Campbell Schools Breaks Ground on Phase III

CAMPBELL – Local leaders celebrated the ground breaking Monday for the newest addition to the Community Literacy Workforce and Cultural Center.

This 10,000-square-foot addition will be known as the Whole Child/Whole Family Service Center and be a partnership with both Akron Children’s Hospital and the Eastern Gateway Community College.

Phase III of the 71,000-square-foot center, 380 Struthers-Coitsville Road, to be operated in conjunction with Campbell City Schools, will continue to bring to fruition the ideas of Superintendent Matthew Bowen with the help of local, state and federal partners. Importantly, Bowen said the project does not raise the taxes of residents and is funded by bringing together leaders and businesses in the area.

With general contractor DeSalvo Construction already at work, the facility is slated to open next spring or summer. The newest part of the center will provide better health care and mental health services to children in the community.

While the center has been able to serve adults, Bowen said there is a need for pediatrics and mental health services. Akron Children’s Hospital has now partnered with the center to fill those needs.

Paul Olivier, vice president of Akron Children’s Hospital Mahoning Valley Enterprises, said the hospital system saw a need here, and officials were excited when they were given the opportunity to partner with the Community Literacy Workforce and Cultural Center.

With Akron Children’s Hospital locations in 36 counties in Ohio, Olivier said there are seven sites in the Mahoning Valley. The new partnership will allow the hospital to impact the lives of more children and their families in an underserved part of Mahoning County.

“We’re very excited for the opportunity to be located right here on campus and in this community because we don’t have anything on this side of town,” Olivier said.

The expanded center will provide general medical services for children, as well as behavioral health services, and the ability to connect to other experts in the Akron Children’s Hospital system through telemedicine.

The expansion also includes additional classroom space for the Eastern Gateway Community College and for the Northeast Ohio Impact Academy, a STEM school for students in grades seventh through 12th.

Art Daly, senior vice president and chief development officer of Eastern Gateway Community College, said he met Bowen about six years ago to discuss a space where they could partner and address the larger needs for training health care employees. Eastern Gateway currently houses a radiology training facility in the center. Now there is the possibility other training programs including STNA, phlebotomy, pharmacy tech, stenography, CT scanning and mammography.

“When you look at this Valley, it is about family, it is about taking care of them, it is about training future generations,” Daly said. “Whether you are an adult learner or are a young person looking to find a career, the most important thing is everyone here together, this village is what is going to continue to grow and develop this region… To me our future is very bright,” Daly said.

At the ground breaking event, many spoke about the first time Bowen explained to them the idea of the Community Literacy Workforce and Cultural Center.

State Sen. Michael Rulli (R) said years ago after he gave a speech while he served on the school board in Leetonia, Bowen asked to talk to him in the parking lot. There, Rulli heard a pitch about the ideas Bowen had for what would one day become the Community Literacy Workforce and Cultural Center.

“He had a briefcase with all these papers and renderings and sketches and blueprints,” Rulli said. “He looked like a mad scientist.”

Rulli said what he understood at the time was it would be a place for people to play basketball, a place for tutoring and a community center. But he found it was much more. It is a workforce development center for those who do not know how to get the training they need.

“You saw there was a problem with the community where you knew there had to be some sort of a bridge to take the school, to take the community, to take the village hall, to take the neighborhood and to bring it all together,” Rulli said of Bowen. “That’s what this is. That was your dream and it was such an incredible dream.”

Rulli helped to secure $650,000 in state funding for the Whole Child/Whole Family Service Center. The project received an additional $250,000 from the Mahoning County Board of Commissioners, which allocated American Rescue Plan funding tfor the project.

Commissioner David Ditzler said when Bowen brought his plans to the commissioner’s meeting his excitement for the project was “infectious.”

“Isn’t amazing how much good can be done if nobody cares who gets the credit,” Ditzler said.

Commissioner Carol Rimedio-Righetti also gave kudos to those involved in the project, because she said it represents what the community is all about.

“This is needed in Mahoning County,” said said. “We need to take care of our children, our infants and our elderly.”

Although people do not always want to talk about it, she noted mental health services also are so important.

Commissioner Anthony Trafficanti agreed that there is a greater need for mental health services coming out of the pandemic with more depression diagnoses. One in five people do not have full access to mental health care, he said. 

“This cannot happen unless people have good hearts, and everybody in here shows compassion and understanding and recognizing just what our community needs,” Trafficanti said.

The importance of this center to the community continued as a theme as others spoke at the event.

U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson, R-6, noted the importance of workforce development as 10,000 baby boomers retire every single day – 3.5 million this year, he said. This rate will continue for the next 20 years, he said. At the same time, the birth rate is not keeping up to replace these employees.

“I tell young people all the time, what makes America different from every other nation on the planet is that every generation gets the opportunity to write the next great chapter in our nation’s history,” Johnson said. “Because America is never a finished product. There is never a finish line… The question is what is your chapter going to look like when you write it.”

Johnson said it’s projects like the Community Literacy Workforce and Cultural Center that gives people those opportunities, and projects like this do not happen without cooperation.

“We have always had a strong value here and this only makes us stronger,” State Rep. Al Cutrona, R, said, noting both youth and the community will benefit from this project.

“I never cared about district lines, although nowadays who knows where district lines are,” Cutrona said. “We’re a valley and we’re so interconnected… We all fit together just like all these different collaborations, whether it is Akron Children’s Hospital or Eastern Gateway, it is all working together for the greater good.”

For Bowen it continues to be about improving the lives of Campbell School students, their families and members of the community in order to make the Mahoning Valley a better place for everyone.

“If we want to see economic growth, if we want to see our area flourish, then we have to create the educational opportunities,” Bowen said. “Help us, help you… We really appreciate all the ongoing support.”

Bowen talked in generalities about a fourth phase to the project, the Mahoning Valley Wellness and Rehabilitation Center, the final piece to the puzzle that is in the design phase now.

Rulli said he continues to hear about projects like the Community Literacy Workforce and Cultural Center in other communities where they are copying Bowen’s idea.

“There’s no party lines when it comes to taking care of a community,” Rulli said. “There’s no me when you are looking at a team and Matt (Bowen) I’m so glad you’re our coach. You’re a great head coach, keep going and the state is going to be with you in the future. This is a great project and a beautiful dream.”

Pictured at top: Campbell Schools Treasurer Nora Montanez; Campbell Schools board members Beth Donofrio, Judy Gozur and Bill Valentino; Mahoning County Commissioners Carol Rimedio-Righetti, David Ditzler and Anthony Trafficanti; Campbell Superintendent Matt Bowen; Mike Kahoe, regional liaison for Lt. Gov. Jon Husted; U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson; Kathy Zook, ARC program manager for the Eastgate Regional Council of Governments.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.