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Top memories of 2009
December 24, 2009 - Joe Gorman
Winding down 2009, I thought I'd look back at my top memories of the year. Not necessairly in order of importance or by the biggest stories, but just what I remember. So here they are, in no particular order:
-- 1. Warren drug raids. It was an impressive sight the day before Thanksgiving to see 100 cops converge on five different spots in the city -- and if you take an Elm Road N.E. location out of the picture, there were about 80 cops crammed into an area probably no more than five square miles wide. Even some of the guys I saw loitering outside neighboring homes with their pit bulls in their gang colors were impressed. If it was just a big show is too soon to tell, but I would not want to have been a bad guy on the streets that day.
2. The V&M Saga. This turned into a soap opera with all kinds of intrigue and treachery after Girard Mayor James Melfi balked at a land transfer agreement with Youngstown for the proposed V&M Star Steel expansion project because he thought the city was not being fairly compensated. Makle no mistake: Despite what they said publicly about trying to work things out, there was an intense animus on both sides throughout the entire affair. I think one of the factors that forced them to make a deal was that no one could have lived down the shame if they had sunk the project. All that's left now is for V&M to give their yay or nay to the project.
3. Double titles. Ursuline and Mooney rode impressive ground games to state high school football championships, capping off a decade of dominance for the diocese in which Mooney won four titles and Ursuline three. The two also played one of the best games of the year in the area, a 27-22 Cardinals win that has to give the Irish an itch for revenge as they retreat to their North Side lair to begin prepping for next year -- which you know both teams are already doing. It was great publicity for Youngstown.
4. The economy. I can not remember a time when cutbacks and freezes and layoffs were more prevelant in the area since the late 1970s and early 1980s. Warren was not in good shape to begin with and there is a mood of pessimissim as to how they will survive the current downturn. When this will end, who knows, but maybe it will force businesses and governments to change the way they do things. But that's probably utopian.
5. The Joe Kaluza project. I was there when they broke ground for Joe Kaluza's home on the South Side and just to be in the presence of the man was a gift because of his honesty, gratitude and humility. The paralyzed KFC manager who was wounded in a robbery can now get some sembalance of life back thanks to the volunteers who built his handicapped accessible home. The project says as much about us as it does him: Despite our faults as a community, we go to the wall for people who deserve it and always come through in a time of need.
6. Traficant. I don't like him, but his release from federal prison generated as much publicity as anything I can ever remember. If he does run for office, expect more, complete with national coverage and unflattering stories about the Mahoning Valley. As I said before, if gets elected, we deserve the scorn.
7. The end of the Mandopoulos era. When Mando, as former Warren police Chief John Mandopoulos is known, decided to step down, it was with a whimper and not a bang, as some would have believed. I doubt the choice was his and that he wanted to go. He was a good cop but that's where he should have stayed: On the street. There is now an aura of quiet professionalism over at the Warren PD which was lacking before.
8. RIP Ken Centorame. It was one year ago today that I was on the phone with former YPD Chief of Detectives Capt. Kenneth Centorame for a story I was working on about two missing person cases. We talked for a long time. He passed away in October from leukemia that he was diagnosed with in January and had a brief respite from in the spring and summer before he became ill again. He was more than a source: He was a mentor and a friend and I miss his company very much. I can't help but remember that conversation last year, struck by the fact that he was one of the few ranking people in any branch of government to be working, but also his good mood.
Sorry, I could only come up with eight, but that's the way it goes when everything is so crazy and time seems compressed. It is my prayer that everyone that reads this has a Merry Christmas and breakthroughs in 2010! I leave it to Luke to close this out.
'There were sheepherders camping in the neighborhood. They had set night watches over their sheep. Suddenly, God's angel stood among them and God's glory blazed around them. They were terrified. The angel said, 'Don't be afraid. I'm here to announce a great and joyful event that is meant for everybody, worldwide: A Savior has just been born in David's town, a Savior who is Messiah and Master. This is what you're to look for: a baby wrapped in a blanket and lying in a manger.'
At once the angel was joined by a huge angelic choir singing God's praises:
Glory to God in the heavenly heights, Peace to all men and women on earth who please him.
As the angel choir withdrew into heaven, the sheepherders talked it over. "Let's get over to Bethlehem as fast as we can and see for ourselves what God has revealed to us." They left, running, and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. Seeing was believing. They told everyone they met what the angels had said about this child. All who heard the sheepherders were impressed.
Mary kept all these things to herself, holding them dear, deep within herself. The sheepherders returned and let loose, glorifying and praising God for everything they had heard and seen. It turned out exactly the way they'd been told! '
Luke 2:8-20 (The Message)
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