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Community A year ago Bishop C. Shawn Tyson, pastor of Mount Calvary Pentecostal Church, told members of the Idora Neighborhood Association, that his church was ready to build a “Dream Center” on the former amusement park location. By October, he hinted that the project could break ground “as early as spring of 2014.” To date, nothing has been announced or built. Jessica Mowchan/

Since 1985, the owner of the Idora Park property has promised to develop a City of God on the site. After 29 years, the property sits idle. Now, the owner Mount Calvary Pentecostal Church, may ask the community for financial help to kick start the development.

Community Pearl Underwood surveys the community garden on one of the vacant lots in the Oak Hill area. The 84-year-old says the garden supplies fresh fruit and vegetables to some of the senior citizens. The biggest problem for the garden isn’t vandals – it’s groundhogs. Chris Davidson/

People living in the Mahoning Valley are getting older and poorer. Census figures show the area has the fifth highest number of residents 65 and older. Also, the area has the lowest average household income, less than $30,000 a year. This poorer, aging population will need help financially from local agencies and the community.

Audio Nearly 70 residents filled a meeting room at the Oak Hill Collaborative to discuss concerns in their neighborhood during an informational meeting sponsored by the Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corp. This was the ninth meeting in the series. Two more remain. Chris Davidson/

Roughly 70 South side residents attended an informational meeting sponsored by the Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corp. The meeting at the Oak Hill Collaborative ran for two hours instead of one, which residents expressing their concerns over the lack of attention by leaders to their section of the city.

Community Ohio State School Board members (from left) Bryan C. Williams, Mark Alan Smith, C. Todd Jones and Sarah Fowler at the Oct. 7, 2013 meeting of the board in Columbus

What is a clear conflict of interest for an Ohio state legislator is not so clear for a member of the State Board of Education. Four state school board members have business and private interests that compete directly for education dollars. Two are lobbyists, one is married to a lobbyist, and another benefits from public money given to the Christian college where he is president for post-secondary education. When it comes to the state school board, “Lobby law is silent,” said Paul Nick, executive director of the Ohio Ethics Commission.

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The Ohio State School Board is one of three hybrid boards in the nation. The board has 11 elected and eight appointed members. Prior to 1995, the 11-member board was entirely elected. Now, with more governor appointments, the board has lost its independent nature. The Beacon Journal in Akron and The News Outlet based at Youngstown State University explore the workings of the board that directs education in Ohio.

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The State School Board of Education has focused its attention on more school choice in Ohio. Proponents say more choice will lead to competition and result in better quality schools. They also say parents are capable of making informed choices on where their children should go to school. Opponents of expanded choice say it’s hard for parents to make an informed choices when they are inundated by road signs, TV and radio ads, robo-calls and mailers. They also say private and for-profit schools don’t face the same level of accountability as their public school counterparts.

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