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NEWS "We Need Consistency"
Feldman Cites Longevity, Business Acumen

Evaluating candidates for District Judge is difficult because all three candidates are well qualified. But two qualities Max Feldman offers that separate him from the other two are Longevity and Business Background.

The Western Hills District Judgeship has been vacant for almost two years. To fill the void, the County has rotated other judges in every month. While the men and women rotating through have all been good judges, they have had different styles and backgrounds, so local rulings have been inconsistent. And since those judges have not been from this area, locals have complained they have not always worked the entire day and not always worked five days a week.

Feldman promises to change that.

He's been in Coraopolis 30 years. He's run the same law practice in the same 5th Avenue building all that time, raised his family here, and represented Cory, Moon, Neville and Crescent clients all that time.

"I'm not going anywhere. I'm 56. I have no ambitions to become a Common Pleas Judge or State Superior Court Judge or anything else. If I'm elected, I'll be the Western Hills District Judge for the long term. I'll establish a consistency that's been missing here."

Feldman also promises to extend working hours. "We need late afternoon and evening hours. Adults in this community work, and most of them work during the daytime. Kids here go to school. A night court one or more evenings a week would allow those people to take care of their legal issues without missing work or school. I've worked long hours ever since I opened this law practice, so working evenings is nothing new to me."

Feldman also feels his business background would be an asset. "We came here with $4000, two sons and a baby on the way. A law practice is a small business, and we started this one from scratch. We had to remodel the building. We have to maintain records, file taxes, supervise employees, do all the things any small business does. The District Judge, in addition to hearing cases, has to administer the court. It's like running a small business. You have to keep records, file reports, supervise employees, all the same tasks. My background qualifies me to do those things."

Feldman sees a District Judge almost as a parent figure. "Sometimes you have to impose consequences, but other times you have to show compassion. We have repeat and violent offenders and they need dealt with. But for light offenses or first time offenders, sometimes community service, counseling and therapy are better alternatives."

He also sees Respect as a key component. "A District Judge has to earn the respect of the community. But he also has to respect the people who come before him, treat them professionally, listen to their side of things. Another important aspect of this is a District Judge has to respect the Police. We have good Police in this area. They work hard and sometimes risk their lives. When they bring a case to the Judge, they deserve to have that case taken seriously. So does the community."

Fortunately, he sees the Western Hills as a great community. "This is a safe community. We have good Police and good people. The drug flow through here worries me, and I think a lot of the other activities, the thefts, vandalism, violent confrontations, and even traffic violations, stem from drugs most of the time. But for the most part, what we have are kids and adults who make less than good decisions more than chronic offenders trying to get away with serious crime."

One issue people are asking candidates about this year is the location of District Court in the old Volante's Building. Feldman doesn't see that location as a problem. "It's central. There's plenty of parking. It's easy to get to. It's right on the bus line."

He does see the position as coming full circle. "This position would allow me to give back some of what Cory has given to my family and to me."

Santicola Sees Judgeship As Opportunity

Michele Santicola stopped in briefly at Cory's Anchor & Anvil coffe shop on her way from a court hearing in Pittsburgh to her branch office in Beaver. Her life right now is a whirlwind of activity as she is both a practicing attorney and a candidate for the vacant District Judgeship for Coraopolis/Moon/Neville/Crescent.

A lot of people think Santicola is out of her mind for even considering walking away from a successful private law practice for the much lower paying Judgeship. She doesn't see it that way.

"How much money do you need?" she asks. "I like making a difference. I've worked in both the public and private sectors. The most excited I ever was to go to work every morning was when I worked in the public sector."

She sees the District Judgeship as an opportunity to do good. "You have the ability as a judge to pull together all sorts of resources and help people. Yes, you meet some rather unsavory characters, and some incorrigibles, and you have to deal sternly with them. But you also have this kid standing before you who is in for his first offense. He might have a good job opportunity, or a chance to go to college. If you sentence him to community service, he still gets to take that job or go to college and five years down the road he's a useful citizen. If you send him to jail you wipe out those opportunities. Five years down the road, for lack of any other opportunities, that kid may be standing before you again, this time a habitual offender. The law's important. But the way we administer the law makes a huge difference."

The District Judgeship has been vacant for two years. Judges from around the county have been rotating through, each one spending one week every several months in Cory hearing cases.

Santicola doesn't like this. "These judges don't know the communities. And they're not consistent. One judge is a hardliner, the next judge lenient. So what kind of sentence you get depends on your luck in which week your case comes up."

Right now, a temporary courtroom sits in the Volante's Building. It's too small and not well designed. Santicola wishes the new Coraopolis Borough Building had included a courtroom. Some local businesses wish the County would move the court entirely out of town, but she doesn't see this happening. When newspapers and TV stations repeatedly report cases as being in Cory, it sounds as if Coraopolis has a serious crime problem. The truth is, most cases come from Moon Township. But cases from Moon, Crescent and Neville are all tried in Cory, in addition to the few cases originating in the borough.

Santicola would be an activist judge. "I'd go talk to schools. We have to work with kids before they come before a judge. I would explain to them, 'Look, we love you, but this is a nation of laws. We obey laws here. You do not want to come before me."

While in private practice, she has adopted Mooncrest as a personal project. She has spent hours there as a volunteer. At Christmas, she set up a program that let kids buy presents for two adults, either their parents or whoever was caring for them.

"Every kid thanked me. They'd never before been able to actually give anything to any one. These are good kids. They just don't have anything. I mean nothing."

Santicola leans forward, getting intense. "People ask me how I can find the time to work up there when I'm busy with my law practice and my own family. Listen : Kids Are Going Hungry. They Don't Have Enough To Eat. This Is America. This Is Unacceptable. We Have to FIND Time."

She gets impatient with people who tell her various programs aren't possible. "Don't tell me why we can't do these things. Tell me how we can."

Santicola is trying to talk local schools into saving their unused cafeteria food, refrigerating or freezing it, packing it, and sending it home with kids Friday for the weekend. Other school districts in Pennsylvania already do this. "So I have people telling me, well, there are these regulations, and we don't have room, and all these reasons why we can't do it. I said, hold it, other districts had the same problems and found a way around them. Our kids are just as hungry as theirs were and we're throwing away all this good food. We Can Do This."

District Judges schedule one day a week for criminal cases, one day for civil cases, one day a week for traffic cases, and so on. It's a busy caseload. And every single case tests the judge's judgement, sensitivity, patience and faith in people. "I'm old enough I like to think I've learned to read people. I can usually tell who just made a single really bad decision and needs a break, and who is a habitual offender and deserves consequences."

Santicola is also a strong advocate of local teen jobs programs. "Kids can work. They need to work. Kids who are working and earning money are not getting in trouble."

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Pitassi Declares For 1st Ward Council Seat

Former Coraopolis Borough Council Member Ed Pitassi has announced his candidacy for the First Ward seat being vacated by Calvin Jackson.

Jackson is not running for reelection.

Pitassi was a former Council member but lost in the last election to Melissa Walsh. Each Ward has two seats. Jackson has held the other seat.

While not on the Council for the last two years, Pitassi has busied himself on the Coraopolis Shade Tree Commission and with various issues concerning the Coraopolis Library. As the County and State have concerned themselves with stormwater runoff and air quality, they have become concerned with the number of trees per acre and have issued new requirements. Towns are using various strategies to meet these requirements. Coraopolis is doing it with its Shade Tree Commission, which cares for existing trees and continually plants new ones.

Among its duties, the Shade Tree Commission hosts the annual Arbor Day Trash Pickup Day, which this year is April 27. "When we started several years ago we would get five people," Pitassi says. "Now we get 60-70. It's become a good event."

Pitassi admits with the Shade Tree Commission and the Memorial Library he's kept busy since losing his seat. So why bother to run again?

"Voice," he says. "When I approach people as a volunteer worker, I have limited input. As a member of Council, my voice means so much more."

His will not be a negative campaign. "Council has been doing a great job. Ray McCutcheon is a great Borough Manager. There's no political foolishness. They see problems and they set about solving them. McCutcheon does the work of three people. I don't know how he does it. As a small town, we have a limited budget, but he goes after those grants and we've been able to leverage a small amount of money into an awful lot of street and road work and other projects."

Still, Pitassi sees issues nobody else seems to be prioritizing and he'd like to address.

"I'd like to go after Streetscape Grants. I've been to other towns that have done such wonderful things with their streetscapes, and I'd like to do those things here. People like to live and shop in towns with aesthetically attractive streets. Businesses like to locate in those places. This is a great town but we could dress it up a little. We've already done some things, but we could do more."

He'd like to tie in street work, water projects and the Shade Tree Commission. "The County and State are aggressively promoting the idea that each town should control the water flow, not just the drinking water and sewage, but all water, the water from rain and snowmelt and streams flowing through town, the guy watering his lawn or garden, the water sucked up by trees and bushes. Well, you can't do that in isolation. Our water lines are under our streets. Every water project has to tear up the streets. When we tear up our streets and then repave them, we should be including trees in the planning."

And that extends to the woods around town. "We are so lucky here. The Hollow Oak Land Trust is hoping to build hiking trails in the woods around town. We should look at those for more than trails. Very few towns have these woods on all sides. We've taken them so much for granted. They beautify the area, soak up water and release it slowly, offer recreation, reduce air pollution, all sorts of things. But we should be paying more attention to those woods, protect them, make sure they're safe, here for the future. For example, we had that wonderful park, and then we used it for the school. It's a nice school, but surely we could have built it somewhere else and not sacrificed that park."

He'd like to make hiring a grantwriter a top priority. "Ray can't do every thing. Right now, he's meeting with officials from various agencies, filling out all the paperwork for every project in town, handling all the office duties, taking care of the budget, and then trying to write grants. He's gotten us lots of grants but imagine how much more we could do with someone who only sat in the office and wrote grant applications. If we ever lost Ray we'd have to hire three people to do what he does. We can't go on like this."

As he talks to people around town, Pitassi has learned that there are lots of residents who would like to get involved with one project or another. "There are a lot of talented people in Cory. All of us together can accomplish so much more than each of us acting individually."

Pitassi was born and raised in Coraopolis and has lived here all his life. "This is a great town. I love it here. I didn't fully appreciate it until I became an adult. People don't realize how much planning and decision making goes into every little detail of life in Coraopolis. The Memorial Day Parade, the Little League, snow removal, maintenance of the parks, Christmas ceremonies, every detail, has people behind the scenes making sure they run smoothly. I have the time and energy and good health to contribute and I want to do it."

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Montour, Vine, Guinea Hens, Trails Occupy Council

Coraopolis Borough Council worked its way through an extensive agenda at its April work session and business meeting.

Heading the priority list was the condition of Montour and Vine Streets and the need to begin their repair and reconstruction immediately.

The Montour Street situation is complicated by the fact that it is officially a county/state road and the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, not Coraopolis, is responsible.

The location is along the cliffs between Highland and Ferree, where to the right the terrain drops steeply down to McCabes Run and Brook Street. At some point a crack opened up in the foundation of Montour Street and over a year or so it widened, allowing rainwater and snow and ice melt to erode the dirt on which the street rests. Now, there is literally a small cave (photo, right) extending under the street with the pavement being the roof of the cave. Fracture lines are extending across the street and one crack is lengthening daily.

Council members have visited the spot and Borough Manager Ray McCuteheon has notified PennDot, which has sent inspectors out. They agree the situation demands immediate attention and have promised to send crews out to (l) pump concrete into the cave, and (2) strip away and redo the surface of Montour Street. They promise to do both by mid May. The problem is 20 school buses travel up to Sacred Heart and back down twice each day, passing directly over the hole. So do a dozen dump trucks loaded with fill from construction sites, plus the usual traffic as people go to and from work and to and from downtown Coraopolis.

And it gets worse. When those PennDot crews arrive, they will close off Montour Street at Vine Street and Vance Avenue, detouring all traffic to Vine. But Vine is also in very bad shape. Councilman Danny LaRocco receives complaints every day from his constituents demanding to know when he's going to get something done about Vine Street. The photo at left shows the intersection of Vine and Ridge Avenue. There have been patches on top of patches on top of patches. A complete reconstruction is needed, to include sidewalks, curbs and storm sewers.

The problem with Vine Street is it was never intended as a major street. Until recently, Vine above Vance Avenue wasn't even paved. It was a gravel alley. Longtime Cory residents can recall sledriding down Vine. Suddenly, it's being used as a major shortcut from Moon Township to Route 51. The paving was never intended to handle this much traffic, especially school buses, dump trucks and commercial vehicles. This reconstruction should strengthen it considerably, but with its tight turns, steep grade and narrow width, Vine is still not suitable for the traffic using it.

Council also reviewed paving work to be done on Cable Way, Prospect, Chess and Southern Avenues.

Council's next issue involved Guinea Hens loose on Vance Avenue. Two neighbors (that's Kim Daniels handing out materials in the photo at right) explained to Council that a local resident has acquired the birds. There is no coop, no fence, no enclosure. The birds are free ranging. They squawk and call all day and night, drop waste on sidewalks and yards, and peck at dogs and cats.

"I have guinea hens roaming around my backyard," Daniels explained. "I don't own any birds. Why do I have guinea hens in my yard?"

Council admitted it has no ordinance referring to free ranging domestic birds and may need to create one.

In the meantime, Police Chief Ron Denbow promised his men would be notifying the birds' owners that they must confine the birds to their own yard and should control the nighttime squawking.

Council discussed the 2019 grass cutting contract. The two bids were for $10,825 and $8,550. One company promises to cut the banks (as the Library bank, shown at left) with weedwhackers. Several Council members pointed out that previous companies trying to mow the slopes with regular mowing equipment dug deep ruts which are unsightly, a problem since the Library sits on State Avenue and the bank is highly visible. The ruts also lead to erosion.

Cub Scout Pack #358 and Abundant Life Ministries asked Council to waive their fees for renting Little League Park and the Fifth Avenue Gazebo. Council members pointed out that the $200 deposit was to guarantee that groups clean up after themselves and as long as that is done they get their deposit back. After a lengthy discussion Council voted not to waive the fees.

Council approved a plaque honoring Randy Cosgrove to be placed at Bliwas Park. Cosgrove was a longtime Little League administrator and advocate but died recently.

Danny LaRocco brought up the issue of parking on George Street between Vance and Ridge. He explained that cars and trucks parking there on both sides make the street too narrow for police, fire and ambulance vehicles to get through.

Major Shawn Reed explained to Council that he had recently attended a meeting of the Regional Asset Agency, where he learned that Moon and Cory could combine park acreage and apply for a single develoipment grant.

This would help them qualify for the grants, which have a minimum park size and previously neither Moon nor Coraopolis could qualify

Reed also talked about trails. Cory has paid $5500 to the Hollow Oak Trust to develop a Thorn Run Hollow - McCabes Hollow trail (see photos, right and below). Thorn Run Hollow begins near the far western corner of Coraopolis, where Thorn Run (Creek) passes under Route 51 and 5th Avenue and empties into the Ohio River. Thorn Hollow Drive follows the creek up the hollow for two blocks, then dead ends. A trail would begin there and go up the hollow, behind and far below Southern, Summit and St. Clair Drives. The trail would follow the edge of the Cemetery, cross to the Cornell School District campus, and drop into McCabes Hollow. Exactly where it would go from there is uncertain, but one option would be to follow McCabes Creek up the wooded hollow into Moon township, then follow the Power Line Trail up to Montour Street and down behind Sacred Heart to the Montour Trail.

The Montour Trail would bring a hiker back into Coraopolis. The Ohio Valley trail, now under construction, would continue through Coraopolis back to Thorn Run.

The Ohio Valley Trail's future is uncertain. The original route across the Sewickley Bridge was been vetoed due to heavy traffic. So Coraopolis may be building a trail which dead ends at the western edge of town. Nevertheless, both Mayor Reed and Council believe in the Ohio River Trail concept. It could stand alone just as a pleasant trail from one end of town to the other along the river, especially if the Coraopolis Riverfront Park becomes a reality.

In a final item of business, Ray McCutcheon pointed out that Coraopolis has paid Waste Management $16,000 to take all old electronics, so local residenrs should take advantage.

Council approved Arbor Day and Drug Recycling programs. For details see separate stories below.

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Arbor Day Trash Pickup Saturday April 27

The annual Coraopolis Arbor Day Trash Pickup will be held this year on Saturday, April 27 from 9 am til noon.

Volunteers should report to Riverfront Park (1st Avenue & Broadway) at 8:30 am, hopefully with a pair of rubber gardening gloves and trash bags. (If you forget yours, or don't have one, officials will have extras at the Park.) Light refreshments will be available.

This is a work session so crews will be working rain or shine.

The idea is to walk streets and/or alleys from one end of town to the other and pick up any trash found.

Vehicles will be available for bulky items, like abandoned furniture.

Coraopolis does not really have a major litter problem, but it may be days like this that make sure one doesn't develop.

Cory's annual pick up day has far surpassed original expectations. "We were lucky to get five that first year, and now we attract 60-70 on a sunny day," explained Ed Pitassi of the sponsoring Shade Tree Commission.

Cory Police Host DEA Drug Take Back Day

The Coraopolis Police Department is hosting a Drug Take Back Day Saturday, April 27, from 10 am through 2 pm at its 4th Avenue station.

The goal is to rid Coraopolis of old drugs sitting in medicine cabinets, bedroom drawers, on night tables, in the kitchen or in purses.

Those drugs pose a huge problem. Sometimes kids or pets find and use them. Sometimes people think the drugs are still good and take them. Sometimes well meaning family members, while cleaning the house, find them and flush them down the toilet, throw them in the trash or dump them down the garbage disposal.

All of these are dangerous. The drugs can harm or even kill pets and kids. Not only are old drugs no longer effective, but they may have begun to deteriorate and can cause harm. They can also interact with other, newer drugs. Disposing of them in the sewer system, trash or garbage disposal can put the drugs in the water system. Water purification plants do not remove pharmaceuticals, so the chemicals in the drugs end up in drinking water.

The Police turn the drugs over to the DEA, which is equipped to destroy the drugs, reducing them to basic, harmless, chemicals.

Neville Board Ponders Cell Tower, Back Flow, Trash

The Neville Board of Commissioners has learned the simple process of installing a cell phone tower is a lot more complicated than they thought.

Neville's original cell phone tower was part of a factory facility which is being dismantled, so they need a replacement. Federal regulations do not permit a cell phone tower in a residential area, so they need to find a site elsewhere. They chose an open acre of land behind the Speedway station next to I-79, and contracted Windstream to build it.

Then, as required by law, they searched the history of that acre all the way back to 1905. Turns out it has a complex history. Harry Dravo owned it at one point. The old Neville Railroad, whose assets are now owned by CNN, had a right of way through that acre. Duquesne Light, Columbia Gas and Buckeye Pipeline all have easements. There are lines running underground and overhead. Neville will still get its cell phone tower, but it may have to be moved to one side of that acre to avoid all the easements. The Board may try to schedule a meeting of all easement owners so they can resolve the various issues quickly.

The Board discussed a new regulation requiring each tenant in a multi-tenant building to have their own trash container not to exceed 96 gallons in capacity. Waste Management Company also asks that residents stop using wooden slat platforms for trash containers, as trash falls down between the cracks and attracts animals. WMC also reminded everyone that trash must be bagged.

The Board approved a new chain link fence to replace the Memorial Park fence that was destroyed by wind over the Winter. Pieces of the old one have been removed.

Bids for the meeting room sound system came in too high and another round of bids will be invited.

 

The Board discussed the new parking restrictions on parking near the I-79 intersection on Grand Avenue. Signage has been erected.

General reconstruction of the Fleming Park Bridge is on schedule and the bridge should reopen no later than August. But an emergency has arisen. Sandblasting damaged the water lines running along the side of the bridge. 40 bolts on the dresser couplings must be replaced immediately. The Board authorized $2,720.72 to pay Mosites Construction Company to replace the bolts. Engineer Ned Mitrovich had warned the Board at the February meeting that these pipes were overdue for replacement anyway.

The Commissioners repealed an out of date regulation and passed a new one governing design, location, placement, building and maintenance of wireless communications towers or other devices.

The Solicitor pointed out that the new 5G routers are often installed atop existing utility poles but each one only serves four or five houses in the immediate vacinity.

The Police Report listed 105 traffic citations.

Columbia Gas has revised its stormwater runoff plan for its parking lot. The new plan has been properly submitted.

A problem has been discovered at the West View Water Treatment plant. A sludge layer has developed which must be transferred to the Allegheny County Sanitary Authority (ALCOSAN).

 

The Solicitor pointed out that the Commissioners needed a law requiring a back flow device on water lines. A new regulation requires that the township enforce this standard. Because of events in places like Flint Michigan, Martin County Kentucky, and the city of Pittsburgh, water quality regulations are being tightened. More frequent sampling will now be required. The backflow devices are part of this tightening process. Because of low pressure events caused by frozen pipes, rapid emptying of water hydants while fighting a fire, or leakage from a broken pipe, contaminated water can flow backward into a home's clean water reservoir. The backflow device prevents this, mostly by maintaining an air gap in the pipe. Inspection is needed to guarantee compliance, and a data base must be maintained which an inspector can ask for at any time. To deal with this, most communities outsource the job of installing the backflow devices and maintaining the backflow database.

Mitrovich informed the Board that they needed to resume their policy of checking 20 meters a month. This policy had been temporarily suspended due to a manpower shortage.

Considerable discussion focused on the Salt Storage & Maintenance Building. The Commissioners had talked about this in previous meetings. Several liked the idea of T Walls. It was decided two members would visit the building and help Mitrovich decide which type of walls to install. However, several members also asked if the building could not be remodelled so the island street sweeper could be housed there during the Winter months. New regulations about highway salt storage discussed at the February meeting are forcing the township to build a new building.

Sue Etters (photo, above right) wanted to know why properties and alleys were allowed to deteriorate. She particularly objected to deep potholes in alleys in her neighborhood. She was told work is prioritized and the street crew gets to each job as quickly as possible. The holes in her alley have, in fact, been fixed. Finally, she asked about a cell phone tower harming area residents. She was told the proposed cell tower will be across the interstate from the nearest house and there is no record of a cell phone tower emitting waves strong enough to affect anyone that far away.

 

The Commissioners approved $14,395.50 to Independent Enterprises for the Walnut Street Drainage Improvement Project.

Commissioners were made aware of a sinkhole which has opened up at the corner of Grand and Second.

Official notification has been sent to Pennske about it being in violation of several standards.

Calgon is on schedule in revising its compliance policy and should have completed that process by the end of the month.

The final item discussed was the issue of broken glass during trash pickup in the Mansionettes. The large amount of broken glass damaged the seal on the Waste Management Truck. This broken glass was in the trash. The truck has been repaired, but WMC would like for this not to happen again.

They also encouraged volunteers to participate in the annual Earth Day Litter Pickup Saturday April 27 from 9 - noon. Volunteers should meet at the Fire Station.

And they reminded everyone of the upcoming Memorial Day Parade in Coraopolis on Monday at 1:30, during which commemorative services will be held, and the services at the Neville Island Honor Roll at 3 pm Sunday.

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Neville Board Discusses Salt, Pipes, I-79

District Representative Anita Kulik opened the Neville Board of Commissioners February meeting by offering to help in whatever ways the Board might need. For example, she offered to add a letter from her office to any grant applications the Island might file. She mentioned possible riverfront park grants or public safety grants. Kulik (photo, right) said she was the only member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives to have an inhabited island in her district and she took great pride in that. Kulik is a Carnegie native whose district includes much of the Western Hills.

Township Engineer Ned Mitrovich then went over a long list of items needing approval or attention. One of the major items was Highway Salt. The Island has been storing its salt in a facility under the I-79 inrerchange. But they have been notified that will no longer be possible. They are planning a new facility on Front River Road. But there are new 2019 regulations. Tarps or temporary covers are no longer allowed. Salt must be stored in a facility rain can no longer reach. Salt must not be able to mix with water and drain either along the surface or through the soil. Dissolved salt can no longer enter the river or the aquifers. This requires a paved floor in the storage facility. The floor must be sloped so it drains away from the doors, not toward them. Neville stores about 80 tons of salt each year, which it gradually draws down as the Winter progresses. A quonset hut was mentioned. A large tent is a possibility, but in all likelihood the state will not approve that because during a storm the tent could be torn or blown away and rain could reach the salt. A cone is a possibility. The structure must be high enough for equipment to load the truck. Neighbors expressed concern that they would be wakened by noise in the middle of the night as crews loaded the salt onto trucks. But they were assured that each snow only takes one truckful, and the truck is usually loaded the previous afternoon in anticipation. The fact the salt facility would be extremely close to the river poses problems which must be carefully considered and planned for.

The second major item Mitrovich mentioned was the replacement of water pipes, expansion joints and hanging brackets along the side of the Fleming Park Bridge now under a year's reconstruction. He told the Board those items were way overdue for replacement anyway. There's a walkway that runs along the pipeline so replacement will not be difficult.

He also informed the Council that the 2" water lines running along streets and roads will need upgrading to 6" lines. All the water lines run down the middle of the streets and roads under the pavement. Sewage lines run along the shoulders of streets and roads, sometimes under pavement, like sidewalks or curbs, but sometimes under dirt or gravel surfaces.

Shawn Carmody (photo, left), representing Jola Properties LLC, requested that the Board reduce the bond issue his client carries from $312, 843 to $75, 242. The bond is to guarantee Jola install fencing, lights, a traffic light, handicap ramp, landscaping and a properly paved and sealed parking lot. The lot under discussion was the former Biofuels building and grounds which front on Neville Road. Carmody explained that Jola had a tenant moving into the property March 1 and will have all the required details finished by sometime in March except for the landscaping, which has to wait for Spring. After some discussion, Council decided it had imposed a low bond to begin with and has never increased it due to inflation during the last four years. They explained they follow an ordinance and the purpose of a bond was to guarantee companies finished the job. So they declined to reduce the bond.

The Board discussed a new ordinance to govern installation of wireless antennae. Verizon had applied for a permit to install such antennae and the Board realized they had no regulations covering this. The main purpose of the ordinance was to cover how high and wide an antenna could be.

The Police report noted 18 alarms and 115 traffic citations, mostly for speeding on Neville Road. Some residents asked the Police about impatient drivers travelling through the traffic light then making a very extended left turn onto the I-79 entrance ramp rather thsn waiting for the left turn signal.

The Board approved a Frank Bryan plan to subdivide and develop several industrial lots between Neville Road and the Ohio River's Back Channel.

Boro Council Discusses ADA Ramp, Neely Heights Break

Coraopolis Borough Council breezed through a light list of topics at its February meeting but did focus on an ADA ramp and a pavement rupture on Neely Heights.

Council members convened at 6 pm and watched a Black History Month presentation before a packed chamber.

Then, at the very beginning of the actual meeting, Michael Williams of Fawcett Street (photo, right) regretfully submitted his resignation as a Council member. His growing family has required Fawcett to find a larger house so he is moving out of the community.

Both Council member Calvin Jackson of Highland Avenue and Roosevelt Jones (photo, below) of First Avenue expressed concern about the ADA ramp at Shelley Jones Park. At the intersection of First and Mill, there have been two ADA ramps. Jones and Jackson have noticed that the one ADA ramp has been eliminated, replaced by a high curb. The Engineer explained that the ADA ramp in question was not in compliance with current ADA regulations, so had to be replaced.

Furthermore, Mill Street gradually descends from the railroad crossing, and there has been a problem with water flow building up and flooding into the park. A high curb was needed to address this issue. So a new, compliant ADA ramp has been installed about two car lengths further down. It does require a little maneuvering around but offers a better slope. The park and the pavillion are still 100% handicap accessible.

John Pessy of Summit Street informed Council that there is a growing problem on Neely Heights. The Woodlawn Drive pavement is erupting, bad enough to be a traffic hazard, and the eruption is daily moving further down the street toward Main Street. The bulge is already a block long. Pessy said he believed the water line running below the street has burst. Because of the cold temperatures water is not reaching the surface but is freezing and pushing up the pavement. As soon as temperatures warm, the water will flow freely. He suggested a crew needs to inspect the site immediately and begin work.

Pessy also noted the rising costs of car repair on a police vehicle, pointing out that every month he is seeing these costs appearing on the invoices presented to Council. He was told that a new police car has been ordered and will replace the aging car needing all the repairs.

Borough Manager Ray McCutcheon reported that as soon as the weather breaks, work will begin on traffic signal replacement at the 4th Avenue and Mulberry intersection.

Police Chief Ron Denbow reported 1522 phone calls, 278 complaints, 144 criminal investigations, 18 arrests, 12 accidents, one injury, 15 moving vehicle violations and 16 alarms for the month.

Mayor Shawn Reed reported that he has been asked to join a University Boulevard Planning Commission because even though the boulevard is in Moon, any changes may impact Coraopolis and Route 51. Reed also informed Council a developmental planning organization had visited Coraopolis earlier that day.

Because of the weather, no street or road work has been done, but road crews have been working 20 hour shifts to keep streets and roads salted and plowed.

Corrie Woods Announces For District Judge

Longtime Moon resident and local attorney Corrie Woods announced this week he will seek both the Democrat and Republican nominations for Magisterial District Judge.

The judgeship would preside over Coraopolis, Neville Island, Crescent Township and Moon Township.

Woods promises not to seek or accept contributions or endorsements from political parties, candidates, committees or interest groups.

"I want the support of the voters themselves," he explained. "I believe our community deserves a judge committed to serving them, not to serving politicians, donors and other insiders. I plan to run a grassroots campaign, ignoring typical paths to political success."

Woods went on to say that "once in office, I would dedicate myself to performing my duties, not running for reelection or running for some other office. Therefore, if elected, I would serve a single full term, and not try to use the position as a stepping stone to a higher public office. I am not interested in trying to amass political power."

Before founding Woods Law Offices, Corrie served as a judicial staff attorney with the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania and a judicial staff attorney for the First Judicial Circuit of West Virginia. He has earlier legal experience with the Allegheny County Office of the Public Defender, as well as state consumer protection and civil rights law enforcement agencies. Corrie graduated magna cum laude from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, where he served on the University of Pittsburgh Law Review and received awards for excellence in the study of constitutional law and criminal appeals. Corrie also graduated summa cum laude with valedictory honors from West Liberty University in West Liberty, West Virginia, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in Social Sciences.

The primary election will be May 21.

The Judgeship has been vacant since former District Judge Mary Murray was named to the Pennsylvania State Superior Court in 2017.

Biology Class Going to Wallops Island
Cornell Hires Law Enforcement Laison

At its February work session, the Cornell School Board approved the hiring of Jeff Korczyk as a Law Enforcement Laison Officer. Korczyk (seated at right in photo below) is a 37 year veteran of the Bethel Park, Allegheny County and New York City Police Departments who retired in December.

His official title with Cornell will be School Resource Officer. Korczyk will be armed and in the event of an armed attacker at the school, he is authorized to intervene in whatever way is needed. He is trained and experienced in dealing with active shooters. However, he will not wear an official police uniform. He and Cornell administrators are designing a more civilian dress style.

Korczyk explained to the Board that he will not be there to enforce daily discipline. It will not be his job to tell students to remove their hats or sun glasses. Instead, he will serve in an educational capacity. He will meet with classes to talk about cyberbullying, internet behavior, behaviors to avoid, how to respond when adults behave in suspicious ways, what to do in crises, how to react to uniformed police officers, etc. With students in grades K-12, there are lots of classes to meet with on lots of different topics.

Korczyk majored in Education at Thiel College, but upon graduation he found out schools were cutting back and there were no teaching jobs. So he took a job in law enforcement while he waited for teaching jobs to open up.

Then he began rising in the law enforcement ranks and just stayed with it. He worked in homicide, narcotics and drug enforcement, becoming a Lieutenant.

Korczyk became acquainted with Coraopolis Police Chief Ron Denbow (seated at left in the photo at left) through various drug sting operations in the Western Hills.

"With Jeff's help, we took 85 drug dealers off the streets," Denbow told the Board. "We really cleaned up western Allegheny County. There's a lot less drug traffic here now because of him."

Denbow has been advising Cornell Superintendant Aaron Thomas to hire a permanent on campus laison officer because no matter how fast he and his men respond, they cannot get to the hilltop school in time to deal with a shooter.

"To think it can never happen here is a very dangerous attitude," Denbow explained. "We've learned it can happen anywhere."

Denbow used Tree of Life as an example. "Who in the world would have imagined we would see an attack on a synagogue? These school attacks have happened in suburban communities filled with good kids. We have to realize : It Can Happen Anywhere."

Korzcyk will work closely with the Coraopolis and Ohio Township Police. "I'm here to protect our kids," he emphasized. "Whatever it takes. We want our kids to feel safe. We want our parents to know their kids are safe."

Cornell is already a fortress. During the school day, any visitor must come to the door and buzz in. Once a school official admits them, they first pass through a small room adjacent to the office and sign in. Then they must come down a long narrow hall before reaching classrooms or other areas where students might be. So it's already difficult for a shooter to get to the students. Now, they'll be met at the door by Korzcyk, who will add an additional safeguard. As a certified police officer, he has the power to arrest.

"We have to hope for the best but prepare for the worst," Thomas said. "Better safe than sorry."

Korzcyk will conduct drills to prepare students for emergencies. He's trained in how to defuse dangerous situations without using his firearm.

"My Dad worked for Chester Engineering," Korzcyk explained. "When I started Chief White was in charge here. So I'm familiar with the town. I like it here."

In other business, Peter Vancheri (photo, above), representing the firm of Hosack, Specht, Muetzel and Wood, reviewed the recent audit of school finances. Cornell saw revenue of $14 million and $15 million of expenditures. The revenues were 65% local, 29% state and 6% federal. So the district overspent by $817 thousand. But such an "overage" is not unusual. Some property taxes are late in coming in, and were not yet in by the time the audit closed the books. It is not possible to accurately forecast substitute teacher costs, or to forecast how many students will choose to attend Parkway West Vocation Center (to which Cornell then pays tuitions), how many students will enroll in cyberschool courses, or how many students will be classified Special Education.

"Small school districts routinely have swings. Some years they're over and some under. There's nothing here to worry about, no weaknesses, no noncompliance. The district is in solid financial shape."

Vancheri also reported that Cornell has a $20 million 900 thousand net pension liability, meaning the eventual future projected payouts for retirements. This is within the expected range of what would be expected of a school district of this size.

Stephanie Mazzocco reported that the Parkway West Vocational Center is adding a program in Diesel Engine Servicing. Dealers and repair centers across Western Pennsylvania are demanding trained specialists in this field. Currently there is a critical shortage. Parkway West is also adding a Veterinarian Assistant program. The Vocational Center serves 12 school districts.

The Board approved the annual Biology field trip to Wallops Island, Va. to the Chincoteague Bay Field Station. Students will spend four days at Wallops Island (photos above and right) studying Marine Biology. The Board also approved the ninth grade trip to Gettysburg National Park, the band trip to Cedar Point, and Miriam Klein's trip to the Book Expo in New York City.

Michele Santicola Enters Judgeship Race

Local attorney Michele Santicola this week declard her candidacy for District Judge, seeking the nomination of both Democrat and Republican parties.

Ms. Santicola is a graduate of Duquesne University and the Dickinson College of Law. She has practiced law for 20 years.

Santicola began her career as a Deputy Attorney General in the office of the Pennsylvania Attorney General. She handled both civil and criminal cases, directed and supervised invesrigations, and presented cases to the Pennsylvania Grand Jury. She also argued cases before the Superior and Commonwealth Courts.

She then went into private practice. She has also worked for Corporate Security Investigations (CSI). In 2012 Santicola was appointed as the Hearing Examiner for the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board. She held that job for four years, then returned to private practice.

She has recently served on the Moon Township Board of Supervisors, as a trustee on the Moon Area Education Foundation and as a member of the Moon School Board's Superintendant Search Committee.

She and husband Mike and their two children reside in Moon Township, where they attend St. Margaret Mary Catholic Church.

The primary election will be held May 21.

Cory's Rosetta (Miller) Perry Honored By NNPA

Rosetta Perry will be honored this week at the National Newspaper Publishers Conference in Orlando. She will be given the 2019 Lifetime Achievement Award.

Ms. Perry attended McKinley Elementary and Coraopolis Junior High and graduated from Coraopolis High School in 1952 as Rosetta Miller. She was the daughter of the late Anderson and Mary Irvin Miller. The family, which included nine children, lived at 866 First Avenue.

Upon leaving Coraopolis, Ms. Perry entered the Navy, eventually being assigned to the Adjutant General's Office in Germany and then to the Pentagon. After her military service, she earned a degree in Chemistry from the University of Memphis and continued her education at Meharry Medical College and Tennessee State University. In 1960 she became involved with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and Dr. Martin Luther King. She was assigned to cover the Memphis Garbage Strike as a reporter and later covered the FBI investigation of Dr. King, his assassination, and the events that followed. In 1975 she was named Director of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Ms. Perry retired from the Commission in 1990 to found the Tennessee Tribune, which she still runs. In 1998 she created the Cebrun Journalism Center to train young Journalists. Memphis State University created the Rosetta Miller Scholarship in her honor.

Max Feldman Seeks District Judgeship

Coraopolis attorney Max Feldman annouced this week he would be seeking the position of District Judge.

Feldman has practiced family, civil and criminal law in the Western Hills for 29 years.

Born and raised in Pittsburgh, Feldman earned his B.A. from Penn State, then his law degree from the University of Dayton. While there, he was editor of the Dayton Law Review. He served as Law Clerk for Judge Shad Connelly in the Erie County Court of Common Pleas for two years, then returned to Allegheny County to go into private practice and become a Moon Township resident.

The local judicial district includes Coraopolis, Neville, Moon and Crescent Townships. The Judgeship has been vacant since former District Judge Mary Murray was named to the Pennsylvania State Superior Court in 2017.

Feldman and wife Carolyn have four sons, two of whom practice law with him. One is an assistant wrestling coach at Moon Area High School.

"I have the legal experience and judicial temperament to be a fair and impartial judge," Feldman said in a prepared statement. "I have spent a great deal of time in family law and I know how difficult it can be for families to appear before a judge. I am a good listener. I know how to work with people."

Feldman is seeking both Democrat and Republican nominations for Judge.

The primary will be Tuesday, May 21st.

Caroline Herring Wins Chili Cookoff

Caroline Herring (right, center) of Sewickley won the Coraopolis Chili Cookoff Saturday at Cobblehaus Brewing Company.

12 cooks entered the competition.

The event attracted 120 patrons, who sampled both the Chili and some of the Cobblehaus Brewery's hand crafted beers. Each patron filled out a ballot. The ballots were totalled to select the winner.

Over $1500 dollars was raised for the Coraopolis Community Development Foundation Food Pantry.

That's Matt Morrow on the left and Carissa Motisi on the right in the photo. Matt's Chili was second and Carissa's was third.

The first 100 attendees took home a handcrafted ceramic bowl made by artist Terra Mayes (from Terra By Terra) and her students.

Herring is the chef at Christy House in Sewickley.

Back 2 School Bash To Be Held Saturday

Saturday, August 11 from noon to 3 pm, Coraopolis Youth Creations will host its annual Back 2 School Bash at which they will distribute FREE day packs filled with school supplies.

In addition to the day packs and school supplies, food and games will be provided.

The food will include soft drinks, Snow Cones, hot dogs and popcorn.

A professional face painter will be there, along with a bounce house, prize wheel, football toss, plinko, tug of war rope, froggy fly fling, giant connect 4, animal toss, duck pond, bowling, pop bottle toss, spin art, corn hole, hamster ball and gaga ball.

There will be no admission. The event is possible thanks to donations by residents and businesses in Coraopolis.

Moon Girls Volleyball Boosters hereby gives notice that articles of incorporation for a nonprofit will be filed with the Department of State of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania on or before August 15, 2018, under the provisions of the Pennsylvania Business Corporation Law of 1988, approved December 21, 1988, P.L. 1444, No. 177, effective October 1, 1989, as amended. The purpose for which the corporation is to be organized is for supporting the Moon girls volleyball program. Lisa Sims is the Treasurer on record. This notice shall serve as fulfillment of the legal requirement that the public be duly notified of such incorporation.
Fleming Park Bridge To Close For One Year

The Fleming Park Bridge, which connects Neville Island with Stowe Township, will close next week and remain closed for a full year.

While closed, repairs and upgrades will be made to pavement, sidewalks, trusses and other details.

Coraopolis and Neville residents driving into McKees Rocks are advised to use Route 51 through Robinson, Kennedy and Stowe Townships. Those travelling into Pittsburgh are advised to use the I-79 Bridge over to the Ohio River Boulevard, and enter the city through the North Side.

The original Fleming Park Bridge was built in 1894. The current one replaced it in 1955

Old Borough Building Sells For $150,100

The former Coraopolis Municipal Building has sold for $150,100, it was announced Wednesday night at the Borough Council Meeting.

Several Council members commented that this was more than they had expected to get for the building, which will need a significant investment to remove mold and remodel it for any new use.

However, the back, facing State Avenue, does contain the old Fire House, which housed the fire engines, and that space could be rented right away for storage or indoor parking. And the parking lot next door, which was included with the building, could be rented for parking right away.

The building ssrved as the center for Coraopolis government and housed the Police and Fire Departments from 1929 until 2017, when all of those moved to the new Municipal Building on 4th Avenue. The Coraopolis Public Library was also housed in the basement from 1929 until 1952, when Leonard Cahen and Harry Houtz spearheaded a drive to raise the funds to build the Memorial Library on School Street.

The building could be torn down. It is not on the historic register and is not protected. But its interior spaces would be ideal for boutique outlets such as barbers, hairdressers, manicurists, tattoo artists, travel agents or specialty stores selling comic books, cigars, cards, or other items not requiring a full size storefront.

In other news, Police Chief Ron Denbow, shown at left, honored three members of the Coraopolis Canine Unit. Officer Shawn Quinn, shown at left, and canine partner Amore have received their certification for patrol, tracking, and narcotics detection. These certifications have to be earned again every year. On a sadder note, Chief Denbow told Council retired canine Rebel died last week. He has been cremated and his ashes will be retained in an urn. Chief Denbow emphasized that Rebel had served long and well in his duties and will be fondly remembered.

Borough Manager Ray McCutcheon announced that he and his staff are in the process of properly disposing of records going back 100 years. He emphasized that these are records of no value. Records that do have value, such as meeting minutes and tax records, are kept.

Denbow reported that for the last month Police had received 403 complaints, made 43 arrests, recovered one vehicle, issued 139 parking citations, and mailed 15 grass and weed letters.

The Borough Engineer reported that the contract for paving the Shelley Jones basketball court has been issued to Hilltop Paving.

Council learned that no company had bid for the paving of Brook Street. The job is being readvertised for rebid. Council approved $35,000 to finish repaving Chestnut Street below the tracks. Council discussed using concrete or asphalt on paving Main Street between 4th and 5th Avenue. Due to heavy traffic, Chairman Robb Cardimen recommended concrete. The bid will include curbing and sidewalks.

Charles Spencer of Hiland Avenue informed Council the public staircase between Hiland and Edgewood is being neglected, that the concrete and guardrails are deteriorating and weeds, especially Knotweed, are taking over (see photo, right). Council agreed to look into it.

Mayor Shawn Reed announced that his Communication Committee is creating a borough Facebook page, wants to update the town website more quickly, and would like to hire an intern from Robert Morris.

Melissa Walsh said she is working with Mayor Reed to plan an electronic recycling pickup. But there will be a cost per item.

Moon Breaks Ground For New Playground

Moon Township officially broke ground Wednesday on a new playground at Moon Park.

The afternoon ceremonies at the Saturn Pavilion included short speeches by local administrators and politicians. Then a dozen officials posed with shovels in hand in a simulated ground breaking.

The playground will totally replace the old playground, which has been located on the hillside at the back of the park. Certain iconic pieces, like the space rocket, will be relocated to other areas of the park where kids can continue to climb on them or otherwise enjoy them.

Many pieces, however, have been deemed obsolete and will simply be junked. These include the spider, which is actually a carefully disguised climbing apparatus.

The new playground, which will cover a much larger area, will include age specific play areas, one for 2-to-5 children, one for 5-to-12 children, a splash pad, an obstacle course and an adult fitness area. The photo at right shows a similar splash pad already in use at another park.

The splash pad will be located on the level land at the top of the slope where the road is now. The road is being relocated to run along the back boundary of the park.

The present playground has remained almost untouched, except for an occasional repainting, for 50 years, since the park opened.

The idea behind the new playground is that parents can exercise on their own while watching their children close by. Each area is designed to allow children to explore and play undirected, making decisions, moving at their own pace, and trying new things.

The playground is only part of a complete updating of 280 acre Moon Park. The overall plan includes relocation of the through road, creation of a sledriding hill, a skateboarding area, a total renovation and possible reorientation of DiVenzio Little League Field, and the creation of two new baseball fields, one for Pony League, one for high school baseball.

A "Miracle Field," designed to let handicapped children participate in various activities, is being built.

The wooded parts of the park, which include hiking trails, will be left alone, although a mountain biking trail is being added.

Moon Park is the largest and most extensively developed of the Moon park system. It includes a fishing lake, soccer fields, tennis and basketball courts, amphitheater, picnic tables, and picnic shelters.

It is probably most known for its annual Fourth of July Festival, a major event which includes live music, celebrity appearances, concessions, games and a fireworks display at dark. As other area communities have abandoned their fireworks displays, Western Hills residents have made a tradition of going to Moon Park in the afternoon with a picnic basket and lawn chairs, letting the kids enjoy the park's other facilities, watching the concert, and then gathering together at dark for the fireworks. The new playground will become a part of this annual ritual beginning in 2019.

Food Trucks, Streets, Festival Occupy Council

Scott Mills (photo, below) of Cobblehaus Brewery appeared before Coraopolis Borough Council Wednesday night requesting authorization for food trucks to once again park adjacent to the Brewery during Summer evenings. The Brewery is not a restaurant so the food trucks serve a legitimate need, he explained. On nights the food trucks are in town he draws from 50-100 additional customers. Mills pointed out that some of the food trucks are so popular they have their own loyal following. Next to the Brewery is a large parking lot.

Various Council members had concerns. The pavement was not intended to support heavy trucks. Trucks block the view of people trying to exit the parking lot onto busy 5th Avenue (Route 51). The benches and planters would have to be moved. Trucks would interfere with people who just like to walk downtown and sit in the Gazebo.

Rudy Boleo (photo below) emphasized that he welcomed food trucks to town but would prefer they park alongside the building and not over near the Gazebo. Some suggested the trucks park out on the street. But it was pointed out that there is a state regulation forbidding food trucks parking on the pavement of a state highway. Council President Robb Cardimen added that food trucks would need a specific permit each time they showed up. Mills reminded the Board the trucks would not be in town every night but only once a week or even once every two weeks. Board voted to approve the food trucks.

Second, Council approved the acquisition of three addresses : 1013 Birch Way, 1000 First Avenue, and 105 Kendall. The lots will be cleared and sold. Members worried that someone could buy the properties and build a storage facility, or simply store materials on it. But it was mentioned that the neighborhood is zoned Light Industrial, which allows storage facilities and storage piles. The Zoning Board could not deny an application to build a storage facility. The 1013 Birch Way property was controversial; it had been abandoned when the owner died, and borough inspection found that one wall was filled with Bees.

John May informed the Council that his department had bought a zero turn lawn mower and would now be cutting its own grass rather than hiring someone else to do it. May also proposed buying a used truck for $4,000. He informed Council he was having trouble attracting bids on new garage doors.

Manager Ray McCutcheon told Council the Open House was a success with 125-150 visitors. Mayor Shawn Reed and McCutcheon conducted tours of the Municipal Building, and Chief Denbow and Officer Litterini conducted tours of the Fire and Police Wings.

McCutcheon also announced the bid for replacing the roofing on the dugouts, concession stand and rest rooms at Ronnie Bliwas Field came to $3925. The new roofing will be metal. Council approved that and a $750 cost for nine new police uniforms. McCutcheon informed Council there would soon be new traffic lights at 4th & Mulberry and 4th & Mill.

A 30 car parking lot was approved for Little League parents. Until now, they have been parking on the street, taking up residential parking. The parking will also serve the planned Riverfront Park.

The most controversial decision of the evening was to approve the closing of Chestnut Street for the week July 8th - July 15th for the St. Joe's Festival. Chief Denbow had already warned Council that with the new Fire Station right across 4th Avenue, his fire trucks need the street kept clear for fast response to a fire alarm. He also reminded them that state law required that streets leading away from the fire station be kept open. But Denbow was not at this meeting, and most council members voted to close it.

Vine Street residenrs continue to complain about the deteriorating state of their street. Council assured them it was on the list but others had priority.

Perhaps the most interesting part of the meeting was the Mayor's Report. Shawn Reed first discussed the need to review the Borough's permitting system to make sure the permit forms in use are up to date, and, more importantly, fit 21st Century laws and ordnances.

Reed also reminded Council that he has a committee forming which will work on efficient means of communicating Borough business to residents as quickly and accurately as possible.

Reed then explained an initiative he is very excited about. Coraopolis native Jimmy Swartz (photo, left), a venture capitalist with degrees from Harvard, Princeton and Carnegie Mellon, has recently given a $31 million grant to CMU for the founding of Enterpreunership Studies. Swartz, who was a star halfback on Cory's last undefeated championship football team, no longer lives in the area but returns frequently and has retained an interest in Coraopolis. Reed has had conversations with him about ways in which this Enterpreunership program could help people or companies in Coraopolis. The dialogue right now is in very preliminary stages, but Reed would like to match local enterpreneurs with venture capital. This would not be government grants but private equity money. Reed will update Council as the dialogue continues.

Cornell Youth Baseball Association
Fall Registration
The Cornell Little League will offer a Fall Season for 2018. The games will begin the day after Labor Day and continue for six weeks through mid October.
All Players Are Guaranteed To Be Placed On A Team, To Receive Personal Attention At Every Practice, And To Play In Every Game
T-Ball (ages 4-5-6) Coach Pitch League (7-8) Minor League (9-10) Major League (11-12)
Registration will begin July 5th and continue until August 14
Players need not live in Coraopolis or on Neville Island
Fees will be $50 for one player and $10 for each brother or sister
High School and College Softball Coaches Agree That The Best Preparation For Softball is Little League Baseball.
Medical Statistics Show That Baseball Has The Lowest Injury Rate, Especially The Lowest Concussion and ACL Rates, Of All Youth Sports Including Soccer, Football and Basketball
All Practices and Games Will Be Held At Bliwas Field In Coraopolis At 6 PM Or On Saturdays
Roof Mostly Done, VFW Turns To Memorial

Their building's roof mostly repaired, the Coraopolis VFW is turning its attention to the Memorial outside.

They raised the $35,000 needed for the roof via a GuFundMe campaign, but it's not certain how they'll raise the money for the Memorial. It will be a much smaller amount.

The Memorial is not to be confused with the famous Doughboy Statue, which sat in front of the Borough Building for 10 years, the high school for 50 years, the Library for 30 years, and has now resided in front of the VFW for 10. It commemorates World War I dead.

The problem with the Memorial is that its brick foundation is crumbling, as can be seen in these photos. "It's pretty serious," noted Jack Cairns, American Legion Service Officer and VFW Parade Marshall.

The only work remaining on the roof is the "pointing" of the brickwork around the edges.

But the Monument may have to be totally dismantled and redone to correct the decaying brickwork.

Making matters worse, before the VFW can start on the monument, it has to take care of crumbling curbs, sidewalks and part of the brick surface on Mulberry Street. Homeowners or business owners are responsible for the sidewalks and curbs in front of their places. An old water line may be collapsing under the street, which is causing the caving in there. Because of potential liability, that project has moved to the top of the VFW priority list.

However, that's OK, because they need time to do some research on the memorial. The original plans were to include large plaques with names of all Coraopolis residents killed in combat in the two world wars, in Korea, Vietnam and Desert Storm. Since then, there may also be names from Iraq and Afghanistan.

The World War I names are on plaques on the base of the Doughboy.

There was once a statue at the front of the Key Bank parking lot when it was Union National Bank. That statue carried the names of all World War II dead. The plaques from that statue, and a book with those names in it, were taken for storage to the Coraopolis Library. A VFW member is now searching for either the plaques or the book. Joe Divito of the Historical Society is also seeking a photo of that old statue, if anyone has one. A VFW committee will have to track down the names of Korean, Vietnam, Desert Storm, Afghanistan and Iraq dead. There are ways to do that using military records.

The monument has long been due for updating anyway. It was never done the way it was intended. Two out of town bricklayers were hired for the job and disappeared halfway through it. They had been paid up front and the VFW did not have the money to hire someone else. So the plates with the names were never mounted and the top half of the momument never done.

Formal fundraising has not yet begun but anyone wishing to donate to the effort should contact John Radcliff at the VFW.

Robin Gilligan

Construction & Remodelling

412-262-2913

marybeth@robingilligan-construction.com

The Western Hills' Premier Custom Home Builder

Cory Honors Its Veterans With 88th Annual Parade

Coraopolis honored its war heroes on Memorial Day 2018 with the annual parade and special ceremonies.

This parade was the 88th consecutive, making it the second longest continuously running such event in Pennsylvania. Lawrenceville in Pittsburgh has the longest, dating back to the 1800s. Cory's was first staged in 1930. Several communities began their Memorial Day marches earlier, mostly in the 1910s or 1920s, but did not hold theirs during the World War II years. Cory continued to hold its during the war.

The usual large crowd lined 5th Avenue for the bands and fire engines, but the day's most important events were held at the cemetery and the reviewing stand, where those who gave their lives during the various wars, and those veterans who passed away during the previous year were honored.

Since Memorial Day 2017, Coraopolis has lost 27 more veterans. They include Jim Noyes, Joe Balogh, Bill Weisser, Anthony Lioi, Gerald Felix, Bob Fleet, Beverly Howard, Bob Hetherington, Al Miller, Carl Trulli, John Shubert, Richard Foster, Ken Morrison, Bob Oberleitner, Bill Lottes, Joe Dichko, John Fallat, Frank Handlovich, John Pawlik, Stanley Pyrdowski, Louis Scalise, Joe Topol, Russell Musta, Ed Tomasil, Jim Couse, Stanley Keefer and Karl Ceyrolles.

In addition to honoring those men who gave their lives during the wars or have died since, Coraopolis also honored the ones still with us.

The two oldest members of the local Veterans of Foreign Wars chapter, Bob Massimini and Danny Larocco, rode in uniform in convertibles at the head of the parade.

Massimini (photo, left) served in the Navy as a Marine (Marines back then were a branch of the Navy, and technically still are). He served in the Pacific, most notably Corregidor and Iowa Jima. He paused before the parade to reminisce with a Record reporter.

"I loved it," he said, "And I'd do it again. But while we were in the middle of it, it was Hell multipled several times over. We were in danger every minute of every day. You just got to the point where you took it for granted and didn't think about it. I lost a lot of good friends over there."

Possibly his most vivid memory was the day he returned home. Men arriving in Coraopolis before him rode into town on special trains decorated with red, white and blue bunting and were greeted by huge crowds at the Coraopolis Station. But by the time he got back from the Pacific and was discharged, all that was over. His train arrived in Pittsburgh at 2:00 a.m. and just dropped the men off. There were no special trains to take them out to their smaller towns. The buses and taxiis weren't running in the middle of the night. So he just sat on a bench in the station, in his Navy uniform, with his duffel bag, figuring he'd sleep until dawn when the buses began running again. His nap was interrupted by a woman tapping on his arm.

"Pardon me," she asked. "Are you lost? Is everything OK?" He explained to her that he had to wait for daylight til the buses began running.

"Where are you from?" She asked. He told her Coraopolis. She insisted on putting him in her car and giving him a ride to his front door in Coraopolis. He tried to get her name so he could somehow pay her back for her kindness. She refused. "You served our country," she said. "This is the least I could do."

The other elder veteran is Danny Larocco, seen in the photo at right. He served in the infantry in the Philippines and Korea. Larocco admits he was rather a free spirit as a kid. "I started working at the Glass House at age 12," he laughs. "I wasn't much for school. I lied about my age and forged my parents signatures and enlisted at age 16. I dropped them a postcard just before I boarded the train. I was gone for three days before they found out where I was."

He had some narrow escapes. "The LSTs were dropping us off at the beaches. We had to hold our guns over our heads and wade ashore. But they assumed everyone was six feet tall and the boats could only come in so close. I was short. I had that heavy pack on, and the gun. I was in way over my head. I came close to drowning. Some guys around me held me up and towed me to shallow water."

As they invaded the islands, one by one, there was hand to hand combat. Larocco shows a vicious looking wound on his left hand and wrist. "One of the Japanese soldiers got me with his bayonet before I killed him. We were in battle. There were no medics. I just wrapped it with a handerchief and kept going. Later on, medics came around and asked if anyone was in need of medical attention. I didn't even say anything. It took a while to heal, but since I got out of the army it hasn't given me any trouble."

Larocco is proud of the fact this is his 71st consecutive Memorial Day Parade to march or ride in. He'll turn 90 in a few months.

The parade this year included 44 units and cost $6000 to stage. Residents assume the Coraopolis Borough puts it on, but actually it has always been a project of the Keith Holmes Post of the Veterans of Foreign Wars. They rely on donations from merchants and residents and hold Car Cruises and Bar Crawls to fund it. The Borough chips in with an annual check.

This year's parade took 60 minutes to pass a given point. Spectators came early and set up beach chairs and sometimes tents. Fifth Avenue on both sides was lined for the two mile parade route.

Over the years the exact makeup of the parade has evolved. Traditionally it has included marching bands from all the Western Hills high schools plus drum and bugle corps from around the Pittsburgh area. This year fewer bands participated but now there are dance teams and a Scottish Bagpipe band, which has been a major hit the last several years. Western Hills fire and police departments drive their vehicles. The fire truck at left is a 1939 model owned by the Coraopolis Volunteer Fire Department.

The truck at right is a 1945 version owned by the Groveton Volunteer Fire Department.

Costumed characters from popular films have become part of the parade. This year, there were Darth Vader, Storm Troopers, Ghost Busters (with a Ghost), and various others.

Politicians also rode or marched in the parade. In addition to Cory's own Mayor, Shawn Reed, they included State Representative Anita Kulik and Congressional candidate Conor Lamb (photo, below right).

A recent tradition has developed in which passengers in vehicles toss candy out to kids along the way. The tradition has become so entrenched that many kids now bring bags with them to collect it, like a second Halloween.

It was a 92 degree, very humid day, and ice water was a prized item.

Tootsie's

The Place For Breakfast & Lunch

701 5th Avenue, Coraopolis

7 a.m. - 2 p.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays, 8 a.m. - 2 p.m. Sundays

Cornell Ranked #1 In Pa. In "OverAchievement"

The Pittsburgh Business Times has ranked the Cornell School District #1 in Pennsylvania in a unique study that determines how students perform compared to how predictions say they should perform. The Times used a mathematical formula that considered the percentage of students on free and reduced lunch, average family income, parental education level, and other socioeconomic factors to predict how well a district would do on standardized tests, then checked to see if the students lived up to those expectations. Many wealthy districts underperformed. Some districts exceeded expectations. But Cornell exceeded them more than any other district, meaning Cornell teachers and programs are doing the best job in the state of helping students fulfill and surpass their potentials. Dr. Aaron Thomas, Cornell Superintendant, presented this information to the Board Thursday evening at its May meeting. The Coraopolis Record obtained a copy of the Business Times article. Beaver Falls, New Brighton, Montour and Uniontown also ranked high in this part of the state. The PBT study may be the best indicator of which school districts are the most effective.

In other news, 18 have enrolled in the Pre Kindergarten program for the 2018-19 school year.

Cornell students will be featured in an upcoming Post Gazette article on "Remake Learning," a campaign to help them adapt to rapidly changing technology.

Dr. John Collins of Stanford was at Cornell recently to work with teachers on the teaching of writing.

90 students attended the 2018 prom, the most in 20 years.

79 students grades 7-12 were recognized at the Academic Awards Break- fast.

The publication "The Scene" visited Cornell recently to film a story on STEAM (science, technology and art) learning.

A popup art exhibit was held recently, and a Computer Science Showcase in science fair style is scheduled.

Stephanie Mazzocco was named Treasurer for the coming year.

Agreement with the Cornell Education Association has been reached on a new contract, well ahead of the deadline.

Baccalaureat will be held Tuesday, May 29, graduation Thursday June 1, the final day of school June 6, and the Kennywood picnic June 11.

Cornell Board Recognizes Palo, Harrison, Teamor

At its regular monthly meeting for April, Cornell's School Board recognied teacher Amy Palo and student Cymoni Harrison and extended the contrtacts of Athletic Director Bill Sacco and Trainer James Peters.

Social Studies teacher Amy Palo has been awarded a $24,000 James Madison Fellowship to pursue her Masters Degree in American History with an emphasis on Constitutional Law. She can pursue the degree at any major college but must include 12 credits in the U.S. Constitution.

"I'm not sure yet where I'll go," she told reporters. "First, of course, I have to be admitted to a school. It'll be tough to decide where to go, but I'm really excited."

Harrison, a senior, received the Founders Award at the Digital Media Arts Consortium held recently at Peters Township. The DMAC is sponsored by Robert Morris University to promote online journalism.

In routine business, the Board approved $5,990 for the A. G. Mauro Company to inatall inside vestibule doors at the Elementary School entrance.

A request was approved for $250 for Miriam Klein to attend the National Book Expo in New York City May 30th - June 1st.

James Peters is a graduate of Wayneburg University who has served as Cornell's Athletic Trainer for the last several years. Peters, who played football at Western Beaver HS and Waynesburg, is at all football and volleyball, boys and girls basketball, and baseball and aoftball games, plus at as many practices as possible since they often overlap with either games or with other practices. He is not a doctor but is trained in the medical procedures that involve sports injury prevention and treatment. From August through May the job demands long hours, evenings and weekends. It is the official recommendation of the National Federation of High School Athletic Associations that every high school have a qualified, certified trainer present at all games, but small schools often find this difficult, since trainers are in short supply.

Bill Sacco has served as Cornell's Head Basketball Coach and Athletic Director for 20 years. Prior to coming to Cornell, he was head basketball coach at West Allegheny, Moon and Ambridge.

Sacco is past retirement age and no longer teaches classes. Under his supervision, despite being the smallest public high school in western Pennsylvania, Cornell has continued to field teams in baseball, softball, track, swimming, volleyball, football, and girls and boys basketball. Very few similarly sized high schools field as many teams.

The Board approved the hiring of Dorian Maynard as Assistant Track Coach, and Susan Wilkinson and Crystal Maynard-Smith as Secretaries.

The Board approved a five year financing agreement with First National Bank to cover the high school classroom renovation project discussed and approved at prior meetings. When Cornell School was designed and built back in the 1970s, it was an innovative school without walls. But that concept did not work. It was necessary to go back and install walls, but they were only temporary. Now, Cornell is going back, removing those temporary walls and replacing them with permanent walls that will include wiring and fixtures to meet 21st Century building codes.

Melanie Turner was recognized for winning the local Spelling Bee. She will represent Cornell in the state competition.

25 middle school students attended a Google conference on staying safe online. The experience included work on coding.

13 students have registered for Head Start and 16 for Pre-Kindergarten.

A parent workshop will be held on April 25 as part of the SNAP program to control behavior. On May 24 Cornell will also host a grant writers conference.

Moon Park Under Major Reconstruction

The next time you visit Moon Park you may find it looks like a different place. Bulldozers, backhoes and other heavy equipment are hard at work reconfiguring rhe landscape.

The road that runs through the park is being relocated. It will still enter and exit at the same places, but a new road is being built which runs closer to the outside boundary. When the new road is finished, the old road will be jack hammered out of existence and in many places grass and trees planted to replace it.

However, along the ridge near DiVenzio Field a children's water park will be built along the location where the road has been.

A new water line has already been laid into the park, and the excavation filled back in.

The soccer field just to the right of the park entrance is being moved. It will be recreated at the far back of the park.

In its place a new Miracle Field will be built. This will allow handicapped children to play baseball. The surface will be soft rubber to cushion falls. The lines will be wide and bright so vision impaired children can see them. The dugouts and rest rooms will be wheelchair and walker accessible. Basepaths and the batting box will be designed for wheelchairs and walkers. There will also be a specially designed handicap accessible playground and walking trails designed for wheelchairs and walkers.

The lingering Winter weather had slowed the project, but officials are hoping to have everything finished by Fall. The Miracle Field will be available for 2019.

Council Honors Joe Divito, Officers

Coraopolis Borough Council began its April meeting by honoring long time resident Joe Divito and three men who went into a burning building to rescue sleeping residents.

Mayor Shawn Reed presented Divito with a plaque. After a lifetime of living on Montour Street, the 81 year old Divito and his wife are moving. He served in the Marine Corps, then came home and worked at Shenango and Quest. He also served on Council, became its President, then was elected Mayor. More recently, he has served as President of the Cory Historical society and produced two books on Coraopolis.

Police Chief Ron Denbow then honored Sergeant Robert Litterini, Detective Jason Stewart and Dispatcher Zachary Barravechio for their courage during the recent apartment building fire at the corner of Fourth Avenue and Montour Street. After the building was engulfed in flames and most residents had been evacuated, the three officers went back into the building. Despite the heat and smoke, they knocked on each door and went into apartments. They found one resident still asleep and helped him and others out of the building. Denbow told the Council and audience that there is absolutely no doubt the man and the others would have died had it not been for the rescuers. They risked their lives and Stewart was hospitalized for smoke inhalation. Denbow and Mayor Reed presented each man with a plaque.

The rest of the meeting was routine.

Denbow presented the monthly Police report. They received 1295 calls and 510 complaints. They conducted 123 criminal investigations and 45 arrests and issued 80 parking violations, including one vehicle towed.

Much of the discussion dealt with street and road maintenance. It has been a particularly bad Winter for concrete and asphalt, with recurring cycles of bitter cold and warming. With the weather finally stabilizing, potholes are beginning to be repaired and other work is underway. First and Second Avenues are a special focus as they are badly deteriorated. The Council voted to invite bids but for three different levels of work, representing three different degrees of excavating down and repaving.Workers cannot simply add asphalt or concrete on top of the existing surface because it would affect curbs, drainage, catch basins and driveways. They also need to consult with water authorities because under the surfaces are 100 year old water lines. This might be the appropriate time to update those lines. Unlike most Coraopolis streets, First and Second Avenues are not built atop brick foundtions.

Court Upholds New Voting Map

The Regional Court of Appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court have upheld the new voting map drawn up by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and Stanford University Law professor Nathan Persily.

The new map, which takes effect immediately, places Coraopolis, along with the rest of western and northern Allegheny County, in the 17th District along with all of Beaver County.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court, which is controlled by Democrats, announced back in December that the existing map favored Republicans and had to be redrawn. The Court then hired Persily to draw up a version. If the court did not like any maps the Pennsylvania State Legislature drew up, it would declare the Persily map official. That is what happened.

Republicans appealed, arguing that the U.S. Constitution assigned each State Legislature the duty of redrawing the state's maps every 10 years to adjust to population change as revealed by the 10 year census. They argued that the Constitution could have assigned the courts the task of drawing the maps but it did not.

But the higher courts ruled that the Pennaylvania Supreme Court map could stand.

Temporarily, Democrat Conor Lamb is the Congressman for Coraopolis, Moon and the Western Hills.

Lamb (photo, left) defeated Republican Rick Saccone last week in a special election called to replace Tim Murphy, who was forced to resign after he urged his mistress to get an abortion. That special election was held in the old 18th District, which began at Coraopolis and wrapped around Pittsburgh in an odd shape. Both Saccone and Lamb received heavy funding from their national parties. Lamb presented himself as a moderate Democrat with many Conservative leanings. For instance, he disavowed Nancy Pelosi, gun control, and open borders.

The Pennsylvania controversy over gerrymandered voting districts is just part of a larger national debate. Whichever party is in power each 10th year has always drawn the voting districts in such a way as to give them a poltical advantage. But that trick has lately become more extreme, until many states now have wildly absurd districts. Lawsuits have been filed in several of those states, but Pennsylvania was considered the top example. It was described as "the most ridiculously gerrymandered state in national history." Democrats want voting maps redrawn in as many states as possible to give them control of Congress, or at least the House of Representatives, so they can initiate proceedings to impeach President Donald Trump or, if that fails, at least block his agenda.

Montour Creek Back To Normal Color, Flow

The Montour Creek is back to normal this week with flow down and color restored. As the photo at right (obviously taken between snows) shows, along its banks some bushes are already budding out, although the trees are still waiting for warmer weather.

Last week, it was overflowing its banks and running a whitish green. The creek drains 37 square miles out beyond Imperial and Clinton. The area includes a series of long abandoned and sealed coal mines active between 1900 and 1960. There is sulfur remaining in those coal seams. The heavy rains fill the mines with water. The water dissolves the sulfur and creates sulfuric acid, which then dissolves traces of aluminum. That mix causes a whitish color in the water. When the mines fill, the water pours out and drains into Montour Creek. Hikers and bikers on the Montour Trail last week called in reports. Montour Creek usually runs surprisingly clean and is a popular trout fishing stream. A quick survey found no dead fish, crayfish, insects or other life along its shores (animals retreat back under banks, under rocks or down into the sand to escape storm conditions), so wildlife biologists are hopeful the stream may have escaped damage. The Forest Grove Sportsmans Club has a tagged fishing contest planned from April 14 to May 13th.

Council Celebrates Black History Month

Coraopolis Borough Council began its February meeting Wednesday night by joining with a delegation from the Mt. Olive Baptist Church, the Abundant Life Ministry and the Black Community to celebrate Black History Month.

Although the 45 minute ceremony, which included a film and oral presentations by several children, the highlight was Mayor Shawn Reed presenting 102 year old Thelma Dickerson with a key to the city (see photo, right). Mrs. Dickerson spent many years as a secretary at the junior high school. She reminisced about her years in Coraopolis and her travels to Israel, Hawaii and other places.

"I'm not travelling any more," she laughed. "I just enjoy relaxing here in Coraopolis now." Councilman John Pessy recalled how he had been at the junior high during her tenure there. "When I got out of hand she'd give me that glare," he grinned.

Council members and those in the audience were each given a "Soul Food Sampler" of historic Black American foods.

Anita Kulik, local Representative to the State Legislature, was present. Kulik, a Carnegie native who graduated from Duquesne University, is running for reelection.

The meeting itself was routine.

Chief Ron Denbow delivered the monthly Police Report : 1307 calls, 475 complaints, 112 criminal investigations, 26 arrests, one vehicle recovered, 16 accidents, 53 parking violations and 139 moving violations. Denbow reminded everyone that during this tax filing season, scams are common. He pointed out that the IRS does not --- ever --- deal by telephone.

Rudy Bolea reminded Counciul that the company doing the street work on 1st and 2nd Avenues were supposed to be maintaining the streets all Winter until work could resume in the Spring. But, Bolea pointed out, the streets are "undriveable." Council agreed to remind the company of its responsibility.

Borough Manager Ray McCutcheon observed that the Borough now has an extension on its Multimodal Grant for building the trail connecting the Montour Trail to the Ohio River Trail. The grant is for $200,000 and the extension now gives Coraopolis until 2019. The holdup is on the part of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDot). If the trail is not completed the grant may be lost. The segment needing completed is from the base of Montour Street to Ambulance Way (which is actually in Moon Township). McCutcheon emphasized that it is urgent to complete this segment to get bicyclists off 4th Avenue. Advocates of the Railroad Station Restoration Project also want the trail completed because their long term plan envisions bicyclists stopping at the station.

McCutcheon also announced that the Borough has received a $27,000 grant for upgrading the stream bank walls along Brook Street.

Danny LaRocco reminded residents that if they park along the streets they must park close to the curb so they do not narrow the throughway and prevent emergency vehicles from getting through.

A couple of audience members asked Council to do something about the deteriorating storm sewers on Chestnut. The openings are crumbling and residents are afraid some vehicle's wheels are going to drop through.

Will Christie of Montour Street asked that signs on Route 51 advertising businesses no longer existent be removed.

Michael Blair, VFW Poat Commander, aasked for help with the curbs in front of the VFW Building on Mulberry Street. They're disintegrating, but a contractor told the VFW the curbs cannot be repaired until the street surface is repaired. Council agreed to look into it.

Ed Pitassi asked about permits for signs listing donors for the flower beds at three entrances to town. Council asked for a picture of what the signs would look like.

Unseen Forces Pushing Cory Renaissance

Even a casual observor driving through Coraopolis on Route 51 can see that the town is in the midst of a historic revival. Storefronts are filling up with new businesses, downtown parking is full, the sidewalks are busy and building fronts are being refurbished.

What the casual observor does not see is that all of this is not an accident. It's the convergence of several factors, all feeding each other.

Determining exactly which came first is like the old chicken and egg question. But a good place to begin is a guy named Brian Diggins and a small company named Birch Holdings.

Diggins (photo right) was born and raised in Moon Township, graduated from Moon High, then Westminster College. He went to work for Hosanna Industries, a nonprofit similar to Habitat For Humanity, focused on providing housing for low income families. It was noble work but paid little.

"Several of us figured out we needed to start something on the side which could generate a good income." Diggins and two partners created Birch Holdings as a small construction company. But they soon decided to get into the bigger field of real estate development.

"We needed to find real estate which was undervalued, which we could buy, upgrade, then rent at a profit." They started looking around and quickly zeroed in on Coraopolis. "There were all these vacant storefronts, nice locations, good buildings, but being used for storage. You looked in the windows and saw stuff just stacked in there, storefront after storefront. So we tracked down the owners."

What they found astonished them. A huge percentage of downtown Coraopolis was owned by one man. That was Danny DiNardo. He had bought up the buildings, one by one, back during the town's decline in the 20th Century. DiNarrdo then maintained the buildings and collected rents for several decades.

"Coraopolis owes DiNardo a huge debt," Diggins says. "If he had been an irresponsible absentee landlord, neglecting the buildings and squeezing what rents he could from them, the roofs would have deteriorated and water damage would have begun. These buildings would have gone into serious decline and by now would either have collapsed or had to be condemned and torn down. Look at a lot of these other river towns in Allegheny County. That's exactly what has happened to them.

"But instead DiNardo meticulously maintained these buildings. He kept the roofs in good shape, invested money back into windows and doors and stairwells, kept the heating and plumbing and wiring in good shape. The reason the downtown today is in such great condition is because of this one man."

But DiNardo did make one mistake.

He was a good hearted guy and hated to raise rents. So he kept them low as everything else kept going up. Eventually, the storefront rents were far below where they should have been. As storeowners retired or went out of business, the rents were so low they or their families just continued to pay the rent and left their furniture and supplies in there. It was cheaper to rent a Coraopolis storefront than rent a storage compartment. So the town was full of vacant storefronts maintained for nostalgia's sake.

"Once we cleaned out these storefronts, did some modernizing and made them available for rent, small businesses could begin coming in. And we advertised online so people knew we had spaces available."

Now, Birch Holdings receives at least a call a week from a small business asking about space in Coraopolis.

Of course, all those buildings have apartments on their second and third floors. One by one, Birch Holdings has been remodeling those. The big change is they've been pulling the wall to wall carpeting and replacing it with state of the art hardwood floors, as seen in the photo above. They've been updating bathrooms and kitchens.

They've kept the rents reasonable : $600 for a one bedroom, $800 for a two bedroom, with a few larger or special apartments renting for $900 and one very large one for $1000.

There are 46 apartments in all. More than half were already inhabited when Birch Holdings bought the buildings. Birch has modernized the empties, then invited tenants to move into a new one while Birch redid theirs.

"If they want to, then they can move back into their original apartment. We just want the entire downtown filled with state of the art units."

Presently, Diggins and his partners are making their living from their construction jobs. Every penny from rents and leases goes back into the buildings.

The apartments have been filling up with young professionals. "Robert Morris College students prefer to rent rooms in houses up on the hills. We get mostly airline flight attendants, young college graduates working for Apple, Uber, Google, or one of the other high tech companies."

Diggins wants a bookstore. "We even offered to give a bookstore one of our storefronts if they'd come here." He hasn't been able to lure one yet, but it remains a goal.

Birch Holdings does background checks on each tenant who applies to rent an apartment. "We want a positive population. We don't need problems."

There was a limit to what Birch Holdings was able to buy from DiNardo. Another development company has now purchased a block of buildings from the Turret Building (photo, right) up to Fifth Avenue excepting the two Antique Store buildings, which Birch owns. "We've been talkiing about a joint project, since between the two of us we own everything all the way up Mill Street. We could create a single, unified facade which would be really attractive."

Diggins sees the public mood shifting away from the big box stores of complexes like Robinson Town Center or Settlers Ridge. "People are coming back to the smaller stores where they can get some individual attention, some customer service. People want an old fashioned small town experience. Coraopolis is uniquely positioned to offer that. We don't have to build a fake small town. We still have the original, with buildings from way back in the early 1900s. The downtown here is just a treasure."

He takes us on a quick tour of the White Building (photo above). "We have work to do here on the outside," he says, gesturing to paint flaking off the bricks. "But we've done the apartments, we have a solid tenant on the first floor in Brown & Abbot Accountants, and we have Chris Jaquay running a boxing gym in the basement. This is another of our anchor buildings."

5th Avenue and 4th Avenue are now pretty well occupied. Mill Street is the next focus. "We're going to fill these storefronts," Diggins promises.

Early Morning Fire Damages Boarding House

Fire Departments from Cory, Neville, Moon and Robinson Townships were called out at 2:30 a.m. for a fire at the boarding house at the corner of 4th Avenue and Montour Street (across the street from the Montour Hotel).

The building has numerous rooms but a shared kitchen and rest rooms. The fire apparently started in the kitchen.

Neighbor Brandon Finch first noticed the fire and ran through the building knocking on doors and waking residents. Several had to jump out windows because the one exit was blocked by flames.

Some minor injuries, mostly from jumping out windows, were incurred but no deaths or serious injuries happened. Two firefighters were taken to the hospital for smoke inhalation.

Western Pa. Bridges In Serious Decay

President Donald Trump spoke in his State of the Union address of funding several trillion dollars of infrastructure repairs, including highway and bridge repairs.

According to a newly published report, he can start by funding bridge repairs in Western Pennsylvania.

The American Road and Transportation Builders Association says the state is second in the nation in structurally unsound bridges.

According to Dr. Allison Black, author of the report, "There are more than 54,000 bridges in the U.S. in critical disrepair, and more than 4000 of these are in Pennsylvania, about 1500 in Southwestern Pennsylvania.

The list includes the Liberty Bridge in Pittsburgh, eight bridges on the Pennsylvania Turnpike and three on I-70.

The estimated cost of repairing or replacing the bridges is more than $2 billion.

Fortunately, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, the city of Pittsburgh, and various towns have been trying to address some of the worst cases.

Allegheny, Beaver and Washington Counties are some of the oldest communities in the U.S. and many of the bridges were built in the late 1800s and early 1900s. The original construction was solid and done so well that it lasted all this time. But nothing lasts forever, especially bridges subject to vibrations from tens of thousands of cars, heavy trucks and trains.

And no one around 1900 expected so much traffic or such large, heavy trucks.

Pennsylvania is also subject to heavy rains, snows, ice storms, changes from bitter cold to 50 degrees and back to bitter cold, plus tons of salt, which corrodes both steel and concrete.

Concrete is not merely an outside decoration. A length of concrete is like a steel girder. It supports weight and distributes stress. When a section of concrete begins to crack, its strength is greatly reduced.

Poured concrete is an engineering miracle. When lined with reinforcing steel bars ("rebar"), it has a high compression ratio plus a high tensile and tortion strength. But once the concrete begins to decay, it loses those qualities. If you can see the steel rebar, or see cracks or crumbling in the concrete, it has lost its strength and needs replaced. Several vehicles at once passing over such a bridge, especially if one of them is a truck carrying any sort of cargo, places tons of weight on that concrete. It's a miracle hundreds of bridges haven't collapsed given their age and heavy use.

But many of them are way past their intended lifespan and it's only a matter of time.

When President Barack Obama began his first term and the economy was its worst since the Depression, he proposed and Congress passed a Stimulus bill to put people back to work. Among other projects, it directed money to states for bridge repair and replacement. Over 200 in southwestern Pennsylvania were either replaced or totally rebuilt. But the money ran out and neither Obama nor Congress replenished it.

Engineers and officials are hoping Trump's initiative will send another wave of money into states and local communities.

Many of the bridges have already been closed, made into pedestrian and bicycle only spans, had barriers installed making them one lane to reduce the amount of weight that is on them at one time, or had bars installed allowing only cars, not trucks, to cross.

But there are still quite a few in full daily use. People driving over the bridge see only the top surface and guard rails, which may look OK. It's underneath the bridge, as these photos show, that you can see the cracks, criumbling and gaps.

Bridges in highly visible places tended to be first on rhe list to be rebuilt or replaced. Coraopolis residents driving into Pittsburgh have watched as the south side of the McKees Rocks Bridge was totally redone over about two years. But bridges off the main routes, either in towns or townships, tend to be neglected. Some of these are heavily used, by commuter traffic, trucks carrying fill to or from construction sites, school buses or PennDot buses, and tractor trailer trucks delivering groceries or other supplies to local stores.

Anyone knowing of local bridges needing repair should report them.

Stanford Professor To Head Redistricting

The Pennsylvania State Supreme Court has hired Stanford Law Professor Nathan Persily to begin the process of redrawing the state's Congressional voting districts.

Persily is a specialist in voting maps and straightening out gerrymandered states. He has done similar work in North Carolina, New York, Maryland, Georgia and Connecticut. He served on Barack Obama's Commission on Elections during 2013 and 2014.

The Pennsylvania State Legislature has appealed the State Court's order to the U.S. Supreme Court. If the U.S. Court overrules the State Court, current districts will remain as they are. If the U.S. Court upholds the State decision, the Legislature will have until February 9th to redraw the districts or the State Court will do it for them and impose the new map for the 2018 mid term elections.

Whether the Legislature or Persily takes on the task, it will be difficult. The Court has imposed several standards : (l) Districts must not vary in population by more than 10%, (2) The east-west, north-south, diagonals drawn SE-NW and SW-NE lines must be within 10% of each other, and (3) voting districts should follow existing political units (counties, towns and townships) as closely as possible.

That sounds simple. It's not. For example, the cities of Pittsburgh and Philadelphia could be defined as voting districts. Then the surrounding counties of Allegheny and Delaware-Montgomery-Bucks could become voting districts. However, those four districts would contain the majority of the state's population. So, to meet the requirement that districts must contain within 10% of the same population, the other districts would have to be huge, since much of the state is quite rural.

The state has to have 18 districts, since it has 18 Congressional seats to fill. So if four districts are used for just the two cities and the counties around them, that means 14 districts have to be drawn across the rest of the state. Mathematically it is not possible to do that and create districts which come within 10% of either Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, or Allegheny or the Delaware-Montgomery-Bucks County block. The districts with Erie, Scranton, Wilkes Barre, Johnstown, Altoona and Harrisburg would use up most of the remaining population, leaving eight districts with very few people. That would not meet the Court's requirement.

So additional districts are going to have to be drawn around the cities. Delaware, Montgomery and Bucks County could be separated out around Philadelphia. Allegheny County could be divided as shown by the map at left, into four voting districts. These would meet the population balance requirement, but would be elongated in shape, which would not meet the geometric shape requirements. Presumably, an appeal could be made and the court might accept these exceptions.

That would use nine districts. So nine more districts would have to be drawn across the rest of the state, each of which had approximately the same population as the city of Pittsburgh or the South Hills or Bucks County. Again, the districts containing Erie, Scranton, Wilkes Barre, Johnstown, Altoona and Harrisburg could be drawn to come close to that, but that would leave three more districts to draw and there's nowhere else in the state with enough population to meet the requirement.

And this is the problem. Cynics assume that voting districts are so wierd because whichever party is in charge wants a political advantage. But even if a person or committee has zero bias, these maps are extremely difficult to draw and simultaneously meet the requirements of shape, population and existing political boundaries.

The 18th and 12th districts, which wrap around Pittsburgh in odd shapes, are certain to be redrawn. As for the others, it's impossible to predict.

Court Rules Local District 18 Unconstitutional

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled Monday that the state's Congressional Districts, which include local District 18, are unconstitutional and may not be used in the primary scheduled for May or next Fall's general election.

The majority of the Justices are Democrat appointees. The districts were drawn up by a committee of Republicans. The Court said if the committee did not present a redrawn map by February 9th, the Court would redraw the map and mandate its use. A minority opinion did not disagree with the decision but considered the timeline impractical given the approaching primary.

Pennsylvania is considered to be the nation's worst example of "gerrymandering," the practice of arranging wierdly shaped districts for political advantage. And District 18 is considered Pennsylvania's worst example. The 18th extends from Coraopolis down the West Virginia line, through part of Washington County, across the South Hills to the area far east of Pittsburgh around Idlewild Park. As can be seen from the map below, other districts in the state are also wierdly drawn, following no geographic or political boundaries. Check out the 12th, 13th, 9th and 3rd Districts.

Republican Tim Murphy represented the district from 2003 to his resignation on October 21, 2017, triggering a special election. The district seat is currently vacant. The district is mostly white. Although there are 70,000 more Democrats in the district than Republicans, the district has trended increasingly Republican since the mid-1990s. The district is home to coal mines but the western portion contains rural regions as well as very wealthy suburbs. The district has the second oldest population in the state.

The state legislature says ir will immediately appeal the decision to the federal Supreme Court. That court is already hearing similar cases from other states.

The U.S. Constitution requires that each state redraw its voting districts every 10 years with the newest census, but does not define exactly how. The original idea was that each voting district should contain about the same population. 12 states use an independent commission to avoid politics.

911th Says Goodbye To Faithful C-130s

All of us living in the Western Hills grew up accustomed to planes flying low overhead. Most of us learned to identify them by their shapes and sounds. Beginning next week, we'll be seeing and hearing a different plane taking off and landing. The familiar old C-130 has reached the end of its run.

The C-130 (pictured at right) has been the workhorse of the Air Force for 64 years, having been first used in 1954. They have flown men and their equipment around the world. Locally, the C-130 has been central to the mission of the 911th Air Lift Wing at the Pittsburgh International Airport.

It's been a great plane. It's a Lockheed Martin model, 132 feet long, built to fly 366 mph at 20,000 feet. It can carry 42,000 pounds of men or their equipment. A C-130 can fly 1,496 miles with a crew of five men. One C-130 costs $30.1 million.

But its replacement, the C-17 Globemaster, is the aircraft for the 21st Century. Made by Boeing, it carries four times as much as the C-130 : 170,000 pounds. It's 174 feet long, anf flies at 515 mph at 45,000 feet. It can fly 2762 miles with a crew of three. A C-17 costs $202 million.

The C-130s won't be sent to the scrapyard. They'll be reassigned to Air National Guard and Air Force reserve units.

Some C-130s have been reequipped as search and rescue planes and gunships.

Two C-130s returned to Pittsburgh Thursday and the final two landed Friday.

Presbyterian Day Care Seeks Employees

The Coraopolis Presbyterian Church is seeking employees for its Day School.

These would be part time positions at 25-30 hours per week.

Experience in early childhood education is preferred. However, Pennsylvania clearances, a thorough physical, TB testing, and CPR and First Aid training are required.

All correspondence should be directed to prescor@ verizon.net.

Or, an applicant could write to Day School, Presbyterian Church of Coraopolis, 1201 Fifth Avenue, Coraopolis, Pa. 15108.

The Day School operates five days a week year round, not counting holiday breaks. It is housed in the rear of the church building, seen from the front in the photo here.

 

President Visits H & K Equipment Plant

President Donald Trump spent half of Thursday in the Western Hills with the main event being a speech and reception at H & K Equipment.

H&K sells, leases and repairs industrial equipment such as fork lifts (photo, below), lift trucks, container handlers, railcar movers and cleaning machinery. The company employs 240 people, but not all at the local plant. H & K is located just off the Parkway, at the foot of the hill below Robinson Town Center. It is an example of the kind of successful manufacturing company Trump wants to see more of.

American manufacturing has been badly hurt by three decades of jobs being outsourced to foreign countries and often entire companies moving overseas. Trump's policies are designed to stop the losses and even bring as many jobs and companies as possible back.

H & K is proof companies can still make a living here using local workers, and Trump wanted to use them as an example.

American workers are known for being more productive per hour than their foreign rivals but companies don't have to provide health care and retirement pensions for overseas workers and can pay them far less per hour. That means companies can reduce prices on items manufactured overseas. The question is whether buyers will pay more for quality. It's a difficult challenge, but H & K proves it can be done.

Trump was also here to support and promote Republican candidate Rick Saccone (below) in his campaign for Tim Murphy's seat in Congress. A President's party always loses Congressional seats during mid term elections but Trump and the Republicans would like to lose as few as possible. Murphy was forced to resign when discovered having an affair with one of his staff. Republican Saccone and Democrat Conor Lamb are running for that seat.

Trump during his speech did not mention either the pending budget showdown or the immigration issue. He introduced a few H & K workers, stressed his support of Saccone, and then spent the rest of his speech on the new tax reform legislation.

As always, Trump is a polarizing, frustrating President. His language and manner offend many Americans. But even his most vocal opponents admit that in the 12 months since he took office, the stock market has broken all records, employment is up phenomenally, he has nominated several outstanding men to federal judgeships, and illegal immigration is significantly down.

Trump told the H & K crowd (the public was not admitted) that the tax reform package just passed will lure many large companies back to America and, in fact, in the last few days, Apple and several other companies have announced they are investing billions of dollars into new plants back in America which will employ tens of thousands of workers.

At the airport and near the H & K plant demonstrators tried to protest Trump's position on DACA, the acronym for children illegally brought here by illegally immigrating parents. Previous President Barack Obama issued an Executive Mandate granting those children immunity from deportation. But his mandate recently expired. Rather than renew it, Trump referred it to Congress, arguing that America needed a permanent law so the people affected could plan their lives and not live year to year hoping for renewed mandates. Congress has not yet acted.

Ice Sweeps Barges Downriver, Three Missing

Ice and high water tore 27 barges loose from their loading area in Pittsburgh and carried them downriver to the Emsworth Dam. Seven barges broke through the locks and drifted on downriver. 17 remain lodged against the upriver side of the dam, some loaded with coal. Three cannot be found.

Coast Guard and Army Corps of Engineer workers struggled in the cold, snowy weather to untangle the mess and return the barges upriver.

After inspection, no damage was found to either the dam or the locks. The location of the missing barges remains a mystery.

Will Pittsburgh Plan Be Model For Cory ?

Pittsburgh has devised a plan that, if it meets Environmental Protection Agency approval, could become the model for other communities in Western Pennsylvania, including Coraopolis.

The EPA has ruled that cities, towns and townships must separate their storm water runoff from their sewage. The reason is that rainwater and snowmelt can overload the drainage systems, flood water purification plants, cause them to overflow, and allow sewage to escape into rivers and streams.

EPA inspectors will be roaming each state, checking for violations. If they find any, communities will be fined so much a day until the violations are corrected. The problem is, especially in older parts of the country, how does a city or town meet this new requirement?

The Pittsburgh solution, officially Ordinance #03, tries to meet it. The law uses real estate sales. "All city property owners," it says, "who wish to sell their property, must contact the Pittsburgh Water & Sewer Authority and obtain an Evidence of Compliance Certificate."

The property owner completes the top portion of the form and returns it to the PWSA with a $25 fee. The fee pays for a Dye Test. The Dye Test allows engineers to determine where the owner's rainwater or snow meltwater ends up. If they find that it does not end up in the sewage system, the owner will receive an Evidence of Compliance stamp on his form and need do nothing more. If the property fails the dye test, corrective action must be taken.

Of course, with many families and businesses remaining in the same place for decades, this law would mean it might take 50 years for a community to totally bring all property into compliance. Whether the EPA will accept this is uncertain. They could announce a deadline, say June 1 2020, and require all communities to be in compliance by then.

But either way, homeowners, businessmen and even government agencies will have to eventually comply with the new regulations. Exactly how to do that is a tricky question.

Many Coraopolis homes and businesses lay on the fringe of the town, bordering open stretches of woods or fields. They can simply lay downspouts so that the water flows out into the yard, garden or woods, soaks down into the soil, and eventually reaches the nearest stream which carries it to the Ohio River.

Another tactic is to install rain barrels, as seen at left. Hoses can be hooked up to the barrels to use the water in irrigating gardens, flower beds, yards or even to wash the car.

However, the problem becomes more complex with homes not adjacent to those open spaces. A home cannot simply allow downspouts to drop water along the foundation. Over time, that will destabilize the foundation, causing either water in the basement or cracks in the house walls. So the water must be sent somewhere else.

The most common solution is to dig down and attach the downspout to the pipe carrying sewage from the house on to the Coraopolis Water Purification Plant. But that is precisely what the EPA has outlawed.

The next most common solution is to extend the downspout, either above or below ground, out to the curb, and empty the water into the gutter along the street.

Except that street water runs along the curb to the nearest corner, where it drops down the drain. Half of all the drains in Coraopolis empty into the sewage system, which carries it to the Water Plant. And that is what the EPA has outlawed.

Now, half of all the drains in Coraopolis instead empty into an underground network which eventually leads to the Ohio River. If you live in a neighborhood with one of those drains, you can empty your rain water into the street and not be in violation. So, first, you will have to check and see where your drain leads.

Eventually, Coraopolis, like every other town, will have to redo its underground network so that all rain and snow runoff flows to the river or to a catch basin.

If someone living downtown is lucky enough to have a yard, they might build a rain garden. This is a depression filled with plants that consume large amounts of water. Downspouts can carry rain and snow runoff to the rain garden, where the water will soak into the soil, but be sucked up by the plants. A berm surrounds the rain garden, so during heavy rains water will be held there until it has time to soak down into the soil. A rain garden can be very attractive, and passersby may not realize its real purpose is to dispose of rain and snow runoff.

Coraopolis Borough Council Members have stated on several occasions during the last three meetings that ultimately the costs of these new EPA regulations will fall on homeowners and businessmen.

Audience members at recent meetings have asked Council members about this issue. Clarence Sellars has inquired about whether state or federal grants might be available to help local homeowners with the costs of redoing their drainage systems.

Council members have explained that Council will apply for such grants but with every community in the state and nation also applying, it will be difficult to obtain one.

The Coraopolis Water & Sewage Authority meets separately from the regular monthly Borough Council meetings. Water & Sewage meetings are also open to the public.

Fortunately, this is not an immediate crisis. The EPA is giving towns time to figure out what they're going to do, to file plans for approval, and then time to implement those plans.

But anyone owning a home or business building should be keeping up with the issue and setting aside the money to redo their drainage system.

Cory Borough Council Reverses Casino Vote

Coraopolis Borough Council opened 2018 with a busy meeting, the first for new Mayor Shawn Reed (photo, right) and new First Ward Delegate Melissa Walsh (photo, below right).

As required by state law, Council first had to take care of annual clerical duties. They named Robb Cardimen President, David Pendel Vice President, Rudy Bolea President Pro Tem, Henry Bobro Vacancy Board Chairman, Rich Start Solicitor, Lennon Smith Souleret official Board Engineering Consultant, Mark Turley Auditor, PNC Bank Depository, Beaver Times print publication for legal notices, 7:00 pm the second Wedneday each month as the official meeting date, Chuck Spencer Director of the Coraopolis Water & Sewage Authority through 2022, Orlando Falcione representative on the Civil Service Commission through 2020, Theo Collins Hearing Officer for the Zoning Commission through 2020, Chad Kraynyk and Ken Maye positions on the Shade Tree Commission, and Jeff McBain to the Valley Ambulance Authority.

Reed introduced himself by recalling the quote, "Within every man is a better man waiting to be called forth." He suggested that similarly within each community is a better community waiting to be called forth. He promised that he would devote his time as Mayor to calling forth the best in Coraopolis. His office hours are Wednesday 8 a.m. - noon.

As his first official action, Reed read a proclamation recognizing January 21-27 as Coraopolis School Choice Week. Reed emphasized that all Cory children should have access to the best possible education and the town has a high quality mix of public, Catholic and private schools.

Chief Ron Denbow delivered the December Police Report. The station received 996 calls, made 23 arrests, recovered $600 in stolen property, had 19 accidents and cited 98 moving violations.

Denbow reminded residents that they must clear sidewalks of snow within 24 hours and cannot dump snow on the street.

Council noted that it is overdue to name a committee to study borough zoning and update zoning regulations.

Discussion commenced about the town sewer system. It is overloaded. This seems impossible since the system was designed and built for a larger population. But what is happening is that storm runoff, from rain and melting snow, is entering the sewer system. The Environmental Protection Agency is notifying towns and threatening fines if they do not separate their storm runoff from sewage. Council men noted that this burden would likely fall on homeowners, but exactly how the problem can be solved is not clear.

Danny Larocco commended Borough salt crews for getting out at 3 a.m. on icy and snowy nights to make the streets and roads passable by morning.

David Pendel noted that the final accounting for 2017 showed Coraopolis beginning 2018 with a $220,000 surplus.

In its most important action of the evening, Council rescinded its December 28th resolution which prohibited Casinos within Borough limits. Council members have been hearing from residents who want a Casino. So Rudy Bolea called for a vote and Council officially cancelled the motion of two weeks ago. A company wanting to build a Casino can now consider Coraopolis.

Cardimen thanked Ed Pitassi for his work in obtaining $256,000 in grants to pay for Americans With Disabilities compliant ramps for wheelchair bound residents.

During the public comment period, Tom Toomey announced that the Friends of the Riverfront would be requesting permission for a boat launching facility for nonmotorized craft,

Steve Pace (above left) of Edgewood Avenue pointed out that speeding on Vine Street was still a problem. The posted limit was 15 mph and often drivers were hitting 40. The bus stop at the corner of Vine and Edgewood was so risky parents have resorted to going out on the street and demanding motorists slow down. When police cruisers are stationed at the Devonshire corner traffic slows down, but police cannot park there every day. Chief Denbow said he will place a radar sensor there to gather data and some action will be taken.

Bolea reminded residents that dumpsters cannot be placed on sidewalks or streets. On some of the town's narrower streets, they block access for emergency vehicles (fire, police, ambulance).

Cardimen announced that the Parks & Recreation Committee will meet January 29 at 7 pm at the Library. They would welcome new members.

Cornell Board Extends Superintendant's Contract

At its regularly scheduled December meeting, the Cornell Board swore in new members (photo, right) and extended Superintendant Aaron Thomas' contract for five years.

The Board reorganized for the coming year, nominating and electing new officers : Karen Murphy as President, Bob Dinell as Vice President, Stephanie Mazocca as Treasurer and Andrews & Price as Solicitors.

The Board also selected Karen Murphy as the Parkway West Representative, First National Bank as the depository of district funds, and the Allegheny Times as the daily print newspaper of record.

They voted to continue holding business meetings on the third Thursday of each month at 7 pm, and workshops the first Monday of every month at 6:30.

At a time when Superintendant longevity is short and districts all around Coraopolis are changing Superintendants more and more frequently, it was noted that Cornell has achieved remarkable administrative stability with Dr. Thomas. Several studies correlate administrative stability with student achievement.

Moon Schedules Tree Lighting Saturday Dec. 2

Moon Township has announced its first ever community tree lighting celebration for Saturday, Dec. 2 at 6:30 pm in front of the Municipal Building.

The tree is a 30 foot blue spruce that stands on the future site of the Miracle League Field at Moon Park. Bartlett Tree Experts and Wayne's Cranes are donating their expertise and services,m working alongside the Moon Township Public Works Department. The tree will be cut and transported to the Municipal Building, where it will be mounted and decorated.

Although the actual lighting will occur at 6:30 pm, activities will be offered from 4 pm until 8 pm. They will include hay rides, a magician, arts and crafts, the Moon High School Band in concert, cookies and hot chocolate, and an appearance by Santa.

"We're excited to be able to bring our community together for a special night and hope this becomes a new family tradition in Moon," said Parks and Recreation Director Bob Brozovich. "The holiday season is all about family and friends coming together to celebrate each other and the year ahead."

The lighting isn't rhe only event Moon Parks & Recreation offers this Christmas season.

Saturday morning, also Dec. 2, from 10 - noon, parents can bring their children to the firehouse at 1000 Beaver Grade Road for brunch with Santa. Tickets are $5 each. Parents must register online by Monday, November 27 at moonparks.org.

And Monday, December 18, at the Airport Sheraton, there will be a Senior Christmas Gala for those aged 55 or older. Tickets are $5 each. Those planning to attend should register online by Monday, December 11 at moonparks.org. For more information anyone may call 412-262-1703.

Methodist Church Offers Thanksgiving Dinner To Public

Thanksgiving is perhaps America's most family oriented holiday. There are no presents, fireworks, parades, model trains or other distractions to it. Just generations of family gathered for the day, culminating in a good meal. Thanksgiving often serves as a reunion, the only time of the year when the whole family gets together.

Except. For those without family, it can be achingly lonely. For the elderly, the homeless, the poor, or just those working away from home with no time to travel across the country, Thanksgiving is a depressing day.

As a way to combat this, the United Methodist Church of Coraopolis hosts an annual Thanksgiving Dinner for anyone wishing to come. There is no charge. It's a full, traditional meal with all the usual trimmings. It's prepared in the kitchen just before serving, and is served on real china with real silverware. There's even a wide screen TV with plenty of chairs so anyone who wants can get comfortable and watch football games.

The chairwoman of this wonderful project is Jeanne Cosgrove. It's a big job, and she has plenty of help. Chris Strager takes charge of the kitchen and 50 people lend a hand.

"No one should spend holidays alone," Cosgrove says. "We have lots of good conversation. People are coming and going from the kitchen with food. There are enticing aromas. Football is on in the background. It's just like a Thanksgiving at home would be."

Last year, they served 250 people. This year, she's hoping for 300. And it doesn't stop there. They also pack up full Thanksgiving dinners to deliver to the local Fire, Police and Ambulance stations plus the 911th Air Wing Base out at the airport.

It's a year round project. They apply for grants and receive donations from both church members and people and businesses in the community. They receive donations of canned goods and, closer to the actual dinner, fresh ingredients. Right now, people are bringing bags of potatoes to the church services (see photo, right).

Everyone who comes is not elderly or poor. Sometimes a mother is ill or in the hospital and a father will bring children to the dinner and take one home for his wife. Young people may not know how to fix Thanksgiving dinner. They're all welcome.

Most of their guests live in Coraopolis, but they welcome some from Moon, Neville or Robinson, and last year one came from Beaver.

Anyone wanting to volunteer their time Wednesday night or Thursday morning or donate food or money should phone the church at 412-264-3727. Anyone wanting to come for the dinner should arrive at the church at noon.

Tree Lighting, Pet Policy, Damaged Drain Lead November Council Meeting

After a day of unpacking boxes and settling into their new offices, Coraopolis Boro Council approved the annual Tree Lighting and voted on the town pet policy, repairing a damaged water drain and demolishing two houses.

The Tree Lighting was announced by Calvin Jackson and will occur Saturday, December 2 at the gazebo across from the Old Municipal Building. The day will include a singing, Santa at the VFW, a cookie walk and face painting.

Ed Pitassi reported that on Saturday, November 11 the Library will host a Vendor Fair from 10-3. There has been a 71% increase in donations to the library so far this year. The Boy Scouts will conduct a special ceremony at the Library on the same Saturday (Nov. 11) to raise the new flag.

Council President Robb Cardimen pointed out that the Coraopolis Government is now completely moved into the new building so people will now come to it to pay their water bills. The Police are now also completely moved in. The address is 1301 Fourth Avenue. Borough Manager Ray McCutcheon added that the borough staff did all their own moving, so no money was spent hiring an outside firm to move.

Council Attorney Richard Start explained that there was a legal issue as a Waste Management truck had run over and damaged a water drain inlet at the corner of Hiland and Locust. It was a safety risk so repair needed to be made right away. But Waste Management denied responsibility. So the Borough would have to pay the $4000 to Stefanik Corp. to repair it, then begin proceedings to recover the funds from WM. Tom Toomey of the audience (below right) asked whether this reluctance to pay for damages might affect renewal when Waste Management's current contract expires. He was told it would depend on what happened next, but it was possible.

Main Street water line and paving work is now complete. Council approved payment of $154,000 for the work, which Cardimen observed had been done very quickly and with good quality.

Rudy Bolea, who had just won reelection from the Second Ward, was appointed to the Long Range Planning Committee. This group was formed in 2000 instead of a formal Planning Commission. The major difference in a Planning Committee and a Planning Commission is that a Committee can include nonboard members.

The Board approved the demolition of two houses at 123 and 125 Mill Street which suffered extensive fire damage, are no longer inhabitable, and have become home to a colony of feral cats. The property can then be made available for development, presumably in the form of new residences. Jadell Minniefield Construction will perform the demolition at a cost of $18,815. But a CDBG Grant will cover $11,117, so the Borough is only responsible for the remainder.

Chief Ron Denbow presented the monthly Police Report, which included 1068 phone calls, 420 complaints, 145 criminal investigations, 33 arrests, 19 accidents, no injuries, 201 parking tickets, 59 citations, 62 moving violations, and 49 vehicles moved.

Kristin Machaj and Dan Zovko (photo, below) appeared before the Council for final resolution of their dog issue, which had first been discussed at the September meeting. The couple has seven dogs. But the borough law does not allow anyone to have more than three dogs. Machaj and Zovko had asked for an exception because their dogs were especially well behaved, were not allowed to roam free, and did not bark at night. Back in September, Council had postponed action while they researched and discussed. However, it had been decided not to grant the exception.

Richard Start explained that if the Council made the exception, it would immediately be liable for past enforcement of the law and would be unable to enforce the law in the future. "We all have dogs and love dogs," he told rthe couple. "But we cannot change the 40 year old law."

Ms. Machaj then announced that they were putting their house up for sale and would move to another community which was "more dog friendly." She asked that they be given time to move and not be cited for violation in the meantime. Start assured her no one would take their dogs or issue any citations.

Ray McCutcheon announced that the Borough offices would be closed Friday for Veterans Day.

Clarence Sellars of Vance Avenue asked if an Open House was scheduled to allow the public to see the new building. Cardimen assured him one would be scheduled but they needed to finish putting papers away, setting up desks and tidying up.

Tuesday's ballot included a statewide referendum allowing the legislature to pass a law allowing towns to exempt retirees from property taxes. It passed. Several members of the audience asked if Council would be doing this. They were told the referendum only allowed the legislature to pass such a bill, so towns would have to wait for legislative action. But McCutcheon reminded everyone that 45% of the Borough budget comes from property taxes, so if a large percent of those property taxes were repealed, that money would have to be found somewhere else, such as an income tax or sales tax.

Totally Reconstructed Main Street Open Again

The lower hill on Main Street has been totally rebuilt and is once again open for traffic.

Although it has received various repairs over the decades, this is the first complete reconstruction of Main Street since back in the middle of the 20th Century.

The section having been rebuilt is from 5th Avenue up to Sixth Avenue.

The pavement and the understructure all the way down to the utility lines were removed. Water lines were relaid. The understructure was then laid and the street was repaved.

This is just part of a million dollars worth of street repair and repaving in Coraopolis in 2017, all without a tax increase. The projects were paid for out of cash reserves.

New Machine Shop Being Built On 4th Avenue

At a prominent location on the corner of 4th Avenue and Chestnut Street, a new machine shop is being built.

The shop will be used for fabricating O-Rings for the National Aeronautics & Space Administration (NASA). It is located behind the Presbyterian Church and diagonally across from the new Coraopolis Municipal Building.

Construction is still in the early stages and the facility may not open for business until Spring.

If it opened before the end of December, it would be the sixth new business opening in Coraopolis this year.

The brick building is not new. Several businesses have occupied the site over the last 50 years.

The facility is an outgrowth of Anchor Seals, which has had another facility on Third Avenue below the tracks.

Moving In : Final Phase

The last of the Coraopolis government offices spent today (Wednesday, Nov. 8) moving into the new Municipal Building. Fire (below center) and Police (below right) Departments had already moved into their ends of the building but the massive borough files, dating back to the 1800s, had to be boxed up, moved, then unboxed.

Staff in the Borough Manager's Office spent Wednesday unpacking and organizing (below left). The phone lines had to be switched over from the old Borough Building.

Tonight's Borough Council Meeting will be the second to be held in the new building, on 4th Avenue.

Looking at the building from the front (as at right), the windows to the right of the main entrance are to the Council Meeting Room. Windows to the left are to the Borough Manager's Office

Walsh Defeats Pitassi For Council in First Ward

Melissa Walsh defeated Ed Pitassi for the second time in their battle for the First Ward seat on the Coraopolis Borough Council.

Pitassi had lost to Walsh by seven votes in the May primary but ran in the General Election as a write in candidate. Instead of simply pushing a button in the voting booth, voters had to go through a three step process to write in his name. Write in candidates rarely win. But Walsh spent Monday night and Election Morning in the hospital, and although she did show up at the polling place, she was unable to stay long on a cold, damp, dark, drizzly day on which it had sleeted in the morning. Nevertheless, she won 112-106.

In the Fourth Ward, Danny LaRocco beat Jesse Robles 189-120 to continue his streaks as the longest serving (26 years) and oldest (88) Councilman in Cory history.

The other races were uncontested. Shawn Reed was running unopposed for Mayor and received 859 votes. Rudy Bolea (photo right) was running unopposed for Second Ward Councilman and received 149 votes, and Michael Williams was running unopposed for Third Ward Councilman and received 228 votes. David Falcione was running unopposed for Tax Collector. Faith Lynn Quarles was running unopposed for Second Ward Judge of Elections. Mary Skovira was running unopposed for Election Inspector.

For School Board, Robert Dinell, Darlene Abbott, Charles Blackstone and Stephanie Mazzocco ran unopposed for four year terms. Jeffrey McBain ran unopposed for the two year term.

Turnout was better than expected in every ward. The Fourth Ward may have seen a strong turnout because people wanted to see the new Borough Building. Voting was in the Council Chambers. Borough staffers have not yet fully moved into the new building, so no Open House has been scheduled. This was thus the first chance many residents had to see inside.

Election winners take their new positions January 1.

Borough Council is required by law to reorganize in January, assigning representatives to committees.

The other voting locations were the VFW (Third Ward), Towers (Second Ward), and The Armory (First Ward). Voters at the Armory entered from the 4th Avenue basement door.

Candidates and their families and staffers gathered at Segneri's to await the results. Because write in ballots have to be counted by hand, First Ward results lagged well behind the others.

All results will be unofficial for about 24 hours while absentee ballots are counted.

Elsewhere in the Western Hills, Michael Santicola and Jim Mancini won Supervisor positions in Moon Township as Catherine Tress won the Tax Collector's position. John Muhr won the McKees Rocks Mayorship. Sarah Harvey, Paul Krisby, Kathleen Evich, Wanda Dixon and Joseph Mixter won seats on the McKees Rocks Borough Council. Kimberly Bosetti will be the Controller and Tracey Pedersen the Tax Collector. On Neville Island, William Leon and Richard Rutter won Commissioner seats and Karen Rutter won the Tax Collector's position. In Robinson, Michael Pendel will be the Tax Collector while James Barefoot, Ken Kisow and Ron Shiwarski will fill Commissioner seats. In Kennedy Township, Mel Weinstein will be the Tax Collector and Vince DePascale, Tony Mollica and John Sinicrope the Commissioners. In North Fayette, Tom Falcioni will be the Tax Collector, Keith Colledge the Auditor, and Bob Doddato one of the Supervisors. In Stowe Township, Louis Parilla, Darrell Chestnut, Joseph Faloshey Sr., and Richard Derzic will be Commissioners.

School board results were as follows : Montour : Darrell Young, Mark Rippole, George Dudash, Cindy Morrow and Mitch Galiyas. Moon : Michael Hauser, Jerry Testa, Cloie Blair and Matthew Dugan. Sto-Rox : Tyler Kochirka, Patrick Dorrenbacher, Cheri Zielinski and Tyler Kochirka. West Allegheny : George Bartha, Michael Quinn, Tracy Lynn Pustover and Tracy Kosis.

Not all borough or township council seats or school board seats were voted on this cycle. They are staggered so in each election cycle some continuity is guaranteed. The others will be voted on in two or four years.

Reed Prepares To Assume Cory Mayorship

Montour Street resident Shawn Reed will become the new Mayor of Coraopolis Tuesday. Since he's running unopposed, that much is guaranteed.

What happens next is not so certain. Reed will be a different kind of Mayor, with new ideas and new energy for a changing town.

He majored in marketing at Geneva College and Robert Morris, and is Senior Vice President at True Sense Marketing in Cranberry. He does not see towns in terms of roads, streets, tax collection and other details that usually occupy Borough Council meetings. He sees towns as opportunities, connections and experiences.

And he's in love with Coraopolis.

"This," he tells reporters and anyone else who will listen, "is the most wonderful town. We have so many unbelievable assets. We have advantages thousands of other towns can only dream of. And for 60 years we've kept those advantages a secret from the rest of the world."

It's Time, Reed believes. Time to spread the word. Time to reach out to people who want to live in a town like this. Time to reach out to businesses who want to locate in a town like this. Time to cast off the 60 year downward slide that began with the closing of the mills and launch a revival for the 21st Century.

Not that he thinks the town needs him to do it. "It's already happening," he points out. "The businesses are already coming. American Bridge was in Ambridge for 100 years. Now they've relocated to Coraopolis. We have a Scuba Shop, a nationally competitive ballet studio, new restaurants, antique shops, the Allegheny County Soccer Complex, two breweries, and other businesses. Our tax base has turned around. We're in the black, unlike a lot of towns our size. So the revival has begun. My role will be to maintain it and enhance it as much as I can."

Actually, Reed has made major contributions to the turnaround. He teamed up with a group which worked on the beautification of downtown. Then he teamed up with many of the same people plus more to restore the old railroad passenger station.

 

"None of what the town needs is something any one person can do," he explains. "We need to work in groups, in teams. If one group takes on one project and another group takes on another project, pretty soon we can get a lot of projects going on here."

He sees his position as Mayor as allowing him to bring such groups together. "As I move around the town, one person over there says we should do something about restoring that old church, and another person over here says the same thing, and someone up on Neely Heights says the same thing. So I need to introduce those people to each other, encourage them to actually set up a little organization, and get to work on it."

He'd like to see such groups work on the old Presbyterian Church, the soon to be abandoned Borough Building, and other sites. But there are other projects he's like to see groups take on. Like bringing back the old Halloween Parade and Costume Competition. Developing a riverfront park. Bringing back a YMCA or perhaps a Boys Club.

"There are grants out there for all those projects. It may be that the best role a Mayor's Office can play is helping those groups apply for those grants. We can be the catalyst, the enabler."

Reed is firmly convinced there is great talent in Coraopolis quite capable of taking on such projects and seeing them through to completion. "We've got highly educated people here, people with valuable skills. Some of them are retired and have time and energy to devote to these things. Some of them are still working but could give us evenings and weekends."

Reed himself is part of a new generation of dynamic young leaders taking over some of the old river towns. Monessen, McKees Rocks and others are also launching revivals, led by visionaries who were born after the mills had closed. Rather than looking back with nostalgia and regret to the good old days, they're looking ahead to new possibilities and see potential, not decay, in their towns. One problem Reed and his peers in those other river towns see is that for too long their leaders have been reacting instead of acting. "We need a vision," he says. "We need to be thinking and planning 5-10-20 years out. What do we want the town to look like? What do we want each part of the town to look like? There's no Planning Commission. We have to have a Planning Commission. With the Shell plant and the CSX Terminal, change is going to spill over into our own town. What are we doing to get ready for it? We can either get ahead of these changes, and channel them in ways that really help us, or we can sit back and wait, and be run over by them, and lose what makes our town special."

Reed wakes up early every Friday morning and takes a 7 a.m. walk around a different part of town each day. He notices the details. The Victorian mansions for sale for a fifth of what McMansions out in the townships cost. The architectural details of many of the business buildings downtown. The brick streets. The big old shade trees. Not only woods at the very edges of neighborhoods, but streams running through neighborhoods.

One of his priorities is the beautification of Route 51. "Route 51 is our front door," he points out. "All those people coming to that new Soccer Complex, they come into town on Route 51. That strip from Groveton to the Neville Island Bridge should look like they're driving into a park. It's time to dress it up."

He worries about the emptying 1939 Borough Building. "We have to get it repurposed. Time is critical. It's a big, solid historical building with those unique architectural features. It's the anchor for our whole downtown. But it also has mold and asbestos. If we don't get someone in there, get it remodelled, it will sit empty and deteriorate. Marketing that building has to be a critical priority."

"All of us put together have a lot of work to do," he admits. "But everyone I talk to wants to help. Together, each group doing their part, we can do this. We will do it."

Plan To Vote Tuesday

Coraopolis and Western Hills residents vote in the General Election Tuesday with local Council, School Board and Mayoral seats at stake.

Coraopolis voting locations are as follows :

First Ward : National Guard Armory, 5th Avenue at Wood Street.

Second Ward : Towers. On First Avenue, near Bliwas Little League Field.

Third Ward : VFW. The Corner of 5th and Mulberry.

Fourth Ward : New Municipal Building, on 4th Avenue, next to the railroad tracks, across the street from Sanvito Funeral Home, half a block behind St. Joseph's Catholic Church.

Even though many of Cory's candidates are running unopposed, it is still important for citizens to vote. A candidate comes into office with a strong or weak mandate depending on how many votes he or she received. In times of disagreement, a candidate who can point out that he or she received a strong mandate is in a much more persuasive position.

Three pages of the four page ballot will be the same regardless of which district a citizen votes in. Those pages (1, 2 and 4) concern Allegheny County positions. They include Judges or Justices of the Supreme Court, Superior Court, Commonwealth Court; Common Pleas Court; County Sheriff and County Council. The local page of the ballot (page 3) is shown at right. Council names will differ for each Ward.

There is also a referendum on whether to allow the local community, i.e. either Cory, Moon, Neville, etc., to exclude from taxation 100% of the property of someone over a particular age, commonly referred to as the Homestead Exemption. This referendum appears at the very end of the ballot.

In the Coraopolis School Board election, Robert Dinell, Darlene Abbott, Charles Blackstone and Stephanie Mazzocco are running for four year terms. Jeffrey McBain is running for a two year term. Since all are running unopposed, they are guaranteed to win, but the number of votes will matter.

David Falcione is running unopposed for Tax Collector.

Shawn Reed is running unopposed for Mayor of Coraopolis.

Two of the four Borough Council candidates are running unopposed. In the Second Ward, Rudy Bolea is unopposed. In the Third Ward, Michael P. Williams is running unopposed.

In the Fourth Ward, Danny LaRocco (photo, left) and Jessie Lynn Robles are both on the ballot. LaRocco is the longest serving Councilman in Coraopolis history. Robles would be serving a first term.

In the First Ward, Melissa Walsh won the primary by seven votes over Ed Pitassi. But Pitassi is running as a write in candidate, meaning his name does not appear on the ballot but must be hand entered in the box provided.

In the Second Ward, Faith Lynn Quarles is running unnopposed for Judge of Elections. Mary Skovira is running unopposed for Election Inspector. No one is running for either of these positions in the other three wards.

On the Allegheny County ballot, Bill Mullen is unopposed for Sheriff. Jack Betkowski and Tom Baker are running against each other for the seat on Allegheny County Council. Dwayne Woodruff and Sallie Mundy are running for the single Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice position. Marie McLaughlin, Carolyn Nichols, Debbie Kunselman, Geoff Moulton, Craig Stedman, Emil Giordano, Wade Kagarise, Mary Murray and Jules Mermenstein are running for the four judgeships of the Pennsylvania Superior Court.

Pitassi Declares As Write In Candidate

Ed Pitassi has announced he is running as a write in candidate for Borough Council in the First Ward in an attempt to retain his Council seat after losing to Melissa Walsh in the primary.

Walsh, a newcomer with no previous political experience, edged Pitassi by seven votes back in May. But the turnout was the lowest in the recorded history of the First Ward --- only 10% of eligible voters cast a ballot. Walsh, 34, of 816 Seventh Ave., is a restaurant manager and secretary.

She campaigned on the arguments that (l) The Boro Council consists of mostly older white males, and a younger woman would add much needed perspective to their discussions, (2) Council should provide more than just a Memorial Day Parade for the town, and (3) Water and sewage bills are too high. Walsh has specifically promised to lower those bills.

Pitassi admits he didn't do as good a job of campaigning as he should have. His mother died and he was distracted with family issues. Free of those distractions this time, he has been going door to door within his Ward and appearing at Meet & Greet sessions. He hired a Journalism and Public Relations specialist as his campaign manager, created a Facebook page, and mounted an aggressive yard sign campaign.

Still, it's an uphill battle. An ever increasing number of First Ward residents are transients, either Robert Morris University students or renters who move from job to job and apartment to apartment. When he's knocked on their doors, they've told Pitassi they're not interested in local politics, they don't have time to go vote, or they might not even be here by election day.

"There's also a high level of disillusionment with all politics," he reports. "People have become fed up with what they see in Washington and Harrisburg, and they assume Coraopolis politics is just like those places. They've washed their hands of all politicians."

He tries to explain that voting is a precious right that everyone should appreciate.

He also tries to reply to Walsh's arguments. "I agree we need women and younger people on the Council," he admits. "But the time to elect those people is when current members decide not to run. I ran when a long time member was retiring. I had already been going to meetings and studying the issues for several years before I decided to run. We can't afford to vote experienced members off and replace them with new inexperienced candidates. It takes a while to learn about all these issues. One reason our current Council has been so effective is because we're a very experienced group."

An indication of inexperience, he points out, are the arguments Walsh uses. "She says Council only provides one parade a year. But in fact the Council does a hundred things people take for granted. The Library, the Little League fields, massive amounts of street construction, tree planting and many other projects are examples of what Council does."

The water and sewage bill is a false argument, he says. "If she's elected to Council, they'll assign her to a committee. She won't have anything to do with water and sewage bills."

Pitassi was born and raised in Coraopolis and has lived here all his life. "This is a great town. I love it here. I didn't fully appreciate it until I became an adult. People don't realize how much work goes into being a Council member and how much behind the scenes planning and decision making goes into every little detail of life in Coraopolis."

He mentions routine every day jobs like street sweeping, ice and snow removal, Christmas decorations, park maintenance, and on and on. "There's someone, or a committee, planning all those things, finding the money, which a lot of times means applying for county, state or federal grants, making decisions, bringing their report to Council, getting approval."

Pitassi's own passions are the Coraopolis Memorial Library (photo above) and the Shade Tree Commission. He works on both committees.

His Shade Tree Commission is concerned with aesthetics and stormwater runoff. Trees along streets add to the beauty of a town. Their roots also soak up and hold rainwater, releasing it slowly back into the air as respiration. The State has passed new legislation requiring all towns to deal with storm runoff. Planting trees is a simple but very effective means of doing this. Cory has applied for and received grants for a massive tree planting campaign. So far 58 trees have been planted, and many more are planned. The ones planted so far line Broadway, 1st, 2nd, 4th, the Library and Cornell School. An agency named TreeVitalize mapped Cory and recommended the most critical places to plant the original 58. Pitassi and his crew then became "tree tenders," taking care of the trees and notifying County arborists if they became damaged or diseased.

Pitassi is also very active in Coraopolis Library affairs. He reports back to the Council at every meeting. Council provides some of the Library's annual budget. Some comes from the County, mostly from casino profits, and some comes from the State. Library use continues to be high but has changed somewhat. Where once users came in to read the newspapers, now they come in to log onto the computers.

He's proud that Coraopolis has one of the better small town libraries in Pennsylvania. Even though it's been almost 70 years since Leonard Cahen and Harry Houtz teamed up to raise the money for a new library, the building is still large enough for the town's needs. Use declines a bit in the Summer months, then picks back up September through May.

He's seen Coraopolis from many different angles. His first job was with Jackson Shoes on Mill Street. He moved on to Ryan Homes on 3rd Ave., where he built kitchen cabinets. Next was Lee C. Moore, where he took engineers' blueprints and drew them on structural steel, passing them on to others who drilled the holes and cut the pieces to fit. After 12 years there he worked briefly for Puralator, and finally landed a job with FedEx as a driver.

If Pitassi loses the election, he'll still continue to serve Coraopolis in any way he can. "I can volunteer, or the Mayor or someone can appoint me to a committee as a citizen. But being on Council allows you to have more impact. I have the time and energy to devote to the town. I'm not ready to step down quite yet."

Police Remind Citizens No More Parking On Chestnut

Police Chief Ron Denbow reminds everyone that starting this week there will be no more parking on the west curb of Chestnut Street.

Technically, the new restriction only applies to the west side of the street, the side opposite St. Joseph's. But on the St. Joe's side, due to the alley entrance, the parking lot, and the loading zone where passengers are picked up or dropped off for church services, there really hasn't been much parking for a long time. So, in effect, there is now very little parking along Chestnut Street between State Avenue and 4th Avenue.

This new restriction became necessary when fire engines were moved to the new municipal building across 4th Avenue from St. Joe's. State law requires that those fire engines have wide clearance on all streets leading to and from the station. In Coraopolis, they will have to use the street to get up to 5th Avenue and turn left for fires on the eastern side of town, or to get up to State Avenue, Maple Street and beyond for fires in the central neighborhoods or up on the hills.

The state allows no exceptions for churches or any other uses.

Police will begin issuing warnings this weekend and then citations. New signs have already been erected.

Main Street Reconstruction Continues

Work continues on the complete reconstruction of Main Street above 5th Avenue. Crews totally removed the surface and relaid the water lines. Since that, they've been laying a new foundation in preparation for the new pavement.

The Main Street Project is just part of the million dollars of street updating Borough Council has been pursuing in 2017. The work is being paid for out of borough reserves without an increase in taxes. Work has been done in bits and patches in every decade, but this is the first total reconstruction of Main Street since 1930.

Michael Donatelli has been watching. "We used to sled down this hill," he grinned. "The bricks were uneven and slowed us down. If they'd done this when we were kids, we'd have hit that rise at the railroad tracks moving so fast we would have gone airborne, flew totally over the river and landed in Sewickley!"

Fire Department Moves To New Building

The Coraopolis Volunteer Fire Department has completed its move into the new Coraopolis Municipal Building on 4th Avenue.

It is the first department to make the move. The Police are expected to move in sometime within the next week.

A Borough Council meeting was held in the building, but the actual Borough offices are still operating in the old location.

The Coraopolis Volunteer Fire Department resided in the old Borough Building since 1939.

The firemen did not harbor feelings of nostalgia for their long time home. It had several disadvantages.

They have significantly more room in their new headquarters. For the first time, they can park three trucks inside (see photo above) rather than parking one out on the street.

The new doors are much higher. This means Coraopolis can now purchase standard equipment instead of custom built. The middle firetruck, above, had to be specially built, and then had to carry either several men or most of its equipment to press down the suspension enough to squeeze through the door.

Now, there's so much room left over they can add storage boxes to the tops of the trucks (see left).

The move will create one special problem for neighborhood churches, mainly St. Joseph's but also including the Lutheran and Presbyterian churches.

State law requires that streets leading from the Fire Station provide wide clearance for the fire trucks. Thus no parking will be allowed on the western side of Chestnut Street, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, from 4th Avenue to State Avenue. Signs have already been posted. Coraopolis Chief of Police Ron Denbow will begin issuing warnings this Sunday.

The new building also provides off street parking for the volunteer firemen themselves.

All phone numbes remain the same. Part of the delay in moving to the new building has been the need to install and thoroughly check the phone and security camera lines.

The move frees the men from the worry of spending a lot of time in a facility with asbestos and mold. The old Borough Building was abandoned because it would cost more to remove the asbestos and mold than it would to build a new structure.

The new building is one floor instead of three. And, because of the need for high clearance garage doors, the fire department is the highest part of the building. It actually has stairs climbing to second floor offices. No such stairs exist in the other departments.

An Open House will be held at some point so the citizens of Coraopolis can see their new building, but not until the Police and various administrative departments move in. Council is expected to set such a date at its next meeting.

The new location will actually mean fire trucks can reach fires more quickly. State Avenue was narrow, the turns leading from it down to 5th or 4th were tight, and those conector streets were narrow. 4th Avenue is much wider and runs the length of the town. So when the fire trucks pull out onto 4th Avenue, they can quickly reach all the connecting streets leading down toward the river or up toward the hills.

Borough Council Meets First Time In New Building

Coraopolis Borough Council conducted a historic meeting Wednesday night, October 11, as they met for the first time in their new Council Chambers in the new Municipal Building on 4th Avenue.

Council Chairman Robb Cardimen made special note of the occasion as he gaveled the meeting to order. He gave thanks to all those who helped make the new building a reality, and welcomed the public to the facility. There will be an open house at some point, but a date has not been set.

Mayor Tony Celeste and Fire Chief Larry Byrge were absent but all Council members were present.

It was a fairly routine meeting. Council approved invoices and payroll for the month.

They approved payment of $107, 545.50 toward the new building with the caveat that one check would be withheld until final details were taken care of. They also approved $40,000 for the purchase of a "new used" backhoe.

Council approved payment of $24,887.05 to the Fire Department for the purchase of safety items.

They agreed to apply for a grant of $447,280 for Hiland Avenue Block 800 road reconstruction and handicap ramps. Borough Manager Ray McCutcheon emphasized the importance of Hiland Avenue Block 800 residents filling out the forms they will receive in the mail. Last year, the Borough also applied for this grant and too few residents returned the forms, so the Borough did not receive the grant.

However, significant road reconstruction is occurring elsewhere in town. Projects on Hiland, First, Second, Fifth. and State Avenues, Marion Drive, and Chestnut, Main and Mill Streets are either in process, just completed, or soon to begin. Danny Larocco added that Elm Alley, and Pennsylvania and Second Avenue are being asphalted. Bricks have been realigned, sink holes and pot holes repaired, and curb work done. The steep block of Main Street above State Avenue has been a particular concern. Work on the waterline has been completed, and repaving will begin Monday.

McCutcheon pointed out that Coraopolis will complete a million dollars of street reconstruction in 2017 and did not have to borrow a penny for it. The work was paid for out of cash reserves. Those reserves exist mostly because Cory has been relentlessly pursuing tax collection both current and delinquent. Coraopolis is in better financial shape than 90% of all boroughs and townships in the state.

Danny LaRocco urged residents to be patient with the loss of parking and rerouted traffic patterns due to reconstruction projects.

Very reluctantly, Council accepted the resignation of Librarian Susan McClellan, who is leaving for a position elsewhere. "She did a lot of great things during her tenure here," Chairman Robb Cardimen said. "She will be greatly missed and hard to replace." McCutcheon was instructed to advertise for a new Librarian. The salary will depend on certifications, credentials and experience.

Police Chief Ron Denbow announded that Trick or Treat this year will be Thursday, October 26 from 6-8. He also delivered the police report for September : 904 phone calls, 150 criminal investigations, 23 arrests, 10 traffic accidents, one injury, 35 parking violations and 78 moving violations. The Fire Department made six calls in September.

It was announced that on Saturday, October 28, from 10-2, an Electronics Recycling Day will be held at the Findlay Township Municipal Building in Clinton. Anyone can bring radios, TVs, computers, IPads, phones, or any other electric or electronic appliances for disposal. Auto batteries may also be turned in. For a $15 fee, any freon device may be turned in.

Cardimen explained to Council that excessive speeds on Vine Street are still a concern. "Even school buses speed down Vine," he said. "We have children getting on and off school buses and trying to cross streets with vehicles speeding past. This is not safe and not acceptable." Chief Denbow announced he is considering putting electric signs on Vine to inform motorists they are speeding, but the signs will not include cameras. Speed bumps are still a strong possibility.

Council then turned its attention to the problem of Robert Morris University college students renting houses, clogging neighborhood streets with their parked cars, and holding large, loud parties. Several permanent residents testified that their driveways were blocked and as many as 200 students arrived for weekend parties. Landlords say the behavior of tenants is not their problem. Council members voiced the opinion that Coraopolis is a family town and not a party town, blocking driveway access is illegal, and too many people in a house is also illegal. Chief Denbow reported that Slippery Rock passed an ordinance stating that if a house receives three citations, the landlord is in violation. If the court upholds this ordinance, Coraopolis may consider passing one of its own. Neighbors also spoke of couches on front porches, students sitting on rooftops, and trash in yards, all of which lower property values. Council was adamant that this will not be tolerated and plans were made to invesigate further.

TV Series Pilot Filmed At Scally's, Barto's

Dino Bartolomucci has been running Barto's Bar on 5th Avenue in Cory for 26 years. He's developed a Cheers sort of ambience, a neighborhood hangout with a loyal crowd. Top pool players from all over Allegheny and Beaver Counties come to play on his table. Penguins, Steelers and Pirates fans come to watch games on his big screens. Barto's is known over most of the Western Hills.

But it may be about to become a lot more famous. It may be one of two major sites in a new TV series called Mulligan.

Ashley Adams, Steve Parys and their production crew spent Monday at Barto's filming the pilot. The bar was closed for the day to allow for the long, tedious task of bringing the script to life.

Dino was there the whole time, just as he's been since 1991.

"Running a bar is a full time commitment," he told reporters. "It's like running a restaurant. You're here late every night, then back again the next day to take care of the books and prepare for that evening."

Born in Sharpsville (near Sharon, close to the Ohio line about halfway to Erie), Bartolomucci served as an Army photographer during the early Reagan years. He's got some great photos from that time in his life. He arrived in Cory in 1985 and bought the bar in 1991.

"I'm lucky," he says. "In the first couple of years this group of regulars started coming to the bar, and they've kept coming ever since. I guess we're all going to grow old together."

This isn't the first filming that's been done here. A Pittsburgh magazine did an article with several photos a decade ago. And an episode of the TV series Intervention was filmed here and can still be found online.

Still, this is the biggest. If it gets picked up by a major channel,it could be seen nationwide for at least a full season.

Adams, Parys and their crew also spent two days in Moon at Scally's Driving Range and Golf Course, the Allegheny County Jail and the streets around the 31st Street Bridge.

Mulligan was written by Patrick Cannon (right), who grew up in Imperial and graduated from West Allegheny High School.

Cannon, 28, is an actor who is trying to become a screenwriter. He's enrolled in the Point Park University Master's of Fine Arts Program in Screenwriting. Cannon has been working on Mulligan for three years. But finishing a script, like finishing a novel, is only half the struggle. Next a writer has to find a producer or publisher.

Last Spring, Cannon rolled the dice. The first director he sent his script to was Parys.

Parys, 55, has been doing this for 30 years. He's been the first assistant director of Silence of the Lambs, The Chief and Concussion plus such TV shows as Gone, Foxcatcher and The Outsiders. Parys is pretty skeptical about scripts, especially those by new writers.

But he liked Mulligan immediately.

The show tells the story of Jack O'Malley, who grew up in the Western Hills and became a golf star. But he also became an alcoholic, and after two DUIs and assaulting a policeman who pulled him over, he found himself serving time in the Allegheny County Jail. Mulligan begins the day O'Malley gets out of jail. He now has a criminal record and has lost most of his friends.

Since he can't obtain any other job with his record, O'Malley's brother hires him at the family golf course and driving range. He does have a gift --- he's the greatest golfer the area has ever seen --- but his struggle to rebuild his life is the subject of the show.

Mulligan is not a sitcom. It contains some pretty dark threads. O'Malley has made some strong enemies and even some of his onetime friends and relatives now prefer to keep their distance.

The show also delves into the opioid epidemic.

Cannon is all too familiar with alcoholism and opioid use. "They've both hit our community hard," he recalls. "I've lost neighbors and childhood friends to opioid related overdoses. I've seen alcoholism up close. They're part of life around here and any show about Pittsburgh, if it's to be honest and realistic, has to deal with them."

Cannon now lives in New York but still loves Pittsburgh and the Western Hills. He was careful while writing Mulligan to keep it realistic and an accurate reflection of life in and around Pittsburgh.

"Too many shows pretend to be about Pittsburgh but they're filmed somewhere else and don't resesrch the details that make Pittsburgh unique." He specifically mentions the NBC series This Is Us. It claims to be from Pittsburgh but is filmed in Los Angeles.

This insistence on writing true to Pittsburgh and the Western Hills is what struck a nerve in Parys. "I was born and raised here and I just loved the fact that it was a very Pittsburgh-centric script," he says. "One thing Pittsburgh is all about is the second chance, starting over, coming back from failure to find success. There's a grit, a stubborn humor, a beauty in Pittsburgh that only a local writer can understand."

So Parys decided to direct the script.

After Cannon and Parys conferred, their first phone call was to Ashley Kate Adams of AKA Productions in New York City.

Ashley Adams is a rising star in the film and theater fields. Born and raised in Louisville in a musical family, she attended the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music and made her Broadway debut at 23. She has played numerous roles in musical theater and is a member of the Screen Actors Guild. Adams founded AKA Productions and has been active in several stage, film and TV projects. Her credits include several Netflix hits, such as Royal Pains and Rules of Cool. She will also have an on screen role in Mulligan.

Other name actors are Daina Michelle Griffith (Dark Knight Rises), Jason McCune (Outsiders, Fathers & Daughters), Makeda Duncan (Lightheaded), Tony Bingham, a longtime Pittburgh stage actor, and Mike Sullivan.

Adams (photo, left) has bought into the idea of capturing the Pittsburgh and Allegheny County ambience. She's been alert to details that let the viewer know they're here, and not in California or New York. But Co Producer Carrie Zenkevich is a Pittsburgher and recently elected Board member of Carnegie Screenwriters so she is also sensitive to this local emphasis.

At first, the crew thought of filming the bar scenes at The Summit on Mt. Washington. But as they studied that location, they decided it was much too modern to shout "Pittsburgh."

Enter Randy Lee. Born and raised in Coraopolis, he's the casting agent for extras for the show. And when the crew decided to look for an authentic, small town, historic bar that reeked of local flavor, he suggested Barto's.

When Cannon, Parys and Adams saw the bar, they knew they had their location. From the outside (and Mulligan does film some outside scenes, one with O'Mally driving up, parking and going in), Barto's looks like a classic 1890s building: old brick, discolored from decades of steel mill grime, few windows, a simple door, small sign.

Inside is one of the most beautiful polished wood bars in the Pittsburgh area. It was built from old bowling alley lumber by Jack Cleland. The place is dark. On the walls are a lifetime of memorabilia from the Steelers, Penguins and Pirates. There's a beautiful pool table toward the back, although it won't be in the pilot. There are the usual beer signs, dartboards and TV screens. Away from the bar are both high and low polished wood tables.

If the series finds a network, this bar will be a key location. This is where the characters will gather after a day at work or on the golf course. This is where other characters will talk about O'Malley's past, where many of the events of his younger life played out, where the viewer will fill in details, and where much of the drama of the film occurs.

But first the crew had to spend an hour on details. Glass block windows are the main source of light for the bar during daylight hours, but Monday was cloudy and dark. So an artificial sun needed to be set up. A powerful light was erected in the alley, aimed straight at one of the windows. From inside, it created the appearance of a bright sunny afternoon.

Inside, meanwhile, crew members scurried about with stepladders and tools, removing any sign or artifact they thought did not fit the image they wanted. They took photographs of the walls, so when they finished they could restore the wall to its exact appearance.

Light is critical to moviemaking. Technicians mounted banks of lights on stands aiming in various directions. But, of course, they still wanted a dark, smoky bar. So they mounted filters to control the light, and installed a smoke machine. One worker's job was to waft the smoke in the desired direction. Behind the bar itself, technicians climbed ladders and mounted additional lights and filters so the bartender (not Dino; he's played by an actor) would be well lighted.

Sound is also critical. Technicians suspended microphones from long poles just out of the camera frame, and the actors themselves were rigged with mikes.

A TV monitor was set up so Parys could see exactly what the camera saw. He would sit and study the frame, then recommend a chair be moved slightly left or right, a table in the background be removed to avoid clutter or distraction, and one of the extras sit or stand in a slightly different position.

"Each scene is only a few seconds. You have to select your details very carefully and film only those details you select."

By the time the actors arrive at the filming location, they know their lines. The Director is working on the timing and interpretation of those lines. Pauses, volume, facial expression, posture and hand gestures become critical. At Barto's, scenes were shot over and over 30 and 40 times until Parys got exactly what he wanted.

There was one bar fight scene they worked on for hours. The way the chair fell, the angle of the beer bottle, how the girls sitting around the corner of the bar spun in their seats to see what was happening, how quickly the bar tender responded, everything had to be precise and they all had to mesh perfectly.

Two hours of work for a 60 second scene.

Dino's daughter Danielle (photo, left) was asked to be an extra and sat at the bar just behind the fighr scene. Dino and his wife Carol were also cast as extras and sat at a table back against the wall.

Life as an extra is not as glamorous as it seems. The retakes and retakes and retakes go on and on and on. Extras have no speaking parts. They're basically like furniture, just background. But they have to sit or stand just so, each time.

At one point Parys stopped and taught the extras how to fake conversation. "You can't make a sound or you'll interfere with our sound track," he explained. "Just move your lips. You can't even whisper. Just move your lips. And be careful with your hands. People who can't make any sound are subconsciously tempted to use their hand to communicate better. But that distracts the viewer. So keep your hands still. Remember you're not having a real conversation. This is an illusion we're creating here."

One scene has a local handing a newspaper to the bartender to show him an article. They worked over and over on exactly how to rotate the newspaper, how to point to it, how to look at it. Another scene has O'Malley entering the bar. They worked over and over on how to open the door, how to close it, how each of the characters at the bar, including the extras, should respond to his entrance.

Anyone who thinks acting is easy just needs to spend a day on a set like this to change that idea.

In the back, a buffet was set up with food and beverages actors or crew could sample as needed. But nothing alcoholic. Even on set, the alcohol was fake. They kept filling the beer bottles with water so actors could realistically fake drinking.

After seven hours of filming at Barto's, the whole entourage moved down 5th Avenue to the parking lot across from the borough building. They filmed a scene at the gazebo and got some footage of downtown Coraopolis.

But before leaving town, they had to restore Barto's to its original condition. Signs had to be put back up, furniture moved back, light and sound riggings taken down, even a sign on the outside wall removed.

And this is the easy part. The big challenge is finding a network to carry the show. They'll try Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, anywhere they think might be interested. A cable network like FX could be approached.

Adams, Parys and Cannon all have connections they'll try.

"This is a good script," Adams insists. "It has all the ingredients the networks are looking for. And the local Pittsburgh angle gives it an additional appeal, because viewers today are looking for shows that take them into authentic local settings. So we're really optimistic."

Local Mailmen Still Walking --- For Diabetes

Coraopolis mailmen Bob Mandera (left) and Dan Casciato probably walked 10,000 miles in their long careers delivering mail every day. But now, in retirement, they're still walking. Every year, the two stage a multi day hike to raise money and awareness for Diabetes. This year's Walk begins October 13th.

Manders's daughter was diagnosed with Diabetes at age 5. That got him started. At first, he walked 26 miles. But he decided a longer walk would raise more money. So he began starting at Lake Erie and walking 100 miles to Pittsburgh over several days, staying at motels along the way.

Pretty soon, Casciato joined him. This will be their 40th year.

One year, they dedicated their hike to Kelly Kruzelyak, diagnosed with Diabetes at nine months. As he completed the hike, the family handed Kelly to Mandera and he carried him across the finish line.

The two get plenty of support. Their team includes VFW Post 402, Post 2006 of Meadville, Post 6345 of Mercer, the National Association of Letter Carriers, Mazur Auto Service, Baierl Chevrolet, Erie Quality Inn, Saegerstown Factoiry Restaurant, Meadville Days Inn, Rainbow Valley Restaurant, Burger King, McDonalds and Giant Eagle.

This year's march is dedicated to Jim Hughes, West View VFW Post 2754 Commander, who has suffered from Diabetes for many years.

Donations should be made out to Erie Diabetes Walk and mailed to Bob Manders, 8884 Royal Manor Drive, Apt 103, Allison Park Pa. 15101.

All along the route, Manders explains to people that Diabetes affects one in 11 Amerians, one in four over 65. 84 million have pre-Diabetes.

Most people who drive to Erie now use I-79. But Mandara and Casciato hike east of that, mostly on State Route 8. They come through Meadville, Butler, Harrisville, Oil City and Union City. It's about 27 miles shorter, has much less traffic, much lower speeds, and is more suited to walking.

Clinton Agent Unleashes NCAA Scandal

Louis "Marty" Blazer of Clinton was the undercover agent posing as a financial adviser who exposed the deep layer of corruption in AAU and NCAA basketball the FBI announced last week.

The FBI investigation has already resulted in the arrest and/or firing of 10 coaches, assistant coaches and administrators and will certainly lead to more. Some of those arrested and/or fired will likely face jail time.

Blazer (photo right) until recently ran a financial advising firm, Blazer Capital. While five other members dealt with other investment and financial areas, Blazer himself focused on sports. He managed financial affairs for several pro athletes, especially NFL and NBA players. He was actually pretty good at it, and his clients saw their money increase significantly because of his shrewd investments. But Blazer decided to become involved with the movie making industry. In 2009 he met with producers wanting to film two movies, Mafia and Resurrection, in Pittsburgh. They were looking for $2.35 million. Blazer recommended the investment to his clients, but none of them agreed. So he transferred the money from their accounts anyway, forging the proper documents so it would look to accountants as if the clients had agreed. He also transferred another $100,000 to invest in a country music management company. Blazer assumed he would be able to earn back the money for his clients by his investing strategies so by the time they checked their statements at tax filing time they would never notice money had been moved around in the meantime.

However, the Securities Exchange Commission was investigating cash flow through the film industry, and routinely called the players to ask about their investments. The players denied having invested. This led the SEC back to Blazer, and the scheme unravelled. Blazer was ordered to pay back the money plus interest, plus a $150,000 fine. Several of the players sued for compensatory and punitive damages, which brought the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority into the case. Blazer ultimately owed $12 million plus possible jail time. As part of a plea bargain, he told authorities if they would forget about the jail time, he could give them details of a recruiting scheme involving large sums of money and the major shoe companies. This brought the FBI into the case. They told Blazer they would consider the deal but would need his cooperation in gathering evidence they could use in court. He would pose as a financial agent. Since he actually was one, it was an easy role, and allowed him to sit down over lunches and dinners and talk with salesmen, coaches and representatives. But Blazer was wearing a recorder and transmitter.
Anyone involved in coaching talented basketball and football players at the high school or college level has known for years about the influence of shoe companies. It is a bizarre relationship which began back in the 1970s when Converse, Nike and Adidas were battling for customers by getting pro and college teams to wear their shoes. Slowly, the big shoe companies began funding summer camps and travelling teams to increase their exposure and develop brand loyalty. Then, rather than selling each individual coach on their products, they began selling athletic directors on the idea of committing an entire college to their brand. For a reduced rate, they would equip every team at the school, men's and women's, major and minor, including track, soccer, baseball, field hockey, the entire sporrs program. Shoe contracts became worth millions of dollars. The companies earned that money back by sales. In Kentucky or Indiana, where basketball is a religion, for everyone in the state to see their favorite college wearing a shoe meant they had to wear those shoes, too.

In Alabama, Texas or other big football states, the same held true. So for a company to claim the University of Kentucky or North Carolina as a Nike school, or the University of Louisville or Arizona as an Addidas school, meant huge sales in those states and across the nation. Kickbacks to those coaches became common. When a coach is said to earn several million a year, a million of that may come from Nike or Adidas. Just six weeks ago, Adidas awarded $160 million to Louisville in a 10 year contract.

But the shoe companies also want the best pro athletes wearing their shoes. Beginning with Michael Jordan and the legendary Air Jordans ($150 a pair, pictured below left), one player wearing a shoe guarantees several million dollars in sales. Since the shoe companies are sponsoring summer camps and travelling AAU teams, they develop early relationships with the best players. If they can keep those relationships through college, they can keep those players wearing their shoes in the pros. So it is necessary that a top player for an Adidas travelling AAU team go to an Adidas college. A majority of top athletes come out of lower income homes. An offer of $100,000 to the parents often convinces a player to go to whichever school his AAU sponsor wants him to. Thus, while college coaches are recruiting the best players, they are getting help from the major shoe companies.

Layered on top of this is the network of agents and financial advisors, who are trying to recruit the best players to be their clients. Undercover payments of $100,000 can persuade players to sign with particular agents or advisors.

So while the general public is watching the games, behind the scenes huge amounts of money flow back and forth. This is not a secret. But the flow is very well concealed and hard for either the NCAA or anyone else to prove.

This would be Blazer's contribution. Since he was already an advisor to pro athletes, he had the perfect cover. He was accepted. And the meetings he recorded provided rhe FBI the evidence it needed. One example was the $100,000 paid by Addidas to the family of Brian Bowen to persuade him to enroll at the University of Louisville. Once the FBI provided this evidence, Hall of Fame Coach Rick Pitino (above right), who has taken three schools to the Final Four and two schools to NCAA titles, was fired. Assistant coaches have also been fired. Indictments may be announced soon.

Assistant Coach Chuck Person (above left) at Auburn University was exposed for bribing players to sign with particular agents and advisors. Person was arrested and has been fired by Auburn. Booker Richardson of Arizona (top left, arms outstretched), the longtime assistant to Arizona Head Coach Sean Miller, was arrested and faces 60 years in prison and $1.5 million in fines for bribing players. Miller (top left, in front of his players) is the son of Moon product John Miller, who coached Blackhawk to Pennsylvania state titles. Richardson has been fired. Other coaches at Southern Cal, South Carolina, Oklahoma State and Alabama have already been arrested and fired, and the FBI says what has already happened is "just the tip of the iceberg." And the coaches aren't the end of it. Schools may face probation, vacating of titles, return of money for championships won, and possibly even the "death penalty," meaning a year or two of not fielding a team. Nor are the shoe companies themselves escaping blame. James Gatto, Director of Sports Marketing for Adidas, has been charged with several counts of bribery. And the investigation may not end with the FBI. The IRS is asking whether the recipients declared the payments as income and paid taxes on them, going back to at least 2010.

Robinson Woman Sentenced To Eight Years

A Robinson Township woman termed "one of the greatest embezzlers in Pennsylvania history" has been sentenced to eight years in prison. Her assets have already been claimed by the state and many have already been auctioned off, with the money returned to her company.

Cynthia Mills stole just under $13 million from Matthews International over a 16 year period. She worked as a cashier since 1981, but did not begin embezzling until 1999. She was responsible for depositing checks and recording transactions. In '99, she created a fake account and each month would transfer thousands of dollars into it. She created invoices and bank statements to cover the transfers.

Neighbors said that while Mills and her husband lived in a nice house, always dressed fashionably, owned a boat and always had a new car, they did not live ostentatiously and their lifestyle was similar to everyone else in the neighborhood.

Mills spent some of the money gambling, but she began embezzling well before she began gambling. She testified that she had been passed over for promotions and raises several times by Matthews so she embezzled in retaliation. but other employees testified that she was well liked and respected and had received several promotions and raises.

Intermodal Terminal Opens In Stowe & McKees Rocks

No marching bands performed. No governor spoke. Even the Pittsburgh media were mostly absent. But over the last few weeks the Pittsburgh Intermodal Rail Terminal quietly opened in Stowe Township and McKees Rocks. And despite its modest debut, the Terminal is expected to have a huge economic impact on the surrounding area, especially the Western Hills.

The Terminal is mostly hidden from public view unless you know where to look and are paying attention. Those familiar with railroading or with the McKees Rocks Bottoms will recognize the site as the former Pittsburgh & Lake Erie Railroad Yard. It begins right below the Neville Island Bridge and curls inland from the Ohio River, as shown in the photo at right and the aerial view above. As you drive on Route 51 through Stowe Township and McKees Rocks, it is below you to your left. Your view of it is often obstructed by old buildings, mostly former factories and warehouses. But you will notice many of these are being torn down so you can catch glimpses of the Terminal through the gaps. Occasionally, wide entry ramps descend from Route 51 marked with blue and white signs reading "CSX Intermodal Rail Terminal."

Those old structures are being torn down to make room for new buildings, many of which will be part of the Terminal.

The photo at right was taken after the concrete pads were built but before the cranes were installed and the Terminal opened. Newer buildings have also been constructed since this photo was taken.

You can look down on the Terminal from the Neville Island Bridge, but only if someone else is driving.

It's hard to comprehend what an investment this represents. The Intermodal Terminal covers 70 acres and cost $60 million. It is still gearing up as additional cranes and buildings are erected, but when at full capacity it could process as many as 600,000 containers annually. That would be 1,666 containers and 833 railroad cars a day.

To deliver this many cars and containers would require five trains a day, each hauling between 150 and 200 cars. They would come from the East Coast, mostly from Norfolk. Right now, one train a day is coming from Norfolk. The containers are hauled two to a car, one stacked atop the other, as can be seen in the photo at left.

The containers are heavy grade steel. They come from all over the world, but a high percentage come from Asia. They contain everything from furniture to electronics to clothing to food to building materials like drywall, wire and pipe.

One by one, switch engines push the railroad cars under the huge cranes. Workmen unfasten the containers. The cranes lift the containers off the cars and onto waiting tractor trailer truck frames. Workmen fasten those containers down firmly. The truck drivers then deliver the containers to WalMart, Best Buy, Target, Lowe's, Home Depot and hundreds of other retailers. Or they drive to construction companies, plumbers, electricians and other services using the materials.

This Pittsburgh Intermodal Rail Terminal will be a distribution point for western Pennsylvania, all of West Virginia, eastern Ohio and western Maryland. And it won't be a one way flow. Local manufacturers will be filling and sending those containers back to Norfolk for export.

The arrival of trains and unloading of cars will not fit perfectly the schedules of trucks arriving. So containers must be sorted, moved and stored until their trucks arrive. To handle this step, Lowe's, WalMart, Best Buy, etc., are expected to build warehouses along the Stowe - Rox strip. Special rigs will receive the containers and move them to the right warehouse. Then other cranes will lift the containers and load them onto the trucks. Stowe Township officials expect 700,000 square feet of warehousing space will be built.

Once the available land in Stowe Township and McKees Rocks is filled, additional warehousing is expected to spill over onto the eastern end of Neville Island. A railroad bridge conveniently crosses the river exactly at the western end of the Intermodal Terminal. Whichever companies build warehouses on Neville Island would also need additional cranes for the loading and unloading.

Computers allow CSX dispatchers to precisely group cars within trains. It is expected that once companies locate on the island, cars carrying freight for those companies will be grouped together at one end of a train, and will be moved directly to the island without ever entering the sidings to the main Terminal.

Not all containers will be sent directly to a destination. Many of them will be taken to a warehouse and unloaded. The contents will be sorted and combined with contents from other containers to make up a mixed container, which will then be loaded onto a truckbed for shipping. For example, a small town Wal Mart might be receiving a container of furniture, clothing, toys, tools and electronics. But factories in China might be sending containers of all furniture, all clothing, all toys, all tools or all electronics. So unloading and resorting is needed.

On a visit to the Terminal, one can see lots of men scurrying about, and as traffic increases and more cranes and warehoues are built, more will be needed. These are good paying jobs with good benefits. They do not require college degrees but do require specialized training beyond high school. CSX provides some of that training. Other companies offer some of it. The jobs include railroad jobs (engineers, switchmen, dispatchers, etc)., plus operators of cranes, fork lifts and other equipment, plus inspectors, handlers and accountants, plus truck drivers, mechanics and security officers.

The primary beneficiary of this Terminal will be the communities of McKees Rocks and Stowe Township plus the merged Sto-Rox School District. But as warehousing spills over onto Neville Island, its tax base and that of the Cornell School District will benefit. Kennedy Township is right up the hill from the Terminal, so while it does not have land next to the railroad, it could easily house clerical offices, which would feed the tax base of the township plus the Montour School District.

The Terminal became necessary because of the Panama Canal. In the last several years, it has been widened and deepened to accomodate the huge Asian container ships. Rather than go north to Seattle, they can now cross the Pacific, pass through the Canal, and reach U.S. ports on the Atlantic coast. But merely unloading onto trucks and shipping the containers by highway is not as efficient as shipping by rail, given the cost of gasoline and salaries of truck drivers. So strategically located inland terminals became a strategic option.

All of a sudden, property along Route 51 in Stowe and McKees Rocks which has been deteriorating for years is increasing in value. Buildings will either be upgraded or torn down and replaced. To accomodate the huge increase in tractor trailer truck traffic, Route 51 itself will need to be significantly upgraded, and locals can expect much heavier truck traffic.

Land in the long declining McKees Rocks Bottoms is suddenly prime real estate.

There are blocks of homes in the Bottoms, plus stores, bars and restaurants and several iconic churches. How long the homes and businesses will remain with global corporations willing to pay big money for their property remains to be seen. Development could approach the Adena Indian Mound, an ancient burial ground first surveyed by George Washington and where the oldest bones in North America were found. .

McKees Rocks is already reawakening. The Chartiers Avenue dog leg down an alley and behind the business district has been eliminated. Through traffic now continues straight down Chartiers Avenue into Pittsburgh. Storefronts along Chartiers Avenue have been modernized and the old Roxian Theater is being reactivated. The Terminal didn't cause this, but it will accelerate it.

Improvements have also been made between McKees Rocks and Norfolk. CSX has been rebuilding bridges and tunnels to raise the clearance so the tall double stacks can safely fit. Where rails had been removed back in the 20th Century and only a single track remained, second rails have been reinstalled in places to allow the long double stack trains to pass.

2017 Career Expo Held At Marriott

The Pittsburgh Post Gazette hosted its annual "Hiring Pittsburgh, the 2017 Career Exposition" Tuesday at the Marriott City Center on Washington Place. Numerous job seekers from Coraopolis, Moon, Robinson, Neville and other places across the Western Hills showed up either looking for internships, first jobs, or different jobs. Many Western Hills residents were also staffing the various tables, representing their companies.

The job fair extended fron 11:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m.

There was no admission to the event, although parking cost any where from $8 to $20 depending on where visitors parked and how long they stayed.

Job seekers were asked to register ahead of time, file resumes electronically ahead of time, and bring printed resumes with them to the Fair. Companies ranging from small manufacturers to hospitals to hotels to restaurants to engineering firms were present. Even the Pittsburgh Zoo and Aquarium and the U.S. Air Force 911th Airlift Wing based at the Greater Pittburgh Airport were there.

Three employers were missing.

The new Intermodal Terminal being built in McKees Rocks and Stowe Township, the new Shell Cracker Plant in Beaver County, and the robotic and artificial intelligence ompanies which have opened in the last year or so did not have tables. STEM and high tech graduates tend to seek employers through Linked In and employers in those fields tend to look for new employees on Linked In. And CSX and Shell have been holding their own hiring days in Monaca and McKees Rocks.

However, there were plenty of job seekers at the Marriott looking for other kinds of jobs. Reporters and photographers were let in early and the photo at left was snapped as the turnstiles opened. Within five minutes, this was a much more crowded scene.

Workshops were also offered on creating a resume, interviewing skills and how to conduct a job search in the 21st Century.

Council Discusses Paving, Lights, Speeding

Coraopolis Borough Council worked quickly through a routine list of items Wednesday night at its monthly meeting, but several of those items will prove popular with residents of those particular neighborhoods.

Councilmen approved the resignation of Jeffrey Dallas from the Public Works Department with regrets and comments about what a good employee he was for several years. Dallas is returning to his home in California.

Council approved the hiring of two temporary workers for leaf collection season. Pay will be $10 an hour for two months.

They approved the purchase and installation of rwo Viewsonic Light Stream Projectors from All Lines Technology at a price of $525 each. The projectors will allow Power Point presentations and other screen viewings so guests do not have to pass around documents during Council meetings.

They approved placement of handicap signs at rwo locations.

Council approved the annual payment of $116,325 into the Police Pension Plan. Borough Manager Ray McCutcheon noted that unlike many other communities and even whole states whose pension plans are funded at less than 50% and are in crisis, the Coraopolis pension fund is 95% funded and has been commended by various fiduciary authorities for its soundness.

Police Chief Ron Denbow gave the August report : 990 phone calls, 402 complaints, 140 criminal complaints, 35 arrests, $1000 in stolen property recovered, seven traffic accidents and 31 traffic citations.

The Engineer reported that paving is being done on First, Second, Fifth. Main and State Avenues, Marion Drive, and Chestnut and Mill Streets. Danny Larocco added that Elm Alley, and Pennsylvania and Second Avenue are being asphalted.

Ed Pitassi announced that the Library is holding an Amnesty Week during which overdue books may be returned with all fines forgiven. The Library is buying a 3-D Printer which will be available for public use, although users will first need to receive instruction on how to use it.

Council Chairman Robb Cardimen reported that during the recent campaign, 265 smoke detectors were installed in Coraopolis residences. Anyone who was not home that day may still call and a crew will come to their residence and install a smoke detector with no charge.

Council voted to buy and install two new light fixtures at Mill Street and Fifth Avenue at a combined cost of no more than $3500. The new poles will come from the Borough inventiory.

A tearful request was made by Kristin Machaj and Dan Zovko for Council to grant them an exemption from local dog ownership laws. Police, while investigating a breakin, discovered that Machaj and Zovko own eight daschunds. A 40 year old Coraopolis ordinance prohibits any one residence from housing more than three dogs. Miss Machaj explained that the two adult daschunds were pets and had produed a litter of six puppies. She emphasized that they are not running a dog breeding operation and do not intend to sell any of the puppies. Mr. Zovko further pointed out that no neighbor had filed a complaint. Attorney Richard Start questioned whether Council had the legal right to rescind the law. Cardimen reassured the couple that they were in no danger of any immediate action because the Police had merely issued a Notice Of Possible Violation. But Cardimen also said granting an exemption to the law would be a decision requiring research and discussion, so no action would be postponed until the next meeting.

Mike Harris raised the issue of speeding on Montour, Maple and Vine Streets, which Council has also discussed at previous meetings. Clarence Sellers once again proposed speed bumps. Cardimen stated that speed bumps do work, stating that he and Chief Denbow had personally studied Sharon Road in Moon Township and seen how effective speed bumps are at reducing speeds. "You go too fast and you damage your car," he observed. Cardimen promised that he and Council will discuss the matter further.

It was announced that on Friday, September 29, Highmark will have its mobile unit in the parking lot of the new Municipal Building for Senior Citizen Annual Wellness Day. Attendees will need their member cards and should call Highmark in advance for an appointment.

West Point Ballerina To Join Bolshoi Ballet

Since opening on 4th Avenue in Coraopolis, West Point Ballet Company has already earned regional and national accolades and attracted students from four counties plus West Virginia and Ohio. But they're just received their greatest honor.

One of their students, Lexi Norris, has received an invitation to join the Bolshoi Ballet Academy in Moscow, Russia for a year.

Norris, 17, leaves October 1 for Moscow, where she will spend the next 12 months studying under some of the world's elite ballet coaches and dancing with many of the world's elite performers.

The Bolshoi Ballet Company was founded in 1776 and is the world's premier ballet company. In Russia, where ballet holds the same status as football and basketball do in America, tickets to a Bolshoi performance are expensive and hard to get. The Bolshoi Theater is the world's largest and most prestigious ballet facility, with six levels of balcony luxury boxes and a large area of floor seating (see photo below). Ballet theaters are by their very nature small since the audience has to be close to the stage, but with 2,153 seats the Bolshoi Theater is considered huge.

The theater itself is considered a national shrine, the finest example of classic Russian architecture standing today. It received a $1.1 billion restoration and updating between 2008 - 2011 which gives it the most technologically sophisticated sound and lighting system in the world. Fixtures and trim were removed, meticulously restored and remounted. During the day, tours of rhe Bolshoi Theater are considered one of the key tourist attractions in Russia. Its chandeliers, curtains, statues, crests, arches and artifacts go back to Catherine the Great, Pyotor Tchaikovsky, Alexander and Nikolai.

In addition to the main stage, there are practice stages elsewhere in the theater. Housing facilities for students in The Academy are nearby. That is where Lexi will stay.

The Bolshoi Ballet Company is a hierarchical organization. Beginners, referred to as the Corps de Ballet, appear as background dancers and gradually work their way up to minor solo roles, then more prominent solo roles, and finally after a decade or so, lead roles.

The Company maintains a roster of 220 dancers, but 120 are in the Academy, or Corps de Ballet. For centuries dancers were all from Russia, and then the Soviet Union. But just as America's pro sports leagues now sign foreign players, the Bolshoi began to scout the world for talented young dancers to bring to Moscow and train. The first American dancer to complete training and graduate from the Academy and join the actual Bolshoi was in 1989.

Lexi auditioned in Washington and was invited to participate in the five week 2016 Bolshoi Ballet Academy Summer Intensive in New York City. She was invited to return this year, and at the end of this 2017 training she received the invitation to come to Moscow.

"It was a hard decision," she admitted. "A whole year away from my family and everyone and everything I know. Plus, events in the world right now are sort of iffy, and we're talking about a year in Russia."

But ultimately she had to go.

"I've been working toward this my whole life," she said. "It's a once in a lifetime opportunity."

And it could be for more than a year. If she impresses her coaches, at the end of the year she could be invited to stay on.

"That's certainly motivation to work as hard as I possibly can," Lexi told reporters. "But of course there are other dancers there just as good who will be working just as hard. We're talking about the Bolshoi. Everything is very, very competitive."

The dancing style will also be very different from what she's used to. The West Point Ballet Academy teaches the Cuban style of ballet, which is very agressive, very energetic, cutting edge, innovative, and full of surprises. Russian ballet, especially Bolshoi ballet, is very traditional, very formal and dignified.

In one sense, Lexi's training in Coraopolis will give her an advantage, in that she has been exposed to different techniques and movements. But other dancers trained for a decade in the more traditional movements may already be familiar with techniques Lexi will now have to learn.

Like many ballet dancers, Lexi has been home schooled and cyber schooled, so missing her senior year of high school is a non issue.

Airport To Open Airside Terminal To General Public

Beginning Tuesday, September 5, the Airside Terminal of the Pittsburgh International Airport will be opened to the general public as a destination shopping and dining mall.

The Airside Terminal contains numerous world class stores, restaurants and food counters. But for two decades, they've only been accessible to people with a ticket in hand who had gone through security and been cleared to fly.

Longtime Western Hills residents can remember a time when the general public could board the tram and ride to the giant X-shaped air terminal. After 9/11, airports across the nation tightened down on security and no longer allowed the general public beyond the front ticket complexes. In the photo below, you can see the X shaped terminal. To its left is the front ticket complex, which is much smaller than the X, and beyond that the parking lots. A tram, which reminded everyone of the New York subway, connects the two.

The X was designed for much higher traffic volumes. Since USAir (now American) moved its hub from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia, far fewer flights snd passengers per day pass through. This means fewer customers for those stores, restaurants and food counters.

Since they pay the Airport a percentage of their profits, it also means less money for the Airport. Thus the pressure to relax security and open the X.

Security won't be totally loosened. Customers will still go through gates and be checked. They'll need a valid driver's license, passport or photo ID. And certain items won't be allowed.

Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald told reporters that "This is something people have been asking for. The airport was built and is maintained with tax dollars, so the people paying those tax dollars have a right to see what their dollars are paying for. They want to come here and use this facility."

U.S. Representative Tim Murphy, whose district includes the airport, agreed. "This is an award winning airport, better than almost any airport anywhere in this country or overseas, and local people never get to see it. Plus families have not been able to accompany their loved ones to the gates or greet them at the gates coming home. Opening up this access has been way overdue. Now finally this is about to change."

People who haven't flown for several years and haven't been back in the X will be shocked at the remodelling that has been done and the upscale shops that have moved in.

Among stores, there are ECCO, LaCoste, Johnston and Murphy, Brooks Brothers and Armani, among others.

Diners will find not only restaurants but niche outlets specializing in wines, martinis, bagels and burritos. There is a Strip District Market offering fruits, vegetables and salads, sandwiches, wraps and other quick snacks built to the customer's specifications right in front of him.

It will be easy to spend an afternoon in the X, beginning with lunch and ending with dinner.

Airport Chief Executive Officer Christina Cassotis says the X will become an instant hit with shoppers and those looking to eat out. "We have better shops and places to eat than Robinson Town Center, The Summit or any other local mall or complex. For people living in Moon, North Fayette, Findlay or Coraopolis, this will be a great place to come to eat out or buy upscale clothing or gadgets. For people living further away, it will be a great place to come for special occasions. And in addition to the browsing and dining, there will be that added magic of seeing people all around you hauling their wheeled luggage on the way to or from exotic locations like London, Paris, Madrid, or Miami, Seattle, Phoenix or New Orleans. This is going to be so exciting."

The dining establishments in the X all emphasize fresh local ingredients and cutting edge 21st Century entrees, appetizers and desserts. They have chefs, not just cooks, and feature world class wines and mixed drinks.

A good example is Currito, which promises "burritos without borders." Currito's premise is that IF other parts of the world actually made burritos, this is what they'd be like. So you can order an Italian, Chinese, Middle Eastern or Thai burrito or any one of a dozen other kinds.

The Airport has tried the open access on an experimental basis several times over the last year, each time for just a day or so. Fitzgerald points out that on such occasions, "it's been hugely popular."

Access at first will be limited as security workers adjust to the greater traffic volume. For a while, it will be only Mondays through Fridays 9-5.

The flight attendants' unions oppose the idea of increased access because they say it greatly increases security risks at a time when terrorism is still a major threat.

"But everyone still has to go through security," Fitzgerald insists. "If USAir had kept its hub here, we'd have much larger crowds in the X every day. So now we'll just have the same number of people we would have had anyway."

Cory Class Of '57 Holds 60th Reunion

The Coraopolis High School Class Of 1957 got together last Friday and Saturday evenings for another round of reminiscences. 23 members made it back for the 60th get together.

In the photo at right, listed alphabetically, are Johhn Caputo, Frank Cardimen, Rich Edmunds, Ed Elder, Orlando Falcione, Angie Fehl (Gilberti), Jim George, Mary Geist (Flowers), Marie Hagg (Santucci), Gordon Johnson, Dr. Joan Kelly (Berlin), Mario Lacenere, Nick Nedzelski, Barbara Peer (Swartz), Judy Phillips (Moore), Pauline Roesch (Paliaio), Jack Rubin, Myrt Shay (Drexler), Norita Skvaria (Baun), Carol Smola (Filer), Jim Speer, Dr. Arnie Thomas, Bill Thompkins, and Greg Tymous.

Below, in the first picture, are, from left, John Caputo, Pat Brown, Mario Lacenere, and Orlando Falcione.

In the middle photo below, from left, are Dr. Jim Kelly, Dr. Joan Berlin, and Dr. Arnie Thomas.

The final photo below shows the class musical group, "The C Notes." From left are Sandy Woodruff (partially obscured), Frank Cardimen, Bill Thompkins and Greg Tymous. The C Notes sang at various school events and around town. They also auditioned at the Wilkens Amateur Hour, a Pittsburgh event which was comparable in the 1950s to today's America's Got Talent.

The class remembered a time when Coraopolis was booming. 12,000 men were employed in the mills, which ran 24 hours a day seven days a week. The town had two movie theatres, one across from the Boro Building where a parking lot now stands, the other across from the VFW where the Anchor & Anvil Coffee Shop now stands. Two busy passenger stations saw eight trains a day stopping, one at the foot of Mill Street, the other at the foot of Montour Street. Everyone remembered chipped ham and tall milkshakes at Isaly's. The YMCA Fair lasted three nights in October. Winters were long, cold and snowy and the borough blocked off streets and opened the fire hydrants so a coat of ice made for great sledriding. It was a fine time to grow up in Cory.

Sewickley Theater Hosts Film Festival

The Sewickley Theater (officially known as the Tull Family Theater) will host its first annual Carnegie Screenwriters Film Festival this Sunday (Aug. 27) from 11 a.m. through 5:00 pm. One ticket for the entire day is $15. There are no tickets available for any of the 28 individual films. Doors will open at 10 a.m. and guests are asked to arrive in plenty of time so the first film can begin promptly at 11.

These are short films. Genres include documentary, animation, horror, musical and comedy. When the Tull Theater originally agreed to host the event, it was expecting a dozen or so locally produced films. Instead, it received 100 submissions from every state plus Argentina, Iran, Russia and England.

The Carnegie Screenwriters began in 1998 and has membes from Western Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia. They include teachers, students, a judge, a detective, independenrt film makers snd housewives. The group has long sought a theater to host a film festival. The Tull Theater eagerly stepped forward. "We consider this part of our commitment to supporting the film arts. We want to be known as a center for not only commercial films, but for all types of films. We want to be a place where people can come to enjoy and appreciate the whole field of film making.

Army Corps Hosts Kayak Safety Day

Concerned about the rising number of kayakers swept over lowhead dams in the area and drowned, the Army Corps of Engineers Tuesday hosted a safety program to review proper paddling techniques around dams and locks.

The instructional session included kayakers and newspaper and television reporters.

Pittsburgh Commander John Lloyd, Chief of Locks John Dilla, and six of their staff conducted the on site lessons. They went over how to look at a river from upstream and tell when a dam is approaching, how to avoid the current approaching a dam, and how to "lock through" the chambers built on the left or right of a dam.

There have been 11 boating deaths in the area this year and 10 of them have been kayakers, said Loyd.

Foremost in the lesson was upstream awareness. Lloyd, who led the group in a kayak, guided them to a point upstream of one of the dams.

"Look," he pointed out. The dam was completely invisible. A kayaker looking downstream saw only a smooth river surface. "But you have to know what to look for," he said. "See how the sight line suddenly jumps. You don't see a shoreline. You see water and then suddenly you're seeing a treeline. There's something missing. That tells you there's a dam there. You have to move to the left or right shore immediately."

Two kayakers drowned after being swept over the Dashields Dam at Coraopolis back in May. One was a Coraopolis resident. The two girls were recent college graduates kayaking on the river for the first time.

"We've added more buoys and markers upstream of each dam. You have to pay attention. The arrows tell you which side the lock is on."

A typical lock chamber is 56 feet wide and 360 feet long.

Paddlers or boaters wanting to use a lock can use their cell phone or a marine radio to contact the lockmaster. Or they can tug on a rope hanging from the lock wall, which sounds a loud whistle. When the lock gates open a green light comes on and the kayaker, canoeist or small boater can enter the chamber. The chamber then fills with water if the boater is going upstream, or empties if he's going downstream. Ropes hanging along the sides help stabilize the kayaks, canoes or small boats. It takes about 30 minutes for a chamber to fill or empty. Lloyd said they average about 2400 recreational boaters locking through each year. But a problem is the river is heavily used by commercial boats, especially tugs pushing barges.

"This is a working river," Lloyd emphasized. "It can get congested. You have to be careful. Those bigger boats have the right of way. They can't always see you, so you have to keep out of their way."

Lloyd suggested going elsewhere. "If it were me," he advised, "I'd do my kayaking at the state parks or smaller rivers and creeks. It's much safer."

Cory Class Of '57 To Hold 60th Reunion

The Coraopolis High School Class Of 1957 will hold its 60th Reunion on Friday and Saturday August 25 and 26.

Friday night classmates will gather at Bufort's Kitchen, 5980 University Drive, across from Robert Morris University, from 7:00 pm til 9:00 pm.

Saturday they will have dinner at the Edgeworth Club, 511 East Drive, Sewickley. Appetizers will be at 5:00 pm, the dinner at 6:00 pm, and a program of reminscences will begin at 7:15.

Reunion CoChairs are Arnie Thomas and Frank Cardimen.

Pictured at right is Coraopolis High School. Below is the YMCA. Both are now apartment buildings. In 1957 Coraopolis had two movie theatres and four passenger trains a day. Riddles Restaurant was the best in the Western Hills and the mills were running 24 hours a day seven days a week. PCC Trolleys and Shafer buses left every 30 minutes for the city.

The 1956-57 school year was one of the better ones in Coraopolis history. In addition to winning numerous academic and extracurricular awards at the county and state levels, the school did well in sports. Adjacent to the high school, the old Blue Devil Grille was the favorite hangout.

The football team enjoyed one of Coach Milanovich's best seasons. The basketball team, playing in Class A (which, today, would be Class 5A), defeated Moon, Stowe, McKees Rocks, West View, Shaler and Quaker Valley twice each. They lost at North Allegheny, but McKees Rocks upset North Allegheny, setting up a season ending game back at Cory for the section championship. Before a packed house, Cory won by one point on a last second shot to advance to the WPIAL playoffs at Pitt Field House. They lost by one point in overtime to North Braddock Scott. The final Cory shot circled the basket three times and dropped off as the buzzer sounded.

Drug Disposal Day Offered By Kennedy

State Representative Anita Kulik and the Allegheny County Sheriff's Office are sponsoring a Drug Disposal Day beginning at 5 pm Saturday, August 12 at Fairhaven Park in Kennedy Township.

Western Hills residents can safely and anonymously dispose of unneeded, unwanted or expired prescription drugs.

Disposing of them guarantees that no one they were not prescribed for will find them and use them.

But, more importantly, disposing of them prevents them from getting into the water system. Most people just throw old medicines away or flush them down the toilet. In either case, they end up in the water system. And that is dangerous.

Water purification plants remove organisms and harmful chemicals from drinking water. But they are not equipped to remove the molecules used in medicines. Those tend to be steroids, penicillin derivatives, or other highly specialized substances.

Sophisticated water analysis has found that almost all drinking water now contains traces of these various medicines. So every time we drink from a faucet or fountain or use water in our cooking or to make ice cubes, we are ingesting trace amounrs of these medicines. Over time, this causes our bodies to build up tolerances and immunities. Then, when we become ill, those medicines either have no effect or have much less effect than they used to.

The Center for Disease Control in Atlanta has been warning for over a decade that researchers are noticing these tolerances and immunities building up. Even worse, they warn that bacteria and viruses have been developing immunities due to overexposure.

Anyone wanting more information can phone 412-264-4260. That is Kulik's office. The Project D.U.M.P. hotline is 412-459-5000.

Boro Council Holds Last Meeting In Old Building

By Stacey Christe
The postponed Coraopolis Borough Council meeting was finally held on Wednesday evening, July 26. The most important aspect of the meeting was not officially on the agenda, but was the fact that barring a massive unexpected delay, this should be the last meeting held in the upstairs room of the old building. By the next meeting, the Mayor, Council, Manager, Fire Department and Police Department should all be moved into the new 4th Avenue headquarters.

The July meeting had to be postponed from two weeks ago for lack of a quorum. John Pessy and Mayor Tony Celeste were still absent from this one, but there were enough members for a quorum.

The evening's biggest item was borough street repair. Not all spots are being repaired, but the worst ones are. Council Chairman Rob Cardimen pointed out that $800,000 in total repairs are being made with no increase in taxes.This is possible because the borough is in good shape financially, Boro Manager Ray McCutcheon explained that over $200,000 in delinquent taxes have been recovered, and another $200,000 was saved in legal fees because the long running lawsuit has been resolved.

However, John May raised the issue of utilities digging up streets for repairs to their lines and fixtures and then not properly restoring the sites to original condition. Many of the sites now needing repaired were fine until damaged by utility companies. May recommended requiring utilities to restore any site to "as good or better condition" to protect the taxpayers' investment.

May also addressed an issue with two aging trucks which can no longer be used. Rather than replacing them, he recommended taking parts from both, adding about $1200 in new parts, and creating a single good truck which should last several more years. Purchasing a new truck would cost $80,000.

McCutcheon reported that the $95,000 in new furniture has been delivered to the new building. He reminded everyone that the first Walkworks Kickoff Walk will be held this Sunday from 1-3 beginning at 5th and Mill Streets. The walk through downtown will be one mile. Walkers will receive a free t shirt. Parents can drop off kids at a bounce house while they do the walk. Trish Hooper of the Sewickley YMCA is in charge.

It was reported that a new "Emergency Vehicles Exiting" sign should be erected near the new municipal building. It would flash for both police and fire vehicles.

Mike Engel requested attention to the problem of speeding on Montour and Vine Streets and raised the possibility of making Vine one way. Cardimen suggested perhaps one or more speed bumps would work. Start recommended petitioning the state legislature for a change in the law to allow Coraopolis Police to use radar. Currently, radar may only be used by state police. If people knew that a police car might be sitting on Grace Street or in a driveway further down to check speeds, they might be less likely to drive so fast.

Engel was commended for his work on Bliwas Field (the Little League facility). He asked if Council could help finance the repairs remaining to be done. He was told to collaborate with John May on submitting a formal request.

The Montour Street - State Avenue intersection was discussed. Plans are to redo it the same way other major intersections have been redone. An 80/20 match program called Greenlight Go would allow Cory to pay only $40,000 maximum but get the intersection brought up to modern standards. Council voted to apply for that grant.

Clarence Sellers of Vance Avenue asked for more details on the wastewater project. It was explained that this is a polliution reduction plan which is required by the state. The work by law must be completed in the next five years and will cost about $500,000. Residents and businesses will pay for it through a stormwater fee, amounting to about $10-15 quarterly for homes and more for businesses.

2017 St. Joseph's Festival Opens

The 62nd annual St. Joseph's Parish Festival opened Thursday night at the Roman Catholic Church on 5th Avenue in Coraopolis. It will continue Friday and Saturday.

The Parish Festival offers food tents, games of chance and skill, miniature golf, inflatable play structures for children, live entertainment each evening, raffles, and areas for socializing. Homemade baked goods are on sale. There will be light shows, dancing, and ethnic food booths. The Rockers will wrap up the entertainment Saturday night.

It is the major fund raising event of the year for the parish. Tents and booths stretched around the front and sides of the church, down Chestnut Street, across two parking lots and along the alley.

Threatening skies, thunder in the distance, and the fact it had already rained off and on all day held down attendance Thursday. But the weather was supposed to clear for Friday and Saturday.

Reminder : Smoke Detectors To Be Installed

Coraopolis residents are reminded that on Saturday, August 12, workers will fan out across town, going house to house, knocking on every door. They will ask each homeowner if the house has smoke detectors and, if not, if the homeowner would allow them to come inside and install them. While installing them, they will instruct residents on how to maintain the detector and help them design an escape plan. The effort will continue from 9 a.m. until 1 pm.

Once a fire breaks out, the average resident has only two minutes to get out before they are at risk for smoke inhalation, which will severely reduce chances of survival. This program is designed to save lives.

There are no restrictions on which homes can receive the detectors. It does not matter how much income the owner has. The project is being run by the Red Cross, Coraopolis Volunteer Fire Department and the Lions Club. Every team will have a Red Cross professional with them, who will present proper credentials to the homeowner.

UNICEF Pie/Cake Social To Be Held Saturday

A Pie and Shortcake Social will be held at the Coraopolis Presbyterian Church this Saturday (July 15th) and Sunday (July 16th). All pies and cakes will be homemade, using fresh local Peaches from Dawson's Orchard and Blueberries from local stores. They will serve homemade Blueberry Pie with Ice Cream; homemade Peach Pie with Ice Cream; homemade Blueberry Shortcake with Ice Cream; and homemade Peach Shortcake with Ice Cream.

Proceeds will benefit UNICEF's Change for Good Program helping underprivileged children and families throughout the World.

Saturday hours will be 12:30-6pm. Sunday hours will be 11:30-2pm.

The cost of any dessert will be $4.50

Cohen, Wilson-Reilly Earn Silver Awards

Two Coraopolis girls recently received their Silver awards, the second highest honor a Girl Scout can attain.

Victoria Cohen and Kayleigh Wilson-Reilly are both members of Troop 55244, Cohen for seven years and Reilley for eight.

The core requirement of the Silver award is a 50-hour service project which benefits the community.

Cohen and Reilly planned and hosted a Career Exploration Day for girls in the Cory and Moon area. They brought in six adult speakers, including a TV reporter, physical therapist, engineers, a private investigator., and an educator. In a separate project the girls collected school supplies for students in need.

Miss Cohen is the daughter of Melissa and the late Matthew Cohen and attends Cornell School. Miss Wilson-Reilly is the daughter of Lisa Wilson and attends Propel Montour Middle School.

In the photo at right are (from left) Alyssa Raymond (WTAE), Kayleigh Wilson-Reilly, Sheryl Tyler (Chevron), Victoria Cohen and Erica Blumeschien (Chevron).

Lantern Fest Tonight At Racetrack

Lantern Fest, a spectacular festival featuring the launching of thousands of candle lit paper lanterns, will be held Saturday night, July 8th, at Pittsburgh Motor Speedway.

Located off Routes 22 & 30, just above Imperial, five miles south of Robinson Town Center, the racetrack is not holding its usual Saturday night races. The entire facility has been rented for the weekend by Lantern Fest.

Activities begin in mid afternoon. There are games, food booths and trucks, and other attractions. Those attending buy the lanterns and are instructed in how to set them up and launch them.

The actual launchings occur when the skies become completely dark. The lanterns are launched almost simultaneously so that they create a massive cloud of lights rising into the sky. Seven thousand attendees are expected, each launching at least one lantern, which promises a formation so large Lantern Fest had to obtain federal aviation clearance.

Lantern Fest is a national organization holding festivals at hundreds of sites across rhe country, but they are not all on the same weekend.

Also Moon Park's 50th Anniversary
Locals Celebrate 4th At Moon Park

In what has become a major annual event, Western Hills residents hauled their tents, lawn chairs, blankets and picnics to Moon Park and celebrated another 4th of July with games, food, fellowship, music and fireworks.

The concert shell featured four live performances while on both sides basketball and baseball games continued. Those without picnic baskets filled food tents behind and ahove the concert area (photo below left). At 9:30 one of the county's best fireworks displays (below right)lasted for 30 minutes.

One of the highlights of the concert day was when Congressman Tim Murphy (right, in blue shirt and white hat) stepped on stage with his banjo and joined the Stoney River Boys for a couple of songs. Murphy, who also plays the guitar, is a big fan of Blue Grass Music and practices as a way of relieving the pressure of his political career.

The Stoney River Boys consists of Stoney Richards, Jeff Straight (drums), Kelly Pigeon (base) and Brian Powell (electric guitar). This is their 5th straight year at the Moon July 4th Festival.

The second performer was Chip Dominick (below left), a Moon native who's been playing for 12 years. He usually performs at the Pittsburgh Hard Rock Cafe and the Rox Theater and has played the Moon stage before as part of Londona. This is his first show here as a solo.

The third group was the Frank Vieira Band (below right), which includes George Kalantzis, Brad Peciavalle, Erik Chalmers and Jesse Wyels.

Closing out the show was Sarah Marince (left), who also sang the National Anthem. Attendance once again broke records and created the biggest traffic jam of the year despite Moon's very efficient management. This event has become Moon Parks & Recreation's greatest achievement. No other Allegheny County town or township has anything to compare.

As long as there's no breeze.....
New ThermaCell Solves Mosquito Problem

This has been the rainiest Spring and early Summer in recorded history in Coraopolis and the Western Hills, and as a result, hordes of Mosquitoes are keeping many area residents indoors.

People are more concerned than they used to be because of the additional diseases Mosquitoes are now known to carry. Plus, several long time remedies have fallen into disfavor. DEET and other anti Mosquito oils and sprays are now known to be carcinogenic and are known to soak into the skin. The Citronella candles and other devices have become less effective. And the old "bug zappers" which used a light to attract insects and an electric grid to elecrocute them in a flash and sizzle are now known to be rather unsanitary, sending drops of contaminants spewing in every direction.

People in this area have not lost their interest in golf, fishing, baseball, gardening, sitting out on the back deck and eating at restaurants with outdoor patios. So they've been looking for solutions.

We think we've found one. We, too, have a vested interest in spending the Summers outside. Not only do we have activities to cover for the Record, but we enjoy those same outdoor evenings, plus we do a lot of hiking, camping, fishing, backpacking and canoeing.

So we've been testing various remedies.

We have a back porch adjacent to a large woods and a garden by the creek. We visited the Montour Creek sandbar where it empties into the Ohio River. It's a favorite fishing spot but Mosquitoes are always a problem. Canoeing the Allegheny River brings us through clouds of Mosquitoes. And not only are the Mosquitoes up in the forested areas of Pennsylvania aggressive, but out in Wyoming and Montana, where we do most of our outdoor adventuring, they're big enough to be considered the official state bird.

Against all these squadrons of Mosquitoes now arrives the Thermacell. We should state up front that this is not a commercial. Thermacell is not paying us to promote it. We set out to find a Mosquito repellant we could recommend to readers and this is what we found.

Thermacell is basically a diffuser. The home model looks like a lantern, and if you insert three AA batteries it'll work like one, too. We've included the ball point pen in the photos to indicate size. You insert the white plastic butane cartridge into the bottom. Then you open the metallic package, remove the pheromone wafer, and slide it into the top slot. Once you turn on the lantern, the butane burns, rising through the wafer, and diffuses the antiMosquito pheromones into the surrounding air.

You have to turn the lantern on, then go back inside the house for about half an hour. After that half an hour, there will be zero Mosquitoes in an area of roughly 15 feet x 15 feet around the lantern, which is easily the size of the typical back porch or patio.

The Thermacell is not perfect. It doesn't work under all conditions. The biggest condition under which it does not work is air movement. If a breeze is moving across your deck or patio, the Thermacell doesn't work. But of course, if a breeze is blowing, Mosquitoes are usually not a problem anyway. Its effectiveness is also reduced, but not eliminated, if the people within the 15 x 15 area are in constant motion, such as a driveway basketball game. But again, with players in motion, Mosquitoes are usually not a problem anyway.

The Thermacell is ideally suited for an evening when a family or group of friends are sitting on a porch or patio eating dinner, talking, watching TV or relaxing.

For activities away from the porch or patio, Thermacell offers this device, which can be carried or strapped to a belt. It loads the same way : the white butane cartridge slides into the base, and the pheromone wafer slides into the top. This is ideal for gardening, fishing and camping. Thermacell claims it will create a zone around the wearer. We find that as long as you keep walking, it is only about 50% effective. But for use in camp, it's ideal. We can set up camp, turn on the Thermacell, crawl into the tent, zip up the Mosquito netting, take a 30 minute nap, and when we emerge from the tent the campsire is Mosquito free.

We find this mobile device works best laid on the ground, not worn on a belt.

There is a very, very faint trace of butane in the air but not enough to be bothersome.

You can buy the devices separately ($20 each) or as a $40 set from Amazon, Dick's, Cabela's, WalMart or other stores. Either way you receive a starter set of cartridges and wafers. An additional set of 30 wafers and 10 cartridges costs about $50.

Each wafer lasts about four hours. Each butane cartridge lasts about 12 hours. This is true in either the home or mobile device.

A restaurant could place four of these outside and guests could eat Mosquito free.

Moon Park Hosts Best July 4th Celebration
For Western Hills residents looking for a Fourth of July Celebration, the best advice is to head for Moon Park. And do it early, because over the last decade it's become the destination of choice. Parking and space to spread a blanket or set up lawn chairs has become harder to find. Figure on arriving no later than 5 pm unless you want to walk quite a ways and get a lesser choice of sites. The biggest attractions will be the concerts and the fireworks. But beginning in the morning, there are also All Star baseball games featuring teams from the Moon Area Little League in its various age groups, basketball games on the full court, and vendors with food and drink. The usual strategy is to set up a blanket or chairs at the top of the hill above the concert stage. You can then watch the concerts and the fireworks, which are set off behind the stage. Younger children can spend some of the time at the playground, around the hill to the left of the stage. Remember that the further in from the road you park, the longer it will take to get out afterwards, since all that traffic has to exit on just the one narrow drive. It can take up to an hour to clear.
Coraopolis Library Announces July Program

Coraopolis Library Director Susan Mcclellan announced this week a full slate of events for July. For details call the library at 412-264-3502.

Mystery Lovers Book Club, Thursday, July 13, 6:30 pm. This month the selection is John Hart's Redemption Road.

Handmade Arts and Craft Fair Saturday, July 15th. Handmade items including American Girl doll clothes, Art (watercolors, pastels), Jewelry, Handmade custom gift baskets, Hair bows, accessories, Knit and Crochet Items, and Wreaths. The library will also have gift basket raffles. For information, call 412-264-3502.

Film Club, July 15, 5:00 pm. A Perfect Day, starring Benicio del Toro, Tim Robbins and Melanie Thierry.

Science Fiction Book Club, July 18, 6:30 pm. Sleeping Giants, by Sylvan Neuvel.

Film Club, July 22, 5:00 pm. My Fellow Americans, starring Jack Lemmon and James Garner.

Tuesday, July 25, 6:30 pm. Tuesday Book Club Discussion of Radium Girls, by Kate Moore.

Local Author Sarah Ismail will read and sign her new book, Wheels on a Stroller, Thursday, July 27, at 6:30 pm.

Boro Siren Once Again Sounding Alarm

One of Cory's most famous symbols is back in business. The siren,which sounds every night at curfew time and summons volunter firemen to the station when a fire breaks out, has been installed high on its new perch at the new Municipl Building. Several weeks ago the siren was removed from the old Borough Building. American Bridge Company paid to have it dismantled, checked, sanded, and repainted. For its previous century of existence it was red. Now it's yellow. Electricians tested the refurbished siren early Thursday afternoon. The siren was previously taken down for servicing in 1956 and 2003. In 2003 it was dismantled, cleaned, rewound and repainted. It doesn't take much. It's a sealed motor with an enclosed impeller, basically just a giant air pump. Over the years, parts have changed so nothing original remains but there's always been the siren. Its most famous moment came when it shattered a quiet early afternoon to announce the end of World War II in Europe.

Eaton Grants $10,000 To Meals On Wheels

Easton Corporation has given a $10,000 grant to Western Hills Meals On Wheels. Eaton has been a strong partner of Meals On Wheels for 10 years, and many employees receive time off work to volunteer with the Coraopolis based service. Meals On Wheels delivers two meals a day to area residents.

"We look forward to continued growth of our partnership with Meals on Wheels," Eaton Sales Consultant Kelly Waldron said. "We are proud to provide volunteers and financial support."

Eaton is a global leader in power distribution and circuit protection, backup power; control and automation, light and security, structural solutions and wiring, solutions for harsh and hazardous environments, and engineering as needed in the field of power. In 2016 Eaton generated $19.7 billion in sales. It employs 95,000.

Passenger Station Restoration "A Work In Progress"

Stacey Christe presented a slide show, lecture and discussion session Thursday night at the Coraopolis Public Library on the Coraopolis Passenger Station and its ongoing restoration.

She covered the history of the railroad and its role in the development of the town and the Western Hills. She included old newspaper clippings from the Record, Press, Sun Telegraph and Post Gazette, and many old photos from the Coraopolis Historical Society and other sources.

The station was built in 1895 by the Pittsburgh and Lake Erie Railroad. The architects used a Romanesque style. Today, only three such stations remain, the others in New Castle and Glassport. The National Register of Historic Places added the Coraopolis Station to its list in 1979, making it available for government restoration grants.

In its heydey, which extended from 1900 until the 1960s, the station had four long distance trains and four commuter trains a day stopping.

Hundreds of locals boarded the trains in the morning and rode them into offices in Pittsburgh or down to the mills in Aliquippa and Monaca. They returned on the trains every evening. Every Friday afternoon in the Summers local vacationers would board the special to Erie, spend two days at the beach, then return on the train Sunday evening. The trip to Erie took about four hours including stops at Aliquippa, Monaca, Beaver, Beaver Falls, New Brighton, New Castle, Farrell and Mercer. Long distance trains headed from Coraopolis west to Chicago and St. Louis and east to Philadelphia, New York City and Washington.

The Coraopolis Station was the major stop in this area and the only stop serving long distance trains. But commuter trains also stopped at smaller stations at Montour Junction (still standing but now privately owned, it's at the foot of Montour Street), Stoops Ferry and Glenwillard.

Notice in the photographs that four tracks ran through Coraopolis. They were busy with both freight and passenger trains, and often two trains at once would be at the station, with passengers getting on or off on both sides of the tracks. That is why you see the second long shelter across from the main station. There was a tunnel under the tracks for passengers to use so they did not have to actually walk across the tracks.

Western Hills residents older than 70 remember when the trains brought the men home from World War II. The trains, displaying red white and blue bunting, were met by huge crowds, some coming to pick up their sons, husbands, fathers, relatives or neighbors, and others just coming to join in the celebration.

The station has 12 unique architectural features that make it unique. One of these is the use of eyebrow windows, seen at right, to get more light into the interior. At some point in the last century, interior changes cut off that light, but hopefully restoration will reopen access to it.

Complete restoration will cost $1.2 million but is being done in phases.

The group working on the station is one committee of the Coraopolis Community Development Foundation. Station Subcommittee members are Sam Jampetro, Shawn Reed, Chris Rolinson, Stacey Christe and Ken Faux. They devote evenings and Saturdays to the project and welcome all volunteers. Christe joined the committee in 2015.

A 2010 $10,000 private grant funded a feasibility study. Vandals had removed the copper sheathing from the roof, which created leaks. That was taken care of. A 2014 campaign raised $12,00, and in 2015 equity financing and private donations raised it to $75,000. A 2016 Allegheny Foundation grant of $290,000 allowed major reconstruction to begin. A CITF grant application and private grant applications have been filed.

If someone stops by the station and looks inside, it looks rough. But in fact a lot of work has already been done, and they are now working on the floors. Their goal is to open the station in late 2018 as a cafe. A bicycle trail from Coraopolis to Monaca is under construction and the station would become one of its key stops.

There is also talk of restoring commuter service to Coraopolis, Aliquippa and Monaca to relieve highway congestion and the station could again fill its original role. But Committee member Chris Rolinson emphasizes this is currently just speculation, no specific plans have been announced, and the Committee is not including that possibility in its planning.

Once the station is restored, the committee plans to restore the under tracks tunnel, which includes stairs on both ends and bright lighting. The tunnel is still there but has fallen into neglect.

The photo at right shows the old ticket window in the main room of the station. It may look rough, but the bricks and wood are still in good shape. It's only the plaster that has crumbled over 50 years of neglect and water leakage from the roof.

The public is invited to drop by on Saturdays when the committee is working. Volunteers are welcome even if you don't know anything about restoration. There are always errands to run, items to carry and other tasks to help with. Anyone interested in donating to the restoration can go to CoraopolisFoundation.org, to the Get Involved page, for details.

Police Alert : Lock Doors, Hide Valuables

Friday, June 23 --- Coraopolis Police Chief Ron Denbow has once again asked all Coraopolis borough residents to lock their car doors at all times and avoid leaving valuables in sight anywhere in the car. There has been another rash of vehicles being rummaged through while parked on streets or in drive ways close to the street.

"This time, there's no evidence of the vehicles being broken into. These are all vehicles left unlocked," Denbow told the Record. "They rummage through glove compartments, center consoles and back seats. Lock Your Doors And Don't Leave Anything Of Value In The Vehicle Even For A Few Minutes."

A similar warning was issued back on May 19. There had been three straight nights of break ins and thefts that week. After the Record posted a warning, people locked their vehicles and stopped leaving anything in them for a while, and the incidents stopped. But people have once again grown careless and the thieves have resumed. Most of the incidents have occurred in the Ridge, Vance and Highland Avenue areas. Anyone finding evidence of someone having been in their vehicle should call Police immediately at 412-264-3000.

Cornell Board Completes Quiet June Meeting

The Cornell School Board held a very quiet meeting Thursday night with schools out for the Summer and several members absent due to out of town meetings or workshops. Members also voted to cancel their July meeting. Superintendant Aaron Thomas recognized a team of girls who won first place in a video simulation competitiion at the Heinz History Center. A grant for $5,000 has been acquired which will allow the school to test for lead. Resignations have been accepted fromn Kelly Dantley Thompson as Assistant Girls Basketball Coach, Larry DiSilvestro as CHS-TV advisor, and Ruth Mihalyi as National Honor Society and Junior Honor Society sponsor. Jamie Chambers has been hired as 5th grade teacher, William Lamb as 7-12 Music & Band Director, and Cherlise Gerlach as the Elementary Life Skills Teacher. The 2017-18 budget was approved at $14, 219, 331. There will be no increase in the real estate tax; it will remain at 23.314 mills. $241,063 from the current fund balance was used to balance the account. Interviews are held this week for the Head Girls Basketball Coaching position.

Borough Council Approves Smoke Detector Project

The highlight of the June meeting of Coraopolis Borough Council came at the very beginning. A Red Cross representative reviewed with Council a smoke detector project set for Saturday, August 12.

On that day, 75 workers will fan out across town, going house to house, knocking on every door. They will ask each homeowner if the house has smoke detectors and, if not, if the homeowner would allow them to come inside and install them. While installing them, they will instruct residents on how to maintain the detector and help them design an escape plan.

"Once a fire breaks out, the average resident has only two minutes to get out before they are at risk for smoke inhalation, which will severely reduce chances of survival."

Mayor Anthony Celeste asked if there were any restrictions on who could receive the smoke detectors. "None whatsoever," he was told. "Especially, there are no income limits."

If no one answers the door, workers will leave a brochure attached to the doorknob. If a homeowner calls, a team will come back a week or two later and install the detectors.

The project is being run by the Red Cross, Coraopolis Volunteer Fire Department and the Lions Club.

"We'll hold training sessions in July so local firemen and Lions Club members will know how to install the detectors. And every team will have a Red Cross professional with them, who will present proper credentials to the homeowner."

Workers will begin knocking on doors at 9 a.m. and continue until 1 p.m. The Red Cross hopes to install at least 100 detectors. "Some people already have them. Some won't be home. Some won't want strangers inside. But if we can install 100 it will greatly reduce the fire and smoke risk in Coraopolis."

Much of the Council meeting was routine, approving expenditures for payroll, purchases and various projects around town. The Borough payroll for May totaled $103, 336.54. The Council spent $134,594.40 on general purchases. Invoices related to the new Municipal Building added up to $315,699.56, which came from the Construction Fund Account. Council paid PNC Bank $400,000 on its TRAN note, a check which was paid from real estate taxes. $500 was paid to the Allegheny County Sheriff's Office for extra deputies during the Memorial Day Parade.

One expenditure which was challenged was for a new electrical box at the 5th Avenue parking lot and to repair the lights along 5th Avenue. Rudy Bolea asked what the amount was. No one knew. So Bolea movd to table the approval until the exact cost could be determined, and that was agreed to.

"I don't like issuing a blank check," Bolea said.

Council approved Charles Spencer to fill an open position on the Water & Sewage Board.

Dana Watkins and Carol Bartolomucci requested permission to use the 5th Avenue and 1st Avenue parking lots on August 19 and August 24 for Outreach Ministry and Not One More programs.

Danny Larocco reported that in November 3rd Ward will vote at the VFW and 4th Ward will vote at the new Municipal Building.

Police Chief Ron Denbow reported on an incident at the Memorial Day Parade. Due to a prior situation, two females along the parade got into a fight, which spread to members of the audience. Officers arrived within three minutes and arrested seven, charging one with juvenile assault and two with adult assault. "This is the first ever such incident," Chief Denbow explained. "We'll take precautions next year."

In May, the Police received 562 complaints, conducted 198 criminal investigations, made 56 arrests, tracked two stolen vehicles, dealt with 15 accidents (with no injuries) and issued 43 citations. Downtown parking meters earned $1285.

Cornell Elementary School chose an Officer Of The Year and awarded a plaque and flag to Sergeant Robert Litterini.

The Coraopolis Volunteer Fire Department had three calls, one of which was to help Moon firemen, and a second of which was a power outage. Only one was actually a fire.

Work was discussed on 1st and 2nd Avenues, State Avenue and Chestnut and Mill Streets. Grants have been filed which would allow Coraopolis to pay 30% of these costs, with the grants covering the rest. There is also work needing done on Sewer and Water lines and the brick streets.

Borough Manager Ray McCutcheon told Council he was determining the cost of 24 LED lights for 5th Avenue and would be submitting that for approval, probably at the July meeting.

Ed Pitassi reported that Stacey Christe will be presenting a "History Of The Coraopolis Station" slide show at 6 pm Thursday, June 22.

McCutcheon reported that the latest estimate for completion of the new Municipal Building was late July.

Lucinda Wade (photo, right) requested use of Bliwas Field on August 12 for the annual Back To School Celebration. Her group hands out backpacks filled with school supplies. There will be food and games.

Clarence Sellars reported that the TV station was not broadcasting the tape of the Council meetings as they were supposed to be. He was told to phone the station, that the Council had nothing to say about it.

Stacey Christe asked for clarification on when the parking meters were in effect. Chief Denbow told her meters in the parking lots operated 24 hours a day seven days a week and street meters operated 9 to 9 Monday through Thursday and 9 to 6 Friday and Saturday. Sundays and holidays are free.

Clarence Sellars wanted to know why Council had paid $125,000 for a piece of 1st Avenue property assessed at only $49,000. The property had been part of the David Henderson estate. The Board explained that property is usually only assessed when it is sold, so many properties that have stayed in the same family for decades have not been appraised for decades. Before a sale occurs, the property must be newly assessed, which almost always results in a much higher value, and then the law requires a town council to pay the assessed value for it. Solicitor Richard Start mentioned that there wre properties all over town that were underassessed, but that if they were reassessed, taxes on them would skyrocket.

Annual Strawberry Festival Saturday

The Coraopolis Presbyterian Church will hold its annual Strawberry Festival Saturday, June 10, from noon to 5:30 pm.

The primary treat, the dish of Strawberries, Cake and Ice Cream, can be ordered separately.

Or customers can add Cole Slaw, Beans, Drink and a Pulled Pork Sandwich for a complete meal.

Entry will be at the 5th Avenue doorway. If weather permits, there will be outdoor tables and chairs. If not, seating will be in the Social Hall downstairs.

 

Coraopolis Blood Drive Friday

The Zion Lutheran Church is hosting its annual blood drive Friday, June 9, from 12:30 pm through 6 pm. The church is at 1305 State Avenue.

The event is held in conjunction with the American Red Cross Blood Drive, in honor of long time church member Florence Keck.

Donated blood helps millions of patients in over 2600 hospitals and is always in short supply. Each donation may, literally, save someone's life. As a matter of fact, Red Cross statistics indicate that each donation holds enough blood to save three lives.

Donors shoulde bring ID (driver's license plus one other card) and a list of medications they're taking. They'll be given a routine checkup (pulse, blood pressure, temperature and hemoglobin) prior to donating.

Donors should call 1-800-733-2767 to make an appointment. Or they can go to redcrossblood.org and enter ZionCorry to schedule the appointment.

Western Hills Honors War Dead

In Coraopolis and across the Western Hills Sunday and Monday, residents paused to honor those who gave their lives and many others who placed theirs at risk during World War II and wars in Korea, Vietnam and the Middle East.

From the annual Memorial Day Parade in Coraopolis to ceremonies at area cemeteries to Boy Scouts placing flags, it was a weekend to think of names fading into history and the men who fought there : Chosin, Iwo Jima, Anzio, Normandy, Midway, the Coral Sea, the MeKong Delta and the Battle of the Bulge.

We can relax and grill hamburgers, play baseball and go swimming today because in years past our relatives, neighbors and friends struggled on beaches, in foxholes, on ships and in airplane cockpits to defend this lifestyle.

And victory was not guaranteed. Often, it seemed unlikely. Mothers, wives, girlfriends and children waited each day for radio broadcasts about battles in faraway places, where their loved ones were fighting.

Thousands of local residents still remember that warm sunny afternoon when suddenly the siren went off atop the Coraopolis borough building, church bells began ringing and car horns began blaring. Word quickly spread. Germany had surrendered. People stood on their front porches, front yards and on downtown sidewalks and cried.

Many also still remember the trains pulling into the Coraopolis station, adorned with red, white and blue bunting, bringing the men home. The trains kept coming, day after day, for weeks. Thousands of men had gone to war, and it took a long time to get them all home, many on crutches, stretchers and wheelchairs.

Memories like that are what this weekend is about. It was a time for relatives to visit graveyards with flags and flowers, to listen to buglers play Taps, and to seek out veterans still living and thank them for their service.

Firemen, Police and Veterans joined together to hold memorial services at each area cemetery where veterans are buried. This is a cynical age and patriotism is out of style, but on Memorial Day Weekend red, white and blue were the only colors anyone wanted to see.

Cory Memorial Day Parade Monday 1:30

The 98th annual Coraopolis Memorial Day Parade will be held Monday, May 29, at 1:30. It is one of Western Pennsylvania's five largest.

The parade will begin at Chess Street and end at Chestnut Street. It will extend through the downtown business district on 5th Avenue.

Traffic on Route 51 will be rerouted to 4th Avenue, which will change to two way. PAT Buses on Route 27 will also use 4th Avenue.

The parade is sponsored by Coraopolis Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 402.

Photos here show scenes from previous parades. It attracts not only area high school bands, but groups from throughout Allegheny and Beaver Counties and Pittsburgh.

Many out of town groups march in the Sewickley parade at 11 a.m., then the Coraopolis parade at 1:30 p.m.

Coraopolis has had a Memorial Day Parade since 1919, when it was held to honor local soldiers in War War I. Over the years, the parade has expanded to honor veterans in all branches of the military in World War II, the Korean War, the War in Vietnam, and more recently the Middle Eastern campaigns.

Cory's is one of the oldest continuously running Memorial Day events in western Pennsylvania, but the oldest is held right across the river.

Sewickley began its parade in 1899 to honor its soldiers in the Spanish American War.

Both parades are smaller now than they were back in the 20th Century. The numbers of World War I and II and Korean War veterans able to march has declined due to deaths and health problems. The number of Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops has declined, and consolidation has reduced the number of high schools, thus the number of marching bands, in the area. As the area population has declined, attendance along the parade route has reduced. The parade route is also shorter. It used to conclude at the Coraopolis Cemetery, where speakers honored the fallen veterans buried there. Now that occurs down in town.

But the parade remains one of Cory's major events, a reminder of the sacrifices some of us made so that the rest of us could enjoy the life we do.

Water, soft drinks and snacks will be available at booths in front of the VFW and the Presbyterian Church.

And Anthony Junior's Italian Restaurant and the Anchor & Anvil Coffee Shop across from the VFW will be open for business. Further up and down 5th Avenue, several other restaurants and pizza outlets will also be open, so parade fans can grab lunch before or a snack after.

Paradegoers are reminded to arrive early to find a parking space and a good viewing spot. Area residents have been attending this event all their lives and if you arrive shortly before 1:30 you may not be able to find either parking or viewing.

World War II Veteran Danny Larocco will be participating in his 77th consecutive Memorial Day Parade, believed to be the local record.

Coraopolis Woman Drowns Kayaking

Helene Brandy of Coraopolis is presumed dead in a kayaking accident but efforts to recover her body continue.

Brandy was a recent Pitt graduate. She had been a cheerleader at Upper St. Clair and Pitt, as well as a gymnast and outdooorsperson. She had moved to Coraopolis because she had been hired by Dick's Sporting Goods for a human resources position. She and Brittany Evans had gone kayaking on the Ohio River Saturday afternoon. Evans was a West Virginia University graduate. She worked for PLS Logistics Services, a Cranberry based management services company. Both kayaks belonged to her.

Evans had been canoeing and kayaking before but never on the Ohio. It was Brandy's first time kayaking. The two apparently had a great time paddling from the Groveton Boat Club down to the Sewickley Bridge, They took a selfie just below the bridge, looking back at it. That's Helene in the foreground and Brittany behind her in a second kayak. After taking this photo, Helene placed her cell phone in a watertight plastic bag and tucked it under the kayak's deck. Directly ahead of them was a line of 30 buoys with large warning signs.

The kayakers didn't realize it, but they were already in trouble when they took this photo. The current was already drawing them toward the Dashields Dam, which sits downriver from the Sewickley Bridge. Engineers call it a "lowhead" dam, since it has no structure jutting above the water. Lowhead dams are dangerous. First, with no structure, they cannot be seen from upriver. And second, the water creates a "boil" or "churn" below the dam which traps boats or swimmers.

Even once they passed the buoys, were caught in the current and found themselves unable to turn around and paddle back upriver, the girls could have paddled to their left, where they would have come to the locks boats use to bypass the dam. But for some reason, the girls didn't do this. Instead, at about 6:30 pm they were swept over the dam.

Dashields Dam extends 1500 feet across the river, from shore to shore. The lock, which is on the Coraopolis side, is 600 ft. long and 110 feet wide. The dam itself is 10 feet high. The "boil" or "churn" below the dam is about 30 yards long. The water pouring down the front of the dam plunges deep, rotates along the bottom, comes back up and back toward the dam, where it is sucked down again. This rotation continues as long as water comes over the dam. It can even trap boats and logs in it. Swimmers have no chance to escape.

Fishermen in boats below the dam heard the girls screaming for help and saw them go over the dam. But they couldn't get close enough to help because of the churn. (debris in the photo at right is unrelated to this accident.) Brittany's body floated out of the churn at about 7 pm.

Rescuers could only get so close to the dam because of the churn, so they brought in Gary Bane, a drone operator. Bane came to the churn line in a boat, then released the drone. It was able to hover right over the churn. But it could not locate Helene's body.

The search was called off at dark Saturday, but resumed Sunday at 8 a.m. with infrared technology. They found nothing all day Sunday.

Monday, Helene's bathing suit top, life jacket and watertight bag with the cell phone inside washed ashore at Glenwillard.

Both kayaks had been recovered by Thursday.

The two young women are the 28th and 29th drowning deaths at the Dashields Dam.

There is no immediate access to the dam. Rescuers are launching boats from the Glenwillard ramp.

Helene's family is organizing a petitition demanding better signage. "The buoys and signs are not enough," says Ken Brandy, Helene's uncle. They are contacting State Representative Mark Mustio to "help prevent any more incidents like this from happening. 27 deaths are enough."

Local rescue workers say the answer may be to simply keep kayakers and canoeists off the Ohio River.

"Most of the people who have drowned going over this dam have been fishermen, water skiers and pleasure boaters who have been in fairly large boats with powerful engines. And they were caught in the current and could not escape. So how can a canoeist or kayaker possibly hope to avoid trouble? These recreational paddlers need to go to smaller streams or lakes."

An Army Corps of Engineers official was even more blunt. "The Ohio is an industrial river. There are dams like this, plus towboats pushing large strings of barges. This is not a recreational river. It's not even a very good place for fishing boats, but they know enough to stay along the shores. It is just not a safe place for canoes and kayaks. And it is absolutely not a place to learn how to canoe or kayak."

Ironically, the Dashields Dam is one of a series of dams and locks scheduled for replacement in the next few years.

Work On Schedule At New Boro Building

Work continues on schedule on the new Coraopolis Municipal Building on 4th Avenue.

The exterior is basically done except for small touching up. Paving of sidewalks and parking lots is still in progress. Lasndscaping will begin once the paving is done.

Most of the work is now progressing inside. As the two photos below show, the rooms and halls are basically done, but lots of finishing is still needed.

Wiring is one of the major tasks. Since Police, Fire and Government offices are involved, state of the art phone and internet systems are needed.

When the building is complete, it will take weeks to move everything, including files, police and fire equipment, from the current century old Municipal Building. An open house will be held on a date yet to be announced where the public can tour the building.

Police Alert : Lock Doors, Hide Valuables

Friday, May 19 --- Coraopolis Police Chief Ron Denbow has asked all Coraopolis borough residents to lock their car doors at all times and avoid leaving valuables in sight anywhere in the car.

Borough Police have experienced a series of vehicle robberies in the last 72 hours. "Someone is apparently walking the streets, trying every car door, and opening every unlocked door," Denbow told the Record. "But they're also looking in every window, and if they see a camera, laptop, iPad or anything else of value laying on the seats or the floor, they're breaking in even if the vehicle is locked. So lock your doors and don't leave anything of any value in the vehicle, even for a few minutes."

Vehicle thefts have been particularly prevalent up on the hills. "The 1700 block of Vance, the 1000 block of Main, the 1000 block of Marion and all of Woodlawn have been their primary targets," he said. "But they may be using their own vehicle to move from place to place so everywhere is vulnerable."

Anyone finding any break in or seeing anyone suspicious in a neighborhood should call Police immediately at 412-264-3000.

Cornell School Receives Google Technology Grant

Dr. Aaron Thomas announced that Cornell has won a Google Technology Grant and will be sending one teacher and one administrator to Mountain View, California during the Summer for training. The Grant will pay for one position for a Technology Coach to work with Cornell under a Google Mentor.

In other business at the Cornell School Board meeting Thursday in the school library, Thomas (center figure, photo below left) was recognized for just having received his doctorate degree from the University of Pittsburgh.

The Board recognized senior Austin Winchell for his achievements in swimming competitions. Winchell also participates in band, French club and the prom committee.

Finally, the Cornell Girls Basketball Team was recognized for its season of achievements, although the Board accepted Coach Shawn Urbano's resignation (see separate story in Sports) with regrets.

Friday, June 2 will be Graduation. Monday, June 5 will be the final day of school for everyone else. School will only be held for half a day, with no lunch served.

 

Other upcoming dates of note were announced : May 23 is the Band Concert, and May 25 the Sixth Grade Graduation.

Holy Family will be providing next year's Social & Family Services. The annual "Extended School Year" for Special Education Students will be the last three weeks of July.

Cornell's Journalism Class next year will be a dual credit course. The credit will be granted by Point Park College. Next week, Art students from Cornell will unveil their Art Installation in Pittsburgh. The Board accepted praise from the staff of the Embassy Suites Hotel for the exemplary behavior of the Cornell students at their recent prom.

The Board approved water lead testing for $2,536 handicap area concrete repairs for $2,000 and catch basin repairs for $1800.

The real estate tax rate will remain unchanged at 23.314 mills.

Stephanie Mazzocco (in red at left) was chosen as Treasurer for the next year. Patrick Berdine was named Secretary.

Congratulations were offered to Board members who retained their seats during the recent election, although it was noted results are not yet official until approved by the Allegheny County Elections Office.

Ed Pitassi Loses
Bolea, Larocco and Williams Reelected to Borough Council

Rudy Bolea, Danny Larocco and Michael Williams won reelection to seats on the Coraopolis Borough Council Tuesday but popular and long time colleague Ed Pitassi (photo, right) was upset by newcomer Melissa Walsh in the First District.

In the Cornell School Board election, Robert Dinell, Stephanie Mazzocco, Charles Blackstone and Darlene Abbott won four year terms. Jeffrey McBain won the two year seat.

In what was expected to be the closest race, Bolea (holding documents, below) won easily over former Mayor Anthony Celeste 99-43. Celeste, who chose to withdraw from the Mayoral contest and run instead for Council, was thought to be a serious thresat to Bolea. But what was not anticipated was the number of Republican voters who crossed over and wrote Bolea's name in on their ballots.

Walsh won by only seven votes over Pitassi in what turned out to be the night's closest race. Pitassi will remain active in Borough politics, since he holds continuing positions on boards and committees independent of his Council seat.

The Mayor's race was predetermined, since by Election Day newcomer Shawn Reed was unopposed. But the number of votes was still critical since it would indicate whether or not Reed takes office with a clear mandate. People could have written in other names or voted for Celeste even though he had officially withdrawn. But it turned out Reed won 96% of the votes and has his mandate.

The Coraopolis electoral process has devolved over the years into a very quircky process. No Republican is on the ballot, despite the fact a significant portion of the Borough is registered Republican. However, when a Republican votes, they can vote for one of the Democrat candidates by writing their name in on the ballot. If a Democrat candidate wins a clear majority, the General Election in November becomes unnecessary. But if enough Republicans write in a Democrat candidate's name other than the winner on the Democrat side, that forces a November runoff in the General Election.

The Write In process thus becomes more important than usual. And it has rules. A name must be exactly the same as the candidate's official name. A misspelling, a wrong middle initial, a nickname, any deviation at all, renders the write in ballot invalid and it is discarded by election officials.

And a person cannot just write their name in and win a position no one was running for, such as Tax Collector. The rules require that a certain number of voters must write a candidate's name in. That number varies with the total number voting.

Technically, the election results are not official for several days, while Allegheny County officials check everything. They particularly scrutinize write in ballots and very close elections.

Cory Vote Turnout Surges During Evening

Voting picked up during the Tuesday evening hours as Coraopolis voters chose candidates for School Board and Borough Council.

Precinct officials were reporting a low turnout during the morning and early afternoon. But such a low turnout was not surprising. During non Presidential years, voter turnout is usually low across the nation.

Plus, the fact that the most important position in the Borough, the Mayor, is not a contest has reduced the urgency for many people to vote. Shawn Reed, at right, is running unopposed.

There have not been any major controversies, either, to ignite voter interest and drive people to the polls. The only issue even midly controversial lately has been the new municipal building. Some would have preferred the borough simply renovate the curent century old building. But several Council meetings in a row have mentioned rhe fact that it was cheaper to build new than to renovate the old one and equip it for handicapped access and other modern requirements. By now, almost everyone agrees with the decision.

John Pessy, seen at left, is not running this time, so was simply at the polls to greet voters and pass out materials for other candidates. Pessy is a long time Borough Council member who played football at Coraopolis High School and Juniata College, then returned to spend a career teaching and coaching at Coraopolis and Cornell.

Coraopolis alternates which School Board and Borough Council seats are up for election so there are always some experienced members In this election only First, Second, Third and Fourth Districts were voting for new representatives.

This will be the last year the Third District will be held at the old Municipal Building. The building will be vacated by the next election. Presumably, Third District voters will vote at the new Municipal Building on 4th Avenue, although theoretically election officials could choose another site.

The tightest race today should be the Second District, where incumbent council member Rudy Bolea tries to fend off a challenge by former Mayor Tony Celeste. Both have histories of public service and large, loyal followings. Election officials called the race "a coin flip."

Results of the election will be posted by mid to late evening tonight (Tuesday, May 16).

Theoretically this is only the primary election and the general election will be held in November, but in most cases there is no one else running, so the winners of these races will win the positions.

Celeste Withdraws From Mayor's Race
Get Out And Vote : Tuesday Is Local Primary

Current Mayor Tony Celeste has withdrawn from the Mayor's race, meaning challenger Shawn Reed will be the next Mayor of Coraopolis. There are no other candidates running, and the deadline for entering is long past, so the winner of tomorrow's primary is automatically the winner of the November General Election.

Celeste (presenting an award in the photo at right) is still on the ballot as a candidate for a Council seat. He declined to talk to reporters and gave no reason for withdrawing from the Mayoral race. However, Celeste is a local businessman with Cory's largest and most popular downtown restaurant, a time consuming enterprise. A Mayor's duties have been time consuming in the past and will become even more time consuming with the move to a new municipal building, an influx of new businesses and the increased highway and rail traffic stemming from the Shell Refinery in Potter Township and the Intermodal Terminal in Stowe Township and McKees Rocks. Sources close to Celeste said he simply felt he could no longer spare the time needed for the Mayor's position but still wanted to contribute and felt he could best do that as a Council representative.

But Celeste's decision sets up an interesting Council race. Celeste lives in the Second District, meaning he is running against incumbent Councilman Rudy Bolea. Bolea is a longtime Councilman with strong and loyal support and high name recognition. But having been Mayor for four years, Celeste also has high name recognition and his own loyal supporters.

Every other Council race has an incumbent running against a political newcomer, so the Second District contest is by far the most interesting of the entire ballot.

In the First District, incumbent Ed Pitassi is running against challenger Melissa Walsh. In the Third District, incumbent Michael Williams is running against challenger Lucinda Wade. In the Fourth District, incumbent Dan Larocco is running against challenger Jesse Robles.

The biggest question about the Council election is whether Coraopolis voters will continue to vote for a basically older, male, white slate or whether any of the women or minorities will be able to upset any of the incumbents. The average age of Council members is 69.3, one is over 80 and one in his late 70s, at a time of economic resurgence and new challenges.

All Council seats are not up for vote. To guarantee continuity, some come up for vote in one election, and the others in the next election. Since issues and projects develop over several monrhs, this assures that half the Council members know the background of whatever issues and projects are discussed.

School Board voting is a bit more complex. There are two kinds of seats on the Board. One is a four year term. Voters face a list of five candidates and choose four. In this category, the choices are Darlene Abbott, Stephanie Mazzocco, Charles Blackstone, Jason Kish and Bob Dinnell.

The other category is two year terms. Voters face three candidates and can vote for one. The three are Caryn Code, Patrick Walsh and Jeff McBain.

The Cornell School System is in better shape right now than at any time in the last 40 years. Administratively, academically, financially and even in sports and extracurricular activities, the schools from kindergarten to 12th grade are functioning well.

But Cornell will face two challenges as the new Board takes office. The first is a new charter school in Robinson Township which will be trying to recruit students in neighboring districts, including Cornell. Any student now attending Cornell who chooses to transfer must be provided morning and afternoon transportation by Cornell, and Cornell must pay $15,000 tuition for that student at the charter school. The second potential challenge is the always lurking merger issue. With Cornell being officially the smallest public school in Western Pennsylvania, there are pressures to join with Moon or Montour. Currently, this issue is not being discussed, but it resurfaces periodically. In theory, a small school is the best school, as it can provide each student more individual attention and more opportunities to participate in sports and various activities. But for this to be true, that small school must function at high efficiency. Making sure this remains true is the responsibility of the School Board. So every Board election is critical.

There will be several categories on the ballot which do not offer choices. They are write in choices. These include Tax Collector, Judge of Elections, Inspector of Elections and Member of Allegheny County Council.

 

And there will be five State of Pennsylvania or Allegheny County positions up for vote. These include Supreme Court Justice, Superior Court Judge, Judge of the Commonwealth, Judge of the Common Pleas Court, and Sheriff. No Coraopolis or Western Hills resident is running for any of these positions. For a breakdown of the various candidates, their views, and recommendations on who to select, see the Pittsburgh Post Gazette or Pittsurgh Tribune.

Ir is tempting to think that since there is only one candidate running for Mayor, it's not worth the bother to check the box. But it is important. The number of votes a candidate receives demonstrates how much support he has in the community. The next four years will be a time of change in Coraopolis, and difficult and far reaching decisions will be made. Some of those will be controversial. The Mayor will often need to convince the Council members to suppoort his proposals, recommendations and decisions. If they believe the Mayor has little support in the community, they may be inclined not to support him. If they feel he has very strong support, they will feel pressure to support him. Shawn Reed (photo, at right) is a marketing specialist who has already been heading the restoration of the old passenger station on Mill Street and brings new ideas to the Mayor's office.

Doughboy Statue Receives Annual Cleaning

Wednesday saw the annual cleaning of the famous Doughboy Statue that currently sits in front of the Veterans Foreign Wars Building at the corner of 5th Avenue and Mulberry Street.

The VFW is responsible for the cleaning and care of the statue. Members clean it every year just before the annual Memorial Day Parade, which passes along 5th Avenue right in front of it.

The statue is made of pressed copper and copper plates are mounted on the base. Rain and snow erode the copper and stain the white porcelain, discoloring the base. But the copper stain can be removed with a power washer, detergent and sometimes a little vigorous rubbing.

"As long as we clean it once or twice a year, it's easy to keep clean and shiny and in perfect condition," VFW officials explain. "If a community neglected one of these statues for several years, the copper stains would sink in and become permanent."

The Coraopolis Doughboy is actually one copy of a statue by E. M. Vaquesney. It was mass produced in the 1920s to honor World War I (1914-1918) veterans, and distributed to any town raising the price. The term "doughboy" was used to describe the foot soldiers because of the fried flour dumplings they ate. After the war, they popularized them back in America and now we call them "donuts."

The Coraopolis VFW raised $3500. The statue cost $1000, the base cost $1500, and the copper plates cost $1000. Today, this does not seem like much. But in a time when men making high wages in the mills brought home $4000 a year, when homes cost $7500, a new car could be bought for $500 and a good meal in a good restaurant cost 50 cents, $3500 was a staggering amount of money. A similar statue, pedestal and plates today would cost about $75,000. Schools, churches and civic organizations all held fund raisers and contributed. The plates contain the names of Coraopolis veterans killed in WW I and II.

Originally, 300 Doughboy Statues were produced. The Smithsonian Institute keeps an official record of them. 134 remain in place in small towns, mostly in the northeastern states. They were installed in cemeteries, parks, town squares and in front of high schools and city halls.

Over the years, tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, fires, vehicles smashing into them, trees falling, and vandalism destroyed 166. There were three variations on the Coraopolis version. One is a U.S. Navy version, one an infantryman waving his hand overhead, and the other a World War II version. There are not as many copies of those other variations still in existence.

The Coraopolis Doughboy Statue is one of only 12 remaining which have the official bayonet still in place.

The Coraopolis Doughboy has roamed around town. When first received, it was placed on 5th Avenue in a small park. When the new Municipal Building was built, the status was moved to the front of it. When the new high school opened, the statue was moved to the front of it, where it remained until the 1970s, when the high school was closed and converted to apartments.

At that point, the statue was moved to a spot on State Avenue, just below the library and across from the Greystone Presbyterian Church. Finally, it was moved to its current location in front of the VFW Building.

At those other locations, the statue was always surrounded by a small fence or row of bricks or stones, with flowers planted along its base. The flowers were carefully tended and frequently repotted. For half a centiury, this chore was handled by the Coraopolis Ladies Aid Society.

At its present location, the pedestal sits directly on the concrete sidewalk and there are no flowers.

When it was in front of the high school, the statue was a daily part of students' lives. They would speak of meeting at the statue, or would pose for photos in front of it. Teachers would refer to it as part of history classes. No longer at a school, the statue no longer seems as important to local residents. As they drive past, few pay it any attention.

But recently, its neighborhood is reviving. A new coffee shop, restaurant, microbrewery and other businesses have opened just across or just up the street. People are parking nearby and walking past the statue, and many can be seen stopping to read the names or the plaque. On May 29 the Memorial Day Parade will pass in front of it, and people will be standing around it to watch. No nearby community has such a statue. It is one of those features which makes Coraopolis unique, a link to a time almost 100 years ago.

Pit Bull, Potholes, New Truck Highlight May Council Meeting

Wednesday's Coraopolis Borough Council meeting, the last one before next week's primary election, was the quietest of the year. The core of the meeting consisted of routine approval of various items with only a few questions and discussions. The most interesting segments of the meeting came during the public participation, when John Stoner, Clarence Sellers and Tom Toomey came to the podium.

Earlier, among the various motions to approve, Council voted in favor of repairing the street clock for $5000. The Verdin Companty was awarded the contract. Rudy Bolea asked about a warranty and Calvin Jackson asked about the price of a brand new clock (it would cost $20,000), but both eventually voted in favor.

They voted to join Moon Township to repave Woodlawn Drive. Since Youngblood Paving Company will already have their equipment there, it will only cost $12,530. Woodlawn Drive runs between Maple Street and the top of Main Street along the west edge of the Coraopolis Cemetery. Most of it is in Moon, but the Main Street end of it is in Cory.

Continued participation in the Allegheny County Development Block Grant was approved for three more years. Through this program, Cory acquires financing for water and sewer line maintenance and demolition of condemned buildings

The Police Chief's Report showed 478 complaints, 43 arrests, nine accidents, 216 parking citations, 202 moving violations, and one vehicle towed (out of the creek below Vance Avenue).

Saturday, May 20, the Hometown Hero Car Cruise will be held. The following Sarturday, May 27, the Coraopolis Car Cruise will be held. The May 27th Cruise will benefit the Coraopolis K9 Program.

The Solicitor's Report included adoption of the official Allegheny County Hot Pursuit Policy. This is a set of guidelines governing policemen involved in a vehicle pursuit. Council agreed it would be critical for local officers to act in accordance with this policy in case an accident occurs and a court case results. Officers will be trained accordingly to make sure they understand and follow the guidelines.

Engineering reports stated that (1) land acquisition along the riverfront is in progress. Borough Manager Ray McCutcheon is meeting with Allegheny County officials to discuss work to develop and enhance the Coraopolis Riverfront. McCutcheon emphasized that the goal was a clear view of the river from the park along First Avenue. (2) Work on the Sylvan Avenue wall will begin this week. (3) Bids are in for the Chestnut Street road and water line work. It should be done in 45 days.

Ray McCutcheon reported that the Borough had purchased a new truck and paid $80,000 cash for it.

Calvin Jackson asked that discussion be reopened on two issues. He wanted a reconsideration of the previous decision to limit parking along 4th Avenue and Chestnut Street due to the new Municipal Building. Jackson explained that upon studying this matter, he found that three churches need that parking on Sunday mornings, and area businesses would be negatively impacted if their customers had nowhere to park. Jackson also wanted a reconsideration of the "Tot Lot" basketball court construction. He explained that parking was already tight near the Tot Lot. The full length basketball court would take out an entire parking lot, forcing those cars onto the street, where there already are not enough spaces for residents, let alone Tot Lot parents. Jackson added that the Tot Lot was supposed to be a playground for very young children, and building a full size court with 10 ft. rims was hardly something kids that age could use. So the intent of the Tot Lot is being lost

Dan LaRocco was recognized. Larocco, a longtime Council member, served in World War II. This May 31 will be his 77th consecutive Memorial Day Parade.

Council urged all Coraopolis residents to vote in the May 16 primary.

Which concluded the regular Council agenda and led to the Public Participation segment.

John Stoner (photo, above) described an angry Pit Bull which is terrorizing his neighborhood. He explained that the owner does not leash the animal. He has had to fight it off with a 2 x 4. He showed Council photos and a video of the Pit Bull attacking. Stoner said he called the Police and they came out and talked to the owner, but nothing changed. He demanded that Council do something. After some discussion, Police Chief Ron Denbow invited Stoner to meet with him in his office and they would discuss a solution to the issue. Denbow explained that dogs must be leashed unless they are trained to voice commands and heel when off their own property.

Clarence Sellers (photo, right) then asked about tax collection on delinquent property and use of that money to repair streets. Sellers was particularly concerned with potholes and general deterioration of State Avenue. Rudy Bolea explained that Council was indeed collecting delinquent taxes and had actual sheriff sales pending. 28 letters have been mailed, and seven people have already paid up, totalling $100,000. Ray McCutcheon added that the Borough is not in debt, is in fact in strong financial shape, and will be spending a considerable amount on street repair this year. Sellers then asked where State Avenue was on the priority list, since it was so bad it was practically undrivable. Council agreed to move State Avenue up the priority list.

Tom Toomey then explained that he had made a personal investigation and found 21 cargo trailers sitting around Coraopolis being used for storage. They have not been moved for years. Some may even have been abandoned. Toomey pointed out that the Borough is not collecting any tax revenue on these trailers and seems to be oblivious to their existence. He said he had checked around and no other town allows trailers to be parked for decades. Toomey asked if he built a storage building on his property if he would not need a permit and would not be charged taxes on it. These trailers, he explained, are a means of evading those permits and that taxation. Council agreed to look into the issue.

Area Catholics Eye Diocese "Study" Warily

Coraopolis and Western Hills Catholics are holding their breath these days as the Roman Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh conducts a year long "study" of Allegheny County parishes.

No one either at the Parish or Diocese level is willing to be quoted by name to avoid inflaming public opinion, but privately everyone admits there is serious consideration of merging St. Joseph's, St. Margaret Mary of Moon Township and St. Catherine of Sienna of Crescent Township into a single Parish. St. Philip of the West End, St. John's of McKees Rocks and St. Malachy of Kennedy Township have been under similar discussion. Sewickley St. James could be added to the St. Joe's-MM-Catherine cluster and Holy Trinity of Robinson Township be added to either that one or the St. Philip-St. Johns-St. Malachy cluster.

The official announcement will not be made until March 2018 but local parishioners are aware Bishop David Zubik in Pittsburgh and officials even above him are under tremendous pressure. Since 2000, the local Catholic population is down 16%. Masses, communions, confirma- tions, baptisms, weddings and school enrollments are down 40%.

So not only are there fewer Catholics, but many Catholics no longer go to church except for Christmas and Easter services. In the 1990s the Diocese reduced from 332 to 218 the number of parishes. Today there are only 192.

And it gets worse. Far fewer Catholics are entering the Priesthood or becoming Nuns. Already, there is a shortage of priests. The Diocese does not have enough to staff its 192 parishes. And as current priests retire, this shortage will become worse. The Diocese must reduce the number of parishes to the number its priests can staff. There are strict regulations on the nunber of Masses a priest can celebrate in one day, so they cannot be spread too thin.

Diocese officials emphasize that "Merging a parish is different from closing a building. Merger does not mean Mass will not be celebrated there every weekend.

"It could mean the administrative offices could be located elsewhere. It could mean special events, festivals, fund raisers or ceremonies could be held elsewhere. But baptisms, catechisms, confirmations, weddings, and funerals would still be held at the building."

The Catholic Church has an 11 point formula they use to rank parishes. The factors include households, individuals, baptisms, weddings, confirmations, school enrollment, full time positions supported, youth below 18, revenue, savings/endowment, and maintenance/utilities. This formula gives each parish a score based on a 100 point scale. A typical score is in the 70s. Nine Allegheny County parishes score in the 80s and 90s. But many score below 50. Since its elementary school closed, St. Joe's scores a zero on school enrollment, but its other scores are high enough to still give it a high total.

St. Joe's would appear to be strong. It has 3125 members, is not in debt and has an active core of members who hold many events a year, ranging from the famous Festival to eight Fish Fries during Lent. The church brings in $500,000 a year from various sources and another $55,000 from the Fish Fries. Almost all of it goes to maintaining the buildings.

St. Margaret Mary is listed at 5310 members, although it has lost members over the last decade. It does have debts. The roof needs replaced, which has been estimated at over $300,000. The church seems to be about $400,000 in debt. Added to the roof, that would give it a total indebtedness of $700,000. St. Catherine's in Glenwillard is in solid shape financially but of course is much smaller and has a tiny building.

Diocese officials emphasize that Canon Law, the basis for Catholic procedure, gives the Bishop authority over parishes. "Church closings are a sign of the proper assertion of the authority of the Bishop. A Bishop is an Overseer. He has to think beyond the sentiment of the parish and about the good of the Diocese."

As Bishop David Zubik has repeatedly explained, "Pittsburgh has a rich Catholic history. But an effect of this is a parish surplus. People have moved out of the cities and the valley towns, out to the suburbs, leaving behind their churches and starting new ones. We simply cannot support all these parishes."

He also knows he will be blamed for any closings or mergers.

"When parishioners are informed about the closing of their church, the Bishop can become the target of their ire. Parishioners don't care about changing demographics or a priest shortage. They blame him."

That anger has already begun rising. St. Joe's parishioners have been meeting in groups to discuss the situation. Sandra Kaufer has posted a letter (see photo at right) on Coraopolis Friends and The Record for readers to sign and send to the Bishop. Kaufer echoes the feelings of many parishioners that the Diocese has not been transparent or honest with them.

"We had a meeting and they didn't give us any answers at all," she recalls. "It was supposed to be a discussion but they did all the talking and they still didn't tell us anything."

Like many churches targeted for closing or merger, St. Joe's has a long history. It was established in 1891 The first church was built in 1894 and the current one built in 1925. Many famous people have either attended there, worked there or even stayed there. Mother Theresa of India once attended Mass there and spent a night.

One sentiment many locals express is that they won't go out of town to a new church. They'll just sit home with their Bibles and find some other way to worship. Diocese officials don't want to hear that.

"The Church is not a building. It is a group of faithful gathering together to share God's light. You can gather in a field, or in an old barn. Those magnificent churches and cathedrals are a testament to what previous generations of faithful achieved, but buildings age and decline. Europe is full of magnificnt castles and cathedrals now reduced to ruins. With the $400,000 or more it may cost to replace a roof, plus the $30,000 a year it costs to heat those churches and $20,000 it costs to turn on the lights, we can run buses everywhere, picking people up at their front doors and bringing them back to their front doors afterwards."

Perhaps. But parishioners point out that their parents were married at St. Joe's. They were baptized there, confirmed there, married there, and their parents' funeral services were held there. They have celebrated every Christmas and Easter of their lives there. To them, the building is more than a church. It's a way of life. They do not intend to stand by while someone else makes decisions about its future.

Cornell Students Give to VFW Roofing Campaign

The students of Cornell High School, led by the Girls Basketball Team, opened the VFW May meeting Tuesday night by presenting a $575 check to the organization for its roof replacement fund raising campaign.

The Coraopolis VFW, officially known as Keith Holmes Post 420, is trying to raise $35,000 for the roof, which has not been replaced for 30 years. Despite a GoFundMe webaite and other efforts, only $1455 has so far been raised.

The Cornell girls raised the money by selling t shirts to other students as part of a "Black Out Night" back in February, when they hosted Quigley in a showdown for the section championship. The game attracted the largest crowd in Cornell girls basketball history, and everyone there was wearing one of the t shirts. Cornell won the game and went on to the WPIAL championship game and beyond that to the second game of the PIAA state oplayoffs.

Another visitor to the VFW meeting, Emily Morelli (photo, below right) presented 17 care packages which her students had prepared for soldiers in Afghanistan. The packages contain personal effects, such as combs, toothbrushes, toothpaste, washcloths, towels, razors, shaving lotion, shampoo, soap, etc. Each package also contains letters from each student to the soldier thanking them for their service and updating them with news from home.

The VFW will take care of shipping the care packages to Afghanistan.

The roof replacement project is urgent because the current roof is actually beyond its lifespan and beginning to leak. The VFW Building, seen in the photo at left, is at the corner of 5th Avenue and Mulberry. It has been there since 1950 and has been the site of meetings, dinners, dances, wedding and funeral receptions, and other events, not only by the VFW, but by individuals and organizations in the community. For example, a fund raising dinner for the Public Library will be held there next week.

But like all VFWs nationwide, the Coraopolis VFW now struggles to raise the money for such projects.

Cory's VFW membership hit 2000 in the fifties, as men returned from World War II and the Korean War and wanted a place to gather with others who has shared their experiences. But Vietnam vets were less interested in joining, and since then, VFWs have had a hard time attracting members. Over the last few decades, the World War II and Korean vets have been either dying, or suffering health issues which made it difficult for them to attend meetings and social events.

Only 22 members were present at Tiuesday's meeting.

Fewer members makes it difficult to raise the money that a large membership used to be able to raise easily. And the wives are getting older too, making it impossible for them to stage the spaghetti dinners that used to be a major income source. The mills made large annual donations to the VFW, and now they're also gone.

The Coraopolis VFW remains a powerful force in the community, however. It sponsors the annual Memorial Day Parade, a $7000 event which this month will mark its 85th consecutive year. One by one, other communities have lost their parades, mostly due to the cost. The fact that Cory still has one is one of the features making the town special. A small VFW membership can still raise $7000 for a parade, but $35000 for a new roof is much more difficult.

Many VFWs have closed due to declining membership and financial issues. The VFW in Sewickley almost closed three years ago but sold some property to pay its debts and stay in business.

The Coraopolis VFW, however, is much more of a community asset. Many VFWs were founded after their towns were developed and had to buy property on the edge of town or completely out of town. Today, those properties have little value. But the Cory VFW was founded early, in 1922. After meeting over a store on Mill Street for several years, the men raised the money, bought the lot at 5th and Mulberry, and built the current building. It gave the borough a large facility in the heart of the business district on the main street that could be rented for a reasonable cost. The VFW has two bars and a full size dance floor that can hold 250 couples. It has a complete kitchen and the tables and chairs that can easily hold a major dinner. Over the years, it has hosted hundreds of live band concerts and dances. With both complete upstairs and downstairs facilities, it is almost a small convention center. Other small towns wanting such a building have had to float a bond issue and go into debt, using tax dollars to pay off the bonds over several decades. Thanks to the VFW, Cory has had such a building without having to buy property, build on it, and pay to maintain it. It has long been underutilized, but with the community resurgence now in progress, it may once again become a popular place to hold events. For that to happen, however, the new roof will need installing.

"We've become kind of invisible," one 85 year old member said wistfully. "There aren't many people left who remember the men coming home from World War II and getting off the train at the Mill Street station. But now we need the town's help."

April Cory Council Meeting :
Dog, Heroism, New Building, Festival Street Closing, Parks

Coraopolis Borough Council patiently worked through a long list of items at its April meeting, which included a testy exchange over proper spending protocol and a member of the audience threatened with expulsion if he didn't stop laughing.

The meeting opened with introductions and honors. The most recent addition to the Police Department, Amore, pictured at right, was officially recognized. The former canine had retired, and Amore was purchased from a police dog breeding and training center in Holland. Amore spent only a few minutes at the second floor Council Chambers before heading to active duty with his handlers. We will do an in depth story on Amore and his handlers in the near future.

However, Amore's presence in Coraopolis did not just happen. Police dogs are expensive, due to their special breeding, training and shipping. The cost of Amore was raised by Beth Miles, who also does Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation Training. As shown in the second picture below, Mayor Tony Celeste honored Ms. Miles with a special plaque and spoke to the Council and the audience of her long and varied services to Coraopolis.

The most inspiring moment of the night came when Council honored Police Officer Nick DeRusso for heroism above and beyond the call of duty. In the third photo below, that's Police Chief Ron Denbow reading the inscription before handing the plaque to DeRusso. When Imogene's Attic Antique Gallery at the corner of Mill Street and 5th Avenue caught on fire in the middle of the night, the residents of the apartments upstairs were sleeping. DeRusso did not have keys so had to break his way in through the door. Despite heavy smoke, he made his way upstairs, knocked on each door to wake the occupants and helped those who awoke down the stairs, still fighting heavy smoke, to safety.

But he then had to go back up and break into several apartments to wake their occupants and help them along the hall and down the stairs to the ground level door. "There is no question that lives were saved by his actions," Denbow explained, "and when he went into that building, he put his own life at risk.":

It turned out the fire itself did not reach the upstairs apartments. "But you can die very easily from smoke inhalation, especially if you can't see your way out because of that smoke," Denbow said, "and the place was filled with dense smoke."

Council then awarded a check to David Trump, VFW Commander, to help finance the annual Memorial Day Parade. It recognized Robert Pirohovich, 89, a veteran of both World War II and the Korean War, who will serve as Grand Marshall of this year's parade, which has been held every year since 1947.

Chief Denbow presented the monthly police statistics : 800 phone calls, 108 criminal investigations, 22 arrests, 17 accident investigations, 217 parking citations and 97 vehicular violations.

The Borough Engineer updated Council on the progress of the purchase of riverfront land, for which a grant was obtained.

Along First Avenue, $125,000 will be spent to purchase property to expand Frank Letteri Park. This fits into long range plans to develop the Coraopolis Riverfront in the same way other communities have done.

Councilman Ed Pitassi announced that the Coraopolis Library has received three grants to allow it to offer Summer programs again this year.

Councilman Rudy Bolea announced that the Delinquent Tax Program is going very well, that in fact a significant number of back taxes have already been collected.

At this point, Council was approving invoices for the month and came to a $450 expenditure for 12 ceremonial keys to the town. Councilman Robb Cardimen raised an objection to this item, explaining that it had never previously been presented to Council and Council was supposed to be approving expenditures before they occured, not after the fact. Mayor Celeste explained that, first, the keys were to present to people who had done something special deserving of honor, such as the ones recognized earlier that evening, and, second, that he had presented an invoice for the keys to the Borough Secretary. Cardiman said he wasn't questioning the idea of honoring people, but was concerned about proper procedures. The Solicitor, Richard Start, read the law, which clearly states that spending is to be approved in advance and not after the fact. However, when put to a vote, Council approved the invoice.

Start also reported that Allegheny County Common Pleas Court had ruled that a Coraopolis property under dispute would be given six months to clean up. If not, significant fines would be levied. This was disappointing because Coraopolis had been trying to force the owner to clean up the

property for quite some time and was hoping for a more immediate resolution. Start also reported that the St. Joe's Parsonage request for a zoning change had been denied, and that after 40 years since the last update Cory was overdue for a new zoning ordinance.

The next major controversy involved the annual St. Joe's Festival. Traditionally, Chestnut Street has been blocked off to make room for game and food booths and carnival rides. St. Joe's has once again requested this closure. But with the new Fire Station located on Chestnut Street, fire trucks need clear access on streets leading in all directions. Start agreed that state regulations did not allow blocking of the street, but the legal liability would come if fire trucks had to detour around and got to a fire late. Council discussed how much time would be lost if the trucks had to travel down 4th Avenue, up School Street, and back up 5th Avenue, and what the odds would be of a fire on the east side of town occurring during the week the street would be closed. The issue might be moot this year since the building won't be done until June and moving everything over will take several weeks. The fire trucks could simply be held at the State Avenue Station until after the Festival. So the 2018 Festival could be the controversial one. The motion was made to close Chestnut Street July 10-15 (the Festival is only the 13-14-15 but set up takes two or three days), and passed unanimously.

Other expenditures approved included the Mulberry Street Garage Roof, Sylvan Street wall replacement, repaving of the Ridge Avenue basketball courts, and the paving of the Chestnut Street spur once the new building and driveway are completed. The basketball courts will cost $86,697, but a $71,000 grant has been obtained so the Borough will be out at most $19,000. The basketball courts will replace the current parking lot, forcing more vehicles to be parked along Ridge Avenue, which some people were unhappy with.

Concern was expressed over the Chestnut Street - State Avenue and Mulberry Street - State Avenue intersections. Since fire trucks coming from the new fire station will now be using those already bad intersections, the question was asked what could be done to make them safer. The matter will be studied and discussed at the next meeting.

Nicole Smith presented a program in which businesses could pay the tuition of a student to a private school and deduct it from their taxes. She said it would help Cory students go to private schools who might not otherwise be able to afford it. Several Council members asked why they should be encouraging students to leave town to go to a private school, and Borough Manager Ray McCutcheon observed that public schools receive state funds per student, so removing one student from Cornell School would remove $15,000 from the Cornell budget.

Finally, Council heard a report on the new building from the architect, shown at left. He reemphasized that the cost of the new building will actually turn out to be less than the cost of renovating the old building plus renting another building for a year during that renovation. He noted the solid glass block windows and thick masonry to dampen the sound of trains on the adjacent CSX railroad tracks.

Shawn Reed Announces For Mayor
"This Town Is A Treasure But We Need Leadership"

Shawn Reed is certainly enthusiastic about Coraopolis. "This town is a real treasure," he told reporters Wednesday from his home on Montour Street. "Just look around. We have blocks and blocks of magnificent old homes. We have a downtown still filled with stores, restaurants, antique galleries and art galleries and unlike many towns these days, ours is still walkable. Look at Mill Street, with the trees in their Spring blossoms. We have vacant buildings like the old Coraopolis Trust, Greystone Church and soon to be empty Municipal Building, but they're architecturally beautiful and still in great condition. We still have our own school and college and we have surrounding hills with forests, creeks and trails."

Reed has been working to add one more asset to that list. He heads the group restoring the passenger station at the foot of Mill Street.

"Look at our location," he continues. "We have the riverfront. We're on a major rail line. We're right off the interstate, a few miles from the airport and on Route 51. We're 20 minutes out of downtown Pittsburgh."

He raises his hands. "There are thousands of towns all across America which would give anything to have our assets. We have a great product here to market. We can market it to singles, couples and families looking for a place to live. We can market it to companies looking for a place to locate. And we can market it to small businesses."

Reed ought to know. He majored in marketing at Geneva College and then Robert Morris. He came here to attend RMU and never left. He's Senior Vice President for True Sense Marketing over in Cranberry.

"Look at Route 51 coming right down Main Street," he says. "We have thousands of cars a day pouring through here. We have an incredible location."

He considers the empty buildings as an opportunity. "There are businesses, both small and corporations, that are looking for exactly the kind of facilities we have sitting empty just waiting for them. But we've got to let them know we're here, show them what we have."

Reed sees empty churches elsewhere being converted to restaurants, bed and breakfasts, offices, stores, museums and government agencies. "The goal is not to get rich off the taxes they pay. The goal is to keep them filled, active, in use, and bring as many people as possible into town so then our restaurants and businesses can prosper and our residents can work there.

One idea he'd like to pursue is either bringing back a YMCA or perhaps a similar agency like a Boys Club. "We need to reach out, meet with those agencies, see what it would take for them to return to Coraopolis. What kind of facility would they need? What kind of cooperation and support would they need from the Mayor's Office? We have a town full of kids and adults who should welcome a place to work out, meet and hold events. Why wouldn't a Y or Boys Club want to locate here?"

Reed sees one town tradition he would eliminate : parking meters. "Last I checked, we earned $20,000 a year from our parking meters. That doesn't even pay a salary for a meter maid to go around collecting money. Take them out. Offer free parking. Let people drive in here and patronize our restaurants, art galleries, antique galleries and other stores. Make our downtown customer friendly. We don't need parking meters."

He also sees Robert Morris as a potential partner. "They're out of space on that hilltop campus of theirs. We have these large, beautiful buildings. Why couldn't Robert Morris move in? They bought that athletic facility over on the island, so they're already running vans and buses this way. We have RM students living in apartments all over Coraopolis."

Reed led reporters outside and gestured. "Look," he beamed. "Woods. We have woods backing right up to our neighborhoods. Down below the tracks, they have the river. How many towns offer this? How many parents would love for their kids to grow up in such a place? And right here, up on the edge of town, we're within walking distance of the main business district. Where can you find this? Why would a small business owner not want to move here, and live within walking distance of his place, where his kids can come home from school and play in the woods? And yet, we're right across the river from a major hospital and within 20 minutes of Pirate, Steeler and Penguins games."

Reed sees the problems Coraopolis has as common to the problems all small towns have, but thinks the town has suffered from lack of vision, negative attitudes, and infighting.

"I go to Council meetings and I see them bogged down in arguing about trivial details, instead of focusing on the big issues. Yes, we can fix pot holes and plow streets and repair sidewalks. But we need to spend most of our time bringing in businesses and new residents and programs."

Several years Reed and friends founded what they called The Dream Team. It was mainly for downtown beautification projects, such as tree planting and flower beds. They staged a Jazz Concert on Mill Street and spnsored some clean up Saturdays. "I spent a lot of time down there watering flowers," he grins.

But with the new Soccer & Athletic Complex going in east of town, he sees beautification as importnt. "We're going to hsve hundreds, maybe even thousands, of people visiting Coraopolis due to soccer and other games at that complex. It gives us a great opportunity to sell the town, show off what a great place we are. For instance, that drive into town along Route 51 and down 4th Avenue or State Avenue should be a show case."

He waves off any negativity. People driving through here aren't looking for a place to move to. They already live somewhere and moving is a major decision.

Reed disagrees. "The mood has changed," he argues. "Everyone moved out to those big housing developments in Moon, Robinson, and beyond."

"Now," he continues, "They're tired of driving long distances to get anywhere. Even going to the drug store, grocery or hardware is a half an hour trip. People dream about the good old days when they could either zip right down the street, grab something and zip back, or, if they had a little more time, actually walk down and get it. Well, Hey, in Coraopolis, we still have that lifetstyle, and we have these beautiful houses available at much more reasonable prices than those McMansions out there. But we have to let people know about this. We've been keeping it a secret for 50 years. It's time to spread the word."

Reed does not see himself as a one man show. "There are a lot of really talented people in this town. They love Coraopolis. They'd love to help. But they haven't had any opportunity. I would devote my time to finding those people, reaching out, building bridges, forming committees and groups, delegating responsibilities to them."

He regrets the loss of the town's old traditions : The Halloween Parade, The YMCA Fair, the Scout troops at all the churches, the parks with their Summer programs.

"But they were there because of leadership. Adults made those things happen. We can do that again. We can find those adults and put them in charge and revive those traditions, or create new traditions."

He turns his attention to the Ohio River. "Do you realize?" he demands, "How many towns would desperately love a tiny piece of waterfront? And we have two miles of it and haven't done anything with it! We have got to develop a showcase riverfront down along that shore."

He also thinks Coraopolis has neglected its parks and green space for decades. "One of my first priorities would be assign a committee to map our public green spaces snd see what we can do to clean them up and get people back into them. Yes, I know, some of our open spaces, some of our streams and woods and riverfront, are privately owned. But we can talk to owners, work something out. Maybe not in all cases, but in some. Our school, for Heaven's Sakes, backs right up to a forest with streams and caves and cliffs. Many neighborhoods do. It's a rare asset. We have to make the best possible use of it."


"We have a great population because of its diversity. We have blue collar workers, minorities, college graduates, retired people, 20 somethings. We're a mosaic. We need to build bridges so all those voices are heard. Some people might want one thing done, other people might want something else done. Let's do all those different things. We can do this. Together."

One of Reed's fantasies is to actually go after former Coraopolis residents and try to bring them back. "Why not?" he asks. "Maybe the town was in decline 30 or 40 years ago when they left. Now if we're going to stage a resurgence, with all our advantages, why shouldn't they want to come back? It's worth a try."

Beginning Monday he plans to go door to door in town presenting his case and asking for votes. In the meantime, interested citizens can go to LoveCoraopolis.com.

Soccer Complex Construction Begins

As Spring weather breaks, construction has at last begun on the long awaited Allegheny County Athletic Complex along Route 51 on the east end of Coraopolis.

This is the site of the Montour Railroad Yard, which occupied it from 1910 to 1980. The Montour Railroad ran 50 miles from Coraopolis to Clairton. It hauled coal from the mines in southern Allegheny County and northern Washington County to Coraopolis, where long trains of coal cars were picked up by Pittsburgh & Lake Erie engines. Since the Montour RR closed, the site has remained empty for two reasons. First, from 70 years of engines and cars leaking fluids, the soil far exceeded allowable toxic limits. Second, the Montour Creek flows through the site, creating several pools and marshes before emptying into the Ohio River. The Montour RR Yard included various bridges over the water and walls to keep chemicals from spilling into it. Despite the industrial activity going on around it, Montour Creek has always been a popular fishing and swimming spot and is home to a sizeable population of fish, frogs and other wildlife. The 100 acre site is thus a classic Wetland, which brings it under a long list of state and federal regulations. The Cornell School District and several companies looked at this site over the years but backed off due to the toxic soil and wetlands issues.

So for 35 years a floodplain forest has taken over. Deer, Groundhog, Fox, Raccoon, various Birds and even two Coyotes have moved in. That forest is now being cleared by construction crews.

The Montour RR was actually a subsidiary of the Pittsburgh & Lake Erie RR, so when the Montour ceased operations, the site reverted to the P & L.E. When the P & L.E. ceased operations, as a tax writeoff, it donated the land to the Legacy Foundation, a nonprofit. Legacy came up with the idea of creating a sports complex here, but could never raise the funds. When it closed, the land reverted to Allegheny County. It obtained grants to fund the complex.

The Pittsburgh River Hounds have a major interest in the project. They have been trying for years to generate more local interest in Soccer and see this complex as a way to do it. So although it officially comes through the County, much of the money originates via grants from River Hound or Soccer supporters.

But it's taken several years to clear the way for construction to begin.

When the proposal was first submitted, Coraopolis contacted agencies in Harrisburg, who refused to approve it because of wetlands and toxic soil issues. Coraopolis never has granted the permits. The County, working with several construction companies, finally devised engineering plans that met state requirements. First, they have trucked in, and are still trucking in, tons of clean topsoil, which they are layering 3-5 feet on top of the toxic soil. This not only solves the toxic soil problem, but will put the playing fields above the floodwaters which frequently flow across the land due to its location adjacent to the Ohio River. This is not a total solution, because ingredients tent to percolate up through soil to the surface, and organisms which live in the soil ingest particles and bring them to the surface, where they excrete them. So over time the toxins might accumulate at the surface. To address this, the playing fields will be synthetic, constructed over top of even the clean topsoil so nothing percolating up can reach the surface. But that creates another problem

A Wetland needs constant replenishing with water. Rainfall soaks into the soil and seeps across to the ponds. One such pond is shown at left, as it lays along Route 51. If no rainfall is allowed to soak into the soil, the ponds would eventually dry up, violating Wetlands Protection Laws. So as the water drains off the sides of the playing fields, it will be captured by drainage systems and funneled to the catch basin shown above and at left, which will then allow it to soak into the soil and seep across to the ponds.

The County hopes all this manipulation of the landscape will allow it to build and maintain the Athletic Complex. Its vision is an array of three fields this Summer, four more next year, and three more in 2019, for an eventual total of 10. At first, these will be primarily be Soccer fields. But the last three will be flexible, suitable for Lacrosse, Field Hockey and Rugby. There will be a central facility for dressing rooms, showers, rest rooms, a concession stand and store for supplies for the sports involved. The fields will be lighted and the front three will have bleachers. A P.A. system will be used to announce games. Parking lots will be provided. Local teams are expected to use the fields for practices during the week, and on weekends huge tournaments will be hosted.

Coraopolis merchants are anticipating an economic boost. Graff's Service Station is the closest gas station and has hopes of team buses and the cars of parents and fans stopping by to fill up before heading home. Rea's restaurant is almost in sight of the fields and the closest eatery. Antique shops and art galleries in downtown Coraopolis expect to see fans and parents dropping by between games. Groveton residents are wondering if they could remodel an old church and several large houses into hostel type accommodations, with bunk beds and communal showers. Teams could stay there Friday and Saturday nights for much less than the $100 per night per room hotels in surrounding communities, and not have to drive back and forth. A few Groveton and east Coraopolis residents are even wondering if they could convert their homes to Bed & Breakfast units for parents and fans. Locals could work at the snack bar, the store and in groundskeeping.

But not everyone is so enthusiastic. Many residents of Coraopolis and Groveton feel like they're being invaded. Most of the residents along Route 51, and Stratford Avenue right above it, are apprehensive.

"Several years ago," explains Pat Wagner, at right, "They held a meeting for all of us. They promised to hold more meetings as things progressed, to keep us informed and try to resolve our concerns. There's never been another meeting." It's a steep climb up Roberts Avenue to Stratford, and the homes along Stratford look out over the rooftops of Route 51 homes. From Wagner's deck, or anywhere in her living or dining room, the construction is in clear view. So, she fears, will be the Soccer fields.

"So instead of looking out over a forest and some ponds and Montour Creek, now we're going to have bright stadium lights shining in our windows after dark. We're going to have a loudspeaker blaring at us. We're going to have the sound of buses and vans and cars all weekend. It's not like living near a high school football stadium, where five Friday nights a year you deal with it. Here, we're looking at all weekend every weekend from March through November. How enjoyable is sitting out on our deck going to be?"

Nancy Sye, from down the street, sees traffic as her concern. "For two hours in the morning and two hours in the evening, it's almost impossible to get out of here," she explains. "You cannot turn left. It's impossible. So you can only turn right. But even that's difficult. The traffic is bumper to bumper and no one will let you in. So however long you think it takes to drive to work, you have to leave 20-30 minutes earlier just to have time to get out of these streets onto Route 51. And now they plan to drop school buses and parents and fans into this mix? This is going to be a nightmare."

Wagner says people have told her they're going to add a third lane. "Add where?" She asks. "Look." Coming around the bend, Route 51 is bounded on the north by the long wetland pond, protected by federal laws, and on the south by steep cliffs on top of which sit houses right at the edge. "So you can't widen it there. Now, look back here." At the other end of the complex Route 51 crosses a two lane bridge bounded by houses, Montour Creek, a baseball field and cliffs with houses on top. "So, yes, right at the main entrance to the complex, you can add a short turn lane, but how does that help?" There has been talk of another entrance from Montour Street, under the Neville Island Bridge, and into the complex from the railroad track side. "But, everyone will still be coming off I-79, through here, to get to Montour Street. How does that help?"

"Could maybe they have at least listened to us along the way? I realize we could never have stopped it. But a little consideration would have been nice."

A Solution For Local Health Care .....
But Would It Work In Western Pennsylvania??

Dr. Josh Umbehr paused this week to speak to reporters about an innovation he believes could solve the nation's health care crisis. He is urging states and decision makers in Washington to consider what he and a band of doctors have accomplished in Kansas to reign in costs and provide quality medical care.

Umbehr, a Kansas University Medical School grad, opened what he calls a "concierge family practice." He operates totally outside insurance and government structures. In his practice, patients pay a monthly fee : $10 for kids under 20, $50 for adults 20-44, $75 for adults 45-64, and $100 for those 65 and older. They then receive as much care as they need with no further cost.

Umbehr negotiates with drug companies, medical suppliers and hospitals for the best possible prices. $70 blood tests he offers for $1.87. Cholesterol tests costing $100 he offers for $3. An MRI usually costing $2000 he offers for $400. An Arthritis medicine costing $940 for the brand name and $120 for the generic he offers for $11.

He doesn't charge copays or deductibles because research says those discourage patients from visiting the doctor. He wants them to visit often, to catch small problems before they become major. This keeps costs down.

So many patients tried to join Umbehr's practice he helped other doctors start similar practices, not as part of his network, but as separate offices. "This is an idea," he insists, "not a corporation. I'm not interesting in creating a nationwide company. I'm interested in spreading the idea nationwide."

How are these low rates possible? "Insurance and government create more problems than they solve," Umbehr says. "We eliminate them both. Most costs are for record keeping. It takes 7-10 bureaucrats to support each doctor. We get rid of them. We team three doctors and one nurse. That's it. Period. That's why I don't want to expand our little company. I want every doctor to start their own little company. You have to stay small. Then you focus on patient care, not administering the company."

21 governors have invited Umbehr to come to their states and talk about his idea.

There is one catch. Umbehr runs a family practice. He urges patients to buy Catastrophic Care Policies to cover Cancer, Heart Attacks, major auto accidents and other crises. But a Catastrophic Care Policy only costs an average of $150 a month for a typical adult.

"Insurance companies are in this to make a profit," Umbehr points out. " We eliminate that. I didn't go into Medicine to get rich. I went into it to save lives and take care of people. I make a nice Upper Middle Class living. That's all I need."

Umbehr thinks his Concierge Medicine idea could solve the health care crisis. Marc Schneiderman, shown in the photo below sitting in his 5th Avenue office in Coraopolis, is not convinced. "This is not a new idea. They started Concierge Medicine in Florida a long time ago. They tried to start it in Pennsylvania. They brought a bunch of us doctors together and explained the idea. Nobody signed up."

Schneiderman, a University of Chicago Medical School grad, has been practicing family medicine in Cory for 30 years. He agrees with Umbehr's idea. "The way he does it, yes, it works. But I think it may be better suited to small towns and rural areas where they have a farming or ranching history. Here, we have a different history. People here like getting their medical care through their employer and through the government. They like having a big, comprehensive insurance policy that covers everything, and they're in the habit of paying copays and deductibles and high premiums."

Schneiderman also thinks Umbehr is unique. "You can find a small number of doctors with that philanthropic spirit. The guy is accepting a lower income to provide those patients with great medical care. But a lot of doctors graduate from med school owing $100,000 in loans and wanting to get married and have a family. They want a higher income. Now, one way to do that is to not offer the tests and medicines a patient needs. So you're withholding care to put more money in your pocket. On a natiowide scale, you can't find enough doctors like Umbehr. Also, in big urban areas, the cost of living is greater, so a doctor has to make a higher income just to afford to live near his practice."

He says that was why the HMOs (Health Maintenance Organizations) of the 1970s collapsed. They tried to cut costs and quality of care suffered.

"If I had it to do over again," Schneiderman says, "I'd practice medicine again just like I did, and I'd come to Coraopolis again to do it. I've loved my career here."

He does agree that the nation's health care is in crisis and isn't likely to solve it anytime soon. "We could solve this mess in six months. It's not hard to solve. But the insurance and drug companies own Congress and they won't let Congress make the right decisions."

Blue Cross and Blue Shield offered to cover all 40 million of the nation's uninsured for $30 billion. Congress refused. Instead, Obamacare spent $800 billion and only covered 18 million. Too many people refused to buy in.

"They saw $4000 - $6000 deductibles and $150-250 copays and decided they'd just put their money in the bank and hope they didn't get sick."

"Last year Sewickley Hospital lost $6 million. Hospitals are all in trouble."

Eventually, Schneiderman sees the nation going to a single payer system with everyone guaranteed care and the cost financed by some kind of tax. "But that'll be a while. I'll be retired by then."

He still has a decade or so to go, however, and isn't happy about the direction Medicine is taking. One of his pet peeves is the electronic record keeping the government and insurance companies require.

"Doctors anymore have to input an awful lot of data that's irrelevant. And while they're inputting that data they're not looking at the patient, listening to them, feeling their pulse, checking their ankles or fingers, or doing anything else we normally think of as gathering information and getting a feel for the problem. So I refuse to do it. I focus on the patient and then input the data later. But then later it takes an awful lot of time that I could use for another patient. I just think Medicine needs to be very personal and all these electronics are depersonalizing it."

Schneiderman says he could solve 60% of health problems if he could do three things. "Keep everyone's immunizations up to date, get everyone to get their annual checkuops and every two or three year screenings like Colonoscopies and Prostate Tests, and keep everyone's cholesterol and blood pressure down. But people don't want to do these things."

Schneiderman practices Medicine in the Heritage Valley Health Center on 5th Avenue, across from the VFW, where the old 5th Avenue Bowling Lanes used to be. In some ways, he is an old time doctor. He still makes house calls every Wednesday afternoons. He still makes rounds over at Sewickley Valley Hospital even though modern hospitals have replaced family doctors with "Hospitalists," general doctors who work only for the hospital. "I still like the old Marcus Welby image of a smll town doctor," Schneiderman admits. "But today half my patients never heard of Marcus Welby." Unofficially, he just drops by to say Hello to his patients as if he were a friend or relative visiting.

He foresees a huge shortage of family doctors. "Nobody's going into it anymore. As we retire, we're being replaced by Nurse Practitioners. It's true they have about 80% of our knowledge, but it's that other 20% that's critical. A good family doctor has instincts. He can spot something in an annual exam and say 'I think we should run a test on this and see what's going on here.' Umbehr says he spends more time with his patients so he can do that. Maybe he can. God Bless Him. But I fear if this concierge concept became nationwide, the majority of doctors would not be doing that because they'd be trying to cut down on tests to save money to put in their own pockets."

A few calls to Kansas seemed appropriate, to see what officials out there thought about Umbehr and his Atlas Concierge Practice.

"Our legislature passed a law a decade ago specifically exempting this type of practice from state insurance regulations," said a spokesman from the state insurance commissioner's office. "Other states who are trying it have also passed that legislation. I think that's one key. Florida didn't pass it and the state insurance commissioner shut concierge offices down, claiming they were a special type of insurance. But we have never had any type of complaint about concierge practices. It seems to work very well where it's being tried."

A spokesman from the Kansas Medical Society praised existing practices but noted they seem to have hit a wall. "Concierge has never been able to penetrate Topeka or Kansas City. I'm not sure why. It seems to work best in small towns and rural areas. But Umbehr's original Atlas Medical Practice is in Wichita, and a whole bunch of additional concierge offices have spread over Wichita. Wichita has 390,000 population, so obviously it can work in a large city. Yet, in Topeka, the only successful concierge practice is way out in a suburb on the perimeter of the city."

So the debate continues, in Washington, across the country, and here in Coraopolis and the Western Hills. A call to Paul Ryan's Congressional Office revealed that the new Republican bill specifically allows practice of concierge medicine but that bill does not yet have the votes to pass.

Cory Zoning Commission Approves B & B

The Coraopolis Zoning Commission Tuesday approved the request for an Air B n B in the former Bradley home on State Avenue, shown at right.

The request required the Commission to issue a waiver to an ordinance prohibiting such a business in a neighborhood zoned Residential. The ordinance had been passed in 1985 to protect Cory's neighborhoods from overcrowding and decline.

The request had been filed in December by Mark and Theresa Crocenelli and their attorney John McCoskey. The Crocenellis own Constantine Investments Company, which has invested in real estate in Coraopolis and Moon Township.

The home was built in 1935 and for 50 years served as a combination family home and fully equipped doctor's office. The separate entrance to the left in the photo was the patient entrance. The home originally had two apartments at the rear for Bradley children. After Dr. Bradley retired and sold the house, his doctor's office was converted to a third apartment.

The Crocenellis had first appeared in December but too many questions could not be answered so the Commission postponed the matter until February. This time, there were plenty of materials to pass around. Shown at left, clockwise, are Commissioners George Mihalik and Robert Kelly, Solicitor Steven Bovan, and McCoskey. The two major arguments focused on the pre-1985 condition of the house and the exact nature of an Air B n B.

McCoskey and home remodeller Bob Cole testified, and had photos and documents to prove, that the house had originally been built with the two apartments and a low ceilinged third one in the attic. Therefore, they argued, the 1985 ordinance was irrelevant since prior facilities were grandfathered under a "preexisting nonconforming use" clause. Cole (at left in photo below) testified that the plumbing in the apartments is cast iron, which has not been used since the 1960s. The sinks have not been made since 1953. He showed photos of various pipes with "1935" engraved and of a kitchen that looked distinctly 1950ish.

The second area of concern was the exact nature of an Air B n B. Theresa (shown, right) explained that it is a national company headquartered in San Francisco. The company handles all billing and accounting, takes its percentage and sends the rest on to the local business. People join Air B n B and receive national and international directories. As they stay at various Air B n Bs, owners fill out an evaluation. Owners can then check a member's record before renting to them. One major difference between a full Bed and Breakfast and an Air B n B is that Air B n Bs do not serve meals. Mark (with cap, right) explained that the average stay at an Air B n B was 2-3 nights, with seven a maximum. He admitted that he would rent to someone who wanted to stay longer, but that staying longer would not be cost effective for the guest, since they could rent at a regular apartment complex by the month for less. The Crocenellis explained they had parking in the rear in a three car garage plus a parking pad. Their guests would thus not be using parking needed by the neighborhood.

Kelly expressed concern that the property really had five units : the main house, two original apartments, an attic apartment, and the converted doctor's office. The Crocenellis assured him that the attic was too cramped by modern standards, and they would not rent the main house space. Kelly suggested a limit of three apartments should be written into any approval. Mihalik pointed out that no neighbors had shown up to object, and no one else had shown up to object. The Commission then went into Executive Session for 15 minutes and approved the Air B n B with restrictions. The Air B n B will begin operating immediately.

2016 Western Hills Demographics Released

The United States Census Bureau has released its demographic data as of the end of 2016 and the picture it shows of the Western Hills provides a fascinating insight into exactly who we are at this point in time. Local planners will be pouring over these numbers as they work on budgets and other plans for 2017 and 2018.

The total population of the Western Hills is now 85,538. This breaks down to Neville Island 1073, Findlay Township 5424, Coraopolis 5624, Crafton 5908, McKees Rocks 6046, Stowe Township 6303, Carnegie 7912, Kennedy Township 8032, Robinson Township 13,692 and Moon Township 25,524.

The per person income in this part of Allegheny County is $28,930. The average household income is $53,889. 13.5% of the population lives below the poverty line.

81.52% of the Western Hills population is White, 13.23% Black, 1.56% Latino and 5.25% other, which includes Asians, Muslims, etc.

30% of the population is over 60 and 16% under 18. 54% is between 18 and 60. 54,145 people are potentially employed. However, 25,661 are not working. One interesting factoid is that among those actually employed, the average commuting time is 26 minutes.

At its peak, McKees Rocks held a population of 17,000. Coraopolis held a population of 18,000. For half of the 20th Century, Moon was the least populated of the Western Hills townships, consisting of mostly large farms.

The employment numbers justify a closer look. The region's employment numbers are higher than the national, state and county averages and its unemployment numbers are lower. But huge discrepancies stand out. The region has a higher number of older residents than average. Many of them are only in their fifties but are out of work because their companies closed or their jobs were eliminated.

31.5% of the region's residents have college degrees, another 10% have technical degrees, and 98% of them have full time jobs averaging $45,000 incomes.

But among those with only a high school diploma, only 62% are working full time, and they average $18,000 incomes. Already the Intermodal Terminal in Stowe and McKees Rocks and the Shell Refinery in Potter Township are hiring local residents, but they are hiring those with credentials beyond high school, such as crane operators, truck drivers, heavy equipment operators, computer programmers, etc. So the employment numbers will climb in 2017 and 2018 and unemployment numbers will decline, but only for those with educations.

The greatest concentration of older, retired or out of work individuals is in Coraopolis and McKees Rocks. Their incomes are correspondingly lower. Moon and Robinson boast the region's highest number of college degrees and highest per person and household incomes.

Local Drivers' Licenses Receive Extension

Coraopolis and Western Hills drivers have been granted a temporary reprieve by the federal government so their drivers licenses can still be used to enter federal buildings, military bases or, most importantly, commercial airline flights. But the reprieve is only for five months.

The problem arose when the Department of Homeland Security mandated that states upgrade their drivers licenses to meet tougher standards. But Pennsylvania refused, saying (l) it could not afford the $300 million it would cost to replace nine million licenses, and (2) the new requirements would be a violation of privacy.

The biggest impact would be that Pennsylvania residents would need a full passport just to fly from Pittsburgh to Florida, Chicago or even Erie.

The state legislature has yet to act. Homeland Security says it is unlikely to grant another extension. The extension will expire June 1, 2016. As of that date, if nothing is done, locals will need an updated passport to fly.

Potter Township Commissioners Approve Shell Permits

Ignoring the angry protests, signs and speeches by opponents, the Potter Township Supervisors told the Township Solicitor to proceed with the final draft of the permits needed for Shell Corporation to build and operate its Cracking Plant outside Monaca.

In December, after a full day of loud opposition, the Supervisors finally said they did not have enough information and postponed a decision until January. Wednesday, Shell brought over 30 exhibits plus printed reports and half a dozen engineers to testify on each aspect the Supervisors had questioned.

The Solicitor, Michael Jones, reviewed the exhibits and documents with the Supervisors and recommended they proceed. A final vote will will be taken in February, but he was told to draw up the final document. There seemed little doubt the Superviors would give their final approval in February.

Opponents, mostly local but some from across the U.S., were not happy. They made the same arguments they've been making for two years: The permitting process is too loose, there's no guarantee Shell will fulfill the permitting requirements, the air pollution would impact a huge population eastward in Beaver and Allegheny Counties, the water pollution would impact downriver in Beaver County, Ohio and West Virginia, and the shipping of raw natural gas into the plant and plastic pellets out of the plant would be unsafe for all the heavily populated areas the pipelines, barges and trains would pass through.

Even after acquiring the Potter Township permits, Shell will still have to apply for and receive State and Federal permits, and the same protestors plan to show up at those hearings, too. There is one set of permits required to build the plant and anoher set required to operate it once finished. Activity continues on the site even as the permitting process proceeds step by step.

Debate Over Shell's River Pollution Continues

They're not going away. If anything they're digging in and getting louder.

That would be the environmental groups who oppose the Shell Cracking Plant in Beaver County. Never mind that the plant is already under construction. Never mind the 10,000 jobs it's supposed to bring this area.

The Environmental Integrity Project and several other groups have joined together to oppose the project until they get more guarantees that Shell will not be allowed to dump pollution into the Ohio River and the air.

"Yes, that's a lot of jobs in an area desperate for jobs," granted EIP attorney Lisa Hallowell. "But at what cost? When the mills were prospering here, everyone paid a terrible price. We had the highest rates in the nation for various types of Cancer, for Asthma, and for Emphysema."

"All over Beaver and Allegheny Counties we have former industrial sites which cannot be used for schools, parks or housing because the soil is so badly contaminated just walking around or playing on it is a health hazard 50 years later. We had thousands of people who never even worked in the mills dying of Emphysema and with kids with Asthma."

It infuriates the EIP that the state allowed Shell to just purchase the pollution permits Horsehead, the former owner of the property and the operator of a Zinc smelter on it, owned. "Those permits allow the owner to discharge 91,000 pounds a day of total dissolved solids into the Ohio River. Stop. Think about this. If you had a pile in your neighborhood of 91,000 pounds of gravel, sand or anything else, you'd be demanding to your town council that they not allow it. Yet we allow a company to dump 91,000 pounds of toxic waste into the same river we use for drinking water, that we fish in, that some people kayak in and even swim in, and we think that's OK because they have a permit? Well, it's not OK. And what's really outrageous about this is that Shell is the fourth richest company in the world. They can afford a water purification plant."

Pictured at right is what 91,000 pounds of tailings looks like. This is not from the Shell plant, since it's not operating yet. It's from a plant out in California. But it provides a frame of reference.

"Every day? They want to dump this much into the Ohio River every day? And they have a permit for this?"

Pennsylvania State Department of Environmental Protection spokesman insist they have a system of inspections and enforcement in place and if they find Shell violating regulations they'll shut them down.

Jeff Krafve of Shell assured everyone Shell planned to be responsible. "We will not discharge more than our permit allows," he insisted. "If we are found in violation we'll shut down."

Hollowell was unrelenting. "We've heard this before," she reminded the crowd. "Horsehead had the same 1987 permit and they violated it repeatedly for 20 years. When their permit came up for renewal the state wouldn't even renew it because of so many violations. But they kept operating."

Lock Fixed; Barge Traffic Resumes

Temporary repairs on the New Cumberland Lock have allowed barge traffic to resume on the Ohio River but the Army Corps of Engineers warns the repair is only an emergency measure and the lock needs to be totally rebuilt as soon as possible.

The New Cumberland Lock & Dam, shown at right in a photo taken in October, is one of several included in a recent bill passed by Congress which authoriuzes the rebuilding of all the locks and dams between Pittsburgh and Wellsville, Ohio. The locks and dams are 100 years old and all are in various states of disintegration.

Barges and the towboats which push them have been backing up on both sides of the dam for over a week, as seen in the photo below. Many of the barges are carrying coal for power plants along the river, and with Winter weather here, communities are beginning to run low.

The hydraulic system that operates the four 170 ton gates failed. If you look at the photo at right, you can see the locks, behind the towboat and ahead of the front barge.

Each lock includes two gates, which swing back against the wall to release water or out to interlock with the other one to hold back water.

You'll notice in the photo there is a backup lock between the main lock and the shore. However, that lock broke down two years ago and has never been repaired. When operational, the backup is mainly used for pleasure boats or for towboats running empty, usually returning to their home port for another load.

It takes about 45 minutes to "lock through" a towboat and barge string, and the procedure has to be done in daylight, so it will take several days to clear the backed up traffic.

The main lock in the photo above, with the towboat and barges passing through it, is 110 feet wide and 1200 feet long.

Work should begin on the whole series of locks and dams in March.

New Borough Building "On Schedule"

As Coraopolis approaches the Christmas holiday, work continues on the new borough building on 4th Avenue.

Construction should be complete by April, and it should take about one month to move everything and everybody into their new quarters.

The building replaces the Coraopolis Municipal Building, which was built in 1929 and housed the Police and Fire Departments, original Coraopolis Library, Bill Collection Offices, Mayor's Office, Borough Manager's Office, Senior Citizens' Center, Meeting Rooms and other facilities.

All of those will be moving to the new building.

To make sense of the accompanying photos, imagine the new building as a Y. One arm will be the Fire Department, one the Police Department, and one government offices.

The first photo at right here shows the government offices wing. This is the entrance most people will use for routine business, and to attend the meetings held by Borough Council, the Zoning Commission, etc.

 

The photo here at left shows the Police Department wing. A police cruiser can be driven in through the wide door. This is the closest point of the new building to the CSX railroad tracks, which you can see at far right.

The photo below, right, shows the Fire Department wing. The trucks now parked on the second floor of the Municipal Building will be parked here. They will exit directly onto Chestnut Street and 4th Avenue, but there is a wide drive between the building and the street, allowing the men to pull the trucks out and clean them or work on them. Currently, all work has to be done inside the Municipal Building because the doors open immediately onto State Avenue.

The final two photos, below, show the government offices wing and the fire department wing as seen in the architect's drawings. The finished building will not look quite like these drawings because it will have buildings behind it, not heavy tree cover.

Landscaping will also be added. It's possible the famous Doughboy statue now temporarily located at the VFW could be moved there.

The new building will cost $3.081 million, which includes architectural and other costs.

It was not an investment the Borough Council made lightly. But the old building, while still solid in some respects, has been deteriorating in others for years.

"Back in the 1980s, we started having leaks," recalls Joe Divito, who is now President of the Coraopolis Historical Society, but was then a member of the Council. "We'd fix the roof and then a few years later have it leaking again. We had paint bubbling and flaking off the walls. So we would have someone come in and repair all that, and a few years later have the same problem all over again. The building is like a fortress in some ways. The walls are thick and strong. But there are lots of other problems. We really should have built a new one back then, but the cost was high, and we had already lost a lot of our tax base with the mills leaving and the population declining, so we couldn't find the money to pay for it."

Councils through the 1990s, 2000s and early 2010s kept postponing the decision. Finally mold forced them to act. Mold has spread throughout the building. Several times Council has hired a company to remove the mold and sterilize the building, but it's been only a temporary fix. "We have people getting sick now," Borough Manager Ray McCutcheon explained. "It's a definite health issue."

Bactronix Corporation tested the building and found 18x the allowable mold levels. They submitted a bid of $3.6 million to solve the problem permanently. Other companies would charge about the same. But the Council sought bids on a new building and found out they could build a new one for less money than the bid to sterilize the old one. Plus, they were threatened with lawsuits because the current building is not ADA compliant.

"At that point," McCutcheon said, "We didn't have a lot of choice."

They'll invite sealed bids on the old building in April. The next question is who might move into it.

"It's a solid building," McCutcheon points out. "And it has a huge asset in the attached parking lot. Parking is hard to come by downtown but we have it. The parking lot goes with this building."

Speculation is that a medical clinic, perhaps a satellite of the Sewickley Hospital, might move in. Broken up as it is into a series of small offices and conference rooms, the building could easily be converted to doctor, dentist, eye doctor and other offices.

It could house an office complex for attorneys, accountants and other professionals. Or it could become an entrepreneurial center where small businesses just starting up could rent affordable spaces until they earned enough money to afford a larger storefront along 5th Avenue.

Cory Board Faces Air B&B Decision

The Coraopolis Zoning Board faces a tough decision on an application for an Air Bed & Breakfast on State Avenue in a neighborhood zoned residential.

The home in question belonged to Dr. William Bradley and his family for 40 years. It is diagonally across the street from the old Coraopolis High School. It was a unique home in several respects. It was a very upscale residence for Dr. Bradley and his family. Attached on the left was a fully equipped doctor's office with kitchen and master bath. At the rear was an apartment for the maid. On the third floor Bradley had an apartment built for his son. So there were three complete residence units in the house, and the doctor's office was later converted to a small apartment, making four.

Mark and Theresa Crocenelli of Moon Township have purchased the home, and have applied for the permits to open an Air Bed & Breakfast there. An Air B & B is different from a traditional B & B in that the host does not fix meals for the guests and does not necessarily even live there.

The Crocenellis are represented by Attorney John McCoskey.

The Zoning Board, consisting of Robert Kelly, George Mihalyi and Terry Steadman, favors bringing new businesses into Coraopolis, but worries about several issues. Currently, zoning ordnances require that everyone living at a residential address be related. Thus, a couple could have 10 children, meaning 12 people could live in a house, because they were all related. But no one can rent to more than three people who are not part of the same family. Violations of this regulation overload a neighborhood, for example flooding the streets with more cars than parking spaces.

There is also the problem of precedence. If the Board makes an exception in the Crocenelli case, it will be forced to make exceptions all over town, since the law requires that everything be enforced uniformly.

McCoskey argued that the final remodelling to the Bradley home, the maid's apartment, was completed in 1963, and the ordnances were passed January 1, 1985. Therefore, the Bradley home is exempt from the ordnances, since laws cannot be retroactive.

Ironically, right across the street, the zoning allows apartment houses. So, in a sense, the Bradley home is just on the wrong side of the street.

Members of the board expressed concern that Coraopolis was close enough to Robert Morris University that local residences could become student housing. They asserted that they knew of several homes in town where this had already happened. Property values, and therefore the tax base, tend to decline in student housing areas.

But the argument was made that a B & B is not long term housing, that it's too expensive on a night by night basis for students to be able to afford. "Plus," Theresa Crocenelli said, "Air BnB is a company. Once we belong to that company, they screen all our potential customers. This is a very high class clientele : businessmen, travellers, people who would normally stay at top hotels but want the chance to get the feel of a small town neighborhood."

The Board also questioned how guests would be let in since no hostess would be living at the house. They were told there would be electronic locks and guests would be given the combination online.

A representative of Air BnB told a reporter that the average stay of their guests nationwide is two nights at any one location. Since Air BnBs do not fix meals, their customers seek out local restaurants. They also spend money on gas, incidentals like toothpaste and shaving lotion, and usually shop in local stores for items representative of the area. So they pump money into the local economy.

The Board tabled the discussion until Feb. 7 2017 to allow more time for both sides to do more research.

Snow, Deep Freeze Hit Cory Area

Zero degree temperatures settled into Coraopolis and the Western Hills for several days as an Arctic Low pushed deep into the U.S.

That four inches of snow that accumulated in much of the area over the last few days looks certain to stay a while. Predictions are for 100% odds of several more inches during the weekend. The next warming trend isn't due until Christmas Eve. Even the Sun is going to be rare until Tuesday.

Sledriders are happy. They've already had two days of after school fun on the nearest slopes, and they're looking forward to a whole weekend of more. Despite a few warm days scattered here and there, the upcoming Christmas Vacation should be a prolonged snow celebration.

Ski resorts at Seven Springs, Hidden Valley, Winterpark, Timberline, Canaan Valley, Snowshoe and Wisp are all fully open. They were already making snow, and the natural snowfall has enhanced conditions.

The best outdoor ice skating rinks are at PPG Place downtown, and at Schenley Park. Indoor skating is available at several rinks.

Shell Refinery Permits Suspended By Township

Even though construction is well under way, Potter Township Supervisors have suspended Shell's permits to build and operate the Cracking Plant in the riverside location just west of Monaca.

The suspension is in response to rising public opposition, but it relies on a technicality. Shell purchased the land from the Horsehead Zinc Smelter, which operated on the site for several decades. Horsehead possessed the permits to discharge treated wastewater into the Ohio River and exhaust into the air after it had passed through "scrubbers" in the smokestacks. Shell argued that Zinc smelting produces far more toxins than a natural gas refinery, so it simply purchased the permits from Horsehead with the assumption it would never approach nearly the capacity the permits allowed. Shell also purchased credits from First Energy and the Mitchell Corporation which allowed it to discharge a stated amount of particulates into the air.

But the Clean Air Council and the Environmental Integrity Project have challenged that transfer of permits from one company to another.

The three Potter Township supervisors have asked Shell to file legal arguments by January 6 detailing why the permits should be approved.

The protests have brought the Department of Environmental Protection into the situation. The DEP is hosting a hearing tonight at Central Valley High School at 6 pm tonight (Thursday). It will begin with an hour long question and answer question with representatives from Shell and the DEP. The EIP is demanding that the DEP consider the Shell plant a brand new facility and evaluate the permits on that basis. EIP spokeswoman Sharon Caugdale explains, "This petrochemical plant will be the largest emitter of volatile organic compounds in the state and maybe in the nation. VOCs mix with nitrogen oxides and sunlight to form ground level ozone, which is particularly harmful to children, elderly, asthmatics and those with respiratory issues."

Potter Township Supervisory Chairman Rebecca Matsco asked Shell External Affairs Manager Chris Heitman for details on the discharge pipelines being built at the new facility.

Heitman promised to refer the question to someone in the division of the company that would have that information.

Another complaint locals have brought to the Supervisors is noise and light. With construction running seven days a week 24 hours a day, people living nearby and even across the river complain about not being able to sleep.

"We're not deluded," Caugsdale emphasized. "We don't think we can stop the refinery. We just want to make sure it's safe."

Emsworth Lock / Dam Reconstruction Approved

Congress has approved a complete updating and reconstruction of the series of locks and dams on the Ohio River from Pittsburgh into eastern Ohio. The bill includes Emsworth Lock & Dam, Dashields at Glenwillard and Montgomery at Monaca.

Emsworth Lock & Dam is technically at Emsworth, but is visible from much of Coraopolis and directly attaches to Neville Island.

The three local projects combined are expected to provide 300 jobs for about 24-36 months.

Congress did not approve the funding for the work but with Trump, his Cabinet and Congress announcing an emphasis on infrastructure, that is expected to be quickly approved early in 2017.

The updating and reconstruction have long been overdue but a hydraulic breakdown in the lock at New Cumberland Lock & Dam at Wellsville, Ohio forced the issue.

Right now, the lock is inoperable. Barge traffic is backing up on both sides of the dam. Crews are working around the clock on a temporary fix but New Cumberland, like the others, needs a complete reconstruction.

This comes in context of the new Shell Refinery and CSX Rail Terminal, both of which will generate more freight transportation in the area. Shell is building a complete river port at its Potter Township facility so it can rely heavily on barges for both incoming and outgoing shipments. Once these new facilities are complete and fully operational, lock breakdowns would be disastrous. Thus, their reconstruction needs to begin as soon as possible.

The entire series of locks and dams were built in the 1930s. At that time they were state of the art, but 80 years later their technology is far out of date. Some superficial updates have been applied over the last century, but both the dams and the locks are deteriorating.

The lock project will cost $2.65 billion, funded by a tax on barge traffic.

The same bill authorizing the lock and dam reconstruction also includes other locks and dams across the country and water purification facilities.

In 2015, 29 million tons of cargo moved through each of these locks. It includes 18 million tons of coal, bound for power plants.

Peter Stephaich of Campbell Transportation, a company operating a fleet of barges, puts it bluntly. "What makes a river unique is that when a lock breaks down, everything stops. There are no detours. None. When the steel, coal, natural gas or whatever doesn't get where it's going, those power plants, construction projects, factories or whatever just stop. Time is money. Every day a barge is late costs someone hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars. These locks and dams are critical."

Pressed by Shell and other companies, plans are already being laid for the reconstruction, so work can begin within days of Congressional action. It will probably begin in mid or late Spring, giving Congress time to pass the funding and the weather time to warm up. The men work in water so cannot do much in freezing temperatures.

First Snowfall Only 1-3" But More Forecast

The first snow of the season blanketed the Ohio Valley Tuesday afternoon and evening, causing schools to cancel activities and traffic to back up during rush hour.

A dozen basketball games were postponed, although Cornell, Moon and West Allegheny managed to play theirs. Various meetings were cancelled and flights were delayed at the airport.

Most of the area received about three inches, although it varied. The most snow fell on both sides of the river, and depths seemed to decline further out in the townships.

The photo at left shows the Log Flume and Racer roller coaater at Kennywood Park. The Monongahela Valley received more snow than Coraopolis.

Behind the front, the Western Hills face below freezing temperatures for the next several days, with more snow forecast off and on. Some days should see flurries, while others may see several inches. On the 24th the forecast calls for a warming and either rain, sleet or freezing rain.

Locals Object To Shell Refinery

Never mind that the bulldozers have been moving earth for months and now construction companies are erecting the structures. Residents from the surrounding area gathered Monday to protest the new Shell Refinery going in to Potter Township along the Ohio River.

Iris Carter, a guest speaker from Louisiana, warned the audience about all the problems the plant would cause. "Your real estate values will drop," she told them. "You think you'll wait and see, and if it gets bad, you'll move. But by that time, no one will want your houses. You won't be able to sell."

Shell spokesmen calmly refuted every point. "We'll have thousands of workers who will want to live near the plant," one said. "They'll be the ones buying your houses if you should want to sell."

Carter wasn't done. "This whole area will have a funky smell. No one is going to want to live where every time they step outside the air stinks. And a lot of people will get sick. I mean really sick."

(The photo is of an already completed Louisiana Shell Cracking plant.)

Frank Snedegar denied that. "We can install fenceline monitors around the perimeter," he said. "They measure the parts per million of pollutants in the air and sound the alarm if it exceeds acceptable limits."

"These fears are all based on mid 20th Century plants built by other companies in other parts of the country. We've come a long way since then. This plant will give off zero smells and zero harmful pollutants."

Carter took issue with the deal Pennsylvania and Beaver County have worked out to bring the plant to Potter Township. "The state gives them $1.6 billion plus no taxes for 15 years," she told the audience. "Meanwhile, notice Beaver County is raising your property taxes 17% to cover the budget deficit they face providing all the utilities and services to this company. The more you study it, the worse this deal looks for the residents of Beaver County.

Shell officials shrugged their shoulders at these objections. "All those people we hire, they pay taxes. They pay income taxes, and as they buy property and upgrade their properties they pay property taxes, and with the added income they buy things, and they pay sales taxes.

All these other companies coming in here to supply us, they also pay property and corporate taxes, and their employees pay those same income, property and sales taxes. Believe us, you get your money back 10 fold."

As a final shot, Carter mentioned the towns along the river. "Aliquippa, Coraopolis and McKees Rocks, they're going to have trains rolling through there 24 hours a day," she warned. "Long trains. Carrying natural gas, which is explosive. Trains stopping and blocking crossings while they wait for the trains ahead of them to unload. Blocking school buses, ambulances, fire trucks, people going to and from work, policemen, all traffic is just blocked."

Snedegar dismissed this as exaggeration. "McKees Rocks and Aliquippa have overpasses and underpasses, so the trains don't ever block traffic. Coraopolis does have at grade crossings, but only a few. How long do you think these trains are? 10 miles? They're not. CSX can stop trains between McKees Rocks and Coraopolis, or between Coraopolis and Aliquippa. CSX has plenty of room to run trains without blocking crossings."

Residents left the meeting still weighing all those jobs on the one hand and the possible problems on the other. Most appeared still undecided.

Cory Area Braces For White Christmas

The last several Christmases in Coraopolis and the Western Hills have been pretty frustrating for boys and girls looking for Santa Claus. The weather has been warm, rainy and grey. But this year could make up for it if the forecasters are right. They predict snow beginning this week and continuing off and on through the 23rd. It's supposed to warm up on Christmas Eve and possibly rain, but the snow will already be on the ground. Buffalo, Cleveland and Detroit should see a foot and could see more. Depending on exactly how far south the front extends, Cory and the Western Hills could get anywhere from 3-9 inches spread over three or four different storms.

Adults who have to shovel that snow, clean it off their vehicles, and drive in it, will not see this as welcome news. But sledriders, skiiers and snow sculptors are already looking forward to it.

Coraopolis no longer blocks off streets for sledriding, but there are plenty of hills around town. The bigger problem is that with several mild Winters sleds have been packed away and forgotten and kids haven't been getting new sleds.

Tubing (above) has become popular in the last decade. Snow tubes can be bought on the internet or at many local stores. They're fun but cannot be steered. They have to be used on broad open uncrowded slopes. The old classic, the Flexible Flyer, is still made and is available both online and at stores. The new ones use a lighter wood and are not as durable. Much better to look in garages, attics and basements and find one of the 20th Century models, which were handfrafted in America of solid Oak and are practically indestructible. The old ones can still be bought on Amazon and other internet sites. A good Flexible Flyer, old or new, will run about $100. That's expensive, but it's the finest sled ever made. Safety experts now recommend that sledders wear helmets.

The 21st Century version of the Flexible Flyer is called the Hammerhead. It's a high tech piece of sports equipment for serious sledders. The fabric platform is very comfortable, especially on bumpy ground. The steering is much more precise, so precise experienced users can actually carve donuts while coming down the hill. The Hammerhead rides on skiis, not runners, so in deep snow it just rides over the drifts, whereas the Flyers with their narrow steel runners would sink in. The Hammerhead is every sledrider's dream, but it's also dangerous. It's approximately twice as fast as the already fast Flyer. Some experts advise that the Hammerhead is a sled for adults, not kids, especially not grade school kids. Anyone with a little skiing experience can carve very sharp turns with the Hammerhead using body lean. Rather than hardware stores and big box stores, these sleds are available at sporting goods stores and ski shops, or online.

Even snow shovels are now high tech. The new ones have curved handles so users don't have to lean over. They're heavy duty plastic with sharp steel edges. They're very well balanced and comfortable to use. They can be found at hardwares, Walmarts, Lowes and Home Depots.

CSX Building New Rail Terminal
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CSX is building a huge intermodal terminal just upriver from Coraopolis that will provide 400 jobs, a major tax boost and several other impacts to the area. Among those other impacts will be probable restoration of a second and possibly third track to the railroad right of way through Cory. Beginning in mid to late 2017, locals will notice an increase in the length and frequency of container freight trains passing through town.

Specifically, the terminal will occupy the former Pittsburgh & Lake Erie Railroad yard that used to lay just up from the Neville Island - Stowe Township Bridge. As you come off the bridge and turn left to head to McKees Rocks, the terminal is already under construction on the wide flat shelf below you between Route 51 and the Ohio River. This is the western tip of what has long been known as "The Bottoms."

The CSX decision is a response to the great increase in freight traffic being unloaded in east coast port cities because of the newly widened Panama Canal. That freight is being unloaded in large steel containers.

The containers will be transported to major cities by rail, then unloaded by gigantic overhead cranes onto tractor trailer trucks, which will haul them to their specific locations, such as Best Buys, Lowes, Giant Eagles or smaller stores all over Western Pennsylvania, Eastern Ohio and West Virginia.

Although the containers of consumer goods were the primary reason for the new terminal, CSX oficials said the new natural gas processing plant now under construction at Monaca also influenced their decision. During the construction of that Shell Cracking Plant, they will be shipping massive amounts of supplies to Monaca, and once the plant is operational, they will be shipping pellets and other products out. For further details and additional photos. Go to Industry Page.

 

Monaca's Shell Cracking Plant Will Revive Entire Valley

Residents of Coraopolis, Moon, Neville and the West Hills area aren't paying attention right now, because it's out of sight in Beaver County.

But the Shell cracking plant under construction in Potter Township just outside Monaca promises to rejuvenate the economy from Wellsville and East Liverpool (Ohio) all the way to McKees Rocks.

During the construction phase alone, the plant will hire 10,000 workers and those will be high wage jobs. When the plant goes into operation, it will employ 6,000. The shipping in of raw materials and out of finished products will be mostly by rail with about a fourth by barge. Of the rail portion, about 70% will travel through Coraopolis. So in addition to workers at the plant, there will be jobs on the trains and the barges.

The photo above shows the artist's rendition of the finished facility. At left construction is already under way. On the industry page are photos of similar facilities already operating elsewhere in the country.

To handle the massive increase in traffic, Pennsylvania is upgrading rail lines to and from Monaca. Back in the 1970s and 1980s the multiple tracks were removed, leaving only a single track right of way. Now, the second and third tracks will be reinstalled, eastward from Monaca to McKees Rocks and westward into Ohio. A direct rail line is also planned from Monaca north to Erie with a branch turning westward into northeast Ohio.

A "cracking plant" is a chemical refinery which takes in natural gas and breaks it down into ethylene. The ethylene is shipped to plastics factories across the country. Monaca is a central location to the Marcellus Shale, a huge underground natural gas reservoir extending across Pennsylvania and Ohio. Read more and see additional photos on the Industry page.

Beaver Mall Hosts Job Fair
Beaver Valley Mall will host a Job Fair Thursday Nov. 17 from 10 am. to 5 pm. The event is sponsored by PennsylvaniaCareerLink Beaver County, a local agency given the responsibility of filling the jobs created by the new Shell plant in Potter Township Employers will man tables along the sides of the Mall. Job seekers should start at the Sears entrance. Human Resources workers at the tables will provide applications for hopefuls to fill out on the spot. Interviews will be scheduled for later for those who appear qualified. Jobs include truck drivers, crane operators, heavy equipment operators, plumbers, electricians, construction workers of all kinds, rail and towboat employees, engineers, supervisors, technicians, machinists, and office support staff. 270 jobs were filled at a similar Job Fair held in late October.