issue is a priority and plans are being laid.

Orchids and onions

ORCHID: To Second Harvest Food Bank of the Mahoning Valley for all it does, and to its network of volunteers, including the Ohio National Guard. The food bank extended a special thanks to the Guard this week, noting that the agency is serving some 20,000 people per week, numbers that have spiked tremendously during the COVID-19 pandemic. That work could not be done without the distribution assistance of the Ohio National Guard. Members of the Guard’s 237th Support Battalion will be returning to civilian life. The 671st Support Battalion will begin deployment at the food bank through the end of December.

ONION: To Youngstown for taking nearly two years to implement a decision to remove six electronic traffic signals as part of an overhaul of downtown streets. The city’s department of public works ordered the removal nearly two years ago after conducting a traffic survey that determined the traffic lights were no longer justified due to reduced traffic. It took this long to get state approval and to move forward with the removal as part of other larger road improvements. Indeed, traffic control devices should be utilized only when the volume of traffic warrants it. Stopping traffic needlessly is frustrating to motorists and something that should be examined and adjusted regularly.

ORCHID: To the Boardman Civic Association for not allowing the challenges of COVID-19 to stop the important task of educating voters. After consulting with local health and safety experts, the association is going forward with its 2020 candidates and issues forum, but doing it with caution in an outdoor venue. The forum will be 5:30 p.m. Monday at Boardman Park’s Maag Amphitheater. Outdoor seating will be done with social distancing. Attendees may bring chairs. An outdoor sound system will be used, and guests preferring to remain in their vehicles will be able to tune in on car radios.

ONION: To former Youngstown Police Officer Phil Chance Jr. of Boardman who is in trouble again. Chance, 41, pleaded guilty this week to six counts of tampering with records. Chance, a weapons instructor, was accused of falsifying certification and attendance records for people trying to get their carrying-a-concealed-weapon certification. Chance had resigned from Youngstown Police Department in 2012 amid an investigation of theft allegations. At that time he was ordered to never again work as a police officer.

ORCHID: To Friends of the Mahoning River for its ongoing efforts to clean up the river as it passes through numerous communities, both near and far. Members of the group spent part of last weekend removing old tires from boat access areas in the Mahoning River near Hillsville, Pa. More than 20 volunteers in canoes, kayaks, fishing boats — and even a whitewater raft — turned out.


Orchids and onions

ORCHID: To Doug Genna, Youngstown State University associate professor of chemistry, and Mariah DeFuria, a 2017 YSU graduate with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry, for their design of a newly patented material that could assist in the process of removing pharmaceuticals increasingly found in tap water. This is an emerging problem, as reported by the World Health Organization. DeFuria is believed to be the first student co-inventor on an issued patent in YSU’s 112-year history. Bravo!

ONION: To area drivers who have been taking advantage of roadways emptied by the coronavirus pandemic by pushing well past the speed limit. The Ohio State Highway Patrol tells us they have been clocking increasingly more motorists driving at excess speeds, including one driver clocked last week in Mahoning County going 101 mph, and another 93 mph. In August, 873,451 vehicles traveled on I-680, with 7 percent, or about 7,000 vehicles, traveling at least 20 mph over the speed limit. Just because more motorists are staying safe by staying home during the pandemic, it doesn’t mean those who aren’t home get a free pass to endanger themselves and others on the highways.

ORCHID: To members of Corner House Christian Church in Hubbard Township, who have been cleaning up and restoring the aging church cemetery. The church hosted a cemetery rededication ceremony Sunday to honor the Jesse Hall family, who originally donated land for the cemetery, and to recognize all the volunteers who have assisted in the cleanup project. There are 178 people buried there, including 16 veterans, and Jesse Hall himself, who served in the Revolutionary War.

ONION: To vandals that defaced not once, not twice, but three times, a landmark Kent State University “rock,” since classes started last month. The large boulder that students traditionally have painted and repainted at the Kent State main campus three times has been painted with white supremacist graffiti. Now the university is considering costly measures to fence or protect the rock with security cameras.

ORCHID: To parents and student athletes who seem to be following pandemic protocol that, so far, has allowed high school fall sports to move forward with few problems. Social distancing, mask wearing and limited attendance seem to be helping, and our health-conscious student-athletes seem to be handling the situation well. Let’s hope it continues so we can finish the season without interruption.

Orchids and onions

ORCHID: To some 30 Youngstown-area barbers who provided free haircuts to Youngstown City School District students this week preparing to head back to school. The second annual Back to School Free Haircut event was held at Beyond Expectations Barber College on the city’s South Side. This wonderful project represented much more than grooming. Despite COVID-19 that has limited the physical return to the classroom, it still is about sending the kids back to their lessons feeling good about themselves. It also was about giving back to the community.

ORCHID: To Youngstown State University alumni Suellen and Michael Weir for giving back to their alma mater with a $1 million gift to establish a new scholarship intended to relieve financial barriers for students studying engineering or science. The award could cover 50 percent of the successful recipient’s tuition. Suellen attended Cardinal Mooney High School and received her bachelor’s degree in education from YSU in 1973. Michael, a graduate of North Lima High School, earned his bachelor’s degree from YSU in mechanical engineering in 1971, and a master’s in business administration in 1977.

ONION: To vandals who damaged the beautiful Woodland Park in McDonald this week by spray painting profanity on the restroom building and park benches and throwing trash and garbage around the park. The damage meant some parts of the park had to be closed. We hope McDonald police are able to arrest the vandals and see that they are fully prosecuted — to punish and teach lessons and also to send a message to other sad individuals who might think this kind of disruption is entertaining.

ORCHID: To local and federal law enforcement for joining forces this holiday weekend in an attempt to arrest and prosecute gun offenses on the streets of Youngstown. Our Second Amendment right does not protect people from illegally possessing firearms if they have been banned due to previous felony convictions or for other reasons. This weekend’s partnership benefit to Youngstown and its residents.

ORCHID: To all the organizers and participants at this year’s Canfield Junior Fair events. It seems strange to us all that we aren’t taking in the festivities at this year’s full fair, but we were glad to see the kids be able to showcase their projects and receive the full recognition and attention they deserve.


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