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Your Morning Matters: We get letters ...

Though Ohio's latest vaccine lottery is underway, new vaccinations remain in a slump.

Good morning and welcome to your Morning Matters.

It’s Monday, Oct. 11, 2021, and it has been kind of odd celebrating our second anniversary this year. Our "soft launch" and kickoff event was Oct. 9, 2019, which fell on a Saturday and our official launch date was Oct. 10, 2019, as in yesterday. Still, many of you wrote some very kind notes and I wanted to share a few as this has apparently become a two-week anniversary spectacular.

Joanie writes: "Thank you and your staff for the great job! I spend several months in Florida and Mahoning Matters keeps me in touch with my home base. Actually, it keeps me in touch year-round as I look forward to reading it every day! You certainly provide a much needed service to the Mahoning Valley ... I wish you continued success."

Thanks, Joanie! Lori writes: "I just want to thank you for providing this wonderful service. It really keeps me up to date on so many things and it is so informative. It fills a much-needed gap in our area. ... And thank you for the gift card giveaway that you are doing. Of course I'm hoping to win one but even if I don't I think it's very thoughtful, kind and generous of you to do this. I'm looking forward to you providing this valuable newsletter for many more years to come."

So do we! Thea Nixon will be working to reveal our big winners this week — keep those fingers crossed! Meanwhile, local treasure Fred Schuster writes "It's been [an] amazing two-year ride with Mahoning Matters. I hope and know the ride will grow and intensify."

Thanks Fred! Last week I mentioned our many partners and the Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County has been supportive from the start. Aimee Fifarek, director and CEO, writes, "I want to write a quick note to congratulate you … on two years of Mahoning Matters! I hope that you and your entire team are proud of the work you’ve done — during a global pandemic nonetheless! — [to provide] news to the Mahoning Valley. I also want [to] say a big thank you for recognizing Literacy Month in September and encouraging people of all ages to be enthusiastic about reading, whether it is books, magazines, or the daily news. Reading helps us all be informed, be educated, and build empathy by experiencing life through someone else’s viewpoint."

Thanks Aimee and thanks to all who sent — or even thought to send — kind words. 

Let's make today count!

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

The state's new "Vax-2-School" COVID-19 vaccine lottery, aimed at younger Ohioans, doesn't appear to have had a noticeable impact on the state's vaccination rates in the more than two weeks since it was announced.

In August, about 10,000 Ohioans each day got their first shot, but the rate of new vaccinations in the state has gradually tapered since then. The vaccination rate came back marginally last week (46,268) after hitting a two-month low for the week ending Oct. 2 (39,273). Reporter Justin Dennis takes a look at the COVID-19 trends from the past week.

Other matters

This week, columnist Liz Dreier has compiled her own list of "10 household items we can live without." But don't worry, she says, "I am not talking about my husband." So what is she talking about? Mahoning Matters

Among the local movers and shakers featured in today's Business Updates are Rulli Bros., Professional Development Center, Trumbull County Job Placement Welcome Center and Youngstown Area Goodwill Industries. Mahoning Matters

Looking ahead to a busy week in the Valley in Weekday Matters, we have Mark Tessler's lecture today at the Jewish Community Center of Youngstown, singer-songwriter Christopher Cross performing at Robins Theatre Tuesday and Thursday's free Sweetest Day Dance at the Packard Music Hall. Mahoning Matters

Bringing home the bacon is not easy these days as pork prices reach record levels, spiking nearly 30 percent compared to this time last year, according to recent data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. We ask "Why?" Mahoning Matters

The Youngstown chapter of Score has named April Torrence its 2021 Woman Entrepreneur of the Year. The Business Journal [May encounter paywall.]

A dispute between Mahoning County Prosecutor Paul Gains and attorney Martin Desmond, who challenged Gains for his job in 2020, comes to a head Oct. 27. The Vindicator [May encounter paywall.]

On Friday at Movies 8 in Boardman, a movie called “Youngstown” will make its Youngstown-area premiere. It's the story of a woman in the witness protection program. WKBN

Mathews High School head football coach and Valley legend Bill Bohren has earned his 300th win as a head football coach following a 36-0 Mustangs win over Ashtabula's St. John Saturday afternoon. WFMJ

Movers and Makers

Gringo's, a tacos, tequila and mezcal bar, has brought a modern twist on classic Mexican cuisine to downtown Youngstown. Its most popular items include trash can nachos — a mound of tortilla chips atop a paper-lined table with a plethora of toppings — barbacoa which is wrapped in banana leaves and cooked for 12 hours and a churro waffle with cinnamon ice cream for dessert. Mahoning Matters

This story was made possible by Farmers National Bank.

Your comments matter

“How much is their starting wage?”

— Rodney Garrett, on Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers sending corporate employees to ​work in​ its restaurants as fry cooks and cashiers. The decision comes as companies face a nationwide labor shortage amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

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 Youngstown Historical Center of Industry & Labor, 151 W. Wood St., Youngstown, will show the film "El Último Traje" at 6 p.m., with discussion and a presentation by Stephanie Pridgeon, an assistant professor of Hispanic studies at Bates College. The event, part of the Youngstown Area Jewish Film Festival, is free and open to the public. More details can be found 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

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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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