Friday, October 26, 2007

Cleveland's Troublemaking Little Brother from a Previous Marriage

I just saw one of those "You Know You're From Cleveland When..." lists that we've all seen in one shape or form. The list had over 200 entries on it. Having lived in Cleveland for a number of years, I had to read through a bunch of them.

At #103?

"You're glad Youngstown's there just to make you look a little better."

Unfortunately, this is sort of true. When you tell Clevelanders you're from Youngstown, you always get that "look" - often coupled with the other person taking a half-step backward. Try it next time you're up there (unless you're in Little Italy. Don't mention Youngstown at all if you're in Little Italy.)

My roommate in college used to think I was badass simply because I was from Youngstown. Now, that may be true, but what impressed me was that this same roommate grew up off of Lorain Avenue in Cleveland proper - which is a pretty rough area in itself. When quoting me, though, he'd always repeat what I'd said and then add "B*tch, I'm from Youngstown!" to the end of it, as if it was an implied conclusion.

He's not the only one, either. I have another friend from Middleburg Heights (out by the airport) who once told me how the YSU penguin logo was the perfect image to represent Youngstown - not because of the hat and scarf, of course, but because of the pissed-off, "don't mess with me, tough guy" look on his face.

I imagine Pittsburghers look at us much the same way (although many of them still seem to think that state line is the freaking Berlin Wall. "The world is shrinking," my ass).

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Y-town's Own "Catholics vs. Catholics" Rivalry Getting Some Online Pub

Sports Illustrated's website,, has put out their weekly list of the top high school football teams in the country. Cardinal Mooney is at #14, and their upcoming game against rival Ursuline is mentioned. On's front page, in the bottom left corner, is a link to the article with a photo of a Mooney player.

The link to the relevant part of the article is here.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Pavlik: Champion.



Thursday, September 27, 2007

Slowing the Waters

The two of you who are regular visitors to the site have probably noticed that it hasn't been updated in quite a while. Unfortunately, this is not a message to calm your fears and assure you that I'm getting back on the horse to make sure it gets updated on a regular basis. Instead, I'm writing to explain that the site, while still up and running, will have to be updated much less frequently over the next few weeks as well, due to a lot of other commitments. I know you come to Mighty Mahoning for its hard-hitting, captivating, no-holds-barred style of journalism. Actually, I know that's not true. Regardless, at the moment, I don't have the ability to really contribute to this as often or with the effort that I want. So, for the time being, expect fewer posts.

While I'm here, though, I should point out that I did see a spread in the Vindicator a couple weeks ago that talked about Black Monday and featured a list of Youngstown bloggers and their profiles. I was happy to see a few friends on the list, and even discovered a few new sites I hadn't seen before. I was not featured in the article and nor was I asked to be. This is fine, of course - the paper has the right to make these types of decisions and, plus, I hadn't updated for quite a while at that point, either.

Of course, my not being asked may also have something to do with my criticism of the paper in this space. If so, that's still fine. They're certainly not obligated to publicize other media outlets that are critical of them. I, of course, stand by the remarks I've made. I should, however, point out that the Vindicator's story on Youngstown bloggers is a good thing (especially considering that most of them weren't part of the paper-owned Valley24 project, which shows some journalistic integrity in this age of corporate synergy in the media. See "ESPN.") Points to the Vindicator for publicizing something positive about the city.

With that, I have to go - good luck to Kelly Pavlik this weekend - and hopefully, I'll be back soon.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Playing Catch-Up

If you're one of the three people who regularly read this page, you may have noticed that it hasn't been updated in quite a while. Unfortunately, I'll have to resort to the usual excuse for things of this nature- I've simply been too busy. Part of why I've been so busy, though, is that Mighty Mahoning has moved its headquarters from Cleveland to Youngstown. Obviously, this is a good thing- why would you want to be anywhere else?

Anyhow, there are a few Youngstown-related things to catch up on.

Chris Barzak World Domination Day

August 28 was unofficially designated "Chris Barzak World Domination Day" by our good friends over at the Oakland. The reason for this, of course, was that his first novel, One for Sorrow, was released on that day. If you've been keeping up with the other Youngstown blogs (and of course you have), you've probably already heard about this. There are lots of interesting and exciting things to say about this, and presumably, many of them have already been said. In simplest terms, though, it's something for us all to be proud of and it's another great example of what a great scene we have when it comes to the arts here. I urge you to read the book (I hear it's great, although I haven't read it yet myself) and check out Barzak's blog over at

Something to Crow About

County fair, county fair
Everybody in town'll be there
So come on, hey, we're goin' down there
Hey, little girl with the long blond hair
Come win your daddy one of them stuffed bears
Baby, down at the county fair."

-Bruce Springsteen, County Fair

This weekend, as you know, is the Canfield Fair, one of the supremely important items on the Youngstown area calendar every year. It's hard to articulate just why I love the fair. As a city kid, I know very little about what qualifies a pig as a blue ribbon winner or just how one can grow a pumpkin the size of a Geo. The smell of several tons of horse and cow manure is a pretty foreign and pretty awful scent for me, too. It's not that I dislike the country life, it's just that I can't relate. Regardless, I love the fair.

Of course, everyone loves the fair. It's a great tradition and one that has been more or less preserved in its proper state even though everything else around it has changed. One imagines that, when the fair first started, Canfield was a pretty remote place, made up almost entirely of farmland. Obviously, things have changed around town- but the fair really hasn't. That's reassuring for a lot of people. The fact that things are almost always the same there- sights, sounds, smells- brings back lots of memories.


The Penguins take on the Buckeyes this weekend in the Tressel Bowl. I'll be there, proudly clad in my Defend Youngstown t-shirt. Go Penguins.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Seen Around Town, Vol. I

The old Stambaugh's Hardware near Elm Road in Warren once had the phrase "Improve your home" proudly painted on the side of the building in huge letters, easily visible from the highway. Over time, the building underwent some changes, and either a paint job or wall replacement ended up altering the writing on the side of the building. It's blank and nondescript now, but up until a couple of years ago, the side of the building had the following phrase, which I would see as I drove back and forth to college in Cleveland:

"Improve your ho."

Wise advice. Wise advice indeed.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

"...Now That's Italian."

Tonight, Thursday, marks the beginning of the 2007 Brier Hill Italian Fest, which runs until Sunday night. This year is, I believe, the 16th year for the Fest, which features Italian food, Italian music, and loads of other things (including some of the best people-watching opportunities you'll have anywhere in the city).

The Fest takes place right in the heart of the old Brier Hill neighborhood, down the hill from St. Anthony's. The Brier Hill neighborhood was the heart of mill life in Youngstown for years. Although the neighborhood had people from a number of ethnic backgrounds, it was always a predominantly Italian place. This Italian population was the source of much of the Italian-American culture in this area. (Of course, Brier Hill culture is a little different than your run-of-the-mill Italian-American culture. Words like "sangweech" and "manicotts" aren't exactly textbook Italian terms, for example.)

There's not much left of the old neighborhood, but the Fest, which is overseen by a committee of people who mostly grew up in Brier Hill, does a great job of recapturing what it must have felt like back in the neighborhood's glory days. The Fest closes each year on Sunday night with a performance by one of Youngstown's best live acts, Dom Tocco and the Brotherhood. Tocco himself hails from Brier Hill, so his annual performance at the Italian Fest is usually one of his best.

Unfortunately, the Feast of the Assumption up in Cleveland's Little Italy is also going on this weekend so, if Italian festivals are your thing, you'll have to split time between the two. If you're from Youngstown, though, be sure to get down to Brier Hill and experience a little bit of true Italian-Youngstown-American culture. You might even want to pick yourself up a "Youngstown, Ohio: Mobtown, USA" t-shirt from the Trolio's booth.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

WFMJ Covers Youngstown Blog Movement

Last night, on the 6 o'clock news, WFMJ ran a brief story on the Youngstown blog phenomenon. A number of sites were mentioned, including Youngstown Pride, Defend Youngstown, and the Mayor's blog. Our own Mighty Mahoning was even shown briefly on screen. I wasn't contacted about this story (nor would I expect to have been), but a few of my fellow bloggers were and had the chance to offer their input. Defend Youngstown's Phil Kidd was even interviewed on camera.

Obviously, I'm happy about all of this. It's great to see the online movement get some press. Letting people know about these sites and what they represent can, hopefully, help spread the wave of positivity that's starting to gain momentum around the city. Despite the progress that Youngstown is making, we still have a long way to go- and a positive attitude about what's going on and where we're heading is an incredibly important part of the long-term solution.

I honestly do believe in the aforementioned "wave of positivity," by the way. Look at what's been going on in the debate about the median strips on Federal Street. Regardless of how you feel about the issue (I happen to be on the side of keeping the green space intact- i find it ironic that we're known for one of the largest city parks in the country but have next to no green space at all downtown), you have to be happy that people actually care about it- and care about it enough to cause a controversy. As Mangino said on 570 the other day, it's refreshing to see that this is even an issue- that Youngstowners care about downtown enough to want to make sure that it looks nice and that there's enough parking downtown to accommodate everyone who they truly believe will come down there for different events.

We're continuing to hear mixed reviews about what's going on downtown. For example, although the WWE events that recently took place in the Chevy Centre have been praised as a huge success, the arena continues to lose money. People are coming downtown, though- I was at the Italian Fest on Friday and saw a pretty good crowd (one that was, as I've heard, dwarfed the following night by the crowd that came down to hear Dom Tocco and the Brotherhood, that most Youngstown of bands). The Italian Fest actually moved back to downtown from the Canfield Fairgrounds- something I never thought I'd see. As the radio promos for the SteelHounds are fond of saying, "something's howling down on Front Street" and throughout the downtown area.

The local media is also picking up on this. I've criticized the Vindicator for its anti-Youngstown agenda (and, I still feel, rightly so), but local TV and radio is doing a much better job at helping advance the city's resurgence. WYTV (Channel 33), for example, recently built a studio downtown with glass walls that look out toward the street, and they frequently cover positive, semi-newsworthy events in the city (like a recent beer tasting event at the Youngstown Club)- the type of things the Vindicator only covers if they happen in Boardman. 570 WKBN's morning and evening drive time shows have also done a nice job of balancing coverage of the city, of the surrounding areas, and of national issues (despite callers' best efforts to steer every conversation toward what's happening at GM and Delphi).

What's going on around the city right now is great. It's particularly exciting to see so many young people (many of whom had parents that moved away from the city years ago) get involved and get passionate about the city. That's what it's going to take. Okay, admittedly, it will take more than just that- but that's the crucial first piece we've been missing for decades. I'm glad to be a part of this movement.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Y, Wild West

Youngstown is like nowhere else. It's been compared to a lot of places, of course, with varying degrees of success. It's a little like New Jersey (at least the Sopranos version of New Jersey), it's kind of a cross between Cleveland and Pittsburgh, it's sort of a smaller version of Chicago, it's possibly the point where the Midwest, the Northeast, and Appalachia all meet, and, maybe, it's reasonable to refer to Youngstown at times as "Diet Akron." Still, though, Youngstown is a place all its own. But... if I had to compare it to anywhere else, I'd compare it to the Old West.

Sure, there's nothing typically "western" about the city (with the possible exception of the Chaney Cowboys), but there are a lot of more abstract similarities. First, there's that pioneer spirit. It's a hard life in Youngstown, and over the years, people have done a lot of crazy things to get by. Maybe you can say it started with John Young and his expedition to the Western Reserve. Ingenuity, creativity, hard work, and the odd effects of cultural isolation are all symptomatic of life in the City of Youngstown. We still value hard work, perseverance, and a fighting spirit. I've written a lot about Kelly Pavlik on this site, and for good reason- he's in many ways a living embodiment of what it means to be from Youngstown and that's one of the reasons Youngstowners find him so easy to root for. He's like us, he's one of us- boxing is the most "Youngstown" of all sports, and not just because of Ray "Boom Boom" Mancini (Youngstown's Own Hands of Stone). It's the purest display of an individual's physical and mental toughness- and that's what it takes to grow up in the Yo.

In line with this, Youngstown also has an obvious appreciation for the culture of the outlaw. While we never really had any cowboys (except for, again, Chaney), we've certainly had our fair share of mobsters. And, as many others have said, Youngstown hasn't rejected this part of its identity. Rather, we've embraced it. Whether it's the "Mobtown USA" t-shirts at the Brier Hill Fest or the fact that we've voted for Traficant time and time again, there are clear signs all around town that we're proud of that aspect of our identity. Most of us recognize that organized crime and the political corruption that came along with it is one of the primary reasons our city has fallen apart, and most of us also realize that there's no place for organized crime in the city's current resurgence movement. Still, though, we think it's pretty cool that we had mobsters here.

Perhaps the most obvious sign of our "Old West" identity, though, is the general lawlessness of the city. Believe it or not, that's sort of a positive thing. Like one of those isolated mining towns in 19th century Arizona, this is a place where we pretty much make and enforce our own rules, ignoring the petty stuff so that we can go about our business. This is probably most obvious when it comes to driving. I think it's reasonable to say that no one in the city of Youngstown has properly used a blinker since the early 1970s. In addition, red lights and stops signs are pretty much optional for us. We've got bigger things to worry about around here- I'll drive how I want, you drive how you want, and we'll leave each other alone. Of course, you don't ever want to get into an accident, since pretty much nobody has auto insurance- but if everybody plays along, it should all work out. What's even better is that local law enforcement pretty much recognizes this fact. They'll take care of the robberies, the murders, and the other big stuff- just try to keep it under 65 on the side streets.

Obviously, this is all pretty tongue-in-cheek. The point is, though, that Youngstown is still, even after all these years, a place all its own. It doesn't really fit in with anywhere else. It's nice that the people at Cleveland Plus thought of us, but we're not really part of that crew. It's a special place, and maybe it's a place only those of us who grew up there can ever really understand or appreciate. Regardless, its our city, and its worth preserving, revitalizing, and defending.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

The Ghost and the Tribe

I'm a little late on this, but in case you missed it, Kelly Pavlik was invited up to the SportsTime Ohio booth during an Indians game over the weekend for an interview with Tribe broadcasters Rick Manning and Matt Underwood. He spent the better part of a half-inning in the booth and, as always, represented himself well. Of course, the fact that Pavlik is a Youngstown guy did come up, and Pavlik reiterated the pride he has in the city.

STO has been good to Pavlik, promoting him through this interview as well as through their recent documentary that aired shortly before his last fight. More importantly, though, Pavlik has been great for Youngstown. Others have already explored this topic better than I can, so I won't beat a dead horse here except to say that it's great to see someone represent the true spirit of the city and do so in a positive way. I've written a lot about Maurice Clarett in this space- and, unfortunately, Clarett is only one of many "coulda been" athletes that's come out of Youngstown over the years. Pavlik has emerged as a counterbalancing force, an athlete that people can root for without guilt or serious doubts about his background or his integrity.

Pavlik's image is being controlled well. As people like Kobe Bryant and Ken Caminiti have shown us in recent years, the fans can never really know an athlete, and an image can be wholly different from reality- so, as someone who doesn't know Pavlik personally, I can't say for sure that he's as great as he comes across in the press. At the risk of being proved wrong in the future, though, Pavlik does seem like one of the good guys and sounds like he really "gets it." He and those in his camp know what matters to the people in this area and know how important it is to represent us in a positive way. Although I don't want to sound too sentimental about this, I'm proud of Pavlik and thrilled about what he's doing for this area.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Friday Night Downtown

If you were hoping to spend tonight in downtown Youngstown (and frankly, why wouldn't you be?), then, well, you picked a good night.

Tonight, Friday the 13th, the Mahoning Valley Thunder take on the Albany Conquest down at the Chevy Center (excuse me, the Chevy
Centre). The Albany Conquest, oddly enough, have Youngstown native and former Ursuline standout Chris Curd on their roster. Prior to the game, there will be a tailgate party downtown as well.

Later in the evening, the downtown Buffalo Wild Wings will be hosting another "Party on the Plaza," which is always a good time.

So, if you're looking for something fun to do tonight, come downtown.

By the way, there's a new t-shirt design over at Defend Youngstown, with two more to come in the near future. Show your support and order one (or one of each of the new designs, and also the existing design in all available colors. Also, there's a limited edition St. Patrick's Day version done up in green and gold too- if you can find one of those, grab one for me, too.)

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Arts and the Yo

"Youngstown: First in Space."

I saw that written on the bathroom wall at the Draught House on Saturday night (a night where all drafts- ALL DRAFTS- were two bucks. I love this city).

Anyway, I was able to make it to the Summer Arts Festival at YSU on Sunday. Despite the life-sapping heat, attendance was great. The Festival featured artists and craftsmen from all over the country (including a number of talented people from the local area) as well as live musical performances and a great selection of ethnic food from local churches and cultural groups. Our friends from the Oakland were there, too, and they had their schedule for next season on display- one that concludes with "The Full Monty."

All in all, it was a great event. You don't often realize how important the Arts really are around Youngstown- sometimes it takes something like the Festival to remind you. We have the Butler and the McDonough museums right downtown, as well as thriving theatre and music programs at YSU. We're blessed, as a relatively small city, to not only have a semi-major performance venue like the Chevy Centre, but also to have somewhat smaller performance spaces like the recently expanded Powers/DeYor Center and the old Stambaugh Auditorium. The Oakland, of course, is particularly impressive- it's the type of place you wouldn't think you'd ever find outside of New York or Chicago, let along in Youngstown. Recently, too, there has been a bit of a resurgence in the local music scene that's coincided somewhat with downtown revitalization. In addition to being the best place to catch local bands, Cedar's has always been the haven for the more artistically inclined citizens in the area and continues to be an important part of artistic life of the city.

So, there you go- in addition to all of the other great things about Youngstown, you can add the arts to the list.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

City Spotlight: Downtown Draught House

Today's post is the first in a new series of entries entitled "City Spotlight," where we'll highlight different places around Youngstown. We'll start with the Downtown Draught House.

Downtown Draught House

219 West Federal Street

Youngstown, Ohio

The Downtown Draught House (or, as it is sometimes known, "the D-House" or "the D") is a central part of nightlife in downtown Youngstown. Having been downtown for years, it's developed a loyal following, and was a popular spot long before downtown's recent revitalization.

The Draught House has a lot to offer- cheap beer, a central location, and a laid-back, dive-type atmosphere. It's a true Youngstown bar, filled with pictures an memorabilia from YSU, the SteelHounds, and the local professional teams as well as old black-and-white photos from Youngstown's past. This is the place where a religious icon-style portrait of Jim Traficant once hung over the bar and where, according to A&E's City Confidential, Paul Gains was followed home from on the night he was shot. There's clearly a lot of history here, as the building is obviously an old one and one that has witnessed a lot of change in Youngstown.

I'm not sure what the building's original purpose was, but it's clear that it's been a bar for quite some time.
It's divided into two parts- the front, facing Federal Street, with pool tables, old arcade games, and booths, and the back, with the impressively large and ornate wooden bar (featuring inlaid stained glass depicting the YSU, OSU, Steelers, and Pittsburgh Penguins logos) and a few tables along one side. The place has changed a little in the last few years- some of the decorations and wall hangings have been changed, which has altered the feel of the place just slightly. It's also become the post-game hangout for die-hard SteelHounds fans (although you'll find a few at the nearby Buffalo Wild Wings, too). Most notably, believe it or not, is the impact that the Smoke-Free Ohio legislation has had on the place. Before the bill passed, the Draught House was like the inside of an old Brier Hill blast furnace, and drinking there was the health equivalent of working in the coal mines. Although there was a certain charm to it, it's nice that the air is clear inside the bar and you can spend a few minutes there without having to burn your clothes when you get home.

The Draught House offers 16 beers on tap and a wide range of microbrewery and import selections (some of which are hard to find elsewhere in town) that are cheap even by Youngstown standards. There is a kitchen, too, offering wings, fries, and burgers, but forgive me for not having sampled the cuisine myself.

With trendier places like Core and Imbibe popping up downtown, the Draught House is somewhat of a relic. However, that's not a bad thing. It's a place that still embodies a lot about the spirit of the city and will likely continue to be a popular late-night destination for years to come. As many would agree, your last drink of the night should always be at the D.

So, support Youngstown and raise a pint at the Draught House.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

On Vacation

Just a quick note to say I'm on vacation until next week. I'll update when I return.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Pride in the Northside

Real Northsiders believe that the best pizza in the world comes from the Golden Dawn, Avalon Gardens, or the St. Anthony's nuns (in any order). Real Northsiders have mailed letters from the North Side Post Office. Real Northsiders are accused by their friends of being too stubborn. While everybody else was at Rocky Ridge, Real Northsiders were sled riding at Crandall Park. Real Northsiders learned Spanish from the street names in their neighborhood. Real Northsiders love Youngstown but get lost in Mill Creek Park. Real Northsiders think "the Old Course" is Stambaugh on Gypsy Lane. While the West Siders know a hundred different back roads to get you somewhere, Real Northsiders will take the freeway whenever possible. Real Northsiders are pissed that the MVR is a Mooney bar. Real Northsiders think Catholicism and Judaism are the only two world religions. Real Northsiders shop at the Union Square Sparkle because the Giant Eagle a mile away is too far. Real Northsiders appreciate the grassy medians on Fifth Avenue and dream of one day living in one of "them mansions." Real Northsiders hate that you have to go "way out to Boardman" for so many goods and services. Real Northsiders have attended a sporting event at Rayen Stadium. Real Northsiders have been treated at both Northside and St. E's. Real Northsiders had their first communion parties at the Wick Park or Crandall Park pavilions. Real Northsiders believe the 711 connector is the single greatest achievement of modern man. Real Northsiders drink their beer in schooners.

Real Northsiders, although a dying breed, are one-of-a-kind.

Feel free to leave your additions in the comments section below.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The "Youngstown" Vindicator

Phil Kidd has an excellent post up over at Defend Youngstown discussing the continued lack cooperation between some residents of the suburbs and the City of Youngstown. He provides a response to what can best be described as an "anti-Youngstown" letter to the editor from a rather unenlightened Boardman resident that appeared recently in the Vindicator. Kidd drafted a nice response which was, of course, never published by the paper.

I'll leave the issue at the heart of the discussion to Kidd for now. However, I'd like to move tangentially from his post to talk a little about the Vindicator and its role in all of this. It's of little surprise to me that the Vindicator didn't publish Kidd's response. Sure, a paper certainly can't publish every letter to the editor that they receive, and decisions have to be made with a number of things in mind. However, Kidd's opinions and his approach to issues in Youngstown stands almost in direct opposition to the Vindicator's agenda.

When I was younger, the city paper was called "The Youngstown Vindicator," its title proudly written across the top in Gothic lettering. It had a stately look, a very New York Times-esque look, and it felt like a legitimate newspaper. However, one day, the paper decided to do a complete overhaul, losing the dignified look and replacing it with a more colorful, perhaps "friendly" image that was apparently meant to be more appealing to the public. I'll leave the aesthetics alone. What was most important about the change, though, was that the heading on the top of the paper now read "The Vindicator" rather than "The Youngstown Vindicator." Although that may seem like a small change, it was reflective of a much larger philosophical shift which continues into the present day.

I understand that population shifts in the Valley have required local media outlets to have a more regional focus. I imagine that a great number of Vindicator subscribers live outside the city limits, and therefore have an interest in news that occurs outside the city. That's fine. However, the Vindicator tries to avoid the fact that Youngstown is the center of the Mahoning Valley and that all of the local suburbs are just that- suburbs- whose very existence is tied to that of the city. At its best, the paper treats Youngstown as just another town in their coverage area- on the same level with Niles, Hermitage, or Austintown. At its worst, the paper takes a condescending and isolationist stance toward the city in its reporting- here's what's happening in that awful place up the road. Major positive events in the city are often ignored entirely, while the newspaper chooses instead to run a front-page photo of some meaningless happening in Boardman Park or at the Poland Library. Sports coverage is even worse- one could read the paper for an entire football season and not realize that Rayen or Chaney even exist.

Oddly, the Vindicator still holds its central offices in downtown Youngstown. I imagine it's only a matter of time before the paper finally gives up the ruse and moves out to 224. In the meantime, though, the Vindicator continues to feed into the "suburbs vs. city" mentality that's been crippling this region for decades. As the only real paper in town, the Vindicator has a powerful influence on the perceptions and attitudes of its readership, and they have not handled this responsibility well.
What's encouraging, though, is that people are actively seeking out other avenues and outlets for news and updates about the city and the area- most of which are much more, to borrow a phrase, "Pro-Yo." Look down the list of links to the right here. These other sites, professional or not, would not exist if the desire to create and read them wasn't there.

The Vindicator has a long history with the city, and has been there for many years to report on and record the events of the area. However, when it comes to its relationship to Youngstown, the paper behaves more like a jaded child than a loving spouse. Such a negative relationship does little good for either party. As things change and move forward in Youngstown, there's little place for something like the Vindicator.

Friday, June 15, 2007

The Curse of Youngstown Sports

With the Cavaliers having been swept in the Finals last night, a lot of the talk up here has been about the so-called "Cleveland Curse" that has plagued the different franchises in the city. The Drive, the Fumble, Jose Mesa, MJ over Ehlo, and now, the Sweep, are all familiar phrases to Cleveland sports fans.

There are, of course, a lot of Cleveland fans in Youngstown, and they have suffered through these same events. Life has been a little rosier for the Pittsburgh fans in town, which has certainly added some fuel to the rivalry. Youngstown is pretty much on a "fault line" when it comes to Cleveland vs. Pittsburgh sports, and that always keeps it interesting.

Anyway, this whole Cleveland Curse thing got me thinking about our own teams in Youngstown and the existence of a possible "Youngstown Curse" on our own teams. Granted, Youngstown doesn't have any major professional franchises and nor have we struggled as a unified fanbase with the heartbreak and the near-misses that the Clevelanders have. Our curse is not with losing per se, but with losing our teams.

The whole thing starts with the Youngstown Patricians, a semi-pro team in the early 1900s that competed against more well-known teams like the Canton Bulldogs. The Patricians took their name from St. Patrick's Church on the South Side, which had a big part in the founding of the organization. The Patricians, although apparently a good team, eventually disbanded. That, of course, is not unusual, given how many of the teams back then were organized and run. However, the success of the Patricians may have played an important role in the granting of an NFL franchise to Youngstown in 1922. For whatever reason, though, the team never actually saw the field- thus beginning the Youngstown Sports Curse.

Most of what I've found on the Patricians, by the way, comes from here.

The failure of Youngstown's NFL franchise set the stage for more heartbreak. The Youngstown Hardhats, a semi-professional football team, played a few successful seasons in the 70s before eventually disbanding. Of course, the most representative instance is that of the Youngstown Pride, the basketball powerhouse and WBL member that was the brainchild of Mickey Monus and the Phar-Mor company. That, of course, did not end well. In typical Youngstown fashion, corruption reared its head and doomed both the franchise and the league (and Phar-Mor, too).

Since then, there have been a number of failed sports ventures in town, including the Youngstown Hawks basketball team, which played their games at the old South High field house. Although it was hard enough to draw a crowd to that location because of safety concerns, the Hawks also scheduled the majority of their games on Friday nights, up against the local high school games. With high school sports being king in the Yo, it was a recipe for disaster.

Shortly afterward, the Mahoning Valley/Youngstown Wildcats were formed and played a season or two in Struthers before abruptly disappearing from the face of the earth. In similar fashion, the Mahoning Valley Panthers (aka "MVPs") of the Ohio Valley Football League were formed in 2005- and haven't updated their website since.

One can make the argument that professional sports in Youngstown are, right now, at their apex. There are three legitimate franchises in the area right now- the af2 Mahoning Valley Thunder, the Youngstown SteelHounds, and the Mahoning Valley Scrappers. In addition, the Mahoning Valley Phantoms of the NAHL are a thriving organization. The Thunder are in their inaugural season, the SteelHounds are coming off their second year (and a playoff season), and the Scrappers are only a couple of years removed from an NYPL championship and boast both C.C. Sabathia and Victor Martinez as alumni.

Still, though, there's pessimism about each team. A lot of people are worried that the Thunder will be a hard sell, given the high ticket prices and relatively small size of the market. The SteelHounds' future is a big question mark at this point (see below) and hockey has yet to really catch on in the area. The Scrappers, although a good team, haven't been attracting the crowds that they used to. It's hard to say if these concerns are valid- just how much of it is based on natural Youngstown pessimism and the fallout from the Youngstown Pride disaster is hard to quantify.

Obviously, I'm hoping for continued success from all of these teams. It's important for the area, as a united entity, to have teams to root for and identify with. Obviously, YSU will always fill that role, especially during football season. However, having organized, professional teams helps give the area that added sense of legitimacy and value- we're big enough, important enough, etc., to have pro sports. Maybe these teams will stick it out, survive, and bring some more pride to the area. It's possible that the "curse" is over, and that our ability to have sports teams will experience the same type of revival that much of the rest of the area is starting to experience. Unfortunately, we can only wait.

SteelHounds' CHL Future in Question

Although this is more a topic for Youngstown Sports Live, I thought I'd mention it anyway...

According to a report in the Vindicator last week, the Youngstown SteelHounds are considering leaving the Central Hockey League, where they've played since their inaugural season, to seek out new opportunities elsewhere. Apparently, there are a number of issues involved in owner Herb Washington's decision to look to other leagues, not the least of which is the amount of travel expenses that the Hounds rack up every season traveling all over the Southwest. As you may know, the majority of the CHL teams are located in that region, and Youngstown is the only team in the Northeast. The next-closest team to Youngstown is in Memphis, TN. According to Washington, the CHL brass promised him, upon the SteelHounds initial entry into the league, that they would expand up into the Northeast, adding teams closer to Youngstown and perhaps realigning in order to lessen the amount of travel. The league has expanded- into places like Colorado and New Mexico- and the Hounds are still thousands of miles away from everybody else.

As I've written here before, the CHL does seem to be a pretty stable league, and that can be rare in minor league sports. Sacrificing that apparent stability, though, might be necessary if the SteelHounds want to remain in business. In addition to travel expenses, Youngstown doesn't have any natural rivalries, and it's nearly impossible to follow the team on the road. When they are home, it's hard to get excited about a weekend series with a team from Bossier-Shreveport or "the Rocky Mountains." The distance between the Chevy Centre and the bulk of the other teams also requires some scheduling weirdness where the team disappears for long periods of time and effectively drops off the radar for anyone who's not a die-hard fan (or doesn't drink at the Draught House).

The Vindicator article goes on to point out that the CHL, understandably, has little interest in allowing Washington and the SteelHounds out of their contract and out of the league. There may be a long and costly fight ahead, which could be financially damaging as well. Hopefully, things work out, and the SteelHounds remain a presence in the city and in a legitimate hockey league. People around Youngstown need to know that the team has a solid future before they invest in season tickets, jerseys, and so on. Attendance seems to have dropped quite a bit in the last year, and any bad news about the team's future could create even more problems. I'm optimistic, though, that Washington will find a way for hockey to survive in the city.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Weekend in Review

As those of you who were in town over the weekend know, the Youngstown area experienced a pretty severe storm on Friday evening. The storm knocked down trees and power lines all over the area and damaged a number of homes, cars, and other property.

We were getting prepared to leave from Cleveland to go down to Youngstown about 4 o'clock on Friday when I first heard about the storm. There was severe weather all over Northeast Ohio, so the local Cleveland news, including WKYC, broke into their normal programming to track the storms around Akron, Canton, and Youngstown. The weather around Austintown and Youngstown's North Side was by far the most severe and was the focus of the broadcast. Things were so bad, apparently, that the weatherperson actually encouraged viewers to call their friends and family in the Youngstown area and tell them to get inside and into their basements. I called my own parents, who live on the North Side, and they were already downstairs. It was actually sort of entertaining to hear the forecaster refer to some specific and uniquely Youngstown places that were popping up on the computer system- she'd obviously never heard of Brier Hill, McGuffey Center- and I doubt most of the viewers had, either.

The storm moved quickly enough that we were able to leave Cleveland before 5 and take the turnpike to Youngstown. Part of Route 11 was blocked off because of a downed tree, so we got off at 46 and went through Austintown. This gave us a chance to check out some of the damage, since by then, the storm had already passed. Austintown was pretty bad, with a ton of debris in the roads and obvious damage to yards, trees, and property. Going through the West Side near Mill Creek Park, things were even worse, with trees uprooted in almost every yard and large amounts of debris in the streets. The North Side was slightly better, but going up Fifth Avenue past Wick Park, there were a number of large, obviously old trees ripped right out of the ground. Although it may sound a little silly, it always bums me out when old trees are lost to storms, especially on the North Side. Those trees are some of the last remaining symbols of the "majesty" of the old North Side.

The fallout from the storm lasted all weekend, with trees being chopped up and removed, power being restored, and other projects being done to clean up the mess. Unfortunately, the power was out at Mill Creek Park for the entire weekend, which led to a number of graduation parties and other events that were supposed to be held at the Rose Garden complex and other spots being canceled or moved elsewhere.

I attended one such graduation party on Sunday, which was moved from the park to Overture- the new restaurant attached to the DeYor Center. Although I had been to Powers since the restaurant went up, it was the first time I'd been inside. It's a nice venue. I was particularly impressed with the outdoor section, which faces the Home Savings building. The weather on Sunday was great, and it gave people the opportunity to hang around outside and even walk around downtown.

I've heard a lot of stories from friends and family about how downtown Youngstown used to be something really special. Being down there on Sunday afternoon, I had a chance to sort of imagine what that might have been like. It's been a while since I was able to walk around downtown in broad daylight, too. The daylight, of course, is particularly harsh on Youngstown, since you can see every crack in the sidewalk, every broken window, and every abandoned building. However, it was the first time in as long as I can remember that I felt really optimistic as I walked around there- I could point to a lot of the buildings- the State Theatre, the Paramount, the Realty Building- and know there was a legitimate plan in store for restoration or improvement. Plus, those buildings that are new- the courthouses, the Voinovich building- look great. Granted, I'm much more "Pro-Yo" than most, but I couldn't help but feel really good about downtown in the daytime (which is admittedly very different from downtown at night, which has already made some great strides.) If you don't share my optimism, I can understand- we've certainly been let down in the past- but honestly, things are really looking good down there.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

An Eventful Day at Stambaugh

Yesterday, Stambaugh Auditorium hosted the graduation ceremonies for the city's two Catholic high schools, Cardinal Mooney and Ursuline, as it does each year. Graduation ceremonies are, by their nature, exciting events. Two graduations in the same day, of course, makes for an eventful day. However, even after the final graduate walked across the stage yesterday afternoon, the excitement at Stambaugh was just beginning. Apparently, an evening storm caused a section of the auditorium's roof to blow off into the street. Although there is not much information available at the moment, I'm pretty confident that the Youngstown Pride website will have more information sometime tomorrow.

Stambaugh Auditorium has been an important part of the city and a Northside landmark since its opening in 1926. Will Rogers, believe it or not, was the first act to perform there and the auditorium still hosts a number of events and concerts every year. I was lucky enough myself to see Bruce Springsteen perform there during his "Ghost of Tom Joad" tour.

Maintaining a building like Stambaugh is both costly and time-consuming, and as a result, a lot of similar structures have been abandoned or demolished. Detroit, for example, is home to a number of once-great buildings from the same time period which have been left to crumble and decay (This site has an excellent photo tour of what can sometimes seem like Youngstown's sister city up north). Organizations like the Stambaugh Pillars have been an integral part of the building's longevity, and now, unfortunately, they have a new challenge on their hands. Damage to any structure's roof can be a major setback. Hopefully, the roof issue can be resolved soon.

Update: Canfield Wins

The Canfield Cardinals beat Springfield Kenton Ridge yesterday afternoon to earn the State Championship in Division II. Although their title run was not without controversy, the Cardinals put together an impressive run and Mighty Mahoning congratulates them on their success.

Ursuline, the area's other state semifinalist and the only city team to advance that far, was eliminated on Friday.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Ursuline and Canfield Advance to State Baseball Semis

Two local teams remain in the OHSAA baseball tournament in Columbus- Canfield in Division II, and Ursuline in Division III.

The Canfield Cardinals play this morning and, should they win, will advance to the State Championship game to be played tomorrow, June 2, at 2pm at Cooper Stadium. The Ursuline Fighting Irish take the field today as well, and a victory will put them into the State Championship at 5pm tomorrow.

A win tomorrow would earn the Irish baseball program its third State Championship.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Pavlik Wins

If you hadn't already heard, Kelly "The Ghost" Pavlik defeated Edison Miranda in a 7th round TKO this past Saturday night in Memphis, TN. In honor of Pavlik's win, I've posted a few videos from his website. A much more comprehensive look at the Pavlik fight and its importance to the Valley is available over at the Defend Youngstown site.

The STO documentary trailer:

Youngstown band Tilt 360's Pavlik tribute video:

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Tim Ryan's Food Stamp Challenge

Congressman Tim Ryan is currently participating in a "Food Stamp Challenge," attempting to live on Food Stamps for seven days. He's hoping to raise awareness about the daily struggles of those on the Food Stamp program. According to Congressman Ryan, approximately 90,000 people in the 17th District are on Food Stamps.

You can read his blog of the Challenge on his website.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Monday, May 14, 2007

Pavlik on STO

Tonight at 10pm, Sportstime Ohio (STO) will be airing a documentary on Youngstown boxer Kelly Pavlik entitled "The Ghost of Youngstown." If you watched the Tribe over the weekend at all, you may have seen some previews for the show which featured Pavlik in his now-signature "Defend Youngstown" t-shirt.

The list of STO affiliates is available here.

"Defend Youngstown" shirts are available, of course, here.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Stambaugh Stadium's 25th Anniversary

This fall, Youngstown State University will celebrate the 25th Anniversary of Stambaugh Stadium. The stadium, opened in 1982, has been home to many significant memories for YSU football fans, and many of the significant moments and players from the last quarter-century will be honored this year. More detailed information on the anniversary and related promotions is available at

In addition to being the home of the Penguins for the last 26 seasons, Stambaugh has also been a city icon. Originally built as a one-sided stadium, the resulting enormity of what is now the home stands immediately made the stadium a unique and recognizable part of Youngstown's skyline. The bright lights of high school football (Stambaugh has been home to Ursuline, Mooney, and the City Series teams for several years) illuminate the city every Friday night, and the fanfare and tailgating around Penguin home games has brought people and fans into the city during even the lowest points of the last twenty-five years in Youngstown.

Over time, the stadium has been improved and modified while still retaining its identity. The renovations and changes, especially in recent years, have allowed the stadium to remain a point of pride for the university and the Mahoning Valley. A new visitor stand, new turf, a glass-walled event room, and a trophy room are just some of the major upgrades the university has made in the last few years. A far cry from old Rayen Stadium, Stambaugh is a worthy home to one of the most outstanding I-AA programs in the country.

The commemorative events and promotions planned for this year should excite a lot of local fans and encourage them to come down to campus and catch a few home games. Of course, YSU is also coming off quite an impressive season, and the excitement that creates (the kind of excitement that's been missing since the Tressel years) will do even more. Youngstown State's football program is one of the few things that unites the local area, and its success can do a lot of good for the Mahoning Valley and its residents.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Cleveland Plus

The Greater Cleveland Marketing Alliance (GCMA), which includes the Greater Cleveland Partnership, the Convention and Visitors Bureau of Greater Cleveland, and Team NEO, has recently unveiled its new marketing brand and strategy. It's called "Cleveland Plus" (or, alternatively, "Cleveland+"). The idea, of course, is to market the entire Northeast Ohio region, with the city of Cleveland as its anchor or "capital."

The need for something like Cleveland Plus is clear. The fortunes and fate of the various cities and communities in Northeast Ohio are all tied together and, therefore, long-term success can come only from cooperation. Northeast Ohio, too, is clearly unique from the rest of the state (see: 2004 national election), and its differences require that it be looked at and marketed differently from the rest of the state.

Youngstown's role in this whole endeavor will likely be met with mixed opinions. On the one hand, Youngstown is clearly part of Northeast Ohio. Any map will reveal this. On the other hand, Youngstown is not truly part of "Greater Cleveland." Youngstown's identity has always been unique from Cleveland's. It's had its own media, for example, for decades and news about Youngstown rarely appears in the Plain Dealer or on the evening news. Akron and Canton, by contrast, are mentioned frequently and are much more a part of the sprawling entity that is "Cleveland" for most people.

Youngstowners also do not see Cleveland as its "big brother" in the same way that people in the suburbs or in Akron and Canton might. Part of the issue comes from the fact that Youngstown is more or less as close to Pittsburgh as it is to Cleveland. Depending on who you ask, the Mahoning Valley even includes the Pennsylvania counties of Lawrence and Mercer. Although its own place, Youngstown has probably gleaned as many aspects of its identity from Pittsburgh as it has from Cleveland. Even sports loyalties are divided fairly equally- and these sports loyalties can flow over into loyalties to the cities themselves.

More than anything, though, Youngstown has always had a maverick spirit and a distinct culture that has separated it from other places. Outsiders rarely feel welcome here and, by turn, Youngstown natives often have trouble adjusting to life in other places.

Of course, as stated above, Youngstown will have to compromise somewhat if it wants to achieve any success. Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Akron, Canton, and everywhere in between are tied together, and need to work together to turn things around. There seems to be a renewed sense of energy and optimism on this corner of Ohio right now, and it's good that Youngstown is a part of it. If we can play nice, good things can happen.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Temping in the Yo

The following article was posted on the Something Awful website yesterday. It's a short piece documenting the author's experiences temping at the downtown SkyBank in (where else?) Youngstown:

Adventures in Temping, Vol. I, by Bob Mackey

Tuesday, April 24, 2007


My wife (another Youngstowner) has been telling me recently of her distaste for using the term "Yompton" to describe Youngstown. Apparently, the issue has even spawned, independently of her, an anti-"Yompton" facebook group (the true measure of social import these days). I'm inclined to agree with her and her constituents, and for the same reasons. It's not so much that it's disparaging of our fair city- there's plenty of that out there- it's that its so uncreative, and more importantly, ignores the fact that Youngstown is its own unique place, for better or worse, and is not just another Compton. Anywhere can be dangerous, crime-ridden, or poverty-stricken. There's more to the Yo than that. More history, more character, more real pride. Pride- not to be confused with street cred- is not easy to come by any more.

It's mostly people outside of Youngstown who use the term. In fact, I had never even heard of the term until a friend showed it to me in the Urban Dictionary late in my high school years. It's not, I don't think, one of those homegrown phrases, like "University on the Corner of Lincoln Avenue." It's another disparaging remark from those who don't understand the place. So screw you, Yompton-users.

Defend Youngstown.

The above was copied and modified from my Livejournal site.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

What You're Doing This Weekend (Prior to the Finding Mike Vagas Show)

Courtesy of Warren's Tribune Chronicle:

Oakland opening the book on ‘Liz’ Friday

By Tribune Chronicle

YOUNGSTOWN — The comedy ‘‘The Book of Liz’’ opens Friday at the Oakland Center for the Arts.

The play is a collaboration between brother and sister David and Amy Sedaris, best known for their work independently. David Sedaris rose to fame with his humorous essays on National Public Radio and ‘‘This American Life.”

Amy Sedaris is a Second City Chicago veteran who created and starred in the Comedy Central series ‘‘Strangers with Candy.’’ ‘‘The Book of Liz’’ tells the story of the Squeamish brotherhood and Sister Elizabeth Donderstock, whose cheeseball recipe provides the primary source of income for the believers. Sister Elizabeth leaves the Amish-like existence of her fellow believers and ends up on a wondrous journey in the outside world.

Robert Dennick Joki directs the play, which features Eric McCrae, Brooke Slanina, Amato D’Apolito, Denise Glinatsis, Jennifer Kuzcek, Beth Farrow and Fran Comstock.

‘‘The Book of Liz’’ will be staged at 8 p.m. Friday, Saturday and April 6-7 and 13-14 at the Oakland Center for the Arts, 220 W. Boardman St. Tickets are $15 for adults, $12 for senior citizens and $10 for students and can be reserved by calling 330-746-0404.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Monday, March 26, 2007

Big Week in Youngstown

There are two big "debuts" this week in the city (although one is admittedly much bigger than the other). The first, and more important of the two, is the installation of the new bishop of the Diocese of Youngstown, George Murry, SJ. The second is the home opener of the city's newest professional sports team, the af2's Mahoning Valley Thunder, this weekend.

Much has already been written about both events, especially in the case of Bishop Murry. As many others have already pointed out, the new bishop has a challenging road ahead. A lot of talk has also been about the dramatic differences between his old diocese and his new one. What hasn't been discussed much, though, is his background as a Jesuit and what that might mean for the Mahoning Valley.

The Jesuits have a long history of service to the poor and of a preoccupation with issues of social justice. Finding good in even the worst of situations and building on it (especially in an urban setting) is a key aspect of the Jesuit tradition. Youngstown is almost the perfect place for the Jesuit mission to take hold and thrive- its somewhat small size being the only thing that makes it atypical.

Oddly enough, but perhaps for that reason, there has never been a strong Jesuit presence in Youngstown. Regionally, the opposite is true- in fact, just by looking at the roster of Jesuit schools in the region, one can see their influence.* Yet Youngstown, for all of its poverty and social ills, has been essentially off the Jesuit radar (save for the annual St. Ignatius vs. Boardman game). If anywhere can benefit from the Jesuits, though, it's Youngstown.

What's perhaps more interesting about Bishop Murry is his hometown- Camden, NJ- the city consistently ranked as one of the most dangerous in the country. Youngstown, of course, is usually only a few spots behind Camden on that list. Although I can't say with any certainty whether or not Bishop Murry has spent much time there in recent years, he is undoubtedly aware of the situation in Camden and can see the parallels between that city and our own.

All in all, I think that Bishop Murry's installation is a wholly positive thing for the city and the diocese (and not just for Catholics, either). Keeping in mind the huge challenges ahead, it's unfair to expect huge results in the short term. Over the next few years, though, I think there will be some exciting and positive things coming out of his office.

A few blocks away from the diocesan offices, over at the Chevy Centre, the Mahoning Valley Thunder are preparing to kick off their inaugural season. The Thunder now gives the area three legitimate professional sports teams (including the SteelHounds and the Scrappers) along with the Phantoms junior hockey program and the D-I teams at YSU. It's too early to tell whether or not the Thunder experiment will be a successful one, of course. What works in the team's favor is the area's passion for football, people's apparent willingness to come downtown again (as evidenced by the relative success of other events at the arena), and the fairly solid reputation of the af2 league. On the other side, though, are doubts about the strength of the market (due primarily to size- Youngstown is, I believe, the smallest metro area for any team in the league), the timing of the season, and the strength of the actual product on the field once the novelty wears off.

It's understandable to be a little pessimistic, given how things have gone with our sports teams over the years. Murphy's Law reigns supreme- just look at the Youngstown Pride. Even so, though, I think there's more reason to be positive than there is to be negative about the whole thing. All we can do is wait and see. Regardless of where the team may be 5 or 10 years down the road, though, this weekend will be an historic one for the city and another thing to get excited about downtown.

*At the college level, there is John Carroll University in Cleveland, Wheeling Jesuit University in West Virginia, Cansius College in Buffalo, and Xavier University in Cincy, among others. There are two Jesuit high schools in Northeast Ohio alone, those being St. Ignatius in Cleveland and Walsh Jesuit outside of Akron. These schools typically have Jesuit residences tied to them, and the priests that live there typically teach at the schools and/or oversee service and social justice programs in the nearby communities and beyond.

Monday, January 29, 2007

"Yo-hio State" or "Local Boy Makes Good"

From the Cleveland Plain Dealer:

"Ohio State football fans still probably want to press charges against the Buckeyes for not bothering to show up for the BCS Championship Game.
Meanwhile, the university may be disciplining two students who did everything they could to show up - including sneaking into the game without tickets.
Will Manzeo of Cleveland and Anthony Florig of Youngstown, both 21, sneaked into the national championship game in Glendale, Ariz., on Jan. 8 - a 41-14 trouncing by the Florida Gators. "

More at the link below:

Sunday, January 14, 2007

The Crusaders' Big Day

Over the last several decades, the City of Youngstown has seen a number of its Catholic grade schools close. Even within the last few years, St. Edward, St. Anthony, Immaculate Conception, and St. Brendan have all ceased operations. Once a point of civic and religious pride, these parish school buildings are now just another reminder of the decline of the city's economy and population.

The one exception, however, is St. Christine, on the city's west side. Helped along by a passionate and generous group of parishioners and parents (as well as a key location near the city's borders with Boardman and Canfield), St. Christine School is alive and well. This Saturday, in fact, the school held the inaugural game in its new gym, which was just recently completed. The Crusaders' 8th grade boys' team, the first squad to tip off in the new venue, celebrated with a win over Warren's Notre Dame.

Sure, it's just junior high basketball. But the game (and more importantly, the gym) is a symbol of the vitality of the parish and the commitment of the community to keep the city's last Catholic school open and attractive to local families.

It's somewhat embarassing for the Diocese to have allowed so many schools within its home city to close in recent years. It is true that many of the issues that led to these closings are complex and not easily solved- some of the closings most likely could not have been avoided or prevented. However, the Diocese has responded with no clear strategy or plan to slow or stop the problem. Schools could have been combined, facilities could have been reassigned, or partnerships could have been formed between city schools and their sister schools in nearby suburbs. Instead, nothing was done, and the Diocese of Youngstown is left with only one Catholic grade school within the city limits.

St. Christine is not without its problems. However, it's a great example of what could have been- and what needs to continue to be done to keep Catholic education alive in the city.