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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Gateway Clipper Employee Jumps Into Monongahela River, Dies

10259844_10152543533712792_17013999446815402_nAn employee of the Gateway Clipper Fleet died early Sunday when he inexplicably jumped into the Monongahela River for a swim.

The Allegheny County Medical Examiner’s Office identified the man as Sean Gittins, 23. Pittsburgh police spokeswoman Sonya Toler said he was with a group of people who went to a bar and returned to a boat at Station Square. He decided he wanted to go for a swim and jumped in. Gittins soon had problems in the water.

Read more: http://triblive.com/news/adminpage/6475822-74/river-office-examiner#ixzz3896SvsRf
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Pontoon Rentals Catching On With Recreational Boaters In Pittsburgh

10462720_10152543533522792_1994000995011631797_nIn a city of stunning views, Jim Malanos might have found the best one yet.

“I go near The Point, drop an anchor, and read a newspaper or a book,” said Malanos, 61, of Brighton Heights. “Sitting there on the water, looking back at the town and the North Shore — it’s beautiful. There’s no traffic, it’s quiet; it’s just very relaxing. Best view in town.”

Malanos is a repeat customer at Boat Pittsburgh LLC, a pontoon rental startup at the James Sharp Landing boat launch in Sharpsburg.

Owner Nicole Moga started the business at the end of May. Though other rentals offer kayaks and canoes, Boat Pittsburgh fills a regional void by offering the larger pontoons, which seat 10.

Read more: http://triblive.com/news/allegheny/6373132-74/boat-pittsburgh-moga#ixzz36Vph7jut
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We Were On Assignment In Pittsburgh Since Last Thursday But We’re Back

 

 

Make Pittsburgh Your 2014 Summer Destination

Make Pittsburgh Your 2014 Summer Destination.  Great promotional video from VisitPittsburgh.

First Hays Eaglet Fledges, 2 Still In The Nest

A map of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with its nei...

A map of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with its neighborhoods labeled. For use primarily in the list of Pittsburgh neighborhoods. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The first of the three Hays eaglets took flight Friday on national Bald Eagle Day, designated by Congress to celebrate the successful recovery of the bald eagle in North America.

At 10:14 a.m., eagle watchers monitoring live video from a wildlife camera watched as one of the three eaglets hopped off a tree branch behind foliage and exited the picture in its first flight. People gathered on the Great Allegheny Passage trail reported the adolescent eagle soared near the nest accompanied by its mother.

“Yes, we can confirm this. It’s a fledging,” said Bill Powers, president of PixController, the security camera company that donated the camera in partnership with the Pennsylvania Game Commission.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/sports/outdoors/2014/06/20/First-Hays-eaglet-fledges-2-still-in-the-nest/stories/201406200176#ixzz35HyztrjF

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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Pittsburgh Bald Eagles Live Cam

A pair of bald eagles have taken up residence in a Pittsburgh neighborhood and two of their three eggs have hatched.  If you want to see the live video feed of the eagles, click here: http://www.pixcontroller.com/eagles/index-old.htm

Pittsburgh Post Gazette story about the eagles: http://www.post-gazette.com/sports/outdoors/2014/03/28/Experts-say-baby-eagle-is/stories/201403280187

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Schuylkill Leads River Of Year Balloting With 5 Days Remaining. So Vote!

English: This is my own work, Public Domain Ph...

English: This is my own work, Public Domain Photograph, not copyrighted Ed Yakovich http://www.flickr.com/photos/10396190@N04 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Our favorite recreational river last year lost the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources annual (20 years running we might add) River of the Year competition to the Steel City’s (ugh!) Monongahela. Out of more than 24,000 ballots that were cast last year the Schuylkill fell short by just 146 votes.

This time around, the Schuykill leads the balloting for 2014 River of the Year honors with a hefty 40 percent of popular votes cast. The voting period runs from November 25th to December 27th, so we have a fews days left to make sure the the Kiskiminetas-Conemaugh Rivers, in second place with 21%, don’t close the gap.

So vote!

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/Schuylkill_leads_River_of_Year_balloting_with_5_days_remaining_So_vote.html#dswVbBm0Mc6OHQ8F.99

Hazelwood Residents Get Involved In Changes

Locator map with the Hazlwood neighborhood in ...

Locator map with the Hazlwood neighborhood in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania highlighted. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Finding money isn’t the only challenge to rebuilding neglected neighborhoods. At the grass-roots level, it may be hard to get people to open their doors.

But a knot of community census takers in Hazelwood is encouraged.

“We haven’t had to convince many people,” said Shavonne Lowry, a 2009 graduate of Slippery Rock University and one of eight census takers. “I was surprised how many people wanted to talk.”

More than 200 people have answered the door so far for a census designed specifically to glean residents’ attitudes about the neighborhood, its needs and its assets. The census is part of a community strategy that emerged from a three-year Heinz Endowments commitment that goes beyond its investment in the former LTV site on the Monongahela River — the city’s last brownfield, a 178-acre, $12 million mixed-use redevelopment site renamed Almono. It is the property of several foundations that include the Heinz Endowments.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/local/neighborhoods-city/hazelwood-residents-get-involved-in-changes-708468/#ixzz2iMt09Np0

Developers Plan $30 Million Makeover Along Second Avenue In Hazelwood

A map of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with its nei...

A map of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with its neighborhoods labeled. For use primarily in the list of Pittsburgh neighborhoods. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A largely vacant stretch of Second Avenue in Hazelwood would be filled with music, youth programming, and commercial and residential space as part of a proposed makeover designed to complement the $1 billion former LTV coke works redevelopment.

Under the plan, the vacant Spahr Building, which was a former G. C. Murphy’s store, would be transformed into programming and performance space for Hazelwood’s faith-based Center of Life organization.

ACTION-Housing Inc. and Washington, D.C.-based Telesis Corp. are partnering on the proposed redevelopment, which also would include an additional 1.5 acres of vacant land or structures besides the Spahr Building, all in the 4800 block of Second Avenue.

City Urban Redevelopment Authority board members are expected to vote Thursday on whether to begin up to 18 months of exclusive negotiations with ACTION-Housing and Telesis for the sale of the properties needed for the projects.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/business/news/developers-plan-30m-hazelwood-makeover-706824/#ixzz2hHZveyXq

Pennsylvania Among Worst In Nation For Failing Bridges

Map of Pennsylvania, showing major cities and ...

Map of Pennsylvania, showing major cities and roads (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Pennsylvania is among the nation’s leaders in bridges that both lack backup protection against collapse in case a single, vital component fails and are designated by highway officials as being in need of repair, an Associated Press review of national bridge records found.

Some are among the busiest in the state, including the 85-year-old Liberty Bridge, spanning the Monongahela River from downtown Pittsburgh to its south side, and an Interstate 95 span in Philadelphia’s lower northeast section along the Delaware River.

Others are on the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

Fewer than a third are state-owned, with many owned by county and municipal governments or railroads.

Read more: http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2013/09/pa_is_among_national_leaders_i.html#incart_river_default

Pittsburgh Bridges A Showcase Of Engineering Ingenuity

English: The source of the Ohio River at “The ...

English: The source of the Ohio River at “The Point” in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA. The Allegheny River (left) and the Monongahela River (right) join to form the Ohio here. The West End Bridge crosses the Ohio in the foreground. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Modern bridges are super-sized paths of steel with carpets of concrete that soar through the air.

As tour de forces of design, engineering and teamwork, bridges are our most functional visible form of public art. These sturdy structures afford us breathtaking views of the region while stoking our sense of optimism. From their portals, we cross deep ravines, wide valleys and rivers, especially rivers.

With a total of 446 bridges, Pittsburgh is a permanent showcase of inspired engineering.  Its rugged topography has made it a hotbed of bridge design since the city was named in 1758, and the region’s hills and geological formations afforded the natural resources, including wood and stone, to build the bridges needed to connect it.

The city’s first span, opened in 1818, crossed the Monongahela River on the site of the current Smithfield Street Bridge.  The first Sixth Street Bridge spanned the Allegheny River just a year later, ushering in a generation of covered wooden bridges.  Until the late 1800s, everyone — whether in a horse-drawn wagon or on foot — paid tolls to cross the city’s major bridges.  We still pay today — our tax dollars fund multimillion-dollar PennDOT projects.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/life/lifestyle/pittsburgh-bridges-a-showcase-of-engineering-ingenuity-696224/#ixzz2ZfxMNSfF

Pittsburgh Gets 2 New Tugs, 1st Built In 30 Years

English: Opekiska Lock and Dam on the Monongah...

English: Opekiska Lock and Dam on the Monongahela River. The dam is located about seven miles northeast (downriver) from Fairmont, West Virginia, at river mile 115.4. The lock and dam were constructed 1961–64 by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to improve navigation on the Monongahela River, replacing 60-year-old locks 14 and 15. View is downriver to the northeast. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

PITTSBURGH (AP) — A Pittsburgh-based marine services company has built two new tugboats, a reminder that the old business of pushing barges along rivers continues even in modern times.

Campbell Transportation christened the Renee Lynn and the Alice Jean at a riverside ceremony last week.  The 65-foot-long, 24-foot-wide boats are the first new major vessels built in Pittsburgh in 30 years, the company said.

The Port of Pittsburgh ranked 21st in the nation in terms of total tonnage in 2011, which means it handled more traffic than ports in Philadelphia, Tampa, Fla., or Seattle, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Technically, the river tugs that push barges are called towboats, while those that push ships in harbors are called tugboats.  But the general public calls them all tugboats.

Read more:  http://www.timesherald.com/article/20130704/NEWS03/130709833/pittsburgh-gets-2-new-tugs-1st-built-in-30-years#full_story

1,364 Pennsylvania Bridges Face Weight Limits Unless Repaired

English: The source of the Ohio River at “The ...

English: The source of the Ohio River at “The Point” in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA. The Allegheny River (left) and the Monongahela River (right) join to form the Ohio here. The West End Bridge crosses the Ohio in the foreground. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Liberty Bridge in Downtown Pittsburgh is among nearly 1,400 state-owned bridges that could be posted with weight restrictions in the next few years if the Legislature fails to enact a transportation funding bill, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.

Gov. Tom Corbett is scheduled to be in Pittsburgh today to press his case for funding, and he will hold a news conference under the 2,700-foot-long Liberty Bridge crossing the Monongahela River.  The bridge is in need of rehabilitation estimated to cost $40 million to $60 million, but PennDOT doesn’t have the money.

The department has identified 1,364 bridges statewide that could have weight restrictions soon if they aren’t repaired, rehabilitated or replaced.  The list, obtained by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, contains about 400 bridges already posted with weight limits, but also includes several that are under construction now or will be soon, removing them from being at risk.

The Liberty Bridge is the biggest of 49 bridges in Allegheny County that are on the PennDOT list and not funded for rehabilitation or replacement.  Twelve of the 49 already have weight limits. Others, including the Hulton Bridge spanning the Allegheny River between Harmar and Oakmont and bridges near the Route 51-Route 88 intersection in Overbrook, are funded for replacement starting this year.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/local/state/1364-state-bridges-face-weight-limits-unless-fixed-690705/#ixzz2VY1cFWZL

Frothy Point: Pittsburgh’s Iconic Fountain Makes A Welcome Return

A map of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with its nei...

A map of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with its neighborhoods labeled. For use primarily in the list of Pittsburgh neighborhoods. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Golden Triangle‘s biggest outdoor party starts Friday with a big exclamation point on it — the iconic, 150-foot fountain that will spring back to life after being dormant since 2009.

Repairs and upgrades to the fountain were the last and most expensive part of a $35 million renovation of Point State Park that has been years in the making.  The $9.6 million fountain project included moving pumps and electrical systems to higher ground and out of a flood plain and installing a new granite ring, restored outer basin and LED lighting.

The graceful spray marks the point where the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers join to form the Ohio, and it is both beautiful and refreshing.

The timing of the fountain’s return is not coincidental but deliberate, announced months ago jointly by Riverlife, the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/opinion/editorials/frothy-point-the-citys-iconic-fountain-makes-a-welcome-return-690480/#ixzz2VS6NXBzG

Schuylkill Among Rivers Nominated For State’s 2013 ‘Best’ List

Six rivers have been nominated for Pennsylvania’s 30th annual “River of the Year” award, which the public can vote on through Jan. 18.

English: This is my own work, Public Domain Ph...

English: This is my own work, Public Domain Photograph, not copyrighted Ed Yakovich http://www.flickr.com/photos/10396190@N04 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Philadelphia region’s very own Schuylkill River is among the nominees this year, with the award’s state and non-profit sponsors touting the 128-mile Schuylkill’s resurrection from a “dead river in the mid-1900s” to one that “touches countryside and urban life” alike.

But the votes aren’t flowing as quickly for the Schuylkill in the first week of voting as some of its competitors. The other nominees are: the Juniata River and Swatara Creek in southcentral Pennsylvania; the Kiskiminetas River and Monongahela River in the southwest and Lackawanna River in the northeast.  The contest’s first week of voting, Dec. 18 through Dec. 24, put the Schuylkill in third place with 19 percent.  The Lackawanna has 31 percent and the Monongahela has 22 percent.

“We still have three weeks to go, so we’re hoping for a push,” Schuylkill River Development Corp. President and CEO Joe Syrnick said today.

Read more:  http://www.philly.com/philly/news/breaking/20121227_Schuylkill_among_rivers_on_states_2013_Best_list.html

Fountain At Point State Park To Resume June 7

The fountain in Pittsburgh’s Point State Park, which has been shut off since April 2009, will resume operation in a ceremony set for June 7.

The announcement was made today in a statement released by the Riverlife organization, the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust.

“The transformation of Point State Park is almost complete, and with the reconstructed fountain it will once again be a jewel in our award-winning state park system,” said DCNR secretary Richard J. Allan in a statement.  “After hard work and collaboration across the region, we’re happy to celebrate this major reconstruction with a public event that will showcase the renovations and the park in a stunning waterfront gathering spot.”

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/local/neighborhoods-city/fountain-at-point-state-park-to-sume-june-7-667187/#ixzz2FdM9zxY3

Worst Of Hurricane Sandy Expected In Western Pennsylvania Tonight

Locator map of the Greater Pittsburgh metro ar...

Locator map of the Greater Pittsburgh metro area in the western part of the of . Red denotes the Pittsburgh Metropolitan Statistical Area, and yellow denotes the New Castle Micropolitan Statistical Area, which is included in the Pittsburgh-New Castle CSA. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Pennsylvania utility companies are reporting that more than 30,000 people are already without power around the state, in the first wave of what are expected to be an increasing number of outages because of Hurricane Sandy.

At 3:15 p.m. Monday PECO was reporting over 15,000 customers without power, mostly in the Philadelphia area.  First Energy reports more than 8,000 and PPL about 8,000, including some in the Harrisburg area.

The utilities have lined up extra repair crews, but they still say some people could be without power for days.

Larger numbers of people are already without power in New Jersey.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/local/region/hurricane-sandy-impacts-beginning-to-be-felt-into-western-pennsylvania-659697/#ixzz2AjIf57gf