Roses for Alawn & Landscape Service owners Robin and Brian Falk. The Falks wanted to help out with Salem’s recent cleanup day. Then they arrived and trimmed all the shrubs and donated mulch for Liberty Park. Not only did they deliver and load all the mulch into wheelbarrows, they stayed and helped spread it around all the evergreens. This is an example of a young couple trying to expand business, and, instead of seeing an opportunity to make money, saw an opportunity to give back to the community. Well done.

Roses to Ventra Plastics of Salem. A rule was implemented right before the start of the season in the Columbiana/Mahoning County Girls Fast Pitch Softball League of which the Salem Girls Softball League is a member. The rule stated that any pitcher or infielder would now be required to wear a face guard when playing defense. Salem’s league did not have the funds to purchase this equipment, ($900-$1,000) so it was determined that the parents would be required to buy the masks. This would pose an economic hardship for some parents. Ventra Plastics heard about the situation and stepped to the plate and hit a home run – donating the entire amount of money for the masks.

Roses to Nancy Milliken. For years she has diligently served Columbiana County citizens as auditor. Recently she did it in an unusual way, using some “detective” work in tracking down the office computer central to controversy regarding former treasurer Nick Barborak. The bookkeeping problems with a $5 million investment account in the treasurer’s office and overstating of interest is a hot issue. For the sheer sake of obtaining clarity and full transparency, pay someone who knows what they are doing – it should not be an overwhelming expense – and retrieve any pertinent information on the hard drive. Then make it available to the public. Let’s get past this.

Thorns to the crumbling building on East State Street. Again since it is emerging as a big conversation piece in and out of city hall. Time flies and the Super Cruise will be here lickety-split. That means hundreds of people and vehicles in our downtown. The building poses a huge risk and liability as it now stands. The Super Cruise is a people magnet. With so many making like sardines in a tin can, odds will only increase that someone will get hurt. Think of a stream of people wiggling around the barricade while hot rods are going up and down the street. We have tragically seen what can happen to pedestrians in roadways. A big shame it will be if the city of Salem has to endure a single cent of expense in mollifying the situation. Where’s the accountability? This problem absolutely should never have gotten this far.

Thorns to the times we live in when it comes to a little boy getting punished at a local school. His crime? He made a fist, then extended an index finger and raised his thumb upwards and pointed it while playing during recess. Accent on playing. Think about it. Especially any of you who have ever played cops and robbers, cowboys and Indians, army guys and so on. You get it. We are told the youngster was removed from recess, given a timeout and had a note sent home to his parents saying something about a “zero tolerance” when it come to kids and what someone perceives as pretend guns. A full disclaimer: we get the part about heightened concerns due to school shootings and general terrorism threats. We’re not that stupid. But c’mon now! A 4-year-old pretending he is shooting a Buzz Lightyear laser complete with sound effects on a playground? That is a bit much. As in a huge overreaction. What’s next? Toaster pastry treats outlawed in schools because some kid might fashion one into something vaguely resembling a gun? Whoops sorry, forgot. Already happened. This would be amusing if it hadn’t been so distressing to the child and mother involved. Nothing like giving a little kid a paranoia complex when it comes to wanting to use his imagination. How is he expected to understand what he did was considered wrong? At least by some. Accent on some. As Buzz himself might declare, this strains the bounds of incredulity to infinity and beyond.


Roses for Salem graphic design artist Rustin Rapp. His colorful downtown mural adorns the wooden barricade in front of an East State Street building being renovated. It shows skill and imagination.?Beats looking at blank sheets of plywood. It’s good to see some good graffiti in town. As opposed to the bad. Let’s hope the word “GRIM” doesn’t get spray painted over it by one our town’s many punks. The idea of other murals sounds good too.

Thorns to the ongoing petty thefts. Salem has its share as does Salem Township. Most likely drug freaks. Of course the thefts prompt a question to some of the victims: what would compel you not to lock your vehicle after getting robbed once? It happens more than you would ever believe around here and it’s almost laughable. Trust in leaving a vehicle unlocked only goes so far before stupidity moves in. Those who don’t lock their vehicles are asking for it. They also occupy the time of cops whose time could be better spent helping diligent citizens who do look their cars.

Thorns to the plight of professional sports in Cleveland. The Indians and their Venus de Milo – as in no arms – pitching staff are already firmly entrenched in last place. Memo to current disabled list resident Michael Bourn: if sliding headfirst gets you there faster, wouldn’t track sprinters being doing it when nearing finishing lines??Then there’s the Browns. The biggest news coming out of Berea is that their new owner is in apparent big trouble. The business for which he is CEO got raided by the feds this past week. Maybe the Browns can draft a blue chip defense lawyer in the draft. Very serious fraud charges loom. Then there’s the lovable Cavs. They just whacked their coach – making it three-for-three in the past year for fired coaches and a manager in Cleveland. The Cavs have been one of the worst franchises in the league since you-know-who left. And a top candidate to be the next coach is the defensive-minded Mike Brown who got fired by the same Cavs after consecutive seasons of 66 and 61 wins. By contrast, the Cavaliers won a total of only 64 games the past three years combined.

Roses for the tree blossoms adorning roadways, especially along East State Street. Roses for people who pick up the litter of others. Thorns to those who litter in our parks with complete disregard for fellow residents and nature itself as pointed out by a reader. These include people who eat lunch in the parks and discard the waste anywhere but in a trash container. We are always amazed by the litter on bike, hiking and walking trails. Sometimes it’s deep into the trail which means whoever does it is presumably a biker, hiker or walker because punks wouldn’t bother walking that far into a trail to litter. Those people are usually the most environmentally-conscious among us.

Roses to kind-hearted and well-grounded young people. We are fortunate to have many throughout our communities. Reflects a solid support system from parents, grandparents, teachers, coaches and/or other solid adult role models. We like to point out special deeds done by special children. Such as Western Reserve Elementary School students who collected spare change. Fourth-graders Hannah Rowbottom, Alaina Fitch, Sabra Nicopolis and Reese Snyder came up with an idea to collect loose change. A lot of loose change. Their effort, “Change for Change,” resulted in over $1,000 being collected by students from all classes at the school. The above mentioned young ladies spent their recess time over two weeks counting and rolling the change. The money was used to purchase hats, gloves and blankets for the homeless. Also $925 was donated to the Second Harvest Food Bank. That organization was able to buy nearly $14,000 worth of food. “Change for Change” was a culminating activity to bullying/empathy lessons delivered to all Western Reserve elementary students. They were encouraged to develop an understanding of standing in someone else’s shoes. It worked.