Orchids and onions

* ORCHID: To Carl Nunziato, a decorated disabled Vietnam War veteran, for his service to our country. The new Youngstown Veterans Affairs Outpatient Clinic will bear his name. Nunziato said Wednesday the facility, which will open next month, will be a symbol of how far Vietnam War veterans have come.

* ONION: To thieves who apparently cut natural gas lines inside a vacant South Side Youngstown home in order to steal a hot water tank, creating a gas buildup and an eventual explosion that leveled the home. A repairman who entered is the injured victim of this stupid, careless act. Indeed, this type of ongoing crime is a societal problem. Often thieves seeking ways to feed their drug habits, leave innocent victims and property owners to pay the price.

* ORCHID: To Gleaners Food Bank, Mahoning County Veterans Services Commission and many other volunteers who helped make Christmas merrier for the needy in our Valley. Huge quantities of food and toys were distributed at the food bank this week to families who applied in advance. To help make the event a bit more festive while bags and food were loaded into vehicles, even Santa Claus was on hand to mingle with families.

* ONION: To whomever is responsible for the recent fire that destroyed the gazebo and pavilion behind St. Charles Borremeo Church in Boardman. Firefighters found the structures fully engulfed when they were called before 6 a.m. Dec. 13. Firefighters called the blaze suspicious.

* ORCHID: To Austintown Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 126, which helped provide Christmas gifts for nine families in Austintown. FOP members donated $25 for permission to extend the usual “No Shave November” and keep their facial hair. The FOP matched the funds, and it all went towards purchasing gifts for needy families. Bravo!


Orchids and onions

ORCHID: To MacKenzie Scott, ex-wife of Amazon chief executive officer Jeff Bezos, who this week donated an incredible $3 million to Second Harvest Food Bank of the Mahoning Valley in Youngstown. This generous gift will help the community by offering every one of some 150 network pantries an opportunity to identify malfunctioning or outdated equipment in need of replacement. The gift is amazing, and capital expenditures of this type sound like a good use for some of the funds. We encourage much careful consideration for its future spending.

ORCHID: To Struthers pastor, the Rev. Michael Pangio, his wife, the Rev. Joann Pangio, and the church organization, Abundant Ministries Fellowship Church Outreach Center in Austintown, for the work they have done helping lepers halfway around the world. While leprosy is eliminated in most of the world, there are more than 100,000 new cases per year in India. Pangio and the Abundant Ministries group are helping with construction of an Indian hospital and nearby church to serve this outcast group.

ONION: To Marquise J. Hornbuckle, who had a plea deal for 10 years on the table after shooting at two undercover state troopers last November in Youngstown, but didn’t show for sentencing. He picked the wrong court to disrespect. Judge R. Scott Krichbaum rescinded the agreement and sentenced Hornbuckle to at least 29 years in prison. “When you violate the orders of this court or violate the conditions of bond, all bets are off,” Krichbaum said.

ORCHID: To volunteers who, for 30 years, have been gathering to ensure every child at EJ Blott School in Liberty gets a holiday gift. This week, the group spent a day at a local church wrapping gifts and getting in the holiday spirit.

ORCHID: To Youngstown State University Dana School of Music for the beautiful and uplifting virtual music performance titled “Rise Up” that talented students recently released. It delivers a message we all need to hear in this depressing year. To view it, visit www.vindy.com, click the “news” header and then go to “multimedia.”

Orchids and onions

ORCHID: To the Centofanti Charitable Foundation, named for James and Coralie Centofanti, whose hard work and generosity will now make nursing careers a reality for more Youngstown State University students. The foundation this week announced a $1 million pledge in support of YSU’s Nursing Department, which now will be known as The James and Coralie Centofanti School of Nursing.

ORCHID: To Nix, Canfield police dog, who recently alerted to cocaine inside a suspicious package while on assignment with his handler, officer Aaron Young, inside the Youngstown post office. The duo was called in to investigate the package from Puerto Rico addressed to a home in Youngstown, where no one lived. The U.S. Postal Service typically co-mingles a package like that with other unsuspicious packages, allowing the police dog to check for drugs. Now, that’s a good boy!

ONION: To the owners of the building where a Canfield tanning salon closed a decade ago but where the salon’s neon sign kept burning for years. Cardinal Joint Fire District investigators say they determined it was that neon sign that triggered last year’s blaze and $739,052 in damages. A lawsuit recently was filed in the case. Really? Doesn’t the old adage: “Last one out, turn off the lights,” mean anything?

ORCHID: To Mahoning County Probate Judge Robert N. Rusu Jr. for his recent appointment to the Ohio State Bar Association’s Estate Planning, Trust and Probate Law Section Council by the Ohio Association of Probate Judges. The organization hopes to advance the science of jurisprudence, promote reform in the law, facilitate administration of justice and uphold integrity, honor and professionalism in the legal profession.

ORCHID: To communities like Austintown and Boardman, which managed to find ways to celebrate the holiday season despite the COVID-19 pandemic. Austintown hosted a virtual “light up” event in which officials lit Wickliffe Circle. Motorists who drive by will be able to enjoy the display as always. Boardman Park also is hosting its 19th annual Holiday Light Display, allowing families to drive through. Both exhibits are beautiful, entertaining and, most of all, safe.

Orchids and onions

ORCHID: To the Zoldan family of Youngstown, founders of Phantom Fireworks, who donated $1 million to Youngstown State University for student scholarships and a new mentorship program. The gift was made in honor of Sam and Sylvia Zoldan, parents of Bruce Zoldan, Phantom Fireworks president and CEO, and an uncle, Abe Yampolsky.

ORCHID: To those, including Youngstown-based Boy Scout Troop 9022, involved in bringing the Peace Light to Youngstown this week. The Peace Light has burned continuously for more than 1,000 years and originated from the Grotto of the Nativity in Bethlehem. We are hopeful the light, meant to promote worldwide peace, harmony and unity among all people regardless of religion, race and ethnicity, will bring comfort and joy to the community during this very stressful year.

ONION: To four Ohio lawmakers seeking to impeach Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine over his handling of COVID-19. Debate and discourse over COVID-19’s handling may be warranted. Ohioans absolutely will hold differing opinions on the issue. But impeachment? Seriously? With nearly 7,000 COVID-19 related deaths in Ohio, should impeaching the governor really be our focus right now?

ORCHID: To Youngstown-area performer David Jendre, known for his local stage and national performances and direction. He also performed in local supporting roles on stage with the Kenley Players. He provided much entertainment for local audiences and inspiration for young local entertainers. Sadly, the Youngstown-native died last week at age 66. May he rest in peace.

ORCHID: To Poland native Julia Cooper who gained national attention during her run on NBC’s The Voice. Cooper, 21, lost her bid to continue on the reality TV show this week. Earlier in the competition, Grammy winner and superstar John Legend praised her voice, her “musicality” and her “soul.” Growing up in Poland, Cooper had performed at Youngstown Playhouse Youth Theatre and as one of Easy Street Productions’ Little Rascals in its “Miracle on Easy Street.” We wish her a world of success.


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