School board acknowledges members’ community efforts

WELLSVILLE — Members of the Wellsville Board of Education took time during Monday’s meeting to acknowledge efforts in the community and district from two members, while also taking time to remember a prominent member of the community.

During the Board Participation portion, board member Gary Althiser took time to recognize the Tiger Mites wrestling program, devoted to elementary students in Kindergarten through the sixth grade, following a recent meet held at Canfield High School.

Althiser, who also serves as volunteer head coach for the varsity wrestling team, acknowledged that the Tiger Mites program currently has 62 members, accounting for nearly one-fifth of the male elementary students, and commended the dedication of the coaches and parents on helping the student-athletes.

“It really showed me just how meaningful that organization is to our kids,” Althiser said. “I think they just need a pat on the back.”

Althiser also noted the encouragement the children receive regardless of the outcome of their matches.

“The kids come off the mat and lose, they’re getting hugged and being told ‘Everything’s ok, you did good’, and the ones that win are being told ‘Great job, you’re doing well’,” Althiser said. “To see that many kids being cared for whether they win or lose is something to see.”

Board president Ed Bauer commented on the wrestling program, and felt that the program has started to receive more recognition and more support since Althiser took over as head coach back in 2015.

“Our wrestling program had really gone downhill to say, and I think now, based on what I’ve heard, it’s coming back,” Bauer said.

The Tiger Mites wrestle at either noon or 2 p.m. Sundays at Canfield High School.

Also recognized by Bauer was board member Richard Salsberry, who will once again–along with his wife and one daughter–be delivering toys to children at Pittsburgh Children’s Hospital through the family’s annual toy drive, dedicated to Salsberry’s daughter Lindsey, who died in 2007 at age 21 following a nearly two-year battle with cancer.

Members of the National Honor Society and the Simple Acts of Kindness clubs have made donations to the drive, and according to Salsberry, nearly 80 toys have been donated for the program, which will go towards Oncology patients at the hospital.

“Rick does a heck of a job every year of collecting toys on behalf of his daughter, and takes them up to the hospital,” Bauer said. “I just want to recognize him, not necessarily as a board member but as an individual who cares.”

However, Bauer also took time to pay tribute to former Wellsville police captain and safety director Charles Amato, who died Sunday at St. Elizabeth Health Center in Boardman at the age of 80.

Bauer offered his condolences on behalf of the board to the Amato family, which were also extended to board vice president Tom Brophey, who is the nephew of Capt. Amato.

“The community and me personally, I lost a good friend, and the community lost a heck of a guy in Chuck Amato,” Bauer said. “I think we should recognize that because he’s been around for a lot of years and he’s done a lot of things.”

According to Bauer, current Columbiana County Municipal Court Judge Chris Amato–Capt. Amato’s son–had planned to discuss his viewpoints on current drug abuse programs during Monday’s meeting, but was unable to attend.

Capt. Amato–who joined the Wellsville Police Department in 1958–was honored for his role in the 1960 capture of Gordon “Spunky” Firman, a longtime criminal who escaped from Coshocton County Jail and went on a month-long spree of kidnappings, burglaries and theft, to which 600 other police officers were involved in the month-long manhunt. Amato was recognized by then-head of the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) J. Edgar Hoover, and also received other commendations from the Fraternal Order of Police.

Among his other accomplishments, Capt. Amato was among the first to be inducted into the Police Officers Wall of Fame in 1997, and has also been honored as Man of the Year by the Wellsville Area Chamber of Commerce, Legend of the Year in the village in 2009, and this past summer by the Moving Wellsville Forward Committee for his lifetime service.

In one final comment from board participation, board member Nancy Francis reported that a new drug prevention program geared towards students will be starting at the Indian Creek schools in Wintersville soon, and Francis said she will look to see if Wellsville can be able to bring that program to its district at no cost.