Youngstown Update for September 16, 2018

Community development experts discuss the challenges and
opportunities in revitalizing Youngstown at the Youngstown Playhouse

  • The state high school report cards are out and Youngstown was the only district in the area - and only 1 of 14 in the state - to receive a grade of "F". (However, Youngstown Early College did receive an overall grade of "B" and there were other areas of improvement). No districts in the Valley received an overall grade of "A". Said CEO Krish Mohip of the report: “It takes years – generally between five and seven years – for transformation work to manifest in student performance. We will get there...Obviously, an overall F is not what anyone wants to see – we still have a long way to go – but I’m pleased with the progress we’re making, and I believe next year’s report card will be even better.” (More on that here). Let's hope he's right because it almost can't get any worse and education is a cornerstone of revitalization. Here's the Vindicator's take.
  • To that end, an expert panel convened at the Youngstown Playhouse on Tuesday for the City Club of the Mahoning Valley's 'Revitalizing Youngstown' forum. The overarching point made was the need for the development of human capital and not just bricks and mortar in cities like Youngstown. It was a good conversation, however, there's much more to discuss and action to be taken. What can you do? Start by reading The Divided City and attend this powerful training hosted by The Raymond John Wean Foundation (update on their work here). 
  • If you're a city entrepreneur, join others for a joint proclamation on the steps of City Hall this Wednesday.
  • The Mahoning Valley Historical Society & Youngstown Historical Center for Industry & Labor hosted a downtown walking tour that focused on preservation efforts. Here's a video highlight.
  • Speaking of preservation, the Welsh Congregational Church Renovation project is on hold as City Hall and the project team have gone back to the table to review options. The initial plan was to move it to Wick Park. Funding and a move date were established for that plan. However, after pushback by some in the community (despite strong overall support), the City delayed the project. Let's hope the church finds a suitable home in the end. To be continued.
  • In other preservation news, the Public Library of Youngstown & Mahoning County is proceeding with plans for a $21 million renovation of the Main branch in downtown Youngstown. Director Aimee Fifarek envisions improvements such as new meeting and study rooms, a cafĂ©, a large space for big events and exhibits, creating a specific area for children's activities, relocating the elevator, resorting natural lighting and reactivating the Wick Ave front entrance. The library already has $21 million set aside for a renovation which is part of the library’s strategic plan. Public input sessions will happen this fall and Fiferak will present design plans to the board in December.
  • You know who sucks? Litters and illegal dumpers suck. Bad. And what sucks even more is that we have to spend taxpayer dollars to clean up after such people. That's money we could be spending on a lot of other more important things in this city (like recycling - by the way, tire recycling drive this Saturday at Covelli). Don't dump or litter. (Looking hard at you, too, smokers).
  • You know what doesn't suck? Public art. Check out YSUScape's latest mural located at the Youngstown Business Incubator. Also, if you want to learn about high-end works, check out this free lecture at the Butler.
  • The owners of Downtown Circle & Hookah announced their plans to sell their stores on Facebook this week. Owner Al Adi, who was the subject of a contentious deportation that drew strong opposition from local leaders and the community at-large, has made the choice to give up the businesses and focus on building his new life in his homeland of Jordan with his wife Fidaa. A sad ending to an unfortunate situation. The new owners, who have yet to be named, plan to contitune operations of both businesses as is for the time being.
  • The Rust Belt Theater Company has a new play out based on 'The Legend of Sleepy Hollow'. Vindicator critic Eric McCrea is a fan, stating that it "brilliantly examines social acceptance and the terrifying nature of legends in the collective narrative." The show runs through September 22.
  • Lit Youngstown's Fall Literary Festival is this Friday and Saturday. Join the group for a mixer after things wrap up.
  • On Sunday afternoon, the YSU Dana School of Music will be celebrating its 150th anniversary with a show at DeYor featuring five of its best alumni. Also on the music front, Stambaugh Auditorium announced that John Mellencamp will play the venue in February.
  • The YWCAs of Youngstown and Warren combined in May and the merger is already benefiting both communities. If only such cooperation existed with so many other things throughout the Valley.
  • More details are emerging in Youngstown's public corruption case. On a related historical note of sorts, the Business Journal published a story on Friday about when RFK took on the Youngstown rackets.
  • Mill Creek MetroParks has raised $2.4 million in private donations so far this year. To date, the park has raised more than $825,000 in endowments and $1 million in capital contributions. Included in the capital improvements is an upgrade to the Ford Nature Center as well as a dek hockey rink in the Wick Recreation Area. Also, the bike trail expansion continues.
  • YSU Athletic Director Ron Strollo thinks that the state of the department is strong overall. Also, YSU Football picked up its first win of the year with a 42-7 rout of Valparaiso.
  • Westside Bowl is more than just a place for beers, bowling and great independent music. Last weekend, they hosted the Keys to the City event which is organized by City Kids Care. Kids received back-to-school items such as new sneakers, 300 polo and 2,500 pairs of socks. Attendees were treated to free bowing and pizza, too.
  • How about some beer and yoga with your politics? Politico profiles Congressman Tim Ryan and discusses his potential political aspirations.
Did you know? There is a neighborhood in Seattle, WA named after Youngstown, OH. In 1905 William Pigott and Judge E.M. Wilson opened the Seattle Steel Company. Just after the opening of the steel mill, the neighborhood was renamed Youngstown in honor of the Ohio city. It gets better. A school was built in 1917 and remained open until 1989 when it closed due to structural issues. Starting in 1999, the local neighborhood development corporation began planning and fundraising for the $12 million Youngstown Cultural Arts Center which opened in 2006. The building is included in the national register of historic spaces and hosts over 45,000 participants annually. Here's a story by I Will Shout Youngstown around the time of its opening.