Orchids and onions
• ORCHID: To Howland High School junior Xavier Hileman for being selected from throngs of young people nationwide to join the Macy’s Great American Marching Band. Xavier marched proudly in the iconic parade playing the bass drum to a nationally televised audience. Greg Rezabek, Xavier’s band teacher, credits his talent and perseverance for landing the prestigious gig.
• ORCHID: To Youngstown State University’s Williamson College of Business Administration for being recognized as among the Top 5 “Career Ready” U.S. college and university business schools. The award, presented by SkillSurvey, a provider of career readiness solutions, recognizes business schools that best measure students’ career readiness in the competency areas that U.S. employers value most. The prestigious honor adds extra credit to Williamson’s longstanding reputation as a premier institution of business administration in Ohio and the nation.
• ORCHID: To Liberty second-grader Ariana Centrella for leading a one-girl campaign to help hearing-impaired children. Ariana has been collecting soda-can tabs, redeemed for cash, and staffing a lemonade stand for two years as fundraisers for HIKE, or Hearing Improvement Kids Endowment. She also plans to donate funds to Ronald McDonald House in Akron that helped her family while her brother underwent treatments. Ariana’s Liberty PK-6 principal called the girl a “role model for all of us to follow and learn from each day.”
• ONION: To those who participate in an unseemly but growing national trend of organized thievery. The National Retail Federation reported this week — in the immediate aftermath of several smash-and-grab thefts at large stores across the nation — organized theft rings are putting a big dent in retailers’ profit margins. During the high-traffic holiday shopping season over the next month, retailers should take extra security precautions and local police departments should plan extra patrols to help lessen the potential for such brazen hooliganism.
• ORCHID: To the Ohio State Highway Patrol for purchasing body cameras to enhance transparency and accountability by those law enforcement officers. The highway patrol will pay $15 million over five years from its budget to arm all 1,500 troopers statewide with body cameras by next May. The new cameras also should strengthen police-community relations as many in communities large and small have appealed for body camera use for years now.
• ORCHID: To Liberty fire Chief Gus Birch for providing Liberty and other Valley communities professional firefighting and emergency medical services over the past 41 years, including 27 in Liberty. Birch will retire next month. Over the years, he has seen many changes, including some that have disheartened him such as a lowered degree of pride among some firefighters. Nonetheless, Birch retires in Liberty with a record of which he can be proud, having increased staff and added new ambulances, fire engines and cardiac monitors.
• ORCHID: To the Ohio Department of Natural Resources for awarding parks in the Mahoning Valley and the state needed grant awards to finance a wide array of improvements. Trumbull County received about $82,000 for projects at Waugh Park in Hubbard and Willow Park in Cortland. Mahoning County received more than $90,000 for projects at Milton Township’s Community Park, Youngstown’s Spring Common Park and Mill Creek Park’s Golf Course. The grants will go far toward enhancing the quality of recreational fun in our region.