Orchids and onions
• ORCHID: To the Warren-Trumbull County Public Library for making impressive progress on construction of the $4.7 million addition of its main branch in Warren that will increase its size 25 percent from 58,000 to 72,000 square feet. Exterior work on the project is nearly complete, and the full project should be set for a grand opening next summer. The central library always has stood as a major asset for the city and the surrounding community. Its growth will only enhance that value.
• ORCHID: To David Lewis for his sterling near four-decade service in firefighting in Bazetta. Lewis, who retired last week, moved up the ladder from junior firefighter as a teenager to department chief for the past 12 years. Lewis successfully oversaw many dramatic changes over the years, most notably construction of a modern, state-of-the art fire department building that will serve the community well for decades to come. His tireless service to the community long will be remembered.
• ONION: To the Ohio Department of Public Safety for releasing a historically flawed design for the state’s first new vehicle license plates in eight years. The design featured a rural scene with a Wright Brothers-style airplane — flying backwards. The department has apologized for the inaccurate representation, but 35,000 of them already were made and now will be recycled. In the future, we hope department leaders pay closer attention to details.
• ORCHID: To AT&T and Connected Nation, a nonprofit organization, for donating more than 500 hot spots as well as free internet connections to Warren City Schools. The gift will enable more students to have reliable access to online curriculum and other digital resources. The resources are especially valuable now amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic but also will have long-term positive impact in closing the digital divide.
• ORCHID: To the Western Reserve Transit Authority for marking its 50th anniversary last week with a gift to the Mahoning Valley. Thanks to a $550,000 grant the authority was awarded by the Ohio Department of Transportation, WRTA will reinstate several fixed bus routes in Warren through at least November 2022. WRTA makes 1.5 million trips annually and serves upward of 5,000 passengers daily. For many, the bus service is a lifeline to jobs and medical appointments.
• ONION: To Ohio state Rep. Scott Lipps, R-Franklin, for gross insubordination of the hierarchy of leadership in the state’s lawmaking body. According to the Associated Press, Lipps defied the orders of House Speaker Bob Cupp, R-Lima, in scheduling a hearing on a bill to ban employers from requiring COVID-19 vaccines for employees. Cupp earlier had indicated the leadership was pausing any discussions of vaccine policies, leaving decisions up to individual employers. Many businesses had expressed opposition to Ohio legislating vaccine mandates or bans.
• ORCHID: To New Life Lutheran Church in Liberty for installing a blessing box in its parking lot on Churchill-Hubbard Road. The box is a mini food pantry open 24/7 for those in urgent need of food staples and unable to visit a full pantry. Those wishing to stock it are encouraged to do so. At a time when hunger has reached record levels, innovative services such as the blessing box are indeed a blessing.
• ORCHID: To Dr. Virginia Banks of the North East Ohio Infectious Disease Specialists for winning the coveted “Live Fierce Award” at the American Heart Association’s Heart of Tri-County Sweet Heart Ball at the Eastwood Events Centre last weekend. Banks earned the award for her 47 years of service in health care and cardiovascular issues and more specifically for her commitment as a front-line advocate and a one-woman warrior against COVID-19. She’s encouraged Mahoning Valley residents — particularly minorities — to get vaccinated against COVID-19, among many other community service activities.