Thursday, June 22, 2006

Protect your vacant property from scavengers!

This e-mail came across the Youngstown Historic Buildings and Home's listserv about protecting vacant property in Youngstown. It is worth your time.

Subject: [YTownHistoricHomesBldgs] Protect your vacant property from scavengers!

The scavengers are at it again on the North Side of Youngstown - BIG time. The Crandall Park neighborhood association is going to resume neighborhood block watch patrols, but here are some things you can do if you own a vacant home ANYWHERE in town and want to be pro-active about protecting it against being stripped by scavengers:

Have ADT install an alarm system with motion and smoke sensors. Motion sensors are more effective than door and window switches at detecting a home intrusion.

Smoke sensors will call the ADT monitoring center (and, therefore, the FIRE department) before there is even an outward indication that a fire has started in the house. If a fire does happen in your vacant property, every moment saved could mean the difference between a damaged home and a destroyed home. With the recent rash of arson fires all over town, your vacant property MAY ALREADY BE a target for the arsonist(s).

For vacant houses without telephone service, ADT has wireless modules that can be added to a basic alarm system so that the alarm box can call for help without a telephone line. Their alarms also have a battery backup that can operate without public power for up to three days. They even offer a "wet basement" sensor that can be tied into the alarm box. The ADT system will notify the monitoring center if either the telephone line or the electric line is cut.

If you are concerned about the cost of an alarm system, just think about what it would cost to replace all of the antique fixtures in one of these old homes at today's prices.

Other measures that can be taken to protect your vacant properties include having LOTS of BRIGHT outside lights around the house and making sure that windows and doors are not obscured by bushes, weeds, etc. DON'T give the scavengers dark corners around your property where they can hide and do their bad deed without being seen from the street.

If you have a spare vehicle, park it in the driveway at your vacant property. Put up curtains in EVERY window. Make it appear as though someone lives in the house - even though it is vacant. Try putting an old portable TV in an upstairs bedroom - on a timer - so that the flickering light from the picture tube can be seen through the curtains at night by passers by. Black and white TV sets are especially good for this ruse.

Keep the grass cut and the yard clean - nothings says "I'm empty, come rob me" to a scavenger more than tall grass and trash laying around.

Let's make it more risky and less inviting for these *&%$! scavengers to do the despicable things that they do! If you have the spare time and want to help make your neighborhood safer - VOLUNTEER for a neighborhood block watch patrol. The Youngstown Police Department needs all the help they can get!

Best Regards to all,


Thursday, June 15, 2006

Vacant Land

There are 13,000 vacant parcels of land in Youngstown. Are they a liability or an asset? A workshop was held at the Butler Institute of American Art that looked at the issue. Youngstown 2010, according to land use expert Joseph Shilling of the National Vacant Properties campaign, has a proper plan in place to deal with vacant land. He says (as does the plan) to shrink the city to fit the number of businesses and residents, and create green space and ‘pocket’ parks. Shilling also says a land bank needs to be put in place. For more information, log onto

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Fulfilling Their Promise

Editorial, The Business Journal

With the surfeit of role models who have exhibited less than exemplary behavior, we are heartened by the promise shown by a new generation of politicians.

We cite initiatives launched over the past couple of weeks, one by Youngstown Mayor Jay Williams, another by U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan of Niles.

Williams, the youngest man elected mayor Youngstown, led a coalition of agencies in announcing an initiative aimed at helping young people stay on the straight and narrow this summer and have fun doing so.

“The idea is to fill the summer with opportunities for young people to engage in productive activities,” the mayor says. Young people must understand and appreciate that criminal activity has consequences, a point underscored by last month’s sweep of suspected gang members. “We also think it’s extremely important to offer them a productive alternative,” he adds.

When Ryan ran for Congress in 2002, his critics taunted him for his youth and inexperience. The state senator in his first term got the last laugh by defeating a veteran congressman in the primary and a well-funded Republican opponent in November. Since his election, Ryan has directed his energy to moving the community to action, championing efforts to encourage the development and implementation of new technology.

The two-term congressman recently introduced legislation that would help communities such as Youngstown rid themselves of blighted, vacant properties. He is co-sponsor of a measure that would enable the federal government to match, dollar for dollar up to $500,000, what qualifying cities spend to raze abandoned houses and reclaim the properties.

“If the local government is willing to use its general revenue funds to do that, the federal government should partner with them,” Ryan says, referring to Youngstown’s allocating $1.2 million this year to demolish blighted housing.

We’re also impressed with Ryan and Williams’ frequent joint visits to city schools (which Ryan acknowledges inspired his urban demolition legislation).

Many students in these schools may be used to seeing political positions filled by white men at least as old as their fathers and the often their grandfathers. While more blacks and women are being elected public office and Congress, they still stand out because of their relative novelty. Only rarely can black youths in inner-city schools identify with them or imagine following in their footsteps.

Maybe Ryan and Williams and other young leaders can spark the students’ imaginations and fuel their aspirations to one day become mayor or a member of the House o Representatives. The only barriers they should encounter should be the extent of their abilities, not race or economic class.

Young people in our community can only benefit form the examples Williams and Ryan are setting.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Only in Youngstown

Youngstown dealing with unruly teens who taunt drivers
LAST UPDATE: 5/30/2006 10:15:05 AM

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (AP) - Police in Youngstown are trying to deal with unruly teens who form human chains across the street and taunt drivers to hit them.

Police have gotten several similar reports and say each time the teens dispersed before officers arrived.

One newspaper editor at The Youngstown Vindicator says teens pounded their fists on her car while she frantically dialed 9-1-1.

One school security officer fears panicked motorists may drive through the human chains to escape.

Youngstown police plan to add extra patrols near affected areas. The chief said he's considering videotaping large groups of teens for identification purposes.

Calendar Event

Mark your calendars! "Vacant Properties: Neighborhood Liability or Asset?" from 7 to 9 p.m. Wednesday at the Butler Institute of American Art on Wick Avenue. Sponsored by Wick Neighbors Inc. and Youngstown 2010.

From Youngstown, Ohio to Beersheba

Last week's Jerusalem Post has an article about an emmigrant from Youngstown who has settled in Beersheba, Israel. Yaakov Dickstein, 25, is currently in medical school at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. The article never mentions Youngstown beyond the title, but it is interesting to see where people from our fair town have settled.

Idora Park: Yesterday and Today



Breaking News: Mayor Williams enjoys Outback

According to several first person sources, Youngstown mayor Jay Williams is a big fan of Outback Steakhouse. Williams was spotted at the popular Boardman restauraunt Saturday night, sharing the same side of the booth with his wife. Maybe the conversation went something like this:

Jay and Sonja are having dinner.
Jay: Sonja, come sit next to me.
Sonja: Aww...
Jay: I'm tired of looking at you.

T.P. Lowry, 16

The North Side lost a legend on Saturday when T.P. Lowry, 16, was killed in a tragic vehicle accident. T.P. was a lifelong resident of the North Heights neighborhood, living on Bradley Lane for the last 13 years.

T.P. was an avid outdoorsman who enjoyed birdwatching and hunting small game. He was particularly fond of the neighborhood squirrels who were constantly under his gaze. While T.P. never had a formal education, it could be said that he was educated on the streets of Youngstown. It was there that he learned to fight, challenging anyone that threatened him, his family or his home. He was also fond of sleeping, eating, and throwing up from overeating, which he was known to do on a near daily basis.

T.P. is survived by his parents, Pat and Becky and three siblings, Joe, Caroline and Colleen. He had several cousins in the neighborhood as well. A private service was held on Sunday.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Happy Birthday!

The Youngstown Playhouse, the nation’s longest running community theater, is celebrating its 80th birthday this year!

While we are on baseball...

I found this article on Apparently Roger Clemens is endorsing a locally invented baseball product. Called Strike Out Strippz, they assist young pitchers develop their game but allowing them to visualize their throw and increase muscle memory. It has already garnered a lot of press.

Pitching aid creators get Clemens' support
Saturday, May 27, 2006
The technique created by Jack Kucek of Canfield and Greg Smith of Columbiana teaches the mechanics.


CANFIELD — Canfield resident Jack Kucek, who pitched in the major leagues from 1971-81, along with his partner Greg Smith of Columbiana, have formed a business called Strike Out Strippz.

Roger Clemens, who is ninth on the majors' all-time list for pitching wins (341), is a seven-time Cy Young award winner and American League MVP in 1986, signed a contract with Kucek in New York last week to endorse Strike Out Strippz.

A DVD and video were produced and will be available with an instruction book some time in August on the Internet.

Fans can log on at to order the DVD for $39. Anyone who pre-orders it will be eligible for an autographed Clemens baseball.


"The product was designed from watching and pitching against some of the greatest pitchers ever such as Nolan Ryan, Catfish Hunter, Clemens and others," said Kucek.

"Clemens wants to teach kids how to pitch and they have been working on making the DVD and video a reality since last Oct. 17," said Kucek.

A national television commercial introducing Strike Out Strippz will be out in about a month.


Jack Kucek, former major league pitcher and Strike Out Strippz inventor standing with the Rocket himself, Roger Clemens. Photo from Strike Out Strippz

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Youngstown breaking the color barrier

George Shuba, a lifelong Youngstown resident, served for seven seasons as utility outfielder and lefthanded pinch hitter for the Brooklyn Dodgers. His seven seasons included a World Series championship in 1955.

Shuba is often remembered for his symbolic role in breaking down major league baseball's tenacious "color barrier." In 1946, he was captured in a legendary photograph shaking hands with Jackie Robinson, when the two men were teammates for the Montreal Royals, a farm team of the Brooklyn Dodgers organization. The moment was described as "the first interracial handshake" in North American baseball's recent history. Robinson then left to play for the Dodgers the following year, but not before winning the Little World series and being chased by exultant Montréal fans right to the train as he left. Wrote Sam Maltin, a stringer for the Pittsburgh Courier: "It was probably the only day in history that a black man ran from a white mob with love instead of lynching on its mind."

Shuba made his professional debut with the Dodgers on July 2, 1948.

At the peak of his playing career, Shuba delivered a pinch-hit homer in the 1953 World Series opener, which the New York Yankees won 9-5. Knee surgery, however, reduced his effectiveness after that season. Shuba played his final game Sept. 25, 1955.

Following his retirement, Shuba returned to Youngstown, where he lives today. A 2006 article that appeared in the Chicago Tribune noted that Shuba continues to take pride in the photograph of his groundbreaking handshake with teammate Robinson. A copy of the photo currently hangs behind his favorite living-room chair.