Orchids and onions

ORCHID: To Hubbard native Nick Bruce for qualifying to compete in the Tokyo Games’ first-ever freestyle BMX or bicycle motocross competition. It’s been a long and arduous road for Bruce to make the U.S. Olympic team. Heading into it, he finished fourth in the BMX dirt event at the prestigious X-Games and at various world championship competitions.

ONION: To Youngstown police for failing to immediately identify the man who they arrested in the stabbing of Mahoning County Deputy Dog Warden Dave Nelson this week. Police arrested Squire Glenn, 60, of Youngstown on Tuesday, but did not identify him for 24 hours. When someone is arrested, he or she cannot be held secretly. This is still America, after all. Meanwhile, we wish a speedy, full recovery to Nelson from his vicious attack.

ORCHID: To leaders of The Youngstown Playhouse and Powers Auditorium of the DeYor Performing Arts Center downtown for collaborating to ensure “the show must go on.” Because of exterior improvements underway to the Playhouse theater off Glenwood Avenue, the 2021-22 season-opening production would have benefited from a different venue. Thanks to the cooperation at Powers, the award-winning musical will open there, a win-win experience.

ORCHID: To Josh Kelley of Canfield for his strong advocacy efforts on behalf of children of Vietnam War veterans who suffered from adverse impacts of Agent Orange, a chemical herbicide used in that conflict. Kelley, whose father was on the front lines, was born in 1975 with no arms below the elbow and no leg beyond one knee. He now advocates for victims of Agent Orange through his membership in the Children of Vietnam Veterans Health Alliance and has lobbied Congress for better benefits for children of that war’s veterans.

ORCHID: To the Appalachian Regional Commission for awarding the village of Lowellville a $456,800 grant to construct Phase II of the McGaffney Road access extension. Officials estimate the project will spur private investment on the property of the former Sharon Steel Mill, creating 20 full-time jobs.

ONION: To the irresponsible Mahoning County slouchers who disobey recycling protocols. Lou Vega, Green Team director, said his office routinely undoes contamination caused by nonrecyclables and trash into 27 drop-off bins. Mahoning County Sheriff’s deputies visit sites weekly to removes such items. That extra work would be unnecessary if offenders would stop using recycling bins as personal trash receptacles.

ORCHID: To South Range High School baseball player Trey Pancake III for being awarded the prestigious Johnny Bench Award this week at a Reds game in Cincinnati. Pancake was among 10 recipients this year. The award is given to top catchers in NCAA baseball and softball. As Raiders catcher this past season, Pancake led his team in several offensive categories. He batted .560 with four home runs, 54 RBIs and scored 44 runs. He will continue his baseball career at The Ohio State University.


Orchids and onions

ORCHID: To the Warren and Youngstown chapters of Inspiring Minds for marking 15 years of success in a mission of engaging, inspiring and empowering young people to achieve their full potential via education and exposure to life-changing experiences. The organization, led by founder and chief executive officer Deryck Toles, marked the milestone this week with a gala at the Youngstown Foundation Amphitheatre.

ORCHID: To Campbell Law Director Brian Macala for single handedly raising more than $14,000 for the Campbell Memorial Alumni Association Scholarship Fund. During his vacation, Macala organized a one-man all-day golfing marathon, soliciting donations for 54 holes he played in one day, making up for fundraising missed during the pandemic. Macala’s Red Devil pride is shining for all to see.

ORCHID: To PNC Bank for donating more than $57,000 to eight pre-kindergarten programs in the Mahoning Valley, including to the United Way of Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley, Akron Children’s Hospital Mahoning Valley, Alta Care Group and the OH WOW! Children’s center. The gifts are part of the Grow Up Great initiative. The project is a great model for recognizing the importance of pre-kindergarten education.

ORCHID: To Mahoning County commissioners and others who responded to Second Harvest Food Bank of the Mahoning Valley needs. Commissioners awarded the food bank $300,000 from federal COVID-19 relief funds. Given the draconian increase in the need for food that Second Harvest provides during the ongoing pandemic, the contribution fit the purpose for the federal funding. The food bank has a stellar record of responsibly using gifts to serve the needy. Orchids, too, to other donors, including a $20,000 contribution from Shipt, a same-day delivery service, and a $2,500 gift from a local farmer from the Bayer Fund America’s Farmers Grow Communities.

ORCHID: To Lori Factor, coordinator of the Youngstown State University 23rd Annual Festival of the Arts this weekend. Factor, the longtime tireless leader and organizer of the Valley’s premiere arts festival, conquered a double whammy of challenges this year. First, the uncertainties surrounding COVID-19 restrictions prevented the usual pre-planning a year in advance. Second, the move to an entirely new venue — the expansive riverfront Wean Park in downtown Youngstown. Plans indicate the free festival today and Sunday should be sure to please.

ONION: To some Youngstown City Council members who support a convoluted plan to grant overtime pay to seven Health Department managers, including those ineligible for overtime under city law. The plan would temporarily repeal that portion of Youngstown’s salary ordinance to permit the payments. Once they’re paid, the amendment would be repealed or expire. The plan will set a dangerous precedent.

ORCHID: To Nick Plant, a Canfield High School senior, for running his way to state and national championships this year. Plant won the Division I 800-meter title at the state meet this spring. Then, this month, Plant won the 2021 Brooks PR Invitational, a national meet featuring the best athletes in the country in Seattle, with an incredible time of 1:49.39.

ONION: To state leaders suggesting a second round of prizes and awards to entice hesitant people to receive COVID-19 vaccinations. These plans focus on offering a greater number of smaller awards than those in the state’s five-week failure of $1 million vaccine lotteries, in which federal COVID-19 relief funds were used as prizes. A study from Boston University’s School of Medicine this month concluded that Vax-A-Million Lottery did nothing to improve Ohio’s COVID-19 low vaccination rates. “The resources devoted to vaccine lotteries may be more successfully invested in programs that target underlying reasons for vaccine hesitancy and low vaccine uptake,” study author Dr. Allan Walkey said. His advice should be heeded in Ohio and elsewhere.


Orchids and onions

ONION: To would-be candidates for public office who fail to follow proper procedures to file. Mahoning County Board of Elections this week disqualified candidates for Youngstown mayor and Campbell and Struthers city councils for filing errors, including their party status. We encourage attempts at public office, but their failure to follow rules makes us wonder how competently they’d serve, if elected.

ORCHID: To the Ohio Education Association Educational Foundation for its Anthony Spano Foundation $5,000 award, enabling local teachers to purchase school supplies for underprivileged students. Now, let’s hope the state’s new Fair Funding Plan for education narrows or closes that gap.

ORCHID: To Youngstown Public Works Department workers for finally beginning to demolish the Crescent Street Bridge, a decrepit eyesore for far too long. The important 120-day, $600,000 infrastructure project will include waterline replacement and curb and sidewalk repairs.

ORCHID: To the DLR Stallion Ranch in Salineville, Columbiana County, for training wild mustang horses as therapy animals for military veterans suffering Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. The mustangs are highly adept at reading veterans and helping them to “dial down” negative feelings. Backers of the vital program are encouraged to support Horses for Heroes charity ride Oct. 17 at the ranch.

ONION: To motorists who don’t slow and move over when approaching emergency vehicles with flashing lights. A group of tow-truck operators and first responders this week reinforced the point with a caravan of brightly flashing-light vehicles at state Route 46 in Austintown. We commend them, but it shouldn’t take such a large effort for motorists to understand and obey Ohio’s “Slow Down and Move Over” law.

ORCHID: To Shawn Shumaker of Boardman who took fourth place in the national Clash on the Coast strongman competition. Shumaker squared off against 32 competitors in the under 230-pound category. We wish Shumaker good luck in his fourth national event, Official Strongman Games, Nov. 12 to 14 in Florida.

ORCHID: To Dr. Mike Luzar of Poland for going beyond the call of duty by volunteering countless hours for years cleaning and maintaining Poland Township Park. According to Poland Township’s Park Board chairman, Dr. Luzar “is here all the time, and he helps build bird houses, trails, bridges and anything that we ask of him.” His community service serves as a model for us all.

ORCHID: To the Canfield Police Department for recently being named “Agency of the Month” by Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police and the Law Enforcement Foundation for its success in community policing, the first agency in Mahoning County to be so honored. Police Chief Chuck Colucci emphasizes community engagement is a key duty, and officers take that role seriously. Sturdy community-police bonds strengthen public safety and dispel negative, misguided myths about law enforcement.

ORCHID: To Lenny Fisher, chairman of the board of Handelás Ice Cream, and the Cafaro Company for making generous community-service donations to Akron Childrenás Hospital Mahoning Valley. Fisherás $1 million donation and Cafaroás $250,000 gift both will help to jump start the reputable hospitalás $30 million expansion project featuring a state-of-the-art childrenás emergency room. âOur expanded emergency department is a major investment in the Mahoning Valley community and continues to build on the commitment we began when we opened the campus in 2008,ã said Paul Olivier, vice president of Akron Childrenás Hospital Mahoning Valley. The generosity of representatives from Cafaro, Handelás and all other donors large and small will help ensure ACH remains a vital health-care cog in our community for decades to come.



Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good Spirit lead me on level ground.

Psalm 143:10 NIV

Orchids and onions

ORCHID: To the U.S. Economic Development Administration for recently awarding the Youngstown Business Incubator a $1.9 million grant, enabling renovation completion at Tech Block Building 5, the former offices of The Vindicator in Youngstown. Gov. Mike DeWine said this: “I am looking forward to seeing Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley continue to strengthen with this new project.”

ORCHID: To the Youngstown Rotary Club Foundation and the Youngstown Rotary Club for its $150,000 gift to Youngstown State University Foundation permanently establishing a scholarship. The partnership will provide broader exposure of the longstanding scholarship for Youngstown city and parochial schools students planning to attend YSU. Though the partnership is new, the Rotary Club has supported students through loans or scholarships since 1946.

ONION: To careless users of fireworks this Fourth of July weekend. Some Ohioans may think their use is now perfectly legal, given state legislative approval of a bill on the topic, but that bill has yet to be signed into law, and even then, it won’t take effect for 351 days. Legal or not, fireworks can be dangerous. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, 19 people died and 15,600 were injured by fireworks in 2020, a 50 percent increase from 2019.

ORCHID: To members of the Friends of the Mahoning River organization for voluntarily cleaning up a blighted area on the river in Girard recently. Their catch of the day was immense: 34 bags of trash, several tires, two 1-gallon containers of motor oil and a heap of broken vinyl windows. It represented another small step in restoration and revival of the Valley’s defining waterway.

ORCHID: To brothers Connor and Will Blumel of Poland for making significant improvements to the cross-country course at Poland Township Park as part of their Eagle Scout projects. Connor, a Poland Seminary High sophomore, built and installed informational kiosks about the track and location markers throughout. Will built a bridge over a drainage ditch. Their community-minded work will ease the way for runners for years to come.

ONION: To careless and irresponsible drivers who crash into homes, garages and businesses. There’s been a run on such freak accidents recently, this week alone vehicles slammed into a Market Street, Boardman, business and a front porch on Niles Road in Howland. Let’s slow down and pay better attention.

ORCHID: To Carey, Ohio-based Transglobal Inc. for choosing the Mahoning Valley for its $7 million factory to manufacture doors for General Motors and Rivian electric vehicles. Its proximity to the new Ultium battery cell plant for EVs in Lordstown no doubt played a role in the decision. It further charges the region’s growing reputation as Voltage Valley.

ORCHID: To the Soap Gallery of Youngstown for honoring the legacy of local artist Chris Yambar with a special exhibition of his bold and colorful works at the downtown art gallery today through July 31. The artist, who died in March at 59, is best known for his pop art-style paintings and comic-book illustrations.



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