Board of Directors welcomes new member

Christopher N. Travers of Youngstown is the newest member of Mahoning County Land Bank’s Board of Directors. He attended his first meeting on Tuesday, July 22.

Travers is a member as well as past president, secretary and treasurer of the 7th Ward Citizens Coalition in Youngstown, a nonprofit organization that is focused on neighborhood improvement and preservation. He also serves on the board of Neighborhood Improvement Corps, which created and operated a tool shed to loan  equipment to income-qualified residents for home maintenance and improvement projects. His career background includes broadcasting, sales and marketing, and management.

A vacancy on the Board of Directors was created earlier this year when Presley L. Gillespie, former executive director of Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corporation, resigned to accept a job in Pittsburgh.

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Read our 2013 Annual Report

Here is a link to our Annual Report for 2013, which highlights our activities, successes and opportunities to revitalize vacant, abandoned properties in Mahoning County:

Website PDF of 2013 annual report

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Annual Meeting Notice

The annual meeting of Mahoning County Land Bank’s Board of Directors will be at 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 22, in Austintown Township Hall, 82 Ohltown Road.

Officers will be elected and the yearly financial report will be reviewed for submission to the Auditor of State’s Office.

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Opening on Board of Directors

YOUNGSTOWN – A volunteer is needed to serve on the Board of Directors of the Mahoning County Land Reutilization Corporation, or Land Bank, says its chairman, Daniel R. Yemma.

Currently, there is one vacancy on the 9-member board for a private sector representative with experience in nonprofit or civic organizations.

The nonprofit County Land Bank was created by Mahoning County Commissioners in 2011 to return vacant, abandoned, tax-delinquent properties to productive use. Yemma also is the County Treasurer.

Regular meetings are at 11:30 a.m. on the fourth Tuesday of each month in the commissioners’ conference room, County Administration Building, 21 W. Boardman St.

Persons interested in serving as the Citizen Representative on the Board of Directors should send cover letters and resumes to the Mahoning County Land Reutilization Corporation, c/o County Treasurer Daniel R. Yemma, 120 Market St., Youngstown, OH 44503.

All expressions of interest must be received on or before Friday, April 25.

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Meeting Schedule for 2014

The Board of Directors of Mahoning County Land Bank will meet at 11:30 a.m. on the fourth Tuesday of each month, unless otherwise posted. Monthly meetings are held in the Mahoning County Commissioners’ Conference Room, 21 W. Boardman St., Second Floor, downtown Youngstown.  Meeting dates for Calendar Year 2014 are as follows:

* Jan. 28

* Feb. 25

* March 25

* April 22

* May 27

* June 24

* July 22

* Aug. 26

* Sept. 23

* Oct. 28

* Nov. 25

* Dec. 23

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December Committee and Directors Meetings

The Finance Committee of Mahoning County Land Bank will meet at noon Tuesday, Dec. 10, in the Land Bank office suite, 20 W. Federal St., Suite M5-A, Youngstown.

The Personnel Committee will meet at 11 a.m. Tuesday, Dec. 17, in the County Commissioners’ conference room, County Administration Building, 21 W. Boardman St., second floor, Youngstown.

The Board of Directors will meet at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, Dec. 17, also in the County Commissioners’ conference room. NOTE: Directors’ meetings usually are held on the fourth Tuesday of each month, but this meeting is being moved because of the Christmas holiday.

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October Meeting Change

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Oct. 11, 2013

County Land Bank Moves Meeting Date, Location

YOUNGSTOWN – The Mahoning County Land Bank is changing its meeting date, time and place this month.

The October meeting of the County Land Bank’s Board of Directors will be at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 24, at the Boardman Township Government Center, 8299 Market St. These meetings generally are held on weekdays. All board meetings are open to the public.

The County Land Bank is a nonprofit community improvement corporation with a 9-member Board of Directors, representing both public and private sectors. The County Land Bank’s mission is to promote healthy, sustainable neighborhoods by returning vacant, abandoned, tax-delinquent land to productive use. Activities include acquiring and transferring side lots to neighboring owners; acquiring and renovating structurally sound houses; and performing strategic demolitions to reduce blight, stabilize property values and increase residents’ sense of well-being.

The County Land Bank has completed or is overseeing acquisition, renovation and/or demolition activities in these communities: Austintown; Beaver; Beloit; Boardman; Campbell; Coitsville; Craig Beach; Ellsworth; Green; Lowellville; Milton; Poland Township; Sebring; Smith Township; Springfield; Struthers; and Youngstown.

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Success Story: Northwood Golf Academy

Building Skills

PGA professional Dave Boos works with a boy at Northwood Golf Academy on Youngstown’s East Side.

YOUNGSTOWN

“I want to see that swing. It had better be looking good today,” PGA professional Dave Boos tells a preteen boy as he approaches a tee box. A girl standing nearby laughs at Boos’ mock seriousness. He can’t hold his stern face for long – especially when his 4- and 5-year-old pupils are running toward him, their faces beaming.

Boos gave basic lessons to dozens of Youngstown children on Thursdays this summer at the city-owned Stambaugh Golf Course, where he works. But it’s Tuesday. Boos and Chris Carfangia, the PGA professional at Pine Lakes Golf Course in Hubbard, greet kids at Northwood Golf Academy. A putting green and tee boxes stretch across what was a string of overgrown, littered inner-city lots amid an older, quiet, modest neighborhood on the East Side.

This is Brunilda Turner’s field of dreams.

Brunilda Turner

Turner is executive director of Ebony Ladies Golf and Youth Foundation, which developed Northwood Golf Academy. Its official opening in summer 2013 was the culmination of many achievements. Five adjacent parcels were cleared and leveled to allow Southwoods Greens of Columbus to install 500 square yards of putting green and three tee boxes, valued at $10,000. Individual donors, businesses, nonprofits and foundations contributed money and services toward the project.

Turner and her friends in Ebony Ladies Golf League play at Stambaugh Golf Course. She met Boos there and expressed her intent to make golf more accessible to underprivileged children. He agreed to help. Likewise, men in the YOGO’s Golf Club playing at Pine Lakes introduced Carfangia to Turner. Soon, Carfangia was on board.

A Good Start

Dave Boos, golf professional at the city-owned Stambaugh Golf Course, instructs a girl on teeing off at Northwood Golf Academy, which opened in summer 2013 and put formerly vacant, abandoned land back to good use.

The availability of golf facilities added to the summer children’s camp at the nearby Associated Neighborhood Center. Children learned how to chip, putt, pitch and drive, and about golf rules and etiquette. Kids also tended box gardens on vacant land next to the golf academy, took art classes, worked on reading comprehension, learned about nutrition and physical fitness and visited Stambaugh Golf Course for additional instruction.

Little of this could have happened without land control. Turner didn’t own enough land to build the facility. Her brother, Maple Turner III, did.

Maple Turner earned degrees in fine arts at Youngstown State University and Parsons School of Design in New York City. His work has been shown at The Butler Institute of American Art in Youngstown and Pace Gallery in New York. His paintings on display in a Harlem store caught the eye of a Time magazine writer. He lived in New York for 10 years before returning home to help his aging parents.

A New Vision

Maple Turner III appreciates the cool comfort of shady trees within lots he acquired from the Mahoning County Land Bank. Turner wants to create an open-air art studio.

“I didn’t realize the beauty of Youngstown until I left,” Maple Turner said.

Back on Northwood Avenue, Maple Turner began to dream of an open-air art studio, where children could learn to paint the natural beauty of their neighborhood. He acted on that vision by contacting the Mahoning County Land Bank (and its predecessor, Lien Forward Ohio Regional Council of Governments). With the Land Bank’s assistance, he acquired a few dozen vacant, tax-delinquent lots on Northwood and neighboring Edgar Avenue. He removed scores of old tires and sought professional help on preserving healthy trees and removing dead or diseased ones.

When he learned that his sister had received a significant but time-sensitive grant to build the golf academy, he put his plans aside to help her.

On the Green

On the Green

“It’s a work in progress, but it will be beautiful,” Maple Turner says of the golf facility. Indeed, Brunilda Turner has additional plans. Phase 2 calls for landscaping, installation of sand bunkers, signage, acquisition of maintenance equipment and creation of a parking lot, she says. Phase 3 includes fencing, acquiring golf carts and additional equipment, creating a storage garage and starting plans for a driving range. Ebony Ladies Golf and Youth Foundation will offer a fall kids’ golf program at the McGuffey Center in Youngstown and the indoor Golf Dome in Girard, she added.

Work on Maple Turner’s dreams will resume this fall. Across the street and down the block from Northwood Golf Academy, he is cleaning up 18 contiguous lots he acquired through the County Land Bank. Tops of tall, slender trees bend gently toward each other, an effect he refers to as “the canopy.” It’s cool and comfortable under these trees on a warm summer day. Place some benches and easels here and people will have a place to sit, relax, paint and enjoy nature, he says. He also envisions birdhouses, as made and painted by neighborhood kids, hanging from tree limbs; installing a slate walkway to lead visitors into the canopy; and planting and preserving fruit trees within the area.

“This land will be utilized and not destroyed,” Maple Turner said.

As for what motivates him, “the community helped us to achieve our goals. We became professionals. We made money. It’s time to give back,” he said. “I’ve had all kinds of role models. … You have to be a role model, reach back.”

UPDATE: Sept. 19, 2013 … Ebony Ladies Golf and Youth Foundation is a winner of Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corporation’s third annual Lots of Green 2.0 project competition. The foundation will receive financial and technical assistance from YNDC to expand the driving range at Northwood Golf Academy. Ebony Ladies Golf and Youth Foundation also was a winner of the first Lots of Green contest two years ago and used its award to install the putting green. Congratulations to Ebony Ladies on repeated success!

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See you at the Canfield Fair!

Land Bank personnel will work alongside employees of the Mahoning County Treasurer’s Office this weekend at the 167th annual Canfield Fair. If you would like general information about acquiring vacant property, visit the County Treasurer’s table in the County Government building. Land Bank employees will be present during the afternoons of Saturday, Aug. 31, and Sunday, Sept. 1. General information about the fair is available at www.canfieldfair.com

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A Collaborative Success

Vallourec Star VP Earns Chamber Honor, Comments on Partnership

Congratulations to Joel C. Mastervich, Vallourec Star executive vice president of operations/industrial director of oil country tubular goods — North America, who on Aug. 29 received the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber’s Business Professional of the Year Award.

As reported by the Youngstown-Warren Business Journal, Mastervich reflected not only on Vallourec’s $1 billion investment in a new steel pipe mill in Youngstown, but also on the company’s collaboration with Lien Forward Ohio Regional Council of Governments and the City of Youngstown to revitalize the U.S. Route 422 corridor to benefit businesses, residents and institutions alike. Read the story here: http://businessjournaldaily.com/awards-events/chamber-salutes-business-annual-breakfast-event-2013-8-30

Lien Forward Ohio was the predecessor to Mahoning County Land Bank. Vallourec Star management and Lien Forward Ohio brought together civic, business, government and nonprofit leaders to create positive changes along Route 422. These included removal of abandoned, dilapidated structures, coordinated trash collections by groups of volunteers, and the planting of wildflower meadows on vacant lots.

Lien Forward Ohio was absorbed by the County Land Bank earlier this year. Lien Forward Ohio’s association with Vallourec Star and the Route 422 corridor project gave employees a preview of the type and scope of work that successful county land banks perform, said Debora Flora, the County Land Bank’s executive director and former executive director of Lien Forward Ohio.

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