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EDITOR’S NOTE: Many of these letters are written by long-time contributors of the Letters to

Saturday, August 31, 2019

EDITOR’S NOTE: Many of these letters are written by long-time contributors of the Letters to the Editor column, while others are from individuals who have been part of the paper’s history.

Vindy helped to bring in state office building. revitalize downtown

I am writing to share my recollection of how the Voinovich State Office Building in the central business district of downtown Youngstown came about.

As Gov. George V. Voino-vich’s area liaison in the now defunct Governor’s Regional Office in Youngstown (created by the late Sen. Harry Meshel), I had the privilege of coordinating the interest of the office of Gov. Voinovich, Mayor Patrick Ungaro and Mark Brown, general manager of The Vindicator, in developing an Ohio state office building in downtown Youngstown. This was viewed by many as the key to the revitalization of the decaying central business district.

The stars were aligned to chase this elusive goal. Ungaro, a Democrat, and Voinovich, a Republican, had a special relationship. That alliance, with the strong support and encouragement of Mark Brown and The Vindicator, pushed relentlessly for a state building in the downtown.

I had inadvertently crossed paths with an urban planner who knew of state buildings developed in smaller cities in other states by rehabilitating abandoned department stores and filling them with state agency leases. The leases paid for the rehabilitation of the building. This pointed to a way a state building could be developed in Youngstown. The reason (excuses) usually given by state officials over decades for the lack of a state building in Youngstown was the insufficient number of state agencies in this area.

Mayor Ungaro, Bertram de Souza, representing Mark Brown, and I met with then Gov. Voinovich’s Chief of Staff Paul Mifsud who promised us if we could develop a building, the governor’s office would guarantee us the leases, if there was no increase in rent over the what the state was currently paying. The political cost to the Voinovich administration was significant, but they kept their word, something I have long admired.

The first choice for rehabilitation was the abandoned eyesore – the Higbee building. That effort, as attractive as it was for the purpose of historical preservation, became financially untenable. The parties then set their sights on building a new facility. At first, that also seemed too expensive to meet the state’s demand not to have the state lease costs increased. Through the relentless efforts of Pat and Mark, additional funds were secured through two state capital-budget cycles. State Rep. Sylvester Patton kept a close watch over those funds. Then Mark, as the chairman of the Youngstown Community Improvement Corp., and Reid Dulberger, formerly of the Youngstown-Warren Regional Chamber, developed the detailed financing, and they led the effort to complete the project. That success eventually led to the demolition of the Higbee building and the expansion of the Voinovich Building.

Arguably this was a major catalyst to the revitalization of Youngstown’s central business district. Many other institutions and individuals have made significant contributions to bring downtown Youngstown back to life. The city has moved forward in ways unseen at that time. As a long-time observer of this saga, allow me to share with the current and future leaders that there needs to be a sustained effort to keep pushing forward, or decay will set in again.

Dr. William Binning, Poland

Dr. Binning is former chairman of the political science department at Youngstown State University and a former liaison to former Gov. George Voinovich.

Former columnist Nancy W. Beeghly remains grateful for time at newspaper

As I was reading the final Sunday edition of The Vindicator, one piece of wisdom came to mind: A sign posted on the last tree standing among a forest felled for development was this: “We never appreciate what we have until it is gone.”

Tears welled up along with a smile as I read Bertram’s final column.

Then I applauded the final Sunday editorial supporting a boarding school for at-risk kids “who deserve a chance to succeed.” So much more shines with the integrity threaded through 150 years of publication.

When Betty Brown Jagnow offered me a space as a columnist, she saw a gift in me that I did not see in myself. I am grateful for those wonderful 12 years of writing and meeting the good people in our Valley.

Paul Jagnow gave me the best advice on writing in the fewest words in his corner office that first day on the job. Strunk and White, “The Elements of Style” was his bible.

Jane Tims and I shared the joy of that space and our friendship.

Editors gave us free range and referred to us as “Frick and Frack.”

Ernie Brown and Dennis Mangan were our favorites among others. The men and women at the copy desk spotted any glaring errors.

The wise Ben Franklin once wrote that he would rather have strong newspapers than a strong government.

And here we are: It is with great pride that I celebrate the 150 years of faithful publication. We appreciate in these final days what we had the luxury to take for granted all those years. Thank you, Betty and Mark and the thousands of journalists who have upheld the history and integrity of The Vindicator.

Nancy W. Beeghly, Lowellville

Vindicator thanked for support for hospital

On Aug. 15, 2018, Northside Hospital announced its planned closure for Sept. 20, 2018. As the one-year anniversary approaches, it’s like remembering a death and all that was lost with that death. The closure caused 468 employees of Northside Hospital to lose their jobs. The closure caused the community to have limited health-care services in the Youngstown area. The closure caused a trickle-down effect to surrounding businesses and jobs. The closure caused the community to lack a nurse to advocate for them, the patient.

As I want to remember Northside Hospital, I am recognizing all the support The Vindicator gave to the nurses of Northside Hospital as they covered our story for decades. The Vindicator covered the story of Youngstown General Duty Nurses Association (YGDNA) at Northside Hospital as we, the nurses, went through many hospital owners. The newspaper covered and delivered the story and message of the nurses fighting for better patient care and for better working conditions for the nurses.

The Mahoning Valley has experienced many job loses within this last year: Northside Hospital, General Motors Lordstown and The Vindicator. All these closures have created many other job loses that are not in the spotlight. These closures have created a loss of the fight for workers and now the loss of covering the story of that fight. Remember the fight is in all of us, and you carry it to the next thing you do.

The fight tries to continue for the building of Northside Hospital as many ask from all directions and disciplines, “What’s happening with Northside Hospital?” I would like that answer, too. No inquiries nor interest have been made to the nurses’ union in this regards.

Again, I look to remember Northside Hospital, and thank The Vindicator for covering our story for decades.

In remembering Northside Hospital,

Laurie Hornberger, R.N., Youngstown

Hornberger is former and last president of Youngstown General Duty Nurses Association (YGDNA), former employee of Northside Hospital of 13 years and life-long resident of Mahoning County.

Letters to Editor was most valuable service

It is with sadness that I say goodbye. However, it is with gratitude that I say “thank you.”

The Vindicator has truly been the lifeblood of our community. Personally following each of us from our notice of birth, through our graduation days, to marriage announcements and, yes, sometimes divorces as well. If there is an upside, I am happy to say my obituary has not been part of this shared life journey ... yet.

Each and every employee has been the stewards of our community. There is no need to remind us of our decades of problems. Oh, let’s call it what it is, crime and corruption. Most offensive, those in public positions who swore to represent our best interests, and instead repeatedly served themselves. Would you have known of the deeds or the outcomes if The Vindicator wasn’t doing the work to inform and truly protect us and our hometown?

I am aware this is my last letter to the editor, but having the ability over the years for myself and those who wanted to voice their opinion through this column, to do so is appreciated.

On a personal note. Bertram and I didn’t always agree on particular individuals or issues, but we listened to and respected each other’s viewpoint. Even if afterward we still disagreed. To David Skolnick, I can’t imagine anywhere else you will find the continuous political fodder to fill column after column. Only in Youngstown. Yet, you did so with an underlying dry humor.

In closing, to the people of my hometown, you now have to pay attention, inform yourselves, and act when any person or entity attempts to do our community harm. Why? Because we will no longer have those at our hometown paper doing it for us. It will leave a massive void.

To the entire staff of The Vindicator, a sincere thank you and blessing on all future endeavors.

Maggy Lorenzi, Youngstown

Veteran letter writer laments paper’s closing

As the Vindicator closes, I and countless other readers near and far keep struggling to understand why such an excellent newspaper is closing.

I have always believed The Vindicator was a super great newspaper with talented writers with an interesting style of writing that was informative, entertaining, impacting knowledge, and with helpful advice material.

My family, relatives and everyone we know read The Vindicator as long as I remember. Many considered the newspaper to being a news letter.

As a child being raised in the country in a place call “Stop 18 Rd.”, now known as Struthers-New Castle Road, one of my chores was to stand at the end of our driveway while one of my parents watched to see if I was looking up and down the road to cross the road to the mailbox to collect the mail and newspaper. I would bring it into the living room and place it on the coffee table. After supper, my mother would read the newspaper to her parents, (my grandparents) Baba and Dedo Dasirko, over the years. There are more than a thousand newspapers locked in a suitcase for me to read.

At 89 years of age I have learned time and age are great teachers and I inherited a great deal of knowledge from The Vindicator.

I learned the things in life that should be treasured and kept and other things that should be discarded.

With all the working places in our Valley closed none hurts me more than The Vindicator closing.

As a life-long writer, The Vindicator was my family. I’m happy that I kept all the letters of mine that the paper published.

To The Vindicator, I will always love, respect, and appreciate you for being special. As a reminder, remember when it rains some of the rain drops are my tears.

God bless you.

Mary Lou Jurina, Youngstown

Vindicator will never be forgotten by readers

I cannot imagine a world without The Youngstown Vindicator. Your paper has been in my family for over 100 years; starting with front page national headlines to the comics full of daily chuckles.

Your newspaper managed to balance truth in our world for its readers to digest. I feel it was not tipped by political party influence as some syndicated papers are, which print with rose-colored glasses while ignoring the real problems. The Vindicator played a fair hand in reporting the news to its customers.

Well-known architect Frank Lloyd Wright would say, “The truth against the world.” Your paper is a fine example of that statement. I only wish our society could understand the importance of complete honest reporting.

In closing, I wish to thank all the staff that brought this newspaper together. May God bless everyone involved for their behind-the-scenes professionalism. The Youngstown Vindicator shall never be forgotten by its readers, who put their trust in the great stories which informed our Valley for many, many years. Thank you!

Paul Lawson, Youngstown

Our Valley will suffer with loss of Bertram de Souza’s voice

Words cannot describe how unfortunate our community and the entire Valley will be when The Vindicator shutters its presses.

But what will really be regrettable, for our community, is that the voice of the antagonist of the Mahoning Valley – Bertram de Souza – will be silenced.

I am sure (because I know for sure) there is a long list of public and private figures who are dancing in jubilation. But I will not be one of them. I will not be one of them because I know and appreciate what he did. Sometimes he was wrong. So what. Who amongst us has not been wrong? He performed a vital function for us that will be lost forever. Because his voice will be silenced, our community will not be safer nor will it be more transparent nor will we find out nuggets of information only he could gather. After today’s final edition, it will all be gone.

Bertram was brutal to me at times and sometimes downright hurtful when he wrote about me or the things I tried to accomplish. If I said it didn’t hurt me, I would be lying.

To those who are happy he will be gone, shame on you for either being thin-skinned or having zero appreciation a free press plays in our democracy.

To those who are happy that his voice will be gone, I know you were the first ones who would grab the Sunday paper and flip to his page before reading anything else.

To borrow a line from a famous movie: We need someone on that wall. (He was our someone).

When that wall is gone, we will not be enriched, rather we will be unguarded and less safe from the corruption that has haunted us for decades.

In my final analysis, I never really liked all the things Bertram said about me (so I guess as a person not one of my favorites), but also in my final analysis I respected his role and I appreciated we had a “Bert”.

Good luck to you, sir.

You did the Valley a great service.

David J. Betras, Esq., Canfield

Atty. David Betras is former chairman of the Mahoning County Democratic Party.

Relevance, legacy of Vindicator to live on

Todd Franko’s column (“Closing a Legacy,” Vindicator, Aug. 18, 2019, page A2) shared some of the details about today’s final milepost edition of The Vindicator, marking the end of a long legacy.

As I digest what’s about to happen at the end of this month, I realize that The Vindicator all along has been both concurrent family member and forebear. I want to suggest that, as this local newspaper has been archived over the long years – preserved from one generation to another – The Vindicator is actually a community heirloom.

Whether on microfilm or through some digital platforms, we all can journey back through time and take another, perhaps closer, look at the pieces of our past. True enough, researchers devour the archived Vindicator. As the Genealogy and Local History librarian of the Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County, I’m reminded of just a few of the many ways citizens stroll through the old pages of our “media diary:” to find the flex of their athletic prowess; to locate obituaries and other articles for a family tree; to understand more fully the complexity of local politics; to see Mom again on her wedding day; to contemplate the sacrifices of our soldiers; and to find a lost poem. Whether the stories were uplifting or demoralizing, emblematic of great triumphs or inevitable tragedies, or reminders of how our lives can seem both bland and uncanny, The Vindicator is our permanent wellspring.

The Vindicator’s sole role in our community is about to become ancestral. As parent to so much information about our lives, we will need to call on it for guidance as we move forward. The past instructs, and we are fortunate indeed to have a way to restore our memories. So, I say to all of The Vindicator employees and staff, with sincere appreciation and esteem, that the relevance of The Vindicator will continue. The legacy lives on.

Tim Seman, Youngstown

Closing a surprise

I really did not expect the Vindy to close even though it was obvious that things were changing in the industry. While not always in agreement with the columns of Bertram de Souza, I enjoyed his perspective on politics! Good luck

Vindicator covered all the bases well

I have been a long- time reader of The Vindy. I recall midday deliveries. I want to commend the paper for excellent coverage of all events: news, sports, local, state, national, and world events.

As a note, all of my grandchildren were Vindicator carriers. My son’s family delivered The Vindy faithfully for 25 years. When his children left home, my son continued to deliver the paper for a number of years.

I have a complete copy of “These Hundred Years: 1900-2000”.

Dr. John (Bob) Loch, director of University Outreach at YSU created a local Elder-hostel for a period of five or six years. Those 25 or so out-of-town participants lodged at the Holiday Inn and Youngstown Metroplex. The daily schedule included four, 40-minute classes in varied subjects, three daily meds, and evening entertainment. Ann Przelomski provided daily copies of The Vindicator.

As you can tell, I am a history “buff.” I am a graduate of YSU Dana School of Music and former Youngstown City Schools music instructor from 1952-1984, and a “College Over 60 Attendee” from 1984-2017.

Goodbye. God bless you all.

James E. Ramsey Sr. , Poland

‘People’s Paper’ created a sense of community

Much like the once vibrant working-class neighborhood where I delivered it as my first job, the Youngstown Vindicator has been slowly disappearing for a long time. Along with a steady loss of people in Youngstown over the past six decades, circulation numbers and advertising revenue for “The People’s Paper” dropped precipitously; even “Youngstown” disappeared from its name in 1983; and the Rotogravure, a delightful section in every Sunday edition for more than 50 years, ended in 1986.

The handwriting was on the wall, but the local struggle to keep one of America’s oldest newspapers alive valiantly continued until this year when the battle was finally lost, delivering another devastating blow to our community.

In The Vindicator’s last full year of operation, the winning word at the National Spelling Bee, an iconic American educational effort that our hometown newspaper sponsored regionally for 86 years, ironically was “koinonia”, the Greek root for covenantal community. That is precisely what The Vindicator consistently, albeit inadvertently, created for the diverse residents of the Mahoning Valley; and nothing will or really can replace it. For The Vindicator was unique.

First, there is this long-standing connection to families, mine and theirs. My two older brothers, Gary and Art, worked for years as Vindicator distribution managers; and my younger brother, Gunther, once covered three newspaper routes simultaneously. Local family ownership lies at the core of The Vindicator’s identity, and placed it in a triumphant league of its own at a time when a handful of voracious media conglomerates routinely sucked the remaining lifeblood out of their struggling victims. The Vindicator refused to succumb to that vulture culture and maintained its local family roots throughout its long lifetime allowing it to die with dignity.

Secondly, and more importantly, The People’s Paper was instrumental in fostering a sense of community as well as a strong work ethic in our region.

In the last scene of a classic love story by the same name, Cyrano de Bergerac, mortally wounded by his enemies, brings the daily gazette to his beloved Roxanne and dies triumphantly in her arms. The author fails to say what happened to Roxanne after his death, but it is highly likely that the absence of her daily news bringer and revealed lover left a wound in her heart which did not heal, much like it will in our communal heart with the tragic but triumphant death of our daily gazette, The Vindicator.

Werner Lange, Newton Falls