Jeff Durbin resigns after 23 years as Lake coach

By Todd Porter Canton Rep

lake.jeff-durbinLAKE TWP.  One of the longest tenured high school head football coaches in Stark County is stepping down. Jeff Durbin, who retired three years ago as a Lake Local Schools administrator, has coached his final game for the Blue Streaks.

“My 27 years as an employee at Lake Local have provided an extraordinary experience for me and my family,” Durbin said in a statement released this morning. “I have enjoyed an unwavering support of the administration, faculty and staff at Lake High School and Lake Middle School as I have persued my greatest passion as a football coach and educator.

“I am deeply indebted to the many assistant coaches who have been instrumental to the success of Lake football. I have been privileged to work with many of the finest young men our society has to offer, and I only hope that I have had as positive an impact on their lives as they have had on mine.”

In Durbin’s 23 years, the Blue Streaks played for three state championships, won five regional titles and won the Federal League four times while being the league’s smallest school. Lake made the postseason in 14 of Durbin’s 23 seasons.

He was 163-98.

“Jeff was the textbook model for how a school-based interscholastic head coach should perform on and off the playing field every day with every one of his students,” Lake athletics director Bruce Brown said. “I’ve told many others that even if Jeff was coaching tidily-winks as a sport, I would want my child to play for him. The lessons and relationships that he developed with all of those who were touched by his program and his efforts are reflective of his passion as an educator.”

Lake’s administration is in the process of determining a timeline and succession plan to fill Durbin’s position in the next few weeks.

Storms bring threat of minor flooding to Stark County

minorFloodThe National Weather Service in Cleveland has issued a flood warning for Stark, Wayne and Holmes counties.

The Nimishillen Creek near North Industry was named on the weather service website as an area where the status of minor severity has been upgraded to moderate.

The flood warning was issued about 7 a.m. when the creek reached 9.5 feet, according to the weather services river readings at Flood stage is 8 feet.

The river was expected to fall below flood stage by late morning, but at 9 feet low-lying portions of Cheyenne Street, southeast Sparta Avenue and Allenford Avenue were threatened, the weather service said.

The Tuscarawas River at Massillon was at 8.3 feet about 8 a.m. and expected to crest at 10.4, the website said. The flood stage there is 14 feet.

The weather service listed a 60 percent chance of heavy rain for the Stark County area Thursday increasing to an 80 percent chance Thursday night.

The weather service said showers and thunderstorms were likely “mainly after 2 p.m.” with storms producing heavy rain that could leave the area with up to a half inch of precipitation.

Rain remained in the forecast through Saturday, the weather service said.

Forecasters expected the temperature to reach 71 degrees Thursday before falling Thursday night to 49 degrees and increasing only to 54 on Friday, the weather service said.

At 8 a.m., the temperature at the Akron Canton Airport was listed at 49 degrees under foggy skies with winds out of the east at 6 mph.

Summit County Communities receive $414,549 in recycling grants

By Bob Downing Beacon Journal staff writer

recycleSummit County communities on Tuesday received more than $400,000 in recycling grants from ReWorks.

The money may be used for recycling equipment or educational and promotional materials, said Yolanda Walker, executive director of the agency that is officially known as the Summit-Akron Solid Waste Management Authority.

Akron, with the largest population, got the biggest grant: $164,930.

Cuyahoga Falls was second, receiving $40,172, followed by Stow, at $27,352.

Peninsula, the smallest of the 31 communities, got the smallest grant: $532.18.

Other grants and their amounts were: Barberton, $21,760; Bath Township, $8,029; Boston Heights, $948; Boston Township, 1,061; Clinton, $1,117; Copley Township, $10,112; Coventry Township, $8,741; and Fairlawn, $4,933.

Also, Green, $18,635; Hudson, $18,333; Lakemore, $2,015; Macedonia, $8,069; Mogadore, $786; Munroe Falls, $4,236; New Franklin, $11,875; Northfield Center Township, $4,002; Northfield village, $2,949; and Norton, $8,721.

Reminderville, $1,933; Richfield Township, $1,934; Richfield village, $2,815; Sagamore Hills Township, $4,912; Silver Lake, $2,535; Springfield Township, $7,026; Tallmadge, $8,495; Twinsburg city, $13,747; and Twinsburg Township, $1,829.

The grants are determined by a complicated formula that includes population, local recycling programs and levels of recycling.

In other news, the agency’s governing board learned that Texas-based Waste Management has acquired Greenstar Recycling LLC and its recycling facility in South Akron.

The $7 million facility opened last June and handles recyclables from the city of Akron and other communities.

Waste Management is the largest trash-hauling firm in North America.

The man who could bring you back from the dead

Tim Adams The Observer,

sam parnia Sam Parnia MD has a highly sought after medical speciality: resurrection. His patients can be dead for several hours before they are restored to their former selves, with decades of life ahead of them.

Parnia is head of intensive care at the Stony Brook University Hospital in New York. If you’d had a cardiac arrest at Parnia’s hospital last year and undergone resuscitation, you would have had a 33% chance of being brought back from death. In an average American hospital, that figure would have fallen to 16% and (though the data is patchy) roughly the same, or less, if your heart were to have stopped beating in a British hospital.

By a conservative extrapolation, Parnia believes the relatively cheap and straightforward methods he uses to restore vital processes could save up to 40,000 American lives a year and maybe 10,000 British ones. Not surprisingly Parnia, who was trained in the UK and moved to the US in 2005, is frustrated that the medical establishment seems slow and reluctant to listen to these figures. He has written a book in the hope of spreading the word.

The Lazarus Effect is nothing short of an attempt to recast our understanding of death, based on Parnia’s intimate knowledge of the newly porous nature of the previously “undiscovered country from which no traveller returns”. His work in resuscitation has led him logically to wider questions of what constitutes being and not being. In particular, he asks what exactly happens, if you are lying dead before resuscitation, to your individual self and all its attendant character and memories – your “soul”, as he is not shy to call it – before it is eventually restored to you a few hours later?

When I meet Parnia, he is not long off the plane from New York after a night flight with his wife and baby daughter, and the particular revival he is craving is the miracle of strong coffee. He is both forthright and softly spoken, full of careful zeal for his findings. As I sit across the table from him, he can make even the most extraordinary claim seem calmly rational. “It is my belief,” he says, “that anyone who dies of a cause that is reversible should not really die any more. That is: every heart attack victim should no longer die. I have to be careful when I state that because people will say, ‘My husband has died recently and you are saying that need not have happened’. But the fact is heart attacks themselves are quite easily managed. If you can manage the process of death properly then you go in, take out the clot, put a stent in, the heart will function in most cases. And the same with infections, pneumonia or whatever. People who don’t respond to antibiotics in time, we could keep them there for a while longer [after they had died] until they did respond.”

Parnia’s belief is backed up by his experience at the margin of life and death in intensive care units for the past two decades – he did his training at Guy’s and St Thomas’ in London – and particularly in the past five years or so when most of the advances in resuscitation have occurred. Those advances – most notably the drastic cooling of the corpse to slow neuronal deterioration and the monitoring and maintenance of oxygen levels to the brain – have not yet become accepted possibilities in the medical profession. Parnia is on a mission to change that.

The one thing that is certain about all of our lives, he says, is that we will all eventually experience a cardiac arrest. All our hearts will stop beating. What happens in the minutes and hours after that will potentially be the most significant moments of our biography. At present, the likelihood is, however, that in those crucial moments we will find ourselves in the medical environment of the 1960s or 1970s.

The kind of CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) that we are familiar with from medical dramas – the frenzied pumping of the chest – remains rooted, Parnia claims, in its serendipitous discovery in 1960. It remains a haphazard kind of procedure, often performed more in hope than anticipation. Partly, this is a question of personnel. Parnia is quietly maddened by the worldwide hospital habit, in the event of death, to send the most junior of doctors along “to have a go at CPR”. It is as if hospital staff have given up before they have started.

“Most doctors will do CPR for 20 minutes and then stop,” he says. “The decision to stop is completely arbitrary but it is based on an instinct that after that time brain damage is very likely and you don’t want to bring people back into a persistent vegetative state. But if you understand all the things that are going on in the brain in those minutes – as we now can – then you can minimise that possibility. There are numerous studies that show that if you implement all the various resuscitation steps together you not only get a doubling of your survival rates but the people who come back are not brain damaged.”

In Parnia’s ideal world, the way that people are resuscitated would first take in the knowledge that machines are much better at CPR than doctors. After that, he suggests, the next step is “to understand that you need to elevate the level of care”. The first thing is to cool down the body to best preserve the brain cells, which are by then in the process of apoptosis, or suicide.

At the same time, it is necessary to keep up the level of oxygen in the blood. In Japan, this is already standard practice in emergency rooms. Using a technique called an ECMO, the blood of the deceased is siphoned out of the body, put through a membrane oxygenator and pumped round again. This buys the time needed to fix the underlying problem that caused the person to die in the first place. If the level of oxygen to the brain falls below 45% of normal the heart will not restart, Parnia’s research shows. Anything above that and there is a good chance.

Potentially, by this means, dead time can be extended to hours and there are still positive outcomes. “The longest I know of is a Japanese girl I mention in the book,” Parnia says. “She had been dead for more than three hours. And she was resuscitated for six hours. Afterwards, she returned to life perfectly fine and has, I have been told, recently had a baby.”

It was a truncated version of this process, at the London Chest Hospital, that allowed the Bolton footballer Fabrice Muamba to be restored to life after he collapsed on the pitch at White Hart Lane last year. Parnia watched the events unfold on TV and subsequently kept on reading that Muamba had been, for up to an hour, “dead” – but always in quotation marks. He laughs. “Journalists have invented a new term, ‘clinically dead’. I don’t know what that term means. But the fact is Muamba was dead. And it was not by a miracle he was brought back to life, it was by science.”

One of the stranger things you realise in reading Parnia’s book is the idea that we might be in thrall to historical perceptions of life and death and that these ultimate constants have lately become vaguer than most of us would allow. The other strand of Parnia’s research, in which he leads a team at Southampton University, is into what most people tend to call “near-death experiences” and what he calls “actual death experiences”. Parnia has talked to many people about what they recall experiencing while they were dead in his intensive care unit. About half claim to have clear recollections, many of which involve looking down on the surgical team at work on their body or the familiar image of a bright threshold or tunnel of light into which they were being drawn. Parnia has been collecting detailed accounts of these experiences for four years. I ask what conclusions he has drawn.

He suggests he is agnostic about the source of these subjective memories, as he is about questions of mind and matter. “When I first got interested in these mind/body questions, I was astonished to find that no one had even begun to put forward a theory about exactly how neurons in the brain can generate thoughts,” he says. “We always assume that all scientists believe the brain produces the mind, but in fact there are plenty who are not certain of that. Even prominent neuroscientists, such as Sir John Eccles, a Nobel prizewinner, believe that we are never going to understand mind through neuronal activity. All I can say is what I have observed from my work. It seems that when consciousness shuts down in death, psyche, or soul – by which I don’t mean ghosts, I mean your individual self – persists for a least those hours before you are resuscitated. From which we might justifiably begin to conclude that the brain is acting as an intermediary to manifest your idea of soul or self but it may not be the source or originator of it… I think that the evidence is beginning to suggest that we should keep open our minds to the possibility that memory, while obviously a scientific entity of some kind – I’m not saying it is magic or anything like that – is not neuronal.”

Does he have a religious faith?

“No,” he says, “and I don’t have any religious way into this. But what I do know is that every area of inquiry that used to be tackled by religion or philosophy is now tackled and explained by science. One of the last things to be looked at in this way is the question of what happens when we die. This science of resuscitation allows us to look at that for the first time.”

While those more esoteric studies go on, Parnia wants to ensure that more and more people are successfully returned from death to tell whatever tales they can. “I still have colleagues in ICU who say, ‘I don’t know why we are doing all this stuff’,” he says. “Not long ago, I went for a job interview in New York at a teaching hospital and I was told if a patient comes in and has a cardiac arrest and they end up in the cardiac care unit they will be cooled, but if they end up in the intensive care unit the doctor in charge doesn’t believe in it. He thinks it blocks his beds so he won’t do it. I don’t see this as negligence exactly because there is, as yet, no authority telling us this is the standard we should use. But surely there should be.” All of this, I say, must have had a powerful bearing on Parnia’s own sense of mortality. Is he comforted or made paranoid by his work?

He suggests that the experience of talking to people who have returned from dying serves only to enhance his curiosity about the process they have undergone, and which he has sometimes helped to reverse. Other than that, he says: “In ICU, I see people dying every day and each time it happens a part of you thinks, one day this will be me. There will be people huddling round my bed deciding whether or not to resuscitate and I know one thing for sure: I don’t want it just down to pot luck whether I end up brain damaged or even alive.”

Graphic by Pete Guest.
Graphic by Pete Guest.

During cardiac arrest, blood cannot carry oxygen to the brain, causing brain cells to decay irreparably, making recovery uncertain. CPR, in which circulation is manually stimulated to delay brain damage, has long been considered the last chance for patients. With ECMO, however, those same patients can be brought back from the brink and kept alive while doctors work towards diagnosis and treatment, making CPR seem primitive by comparison. This hi-tech method of resuscitation is known as ECPR and could mark a revolution in medical practice if adopted by hospitals worldwide.

An extracorporeal membrane oxygenation machine (ECMO) is an advanced life-support apparatus. Two catheter needles are inserted, one into a major vein and one into a major artery, allowing a synthetic pump to begin drawing blood out of the body, circulating it through the apparatus, before returning it to the bloodstream. The blood passes through a membrane oxygenator, in which oxygen is introduced and carbon dioxide removed, much like the exchange of gases that takes place in the lungs. Some ECMO machines also include a heat exchanger, which can cool or warm the blood according to the patient’s condition.

A dedicated team is required to place a patient on ECMO but, once that patient is stabilised, the machine can be supervised by specially trained nurses and can maintain stability for sustained periods. This allows the patient to live without a functioning cardiopulmonary system for days or even weeks, giving diseased organs a valuable holiday in which to recover.

Until recently, it has been used largely for severe lung failure in babies. In the UK, it is principally thought of as an intensive care treatment used in the ward, but more and more US hospitals are adding ECPR to their emergency treatment options. In an emergency, when a patient has shown no return of spontaneous circulation after conventional CPR, a doctor would decide whether the patient merits being attached to an ECMO machine, which must be carried out in a matter of minutes. Emergency ECMO is therefore administered as a last resort to patients who stand a good chance of full recovery.

In these conditions, it can be very effective and patients who have been medically dead for hours have been resuscitated successfully through ECMO, which can restart the heartbeat through steady pressure and blood flow. Even after full cardiac arrest, in situations where cell decay and brain damage have been avoided, ECMO has proved a lifesaver. There are four ECMO centres in the UK. Europe’s largest centre and the only one in the UK that treats adults is the Glenfield hospital in Leicester.

Lucerne Lions donate dictionaries to Pioneer third-graders

by Sarah Einselen Pharos-Tribune

lucerneLionsROYAL CENTER — Nine-year-old Kiera Osborn looked down at the dictionary she’d just been handed. “I can keep it?” she asked with surprise in her voice.

Lions club vice president Victor Sell told Kiera that yes — it was her very own.

The Lucerne Lions Club donated 78 dictionaries to the third-grade students at Pioneer Elementary School late last week in the first year of what leaders hope to turn into an annual partnership with the school.

The dictionaries, each in paperback with maps, historical documents and other reference information in the back — and a line to write a young owner’s name in the front — are part of a project coordinated by the Lions Clubs International. Lucerne Lions president Allen Shank said local club members voted unanimously earlier this spring to bring the project to Royal Center.

Third-grade teachers at Pioneer called the dictionaries “a perfect tool” for developing students’ independence in accessing information. Kim Schroder, who’s taught for almost 20 years, said she’s most recently been having students look up words in her classroom dictionaries to learn about states of matter — solids, liquids and gases.

“As they’re reading, we’ve worked on having to look up words on their own so they can find out the meanings,” said Schroder. Students use both physical dictionaries and the digital one on her interactive whiteboard, but during small group projects the physical dictionaries are ideal.

Average students in their formative years learn about 3,000 new words per year, or about 8 per day, according to The Dictionary Project, with which Lions Clubs International has partnered for the dictionary donations.

One of Schroder’s students, 9-year-old Kwintin Heiny of Logansport, said his favorite word he’s learned recently is “condensation.” Kiera’s is “evaporation,” she said.

School librarian Mary Lou Rutledge said that with the Lions’ donation this week, all students in third through fifth grades now have access to one dictionary per student in their classrooms — and that should help with learning to alphabetize as well as expand students’ vocabulary.

“We have them look in dictionaries all the time,” Rutledge added, “so they know how to spell the words, pronounce them, where to put the emphasis.” That’s more than a computer spell-check program provides, she pointed out.

“I think the sooner they start, the better they are. That way they get used to it before they get too far into computers.”

And giving each student his or her own dictionary makes it more likely that students will take the initiative to look up words, said Pioneer Elementary principal Beth Dean.

Lions Clubs International has donated almost 286,000 books since first partnering with The Dictionary Project in 2002. During a local project’s first year, Lions Clubs International covers the cost of the dictionaries, then for every year after, a local Lions club buys dictionaries by the case to give to new third-graders. A case of 24 student dictionaries costs a local Lions club $30, Shank said.

“As far as the cost goes, even when we start paying for them, the cost is going to be reasonable,” he said. And its return, he added, will be valuable to the students.

The 22-member Lucerne Lions intend to contact other local Lions clubs to explore a joint donation next year, Shank said.

Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher died today following a stroke, her spokeswoman confirmed

By Richard Allen Greene, CNN

Margaret-Thatcher-1979-Ma-006London (CNN) — Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, a towering figure in post-war British and world politics, and the first woman to become British prime minister, has died at the age of 87, her spokeswoman said Monday.

Thatcher served from 1979 to 1990 as leader of the Conservative Party. She was called the “Iron Lady” for her personal and political toughness.

Thatcher retired from public life after a stroke in 2002 and suffered several strokes after that.

She made few public appearances in her final months, missing a reception marking her 85th birthday hosted by Prime Minister David Cameron in October 2010. She also skipped the July 2011 unveiling of a statue honoring her old friend Ronald Reagan in London.

In December 2012, she was hospitalized after a procedure to remove a growth in her bladder.

Thatcher made history

Thatcher won the nation’s top job only six years after declaring in a television interview, “I don’t think there will be a woman prime minister in my lifetime.”

During her time at the helm of the British government, she emphasized moral absolutism, nationalism, and the rights of the individual versus that of the state — famously declaring, “There is no such thing as society” in 1987.

Nicknamed the “Iron Lady” by the Soviet press after a 1976 speech declaring that “the Russians are bent on world dominance,” Thatcher later enjoyed a close working relationship with U.S. President Reagan, with whom she shared similar conservative views.

But the British cold warrior played a key role in ending the conflict by giving her stamp of approval to Soviet Communist reformer Mikhail Gorbachev shortly before he came to power.

“I like Mr. Gorbachev. We can do business together,” she famously declared in December 1984, three months before he became Soviet leader.

Having been right about Gorbachev, Thatcher came down on the wrong side of history after the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, arguing against the reunification of East and West Germany.

Allowing the countries created in the aftermath of World II to merge would be destabilizing to the European status quo, and East Germany was not ready to become part of Western Europe, she insisted in January 1990.

“East Germany has been under Nazism or communism since 1930. You are not going to go overnight to democratic structures and a freer market economy,” Thatcher insisted in a key interview, arguing that peace, security and stability “can only be achieved through our existing alliances negotiating with others internationally.”

West German leader Helmut Kohl was furious about the interview, seeing Thatcher as a “protector of Gobachev,” according to notes made that day by his close aide Horst Teltschik.

The two Germanies reunited by the end of that year.

Thatcher — born in October 1925 in the small eastern England market town of Grantham — came from a modest background, taking pride in being known as a grocer’s daughter. She studied chemistry at Oxford, but was involved in politics from a young age, giving her first political speech at 20, according to her official biography.

She was elected leader of the Conservative Party in 1975, when the party was in opposition.

She made history four years later, becoming prime minister when the Conservatives won the elections of 1979, the first of three election victories she led her party to.

As British leader, Thatcher took a firm stance with the European Community — the forerunner of the European Union — demanding a rebate of money London contributed to Brussels.

Her positions on other issues, both domestic and foreign, were just as firm, and in one of her most famous phrases, she declared at a Conservative party conference that she had no intention of changing her mind.

“To those waiting with bated breath for that favorite media catchphrase, the U-turn, I have only one thing to say: ‘You turn if you want to. The lady’s not for turning,'” she declared, to cheers from party members.

The United Kingdom fought a short, sharp war against Argentina over the Falklands Islands under Thatcher in 1982, responding with force when Buenos Aires laid claim to the islands.

Announcing that Britain had recaptured South Georgia Island from Argentina, Thatcher appealed to nationalist sentiments, advising the press: “Just rejoice at the news and congratulate our forces.”

A journalist shouted a question at her as she turned to go back into 10 Downing Street: “Are we going to war with Argentina, Mrs. Thatcher?”

She paused for an instant, then offered a single word: “Rejoice.”

The conflict was not without controversy, even in Britain.

A British submarine sank Argentina’s only cruiser, the General Belgrano, in an encounter that left 358 Argentines dead. The sinking took place outside of Britain’s declared exclusion zone.

In her first term, Thatcher reduced or eliminated many government subsidies to business, a move that led to a sharp rise in unemployment. By 1986, unemployment had reached 3 million.

But Thatcher won landslide re-election in 1983 on the heels of the Falklands victory, her Conservative Party taking a majority of seats in parliament with 42% of the vote. Second-place Labour took nearly 28%, while the alliance that became the Liberal Democrats took just over 25%.

A year later, she escaped at IRA terrorist bombing at her hotel at the Conservative Party Conference in Brighton.

She was re-elected in 1987 with a slightly reduced majority.

She was ultimately brought down, not by British voters, but by her own Conservative party.

She was forced to resign in 1990 during an internal leadership struggle after she introduced a poll tax levied on community residents rather than property.

The unpopular tax led to rioting in the streets.

She married her husband, Denis Thatcher, a local businessman who ran his family’s firm before becoming an executive in the oil industry, in 1951 — a year after an unsuccessful run for Parliament. The couple had twins, Mark and Carol, in 1953.

She was elected to Parliament in 1959 and served various positions, including education secretary, until her terms as prime minister.

Thatcher was awarded the U.S. Medal of Freedom by President George H. W. Bush in 1991, a year after she stepped down as prime minister. She was named Baroness Thatcher of Kesteven after leaving office.

She retired from public life after a stroke in 2002 and suffered several smaller strokes after that. Her husband died in June 2003.

Though her doctors advised against public speaking, a frail Thatcher attended Reagan’s 2004 funeral, saying in a pre-recorded video that Reagan was “a great president, a great American, and a great man.”

“And I have lost a dear friend,” she said.

In the years that followed she encountered additional turmoil — namely in 2004, when her son, Mark Thatcher, was arrested in an investigation of an alleged plot by mercenaries to overthrow the president of Equatorial Guinea in west Africa. He pleaded guilty in a South African court in 2005 to unwittingly bankrolling the plot.

CNN’s Laura Perez Maestro contributed to this report.

Steubenville, Ohio: Portrait of a rust belt city

By Phyllis Scherrer and Samuel Davidson

Steubenville's once thriving downtown is mostly deserted nowSteubenville, Ohio recently gained notoriety because of a tragedy last August that resulted in the conviction of two teenage boys, players on the local high school football team, for sexually assaulting a 16-year-old girl. The trial was held in an inflamed atmosphere, with the town’s population and the football team in particular painted as aiders and abettors of rape.

 Steubenville’s once thriving downtown is mostly deserted now

Various liberal and pseudo-left organizations, along with affluent feminists, have joined the fray, blaming a so-called “rape culture” for the episode and ignoring the desperate social conditions that help give rise to backwardness and violent behavior, especially among young people. In this way, the upper middle class left lets the American corporate elite off the hook.

Steubenville is a small former steel town located on the west bank of the Ohio River, about 40 miles from Pittsburgh. The latter is often cited as an example of a city that has rebuilt itself after industrial collapse. This is hardly the full picture, since most of the new jobs in health care and the service industry are lower paid and offer fewer benefits than previously. Even these, however, are not available in Steubenville and numerous other towns in the region, such as Uniontown and McKeesport, Pennsylvania and Weirton and Wheeling, West Virginia.

Steubenville was once a thriving community, one of many located along a 30-mile stretch of the Ohio River from Weirton in the north to Wheeling in the south. Towns such as Mingo Junction, Yorkville and Martins Ferry, Ohio and Follansbee, Wellsburg and Warwood, West Virginia all had operations that were part of Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel. Weirton had the Weirton Steel Corporation, which employed 12,000 workers at its peak.

Wheeling-Pittsburgh’s now-closed blast furanceis slated to be torn down for riverfront development

Steelmaking began as early as 1817 in Steubenville (the birthplace in 1814 of Abraham Lincoln’s Secretary of War, Edwin M. Stanton). According to a history of Wheeling-Pittsburgh, the company’s roots “go back to the middle of the last century when Wheeling, West Virginia, which lies on the banks of the Ohio River, was the center of a flourishing nail manufacturing industry. In 1851, LaBelle Iron Works was established and soon became a leading nail factory. By the end of the Civil War, the nail market had begun a serious decline, and LaBelle began searching for new products to manufacture, eventually entering into the creation of steel sheets, tin plates, and galvanized roofing. This expansion was propelled by LaBelle’s purchase of a three-year-old nail factory in Steubenville, Ohio, and their installation of two blast furnaces at the plant. Eventually, the Steubenville plant became the site for open-hearth steelwork, plate mills, sheet mills, and tube works.”

From 1875 to 1920 the US steel industry experienced explosive growth, making it a world leader, as production expanded from 380,000 to 60 million tons annually. The industry’s average annual growth rate over this period was a remarkable seven percent.

Iron ore was shipped by barge and rail through the Great Lakes region from the iron ranges in the northern Midwest. Steel mills in the Steubenville area employed tens of thousands of workers. Thousands of others went underground in the mines that dotted the hills to the east, south and west to dig out coal that ultimately powered the blast furnaces.

Once the nation’s eighth largest steel producer, Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel (the product of a merger in 1968) went through a series of bankruptcies and reorganizations in which its facilities were closed down piece by piece, job by job. Retired workers have seen their pensions devastated. All that remains are about 200 workers at the Follansbee coke works, now run by Mountain State Carbon. The Steubenville mill was finally closed in 2005.

One of Steubenville’s many murals idealizing its steelmaking past

Weirton Steel’s massive works once produced primary cans and other tin products. In 1983, the mill—then owned by National Steel—was purchased as part of the world’s largest Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP), which turned out to be another trick to fleece the workers.

Weirton workers were granted worthless stock and forced to take pay and benefit cuts of 32 percent one year and 20 percent another—and still the mill was gradually shut down. Today there are fewer than 1,200 people employed at the Weirton operation. Driving to Steubenville from Pittsburgh along Route 22, one sees the portion of the mill that has been torn down and turned into scrap, awaiting rail cars to carry it off to be sold and melted down.

 Sections of the former Weirton Steel Mill have been torn down and scrapped

Almost all the mills and mines in the area have shut down, many in the 1970s and 1980s. Steel company executives and large shareholders walked away with millions of dollars, but the ruthless process destroyed entire communities, created widespread social misery and left little hope for young people in the area.

The industrial collapse led to Steubenville’s sharp decline. Its population peaked in the 1940s at nearly 40,000, but had already fallen to 31,000 by 1970. The fall since then has been truly precipitous. Steubenville lost a higher percentage of its population between 1980 and 2000 than any other urban area in America. The censuses of 1980, 1990 and 2000 showed drops of 14, 16 and 14 percent in population, respectively. Today the population of Steubenville is just over 17,000.

Weirton, West Virginia, where the victimized 16-year-old girl comes from, saw a similar decline, losing 30 percent of its population from 1960 to the present. Weirton now has fewer than 20,000 people. The neighboring towns along the Ohio River have all experienced population loss and social decay.

The blame for the disastrous poverty, high levels of illiteracy, alcoholism and drug use and the existence of social backwardness lies squarely with the American corporate-financial aristocracy. Tragedies such as the sexual assault last August, along with other forms of anti-social behavior, are the almost inevitable product of the bleak and desperate circumstances.

WSWS reporters recently spoke to Steubenville, Ohio residents about conditions in the decaying town.

Jean has lived in Steubenville all her life. She described how the city was once nicknamed “little Chicago” because of its steel industry and how busy the downtown area was when she was young.

“I remember when the mills were working, this was a very lively place. There were two movie theaters downtown, the Paramount and the Grand. Me and my friends were able to go to the shows, nobody was afraid to walk around at any time day or night. Now everything is going downhill. You can’t find any work. I clean churches, but you don’t make enough to live well. Things have changed and everyone is moving out of the city. Now there is so much drugs and crime.”

 Steubenville High School

Chenetta George explained that she had to go out of Ohio and get a job at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Moon Township, Pennsylvania, a 45-minute drive from Steubenville. “We definitely need more jobs. Both my grandfather and my mother worked at Weirton Steel. My grandfather got a pension. I think my mom just lost everything.

“I graduated in 2009, and moved right away to North Carolina to be with my husband who was in the Marines and stationed there. Things didn’t work out, so I moved back here in 2010. I looked for work. I got hired through a home health care agency in Wheeling, West Virginia. At one point I was working at the Embassy Suites, as a home health care aide and as a telemarketer all at the same time. Now I’m going to school for criminal justice.”

 A street in residential Steubenville

Rhonda, who was also born and raised in Steubenville, explained that she had to join the military because there were no jobs. Now she is out and “the job situation is very bad; there is nothing for people to do. Most families are on government assistance and that is no way to live. They claim that the oil industry is going to create all these jobs. They call people to come get training, but when they show up, they find out that they have to pay for it. It is just another trick to get people to spend their money.

“You should provide training to the young people, if you want them to have jobs and a future, not force them to pay for it.

“There used to be plenty of jobs around here. When the mills were working, even if you didn’t work in the mill, they created jobs in the shops and restaurants. You look at the downtown now and it is just deserted.”

While the downfall of the steel and mining industries played a major role in the growth of poverty and declining living standards, the area was also hard hit by the recession in 2008, from which it has not recovered. The official unemployment rate in the Steubenville area had shot up from 6 percent to 14 percent by January 2010. Today it has fallen to 10.4 percent, but it is still 3.4 percentage points above the rate for the rest of Ohio.

The slump has meant a big growth in poverty and hunger. Steubenville’s median household income for 2011 was $33,000, well below the state and national median of $48,000 and $52,700, respectively. The city’s official poverty rate is over 27 percent compared to 14 percent for Ohio. Over the past three years, the real income of households in Ohio has fallen by over 8 percent. While the numbers for Steubenville alone are not available, they presumably match or surpass that figure.

Large numbers of Ohio residents face food insecurity. Nearly 1.7 million people in the state receive food stamps, which average only $138 per person per month. Many parents routinely have to choose between paying utility bills, rent or mortgage, purchasing medicine or buying food for their families.

 Mary Jackson and her 16-year-old nephew. Mary has been unemployed for almost a year and her husband for several months while she struggles to house and feed her family.

Steubenville’s Mary Jackson told us, “I think the whole society sucks. I can’t find a job anywhere. I have five kids that I have to care for. I have been off of work for nearly a year. I worked in a fast food restaurant, but I was told I had to leave when my husband who also worked there was promoted to management. That was a lie because even though he was called management, they treated him horribly. He was laid off about five months later and I went back to reapply for work, but they wouldn’t hire me.

“It has been very hard, but while he had unemployment benefits we were able to get by, but when they ran out, we were homeless for a while, moving from one house to another until we were able to get into the projects, but that has been hard too.”

Mary’s children range in age from six to thirteen. “My husband has been looking for work, but can’t find anything. I don’t think there is much of a future for young people. If my husband and I are unable to find work, what are things going to be like for younger people? We just live from day to day, which is sad, because you shouldn’t have to do that. The politicians don’t care about the poor, they just care for the rich.”

Many residents spoke about the pervasive social problems, such as drugs, prostitution and crime, that afflict every community where poverty is high and opportunities are few.

 Ashley Greathouse with neighbor’s children

Ashley Greathouse, 27, with three children, told the WSWS: “They need to change a lot in this town. They need to clean the streets. I just saw a dozen needles on the ground down the street. There are killings and drugs. It used to be nice. Now there are so many homeless.

“I came here from Cleveland after the tenth grade. I did my share of garbage. Now it’s been four years and nine months that I have been clean from using crack. I haven’t touched drugs since my second child on June 26, 2008.

“There was a double homicide here recently. A 16-year-old killed two people over $30. $30! It was right here on Market Street. We knew the victims—Ryan, who was in his twenties, and had a baby on the way, and Artavius who was 18 or 19, and he’d just had a baby girl.

“I always said that the only things to do in Steubenville are what the girls and the guys do. The girls do sex and the guys do drugs. I’ve been trying to get a job and I cannot get one since I was plastered all over the TV in 2008 after I was arrested as part of a prostitution sting. So, even though I’m clean for four and a half years, and my kids are everything to me, I can’t get a job.”

A number of Steubenville residents also alleged that some of the youths involved in the 2012 sexual assault case may have been shielded by the police and prosecution, pointing out that teenagers with parents who had connections were not prosecuted while a poor black and white kid were.

Several interviewees pointed to the corruption in Steubenville and Jefferson County, and abuses committed by police.

Referring to the sexual assault case, one resident asserted, “If my two kids were involved, I would be thrown under the jail. In Steubenville, we have had the same sheriff and the same mayor for as long as I can remember, and that’s about 18 years. They run and nobody runs against them. I believe this is a very corrupt county. Ohio has 48 counties. The saying goes that there are 47 counties in Ohio … and then there’s Jefferson County.”

The local police department has a long history of targeting minorities and working class residents with arrests and harassment. In 1997 Steubenville became the second city in the country to sign a consent decree with the federal government providing for the reorganization of the police force after a US Justice Department investigation found that it regularly used “excessive force, false arrests, charges and reports.” The Justice Department also found that Steubenville cops used threats and force against people who witnessed police abuse to intimidate them into not speaking out.

CNN noted in 1999, “Over a period of about 20 years, the city lost or settled 48 civil rights suits involving its police. In those cases, which often involved minorities, the city paid out more than $800,000—$400,000 between 1990 and 1996. At one point, the police department’s insurance policy was canceled.”

All in all, Steubenville presents a picture of corporate plundering, official violence and social devastation. Those who ignore this history and these conditions when examining the wider implications of the August 2012 sexual assault case are operating as apologists for the existing social order and facilitating its further oppression and exploitation.

Frewsburg Lions Learn About Butterfly Moms Group

At the recent meeting of the Frewsburg Lions Club, Jon Anderson, program chair for the evening, introduced Torie Swanson of Frewsburg.

Swanson was invited to talk about an organization known as “Butterfly Moms,” a group of mothers who have experienced the tragic loss of a child. Swanson talked about her own experience with initial grief, her ultimate connections with mothers suffering a similar loss, and her initiative to organize this unique support group.

The group meets at Zion Lutheran Church on the third Saturday of each month at 10 a.m.

Torie Swanson spoke at a recent Frewsburg Lions meeting about the group “Butterfly Moms” which is for mothers who have experienced the loss of a child. Welcoming her were Jon Anderson, program chair, left, and Gary Wells, Lions president.

Following Swanson’s talk, Lion President Gary Wells gave a brief overview of Lions commitment to community service. Jon Anderson then presented Swanson with a certificate of appreciation for her service to the community and also a candle centerpiece as a remembrance of her example of community service embraced by Lions Clubs international.

In the business meeting, Mike Wells announced that tickets for the upcoming spaghetti supper will be available at the next meeting. The supper will be on April 27. Pat Harvey reported that he has submitted more can tabs to the Kidney Dialysis Unit at WCA Hospital. The total that the club has collected is now 990 pounds. The Leo Club and the Lions Club are taking part in the Pennies for Paws campaign for the Humane Society.

Members voted to approve three delegates to the state convention in Buffalo. They are Don Dove, Danielle O’Connor and Gary Wells. Jerry Eklund gave an update on construction developments at The Relief Zone, which the Lions have supported.

Past President Tom Swanson read the proposed slate of officers for 2013-14. Members voted unanimously to elect the following officers: President – Robin Schroeder; first vice president – Danielle O’Connor; second vice president – Robert Anderson; secretary – Robert Sandberg; treasurer – Norma Eklund; membership chair – Robert Sandberg; financial secretary – Dennis Williams, tail twister – Wendell Berg; Lion tamer – Jerry Eklund; Directors: one year – John Gatgen and Randy Sherrick, two years – Thomas Holland and Dave Miller.

The next meeting will be Monday in the Frewsburg Central School community room.

Thanks to the efforts of 3 local Lions Clubs, deaf 11-month-old will receive new hearing aids

Written by Amy Bowen

Thanks to the efforts of 3 local Lions Clubs, deaf 11-month-old will receive new hearing aidsAbigail Voight snuggles with her grandpa. She laughs with her dad and cries when her mom leaves the room.

But the 11-month-old is overcoming what could have been a major setback. Voight was born with a severe hearing loss, and needs to use hearing aids.

Her parents, Stacy and Jeremy Voight, are extremely grateful for some much-needed help they got recently from three Lions Clubs. The St. Cloud, Metro and Southside Lions worked together to give $3,000 toward the purchase of Abigail’s hearing aids.

“I can’t even express how grateful we are and how amazing they are,” said Stacy Voight of St. Cloud. “We’re definitely going to pay it forward.”

They were given a check this week toward the new devices. The aids will cost $3,600 at Minnesota Lions Children’s Hearing and Ear, Nose, Throat Clinic at University of Minnesota Amplatz Children’s Hospital. Abigail receives her care at the Minneapolis clinic.

Abigail was born April 13, 2012, at St. Cloud Hospital. Her hearing loss was discovered shortly after birth. Her parents had no idea that she was deaf.

The family’s medical insurance doesn’t cover hearing aids, Stacy Voight said. Abigail needed hearing aids soon after birth to help her development. She would have not have been able to talk without them.

The cost of the hearing aids would have wiped out the Voights. One doctor’s office even handed the family a bank loan application.

“It’s seen as cosmetic (by insurance companies),” Stacy Voight said. “It’s a luxury to hear. They can get by with sign language.”

Stacy Voight heard about the Lions’ mission of helping with hearing and sight issues. She wrote an email, which found its way to Bob Seitz, hearing chairman of the St. Cloud Lions.

That club annually helps about five people with hearing aids and 20 with glasses. Seitz contacted the two other St. Cloud clubs about contributing.

Donation requests are granted based on financial hardships, Seitz said. The Voight family needed the hearing aids right away, while keeping up with other bills. The additional expense would have been difficult to absorb. Representatives from the three clubs met Abigail and her family. The little girl is currently wearing hearing aids on loan from the Minnesota Lions Hearing Aid Loaner Program.

The club members were taken with Abigail’s dimples and cheerful personality.

“She stole my heart,” Seitz said. “I’m just so happy. This makes me feel good. Our work pays off.”

The hearing aids should last three years. The Voights can now save to cover the upcoming cost. They are also investigating cochlear implants, surgical devices that help the deaf hear.

“We are giving her the opportunity to function as you and I,” Stacy Voight said. “She would be back years (in development) if she didn’t have the hearing aids.”

Congress Budgets $10M for Eye-Injury Research| by Bryant Jordan

Congress Budgets $10M for Eye-Injury ResearchCongress will boost funding for research and treatment of battlefield eye injuries to $10 million for the remainder of 2013.

Tom Zampieri, head of the Blind Veterans Association, has pushed for increased funding since 2009, but has been frustrated by Congress and the Pentagon, which he said have consistently put a low priority on eye blast injuries even though these vastly outnumber other types of trauma.

Congress previously has appropriated up to $4 million.

About 15 percent of injuries from battlefield trauma are to the eyes, according to Defense Department statistics. Throughout the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, this has resulted in more than 197,000 ambulatory patients and more than 4,000 hospitalizations.

In addition, about 75 percent of troops who suffer traumatic brain injury also suffer some visual dysfunction, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The Vision Center of Excellence has been struggling for funding and even a place from which to permanently operate since it was created in 2008.

It originally was to be funded at more than $6 million, but that was ultimately reduced to $3 million. The center was relegated to borrowed offices in Falls Church, Va., until finally moving into Walter Reed National Military Medical Center at the end of 2011.

Since then – until the recent boost to $10 million – the vision center has received no more than $4 million for its work and research. Of course, the additional funding will not be spared from the sequestration process.

“The … $10 million will help, but even that is being cut by sequestration by 8 percent, to $9.2 million,” Zampieri said. “So it is vital we get the $10 million [sought] for FY 2014,” Zampieri said.

The Blinded Veterans Association, now backed by 10 other veterans groups, wants to see the vision research program funded to $10 million in 2014. That funding, the groups said in a jointly signed letter with the other veterans groups, would help ensure the individual and institutional commitment necessary for projects to prevent blindness and possibly restore the vision of those who have already lost it through injury or an impairment related to TBI.

“Whether a soldier is engaged directly in combat conditions or in activities that support the military, vision is the most critical of the five senses for optimal performance, accounting for 70 percent of our total sensory awareness,” the group stated.

The Vision Center of Excellence is also charged with creating an eye-injury registry for tracking the wounds and treatments sustained by servicemembers from the battlefield on through the care by VA providers or others charged with follow-on care.

The registry, which is still under development, would enable a doctor treating the soldier or veteran to immediately review every action or treatment already taken. The registry would also include servicemembers and veterans whose vision loss is related to traumatic brain injury, rather than direct eye injury.

Rep. Harry E. Mitchell, D-Calif., cited the importance of the registry when discussing the case of a Kentucky National Guardsman partially blinded by combat in Iraq who ultimately lost all his vision. Had the record of his treatment all been in one place, doctors would have been better and more quickly treat him once back in the U.S.

The delay caused the soldier to lose all his vision after an infection, Mitchell said in 2009 during a hearing of the House Veterans Affairs Committee on Oversight.