Orchids and onions

ORCHID: To Nils Paul Johnson Jr. of Canfield, local artist and attorney, whose artwork commemorating passage of the 19th Amendment will soon move from the Davis Family YMCA in Boardman to the Ohio Supreme Court in Columbus. Johnson, who serves on a commission overseeing the Supreme Court building, said the group decided to focus on women’s struggles and highlight that four of the seven current Ohio Supreme Court justices are women. Local professional women served as models for Johnson’s meaningful mural.

ORCHID: To the Ford Nature Center at Mill Creek MetroParks for its award-winning redevelopment project and its vision to bring enhanced nature education to the community. The center was selected as a top award winner in the Ohio Parks and Recreation Association’s 2022 annual Awards of Excellence winners. The project placed second in the “capital improvement — $2.5 million and up” category of the competition. These awards are judged by a panel of parks and recreation professionals from around Ohio. Bravo!

ORCHID: To donors who have given tens of thousands of dollars for use on renovating the former Roosevelt School in Hubbard into a community wellness center. Phil and Mary Catherine Mazi with Handyman Hardware and Hubbard Auto Bath each made a $10,000 donation, and the Cody Pitts Memorial Foundation contributed $10,000 with plans to give more in the future. What wonderful gifts for an important project!

ONION: To Tyler Zuniga, 33, of Girard, who this week was sentenced to prison, fined and given a lifetime suspension of his driving privileges after he pleaded guilty to two counts of operating a vehicle under the influence. It was revealed in court that Zuniga is a repeat OVI offender. Zuniga told the judge he hopes his life has two halves, because the first half involved his struggles with alcohol addiction. We hope so, too.

ORCHID: To The American Heart Association for the meaningful work it does in fighting against cardiovascular disease, and to donors that helped the organization raise a record-breaking $280,000 at this month’s Heart of the Tri-County Heart Ball. The event culminates the association’s yearlong campaign focused on funding research, education and raising money to support the organization’s lifesaving work.

ORCHID: To the hundreds of people who took time this year to send “thankful thoughts” for publication in The Vindicator’s Thanksgiving Day edition. It’s heartwarming to see so many people publicly share their gratitude for life’s many gifts.


Orchids and onions

ORCHID: To staff, volunteers and President Rebecca L. Keck at Students Motivated by the Arts, or SMARTS, marking its 25th year of offering access and training in various performing and fine arts for K-12 students. The programs especially focus on underserved populations. This wonderful organization strives to enrich our community with student achievement, self-discipline and cultural and academic literacy. Bravo to SMARTS for the impact it has made through the years!

ONION: To Austintown Trustees Steve Kent and Monica Deavers for voting to spend some $40,000 on a new “Welcome to Austintown” sign at state Route 11 and Mahoning Avenue. Trustee Robert Santos was right to argue against the sign. He called it a “misuse of funds,” noting other more pressing projects exist, such as sinkhole remediation. We also point out that a “Welcome to Austintown” sign already exists less than 1 1/2 miles away from the new site, at the busy intersection of Mahoning Avenue and Raccoon Road.

ORCHID: To a group of Youngstown State University students who took part Thursday in planting a “mini forest” along Mill Creek MetroParks’ Collier Preserve, near Western Reserve Road. The Arbor Day Foundation paid for the 1,650 trees that were purchased by the YSU Legacy Forest, and Mill Creeks MetroParks Foundation bought the tubes and stakes for the project. What a wonderful way to help preserve our environment!

ORCHID: To Austintown police officer Chance Hanshaw, who was honored recently with a Rescue Ribbon for his life-saving action this summer when he located two gunshot victims near North Meridian Road. Hanshaw maintained “control of his emotions and responded without hesitation” to administer chest seals and tourniquets, according to the award recommendation. Thank you to officer Hanshaw for his service and his commitment to serve and protect.

ONION: To self-centered scofflaws who cut catalytic converters from service vehicles at the Youngstown Salvation Army, an agency that exists for the sole purpose of helping others — especially during cold weather and the approaching holiday season. The damage curtailed pickup of donated food items that the agency would offer to needy — even desperate — people in our community.

ORCHID: To Boardman United Methodist Church, which recently marked 200 years in existence. This incredible milestone should be feted, especially in this sad time when increasingly more churches close their doors, largely due to poor attendance. Pastor Jerry Krueger said this church has been successful because it focuses on the future, celebrates the present and remembers the past.

ORCHID: To local donors and volunteers who recently delivered 10,000 items and $1,000 in cash to area domestic violence agencies. The collection drive was organized by the Mahoning County Prosecutor’s Office and South Range High School senior Macenzee Gaal. Poland and Salem student Key Clubs also participated. The donations went to Sojourner House, Christina House and Beatitude House. This year’s collection effort more than tripled what was raised in last year’s drive.


Orchids and onions

• ORCHID: To the four new police officers who were sworn in this week as members of the Youngstown Police Department. They are Chad Redfern, Deanna Jordan, Keilan Beachum and Laura Fullmer. The four seem to be bright and eager to serve our community in a much-needed capacity.

• ORCHID: To those involved in dedicating the Mahoning Avenue bridge over Meander Reservoir on the west side of Austintown in honor of Purple Heart veterans. Mahoning County commissioners on Thursday approved naming the bridge. Representing Military Order of the Purple Heart Chapter 606 to accept the proclamation was chapter commander Herm Breuer, who also is director of Trumbull County Veterans Services; and Leo Connelly, 75, of Boardman, who was wounded in hand-to-hand combat during the Vietnam War.

• ORCHID: To Youngstown State University students who gathered this week for the second annual Swipe Out Hunger program on campus. The event involves discussions by local organizations on the front lines of the battle against food insecurity in Youngstown who pointed out that more than 80,000 people across Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana counties struggle with hunger. Bravo to these students for keeping this important issue in the forefront.

• ONION: To a woman accused of assaulting a police officer and a pregnant ambulance worker during an incident last week on Youngstown’s West Side. Even without attacks like this, first responders’ jobs already are challenging enough. If convicted, the woman should be sentenced to the fullest extent of the law.

• ORCHID: To the 17 honorees of this year’s Youngstown CityScape’s Beautification Awards and to all who take pride in their properties in helping to make the city more beautiful. The awards given out Thursday are intended to encourage people to participate in beautification by providing incentive and inspiration.

• ORCHID: To all the local political candidates in Tuesday’s election who accepted the races’ outcomes respectfully and professionally. This goes for many candidates in contested local races — some who won and some who lost. Unfortunately, accepting election results with grace isn’t always a given these days.

Orchids and onions

ORCHID: To Mill Creek MetroParks for its work on Phase II of the East Park Hike and Bike Trail. Work will consist of clearing, excavation, embankment and placing aggregate base and asphalt concrete. The important project is expected to last about 60 days, barring severe weather.

ONION: To the owner of 10 dogs, including two puppies, rescued by Animal Charity Humane Society of Ohio and the Mahoning County Dog Warden this week from deplorable living conditions from an East Side Youngstown home. The dogs, chained outside in damp, muddy conditions, were emaciated, dehydrated and covered in wounds, Animal Charity humane agents said. As a pet owner, if you cannot care properly for your animals, then surrender them humanely to someone who is able to care for them appropriately. Or, better yet, don’t take them in the first place.

ORCHID: To animal humane agents working in Mahoning County for taking on this critically important, but also challenging and often heartbreaking, work of rescuing badly mistreated or neglected animals. Certainly, the often thankless work takes caring, special workers and volunteers.

ONION: To the man accused of causing panic when he flew a single engine airplane too low over Stambaugh Stadium more than three years ago during a YSU home football game. The court case involving misdemeanor criminal charges has been pending and delayed for years. The case finally was set for trial earlier this week, but the defendant did not show up for trial, leading the Youngstown Municipal Court judge to issue an arrest warrant. Really? It’s time for the defendant to face the judge and put an end to this issue.

ORCHID: To McDonald Community Room for restarting its REST (or recreation, education, socialization, together) Program after a two-year hiatus during the COVID-19 pandemic. Funded by a grant, the program serves anyone 60 and older in Trumbull County at no cost. New Director Tina Gill reportedly has a calendar full of events for seniors to enjoy. Bravo!

ORCHID: To Hubbard area donors who generously gave more than $5,500 to be used for the Hubbard pool’s new steps, which are used by swimmers when diving. The community pool is a lovely gem for the Hubbard-area residents.



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