The end of my time as a community columnist is nearly at hand; for the last year it's been my joy to write about our community and the challenges before it. The benefit of writing a biweekly column has been this: I have a love and passion for our community in ways I didn't have when I started.
In other words, Warren is growing on me. There are some things I'm thankful for, and some things I'd like to see change. In this column, I'd like to share five such things.
First, I'm excited to be visiting a local Relay for Life for the first time. Admitting this so publicly makes me feel a mix of shame and like I'm arriving obscenely late to a party, especially because such Relays have been happening for most of my life.
I've heard more than once that the Warren Relay is big, very big - perhaps the biggest in the state. Whether that's true or not, let me say this: Way to go citizens of Trumbull County for making cancer, a strikingly prevalent disease in the Mahoning Valley, your financial target through these events. (As a plus, any time we have people downtown is a good thing).
Second, Warren City Schools continue to make progress, but have a long road ahead. I'll refrain from placing blame anywhere in particular; I simply want to relate that while recently looking at for-sale homes in Warren, I discovered an ugly rating (all of the schools in the district below a three out of possible 10) by one service.
Whether it's the way schools are rated, or just the fact that something really does need to change, Warren will struggle to be attractive to young families with that ugly rating. This is, of course easier said (or written, in this case) than done.
Third, if you happened to miss it, Forbes Magazine recently rated Youngstown as the fifth-best city in America for raising a family. In Forbes' eyes, this is the Youngstown-Warren-Boardman metropolitan statistical area, otherwise known as the Mahoning Valley.
It cites low cost of living, solid schools and low crime; of course this is ''outside the city limits'' (see the above comment regarding schools). Yet, this is something to be excited about - especially since Forbes called Youngstown the 20th-most miserable city just last year.
Progress, people, progress.
Fourth, about driving. Forbes magazine cited short commutes as a plus for living in the Valley, and I agree. It took me twice as long to drive half the distance I go to work when I was living in Chicagoland. Sadly, I also felt safer - I don't know if you've driven around here lately, but people drive crazy.
At least in Chicago I could count on universally aggressive drivers. That is a luxury I have lost.
A few tips: always follow the speed limit (whether that requires you to drive faster or slower); use your turn signals; and go when the light turns green.
Fifth, and finally, a question: recently the Hot Dog Shoppe held a customer appreciation day. Hot dogs were half off. That's amazing. What's not amazing is that I didn't know about it. Alas, until next year.
Anyway, here's to hot dogs (with chili and onions, please); drivers that make me just a little nervous; Forbes for finally realizing that this is a great place to raise a family; schools that are fighting to serve students and families better; and, relays to fight a deadly disease. Warren, I'm glad to be living here.
Tennant is a Warren resident. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org