Thursday, June 28, 2007

are those orange stickers on vacant houses a really bad idea?

With population declining in some neighborhoods in the city, inevitably some houses are vacant.

And as summer progresses, many of these homes have high grass growing around them, extending many inches (if not feet) into the air.

To notify the owners that their lack of grass cutting has broken a city ordinance, the city has placed large orange stickers on the windows of the main entrances to the home to notify the occupants of the situation.

But to solve the primary problem, is this policy creating a secondary problem that's even worse?

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At some point, the grass is cut at the house.

It's mowed by concerned neighbors, or the city, or maybe it even doesn't get cut in a reasonable time.

But what's now apparent, for everyone to see is that there is a bright, eye-catching, orange sticker alerting any person driving or walking by the possiblity of a completey vacant house.

In fact, the orange sticker is crying out:

"Hey, I'm free for the taking. Please steal my copper pipes. Please break my windows. Please perform other illegal activities inside."

And to say the least, some residents are really upset that the city has taken the step of marking these houses in this manner. Here is a nice article from the Youngstown Vindicator looking at the problem in Boardman.

Wow, if it's bad there, imagine what the case is like if they were to look in the city.

Metro residents claim that not only do the orange stickers look ugly, but they make other houses around them look bad as well.

So here are some questions:

What is the intent of these orange stickers?

Is it to alert the owners of their violation? Are there other ways to accomplish this goal without producing a visible sign of vacancy to all who pass? If the house is vacant, then is an orange sticker really useful if no one is there?

Youngstown has some neighborhoods that are labeled "in transition" by city leaders. They are the ones starting to slip down the slope of disinvestment and will either rebound or fall into oblivion . . .

The central quandry I want to leave with all of you readers is this:

Are these orange stickers helping our neighborhoods, or speeding up their downfall?

- - - - - - - -

And speaking of things growing like crazy, nine, count em, nine new blogs have been recently added to the Youngstown blogging machina. Good luck to them.

Please update your reading lists and blogrolls accordingly.
and finally, our congressman is now blogging (with much frequency) at his site:

come on in folks, the water's warm. start your own blog!

and welcome to the party . . .

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Public Planning Meeting will be the first of many

Tomorrow (Wednesday) kicks off an important step in the Youngstown 2010 Planning Process - The very first public planning meeting will be held at the D.D. and Velma Davis Education and Visitor's Center at Fellows Riverside Garden (7pm) to discuss ideas about what is currently being called the Garden District.

This neighborhood, the first of nearly 130 within Youngstown City limits to be planned, is bordered on 2 sides by Mill Creek Metroparks. It is also hugged by Calvary Cemetery to the west and Mahoning Avenue on the north.

Public meetings like these are priceless to the City Planning Department as it gives them an opportunity to hear directly from the residents of that area. Without that valuable input, it can be difficult to determine exactly what the best plan for an area is.

If you live in the area, if you don't live in the area, if you want to move to the area, or if you have ever passed through the area to get to Fellows, please try to contribute to this discussion. You can have a say in what happens here.

The format will be somewhat informal, with the Planning Department presenting several preliminary thoughts, ideas, and observations about the neighborhood. These rough ideas are meant to initiate discussions by the public about what may or may not work in this particular neighborhood. From there, the Planning Department will have some material to work with to generate new and improved plans, which will again be presented in a public forum at a later date.

Be there and be vocal.

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In addition (and because it wouldn't be a Youngstown Planning Meeting if they didn't use Youngstown-based technology) participants will be using Turning Technologies' audience response system.

During the presentation, the public will have the ability to voice 'Yay' or 'Nay' the ideas with the touch of a button.


'Garden District' Public Planning Meeting

June 27, 2007 7pm

D.D. and Velma Davis Education and Visitor's Center

Fellows Riverside Garden

And then there was one

The Kickball League of Ohio's inagural season is coming to an end this Wednesday at Pemberton fields in Lansingville Heights. Over a hundred players on 7 teams have swarmed the fields over the last several weeks to compete for a chance to win the ultimate in kickball glory - The Coors Light Cup.

4 teams will enter the semi-finals at 6pm. 2 teams will make it to the final game at 7pm. Only 1 team will walk away a winner.

But while there can only be 1 winner, this all adult league has provided fun and entertainment for everyone involved...eeeexcept maybe the unidentified girl in this video:

Since the first games at the beginning of May, the Kickball League has risen in popularity and now has a dedicated following that will continue to make it grow season after season. If this type of hoopla is just the sort of thing that has been missing from your Wednesday nights, come out to the fields and cheer for your favorite team. Also, consider signing up for the fall season on the kickball website and be a part of the growth. The games start August 29 and will be played under the lights at Pemberton as the days get shorter.

(Oh, and by the way, the first 8 teams to register get a free $100 bar tab at one of the sponsor bars. So, what are you waiting for!)

Friday, June 22, 2007

donnie iris concert tonight, he's using technology "youngstown style"

Tonight Donnie Iris and The Cruisers will be playing at the new stage built next to the refurbished B&O train station downtown.

Big Don plays shows all around the country, but when he comes to Youngstown tonight, the setup will be a little different.

You see, down by the Mahoning River, the fans will have the ability to choose the next songs Donnie and his band will play.


By using technology developed at the Youngstown Business Incubator.

The wireless keypads from Turning Technologies will be passed out to the crowd.

The public chooses, and instantaneously, Turning's Technologies calculates the vote totals.

Is this the first time in the nation technology has been used for this reason?

And the band played on . . . down by the B&O.

- - -

Donnie Iris and The Cruisers
Friday, June 22

Outdoor Stage
B&O Station
530 Mahoning Avenue
Downtown Youngstown

All tickets general admission.
Gates open 6:30 pm
Opening act, 8:00 pm
Donnie Iris & The Cruisers 9:00 pm

Thursday, June 21, 2007

june 2007 youngstown YouTube recap

When uploading a YouTube clip a few days ago, I was able to see some other Youngstown videos that had been posted recently.

One was a music/photo compilation of The Human Beinz, under the banner of Youngstown's Rock and Roll History set to their cover of "Turn on Your Love Lights". (embedding not enabled, so you'll just have to click here to see it)

I remember going in this kid's house down on my street on day, walking in, and thinking "why the heck are all these gold records and rock posters from Japan wall-to-wall inside this tiny little house".

Well, the answer: it was the house of one of The Human Beinz.

Their most famous song is titled "Nobody But Me" and as soon as you hear it, you'll recognize it. Here is a clip from Kill Bill the movie with the song playing in the background.

Or to hear the full version, you might want to watch this cinematic experience: (For some reason, it reminds me of a Russ Meyer film)

And some other clips, an interview with local rapper 2Fly Keith Logan talking about how its done in the 330:

Here is an animated computer-generated ride on the Jack Rabbit from Idora Park. the music is a little creepy.

Or if you want to experience the real thing from a camcorder:

You can do the same for the Wildcat, another coaster that is now gone from the city's amusement park.

And finally, a cover shoot collection for ther latest Metro Monthly.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Fête de la Musique : Youngstown Tree Day

June 21st will soon be upon us.

And on that day thoughout all of France begins the Fête de la Musique.

That night, the longest of the year and the beginning of summer, music is overflowing in the streets.

From petite villages to Paris, musicians perform on stage, musicians perform in the alleys, and anyone can play their own music late into the night. In fact, amateur musicians are encouraged to play wherever they want (Faites de la musique).

Only on this date, under French law, there is no sound restriction at nighttime. One can play their flute and dance down the avenues until dawn.

The concept started by the French Ministry of Culture in 1982, and has since spread to other parts of the world.

- - -

So the question is, can we starting something like this in Youngstown?

- - -

But a new tradition that is starting in Youngstown also takes place on June 21st. (tomorrow, mark your calendars)

The first day of summer has been deemed "Youngstown Tree Day," and the first official "Tree City Planting Ceremony" is set to take place in front City Hall (on West Boardman St., between S. Phelps and S. Hazel) at 10:15 AM. As a first step towards Tree City, USA status, the Tree City Planting Ceremony is a significant and symbolic event that will replace a derelict tree grate crippled by a trash receptacle.

Click here to read a previous post about the trees who have carried us on their branches.

This effort is geared to make Youngstown the newest and proudest Tree City in the country.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

the cookie table: a youngstown tradition

I remember the moment.

It was 1998 and I had to go to a wedding in Dayton.

The ceremony was beautiful.

The bride was stunning.

The filet mignon was succulent.

The band with their horn section rocked the house.

and as the evening progressed, I went searching for the cookie table.

- - -

Only there was no cookie table.

worst wedding ever.

- - -

People from this region may remember the first wedding reception they attended without a cookie table. The initial shock of not having a cookie table is difficult for the soul. But it also shows us how there are some traditions out there that are weaved into the core of our beings, which you can't find everywhere throughout the country.

The cookie table is one of those traditions that makes this region special.

- - -

Simply put, the cookie table is Youngstown.

It's festive and it's dynamic and it's diverse.

Your friends, your family, your caterers - all come together in the days before the wedding to make dozens and dozens upon dozens of cookies and minature cakes.

Even though the cookie table has its history in many countries throughout the world, immigrants from the region popularized it, and the variety of today's cookie tables reflects what happens when people thoughout the world begin to co-habitate in the same city.

At a typical Youngstown cookie table, regardless of the ethnicity of the couple, you'll find kolachi from Poland, pizelles from Italy, torte from Germany, kataifi from Greece, bobalki from Slovakia, buckeyes from Ohio, clothespins, canoli, kisses, and those little tiny cheesecakes with the cherries on top.

You bring cookies, you eat cookies, and you take home some cookies in your to-go boxes. That's the tradition.

And interesting enough, a good cookie table usually means your guests will be content.

The bride might be homely, the best man may have given a horrible speech, and the cavatelli might not be cooked enough, but if you ever hear . . .

"Frank, did you see the size of that cookie table? Good heavens!!"

. . . chances are your guests will go home happy.

Friday, June 15, 2007

youngstown, come on down . . .

Wow. Now this is a suprise.

Found this story in the Toledo Free Press today:

Entrepreneur starts game show restaurant

Taking a bite of the Bob Barker burger is only one factor that will make the Game Show Grill stand out among other themed restaurants.

Michael Shaw, the developer of what will be Game Show Grill LLC, is co-opening his first game show themed restaurant in Youngstown, OH this September.

Shaw came up with the idea one day by a stroke of luck, and with the prospect of opening in Japan on the horizon, talk of the restaurant going international is taking place, he said.

“It's just another themed restaurant,” Shaw said. “But what makes it different is how the people are involved.”

With over $1 million in expenses, plans for the restaurant include an elaborate stage, professional lighting and all the sex appeal expected on any regular television game show's stage. Also, patrons will be able to compete for cash and prizes, he said. A number of high-tech arcade games will be available as well. Patrons will have the option of skiing in the Alps or surfing in the ocean. A gift shop will be available, where a large number of board games will be sold, he said.

“We want to do it in markets that are being overlooked by big time market operators,” he said.

The concept is stretched to medium- and small-size cities because, most of the time, those are the communities that are crying out for new things to do, Shaw said.

Some contact has been made with Sony, the company that owns the Game Show Network, as well as cable companies for possible TV spots. Until he hears for them, Shaw continues to brainstorm and build.

“My role will be to do what I do,” he said. “I'm an idea guy.”

- - -


Wednesday, June 13, 2007

350 show up for streetscape 2007

The recent Streetscape event was a big success. Hundreds of people showed up downtown to plant flowers, clean up the gateways, and enjoy the summer sun.

Many of the participants have told me of their disappointment that the local paper of record did not cover the event. To the Vindicator's credit, they did publish this story a few days before the event.

Here's the t-shirt that was given to every participant:

10 Years and Growing

The projects were spread throughout the city, mainly along Federal Street, but even near St. E's and parts of the south side.

And the tools were ready for the taking . . .

Many flowers were planted in garden bunkers, especially along the medians . . .

And cleaning up outside what will soon become the Huntington Bank Building . . .

Local artist Bob Barko displays his latest creation in progress . . .

Working on the island at the epicenter on our city . . .

And after it was all over, everyone was treated to a feast of greens, pizza, cavatelli, and baked chicken.

While the hundreds of people were relaxing under the big tent, music filled the Central Square, as shown in this video:

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

the great storm of 2007

Well, we survived the big storm. Looking at the radar on Friday, this was coming our way. Kinda gives you that "oh crap" feeling for a moment.

The Aftermath

In Wick Park, trees were down all over the place. One big tree would hit another, taking it out - a domino effect. Notice the person in this picture to see the scale of the damage.

Trees crushed two cars in Mill Creek Park, and many parts of the park, including the Old Mill, remain closed due to storm damage. Here is a downed tree stretching onto Wick Avenue:

Calvary Cemetery was ripped apart, with lots of houses damaged on the west side. And in front of St. Mary's on Belle Vista, another big one was blown over.

The sign showing the entrance of the venerable Golden Dawn was brought down. Inside, they told me this sign had been standing since 1942.

At least it didn't block the entrance. Had some pancakes for $2.00, and two eggs and toast for $1.40.

And a schooner. Best breakfast in town.

Here is the street sign for Federal Street wrapping around the pole:

And a lighting post before the storm . . .

. . . and after the storm.

A window was shattered in the Stambaugh Building:

And a window popped out from one of the top floors of the Reality Building . . .

. . . covering the streets below with glass.

This next set of photos is amazing.

The historical marker in front of the old Warner Theater sheared in two Friday night. I'm not sure of the metal used in the casting, but the shear stress on this piece brought the historical marker into the flowerbed below.

Here is the text of the historical marker telling the story of how the Warner Bros. settled in Youngstown before they went to Hollywood.

After the restoration of the Warner Theater, it was renamed Powers Auditorium (and was almost a parking lot), which is now incorporated into the DeYor Performing Arts Center.

Here is a close up of the place where the marker tore apart.


The Tri-Colored Beech that fell in front of the Romanian Orthodox Church was probably planted in the 1880's when Charles Dayton Arms built the home. It is the largest and oldest specimen in Ohio.
source: Leann Rich, Mahoning Valley Historical Soceity