Orchids and onions

ORCHID: To Congress and Susan Muffley Act co-sponsors for taking the first important steps this week to restore lost retirement benefits to thousands of former Delphi salaried employees, including many in the Mahoning Valley. After 13 years of legal battles, the federal legislation easily passed the House this week 254-175 with bipartisan support. The measure now moves on to the Senate for consideration.

ONION: To Eastern Gateway Community College for repeated flip-flops this week on its free tuition program. Three times last week the college released statements changing direction on the program, first saying it was suspended, then stating it would be available for students, and then stating it would suspend new enrollment in the free tuition program. We understand administrators are working quickly to resolve concerns raised by the U.S. Department of Education as fall classes approach, but they are serving no one by rushing to release conflicting statements before there is absolute certainty.

ORCHID: To Youngstown, the Covelli Centre and owners of the Youngstown Phantoms for inking a new multi-year contract to keep hockey in Youngstown for at least another 15 years. The commitment increases the rate the Phantoms pay per game to the Covelli Centre and has the team funding replacement of the facility’s ice plant at a cost of around $1 million. This continued opportunity for affordable family fun is a win-win situation for our region.

ONION: To Austintown Trustee Steve Kent, who still refuses to step down from his elected post, despite facing serious criminal charges involving inappropriate conduct with a minor. While we understand Kent is innocent until proven guilty and that the charges are unrelated to his role as trustee, the issue undeniably has become a distraction in conducting township business. We were glad to see Kent finally agree this week to give up his role as trustee board chairman. Now he needs to do the right thing and step down from the elected post.

ORCHID: To volunteers with the Mahoning County Veterans Service Commission who decorate and care for three Mahoning County bridges, including on state Route 46 over Interstate 80 in Austintown; on Mahoning Avenue over state Route 11 in Austintown; and on Western Reserve Road over I-680 in Boardman. The group this week expressed gratitude to Boardman police Chief Todd Werth for ensuring police presence when the veterans group works on the Boardman bridge. The gratitude is deserved, but, likewise, the veterans and volunteers deserve equal praise for their service and for their continued community effort.


Orchids and onions

ORCHID: To Newton Falls Village Council for approving a resolution to support naming the bridge at state Route 534 and Broad Street as Veterans Memorial Bridge. The bridge is unique and located near the Veterans Park. The approval, intended to recognize local military veterans for their service, will be sent to the state for consideration.

ORCHID: To the National Packard Museum and the Mahoning Valley Corvette Club for teaming up again this year to present the popular Corvettes & Classics Car Show from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. today. In addition to auto displays that are sure to attract car lovers everywhere, the fun, family event also is set to include music, children’s activities, food and other local history displays.

ONION: To Trumbull County users and traffickers of illegal drugs. Sadly, our county soon is expected to surpass the benchmark, making this year the highest drug overdose death tally ever. Pending investigations into 21 deaths will determine if that horrible new record is reached. If all 21 deaths are ruled as drug overdoses, 2022 will reach 51 overdose deaths, surpassing the record-high 49 overdose deaths last year. The coroner reports the vast majority of 2022 drug deaths involved victims having taken synthetic fentanyl, or fentanyl in combination of other drugs. That should alarm us all.

ORCHID: To volunteers who quietly and consistently give their time each year to place flags on our veterans’ graves in Pineview and Oakwood cemeteries in time for Memorial Day. Volunteers now once again are giving their time to remove the flags following Independence Day. This important process helps pay tribute to those who served our country and respectfully retires the used flags. The volunteer effort is appreciated and does not go unnoticed.

ORCHID: To Trumbull Career and Technical Center for being named winner of the 2022 Gene Bottoms Pacesetter School Award from the Southern Regional Education Board. The awards recognizes schools implementing a SREB program intended to improve the education framework and are achieving success in goals related to graduation rates, readiness for college and careers and credential attainment. We are glad to see the school aggressively target and implement important educational goals. TCTC was honored with the award in Grapevine, Texas.


Orchids and onions

ORCHID: To the Mahoning County Sheriff’s Office and council of government officials involved in oversight of emergency dispatch. The agencies worked together to come up with a solution, albeit temporary, to address concerns that Poland Township 9-1-1 calls were being shipped to two dispatch centers. Austintown has stepped up to dispatch Poland and Poland Township calls. Staffing issues that have plagued our nation have affected Boardman government, causing the dispatch challenges. Once personnel and financial issues are addressed in Boardman, Poland dispatch will return there. We were pleased with the spirit of cooperation and this logical solution reached quickly.

ONION: To suppliers or workers responsible for making an incorrect mixture of hazardous pool chemicals this week at the Central YMCA in downtown Youngstown that triggered a “puff of smoke,” medical treatment of three people with breathing issues and temporary closure of the facility. We understand accidents happen, but those who deal with dangerous chemicals need to be reminded that this is nothing to take lightly. The situation could have been so much worse.

ORCHID: To the growing number of generous donors who put forth 4,360 gifts totaling an incredible $24.1 million this year to Youngstown State University Foundation, the most in the university’s 114-year history. The support benefits students by assisting in their education, and, therefore, the local community. YSU President Jim Tressel said it well: “Our donors are among the most generous and supportive anywhere in the nation.”

ONION: To property owners that think it’s OK to ignore upkeep, including cutting the grass and even maintaining swimming pools. We often read of local government boards taking action to declare unkempt properties as nuisances. It happened again this week in Canfield, involving a filthy and dangerous swimming pool, and Weathersfield Township where grass and weeds are overgrown. The new Campbell administration also wants to tackle blight and demolish more than 100 vacant homes. If you own property, be considerate of your neighbors and take the necessary steps to ensure it is properly maintained.

ORCHID: To Liberty Township officials and the Ohio Public Works Commission for continuing to address erosion issues along Little Squaw Creek in Church Hill Park that were creating safety concerns. Township officials, with the help of funding from the Ohio Public Works Commission Clean Ohio grant-matching funds, are working to retain the integrity of the stream and halt its erosion near a park roadway. The Ohio grants are covering most of the project.


Orchids and onions

ORCHID: To all the organizations and community members who coordinated wonderful Independence Day parades, fireworks and other celebrations this year as our region and the nation continues to rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic that interrupted so many events over the past two years. Let’s hope we all can continue to use caution and stay healthy to end this scourge once and for all.

ORCHID: To the Community Foundation of the Mahoning Valley and its supporting organizations for continued good work. The organizations this week announced $557,800 in grants to worthwhile local organizations for the second quarter. In total, the Community Foundation’s general grant program awarded $164,000 to 22 organizations, while the Young Philanthropist Fund — led by Mahoning Valley Young Professionals — awarded $5,000 to Potential Development School for Students with Autism. Bravo! These funds are key in helping impactful organizations implement important projects.

ONION: To a West Ravenwood Avenue woman and her roommate who are accused this week of fighting with ambulance medics, including punching and attacking the medics, after an overdosed patient was revived at a South Side home. There is no excuse for this behavior. As COVID-19 and the opioid epidemic continues to plague our area, medical first responders already have enough to deal with. Patients and those with them need to allow medics to do their jobs and not interfere. Also, those with addiction issues need to accept their problems and seek help.

ORCHID: To Nancy Landgraff, chairwoman of Youngstown State University’s Department of Physical Therapy, who was named the second recipient of the James P. Tressel Endowed Chair in Leadership, a new and distinguished award. The honor is bestowed each year upon department chairs who exhibit outstanding leadership in their fields. It includes a stipend and expenses to support and develop continued growth in university departments.

ORCHID: To the Jewish Community Center of Youngstown and Jewish Family and Community Services, which will offer free frozen meals to Youngstown residents with income below 80 percent of area median income levels and households affected by the pandemic. Meal giveaways will be 9 to 11 a.m. today in the parking lot adjacent to JCC, 505 Gypsy Lane, Liberty. More dates for the giveaway are forthcoming.


Orchids and onions

ORCHID: To organizers that planned for the creation of a new marker commemorating all military members who served in Korea since the Korean Armistice. The marker was unveiled Sunday at the Korean War Memorial at Austintown Veterans Park. The memorial was erected so the 119 local service people who served during the Korean Conflict would not be forgotten. We salute each of them, as well as all who have served.

ORCHID: To Canfield Township residents Jim and Toni Amey, who have kept alive Idora Park memories by creating the “Idora Park Experience” at their South Turner Road home. The exhibit showcases memorabilia and collectibles from the iconic amusement park that closed in 1984. Sadly, the exhibit is coming to an end, due to cost, size and township rules. The Ameys plan to sell their home, and the Idora Park collection’s future will be up in the air. We applaud the Ameys for the precious Idora memories they have provided to our community for many years.

ONION: To Lowellville Schools for moving slowly and with little transparency to address security issues and the emotional challenges faced by children who witnessed a student’s suicide in the school cafeteria. About two months have passed since the May 5 incident, and parents are right to be frustrated that no changes to procedures or progress toward changing them have been communicated to the public. Students soon will be returning to school, and let us hope the summer months won’t have been a wasted opportunity for school officials to address these challenges.

ORCHID: To the winner of the prestigious Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, a bloodhound named “Trumpet,” and to the dog’s Berlin Center handler and co-owner, Heather Helmer. Trumpet is the first bloodhound ever to win best in show at Westminster, beating a French bulldog, a German shepherd, a Maltese, an English setter, a Samoyed and a Lakeland terrier. Helmer, who also goes by Heather Buehner, said the competition was stiff. Congratulations!

ORCHID: To the The Mahoning Valley Scrappers and the 910th Airlift Wing at the Youngstown Air Reserve Station in Vienna for the newly announced community engagement partnership campaign called “Operation Fly Together” that will promote the military unit. The marketing campaign will celebrate the C-130H aircraft based at the station as well as bring increased awareness to the airlift wing and YARS, which is Trumbull County’s largest employer, organizers said. The partnership includes five very important categories — support, honor, educate, celebrate and community.



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