Orchids and onions

ORCHID: To Mathews High School football coach Bill Bohren for snagging his 300th career win last week in a strong victory. Bohren joins an elite club of only 16 coaches throughout the state who have secured at least 300 victories. Mathews athletic director Mike Palumbo credits Bohren with rejuvenating the team that had been floundering before his arrival. At 87, Bohren has led numerous high school football teams in the Valley, including Boardman, Lakeview, Salem and Niles. His endurance and commitment to quality play should inspire high school coaches and players everywhere.

ORCHID: To leaders in Braceville, Champion, Southington and Warren townships for joining forces to better address road improvements needed in all four communities. They are seeking funding from the Ohio Department of Transportation Township Stimulus Program, which can finance road, culvert and stormwater projects. One targeted project is Anderson Anthony Road, which traverses all four townships and where improvements are sorely needed. This regional approach will give their application greater chances at success. Regional approaches with an eye on economies of scale toward problem-solving should become the rule, not the exception, in local communities.

ONION: To members of Girard City Council who call for pay raises for council members at a time when Girard, like most communities in the Mahoning Valley, struggles with declining revenue and increased costs for essential services. Such a move would send the wrong signal as the city prepares to begin union contract negotiations, particularly if it seeks meager raises or concessions. Mayor James Melfi should stick to his guns and veto pay-raise legislation.

ORCHID: To Dr. John J. Rush, a Warren native and CEO of Arthritis Knee Pain Centers across the United States, for delivering a $25,000 donation to the Northeast Ohio Medical University in Rootstown for a minority student scholarship fund. Although Rush is now a resident of Potomac, Md., the gift from his company demonstrates a tangible give-back to the region and the institution that helped mold him into a success story. He is also a model for other Mahoning Valley natives never to forget their roots.

ORCHID: To Vicki Raptis of Howland for taking quick and responsible action to avert a potential tragedy in the township last month. Raptis was driving to work early one morning and saw a home on fire on Howland Wilson Road. She stopped, alerted the residents and called 911 for help, potentially saving multiple lives. As township fire Chief James Pantalone said in recognizing Raptis at this week’s trustees meeting, “The situation could have been devastating.”

ONION: To state Rep. Don Jones, R-Freeport, for introducing legislation in the Ohio General Assembly that would ban teaching some current events in Ohio public schools. Though we agree with one premise of Jones’ bill — teaching that the United States is inherently racist — has no place in educating young people, his bill paints too broad of a stroke in limiting educational opportunities. After all, as our Newspaper in Education program shows, current events can be valuable tools in motivating young people to take greater interest in such curriculum areas as social studies and language arts.

ORCHID: To Akron Children’s Hospital Mahoning Valley and the many donors to its campaign to build a $31 million 34,700-square-foot addition to its sprawling Boardman campus. Groundbreaking for the addition took place this week. It will more than triple the pediatric hospital’s emergency department size. Donors of $100,000 or more are Lenny Fisher, Farmers National Bank, Cafaro Foundation, Florence Simon Beecher Foundation, the Moran Family / Window World, the Youngstown Foundation and Jenny Kennedy. This community support attests to the hospital’s high-quality rankings and growing impact on health care here.


Orchids and onions

ORCHID: To sponsors, organizers and participants in this year’s 12th annual Panerathon, which was held last Sunday. The 10K race / 2-mile fun run and walk returned as a live event after a one-year hiatus due to COVID-19. Proceeds benefit the Joanie Abdu Comprehensive Breast Care Center. Since its inception, Panerathon has raised more than

$3 million for Mercy Health Foundation in support of the breast care center. What an amazing way to mark Breast Cancer Awareness Month this month.

ONION: To members of bridal party and wedding guests that likely ruined the day for newlyweds when a brawl broke out at a Girard wedding reception last week. A police report indicated the fight started after someone made unflattering comments about the bride. Really? They couldn’t keep their comments and / or gossip to themselves even on this special day? Two people were arrested. Let’s hope they’ve learned their lesson, and let’s also hope they’ve extended heartfelt apologies for the unfathomable spectacle.

ORCHID: To the city of Campbell for agreeing to install a guardrail in front of a home struck by vehicles four times in 11 years. The resident addressed council for the third time since 2010, asking for a guardrail near her Hamrock Drive home. Most recently a vehicle crashed into her family room on Sept. 10. We are glad to see council agree to erect the guardrail, but we can’t help but wonder what has taken so long?

ONION: To Youngstown City Council and its president for failing to be educated on longstanding council rules stating if a member’s absence leads to a tie vote, the issue does not necessarily fail, but rather must be revisited at the next meeting. Council inaccurately assumed that this week’s 3-3 tie meant failure of legislation granting $1,000 bonuses to city employees receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. Instead, the controversial issue now will be brought up for another vote at the Oct. 20 meeting.

ORCHID: To Cardinal Joint Fire District firefighter Gio Melia, who this week was announced as the 2021 Mahoning County Firefighter of the Year. The honor, sponsored by The Vindicator and ServPro, is based on dedication, productivity, loyalty and professionalism. Our Valley is very fortunate to have countless first responders who fit these criteria. During this week’s annual National Fire Prevention Week, we applaud and salute Melia and the many others who serve the public, even at their own risk.

ONION: To Trumbull County commissioners who still have not developed a plan for how they will consider and rank projects to benefit from the $38 million in American Rescue Plan funding the county will receive. Commissioners have been kicking it around for months now, but there still is no outline or plan, including methods for entities to submit their projects for consideration. When a local mayor this week demanded answers, commissioners offered pitiful excuses. It’s time for them to stop spinning their wheels and get down to business.



For who is God except the Lord? Who but our God is a solid rock? God is my strong fortress, and he makes my way perfect.

2 Samuel 22:32-33 NLT

Orchids and onions

ORCHID: To U.S. Sen. Rob Portman and the Mahoning Valley congressional delegation for including $8.7 million in the U.S. Senate defense bill to widen a key runway at the Youngstown Air Reserve Station in Vienna to allow C-17 and C-130 military pilots to perform required training here. The funding has been OK’d by the full U.S. House. We urge a House-Senate conference committee to keep the funding in the final 2022 defense measure to strengthen military readiness and grow economic impact YARS wields here.

ONION: To those who use hospital emergency rooms for relatively minor aches and pains. Mahoning Valley hospitals are stretched to the limit, some with zero beds available largely due to COVID-19. Residents not suffering severe injuries or serious maladies must not crowd the overcrowded facilities. Those with non-life threatening issues must follow medical professionals’ advice and turn to walk-in urgent care centers or visit their local doctor’s offices.

ORCHID: To Ursuline High School for earning a 100 percent pass rate in chemistry, Spanish, biology, drawing and research on Advanced Placement tests and a 91 percent overall passage rate. That rate far surpasses the national pass rate of 62 percent and the global passage rate of 54 percent. Those grade A+ results speak highly of the caliber of academics at the Youngstown diocesan high school and to the commitment to excellence of its student body.

ORCHID: To the Dearing Compressor and Pump Co. of Canfield for donating a group of skilled tradesmen to make significant improvements to Scouting BSA Camp Stambaugh. The workers replaced cabin floors, repaired fences, reconstructed an obstacle course, painted the interior of the camp museum and various other much-needed tasks. In so doing, Dearing more than lived up to its core value of supporting its local community.

ONION: To opponents of mask-wearing in public schools who go to illogical extremes to defend their position of mandates for students. While parents are free to oppose such policies, that opposition should be based in reason and credible science. Some parents at last week’s explosive Boardman Board of Education meeting alleged that mask wearing will promote cancerous growths on students and that it is a form of “child abuse.” Credible research from multiple studies shows that wearing masks is the best defense against the coronavirus for children too young to receive a vaccine, and they do not harm the flow of oxygen.

ORCHID: To the Rev. James E. Ray, 91, of Poland for being selected as this year’s local recipient of the Simeon Booker Award for Courage. He will receive the award Monday at a ceremony at Tyler History Century co-sponsored by the Mahoning Valley Historical Society and the local Ohio Nonviolence Week Committee, an offshoot of Mahoning Valley Sojourn to the Past. Ray leads a life of service on front lines of voting rights and civil rights battles in the South. Ray embodies similar compassionate traits as Youngstown native Booker, the first black reporter at The Washington Post and a vigilant civil-rights champion.

ORCHID: To Denise DeBartolo York, Youngstown-area native and co-chairperson of the San Francisco 49ers, for her generous $10,000 gift to Rayen Early College High School to help finance a cultural-enrichment trip to New York City for about 90 students at the high-achieving city school. Others, including InfoCision and the Jewish Foundation and Burdman Foundation, also made generous gifts to the project, which will provide the dual high school / college students a great opportunity to learn history first-hand and cultivate an appreciation for the arts.

ORCHID: To Girard Intermediate School for being honored as a Blue Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education. It won the prestigious honor for superlative state test scores, overall student achievement in all disciplines and closing achievement gaps among students. It is among only 325 schools to earn the honor, out of more than 135,000 schools nationwide. Administrators, school board members, faculty, staff and students merit congratulations.



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