Orchids and onions

ORCHID: To Canfield High School teachers Peter Graff, Michael Strohecker and Kristen Gennaro, and head custodian Rick Amato, for efforts to inject fun into the school day for students. What started as light-hearted joking to lighten morning COVID-19 temperature checks evolved into costumes and wacky entertainment with themes ranging from fishing trips to turkey dinner scenes with full costumes. The new morning routine enforces that despite uncertain and anxious times, students need not be afraid. As Strohecker correctly stated: “We’re going to get through this and be OK. You don’t have to come in the building scared every day.”

ORCHID: To Struthers City Schools for continuing traditions of providing an appreciation dinner for senior citizens. It looked a bit different this year, but the pandemic didn’t stop the district from honoring the elderly. Instead of a sit-down meal, the event was held as a drive-thru with about 200 dinners passed out by high school officials and school board members. It’s a wonderful way to show appreciation of local senior citizens who still support the district, even after their own children have grown.

ONION: To Youngstown City Schools officials who are predicting an impending $7.2 million deficit by 2025. The expenses might be affected by a new contract being negotiated with the teachers union, but the district has declined to provide terms of the tentative contract because the Youngstown Education Association has not yet approved the pact. With that kind of looming deficit, the school district owes its residents and taxpayers openness and transparency, not secrecy.

ORCHID: To Mariah Leskovac, 16, a sophomore at McDonald High School, who overcame life-threatening cancer and hearing loss caused by the treatment to become the first featured twirler at the high school in 14 years. She was diagnosed at age 4 with neuroblastoma, a cancer of the adrenal glands, and overcame the odds (she was among 750 cancer cases in the U.S. with a 23 percent survival rate) to flourish as a teen.

ORCHID: To Youngstown State University officials who made the difficult, and undoubtedly unpopular, decision to cancel the traditional week-long spring break in March over concern about the spread of COVID-19 in the community. Instead, YSU is replacing the week with multiple wellness days in February, March and April. No classes will be held those days, but the university will be open and services will be available. YSU President Jim Tressel was was correct when he said the move is best for the “physical and mental well-being of the entire YSU community.”


Orchids and onions

ORCHID: To Liberty High School for relaunching, after a 10-year hiatus, its theater program with performances of “Little Shop of Horrors.” The theater program officially restarted last school year but was forced to call it quits early due to the state’s COVID-19 stay-at-home order. Now graduates who missed out last year are able to participate this year. Social distancing guidelines are being utilized again this year.

ONION: To unregistered voters who cast 330 Mahoning County provisional ballots in an attempt to vote improperly in the Nov. 3 election. Also, onion to 12 people who voted by mail and then showed up at their polling location in an attempt to vote again. The Mahoning County Board of Elections this week flagged these ballots and invalidated them, along with some that had other problems. In all, let’s hope the unregistered voters learned from their mistakes and have now gotten registered for future elections.

ORCHID: However, to the Mahoning County Board of Elections for catching the errors. The board invalidated 378 provisional ballots for various errors following the election. This is the way election checks and balances are supposed to work.

ORCHID: To U.S. Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio for donating a $1,200 stipend he received from Janssen-Johnson & Johnson for participating in a COVID-19 vaccine trial to United Way of Central Ohio’s COVID-19 Community Response Fund, helping Ohio nonprofits impacted by COVID-19.

ORCHID: To Youngstown State University students from Trumbull and Mahoning counties who this week began planting some 2,000 new seedling trees near campus. It’s all part of the YSU Legacy Forest Program that will have a tree planted for every freshman coming into the university. Lauren Schroeder, a YSU emeritus professor who taught environmental science, began discussing this project more than a year ago. Colleen McLean, a YSU associate professor, encouraged her students to become involved. It’s hoped to engage students in climate mitigation and in improving the environment.

Orchids and onions

ORCHID: To all the local folks involved in this year’s Operation Evergreen. Created 25 years ago by the Ohio Christmas Tree Association, the project encourages Ohio tree farms to donate evergreens and shipping to our U.S. troops. Students from Boardman Center Intermediate School and Liberty High School’s multiple disabilities classroom wrote letters and created ornaments for soldiers. Pioneer Trails Tree Farm in Poland will send fresh-cut trees and handmade items overseas. Poland Girl Scout Troop 80170 helped cut the trees, and local veterans assisted with packing. Members of the American Legion Post 15 and auxiliary American Legion Post 15 in Poland also helped. Bravo for this amazing group effort!

ORCHID: To ongoing efforts by “Recipes of Youngstown” to raise funds for veteran scholarships. Recipes of Youngstown began as a social media group with the intent of listing hometown recipes. Now, hundreds of recipes make up three cookbooks. Recently, Recipes of Youngstown presented Youngstown State University Foundation with a $15,000 donation for a Veterans Scholarship program. The books will be available for purchase for the holidays at the Youngstown Clothing Company store in the Southern Park Mall or at its website.

ONION: To whomever stole nearly $3,000 from the bank account of an elderly Sebring woman. The woman, 80, told bank managers that she had $2,961 missing from her account, causing her to overdraw. Prosecutors are investigating the victim’s relative, who now is facing charges of theft from a person in a protected class, telecommunications fraud and tampering with evidence.

ORCHID: To organizers at Youngstown’s Harding Elementary who are collecting turkey donations for distribution to needy Youngstown City School District families. The event is being organized this year because the school’s annual Thanksgiving dinner for families cannot be held due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

ORCHID: To Kenneth P. Jakubec, 73, of Austintown who is among 20 veterans being named to the Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame this year. Jakubec enlisted in the Marine Corps at age 17 in 1964. He went on to obtain special White House top secret clearance and was a sergeant with Marine Helicopter Squadron One, which flies the U.S. president. He is known for his volunteer work locally and his involvement with athletics at Austintown Local Schools. He received the Marine Corps League Meritorious Service Award in 2015 and was named Veteran of the Year by the United Veterans Council of Youngstown. He served as a former Austintown Board of Education member.


Orchids and onions

ORCHID: To Mahoning County Sheriff Jerry Greene, recognized this week for programs he’s undertaken to help substance abusers who come in contact with his officers and the jail. Greene says his attitude about illegal drug abuse has evolved over his 30 years in law enforcement. Drug dealers deserve to go to jail, Greene said, but people who are addicted need to be fixed. Sounds like the right approach to us.

ORCHID: To all the residents, organizations and local governments who took special steps to ensure trick or treating went off safely and without a hitch last week, despite the pandemic. Most of us were able to pull together a plan to ensure the kids were able to enjoy the day without it turning into a “mass spreader” event.

ONION: To those delinquent in paying their taxes. McDonald Village Solicitor Doug Ross said last week the village is finding it necessary to take new steps to crack down on delinquent income tax payers. The village already is working with the Regional Income Tax Agency, or RITA, but it’s not enough. Residents and workers must follow the law and pay their fair share.

ORCHID: To Scout John Michael Heino, 17, of Canfield, who completed his Eagle Scout project by building and donating a display case and book stand to the city of Canfield to hold historic documents, records and artifacts such as the Tree City award plaques. The son of John T. and Suzanne Heino of Canfield received his Eagle Award Sept. 30.

ORCHID: To the enormous number of voters who turned out, either in advance, by mail or in person on Tuesday, to do their civic duty. Nearly 71 percent of Mahoning County registered voters and more than 72 percent in Trumbull County turned out to vote. Statewide, a record 5.81 million voters cast their votes. No matter where you stand in your beliefs, we are thrilled to see so many Ohioans step up to make their voices heard.


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