STRUTHERS, Ohio (WKBN) — It was an afternoon of ribbon cuttings and celebrations in Struthers — all of them taking place within a quarter-mile of each other on the banks of the Mahoning River. For 80 years, the Mahoning River helped with Struthers’ thriving steel industry, and now community leaders hope the river will in the future.

The first of Struthers’ two ribbon cuttings was for the Struthers Community River Launch, where kayaks and canoes can be put into the Mahoning River under the bridge on Bob Cene Way.

Before the ribbon-cutting, Struthers Mayor Cat Cercone Miller recognized Chuck Miller and Ed Hahn of the Mahoning River Paddling, Restoration Group, who led the mayor to this spot and convinced her that a launch paid by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources was needed.

“When we first started utilizing the Mahoning 10-12 years ago, we were walking through poison ivy and Japanese knotweed up to here, and to have this now, oh yeah, it’s very exciting,” said Miller.

Two hours later — with Paul Cene and Jim DiBacco of Astro Shapes — the mayor oversaw a second ribbon cutting on land where Youngstown Sheet and Tube’s Coke plant once stood, land the Cene family donated to Struthers for a new city hall, community center and outdoor track.

“Going along with their guidance, we’re happy to be able to accept the donation of this property from them,” said Cercone Miller.

The ribbon cuttings took place next to the Cene Park Baseball fields. Established in 1995, Cene Park was also using the occasion to celebrate its 25th anniversary two years late — having not been able to properly celebrate the past two years because of COVID. A fireworks show was planned after the 7:30 p.m. game.

“Twenty-five years is a long time. It continues to get better. I think what Cat’s doing as the mayor of Struthers has opted in and doing some great things. It’s win-win not only for Bob Cene Park but for the city of Struthers,” said Cene Park manager Steve Leslie.

The new city hall, community center and outdoor track are still in the planning stages. It’ll take six to seven years to build at an estimated cost of $26 to $36 million. It will all be paid through grants, none of which have yet been raised.