Shale Oil, Gas Finds Put Mon Valley On Path To Renaissance, Leaders Say

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Washington County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Washington County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Lue Ann Pawlick never envisioned companies connected with oil and gas beating a path to Alta Vista Business Park when it broke ground in tiny Fallowfield, Washington County, in 2001.

Today, three of the five companies in Alta Vista work in the industry. An energy company is set to start construction in the spring, and at least one more is close to signing a deal to locate there.

“We’re trying to keep it a mixed-use business park, but we have to recognize the oil and gas industry is the biggest game in town right now,” said Pawlick, executive director of the Middle Monongahela Industrial Development Association. “They are the ones driving demand.”

Ten years ago, Fort Worth-based Range Resources Corp. drilled the first Marcellus shale well in Washington County. Now the county — which dubs itself “Energy Capital of the East” — is home to about 1,000 wells, the most in Pennsylvania.

Read more: http://triblive.com/news/washington/6815491-74/county-mon-valley#ixzz3GhruaosZ
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Summer Workers Help Fight Mon Valley Neighborhood Blight

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Allegheny County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Allegheny County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Mon Valley communities are reliant on the helping hands of summer workers as they battle blight through maintenance projects.

In third class cities such as McKeesport and Clairton — once-thriving mill towns that decreased in population and economic activity with the decline of the steel industry in the 1970s and ’80s — cityscapes have changed over the years.

Many neighborhoods that were lined with well-kept homes transformed into urban decay where residential properties are separated by overgrown lots and dilapidated structures. With an increase in problem lots and a decrease in staff to maintain them, the cities rely on young workers eager to gain job experience during their time off from high school and college.

“Our public works department is bare bones,” Clairton Mayor Rich Lattanzi said. “They prioritize on snow removal, grass-cutting of city-owned properties and potholes throughout the year. Summer help gives an opportunity for some of our youth to make a few dollars and supplement what public works is doing.”

Read more: http://triblive.com/neighborhoods/yourmckeesport/yourmckeesportmore/6537806-74/summer-workers-public#ixzz399pCVoJu
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Interstate 70 Modernization Projects To Move Highway Into 21st Century

Belle Vernon/ Speers Bridge

Belle Vernon/ Speers Bridge (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Editor’s note:  This road was a death-trap when I was living in the Mon Valley back in the 1970′s.  Glad it only took 40 years for PennDot to realize it!

A grassy mound in the backyard of Melvin “Bucky” Walkush’s childhood home is the only visible reminder of the popular carhop restaurant that served the best pizza he’s ever tasted.

It was the 1950s. Elvis topped the charts. Ike was in the White House. The Ford Thunderbird was one of the hottest cars around.

And the New 71 Barbeque along old state Route 71 in North Belle Vernon, owned by Walkush’s brother Joe and his wife, Adeline, was the place to stop for anyone using the highway linking Greensburg and Washington, Pa.

The restaurant is gone now, and the stretch of Route 71 that Walkush, 84, remembers was decommissioned in the 1960s to become part of Interstate 70 between New Stanton and Washington.

Read more: http://triblive.com/news/allegheny/5870537-74/washington-walkush-highway#ixzz32BzJh8u9
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Air Quality Alerts Issued Across Broad Swath Of Pennsylvania

Stagnant weather patterns in recent days have caused high air pollution levels in the southwest corner of Pennsylvania and nearly all of the eastern half of the state, prompting health concerns and the issuance of air quality alerts that more commonly occur in the summer.

The state Department of Environmental Protection has declared Air Quality Action Day alerts due to high concentrations of airborne particles over a broad swath of the eastern half of Pennsylvania this week, and predicted lesser but still elevated air pollution levels for Pittsburgh and the southwestern corner of the state.

Eric Shirk, a DEP spokesman, said the high pollution readings have been caused by a stationary front that has controlled the state’s weather for most of the week.

“The winter tends to have much more wind, which prevents the stagnation of the often damp air,” he said. “When there is less or no wind, as has been the case in the past several days, it allows the moisture and particulate matter to build to a level that warrants an Air Quality Action Day.”

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/local/region/2013/12/05/Air-quality-alerts-issued-across-broad-swath-of-Pa/stories/201312050220#ixzz2md5redaD

30 Years Of Change: A New Direction For Pittsburgh

English: Downtown Pittsburgh

English: Downtown Pittsburgh (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Morphing from steel industry collapse to eds-and-meds rebirth, from a too-gray place that young people flee to one that attracts them as a “green” center of culture and recreation, from a tale of Rust Belt woe to one of urban transformation, it is indisputable that the Pittsburgh region is a far different place than it was 30 years ago.

And by most standards, it would seem to be a far better place as well.

Since 1983, when the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette published a special section chronicling the unique and worrisome issues confronting the region during Depression-level hits to its workforce, Pittsburgh has lost people, corporations, churches, schools and, yes, even a prothonotary.

But it has rebuilt its economy; added museums, theaters and riverfront trails; replaced its sports facilities, airport and convention center; and reinvented the Pittsburgh Downtown as a place to live, while serving the thousands more who commute to it by opening a subway, busways and a highway to the north.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/local/region/30-years-of-change-a-new-direction-for-pittsburgh-706424/#ixzz2gzxczfUQ

Gergely Chief Of Staff Testified Before ‘Operation Pork Chop’ Grand Jury In Mon Valley Gambling Case

Map of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, United ...

Map of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, United States with township and municipal boundaries (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The chief of staff for Pennsylvania state Rep. Marc Gergely, D-White Oak, testified in June before an investigating grand jury looking into the suspected Mon Valley gambling operation of Ronald “Porky” Melocchi.

Thomas Maglicco appeared June 17, his attorney, Douglas Sughrue, said this morning.

Mr. Sughrue declined to provide details of his client’s testimony.

“I’m not gonna get into those specifics,” Mr. Sughrue said.  “It was brief.”

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/local/neighborhoods-south/gergely-chief-of-staff-testified-before-operation-pork-chop-grand-jury-in-mon-valley-gambling-case-702605/#ixzz2eQJ414Ac

Suspects In Mon Valley Gambling Ring

Map of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, United ...

Map of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, United States with township and municipal boundaries (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

• Kirk A. Mollica, 46, 506 Princess Drive, Elizabeth, is charged with two counts of corrupt organization, one count of dealing in proceeds of illegal activity, one count of lotteries, one count of gambling devices and two counts of conspiracy.

• Ronald Melocchi Sr., 54, 324 Vernon Drive, West Newton, is charged with two counts of corrupt organization, one count of dealing in proceeds of illegal activity, one count in criminal use of a communication facility, one count of lotteries, one count of pool selling and bookmaking and two counts of conspiracy.

• Ronald D. Prest, 65, 109 Midway Drive, White Oak, is charged with two counts of corrupt organization, one count of dealing in proceeds of illegal activity, one count of criminal use of a communication facility, one count of gambling devices and one count of conspiracy.

• Terence P. McNelis, 52, 4812 McAnulty Drive, Whitehall, is charged with one count of corrupt organization, one count of dealing in proceeds of illegal activity, one count of lotteries, one count of pool selling and bookmaking and one count of conspiracy.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/local/neighborhoods-south/suspects-in-mon-valley-gambling-ring-702172/#ixzz2e8zjhwAp

Mon Valley Video Gambling Ring Arrests Include McKeesport Councilman, Forward Police Chief, Ex-Cops

Map of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, United ...

Map of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, United States with township and municipal boundaries (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A McKeesport city councilman, a Frank Sinatra impersonator, the Forward police chief and two other former McKeesport police officers were charged this morning with being part of a large-scale video gambling ring operating in the Monongahela Valley.

Pennsylvania State Police charged 16 people with a variety of gambling offenses after a months-long grand jury investigation that involved wiretaps and a Dec. 11 raid that confiscated 335 video gambling machines from about 70 different locations throughout the Mon Valley.

All of the defendants were arraigned this morning before Forest Hills District Judge Thomas Caulfield and were released on non-monetary bond.  They face preliminary hearings Sept. 12.

Among them were Forward police Chief Mark Holtzman, a onetime McKeesport deputy chief, and the suspected ringleader of the alleged video gambling ring, Ronald “Porky” Melocchi, of West Newton.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/local/neighborhoods-south/indictments-in-mon-valley-video-gambling-ring-include-3-ex-mckeesport-police-officers-702126/#ixzz2e2JMtyDK

U.S. Steel Touts Coke Plant Project As Good For Jobs, Air

UNITED STATES STEEL CORPORATION COKE PLANT IN ...

UNITED STATES STEEL CORPORATION COKE PLANT IN A VALLEY SURROUNDED BY HOMES AT CLAIRTON, PENNSYLVANIA. LOCATED 20… – NARA – 557213 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

U.S. Steel today formally commissioned a new battery of ovens at its Clairton coke plant, a $500 million project the company said will preserve steelmaking jobs in the Mon Valley and improve the region’s air quality.

The project is a scaled back version of the $1 billion proposal the Pittsburgh steelmaker announced in late 2007, before the global recession decimated steel demand and caused the industry to retrench.

President and CEO John P. Surma said even after the scope was reduced, the project was the largest in the history of the Clairton plant and one of the largest in U.S. Steel’s 112-year history.  He said it secures the jobs of 1,300 Clairton employees as well as the 1,400 who work at the company’s Edgar Thomson plant in Braddock and the Irvin plant in West Mifflin.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/local/breaking/us-steel-touts-coke-plant-project-as-good-for-jobs-air-672843/#ixzz2Jb0uFLsx

Charleroi Area Lunch Ladies Steal Cafeteria Proceeds, Police Say

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Washington County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Washington County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Editor’s note:  Is nothing sacred!!!!????

Two Charleroi Area School District cafeteria workers stole about $94,000 in a scheme that involved pocketing cafeteria money and using it to gamble at a casino, according to Washington County criminal complaints.

Stacy Lee Shipley, 50, and Sheila Ann Cook, 49, both of Charleroi, went to The Meadows Racetrack and Casino with money that Ms. Shipley stole from the school cafeteria, the complaints say.

Ms. Shipley would tell Ms. Cook that she had “extra money” with the understanding that the money was stolen. The pair promised each other they would split all winnings, according to the complaint.

Ms. Cook told police that she “just got caught up in the thrill of it all.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/local/washington/charleroi-area-lunch-ladies-steal-cafeteria-proceeds-police-say-672844/#ixzz2JayX4LgW

The Pride Of Clairton: A Town Looks To Football Team For Hope Amid Its Struggles

Map of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, United ...

Map of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, United States with township and municipal boundaries (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The doors to the Clairton Bears’ locker room are closed.  A space usually pumped full of booming bass from hip-hop music is silent, except for the young man in the corner wearing a black No. 9 jersey.  Sitting on a bench, he bows his head and cries.

His name is Robert Boatright.  He’s a senior running back and defensive end.  Senior Night festivities are complete, and Boatright still doesn’t know if he’ll play college football.  Now he’s gulping back tears.

Terrish Webb is Boatright’s best friend.  He moves to Boatright and consoles him.  Webb knows where he’ll play next year, at Kent State.  Even with his clarity on a night full of questions, Webb begins to cry, too.  His father was murdered when Terrish was 11, and it hurt hearing his dad’s name announced on Senior Night.

The rest of the seniors join Webb in forming a circle around Boatright, wrapping their arms around each other.  Nobody else can enter.  They’re the protectors of a historic winning streak that weighs on them daily. It’s at 55 now, will be 56 in a few hours, one more box checked until Heinz Field on Nov. 23, when they’ll likely set a state record of 60.  If they lose before then — or any other time, really — they believe they’ll be seen as failures.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/local/neighborhoods-south/clairton-looks-to-team-for-hope-amid-struggles-663011/#ixzz2D4FiVth5

Huge Alcohol Crackdown At California University Of Pennsylvania

Map of Washington County higlighting California.

Image via Wikipedia

Over the weekend police in California, Pennsylvania were busy writing up dozens of citations for underage drinking and alcohol-related offenses.  38 people were cited, at various locations in California Borough, for disorderly conduct, public drunkenness, holding a loud party, having an open container of alcohol and underage drinking.

James Donofrio, 21, of Venetia, is charged with supplying alcohol to minors, tampering with evidence and disorderly conduct.

Two people were taken to Mon Valley Hospital for consuming too much alcohol.

The Brownsville Telegraph is also reporting that 90 citations were issued at the Theta X Frat House over the weekend, mostly for underage drinking.  California University of Pennsylvania is located within the borough of California, PA.