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A local foundation is working to help make lives better in the Mahoning Valley, by providing grants to groups in the community.

Joan Sullivan is looking forward to beautifying and improving a city park that features a large chess board with 30-inch pieces, so one of her opening moves was to try to secure funding for the ambitious project.

About 20 representatives from businesses on South Avenue, community groups and local agencies took the first steps Wednesday toward formally organizing a business association for the corridor.

Four collaborative projects between the Youngstown Air Reserve Station and community stakeholders -- including a proposed firearms and safety training center at the Trumbull Campus of Kent State University -- will now move to the next phase following a meeting Thursday at the air base to finalize the plans that have been developed.

People occupy and keep up most of the houses that surround Taft Elementary School, but the 11 that concern residents of this South Side neighborhood sit empty with broken windows and missing doors.