Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Happy First Day of Summer!

Well, it isn't quite the first day of summer, but one of Youngstown's surest signs of summer finally opened last Friday after much delay and almost two summers shuttered. A new North Side Pool, originally opened in 1939, opened on Friday with much fanfare and a $1.28 million price tag. For those swimming for free on the first day, it probably didn't matter.

Anyone who has read the Vindy, checked out the blogs or watched the news has seen a tremendous amount of good news about the turn-around the city has been making. Providing excellent community recreation facilities is just one part of that.

More: New North Side Pool opens with a challenge to officials

Monday, July 30, 2007

Great Vindy op-ed and the Mayor is blogging!

First, Mayor Jay Williams jas just become one of the first mayors in the United States to start blogging. This is exciting to see in an era where so much of what government does is behind closed doors that the mayor is willing to open himself up like that. Kudos!

The blog can be found at http://mayorjaywilliams.blogspot.com/

In other news, the Vindy wrote a great editorial, which I have reprinted here. Be sure to read the whole thing.


Momentum is mounting toward moving the Mahoning Valley into the fast lane of the tech-based economy of the 21st century.

A triple whammy of positive development news last week illustrates that the Youngstown region has turned a corner toward remodeling its economy from one based largely on services and heavy manufacturing toward one that thrives on research and high technology. That’s exciting and encouraging, because as the economy of Youngstown and its surrounding communities strengthens, so, too, do standards of living, quality of life and community revitalization.

The three announcements last Wednesday underscore the importance of this slow but steady economic shift:

-Turning Technologies, a downtown Youngstown based producer of cutting-edge audience response software and hardware, gets ranked seventh on Entrepreneur Magazine’s list of the Hot 500 fastest growing companies in the United States.

-Empyra, which provides Web-based products to improve the operating systems of companies and agencies, has succeeded so well that it must hatch out of the Youngstown Business Incubator and settle into its own headquarters in 20 Federal Place. It has growth projections of up to 300 employees within a few years.

-U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan of Niles, D-17th, has secured $2 million in the federal defense appropriations bill for the proposed Youngstown Center for Excellence in Metrology and 3-D Imaging to be located at Youngstown State University, itself a growing center of scholarly, scientific and technological research.

Turning Technologies model

Of course, we did not need a national trade publication to tell us that Turning Technologies is a hot property and a rising star in the global tech market. Its hottest product is TurningPoint, a credit-card sized responder that feeds into Microsoft’s Power- Point system and enables teachers and corporate presenters to get immediate feedback from classes and audiences.

How hot is Turning Tech? Sales grew 200 percent last year, revenues are projected to increase 500 percent over the next five years and its products reach more than 80 nations. Such meteoric growth has led, in part, to construction downtown of the $5.9 million Taft Technology Center, into which TT will move next year.

Another incubator occupant, Empyra, couldn’t wait. Its growing pains at the incubator — currently at 105 percent occupancy — encouraged it to open shop at the former Phar-Mor building downtown. Like Turning Tech, Empyra has created a common- sense high-tech product — one that eliminates paperwork by allowing forms to be completed online — and markets it aggressively. Its client list includes the federal government and Proctor and Gamble Co.

These two companies, and others like them, prove that the Mahoning Valley can be a viable player in the global tech marketplace. Both, too, demonstrate a firm commitment to keeping their bases rooted in Youngstown. The low cost of operations and access to interns from Youngstown State University stand out as vital assets.

YSU plays a role

Indeed Youngstown State has singled itself out as a leading player in regional tech research and development. That’s why we commend Congressman Ryan for his efforts to enhance that presence by earmarking $2 million for the center for excellence.

The center, a joint effort between YSU and M7 Technologies of Youngstown, will be part of the university’s new STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) College and will research and develop advanced manufacturing and imaging techniques.

Should Ryan’s appropriation win approval, the center would need matching funds from YSU and outside sources for completion. We’d like to think that it would be easy for many to contribute in the interest of strengthening a new and vibrant Valley economy.

Thirty years ago this September, that economy was wracked by the closing of the Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co., which signaled the beginning of the end for the steel industry upon which this region’s livelihood was built. Thirty years later, the rapid-fire pace of research and tech-based startups in the Youngstown area signal a new era of growth, vitality and economic security.

Private and public officials in Youngstown and throughout the Valley must work to keep that momentum building.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Downtown Hidden Gem #1

I am hoping to periodically post things from downtown that people generally don't know about. I heard of this first gem from my dad and was quick to find a magnificent room inside the Ohio One building (formerly the Ohio Edison Building, 25 East Boardman Street). This 80'x60' Great Room appears to have been the former lobby for the Ohio Edison offices as the building is addressed off of E. Boardman but the current entrance, a much smaller and less grand door, is on S. Champion. It features a 23-foot cathedral ceiling and black walnut paneling.

The room is currently locked and unused except for an apparent Christmas party, although there is no telling what year it occurred. Even to get into the building we had to convince a stern and frank looking maintenance man that we were legitimate. He informed us that the room sees little use and although the rest of the building is air conditioned, this room is not. It did have radiator heat, however.

From the Archives

In Pittsburgh, a divorce court withheld decision last week in the case of Gladys Johnson, who protested that when Lewis J. Johnson, U. S. marine, came home in his uniform and asked her to elope with him to Youngstown, Ohio, she had done so without recognizing Mr. Johnson as her father's brother.

Time magazine Monday, May. 16, 1927

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Meet the Bloggers

I had the opportunity this weekend to chat with two of my fellow Youngstown bloggers, which is always a good time. I had the honor of meeting Phil Kidd on Friday at Bean Counter's Jazz Festival (more on that event later). We spent a brief time discussing the future of Downtown and where he is going with the new Defend Youngstown shirts. I won't spoil it for him but he has some great designs coming out.

I also spent Saturday night at the Draught House talking with Pat Manning, otherwise known as Mighty Mahoning. This meeting was less by chance as we have been old North Side friends for years, both spent time at St. Ed's and have diplomas from The Academy (known to most as Ursuline). Pat is actually getting ready to move back to Youngstown after a few years in the burbs of Cleveland.

In general, it is great to talk to people who share the same vision for Youngstown that you have. Personally, it makes me appreciate what a few people can do. When I started this blog in 2004, I was I believe the first person to regularly blog about Youngstown and now there are at least a dozen solid Youngstown blogs focused on its history and redevelopment.

Anyway, if you had the opportunity to make it downtown last night (Friday), you were in for quite a treat at the Bean Counter's Jazz Festival and wine tasting. I arrived late and missed the wine tasting but was able to hang out with hundreds of people enjoying great music, wine and beer. The music was a mix of classic jazz with soul and even classic rock. A cover of The Ohio Player's Fire was a personal favorite.

After chatting with Phil, we both remarked how great Downtown is for events like this. The wide open spaces and ample parking make it very conducive for gathering large groups of people together. The success of this event and others such as Party on the Plaza is a testament to that. If you are able to, I encourage you to make it down for next year's event. I will be sure to get some advanced notice out there on this and other Downtown events in the future.

Friday, July 20, 2007

On the road

Jack Kerouac I am not but I am traveling the highways and byways of Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Ohio this morning heading back to Youngstown. I was excited to see the first sign of civilization about 45 minutes out of DC when I pulled up next to a Falcon Trucking rig "flying" back to its nest in Yo., Oh. A little piece of home right there on I-70E.

I hope to get around the city this weekend and capture some pictures of various projects that are ongoing, including East High School, see what's left of Wilson, and some general downtown snaps. Usually I get enough to supply my blog posts for three weeks or so and then I have to resort to using no photos or whatever someone else "loans" me from Flickr.

Anyway, good morning Youngstown. I'll see you downtown this weekend.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

NPR gets onboard

NPR's Morning Edition finally ran the piece this morning which they have been sitting on for two weeks. It was retooled a bit to also highlight today's John Edwards visit.

The tagline: Youngstown, Ohio, a former steel town an hour west of Pittsburgh, is getting ready to spend millions of tax dollars to shrink. It's a fairly radical plan, but one that Youngstown's mayor says is the best way to bring his struggling city back to economic health.

The audio is available here.

I guarantee you will see a lot of hope in Youngstown residents by listening to the story. There are excited people out there who really want to see the redevelopment of Youngstown through the 2010 plan. NPR is the latest in a string of media who are just helping us promote it. Last week was the AP story which ran, according to my count, in at least 78 papers or online editions. The possible audience within cities just like Youngstown is huge. I am excited to finally see Youngstown as part of progressive development, even if it means scaling back. Bigger doesn't always mean better and I think people outside the politicians and urban planners are starting to see that.

Miltonia Ave. on Youngstown's East Side, one focus of the story. Notice the lack of homes? Another case of planned development which never happened.

Question of the day

Why is Bertram de Souza's blog entitled "Stirfry"?

Monday, July 16, 2007

Wanted: Single male in his 20's with similar interests

That might just be what the Youngstown Business Incubator is looking for. According to it's page on Myspace.com, YBI is a 21 year-old female, looking for serious relationships, and an Aquarius. Toledo's WTOL has a small story on how YBI is using Myspace here.

I love how they are using Myspace and Facebook. This is another great way that YBI is thinking outside the box in the development and promotion of tech companies in Youngstown.

(Apparently this was a Vindy story picked up by the AP. Sorry I missed the original piece here.)

Monday, July 09, 2007

Another funny headline

This was the headline of a Vindy article today regarding an apartment complex on Hillman Way, one block into Boardman at the Boardman-Youngstown border: "Boardman historic district fears possibility of blight." The article just conjures up images of Boardman residents cowering in the corner hiding from Blight.

Reading this article, it is apparent these Boardman-tonian's don't cross Midlothian and head down Hillman Avenue very often.

The article is here.

I don't blame them at all, truthfully. No one likes blighted homes in their neighborhood and they should do all they can to stop it. That said, with all the recent complaining from suburbanites in Vindy editorials about having to contribute to the redevelopment of Downtown, I thought this was just a little comeuppance.

(Triple word score for using comeuppance in a blog post!)

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Vindicator headline

I don't know why, but I found this headline funny: "Foreign kids in town." The article is not as funny but it is nice to see people from other countries getting a Youngstown experience.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Happy Birthday, America!

I just want to wish everyone a safe and patriotic 4th of July!

This photo isn't mine. I found it using The Google. Can anyone name the location? Hint: It IS in Youngstown.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Out and about

There are a ton of great events in downtown both tomorrow and this weekend. Youngstown's July 4th fireworks display will be at 10 p.m. by the B&O Station on Mahoning Avenue sponsored by the city and Anthony's On The River. Frankie and the Sensations will perform at Anthony's from 7-11 p.m. Wednesday.

Also this weekend is the Annual Festival of the Arts up and down Wick Avenue and on the campus of YSU. They have a ton of events planned. A few things of interest:

  • Four of YSU’s many published authors will be available for book sales and signings. Donna DeBlasio and Martha Pallante, authors of Youngstown State University: From YoCo to YSU, will sign copies both days from 12:00 to 3:00 p.m. Sherry Lee Linkon and John Russo, authors of Steeltown USA: Work and Memory in Youngstown and New Working-Class Studies, will sign copies of their books both days from 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. The Center for Working Class Studies will also have free copies of the pamphlet, "Worker Portraits: Faces of Strength," about work in the Mahoning Valley today, and part of the exhibit of the same name, plus other materials.
  • Wick Neighbors, Inc. will illustrate their plans for building a creative neighborhood in the Wick District-Smoky Hollow Development. Stop by Saturday from 12:00 to 5:00 p.m. and Sunday from 12:00 noon to 4:00 p.m. to meet their volunteers and staff and get the results of the annual Smoky Hollow 5K Run held earlier in the day.
  • The Mahoning Valley Historical Society at the Arms Museum will offer a free open house on Saturday, July 7 from 10:00 a.m. to 5pm during the festival. They'll be open regular hours on Sunday, 1:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. and offer BOGO admission. (BOGO Admission?)
  • On Friday, July 6 at 7:00 p.m. the newly formed Youngstown Film will screen the classic movie To Kill A Mockingbird in McKay auditorium, Beeghly Hall on Rayen Avenue. Check the website for more information. (They have a nice website at http://www.youngstownfilm.com/)
  • On Friday, July 6 & Saturday, July 7 from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., a rummage sale and church tours will be held on the grounds of St. John’s Episcopal Church, 323 Wick Avenue. Also on Saturday, vote for and buy your favorite cookies, baked by the St. John’s bakers celebrating the 100th year of the Hershey Chocolate Company. If you haven't seen the inside of St. John's, now is the time! It's a beautiful church with a lot of local history.
  • Children’s artwork will be exhibited in the Bliss Hall Gallery both days as a part of the Tri-County Youth Art Expo. Here in Youngstown, a 24-foot mural depicting the history of Youngstown from when John Young first settled here to recent history, will be unveiled Saturday, July 7 at 12:00 noon in the Bliss Hall Gallery. The mural will be available both days. Stop by to see how much you know about Youngstown history!
  • On Saturday from 3:15 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. the Youngstown Historical Center will host a free Introduction to Genealogy Resources. The Center will be open Saturday, 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Sunday, Noon to 5:00 p.m.

Check out more here: http://www.ysu.edu/sfa/

Remember when this was called "Walk on Wick?" Ohh the fun we had...

My Letter to the Editor from today's Vindy

It seems the bloggers have been writing to the Vindy in great numbers recently. I too wrote in last week and saw that my letter appeared in today's Vindy. It isn't about Youngstown, but about my other passion: Firefighting. Besides being a Youngstownphile, I am an active firefighter/EMT in Virginia.

Firefighters earn flags as protectors of the homeland
Tuesday, July 3, 2007

EDITOR: I was disappointed to read a June 27 letter in The Vindicator expressing a belief that firefighters who die in the line of duty should not be eligible to receive an American flag on their casket. I must wholeheartedly disagree with him.

Day in and day out, America's 1.5 million firefighters respond to emergencies around this country. They are now trained not just to respond to fires and medical emergencies, but incidents relating to hazardous materials, technical rescues and terrorism. They are in fact the protectors of the homeland and hundreds of them have given their lives doing that in the face of a known enemy.

On Dec. 7, 1941, three Honolulu firefighters were killed in the line of duty defending our soil against the Japanese. On Sept. 11, 2001, 343 of New York City's bravest were lost in the War on Terrorism. Do they not deserve a flag?

It is true that firefighters are not trained kill. In fact, it is the exact opposite; Firefighters are trained to save lives. Much like the medic on the battlefield who risks his live to save others, firefighters and EMTs respond to thousands of emergency calls per days around this country willing to risk their lives to save others.

The American flag isn't just a symbol of this country; it is a symbol of honor, loyalty and commitment. Firefighters live by those virtues every time they are asked to respond. They understand the dangerous environments in which they must operate, and understand that at any time they may be called upon to lay down their lives to save another. All firefighters give some, some give all. Those who do have earned the right to have an American flag on their casket.

Arlington, Va.

The writer is a former Youngstown resident and a firefighter with the Cherrydale Volunteer Fire Department.