Skip to content

Your Morning Matters: Pondering on pondering

We are expanding our coverage of Youngstown’s mayoral race in several ways this week.

Good morning and welcome to your Morning Matters.

It's Tuesday, April 20, 2021, and every so often I read something that stirs my mind. That's what good writing can do: Provoke you to think, even to act.

To me, a rational response to reading something that provides a fresh perspective is to ponder. And I don't think we ponder enough these days. Instead, we read something and our low-attention span quickly moves us to the next thing. Or we get defensive and seek ways to dismiss a new thought. Or, worse, but far too common, we let another's view or groupthink determine our response. We spend precious little time pondering.

So today, ponder this piece from The New York Times’ morning newsletter from Monday, "Why do so many vaccinated people remain irrationally fearful?" It really caused me to think hard about our condition and conditioning.

In part, David Leonhardt writes, "Covid certainly presents a salient risk: It’s a global pandemic that has upended daily life for more than a year. It has changed how we live, where we work, even what we wear on our faces. Covid feels ubiquitous. ... Yet many vaccinated people continue to obsess over the risks from Covid — because they are so new and salient."

This really struck home for me. I had my coronavirus Freedom Day almost two weeks now. And I haven't really veered much from the patterns of the past 14 months. I'm avoiding people. I judge the unmasked. I require an extra layer of safety to go out. My Facebook profile picture is still emblazoned with “Staying home. Staying safe.”

"Coming to grips with the comforting realities of post-vaccination life is going to take some time for most of us,” Leonhardt writes. “It’s only natural that so many vaccinated people continue to harbor irrational fears." True, but I also think it's important that we all model responsible behavior. How will someone know I'm vaccinated unless I prove it? How will I know others are likewise taking steps to protect society and end this? 

Ponder! And let’s make today count!

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

As part of our ongoing mission to provide readers insight on key stories to help them make informed decisions, we are expanding our coverage of Youngstown’s mayoral race in several ways this week. 

Today, we are featuring the responses from candidates to our wide-ranging questionnaire. Ryan Kelly told us: "Known areas of high criminal activity will not be tolerated in my administration." Julius Oliver noted: "All residents of Youngstown should be angry at our city’s failed response to COVID-19, and the blame falls mostly on our mayor." The incumbent, Mayor Jamael Tito Brown, said: “At various times in our history, there was the belief that you had to either know someone or pay someone in city hall to be successful in Youngstown. … We are transparent in our business operations and are leveling that playing field.”

Also, reporter Ellen Wagner and photojournalist William Lewis sat down with all three candidates, and we’ll feature exclusive stories and videos of those discussions this week.

Pandemic facts

  • In the U.S.: 31,733,400 confirmed cases; 567,666 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University & Medicine at 8 p.m. April 19.
  • In Ohio: 1,054,807 confirmed and suspected cases; 18,991 deaths.
  • In Pennsylvania: 1,109,291 confirmed cases; 25,688 deaths.
  • In the Mahoning Valley: 20,946 confirmed and suspected cases in Mahoning County; 15,627 in Trumbull; and 8,569 in Columbiana.
  • Dow Jones Industrial Average: Closed at 34,077.63, down 123.04 points, or 0.36 percent.

Other matters

Students and staff at Glenwood Junior High School are using grant funding for a Global Youth Service Day project to paint nearly 100 outside panels and bring them back to their original maroon color. Mahoning Matters

The state Controlling Board approved the establishment of the State Fiscal Recovery Fund, which will allow Ohio to accept an estimated $5.5 billion under the recently passed American Rescue Plan to aid the state’s economic recovery. Mahoning Matters

Dr. Anthony Fauci says we’ll likely know by this fall whether booster COVID-19 vaccines will be necessary. His comments come as drugmakers Pfizer and Moderna have indicated a third dose of their vaccines could be necessary. Mahoning Matters

Valley residents who see swarms of bees in upcoming weeks are being asked to not harm them. They are just swarming earlier than usual, and it’s a natural phenomenon, said Canfield resident Mike Klem, vice president of the Columbiana-Mahoning Beekeepers Association. The Vindicator [May encounter paywall.]

The Northeast Ohio economy appears poised to perform better than earlier projected, according to a Team NEO report Monday. The Business Journal [May require registration.]

The Full Spectrum Pride in the Valley Festival is set for July 31 at Warren’s Courthouse Square. The event was virtual last year. WKBN

Former Trumbull Commissioner Dan Polivka, defeated for re-election by Republican Niki Frenchko by a sizable margin in November, has lost his bid to have the Ohio Supreme Court overturn the election results. WFMJ

In case you missed it

Jason’s Marvelous Popcorn, a locally made gourmet popcorn brand, aims to put an elevated twist on a classic snack. The Hubbard-based business offers a variety of flavors, including salted caramel, pecan caramel, cheddar, cayenne cheddar and sea salt and vinegar. Mahoning Matters

This story was made possible by Farmers National Bank.

Your comments matter

“Helping veterans is always a good thing. Awesome to see bipartisan support for all sides for this. Now let’s see who votes no on it.”

Don Harshbarger, on U.S. Reps. Tim Ryan of Howland, D-13th, and Brian Mast, R-Fla., along with U.S. Sens. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, and Rob Portman, R-Ohio, reintroducing legislation to help veterans who have been harmed by exposure to toxic burn pits.

Registered readers can comment on a selection of our stories, and all readers can comment on stories on our Facebook page. Opinions published here do not reflect the views of Mahoning Matters.

Event of the day

The Most Rev. David J. Bonnar, bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Youngstown, will celebrate a memorial Mass and dedicate the Homeless Jesus sculpture in memory of the Rev. Nicholas R. Shori on the fifth anniversary of Shori’s death.The memorial Mass will take place at The Cathedral of Saint Columba at 9:30 a.m., and the sculpture dedication will follow at 10:30 a.m. on the corner of West Wood and North Hazel streets. Due to COVID-19 safety protocols, the Mass may be attended by invitation only, but a livestream will be available here.

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

Story tips

Is there a story you think we should know about? Please tell us at

Let us know what we can do to make this newsletter more useful for you. Send your ideas and thoughts to If you want to get this in your email inbox, sign up here.

Mark Sweetwood

About the Author: Mark Sweetwood

Mark Sweetwood has spent 37 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.
Read more