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Your Morning Matters: Of mice and leaves

Ohio's rate of new COVID-19 deaths is as high as it's been since the winter surge.

Good morning and welcome to your Morning Matters.

It’s Monday, Oct. 18, 2021, and the saddest day of the year for me is the one in October when we have to dismantle our outdoor patio/deck spaces that we affectionately named "The Flamingo Lounge."

Yes, fall is officially underway. And here in Northeast Ohio, that means our gray, rainy season will soon be upon us. And that means my two least favorite things about fall are just around the corner: leaves and the occasional mouse.

We have lots of trees, hence lots of leaves. I try to keep up with the leaves, working to avoid the old bad neighbor expression, "Let God and the neighbors sort them out!" 

At the height of the season, me and the Cub Cadet with the leaf collector can make ONE pass around the property before I have to empty the bins. Usually, I give up amid the onslaught and hire some folks to do the bulk of them. 

Meanwhile, when your property includes a creek, woods, etc., stupid mice unaware of our rodent predator Mikey D will sometimes seek shelter. Mikey, our guard cat, will have none of that. Last year, a chipmunk famously snuck in through the garage. Mikey caught and brought the still very much alive Chip and/or Dale to me. That led to five hours of squeaky mayhem until my wife came home to assist as I needed a partner with an opposable thumb (Sorry, Mikey).

The other day, a mouse decided to drop by, and Mikey romped with him all night. I think he's a bit lonely after Sammy's passing. I was awoken by Mikey chattering excitedly. On the floor was a mouse, severely romped and twitching. Mikey was exhorting him to get up and continue romping. I collected the mouse into a Solo cup and pitched him out the door. Mikey seemed sad that playtime was over.

On Wednesday, I was working at my desk and Mikey appeared with something in his mouth, chattering away. Here we go again, I thought. He spat it onto the floor in front of me. I was relieved that it was just the toy mouse variety. 

But I think he needs a little brother.

Let's make today count!

Here's what you need to know about the Mahoning Valley today:

The Ohio Department of Health has reported about 300 more COVID-19 deaths so far this month than in all of September. Ohio's rate of new COVID-19 deaths is as high as it's been since the winter surge.

Like hospitalizations, death reports tend to lag behind reports of new cases, at least two to three weeks. Though the rate of new cases statewide continues to drop — for the third week in a row, the state reported Thursday — mortality reports have steadily increased since the arrival of the coronavirus' delta variant and have not showed signs of slowing. Reporter Justin Dennis has a look at the coronavirus trends.

Other matters

In this week's installment of The Earnheardts, Adam reflects on an oft-used phrase parents tend to make: "When I first started saying, 'I have four kids,' I tried to figure out why I told this to new people I’d meet. I mean, was it a brag ('Look at me! So very virile!') or a plea for patience ('I know I'm a mess, but there’s a reason.') or a cry for help ('Please God, someone take these kids!')?" Mahoning Matters

Among the Valley standouts featured in today's Business Updates are The Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber, The Youngstown Foundation, Hearing Missions Foundation, The Valley Lead Group, the Mahoning County Career and Technical Center, YWCA Mahoning Valley, Romeo’s Pizza, Soft Touch Furniture, American Business Center Inc., RISE Recovery and Blue Technologies. Mahoning Matters

A Gallup poll found many full-time workers in the country are still working remotely during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic — and most expect to continue doing so for the rest of 2022 and longer. Mahoning Matters

Advanced Power’s $1.3 billion South Field Energy combined-cycle electrical plant not only provides enough energy to power more than 1 million homes, it’s also a driver for community development across Columbiana County. The Business Journal [May encounter paywall.]

St. Patrick’s Church in Hubbard announced on Facebook that its former pastor, Father Timothy O’Neill, 81, died Saturday. O’Neill retired in 2015 after 22 years at St. Patrick’s. WKBN

The Crestview Local School District's temporary mask mandate will expire tonight. The announcement came via a post on the district's website, as well as in the form of a letter from district superintendent Matthew T. Manley. WFMJ

Movers and Makers

Nearly a year after establishing J Jeneé Spa & Wellness inside Excalibur Barber Grooming Lounge in Boardman, owner Jasmine Hampton will celebrate a relocation to Excalibur’s newest location in Girard with a grand opening Oct. 25. Mahoning Matters

This story was made possible by Farmers National Bank.

Event of the day

The public is invited to a Community Pride Picnic from 1 to 2 p.m. today at the Youngstown Foundation Amphitheatre. The free event is an effort to unite the city, the Youngstown City School District and the East and Chaney high school football teams. There will be food and music, and players and coaches from both teams will be in attendance to shake hands and take pictures. East and Chaney will face off at 7 p.m. Friday at Rayen Stadium. Tickets for the game can be purchased at the ticket window at the stadium.

To see what else is going on around the Mahoning Valley, check out Mahoning Matters’ event calendar here, or click the Events tab on the top menu at

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Mark Sweetwood

About the Author: Mark Sweetwood

Mark Sweetwood has spent 39 years working in the local news business. For more than a decade, he served as managing editor of The Vindicator. He also teaches journalism at YSU.
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