Orchids and onions

ORCHID: To the Butler Institute of American Art and Joy Mistovich, the museum’s digital user experience specialist, for making its vast collection more meaningful to the blind and vision-impaired. The art museum recently became an access location for the app called Aira. Aira enables those with vision problems by describing aspects of a work of art that otherwise might have gone unnoticed by the viewer. In doing so, it opens new vistas on art appreciation for many appreciative art lovers.

ONION: To new Youngstown City School District board President Tiffany Patterson for not being immediately forthcoming about why she wanted her colleagues to call off a nationwide superintendent search. Only after being pressed did she acknowledge she hoped to convince the board to hire current Youngstown City Schools CEO Justin Jennings as superintendent. Patterson apparently also contacted other board members ahead of the meeting to discuss Jennings. Such a move can be described as “round-robin” meetings, teetering on Ohio sunshine law violation. Patterson’s approach was disingenuous and lacks the transparency Youngstown taxpayers deserve from elected officials.

ORCHID: To the Canfield-based Ursuline Sisters Mission for launching a social media campaign to draw attention to this region’s extremely high rate of poverty. As part of January’s National Poverty in America Month, the campaign has offered Bible passages, statistics on area poverty, quotes from human rights and religious leaders. It also offers ways in which people can help lessen poverty in the Mahoning Valley. We salute the Sisters for the campaign that puts in action the Christian ideals of compassion toward less fortunate.

ONION: To Struthers school officials for their attempts to use rhetoric or semantics in attempting to persuade voters to maintain the amount of revenue the school district is about to lose with expiring 2.8 mill levies. School officials recently discussed language they should use to promote a new levy, fearing that calling it an “additional” levy could discourage voters. The fact is, however, it is an additional levy. The best way to communicate the situation with voters is simply to be honest and transparent in educating them about the levy they might seek.

ONION: To the Ohio Department of Health which, once again, failed to provide an accurate report of COVID-19 cases in the state. The latest error, announced Tuesday, was “an artificially low, incomplete COVID-19 case count caused by an electronic laboratory reporting processing error.” It’s true the department operates under a microscope — as it should during a global pandemic with, as ODH Director Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff describes, “astronomical levels of spread.” But after repeated errors the past two years, the department should stop placing blame on things like “antiquated technical systems” and instead find a way to solve the problem. Surely, there must be ARP or rainy day funds that could be well-spent on upgrading the outdated system.

ORCHID: To the Mahoning Valley Corvettes Club for packaging 10,000 pounds of sweet potatoes for Second Harvest Food Bank of the Mahoning Valley and for recently donating a generous check to the region’s premiere food-assistance agency. At a time when the hunger-relief agency is bursting at the seams with requests for help, the generous donation by the club could not have come at a better time.

ORCHID: To students who excelled in this year’s regional Scholastics Art Competition at Youngstown State University last weekend. More than 474 entries from students in Mahoning, Trumbull, Columbiana and Ashtabula counties were judged. Among those receiving the highest American Vision award were Emma Dodig and Quinton Miller of Canfield High School and Thomas Hull and Lorenzo Sprockett of Ursuline High School. They now will compete against the best works from across the nation. We wish them the best in the finals and in their promising careers in art.


Orchids and onions

ORCHID: To the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Planning Committee of the Mahoning Valley for overcoming health crisis struggles to produce meaningful, educational events in honor of the slain civil rights leader on his holiday weekend. A livestreamed community worship service took place Sunday featuring the Rev. Martin A. McMickle of Cleveland, sharing accounts of working with King and his coalition in the 1960s for desegregation. Monday, the committee hosted a virtual community workshop themed “Remembering What is Civil and Doing What is Right.” Both events served as powerful reminders of the legacy of Dr. King and of the need for his ideals to remain vibrant today.

ORCHID: To the good Samaritan from the Boardman Township Road Department for coming to the rescue of a stranded couple Monday. Joe and Gail Bartholomew were en route to Gail’s 101-year-old mother’s residence to relieve her caretaker when their car got stuck in deep snow. The township employee was clearing streets nearby and used his plow to clear a path and get the couple on their way and escorted the couple safely to the residence of Gail’s mother. His act of kindness likely is just one example of many exhibited by Valley residents after this weekend’s storm.

ONION: To Bob Hagan of Youngstown for beginning his campaign for the Democratic nomination for state senator of the 33rd District in the gutter. In launching his campaign last week, Hagan, a former state representative and senator, unleashed a personal name-calling insult against incumbent state Sen. Michael Rulli, a Republican. Hagan called Rulli an “entitled wimp.” We expect heated exchanges in politics, but they should focused on perceived shortcomings in policies and records — not on snarky, sound-byte personal condemnation. Hagan should apologize to Rulli for the personal attack and readjust his campaign to focus on the issues.

ORCHID: To Austintown Elementary School Principal Cathy Dorbish for winning a prestigious national award this month for her work in reading instruction. Dorbish was chosen among 300 competitors to receive the Amplify Science of Reading Standout School Principal Award, recognizing principals who take an active interest in improving student reading skills. Dorbish said she has used the interdisciplinary Science of Reading philosophy for the past several years in district classrooms with strong results from students. We salute Dorbish for her commitment to students.

ORCHID: To Youngstown Area Jewish Federation for increasing its mobile meal delivery program a whopping 3,100 percent since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Before the health crisis, the program served about 25 people in Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana counties. The program has since expanded to 800 people, serving more than 200,000 meals to those 60 and older in the region. Agencies of the federation, in partnership with Direction Home of Ohio, benefited from the assistance of many other community foundations and nonprofits. Most recently, the program received a $10,000 grant from the Community Foundation of the Mahoning Valley, funds that will ensure continuation of this critical program for the Valley’s seniors.

ONION: To the Warren mother accused of putting her two teen children out of their house Monday morning in the freezing cold with more than 1 foot of snow on the ground. Warren police reported they were able to locate and rescue the teens from the elements after their mom had kicked them out following a dispute about the girl’s boyfriend. Police transported the brother and sister to Trumbull County Children Services. Meanwhile, the mother, Eva B. Harris, was arrested and arraigned on two counts of child endangering.

ORCHID: To the Animal Welfare League of Trumbull County for its fundraiser in memory of actress Betty White, who would have turned 100 this week. White, who died on New Year’s Eve, was a champion of humane treatment of animals throughout her storied life. The event featured a variety of Betty White decorations and activities while episodes of “The Golden Girls” played. Betty would have been most pleased by the mountain of funds raised to benefit the AWL shelter.


Orchids and onions

ORCHID: To the Butler Institute of American Art in Youngstown, which this week broke ground on a new $2.3 million, 3,810-square-foot addition, the new Vincent and Phyllis Bacon Wing. For decades, this nationally acclaimed museum has been bringing the value of art and culture to our Valley, and now we are pleased to see the museum continue to grow. Also, Orchid to the Bacons, a Canfield couple who donated about $1 million for the project that will include a three-floor building with a glass-enclosed facade. The new wing could open by year’s end.

ONION: To Ohio Supreme Court Justice Patrick DeWine, who chose not to recuse himself from constitutional challenges to newly redrawn legislative maps. Justice DeWine’s father, Gov. Mike DeWine, served as a member of the commission that redrew the maps. Also, as governor, Mike DeWine signed the new maps into law. In response to the lawsuits, Justice DeWine opined that the maps were constitutional. His involvement in a matter that so intimately involved his father does little to instill faith in the court’s impartiality.

ORCHID: To Ohio Department of Natural Resources and the Mahoning County Green team for working together on good uses for recycled live cut Christmas trees. This week ODNR employees placed recycled Christmas trees in Berlin Lake near the Bonner Road ramp to be used as ideal spawning cover for various fish species. Mahoning County Green Team for 27 years has provided Christmas tree recycling for residents. The organization donates the trees to ODNR for use as wildlife habitat. More than 1 million pounds of trees have been diverted from the waste stream and submerged in local lakes for fish structures.

ONION: To Norfolk Southern Railroad officials, who parked a train across intersections, blocking traffic for more than six hours Dec. 27. Hubbard Township police confirmed this week that they recently sent the company a citation for obstructing of roads by railroads. Good! Now we just need to figure out how to ensure this doesn’t happen again.

ORCHID: To the Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County for its continued efforts to modernize libraries and provide important services to residents. Work to upgrade, modernize, renovate and expand the main branch of the Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County continues. Its second phase opened to the public Jan. 3. The library had been closed since November in preparation for renovation work entailing a new computer lab with 36 state-of-the-art computers and an area for patrons to receive computer training and media literacy. Bravo for this important investment.

ORCHID: To legislators in both Columbus and Washington who enacted new laws making medical costs more transparent. The federal “No Surprises Act,” should eliminate unexpected bills in emergency situations, particularly when a person seeks care from an in-network facility but unknowingly receives care from an out-of-network provider. A similar new state law protects patients from surprise medical bills above the patient’s in-network rate from health care providers for emergency care and, in certain circumstances, unanticipated out-of-network care. The federal and state laws, which took effect this month, work together to protect people.


Orchids and onions

ORCHID: To the Canfield Fair Board for making the 175th edition of the fair one of the best fairs on our continent in 2021. Last week, Carnival Warehouse ranked the local fair among the top 50 state and county fairs in North America. The Canfield Fair is the only fair in the Buckeye State to make the coveted list. Credit also goes to the nearly 300,000 visitors. This national acclaim proves Canfield Fair truly is “something to crow about.”

ORCHID: To Youngstown State University for being awarded a $2.3 million grant from the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base to form an elaborate consortium on hybrid manufacturing. The grant will enable YSU to become one of three U.S. universities to acquire and use a sophisticated 3-D printing laser hot-wire component called the Direct Energy Deposition Mazak system. Pedro Cortes, YSU associate professor of chemical engineering said this: “This award is yet another reflection of YSU’s continued national leadership in advanced manufacturing.”

ONION: To heartless individuals who willingly abuse and torture animals. Last week, two Mahoning County women were indicted on charges of cruelty to companion animals. In one home, a dog had been starved to death, according to Animal Charity. In the other home, a dead cat was discovered that had been mutilated from intentionally inflicted injuries, said Jane MacMurchy, AC coordinator. These are despicable and inhumane actions.

ORCHID: To Brittany and Anthony Barone of Austintown for the New Year’s Day birth of their son Dominic Anthony minutes after midnight Jan. 1. In addition to receiving the honor of having the first baby in the Mahoning Valley of 2022, Dominic Anthony also represents the couple’s “miracle baby” as he helps ease the pain of Brittany’s grandmother’s death on New Year’s Day 14 years ago. “He’s kind of a little gift from her,” she said. We wish Dominic Anthony and his doting parents long-lasting health and happiness.

ORCHID: To the Mission of Love, a humanitarian organization based in the Mahoning Valley, for helping indigenous and other people in need. Recently, the group traveled to Guatemala to help the Mayan people there with needed supplies and to the Pine Ridge Native American Reservation in South Dakota to help a Lakota family build a home. On top of that, the group provided emergency aid to victims of last month’s devastating tornadoes in Kentucky. If ever an organization’s name reflected its unselfish character, the Mission of Love is it.

ONION: To motorists who fail to practice safe-driving techniques for winter weather. With the first bout of bone-chilling cold and snow this week, some drivers have yet to adjust their driving habits. The major cause of crashes in wintry conditions is speed. Last winter, there were 14,724 crashes on snow, ice or slush-covered roads in Ohio, including 26 that killed 33 people statewide. To avoid becoming a statistic this year, motorists should leave extra time to reach destinations and slow down on snowy and icy roads and bridges.

ORCHID: To the Youngstown Business Incubator for being named to Inc. magazine’s 2021 Best Business list in the Youth Entrepreneurship category. The list recognizes American businesses that have had an outstanding impact on their communities. YBI was an excellent selection for its model Launch Pad program that works to develop entrepreneurship skills in young people to enable them to start their own businesses. The award is a fitting addition to the many national and international honors the ever-expanding YBI has rightly received in recent years.

ORCHID: To new Youngstown Board of Education President Tiffany Patterson for her positive attitude and thoughtful plans to usher in a new year of greater cooperation with the city schools’ administration, including Chief Executive Officer Justin Jennings. Patterson unveiled promising proposals for reorganizing board meetings and soliciting more input from key leaders in the school district. Such a spirit of cooperation is a breath of fresh air for a board that too often in the past allowed unprofessional and contentious behavior to work against the school system’s overriding objective of release from state control and enhancing the quality of education.


Orchids and onions

• ORCHID: To the Mahoning Valley’s congressional delegation for its work to ensure the Youngstown Air Reserve Station in Vienna remains a vital cog in our Valley’s economy and the nation’s military preparedness. We’re pleased that our delegation — U.S. Sens. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, and Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, and U.S. Reps. Tim Ryan, D-Howland, and Bill Johnson, R-Marietta — cast aside partisan differences to work aggressively to ensure the reserve station got its fair share of the $768 billion defense spending bill signed by President Joe Biden this week. Their work paid off as the air base has been awarded $8.7 million to widen an assault runway that will enable pilots to perform required training landings there rather than at Pope Air Force Base in North Carolina. Such bipartisan cooperation should be emulated by other members and on other issues.

• ORCHID: To Jeff Ondash of Canfield, for hugging and high-fiving himself into the Guinness Book of World Records. The 1976 graduate of Youngstown Chaney High School, aka “Teddy McHuggin,” has broken four world records for most hugs, and not to be outdone by the COVID-19 pandemic, also has won another world record for more than 14,000 of high-fives at this season’s Ohio State-Michigan football game. In addition to his natural penchant for spreading joy, his hugs and high-fives have benefited numerous charity causes, including the American Heart Association and the American Cancer Society’s Relay For life. Those superlative achievements certainly have earned McHuggin his own heaping helping of hugs and high-fives.

• ONION: To David Betras, chairman of the Mahoning County Board of Elections and former chairman of the county’s Democratic Party, for being critical of The Vindicator for doing its job by digging into the backgrounds of the candidates for the position of deputy director of the board. Betras sounded downtrodden and critical of The Vindicator when, in reality, he and those who serve on the board should have been raising the same questions about all of the candidates’ backgrounds in order to ensure the right candidate was chosen. After all, it’s not about how fast the appointment is made, it’s about ensuring the best person is selected for this important job.

• ORCHID: To sixth-graders at Boardman Center Intermediate School for making and distributing 40 fun and comfortable blankets to young patients at Akron Children’s Hospital Mahoning Valley. The students cut, tied and designed blankets, financed by the school’s PTA, during school in the days before their holiday break. The students took part in the project as part of their membership in WEB (Where Everyone Belongs), a student group that admirably assists young students transitioning to intermediate school.

• ORCHID: To Market Wagon, an online farmers market that serves northeast Ohio, for its success in helping local farmers sell their products during the COVID-19 pandemic. Just ask Dale and Abby Woolf who operate Woolf Farms of Columbiana County about the lifesaving benefits Market Wagon delivered. Their orchard business was drying up when school cafeterias closed during the height of the pandemic. The service allowed the Woolfs to greatly expand their market base conveniently and inexpensively, and they were able to recoup their losses. Multiply that success hundreds of times over and one can readily understand the difference Market Wagon has brought to farmers and food producers in the region.

• ONION: To witless motorists who indiscriminately fire shots into homes and buildings with no thought given to the unintended consequences of their derelict actions. Over the past year, innocent children have been caught in the crossfire in Youngstown. Just last week, a pet cat was injured by flying bullets fired into a home on Ellenwood Avenue on the South Side. Cases such as that one, coupled with the city’s highest homicide toll in 14 years this year, justify the dire need for Youngstown’s ongoing offensive against violent gun crime in the city.

• ORCHID: To the Centers for Hearing Care, based in Boardman, for providing and fitting 16 Valley residents with hearing aids as part of its Hearing for the Holidays Mission last weekend at the D.D. and Velma Davis Education and Visitor Center in Mill Creek Park. One of the beneficiaries of the holiday generosity was JoAnne Stewart of Cortland, who likened the gift to “a Christmas miracle.” Kudos to CHC for making such miracles come true.



Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)
Are you a paying subscriber to the newspaper? *


Starting at $4.62/week.

Subscribe Today