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Orchids and onions

• ORCHID: To the Trumbull County Council of Governments for its plan to seek grants this year for purchase of small equipment, such as lawn mowers, that can be shared among its member communities. Regional efforts and shared services are very important — particularly for smaller communities with limited budgets. We just remind everyone involved that small, portable equipment can go missing easily. We urge those involved to monitor and track the equipment diligently.

• ONION: To Ohio Supreme Court Justice Patrick DeWine, who chose not to recuse himself from constitutional challenges to newly redrawn legislative maps. Justice DeWine’s father, Gov. Mike DeWine, served as a member of the commission that redrew the maps. Also, as governor, Mike DeWine signed the new maps into law. In response to the lawsuits, Patrick DeWine opined that the maps were constitutional. His involvement in a matter that so intimately involved his father does little to instill faith in the court’s impartiality.

• ORCHID: To Niles City School District, finally seeing the light at the end of the fiscal emergency tunnel. The district hopes to hear from Ohio Auditor Keith Faber in about a week on its potential release. We believe strongly that local control by the duly elected board of education members is vitally important. But once that happens, we remind officials at Niles City Schools, which has been in some form of fiscal emergency, caution or fiscal watch designation since 2003, of the importance of spending cautiously.

• ONION: To Newton Falls interim City Manager Pam Priddy for unjustly firing village electric department lineman Matthew Evans last month, claiming he violated the village’s bullying and gossip policy. Priddy said Evans made “false statements” about her at a public meeting and later became belligerent. Evans’ questions at the public meeting focused on whether Priddy had personal connections to the village’s new health insurance carrier — it seems to us like a fair question. The village civil service commission didn’t take long to agree with Evans, voting unanimously to reinstate him with back pay.

• ORCHID: To legislators in both Columbus and Washington who enacted new laws making medical costs more transparent. The federal “No Surprises Act” should eliminate unexpected bills in emergency situations, particularly when a person seeks care from an in-network facility but unknowingly receives care from an out-of-network provider. A similar new state law protects patients from surprise medical bills above the patient’s in-network rate from health care providers for emergency care and, in certain circumstances, unanticipated out-of-network care. The federal and state laws, which took effect this month, work together to protect people.

• ONION: To Norfolk Southern Railroad officials who parked a train across intersections, blocking traffic for more than six hours Dec. 27. Hubbard Township Police confirmed this week that they recently sent the company a citation for obstructing of roads by railroads. Good. Now we just need to figure out how to ensure this doesn’t happen again.

• ORCHID: To the Butler Institute of American Art in Youngstown, which this week broke ground on a new $2.3 million, 3,810-square-foot addition, the Vincent and Phyllis Bacon Wing. For decades, this nationally acclaimed museum has been bringing the value of art and culture to our Valley, and now we are pleased to see the museum continue to grow. The three-floor addition with a glass-enclosed facade could open by year’s end.

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