Area leaders, business owners, artists

Tressel to miss working with reporters and staff

Over 33 years ago when good fortune brought my family to Youngstown, Joe Malmisur, the YSU athletic director that gave a young assistant coach a chance to be a head coach, emphasized that what makes this place special is the relationships that abound.

The first person Joe Malmisur took me to meet was Chuck Perazich, the sports editor of The Vindicator. We sat in his cramped office and talked for hours. Chuck’s pride in the outstanding teams and athletes from The Valley was obvious. His passion for the complete student-athlete was clear, so much so that he and Joe Malmisur convinced Mrs. Betty Brown that the outstanding male and female student-athletes of the year at YSU should win the “Vindicator Award”.

Throughout my coaching years at YSU, visits continued with Chuck Perazich followed by the likes of Pete Mollica, Jim Nasella, Joe Scalzo, Rob Todor, John Bassetti, Ed Puskas, and many others on the fantastic Vindicator sports staff.

Five years ago as Ellen and I returned to The Valley, renewed relationships with our Vindicator colleagues developed. Frequent stops to “appear” on Louie Free’s radio show provided the opportunity to visit with the team on the second floor. Todd Franko strengthened the relationships on the YSU campus with The Jambar, our journalism department, many students, staff, and administration.

It was particularly rewarding to develop close working relationships with the outstanding professionals assigned to cover YSU, such as Denise Dick, Kalea Hall, Samantha Phillips, Amanda Tonoli, and many others. I always appreciated their thoroughness and attention to detail.

I will miss working with so many good folks from The Vindicator, even Bertram!

Jim Tressel, YSU President

Nonprofits benefited from paper’s coverage

My fondest memory of The Vindicator is Sunday mornings, at my grandparents’ home on Elm Street, sitting on my Grandpa Roth’s lap in his rocking chair, reading the comic section. (I have to confess that many, many years later, I continue to read the comics as my short escape from troubling news stories!)

A few years later, my Brownie troop visited the Mahoning County Home for the Aged. It was in 1958, and the conditions in the facility were deplorable. I was so upset, my mother encouraged me to write a letter to the editor. It was published, and The Vindicator actually printed a response, informing me and the entire readership, that a new facility would be opening in the near future.

Today, as executive director of The Youngstown Foundation, which addresses local needs through thoughtful grantmaking, I am compelled to use this space on behalf of the over 1,000 nonprofit organizations in the Valley who have benefited from The Vindicator’s coverage.

I can’t begin to imagine what the cost has been over the past 150 years to send reporters and photographers to events, press conferences, ribbon cuttings and programs as well as the time spent and the valuable pages devoted to educating its readers on the critical needs and social problems that exist in our community; and most importantly, showcase the services and resources available to assist those who are destitute and suffering.

Most nonprofit organizations operate on limited budgets. This generous reporting and exposure is priceless.

On behalf of the nonprofit community, we are eternally grateful.

Jan Deutsch Strasfeld, The Youngstown Foundation

Goodbye to longtime teacher and friend

I learned to read through Blondie, Denis the Menace, and the Family Circus. I soon graduated to “Personality Parade” and baseball box scores.

The Vindicator taught me what “sandlots” were, directed me to movie theaters, asked me to find the word “MINI” and told me what time “Star Trek” was on (Saturdays at 7 p.m. in my time).

Besides helping me learn how to read, The Vindicator encouraged my learning by fostering questions: “Will Chuck Perazich someday cover my little league team?” or “Why is the Hazel comic not with the other ones?” or “Do Erma Bombeck, Heloise, and Ann Landers share an office on Vindicator Square?

The appearance of The Vindicator “countdown to Christmas” on the front page ushered in the holidays for me. We bought our childhood dog, J.J., from an ad in The Vindicator classifieds.

How much do you value a friend from early childhood that has never left your side? The value is enormous.

I now take care of adults with disabilities and the gravity of the passing of The Vindicator weighs heavily on my heart. They depend upon it mightily. One particular adult, who is autistic and not very conversational, will announce the day, month, and year upon greeting only if he spies it on The Vindicator cover. Without it, morning greetings are forced. I am now again forced to deal with change. The passing of The Vindicator, like the deaths of all things and people that you love, is something I wish my parents and teachers would have better prepared me. Being an adult is tough.

Goodbye, teacher. Goodbye, my friend. I feel your power in your gentile, repeated presence, in my routine in reading you, in you helping me understand the town I deeply love.

Jimmy Sutman, Downtown Youngstown

Unexpected friendships

I grew up on a diverse street in Campbell that ran perpendicular to Super Duper, the local grocery store we walked to several times a week and sometimes twice a day in summer months to buy Debbie snacks with change from the car floor, pop and cigarettes for our mom using a hand-written note from her.

Being the youngest with two older brothers, my childhood is full of memories of me attempting to match their brut or stamina to climb a tree, race bikes, play tackle football ... and have a paper route!

My brother, Tony, lean but impossibly strong, would fold his papers into something only an engineer-in-the-making would think of, pile them in his orange canvas bag and head out. Although I never quite managed to reach Tony’s level of efficiency, I learned that people were relying on me everyday to deliver the news. I also learned that my tips would depend on my ability to meet each person’s preferences. “Put it on the front right corner of my doormat,” or “On Sundays take it to the back door.” And who knew I would find my flair for debt collection, aka stalking, at such a ripe age.

With an aging neighborhood and a true love for the elder population, I often returned after delivery to fulfill an invitation for a visit to sit on the porch with an ice cream or can of pop. I spent countless evenings chatting about “the good ole days” and how I would have loved them while the Cleveland Indians game always seemed to be on a radio nearby.

Delivering that paper was a conduit to unexpected friendships, development of self and a lifetime emotional reaction each time I smell the ink of a freshly printed Vindicator paper.

Sarra Mohn, Jet Creative

‘Don’t stop reading’

I don’t remember the first time I was aware of The Vindicator.

It was just one of those things that was always there.

I guess we all sort of took it for granted. It was simply our newspaper and everybody that I knew got it – usually from the paperboy every day.

I don’t think I ever remembered anybody saying how much they loved it. Or how wonderful it was.

It was simply part of our community.

But now that were told it’s going to be gone after 150 years, that’s a bit of a shock.

Maybe Youngstown is getting used to these things.

It reminds me of that old blues song, “If it weren’t for bad luck, I wouldn’t have no luck at all.”

What can you do? Everything changes.

Just don’t stop reading, because if you don’t read, it’s about the same as if you can’t.

Ed O’Neill, Actor

Coverage a ‘big deal’

Reflecting on how I feel and have felt about The Vindicator over the years and two words kept coming to mind regardless of the time period – credibility and validation.

Being featured in The Vindicator, was and is a BIG DEAL.

Growing up in Western Pennsylvania, I remember the “PA edition” and this seemed like the “Big City” paper as opposed to the local paper. Whenever The Vindy featured our high- school sports teams, it was talked about even though the girls tennis team did not get nearly the coverage they deserved. ;)

Fast forward a few years and as business owner, our first feature in The Vindy, which still hangs in our original location today, not only increased sales and visibility of our business, but on a personal level it felt as if we must be doing something right if The Vindicator felt we were newsworthy.

It is a always a sad day to see a business close. It hurts worse when it’s a family owned business.

When it’s a community institution, it feels like a personal loss.

The closing of The Vindy is all of the these things at once.

Bergen Giordani, owner of One Hot Cookie

Champion of artists

You could find all of the Pernotto families on a Sunday morning in the 1960s looking at the Youngstown Vindicator society pages, the Rotogravure section to count the wedding photos by uncle Steven Pernotto of Botch-Pernotto studios.

There were normally four or five.

They were “artists in photography” and produced covers for Bride magazine. As an artist, I was proud to be covered and illustrated in The Vindy.

Clyde Singer had a weekly art column where I was first recognized. And since I returned from New York City in 2005, Guy D’astolfo has reviewed several of my projects.

The Vindicator has championed artists and entertainers in the area.

Jim Pernotto, Youngstown artist

A better steward

Through 20 plus years in public policy, politics and economic development, The Vindicator has been the organization that we looked to for support and validation. Early in my career, I came to understand that their role was not to befriend me and my colleagues, but to question us, to hold us accountable, to make us better. If we did our homework and made our case, we could look to them for editorial support and stories that appeared “above the fold”- a sure sign that what we were working on was important. They taught me that the media should always be neutral, and that simply because they had “always” supported our initiatives in the past, we couldn’t assume that support would continue. Each and every initiative needed to be thought through, vetted, analyzed and justified, especially if public funding was involved. Support was earned, never just given. It made the organizations that I worked for better, the community stronger, and me a better steward of public trust. I will miss their “devil’s advocacy,” their discernment, and their role in speaking on the Valley’s behalf, both within our community, but also to our public officials in Washington and Columbus.

Barb Ewing, CEO of Youngstown Business Incubator

News consumption

I’ve been searching to find the right words to say about the devastating halt to production on The Vindicator.

I, like so many, remain dumbfounded and speechless. Of course, I am one of the culprits that digests news via online channels predominantly; always considering as one of my primary sources. Somehow i thought this was enough alternative support to the traditional publication; I was unbelievably wrong. I know I’m not alone in that thought process, but I still feel a sense of responsibility for ignorantly contributing to a trend that has negatively effected an entire industry.

Though inevitable, I still have such a heavy heart, but also can’t help but feel the weight of my role as a consumer (or in this case lack thereof).

In my career, I have relied heavily on the news and various media, but this goes beyond any professional relationships; it’s much more personal. In fact, some of my absolute favorite memories of my grandmother included her sitting in “her chair” rocking, and reading her beloved Vindicator cover to cover.

What I realize now as an adult is that she subliminally taught me that consumption of local and national media should be as routine as brushing your teeth everyday. It wasn’t enough to WATCH the news, you had to READ the news.

Kelsey Klim, K Squared Marketing