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Your Morning Matters: Spider-Man is still king

Election officials in battleground states are still fighting to limit the use of drop boxes with only days left until Nov. 3.

Good morning and welcome to your Morning Matters.

It's Thursday, Oct. 29, 2020, and according to a 2002 list from the Youngstown Vindicator, a costume website listed the top Halloween costumes for adults as Spider-Man, Austin Powers, Elvis, Batman and Snow White. For kids: Spider-Man, SpongeBob SquarePants, Power Rangers, Bob the Builder and Buzz Lightyear. 

Two of the top movies of 2002 were “Spider-Man” and “Austin Powers in Goldmember,” FYI. And “SpongeBob” and “Bob the Builder” were top kids TV shows.

So, 18 years later, the National Retail Federation tells us the top adult costumes for 2020 are witch, vampire, cat, Batman, ghost, pirate, zombie, nurse, princess, doctor and Spider-Man. You can’t go wrong with Spider-Man and Batman, and you can expect a proliferation of doctors and nurses during a pandemic, right?

For kids: princess, Spider-man, ghost, Batman, witch, vampire, characters from “Frozen,” pumpkin and cat. Spider-Man still rules. 

I’m generally impressed by the creativity you see these days, beyond the top-selling costumes. It’s a far cry from my childhood era of the boxed Ben Cooper plastic mask/smock that Mom and Dad would begrudgingly pull down from the attic once a year. We had the generic astronaut, Dr. Doom and, of course, Batman, which featured his name emblazoned across his chest, unlike the real Batman. I think once you dress up like a man-size bat, you don't really need the name, I would have liked to have told the Ben Cooper folks. Maybe pick up a comic book?

Anyway, get ready for the parade of creativity Saturday. Let’s all do our part to keep everyone safe, mask up and let’s be careful out there.

Now, here's what you need to know about the Mahoning Valley today:

In response to safety concerns spurred by the coronavirus pandemic and worries about potential mail delays, drop boxes are popping up all over the country — in many places for the first time. The largely secure voting method has long been available to voters in states like Colorado and Washington. 

But amid the partisan battles over access to the polls, election officials in battleground states are still fighting to limit their usage with only days left until Nov. 3. Reporter Jess Hardin, in collaboration with The Guardian, takes a look at the issues.

Pandemic facts

  • In the U.S.: 8,726,936 confirmed cases; 227,399 deaths, according to at 10 p.m. Oct. 28.
  • In Ohio: 205,347 confirmed or suspected cases; 5,256 deaths.
  • In Pennsylvania: 200,674 cases; 8,718 deaths.
  • In the Mahoning Valley: 3,910 confirmed or suspected cases in Mahoning County; 2,414 in Trumbull; and 2,204 in Columbiana.
  • Dow Jones Industrial Average: Closed at 26,519.95, down 943.24 points, or 3.43 percent.

Other matters

Speaking of elections — and Jess — she takes a look at the Mahoning County Board of Elections, which received a $784,567.21 grant from the nonpartisan Center for Tech and Civic Life, to tell us how that money will be spent. Mahoning Matters

Meanwhile, don’t expect Gov. Mike DeWine to announce further COVID-19 restrictions at today’s 2 p.m. press conference even though 82 out of 88 Ohio counties are considered "high incidence" counties. Counties considered "high incidence" have seen more than 100 cases per 100,000 residents in the past two weeks. Mahoning Matters

A two-year construction project near the Kirk Road trailhead section of the MetroParks Bikeway from Canfield through Austintown, which includes a 300-foot bikeway tunnel under Interstate 76, is now open to bicyclists and pedestrians. WKBN

In a blog published on LinkedIn, General Motors Chairwoman and Chief Executive Officer Mary Barra called Ultium a game-changing electric vehicle platform. GM and LG Chem are constructing a $2.3 billion Ultium battery manufacturing plant in Lordstown. WFMJ

With five days left, the number of voters casting ballots early in Mahoning and Trumbull counties for this election already has exceeded the amount who voted early during the entire 2016 election. The Vindicator [May encounter paywall.]

The City of Youngstown has filed a motion to dismiss a complaint alleging that it acted illegally when it demolished the former Anthony’s on the River building in August. The Business Journal [May require registration.]

In case you missed it

Israeli journalists’ visit to the Mahoning County Board of Elections reminded that all eyes are on the bellwether state of Ohio in this presidential election. Yaron Deckel is a political analyst for KAN 11, and on Tuesday he interviewed a handful of early voters after they cast their ballots at the county’s Oak Hill Avenue elections offices. Mahoning Matters

Your comments matter

“Just continue messaging the community? The people who are willing to wear masks are already doing so. The people willing to put off social gatherings are already doing so. What good is beating a dead horse going to do? What we are doing is not working. Period. What's the new plan?”

Chrissy Blasko, on Mercy Health Chief Clinical Officer Dr. James Kravec’s response to Gov. Mike DeWine’s asking local leaders to “redouble [their] efforts” as COVID-19 cases surge. "I’m not sure [local] government or health departments can do anything. I think you just got to continue messaging to the community,” Kravec said.

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

Experience spirits from the Roaring Twenties come back to life as Fine Arts Council of Trumbull County and Trumbull County Historical Society present “Ghost Walk, the Movie” free through Nov. 1. “Ghost Walk” features all new stories, played out by actors of the past, along with some new faces. To view, go to Fine Arts Council of Trumbull County’s YouTube channel or Trumbull County Historical Society’s website.

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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