Orchids and onions

ORCHID: To Youngstown State University alumni Suellen and Michael Weir for donating $1 million to provide new technology to the YSU Williamson College of Business Administration. The gift is expected to enhance YSU technology used to prepare students for their futures. As university President Jim Tressel stated, “It is because of folks like the Weirs that YSU is the strong, impactful institution that it is today.” The donation comes two years after the Weirs provided a separate $1 million gift to establish the Suellen and Michael Weir Scholarship for engineering and sciences majors.

ORCHID: To organizers and some 700 local, regional and out-of-state participants in the Youngstown marathon last weekend. Proceeds from the event will stay in the community and benefit charities such as the American Heart Association, Ballet Western Reserve, Cadence Care Network in Niles and the Youngstown Blue Coats, a Hubbard-based organization that distributes coats, socks, hats, gloves, etc., to homeless and needy.

ONION: To Girard leaders for failing to give advance warning to the public about waterline replacements that ended up leaving them without water for several days. The city said they sent notices to some media outlets — but not all of them — and posted the information on some websites. Clearly, the half-hearted effort did not reach all the residents who needed to prepare for days without running water.

ORCHID: To Girard Mayor James Melfi, who said he’ll veto recently approved legislation that would have raised his annual pay from $52,997 to $58,997. Melfi said, “It is an honor to have been able to serve as the mayor,” and that he doesn’t believe a pay increase is needed. Melfi plans to seek re-election.

ONION: To scammers who have been calling people claiming to be a U.S. marshal. Billing departments of northeast Ohio medical providers have been receiving calls from people claiming to be federal authorities, seeking information from the company in general and specifically from those who answer the calls. Federal marshals urge the public to call the clerk of court’s office of the nearest U.S. District Court and verify any reported court orders. Also, the U.S. Marshals will never ask for credit or debit or gift card numbers, banking account numbers or request funds to be wired for any purpose.

ORCHID: To state Rep. Al Cutrona, R-Canfield, for donating $25,000 of his campaign funds to the Fraternal Order of Police’s Canfield Lodge to help Canfield Police Department cover costs for a bomb-sniffing police dog and trainer. The dog also eventually will be available for other counties and districts to use as needed for bomb sniffing, tracking and apprehension.


Orchids and onions

ORCHID: To the Youngstown Police Department for planning its annual family Halloween event with candy and games 3 to 5 p.m. on Oct. 30 at Cardinal Mooney High School. The tradition always helps children in the city to enjoy a safe and fun Halloween, and also helps foster a good relationship between youth and local law enforcement. The event is being coordinated in conjunction with ICU Block Watch and local businesses.

ONION: To suspended Boardman attorney Anthony J. Fusco, convicted and ordered jailed on insurance fraud. The Ohio Department of Insurance says an audit of 1,400 claim settlements Fusco handled found that he submitted altered, inflated medical bills in 399 client bodily injury claims submitted to 62 insurance companies. He was sentenced recently to serve 18 months in prison but is eligible for judicial release. We caution against early release, which would send a very bad message.

ORCHID: To Liberty Local Schools first-grade teacher Darnelle Clark, who recently was awarded the 2022 Westminster College Alumni Citation Award. During the remote learning period prompted by the pandemic, Clark became widely known for her Youtube channel, Clark’s Cozy Corner, as an entertaining way to encourage students to read. The beloved and devoted teacher suffered severe complications of COVID-19, but now has returned to work, although she still suffers long-term effects of the illness.

ONION: To the Mahoning County Board of Elections for botching printed instructions on about 20,000 printed absentee ballots, erroneously telling voters to sign their ballots. If voters do that, there will be no ballot secrecy. Instead, the instructions should have directed voters to sign the “identification envelope,” in which the completed ballots are placed. The good news is that even if the ballots bear a signature, the votes still will be counted.

ORCHID: To Boscov’s Department Store for hosting again this year its Friends Helping Friends fundraiser this week, which raises funds for thousands of local charities while giving shoppers a chance to save 25 percent off the lowest sale price on merchandise. Boscov’s officials said previously that in one day, more than $1 million is raised to support nonprofit organizations. The event packed the store on Wednesday, making it a win-win for everyone involved.


Orchids and onions

ORCHID: To Mahoning County Career and Technical Center for its upcoming investment that will allow it to train youth and adults on existing and emerging energy systems, including installation and maintenance of electric vehicle charging stations, EV maintenance and experience in understanding and working with traditional and nontraditional power. The $1.1 million recently awarded contract ensures that our schools are remaining relevant for evolving industries.

ONION: To the owner of five vicious dogs that mauled and critically injured a man on Youngstown’s North Side Monday. Vicious dogs should not be kept as pets, and if they are, they certainly should never be allowed to roam freely outside the home.

ORCHID: To the Youngstown police officers for their quick response to the 5:30 a.m. call, which probably saved the life of the man being mauled by the vicious dogs. Officers arrived quickly and used pepper spray, stun guns and then firearms to defend themselves from dog attacks as they tried to rescue the victim. After finally opening fire, the dogs ran away. Officers then applied a tourniquet to try to stop bleeding on the man’s injuries until an ambulance arrived.

ONION: To scam artists who seem to always find new ways to take advantage of unsuspecting victims at every opportunity. We wrote last week about scam artists taking advantage of the generosity of donors to the Florida hurricane relief efforts. Then, this week, we wrote about scam artists who will target seniors during this Medicare open enrollment period. Seniors must remember that Medicare will never call you. If someone calls requesting your Medicare number or Social Security information, just hang up.

ORCHID: To students and their advisers, along with sponsors for local FIRST Robotics teams. Students already are gearing up for the upcoming competition season that starts in January. Robotics is an incredible activity that teaches area youth about engineering, mathematics and other STEM skills, not to mention teamwork and problem solving skills that, undeniably, will be carried into their future careers and throughout their lives. Many local Trumbull land Mahoning County teams competed last weekend in an off-season practice competition — a “scrimmage” of sorts — in preparation for the upcoming season.

ONION: To Trumbull County Commissioner Niki Frenchko for walking out of a public meeting during public comments this week while a constituent and potential college intern was reading a letter critical of Frenchko’s handling of the internship issue. Whether or not Frenchko agrees with public comments, she should be respectful enough to hear them out. Frenchko frequently seems to forget she is an elected public servant. It’s not the other way around.


Orchids and onions

ORCHID: To the “Rosie the Riveters” from the Mahoning Valley, including those honored last week at the Youngstown Historical Center of Industry and Labor. The event recognized the important duty these women fulfilled by working in factories during World War II. The local “Rosies” honored are Mary Callahan of Cortland, Ethel McMullen of Youngstown, Esther Castellano of Warren and Frances Spahlinger of Lake Milton.

ORCHID: To donors Rick (and Lynn) of Clover, S.C., and Mary Jo Knuth, now of Niles, all formerly of Hubbard, who made a contribution to St. Augustine House, a transitional house on Glenwood Avenue in Youngstown that provides a stable place for boys working at Cafe Augustine inside the Newport Library branch. The generous gift allowed the donors to name the house in honor of their mother, Joann Kerola Knuth, 90, of Hubbard.

ONION: To the Youngstown city administration for prematurely forcing short-notice evictions of nearly 20 tenants at the city-owned 20 Federal Place. We bring this up again after city leaders announced this week that bids for the project that displaced these businesses now won’t even go out until December, months beyond the Oct. 31 original plan to have bids in place.

ORCHID: To Panera Bread and Covelli Enterprises for their significant ongoing support of the battle against breast cancer. Again this year, the companies in October are sponsoring Pink Ribbon Bagels at seven local stores to raise awareness and funds to benefit Mercy Health Foundation to support the Joanie Abdu Comprehensive Breast Care Center in Youngstown.

ORCHID: To organizers of Ohio Nonviolence Week in Youngstown, an annual event intended to draw attention to the work that needs to be done to instill peace in our neighborhoods. Mahoning Valley Sojourn to the Past hosted this week’s parade and rally in which hundreds participated. Other events this week included presentation of the local Simeon Booker Award for Courage to Dr. Virginia “Dee” Banks of Youngstown and an online historical talk about school desegregation.


Orchids and onions

ORCHID: To Mahoning County officials for seeking and receiving a $5.7 million grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to combat lead-based paint hazards in homes of lower-income residents. The money will help identify and remove lead-based paint and other health hazards in homes to protect children from dangers of lead exposure. This is a critically important project for the health of our community.

ORCHID: To members of the Junior Women’s Leagues of Warren, Austintown, Niles, Canfield and Boardman for hanging teal ribbons around local communities as part of a national movement to raise awareness of the cancer nicknamed “the silent killer.” Orchid also goes to Rose Mary Flanagan Ovarian Cancer Foundation, which supplied the ribbons.

ONION: To what could only be a hate-filled evil person that was responsible for starving a helpless dog and then shooting him in the head on Youngstown’s North Side. The dog must have been left for dead, but somehow took shelter in an open shed where he was discovered. He now is fighting for his life and running up a costly vet bill. We are hopeful the dog will survive, return to good health and be adopted by a caring soul who will ensure he never again suffers.

ORCHID: To Bob Lidle, who has been a member of the Mahoning County Planning Commission, for an incredible 51 years since 1971. Lidle of Poland Township has spent all those years volunteering his time for this very important organization that helps handle land development in Mahoning County. Clearly, Lidle demonstrates the meaning of community service.

ORCHID: To Melnick Medical Museum, hailed as a great way for people to learn about the complex history of medicine, for reopening this week in a new location inside Cushwa Hall at Youngstown State University. The museum somehow prevailed in its mission to showcase the medical history for several years, even without a physical location. The museum is free and open to the public 1 to 4 p.m. Tuesdays.

ORCHID: To Gina DeGenova, chief assistant prosecutor with the Mahoning County Prosecutor’s Office, and Macenzee Gaal, a senior at South Range High School, for expanding a donation drive in honor of Domestic Violence Awareness Month in October. Gaal is reaching out to many organizations to help secure donation of 10,000 items.



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