Thursday, August 31, 2006

Something to Crow About

Well, the day we have all waited for is here! Today is the official opening of the 160th Canfield Fair. Days of apple dumplings, harness racing, elephant ears, and kiddie rides lay ahead! I know that from year to year there are not elemental changes to the fair. We see the same reenactments at the Western Reserve Village. We see the same chocolate chip cookies winning the baked goods competition and the same 640lb pumpkinds taking first prize but that is what I love about it. It is so familar, and such a part of the Mahoning Valley. I go every year because I want the same Molnar's cinnamon roll or Antone's cavatelli. It is the one day (or two or three) of the year that I can be an absolute glutton by eating anything I want, see tractors, get a free Vindicator, and run into ten people or more that I know. How often does that happen? All told, probably just once a year and only at the fair.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Valley Taking a Hit Over “Hitmen”

What’s in a name?

If it happens to be “Mahoning Valley Hitmen”…well, need we say more? The recent wave of press regarding Valley native Maurice Clarett—who was negotiating a contract to play with the Hitmen—has only intensified everything that was already wrong with the name of the proposed Eastern Indoor Football League team, but, we are jumping ahead of ourselves; more on that later.

Putting aside Clarett all together, we are perplexed and offended that Hitmen Owner Jim Terry would even give such a name to his team, which, by the way, has all of two players on board and no takers willing to offer up a location as a playing field. Maybe he thought “Hitmen” was amusing (in addition to the team’s motto, “Get Whacked Indoors,” and the logo of a mob-type figure wielding a pistol), given this area’s history, but that’s just it: it’s history! We have said and written time and again about the numerous ways the Youngstown-Warren area has progressed and improved its image over the past decade. The mob activity has been gone for some time; aesthetically, the Valley has never looked better; and we’ve seen a great deal of private and public investment in the area in the form of government centers, restaurants and buildings such as the Chevy Centre. We know the going is slow, and we still have matters to address and work on, but the point is, we are moving forward. And, while the rest of us are doing that, Terry is taking a huge step backward, and he’s bringing the residents of this Valley down with him.

And how far and low will he go? Lately he’s been spouting off to the few people who will listen to him about all sort of things, trying to win any support for his team. We don’t mind saying, it doesn’t appear to be working.

Unfortunately, his association with Clarett is just adding to the drama. Clarett’s story is tragic unto itself, since the Warren native was positioned for a great pro career in football until alleged criminal activity began his downward spiral and led him back to the area. And, since he gained fame nationwide from his football-playing days at The Ohio State University, his negotiations with the Hitmen garnered nationwide attention through the media. His recent arrest and pending trial for past alleged criminal behavior just added to that media frenzy.

Media outlets from ESPN to USA Today, along with bloggers all over the Intenet, have seized the opportunity to ridicule Clarett. And, of course, with that comes his association with the Mahoning Valley Hitmen. Which, in turn, brings negative publicity to our community—many of those outlets mentioned the irony of the team’s name, logo and motto, although, in relation to Clarett, not the Youngstown area.

The point is, if Terry had chosen another name, the satirical commentary on the team would not have accompanied the media’s issues with Clarett. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure that out—or to figure out that the people of the Mahoning Valley might just take offense, as many have. We couldn’t have been more pleased to see that the Thunderplex recently nixed any possibility of the Hitmen playing in its facility, and we sincerely hope any other facility considering giving the team a home also reconsiders.

The Valley is filled with a myriad of great professional sports teams that have a full roster of truly dedicated players, a facility in which to play and thousands of genuine fans, and they all give this community a sense of pride that even good media coverage can’t buy. It’s these teams that deserve, and have earned, our patronage and support.

From the Regional Chamber column, How We See It, from the inside cover of the Business Journal, September 2006.

Monday, August 28, 2006

More Idora...

I found another Idora Park video on YouTube. Again, no sound.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Aircraft mechanics school opens at YNG

The Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics has opened a school at the Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport and are hoping that some Delphi/GM buyout or retirees may enroll in the school.

“Good things are happening in this community. Step by step—one by one, we’re having progress. They don’t always make the news channels. They don’t always make the front page of the newspaper, but bit by bit—step by step—good things are happening, said Congressman Tim Ryan.

The curriculum for PIA's Aviation Maintenance Technician (AMT) program, as offered at the Youngstown-Warren Campus, satisfies the requirement of 14 CFR (Code of Federal Regulations), Part 147. A graduate from the program is eligible to test for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Airframe and Powerplant (A & P) certifications. The AMT program is a non-degree course of study leading to a diploma.

Duties of an aviation maintenance technician include inspections, component replacement, overhauls, extensive repairs, troubleshooting, and servicing of aircraft and aircraft systems. Certified AMTs enter the industry as journeymen, and are not required to serve in apprenticeship capacities.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Bitchin' Youngstown Shirts

With emphasis on the 'bitch'... I'll buy 10!

Shirts from Cafe Press

Arson finds historic YS&T homes

A bit of Youngstown steel history met an arsonist yesterday as three vacant former Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. houses at 2, 3 and 6 Delmar Ave. in Campbell caught fire. The fires, one in each of the three residences, had been burning for about 30 minutes Tuesday when the fire department was called. No injuries were reported. Total damage is estimated to be $6,000.

The homes were part of the Blackburn Plat, a housing development created during World War I to house workers hired to help Youngstown Sheet and Tube meet its production goals. Blackburn Plat was divided into two sections, one section for white, "foreign born workers," and the other for the African-American workers. The Blackburn Plat consisted of two frontages-sixteen foot and twenty four-foot.

Rent at Blackburn Plat was based on the number of rooms, and whether or not the home contained a coal fired cook stove. A tenant could also rent a garage for an additional fee per month. These rental units were constructed to be fire and vermin proof. The exterior concrete walls were three inches thick with four-inch ribs, all built in uniform size, prefabricated and poured on site.

All of Blackburn Plat's units had the modern conveniences of water, electricity, paved streets, concrete sidewalks, and bathrooms. The Youngstown Sheet and Tube Company deliberately made the houses small to discourage the immigrant practice of taking in borders. There were amenities provided to the workers including a park, playground, and four company stores. In 1922 the company ceased construction of Blackburn Plat.

Vindicator article on fire

Vindy article takes the lead

Kudos to Harold Gwin, who wrote an article in today's Vindy which clearly showed a commitment to the city following the shooting death of a man at the South High School football stadium. In Gwin's summary story, which recapped the incident and the community reaction, there were many angles he could have lead with (the victim, the shooter, the witness reaction, the city resident vs suburban resident), but his lead focused on the mayor's simple comments from the day before (which also appeared in the previous days paper) urging people to stay in the city, look out for one another, and take back the community. I often disagree with the Vindy for one reason or other, but today they got it right.

Vindicator article: "Mayor: Let's take the city back"

YOUNGSTOWN — Mayor Jay Williams believes people can choose to do one of two things after the shooting death of a man at a youth football game Saturday: Sit at home, or push forward with renewed commitment to safety and taking back the community.

He's choosing to do the latter.

It would be unfortunate should teams from suburban communities decide to no longer bring their children to play in Youngstown, Williams said.

There have been peewee games played in the city for decades without incident, and those games will continue to be played at city venues, he added.

Fears for children's safety are shared by every parent in Youngstown. No one can guarantee absolute safety, but Youngstown will do everything it can to make those venues as safe as possible, Williams vowed.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Ride the Wildcat... again!

In case you missed the Wildcat at Idora Park, and I admit I was too young to ever ride it, I found this great video on YouTube. Don't worry, your volume is not muted, there is no sound.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Quote of the Day

"In Youngstown, if a guy checked and raised, he wound up in Milton Dam." - Legendary editor and sports writer Bud Furillo, in an e-mail to Norman Chad, a syndicated sports writer covering The World Series of Poker. Furillo died on July 19 at the age of 80. He was born and raised in Hubbard.

Northsider looking big

Well, early this week was my story of Phil Kidd who wanted to move to Youngstown. Now comes the tale of a guy named Allen (last name not provided) who, while no longer living in Youngstown, is dumping tons of cash into the very North Side I grew up on. Two awesome stories in one week. It is a small miracle, no less. Allen is creating a company called Northside Renaissance Properties, LLC, which will be based on the North Side of Youngstown.

His mission is to acquire vacant, abandoned and distressed properties in and around the Wick Park Historic District and rehabilitate them, bringing them TOTALLY up to the current building code, and then either rent them or resell them to owners who will become owner/occupants.

His goal is to provide safe, decent housing for folks - whether they wish to rent or to own - and make our neighborhoods whole again. Among other things, every rental property he rehabs will have an ADT security system installed into it. (No Youngstown home is complete without one!)

According to Allen, they currently are flipping or in the process of buying properties on Woodbine Street, Illinois Avenue and Bryson Street.

Carnies scare Youngstowners

Apparently PETA is trying to get Mayor Jay William's to ensure that city police respond promptly to any animal cruelty complaints when the circus comes to the Chevrolet Centre next month. I understand their concerns. There have been numerous violations against the circus for animal mistreatment. My question is regarding the animals. If they get out of control, can YPD take them down? Maybe just a love tap with the Tazer? If they do that, it is nothing more than a fun night on the South Side.

More Steel News

More steel news! Apparently, the steel pipes made for the BP's Prudhoe Bay pipeline will be made in Youngstown. V&M Steel, formerly North Star and that big ol plant next to the 711 connector, will manufacture the pipe, ship it to Houston for finishing and then it will be sent to Alaska. This comes following BP announcing that 3% of this country's oil supply is tied up behind some sludge that apparently can't be beaten by Drano Max. It is great news for the Youngstown steel industry. Bad news for this country. Our reliance on oil products is pretty sad. It's all wind power, baby. A few more hurricane's like Katrina and we are living pretty for the next 10 years!

Fun Fact of the Day!

In the Pittsburgh/Youngstown, Ohio, district, steel companies produced 194,000 net tons for the week ended Aug. 12, down from the 196,000 net tons the previous week, AISI data shows. #

Now isn't that fun?

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Defend Youngstown

Defend Youngstown. Two simple words but lots of meaning. That is the mantra of Youngstown resident Phil Kidd, a former Army vet who moved to Youngstown because it sounded like a nice place to live. He move to Youngstown? Who does that? A believer, that's who. Kidd recently kicked off his new t-shirt business with a simple slogan: "Defend Youngstown". To read more, check out:

Youngstown man pushes city pride

I really wish there was some sort of Youngstown Pride award I could give this guy. He is the epitome of a great Youngstown resident; a contributor who takes pride in where he lives. What more could we ask?

Friday, August 11, 2006

Jim Terry

Jim Terry is the owner of the Mahoning Valley Hitmen. He is shameless. He is an idiot. I am being polite. Check out their website—and the Merchandise link. Style A.

Here is what he had to say on Channel 33 about Maurice Clarett. “The Hitmen will stay behind Maurice Clarett. The EIFL will stand behind Maurice Clarett and we will wait to see how this thing plays out. We’re here for him as he was for us,”

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Historical Photos, Take 25

I haven't posted any photos in a while, and it appears that several have been added to the Library of Congress collection, meaning they are fair game here. I love the whole 'public domain' thing they have going on. Anyway, enjoy some Youngstown history with these...

PS: Sorry if you see duplicates of other photos here on the blog. After nearly two years, I don't remember every photo I post nor do I bother searching.

Garlick Estate, path along house, Youngstown, OH

Print of Thomas H. Lonesome, a Patrolman born in Virginia on April 14, 1866, who was appointed to the Youngstown, Ohio Police Department on December 12, 1895.

Constructed in 1903, the Mahoning Avenue Pratt Double-Deck Bridge spanned Mill Creek at Mahoning Avenue until the early 1990's.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Scavengers Thwarted!

(From Allen at the YTownHistoricHomesBldgs Yahoo group)


I'm back in Youngstown for almost another month of working on
my properties. I stopped by the house on Woodbine Street
to look over the work my crew has been doing while I was back
home in MD. Just as I entered the house through the kitchen door
a red, late 70' GMC pickup truck backed into the driveway of a
vacant rental property next to mine and two guys jumped out,
walked right up to the side entrance on the house next door
and entered, went upstairs and began removing contents from the

I know the lady that owns the house next door and called her on
my cell phone to ask if she had workmen coming out to clean, do
repairs, whatever - she didn't - so I called the Y.P.D. and hid
in my own property, looking out the windows and trying to get
a description. They loaded some very expensive weight lifting
equipment from the house into their pickup, closed the side
door and took off.

I waited for over ten minutes for a cruiser to come, made a report
and they said another car would come back to get more information.
When the second car (car 103) came back with a different officer
in it (shifts had just changed) one of the neighbhors pulled up
and we told him what had just happened. He took off in his car,
looking for the house strippers and their pickup truck.

As luck would have it, he FOUND them parked in the driveway of
a house on Thornton Avenue, between Elm Street and Florencedale.
By this time, the owner of the house next door had arrived. We
convinced the officer in car #103 to go to the address on Thornton.
He did, and called for a backup cruiser and when I drove from
Woodbine over to Thornton to see what was going on , the two cops
were stuffing the perpetrators into one of the cruisers to haul
them to jail.

We all have GOT to look out for our neighbors if we EVER want
our neighborhoods to get better - and then stay that way. When
enough people in a neighborhood get together and say - "enough,
we won't tolerate this any more" then the crime problem gets

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Valley needs to shed self-pitying outlook

By Christopher Kromer
Tribune Chronicle

In recent decades, it has become a favorite theme of local manufacturing workers and the unions that represent them to decry the increasingly globalized economy for the loss of local jobs.

The blame for job losses, these sources claim, belongs squarely on the shoulders of politicians who arrange more liberalized trade agreements.


Mahoning Valley workers must stop blaming politicians for the emergence of a globalized economy and start getting real about what is actually occurring.

Globalization is not a political choice; it is an economic reality. Through advances in technology, travel and communications, the development of a single, interdependent marketplace has become inevitable.

No politician or political group can take all the credit for the vast technological progress achieved in the 20th and 21st centuries, and it is equally absurd to blame those same politicians for the effects produced by those advancements.

The Mahoning Valley has a long and cherished history of innovation and leadership, two traits that placed the Valley at the forefront of the steel and auto industries for decades. While market forces have taken their toll on the Valley, union-induced hemorrhaging also has played its part in the area’s economic decline.

According to a Buckeye Institute study measuring job loss between 1982 and 1998, it states that mandated union membership for manufacturing workers lost approximately 996,000 jobs. States without such laws enjoyed a net gain of 493,000 jobs.

The lessons to be drawn from this data are clear. Union power has peaked in the last few decades, resulting in an undue strain on Ohio’s economy.

Instead of allowing unions to lobby for benefits that outpace market growth, Valley workers should embrace new opportunities for development and innovation.

The alternative energy sector, for example, is ripe for new contributions, and the Valley has historically possessed the initiative requisite to take the lead in emerging fields.

Much of the dishonest rhetoric surrounding international trade needs to be exposed. Local opponents of more liberalized trade maintain that such arrangements are completely harmful to America’s well-being. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Not only do free-trade agreements preserve peace between interdependent nations, they also allow American goods to be exported to more foreign markets. Ohio has particularly benefited from agreements like NAFTA, which have helped Ohio to become the nation’s sixth largest exporting state.

Common arguments against free trade tend to focus on international labor standards and the treatment of foreign workers. While it is true that much needs to be done to alleviate these concerns, the solution most certainly does not involve a policy of isolationism, which would only serve to limit the capital flowing into other countries, thereby further lowering living standards.

If unions who oppose global trade really meant what they said, why wouldn’t they argue for more liberal trade with the poorest nations, using their political influence to demand higher standards for all the world’s workers, rather than just pushing for ‘‘America-only’’ policies?

Are local unions really concerned about the well-being of foreign laborers, or is this just a smokescreen for crippling isolationism?

The time for a union-driven economy, in which redundant jobs are protected through political intimidation, is over. Rather than continuing to browbeat manufacturing firms for market developments that lie outside their control, unions should shift their focus.

While the federal government cannot be held entirely responsible for the emergence of the global economy, it can be lobbied to promote the development of training and educational programs for displaced workers.

Only through the acquisition of new skills can Mahoning Valley residents hope to survive in a bustling, ever-changing modern economy.

The Valley can no longer afford to rely on vote-seeking demagogues who play upon residents’ fears and misconceptions regarding globalization.

It is time for the Valley to shed its self-pitying outlook and engage in an honest and informed debate on the new economy.

Kromer of Champion attends Mount Union College and is a community columnist for the Tribune Chronicle. Reach him at