Former Boardman High School Science Teacher, Mike Little, Dies After Achieving Lifetime Milestone Of Riding His Bicycle 80,000 Miles

Former Boardman High School Science Teacher, Mike Little, Dies After Achieving Lifetime Milestone Of Riding His Bicycle 80,000 Miles

“When you’re in the wilderness, you must listen to the ‘music’ of the woods. It soothes the soul.”

80-year-old Mike Little, who taught earth science and biology classes at Boardman High School from 1972-1999, recently reached a milestone when he rode his bike along the Greenway Trail, from Leetonia to Lisbon, Oh. The end of that ride marked some 80,000 miles Little had ridden on his bicycle in the last 50 years. His travels on his bike took him everywhere in America, including a month-long trek in Alaska, from Anchorage to Fairbanks.



A week ago, Little stopped by The Boardman News to tout his milestone achievement, leaving his phone number if this writer had any questions.
So, last Friday, a call was made to Little. His wife answered, informing on Wed., Aug. 31, Little died doing what he liked, riding his bicycle on the Little Beaver Trail in Columbiana County.

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He apparently fell and struck his head and never recovered. Little had a unique passion, the wilderness, saying “Mother Nature can bring us together. It provides peace of mind, that’s why I like it. When you’re in the wilderness, you must listen to the ‘music’ of the woods. It soothes the soul” In addition to his exploits on his two-wheeler, Little also hiked all over America, including such gems as the Long Trail, Appalachain Trail and Pacific Crest Trail. Only days before his death, he and his wife, Karen, were set to embark upon a journey to Austria. While teaching at Boardman High School, Little organized camping trips for his students. “For some, it was a life-changing event,” he said.

Little was a teacher for 34 years including four years on a Navajo Indian Reservation in Arizona, and 27 years at Boardman High School. Mike was also a National Park Ranger and worked at Wind Cave National Park, Colorado National Monument and Arches National Park. He also earned his pilot’s license and flew small airplanes in the 1990’s.

He served in the Air Force Reserves and was a member of the Benjamin Firestone Post #290 American Legion. He was also active in many clubs including, Nature Conservancy, National Geographic Society, Sierra Club and the Sebring Model Railroad Club.

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Mr. Little is survived by his wife, the former Karen Conkle, whom he married on June 3, 1967; his daughter, Sarah (Glenn) Forney of Boise, Idaho and Molly (Dwight) Pavek of Albuquerque, New Mexico; seven grandchildren; three great-grandchildren and siblings David Little and Rosemary Deioma. He was a member of St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Leetonia. Mike was born on August 1, 1942 in Dover, the son of the late Charles and Irene Monti Little.
PHOTO: MIKE LITTLE along the Greenway Trail just after completing a 50-year journey of 80,000 miles riding his bicycle.

This article was republished with permission from the Boardman News.

DeBartolo Sr. Scholarship Gala Raises Some $200,000

DeBartolo Sr. Scholarship Gala Raises Some $200,000

“This evening is a testament to Mr. DeBartolo’s belief that if we all continue to work together, we can provide opportunities to the young people in our valley.”

An elegant evening at the Covelli Center in downtown Youngstown on June 17, raised more than $200,000 for the Edward J. DeBartolo Memorial Scholarship Foundation. Guests enjoyed food stations from some of the area’s top restaurants and chefs, a live auction that included a trip to the next Super Bowl, and music featuring the sounds of Frank Sinatra presented by local crooner Angelo Babbaro and the Skatch Anderssen Orchestra. Some 350 people attended the event.

And, the game of football spiced the evening with many grid celebrities, including coaches and players in attendance—Among them, former Pittsburgh Steelers Hall of Fame running back Franco Harris, who was silent when asked about his ‘Immaculate Reception’ in 1972 that gave his team a 13-7 playoff win over the Oakland Raiders. The play is often heralded as the greatest play ever.

On hand were many members of the San Francisco 49ers. (The team was purchased by the Boardman-based DeBartolo family in 1977 and under the leadership of Ed DeBartolo Jr. became the first franchise in NFL history to win five Super Bowl titles).

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As introduced by Dr. John York, co-chairman of the Niners, they included—

  • Azeez Al-Shaair, a fourth year undrafted free agent linebacker. Last year Azeez had 102 tackles, 2 sacks and 2 fumble recoveries.
  • Aaron Banks, who was a 2021 second round All American draft pick out of Notre Dame. He will be the Niners left guard in the upcoming season.
  • Samson Ebukam, who is in his sixth year in the NFL and second with the 49ers. He had 4.5 sacks as a defensive lineman last year.
  • Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles, who is entering his fourth season as a linebacker for the 49ers. After spending his rookie year on the team’s practice squad, he has appeared in 28 games, including three starts, over the last two seasons.
  • Talanoa Hufanga, who is entering his second season as a safety for the 49ers. Hufanga came to San Francisco as a fifth-round draft pick out of University of Southern California in the 2021. He returned the blocked punt for a touchdown in the NFC divisional game against the Green Bay Packers, as the 49ers won, 13-10.
  • Drake Jackson, will be in his rookie season as a second round defensive lineman from USC. He was second team All-PAC-12 pick twice during his collegiate career.

Also on hand were a pair of Forty-Niner Hall of Famers, Tom Rathman and Bryant Young.

Rathman spent 23 years with San Francisco as both a player and coach. He was a member of two back-to-back Super Bowl championship teams (Super Bowl XXIII and XXIV). Following his playing career, he spent 15 years coaching San Francisco’s running backs, including Frank Gore, over a pair of stints (1996-2002 and 2009-16). Rathman finished his NFL career with 2,020 rushing yards, 320 receptions for 2,684 yards with a total of 34 touchdowns.

Young is the Niners’ newest Hall of Famer. He will be enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame this August. He was the 49ers first round pick (7th overall) in the 1994 draft. He played his 14 seasons with the team and was a member of the Niners Super Bowl XXIX team. He was the NFL’s defensive Rookie of the Year in 1994, named All Pro four times. After a devastating leg injury in 1998, he was the Comeback Player of the Year in 1999.

In addition to members of the Niners, several local football personalities were at the Memorial Scholarship Foundation event.

They included Paul McFadden and Jim Tressel, out of Youngsown State football lore; and current Penguins Head Coach Doug Phillips; and former Cardinal Mooney standout Ed Muransky (current owner/operator of Southwoods Health).

McFadden, who is currently president of the Youngstown State University Foundation, gained note for his barefoot kicking style. He made the Philadelphia Eagles roster as a 12th-round pick in 1984 and earned Rookie of the Year honors. McFadden played in the NFL with the Eagles, Atlanta Falcons and New York Giants for six seasons (1984-1989). McFadden was originally recruited at YSU as a soccer player, and moved onto the gridiron in 1981 as a placekicker for the Penguins under Head Coach Bill Narduzzi. The first field goal he ever attempted, he made, from 54 yards out, at Murray State.

Tressel, current president of Youngstown State, led the Penguins to four national titles and six appearances in national championship games. After a stellar coaching career at YSU, he moved on to Ohio State where he won the national title in 2002 and his teams also dumped rival Michigan seven times during his tenure as head coach.

Muransky played football for Cardinal Mooney High School under legendary Head Coach Don Bucci. He was selected in the fourth round of the 1982 NFL draft by the Oakland Raiders. He played in 24 games and was a member of the Raiders Super Bowl XXVIII championship team.

Phillips came to YSU from the University of Cincinnati, where he was an assistant coach under Luke Fickell. Since Tressel’s tenure, only Bo Pelini, Phillips predecessor, has led the Pens to an appearance in the national title game.

The grid game not withstanding, the accent of the evening was on the DeBartolo Memorial Scholarship Foundation.

“This evening is a testament to Mr. DeBartolo’s belief that if we all continue to work together, we can provide opportunities to the young people in our valley,” Dr. York said.

The Edward J. DeBartolo Memorial Scholarship Foundation has awarded more than $1.6 million in scholarships over the past 25 years and strives to provide advanced education for deserving valley students well into the future.

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Denise DeBartolo York and her husband, Dr. John York, San Francisco 49ers co-chairs and longtime education advocates, awarded 17 scholarships to graduating high school seniors from Columbiana, Mahoning and Trumbull counties during ceremonies held in May at the Lake Club.

The scholarships, part of The Edward J. DeBartolo Memorial Scholarship Foundation, totaled $170,000 and were presented to the recipients at The Lake Club during a luncheon for the students and their families.

The scholarship was first established by DeBartolo York’s father and several close friends, who worked to provide commendable youth the opportunity to continue their education.

The scholarship foundation, run by the Yorks in Mr. DeBartolo’s honor, serves to provide the same platform for excellent area youth in need of financial assistance.

Presenting sponsor for the event was Phantom Fireworks and the Zoldan family.

Major sponsors included Brown & Brown, Bury Financial, the Cafaro Foundation, Compco Industries, Covelli Enterprises, Candy and Edward DeBartolo, Furrie Vitullo Group Sparkle Markets, Garry and Wanda Mrozek and family, Hill Barth & King, JJ Cafaro Investment Trust, Mercy Health, Mercy Health Foundation, Muransky Companies, PNC, Rick’s Boot Factory Outlet, RT Vernal Paving, Simon Property, Trumbull Supply, Wesley Family Foundation/FLICORE, and Woeber Mustard Company.

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This article is being republished with permission of the Boardman News.

Stormwater Park in Boardman Township, Ohio gets $750,000 Grant to further the Project

Stormwater Park in Boardman Township, Ohio gets $750,000 Grant to further the Project

A proposed stormwater park, dubbed the Forest Lawn Stormwater Park, to be located on the property of the current Market St. Elementary School, 5555 Market St., received a boost last week with the announcement that the project has been awarded a $750,000 capital grant from the state of Ohio.

When completed, the Forest Lawn Stormwater Park will be a 14.6-acre green space on the property of the former elementary school that will be designed to improve surface water flows impacting up to 1,400 homes.

It will include the creation of a passive park where people can gather and walk along a lighted sidewalk, complete with security cameras, as well as the entire site will be re-forested with appropriate plantings.

Once completed, during heavy rainfalls, the project will be able to hold up to the equivalent of 9-feet of water (an estimated one million gallons) spread over the surface the size of a football field.

Already the stormwater park has received allocations totaling some $3 million, including a $1.2 million grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), $1 million from Mahoning County Commissioners Anthony Traficanti, David Ditzler and Carol Rimedio-Righetti, a $500,000 grant from the state of Ohio and a $320,000 grant from H-2 Ohio.

Funding For Forest Lawn Stormwater Park Could Be Boosted By FEMA Grant Monies

The current grant award will be used for property acquisition, parking lot construction and construction of an environmental education pavilion, thanks to the lobbying efforts of State Rep. Al Cutrona and State Sen. Michael Rulli.

The environmental education pavilion will maximize educational opportunities at the stormwater park.

This article was republished with permission from the Boardman News.

Stormwater Park in Boardman Township, Ohio gets $750,000 Grant to further the Project

Funding For Forest Lawn Stormwater Park Could Be Boosted By FEMA Grant Monies

BY JOHN A. DARNELL JR.
associate editor
Plans for a proposed stormwater park at the site of the now vacant Market St. Elementary School were boosted this week when Boardman Township was informed some $1.2 million in disaster mitigation grant monies could be used for the project, pending final approval from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).Cost of the project has been estimated to be near $3 million, and if the FEMA grant gains final approval, almost all of the funding for the project could come from grant monies, Township Administrator Jason Loree said this week.

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Already Boardman Township has been notified it will receive $1 million for the project from the Mahoning County Commissioners, as well as an Ohio capital grant of $500,000, and an Ohio H2O grant for $300,000.

“We have undertaken extensive studies for this project and after we complete asbestos surveys for the school building, if all goes well, we hope to raze the building this summer,” Loree said.

Not connected to the razing of the school building, but a part of the township’s overall stormwater abatement plans is razing several houses north of Market St. School in an effort to improve water flows in the Cranberry Run watershed during peak water events.

“Our road superintendent, Marilyn Kenner, has done an excellent job in procuring grants for these demolitions,” Loree said.
When completed, the Forest Lawn Stormwater Park will be a 14.6-acre green space on the property of the former elementary school that will be designed to improve surface water flows impacting up to 1,400 homes.

It will include the creation of a passive park where people can gather and walk along a lighted sidewalk, complete with security cameras, as well as the entire site will be re-forested with appropriate plantings.

Once completed, during heavy rainfalls, the project will be able to hold up to the equivalent of 9-feet of water (an estimated one million gallons) spread over the surface the size of a football field.

This article was republished with the permission of the Boardman News. 

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Mooney Graduate, Former Oklahoma Mentor Bob Stoops Set For Induction Into Hall Of Fame

Mooney Graduate, Former Oklahoma Mentor Bob Stoops Set For Induction Into Hall Of Fame

The National Football Foundation will hold its 63rd annual awards dinner on Dec. 7 in Las Vegas, Nev. when former Cardinal Mooney grid standout Bob Stoops will be inducted into the College Hall of Fame in recognition of his career as head coach of the Oklahoma Sooners.

Stoops stands alone as the only coach of the BCS era to win a national championship (2000) and all four BCS bowls—the Rose (over Washington State to cap the 2002 season), Fiesta (over Connecticut in 2010), Sugar (over Alabama in 2013) and Orange (over Florida State to clinch the 2000 title).

Oklahoma’s all-time winningest coach, Stoops posted 190-48 record for a 79.8 winning percentage during his remarkable 18-year tenure, returning the Sooners to one of the elite programs in college football.

Prior to his arrival at Oklahoma, the proud Sooner program was five years removed from a winning record and hadn’t produced double-digit victories since 1987. Coaching at Oklahoma from 1999-2016, Stoops never had a losing record en route to a school record 190 career wins, including 14 seasons of 10-plus victories (the most of an FBS coach from 2000-16). He led the Sooners to four BCS National Championship Game appearances, winning the 2000 national title after a perfect 13-0 season that culminated with a win over Florida State in the Orange Bowl. Leading OU to a bowl game in each of his 18 seasons (a school record), Stoops claimed nine postseason victories, including wins in the Cotton, Fiesta, Orange, Rose and Sugar bowls.

Stoops grew-up in a football family where he father, Ron, was an assistant coach under legendary Don Bucci at Cardinal Mooney High School. Playing for the Cardinals in the 1976 and 1977 season, Stoops earned All Steel Valley Conference second team laurels as a defensive back as a junior, and during his senior year he was tabbed for first-time All-SVC recognition as a split end.

Stoops had 27 catches for 683 yards, including ten for touchdowns while at Mooney. His ten TD grabs are still tied for the most in Mooney history (with Bob Terlecky and Dave Vecchione). He took his success to the University of Iowa, where he became a four-year starter and All-Big 10 defensive back.

During his Hawkeye career, Stoops made 230 tackles with eight interceptions. He was a member of the 1981 Big Ten championship team that played in the Rose Bowl. A season later, he was named team captain and most valuable player. After his playing and coaching days at Iowa, Stoops spent a year at Kent, seven at Kansas State, and three at Florida before becoming head coach at Oklahoma in 1999.

“My blessing was coming up under (Iowa) coach (Hayden) Fry and all those great assistants—Kirk Ferentz, Dan McCarney, Barry Alvarez, Bill Brashier, Bill Snyder,” Stoops said. “I came up under the best coaches in the country with those assistant coaches and coach Fry together. Going with coach Snyder and developing Kansas State from the ground up was a huge learning experience. It topped-off being around Steve Spurrier (at Florida), who is an incredible coach. I have been around great people.”

Several years ago, Coach Stoops was interviewed by a sports scribe, and left a lasing impression on the writer and the lessons learned from the coach—

1) Surround yourself with great people. Coach Stoops played for his father Ron Sr. at Cardinal Mooney High School in Youngstown, Ohio. He later went on to play for Hall of Fame coach Hayden Fry, then coached with Hall of Fame coach Barry Alverez, Hall of Fame coach Bill Snyder, and Hall of Fame coach Steve Spurrier to just name a few. He was always surrounded by great men in his own program and continues to stay connected to great coaches and players!

2) See the field (big picture). During the interview, Coach Stoops talked about how his dad taught him a lesson while watching game film in the kitchen as it projected in the refrigerator. He said most people watch the ball during the play, but his dad taught him to see the game. What he was talking about is how they would watch the same play over and over and over until they could see every angle.

3) Compartmentalize success. Don’t be afraid to change it up each year. One of the stories he shared was how he would take his players to the basketball court one week for some competition to change up practice. He was animated as he shared stories about some of the big lineman dunking the basketball and shooting long range jumpers. What do you need to change up in your daily practices in the workplace?

4) Make others feel important. One of the questions I asked was about the importance of volunteering. He said when visiting with kids at the OU Children’s Hospital, it was important to make the kids feel important.

5) Have a purpose. During the end of the interview, Coach Stoops made a comment that he had found his purpose during his hospital visits. When you know your purpose, life is just different—It’s intentional and choices are easier to make in our every day. Do you know your purpose?

* * * * * * * * * *

Bob Stoops is one of six children born to Ron Sr. and Evelyn ‘Dee Dee’ Stoops. Ron Sr. was the long-time defensive coordinator of the Cardinal Mooney football team. Bob and his three brothers, Ron Jr., Mike, and Mark were all coached by Ron Sr. at Mooney. Ron Jr. is currently an assistant football coach at Cardinal Mooney (after a stint as assistant coach at YSU); while Mike is currently defensive coordinator at Florida Atlantic (having previously served as head coach at Arizona); and Mark is head coach for the Kentucky Wildcats.

This article was republished here with permission from the Boardman News.