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Smart Growth Partnership of Westmoreland County (SGPWC) Celebrates 15 years
Click to read coverage of our 15-year anniversary event -- http://triblive.com/news/westmoreland/10791312-74/growth-smart-kukovich Join the conversation among our community champions on Facebook -- https://www.facebook.com/smartgrowthpartnership/posts/1398297773520740 Also see our Facebook page for additional pictures of the event -- https://www.facebook.com/smartgrowthpartnership/posts/1397027280314456?notif%5Ft=feedback%5Freaction%5Fgeneric%ACif%5Fid=1468787238024397 To download presentations, see -- https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B2IxNAjJwbzyeFZrU2VIXzRCYmc/view?usp=sharing > More

Smart Growth Partnership of Westmoreland County (SGPWC) Jack Robertshaw Fellows Generate Positive Outcomes for Westmoreland Communities
"New Kensington, Pa. - IUP student geographer Evan Tobin needed one more course to complete a Masters Degree in Geography: Regional Planning. An independent study course to cap his academic career was tailor-made. Mr. Tobin’s earlier work in the New Kensington area (on a Design class project to create a plaNEWken concept plan) had increased the community’s capacity for better development, and created inspiration for surrounding communities to take a fresh look at their own planning and plan implementation policies. > More

The NEW New Ken -- A Better Block
For ongoing news about the New Kensington Better Block initiative see -- https://www.facebook.com/groups/newkenbetterblock/  > More

Greater Latrobe, Derry Area high school students offer ideas for economic growth
By Stacey Federoff If a connecting corridor between the Pennsylvania Turnpike at New Stanton and Arnold Palmer Regional Airport in Unity ever comes to fruition, students from Greater Latrobe and Derry Area high schools have their own ideas about how to spur economic growth. Economic students proposed construction of a convention center, an amphitheater, a military base or a recreation center last week during the Greater Latrobe-Laurel Valley Chamber’s annual Economic Exchange Day. > More

New Kensington downtown revitalization brainstormed
New Kensington downtown revitalization brainstormed       By George Guido   Friday, April 10, 2015, 1:11 a.m.   Could a craft brewery or art gallery be in New Kensington’s future? What about bicycle lanes? A series of small coffee and tea shops with Wi-Fi? Those were just a few of the ideas bandied about Thursday night at the Better Block planning session at Westmoreland County Community College’s New Kensington branch. > More

"The Bakken Part II: Responding to the Challenges, Recommendations for the Future"
  Natural Gas Newsletter for Upcoming Events Don’t miss Part II of the Bakken Webinar! Thursday, November 20th %7C 1:00 - 2:00 p.m. EST "The Bakken Part II: Responding to the Challenges, Recommendations for the Future " Presented by Deb Nelson, Program Manager, Vision West ND and Daryl Dukart, Chairman, Vision West ND Consortium Open to all, but Registration is necessary. Please go to our Natural Gas Events page and register for the event. > More

Latrobe greenspace planner Keith named 1st Robershaw Fellow
%7C Neighborhoods   Top of Form %B7   Home Latrobe greenspace planner Keith named 1st Jack Robertshaw Fellow         Dana Keith, senior environmental planning major at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, has been named as a Jack Robertshaw Fellow. Pictured are John Turack, interim executive director of Smart Growth Partnership (from left); Keith, and Jared Trunzo, interim executive director of the Latrobe Community Revitalization Program. > More

Land-use webinar to focus on engaging a community's generations in planning
Land-use webinar to focus on engaging a community’s generations in planning November 6, 2014 Land-use webinar to focus on engaging a community’s generations in planning UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Land-use planners interacting and working with various age groups will be the topic of a Web-based seminar offered by Penn State Extension at noon Nov. 19. Presenting the 75-minute webinar will be Neal Fogle, extension educator in Northumberland County; John Turack, extension educator in Westmoreland County; and Liesel Dreisbach, extension educator in Northampton County. > More

Voting Begins for Pennsylvania's 2015 River of the Year
  News for Immediate Release   Nov. 10, 2014 Voting Begins for Pennsylvania’s 2015 River of the Year Harrisburg - The public is invited to vote online for the 2015 Pennsylvania River of the Year, choosing from among five waterways nominated across the state.   Nominated are: Conewango Creek, Lackawanna River, Loyalhanna Creek, Neshaminy Creek and the Ohio River.   “These nominated waterways showcase so many unique natural resources and recreational opportunities,” said Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Ellen Ferretti. > More

Our World-Class Streams: A Workshop for Citizens of the Laurel Highlands
Our World-Class Streams: A Workshop for Citizens of the Laurel Highlands   The world-class quality of streams in the Laurel Highlands is largely unrecognized, even by many outdoor enthusiasts, but the public can learn about these treasures in a series of workshops sponsored by the Laurel Highlands Conservation Coalition.   The workshops will explain why local streams with highly diverse aquatic life are valuable not only on a local scale but also on a global scale. > More

The Growing Greener Coalition presents "Finding the Green"
The Laurel Highlands Conservation Coalition in cooperation with Natural Diversity will present Growing Greener Coalition’s “Finding the Green” on funding sources at St. Francis University with the program beginning at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 15, and will be repeated at St. Vincent College at 6 p.m. on Oct. 22.  > More

Comments requested on DCNR's Outdoor Recreation Plan
DCNR is looking for public feedback on their updated Outdoor Recreation Plan....please read and send your comments.   http://www.padeasla.org/index.php?option=com%5Feasyblog&view=entry&id=233&utm%5Fsource=newsletter%5F126&utm%5Fmedium=email&utm%5Fcampaign=e-plan-newsletter-02-18-14  > More

DCNR announces October Calendar of Events
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Arts and Community: Funding Opportunities and Resources from the National Endowment for the Arts
  WEBINAR ANNOUNCEMENT Arts and Community: Funding Opportunities and Resources from the National Endowment for the Arts   Jason Schupbach, National Endowment for the Arts   October 20, 2014 (Monday) 1:00 PM - Eastern Time   http://connect.msu.edu/ncrcrd   About the webinar: This webinar will explain funding and resources provided by the National Endowment for the Arts to support arts-based community development activities.  Through its programs the Endowment supports American communities in their efforts to engage the arts in making places more livable. > More

Courses to be Offered through PSAB and Pennsylvania Municipal Planning Education Institute (PMPEI)
PSAB and Pennsylvania Municipal Planning Education Institute (PMPEI)     The Course in Zoning Administration I n this course zoning hearing board members, zoning officials, and elected officials-regardless of experience-learn the basic principles, procedures and information needed to effectively carry out their functions in the administration of municipal zoning. The course covers the technical aspects of zoning and how to build effective relationships with the public.  Hands-on experiences and practice exercises are built into each session. > More

Our World-Class Streams: A Workshop for Citizens of the Laurel Highlands
Our World-Class Streams: A Workshop for Citizens of the Laurel Highlands   The world-class quality of streams in the Laurel Highlands is largely unrecognized, even by many outdoor enthusiasts, but the public can learn about these treasures in a series of workshops sponsored by the Laurel Highlands Conservation Coalition.   The workshops will explain why local streams with highly diverse aquatic life are valuable not only on a local scale but also on a global. > More

Abandoned to Active: Fostering Walking and Biking in the Rust Belt
Rust belt communities in Northwest Indiana and the Pittsburgh area are investing in active transportation solutions to revitalize their regions. This session will highlight projects that are creating new life in older industrialized communities.   Recent investments have transformed former blighted areas, and reconnected people with their natural assets - e.g. Lake Michigan and the Indiana Dunes; and the Three Rivers and Allegheny Ridge Heritage Areas of Pittsburgh and its Laurel Highlands. > More

"Writing Effective Grant Proposals" - Workshops Planned byThe Pennsylvania State Association of Boroughs
Whether you’re new to the world of grants or have some experience writing grants you’ll find this workshop valuable. The grant-writing and fund-raising environment is increasingly competitive. Organization and preparation matter. Obtaining grants is a process. This workshop will break that process down into workable strategies to ensure a more successful outcome. Topics covered include working effectively with foundations, responding to RFPs, components of an effective proposal, evaluation strategies and considerations, how your proposal is reviewed, and effective search strategies > More

New Stanton to craft comprehensive plan to prove borough 'more than' turnpike exit
New Stanton Council President Scott Sistek said he wants the community to be seen as more than just a stop off of the Pennsylvania Turnpike. The borough is working with the Westmoreland County planning department on a comprehensive plan to guide it through the next 10 years. “I want to see it become more of a community, where there’s more of a downtown business district,” Sistek said. > More

Connecting the Regional Trail Network
Connecting the Regional Trail Network Since last fall, the Power of 32%2B Regional Trail Network has made great progress advancing its vision of a connected regional trail system by 2033. A key step was the formalization of a coalition in support of establishing a regional trail network. According to Amy Camp, land and water trail specialist at the Pennsylvania Environmental Council, the group of 19 partner organizations -- who officially signed on to the coalition -- meet three times a year and work towards trail completion and the advancement of trail-based economic development. > More

Upcoming Land Use Webinars
Land Use Webinar Series - Summer/Fall 2014     Penn State Extension’s Land Use Decision-Making Education Team provides access to a series of webinars to help planners, elected officials, and concerned citizens come together to make better land use decisions. We hope you can join us!   Webinar Topics & Schedule (12:00 p.m. - 1:15 p.m.)   July 23, 2014 -  How Can You Make Your Comprehensive Plan Better Support Economic Development? > More

Linking the Comprehensive Plan to Economic Development
Land-use webinar to explore link between comprehensive plan and economic development       UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- How can you make your comprehensive plan better support economic development? That will be the topic of a web-based seminar kicking off a summer-fall land-use series offered by Penn State Extension .    Presenting the 75-minute webinar, which will take place at noon on July 23, will be Todd Poole, with the firm 4Ward Planning. > More

Smart Growth America's National Complete Streets Coalition will release Dangerous by Design 2014
Every day, in communities across the country, people are killed while walking to school, to work or to the store. Many of these lives could be saved by building and operating streets that work for everyone who uses them. On Tuesday, May 20, Smart Growth America’s National Complete Streets Coalition will release Dangerous by Design 2014 , a report that brings attention to the national epidemic of pedestrian fatalities and the decades-long neglect of pedestrian safety. > More

Ped-bike mapping effort in Westmoreland
Ped-bike mapping effort in Westmoreland just the start   #[kill myCSId]# --> --> Stacey Federoff 724-836-6660 Staff Reporter Tribune-Review Vince Mastrorocco of Derry Township marks a route on a bicycle suitability map compiled by the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission, a 10-county regional organization, to help new bikers learn the best road routes. The maps were presented Monday, May 4, 2014, during the first meeting of the Westmoreland County Bike and Pedestrian Committee. > More

Graziani Leaving Latrobe to become new Penn Township manager
By Chris Foreman Published: --> Wednesday, April 23, 2014, 9:00 p.m.   Rosie Wolford considered it a “tremendous coup” when Latrobe officials coaxed Alex Graziani into becoming their city manager in 2011. Now, Latrobe’s mayor says, Penn Township is getting a “gem” in Graziani, who starts as the new township manager on June 2. Graziani, who spent a decade as executive director of the Smart Growth Partnership of Westmoreland County, brought vision, energy, creativity and access to state leaders to Latrobe’s government, Wolford said. > More

Alex Graziani starts as Penn Township's Manager
     Chris Foreman %7C Penn-Trafford Star Latrobe city manager Alex Graziani started as Penn Township manager on May 1. Chris Foreman %7C Penn-Trafford Star Latrobe city manager Alex Graziani started as Penn Township manager on May 1.   <style>.es-carousel ul%7Bdisplay:block;%7D</style> --> #basic-modal-content %7Bdisplay:none;%7D /%2A Overlay %2A/ #simplemodal-overlay %7Bbackground-color:#000;%7D /%2A Container %2A/ #simplemodal-container %7Bwidth:975px; height:680px; color:#bbb; background-color:#333; border:4px solid #444; padding:1 > More

Local Government Academy Announces Mult-Municipal Planning & Community Sustainability Grants
pplication Deadline: M ay 1, 2014 The purpose of the Multi-Municipal Planning & Community Sustainability Grant program is to support the creation and implementation of multi-municipal plans in conformance with the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code. Applicants are eligible for grants of up to $8,500 per municipality for one or more of the following: Multi-Municipal Comprehensive Planning Implementing Multi-Municipal Planning Priorities Community Sustainability Assessments by Individuals or Teams of Municipalities Applications are accepted at any time, but are reviewed twice annually > More

Climate Change – Implications for Local and Regional Food Systems
West Virginia University is offering a Webinar on “ Climate Change - Implications for Local and Regional Food Systems ” on Friday, April 25 th from 2.00 pm through 3.30 pm.   Purpose: This webinar will help: -        Provide an overview of the general issue of characterizing regional climate change and climate variability, and discuss the current/potential impacts and opportunities for local and regional food systems in the Northeast; -        Identify current efforts in research, teaching and extension that promote p > More

SPC Regional Freight Conference
Registration is now open for the annual SPC Regional Freight Conference, to be held on Wednesday, May 21, 2014 at the Sheraton Station Square just outside of downtown Pittsburgh.   To register:  www.spcregion.org/freight.asp   There is no fee to attend.   A box lunch (or equivalent) will be provided.   This all day session will feature expert-led discussion on current issues and opportunities in the area of freight transportation, as well as an opportunity to provide input to the Statewide Freight Transportation Plan. > More

Hiking in PA Program
Hiking in Pennsylvania:   The Laurel Highlands Trail   Hiking in Pennsylvania:   The Laurel Highlands Trail will be presented by Mike MuMau, Park Operations Manager, Laurel Hill State Park on Tuesday, April 15, 2014 at 7 PM in the Calvin E. Pollins Library at 362 Sand Hill Road, Suite 1, Greensburg, PA.   The Laurel Highlands Trail is a 70-miles hiking trail that spans the Laurel Mountain from the scenic Youghiogheny River at Ohiopyle, PA to the Conemaugh Gorge near Johnstown, PA. > More

Transit's New Era
State plan improves outlook for urban counties and commuters by Jeffery Fraser // 03/25/2014 T he Port Authority of Allegheny County’s chronic fiscal crisis was lifted with the stroke of the governor’s pen in November to the relief of downtown businesses, seniors, regional developers, people with disabilities and -- although they might not realize it -- suburban commuters who prefer their cars over a Port Authority bus or light rail transit. > More

Bright Times in Blairsville; The borough’s legacy beckons renewed life
By John Moist   Nestled comfortably in a crook of the Conemaugh River, Blairsville Borough, Indiana County sits atop history itself. With a past rooted in canals and railways, foundries and factories, the interwoven community stands today as a testament to nearly 200 years of heritage. Whether strolling the downtown farmers’ market or taking in historic sights of the Elm Street neighborhood, the   legacy and life of Blairsville pulls you in. > More

Walkable Communities -- Isn't that what we had before the invention of the wheel?
Posted: February 14, 2014 Or was it the invention of the internal combustion engine that sent this development pattern into hibernation? In a few days, Penn State Extension’s Land Use Decision-Making Education Team will kick off the first session of the Winter/Spring 2014 educational webinar series -- Transit-Oriented & Walkable Communities. The concept presented in this session is not a new idea. > More

Pro Walk/Pro Bike/Pro Place Conference
The Call for Proposals is now open for the next Pro Walk/Pro Bike/Pro Place conference, which will take place in Pittsburgh, September 8-11, 2014. Call for Proposals Thank you again for taking part in Pro Walk/Pro Bike/Pro Place 2013 on September 19 at Carnegie Mellon University. The energy of the event was fantastic and I enjoyed meeting many of you.   We now turn our attention towards the international event, Pro Walk/Pro Bike/Pro Place 2014, which will be held at the David L Lawrence Convention Center, September 8-11. > More

Ideas for Intergenerational Living Newsletter
Ideas for Intergenerational Living Newsletter January 2, 2014   Matthew Kaplan, Ph.D. Professor of Intergenerational Programs and Aging at the Penn State University share the latest edition of View Ideas for Intergenerational Living Newsletter online  Please click on the link to view the newsletter.   > More

Webinar to focus on implementing land use and other plans
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Penn State Extension will offer a Web-based seminar aimed at helping municipal, community and organizational officials implement strategic, land-use and comprehensive plans. Scheduled for noon Wednesday, Nov. 20, the 75-minute session, Facing the Challenges of Plan Implementation, will feature extension educators Neal Fogle and Judy Chambers , who are community and economic development specialists, and City of Latrobe Manager Alex Graziani. > More

Natural Gas Pipeline Projects, Trends, and Pipeline Legislation
October Shale Webinar Looked at Natural Gas Pipeline Projects, Trends, and Pipeline Legislation Posted: October 6, 2013 October’s webinar focused on what the pipeline impacts signify for the Commonwealth As unconventional well production has grown exponentially over the past few years, getting natural gas to market is of key concern. Dave Messersmith, Penn State Extension Educator with the Marcellus Education Team discussed major pipeline projects, industry trends, and recent and pending pipeline legislation during the October 17th monthly Shale webinar series. > More

New Stanton officials told to update development plans
  By Kate Wilcox Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2013 New Stanton officials need to plan for new business and residential development after the Interstate 70 interchange construction project is completed in 2018, according to the Westmoreland County Department of Planning and Development. The $50 million PennDOT project, which aims to ease the borough’s traffic gridlock, will remove the ramps to I-70 and relocate them near the UPS facility. > More

Estate and Succession Planning for Farm and Forest Landowners
Now available -- Online book (2013). Companion resource for eLearning curriculum. University Park, PA: Penn State University. Authors: John Becker, Matt Kaplan, Keith Dickinson, and Michael Jacobson. EstateSuccessionPlanning.pdf -- PDF document, 1283 kB (1314385 bytes)  > More

Fiscal demands of different land uses on local governments explored
  UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Penn State Extension will offer a Web-based seminar aimed at helping municipal officials assess the impacts of land use on local governments.   Scheduled for noon on Wednesday, Oct. 16, the 75-minute session, " "Fiscal Impacts of Different Land Uses" will feature extension educators Neal Fogle and Peter Wulfhorst , who are economic  and community development specialists. > More

Penn State Intergenerational Program
We provide leadership and resource support for organizations interested in developing and studying intergenerational programs and activities that enrich people’s lives and help address vital social and community issues. Discover a collection of activities for teachers, educators, and families to help bring different generations and cultures together.   http://extension.psu.edu/youth/intergenerational    > More

Have We Reached Peak Sprawl?
Several real estate researchers met in Atlanta on Wednesday to announce a milestone nearly as significant, they believe, as when historian Fredrick Jackson Turner declared the closing of America’s frontier after the 1890 census. Metropolitan Atlanta, long a symbol of car-dependent American sprawl, has recently passed a threshold where a majority of its new construction spending is now focused in high-density, "walkable" parts of town. > More

'Trees' is conference topic
The public is invited to a conference on "Trees," which will be held by the Laurel Highlands Conservation Coalition from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Oct. 29 at Laurelville Mennonite Church Center near Mount Pleasant. Trees create beauty, purify air, make oxygen, act as sound barriers, and save energy with cooling shade in summer and wind-breaks in winter.  These and other ecosystem benefits of trees will be the topic of the keynote address from Dr. > More

Form-Based Code Development
Penn State Ag Sciences News 9/10/2013 UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Penn State Extension will offer a Web-based seminar providing guidance for municipalities on a form-based code approach to development.   Scheduled for noon on Wednesday, Sept. 18, the 75-minute session, "The ABC’s of Form-based Codes," will feature John Trant Jr. and Thomas Comitta .   Trant is c hief strategy officer in the Planning Department of Cranberry Township in Butler County, and Comitta is founder and CEO of Thomas Comitta Associates of West Chester, a t own planning and landscape architecture firm serving > More

New Stanton braces for surge in growth
By Kate Wilcox   At 72, the Rev. Cora Jean Black has seen her share of change -- some good, some not so good. Some mightily unwanted. But sitting in her jam-packed office at Sea-Jay’s Marriage Center in New Stanton, where you can tie the knot, close on your mortgage and get your temporary car tags all under one roof, Black says there’s no denying that changes have transformed her once-sedate Westmoreland County hamlet into a bustling junction. > More

Land-use planning webinar to focus on transportation connectivity
  UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Penn State Extension will offer a Web-based seminar providing guidance for municipalities on how to enhance vehicular, bicycle and pedestrian connectivity.   Scheduled for noon on Wednesday, Aug. 21, the 75-minute session will feature Steven Deck, of Parsons Brinkerhoff’s Harrisburg office, and extension educator John Turack, a community development specialist. > More

PA "Clean and Green" Tax Program - Purpose, Requirements and Considerations
August 7, 2013 presentation (now as a recording) -- The Pennsylvania Farmland and Forest Land Assessment Act, Act 319, better known as “Clean and Green,” was authorized by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and allows land devoted to agricultural and forest land use to be assessed at a value for that use rather than a fair market value. The intent of Act 319 is to encourage land owners to retain their land in agricultural, open space or forest land use, by providing some real estate tax relief. > More

PennDOT targets New Stanton for $50M project
Click the below link to read the news coverage of The June 26th, 2013  “ Community Conversation ,” a community visioning, public engagement event --   http://triblive.com/news/westmoreland/4262501-74/borough-stanton-traffic#axzz2XWod9DwK     By Kate Wilcox --> For travelers on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, New Stanton is a passing destination for food and fuel. But without a central downtown or sidewalks in the borough, it can be a traffic nightmare. > More

Monthly webinar series on land-use issues to start July 17
    A new series of Web-based seminars offered by Penn State Extension will cover issues related to land use. Kicking off July 17, the 75-minute, monthly webinars will be offered from noon to 1:15 p.m. on the third Wednesday of the month. The sessions will include time for questions and answers. Read More%85   http://news.psu.edu/story/280188/2013/06/26/impact/monthly-webinar-series-land-use-issues-start-july-17   http://agsci.psu.edu/news  > More

Shale Webinar Series Summer Break Session July 18th: A Shale Open Forum with Extension
Latest News Join our Marcellus Education Team members July 18th as they discuss current topics and questions you want answered. Shale Webinar Series Summer Break Session July 18th: A Shale Open Forum with Extension In this month’s Shale Webinar Session, Penn State Marcellus Education Team will be offering a Shale Open Forum with Extension.  Join Jim Ladlee, Dan Brockett, Matt Henderson, and Dave Messersmith as they open with current hot topics, and then cover any questions from the public on topics sent in by e-mail prior to the webinar.  Questions during the webinar will also > More

Building to fall, park to rise in Mt. Pleasant
By Marilyn Forbes --> Parks are always a huge asset to any town, and once the dust settles and the debris is cleared, Mt. Pleasant Borough will be enjoying a new park on its eastern end. The Wood n’ Reflections building on Main Street is being demolished, and borough officials and the building’s former owners are pleased with the potential the now-open site will offer the town. “Now, when people come into the town from the east, they will see a pretty little park area,” former owner Bob Beck said of the site. > More

Coping with Coops in the Neighborhood - How Chicken Conflicts are Being Addressed
June 27, 2013   (Now Recorded) Land Use Planning Webinar: Today, many nonfarm residents raise backyard chickens in urban and suburban settings. However, keeping chickens in developed areas poses challenges that are different from raising poultry in rural environments. While some cities and municipalities have restrictions on raising chickens or prohibit it completely, those interested in raising backyard chickens are questioning these ordinances. > More

“This is what WE DIG...” Photo Contest Celebrates Region’s Beauty and Amenities
Westmoreland Economic Development Initiative for Growth will award an iPad for contributed photos that capture the essence of northern Westmoreland County. Interested photographers must submit their entries via email to photocontest@wedigpa.com  by 5 p.m. on July 15.   New Kensington, PA -- The Westmoreland Economic Development Initiative for Growth, (WEDIG), is organizing a photo contest to showcase the beauty of northern Westmoreland County. > More

Seeking Volunteer Table Facilitators for New Stanton Community Conversation
The Smart Growth Partnership of Westmoreland County invites you to participate in a Community Conversation to be held on Wednesday, June 26, 2013, 6:00-8:00 p.m. at the New Stanton Fire Hall.  Community developers, planners, and others skilled in group dynamics are welcome to volunteer as table facilitators for the event. Based on the America Speaks  Community Conversation process for public engagement that was used during the Power of 32 regional visioning effort a few years ago, this event will focus on the New Stanton interchange, any potential future land > More

Upcoming PSU Shale Programs
Penn State Extension Upcoming June Shale Programs   Seismic Testing, Pipeline Agreements and Shale Gas Development Updates - Where is Industry Headed?   Wednesday, June 19, 2013 Indiana County Extension Office 827 Water Street, Indiana, PA 15701 7:00 to 8:30 PM. Registration is required by calling 724-465-3880 $10 fee per person or $15 per couple payable at the door   Utica Shale - What We  Know Now That We Didn’t Know Then   Tuesday, June 25, 2013 Mercer County Extension Office 463 North Perry Highway, Mercer, PA 16137 6:30 to 8:00 PM.  Registration is requ > More

The Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission Wants Your Input!
  The Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission (SPC) is in the early phases of creating the draft 2015-2018 Transportation Improvement Program (TIP), which identifies the region’s priority transportation projects for the next four years.  The regional TIP is updated every two years in a cooperative process of local, state, and federal agencies, as well as the general public.   To make it easier to provide input online, SPC has created an online form to help you with your submissions.  Please go to www.spcregion.org/trans%5Ftip%5Fprojform.asp to give us your ideas.  Y > More

Future Story Community Visioning Project
Future Story Community Visioning Project A blog --  http://futurestorycollaborative.wordpress.com/ -- has been set up to continue the collaboration begun at the Future Story: Community Visioning Project at WCCC New Kensington Education Center on April 19th. If you haven’t already, consider adding to the discussion.  Thanks for your participation!  > More

Bike trail connections ongoing between Mt. Pleasant and Scottdale
By Rachel Basinger   The Coal and Coke Recreation Trail that runs between Mt. Pleasant and Scottdale boroughs has begun seeing an increase in users, especially with the sunshine and warmer temperatures. Members of the trail committee have been busy in the offseason planning and completing several projects to better the trail, including completion of the extension from the Willows Park area in Mt. > More

Students create new visions for region's future at Economic Exchange Day
By Chris Ulicne Bulletin Staff Writer   Area high school students on Wednesday worked with local and regional officials to come up with plans to improve the quality of life and the economy in their communities during Latrobe Area Chamber of Commerce’s Economic Exchange Day, hosted this year by Derry Area High School (DAHS).   "The idea behind it is to get the kids to look at and apply the economics they’ve learned throughout the year," said Derry Area faculty member Jeff Kelly. > More

Economic Exchange Day
John Turack & Leanne Griffith (Penn State Extension & Smart Growth Partnership) wish to extend a sincere THANK YOU to all who made our May 1 ECONOMIC EXCHANGE DAY a great educational experience for Greater Latrobe & Derry Area HS students, including: Julie Donovan (Laurel Highlands Visitors Bureau), Jeff Landy (Mt. Pleasant Borough), Gary Sheppard (Penn State Extension), Chris Bova & Brian Lawrence (Westmoreland County IDC), Joe Szczur (PennDOT District 12), Gabe Monzo (Westm’d. > More

Group mapping vision for future of New Kensington, Arnold, Lower Burrell area
By R.A. Monti More than 70 local leaders, business professionals and citizens met Friday afternoon to discuss the future of the New Kensington, Arnold and Lower Burrell area. The meeting, which was held at the Westmoreland Community College New Kensington campus, was held in hopes of spurring ideas to revive the area, according to Scott McMannis, who is with the Circles Initiative. The Circles Initiative is a group that teaches people how to overcome poverty. > More

Entrepreneurial Webinar
Session 2- Creating an Entrepreneurial Community of this webinar series will take place on April 25, 2013 between noon and 1 pm. The webinar will focus on how  entrepreneurial development fits into broader community and economic development efforts. Examples of success and approaches from around the country, how community readiness is assessed, and ideas for developing strategies will also be addressed. > More

Help Vandergrift win a $25,000 State Farm Grant
The Vandergrift Improvement Program is one of the top 200 finalists out of 3,000 applicants nationwide in the State Farm Neighborhood Assist%99 grant program. We need your help to make it to the top 40 to receive the grant. Cast your vote to help us win! Click here to get to the Neighborhood Assist Facebook page and click on the “Vote” button to show your support for the project, Building Business. > More

Braddock's Battlefield History Center
Braddock’s Battlefield History Center and The Rivers of Steel Heritage Museum   The first stop in our day-long bus trip is Homestead at the Rivers of Steel Heritage Museum in the Bost Building. The mission of Rivers of Steel is to interpret the "dynamic and powerful story of the region’s evolution from the colonial settlement to ’Big Steel’ to the modern era."   The Bost Building was built in 1892 as a hotel and served as the temporary headquarters for the Amalgamated Association of Iron and Steel Workersduring the Homestead Lockout and Strike.  > More

Community Visioning Project
What is your vision for the future of our community? Please come and join us in this Community Visioning Project to share your ideas on how we can create a community where everyone thrives.   April 19 th 2013 from 11:30 am to 2:00 pm       Westmoreland County Community College New Kensington Center 1150 5th Ave., New Kensington   Vision project facilitator: John Turack of Penn State Extension   Lunch will be provided  > More

The Line-- a documentary by Linda Midgett
From Emmy Award-winning producer Linda Midgett, The Line is a groundbreaking documentary chronicling the new face of poverty in America. As Sojourners CEO Jim Wallis puts it, "more and more of our friends are in poverty -- in the pews, in our workplaces -- through no fault of their own, and they are slipping below the poverty level."   In the Chicago suburbs, a single dad was laid off from his bank and is now a regular at the local food pantry, trying to make it by with    three kids. > More

Community action group puts poverty in Alle-Kiski Valley in spotlight
By Liz Hayes A local community action group this month is asking Arnold, Lower Burrell and New Kensington residents to take a hard look at poverty and develop a plan to eliminate it in their cities. Circles, a nationwide campaign aimed at helping people leave poverty behind, will host two programs within the next week -- a screening of an Emmy Award-winning documentary on poverty in America and a session to brainstorm methods for helping downtrodden Alle-Kiski Valley residents to prosper. > More

Ivar Kroghrud, QuestBack's Lead Strategist
This interview with   Ivar Kroghrud , the lead strategist   at QuestBack,   which specializes in feedback management, was conducted and condensed by   Adam Bryant . Mr. Kroghrud, a co-founder of the firm, was its C.E.O. for 13 years. Q.   Tell me about your approach to leadership. A.   Part of my role is to be “chief ironing officer.” It’s very easy in a fast-growing company and fast-changing industry to get hung up on all the things that aren’t working and that we should be fixing. > More

Improving Connectivity and System Function through Local Planning
PennDOT’s new handbook on Improving Connectivity and System Function through Local Planning provides guidence to municipalities on how to enhance vehicular, bicycle, and pedestrian connectivity. This training offers an overview of the handbook and includes strategies to effectively regulate and manage a connected transportation network within a community including a review of connectivity index calculations and model ordinance language. > More

Providing Assistance to Agricultural Producers and Small Rural Business
WASHINGTON , March 29, 2013 - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that USDA is seeking applications to provide assistance to agricultural producers and rural small businesses for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. Funding is available from USDA’s Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) remains focused on carrying out its mission, despite a time of significant budget uncertainty. > More

Work on Pittsburgh mixed-use project could start in July
  The Allegheny County Sports & Exhibition Authority board in Pennsylvania plans to begin development of roads and utilities at the 28-acre site of the former Civic Arena in Pittsburgh as part of a $40 million mixed-use project being proposed by the Pittsburgh Penguins. The project will consist of "1,200 units of housing, 600,000 square feet of office space and 200,000 square feet of commercial development." The state will contribute $15 million for the infrastructure work. > More

"...visionary plans, urban design goals and architectural aspirations."
"As land use planning changes, ’zoning’ is no longer appropriate," stated a recent Washington Post article that has been re-published in the planning trade journal Planetizen. In his blog entry this month, Extension educator John Turack reflects on that statement: How might it apply to the urban/suburban/rural communities of Southwest Pennsylvania, and elsewhere?   Westmoreland "Rattlesnake Flag" of the Revolution from New Alexandria, Pennsylvania, website -- http://newalexpa.com/history3.htm ; Also see -- http://www.westmorelandhistory.org/shop/  and www.heinzhistorycent > More

Is it Time to Ditch Zoning?
As mixed-use development increasingly supersedes single-use development, Roger K. Lewis argues that we should retire the word "zoning" and its outdated "characterization of how we plan and shape growth." Although we still need land-use regulation, says Lewis, "zoning increasingly has become a conceptually inappropriate term." In an era in which elements typically regulated by zoning such as parking requirements, height limits, and maximum densities are becoming flexible and negotiable, Lewis argues that the term, and its conventions, have become obsolete. > More

Expert: Health care too expensive, not effective
Expert: Health care too expensive, not effective By  Kari Andren   Published:  Wednesday, February 20, 2013, 12:01 a.m. While the new federal health care law is not perfect, America’s current health care system is too expensive and not effective enough, a national health care expert said on Tuesday during a town hall meeting at the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg. The United States spends about $2.5 trillion annually on health care, about one-fifth of our economy, and more per person than countries in Europe, said Dr. > More

Land-use webinar offered by Penn State Extension on Feburary 20
UNIVERSITY PARK -- A Web-based seminar focusing on limitations in municipal land-use authority will be offered by Penn State Extension at noon and 7 p.m. Feb. 20. "How Pre-emption of Zoning and Other Local Controls Impacts Planning" will provide participants with an appreciation of how state laws can impact local land use. In the one-hour session, attorney Charles Courtney, of McNees Wallace & Nurick LLC, will explain why planners, elected officials and other interested parties should understand how certain statutes can limit municipal land-use authority. > More

Planning Matters
 "A hundred years after we are gone and forgotten those who never heard of us will be living with the results of our action" - Oliver Wendell Holmes, former US Supreme Court Justice   This quote from a non-planner struck me as I was listening to Union County Planning Director Shawn McLaughlin speak at a recent Penn State Extension Land Use Decision-making webinar. Shawn discussed the types of communities today’s planners are creating for future generations. > More

A how-to on throwing your hat into the ring
  Would-be candidates for local offices get pointers on running. by David Mekeel  Reading Eagle For Gary Hadden, it was a new world. He’s never held political office, but said he’s been thinking about running for his local board of supervisors. Figuring out everything that entails - well, that’s why he showed up Monday night. "I was just interested in trying to get some more information," said Hadden, who lives in the Leesport area. > More

Decisions, decisions
Posted: January 25, 2013 Every group has to make them, but too often we put off those pesky decisions. We talk in circles, get bogged down in details, repeat ourselves - all to avoid the moment of truth when we finally decide what to do. Sound familiar?  It’s a scenario that plays out in business boardrooms, community meetings, local governments, clubs, and church councils; just about any type of organization. > More

USDA Highlights 2012 Investments to Build Stronger Rural Communities
USDA Highlights 2012 Investments to Build Stronger Rural Communities                 Rural Development helps to invest more than $862 million to strengthen rural Pennsylvania     WASHINGTON , January 23, 2013 - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack recently issued a report highlighting USDA Rural Development’s fiscal year (FY) 2012 investments in job creation, businesses, infrastructure and housing for Americans living in rural communities across the nation. > More

Monthly webinar series on land-use issues to start Jan. 16
Thursday, January 3, 2013 Balancing farmland preservation with the need for future housing development is among the issues facing land-use planners. UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- A new series of Web-based seminars offered by Penn State Extension will cover issues related to land use.     Kicking off Jan. 16, the hour-long, monthly webinars will be offered at noon and 7 p.m. on a Wednesday with time for questions and answers. > More

Smart Growth offers resources to Westmoreland Communities
Smart Growth offers resources to  Westmoreland communities Marilyn Forbes for the Daily Courier --  John Turack, Smart Growth Partnership interim executive director, asks for ideas or problems that could be addressed. jan 2013   By   Marilyn Forbes   Published:   Tuesday, January 15, 2013, 12:01 a.m. Updated: Tuesday, January 15, 2013   Officials with Smart Growth Partnership held an informal community partners meeting in Mt. > More

Looking Back, Living Today, and Leaning Forward
January 10, 2013 By John Turack "When planning for a year, plant corn. When planning for a decade, plant trees. When planning for life, train and educate people." -- Chinese proverb. Last month in this space I used some quotes from the website Proverbia to inspire thought about planning and planning processes. Think of this as part two. Looking Back, Living Today, and Leaning Forward   To read more, go to -- http://extension.psu.edu/ecd/news/2012/looking-back-living-today-and-moving-forward      > More

Lincoln Avenue Project Plans Displayed for Review at the 2013 City of Latrobe Strategic Visioning Summit
Posted on July 13, 2012 by Chris Townley This was a group project for the Spring 2012 semester Planning Design II course at the Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Deemed the "Lincoln Ave Studio", the goal of the class was to create a proposal to provide ideas for the redevelopment of the Lincoln Avenue corridor in Latrobe, PA. There is a rail bed which had been abandon adjacent to Lincoln Ave and the city was looking for creative ideas for reuse. > More

2013 City of Latrobe Strategic Visioning Summit
  January 11, 2013. Latrobe, Pennsylvania   Videos of the  2013 Latrobe Strategic Summit, including Tom  Hylton’s two talks, are now up on the LatrobeTV website. You can find them by visiting   -- http://www.latrobetv.com :   2013 Latrobe Strategic Summit - Manager Alex Graziani’s "State of the City" address -   http://latrobetv.com/on/?p=1226         2013 Latrobe Summit - Hylton Pt 1 -   http://latrobetv.com/on/?p=1230         2013 Latrobe Summit - Hylton Pt 2 -   http://latrobetv.c > More

Trees grace gateway to Latrobe
By Joe Napsha Published: Tuesday, December 18, 2012, 8:45 p.m. Updated: Friday, December 21, 2012 --> For the past six years, Cheryl Koloshinsky of Latrobe has mowed or used trimmers on a narrow strip of grass in front of her sidewalk, making sure she does not step into the path of Lloyd Avenue traffic. But Koloshinsky won%91t have to do that work in front of her home next spring because Latrobe has replaced the grass with gray-colored stamped-and-dyed concrete as part of the first phase of the Lloyd Avenue gateway redevelopment project. > More

Large crowd previews plans for bridge in Derry
By Jeff Himler Published: Friday, January 11, 2013, 12:01 a.m. Updated: Friday, January 11, 2013 --> PennDOT intends to keep two-way traffic flowing along the Route 217 railroad bridge in Derry during construction of a new bridge, tentatively set to begin in 2015. That news pleased more than 120 citizens who attended a meeting the state held in the borough Wednesday to provide an update on the project, estimated to cost between $12 million to $15 million. > More

Preliminary design for Route 217 bridge revealed
By Marie McCandless Latrobe Bulletin News Editor   January 10, 2013 Pennsylvania Department of Transportation officials and engineers Wednesday presented a preliminary design for the Route 217 bridge replacement in Derry Borough. The public plans display at AV Germano Hall attracted more than 125 people curious to see how the new bridge will be aligned. The design calls for the existing bridge to remain open and vehicular and pedestrian access maintained during construction of an adjacent structure that would angle to the west near Brown Way (behind the laundromat), then continue alongsid > More

Excela near deal for center in Unity
By Joe Napsha   Published:  Thursday, January 10, 2013, 12:01 a.m. Updated: Thursday, January 10, 2013  Excela Health is close to a deal to acquire a 29-acre parcel off Route 30 in Unity Township, where the hospital system plans to build a three-story outpatient medical center between the Wal-Mart and Kmart stores, an official said Wednesday. “We’re close to an agreement. > More

Happy Holidays & 2013 Local Government Academy Program Announcements
Happy Holidays & 2013 Local Government Academy Program Announcements: In This Issue Contemplating Governing CTAC CORE Series Free Roundtable in January Feasibility Study for ALCOSAN Communities Sustainable Community Essentials Certification New Webinars & Blog Posts ALOM Banner Community Program Advocates for Good Government To view the full newsletter click here: http://campaign.r20.constantcontact.com/render?llr=5i49mxbab&v=001SZ1qw1gWteRfwipfHHVJAM82sbaSKcPpYEftoZHU%5F2TvbySyHN9YBPVq5U8HVvZuPraWdSxCW2jeOO%5FGI6DkWn8Ilm8Ur47s9XmDlbC5StpQ4%5FLOUMa8XQHopB-FcpovJURXUfVFQYm0wTJaDuWhM > More

ICMA Center for Sustainable Communities
ICMA Center for Sustainable Communities ICMA’s Center for Sustainable Communities provides knowledge resources and technical assistance on leading practices at the intersection of sustainability and local government management Sustainable Communities fellows tour the State House in Annapolis, MD with ICMA member Bob Agee New and Free!  Asset-Based Economic Development and Building Sustainable Rural Communities  --With support from the National Association of Development Organizations through a contract with the U.S. > More

Residential Construction Trends in America's Metropolitan Regions
Residential Construction Trends in America’s Metropolitan Regions EPA’s Smart Growth Program released a new report today examining residential construction trends in America’s metropolitan regions. The report finds that nearly three out of four large metropolitan regions saw an increased share of new housing development in previously developed areas during 2005-2009 compared to 2000-2004. > More

Beyond Density: The Art and Science of Walkable Neighborhoods
Beyond Density: The Art and Science of Walkable Neighborhoods Anthony Flint / Dec 14 2012 For Release Friday, December 14, 2012 Citiwire.net The business of place-making - part science, part art - has had a long evolution, but American cities have never needed good urban design more urgently than at this moment. Changing demographics, energy savings and environmental concerns all mandate getting great urban neighborhoods just right. > More

Blairsville Diamond wins award
The Indiana Gazette                                                                                                  &nb > More

Community Power
Where does Power lie in your community? Are there different power centers depending on the issue? by Liesel Dreisbach Senior Extension Educator, Ag Entrepreneurship/Economic and Community Development Team  --   Power in my community has for many years been found among the families of two churches who also make up most of the staff of the volunteer fire company.  They also filled most offices/jobs in municipal government.  In other communities Power might include major business owners as well. > More

Why Plan? Who Should Plan?
In this month’s blog entry John Turack ponders the importance of plans, planning processes, and who is best suited or equipped to plan.   -- When I started my community development educator career with Penn State Extension   over five years ago, I was hired to assist a partnered program known as the Smart Growth Partnership of Westmoreland County , a non-profit corporation whose mission is “ to enable communities to enhance their viability, quality of life, and long-term sustainability by providing education and technical assistance, and by promoting smart growth principl > More

Asset-Based Economic Development and Building Sustainable Rural Communities, Part 2: Natural Resources and Amenities
The second in a series of briefing papers on asset-based economic development and building sustainable rural communities, this document examines natural and working landscapes.   For the full document, see --   http://icma.org/en/icma/knowledge%5Fnetwork/documents/kn/Document/304314/AssetBased%5FEconomic%5FDevelopment%5Fand%5FBuilding%5FSustainable%5FRural%5FCommunities%5FPart%5F2%5FNatural%5FResources%5F   " Key Takeaways:   •Identify existing assets and evaluate their benefit to the local economy   •Identify existing historic and cultural assets and evaluate their be > More

Commute Info Connections News
CommuteInfo Connections   - November 2012   Video: Winter Driving Safety   As chilly weather fast approaches, now is a great time to start thinking about safe winter driving habits.   In December of 2009, David Pritt from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s District 11-0 office was a guest speaker for a special CommuteInfo webinar titled “Winter Driving Safety”. > More

Are Middle-Income Jobs on the Decline in Pennsylvania?
Are Middle-Income Jobs on the Decline in Pennsylvania? Lindsay McPhail, Undergraduate Research Assistant,                          Theodore Fuller , Development Economist                                                  Theodore A > More

Economic & Budget Outlook Now Available
The 85-page Economic & Budget Outlook for FY 2012-13 through 2017-18 by the Independent Fiscal Office is now available at www.ifo.state.pa.us .  > More

Time to Run for Office
By Judy Chambers   "Now that the elections are over, are you ready for the next round? No joke: 2013 is a municipal election year in Pennsylvania.  You’ll be voting for township supervisors, borough and city council members, school district directors, and other local offices.  The primary isn’t until May, and the general election won’t happen until next November, so why think about this now? > More

Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, Dominion Seek Proposals for Watershed Mini Grants
Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, Dominion Seek Proposals for Watershed Mini Grants On November 2, 2012, in grant funding , by Josh The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy and Dominion are accepting proposals for the Watershed Mini Grant Program, which provides assistance to the region’s grassroots watershed groups. The Watershed Mini Grants cover expenses in three areas: operating costs, watershed restoration and organizational promotion and outreach. > More

Long-awaited Blairsville Riverfront Trail is officially opened
By Jeff Himler --> --> The Blairsville Riverfront Trail officially opened to the public on Oct. 26 as local, county and state officials joined residents for a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the trail’s western end, at Water and Brown streets. But eager hikers and bikers already had been trying out the 1.7-mile tar-and-chip trail for weeks earlier, even as work crews were putting final touches in place. > More

Town visioning meetings rescheduled
  A pair of meetings for soliciting public input on Blairsville’s future have been rescheduled due to this week’s inclement weather. Sponsored by the Blairsville Community Development Authority and Indiana University of Pennsylvania’s Geography and Regional Planning Department, the two visioning workshops now will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. Nov. 13 and 15 at the Blairsville Community Center, 101 W. > More

Latrobe Bulletin Coverage of Blairsville Riverfront Trail ribbon cutting
All photos by Ernie Sistek for the Latrobe Bulletin.   The Blairsville Military Service Group from the Veterans of Foreign Wars and American Legion provided the color guard at the Blairsville River Trail ribbon-cutting on Oct. 26.     As soon as the ribbon-cutting was completed, Ryan Gabello and Raymond Dustin, both of Blairsville, took a spin on their bikes to try out the trail. > More

Power of 32 -- Updates and Recent Milestones
The Power of 32 - a collaborative public/private leadership team - is implementing 14 Initiatives within 6 Issue Teams - Economy, Education, Environment, Community & People, Government, and Transportation & Infrastructure - to unlock the potential of the region and improve its future. Here are some highlights of recent milestones. To read more, see -- http://www.powerof32.org/news-updates/   http://www.powerof32.org/      > More

Community Champions -- Where Would Our Communities Be Without Them?
Community Champions -- Where Would Our Communities Be Without Them? Posted: October 25, 2012 There are a lot of research documents, case studies, and resources out there for communities to draw from, if they intend to become more vibrant. But not if there is no leader with the commitment and determination -- and the stamina -- to do it. What does this mean for your community? Many community projects, like this one, take a decade or more to complete. > More

Extension News: 4-H is an Important Community Development Component
4-H is an Important Community Development Component Posted: October 9, 2012 Pennsylvania is celebrating 100 years of positive youth development through 4-H clubs this year. While you may think of 4-H as kids raising cows and garden vegetables and making robots, there is a very strong community development component too. 4-H members educate the public about how to take care of backyard chickens. Through 4-H clubs, thousands of youth have learned about their communities, provided service to their communities, and learned the skills to take leadership roles in their communities as adults. > More

Smart Growth Partnership Impact, Background, Needs and Officer Statements
Impact Statement The Smart Growth Partnership (SGP) has excelled as a convener of stakeholders and resources, and as a community advisor providing education and technical assistance to organizations such as WEDIG, DARCee, PEC, LHCC, LHCLI, SPC, VIP/FLAG, Trafford CDC, CommuteINFO Advisory Committee, and in municipalities such as Murrysville, Rostraver, Irwin, Trafford, Jeannette, New Stanton, New Kensington, Allegheny Township, and Greensburg.  Smart Growth Partners work directly with multiple townships, municipalities and county agencies. > More

EPA's Building Blocks for Sustainable Communities program will be offering free technical assistance
As announced last week, EPA’s Building Blocks for Sustainable Communities program will be offering free technical assistance to communities interested in implementing smart growth approaches. EPA’s Request for Letters of Interest has been posted on the Building Blocks page at http://www.epa.gov/smartgrowth/buildingblocks.htm#afepa On October 4, 3:00-4:00 Eastern , EPA will host a second webinar for those who were not able to attend the first. > More

Call Renewed for Pennsylvania Turnpike, Arnold Palmer Airport Link
By Joe Napsha   TribLIVE News   Westmoreland County economic development officials Tuesday made yet another pitch for constructing an expressway that will connect the Arnold Palmer Regional Airport at Route 30 near Latrobe with the Pennsylvania Turnpike, via Route 981. “It’s the county’s No. 1 transportation priority. We’ve got to keep pushing. The economic benefits that project will create can’t be predicted. > More

Are you a Citizen of your Community?
By John Turack I’ve been focusing in my last few blog entries on communities and land-use decisions.  Today, I ask you to consider further the role of the citizen within communities. In Westmoreland County in 2010, I helped to plan and coordinate a Community and Economic Development Summit where the Keynote Speaker was Dr. John McKnight of Northwestern University’s Asset Based Community Development Institute (to hear a recording of Dr. > More

Federal Resources for Sustainable Rural Communities
Federal Resources manual for Sustainable Rural Communities is now available Rural communities across America are working to strengthen their economies, provide better quality of life for residents, and build on assets such as traditional main streets, agricultural and working lands, and natural resources.  The Partnership for Sustainable Communities -- made up of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the U.S. > More

Hempfield Ready to Overhaul Zoning Regulation
Hempfield Ready to Overhaul Zoning Regulation By Richard Gazarik Published: Monday, September 10, 2012, 12:01 a.m. Hempfield supervisors are considering adopting a new zoning ordinance that would be the first major overhaul of the township’s law since 1978. The township board will hold a public hearing Tuesday to listen to comments about the long-awaited changes. The hearing will be held at 6:30 p.m. > More

How to Increase the Numbers Engaged in Civic and Political Issues in Our Communities
How to Increase the Numbers Engaged in Civic and Political Issues in Our Communities Posted: September 10, 2012 Liesel   Dreisbach , S enior Extension Educator Research shows that youths whose parents volunteer and who participate in family discussions about politics engage in more civic and political activities as adults than those whose families do not volunteer or discuss politics. I still remember the phone call from my then 14-year old daughter one Saturday morning years ago.  She wanted to do her part for the presidential election and was volunteering her services in the local > More

The Wooden Village is popular at the Indiana County Fair
Economic and Community Educators Jeff Himes and John Turack utilized wooden replica buildings to teach Indiana County youth and citizens about the effects of their land use choices at the 150th Indiana County Fair. Indiana County Fair Kiddie Farm Building youth and their parents learn about the implications of their land use choices at the My Community: What’s the Plan? "wooden village” educational activity. > More

Executive Director Position for Latrobe Community Revitalization Program
Executive Director - Latrobe Community Revitalization Program -----             The Latrobe Community Revitalization Program is seeking an Executive Director to manage the City of Latrobe’s revitalization and nationally accredited Main Street Program.  Preferred candidate should have knowledge in and experience with:  real estate finance, marketing, historic preservation, retailing,  architectural design, fundraising, volunteer management and small business development.  The candidate must be an energetic, self-mo > More

State lacks regulations on wells
State lacks regulations on wells By Ryan Brown ( rbrown@altoonamirror.com )   %7C     More Pennsylvanians - some 3.5 million total - rely on well water than residents of 48 other states. Yet, along with Alaska, Pennsylvania is among the only states that lack regulations on how those wells can be built. And while water-testing kits are readily available or those concerned about their wells’ safety, hundreds of thousands of well owners neglect to perform even basic maintenance. > More

State Lacks Regulations on Wells
State Lacks Regulations on Wells By: Ryan Brown, The Altoona Mirror More Pennsylvanians - some 3.5 million total - rely on well water than residents of 48 other states. Yet, along with Alaska, Pennsylvania is among the only states that lack regulations on how those wells can be built. And while water-testing kits are readily available or those concerned about their wells’ safety, hundreds of thousands of well owners neglect to perform even basic maintenance. > More

DEP Releases Draft Permit Improvement Policies for Public Comment
DEP Releases Draft Permit Improvement Policies for Public Comment Two Webinars Will Offer Additional Information, Answer Questions   Harrisburg   - The Department of Environmental Protection has submitted for publication in the Sept. 1 Pennsylvania Bulletin drafts of its Permit Review Process and Decision Guarantee and Permit Coordination policies. The policies are open for public comment until Oct. > More

Land Use Decisions and Youth -- Reflections from Ag Progress Days 2012
Penn State Extension Economic and Community Development Educator and Blogger John Turack summarizes his thoughts on working at the 4-H Youth Building. The Extension Economic and Community Development Team presented "My Community: What’s the Plan?" at this year’s event.   A few snapshots of the "Wooden Village" activity Last month in this space, I talked with you about the definitions and bounds of, and other terms related to, “ community development .”  Since then, I have spent a few days working the Penn State Extension My Community: What’s the Plan? > More

What Does Good Planning Look Like?
One of my professors up at State College is fond of asking the question -- "What does good planning look like?" Read More   http://extension.psu.edu/ecd/news/2012/what-does-good-planning-look-like       > More

2012 Natural Gas Utilization Conference
The 2012 Natural Gas Utilization Conference will address critical efforts underway to increase the utilization of natural gas and the natural gas liquids being generated from the shale gas play that is sweeping the nation. The event will be held at the Penn Stater Conference Center in State College on September 6 and 7 from 8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. Day 1 (September 6th) will focus on Transportation. Sessions will address OEMs offering natural gas powered vehicles, and several sessions discussing both fueling station and vehicle/ engine conversion options. > More

Exploring the idea of Community
Last week John Turack explored the meaning of community development.  This week Liesel Dreisbach, Senior Extension Educator with Penn State Extension’s Ag Entrepreneurship/Economic and Community Development Team  takes a look at an even more fundamental idea, that of community. Seven or eight years ago a history professor at one of our state universities asked her students to define "community."  Someone waved his cell phone and said, "This is my community." Our communities have certainly expanded beyond brick and mortar neighborhoods.  What happens if your house burn > More

Quick Reference Guide to Commuting Options
CommuteInfo’s quick reference guide to commuting options is a simple, one page resource that provides details on commuting options for southwestern Pennsylvania. This includes contact information on transit agencies, as well as suggestions and tips for getting started with ridesharing. Visit Here to Learn More: http://www.commuteinfo.org/downloads/quickref.pdf  > More

Community Development -- Thinking about definitions
Westmoreland County based Penn State Extension Economic and Community Development Educator John Turack sparks a discussion about the definition of community development. Mr. Turack also serves as the Interim Director of the Smart Growth Partnership of Westmoreland County. Source: http://agsci.psu.edu/communications/contact Welcome to my first attempt at writing an Economic and Community Development  Blog .  Bear with me; I’m probably going to ramble a bit.  Nevertheless, I hope that’s ok, since as I learned back in college from one creative writing professor - &ldquo > More

EPA's Smart Growth Program and the Partnership for Sustainable Communities
The Partnership for Sustainable Communities has launched a website, www.sustainablecommunities.gov , to make it easy for communities to find resources and grant announcements and to learn about the Partnership’s accomplishments. The website includes contact information for each agency’s sustainable communities office, ongoing project updates for sustainable community grantees around the country, and recent news and grant information from the Partnership. > More

Everyday Democracy-Ideas and Tools for Everyday Change
Everyday Democracy A national leader in the field of civic participation and community change, Everyday Democracy helps people of different backgrounds and views talk and work together to solve problems and create communities that work for everyone. Using innovative, participatory approaches, Everyday Democracy works with neighborhoods, cities and towns, regions, and states. We place particular emphasis on the connection between complex public issues and structural racism. > More

All in a Day's Work for Rural Townships
"Township secretary: is that a part-time job?" That’s a question that township secretaries and administrators get pretty often (and no doubt get tired of hearing).Citizens assume that because our municipalities are small, so too is the job of running them. But providing good stewardship of tax dollars, keeping up with state and federal regulations, and responding to citizen concerns is a full-time job and then some. > More

Pennsylvania Downtown Center's eUPDATE
Pennsylvania Downtown Center (PDC) is the only statewide nonprofit dedicated solely to the revitalization of the commonwealth’s core communities. Primarily through utilization of the National Main Street Center’s Four-Point Approach, PDC provides outreach, technical assistance, and educational services in order to assist communities in revitalizing their central business districts and surrounding residential neighborhoods. > More

Westmoreland Museum of American Art awarded National Endowment for the Arts Grant for
Greensburg, Pennsylvania $75,000 Greensburg, Pennsylvania, is the seat of Westmoreland County, located about 35 miles from Pittsburgh. The past few years have seen a cultural renaissance in Greensburg with the renovation of the historic Palace Theatre and construction of the new Seton Hill University Performing Arts Center. The Westmoreland Museum of American Art and the City of Greensburg are partnering on Bridging the Gap, a public art project to revitalize the Maple Avenue and Main Street bridges in the city. > More

Washington Township residents: Use drilling revenue to ease impact
By  Jodi Weigand Published:  Tuesday, July 10, 2012, 10:52 p.m. Updated: Wednesday, July 11, 2012  Westmoreland County residents want officials to use some of the money the county will receive from Marcellus shale impact fees to prepare for possible environmental damage caused by the drilling practice. "I think you should spend most of it, or the first part of it, on having water buffaloes provided for Westmoreland County," said Andy Pollack, 70, of Washington Township. > More

Official Maps Plot Future Trails
Official maps can identify both existing and proposed uses such as streets, watercourses, parks, open space, pedestrian ways including trails, flood plains and control basins, and other public lands and facilities that would be of value to the community. For more see --  http://extension.psu.edu/ecd/news/2012/official-maps-plot-future-trails  > More

Developments pave the way for failure
Op/Ed 1   /   5 By   Tribune-Review Published:   Saturday, July 7, 2012, 8:51 p.m. Updated: Saturday, July 7, 2012   If you live in Western Pennsylvania, you don’t have to imagine chaos. Just get in your car, drive the Parkway West to Robinson and chaos spreads out before you. The more than two-dozen shopping strips, one big mall and seemingly countless big-box stores, restaurants, hotels and office buildings that you find there will tell you everything you might want to know about how bad a lack of planning can be. > More

Entrepreneurs and Their Communities: Part 1
Posted: July 6, 2012 There is growing recognition that entrepreneurs play an important role in our regional economies. This article uses BEA data to begin to understand how many jobs and income entrepreneurs contribute to their communities. More --  http://extension.psu.edu/ecd/news/2012/entrepreneurs-and-their-communities-part-1  > More

Commonwealth of Pennsylvania recently implemented an important state historic tax credit
Dear friends, We are pleased to learn that the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania recently implemented an important state historic tax credit, which was enacted by Governor Tom Corbett when he signed the FY 2013 budget, and established the Historic Preservation Incentive Act, on June 30.   This tax credit program is an important achievement for Pennsylvania and is a welcome companion to the very successful federal tax credit program. > More

Westmoreland County Hosting Informational Meetings for Drilling Impact Fee
Seeking public input for consideration on the usage of funds generated by Act 13 of 2012. Greensburg, Pa. June 6, 2012 - The Westmoreland County Board of Commissioners - Charles W. Anderson, R. Tyler Courtney, and Ted Kopas today announce a series of community meetings planned to receive comments and/or recommendations from the public on the use of funds that will be generated under the provisions of Act 13 of 2012, the Unconventional Gas Well Impact Fee. > More

Allegheny Twp. officials say climbing lane on Route 356 is much-needed
Triblive.com By Jodi Weigand     Motorists will not benefit from a truck climbing lane on the Route 356 hill just off the Freeport Bridge for years to come. The project isn’t included in the final version of the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission’s 2013-16 Transportation Improvement Program (TIP), approved Monday. The Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission, is the regional planning agency serving the Pittsburgh 10-county area, including Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Fayette, Greene, Indiana, Lawrence, Washington and Westmoreland counties. > More

Route 356 South Transportation and Safety Improvement Project Testimony Provided to SPC
WEDIG PA Release Date: June 21, 2012 With the help of the Westmoreland Economic Development Initiative for Growth (WEDIG) and the Smart Growth Partnership of Westmoreland County (SGP), Allegheny Township submitted testimony Monday seeking inclusion of a State Route 356 South Transportation and Safety Improvement Project to the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission (SPC) 2013-2016 Transportation Improvement Project list. > More

In Western Pennsylvania, an Energy Boom Not Visibly Stifled
By: Jonathan Weisman The New York Times SMITHFIELD, Pa. -- From his farm nestled far from the big cities, in the wooded hills above the Monongahela and Cheat Rivers, David Headley has not heard much about the battles in Washington over regulations that Republicans say are stifling a domestic energy revolution. At the ground level of that revolution Mr. Headley, a 53-year-old former body shop owner and unemployed bus driver, does not see any regulations at all. > More

Shale Development Topics Addressed by Extension Summer Series
Posted: June 3, 2012 Marcellus, Rhinestreet, Utica, Point Pleasant Shale Gas; drill, don’t drill! What’s right and how is the environment impacted? Is there an opportunity for me personally or my business? What challenges accompany this opportunity? Whether you’ve already decided, or are still on the fence, the “Shale Gas Summer Series: Marcellus and Beyond,” will provide information designed to assist you in the decision making process. > More

Green-ribbon Homecoming in Radnor
By: Mike Weilbacher It was a homecoming for Michael Walsh. Now the Deputy Secretary for Administration in Pennsylvania’s Department of Education and a resident of Harrisburg, Mike moved to Strafford when he was 11, and is a product of first St. Katharine of Siena School in Wayne and then Radnor’s Archbishop Carroll High School. He was glowing, standing in the auditorium of Radnor Middle School on June 5 to present school and school-district dignitaries - along with the assembled seventh grade - the official Green Ribbon School banner that will soon hang in the school. > More

Roundabout sparks other improvements in Rochester
By Michael Pound mpound@timesonline.com Timesonline.com ROCHESTER Officials in Rochester are hoping that in a, ahem, roundabout way, the now-completed infrastructure work in the center of town is going to do much more than simply ease traffic hassles. In fact, they’re looking for the Rochester Roundabout and the associated improvements to the Beaver County Transit Authority’s property nearby to serve as a catalyst for renewed interest in the borough’s Brighton Avenue business district. > More

Research Brief: 2011 Detailed State and County Population Estimates
The U.S. Census Bureau today released the July 1, 2011 estimates of the population based on age, sex, race and Hispanic origin for Pennsylvania. Today’s release provides the first such county estimates data to be released by the Census Bureau since the 2010 Census and includes detailed estimates for Pennsylvania at the state and county level. The U.S. Census Bureau’s Population Estimates are created using records of births, deaths, and migration to account for yearly population changes since the last Decennial Census. > More

'Stacking lane' plan backed by Allegheny supervisors
By George Guido Published: Monday, May 14, 2012, 11:14 p.m. Supervisors will unite behind an effort to get PennDOT to build a stacking lane on Route 356 along the hill starting from the township side of the Freeport Bridge. Officials are concerned about traffic merging from two lanes to one, then slowing behind large trucks. Sometimes, the backup blocks the entrance to the River Forest Country Club and the adjoining neighborhood. > More

Arnold Palmer airport gets wheels turning on $20M expansion
By Joe Napsha Tribune-Review Published: Tuesday, May 8, 2012, 11:02 p.m. Updated 5 hours ago As the Arnold Palmer Regional Airport braces for an influx of passengers taking daily flights to Orlando, Fla., starting May 17, airport officials are considering a terminal expansion that could cost as much as $20 million and double its capacity. The Westmoreland County Airport Authority received preliminary expansion plans from Lee-Simpson Associates Inc. > More

Greater Latrobe, Derry Area students tackle Marcellus shale at Economic Exchange Day
By Dan Scifo Latrobe Bulletin Staff Writer Students at Greater Latrobe and Derry Area had an opportunity to see first-hand what happens when industry meets environment and politics, and help tackle the problem. The hot-button issue of Marcellus shale was again at the forefront of the annual Latrobe Area Chamber of Commerce Economic Exchange Day Wednesday at Greater Latrobe’s Center for Student Creativity as students worked with more than 30 industry professionals and tried to develop a solution to a multitude of issues surrounding deep shale drilling. > More

Local Government Academy Announces Education Program
Local Government Academy Earn CLE at Next Week’s New Tools in the Blight Fight Program   Next Week: Third Program in the Series The Magisterial Court System: The Role of the Judiciary in Assuring Community Vitality   May 11, 2012   9 AM - Noon   Crafton Volunteer Fire Department     Click here to register for this individual program   Registration Fee: $35    2 CLE Credits are available for an additional $25        Many of the tools available to local governments when fighting blight involve court actions that start in the > More

Latrobe officials float to promote use of Loyalhanna Creek
By Joe Napsha Tribune-Review Published: Friday, May 4, 2012, 10:54 p.m. Updated: Saturday, May 5, 2012 Latrobe has an underused resource that could spread economic benefits while improving the quality of life for area residents -- Loyalhanna Creek -- as it flows through the city and Derry and Unity townships, state and local officials and environmentalists said on Friday. To do that, Latrobe needs better public access to the creek, said Ann Powell, the borough’s code enforcement officer, and police Chief James Bumar after a waterway tour of the Loyalhanna from the Mission Road bridg > More

Looking Ahead With A New Project Delivery Process
Looking Ahead With A New Project Delivery Process Jim Ritzman, PennDOT Deputy Secretary for Planning   Smart Transportation is being woven into the fabric of PennDOT’s daily business by revising the way PennDOT projects are developed and implemented.  During the last year, we have accomplished several steps toward this goal. A task force comprised of representatives from PennDOT central and district offices, the Federal Highway Administration, counties, municipalities and metropolitan and rural planning organizations (MPO/RPO) worked to craft a draft project delivery process th > More

Using Cartoons to Explain Smart Growth
Using Cartoons to Explain Smart Growth Produced by Vivre en Ville, an NGO dedicated to improving the quality of the natural and living environments in Quebec communities, Saga City is an entertaining animated video which explains how past transport and land use policies contribute to sprawl and automobile dependency, the problems that result, and how smart growth policy reforms can create better communities. > More

Marcellus Shale Gas Development:
Marcellus Shale Gas Development: What Does It Mean for Pennsylvania Schools? Posted: March 18, 2012 Latest research brief on challenges and opportunities associated with Marcellus shale development as perceived by educational leaders     The rapid development of natural gas extraction has profound impacts on many communities.  This new fact sheet looks at local challenges and implications they may have for schools.  Surveys  were sent to  high school principals and directors and Career and Technology Center (CTC) directors within the Marcellus shale region, and in > More

How is Land in the United States Used?
By Cynthia Nickerson & Allison Borchers How land is used and changes in land use have implications for commodity production and trade, soil and water conservation, bioenergy supply, climate change adaptation, and many other policy issues. A complex set of factors, including commodity prices; production technology; demand for land for residential, commercial, and industrial development; and agricultural and bioenergy policies, can induce land-use change as landowners respond to market conditions and try to maximize the returns to their land. > More

Special Report: Power of 32 Regional Agenda
Power of 32 32 Countries: 4 States: 1 Vision Engaging thousands of citizens, pulling together leaders in business, government and philanthropy, we bridged the borders of 32 counties and 4 states to create one shared vision.  Here is the Power of 32 regional agenda, and the 14 initiatives designed to achieve our shared vision for a thriving region by 2025. http://www.pittsburghquarterly.com/images/stories/pdfs/Power32reportsm2.pdf   P32Agenda@powerof32.org • www.powerof32.org  > More

Local Real Property Tax Base and Marcellus Shale: 2007 to 2009
by Timothy W. Kelsey, Riley Adams, and Scott Milchak Over the past few years, Marcellus shale has been generating a great amount of interest throughout Pennsylvania. Marcellus shale development is still in the initial stages of growth, and many questions about its economic implications have surfaced. There has been much discussion about the impact of gas development on local tax collections, and local officials so far generally are not reporting large increases in revenue due to the activity (Jacobson and Kelsey, 2011; and Kelsey and Ward, 2011). > More

Pa. study: If you get a shale check, will you stop milking?
by   Other News UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- There may be a link between natural gas development and a drop in dairy production in Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale region, but the exact reasons for the decline are unclear. According to researchers in Penn State’s   College of Agricultural Sciences , anecdotal evidence has suggested that natural gas development is benefiting many Pennsylvania farmers, with money from gas leases and royalties allowing producers to pay off debt, invest in new equipment and remain active in a business often characterized by razor-thin profit margi > More

The Progress Fund Receives Grant from Starbucks and Opportunity Finance Network's "Create Jobs for USA" Initiative
The Progress Fund Receives Grant from Starbucks and Opportunity Finance Network’s "Create Jobs for USA" Initiative Local CDFI to Help Spur Job Creation in the US   (Greensburg, PA) February 8, 2012 - The Progress Fund, a local community lender, announced today that it has received a capital grant from the Create Jobs for USA Fund, a collaboration between Starbucks and Opportunity Finance Network (OFN). > More

Blairsville’s finding a future in its roots
Blairsville’s finding a future in its roots By Dave Hurst   “Blairsville! Why would you want to retire in Blairsville?” asked the woman with whom I’d been talking. Now this was a native of Blairsville asking this; a professional person who actively involves herself in outdoor activities and now lives in the Greater John stown area. Upon learning that she was from Blairsville, I’d made the observation that I was thinking about retiring there, which prompted her response. > More

Preservation Assistance Grants for Smaller Institutions
National Endowment for the Humanities Preservation Assistance Grants for Smaller Institutions Receipt Deadline: May 1, 2012 (for projects beginning January 2013)   Preservation Assistance Grants help small and mid-sized institutions--such as libraries, museums, historical societies, archival repositories, cultural organizations, town and county records offices, and colleges and universities--improve their ability to preserve and care for their significant humanties collections.  These may include special collections of books and journals, archives and manuscripts, prints and pho > More

DEP web site a good source for natural gas information
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) website can provide a wealth of information - if you know where to look for it. When talking about natural gas drilling and activities related to the Marcellus Shale in particular, many people have some basic questions, such as what companies are drilling in this area, how many wells are being drilled, and what are those wells producing. > More

The Best CityReads of 2011
From Braddock, Pennsylvania to Beijing, Nate Berg offers his favorite articles about cities published in 2011. The Atlantic CITIES Year in Review by Nate Berg Dec 21, 2011 Excerpt from Panetizen  -- http://www.planetizen.com/node/53263 "...Berg notes that while no single article can capture the essence of all cities, these articles find the representative facets "of cities and use them to explain the current state of various cities, and urbanization as a whole." The engaging articles include in-depth reporting about Detroit, Braddock (PA), New York, Beijing, Seattle, Brooklyn, Shanghai, a > More

Mayor of Rust
Gillian Laub for The New York Times John Fetterman, mayor of Braddock. By SUE HALPERN Published: February 11, 2011 At the Aspen Ideas Festival in Colorado last July, John Fetterman, the mayor of Braddock, a small Pennsylvania town 10 miles upriver from Pittsburgh, was introduced by Dana Gioia , former chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts , as a man who demonstrates “how ideas can change the world.” It was four days into the weeklong festival, and Fetterman, a 41-year-old, 6-foot-8 white man with a shaved head, a fibrous black beard and tattoos up one arm and down the oth > More

StateImpact Unveils New Marcellus Shale App
  It’s the basic question everyone wants to know about Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale boom, and it’s something StateImpact’s new interactive app will help answer.     See --     http:// stateimpact .npr.org/pennsylvania/drilling/     Reprinted from AgSci IT eNews 184, December 22, 2 011   Vince Verbeke, Ag IT Consultant College of Agricultural Sciences The Pennsylvania State University 401 Ag Administration Building University Park, PA 16802 814-863-3449 vcv1@psu.edu   eNews is the bi-weekly IT newsletter for the College of A > More

Delmont on cusp of having grocery store again
By Daveen Rae Kurutz , MURRYSVILLE STAR Friday, December 16, 2011   --> Nearly a year after the borough’s only grocer shut its doors, Delmont could have a new grocery store. Doug Hayes, a Washington Township-grocer, is in the final stages of negotiations to open a Foodland in the old Shop ’n Save building along Athena Drive as early as next month. Hayes, whose family has operated a Foodland for more than 25 years, would lease the building for one year from the Spagnolo family, which owns the building. > More

Municipal officials decry state control of shale drilling
Wednesday, December 14, 2011 By Janice Crompton, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Representatives from more than 44 municipalities in seven counties met Tuesday night in Green Tree for a first-of-its-kind Marcellus Shale town hall meeting to address legislation that is pending in the state House and Senate. Their message to lawmakers? Don’t take away our local control. "We want to send a clear, unified message to Harrisburg that we are opposed to any language that would pre-empt municipalities," said Richard Ward, manager of Robinson, Washington County. > More

Municipal leaders gather in protest of state drilling regulation
By Timothy Puko , PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW Wednesday, December 14, 2011 More than 100 people attended a meeting on Tuesday night designed to draw attention to pending legislation in Harrisburg that municipal officials say will undercut their rights to control gas drilling. Officials from Peters, Cecil, South Fayette and several other communities led the meeting in Green Tree and said municipalities should have the right to determine their own character and what place the drilling industry has there. > More

Televised airing of last night's town hall meeting in Greentree.
    The taping of last night’s HB1950/SB1100 Town Hall meeting in Greentree will air tonight on PCN ("C-SPAN for PA") at 830pm. http://pcntv.com/ (Check your cable company for the channel). According to PCN:   “ It will be scheduled to air tonight at 8:30pm. Now it could get bumped if either the House or Senate run late today.  As you know it is their last session before holiday break so they tend to run late.  As long as either chamber is not in session it will air at 8:30pm. > More

Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Community Conservation Partnerships Program Grants Announcement
12/14/11 Regional/Statewide Partnership Projects Allegheny Ridge Corporation, $250,000 to provide support to partner organizations, develop outreach and communication related to heritage initiatives and programs, facilitate Huntingdon and Hollidaysburg Preserve America initiatives, and implement Heart of Alleghenies Artisan Trail for 2012 and 2013. Facilitate Main Line Canal Greenway development to include providing technical assistance for the development of the Lower Trail Gap and the Portage to Martindale section; provide support for the Greenway Alliance, and conduct 2012 mini-grant progra > More

Local Officials Slam Impact Fee’s Zoning Restrictions
Town­ship and bor­ough man­agers, coun­cil mem­bers and super­vi­sors are push­ing back against Repub­li­can lead­ers who want to limit local gov­ern­ments’ abil­ity to zone nat­ural gas drilling. Two impact fees in front of state law­mak­ers would place firm guide­lines on what munic­i­pal­i­ties can and can’t reg­u­late, when it comes to Mar­cel­lus Shale activ­ity. > More

As Gas Drilling Spreads, Towns Stand Ground Over Control
By SABRINA TAVERNISE Published: December 14, 2011 SOUTH FAYETTE, Pa. -- As energy companies move to drill in densely populated areas from Pennsylvania to Texas, battles are breaking out over who will have the final say in managing the shale gas boom. The fight, which pits towns and cities against energy companies and states eager for growth, has raised a fundamental question about the role of local government: How much authority should communities have over the use of their land? > More

Webinar to Look at the Impacts of Marcellus Gas Development on Forestland
  Posted: December 11, 2011 A Web-based seminar sponsored by Penn State Extension and the College of Agricultural Sciences will examine how Marcellus Shale natural-gas development is affecting forestland in Pennsylvania. The 75-minute webinar will begin at 1 p.m. on Dec. 15. Presenters will be Ellen Shultzabarger, chief of the Forest Resources Planning Section of the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, and Tony Quadro, forester and assistant district manager for the Westmoreland County Conservation District. > More

Region records population gain for 2nd year in a row
Saturday, December 10, 2011 By Gary Rotstein, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette For most of the span since the end of World War II, more people have been leaving the Pittsburgh region than flocking to it. For the second year in a row, that trend has been halted. The relative health of the local economy appears to be a motivator for retaining existing Pittsburghers and creating new ones. The seven-county metropolitan region attracted 1,430 more people than the number who left it between 2009 and 2010, based on new Internal Revenue Service migration data, according to a report by Christopher Briem, a regi > More

11th annual SWPA Smart Growth Conference: “Smart Growth is Smart Business”
One week left to register for the 11 th annual SWPA Smart Growth Conference: “Smart Growth is Smart Business”   Why is smart growth essential to protecting and enhancing your business investments?  Come be part of determining your business’s success by engaging in how the region can invest in new patterns of growth to promote economic competitiveness, environmental health, and social equity.  The 12/13/11 Smart Growth Conference is an invitation to explore and influence regional strategi > More

  Starting December 1st, it will be easier to find a parking space when you come to downtown Latrobe!    The City of Latrobe, in association with Veteran’s Cab Company, the Latrobe Community Revitalization Program, the Latrobe Area Chamber of Commerce, the Greater Latrobe School District, and Business and Community sponsors, are launching a shuttle service from Memorial Stadium. > More

Pennsylvania's use of natural gas for power generation has grown rapidly
Posted: December 4, 2011 The US Energy Information Administration reports the use of natural gas to generate electricity has steadily been increasing. The amount of natural gas-fired electric generation in Pennsylvania has increased steadily in the past decade, with annual electricity generation from natural gas increasing more than tenfold between 2001 and 2010. By 2007, a single month (August) of electricity generation from natural gas topped the 2001 annual total (see monthly chart above). > More

Ardmore Initiative’s Local Currency Program Highlighted in Main Street News
[Exerpted and revised from the PDC eNews ] Kudos to the Ardmore Initiative for its recent highlight in Main Street Weekly for the program’s innovative development of a Downtown Dollars program. This local currency/stimulus program successfully helped its downtown businesses get the very shot in the arm needed to compete with area big box stores in 2010. Luckily, the Ardmore Initiative has since created a useful and inspiring how-to primer to help other communities create similar programs. > More

Grant Money Available for Safe Routes to School Activities
Deadline to apply for noninfrastructure grants is November 15, 2011   Does your school encourage students to walk or bicycle to school? If so, it could benefit from funding available from the Pennsylvania Safe Routes to School Resource Center. Beginning October 5, schools may apply for items and activities that promote, educate, encourage, and/or enforce safe walking and bicycling at their school. > More

State proposal would supersede communities' Marcellus regulations
If some state legislators have their way, the 16 months that Murrysville officials and residents spent debating and researching Marcellus shale extraction will have been a big waste of time. A proposal under consideration by the state Legislature would set statewide  regulations on Marcellus shale drilling and allow county officials to set impact fees on the wells. Those regulations would supersede the work of community officials -- such those in Murrysville -- who have adopted zoning regulations for deep-well gas drilling.  See link below for more -- http://www.yourmurrysville.c > More

Power of 32 at 7:30pm on WQED TV
Dear Friends of the Power of 32,   Our new website is live! Please go to  www.powerof32.org  and begin using our NEW interactive tools to share your thoughts on our Regional Agenda, and learn about the 14 goals we are actively pursuing to build a stronger 32-county region and better quality of life for all.   Also, mark your calendars for tomorrow’s third installment on the Power of 32 at 7:30pm on WQED TV, followed by our region-wide, live and interactive Town Hall meeting at 8:00pm (also on WQED TV, or via streaming video at   www.wqed.org/p32  ) > More

SAVE THE DATE -- Marcellus Shale Development: The PA Municipal Experience to Date and Possibilities for the Future
December 6, 2011 6:30-9:00 p.m.  Marcellus Shale development in Pennsylvania has resulted in local municipalities having to make decisions and take actions on issues such as infrastructure, municipal services, regulatory controls, and community planning. Municipalities throughout Pennsylvania have experienced various levels and stages of development as well as the community issues that result. > More

Webinar to look at natural gas development's effect on agriculture
Tuesday, November 1, 2011 Gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale formation is having an effect on agriculture in Pennsylvania. UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- A Web-based seminar sponsored by Penn State Extension will examine how Marcellus Shale natural-gas development is affecting agriculture in Pennsylvania. The 75-minute webinar will be held at 1 p.m. on Nov. 10. Presenters will be Gary Sheppard and Mark Madden, extension educators based in Westmoreland and Sullivan counties, respectively, who have extensive experience dealing with Marcellus Shale natural-gas drilling impacts on agriculture in their r > More

Three Southwest PA Projects Receive Prestigious Commonwealth Awards for Sustainable Development
Pittsburgh - Three development projects that are revitalizing Southwestern Pennsylvania communities, spurring economic development, catalyzing private investment, and serving as models of sustainable development received Commonwealth Awards at 10,000 Friends of Pennsylvania’s recent annual awards event. 10,000 Friends of Pennsylvania, the state’s leading Smart Growth advocacy organization, honored these three projects in the region, as well as 16 others from across the state, with it prestigious awards this year. > More

Small community of South Fayette focus of big Marcellus Shale controversy
Sunday, October 23, 2011 By Erich Schwartzel and Andrea Iglar, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette   South Fayette is one of dozens of Pennsylvania communities to regulate gas drilling, but one of only two being sued by Range Resources for doing so. It’s a dispute that has turned South Fayette into an unlikely test case for drilling regulations across the Marcellus Shale region -- and has thrust an issue of national resonance into the realm of small-town politics. > More

Murrysville residents pack Marcellus Shale meeting
Wednesday, October 20, 2010 By David Whipkey Murrysville residents made their voices heard regarding pending deep-well natural gas drilling into the Marcellus Shale during the planning commission’s public hearing. Residents packed council chambers Tuesday evening to address the commission about a recently drafted ordinance meant to protect community interests when drilling into the gas-rich Marcellus Shale. > More

Renewable Energy Academy
Renewable Energy Academy is a series of three hour programs that cover a variety of topics on the subject of renewable and alternative energy technology. Participants will learn about the opportunities to curtail the use of traditional fossil fueled source electricity by utilizing technologies such as solar, wind, geothermal, small scale hydro, bio-mass and bio-gas. Installation, operation, regulatory, system economics of various technologies will be explored. > More

Penn State Extension Natural Gas Education Resources
Marcellus shale has the potential to affect many parts of Pennsylvania. Since 2001, Penn State Extension has been actively helping citizens, landowners, businesses, local governments, and others understand the opportunities and challenges arising from Marcellus shale. Let us help you, too. See http://extension.psu.edu/naturalgas  for web-based reources. See http://extension.psu.edu/naturalgas/news  for the latest news. > More

Co-ops: A Vital Source of Rural Jobs
  By Dallas Tonsager, Under Secretary USDA Rural Development            It’s hard to live in rural America without being touched almost daily in some way by cooperatives. Farmers and ranchers across the nation use co-ops to process and market their crops and livestock and to provide them with essential production supplies and services. Electric and telecommunications utility cooperatives supply rural America with a reliable, affordable source of energy and communications technology, including phone and Internet services. > More

Lucrative mineral rights driving force to find rightful heirs
By Jeremy Boren , PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW Tuesday, August 30, 2011 Imagine winning the lottery without buying a ticket. It was much like that for Glenn Pore when the Fayette County retiree accepted an energy company’s offer to pay him and 10 relatives thousands of dollars to lease mineral rights beneath farmland his ancestors plowed a century ago. "I was shocked to find out that I had any oil and gas rights," said Pore, 77, of Fairhope. > More

Marcellus shale gas boom brings jobs, but how many?
By Timothy Puko , PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW Tuesday, August 30, 2011   A lot of people aren’t spending the money they make on shale drilling, and a lot are taking their money out of state, according to a study released on Monday, which means Pennsylvania may have reaped half as many new jobs as researchers originally projected in 2009. Marcellus shale drilling created about 23,500 jobs in the state that year, according to a research team under the leadership of a Penn State economist with funding from the state Department of Community and Economic Development. > More

Think ahead on drilling issues, Allegheny Township residents advised
By Liz Hayes , VALLEY NEWS DISPATCH Thursday, August 25, 2011 Allegheny Township residents on Wednesday were advised to consider the immediate and long-term benefits and problems associated with Marcellus shale natural gas extraction. Jon Laughner and John Turack from Penn State’s cooperative extension offices attended the monthly Allegheny Township Senior Discussion Group to present an overview on economic, environmental and municipal issues relating to drilling. > More

Blairsville accepts trail proposal
By Jeff Himler , BLAIRSVILLE DISPATCH Friday, August 19, 2011 Blairsville Borough council on Tuesday accepted a proposal from the 12th Congressional Regional Equipment Center to develop a long-planned hiking and biking trail bordering the Conemaugh River. The panel also discussed partnering with other local governing bodies to pursue federal funding for a proposed bridge for pedestrians and bicyclists in adjacent Burrell Township. > More

New webinar series to focus on business opportunities related to Marcellus gas
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- A series of web-based seminars aimed at helping local businesses prosper from natural-gas drilling and development will be offered this fall by Penn State Extension’s Marcellus Educational Consortium.   "Your Business and Marcellus Shale: Moving Forward 2011" is a five-part program intended to help local businesses understand and take advantage of the opportunities arising from development of the Marcellus Shale. > More

Smart Growth Partnership Thanks Executive Director Graziani for 10 Years of Service
The Smart Growth Partnership of Westmoreland County (SGPWC) acknowledged the departure of Executive Director Alex Graziani who has recently been named as the City Manager for the City of Latrobe.   Graziani took the helm in 2001 as the first Executive Director of the Smart Growth Partnership. “On behalf of the entire board of directors, I would like to thank Alex for his dedicated service to furthering the goals of smart growth in Westmoreland County,” said Allen Kukovich, Board Chairman. > More

New city manager for Latrobe
By Marie McCandless, Latrobe Bulletin News Editor Tuesday, August 9, 2011 Alex Graziani has spent 10 years promoting the principles of smart growth - such as encouraging community and stakeholder collaboration in development decisions - and now he will get the chance to put them into practice. Graziani, 40, was hired Monday as the new city manager for Latrobe. Deputy Mayor Ken Baldonieri said, “The enthusiasm and energy Alex Graziani brings to the job will have a positive effect on all the citizens of Latrobe.”  “I am honored to have the confidence of the mayor and counc > More

EPA proposes new emissions rules
Friday, July 29, 2011 By Don Hopey, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Spurred by the ballooning development of Marcellus Shale and other shale gas plays in the South and West, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is proposing new emissions standards to control and reduce air toxins emitted from oil- and gas-drilling operations. The EPA said the proposed rules, the first changes in decades, would reduce air pollution from well drilling, leaking pipes, storage tanks and compressor stations and could be achieved using existing fugitive gas collection technologies already employed by several companies a > More

HUD announces $95 million to support sustainable local initiatives through the FY 2011 Regional Planning and Community Challenge Planning Grant Programs
WASHINGTON - Today, U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan announced the availability of $95 million to support sustainable local initiatives through the FY 2011 Regional Planning and Community Challenge Planning Grant Programs from HUD’s Office of Sustainable Housing and Communities. Awarded competitively, both programs work to expand housing choices, improve connections between employment centers and homes, and reduce barriers to achieving affordable, economically vital, and sustainable communities. > More

Blairsville housing to be ready for early 2012
By Jeff Himler , BLAIRSVILLE DISPATCH Thursday, July 28, 2011 A new housing development in the borough, Grandview Pointe, is expected to be completed late this year, according to Kelly Hicks, executive director of the Housing Authority of Indiana County. The 24-unit housing complex is being constructed for the authority along Grandview Avenue to replace its existing Conemaugh Terrace apartments at West Market and North Spring streets. > More

Marcellus Shale Commission Issues Final Report
HARRISBURG -- Lt. Governor Jim Cawley today released the final report of the Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission, taking the first step toward developing a comprehensive and strategic plan for responsible natural gas drilling in Pennsylvania. The unanimously-adopted report contains 96 policy recommendations that include tougher regulations for drilling, doubling fines for violations, creating jobs in related industries and promoting the use of natural gas vehicles. > More

Penn State Extension Westmoreland News
Summer 2011 Edition  > More

Murrysville sticks with drilling rules
By The Tribune-Review on September 22, 2011 Proposed regulations in Murrysville governing the exploration and production of oil and natural gas in the municipality will remain just as they were written. Councilman Jeff Kepler made a motion on Wednesday to reconsider council’s action of Sept. 7 in which it approved the advertisement of an amendment that would regulate Marcellus shale drilling. > More

Drilling ban requested near Indiana County parks
By Jared Stout , BLAIRSVILLE DISPATCH Friday, July 15, 2011 An Indiana County coalition has proposed an amendment to a county ordinance that would ban natural gas drilling in designated conservation zones. The proposal from the Coalition for a Healthy County was announced Wednesday, the same day that county officials were set to begin a process leading to recommended changes to the Indiana County Special Recreation and Conservation Zoning Ordinance. > More

East newsmaker you should know: Perseverance paid off for Westmoreland planner
Thursday, July 14, 2011 By Debra Duncan   After 39 years as Westmoreland County’s top economic development planner, Larry J. Larese will hang up his hat tomorrow. That’s officially -- he still has a few ongoing projects on which he will consult, just to make sure they are completed, Mr. Larese said. At 63, he reflects on a job he has loved since being appointed the youngest county planning director in the state at age 24. > More

Pittsburgh Foundation's Day of Giving to be held Oct. 4
By Pittsburgh Tribune-Review Wednesday, July 6, 2011 Last updated: 11:49 am The third annual Day of Giving sponsored by The Pittsburgh Foundation will be held Oct. 4 with the goal of surpassing the $3.3 million raised last year for local charities, officials announced today. This year, more than 600 nonprofits in Allegheny and Westmoreland counties will be eligible to receive matching funds from the foundation based on what each group receives in contributions through the Day of Giving. > More

Critz Announces $218,000 Grant for West Newton Park
WEST NEWTON, PA -- Congressman Mark S. Critz (PA-12) joined today with members of Downtown West Newton, Inc and local officials to announce a $218,000 federal grant for the development of Simeral Square in downtown West Newton. The grant is being provided by the U.S. Appalachian Regional Commission.   This project will take a former Brownfield site and redevelop it into a community park that will host a number of outdoor activities to include concerts, cultural activities, art exhibits, and farmers markets. The new park is located on the Youghiogheny River and will provide visit > More

The Official Map: A Handbook for Preserving and Providing Public Lands & Facilities
The Pennsylvania Land Trust Association partnered with state agencies in developing a comprehensive handbook for municipalities, counties and planners on the implementation of an official map for the purpose of preserving lands and providing public facilities. Click here to view and download   > More

Sewickley Creek Watershed Association Newsletter - June 2011
Please click here  > More

Frick Communities plot strategies for regional improvements
By Judy Kroeger DAILY COURIER Friday, June 24, 2011 Advocates for the Frick Communities, an economic development project to benefit Scottdale, Mt. Pleasant and West Overton Museums in East Huntington Township, have begun planning strategies for regional improvements. Representatives from the state, the Redevelopment Authority of the County of Westmoreland, elected officials and West Overton met on Thursday in the kitchen of the Overholt Homestead to brainstorm. > More

Murrysville crowd attends meeting on shale ordinance
Thursday, June 16, 2011 By Annie Tubbs, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette A standing room-only crowd of more than 100 people attended a public hearing on a proposed ordinance on Marcellus Shale gas drilling in Murrysville. The group of residents, energy experts and lawyers before council spilled into the lobby of the municipal building. Blue shirts with "NO FRACKING" printed in red on the back dotted the room. > More

Bridge eyed for Blairsville trail link
By Jeff Himler , BLAIRSVILLE DISPATCH Friday, June 10, 2011 BLAIRSVILLE -- A proposal for connecting the Hoodlebug and West Penn hiking and biking trails through downtown Blairsville is estimated to cost $2.75 million, a little more than half of which would be needed to construct a bike-pedestrian bridge over Rt. 22 in Burrell Township. About 20 citizens gathered Wednesday at the Blairsville Community Center to discuss that plan as presented in the final draft of the Indiana County Regional Trail Connectivity feasibility study. > More

Derry Township residents oppose walking path
By Dan Scifo Latrobe Bulletin Staff Writer June 8, 2011 A group of Derry Township residents don’t want to see a walking path constructed from Route 982 to Raymond Avenue along the Norfolk Southern Railroad property. Jean Calabrace, representing residents along Ligonier Street Extension, submitted a petition to Derry Township Supervisors during Tuesday night’s regular meeting that included 17 names affected by the proposed path. > More

Derry Borough seeking grant for trail linkage
By Marie McCandless Latrobe Bulletin News Editor June 7, 2011 Derry Borough has submitted a mini-grant application to create an initial bike/pedestrian route through Derry and into the forested area of the Chestnut Ridge. In partnership with Derry Area Revitalization Corp. (DARCee) and Derry Area Business and Professional Association, the borough had submitted a letter of intent for a $15,000 Laurel Highlands Conservation Landscape Initiative Mini-grant. > More

Smart Growth Partnership recognizes county planner, area projects
By Marie McCandless Bulletin News Editor May 27, 2011 Smart Growth Partnership and its signature sponsor West Penn Power recognized several recipients of this year’s Smart Growth awards at a banquet Thursday in Chambers Hall, University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg. The purpose of the dinner is to recognize efforts by municipalities, individuals, or groups who have distinguished themselves by achieving and/or promoting smart growth principles. > More

'Smart growth' group honors county planner
By Richard Robbins TRIBUNE-REVIEW Friday, May 27, 2011 The man who spearheads economic development in Westmoreland County was honored Thursday by an organization whose very motto is "smart growth." But if there is tension between the two, it was not evident. Indeed, Alexander J. Graziani, the executive director of the Smart Growth Partnership of Westmoreland County, said the presentation of the Founders Award to Larry Larese was heartfelt and well-deserved. > More

The Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission seeks comments from the public regarding important draft documents prior to their adoption
On the following documents: Transportation and Development Plan for Southwestern Pennsylvania Environmental Justice Benefits and Burdens Assessment for the 2040 Plan Air Quality Conformity Determination for the Pittsburgh Transportation Management Area Southwestern Pennsylvania Public Transit Human Services Coordinated Transportation Plan Update The 30-day public comment period for the 2040 Long Range plan began Wednesday, May 18th, 2011 and will conclude on Friday, June 17, at 4:00pm. > More

2011 Commonwealth Awards Call For Entries Deadline Fast Approaching!
The 10,000 Friends of Pennsylvania 2011 Commonwealth Awards are now accepting entries.  Please click here  for more information.  The entry deadline is June 15, 2011.     The Commonwealth Awards help 10,000 Friends of Pennsylvania put smart land use, smart design, and smart growth in the spotlight. Through these awards, 10,000 Friends aims to raise awareness of projects that successfully demonstrate sound land use principles around the Commonwealth - projects that are development or redevelopment; in settings from urban to suburban to rural. > More

Census 2010 Detailed Population and Housing Data Released for Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania’s population continues to age according to the 2010 Census Demographic Profile released today for Pennsylvania. The population age 62 and older increased 7.7 percent since 2000.  The population age 65 and older increased 2.1 percent from 2000 to 2010 and the population under 18 declined 4.5 percent during the period.  Median age rose from 38.0 years in 2000 to 40.1 years in 2010.    Read more about the Pennsylvania’s 2010 Demographic profile  > More

Farmland Preservation at Heart of Ballot Question
Getting people to come out and vote in the primary can be a difficult thing at times, especially when very few high-profile positions are being contested. But in Franklin Township, Chester County, open space and farmland preservation are the hot topics this election season. Voters will go to the polls Tuesday to decide if they want to pay more in local taxes to save land from being developed. It’s something Jay Brown, a farmer in the township, already has his mind made up on. > More

2011 Smart Growth Partnership Award Winners Announced!
On May 26, 2011, the Smart Growth Partnership and its signature sponsor West Penn Power will recognize and celebrate the following recipients of this year’s Smart Growth awards:   Philadelphia Street Lane Reduction Project - Indiana, PA   Scottdale Library Plaza   Hempfield Area School District - Energy Management Project   Ohiopyle Green Street Demonstration Project   John Cardwell for Outstanding Community Service   Derry Area and Greater Latrobe Economic Exchange Day Student Leadership Teams At this year’s awards dinner, the Smart Growth Partnership > More

Partnership to honor six Smart Growth recipients
By Mary Pickels TRIBUNE-REVIEW Tuesday, May 10, 2011 Six regional projects and individuals will be honored May 26 when the Smart Growth Partnership of Westmoreland County holds its annual awards dinner. West Penn Power will serve as signature sponsor of the event, to be at the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg. Regional President David W. McDonald will be the keynote speaker. The projects’ "visibility factor" played a large part in their selection, said Alex Graziani, executive director of the community-based nonprofit that encourages prudent, long-term decisions about growth. > More

Data Visualization: US Center of Population
Each decade, after it tabulates the decennial census, the Census Bureau calculates the center of population. The center is determined as the place where an imaginary, flat, weightless and rigid map of the United States would balance perfectly if all residents were of identical weight. You can watch the Center of Population move across the country and learn more about what historical factors contributed to this movement, on the Census Bureau’s interactive map . > More

2011 Smart Growth Partnership Award Winners Announced
GREENSBURG , Pa. - On May 26, 2011, the Smart Growth Partnership and its signature sponsor West Penn Power will recognize and celebrate the following recipients of this year’s Smart Growth awards:   Philadelphia Street Lane Reduction Project - Indiana, PA Scottdale Library Plaza Hempfield Area School District - Energy Management Project Ohiopyle Green Street Demonstration Project John Cardwell for Outstanding Community Service At this year’s awards dinner, the Smart Growth Partnership Board of Directors will also recognize Larry J. > More

DEP rolls back approval process for shale violations
Tuesday, May 03, 2011 By Don Hopey, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette The state Department of Environmental Protection has completely rolled back a controversial, 5-week-old procedural change that required all field enforcement actions involving Marcellus Shale gas drilling operations be pre-approved by political appointees in Harrisburg. Katy Gresh, DEP spokeswoman, said the department’s oil and gas field inspectors are again allowed to write violation notices as they did prior to a March 23 internal department memo that directed them to take no action on violations until they received "final cle > More

Westmoreland County students delve into shale issue
Thursday, April 28, 2011 By Maryann G. Eidemiller Marcellus Shale was the focus of the Latrobe Area Chamber of Commerce’s Economic Exchange Day for high school seniors, and the information couldn’t have been more timely. "Many students weren’t even aware of what the industry is, let alone how big it is in our area," said Valerie Dunlap, a senior at Greater Latrobe High School and a student leader for the program, which was held at the school. > More

Sustainable Communities Network webinar
To view the April 26, 2011 webinar "Peter Calthorpe Tells All: Regional Planning Around the Country" hosted by Smart Growth America, PolicyLink, Reconnecting America, and the National Housing Conference please click here . Mark your calendar for these exciting upcoming webinars from the Sustainable Communities Network: Tuesday, May 24, 2011, 3:30 - 4:30 PM ET: "Equity in Planning and Implementation" Tuesday, June 28, 2011, 3:30 - 4:30 PM ET: "Transit Corridor Planning and Transit-Oriented Development" Smart Growth America’s Sustainable Communities Network is a dynamic resource for grant > More

Pitt students champion Vandergrift sustainable energy projects
By George Guido , FOR THE VALLEY NEWS DISPATCH Thursday, April 21, 2011 College students working with Vandergrift officials envision futuristic improvements to this historic town. But their project is not just a theory. The swift-flowing Kiski River might be the home of a hydrokinetic energy project that harnesses energy to light a portion of Vandergrift. The project is one of a number of sustainable-energy projects being discussed for the borough and championed by students with the University of Pittsburgh’s Engineers for a Sustainable World. > More

GL, DA students learn Marcellus shale facts at Economic Exchange
by Amy Fauth Latrobe Bulletin What are the benefits?  What are the drawbacks?  What is Marcellus Shale and what kind of impact is it having on the economy now and in the future? There are just some of the questions a group of students from Greater Latrobe and Derry Area high schools got the opportunity to delve into at the annual Economic Exchange Day Thursday at the Greater Latrobe Senior High School Center for Student Creativity. > More

New Stanton panel wants drilling rules
By Tribune-Review Thursday, April 14, 2011 After an hour-long presentation by a representative from Penn State Cooperative Extension, New Stanton’s planning commission voted to have the borough’s solicitor draft regulations for Marcellus shale drilling companies. John Turack, a community development educator with the extension office, gave a multimedia presentation at Wednesday’s planning commission meeting that explained the drilling process, the location of shale in the state and the economic and cultural impacts of drilling on a community. > More

U.S. Census Bureau American FactFinder Update
2010 Redistricting Data for ALL 50 States plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico is now available in the New American FactFinder State and local data can also be viewed through the 2010 Census State and Local Data Interactive Map Tool.  > More

DEP top brass must OK all Marcellus regulation memo says
Don Hopey, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette All Marcellus Shale permitting and enforcement actions now must be preapproved by state Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Michael Krancer and other department executives in Harrisburg, according to internal department memos. The new rules even extend to notices of violations that previously were issued by field inspectors and regional directors. Notice of the major procedural change, which was not publicly announced, was e-mailed to DEP regional directors and the director of its Oil & Gas Bureau Mar. > More

Municipalities, organizations meet for three days
Posted: Monday, March 21, 2011 By Patty Yauger Herald-Standard MOUNT PLEASANT - Cooperation, collaboration and communication will be essential keys for local neighboring communities that are struggling to provide services and promote growth, according to those taking part in the three-day G-5 Summit. The City of Connellsville and boroughs of Mount Pleasant, Everson, Scottdale and South Connellsville, along with Pennsylvania League of Cities and Municipalities (PCLM), Building Inspector Underwriters (BIU), Smart Growth PA and Fay-Penn Economic Development/Buy Local Network, took part in the con > More

G5 Summit airs concerns, touts achievements
By Marilyn Forbes FOR THE DAILY COURIER Monday, March 21, 2011 The G5 Summit closed on Saturday with council members from Connellsville, Mt. Pleasant, Scottdale, South Connellsville and Everson gathering to discuss their needs, problems and their proudest achievements. The meeting was hosted by Alexander Graziani and John Turack of the Penn State Cooperative Extension in partnership with Smart Growth. > More

Municipalities brainstorm to reduce energy costs at Laurelville Mennonite Center
By Marilyn Forbes , FOR THE DAILY COURIER Monday, March 21, 2011 Jean Pugh of the Pennsylvania League of Cities and Municipalities discussed the Municipal Utility Alliance Electricity Procurement Program, police and firefighter collective bargaining under Act 111, workers’ compensation, pension relief and unfunded mandates during a session for mayors and other municipal leaders Saturday during the closing of the G5 Summit at the Laurelville Mennonite Center. > More

Transportation Advisory Committee (TAC) Local Needs Study - Municipalities Survey
A Survey of Financial Needs of Counties and Municipalities for Highways and Bridges  ...A study by the State Transportation Advisory Committee (TAC)   https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/TACSurvey%5FMunicip     Project Overview Local government is responsible for more than 77,000 miles of highways in Pennsylvania. The responsibility for operations and maintenance of these roads is split among 67 counties and 2,562 municipalities throughout the state. > More

Fay-West applaud success of G5 Summit
By Marilyn Forbes , FOR THE DAILY COURIER Monday, March 21, 2011 The G5 Summit accomplished what it set out to do -- provide information and networking for officials from Mt. Pleasant, Connellsville, Scottdale, South Connellsville and Everson. The summit concluded Saturday night. "I was very impressed," said Mike Banaszak, Everson council president. "Even though Everson is a small town, we got a lot out of this. > More

Connellsville revitalization efforts touted
By Marilyn Forbes , FOR THE DAILY COURIER Monday, March 21, 2011 Michael Edwards is proud of what "Downtown Connellsville" has accomplished. On Saturday, he reviewed the program’s successes with officials from Connellsville, Mt. Pleasant, Scottdale, South Connellsville and Everson during the G5 Summit’s downtown revitalization meeting. Edwards said the group raised funds and applied that money toward the beautification of the business area in Connellsville. > More

Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission Public Participation Plan
The Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission has completed its update of the Public Participation Plan.  The draft document is available for public review and comment.  SPC is committed to serving our communities by developing this comprehensive and proactive public participation process for our citizens to complement the region’s transportation planning activities.    This Plan is the culmination of outreach efforts, public input, and resulting best practices gathered since the previous Plan update was completed in 2007.  More information  > More

The Marcellus Boom / Origins: the story of a professor, a gas driller and Wall Street
Sunday, March 20, 2011 By Jonathan D. Silver, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Before Marcellus Shale became the second biggest natural gas field in the world and a household term in Pennsylvania, it was just another obscure, ancient rock layer. But a convergence of Wall Street interests, corporate money and academia helped transform Marcellus almost overnight from rock to rock star, spurring predictions of a natural gas bounty in the U.S. > More

Alle-Kiski Valley's population shift continues
By Tom Yerace , VALLEY NEWS DISPATCH Tuesday, March 15, 2011 In the numbers game that is the U.S. Census, most Alle-Kiski Valley communities came up losers. Comparing the results of the 2000 head count by the federal government with those of the 2010 version shows only 14 of the Valley’s 56 communities had population increases. The biggest loser, according to the Census Bureau, was Verona, which it claims has lost 650 people since 2000 -- more than a fifth of the borough’s population. > More

Westmoreland County Seeking Input For Oil and Gas Development Draft Model Ordinance
The Westmoreland County Department of Planning and Development is in the process of developing a Draft Model Zoning Ordinance Amendment for Oil and Gas Development.  This Draft Model Ordinance is intended to provide a reference point for municipalities interested in amending their existing ordinances on Oil and Gas Development.  Municipalities will have the flexibility to adjust the Draft Ordinance to fit their community’s needs based on input from their solicitor, zoning officer, stakeholders and the public. > More

Solar power's outlook grows brighter in Pittsburgh region
By Debra Erdley PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW Monday, March 14, 2011 In a city meteorologists call one of the cloudiest in the United States, Michael Ramsey’s North Side apartment seems an unlikely locale to tap the sun’s power. But technological advances, coupled with rising energy prices and a bevy of state and federal incentives, are selling people such as Ramsey, a University of Pittsburgh geology professor, and Stephen Lee, head of the school of architecture at Carnegie Mellon University, on the benefits of solar power. > More

Towns discuss common issues
Posted: Monday, March 14, 2011 By Patty Yauger Herald-Standard heraldstandard.com CONNELLSVILLE - Connellsville officials and workers and their counterparts from South Connellsville, Everson, Mount Pleasant and Scottdale boroughs will join together this week to discuss similar issues facing their respective communities. Referred to as the G-5 Summit, the meetings on Thursday through Saturday will be held at Laurelville Mennonite Church Center in Mount Pleasant. > More

Census 2010 Shows Hispanic Population the Fastest-Growing Minority Group in Pennsylvania
PENN STATE HARRISBURG - Pennsylvania’s Hispanic population is the fastest-growing minority group in the state, according to new Census 2010 data released this week. The population (of any race) who is Hispanic or Latino grew by 82.6 percent between 2000 and 2010, an increase of 325,572 people. The Hispanic (or Latino) population now accounts for 5.7 percent of the state’s population. While the Hispanic population is the fastest-growing of the minority groups in Pennsylvania, it is not the largest: the Black or African American alone race groups, with 1,377,689 people (10.8 percent > More

Local 2010 Census Data Released for Pennsylvania: State Shows Continued Population Growth
PENN STATE HARRISBURG - The Census Bureau today released the first local 2010 Census results for Pennsylvania. The Commonwealth’s population as of April 1, 2010 was 12,702,379. Pennsylvania’s population increased 3.4 percent (421,325 total persons) since the last Decennial Census (April 1, 2000). The Commonwealth’s population remains the sixth largest in the nation, but is set to lose one seat in the U.S. > More

Westmoreland Community Action Receives Recognition
(Greensburg, PA - March 9, 2011) - Westmoreland Community Action was recently chosen as one of Pennsylvania Business Central’s Top 100 Organizations of 2010.   For 20 years, Pennsylvania Business Central has recognized 100 organizations - from very large businesses in the region to smaller non-profits - that achieved outstanding performance, received awards or enjoyed an overall extraordinary year. > More

No dangerous radiation found in Pa. water - But EPA urges more radiation checks
Tuesday, March 08, 2011 By Don Hopey, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Even as the state announced Monday that water sampling on seven Pennsylvania rivers found no radiation problems related to Marcellus Shale wastewater, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency urged additional testing and said it will take a significantly more active role in reviewing permits and environmental impacts from the discharges. > More

Call for Nominations - 2011 West Penn Power/Smart Growth Partnership Awards
The Smart Growth Partnership will be recognizing smart growth developments, projects, and individuals/groups that have distinguished themselves by achieving and/or promoting smart growth principles at its Annual Awards Dinner on May 26, 2011 at the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg. Please submit all nominations by Friday, March 18, 2011.  Click here for the nomination form, or for more information, call the Smart Growth Partnership at 724-552-0118. > More

EPAs National Award for Smart Growth Achievement
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is pleased to announce that the application period for the 10th annual National Award for Smart Growth Achievement is now open . Through this award, EPA recognizes and supports communities that have successfully used smart growth principles to improve communities environmentally, socially, and economically. Open to public- and private-sector entities, winners will be recognized at a ceremony in Washington, DC, in December 2011. > More

Special Report: Marcellus Shale - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
Natural gas extraction from the Marcellus shale has set off a land rush unlike anything Pennsylvania has seen since 1859 when Col. Edwin Drake drilled the world’s first oil well in Titusville, Crawford County. The rock formation runs a mile underground from New York to Tennessee, and geologists believe it could produce 500 trillion cubic feet of natural gas - or 10 times more than Appalachia has produced over the past 150 years. > More

Penn Township approves draft of oil, gas ordinance
By Paul Paterra TRIBUNE-REVIEW Tuesday, February 22, 2011 Penn Township commissioners last night unanimously approved the draft of an oil and gas ordinance. The action was taken as another step in a process being undertaken by many municipalities to get regulations on the books in response to the burgeoning Marcellus shale drilling in the region. Marcellus shale is a formation of sedimentary rock that contains a large stretch of mostly untapped natural gas. > More

New strategy eyed for ex-Sony site in Westmoreland County
By Amy Crawford TRIBUNE-REVIEW Sunday, February 20, 2011 On a recent wintry afternoon, Doug Orbin stood near the center of the cavernous former Sony Corp. television plant and remembered the glory days. "You would hear chatter on radios, banging, clanging, depending on what was going on," said Orbin, who was Sony’s facilities manager when the 2.8-million-square-foot plant was running at full capacity. > More

Law professor casts doubt on drilling ban for Murrysville
By Paul Paterra TRIBUNE-REVIEW Thursday, February 17, 2011 A University of Pittsburgh law professor said any moratorium or ban a municipality might want to enact concerning the drilling of Marcellus shale would be unlikely to hold up in court, but there were arguments that could be tried. Jules Lobel, also the vice president of the Center for Constitutional Rights, spoke before Wednesday’s meeting of Murrysville Council. > More

Valentine’s Day: A Day of Love and Big Business
Valentine’s Day is an annual commemoration held on February 14th celebrating love and affection. One legend contends that Valentine’s Day originated to commemorate the anniversary of the death of St. Valentine, a Roman clergyman who was executed for secretly marrying couples in defiance of the emperor. According to another, the holiday began as a Roman fertility festival. Regardless of its origins, Valentine’s Day provides a terrific opportunity to express affection for that special someone. > More

Marcellus Shale Law and Policy Symposium
This event featured a one-of-a kind lineup of scholars, advocates, and scientists for an examination of legal and environmental aspects of Marcellus Shale in the Northeast. This event was sponsored by the Penn State Environmental Law Review, a student-run legal publication.   The event, originally presented and recorded on February 10, 2011, is now available for viewing.  To view the recorded session, please click here To view the materials please click here  > More

Civic Arena: crime scene
But don’t wipe away the evidence; build something special Friday, February 11, 2011 By David Conrad Post-Gazette columnist Brian O’Neill finally said out loud what everyone knows is true ("Point of Realism Interferes with Preserving Arena," Feb. 8): Whatever replaces the Civic Arena, in the end, must serve the needs and growth of the Hill District as much as it serves the Penguins’ bottom line. > More

Marcellus drilling rules still in works in Upper Burrell
By Liz Hayes VALLEY NEWS DISPATCH Tuesday, February 8, 2011 Supervisors still are working on revisions to the township’s Marcellus shale natural gas drilling ordinance -- and residents still are offering new suggestions. "We are working diligently on the ordinance and the things brought up at the last meeting," Supervisor Chairman Ross Walker III told residents on Monday. Township Manager Amy Rockwell said she is scheduled to meet this week with township Solicitor Stephen Yakopec to review issues discussed at a public hearing held in late January. > More

North Huntingdon planners rebuff revised Route 30 retail plan
By Chris Foreman TRIBUNE-REVIEW Tuesday, February 8, 2011 An Ohio-based developer revised a site plan for a retail building off Route 30, but the North Huntingdon planning commission refused last night to recommend that township commissioners approve it. Rebuffed by township commissioners in December, WD North Huntingdon Investors submitted an updated plan for the 7,200-square-foot building on Magill Drive that addressed concerns about landscaping and parking. > More

Mt. Pleasant Township sewage project proceeds
By Linda Harkcom FOR THE DAILY COURIER Saturday, February 5, 2011 Work on the Mt. Pleasant Township Municipal Authority’s $12 million Norvelt sewer project has begun in several locations. The new sewer collection and treatment facility will serve 1,037 residents and 67 businesses in the Norvelt, Hecla, United and Calumet areas of the township. Construction on the project began the last week of November. > More

Pennsylvania Downtown Center E-update 2-4-2011
Click here  > More

'Walkable communities' on the rise in Pennsylvania
By Adam Brandolph PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW Sunday, January 23, 2011 Pennsylvania is ripe for environmentally friendly, walkable communities like those built or being constructed in the Pittsburgh area, a state report released last week concludes. "The demand is increasing for those types of communities, and it might be a real market opportunity," said Denny Puko, a local government policy manager with the state Department of Community and Economic Development. > More

State orders owner to clean up Jeannette glass site
By Richard Gazarik TRIBUNE-REVIEW Wednesday, January 19, 2011 The state Department of Environmental Protection has ordered the owner of a former Jeannette glass factory to tear down the abandoned buildings and clean up the site because of the presence of cancer-causing asbestos and other hazardous wastes. The DEP issued an enforcement order Wednesday against Abe Zion of New York, who owns the former Jeannette Glass Co., which encompasses more than 13 acres in the heart of the city. > More

Excela to close Jeannette hospital, could tear it down
By Paul Paterra TRIBUNE-REVIEW Tuesday, January 18, 2011 Sean Stipp %7C Tribune-Review Excela officials cited declining patient numbers and rising costs in closing the Jeannette hospital. Excela Health will close its Jeannette facility by Jan. 31 and may raze the former community hospital. In announcing the closure yesterday, health system officials cited as factors declining patient numbers, the costs of operating the aging facility and a shift in patient preference toward "medical malls" that offer more complete medical services. > More

Mix of nature, business seen for 'South Hills Parkway'
By Matthew Santoni PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW Tuesday, January 18, 2011 Imagine Route 51 lined with trees and streams instead of old warehouses and car lots. Pedestrians could stroll a dedicated walking/biking path, instead of dirt ruts, amid new buildings with upper-level walkways connecting to transit, shopping and neighborhoods above the valley walls. A group of architects and planners imagines that in an ambitious blueprint for the Route 51 corridor, which they propose renaming "Route 51 South Hills Parkway." Seven communities between the Liberty Tunnel and West Elizabeth are starting to ex > More

Community Planning Assistance Team (CPAT) Program Applications Sought
APA is pleased to announce that applications are now being accepted for the Community Planning Assistance Team (CPAT) program. The CPAT is a place-based initiative designed to bring planning resources and opportunities to communities with a demonstrated need for assistance. APA Chapters and Divisions are encouraged to help spread the word about this opportunity to both communities and planning experts. > More

Trail Town Preservation Plan complete
The Trail Town Program %AE and Preservation Pennsylvania just completed a year-long preservation planning process. After a series of community workshops and planning sessions, the final plan, entitled "Progress through Preservation" is now available. The document focuses on key resources in the Trail Towns, as well as goals, objectives, and an action plan with achievable next steps. The plan seeks to coordinate and strengthen existing preservation efforts to stimulate the regional economy and support community sustainability. > More

DCED Releases Land Use and Growth Report to Aid State, Local Planning
Harrisburg - The Department of Community and Economic Development today issued a report that shows how Pennsylvania will look, demographically, in the next 10 years, and how it has changed in the past five years. The 2010 State Land Use and Growth Management Report, prepared by DCED’s Governor’s Center for Local Government Services and PB Americas Inc., was presented during the State Planning Board meeting in Harrisburg.  “This report takes an in-depth look at statewide and regional growth and development patterns,” Governor’s Center for Local Government Serv > More

2007-2009 American Community Survey Data Released
Multi-Year Estimates Provide Updated Data for Dozens of Counties and Cities PENN STATE HARRISBURG - The Census Bureau recently released new demographic and social data for areas with populations of 20,000 or more. The 2007-2009 American Community Survey 3-Year Estimates contain data relating to income, poverty, educational attainment, commuting statistics, disability, employment and much more. The American Community Survey (ACS) is a continuous survey that replaces the decennial census long form, and provides more timely and updated information about the nation’s changing and diverse pop > More

North Huntingdon discussing noise restrictions on drillers
By Chris Foreman TRIBUNE-REVIEW Tuesday, January 11, 2011 North Huntingdon officials are continuing to hammer out proposed regulations for gas well drilling, with any possible restrictions on noise being the last major hang-up before they publicize the draft ordinance. "We are working on it," township Planning Director and Engineer Andrew Blenko said Monday night during a planning commission meeting. > More

2011 Charter Awards Deadline Fast Approaching
The submission deadline for the 2011 CNU Charter Awards is set for Wednesday, January 12, 2011 . Please postmark your projects by that date in order to be included in this year’s program. The awards recognize outstanding design, development and policy achievements from around the world that embody the principles of the Charter of the New Urbanism. CNU invites your submissions - whether the work is architecture, landscape, and urban design, or the publications, policies, plans, and codes that shape urbanism. > More

Western PA Environmental Awards Call for Nominations
The Western Pennsylvania Environmental Awards are open to any group, individual, program, company, or organization located and working in the following Western Pennsylvania counties: Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Bedford, Blair, Butler, Cambria, Cameron, Centre, Clarion, Clearfield, Crawford, Elk, Erie, Fayette, Forest, Fulton, Greene, Huntingdon, Indiana, Jefferson, Lawrence, McKean, Mercer, Somerset, Venango, Warren, Washington, and Westmoreland.Nominations may be made by the person or persons involved in the activity, or by a third party. > More

HUD Notice of Public Information Grants Now Available
HUD is soliciting applications for two of three Notice of Public Information (NOPI) grants -- created to enhance HUD demonstration programs. Three to five grants of $150,000-$500,000 are expected to be awarded through the Sustainable Communities Research Grant Program . This grant was created to fill key data and information gaps and to begin to develop and evaluate policy alternatives that will help target community investments. > More

PennDOT Announces $24.7 Million for Smart Transportation Projects in 41 Communities
HARRISBURG, Pa. , Jan. 6, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- "Smart Transportation" projects in 41 communities across the state will get a boost from $24.7 million in funding under the second round of the Pennsylvania Community Transportation Initiative grants, PennDOT Secretary Allen D. Biehler, P.E. announced today. The Pennsylvania Community Transportation Initiative, or PCTI, is a competitive funding program to support and encourage local transportation projects that exemplify the goals of Smart Transportation. > More

As gas prices continue to surpass $2.50 per gallon, many of us are looking for ways to save some money
The CommuteInfo program has redesigned and enhanced its website to assist regional commuters and employers find a better way to work or school.  As gas prices continue to surpass $2.50 per gallon, many of us are looking for ways to save some money.  Alternatives to driving alone, like carpooling, using public transit or biking to work, are just a few ways to lower the commuting bill.  To assist those looking for alternatives to driving alone, the CommuteInfo program provides resources for commuters, employers, job seekers, the media and people just interested in learning mo > More

Land trusts in Southwestern Pennsylvania preserve green spaces
By Jennifer Reeger TRIBUNE-REVIEW Sunday, December 26, 2010 In two years of operation, the Westmoreland Land Trust has preserved more than 100 acres of green space in four communities. It continues to look for land that people would be willing to donate or sell to be preserved for future generations. "I think that’s a pretty good start," said trust chairman Charles Duritsa. "We’re very pleased with that, and we hope to move on from here." The Westmoreland Land Trust is one of the newest entries into the region’s land conservation efforts. > More

Community Planning Assistance Team (CPAT) Application Period Now Open
APA is pleased to announce that applications are now being accepted for the Community Planning Assistance Team (CPAT) program.   The CPAT is a place-based initiative designed to bring planning resources and opportunities to communities with a demonstrated need for assistance.  APA Chapters and Divisions are encouraged to help spread the word about this opportunity to both communities and planning experts. > More

News from the Laurel Highlands CLI
Please click here to view  > More

Grants Available from WREN
WREN will have both Watershed Protection and Source Water Protection grants available for the 20011-2012 grant cycle.  Guidelines and application forms have been posted on the WREN website.  WREN grants are funded by the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania Citizen Education Fund through a Section 319 Federal Clean Water Act grant from the US Environmental Protection Agency administered by Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. > More

Pension law leaves taxpayers with $5B annual cost
By MARK SCOLFORO Associated Press HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP, Dec. 13) - Newly enacted structural changes to Pennsylvania’s pension plans for state government workers and public school employees will still leave taxpayers on the hook for billions of dollars in average annual payments over the next decade, according to an Associated Press analysis. The law was touted as a way to address a looming spike in pension funding, and it did reduce the projected cost over the next few years. > More

PHMC: Deadline Approaches for Historic Preservation Grants
Applications Due Jan. 31 Harrisburg - The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC) today encouraged non-profit organizations and local governments to apply for historic preservation project grants before the Jan. 31 deadline. Two levels of funding are available. Grant awards below $10,000 do not require matching local funds.  If state funding is between $10,001 and $25,000, an equal local match is required. > More

New 2005-2009 American Community Survey 5-Year Data Released
First Updated Demographic Data Since 2000 for Thousands of Areas PENN STATE HARRISBURG - The U.S. Census Bureau today released new demographic and social data for every community in the United States, including for the first time all counties, municipalities, census tracts, and other geographies. The data is the first release of 5-Year Estimates from the 2005-2009 American Community Survey, an integral part of the Census Bureau’s reengineered 2010 Census. > More

Pensylvania Downtown Center E-Update
To view, please click here  > More

Environmentally friendly - business-ready professional office space available
Westmoreland Countys most unique commercial site now has two suites available If you’re looking for office space, take a look at GreenForge. GreenForge is one of the most environmentally friendly%85business-ready%85and cost-efficient addresses in Westmoreland County. Plus, GreenForge tenants enjoy the distinction of being located in the first commercial building in Westmoreland County to undergo a green rehabilitation. > More

Developers of Murrysville shopping center put land up for sale
By Paul Paterra TRIBUNE-REVIEW Monday, December 6, 2010 The developers of a proposed upscale shopping plaza in Murrysville still hope to land a retail business, but all options are being explored as the property has been put up for sale. Manor Development Group II has been the developer of a 114-acre shopping area to be called Marketplace on Twenty-Two at William Penn Highway and Berlin Farm Road. > More

Walkable Cities, Walkable Neighborhoods
New neighborhood-level data from the walkability rating website Walk Score has broadened the view of what it means to live in a walkable city. This comparison of neighborhood-level data across the U.S. offers a more specific look at which cities are really the most walkable. Over the past few years, the website Walk Score has gained a lot of popularity amongst urban planners, developers and, maybe most especially, real estate agents. > More

APA - Official Launch of Advanced Specialty Certification Program
APA is proud to announce that yesterday that they began accepting applications for the first-ever Advanced Specialty Certification examinations.  ASC enables qualified AICP certified planners to earn an additional credential attesting to their in-depth knowledge, experience, and leadership skills in a specialized field of planning.  Applications for the AICP Certified Transportation Planner and AICP Certified Environmental Planner examinations will remain open through March 30, 2011, with the exams administered in May.    Please click here  for more informati > More

LEED for Neighborhood Development Certification Is Now Available!
 The LEED for Neighborhood Development Rating System integrates the principles of smart growth, urbanism and green building into the first national system for neighborhood design. LEED certification provides independent, third-party verification that a development’s location and design meet accepted high levels of environmentally responsible, sustainable development. LEED for Neighborhood Development is a collaboration among USGBC, Congress for the New Urbanism , and the Natural Resources Defense Council . > More

Start cutting here, Gov. Corbett
Pennsylvania’s PlanCon program encourages school districts to overbuild, argues Pottstown School Board member THOMAS HYLTON Sunday, November 21, 2010 With a pledge not to raise taxes, and facing an enormous budget deficit, Gov.-elect Tom Corbett needs billions of dollars in spending cuts. Let me offer some low-hanging fruit: Eliminate the school construction subsidy program called PlanCon. Each year, Pennsylvania school districts spend more than a billion dollars on school construction, with hundreds of millions reimbursed by the state. > More

2010 PennDOT Winter Guide
With nearly 40,000 miles of roads and 25,000 bridges statewide PennDOT is responsible for maintaining nearly 96,000 snow-lane miles - enough to circle the globe nearly four times! To tackle this task, PennDOT uses more than 2,200 trucks, plows and salt spreaders, operated by 5,400 licensed department operators. The department also rents about 400 trucks and their operators to assist with snow removal operations. > More

Marcellus Shale Year End Tax Planning Program
Press Release - November 19, 2010 Penn State Cooperative Extension and the Pennsylvania Institute of CPAs will be holding a workshop, “Marcellus Shale Year End Tax Planning Program” on Wednesday, December 15 th , 2010 at the Greensburg Garden and Civic Center, 951 Old Salem Rd., Greensburg, PA.    The meeting will start at 7:00 PM and end at approximately 9:30 PM.   Speakers include Extension, CPA, legal and financial management experts who will discuss the strategies for year-end tax planning. > More

Spirit Air to land in Palmer airport
Thursday, November 18, 2010 By Deborah M. Todd, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette After years of discussions, Spirit Airlines plans to launch its first flight from Arnold Palmer Regional Airport in Latrobe early next year. The Westmoreland County Airport Authority and Spirit Airlines announced last month that the low-cost carrier would offer four nonstop flights per week out of Latrobe to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., starting Feb. > More

Major initiative to boost charitable giving in Westmoreland County
GREENSBURG , Pa. , November 16, 2010 --   A major initiative designed to boost individual charitable giving and support Westmoreland’s nonprofit organizations will launch with a special Day of Giving on December 1, 2010.   The Community Foundation of Westmoreland County (CFWC) will celebrate the community’s first-ever official Day of Giving by offering matching grants totaling $80,000 for donations received through its new WestmorelandGives on-line giving and research portal. > More

DCNR awards grants in Laurel Highlands
Creation of a new mini-grant program for the Laurel Highlands CLI was included in several grants recently announced by the state Department of Conservation & Natural Resources. The mini-grants will be administered jointly by the Lincoln Highway and National Road heritage corridors, each of which received $180,000 for the mini-grants, to develop an Iphone application, and to help implement the Laurel Highlands CLI and programs along their respective corridors. > More

Vandergrift Improvement Program Presents The Indoor Farmers Market
Come and visit the vendors that you enjoyed shopping with over the summer, now located indoors in the old JCPenney’s store. Located at 134 Grant Avenue Vandergrift, PA 15690 October 28 through November 18, 2010 and November 26, 2010 4:00 pm to 8:00 pm Please click here to view the flyer  > More

DCNR Bureau of Recreation and Conservation - Fall Training
The Department of Conservation and Natural Resource’s Bureau of Conservation and Recreation is pleased to announce two webinars in November designed to assist you in preparing applications for the Community Conservation Partnership Program (C2P2) Grant Program (Applications Due April 20, 2011).     The first webinar, scheduled for November 5, will focus on developing “Ready to Go” grant applications. > More

Call issued for nominations for ‘River of the Year’
The Pa. Organization for Watersheds and Rivers (POWR) and DCNR are extending their deadline until Friday, Nov. 5, for the submission of nominations of Pennsylvania waterways to be honored as River of the Year 2011. For guidelines and to submit a nomination, visit http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/YJFCWR8 . Local organizations must take a leadership role in celebrating the river, including committing to a one- to two-day sojourn and a series of events throughout the year. > More

Governor's Award for Local Government Excellence
The Governor’s Center for Local Government Services invites you to submit your project or program for recognition as part of our Local Government Day celebration. As you know, The Governor’s Award for Local Government Excellence honors municipalities, municipal authorities and councils of government that have demonstrated vision by implementing programs that improve the quality of life of the Pennsylvania citizens they serve. > More

GREENSBURG (October 26) - The Redevelopment Authority of the County of Westmoreland today unveiled a new website designed to promote business development in the county’s core communities.  "Downtown Destinations" showcases marketable properties in the county’s cities and boroughs that are available for business expansions or new enterprise. The website is available through the Westmoreland County homepage at www.co.westmoreland.pa.us (keyword: downtown). > More

10th annual Southwestern Pennsylvania Smart Growth Conference Summary
For this 10th anniversary, the conference was a milestone for the high stakes surrounding the region’s capacity building for smart growth. Focus was on alignment with the Interagency Partnership for Sustainable Communities (comprising federal DOT, EPA, and HUD) in supporting regional integration of housing, transportation, water infrastructure, energy conservation, and land use planning and investment. > More

Water Well Owners Needed for Marcellus Gas Well Study - Free Post Drilling Water Tests
Penn State’s School of Forest Resources along with several Penn State Cooperative Extension county offices have received funding from the Center for Rural Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania Water Resources Research Center to conduct a research study on the potential impacts of Marcellus gas drilling on rural drinking water wells. To be eligible for the study and the FREE water quality testing associated with it, participants must meet ALL of the following criteria:    Own a private water well (no springs/cisterns can be included in the study). > More

Agriculture Department: Grants Available
To Help Farmers Markets, Farm Stands Expand; Applications Due Nov. 23 Harrisburg - Farm stands and farmers markets can expand their businesses and better connect consumers to nutritious, locally grown farm products through a federal grant that supports marketing and business opportunities, said Agriculture Secretary Russell C. Redding today. The Direct Farm Sales Grant, which is funded by the federal Specialty Crops Block Grant program through the 2008 Farm Bill, provides up to $7,500 in matching grant funds to producers and markets selling directly to consumers. > More

Water management for Marcellus Shale gas production next topic in Web series
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Billions of dollars already have been invested by natural-gas companies in Pennsylvania for Marcellus Shale gas exploration. Similarly, millions of gallons of water have been utilized to develop billions of cubic feet of natural gas.   The natural-gas industry is pursuing ways to minimize potential environmental impacts during development of the rich Marcellus formation, such as by treating and reusing water produced during the process. > More

Delmont 'staple' to close after more than 80 years
By Chris Foreman , TRIBUNE-REVIEW Saturday, October 16, 2010 Delmont residents are lamenting the closing of Spagnolo’s Shop ’n Save. The family owned grocery store on Athena Drive, formerly Fatur’s Market, is going out of business because of poor economic conditions, Joe Spagnolo confirmed Friday. Customers said they had an inkling that the store might close because they noticed the shelves were emptier than usual. > More

Pennsylvania Historic & Museum Commission
We invite you to take the Pennsylvania Community Preservation Values Survey . Your responses will help guide the preparation of Pennsylvana’s Statewide Historic Preservation Plan for 2012-2017. The survey will close on October 30, 2010.    > More

Westmoreland Community Action wins national award
By Tribune-Review Friday, October 8, 2010 Westmoreland Community Action was one of 14 across the country selected as a winner of the 2010 National Entrepreneurship and Innovation Award by the Community Action Partnership. The partnership is the national membership organization representing more than 1,000 community action agencies throughout the United States. The Westmoreland agency was honored for its outstanding work in promoting community development as a core strategy in promoting economic security and reducing poverty. > More

DEP takes soil, air, water samples from Jeannette glass plant site
By Richard Gazarik TRIBUNE-REVIEW Thursday, October 7, 2010 Rob Fejes grew up in a house on one side of the former Jeannette Glass factory and operates his sign business on the other. As a boy, he remembers waking up in the morning and seeing his father’s car covered with white silt, residue from the glassmaking process at the plant. "There would be particles on your car just like at a steel mill," Fejes recalled. > More

Murrysville ordinance proposal concerns drilling
By Paul Paterra TRIBUNE-REVIEW Thursday, October 7, 2010 Murrysville residents will get their first chance to be heard in a public forum on a proposed amendment to the municipality’s zoning ordinance geared toward regulating the exploration or production of oil or natural gas from a shale reservoir or source rock. The municipality’s planning commission will hold a public hearing on the issue Oct. > More

Jeannette unlikely to foot bill for glass plant cleanup
By Richard Gazarik TRIBUNE-REVIEW Wednesday, October 6, 2010 The City of Jeannette would have to pay for any environmental cleanup at the former Jeannette Glass property and then sue owner Abe Zion to recoup the costs, the city solicitor said. Solicitor Scott Avolio said if the city health board determines the site is a public nuisance, Jeannette could demolish the decaying steel structures or remove contaminants such as arsenic, lead or asbestos left over from 112 years of glass production. > More

Greensburg to improve Main Street building
By Bob Stiles TRIBUNE-REVIEW Wednesday, October 6, 2010 Greensburg City Council voted Tuesday to take steps to shore up a Main Street building out of concerns it poses a safety hazard. In a 3-0 vote, council hired Raimondo Inc. for $17,940 to make improvements to the former Advanced Furniture building in the 200 block of South Main Street. Council members Emil Peterinelli and Kathleen McCormick joined Mayor Karl Eisaman in hiring Raimondo as part of an "emergency" vote held during the agenda meeting. > More

Plans for Mountain View Inn property denied
By Cody Francis TRIBUNE-REVIEW Wednesday, October 6, 2010 Too many questions surrounding the preliminary plans for two lots on the former Mountain View Inn property caused the Unity Township Planning Commission on Tuesday to deny the proposals after they were presented for the second consecutive meeting. The advisory board voted unanimously to deny the preliminary plans largely because of a disagreement about traffic flow between businesses in the former hotel’s lot, now being developed by Jada View LLC. > More

CommuteInfo Launches Redesigned Website for Commuters
PITTSBURGH, PA  -- The CommuteInfo program has redesigned and enhanced its website to assist regional commuters and employers find a better way to work. As gas prices continue to surpass $2.50 per gallon, many of us are looking for ways to save some money. Alternatives to driving alone, like carpooling, using public transit or biking to work, are just a few ways to lower the commuting bill. To assist those looking for alternatives to driving alone, the CommuteInfo program provides resources for commuters, employers, job seekers, the media and people just interested in learning more about > More

County Summit Brings Community Leaders Together
BY MARYANN GOGNIAT EIDEMILLER For The Latrobe Bulletin September 10, 2010    Dr. John McKnight likes to tell the story about a mother who was alarmed when her daughter and her friends were on the verge of getting into mischief because they didn’t have anything better to do.    She rallied other mothers with the same concerns and they found some interesting activities for the girls. > More

Unity tables plans for former inn property
By Cody Francis TRIBUNE-REVIEW Thursday, September 9, 2010 A traffic flow concern stopped Unity Township’s planning commission this week from giving the go-ahead to preliminary plans for two lots on the former Mountain View Inn property. The advisory panel tabled voting on the plans until its October meeting after a lengthy discussion about traffic flow between businesses in the former hotel’s lot, now being developed by Jada View LLC. > More

New Kensington business ventures displease residents
By Liz Hayes VALLEY NEWS DISPATCH Wednesday, September 8, 2010 New Kensington officials are trying to balance their economic development goals with residents’ worries about the impact of proposed businesses. Two proposals came under fire Thursday night, one for the former Parnassus school property and another for a former automobile parts store on Linden Avenue. Kim McAfoose, the executive director of the city’s redevelopment authority, confirmed five proposals recently have been made for the vacant Main Street property where the school once stood. > More

New Kensington business ventures displease residents
By Liz Hayes VALLEY NEWS DISPATCH Wednesday, September 8, 2010 New Kensington officials are trying to balance their economic development goals with residents’ worries about the impact of proposed businesses. Two proposals came under fire Thursday night, one for the former Parnassus school property and another for a former automobile parts store on Linden Avenue. Kim McAfoose, the executive director of the city’s redevelopment authority, confirmed five proposals recently have been made for the vacant Main Street property where the school once stood. > More

Rules drafted for gas drilling in Upper Burrell
By Janet George FOR THE VALLEY NEWS DISPATCH Wednesday, September 8, 2010 A draft ordinance regulating gas and oil well drilling in Upper Burrell would give township officials authority to regulate -- but not prohibit -- Marcellus shale drilling operations. Upper Burrell supervisors presented a draft ordinance amending the zoning ordinance to permit gas and oil well drilling in the township. The ordinance is an effort to help regulate what can and can’t be done in residential and industrial areas of the township. > More

Students' signs dot downtown shops in Greensburg
Thursday, September 02, 2010 By Amanda Gillooly Sister Mary Kay Neff said hands-on experience dealing with clients was paramount to successfully navigating the creative process as a graphic designer, but that’s a difficult thing to re-create in a classroom or studio. An associate professor of art and graphic design at Seton Hill University, she said that’s one of the reasons she includes a practical experience project in her classes each semester. > More

Planners play catch-up in Marcellus shale leasing rush
By Andrew Conte and Tim Puko PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW Tuesday, August 17, 2010 Interest in drilling the Marcellus shale rock formation has oil and gas companies quickly buying up leases across Allegheny County -- and communities scrambling to keep up, officials said yesterday. Drillers have access to 2,600 pieces of land in the county, mostly from leases signed between January 2009 and May, according to research released by the University of Pittsburgh. > More

Seton Hill Students Create Signage for Greensburg Businesses
Nine of Associate Professor of Art Sr. Mary Kay Neff’s graphic design students spent the spring 2010 semester working with local Greensburg businesses and organizations to develop signage for use on, or in, their buildings.  Barbara Kerestes Martin ’80, founder and CEO of KMA Design, specializes in signage and environmental design and shared her expertise with the class.  The Greensburg Communtiy Development Corporation partnered with Seton Hill to develop this unique opportunity for both the students and the organization. > More

New restaurant is latest piece in Greensburg's revival
Supper Club added at Train Station Thursday, August 12, 2010 By Amanda Gillooly Since The Supper Club opened at The Greensburg Train Station in June, Deb Driggers said, diners have had a similar response to the space: Wow. "It’s amazing. People are really excited about a new restaurant," she said. "The building has such ambience, people just feel comfortable here." Ms. Driggers, of Laughlintown, is president of McAndrews Restaurant Inc., which owns the restaurant. > More

Meeting helps set regional agenda
by Tom McGee Murrysville Star Staff Writer August 5, 2010 A group of community leaders hope to unite 32 counties in the Pittsburgh region to shape the area’s future. Organizers of Power of 32 held a public discussion in Murrysville last week to solicit ideas for growth in southwestern Pennsylvania and neighborhing states.  The group includes representatives fro 32 counties from Pennsylvani, West Virginia, Ohio and Maryland. > More

Meeting spurs interest in novel Power of 32
By Cindy Ekas FOR THE TRIBUNE-REVIEW Wednesday, July 28, 2010 More than 30 Fayette County residents gathered Tuesday at Penn State Fayette, The Eberly Campus, to outline the challenges, strengths and possibilities of the Greater Pittsburgh region. "The regional visioning initiative" -- known as the Power of 32 -- is receiving input from thousands of people across 32 counties in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Maryland and Ohio explained local facilitator Wanda Anker of Fay-Penn Economic Development Council. > More

Drilling ordinance moves forward in North Strabane
Wednesday, July 28, 2010 By Amanda Gillooly North Strabane supervisors voted 4-0 Tuesday night to authorize the township solicitor to finalize an ordinance that permits oil and gas drilling as a conditional use. Board chairman Greg Sulc abstained from the discussion and subsequent vote because he is an employee of Range Resources, an oil and gas company located in nearby Southpointe. The board also ultimately decided not to include provisions for bunk housing in the ordinance, an issue that had been discussed at its last meeting. > More

Power of 32 meeting draws 35
By MICHELLE GANASSI michelleg@dailyamerican.com Wednesday, July 28, 2010 12:00 AM EDT Tuesday morning Somerset residents were given an opportunity to have a voice in the region’s future. The Power of 32 campaign held a community conversation at the Somerset Church of the Brethren, where several ideas about the direction of the region were discussed. “Every idea is a good idea,” regional chairman Allen Kukovich told the group. > More

Community discussions to map plan for region
By Tribune-Review Tuesday, July 27, 2010 Two Power of 32 Community Conversation will be held this week in Unity and Murrysville. In the "listening phase" of the Power of 32 project, residents may attend the session to voice their visions for the region’s future. A session will be held from 6:30-9 p.m. today at the Fred Rogers Center, St. Vincent College, 300 Fraser Purchase Road. The Murrysville session will be held 6:30-9 p.m. > More

Power of 32 begins idea exchanges
Patrick Buchnowski pbuchnowski@tribdem.com SOMERSET -- The Power of 32 muscled into Somerset County on Tuesday. Power of 32 is a “regional visioning initiative” involving counties in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Ohio and West Virginia. The goal is to form a regional plan that includes strengthening the economy and creating jobs. One of dozens of planned public meetings was held Tuesday at Somerset Church of the Brethren on Plank Road. > More

Power of 32: Solutions that cross borders
By Jessica Borders Times West Virginian FAIRMONT -- During a public meeting, a group of Marion County community members focused on making positive changes in the region through a shared vision. A Community Conversation was held at Fairmont State University’s Jaynes Hall Tuesday evening to discuss the Power of 32 initiative, which is the largest regional visioning project ever undertaken in the country. > More

Putting Smart Growth to Work in Rural Communities
Many rural communities are facing challenges, including rapid growth at metropolitan edges, declining rural populations, and loss of working lands.   This report  focuses on smart growth strategies that can help guide growth in rural areas while protecting natural and working lands and preserving the rural character of existing communities.  These strategies are based around three central goals: 1) support the rural landscape by creating an economic climate that enhances the viability of working lands and conserves natural lands; 2) help existing places to thrive > More

Vandergrift moves to preserve look of borough property
By Rossilynne Skena VALLEY NEWS DISPATCH Monday, July 26, 2010 Borough residents who cut down trees between the sidewalk and the curb could face a fine. Those trees are borough property, officials say. A new ordinance would enforce that by prohibiting residents from trimming or removing trees along the street -- even those in front of their house. Councilwoman Kathy Chvala leads the borough’s tree committee, which includes two other council members and four residents. > More

DEP Marcellus Shale Examiner
In the past three years, Pennsylvania has become the epicenter of natural gas exploration with dozens of companies seeking to capitalize on the abundant natural resources in the Marcellus Shale formation. The consequences of this rapidly growing industry affect us all. In the coming months, policy makers will be working on important issues related to drilling in Pennsylvania. From enacting a severance tax so large drilling firms pay their fair share, to writing laws that could affect landowners’ rights when it comes to drilling on or under their property, there will be a tremen > More

32 community conversations
Thursday, July 22, 2010 By Margaret Smykla Organizers of a regional visioning initiative are hoping the 4.2 million residents of 32 counties in Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia will circle Tuesday on their calendars. That is the date Power of 32, named for the counties, hopes to hold meetings in all 32 counties to engage residents in community conversations. "We want to look at year 2025 and imagine a successful, thriving region. > More

Penn State staffer discusses water risk with gas drilling
By Liz Hayes , VALLEY NEWS DISPATCH Wednesday, July 21, 2010 ALLEGHENY TOWNSHIP -- A Penn State educator advised people living near Marcellus shale natural gas wells to have their drinking water tested before drilling starts. Dana Rizzo, a water quality expert from the Penn State Cooperative Extension in Westmoreland County, Tuesday spoke of the possible impact drilling could have on water sources. > More

Cooperative vision pursued for Alle-Kiski Valley
By Rossilynne Skena , VALLEY NEWS DISPATCH Wednesday, July 21, 2010 Last updated: 7:46 am UPPER BURRELL -- The Power of 32 wants residents to close their eyes and imagine life in the Alle-Kiski Valley in 2025. They want to know what will be the proudest parts of the region in 15 years and what the keys were to getting there. The Power of 32, is a regional planning program for 32 counties in Southwestern Pennsylvania, southeastern Ohio, northern West Virginia and western Maryland. > More

Derry seeks citizen input for proposed parks project
By Jeff Himler , BLAIRSVILLE DISPATCH Friday, July 16, 2010 Area citizens will have a chance on August 7 to share ideas for improving park properties in Derry Borough and potentially linking them to other communities through a proposed system of hiking and biking trails. Mayor Susan Bortz told Derry Council Monday she is organizing an all-day planning charette, beginning at 8 a.m. that day, where a steering committee will engage in planning for the proposed Derry parks and trails project while seeking input from residents and other stakeholders. > More

Developers get night out in Irwin
By Chris Foreman TRIBUNE-REVIEW Friday, July 16, 2010 Irwin is searching for a few more business owners like Lou Botti. Botti, who has a background in construction and property development, decided last summer to buy the former Isaly’s Bakery and Deli, a Main Street staple for 60 years until its closing in 2006. In the past year, the building that originally was a dairy in the 1920s has been renovated on the first floor in anticipation of a Labor Day opening for the new Main Street Deli & Bakery, a spot for grabbing a scoop of Hershey’s ice cream or ordering a lunch delivery. > More

Westmoreland seeks input on national community development project
By R. A. Monti , VALLEY NEWS DISPATCH Wednesday, July 14, 2010 One of the largest community development projects of all time is asking local residents for suggestions. The Power of 32 will be holding a Community Conversation meeting at Penn State New Kensington on Tuesday. The Power of 32 is a large-scale community development project that involves 32 counties from Pennsylvania, Maryland, Ohio and West Virginia. > More

Local zoning may provide best controls over Marcellus play, webinar speaker says
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- With Pennsylvania’s Marcellus shale-gas epoch still in its infancy, some experts doubt we have seen one-tenth of what is yet to come and recommend that municipalities brace themselves for rapid change. "People who are not in the Marcellus areas have no clue how big this is going to be," said Kurt Hausammann Jr., planning director for Lycoming County. "This has the possibility to change our whole way of life. > More

Power of 32 links counties
By Cody Francis TRIBUNE-REVIEW Thursday, July 1, 2010 About 20 Westmoreland County residents came together in Jeannette on Wednesday night to discuss the challenges, strengths and future of the region as part of a "regional visioning initiative." The initiative is called the Power of 32, a project that assembles 32 counties from Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia and Maryland for a "regional visioning effort to see if there are commonalities that can help us to frame our future," said Alex Graziani, coordinator of the project in Westmoreland County. > More

Cuts run deep in state's budget
By Brad Bumsted TRIBUNE-REVIEW Thursday, July 1, 2010 HARRISBURG -- Cigar smokers, snuff dippers, and the companies that make and sell tobacco products are among the winners in the $28 billion Pennsylvania state budget the General Assembly approved Wednesday six hours before the deadline. House approval of the Senate-passed spending plan marked the first time in eight years that the Legislature met the legal requirement of enacting a budget before July 1. > More

Allegheny Township officials delve into Marcellus Shale issues
Thursday, June 24, 2010 By Debra Duncan The Allegheny Township supervisors are the latest to plunge into the growing Marcellus Shale controversy. They asked their solicitor last week for recommendations on the regulation of deep well gas drilling. In addition, a group of township residents gathered this week to hear Penn State Extension experts discuss the issue. Township officials cannot ban drilling, as some residents may want. > More

Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant Program
Opportunity Title: Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant Program Competition ID: SCRPG-03 Open Date: June 24, 2010 Close Date: August 23, 2010 Contact Person: Zuleika K. Morales-Romero , Office of Sustainable Housing and Communities, telephone number (202) 402-7683 (this is not a toll-free number). If you are a hearing- or speech-impaired person, you may reach the above telephone number via TTY by calling the toll-free Federal Information Relay Service at 1-800-877-8339. > More

Officials bid to hold off on turnpike bridge demolition
Thursday, June 24, 2010 By Len Barcousky, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette A Pennsylvania Turnpike bridge scheduled for demolition next month could play a key role in developing a riverfront park that would serve all of Allegheny County, Dave Fawcett says. The bridge spans the Allegheny River at Harmar and Plum. The former county councilman has persuaded the current council to ask the Turnpike Commission to delay destruction for 90 days of the now unused Allegheny River Bridge. > More

Joint Notice of Funding Availability
Notice of Funding Availability for the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Community Challenge Planning Grants and the Department of Transportation’s TIGER II Planning Grants For further information concerning this notice please contact the TIGER II Discretionary Grant program manager via email at TIGERIIGrants@dot.gov , or call Robert Mariner at (202) 366-8914 (this is not a toll-free number). > More

Marcellus shale drilling coming to an area near you
By Liz Hayes , VALLEY NEWS DISPATCH Thursday, June 24, 2010 ALLEGHENY TOWNSHIP -- Township residents left a Marcellus shale natural gas drilling presentation Wednesday with as many questions as answers. That was the point, according to presenter John Turack, an economics and community development educator with the Penn State Cooperative Extension in Westmoreland County. Turack said his mission was to inform people about the general issues surrounding Marcellus shale so they know what specific questions to ask the experts when drilling comes to the area. > More

Unity discusses perceived problems with parks, recreation
By A.J. Panian TRIBUNE-REVIEW Monday, June 21, 2010 When the Latrobe-Unity Parks & Recreation Commission was formed in 2005, Jake Blank had high hopes for what it would do for township residents. "In five years, the commission has received about $1 million in grant funding for various projects and programs," said Blank, a Unity supervisor since 2002 and a commission member since its inception. > More

Power of 32 Facilitator Training
Are you interested in becoming a facilitator for the Power of 32 Community Conversations?  If so, a training session will be held  Wednesday, June 23, 2010 from 5:00 - 8:30 pm at the William Pitt Union Ballroom. To register, please click here or for more information p lease contact Jessica Zembower  at jessicaz@powerof32.org   or by calling 412.648.0873. What is the Power of 32? > More

May 2010 Real Estate Sales Statistics from RealSTATs
June 17, 2010-Pittsburgh-In Disney Pixar’s movie "Up", Carl Fredricksen uses tens of thousands of helium balloons to lift his house high up into the sky. In Pittsburgh, thousands of home buyer tax credits have lifted the residential real estate market up out of its worst recession in more than twenty years and its happening in dramatic fashion. In the first five months of 2010, buyers spent $1.32 billion on 9,047 homes in Allegheny, Beaver, Butler, Washington, and Westmoreland Counties. > More

Ligonier Borough receives award for revised zoning ordinance
By Jennifer Sopko, For The Latrobe Bulletin June 11, 2010 Ligonier Planning Commission member Patti Campbell, who along with former planning commission chair Scott Lieb and councilman Tom Freeman recently accepted Ligonier Borough’s 2010 Smart Growth award for its comprehensive zoning ordinance update, Thursday night presented the award to Ligonier Borough Council. Ligonier Borough was honored as a 2010 recipient of the award and “quintessential Smart Growth community” for its comprehensive zoning ordinance update. > More

Upper Burrell residents, officials clash over Marcellus Shale drilling
By Liz Hayes , VALLEY NEWS DISPATCH Tuesday, June 8, 2010 Upper Burrell supervisors and residents butted heads Tuesday over how much the township can regulate Marcellus Shale natural gas drilling. About 60 residents called for supervisors to limit or prevent drilling in the largely rural township. Many attended a presentation last week on the alleged environmental damage caused by Marcellus drilling. > More

Upper Burrell group wants to get to bottom of Marcellus Shale
By Liz Hayes VALLEY NEWS DISPATCH Tuesday, June 1, 2010 A group of Upper Burrell residents believes people have heard enough of the pros of Marcellus Shale drilling. They want to make sure the cons are discussed as thoroughly. The group is organizing a series of informational meetings to discuss the possible environmental impact of gas-well drilling in the Marcellus Shale, a vast rock formation throughout much of Pennsylvania and Appalachia that contains largely untapped natural-gas reserves. > More

Marcellus Shale – Legal, Community, Economic, and Water Impacts Explored
Lenape Tech and Penn State Cooperative Extension are sponsoring two Marcellus Shale workshops, “Marcellus Shale - The Environment and Natural Gas Legal Issues” on Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010 and   “Marcellus Shale - Business Development and Community and Economic Impacts Explored” on Wednesday, June 23rd , 2010 at Lenape Tech, 2215 Chaplin Avenue, Ford City, PA 16226.    The meetings will start at 6:00 PM and end at approximately 8:30 PM. > More

Ligonier, others receive 'Smart Growth' awards
By A.J. Panian TRIBUNE-REVIEW Friday, May 28, 2010 In 1993, Patti Campbell moved to Ligonier as the borough’s zoning ordinance came into effect. Campbell, owner of Campbell House Bed & Breakfast, said the ordinance constricted her community’s potential for growth as the millennium passed. "There were so many things about that ordinance that didn’t fit what needed to carry what we loved about Ligonier forward," Campbell said. > More

3 Southmoreland students honored for academic achievement
By Patricia Walker, FOR THE DAILY COURIER Thursday, May 27, 2010 Southmoreland is honored to have three students who were recognized in Trib Total Media’s 2010 Outstanding Young Citizen program. They are Ryan P. Amdy, Ashley Wiltrout and Rachel Zaffina. The awards recognize outstanding achievements in academics, community service and extracurricular activities. Parents, school administrators and friends nominated these students. > More

Public gets first look at Latrobe-SVC hiking/biking trail
By Chris Ulicne, Latrobe Bulletin Staff Writer May 26, 2010 Area residents got their first glimpse of the Latrobe Community Revitalization Program (LCRP)’s proposed hiking/biking trail from Latrobe to St. Vincent College during a public presentation Monday night at SVC’s Fred Rogers Center. The $2.2-million project would connect the existing trails at Legion-Keener Park in Latrobe to the entrance drive to the Fred Rogers Center, according to Jim Pashek, president of Pittsburgh-based Pashek Associates, the firm responsible for the $20,000, grant-funded feasibility study. > More

Markosek, Geist announce statewide hearings on transportation funding crisis
HARRISBURG, May 11- House Transportation Committee Chairman Joseph Markosek and Republican Chairman Rick Geist announced that they have scheduled seven hearings to discuss the nearly $3.5 billion a year the state needs to maintain Pennsylvania’s existing highway, bridge and public transit systems, and to take input on ways to develop sustainable transportation funding. "By holding these hearings across the state, we can explain what we need to bring our large and aging transportation infrastructure up to date," said Markosek," D-Allegheny/Westmoreland. > More

G3 Summit concludes on high note
By Marilyn Forbes , FOR THE DAILY COURIER Saturday, May 22, 2010 The weeklong G3 Summit between Connellsville, Mt. Pleasant and Scottdale ended with a reception and address by keynote speaker Ronald Evanko, vice president of the Pennsylvania State Association of Boroughs. "These three towns have done something that has not been done before in the state," Evanko said. "They played off the G20 summit with this G3, focusing on the economics of their towns, and used this opportunity to work together." Evanko said that he was not only impressed with the summit concept, but with the way in which it > More

Communication, code enforcement and sewage discussed at G3 Summit
By Marilyn Forbes , FOR THE DAILY COURIER Friday, May 21, 2010 Sewage, municipal authority concerns, and code enforcement were just a few of the topics mayors and council members from Connellsville, Mt. Pleasant and Scottdale discussed Thursday during the G3 Summit being held at the Laurelville Mennonite Center. The weeklong summit was the brainchild of Mt. Pleasant Borough Manager Jeff Landy. During yesterday’s sessions, representatives from Smart Growth acted as facilitators, who reminded council members in attendance that communication is the key to a successful council. > More

Small Grant Opportunity from the Port of Pittsburgh Commission
Are you a local non-profit group or local municipality with a waterway within your jurisdiction?  If so, you might be interested in the new Port of Pittsburgh Commission Small Grants Program . They will be offering grants of between $5,000 and $20,000 for educational, recreational, environmental or tourism based projects related to the rivers and streams of Southwestern Pennsylvania .  They are currently soliciting applications for grants to be awarded in 2010.    The deadline for applications in May 24 th , so check it out TODAY. > More

YPA Releases New Report: Historic Preservation Creates Jobs!
On May 20, 2010, YPA and Pennsylvania Works! released a new report that details the economic impact of historic preservation in southwestern Pennsylvania. The report, called “The Economic Impact of Historic Preservation in Southwestern Pennsylvania,” demonstrates the power of historic preservation to stimulate investment, generate taxes, create new housing units, and create jobs for Pennsylvanians that cannot be outsourced. > More

G3 Summit discussions focus on tourism
By Marilyn Forbes , FOR THE DAILY COURIER Wednesday, May 19, 2010 Tourism was the topic at Tuesday’s G3 Summit. The summit, the brainchild of Mt. Pleasant borough Manager Jeff Landy, is being held throughout the week at the Laurelville Mennonite Center, where officials from Connellsville, Mt. Pleasant and Scottdale are meeting in individualized sessions. Cathy McCollum, director of the Trail Town Program, spoke of the benefits and opportunities that are available through the Progress Fund. > More

Webinar discusses shale-gas drilling in urban areas
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- The acronym "NIMBY" -- or "Not In My Back Yard" -- is a battle cry commonly hurled by neighbors at any nearby controversy. But when the controversy murmurs simultaneously across multiple neighborhoods in the same city, the expanding chorus of affected neighbors can create an industrial-strength din.   Such was the case in Fort Worth, Texas, where prior to 2000, there were no gas wells in town. > More

American Makeover
A web series about new urbanism and a vision for post-sprawl America Enough with extreme kitchen remodels and plastic surgery - what really needs a makeover is the American city! Our towns, neighborhoods and public spaces have are overrun with ugly sprawl, with huge consequences for our health and environment. American Makeover is a six-episode web series taking you to six cities across America in search of the antidote to suburban sprawl. > More

Red flags raised over gas wells
DEP secretary issues warning at Marcellus shale conference at Duquesne University Tuesday, May 04, 2010 By Don Hopey, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Pennsylvania needs tougher regulations for Marcellus shale gas drilling, aggressive, independent enforcement, and a severance tax on the gas extracted, according to state Department of Environmental Protection Secretary John Hanger. And yesterday would not be soon enough to get all of that done and "done right" to protect the state’s water resources, said Mr. > More

Pennsylvania Downtown Center E-update
Please click here to view the April 30, 2010 PDC E-update > More

Federal Funding Update
New Grant Opportunites for Sustainability Efforts - please click here for more information  > More

Perspectives on Marcellus Shale Development in Southwest Pennsylvania
Gary Sheppard, a Penn State Cooperative Extension educator from Westmoreland County, was the featured speaker during a free web-based seminar, "Perspectives on Marcellus Shale Gas Development in Southwest Pennsylvania," which aired on Thursday, April 29, 2010. The webinar provided an overview of some of the differences between the two leading gas-exploration regions in Pennsylvania. > More

Planners Unite - Press Release from the Pennsylvania Chapter of the American Planning Association
Harrisburg , PA - In today’s economic climate, local government must be ready to provide the services and infrastructure necessary to support the development of new businesses, provide a variety of housing options, and protect our quality of life. Unfortunately, state budget cuts have drastically limited the chances that our Commonwealth will prosper. A group of community professionals, planners, and developers have joined forces in a voluntary collaboration called “Planners Unite” to fight for local government and protect community investments. > More

Gas companies flock to Alle-Kiski Valley to tap in to Marcellus shale
By Mary Ann Thomas and Jessica Turnbull, VALLEY NEWS DISPATCH Sunday, April 25, 2010 Coming to your town soon: Drilling for natural gas wells in the Marcellus shale. Pennsylvania’s new gold rush is attracting a stampede of energy companies far and wide, which are starting to set up shop in the Alle-Kiski Valley. They want to reach the natural gas trapped 6,000 feet below much of the state. Residents should expect even more permits and drilling in Southwestern Pennsylvania in the years to come. > More

PSU educator to speak on Marcellus Shale gas development
By Tribune-Review Sunday, April 25, 2010 Gary Sheppard, a Penn State Cooperative Extension educator from Westmoreland County, will be the featured speaker during a free web-based seminar, "Perspectives on Marcellus Shale Gas Development in Southwest Pennsylvania," which will air at 1 p.m. Thursday. The webinar will provide an overview of some of the differences between the two leading gas-exploration regions in Pennsylvania. > More

Pennsylvania Downtown Center E-update
Please click here to view the April 23rd edition  > More

2010 Allegheny Energy/Smart Growth Partnership Awards Dinner
GREENSBURG, Pa. - On May 27, 2010, the Smart Growth Partnership and its signature sponsor Allegheny Energy will recognize and celebrate the following recipients of this year’s Smart Growth awards: Ligonier Borough Zoning Ordinance Update The Lofts on 2 nd Street, Greensburg   Mixed Use District, Rostraver Township Scottdale Sign Incentive Program   S.R. 1045 Section A10/A11 Saint Vincent Roadway, Unity Township Westmoreland Economic Development Initiative for Growth (WEDIG), Northern Westmoreland County 40 North Pennsylvania Avenue - Westmoreland Development Council Office Buil > More

Murrysville to educate public on Marcellus Shale gas drilling
By Paul Paterra TRIBUNE-REVIEW Thursday, April 22, 2010 Murrysville Council wants to hear a little more about the proposed drilling into the Marcellus Shale formation at Logans Ferry Road and Route 380. With that in mind, council members decided yesterday that a portion of several upcoming meetings will be dedicated to the subject to educate all concerned. Range Resources, with regional headquarters in Canonsburg, has applied to drill into the Marcellus Shale to test the area. > More

Vandergrift trees, porous concrete to help sop up rainwater
By Brian C. Rittmeyer , VALLEY NEWS DISPATCH Tuesday, April 20, 2010 In the early days of Vandergrift, it may have been advantageous to have rainwater run down the brick streets -- it would wash away the horse manure. But today, the lack of a system to handle stormwater in the commercial district can make it difficult to cross the street when it rains. It also contributes to flooded basements. A demonstration project being built along Columbia Avenue is touted as an example of how to manage and control stormwater. > More

Allegheny, Westmoreland team up on rail service proposal
By Rich Cholodofsky , TRIBUNE-REVIEW Monday, April 19, 2010 Officials in Westmoreland and Allegheny counties met last week to discuss how they might advance two proposed commuter rail lines into Pittsburgh. Train service from Arnold and Greensburg to Pittsburgh was recommended last summer after a feasibility study determined there are enough potential riders to justify it. Little work has been done since June to further the rail project, but last week Westmoreland County officials traveled to Pittsburgh and met with representatives for Allegheny County Chief Executive Dan Onorato to talk about > More

Is the Industry Missing an Opportunity in Urban Timber?
Hardwood Review Weekly April 9, 2010 Vol. 26, Issue 30 Please click here to view the article  > More

The Northwest Commission presents the 4th Annual Connect 2 Communities Conference
The Northwest Commission works diligently to serve the communities and local governments of northwest Pennsylvania.   A variety of community development programs are available to assist local governments and community leaders with energy, community revitalization, transportation, and technology.   Throughout the year the community development team presents trainings and workshops, but the signature event is the annual, day-long Connect 2 Communities Conference - better known as C2C . > More

Pennsylvania Downtown Center E-Update
Please click here to view the April 2, 2010 issue > More

Celebrate Outdoor Heritage in the Alleghenies!
Already thinking about spring? Help celebrate the end of winter during this year’s Outdoor Heritage Month, April 2010! It’s time to get our children and families outside to experience the rich natural and cultural heritage of Pennsylvania’s Allegheny Mountains.   Natural Biodiversity, Kiski-Conemaugh Stream Team and many other committed partners are organizing a full slate of education, recreation and service events to initiate an entire year of stewardship in the Alleghenies. > More

Students learn to make connections
By Marie McCandless Latrobe Bulletin News Editor March 31, 2010 Economics students from Derry and Latrobe put their heads together Tuesday to link the two communities. Along the way, they learned how to map assets; determine strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats; create a vision statement, and plan trail connections. It was all part of the annual Derry-Latrobe Economic Exchange Day, which focused on “Connecting Communities: Trails, Transportation, Land Use and Thoughts.” About 60 students, along with teachers Jeff Kelly (Derry Area High School) and Kara Olecki-Leeper (Gr > More

Pennsylvania Downtown Center E-Update
Please click here to view the March 26, 2010 PDC Update > More

Community Tree Management Institute Offered by Penn State
Today as we see the trend of migration away from our cities and boroughs beginning to reverse, communities that offer best quality of life will prosper. Beautiful and well maintained public trees are an indispensable contributor to the quality of life. Healthy and sustainable urban forests provide many environmental, economic and social benefits to our communities.  They intercept millions of gallons of rainwater, reduce energy costs, attract businesses, tourists and residents, increase real estate values and have even been shown to reduce crime and violence. > More

EPA Report: Redevelopment Continues in Urban Neighborhoods
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE March 23, 2010 Smart growth strategies emphasize reuse of land   WASHINGTON - An updated U.S. Environmental Protection Agency report shows a continuing shift in development toward urban neighborhoods in the United States, despite a slow a real estate market. This trend, described in EPA’s 2010 report, “Residential Construction Trends in America’s Metropolitan Regions,” shows that redevelopment continues in many urban neighborhoods. > More

Kirk offers 20 percent proposal for Mon/Fayette Expressway, Southern Beltway
By Chris Buckley , VALLEY INDEPENDENT Saturday, March 20, 2010 It is not uncommon for the federal government to fund 80 percent of the cost of building major highways the size of the Mon/Fayette Expressway and Southern Beltway. The Mon Valley Progress Council believes an initiative involving just 20 percent federal funding would go far toward completing the Mon/Fayette Expressway and Southern Beltway. > More

Monessen likely losing district library status
By Jeff Pikulsky , VALLEY INDEPENDENT Friday, March 19, 2010 The Governor’s Advisory Council on Library Development has asked the Monessen Public Library to continue serving as a district center amid plans to form a new entity that would oversee both district and Westmoreland County Federated Library System operations. The Monessen library serves the city and, since 1964, has operated separately as a district center for about 25 libraries in Westmoreland and Fayette counties. > More

'Residential concept' planned for ex-Ligonier armory
By Jewels Phraner LIGONIER ECHO Thursday, March 18, 2010 pittsburgh%5Ftribu:http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/s%5F672262.html Ligonier officials will hear a proposal next week for the former National Guard armory, which has been vacant for four years. The 72-year-old stone and brick building sits on three acres at the corner of West Main and Walnut streets. A new "residential concept" will be presented to borough planning commissioners at their March 25 meeting, said John Skiavo, executive director of Economic Growth Connection, the nonprofit development agency that bought the pro > More

EPA Launches Web Forum on How to Best Protect America’s Waters
CONTACT: Enesta Jones jones.enesta@epa.gov 202-564-7873 202-564-4355   FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE March 17, 2010 WASHINGTON - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is seeking public input on how the agency can better protect and improve the health of our waters.  For a two- week period, EPA is holding a Web discussion forum on how the nation can better manage some of the most significant water pollution problems facing our nation. > More

Transportation companies embrace 'green' practices
Tuesday, March 16, 2010 By Don Hammonds, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette The green activities of transportation companies with ties to the Pittsburgh area are on display from one end of the globe to the other -- including Vancouver, the site of the Winter Olympic Games. Bombardier Inc. of Canada, which employs hundreds of people at a plant in McKeesport, kept people moving around the games by operating Flexity streetcars as a free service, which is continuing until March 21. > More

Local developers embrace green building practices
Tuesday, March 16, 2010 By Mark Belko, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette From a former bakery in the East End to a luxury hotel in the heart of Downtown, more developers are finding gold in green. If once hesitant, developers now are embracing green building construction and practices not only as a way to save money and help the environment but because they are in high demand by those who matter the most, their customers. > More

Cities have been embracing sustainability movement
’It’s about more than green’ Tuesday, March 16, 2010 By Bill Toland, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette With its abundant LEED-certified buildings, its superlative green wall, its fledgling biofuel companies, its transmogrified riverfronts and reclaimed brownfields, Pittsburgh wants to be known as a city where sustainability is taken seriously. But many of Pittsburgh’s peer cities also want to claim leadership of the sustainable living movement. > More

BiLo closure prompts IndiGo to add new Blairsville route
By Jeff Himler , BLAIRSVILLE DISPATCH Friday, March 12, 2010 As the BiLo supermarket winds down its liquidation sale at its East Market Street location, many residents who have regularly walked to the store to make purchases may be wondering where they’ll turn next to gain access to groceries and other necessities. Borough officials are hoping to find a new retailer to occupy the store, which is slated to close tomorrow, ending 40 local jobs. > More

Derry targets demolition of collapsed building
By Jeff Himler , BLAIRSVILLE DISPATCH Friday, March 12, 2010 Derry officials are hopeful final razing and cleanup of a partially-demolished former ceramics plant in the borough will be under way this summer, but a portion of the eyesore that is considered an immediate hazard could be taken down as early as next week. Borough Mayor Susan Bortz reported at Monday’s council meeting that Marlborough US Realty Holdings, the owner of the Porcelain Park complex, promised to begin demolition on March 17 of a building at the site that experienced a partial roof collapse in mid-February. > More

Call for Nominations - 2010 Allegheny Energy/Smart Growth Awards
Has your construction project or community development plan distinguished itself by achieving smart growth principles that improve the quality of life in our region?   If so, the Smart Growth Partnership of Westmoreland County would like to celebrate it. The Smart Growth Partnership and its signature sponsor Allegheny Energy have issued a call for nominations for the 2010 Allegheny Energy/Smart Growth Partnership Awards Dinner, to be held May 27, 2010 , at the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg. > More

U.S. Route 30 Master Plan Brochure
The Smart Growth Partnership has released the U.S. Route 30 Master Plan Brochure.  Please click on the image below to download and view the document.  > More

Richard G. Bickel, Member of the PA Chapter of the American Planning Association, to be Inducted to the AICP College of Fellows
Harrisburg, PA, March 4, 2010 - The PA Chapter of the American Planning Association Board of Directors is pleased to announce that member Richard G. Bickel, AICP will be inducted to the American Institute of Certified Planners College of Fellows at the American Planning Association National Planning Conference in New Orleans. Mr. Bickel is one of just 37 AICP members selected in 2010 for this honor. > More

Trail development hard, but can reap economic benefits
By Marie McCandless, Latrobe Bulletin News Editor March 3, 2010 A National Parks Service outdoor recreation planner last night told about two dozen people at Derry Area High School that planning a trail system is “hard” but can reap economic benefits. Peggy Pings of the park service’s Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance Program led a public meeting to discuss a proposed 9-acre park in Derry Borough as well as 20 miles of hiking/biking trail to connect Derry with Blairsville to the north and Latrobe to the south. > More

Derry to repair police car rather than replace it
By Marie McCandless, Latrobe Bulletin News Editor March 2, 2010 Derry Borough Council last night agreed to repair a borough police cruiser rather than purchase a new vehicle. Replacing the motor in the 2005 Ford Crown Victoria will cost just under $2,500. Police chief Randy Glick noted that the car has new tires and brakes. Purchasing a new 2010 Ford Crown Victoria would cost $22,930 with a government discount. > More

Shoemaking shrinks, but some cobblers hang on
By Paul Paterra TRIBUNE-REVIEW Monday, March 1, 2010 When Arlington Shoes and Repairs in Jeannette closed in September, another chapter ended in the dying art of shoe repair. Joe Avolio’s death that month led to the closing of the city’s last remaining shoe repair shop, a business he ran for 64 years. For 27 years, he resoled, re-heeled and refashioned his clients’ footwear in the Arlington Market on North First Street. > More

River Forest will not be sold at a Westmoreland Sheriff's sale
By The Valley News Dispatch Sunday, February 28, 2010 River Forest will not be sold at a Westmoreland County Sheriff’s sale on Monday, said the president of the three companies that own the 500-acre property. "There will not be a sheriff’s sale," said Herman Tomer, president of River Forest Estates, River Forest Golf Club and River Forest Partners. "We will continue to work with our interim lender and hope to have permanent financing within the next month or so." River Forest, off Route 356 in Allegheny Township, faced sheriff’s sale after defaulting on its $3.9 million mortg > More

Penn State Extension Westmoreland News
Please click here to view the Winter 2010 edition of the Westmoreland News > More

Grant will allow refurbishing of Youghiogheny River Trail
By Jeff Pikulsky TRIBUNE-REVIEW NEWS SERVICE Sunday, February 28, 2010 Part of the Youghiogheny River Trail will be upgraded because of a state grant. A $63,300 grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’ Community Conservation Partnerships Program will help the Regional Trail Corp. pay for an $80,000 project for upkeep along a five-mile section of the trail from the Westmoreland County border to Buena Vista. > More

Murrysville residents seek access to park
By Tom McGee MURRYSVILLE STAR Friday, February 26, 2010 A group of Murrysville residents who are funding a project to prevent flooding near their homes want permission from the municipality to use part of a local park for the project. Residents along Trouthaven Drive are using grant money to make improvements to Haymaker Run to protect their properties from flooding. To complete work, access is needed to part of Bear Hollow Park. > More

Blairsville BiLo to close next month, 40 jobs affected
By Jeff Himler , BLAIRSVILLE DISPATCH Friday, February 26, 2010 The days are numbered for Blairsville’s BiLo supermarket and the 40 jobs it provides there. Late last week, Tops Friendly Markets, which recently purchased the Blairsville market and the majority of other assets held by the bankrupt Penn Traffic Company, announced that the Blairsville BiLo store is slated to close on March 13. The pending closure will leave Blairsville Borough without a grocery store within its limits, creating a new challenge for senior citizens and others who have become used to walking to the East Market > More

Blairsville Borough property optioned for new housing units
By Jeff Himler , BLAIRSVILLE DISPATCH Friday, February 26, 2010 Blairsville Borough Council last week approved an agreement that gives the Housing Authority of Indiana County the option to acquire about 5 acres of borough property along Grandview Avenue for a token $1 consideration. It’s the first step toward a proposed deal that would see an authority-affiliated partnership construct new housing units on the former borough land. > More

Turtle Creek Stream Valley plan up for discussion
By Paul Paterra TRIBUNE-REVIEW Monday, February 22, 2010 A group that wants to preserve a slice of the Turtle Creek Stream Valley is looking for help. The Turtle Creek Greenway Plan Study Committee wants to hear ideas about conservation, recreation and restoration potential for about 6 miles of the Turtle Creek Stream Valley. The group wants to hear from residents and businesses from Monroeville, Murrysville, Penn Township and Trafford during a meeting at 7 p.m. > More

Blairsville eyes property swap for housing project
By Jeff Himler , BLAIRSVILLE DISPATCH Friday, February 19, 2010 Blairsville Borough Council in a special session last night was expected to consider a proposed land swap that would trade up to five acres of unused borough recreational property along Grandview Avenue for the site of the Indiana County Housing Authority’s current Conemaugh Terrace housing complex on West Market Street. According to a preliminary discussion Tuesday at council’s regular monthly meeting, Bill Gatti and his Pittsburgh-based Trek Development were seeking council approval of an option on the borough proper > More

Discord voiced over Blairsville authority slot
By Jeff Himler , BLAIRSVILLE DISPATCH Friday, February 19, 2010 Blairsville Borough Council voted 5-1 Tuesday to appoint local engineer James Garvin to a vacant seat on the Blairsville Community Development Authority. The BCDA is charged with operating the current Main Street program for revitalization of Blairsville’s downtown district and the proposed Elm Street program that would pursue similar goals in selected residential areas. > More

Derry eyes sewage fee hike
By Jeff Himler , BLAIRSVILLE DISPATCH Friday, February 12, 2010 Derry Borough is in the process of turning over ownership of its sewage collection and treatment system to the borough’s municipal authority. But, until that transfer is completed, borough council will be considering whether a hike is warranted in the user fee charged to sewer customers. President Allen Skopp said council, at its March 1 workshop meeting, will look at a five-year financial plan for the sewage treatment system and will also consider whether the sewage fee needs to be increased. > More

2010 Commonwealth Awards Accepting Entries
The 10,000 Friends of Pennsylvania Commonwealth Awards is a juried state-wide program to recognize businesses, nonprofits, elected officials, and citizens contributing to the economic and environmental health of the Commonwealth. The awards pay tribute to visionaries - developers, builders, designers, community leaders, local officials, financiers, and others - who have invested in building a better future for Pennsylvania. > More

RealSTATs 2009 Annual Report
To view the RealSTATs 2009 Annual Report summarizing market activity in the metropolitan Pittsburgh area, please click here  > More

Opportunity to Identify Recreation and Conservation Enhancements for the Turtle Creek Greenway
Many people living in one of the four municipalities the Turtle Creek Greenway winds through may not even be aware of the treasure in their backyard.   A group of local organizations is planning to change this, ensuring that this valuable and viable resource will be around for many generations to come.   Residents, business owners, and other interested parties in Monroeville, Murrysville, Penn Township , and Trafford Borough are invited to attend a public meeting on Wednesday, February 24, 2010 at 7:00 PM in the Murrysville Community Center , located at 3091 Carson Avenue in Murrysvi > More

Wal-Mart pares plans for North Huntingdon store
By Chris Foreman TRIBUNE-REVIEW Tuesday, March 2, 2010 Wal-Mart officials want to scale-down a proposed supercenter in North Huntingdon, but the township’s planning commissioners said they are concerned that the new building design is less attractive than previous plans. An architect for Wal-Mart presented a new plan last night to the board, which chose to table action and requested the retail chain to come back with some revisions. > More

Mt. Pleasant, Scottdale, Connellsville to meet in 1st summit to brainstorm
By Marilyn Forbes FOR THE DAILY COURIER Sunday, January 31, 2010 pittsburgh%5Ftribu:http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/s%5F664925.html Officials from Mt. Pleasant, Scottdale and Connellsville are finalizing details for what has been dubbed the G-3 summit, where they will share ideas on how to address problems besetting the two boroughs in Westmoreland County and the neighboring city in Fayette County. > More

Pennsylvania Downtown Center E-Update
Please click here to view the January 29, 2010 issue Please click here to view the January 22, 2010 issue Please click here to view the January 15, 2010 issue Please click here to view the January 8, 2010 issue Please click here to view the November/December 2009 Quarterly newsletter - The Centerpiece  > More

Laurel Highlands CLI update V. 2-1
Please click here to view  > More

Pennsylvania Borough News
Please click here to view the December 2009 issue - Rethinking Revitalization Be sure to check out the article on page 28 - Going to Town, Promoting Tourism in Pennsylvania Boroughs, highlighting programs piloted by Penn State Cooperative Extension October 2009 issue - please click here January 2010 issue - please click here  > More

By Brian C. Rittmeyer , VALLEY NEWS DISPATCH Thursday, January 21, 2010 The Shop ’n Save grocery store in Central City Plaza will close Friday, the store’s president said. Joe Spagnolo said the New Kensington store has not been profitable since his family’s business acquired it in 2006. Recent economic conditions hit the store hard, he said. "A business has to be profitable to survive. > More

Expressway still key
By Jeff Pikulsky , VALLEY INDEPENDENT Saturday, January 9, 2010 CARROLL TOWNSHIP - Members of the Mon Valley Progress Council said Friday that 2009 was successful for the organization, despite the struggling economy. Executive Director Joe Kirk and President Joe Easoz detailed accomplishments last year and goals for 2010 during the council’s annual luncheon in the Anthony M. Lombardi Education Conference Center at Monongahela Valley Hospital. > More

Oil, gas drilling slumps, except for Marcellus
By Rick Stouffer , TRIBUNE-REVIEW Saturday, January 9, 2010 Drilling of oil and natural gas wells and permits issued tumbled in 2009 across Pennsylvania as prices for both fuels plummeted, according to state Department of Environmental Protection figures. Total wells drilled would have been even lower but for a surge in drilling for natural gas in the Marcellus Shale formation a mile underground, state figures show. > More

Fence to be extended along Derry RR tracks
By Jeff Himler , BLAIRSVILLE DISPATCH Friday, January 8, 2010 Derry’s efforts to keep local pedestrians from fatal encounters with trains received a boost with the donation of cyclone fencing that will extend a barrier along the Norfolk Southern rail line that bisects the town. Derry Mayor Susan Bortz told borough council Monday that the American Fencing Association industry group has agreed to donate a 254-foot section of new fencing as well as the labor and equipment needed to install it. > More

2009 Wrapup II: Blairsville chief litigation, soldier's sacrifice noted
By Gina DelFavero , BLAIRSVILLE DISPATCH Friday, January 8, 2010 The termination of the borough’s police chief and resolution of a subsequent civil suit were among the top stories that filled the pages of The Dispatch in the second half of 2009. June 5 -- Area high schools bid farewell to their seniors as the graduating classes of 2009 don their caps and gowns to accept their diplomas...After being convicted of the murder of Blairsville dentist John Yelenic, Kevin Foley receives his sentence -- life in prison with no possibility of parole...A facelift is in store for Downtown Blairsville > More

Keystone Principles & Criteria for Growth, Investment & Resource Conservation
Please click here to download the Keystone Principles Brochure Please click here to download the Criteria Insert  > More

Trafford offers to buy lots for revitalization
By Chris Foreman TRIBUNE-REVIEW Wednesday, January 6, 2010 Trafford Borough Council is offering $30,000 to buy four adjoining lots near the Cavitt Avenue business district, the focus of a community revitalization plan. The properties include the land where the former Trafford Motor Co. operated on Duquesne Avenue, which is parallel to Cavitt Avenue. The building for the dealership is being razed through a program offered by the Westmoreland County Redevelopment Authority. > More

Norfolk Southern barrier will be extended in Derry
By Jeff Himler BLAIRSVILLE DISPATCH Wednesday, January 6, 2010 Derry Borough officials’ efforts to keep pedestrians from risking fatal encounters with trains will be bolstered by the donation of cyclone fencing to extend a barrier along the Norfolk Southern rail line that bisects the town. The American Fence Association, an industry group based in Glen Ellyn, Ill., will provide a 254-foot section of new fencing and the labor and equipment needed to install it, Mayor Susan Bortz told council this week. > More

'Forward-thinking' Mayor Guzzo takes reins in New Kensington
By Liz Hayes VALLEY NEWS DISPATCH Tuesday, January 5, 2010 Tom Guzzo sailed smoothly into the mayor’s office Monday, avoiding the turbulence that has marked past mayoral transitions. Guzzo, 49, resigned his three-year-old seat on council to take over as mayor, which was held by Frank Link for the past eight years. Link withdrew his name from the ballot in March, saying he felt he’d accomplished many goals during his two terms as mayor and wanted to shift his focus to addressing regional issues. > More

Youngwood could restart police force, contract for services
By Richard Gazarik TRIBUNE-REVIEW Tuesday, January 5, 2010 Youngwood Borough Council is conducting a door-to-door survey to determine whether residents favor resurrecting its police force or hiring police forces from neighboring departments. "Council will analyze the results of the survey before making a decision," said Councilwoman Mary Ann Klingensmith. "Our first goal is: Do our residents want police?" she said. > More

Irwin drops out of communities' study on recreation center
By Chris Foreman TRIBUNE-REVIEW Tuesday, January 5, 2010 Irwin Council is withdrawing from a multimunicipal study exploring the possibility of a recreation center for the Norwin community. Council voted 5-2 Monday night to pull out of a three-year study that includes representatives from North Huntingdon, Norwin School District, North Irwin Borough and an AARP local chapter. Irwin’s departure occurs a month and a half after committee members conducted a public meeting to explain the results of a resident survey about a potential recreation center. > More

Hempfield rejects rezoning request near Waltz Mill
By Richard Gazarik TRIBUNE-REVIEW Wednesday, December 30, 2009 Hempfield supervisors have rejected a request to rezone a parcel of land near the Westinghouse plant at Waltz Mill that would allow heavy industrial use. The decision pleased several families who live near the plant and fear the proposed change from light industrial would allow some form of large manufacturing facility to disrupt their rural lifestyle. > More

Greensburg office opens to oversee census
By Bob Stiles TRIBUNE-REVIEW Wednesday, December 23, 2009 It’s that time again. In March, six-page Census Bureau questionnaires will be sent to homes across the United States. The Census Bureau kicked off the forthcoming mailing Tuesday by opening a census office in the Southwest Crossroads Plaza in Southwest Greensburg, one of about 500 offices in the nation. The Southwest Greensburg office will serve as the hub for counting in Westmoreland, Fayette and Greene counties. > More

Eco-friendly South Huntingdon farmer Bob Berich honored
By Jennifer Reeger TRIBUNE-REVIEW Monday, December 21, 2009 Bob Berich never fancied himself a conservationist. He’s just a farmer who happened to find conservation techniques meshed well with his operation. But his use of rotational grazing and his protection of a stream running through his South Huntingdon farm have made Berich the Westmoreland Conservation District’s 2009 Farmer of the Year. > More

Vandergrift embodies trend toward small-town renewal
By Robin Acton TRIBUNE-REVIEW Sunday, December 20, 2009 In Dave Dawson’s barbershop, $10 buys a haircut, some stand-up comedy and a history lesson about the borough of Vandergrift. Dawson greets customers by their first names, a testament to 30 years behind the single red vinyl chair in the shop he inherited from his father-in-law. Scissors flying, he tells jokes, talks about sports and spins tall tales about his large fish wall plaque or the two tennis-ball-sized spiders glued to paper plates and mounted on walls covered with photos and sports memorabilia. > More

Unity passes multimunicipal plan
By A.J. Panian TRIBUNE-REVIEW Friday, December 11, 2009 Unity supervisors on Thursday adopted what board Chairman Mike O’Barto called "a comprehensive plan of the people." In development since 2007, the $150,000 multimunicipal plan composed by a steering committee, the board and Pashek Associates of Pittsburgh initially called for several amendments to township zoning and land use ordinances. > More

Shorter time limits for Irwin parking considered
By The Tribune-Review Friday, December 11, 2009 Next month, Irwin Council will consider an ordinance that would change street parking meter time limits to two hours on Main Street and downtown side streets. Borough council members and officials have expressed concern that downtown parking space is being filled by employees of downtown businesses, rather than by customers. "We really want our businesses to be strong and healthy, and to do that we can’t have people that work there parking all day," Councilwoman Debbie Kelly said. > More

Unity Twp. Supervisors enact budget, new zoning ordinance
By Marie McCandless, Latrobe Bulletin News Editor December 11, 2009 Unity Township Supervisors Thursday enacted a final no-tax-hike, $5.25-million budget for 2010. Property owners in the township will continue to pay a total of 3.2 mills in real estate taxes, with 1 mill of that dedicated to fire services. Revenue includes $4,654,300 for the general fund; $516,700, Liquid Fuels Fund, and $35,000, light fund. > More

Trains to operate both ways on tracks along Youghiogheny
By The Tribune-Review Thursday, December 10, 2009 CSX Transportation has completed changes to the signal system on its tracks between Connellsville and McKeesport that will allow trains to operate in either direction on both tracks in that area. This is a common practice across the country, enabling freight and passenger trains to move more efficiently, according to a CSX spokesman. As a result, people in that area can expect to see trains moving in either direction on either track. > More

Flooding, road fixes planned
By Richard Gazarik TRIBUNE-REVIEW Thursday, December 10, 2009 Hempfield will borrow nearly $5 million next year to alleviate major stormwater problems in parts of the township. The loan is part of the municipality’s nearly $13 million budget for 2010 that also includes two major road reconstruction projects. The supervisors are expected to formally adopt the plan Dec. 28. The levy on real estate will remain at 3 mills for the 20th consecutive year. > More

North Huntingdon nixes brewery
By Chris Foreman TRIBUNE-REVIEW Wednesday, December 9, 2009 North Huntingdon’s zoning board unanimously denied a group’s application to operate a brewery and tasting room at a building off Route 30 near the Allegheny County line. The lead applicant, Mark Kegg, a partner in the Full Pint Brewing Co., said he’ll appeal the board’s decision Tuesday night denying a special exception to operate in a commercial district. > More

Pennsylvania Downtown Center’s (PDC) 2010 Statewide Conference - Call for Session Proposals
The 2010 conference will take place June 13-16 in beautiful and historic City of Lancaster. The Conference Committee is looking to expand the current selection of session topics and speakers, but we need your help. Do you have a project, program or organization in your community that you would like to share with fellow Main Street and Elm Street managers, county planning agencies, local government officials and consultants? > More

Dark Side of a Natural Gas Boom
By JAD MOUAWAD and CLIFFORD KRAUSS Published: December 7, 2009 DIMOCK, Pa. -- Victoria Switzer dreamed of a peaceful retirement in these Appalachian hills. Instead, she is coping with a big problem after a nearby natural gas well contaminated her family’s drinking water with high levels of methane. Through no design of hers, Ms. Switzer has joined a rising chorus of voices skeptical of the nation’s latest energy push. > More

Murrysville Council OKs permit for upscale plaza
By Paul Paterra TRIBUNE-REVIEW Friday, December 4, 2009 A proposed 114-acre shopping center is another step closer to fruition in Murrysville. Council voted 5-2 Wednesday to approve a land operations permit for Marketplace on Twenty-Two, a proposed upscale shopping plaza on William Penn Highway and Berlin Farm Road. Plans call for retail, home improvement and grocery stores, with the possibility of restaurants. > More

Pennsylvania Downtown Center's Weekly eUpdate
Please click here to view the Pennsylvania Downtown Center’s Weekly eUpdate for December 4, 2009  > More

Westmoreland considers home rule
By Rich Cholodofsky TRIBUNE-REVIEW Wednesday, December 2, 2009 Commissioner Charles Anderson said the "odds are pretty good" that Westmoreland County voters this spring will get to decide whether a commission should be formed to determine if a change is needed in how the county is governed. For the last several months, Anderson said he has been working to formulate a plan that could lead to a public vote on whether a study commission should be formed to explore home rule. > More

Unity restaurant owner to open Greensburg spot
By Bob Stiles TRIBUNE-REVIEW Tuesday, December 1, 2009 The owner of a popular Unity restaurant is expected to open another establishment soon in the never-used Damon’s building in Greensburg. Developer John Wagner said Monday, after meeting with Greensburg’s planning commission, that he has reached an agreement to house Dino’s Sports Lounge in Greensburg Commerce Park. "The lease has been signed. > More

Plans for Scottdale senior homes detailed
By Rachel R. Basinger DAILY COURIER Tuesday, December 1, 2009 Representatives of Homes Build Hope attended the Scottdale Borough Council meeting Monday to display architectural renderings of housing units the organization hopes to construct on Broadway near a proposed senior housing project. The borough has been approved for nearly $255,000 in grant funds to acquire and remediate the property, located between Brillhart Hardware and the former Stop and Shop, for the senior housing project. > More

Vandergrift seeks green rebirth
Steel town designed by Olmsted in 1895 Monday, November 30, 2009 By Ramit Plushnick-Masti, The Associated Press VANDERGRIFT, Pa. -- Imagine: It’s 1895. A steel baron hires New York’s Central Park designer Frederick Law Olmsted to build a town in Western Pennsylvania where mill workers can live, work and play. By the turn of the century, Vandergrift’s rounded buildings and roads flow along the contours of the Kiskiminetas River. > More

Crash-plagued part of Rt. 366 to get upgrade
By Chuck Biedka VALLEY NEWS DISPATCH Sunday, November 29, 2009 PennDOT has agreed to make safety improvements to a part of Route 366 where two people died in separate accidents nine months apart. The deaths happened on Route 366 between its intersection with Leechburg Road/Freeport Road and the area near Powers Drive. Last Jan. 21, Colin Grau, a Valley High School senior, was in an SUV that swerved into the path of a pickup. > More

Work on $1B power facility in South Huntingdon Township may start in 2011
By Rich Cholodofsky TRIBUNE-REVIEW Saturday, November 28, 2009 A Nebraska energy company said this week that it could break ground on $1 billion power plant in Westmoreland County as early as 2011. Representatives of Tenaska Energy announced that it will purchase about 400 acres of farmland south of Interstate 70 in South Huntingdon Township. It refused to disclose the purchase price or any other details of the deal. > More

Norwin residents back extra money for recreation center
By A.J. Panian TRIBUNE-REVIEW Tuesday, November 24, 2009 Two-thirds of residents of North Huntingdon, Irwin and North Irwin who returned surveys on the proposed Norwin Community Recreation Center would be willing to provide extra money to complete the project. Developers said as much Monday at a public comment meeting attended by about 60 area residents, community leaders and elected officials at the North Huntingdon Town House regarding the results of a $35,000 feasibility study on the proposed project. > More

Export flood control project to begin in July
By Paul Paterra TRIBUNE-REVIEW Monday, November 23, 2009 Work is set to begin in July to help alleviate flooding in Export, and a remedy can’t come soon enough for dentist Leonard Poliziani. Like many home and business owners in the borough, his dental office was damaged in each of the two major storms that impacted the community since 2007. "We need it in the worst way, sooner more than later," Poliziani said. > More

Greensburg Web site aims at developers, business prospects
By Bob Stiles TRIBUNE-REVIEW Monday, November 23, 2009 Steve Gifford used to send information by compact disc to prospective developers or business owners who were considering relocating in Greensburg. That won’t be the case anymore, at least not as a first step. Gifford, Greensburg Community Development Corp. executive director, will refer them to a Web site that’s being started as part of the new Think Greensburg campaign that was started this month by his group. > More

Excela plans expansion of Greensburg hospital's emergency room
By Bob Stiles TRIBUNE-REVIEW Saturday, November 21, 2009 Excela Health is looking to expand and redesign the emergency department at its Greensburg hospital as part of a $5 million project intended to meet increased demand for services. The Westmoreland facility had a record 4,470 visits to the emergency room last month, up by more than 200 from the monthly average for the year, hospital officials said. > More

Developing Effective Citizen Engagement:
A How-To Guide for Community Leaders by:  Allan Bassler, Kathy Brasier, Neal Fogle, and Ron Taverno, Pennsylvania State University Cooperative Extension Please click here to view and print the document  > More

Sustaining Public Engagement
Embedded Deliberation in Local Communities by:  Elena Fagotto and Archon Fung An Occasional Research Paper from Everyday Democracy and the Kettering Foundation Please click here to view and print the document  > More

Fence erected at site of Derry rail deaths
By Jennifer Reeger TRIBUNE-REVIEW Tuesday, November 17, 2009 Derry Borough Police Chief Randy Glick has responded to many traumatic calls. But after witnessing the deaths of a mother and son on railroad tracks in Derry -- after he shouted a warning of an oncoming train -- Glick decided something needed to be done. "Responding to something, it can be bad, but standing there watching that happen, I don’t want to do that anymore," Glick said of the Oct. > More

Trail enthusiasts envision Erie-to-Pittsburgh bicycle pathway
By Mary Ann Thomas , VALLEY NEWS DISPATCH Tuesday, November 17, 2009 Linking what looks like unrelated squiggles on a map of Pennsylvania is a proposed 270-mile bike and walking trail from Pittsburgh to Erie. The Erie-Pittsburgh Trail Alliance, a conglomeration of trail associations and other rail-to-trail advocates, is working on the details of connecting a series of community trails, many of which traverse the defunct routes of the Pennsylvania Railroad, into a seamless path stretching from Allegheny to Erie counties. > More

North Huntingdon will maintain road to Wal-Mart complex
By Chris Foreman TRIBUNE-REVIEW Saturday, November 14, 2009 DeBartolo Development will pay an undetermined amount for North Huntingdon road crews to maintain Mills Pointe Drive during the winter months as work proceeds for construction of a Wal-Mart Supercenter off Barnes Lake Road. Township commissioners on Thursday night told Jay Adams, a development officer for DeBartolo, that they were willing to provide the service to accommodate the continuing preparation of the site. > More

Walmart project moves forward in North Huntingdon
By Brad Pedersen TRIBUNE-REVIEW NEWS SERVICE Friday, November 13, 2009 Crews preparing to build a Walmart in North Huntingdon could begin moving dirt and working to tie Mills Point Road into Barnes Lake Road as soon as Dec. 1, according to a development official. Jay Adams, development officer from the Tampa-based DeBartolo Development, said township commissioners kept the Walmart project afloat by granting a level-of-service waiver for the intersection of Route 30 and Norwin Avenue. > More

Penn Township joins group for cable negotiations
By The Tribune-Review Friday, November 13, 2009 Penn Township will join the Central Westmoreland Council of Governments in negotiating cable franchise renewal with Comcast. Commissioners approved an ordinance Wednesday that places the township in an agreement with the COG. The COG is attempting to have as many municipalities as possible retain the Cohen Law Firm so legal costs to each would be lower. > More

Jacobs Creek Watershed group gets director
By Tribune-Review News Service Tuesday, November 10, 2009 For the first time in its 11-year history, the Jacobs Creek Watershed Association has an executive director. Patty Miller of Bullskin Township, a former employee for the Department of Environmental Protection, has been chosen by the board. The association seeks funding for remediation projects to make streams and other waterways in the watershed free from pollutants. > More

Help Pennsylvania make history on global warming
Through Nov. 9, state officials are accepting public comments on a historic climate action plan that calls for big cuts in global warming pollution in Pennsylvania. Considering that we currently produce more global warming pollution than every other state besides Texas and California, we have a special obligation to make sure this plan is implemented. Help make Pennsylvania part of the global warming solution by submitting your comment today. > More

SPC 2011-2014 Transportation Improvement Program Web Presentation
On November 9 th , 2009, at 12:00 pm , the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission (SPC) published a web presentation regarding the development of the 2011-2014 Transportation Improvement Program (TIP). The presentation focused upon the following: Provide an introduction to the TIP development process Provide a timeline of events and milestones for the 2011-2014 TIP Deliver a message of the current status, funding sources, and challenges facing the 2011-2014 TIP  Discuss next steps, and opportunities for public comment and involvement The program’s approximate running ti > More

Derry mayor vows to end pedestrian deaths on railroads
By Jennifer Reeger TRIBUNE-REVIEW Monday, November 9, 2009 When a 15-year-old boy was killed by a train in Derry in July, Mayor Susan Bortz thought that people would stop walking across those railroad tracks that split town. But with the death Oct. 30 of a mother and her 2-year-old son in nearly the same location, Bortz will do whatever it takes to keep people safe. "I just don’t want any more kids to be killed in our town," she said. > More

Derry's dilemma
In reference to the tragic event that occurred in Derry on Oct. 30 ( "Train kills two in Derry Borough," Oct. 31 and TribLIVE.com): For too long, this community has struggled with its legacy as a railroad town. Previously, the borough had a repair yard for locomotives on that line. Yet after suffering the loss of this business, Derry still is trying to cope with two parallel railroad tracks that separate the town nearly in half and its residents from basic life activities such as going to the post office or grocery store. > More

School, borough officials remind parents of train safety
By Marie McCandless Latrobe Bulletin News Editor November 6, 2009 Derry Area School District has posted a letter on its Web site to parents of all district students noting that Derry Borough is strictly enforcing a no-trespassing policy at the Norfolk Southern Railroad tracks in the borough. The letter, signed by mayor Susan Bortz and Derry Borough Council President Allen Skopp, advises that effective Saturday, Oct. > More

Developers iron out final details to build North Huntingdon Wal-Mart
By The Tribune-Review Friday, November 6, 2009 Developers of a long-planned Wal-Mart Supercenter along Route 30 in North Huntingdon say construction finally can begin in the spring. But some delays, including recently updated state transportation regulations, nearly led DeBartolo Development to abandon the project and walk away from the $13 million it had invested over the course of the decade. In getting a transportation waiver Thursday night from North Huntingdon commissioners, Jay Adams, a development officer for DeBartolo, said construction on the 190,810-square-foot building in the propos > More

Latrobe Bulletin November 4, 2009 To the Editor: The horror and sorrow on Derry Borough Mayor Susan Bortz’s face as she addressed the media after the recent tragedy in Derry mirrored the looks on faces all over town %8B no more so apparent as on the faces of our first responders. I witnessed a fireman kneeling on the bridge; the look of horror and devastation he wore on his face told the tale. > More

Derry cracks down on railroad trespassers
By Jennifer Reeger TRIBUNE-REVIEW Wednesday, November 4, 2009 As a mother and son killed by a freight train in Derry were buried together Tuesday, officials in the borough are continuing their efforts to keep people off the tracks. Since the accident that claimed two lives Friday afternoon, police have been citing people for trespass if they are seen crossing the railroad tracks that split the town. > More

Derry Borough begins citing railroad trespassers
By Marie McCandless Bulletin News Editor November 3, 2009 Derry Borough Council last night announced a zero-tolerance policy to trespassing on the Norfolk Southern Railroad mainline tracks that bisect the borough. The announcement by mayor Susan Bortz followed the deaths last Friday of 37-year-old Sheila Singer and her 2-year-old son, John Smart, who were struck by a Norfolk Southern freight train when John’s stroller became stuck while they were crossing the tracks. > More

Authorities identify mother, child killed by train in Derry
By Chris Ulicne Bulletin Staff Writer November 2, 2009 Authorities have identified the mother and child who were struck and killed early Friday evening by a westbound Norfolk Southern freight train in Derry Borough. Thirty-seven-year-old Sheila Singer was crossing the railroad tracks with a double stroller carrying her 2-year-old son, John, when the stroller became caught on the tracks. She tried unsuccessfully to free it as the train approached, and remained with her son even as Derry Borough Police Chief Randy Glick, who was on patrol nearby when the incident occurred, shouted to warn her to > More

Train kills two in Derry Borough
By Bob Stiles and Amy Crawford TRIBUNE-REVIEW Saturday, October 31, 2009 A 37-year-old woman and her 2-year-old son in a stroller were killed Friday after they were struck by a freight train while crossing railroad tracks in Derry Borough, authorities said. Last night, the Westmoreland County Coroner’s office was not identifying the victims -- both borough residents -- pending notification of next of kin. > More

Murtha, Specter announce federal assistance for new Derry Borough Park and Trails Project
By Chris Ulicne Latrobe Bulletin Staff Writer October 30, 2009 “We do have a nice little town, but it’s struggling.”   Those are the words of Derry Borough Mayor Susan Bortz. However, Bortz hopes that is about to change thanks to a federal technical assistance grant that will see the National Park Service team up with the Derry Area Recreation Board and the Derry Area Revitalization Corporation to begin development of nine acres of park lands within Derry Borough and 20 miles of new rails-with-trails. > More

Mother, child killed by train in Derry Borough
By Chris Ulicne Bulletin Staff Writer October 30, 2009 A 37-year-old local woman and her 2-year-old son were struck and killed early Friday evening by a westbound Norfolk Southern freight train as her two other children waited for her at the side of the tracks on Railroad Street in Derry Borough. The accident occurred around 5 p.m. as the woman and her three children left a store along South Chestnut Street near Dollar General and headed across the tracks to their home on the other side. > More

Derry park, 20 miles of trails closer to reality
By A.J. Panian TRIBUNE-REVIEW Friday, October 30, 2009 Karen Morelli once spent four straight hours this summer on her hands and knees picking up pieces of dirty, rubber foam from an old lawn cushion someone dumped below the Route 217 bridge in Derry. "One piece at a time. I was underneath all this brush because the foam got spread out," said Morelli, 54, of Derry Township. "But it had to be done." Morelli’s labor to help clean up the 9-acre tract owned by Norfolk Southern Corp. > More

Economic Impact Study finds Great Allegheny Passage generates over $40 million in annual spending and $7.5 million in wages
Greensburg, PA - October 23, 2009 - The Trail Town Program, Laurel Highlands Visitors Bureau, and the Allegheny Trail Alliance are pleased to announce the results of the 2007-08 Great Allegheny Passage Economic Impact Study . The 18-month study of trail-related spending along the 132-mile Great Allegheny Passage found that over $40 million in annual direct spending and another $7.5 million in wages were attributed to the Great Allegheny Passage in 2008. > More

PHLF Small Business News
October 2009 Issue  > More

Northeast SARE
Fall 2009 E-News  > More

Recycling of waste water to be norm for Marcellus Shale gas wells
By Rick Stouffer , TRIBUNE-REVIEW Tuesday, October 20, 2009 Major companies drilling for natural gas in Western Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale rock formation are or soon will be recycling all the waste water recovered from their operations, executives said Monday. Jeff Ventura, president of Range Resources Corp., emphasized the importance of recycling and reusing water recovered from its natural gas drilling operations in Washington County. > More

Web site ranks Vandergrift as fourth best in nation to buy a home
By Michael Aubele , VALLEY NEWS DISPATCH Sunday, October 18, 2009 Move over Beverly Hills 90210. A real estate Web site has determined Vandergrift ZIP code 15690 -- which includes portions of Allegheny, Parks and Gilpin townships -- is among the best places in the country to buy a home. Using a system that considers home values and school performance, cyberhomes.com ranked the Vandergrift area as the fourth-best community in the country to live in its "2009 Home Value-Schools Ratings Report Card." In addition, businessweek.com created its ranking and put Vandergrift at the top. > More

Pennsylvania Downtown Center E Update
To view the Pennsylvania Downtown Center E News Update for October 16, 2009, please click here  > More

Allegheny Township town center plan modified, ready for vote
By Liz Hayes , VALLEY NEWS DISPATCH Friday, October 16, 2009 The proposed town center zoning district in Allegheny Township could be approved next month after minimal changes were made during the last review period. The plan to rezone a 700-acre area around three Kiski Area schools, the municipal building and several shopping centers has completed the last review phase by township officials and Westmoreland County’s planning department. > More

Penn State Extension Westmoreland News
Please click here for the Fall 2009 edition  > More

Lawmakers weigh in on agonizing process, imperfect budget
By Tom Yerace and Michael Aubele, VALLEY NEWS DISPATCH Wednesday, October 14, 2009 State legislators whose districts include part of the Alle-Kiski Valley seem to agree on two things: The state budget passed last week is not a great one, and it took way to much time to enact. They cited various reasons for the 101-day delay that angered many Pennsylvanians. Among the effects were cutbacks in the operation of human services agencies dependent on state money and a temporary halt in paychecks for state employees. > More

North Huntingdon Sonic restaurant plans on Route 30 fall through
By The Tribune-Review Thursday, October 8, 2009 The owner of a North Huntingdon property along Route 30 says a deal to build a Sonic drive-in restaurant there has fallen through. Hartley King, of NCH Hospitality, had been planning to lease the property from Zigmund Barton at the state highway’s intersection with Billot Avenue, but permitting issues through PennDOT delayed construction. "At the end of the summer, Mr. > More

Smart Growth Partnership Elects Two New Board Members
PRESS RELEASE For Immediate Release - Wednesday, October 7, 2009 At its first meeting of the fiscal year on September 4, 2009, the Smart Growth Partnership Board of Directors added two new members to the board, Brian J. Hill and April Kopas. Hill is a program officer with the Richard King Mellon Foundation, which is based in Pittsburgh.  The Foundation’s priorities include regional economic development, improving the quality of life in southwestern Pennsylvania, land preservation, and watershed restoration and protection.  Prior to joining the Foundation, Hill served as the CEO > More

Unity Mountain View property plans endorsed
By A.J. Panian TRIBUNE-REVIEW Wednesday, October 7, 2009 Redevelopment plans for the former Mountain View Inn property in Unity took another step Tuesday, though future commercial development there may be hindered by pending revisions to the township’s zoning ordinance, officials said. The township planning commission voted yesterday to endorse a plan by Jada View LLC, Upper St. Clair, to subdivide the land -- which totals roughly 11 acres -- into six plots for the purpose of maintaining a smaller-sized hotel and attracting additional commercial facilities. > More

Ligonier zoning ordinance bounces around
By Jewels Phraner TRIBUNE-REVIEW Wednesday, October 7, 2009 Ligonier Borough’s thorough zoning ordinance overhaul is back in the planning commission’s hands after Monday night’s council meeting. After working for two years to update the ordinance and make it "more user-friendly," according to planning commission chairman Scott Lieb, the commissioners recommended it to council at their last meeting. > More

Artists recognized in Derry
By Marie McCandless Latrobe Bulletin News Editor October 6, 2009 During last night’s borough council agenda preparation meeting, Derry Borough Mayor Susan Bortz recognized several people responsible for the mural recently completed in downtown Derry. The mural was designed by Derry Area High School junior Ross Beagle under the direction of art teacher Donna Ercole-Bash, and was painted by St. > More

Murrysville political action committee incorporates
By The Tribune-Review Monday, October 5, 2009 When Citizens for the Rural Preservation of Murrysville - Political Action Committee came together in 2006, one of its first tasks was to combat a proposed 114-acre shopping plaza. Although plans for the Marketplace on Twenty-Two are plodding along, group originator Ray Meehan and other members say they feel they are accomplishing their goal of protecting Murrysville’s rural nature. > More

Westmoreland municipalities may join regional police forces
By Chris Foreman TRIBUNE-REVIEW Saturday, October 3, 2009 After years of relying solely on state police coverage, several Westmoreland County municipalities are exploring options for joining regional departments to provide a part-time law enforcement presence. In some cases, municipal leaders say, the service agreements merit consideration because they fear the proposed imposition of hundreds of thousands of dollars in per-capita fees for state police protection if they don’t form a police department or join a regional force. > More

Trails in Irwin Project may link parks to school and library
By Brad Pedersen TRIBUNE-REVIEW NEWS SERVICE Friday, October 2, 2009 Members of Irwin Project are looking into the possibility of connecting Irwin Park, Tinker’s Run Park and Norwin School District with a walking trail. Michael Pochan, acting chairman of the Irwin Project, said Pittsburgh-based Mackin Engineering Company started a feasibility study about a year ago. Ideally, the trail would run from Norwin Public Library on Caruthers Lane to Irwin Park, then to Tinker’s Run Park in Hahntown, then back to the Norwin High School campus. > More

Westmoreland Land Trust gets 59-acre donation in North Huntingdon
By A.J. Panian TRIBUNE-REVIEW Tuesday, September 29, 2009 Mechtild "Meccy" Grapes spent many childhood hours hiking tree-shaded trails and catching crayfish in the stream on the North Huntingdon property of her late parents, Otto and Magdalene Ackermann. That’s why Grapes was thrilled to donate her family’s 59 acres along Ardara Road in Ardara to the Westmoreland Land Trust, she said. "My family is so happy that this organization got up and running," said Grapes, 84, of Irwin. > More

Pedestrian span eyed for Derry tracks
By Jeff Himler , BLAIRSVILLE DISPATCH Friday, September 25, 2009 DERRY -- Borough officials envision a pedestrian bridge as an ideal solution for getting residents on foot safely across the Norfolk Southern rail lines that cuts the community in two. President Allen Skopp told council members Monday that such a crossing, with private funding, was completed for about $800,000 in Hershey. That’s far less than the $2 million price tag he’d previously estimated for the project. > More

Outdoor cafe rule passes despite Ligonier mayor's 1st-ever veto
By Jewels Phraner TRIBUNE-REVIEW Friday, September 11, 2009 Ligonier Borough Council on Thursday approved a much-discussed ordinance allowing for outdoor cafes in its business district. Council approved the ordinance at its last meeting, but Mayor Ormond "Butch" Bellas took unusual action and vetoed the ordinance. It was his first veto in eight years serving as Ligonier’s mayor. "I usually agree with what they do, but not this time," Bellas said. > More

Lincoln Hills rezoning to be mulled in North Huntingdon
By Chris Foreman TRIBUNE-REVIEW Friday, September 11, 2009 North Huntingdon’s planning director and the developer of the Lincoln Hills plan intend to meet to refine the options for rezoning a 14-acre plot for commercial purposes or under another zoning designation that would permit various office buildings. Lincoln Hills Realty Associates seeks to rezone the property, near Route 30, from its current designation as residential, but Planning Director Andrew Blenko is concerned that the requested commercial designation could "open the door" to several types of uses, like mobile-home parks o > More

Pittsburgh region gets $28 million to plan maglev project
Thursday, September 10, 2009 By James O’Toole, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette The Federal Railroad Administration has awarded a $28 million grant for preliminary work on the long-planned Pennsylvania High-Speed Maglev project. The grant was announced this afternoon by Sens. Arlen Specer and Bob Casey, along with Rep. Mike Doyle. The project, billed as the first phase of a cross-state high speed network, would start at the Pittsburgh International Airport and travel to Downtown Pittsburgh, then to Monroeville and on to Greensburg. > More

Program offers low-cost homes in Jeannette
Thursday, September 10, 2009 By Maryann Gogniat Eidemiller The price is right: A new home for a little more than $100,000 with energy-efficient features that save more than 25 percent on utility costs; up to $8,000 in tax breaks with the purchase; and assistance with closing costs and a down payment. And if the homeowner stays put for 15 years, nearly one-third of the mortgage will be canceled. The public is invited to an open house Sunday to see that, in downtown Jeannette, this homeowner’s dream is not too good to be true. > More

Part of Lincoln Hills housing plan may be rezoned in North Huntingdon
By Chris Foreman TRIBUNE-REVIEW Tuesday, September 1, 2009 A portion of the Lincoln Hills plan in North Huntingdon might be rezoned as commercial after all. The township’s planning commission voted unanimously Monday night to recommend that commissioners approve Lincoln Hills Realty Associates’ request to convert a 14.36-acre plot from residential to commercial. The rezoning request covers the proposed eighth phase of the housing plan. > More

Greensburg street programs eye alternative funding avenues
By A.J. Panian TRIBUNE-REVIEW Monday, August 31, 2009 Leaders of two downtown development programs said they’ll be looking for donations from the communities they support if state funding is slashed or eliminated. The Main Street and Elm Street programs are at risk as the state continues to deal with its budget crisis. A Senate plan passed in May did not include any funding for the programs. > More

Baby Boom Migration and Rural America
The Economic Research Service (ERS) of USDA recently released a very important new study on migration and its potential impacts on rural America.  Our team at the RUPRI Center for Rural Entrepreneurship has spent quite a bit of time digesting this research and its implications for other related migration research.  If you are interested in this topic, we strongly recommend that you take a look at this work by John Cromartie (ERS) and Peter Nelson (Middlebury College). > More

Stimulus dollars OK'd for Derry programs
By Jeff Himler , BLAIRSVILLE DISPATCH Friday, August 28, 2009 DERRY -- Economic stimulus funding totaling $85,400 is expected to boost various staffing, programs and planning efforts of the borough and the local Derry Area School District. Susan Bortz, mayor of the borough and chief executive officer of the Derry Area Revitalization Corporation, announced Wednesday that local officials had received word of the funding under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act after she and Dr. > More

Derry Twp. Municipal Authority accepts $1M sewage grant
By Jeff Himler , BLAIRSVILLE DISPATCH Friday, August 28, 2009 NEW DERRY -- Officials of the Derry Township Municipal Authority Tuesday accepted a $1 million grant from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to assist in construction of a sewage treatment plant and two pump stations to serve New Alexandria Borough and adjacent areas of Derry Township. The long-awaited project also will include installation of 44,000 linear feet of sewer lines for a total estimated cost of $8,338,000. > More

Scottdale secures firm to design historic preservation plan
By Tribune-Review News Service Tuesday, August 18, 2009 Scottdale Borough Council voted Monday to hire T&B Planning of Murrysville to develop a historic preservation plan for the borough. The plan will be an amendment to Scottdale’s Town Center Plan, passed in June 2008, and is funded through a $2,000 Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission grant, administered through Preservation Pennsylvania, and an equal match raised through the Scottdale Town Center Revitalization Committee. > More

Ligonier approves sidewalk cafe law
By Jewels Phraner TRIBUNE-REVIEW Friday, August 14, 2009 On a warm afternoon, Abigail’s Coffeehouse patrons in Ligonier squeeze into two cafe tables and a bench outside. And after deliberation at Thursday’s borough council meeting, they still can, with the blessing of borough officials. The sidewalk cafe ordinance passed 4-1, with Councilman Sam Banales voting against the proposal, saying it was too restrictive. > More

Blairsville Municipal Authority gets $13.4M for sewer project
By Jeff Himler , BLAIRSVILLE DISPATCH Friday, July 24, 2009 Blairsville Borough Council at its Tuesday night meeting recognized the approval of more than $13.4 million in state funding to expand the Blairsville Municipal Authority sewage treatment plant and to help reduce storm sewer infiltration that places an unnecessary burden on the plant. Addressing council, BMA Chairman Michael LaMantia thanked all those involved in pursuing the funding package approved earlier in the day by the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority (PennVest). > More

North Strabane to set meeting on residential wind turbines
By Crystal Ola, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette North Strabane commissioners Tuesday are expected to set a public hearing date to discuss a proposed ordinance for small, residential wind turbines. The issue arose last July when resident Frank Weber told supervisors he wanted to erect a 50-foot wind turbine on his 6.5-acre property along Grandview Drive to help defray utility costs. He wasn’t allowed to install the turbine until the township addressed the matter in its ordinances. > More

A Fable About Sprawl
By Mchael Lewyn, Planetizen Blog Once upon a time, there was a city called City. And everyone living in City voted in the same elections and paid taxes to the same government. And then 5 percent of the people decided that they wanted to live in an new neighborhood that was opened up for development by the highways. And they called it Richburb, because they were, if not rich, at least a little richer than many of the people in the city (since even if there wasn’t zoning to keep the poor out, new housing usually costs more than old housing anyhow). > More

Safe Routes to School Academy Grant Program
In August 2009, the SRTS Academy will launch a new round of grants. The program offers small grants in the amount of $5,000 each to schools (public or private), grades K-8 to help improve the safety of walking and bicycling to school. For more information, please click here  > More

Plan to alter streets' traffic flow in Irwin nixed
By Brad Pedersen TRIBUNE-REVIEW NEWS SERVICE Friday, July 17, 2009 After a year of discussion, Irwin Council put the brakes on a proposal to change the direction of traffic on Oak and Main streets. Council voted down the Streetscape Committee’s proposal to reverse traffic on the streets with a 6-1 vote. Council President John Fonzo voted in favor of the reversal. About 75 residents and business owners crowded into the borough’s public works garage on First Street for the meeting. > More

Closing of Fort Allen Frosty Shack sought
By Rich Cholodofsky TRIBUNE-REVIEW Friday, July 17, 2009 There’s a chill in the air between the owners of the Fort Allen Frosty Shack and Hempfield Township. Local officials on Thursday filed a lawsuit against the ice cream shop, asking a Westmoreland County judge to shut down the Frosty Shack over its alleged failure to comply with a township ordinance. Hempfield leaders contend the Frosty Shack on Route 136 changed the drainage on its property as part of a parking lot resurfacing in 2002. > More

St. Vincent College survey to aid Latrobe efforts
By A.J. Panian TRIBUNE-REVIEW Friday, July 17, 2009 Latrobe merchants who own the buildings they operate in have lasted much longer on average than their counterparts who rent, according to a recent St. Vincent College survey. That finding could aid the city in its long-term revitalization efforts. "It’s something we can really hang our hat on -- the fact that the folks who own buildings in town have stuck around longer than those who don’t," said Thomas Cline, associate professor of marketing who conducted the survey on behalf the Latrobe Community Revitalization Program. > More

Housing market's decline hits home
Friday, July 17, 2009 By Tim Grant, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette The national housing crisis that has eroded the most important source of wealth for many American families is finally hitting the Steel City. Housing data released yesterday showed average home prices in southwestern Pennsylvania have fallen for three consecutive quarters, setting the stage for the slowest market for local housing sales in 20 years, according to a local real estate information service. > More

Greensburg Streetscape project gets past cost overrun problem
By Bob Stiles TRIBUNE-REVIEW Thursday, July 16, 2009 Greensburg officials said a cost overrun of more than $836,000 for the second phase of the Streetscape project appears to be resolved, and an order to begin work could be issued this week. "I think we’re fine and moving forward," City Administrator Sue Trout said. The low approved bid was $1,986,681 from Gulisek Construction Co. PennDOT’s original project estimate was about $1.1 million. > More

Water, sewer upgrades set for Westmoreland
Thursday, July 16, 2009 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette More than $15 million in state funding, through the H2O PA grant program, has been awarded for seven water and sewer projects in Westmoreland County. H2O PA provides grants to municipalities or municipal authorities to assist with water and sewer projects, storm water projects, flood control projects, and high-hazard dam repairs. State Sen. Kim Ward, R-Hempfield, and state Rep. > More

Solar power company to build facility at Sony plant
Wednesday, July 15, 2009 By Elwin Green, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Solar Power Industries, a Rostraver-based manufacturer of solar energy products, has received $7.5 million in state funding to build a new facility in the Sony Technology Center in Mount Pleasant. The funds come in the form of a $937,500 matching grant and a $6.5 million loan from the Commonwealth Financing Authority under the state’s Solar Energy Program, which is administered jointly by the Decpartment of Community and Economic Development and the Department of Environmental Protection. > More

PDC E-Update
For the latest Pennsylvania Downtown Center E-update,  please click here   > More

Pennsylvania Game Commission Citizen Advisory Committees
Pennsylvania’s deer management program recognizes the importance of citizen input into deer management recommendations. In fact, one of the 3 goals of the deer management program, to reduce deer-human conflicts, is directly related to citizen tolerance of deer impacts. The Game Commission provides a variety of means for citizens to provide input including, public comments periods prior to each Commission meeting, acceptance of written comments via mail and email , and more recently, Citizen’s Advisory Committees. > More

Main, Elm Street funds threatened by proposed cuts in Pa. budget
Monday, July 06, 2009 By Diana Nelson Jones, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Neighborhood advocates are alarmed by a proposed axing of Main Street and Elm Street funding in the coming state budget. As lawmakers hash out a budget that could be $3 billion leaner, the shears are pruning what’s considered to be nonessential and outside the protection of entitlement and federal mandate. The National Trust for Historic Preservation created the Main Street program in 1977. > More

As Retailers Cut Back Cities Confront
James McPherson The Huffington Post July 6, 2009 BISMARCK, N.D. -- Hundreds of anxious shoppers watched as city officials used power saws to cut 2-by-4s during Home Depot Inc.’s ribbon-cutting ceremony for its 102,700-square-foot building center in Bismarck. Less than three years later, the home improvement retailer shuttered the underperforming store, leaving a big orange empty eyesore on the outskirts of town. > More

Meeting to offer info on Donegal Community Design Workshop
By The Tribune-Review Sunday, July 5, 2009 The Pennsylvania Environmental Council will hold a public meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday to present the draft report from the Donegal Community Design Workshop in December. The meeting will be held at the Donegal Community Center on Route 31, where the draft report will be presented and public input will be accepted. The planning is part of the Laurel Highlands Conservation Landscape Initiative, a project of the council and the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. > More

Sunday Forum: Who needs more people?
Sunday, July 05, 2009 By Todd Katzner, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Economic calamities have a way of focusing our attention on the problems at hand. The first real slowdown of the 21st century is no exception. One of the encouraging stories emerging from the "Great Recession," though, is the focus on creating "green" jobs to revitalize our economy while limiting the growth of our carbon footprint. Nowhere is this new economic standard emphasized more than in Pittsburgh, which describes itself as having moved beyond steel and rust and toward a future of green. > More

Assessment disparities an 'inherent problem' in Westmoreland
By Rich Cholodofsky TRIBUNE-REVIEW There, on the well-worn cards that Westmoreland County assessors use every day, are the inconsistencies. The cards -- riddled with pen and pencil notations, drawings, erasures, white-outs and stains -- tell the story of 193,000 parcels of land and buildings in the county, where there has been no full-scale reassessment since 1972. More than half of the properties sold last year in the county were assessed at values 20 percent higher or lower than their sale prices. > More

The Great Allegheny Passage Nature Trail — Part I
By Paul g. Wiegman , FOR THE TRIBUNE-REVIEW Sunday, July 5, 2009 I would imagine that most of you have heard about the Great Allegheny Passage. It’s a biking/hiking trail beginning in McKeesport and meandering 115 miles to Cumberland, Md. It follows the former Pittsburgh & Lake Erie Railroad from McKeesport to Connellsville, and the former Western Maryland Railway from there to Cumberland. > More

Westmoreland to Pittsburgh rail transit outlook strong, study finds
By Rich Cholodofsky TRIBUNE-REVIEW Tuesday, June 30, 2009 A consultant hired by the Westmoreland County Transit Authority said during a public hearing Monday night that train service could potentially start tomorrow between Latrobe and Greensburg to Pittsburgh. Officials during the first of two public sessions presented the results of a $500,000 study that found enough potential riders for rail service on two lines: Latrobe to Pittsburgh and from Arnold to Pittsburgh. > More

Natural gas venture includes Westmoreland County
By Staff and wire reports Tuesday, June 23, 2009 Independent oil and natural gas exploration-production company Rex Energy Corp. of State College has entered into a joint venture with Williams Cos. to develop Rex’s Marcellus Shale assets. Under the agreement, Tulsa, Okla.-based Williams is acquiring for $33 million a 50 percent interest in about 44,000 acres in Westmoreland, Clearfield and Centre counties. > More

Route 19 traffic signal system to reduce congestion
Tuesday, June 23, 2009 By Janice Crompton, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Commuters using Route 19 in the South Hills soon may be getting relief from traffic congestion through a new regional signaling system. Peters council last night approved an agreement with Upper St. Clair, Mt. Lebanon and Bethel Park for a joint project to synchronize traffic signals along Route 19. The $533,000 project recently received a grant from the state to help ease traffic congestion significantly. > More

Cost of rail line linking Greensburg, Arnold with Pittsburgh lower than expected
By Rich Cholodofsky TRIBUNE-REVIEW Saturday, June 20, 2009 Westmoreland County transit officials are poised to begin planning for two commuter rail lines that would link Greensburg and Arnold with Pittsburgh. Officials on Friday made public the findings of a feasibility study that concludes there is sufficient potential ridership for both branches of the rail line. The study recommends continued planning and financing studies. > More

Executives see a future beneath region's land
Thursday, June 18, 2009 By Sarah Eidemiller Drilling for natural gas in the shale that lies deep below the surface of Western Pennsylvania could create jobs in the region for years to come while providing royalty payments to property owners for the gas rights, say officials with local companies involved in the process. "Natural gas production and development will have its place in the energy mix for decades as our country continues to try and develop alternative sources of energy," said Christopher Fiano, vice president and chief financial officer of Penneco Oil Co. > More

Press Release - Summer webinars focus on Marcellus shale natural gas issues
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Beginning June 25, Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences and Penn State Cooperative Extension will offer monthly online seminars addressing impacts related to the development of natural gas from the Marcellus shale in Pennsylvania. The summer series of "webinars" is designed to help communities and local leaders prepare for the potential impacts of gas exploration and development, including understanding workforce needs and water-policy issues surrounding gas-well drilling. > More

Energy company buys Westmoreland land for possible $1 billion plant
By Rich Cholodofsky TRIBUNE-REVIEW Saturday, June 13, 2009 A Nebraska-based energy company has quietly purchased 400 acres in South Huntingdon with an eye toward building a $1 billion natural gas power plant to serve eastern and midwestern portions of the United States. Officials with Teneska Energy of Omaha confirmed on Friday it has bought the Westmoreland County farmland and is studying the feasibility of constructing a power plant. > More

State Transportation Commission Public Hearings
The State Transportation Commission (STC) will begin collecting public testimony on August 5, 2009, for the update of the 2011 Twelve Year Transportation Program. With several financial unknowns on the horizon (Highway Trust Fund solvency, pending federal transportation Reauthorization legislation, and state Act 44 revenues after June 30, 2010), discussion continues regarding the timing for the update to the State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP). > More

Pennsylvania Downtown Center E Update
For the latest electronic update, please click here  > More

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 28, 2009  CONTACT:  Chuck Ardo  717-783-1116    Rich Kirkpatrick (PennDOT) 717-783-8800 HARRISBURG - Pennsylvania will create green jobs, relieve traffic congestion and make it easier for students to walk and bike to school with the investment of $76 million in 80 transportation projects, Governor Edward G. Rendell announced today. “PennDOT’s investments will help us weather the current economic storm and make lasting community improvements for future generations,” Governor Rendell said. > More

Student video on Derry highlights Smart Growth awards dinner
By Marie McCandless, Bulletin News Editor May 22, 2009 A video prepared by Derry Area High School seniors highlighted Thursday’s awards dinner of the Smart Growth Partnership held at University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg. The video, produced as part of last month’s Latrobe Area Chamber of Commerce Economic Exchange Day at Greater Latrobe Senior High School, focused on Derry Borough and its potential for improvement. > More

Project aims to create one regional 'vision'
Thursday, May 21, 2009 By Ann Belser, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette What would you call a project to try to create a cohesive identity for the future of the 30 counties in Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia that all surround Pittsburgh? If you have an idea, there’s a contest for you. The contest is one of the first steps in a two-year "regional visioning" project started by the Allegheny Conference on Community Development, the Greater Pittsburgh Nonprofit Development Partnership and Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission. > More

Lifetime award goes to Latrobe 'trailblazer'
Thursday, May 21, 2009 By Kate Luce Angell Linda McKenna Boxx had a response to hearing she would be presented the Pennsylvania Environmental Awards’ Lifetime Achievement Award at its annual dinner Wednesday. "I tried to suggest some other candidates," said Mrs. Boxx, 57, president of the Allegheny Trail Alliance and chairman of the Katherine Mabis McKenna Foundation. Mrs. Boxx, of Latrobe, has been the guiding force behind the creation of the Great Allegheny Passage, a 150-mile-long system of hiking and biking trails that goes from Versailles, near McKeesport, to Cumberland, Md. > More

North Huntingdon plans rile some in Hempfield
By Chris Foreman TRIBUNE-REVIEW Thursday, May 21, 2009 North Huntingdon commissioners on Wednesday approved the next phase of the Lincoln Hills subdivision plan, which sparked the concern of some West Hempfield residents. Commissioners unanimously adopted a phase that involves eight single-family lots, located on the western side of Lockport Drive. North Huntingdon-based RWS Development is in the first half of the fifth phase of the development. > More

North Huntingdon highway snag may derail Sonic plan
By Kelly Fennessy TRIBUNE-REVIEW NEWS SERVICE Saturday, May 16, 2009 Plans for a drive-in restaurant in North Huntingdon could be stalled. Planning Director Andrew Blenko told commissioners Thursday that PennDOT will not issue a highway occupancy permit for a proposed Sonic at Billot Avenue and Route 30 unless Billot Avenue’s access is changed to allow motorists to make right turns in both directions. > More

Sidewalk seating returns to Ligonier
By A.J. Panian TRIBUNE REVIEW Friday, May 15, 2009 This morning, Joe and Dianne Stewart will again have a table and two chairs for dining outside their Ligonier business, Abigail’s Coffeehouse, based on a decision Thursday by borough council. "We’ll be happy to see (council president) Dale Show sitting out there again in the morning like he did before," said Dianne Stewart during yesterday’s council meeting. > More

Former Pa. senator Kukovich to lead study on shaping Pittsburgh region
By Andrew Conte TRIBUNE-REVIEW Tuesday, May 5, 2009 Allen Kukovich wants to hear what you think about the Pittsburgh region. Foundations have ponied up $2 million to pay for a two-year study that Kukovich, a former state senator, will oversee. He’ll ask residents in a 30-county region across Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio and Maryland what they want for the future. The goal is to come up with a regional to-do list. > More

2009 Smart Growth Partnership Seventh Annual Awards Dinner
On May 21, 2009, the Smart Growth Partnership will recognize and celebrate the following recipients of this year’s Smart Growth awards:   -         Greensburg Community Development Corp - Coulter Playground/Neighborhood Renovation Project -         City of Greensburg for Historical and Architectural Review Board -         Laurel Area Partnership on Aging/National Church Residences/Rothschild Doyno Collaborative for Laurel Highlands Village in Downtown Latrobe -     > More

Murrysville still poised for growth
By Tom McGee TRIBUNE-REVIEW NEWS SERVICE Friday, May 1, 2009 Commercial and residential growth in Murrysville has slowed, but the director of the Murrysville Economic and Community Development Corp. says the municipality is well-positioned for a rejuvenated economy. At last week’s joint meeting of Murrysville Council and Franklin Regional School Board, John Cardwell -- the executive director of the Murrysville Economic and Community Development Corp. > More

Hempfield may seek Grapeville glass plant's demolition
By Richard Gazarik TRIBUNE-REVIEW Friday, May 1, 2009 Once the pride of the "Glass City," it’s now a rusted, asbestos-laden shadow of its former glory. The Hempfield supervisors will hold a hearing May 11 to decide whether to declare the former Westmoreland Glass factory in Grapeville a public nuisance and force the owner to demolish what’s left of the decaying, dangerous structure. The glass plant was one of several in the Jeannette area that at one time produced 75 percent of the world’s glass, according to a history of the company. > More

Laurel Highlands Summit Generates Enthusiasm for Conservation Initiative
160 people participate in two-day program highlighting the potential for a sustainable region surrounding some of the Commonwealth’s most special places. The Laurel Highlands Summit held Sunday and Monday was hailed as a huge success by the program’s sponsors and supporters. "The primary purpose of the Laurel Highlands Summit was to inform and energize communities in support of this value-driven approach as our path to the future - and I think we succeeded," said John Quigley, acting secretary of the state Department of Conservation & Natural Resources. > More

$84 million flows to Mon River projects
By Mike Cronin TRIBUNE-REVIEW Wednesday, April 29, 2009 The Army Corps of Engineers on Tuesday received $84 million that it expects will help create hundreds of jobs at the Charleroi navigation facility. The federal stimulus money will pay for three lock and wall construction projects on the lower Monongahela River, said Lenna Hawkins, deputy engineer for the corps’ Pittsburgh District, home to the nation’s second-busiest inland port. > More

Hempfield looking for one ZIP code to gain identity
By Richard Gazarik TRIBUNE-REVIEW Friday, April 24, 2009 Hempfield has an identity crisis. Officials of the sprawling township want one ZIP code to cover the municipality instead of the 19 it now has for addresses within its 90 square miles. Depending on the location in the township, residents could have ZIP codes listing their addresses as Greensburg, Irwin, New Stanton, Hunker, Adamsburg, Arona, Youngwood, Grapeville, Armbrust, Bovard, Crabtree, Darragh, Forbes Road, Hannastown, Luxor, Wendel, Youngwood or Jeannette, said board of supervisors Chairman John Silvis. > More

Trafford Borough receives governor's award
Thursday, April 23, 2009 By Deborah M. Todd, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette After six years of decreasing services to pay off a nearly million-dollar debt, Trafford has been recognized by Gov. Ed Rendell for its efforts to balance its budget. Trafford was awarded the 2009 Governor’s Award for Fiscal Excellence on April 15. The borough was recognized for its six-year plan to eliminate an $800,000 debt -- it will make its final payment on the debt next month. > More

Altmire says commuter train to Pittsburgh can work
By Michael Aubele VALLEY NEWS DISPATCH Thursday, April 16, 2009 Study results will show it’s feasible to run a commuter train between the Alle-Kiski Valley and Pittsburgh, U.S. Rep. Jason Altmire, D-McCandless, said yesterday. As a result, the congressman said he will press for funding through the next highway reauthorization bill to proceed with the project. He estimated in July that it would take about $130 million to fund the rail service. > More

Students pitch future development ideas to Latrobe, Derry
By A.J. Panian TRIBUNE REVIEW Thursday, April 9, 2009 On a National Honor Society trip to Chicago last week, Greater Latrobe High School senior Ryan Dudik learned of the Windy City’s revered, century-old development plan. "That really closed the deal on what I want to do," said Dudik, 18, who will study architecture this fall at Virginia Tech. "I fell in love with the ways of all the big cities I’ve been to, and right now I’m trying to use them to help make Latrobe better overall." Dudik did so Wednesday with 54 other students from Greater Latrobe and Derry Area high schools > More

Students challenged with municipal revitalization
By Marie McCandless Latrobe Bulletin News Editor April 9, 2009 About 60 economics students from Greater Latrobe and Derry Area high schools got together Wednesday to brainstorm ideas to revitalize their towns. During a daylong session at Greater Latrobe’s Center for Student Creativity, the students were guided through the process of analyzing strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, as well as other concepts related to community planning and geography. > More

National Charrette Institute
NCI April 2009 Newsletter  > More

Conservation + Recreation Newsletter: A New YMCA Partnership
April 2009 - Health and Parks: Why It Matters  > More

Adamsburg seeks police coverage from Manor
By Paul Paterra TRIBUNE-REVIEW Monday, April 6, 2009 Adamsburg residents may see police officers from nearby Manor patrolling their streets soon. Officials from both boroughs are working on an intermunicipal agreement. If it were enacted, Adamsburg would pay $4,000 to Manor in exchange for police coverage for a trial period. "We’ll go for about three months," said Paul Wolfgang, mayor of Adamsburg for more than two decades. > More

Cranberry supervisors approve long-range plan
Friday, April 03, 2009 By Karen Kane, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Cranberry supervisors gave a unanimous thumbs-up last night to a 25-year plan -- a 224-page document comprehensive plan that plots the direction of the township in a range of areas from environmental stewardship to public transit. The document was a work that took two years to complete and involved a survey of residents, a citizens’ panel and numerous public meetings and hearings. > More

Opinions sought on Norwin rec center
Thursday, April 02, 2009 By Norm Vargo About 3,000 people living in the Norwin School District can help to determine the scope of a proposed regional recreation/community center and express whether they are willing to take on a new tax to help build and sustain it. The Norwin Area Regional Recreation Committee mailed a six-page survey to randomly selected individuals in Irwin, North Irwin and North Huntingdon on Friday. > More

Daily Natural Gas Clippings
For the March 31, 2009 Daily Natural Gas Clippings, please click here  > More

Trafford teens lobby for hangout
By Heidi Dezayas TRIBUNE-REVIEW NEWS SERVICE Friday, March 27, 2009 Some teenagers in Trafford say they don’t have a place to hang out in town and are willing to work with officials to do something about it. Last week, about 15 teens gathered at council chambers. Brittany Smith, 14, spoke on their behalf. She said they want to work on plans for a youth center to keep teens entertained Read more  > More

Traffic proposal dissected in Irwin
By Amy Crawford TRIBUNE-REVIEW Thursday, March 26, 2009 More than fifty Irwin residents and business owners turned out for an open house Wednesday to learn more about a proposed change in traffic flow through downtown Irwin. The Irwin Project, a state-funded community group that seeks to improve the borough’s business district, has proposed reversing the flow of traffic on Main and Oak streets so that drivers entering the borough from Pennsylvania Avenue would pass by Main Street’s businesses. > More

Renovation possible for Greensburg Shop 'n Save lot
By Bob Stiles TRIBUNE-REVIEW Wednesday, March 25, 2009 The parking lot outside the Shop ’n Save store on East Pittsburgh Street in Greensburg could be undergoing a change as part of an effort to make passage and parking easier. The city’s Historic and Architectural Review Board approved the changes Tuesday. The proposal next is scheduled to be reviewed by the city’s planning commission Monday. > More

March 2009 Rural Entrepreneurship Newsletter
News from the Center Many of you are searching for a very different kind of economic development - one that makes your rural communities and regions more economically competitive, preserves the environment that is the foundation of your rural flavor, and draws more people into the social and civic life of your community. But this different kind of economic development isn’t happening in many places. > More

Daily Natural Gas Clippings
For the March 23, 2009 Daily Natural Gas Clippings please click here  > More

Population of region drops, but rate's slower
Thursday, March 19, 2009 By Gary Rotstein, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette The term "good loss" is most commonly attached to valiant efforts by underdog sports teams, but it may just as well fit a Rust Belt region that has suffered decades of population drain. In numbers released today, the U.S. Census Bureau estimates that the seven-county Pittsburgh metropolitan area lost 2,967 residents between July 1, 2007, and July 1, 2008. > More

Derry Borough Council takes no action on sponsoring cleanup
By Marie McCandless Bulletin News Editor   Derry Borough Council last night took no action on a request by mayor Susan Bortz for the borough to sponsor a planned cleanup.   Although there would be no cost to the borough for the cleanup to be covered by borough insurance, council members Chris Holnaider and Curt Robbins cited liability concerns. Solicitor Rachel Reidel, consulting by speakerphone, suggested having volunteers sign a disclaimer removing the borough from liability before allowing them to participate. > More

Graziani among Shades of Green Award winners
By Marie McCandless Bulletin News Editor Latrobe Bulletin March 17, 2009 Smart Growth Partnership Executive Director Alexander Graziani is among the Green Building Alliance (GBA) winners of the 2009 Shades of Green Awards who will be honored at GBA’s annual conference March 30 to 31 at the Westin Convention Center Hotel and David L. Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburgh. Graziani is the winner in the Community Leader - Laurel Highlands category. > More

Latrobe community revitalization program director outlines future plans
Latrobe Bulletin March 16, 2009 Annette Couch, director of Latrobe’s Main Street Program, has outlined several projects in the works for the city. The Latrobe Community Revitalization Program (LCRP) Board of Directors formally appointed Couch as full-time director recently.   She said, “I am excited about Latrobe’s Main Street Program and the projects and programs that our board and committee members have identified. > More

Penn State Cooperative Extension Westmoreland County News Winter 2009
Please click here to see the latest Westmoreland News  > More

Greensburg Streetscape agreement OK'd
By The Tribune-Review Wednesday, March 11, 2009 Greensburg City Council this week accepted an agreement involved with the second phase of the Streetscape project. The pact, approved during council’s regular meeting Monday, involves acceptance of federal funds to be used for the overall $1.15 million project, said City Administrator Sue Trout. The city’s share of costs is $230,000. Read more  > More

Airport gets boost from $1.8 million in grants
By Jennifer Reeger TRIBUNE-REVIEW Wednesday, March 11, 2009 The Westmoreland County Airport Authority formally accepted more than $1.8 million in state and federal grants Tuesday for six airport improvement projects this year and awarded contracts for some of those plans. Most of the money comes from a $1 million state Capital Budget grant that will be used to pay for a $2 million project to construct new hangars and reconfigure the corporate hangar area at Arnold Palmer Regional Airport in Unity. > More

Scottdale seeks $300,000 for park
By Rachel R. Basinger DAILY COURIER Tuesday, March 10, 2009 Scottdale Borough Council on Monday authorized the town center revitalization committee to submit an application for a $300,000 state grant that would be used at the gazebo park. The borough’s parks commission and revitalization committee representatives Jim Pallygus and Martha Oliver briefed council about plans for the park. The grant application must be submitted to the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources by April 22. > More

Monessen redevelopment effort brings community together
By Stacy Wolford TRIBUNE-REVIEW NEWS SERVICE Sunday, March 8, 2009 When steel was king and the population eclipsed 30,000, Monessen was bursting with businesses. The steel mill, and most of the people, are now long gone and many of the downtown buildings where mom-and-pop stores supplied everything from furniture to shoes are dilapidated and boarded up. Members of the Monessen Redevelopment Authority know they can’t transform the city back to its glory days, but they are committed to improving it. > More

Thin blue line in Westmoreland, Fayette to get green
By Mary Pickels TRIBUNE-REVIEW Saturday, March 7, 2009 Numerous police departments throughout Pennsylvania are expected to share in more than $72 million for state and local law enforcement assistance through the Edward Byrne Justice Assistance Grant program, part of $2 billion in Recovery Act 2009 national funding allocations. The JAG program supports efforts including hiring and support for law enforcement officers, multi-jurisdictional drug and gang task forces, crime prevention and domestic violence programs. > More

Pa. scores well in study on government regulation
Friday, March 06, 2009 By Amy McConnell Schaarsmith, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Many Americans have seen their personal and economic freedom whittled away by local and state governments in recent decades, according to researchers for the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. And the residents of some states have it worse than others, they say, with Pennsylvania earning high marks for freedom from regulations but ranking in the middle of the pack overall. > More

Education center may spark revitalization in New Kensington
Thursday, March 05, 2009 By Moriah Balingit, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette To the Westmoreland County Community College students and faculty in New Kensington, the opening of the New Kensington Education Center downtown means a new science lab and a dramatic expansion in the number of classes offered -- which means fewer trips to the college’s main campus in Hempfield, near Youngwood. To public officials, the gleaming modern structure provides not only greater educational opportunities, but is a potential harbinger of economic revitalization to a part of downtown that is in need. > More

Cutbacks May Force Closure of Historical Sites
(KDKA)  The State Historical and Museum Commission could be forced to close some local historical sites if budget cuts are approved. Commission representative Kirk Wilson says those sites include the Bushy Run Battlefield in Penn Township, Old Economy Village in Beaver County and the Fort Pitt Museum in Pittsburgh. Several others across the state could be closed as well. Westmoreland County Historical Society Director Lisa Hays says she hopes Bushy Run won’t close but understands that these are tough economic times. > More

Call for Nominations-Smart Growth Awards
The Smart Growth Partnership of Westmoreland County will be recognizing smart growth developments, plans and individuals/groups that have distinguished themselves by achieving the smart growth cause at its seventh Annual Awards Dinner on Thursday, May 21, 2009. Please submit all nominations by Friday, March 13, 2009 For more information, please contact the Smart Growth Partnership at 724-552-0118 For the nomination form, please  click here    > More

Gas well plans detailed in Monessen
By Chris Buckley , VALLEY INDEPENDENT Wednesday, February 25, 2009 MONESSEN - City residents learned Tuesday about the possibility of leasing gas and oil rights on their property. Doug Smith, of Dale Properties, an operating partner of Chesapeake Energy, said the informal meeting Tuesday was conducted to meet with individual property owners. Additional meetings are scheduled 3 to 7 p.m. March 3 and 24 at the Monessen Food Pantry. > More

New coffee shop perks up Armbrust
By Mary Pickels TRIBUNE-REVIEW Monday, February 23, 2009 To step into He Brews Coffee and Convenience store along Route 819 in Armbrust is to take a step back in time, to the days when most communities, no matter how small, had a general store. There are coolers of dairy products, racks of snacks and a shelf of everyday staples -- bread, cake mix, canned goods. Behind the register is a wall of items found at every five-and-dime -- pens and pencils, work gloves, cough drops and bandages. > More

Volunteers, sponsors sought for Clean Up Derry Days
By Marie McCandless Latrobe Bulletin News Editor Spring cleaning is taking on a new meaning this year in Derry Borough.   The newly formed Derry Area Revitalization Corp. (DARC) is seeking 501(c)(3) status so it can take on a larger facelift for the 127-year-old town. But in the meantime, an area that has become an illegal dump is targeted for seven days of intensive cleaning this spring. Old sofas, a broken-down porch glider, a door from a railroad car, tires and an assortment of other junk are scattered between the Norfolk Southern main line and West First Avenue, mostly between the Rou > More

State high court denies Salem appeal
By Richard Gazarik TRIBUNE-REVIEW Saturday, February 21, 2009 Salem supervisors lost a last-ditch attempt to regulate oil and gas drilling in the township, which borders Route 22 north of Greensburg. The state Supreme Court Friday upheld a Commonwealth Court ruling in 2007 that declared an ordinance passed in 2005 by the township board regulating oil and gas drilling on private land was invalid. Attorneys Walter Bunt and Kenneth Komoroski of K & L Gates of Pittsburgh had argued that Salem officials were trying to impose their own rules to regulate drilling that were already in place under > More

One Mon River bridge closed, another restricted
By Paul Paterra TRIBUNE-REVIEW Saturday, February 21, 2009 The closing of the Charleroi-Monessen bridge isn’t the only aggravation motorists will face in crossing the Monongahela River. Beginning Tuesday, restrictions will be in place on another bridge that is part of a PennDOT-posted detour. Traffic on the Donora-Monessen Bridge will be restricted to a single lane in each direction, with occasional alternating traffic by flaggers. > More

Ligonier 'drought' relief planned
By Rich Cholodofsky TRIBUNE-REVIEW Friday, February 20, 2009 Officials in Westmoreland County and Johnstown want to build a 14-mile pipeline to provide water to nearly 1,500 customers in the Ligonier area, a plan that would help the "drought prone" Ligonier Valley. The proposed $9.8 million project essentially would link the Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County to the Greater Johnstown Water Company. > More

Irwin Project looks at expanding commercial space
By Vera Miller TRIBUNE-REVIEW NEWS SERVICE Friday, February 20, 2009 Irwin Project is working with Pittsburgh Partnership for Neighborhood Development to help the downtown area reach the next economic level. Downtown Irwin is running out of space for new businesses, so Irwin Project, a program of Irwin Main Street, wants to study whether second-floor commercial space would be viable, said Donn Henderson, Irwin Main Street manager. > More

North Irwin seeks grant to fund drainage system project
By Peggy Conrad TRIBUNE-REVIEW NEWS SERVICE Friday, February 20, 2009 North Irwin has taken a major step to fix the ongoing water drainage problems that have plagued a large number of residents. The borough last week submitted a grant application to the state for $466,000 to fix the failed drainage system. Borough engineer Lucien Bove asked council to authorize the "H2O PA" application, which, if approved, would provide two thirds of the total estimated project cost of $699,000. > More

Daily Natural Gas Clippings
  02-15-2009            Sunday Forum: Does your government get IT? The first two waves of the IT revolution offered state and local IT leaders  amazing opportunities to make government more efficient, improve services  and increase transparency. Today, an emerging third wave is making it  possible for governments to solve pressing public problems in fundamentally...  - POST-GAZ. > More

Westmoreland details wish list for 'stimulus'
By A.J. Panian TRIBUNE REVIEW Wednesday, February 11, 2009 Larry Larese can only cross his fingers and wait. Uncertainty prevails as Westmoreland County tries to snag nearly $90 million in funding from President Obama’s proposed $838 billion economic stimulus package, said Larese, director of county planning and development. "The truth of the matter is we don’t know what the final version of the bill is going to look like, or how the money will come," Larese said. > More

Jeannette builds foundation for home ownership
By Paul Paterra TRIBUNE-REVIEW Tuesday, February 10, 2009 Families likely will move into new houses in Jeannette as early as May. Demolition work is completed on the properties between the 300 and 400 blocks of South Sixth Street. Construction of six houses -- five on South Sixth Street and a pilot home on Bullitt Avenue -- is close to completion, and four families have prequalified to purchase the homes. > More

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- The current boom in natural-gas well drilling in Pennsylvania is a concern for the state’s streams and groundwater, according to an expert in Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences. “Decades ago, we weren’t careful with coal mining. As a result, we are still paying huge sums to clean up acid mine drainage from that period, and we will be for a long time," says Bryan Swistock, Penn State Cooperative Extension water resources specialist. > More

North Huntingdon framing policy for storm water problems
Thursday, February 05, 2009 By Norm Vargo Storm water drainage issues and responsibility for damage have become headaches for North Huntingdon commissioners and administrators. The township does not have a definitive policy to deal with such issues on private property. "Issues relating to storm water drainage complaints are our No. 1 problem in the township," Andy Blenko, township planning director/engineer, told commissioners last week. > More

North Huntingdon manager urges setting fiscal priorities for year
Thursday, January 29, 2009 By Norm Vargo Almost a year after getting a lesson in smart fiscal practice from Irwin council, some North Huntingdon commissioners appear to be wary of new Manager Jim Morrison’s efforts to avert more embarrassment. Irwin developed and approved a 2008 summer street paving plan before the price of oil-based asphalt materials began soaring. The borough awarded a $72,000 paving contract in April, well under the $100,000 council had budgeted for the project. > More

Daily Natural Gas Clippings
State’s budget problems may force tax hike HARRISBURG -- The state’s budget problems are so serious that some sort of  tax increase may be needed to erase a deficit that’s $2.35 billion and  still growing, the state House Appropriations Committee chairman said  yesterday.  "I believe there will be some sort of a tax increase in order to solve this...  - POST-GAZ. > More

Vandergrift Improvement Program gets $100,000 boost
By Brian C. Rittmeyer VALLEY NEWS DISPATCH Saturday, January 24, 2009 Beyond fixing roofs, restoring facades and upgrading interiors, the Vandergrift Improvement Program seeks to revitalize a community. The nonprofit program now has $100,000 more to accomplish its goals, thanks to a grant from the Allegheny Foundation. The program will put the money into its real estate revolving fund -- now totaling $475,000 -- and used to bring vacant, underutilized and deteriorating buildings downtown back into useful service. > More

Construction continues in downtown Irwin
By Christian Cipollini FOR THE TRIBUNE-REVIEW Friday, January 23, 2009 Hard hats, excavation equipment and the unmistakable orange detour signs are becoming a familiar presence in downtown Irwin. Residents and businesses can expect construction-related sights and sounds, at least until spring, while work is conducted to rectify some longstanding water-related issues. Work commenced on Jan. 5 to first replace water lines. > More

250 Years of Pittsburgh Innovation
To see a very interesting YouTube video about Pittsburgh, please click here  > More

'R' word taxes Westmoreland officials
By Rich Cholodofsky TRIBUNE-REVIEW Thursday, January 15, 2009 Westmoreland County officials readily concede the property assessment system is out of whack. County commissioners have long acknowledged that adjustments are needed in a system that overtaxes some property owners, while undertaxing others. But the cost of a countywide reassessment starts around $10 million. Read more  > More

Greensburg pursues grant to study feasibliity of hotel
By Bob Stiles TRIBUNE-REVIEW Thursday, January 15, 2009 Greensburg officials are seeking state money to explore the idea of a downtown hotel. An application will be filed this week with the state Department of Community and Economic Development for a $25,000 grant to examine the feasibility of the hotel. "We feel there’s a need ... realizing that many large employers use hotels outside the city for guests," said Barb Ciampini, city planner. > More

Hempfield police force opposed
By Richard Gazarik TRIBUNE-REVIEW Wednesday, January 14, 2009 If the results of three polls are any indication, Hempfield residents don’t want their own police force and prefer to rely on the state police for protection. The township’s Public Safety Task Force held a public hearing Tuesday to listen to residents’ feelings about creating a township police force. The task force polled residents, high school students and business owners who overwhelmingly favored keeping things the way they are in the sprawling township that covers more than 90 square miles. > More

Some Scottdale businesses eligible for sign funding
By Rachel R. Basinger DAILY COURIER Tuesday, January 13, 2009 Businesses within the boundaries of the Scottdale Town Center District will soon have the opportunity to apply for grant money from the revitalization committee to erect new business signs. The committee received $30,000 last year through the Department of Community and Economic Development to allocate to businesses for the purpose of purchasing new signs that would enhance the appearance of the downtown business district. > More

Can transit grow neighborhoods?
Monday, January 12, 2009 By Jon Schmitz, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Each weekday, light-rail cars packed with a total of 13,000 commuters rumble through the Beechview business district, which is dotted with vacant storefronts. Buses haul another 30,000 riders on the Martin Luther King Jr. East Busway, passing the Homewood station, surrounded by long-standing blight and decay. Can railcars and buses be engines of rebirth for those and other struggling communities? > More

Vandergrift organizers mean business
By Charlie Ban FOR THE VALLEY NEWS DISPATCH Monday, January 12, 2009 Vandergrift entrepreneurs and organizers have been busy recently, opening businesses, planning a farmers market and other improvements to the borough. The Vandergrift Improvement Project, a nonprofit community development corporation, has been in the middle of the action, recruiting businesses to fill vacant properties and renovating the streetscape though its Main Street program. > More

Hempfield mulls cost of forming police force
By Richard Gazarik TRIBUNE-REVIEW Monday, January 12, 2009 Hempfield likely will decide by spring whether to create a township police force or continue to rely on the state police for protection. The Public Safety Task Force will meet at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the municipal building to discuss the potential cost of creating a force and the results of several polls taken to gauge residents’ opinions. > More

More state funds available for Greensburg business facades
By Bob Stiles TRIBUNE-REVIEW Monday, January 12, 2009 Greensburg business owners have another opportunity to get state money to improve the exterior of their establishments. Greensburg Community Development Corp. is accepting applications for the 2009 facade improvement program until Sept. 1, said Steve Gifford, the group’s executive director. A total of $30,000 is available through the Pennsylvania Department of Community Development. > More

Lower Burrell marks 50th year
By George Guido FOR THE VALLEY NEWS DISPATCH Sunday, January 11, 2009 One city’s annexation desires gave birth to another city five decades ago. Tired of seeing its land annexed by neighboring New Kensington, voters in Lower Burrell Township gave an overwhelming green light to an unprecedented advancement from a second-class township to a third-class city in the Nov. 4, 1958, general election. > More

New Alexandria launches 175-year milestone celebration
By Jeff Himler THE DISPATCH Friday, January 9, 2009 More than 80 people gathered at the New Alexandria Community Center Saturday afternoon to kick off the town’s year-long 175th Anniversary celebration. Town residents and visitors viewed displays about local history, sampled slices of anniversary cake and enjoyed old-time music performed by multi-instrumentalist Byron Rusher and fiddler Albert Petrush of Blairsville’s Riverside Players. > More

Area officials lick chops at prospect of stimulus
By Richard Robbins TRIBUNE-REVIEW Monday, December 29, 2008 For $1.5 million, McKeesport could finance the construction of Marshall Drive Extension, while another $800,000 would cover the cost of building a new community meeting room. For $35,000, Rostraver could rebuild Scholl Lane Bridge, and for $1.1 million, upgrade Vance DeiCas Highway. Both projects are "shovel-ready." President-elect Barack Obama has said signing a major economic stimulus package is his first priority. > More

Secession talk heats up in New Stanton
By Richard Gazarik TRIBUNE-REVIEW Sunday, December 28, 2008 New Stanton is filled with motels and restaurants catering to motorists and truckers on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. The tiny hub -- population 1,900 -- that links Route 119 and I-70 with the turnpike seems an unlikely setting for a rebellion. But some property owners on Broadview Road want to secede from the borough and become part of adjoining Hempfield. > More

$5 million sports center planned in New Stanton
By Mary Pickels TRIBUNE-REVIEW Monday, December 22, 2008 An Allegheny County man who hopes to open a $5 million fitness training center in New Stanton will present his plans to the borough zoning hearing board Jan. 9. Errol Abdulla, who owns Turtle Creek’s AWK Consulting Engineers, plans to break ground on the proposed project by spring. He already has presented his plans to the planning commission, borough officials said. > More

State concerned about waste water from new gas wells
Sunday, December 21, 2008 By Don Hopey, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Gas well drillers tapping into the deep Marcellus Shales add up to 54 substances, some of them toxic, to the water they use to fracture that rock and release the gas. And the state Department of Environmental Protection doesn’t know what chemicals, metals and possibly radioactive elements are in the waste water that is pushed out of the wells. > More

Revitalizing Derry ‘marathon, not sprint’
Borough’s future may depend on its past By Marie McCandless, News Editor, Latrobe Bulletin Breathing new life into Derry Borough will be a “marathon, not a sprint,” John Turack told a small group of interested persons at a meeting yesterday in the borough. Turack, Penn State Extension educator for community and economic development, visited the borough along with Alex Graziani, executive director of the Smart Growth Partnership of Westmoreland County. > More

Youngwood's revitalization efforts come to light
By Marilyn Kukula FOR THE TRIBUNE-REVIEW Monday, December 15, 2008 When first-grader Alyssa Hixson flipped the switch to begin Youngwood’s Light Up Night, it symbolized the renaissance that has been quietly taking place in the borough of about 4,000 residents. The ceremony, held Nov. 15, was the second organized by the resurrected Youngwood Area Business Association. Such an event "keeps the people close in a town," Youngwood Mayor Joan Derco said. > More

November 2008 Real Estate Sales Statistics from RealSTATs
Pittsburgh Area Median Price Stagnant; Activity continues to slide December 12, 2007 - Pittsburgh - One year ago, activity was down and prices were up.  This November, activity is down and prices are down, as well. The five-county median price slid from $116,750 in November 2007 to $115,000 last month, a drop of 1.5 percent. The region’s average price dropped 2.5 percent from $149,830 to $146,121.  Four of the five counties saw drops in average price with Washington County leading the pack at 12.8 percent down from last year, followed by Beaver at 11.0 percent, Allegheny at 5.3 > More

Innovative stormwater plan with special pavement proposed
By Jeff Himler FOR THE TRIBUNE-REVIEW Friday, December 12, 2008 New Alexandria officials are hoping to replace the town’s aging storm sewers at the same time a new sanitary sewer system is constructed in the borough and an adjoining section of Derry Township. Borough engineer Ken Orie this week presented council with a conceptual plan for replacing the community’s traditional storm sewer pipes and catchbasins with an innovative system that would allow storm water to seep into the ground through porous pavement in the parking lanes along New Alexandria’s Main Street. > More

New Alex eyes sanitary, storm sewer projects
By Jeff Himler BLAIRSVILLE DISPATCH Friday, December 12, 2008 NEW ALEXANDRIA -- Borough officials are hoping to replace the town’s aging storm sewers at the same time a new sanitary sewer system is constructed in the borough and an adjoining section of Derry Township. Borough engineer Ken Orie presented council Wednesday with a conceptual plan for replacing the community’s traditional storm sewer pipes and catchbasins with an innovative new system that would allow stormwater to seep into the ground through porous pavement in the parking lanes along New Alexandria’s Main Stree > More

Firm wants to treat gas drilling wastewater
Friday, December 12, 2008 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette A Somerset County environmental cleanup firm is hoping to cash in on the rush to drill for natural gas in the underground Marcellus shale formation. Somerset-based Allegheny Ozone Inc. has developed an on-site system to treat the many gallons of wastewater that is left over from the drilling process. Company President Jeff Pyle said Allegheny Ozone has a contract with a drilling company and expects to start treating water on at least four drilling sites by summer. > More

Main Street facing major construction in Irwin
Thursday, December 11, 2008 By Norm Vargo Early next year, the resilience of Irwin business owners is likely to be tested by something other than the economy: work projects that promise to be disruptive but are expected to be key to the long-term vitality of the downtown business area. Motorists’ patience also is likely to be tested because the projects will require traffic detours and restrictions. > More

$6.9M allocated for sewer project in New Alexandria, Derry Township
By A.J. Panian TRIBUNE REVIEW Wednesday, December 10, 2008 Attracting more commercial businesses and homeowners to properties along Route 22 in Derry Township became more of a possibility Tuesday when $6.9 million in federal money was approved for a new sewage treatment plant and collection system. "I was on the (Derry) township municipal authority board when we put in for this money six or seven years ago, so this has been a long time coming," township Supervisor Vince DeCario said. > More

Support revitalization effort in Monessen
Instead of cursing the economic darkness that hangs over the Mid-Mon Valley, a group of area residents has decided to light a few candles. The Monessen Redevelopment Authority has launched a series of meetings for its Midtown Redevelopment Plan. The purpose of the meetings, which are bringing together the city’s political and business leaders, along with community advocates, is to find ways to revive the city’s economy and get it moving back toward its former glory. > More

Export part-time officer to be hired
By Paul Paterra TRIBUNE-REVIEW Thursday, December 4, 2008 Export Council voted 5-1 Tuesday to hire a part-time police officer, using $28,000 from the borough’s sewage fund. Council also voted to place a referendum question on the ballot during the primary election asking voters whether taxes should be raised to cover the cost of police coverage. Several details still need to be ironed out, including development of a job description and work hours. > More

Wal-Mart changes concern North Huntingdon planners
By Chris Foreman TRIBUNE-REVIEW Tuesday, December 2, 2008 North Huntingdon’s planning commission wants Wal-Mart representatives to come to a public meeting to brief them on some potential changes to a long-delayed store proposed along Route 30 and Barnes Lake Road. Although a construction company returned some earth-moving equipment to the site a couple of weeks ago, township Planning Director Andrew Blenko said Monday that the planning board may have to consider whether the changes indicate a minor or substantial revision to the previously approved site plan. > More

Hyde Park disbands police department
By Charlie Ban FOR THE VALLEY NEWS DISPATCH Tuesday, December 2, 2008 Hyde Park’s police department disbanded Monday, leaving police protection in the hands of the state police. The borough’s 3.67 square miles now are the responsibility of state police from the Kiski Valley station on Route 66 in Washington Township. The station covers all municipalities in Westmoreland County that don’t have their own police coverage from Route 22 north -- roughly one-third of the county. > More

Export may hire police officer
By Paul Paterra TRIBUNE-REVIEW Monday, December 1, 2008 Export is looking at increasing its police coverage by hiring a part-time officer. Since the 1970s, state police at Kiski Valley have provided police service for the community of about 950. "There are a lot of citizens unhappy with response time of state police," Councilwoman Donna Thatcher said. "There are calls that have taken place and it’s taken over an hour or an hour and a half to respond. > More

Drill press: Environmental, sportsmen's groups want stricter regulation of natural gas projects
Friday, November 28, 2008 By Don Hopey, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Thirteen environmental and sportsmen’s organizations have asked the state to do a better job regulating water use and disposal by deep natural gas well drillers that are rushing to tap into the potentially lucrative Marcellus Shales geologic formation. In a Tuesday letter to the state Department of Environmental Protection, the groups said that if the deep well drilling boom continues without adequate regulation, permitting and enforcement it could "irreparably and unnecessarily harm habitat and water resources. > More

Hempfield starts search to replace manager
By Chris Foreman TRIBUNE-REVIEW Tuesday, November 25, 2008 Hempfield supervisors will begin their search to replace the only township manager they’ve ever had. After 6 1/2 years, Rob Ritson is leaving Monday to become chief of staff for the new state senator in the 39th District, Kim Ward, a former township supervisor and outgoing Westmoreland County commissioner. While supervisors review candidates for his replacement, Ritson will be paid $2,500 for work on a part-time basis in December to help with the transition. > More

Monessen seeks spark
By Stacy Wolford VALLEY INDEPENDENT Monday, November 24, 2008 MONESSEN - The enthusiasm generated by a community meeting earlier this fall is still going strong. A follow-up meeting to the "Let’s Work Together" session in September took place Nov. 13 with Pittsburgh-based consultant Ron Porter. The first gathering attracted nearly 60 political and business leaders and community advocates to discuss ways to reinvigorate the city. > More

Transit authority increases rides into Pittsburgh
By Rich Cholodofsky TRIBUNE-REVIEW Saturday, November 22, 2008 Westmoreland County Transit Authority service into Pittsburgh will not be interrupted if unionized drivers and mechanics of the Port Authority of Allegheny County go on strike. Larry Morris, executive director of the Westmoreland County agency, said commuter riders will still be able to ride WCTA buses into and out of Pittsburgh should the Port Authority’s 2,200-member union walk off the job. > More

Oil, gas drilling booming in state, study says
By Rick Stouffer TRIBUNE-REVIEW Monday, November 17, 2008 The number of new oil and natural gas wells drilled in Pennsylvania tripled between 2000 and 2007, with the state’s 79,000 active wells making it third-highest among all states, a study released today shows. Oil and gas generates more than $7.1 billion in annual economic impact, with more than 26,500 jobs directly and indirectly supported by the industry, the Pennsylvania Economy League study found. > More

Developers to present shopping center plan
By Paul Paterra TRIBUNE-REVIEW Monday, November 17, 2008 Developers of a proposed 114-acre upscale shopping center along Route 22 in Murrysville -- Marketplace on Twenty-Two -- will reveal their site plans to the municipality’s planning commission Tuesday. The shopping area would be located on the north side of Route 22, west of Berlin Farm Road, according to David Trueman, a partner with developer Manor Development Group II. > More

Washington Twp. ties police coverage to tax hike
By George Guido FOR THE VALLEY NEWS DISPATCH Friday, November 14, 2008 The township supervisors challenged a group of residents who packed the municipal building Thursday night to prove widespread support for retaining current police coverage in exchange for a tax hike to pay for it. Residents and members of the Allegheny Valley Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) Lodge 39 filled the supervisors’ chambers to ask that the policy of two police officers on duty per shift be restored around the clock. > More

Planners hear Trafford residents' concerns
By Chris Foreman TRIBUNE-REVIEW Thursday, November 13, 2008 Many Trafford residents are proud of their town’s parks and feel safe on the streets, but they’re frustrated by absent owners of damaged properties. They see the Penn-Trafford School District as a major attraction, but want more of a government emphasis on code enforcement. In preparing a comprehensive plan and revitalization strategy for Trafford, consultants from Mullin & Lonergan Associates Inc. > More

Restart of shuttle service planned
By A.J. Panian TRIBUNE REVIEW Wednesday, November 12, 2008 Arnold Palmer Regional Airport in Unity is one of three small commercial service airports in the final stages of negotiations to provide daily flights to Pittsburgh International Airport. Gabe Monzo, executive director of the Westmoreland County Airport Authority, said at Tuesday’s board meeting that Arnold Palmer Regional, Erie International Airport and an unspecified West Virginia airport are well into talks with Pittsburgh International and New England-based Cape Airlines to provide the service on a pilot program basis. > More

Scottdale Council wants decision on signs
By Rachel R. Basinger DAILY COURIER Tuesday, November 11, 2008 Borough Manager Barry Whoric was directed by council Monday night to send a copy of Scottdale’s revised sign ordinance to its and Westmoreland County’s planning commissions. Both commissions have 45 days to look over the proposed revisions and make any comments before a mandated public hearing can be held. Council noted that time is of the essence since the Scottdale Town Center Revitalization Committee could be in jeopardy of losing a $35,000 sign incentive grant from the Department of Community and Economic Developmen > More

Fall 2008 Westmoreland News
The Penn State Cooperative Extension Westmoreland County office publishes a quarterly newsletter.  To see the latest newsletter, please click here  > More

Trafford residents asked for ideas
By Chris Foreman TRIBUNE-REVIEW Monday, November 10, 2008 Dorothy Wallace doesn’t hesitate to call Trafford a "beautiful town," but the 25-year resident misses the active downtown district the borough used to have. Wallace, 77, said she and other Trafford Manor residents often have to rely on retail shops outside borough limits, and she’d love to have a bakery and a coffee shop within walking distance. > More

$40.6 million W.Pa. pipeline planned
By Tribune Review News Service Thursday, November 6, 2008 A unit of Dominion Resources Inc. has asked federal regulators for permission to build a $40.6 million natural gas pipeline to push the fuel through four Western Pennsylvania counties and eventually to retail markets. Dominion’s Rural Valley project will move 57 million cubic feet of natural gas daily from the Big Springs area of McKean County, through the Allegheny National Forest in Elk County, into Armstrong County near Rural Valley, with termination at the huge Oakford compressor station outside Delmont, Westmoreland County. > More

Not all agree W.Pa. will stay on decline
By Brian Bowling TRIBUNE-REVIEW Tuesday, November 4, 2008 The state predicts that Western Pennsylvania will keep losing people over the next two decades, but two economists think the region is poised for growth. The Pennsylvania State Data Center, the state’s official source of population and economic statistics, on Monday released its 2030 county-level population projections. While the forecast shows growth in Butler, Washington and Westmoreland counties, it predicts the entire region will have about 176,000 fewer people in 2030 than it had in 2000. > More

Hempfield hires lobbyist to get state, federal funds
By Richard Gazarik TRIBUNE-REVIEW Tuesday, October 28, 2008 Hempfield has hired a lobbying firm to help the township obtain federal and state grants so it can undertake several major projects over the next two years that it may not be able to pay for with local tax revenue. Delta Development, a Mechanicsburg-based consulting firm, will be paid $8,500 a month plus expenses to shake the financial bushes in Harrisburg and Washington. > More

In 10 months, land trust makes progress in mission
By Chris Foreman TRIBUNE-REVIEW Monday, October 27, 2008 Almost a year into its existence, the Westmoreland Land Trust is refining its bylaws, progressing toward incorporation as a nonprofit group and identifying properties throughout Westmoreland County that may be considered for conservation. It’s been a busy 10 months for the fledging organization, created by Westmoreland County commissioners as a response to provisions in the 2004 comprehensive plan to maintain the county’s rural character. > More

Shuttle bus loop pondered for Greensburg
By Rich Cholodofsky TRIBUNE-REVIEW Monday, October 20, 2008 Bus service throughout Greensburg could start sometime next year as Westmoreland Transit Authority officials and Seton Hill University explore a joint program to provide shuttle service in the city. Authority officials are investigating the shuttle proposal as part of a potential service expansion that would cater to university students. "We’ve looked at some routing options, and we’ll be conducting focus groups with students and faculty members to see what they want," said authority Executive Director Larry Morris. > More

Sale of golf course hits legal hazard
By Chris Foreman TRIBUNE-REVIEW Saturday, October 18, 2008 A North Huntingdon couple related to the founders of Carradam Golf Club contend a pending sale of the course to a local developer might not be legitimate because there hasn’t been a properly constituted shareholders meeting to review the offer. Meanwhile, North Huntingdon residents continue to pressure township commissioners to consider buying the popular course from the prospective new owner, Robert W. > More

Landlords say student housing policy 'profiling'
By Bob Stiles TRIBUNE-REVIEW Friday, October 17, 2008 Greensburg’s ordinance on housing for college students could again be challenged in Westmoreland County Court. Landlords John H. and Alberta Lizza plan to appeal a decision made Wednesday by the city’s zoning hearing board, said their attorney, John Scales. "We have very serious concerns about the ... constitutionality (of the ordinance) and the profiling of students," Scales said. > More

Greensburg facade upgrade meetings planned
By The Tribune-Review Friday, October 17, 2008 Two informational meetings are scheduled for later this month for Greensburg’s 2009 facade improvement program, organizers said. One session is scheduled for 6 p.m. Oct. 29 in council chambers at Greensburg City Hall. The other is slated for 8:30 a.m. Oct. 30, also in council chambers. The program involves business and commercial property owners, and the grant funds are restricted to exterior renovations in the city’s Main Street District. > More

Quarterly magazine takes a look back at Irwin area's heritage
By Dirk W. Kaufman TRIBUNE-REVIEW Friday, October 17, 2008 Mike Pochan, a software developer in downtown Irwin, loves tales about the history of the community. So he started a 12-page quarterly publication to record the stories and images of the region. The second edition of Irwin Magazine was published last week. The magazines sell for $4.99 at three downtown stores and is available to order from the community’s Web site. > More

PRESS RELEASE - “Liquid Assets” Documentary to be Aired on Sunday, October 12 at 3:00 p.m. on WQED
It is out of sight and out of mind, but America’s aging water system is in dire need of an overhaul. Penn State Public Broadcasting is set to premiere a public television event on Pittsburgh’s PBS station, WQED, Sunday, October 12 at 3:00 PM.   The premiere is on the looming crisis underneath peoples’ feet and how communities are trying to meet this challenge. "Liquid Assets: The Story of Our Water Infrastructure," tells of America’s distressed essential infrastructure systems: drinking water, wastewater and stormwater. > More

Ligonier Township homeowners mixed on 2 mine reclamation projects
By A.J. Panian TRIBUNE REVIEW Wednesday, October 8, 2008 Ligonier Township supervisors heard mixed views Tuesday from about a dozen homeowners concerning two proposed abandoned mine reclamation projects on two properties. Ligonier-based Coal Loaders Inc. is seeking conditional use permits from the township to extract remaining coal from two sites and reclaim much of the land at both sites to their pre-mined state as part of a government-financed construction program. > More

Mellon Square gets national recognition
Wednesday, October 08, 2008 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette The American Planning Association has named Mellon Square one of 10 Great Public Spaces for 2008 as part of the association’s Great Places in America program, launched last year. "The square is iconic not only for its design and character, but for the way it was planned and the role it played in spurring revitalization and private investment in Downtown Pittsburgh," said APA Executive Director Paul Farmer, a former Pittsburgh city planner. > More

Mt. Pleasant council straddles fence on paper alley issue
By Rachel R. Basinger TRIBUNE-REVIEW NEWS SERVICE Tuesday, October 7, 2008 Paper alleys, so called because they appear only in records, continue to plague Mt. Pleasant officials. On Monday, Mayor Gerald Lucia voted not to break a 4-4 tie on whether to allow Donna Wisniewski to erect a fence in the paper alley beside her property at 754 Orchard Ave. Council members Joe Bauer, Frank Crivella, Susan Ruszkowski and Larry Tate voted to allow the fence to be constructed, while Ron Slater, Cynthia Stevenson, Ken Wiltrout and Albert Beranek voted against the motion. > More

WCCC's role in New Kensington discussed
By Brian C. Rittmeyer VALLEY NEWS DISPATCH Tuesday, October 7, 2008 When it opens in January, Westmoreland County Community College’s New Kensington Education Center will bring a couple hundred people into the city’s downtown every day. "There’ll be discretionary dollars," community college President Steven Ender said. "There’ll be money to be spent," Ender spoke to a small gathering Monday evening at Mount Calvary Missionary Baptist Church, near the site of the college’s new $6 million facility along Fifth Avenue. > More

Ligonier OKs ordinance limiting outdoor fuel-burners
By A.J. Panian TRIBUNE REVIEW Tuesday, October 7, 2008 Ligonier Council on Monday unanimously voted to approve an ordinance regulating the use of outdoor fuel-burning appliances by borough residents in accordance with state and federal standards. Borough Solicitor George V. Welty was quick to clarify that the move was not intended to ban use of any furnace, stove or boiler designed and constructed to burn oil, wood, coal or other fuels manufactured for placement outdoors for the heating of the living area of a structure. > More

Bishop cites fewer faithful, priests in restructuring
By Paul Peirce TRIBUNE-REVIEW Tuesday, October 7, 2008 Citing aging and declining numbers of priests and parishioners, Bishop Lawrence Brandt Monday announced the most sweeping restructuring in the 57-year history of the Catholic Diocese of Greensburg. Yesterday, Brandt said 14 churches will close, two parishes will merge and 26 other churches will be partnered and will share pastors. He said the restructuring impacts 42 of its 100 current parishes in Armstrong, Fayette, Indiana and Westmoreland counties. > More

Ham radio tower permit again appealed
By Paul Paterra TRIBUNE-REVIEW Monday, October 6, 2008 A Penn Township man’s renewed effort to erect a 53-foot ham radio tower at his home is facing another challenge from neighbors. Charles Mills of 60 Regola Drive, who faced opposition from nearby residents, was reissued a permit in September by the township after making some modifications to the original plan for the tower in his back yard. > More

Hempfield ordered to follow state construction code
By Richard Gazarik TRIBUNE-REVIEW Tuesday, September 30, 2008 Hempfield has been violating the state’s construction code for the past two years by enforcing its own requirements for building and occupancy permits, which are stricter than the state’s. The Department of Labor and Industry issued a cease-and-desist order earlier this month, ordering Hempfield to stop requiring developers to obtain township approval before permits can be obtained. > More

Foundation concerns delay Hempfield road's opening
By The Tribune-Review Tuesday, September 30, 2008 The planned opening of South Greengate Road at Route 30 in Hempfield has been delayed two weeks to improve the soil foundation between portions of the roadway. According to Sipple Development Co. of Sewickley in Allegheny County unforeseen soil conditions prompted additional work beneath the roadway approaching the Route 30 intersection. The work is expected to be completed in time for the road to reopen on Oct. > More

Greensburg woman pulls plan to establish 1-room B&B
By Bob Stiles TRIBUNE-REVIEW Tuesday, September 30, 2008 A woman withdrew her efforts Monday to have a one-room bed and breakfast in Greensburg. Betty DeAngellis’ decision last night came after Lou DeRose, city planning commission solicitor, said her property did not meet square footage requirements under the city zoning ordinance. DeRose said DeAngellis’ lot at 408 Tremont Ave. is 3,332 square feet. > More

More college students opt to stay on campus
By Bob Stiles TRIBUNE-REVIEW Tuesday, September 23, 2008 Christine Scholl, a sophomore at Seton Hill University, lives on campus because everything she needs is within walking distance. "I figure it’s more convenient to live on campus," said Scholl, a sophomore. "I don’t have a car, so it’s kind of my only option." Scholl, of Johnstown, is part of a growing number of students who want to live on campus -- even after they become upperclassmen, according to university housing officials. > More

Signs honor Greensburg neighborhood's storied past
By Bob Stiles TRIBUNE-REVIEW Tuesday, September 23, 2008 Signs dotting a Greensburg neighborhood pay tribute to its significant past. Twenty-two signs were put up last week to designate Academy Hill’s selection in 1999 to the National Register of Historic Places. "Academy Hill is designated an historic district in the national register, so we thought it would be appropriate to outline the area," said Thomas Kubas, president of the Academy Hill Neighborhood Association, which pushed for the historic designation. > More

Gas-well drilling pays off for communities, school districts
By Debra Duncan VALLEY NEWS DISPATCH Sunday, September 21, 2008 Natural gas wells drilled this year on Vandergrift Borough property have been controversial. When drilling one of the wells, contractors hit a pocket of methane gas from an old underground well. That caused the state to order precautions to protect East Vandergrift and Vandergrift residents living near the wells. So there are well-founded concerns about gas wells -- especially those located near homes. > More

Scottdale officials take preview ride
By Rachel Basinger FOR THE TRIBUNE-REVIEW Sunday, September 21, 2008 If all goes according to plan, Scottdale will be the starting point for tourism trains near the fall of next year. Bob Burkey of the Hunker Railroad Club said the organization approached the borough, as well as other communities, about interest in an organized excursion on weekends. "Basically, we were looking for a community that might be interested in supporting the endeavors of the club to provide a recreational railroad, but also one tied to the history of the area," he said. > More

North Huntingdon agrees to deal in Walgreens clash
By Chris Foreman TRIBUNE-REVIEW Friday, September 19, 2008 In a split decision, North Huntingdon commissioners have agreed to accept a $25,000 settlement with the Terra Group in the long-running clash involving a proposed Walgreens Pharmacy at Norwin Avenue and Route 30. In the latest dispute, township officials last spring had balked at issuing a waiver allowing the Ohio real-estate development group to proceed in developing a 9-acre tract that had been approved for a five-lot commercial subdivision. > More

Phillips Appointed to Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission
PITTSBURGH (Sept. 18) -- Pennsylvania Governor Edward G. Rendell has appointed Gregory M. Phillips, district manager/CEO of the Westmoreland Conservation District, to serve as one of three commissioners representing Pennsylvania on The Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission (ORSANCO).   ORSANCO works to control and abate pollution in the Ohio River Basin. All of the water in the streams that flow through Westmoreland County eventually ends up in the Ohio River and so contributes to the overall water quality of this basin. > More

North Huntingdon drive-in site gets business enticement
By Rich Cholodofsky TRIBUNE-REVIEW Friday, September 12, 2008 Westmoreland County Commissioners on Thursday hammered home an agreement that could provide all the tools needed for North Huntingdon to entice a company to develop a portion of a long-vacant drive-in movie theater. County officials gave unanimous consent to offer a 10-year tax abatement to any future commercial or industrial development on a 13-acre parcel of land that local leaders hope will lure a manufacturer of industrial bolting tools to the site. > More

75 dams in state make greatest risk list
By The Associated Press Friday, September 12, 2008 Seventy-five Pennsylvania dams -- including a reservoir dam in Westmoreland County and one in Greene County -- pose the greatest risk of causing downstream problems in heavy rains, according to an updated state list. The Department of Environmental Protection distributed its "dams of special concern" list to emergency planners last week in advance of Tropical Storm Hanna. > More

Unity officials OK housing development plan
By A.J. Panian TRIBUNE REVIEW Friday, September 12, 2008 Unity supervisors voted 2-1 Thursday to approve construction of the first of a five-phase planned residential development. The Vistas at Pleasant Ridge, planned by M&L Partners near Henry Road, will include 129 single-family units on roughly 35 acres. Read more  > More

Vandergrift revitalization gets boost with $35K DCED grant
Development News September 10, 2008 A town with a storied industrial and architectural past is poised for revitalization, thanks to a partnership between the Vandergrift Improvement Project (VIP) and Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation (PHLF). On Sept. 8, Vandergrift’s Restoration Revolving Fund received a $35,000 DCED grant secured by Sen. Jim Ferlo to support ongoing property rehabilitations and main street improvements. > More

Tour spotlights Vandergrift restoration
By Francine Garrone VALLEY NEWS DISPATCH Tuesday, September 9, 2008 Vandergrift’s historic business district will be receiving a much needed face-lift. A group of officials announced Monday how a $300,000 loan fund has been used to take the small town back in time. Attending the presentation were members of the Vandergrift Improvement Program (VIP), Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation, University of Pittsburgh’s Mascaro Center for Sustainability Innovation, Westmoreland Conservation District, and state Sen. > More

Grant fuels Vandergrift's downtown revitalization
By Ron DaParma TRIBUNE-REVIEW Monday, September 8, 2008 A $300,000 grant is contributing to a revitalization of downtown Vandergrift. Three properties in the 100 block of Grant Avenue in the heart of the Westmoreland County community’s business district are being restored with the help of the revolving loan fund grant provided in 2007 by the Allegheny Foundation, chaired by philanthropist Dick Scaife, owner of the Tribune-Review. > More

Monessen looks ahead
By Stacy Wolford VALLEY INDEPENDENT Friday, September 5, 2008 MONESSEN - The city is ripe with potential and is full of community leaders and volunteers who want to help revitalize Monessen. That was the message from Pittsburgh-based consultant Ron Porter, who told a group of nearly 60 political and business leaders and community advocates that they have the power to invigorate the city. Porter led "Let’s Work Together," a community planning session Thursday at Monessen High School. > More

National Vacant Properties Newsletter
NEWS FROM THE CAMPAIGN & OUR PARTNERS Submit your Session Ideas for Reclaiming Vacant Properties: Building Leadership to Restore Communities Now that your calendars are marked for June 1-3, 2009 to join us in Louisville for the national NVPC conference, note this new date: October 15. That’s the deadline for proposing a session for the event. Last year we offered more than 30 breakout sessions and we need your help to make sure that the conference shares the most effective lessons. > More

New Washington County center could compete with Grove City shops
Retail kickoff Saturday, August 30, 2008 By Teresa F. Lindeman, Pittsburgh Post-Gazett Chris Krishak of Weirton, W.Va., wore Steelers gear yesterday to shop the new Tanger Outlets mall in Washington County and get an autograph from football star Jerome "The Bus" Bettis. Those black and gold Nike sneakers? He bought ’em last year at the Prime Outlets mall in Grove City. The moment of reckoning has arrived. > More

Westmoreland County to study Irwin turnpike interchange
By Chris Foreman TRIBUNE-REVIEW Friday, August 22, 2008 A Westmoreland County consultant’s study of the Pennsylvania Turnpike interchange at Route 30 in North Huntingdon will explore whether an off-ramp should be connected with Pennsylvania Avenue. The Westmoreland County Industrial Development Corp. approved a $10,000 contract last week with URS Corp.’s Pittsburgh office to complete a traffic and safety study for the Irwin interchange of the turnpike. > More

Drilling service center planned in Hempfield
By Chris Foreman TRIBUNE-REVIEW Friday, August 15, 2008 Texas-based Baker Hughes Oilfield Operations is expanding into a Hempfield industrial park with a project expected to employ as many as 175 people within three to five years, Westmoreland County Industrial Development Corp. officials announced Thursday. County commissioners, acting as the WCIDC, approved a six-month option agreement with Baker Hughes to buy a 39-acre lot in the Westmoreland Technology Park for $1 million. > More

Rezoning requests rejected in Unity
By A.J. Panian TRIBUNE REVIEW Friday, August 15, 2008 Two rounds of applause rang out at Thursday’s Unity Township supervisors meeting, one for each motion to deny two proposals to rezone properties near Marguerite and White School roads along Route 30 from residential to commercial. About 30 residents from that area attended yesterday’s meeting, about half the number that attended a special hearing last month to voice their disapproval to the reclassification proposals for land owned by John G. > More

Ligonier Shade Tree Commission gets logo
By Emily Mullin TRIBUNE-REVIEW Friday, August 15, 2008 Ligonier officials revealed the borough’s new Shade Tree Commission logo Thursday and voted to change an ordinance that would raise parking fines. Borough officials also voted to hire two part-time police officers. The Shade Tree Commission awarded Livina Golden a $50 Ligonier Valley Chamber of Commerce gift certificate for the design of the commission’s new logo that will appear on the committee’s letterheads and shirts. > More

The unexpected growth of business along the Great Allegheny Passage
Rite of Passage Sunday, July 27, 2008 By Mary Kate Malone, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette WEST NEWTON -- From her hot dog stand, Barb Philipp, 41, can see the tops of Trailside Restaurant’s patio umbrellas, a renovated West Newton visitors center, and the simple crushed-stone trail of the Great Allegheny Passage, which made it all possible. This has been the busiest summer ever for her business, said Mrs. > More

Hoping to tap a gas bonanza
Rising prices lure natural gas drillers to vast, but deep Appalachian field Sunday, July 20, 2008 By Don Hopey, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette On the outskirts of Kittanning along the Allegheny River, well drillers mixed a million gallons of water and 800,000 pounds of sand and pumped it at high pressure more than a mile underground. Their goal was to crack up a deep layer of black shale and release what they hope will be a natural gas bonanza. > More

North Huntingdon planner might get help
By A.J. Panian TRIBUNE REVIEW Friday, July 11, 2008 North Huntingdon commissioners opened talks Thursday about seeking the consulting services of a local engineering firm to help township planning director/engineer Andy Blenko with what he called a "full plate" of small-scale projects. "I’m drowning right now and my department could really use some help," Blenko said. Interim township Manager Michael Turley told the board Glenn Engineering & Associates Ltd. > More

State environment head resigns.
By Amy Worden INQUIRER STAFF WRITER Kathleen McGinty, who in her five years as secretary of the state Department of Environmental Protection led Gov. Rendell’s ambitious agenda to enhance the environment, advance energy conservation initiatives and attract green businesses, is stepping down. In her resignation letter, obtained by The Inquirer, McGinty thanked Rendell for giving her "the privilege of serving his team," but offered no glimpse of future plans beyond taking a vacation with her family. > More

Suburban flight starts to hit home
By Craig Smith TRIBUNE-REVIEW Thursday, July 3, 2008 When it took $45 to fill the gas tank in Eric Wallace’s Honda Civic, he knew his days of driving 40 miles each way to work couldn’t last. "I went home and said, ’We have to do something,’ " said Wallace, 36, of Arnold, who is looking to move closer to his job as director of information technology at a steel distribution and service center in Leetsdale. > More

Man's motorized bike saves money for him -- and Greensburg
By Bob Stiles TRIBUNE-REVIEW Thursday, July 3, 2008 Matthew Basl was looking for a way to save on gasoline. "I’m a poor college student," said Basl, who will be a junior this fall at California University. "I got tired of the high gas prices and wanted a cheaper way to get to work and around work." The part-time maintenance worker for the Greensburg Recreation Department found the savings about three weeks ago. > More

Hybrid vehicles too hot to keep in stock
By Joe Napsha TRIBUNE-REVIEW Thursday, July 3, 2008 Brian Pietrandrea is one of the lucky Western Pennsylvanians who bought his Toyota Prius hybrid before the price of gasoline jumped to $4 a gallon. "I bought it right before the backlog hit. There were six on the lot at the time," said Pietrandrea, 33, of Ross, who bought the fuel-efficient car powered by a gasoline engine and a supplemental electrical engine in March. > More

County on pace for record fatalities
By Patti Dobranski TRIBUNE-REVIEW Thursday, July 3, 2008 The first half of 2008 has proved to be a deadly period for motorists in Westmoreland County. When a tree fell onto a vehicle Sunday on Greensburg-Mt. Pleasant Road in Unity, killing 37-year-old Ronald Bates of Greensburg, the number of traffic fatalities for the year reached 33, which is equal to the number of people who lost their lives on county roadways in 2007. > More

Leaders offer up big ideas
by Tom McGee Staff Writer July 3, 2008 Business leaders say Route 22 can benefit communities throughout Westmoreland County. Members of various economic groups shared their ideas for development along the highway at "Corridors of Opportunity," a forum held in Blairsville last week. John Cardwell, executive director of the Murrysville Economic and Community Development Corp., was one of four speakers at the event. > More

Greensburg student-housing law to be aired
By Bob Stiles TRIBUNE-REVIEW Wednesday, July 2, 2008 Greensburg Council expects to take public comment next week on a controversial student-housing ordinance before possibly voting on changes made to the city law. After a meeting Tuesday, Mayor Karl Eisaman said the public comment period during council’s regular meeting at 7 p.m. Monday will be used to solicit the opinions. Read more  > More

Land trust requests public suggestions
By The Tribune-Review Saturday, June 28, 2008 Board members of the new Westmoreland Land Trust will be speaking at a number of municipal meetings and other community venues throughout Westmoreland County during July to introduce the young land-preservation organization to the public and to solicit input. The land trust presentations are planned for the following locations, dates and times: • Wednesday, July 2, 7 p.m., Rostraver Municipal Building • Monday, July 7, 6 p.m., Greensburg City Hall • Tuesday, July 8, 7 p.m., Lower Burrell City Hall • Thursday, July 10, 7 p.m., Unity Municipal Buildi > More

Busy Route 22 sparks interest
Developers look to build in Murrysville area Pittsburgh Business Times - by Tim Schooley Beyond his Ferri’s Shur Save Grocery and Pharmacy parking lot where his father once kept a horse-hitching post, John Ferri can see where the new four-lane highway forks between the past and future. His view of the journey of his Murrysville community, which spans an increasingly busy stretch of Route 22, is split by ambivalence. > More

Cope Building project continues
By Bob Stiles TRIBUNE-REVIEW Wednesday, June 25, 2008 Developer John Felice received approval Tuesday to tear down the former Bugzy’s Bagels in Greensburg as part of a project involving the neighboring Cope Building. The approval came in a 7-0 vote by the city’s Historic and Architectural Review Board. Read more  > More

Tollgate Hill Road work slated to end in July
By The Tribune-Review Sunday, June 22, 2008 Completion of repairs on Tollgate Hill Road (SR 3026) in Hempfield is tentatively scheduled for the second week of July. The road is closed because of a slide. PennDOT officials said utility work is progressing, and when finished, road repairs will begin. Overhead utility lines are being raised to allow construction equipment to safely access the work zone. > More

Westmoreland transit receives $500,000 grant for hybrid bus
By Rich Cholodofsky TRIBUNE-REVIEW Saturday, June 21, 2008 The Westmoreland County Transit Authority this week received a $500,000 state grant to purchase a hybrid bus that will be used to shuttle passengers on overcrowded routes into Pittsburgh. The Westmoreland County agency was one of four in Pennsylvania that received money as part of a pilot program to test the use of fuel-efficient, low-emission vehicles than can run on both electric and diesel in mass transit systems. > More

Arnold-New Kensington merger gaining momentum
By Tom Yerace VALLEY NEWS DISPATCH Saturday, June 21, 2008 The idea of turning the cities of Arnold and New Kensington into one municipality may be gaining momentum. New Kensington Mayor Frank Link pitched the idea Thursday night at a Weed and Seed program community meeting. "I got a lot of good responses today," Link said Friday. "I had a lot of people e-mail me, saying, ’We ought to look into it, definitely.’ Read more  > More

Murrysville tables business zoning ordinance
By George Guido FOR THE VALLEY NEWS DISPATCH Thursday, June 19, 2008 After some 2-1/2 hours of emotional and sometimes volatile discussion, council tabled a proposed ordinance designed to create a 923-acre overlay zoning district. The district would have created a zoning area that mandates standards for commercial or business development. Some of those areas are now zoned residential and are basically located along Routes 22, 380 and 66. > More

Plans for New Kensington road project to be unveiled
By Rossilynne Skena VALLEY NEWS DISPATCH Wednesday, June 18, 2008 Final plans are being designed for the second and final phase of the Parnassus Triangle Project in New Kensington. Plans consist of widening Route 366 to four lanes between the intersections of Bridge and Seventh streets, replacing traffic signals at intersections on 366 Freeport/Bridge Street and Fourth Street and replacing the bridge over Little Pucketa Creek, south of the Seventh Street intersection. > More

County to use $96,000 in grant money to market homes
By Rich Cholodofsky TRIBUNE-REVIEW Saturday, June 14, 2008 With a lagging housing market and about three dozen new homes about to be on the market, Westmoreland County officials hired a little sales help. Commissioners this week agreed to pay more than $96,000 over the next three years to help market individual family homes to low-income residents. Read more  > More

Seton Hill studio coming to Greensburg
By Bob Stiles TRIBUNE-REVIEW Friday, June 13, 2008 The long-vacant Troutman Annex building in Greensburg could have its first occupant soon. Seton Hill University officials are planning to locate their art department’s painting studio on about half of the first floor of the building on South Pennsylvania Avenue. University Provost Mary Ann Gawelek said that over the last three or four years, enrollment in the art department has grown. > More

Development eyed near Seton Hill center
By Bob Stiles TRIBUNE-REVIEW Thursday, June 12, 2008 The Greensburg Community Development Corp. is looking at obtaining properties on College Avenue and West Otterman Street for a downtown development in sight of the Seton Hill University art center. Among the uses under consideration are a hotel/restaurant, conference center, office/retail space or apartments, said Steve Gifford, executive director of the development group. > More

Westmoreland museum plans expansion
By Richard Gazarik TRIBUNE-REVIEW Thursday, June 12, 2008 Westmoreland Museum of American Art plans to embark on a major renovation to expand the organization’s cultural reach. Director Judith O’Toole said Wednesday that the board of trustees is formulating plans to add a wing with galleries for the museum’s current and future collections. Read more  > More

Developer sues North Huntingdon board
By Patti Dobranski TRIBUNE-REVIEW Wednesday, June 11, 2008 A North Huntingdon property owner who was denied a variance to reduce the parking requirement for a Route 30 commercial development has filed suit against the township’s zoning hearing board in Westmoreland County Common Pleas Court. Jonathon Stark, of White Oak, Allegheny County, a part-owner of Stark Investment Group, is appealing the board’s May 6 decision to deny a request to allow 48 parking spaces instead of the 53 needed to meet the zoning ordinance. > More

Landlord wants more of Greensburg opened to student housing
By Bob Stiles TRIBUNE-REVIEW Tuesday, June 10, 2008 A landlord suggested Monday to Greensburg Council that sections of the city that have numerous apartment buildings be opened up to college student housing. Dennis Fellers, who lost two zoning hearing board appeals on student housing issues earlier this year, spoke at council’s regular meeting last night. Read more  > More

Derry cautious on code enforcement job
By Jeff Himler BLAIRSVILLE DISPATCH Tuesday, June 10, 2008 Derry’s new code enforcement officer put in her first day of work Monday addressing instances of structures that have fallen into disrepair, properties that have become overgrown with weeds and other minor violations of borough regulations. By Monday evening, council members were questioning how long Lisa Peters, who is a part-time member of the borough police department, might be willing to remain in the additional eight-hour-per-week code enforcement position because of concerns about insurance coverage for the personal vehicle > More

Developer gauges interest in Unity hotel plans
By A.J. Panian TRIBUNE REVIEW Wednesday, June 4, 2008 A local development firm met with the Unity planning commission Tuesday to seek advice on preliminary plans to install a hotel and conference center and office complex on land it owns near Arnold Palmer Regional Airport. GES Family Partnership LP, headed by physician Stuart Glasser, plans to propose construction of the development on nearly 30 acres of land along the south side of Route 981 across from the airport. > More

North Huntingdon official says action needed on business park
By Patti Dobranski TRIBUNE-REVIEW Tuesday, June 3, 2008 Action may have stalled on the development of a new business park zoning district in North Huntingdon, but the positive feedback hasn’t stopped finding its way to the ears of Planning Director-Engineer Andy Blenko. Last night, Blenko asked the planning commission to get the ball rolling again on developing the district, which was first introduced in November. > More

Smart Growth recognizes excellence in Westmoreland County
Smart Growth Partnership of Westmoreland County honored what executive director Alex Graziani called its "key implementers" at the 2008 awards dinner held Wednesday at the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg. "As a group, we are reluctant to give awards to planning projects. Just about every award tonight is about implementation," said Graziani to a crowd of about 150 business, political and community leaders. > More

Smart Growth, Penn State strengthen ties with move
Penn State Cooperative Extension and The Smart Growth Partnership of Westmoreland County will expand their relationship when Smart Growth moves to the newly renovated, environmental friendly GreenForge building on Donohoe Road. The development group’s move from the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg will take place July 1. The Extension office is headquartered in an adjacent building. Read more  > More

GreenForge reaches 100% occupancy, welcomes Smart Growth Partnership
On July 1, the Smart Growth Partnership of Westmoreland County (SGPWC) is relocating its headquarters to the newly renovated GreenForge building located at 226 Donohoe Rd. in Greensburg. The SGPWC -- which has been based at University of Pittsburgh-Greensburg since 2001 -- has signed a three-year lease for 1,000-square-feet of space in a green complex that sits adjacent to a 90-acre park as well as to the Westmoreland Conservation District’s headquarters in a rehabilitated 19th-century barn. > More

Historic opportunities
The Young Preservationists have determined these projects constitute the 10 best preservation opportunities in Southwest Pennsylvania: • Blairsville Main Street/Elm Street District 1830s-1920s Read more Theme: Main streets  > More

Sewer project spurs anger in Washington Township
By Tom Yerace VALLEY NEWS DISPATCH Friday, May 16, 2008 It was deja vu all over again Thursday for the Washington Township Municipal Authority as residents, many of them unhappy, packed the township fire hall to hear about another sewerage project. Just as it happened in 2004 with the Lower Beaver Run Project, about 250 residents gathered to hear about the proposed Pine Run Sewer Project, which is expected to cost $5.4 million. > More

An Economic Plan for the Commonwealth: Unleashing the Assets of Metropolitan Pennsylvania
March 31, 2008 -- In Pennsylvania, the next major presidential primary state, concerns about the economy loom large as global competition, economic restructuring, and an aging workforce threaten the state’s ability to prosper. A true economic agenda for the state must speak to the core assets of Pennsylvania’s economy and where these assets are located: the state’s many small and large metropolitan areas. > More

Developer awaits state OK on plan to improve Route 19
Sunday, March 30, 2008 By Crystal Ola A bare-bones proposal to create a transportation improvement district in July 2006 has been fleshed out somewhat and is once again a topic of discussion in South Strabane. Developer Gerald Cipriani, of Meadows Landing Associates, and engineer Mark Magalotti, of Trans Associates, attended the board of supervisors’ meeting Tuesday to outline their proposal to create an approximately 300-acre transportation improvement district along a portion of Route 19 in the vicinity of the former Curinga’s restaurant. > More

Rebounding Youghiogheny River named DCNR’s 'River of the Year'
DCNR Secretary Michael DiBerardinis recently named the Youghiogheny River as the commonwealth’s River of the Year for 2008. The designation recognizes the watershed’s shift from a threatened past to a promising recreational future and its role in Western Pennsylvania history. Read more  > More

The Greening of Vandergrift
A small town in Western Pennsylvania attracted global notice a century ago for its unusual birth and trendsetting features. Now, in partnership with Pitt, that same town -- which declined in the steel bust -- may once again become a model for innovation. Read more  > More

Developer to get Route 130 repair bill
By Patti Dobranski TRIBUNE-REVIEW Thursday, March 13, 2008 PennDOT will bill a Monroeville developer almost $1 million to repair Route 130 in Trafford because its excavation work for a housing plan caused a landslide that closed the road, a PennDOT spokeswoman said. But an attorney for HET Construction Corp. said Wednesday the developer is challenging its responsibility for the slide and could have done the repairs for "a fraction" of what PennDOT is paying its contractor. > More

New Web site aims to inspire Pennsylvanians to conserve, protect, enjoy natural resources
Governor Edward G. Rendell recently announced the search for Pennsylvanians who make everyday efforts to conserve natural resources to share their stories and get inspiration from others through the new iConserve Pennsylvania initiative. “You can’t pick up a newspaper today or have a conversation with your neighbor that doesn’t touch on issues like the Earth’s climate warming, how energy bills are taking a toll on household budgets, or that kids don’t play outside anymore,” Governor Rendell said. > More

On the "Watch List": Route 30's master plan.
Tribue Review Greensburg Laurels & Lances It’s been a long road for Westmoreland’s Smart Growth Partnership. What a pity it would be if the plan, expected to be finalized in May, dies a quiet death in municipal offices. Our concern all along has been the increasing traffic along this primary east-west corridor. And with acres of undeveloped land along the thoroughfare -- most notably in Unity Township -- the continuation of scattershot, ill-planned development could turn today’s minor traffic headaches into nightmares. > More

Westmoreland Smart Growth plan will require hard work from local officials
By Richard Robbins TRIBUNE-REVIEW Saturday, March 1, 2008 They can write it, but will municipalities do anything to implement it? That overarching question dominated Friday’s meeting of Smart Growth Partnership of Westmoreland County, as the nonprofit entered the final lap of writing a master plan for Route 30. Alexander J. Graziani, Smart Growth executive director, urged a roomful of municipal officials and others to "read, critique, help us" with the plan that should be finalized in May. > More

Route 30 Tops List Of Region's Deadliest Roads
Reporting   Jim Lokay JEANNETTE (KDKA) %AF Christopher’s Pizza has called Route 30 home for nearly a quarter of a century and every year more businesses are setting up shop there. "Irwin’s been developed and Sam’s Club and Wal-Mart, and new stuff is going up there, traffic’s gotten pretty heavy over the years," Pizza shop owner Chris Sylvana said. More than 45,000 cars pass by his place everyday and that means learning some new habits behind the wheel. > More

A public radio project helps listeners understand the forces altering America’s landscape, and how individuals and communities are trying to wrest back control. February 28, 2008 Middlebury, VT -- A groundbreaking radio report examining the impacts of land policy on people and communities begins airing today on National Public Radio’s acclaimed afternoon news program All Things Considered . > More

Student designers highlight Vandergrift history in center
By Francine Garrone VALLEY NEWS DISPATCH Wednesday, February 27, 2008 Kaylyn Farneth and her five teammates could hardly believe the project they worked so hard on was finally finished. The scaled-down model of a revitalized 134 Grant St. in Vandergrift sat next to the group of nervous teens Tuesday on a pew in First Evangelical Lutheran Church on Custer Avenue. Read more  > More

Rostraver Township Comprehensive Plan Update
The Planning Agency presented the Rostraver Township Draft Comprehensive Plan Update to the public on Thursday, February 21, 2008. To view the plan, click here  > More

January 2008 Real Estate Sales Statistics from RealSTATs
January 2008-The slowest housing market in seven years February 21, 2008 - Pittsburgh - While average prices rose 8.7 percent across the region in January 2008 compared to January 2007, dollar activity dropped 11.3 percent and number of sales sunk 18.4 percent. Last month’s 1,694 sales translates into the slowest January on record since January 2001. Read more  > More

Arnold revitalization meeting tonight
By Liz Hayes VALLEY NEWS DISPATCH Wednesday, February 13, 2008 The Arnold Planning Commission is hoping an economic development presentation tonight can jumpstart the city on the path to revitalization. The commission was formed a few years ago to assist with the city’s plans for forming a light industrial district on Third and Fourth avenues adjoining New Kensington. Read more  > More

Route 22 proposal gets 2nd chance
By Stephanie Ritenbaugh FOR THE VALLEY NEWS DISPATCH Thursday, February 7, 2008 Manor Development Group II, which asked for a zoning change that would have allowed a large commercial development off Route 22, is challenging council’s rejection. In response, council voted 5-2 on Wednesday to form a special committee to work with the developer. Read more  > More

City's cafe culture gets $1M boost
By Ron DaParma TRIBUNE-REVIEW Thursday, February 7, 2008 Downtown is about to get a taste of Paris. Under a plan to be formally announced next week by the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership called "Paris to Pittsburgh," $1 million in funding from the nonprofit Colcom Foundation is being made available to encourage restaurants and retailers to expand their operations onto sidewalks -- similar to venues popular with tourists in the French capital. > More

North Huntingdon uncertain about group's Route 30 goals
By Patti Dobranski TRIBUNE-REVIEW Tuesday, February 5, 2008 North Huntingdon’s planning commission members expressed mixed emotions Monday about Smart Growth Partnership of Westmoreland County’s pitch to adopt pieces of the group’s master plan for Route 30 corridor redevelopment. The plan’s goal is to engage the 14 municipalities along Route 30 from Somerset County to the Allegheny County line in the integration of land use, transportation and urban design to improve traffic flow along the corridor. > More

Call for Nominations 2008 Allegheny Energy / Smart Growth Awards
The Smart Growth Partnership of Westmoreland County will be recognizing smart growth developments, plans and individuals/groups in Westmoreland County that have distinguished themselves by achieving the smart growth cause at its sixth Annual Awards Dinner on Wednesday, May 28, 2008. Please submit all nominations by Friday, March 14, 2008 to:   University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg 166 Millstein Library 150 Finoli Drive Greensburg , PA   15601 See the attached nomination form .  For more information, please call 724-836-7048      > More

Greensburg playground upgrade may cut crime: residents
By Bob Stiles TRIBUNE-REVIEW Monday, January 14, 2008 Mike Olbeter said he believes an improved Coulter Playground in Greensburg will attract more children and discourage vandalism and other unwanted activity there. "It’s a good neighborhood, and a lot of kids are growing up there," Olbeter said. Read more  > More

Westmoreland County DRAFT Greenways Open Space Plan
Since 2006, Westmoreland County has been developing a greenways and open space network plan to incorporate into the County’s Comprehensive Plan .   The result of open public participation processes involving municipal partners and other stakeholders, the draft plan identify a greenway and open space network for the county and specific actions for plan implementation. “Greenways, whether they are trails designed for public use or linear conservation corridors that enhance wildlife habitat or help reduce pollution in our waterways, play a significant role in helping to build liv > More

Students to build heritage giants along Route 30
Giants soon will tower over Route 30. Students at some of the area’s career and technology centers will build roadside giants to help tell the story of the historic highway. The Lincoln Highway Heritage Corridor last week landed a $49,340 grant from the Community Connections -- Pittsburgh 250 Initiative to enhance the 200-mile Lincoln Highway Roadside Museum stretching from North Huntingdon to Gettysburg. > More

Philips to buy Murrysville-based Respironics
Respironics Inc.’s board of directors has endorsed a $5.1 billion bid by Royal Philips Electronics NV to buy the Westmoreland County-based maker of medical breathing devices. Netherlands-based Philips this morning offered $66 per share for Respironics, or 24 percent above the company’s closing price of $53.11 yesterday. Read more  > More

Transit board authorizes study on commuter rail lines
Transit board authorizes study on commuter rail lines By Rich Cholodofsky TRIBUNE-REVIEW Friday, December 21, 2007 Westmoreland County transit officials expect to know in about a year whether they will be able to build commuter rail lines into Pittsburgh. Transit authority board members on Thursday authorized the hiring of HDR Engineer Inc. of Pittsburgh to perform a feasibility study that will determine whether rail lines that link Greensburg and the New Kensington area to Pittsburgh should be built. > More

Murrysville council opposes rezoning
Murrysville council voted against rezoning an area that would have allowed commercial development on residential land, a decision prompting applause from several people attending the meeting. Manor Development Group II asked the borough to rezone 50 acres of land near Route 22 and Berlin Farm Road. The developer hadn’t proposed specific businesses for the site, but many residents feared that big box retailers would move in. > More

American Planning Association Honors Pittsburgh Area’s “Project Region” with National Excellence Award
Pittsburgh, PA - The American Planning Association has announced that Project Region , developed by the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission, is the recipient of their 2008 national award for Public Outreach in the planning process.  The American Planning Association is the largest organization of its kind in the world with approximately 25,000 members working to advance best practices in urban and regional planning. > More

Westmoreland County Revitalizes Historic U.S. Route 30, Plans for the Next 30 Years
Since 2001, the Smart Growth Partnership of Westmoreland County (SGPWC) has sought to guide growing communities in long-term land use planning.  SGPWC, a nonprofit organization based at the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg in partnership with the Penn State Cooperative Extension and others, provides education and technical assistance to older core communities undergoing revitalization, rural municipalities of Eastern Westmoreland County, and to the growing suburban communities of Western Westmoreland.  Read more  > More

Route 30 master plan moves forward
The rubber officially met the road Thursday on the U.S. Route 30 Master Plan. Smart Growth Partnership of Westmoreland County began what executive director Alex Graziani termed "the most important chapter" of the plan -- finding realistic ways to turn design into development and make a 40-mile corridor "a safe, convenient and vibrant place to be in all 13 municipalities along the route." Read more  > More

Jeannette seeks $480,000 grant for revitalization
Jeannette will apply for a federal grant to help with the South Sixth Street revitalization project. Council approved seeking $480,000 in financial assistance under the Brownfields Economic Development Initiative, a competitive grant program administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Read more  > More

'Complete streets' gain national voice
WASHINGTON -- The cause has simmered for years -- and we’ve all felt some of it: frustration with fast traffic that turns streets through our neighborhoods into corridors of fear. There is a resentment about narrow, rough or nonexistent sidewalks, a reluctance to have children cross high-speed roadways walking to school. Bicyclists take their lives in their hands when venturing onto major roads. > More

Westmoreland appoints 23 to first board of Land Trust
Westmoreland County commissioners this morning appointed 23 people to serve on the first-ever board of the new Westmoreland Land Trust. The board will work to preserve the integrity of land with scenic, recreational, environmental, historical or cultural value in the county. Board members, who will serve one- to three-year terms, will meet at the Westmoreland Conservation District’s headquarters on Donohoe Road, Hempfield. > More

Electronic signs debated in North Huntingdon
In response to concerns North Huntingdon commissioners raised about a proposed ordinance addressing electronic signs, Planning Director Andy Blenko reiterated his stance on strict regulations Monday night. Some commissioners thought Blenko’s recommendations on a message’s time sequencing and color usage were too restrictive. Last month, the board placed a six-month moratorium on new electronic signs last month to allow time to work on a proposed ordinance. > More

Housing plans concern Hempfield officials
Hempfield’s engineering consultant and township manager expressed some concern Wednesday night about the submitted plans for the proposed Wingreene Village residential development near the Sony Corp. campus. KDK Associates, a limited liability corporation with a Greensburg office, is planning a 106-unit development on a 38-acre tract off Route 119, across from a former warehouse for Montgomery Ward. > More

Diverse Butler County towns undertaking joint plan
Try saying "multiple municipal comprehensive planning code" five times fast. That’s not a problem among those in a coalition of five Butler County towns whose planners say the tongue twister could be a smart-growth savior. The five communities are as different from each other as big-box malls are from cow pastures. Read more  > More

Smart Growth director elected president of Pennsylvania Planning Association
Alexander J. Graziani, the executive director of the Smart Growth Partnership of Westmoreland County, based at the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg, has been elected to a two-year term as president of the Pennsylvania Planning Association . The Pennsylvania Planning Association (PPA) is a chapter of the American Planning Association (APA). PPA is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization for professional planners and planning officials, as well as other organizations and individuals interested in planning. > More

Planners aim to enhance Ligonier
Local architectural designer Scott Lieb, who has worked in Denver and Chicago, thinks some zoning rules in those cities could apply to Ligonier. "For one thing, the required residential lot widths there are a minimum of 50 feet, and the required residential lot width here is a minimum of 60 feet," said Lieb, chairman of the borough’s planning commission. "This is a dense town and I’d like to do some things to maintain its unique character." Read more  > More

Putting the 'New' back in New Kensington
Like so many other former mill towns in Western Pennsylvania, New Kensington has struggled to reinvent itself since 1971, when Alcoa closed its original riverfront plant complex that once provided jobs, revenue and community identity. Population shrank nearly in half, from 26,000 in the early 1970s to about 14,000. Businesses moved to malls or suburban commercial strips. Buildings that housed them decayed. > More

Westmoreland Laurels & Lances
Friday, November 2, 2007 Laurel: To proactive traffic/development planning. A week-long program detailing the U.S. Route 30 Master Plan, hosted by the Smart Growth Partnership of Westmoreland County, offered area residents a detailed look at the heavily traveled thoroughfare -- past, present and future -- and an opportunity for feedback. Skeptics who bemoan the highway’s state -- and see no hope for traffic remediation -- fail to consider the undeveloped acres that border Route 30 -- especially from Route 981 in Unity Township to the border of Hempfield. > More

Route 30 planning nears end
Group invites public review of ideas in 4-year, $400,000 study of east-west corridor Thursday, November 01, 2007 By Michael A. Fuoco, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette The historical importance of Route 30, Westmoreland County’s primary east-west highway, cannot be overstated. From the time of the French and Indian War, it has played a significant role in economic growth locally and expansion westward. > More

Charrette focuses on routes 30, 981
What Route 30 is now, and what it will become years from now has been the subject of a weeklong collaboration between members of the public and municipal planners. The plan may never come to fruition, planners agree, but provides ideas for what could be the future of Westmoreland County ’s “ Main Street ” - Route 30. Smart Growth Partnership of Westmoreland County sponsored the U.S. > More

Unity groups map ideas
Running his finger over an aerial map of Unity, Robert DiFulvio traced a path to the Victoria Highlands home he and his wife Barbara share. The chance to offer tips on what type of development should unfold near their home drew the DiFulvios to Monday’s public workshop kicking off the U.S. Route 30 Master Plan design session this week at the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg. Read more  > More

Charette enables residents and students to design the future of Route 30
By Dylan Nice / Editor-in-chief UPG students and the public are being offered the chance to shape the future development along Route 30 at a public workshop being held this week in Smith Hall. The weeklong charrette began Monday night and drew a crowd of about 100 residents. Attendees used maps and scissors to plot out the future of two pieces of land outside Latrobe set aside for experimental development. > More

Smart Growth Partnership Offers Free Five-Day Charette in Westmoreland County
’’People can be trusted to create good design for their community if you give them the tools and facts,’’ said Smart Growth Partnership of Westmoreland County (SGPWC) Executive Director Alex Graziani, inviting area residents to the group’s free five-day charrette, October 22-26 at the University of Pittsburgh-Greensburg, on design of a 30-acre site off Routes 30 and 981 near Arnold Palmer Regional Airport, and hoping the event will become a model for public participation in local development planning along the county’s whole 40-mile Route 30 corridor. > More

Smart Growth looking for Rt. 30 Extreme Makeover
The process of reinventing Route 30 through Westmoreland County continues during a weeklong planning session next week designed to bring a lot of brainpower to the issue.   Smart Growth Partnership of Westmoreland County will sponsor the US Route 30 Design Charrette beginning Monday, Oct. 22 and running through Friday, Oct. 26 at the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg ’s Smith Hall on the Hempfield Township campus. > More

Panel to share, solicit views
Westmoreland County’s evolution along the Lincoln Highway Corridor will be studied next week at the U.S. Route 30 Master Plan Design Charrette. The charrette -- a collaborative session in which a group of designers drafts a solution to a design problem -- runs from Monday to Friday. It will be hosted by the Smart Growth Partnership of Westmoreland County at the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg. > More

Irwin Council urges timely traffic-impact study
The pending closure of Emil’s Way linking Route 30 and Center Highway in North Huntingdon has raised some serious concerns by officials in neighboring Irwin about the rerouting of trucks through borough streets. "If they block it off, we’re going to end up with more traffic on Pennsylvania Avenue. Most of those will be trucks from Irwin Builders," Council President Danyce Neal said Wednesday. > More

Ligonier Township eases commercial sign limits
Since Melissa Marasia opened Earth Lotus Yoga Studio in 2006 at the Ligonier Valley Mini Mall along Route 711, she’s wanted better exposure for the Ligonier Township business. "I have a pretty small sign in front of my business, and I think most people never notice it because it’s off the road and they’re zooming by and not looking to the side," said Marasia, who rents space in the complex from owner Bowles Co. > More

State to close North Huntingdon shortcut
It looks more like a rural, all-terrain vehicle course, yet hundreds of North Huntingdon motorists, commercial trucks and even emergency vehicles use the 50-foot-long Emil’s Way every day to gain quick access from Route 30 to Center Highway. This popular little byway at the foot of Jacktown Hill is causing more of a stir than the dust and potholes that make up its surface. Read more...    > More

Unity supervisors agree to zoning reclassification
In a move that may lead to more jobs in Unity, township supervisors voted Tuesday to allow a zoning classification change for an 11-acre parcel to facilitate the sale of a portion of the land to light-industry manufacturer Classic Industries Inc. Donald Tarosky, partner and legal counsel for property owner Colony of Unity LP, asked supervisors to change the land’s zoning classification from R-4, or apartment/residential, to B-3, or office commercial. > More

PennDOT reopens Barnes Lake Road
The long-awaited reopening of Barnes Lake Road in North Huntingdon will occur later today, according to PennDOT officials. Eight months after the road was closed from its intersection with Route 30 to allow for the construction of an entrance into the new Wal-Mart Supercenter Plaza, the once heavily-traveled road will reopen with its original route. Read more...  > More

Train station in Greensburg might be centerpiece of revitalization
A steering committee hoping to increase foot traffic in Greensburg met Thursday to discuss how best to beautify the area and attract more commerce and residents. The Transit Revitalization Investment District committee formed after this year’s receipt of a study grant from the state Department of Community and Economic Development. Read more...  > More

NEWS FROM PITT-GREENSBURG: Sharon Smith named to Smart Growth board
Thursday, Sept. 13, 2007   For Immediate Release Contact:  Wendy Mackall, Director of Media Relations,   724-836-7741,   mackall@pitt.edu   Smart Growth Partnership appoints Pitt-Greensburg president to board, names chairman The advisory board of the Smart Growth Partnership of Westmoreland County has elected Jennings Womack as chairman and filled a vacant board seat with Dr. > More

Several paths urged to ease USA's congestion
Report: No one answer to $78B yearly price tag of traffic delays By Larry Copeland USA TODAY  ATLANTA -- When gas prices skyrocketed after Hurricane Katrina, Beverly Morgan sought a cheaper way to get to work. She found an alternative commute program that put her in a carpool and even paid her a bonus -- an incentive of up to $180 over three months to quit driving to work alone. Morgan, a computer software analyst, began carpooling with three other people on her 50-mile round-trip commute. > More

Traffic is not so bad here, study concludes
Driving around town may not be as bad as it sometimes seems, according to the latest study on traffic congestion. The Texas Transportation Institute released a report yesterday ranking Pittsburgh 37th in congestion among the nation’s 85 largest cities and 67th among all 437 urban areas. Read more  > More

Greensburg developers find horse-watering trough
When the new Rite Aid store opens at North Main Street and Cabin Hill Drive in Greensburg, a cornerstone of the pharmacy’s landscaping will be an almost century-old horse-watering trough. "No question, that trough is going to be part of the development," said Craig Rippole of ASC Development of Emsworth in Allegheny County. Read more  > More

Inspected area bridges found structurally sound
Five state-owned steel deck truss bridges in the area, similar to the one that collapsed in Minneapolis Aug. 1, have been inspected and found to be structurally sound. The in-depth inspections are currently under way on five other bridges in Allegheny County. Read more  > More

Alex Graziani named 2007 Government/Economic Development Entrepreneur winner
Government/Economic Development Alexander J. Graziani Executive Director Smart Growth Partnership of Westmoreland County With a BA in political science, a master’s in public policy and management, and membership in the American Institute of Certified Financial planners - Graziani is well trained for his unusual job. He’s the director of a non-profit, non-governmental community group that deals with quality and growth issues - involving interaction with dozens of municipalities, planners, townships, developers, and local and state agencies. > More

State says $11 billion needed to fix bridges
PennDOT: 1 in 4 spans are outmoded Tuesday, August 28, 2007 By Ann Belser, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette State officials said yesterday the price tag to structurally update the 6,000 Pennsylvania bridges that are outmoded or in need of repair would be $11 billion. The cost estimate came as the state Department of Transportation yesterday released for the first time sufficiency and condition ratings for all state-maintained bridges. > More

Bridge trouble knows no boundaries
Allegheny County has more bridges than surrounding counties, but bridge decay knows no boundaries. Here’s a look at the number of bridges in neighboring counties that either need substantial repair work or are obsolete. Read more  > More

Solving Route 30
Anyone who sits in traffic along segments of Westmoreland County’s share of Route 30 can appreciate efforts to draft a master plan that will address congestion and future development along the busy thoroughfare. They’ll appreciate it even more if the plan leads somewhere other than the nearest municipal bookshelf. Credit the Smart Growth Partnership of Westmoreland County for shepherding the plan and scheduling public sessions. > More

                                     News Flash!              Route 30 Corridor Proposed Vision Plan for the Year 2030                                         & > More

Big Mac Museum a cheesy tribute to a culinary icon
Cleveland has its Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum to celebrate the likes of Mick Jagger and the Beatles. Washington has its Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum to highlight such milestones as man on the moon. North Huntingdon is honoring another type of human achievement by turning the words "two all beef patties special sauce cheese lettuce pickles onions on a seasame seed bun" into a tourist destination. > More

$500K grant to explore Pittsburgh-Westmoreland commuter line
Efforts to start commuter rail service from Westmoreland County into Pittsburgh keep chugging along as local transit officials this week received a $500,000 state grant to study whether the project is feasible. Officials announced Thursday they likely will hire a consultant later this year to determine whether there are enough potential riders to justify rail service as well as peg cost estimates for the project. > More

Complete streets program gives more room for pedestrians, cyclists
A growing number of states and local governments are rejecting a half-century of transportation practice and demanding that streets accommodate all types of travel, not just automobiles. The concept of "complete streets" -- with bike lanes, sidewalks and room for mass transit -- has attracted a diverse national alliance of supporters, including advocates for senior citizens and the disabled. Fourteen states, six counties, 10 regional governments and 52 cities have complete streets policies, according to the National Complete Streets Coalition. > More

Flight 93 development can complement surroundings
Somerset County’s rural beauty can likely be preserved alongside the plans of potential business developers along the Flight 93 National Memorial Travel Corridor. During the 9/11 terrorist attacks, United Flight 93 crashed into a scenic mountainside near Shanksville, killing 40 passengers and the four hijackers. Jim Klein, lead consultant for the travel-corridor study, said a final version of a draft prepared by Lardner/Klein Landscape Architects of Alexandria, Va., will soon be ready. > More

Town pitch in for study of shared community center
Irwin added its financial support Wednesday for a $35,000 feasibility study that will determine whether the Norwin community should build a shared recreation center. The Regional Recreation Committee was formed in January and consists of 11 members from Irwin, North Irwin and North Huntingdon. The committee includes representatives of the Norwin School District and the Norwin AARP, who will assist with the proposed project. > More

The toll rises
Every five years or so I write to your paper to comment on the latest planning sessions, commissions, panels and study groups regarding Route 30 (" Route 30 congestion targeted in Westmoreland ," July 26 and PghTrib.com). Seeing the Norwin area going from semirural to urban-refugee sprawl explains all the problems -- too much traffic. In the 1970s Route 30 had the "death stretch" nickname, and the 1980s had the "Pray for me I drive Route 30" bumper stickers. > More

Proposed Route 30 complex needs tweaking
Developers of a proposed Walgreens Pharmacy and Starbucks retail complex along Route 30 in North Huntingdon will be making parking and building adjustments before township planners make a recommendation on the project. On Monday night, Planning Director Andy Blenko said he was concerned about how traffic would enter the development at the Lincoln Way intersection and move safely back out onto Route 30, because the businesses would share a parking area. > More

Free the cities!
Most Americans have the naive notion that their local city officials busy themselves fixing potholes, providing police and fire services, dealing with the occasional code violation and quietly running the parks and recreation service. But those who run city government have their own prerogatives and ideologies. Read more  > More

North Huntingdon road ripped out without permission may be rebuilt
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation may rebuild a 1,500-foot section of Barnes Lake Road in North Huntingdon that DeBartolo Development Co. apparently tore out without permission. A PennDOT official said DeBartolo would be expected to foot the bill. The section was torn out in January as part of the planned relocation of the road for the proposed Mills Pointe-Huntingdon Marketplace commercial plaza. > More

Party planners coming to Greensburg
The city won’t be featured on MTV’s "My Super Sweet 16," but Pittsburgh’s next birthday party is a $1 million affair. "Pittsburgh 250," an initiative working to ring in the Steel City’s 250th birthday next year, will hold a brainstorming session July 31 for Westmoreland County residents hoping to help the city celebrate. Read more  > More

Norwin Hills traffic backup relieved
Motorists accessing Norwin Avenue from Route 30 west in North Huntingdon are experiencing relief from traffic congestion now that PennDOT has extended the stacking lane at Norwin Hills Shopping Center. "This is definitely going to help," township Manager Kelly Wolfe said yesterday. "There is simply not enough room for the traffic." Read more  > More

Upgrades to Arnold Palmer, Rostraver airports completed
The Westmoreland County Airport Authority has completed two airport development projects at facilities in Rostraver and Unity townships. Final inspections have been completed for construction of a 300-foot runway safety area at Rostraver, and completion of four new aircraft hangars at Arnold Palmer Regional Airport, near Latrobe. Read more  > More

Route 30 congestion targeted in Westmoreland
When Westmoreland County Commissioner Phil Light rode east on Route 30 from his childhood home in Edgewood in Allegheny County to his family’s farm in Cook Township, he said it never took too long. "Back then, you could make it from Edgewood to the Diamond in Ligonier in 45 minutes, and you didn’t even have to speed," said Light, 65, of the 50-mile trip. "I wouldn’t suggest trying that today." That’s because of what Light said is the stress level motorists encounter on Route 30 with the glut of traffic signals and vehicle congestion from decades of development along the > More

Bottleneck at Barnes Lake irks drivers
At age 86, Jack Clohessy has found the best way to cross the road may be with a bicycle. The Irwin man says he’s resorted to using two wheels instead of four to avoid the traffic backlog on Route 30 in North Huntingdon caused by the partial closing of Barnes Lake Road, part of the Wal-Mart Supercenter project. He’s been pedaling across the highway from his Eighth Street home to Norwin Hills Shopping Center since the detour began in January and has dragged on for six long months. > More

New Path to University Success: Community Ties
By: Neil Pierce 2007 Washington Post Writers Group Thirty-three armed robberies hit on or near the University of Pennsylvania’s Philadelphia campus in September 1996. Broken glass, trash, sometimes discarded drug paraphenernailia littered the streets. Dark, empty streets made students and staff feel jumpy. A month later, walking with his fiancee to his nearby apartment on Halloween night, Vladimir Sled, a 38-year old Russian emigre and Penn biochemist, got caught up in a scuffle with robbers. > More

Funding Opportunity
Dear Westmoreland Nonprofit Executives & Community Leaders, The Community Foundation of Westmoreland County is co-sponsoring the Community Connections / Pittsburgh 250 Westmoreland Community Brainstorms Initiative July 31st from 6-8p.m. Any assistance you / your team could offer too circulate the attached Community Connection releases / logos from the Sprout Fund for the upcoming brainstorming workshop and throughout this year would be very appreciated. > More

Businesses in Irwin get boost
There’s a doggie in the window at Rosedahl’s. It’s not for sale, thanks. Sweetie, a 4-year-old Maltese, spends some days at the appliance store on Main Street in Irwin, keeping company with Dale Rosendahl, a third-generation owner. The store’s been in town since 1927, and at its current location since the mid-1960s. Back in the day, they sold anything with a cord attached at what was called Rosendahl’s Electric -- can openers, floor-model hair driers, and refrigerators, surely. > More

Jeannette residents lament lack of street sweeping
Jeannette has a street sweeping problem, and city officials say they’ll work to correct it. In the wake of complaints by residents at Wednesday’s city council meeting, Councilman Robert M. Carter vowed something would be done about unkempt streets. Read more  > More

Study up on natural gas leases before drilling, regional residents told
Tom Wandrisco, of Hempfield, knew he needed to know more about leases involved in natural-gas drilling. He said he has five companies seeking to dri http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/search/s%5F516911.html ll on his 117-acre cattle farm in Derry Township. "I wanted to get the latest information," Wandrisco said. "You have to be watchful." Read more  > More

Funds needed for project's 2nd phase in Irwin
With the first phase of Irwin’s $6 million storm and sanitary sewer separation project nearly 90 percent completed, council has turned its attention toward seeking funding for the second and final phases. Council members passed a resolution Wednesday to apply for PennVEST funding not to exceed $5 million to complete the project. Read more  > More

'No Passenger Left Behind' action soars at Arnold Palmer Regional Airport
It’s a problem Gabe Monzo wanted for some time and, now that it’s here, he has landed a solution. With June’s passenger departure totals rising to 1,349 under Northwest Airlines at Arnold Palmer Regional Airport, the Unity facility turned passengers away on a number of outgoing flights because its 34-seat Saab aircraft were filled, said Monzo, the airport’s manager. Read More  > More

Business Soaring at Arnold Palmer Regional Airport
The Westmoreland County Airport Authority is hoping a new program called "no passengers left behind" will eventually increase flights out of Arnold Palmer Regional Airport; KDKA’s Mary Berecky reports. Click here to see the video  > More

3 Hempfield officials miss meeting
On the night Bob Davidson planned to publicly demand that three colleagues on the Hempfield Township Municipal Authority resign for allegedly misusing credit cards, the members failed to attend, forcing a cancellation of the meeting. "My intention was to come and request the resignations of Bob Regola, Brian Melenia and Kathy Hopkin," he said. Their absence forced authority manager Rege Ranella to cancel the session for lack of a quorum. > More

North Huntingdon to ponder office park district
The delayed progress of the Wal-Mart Supercenter along Route 30 in North Huntingdon near the Pennsylvania Turnpike has spurred discussion about creating an office park district to attract corporate development in that corridor. That uncertainty prompted Lincoln Hills Realty Associates to ask the planning commission to table a request to rezone 14.35 acres adjacent to the Holiday Inn Express, just off the Irwin interchange of the turnpike, from residential to a planned economic development district-1, or PEDD-1. > More

Ligonier Diamond safety questions linger
Sandra Hagan’s scarred right leg and lingering limp may remind Ligonier pedestrians of traffic dangers surrounding the borough’s Diamond, but she said PennDOT efforts to make the round-about intersection safer have been forgettable. "In my opinion, I don’t think there’s been many advances. It’s a beautiful area, but it’s still hazardous," said Hagan, who was struck July 9, 2005, by a pickup truck turning right from North Market Street onto West Main Street while she was working as a parking meter attendant. > More

Population shifts a drain and a strain to region
The population drain continues in the Pittsburgh region, according to U.S. Census Bureau figures released this morning. Estimates of the July 1, 2006, population show about 70 percent of the region’s communities lost 2 percent or more of their residents since the July 2000 estimate. The losses have led to declining tax bases, faltering school systems and nearly bankrupt governments. Even in four areas of growth, officials are feeling a strain as the demand for services grows. > More

Greensburg Main Street project begins
Goodbye, damaged curbs and sidewalks. Hello, new pedestrian walkways. Efforts began Friday night to improve pedestrian travel and increase the beauty of Main Street in Greensburg as part of the Hometown Streets project. "It’s a pedestrian-enhancement project, but it’s also a beautification project," City Administrator Sue Trout said. Read more  > More

Palmer Nature Reserve plans event
Starting Saturday, the rolling greens of Latrobe Country Club won’t be the only sweeping vistas associated with a Palmer legacy. Named after the late wife of golfing legend, the Winnie Palmer Nature Reserve, a 50-acre site that borders Route 30 and St. Vincent College in Unity, will hold a reception this weekend. The opening will honor "the people who made it happen," said Donald "Doc" Giffin, secretary/treasurer of the reserve’s board of trustees. > More

Greensburg Main Street project begins
Goodbye, damaged curbs and sidewalks. Hello, new pedestrian walkways. Efforts began Friday night to improve pedestrian travel and increase the beauty of Main Street in Greensburg as part of the Hometown Streets project. "It’s a pedestrian-enhancement project, but it is also a beautification projec," City Administrator Sue Trout said. The $568,000 project is a joint effort of PennDOT and the city, which contributed $106,000 to do the first phase of the work, according to city officials. > More

Lessons in economy: Renovating old schools
Rather than renovate the schools it has, the Lower Merion Township School District will build two high schools and demolish the old ones. Last month, the school board approved construction bids for a $102.9 million dollar high school to replace its 1958 Harriton High School. This fall, the board is expected to approve bids for an even more expensive high school to replace Lower Merion High School, parts of which date back to 1932. > More

Route 30 Draft Vision Plan & Summary Report
Please go to the Route 30 Master Plan Web site to download and view the Draft Vision Plan and Summary Report.  Please use the comment form to submit and comments to us. > More

Pittsburgh region a hub of Main Street retail trend
Developers working on Pittsburgh-area projects worth tens of millions of dollars are going to town -- from suburban projects trying to re-create town centers to urban projects trying to revamp what’s already there. From the 800,000-square-foot Southpointe Town Center in Washington County meant to capture the ambiance of Main Street, with stores, offices and residential spaces to the development of the seven-story Armstrong Cork factory in the Strip District as a place to live, the trend is toward more distinctive architecture and layering shopping with workplaces and homes. > More

Wal Mart on hold in North Huntingdon awaiting state OK
Issues and concerns have stopped site preparation for the proposed Mills Pointe shopping plaza, which will include a 200,000-square-foot Wal-Mart Superstore, and an adjacent Huntingdon Marketplace retail center. Work was suspended more than two months ago when Sewickley-based Sipple Development Inc. owner Doug Sipple moved his grading equipment from the site. Mr. Sipple would not comment. He referred inquiries to DeBartolo Development offices in Tampa, Fla. > More

MarRose Estates in Hempfield built on piles of waste
Joe and Ann Tokar, of Hempfield, never thought the pricey housing development being built next to their home would turn out to be a dump. But that’s just what the Tokars discovered after mountains of discarded shoes and clothing, plastic, diapers, broken glass, bottles, newspapers, cans, tires and tree trunks were unearthed last August during excavation of MarRose Estates, a development of $300,000 homes in Fort Allen. > More

Wal-Mart site work in North Huntingdon stopped
Construction has been halted at the Wal-Mart Supercenter site along Route 30 in North Huntingdon. There are conflicting reports about why the project has been stopped. Wal-Mart said it is waiting for a permit to be issued by the state to allow construction of a new access road, a company spokesman said. Read more  > More

Strategic Development Area to Create 300 New Jobs, Preserve 3,700
The Westmoreland County Commissioners - Tom Bayla, Tom Ceraso and Phil Light - at their June 7 public meeting approved the designation of a Strategic Development Area and complimenting grant agreement that will allow for the addition of more than 300 jobs at the Westinghouse Waltz Mills facility in Sewickley and Hempfield Townships. The Westmoreland County location, in competition with areas from several states, was chosen by Westinghouse for a major expansion of business. > More

Jeannette ordinance declared invalid
A Pennsylvania appeals court on Thursday ruled a 2005 Jeannette ordinance that allowed city officials to withhold occupancy permits for structures owned by tax-delinquent property owners was invalid. A three-judge panel of the state’s Commonwealth Court issued an 18-page order that upheld a lower-court decision authored last year by Westmoreland County Judge William J. Ober. Read More  > More

Unity council OKs pact to finish water work
Eighty-nine Unity households will receive water and fire protection services via state and Westmoreland County grants, township supervisors said Thursday. Supervisors voted unanimously yesterday to approve a $444,444 contract for completion of the Baggaley water-line extension project with low bidder D.T. Construction Inc., of Dunbar, Fayette County. The contract is contingent upon the anticipated approval of $400,000 in Community Development Block Grant funding through the county and an additional $200,000 from the state. > More

Old Hanna's Town gets $1 million boost
It took 30 years of planning and two years of fund raising, but a long-anticipated education center for Old Hanna’s Town historic site in Hempfield may soon be a reality. Last week, Lisa Hayes, execuative director of Westmoreland County Historical Society, accepted a check for $1 million from county commissioners to help fund the new center, to be built on grounds of what was once Westmoreland’s county seat. > More

Latrobe council OKs streetlights
Latrobe council voted Monday to approve the installation of five new streetlights on Lloyd Avenue. The Colonial Post Top Lights will be installed and maintained by Allegheny Power for about $3,400 and an undisclosed monthly electrical fee to be paid by the city, said city Solicitor James E. Kelley Jr. Read more  > More

Greensburg Rite Aid plans get final approval
Greensburg City Council approved final plans Monday night for a Rite Aid pharmacy along North Main Street. After about six months of preparation and planning, representatives from Greensburg Commercial Properties and Atwell-Hicks Development Consultants presented three sets of design illustrations and answered questions in front of council members, who then voted unanimously for the building plans. > More

Whose rules? Gas drilling in court's hands
Michelle Mullen has spent the past year fighting to keep Huntley & Huntley Inc. of Monroeville from putting a gas well across the street from her Oakmont home. "This would completely disrupt our neighborhood. It would turn (a residential) district into a commercial district," the Woodlawn Avenue resident said. Read more  > More

Mt. Pleasant eager to soak up the success of rain gardens
Mt. Pleasant Borough may soon go down a revolutionary path involving ... rainwater. The borough has asked the state for $70,000 to install rain gardens -- flower garden-like creations designed to take rainwater off streets and parking lots and put it where nature intended, in the ground. Read more  > More

Aging of the Baby Boom: A Community Blueprint for Action
What will the aging of the Baby Boom generation mean for America’s communities? Will the folks whose sheet numbers and market mastery who brought us endless subdivisions, monster malls, and lief in the SUV lane, want to keep sprawling out in the ample swath of golden years that modern medicane seems to promise them? Or will many want to return to the more walkable, accessible town and neighborhood settings of yesteryear? > More

Route 30 Fact Sheet Updated
/files/route 30 fact sheet 2.pdf  > More

N. Huntingdon braces for more traffic woes
 When Wal-Mart opens next year in North Huntingdon, traffic on congested Route 30 and Barnes Lake Road will grow worse, two township officials told a planning panel Tuesday. Officials warn that Route 30 and Barnes Lake Road will be unable to handle the flow. The volume of traffic far exceeds the capacity of both roads. Engineer Andrew Blenko said the township’s comprehensive plan projects that the store will add 20,193 weekday trips and 23,767 weekend day trips to Route 30 and Barnes Lake Road. > More

Decade Later, skate park breaks new ground
Eleven golden shovels and a large backhoe marked the groundbreaking for the Peach Plaza Skate Park at Twin Lakes Park on Tuesday morning. More than 80 people - officials in suits and skateboard enthusiasts in shorts - attended the ceremony for the $825,000 park, which should open in October. But it’s taken years for Westmoreland County to go from conceptual ideas of what to do with the 64 acres of land to putting those shovels in the ground. > More

Trafford joins with nonprofit in revitalization effort
Trafford Council agreed Tuesday to join forces with a local nonprofit development group to jump start the borough’s revitalization effort through a Westmoreland County regional partnership. Hallie Chatfield, regional coordinator of the Westmoreland County Redevelopment Authority, outlined for council a plan to join with four other communities to share grant writing, a portion of a $30,000 annual facade restoration grant and a part-time regional coordinator to develop a five-year plan, based on a $1 per capita formula. > More

2007 Top Ten Best Historic Preservation Opportunities
Young Preservationists Association of Pittsburgh named West Overton Museums in Westmoreland County one of the 2007 Top Ten Best Historic Preservation Opportunities in the Pittsburgh Area For more information, go to their web site  or download the pdf file  > More

Legislator has Plan C for toll roads
State Rep. Joe Markosek proposes a new agency to oversee turnpike, other toll highways. First there was Gov. Ed Rendell’s plan to lease the 530-mile Pennsylvania Turnpike to a private operator, which might pay as much as $18 billion for the right to operate the cash-generating toll road for up to 99 years. In response, the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission, which has run the toll road since it opened 67 years ago, countered with a plan that would not only preserve its existence and power but could extend its control to other roads, like Interstate 80, which would be given toll status. > More

Walgreens to replace Westmoreland fixture
Walgreens to replace Westmoreland fixture A Westmoreland County landmark, Chesterfield’s Restaurant & Lounge, located on Route 30 in North Huntingdon, is being sold to Walnut Capital Development, a Pittsburgh development group. Walnut Capital plans to develop a 14,465 square-foot Walgreens Drug Store and Starbuck’s coffee shop on the 2.6-acre site, according to papers filed with the North Huntingdon Planning & Zoning office. > More

Water skier isn't creating nuisance, Westmoreland judge rules
A nationally ranked amateur water skier will be permitted to practice his sport on a lake at the heart of an upscale housing development in Hempfield and Unity, a Westmoreland County judge has ruled. Neighbors at Lago de Vita contended water skiing on the lake was a nuisance that violated the development’s covenants prohibiting the operation of any motorized vehicle on the water. Read more  > More

Westmoreland Country - Chesterfield's to be razed
The landmark Chesterfield’s Restaurant along Route 30 in North Huntingdon has a date with a wrecking ball. Formerly the Ben Gross Supper Club popular in the 1960’s, Chersterfields’s has been a fixture in the Norwin Area for almost a quarter-century, until now. Read more  > More

Ron Weimer honored for service to Latrobe
Latrobe Bulletin By Steve Russin Friday, May 25, 2007 Ron Weimer of Spring Street in Latrobe is well-known for his efforts to enhance the community, and Thursday evening his work was highlighted by the Smart Growth Partnership of Westmoreland County. At the 2007 Annual Smart Growth Awards Dinner hosted by the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg, Weimer was recognized for his work on the Lloyd Avenue project and other Latrobe area projects. > More

Smart Growth Awards presented in Hempfield
A serious automobile wreck last spring could only hold back Ronald W. Weimer so long from his passion for volunteering in Latrobe. "After it happened, people were telling me they thought I was going to die," Weimer, 71, said. His car hydroplaned during a rainstorm on Route 30 in Somerset County and struck trees. Read More    > More

Urban planning expert urges leaders to make local neighborhoods walkable
An urban planning expert urged local leaders Friday to adopt "smart growth" principles as they map out a strategy for the region’s future. "There are a lot regions in this country and around the world where people have started to realize that things such as transportation and housing need to be planned in a very deliberate way," said David Chen, founder and executive director of Smart Growth America, based in Washington. > More

Lamp Theatre excites interest
Old movie house will open as cultural venue in October. Westmoreland Cultural Trust Director Michael Langer fields inquiries everyday about the old Lamp Theater in Irwin. The historic 69-year-old Main Street movie house is nearing the end of the first phase of renevations on its way to re-emerging as a multi-use cultural venue in late October. "A lot of folks see this work that’s going on. I ger phonw calls everyday from independent production groups. > More

Transportation: End finally in sight for Route 22 project
After decades of accident survivors, elected officials and residents campaigning to transform Route 22 through Westmoreland County from a "killer highway," the end appears in sight. A public meeting will be held tomorrow in Derry Township to display plans for the last two construction projects that, when finished several years from now, will bring an end to more than $250 million worth of widening and safety improvements. > More

Why gas bonanza is no boon to landowners
BLAIRSVILLE -- The biggest methane producers on Bill McConnell’s 380-acre farm north of Black Lick Creek in Indiana County aren’t the 30 or so beef cattle roaming around its spring-greening slopes. Not anymore. Not since 2003 when seven coalbed methane wells were drilled into his pastures and their "horse head" pumpjacks began their metallic, 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week, clanging, thumping and pumping. > More

Slow but sure, bike trail nears completion
John Surma, the chairman of U.S. Steel, first heard of the Great Allegheny Passage trail plan when he was biking along the Potomac River in 1983. Mr. Surma, a Pittsburgh native, asked a bicyclist how far the trail ran. He was told the path covered about 20 miles, and then the stranger said the words Mr. Surma recalled yesterday: "Some day it’s going to go all the way to Pittsburgh." Read More  > More

Legislator wants to reinstate Derry as railroad hub
During the years prior to World War II, Derry Borough served as home to a bustling rail hub, where upwards of 800 individuals were employed by the Pennsylvania Railroad to keep steam-powered trains rumbling throughout the countryside. State Rep. Joseph A Petrarca of Vandergrift (Dem.--55th District) hinted at the possibility that Derry could run as a railroading center in the forseeable future, during his keynote speech at the Derry Area Business and Professional Association’s 24th annual spring banquet helf April 19 in the Derry Area Middle School cafeteria. > More

Hempfield names 7 to police study panel
Hempfield Township supervisors named seven more residents to a committee that will study the community’s policing needs. Appointed last night were Jeffrey G. Colello, of Stone Bridge Drive, Curtis Hahn, of Landis Avenue, James Makosey, of Tillbrook Road, Jeffery Todd Mayo, of Ridgewood Drive, Sue Ann Reagan, of Schwartz Lane, William F. Rudolph, of Dartmouth Drive, and Alyce Faye Stewart, of Deerfield Drive. > More

A place to run
Developer touts eco-friendly storm water drainage system Land developer Joe Hart stood on a high, windswept hill Friday and told a group of engineers, fellow developers, conservation experts and some curious onlookers that the development planned for this 48-acre site in North Huntingdon was going to be different from most. Only 23 acres will be disturbed. There will be no curbs. And none of those "ugly ponds" for storm runoff, surrounded by chain link fences, will be built. > More

2007 Cool Space Awards
CSA07: Nominations Due April 20 th !   The 2007 Cool Space Awards were designed to recognize unique and innovative commercial spaces in the southwestern Pennsylvania region.  Please join Cool Space Locator in celebrating revitalization and adaptive reuse by nominating your favorite cool space or person that makes cool space happen.  For more information, or to nominate online go to  www.coolspacelocator.com or call 412.683.5790, or click on the attached file  > More

Turnpike access plans to go on display
The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission is working on plans for E-ZPass-only connections between the turnpike and PennDOT roads in the New Stanton area. Some designs have been developed and studies undertaken for the Turnpike Access Project for the Greater New Stanton Area. Read More  > More

Hempfield supervisors clog Middletown sewer proposal
Hempfield Township supervisors took action Monday to slow the progress of a controversial sewer project, but they acknowledged they can’t stop it entirely. Supervisors unanimously rejected approval of a planning module that the township municipal authority needs to proceed with a proposed project on Middletown Road. Read More  > More

Studies Identify Trouble Ahead for Pennsylvania’s Communities Statewide
Three new studies are sounding a warning bell for Pennsylvania municipalities and the state as a whole: without major changes in the structures and laws that govern municipalities and the way they are financed, and unless communities are empowered to work more closely together, their fiscal and physical integrity is at grave risk and the state’s economy will continue to struggle in the coming decades.  Read more  > More

Population drain continues in region
Allegheny County and most of the metropolitan region show continued trends of modest population loss, according to the latest estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau. The bureau reported yesterday that the county’s population was estimated at 1,223,411 as of July 1, 2006, a drop of 9,625 from the year before and 58,255 from the last formal census head count in 2000. Read more  > More

Strict rules primed Cranberry to grow
In selecting Cranberry, on Butler County’s southern edge, as the site for its expansion, local leaders say Westinghouse Electric Co. validated the careful planning that transformed a once-sleepy community into a destination for well-heeled young families. The nuclear engineering firm announced Tuesday it will leave the building constructed for it 36 years ago on Monroeville’s Northern Pike in favor of new digs in the Cranberry Woods Office Park, across from the Pittsburgh Marriott North. > More

Westinghouse picks Cranberry
Westinghouse Electric Co., on a hiring spree fueled by renewed enthusiasm for nuclear energy, announced Tuesday it will relocate its nearly 2,000 Monroeville-area employees to Cranberry by the end of the decade. One of the world’s leading firms that designs, builds and maintains nuclear power plants, Westinghouse said it chose Cranberry Woods Office Park over its Northern Pike headquarters because there is more room for future growth at the Butler County location. > More

Pa. land owners powerless in drilling deals
Like the 22,000 linear feet of eroding access roads marring his 400-acre Indiana County farmland, Bill McConnell’s four-year ordeal with coal bed methane well drillers wears on him each day. "Every principle of ownership and property rights that I have has been violated," said McConnell, 53, of Blacklick Township. "Every day I drive up my driveway, I see those wells and it’s a slap in my face, and I’m not getting any money for it, either." Read More  > More

Many topics covered at Murrysville meeting
Murrysville needs couples without children and commercial development -- and it’s getting both, according to a community official. John Cardwell, director of the Murrysville Community and Economic Development Corp., said as much to members of the Franklin Regional School Board and Murrysville Council at their annual joint meeting Wednesday night. Officials of each group gave briefings on the status of the school district and municipality, particularly the financial outlook for each. > More

Hempfield to study police possibilities
Hempfield Township is forming a committee to study its policing needs. The committee will consist of approximately 10 people, said Kim Ward, supervisor chairwoman. It will look at the township’s crime statistics and review various policing scenarios. Ward said the panel’s task will be to determine whether any changes are needed to meet the community’s policing needs. She wants any recommendations to be made before the state Legislature devises its own rules for townships that currently rely on state police. > More

Unity Twp. OKs new building rules
Residential developers in Unity Township face more regulations based on two ordinances unanimously adopted Thursday by the board of supervisors. The first requires a dedication of land for recreational purposes, such as playgrounds, in each established residential lot, regardless of size, or a payment-per-lot of $1,000 in lieu of such dedications. The payments will go toward installation of such facilities where appropriate. > More

Westmoreland Co. officials create position to oversee maps
With a multi-layered digital mapping system ready to go online in the next several months, Westmoreland County commissioners on Thursday carved out a new department to oversee the program. County officials yesterday created the Geographical Information Systems Department by appointing a planning office worker to a new $45,000-a-year position to manage the implementation of the computerized digital maps. > More

North Huntingdon commission checks development plans
North Huntingdon planning commission got a lesson in site plans Monday night. The first plan offered for Westminster Estates, an 83-lot subdivision along Mickanin Road, was haggled over by the board and Planning Director Andy Blenko last month and for 40 minutes last night. At issue were two requested variances for grading and for the width of the road, as well as sidewalk location and the possible loss of trees. > More

Smart Growth working to map future of Route 30
In addition to a home for its resident students, Pitt Greensburg is home to Smart Growth Partnership of Westmoreland County, a community based, private non-profit organization. Located in Millstein Library, Smart Growth is guided by the principle that communities need to make good decisions for their futures. As it’s name implies, its major focus is growth and exactly when, where and how it should take place. > More

Extreme makeover: City edition
YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio -- When the steel industry collapsed, a vacuum took over. It turned mills into rusty skeletons and working-class neighborhoods that served them into graveyards. As jobs disappeared and the Mahoning River Valley flooded with blighted homes and boarded-up shops, the emptiness triggered a migration that sliced Youngstown’s population in half in a generation. Today, the city that once produced more steel than almost anyone outside Pittsburgh is a shell of its former self, a ghost town that looks like many of the 170,002 people living there in 1930 decided one morning to pack > More

Development of Route 30 corridor aired
Joyce Stevey recalls when the spaces surrounding Greengate Mall along Route 30 in Hempfield Township were plush fields and woodlands, as opposed to the expanding cluster of retail and commercial businesses today. "I never thought that we would see what we see up there," said Stevey, 61, a lifetime township resident. "What really bothers me now is seeing everything they’re adding to Route 30 in that area. > More

Penn Township wants better info on bridge plan
Penn Township officials feel they need to be better informed about the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission’s plans for the turnpike bridge replacement project. Commissioners unanimously authorized solicitor Les Mlakar and Township Manager Bruce Light Wednesday to send a letter to the turnpike commission asking that the township be provided any preliminary studies concerning the bridge and informed about any environmental impact studies undertaken and how the project will affect roads at or near the Turnpike. > More

Smart Growth Partnership of Westmoreland County
Westmoreland County is fortunate to have a community that cares about its future, specifically about its growing future. Whether it’s preserving rural landscapes, revitalizing towns and cities, or reclaiming suburbs, Westmoreland County is in the right hands of community leaders led by the Smart Growth Partnership of Westmoreland County (SGPWC). The SGPWC is a community-based private non-profit that strives to encourage the kind of growth that improves quality of life for both residents and businesses, but also ensures vibrant, high quality growth for future generations in Westmoreland C > More

Taking a page from Mount Pleasant
It’s just 49.3 miles from the Mt. Lebanon business district on Washington Road to the business district in Mount Pleasant Borough, Westmoreland County. At first blush, it might appear as if the towns have nothing in common: Mount Pleasant has 4,728 people in 1.1 square miles. Mt. Lebanon has 33,017 people in 6 square miles. The majority of Mount Pleasant’s residents haven’t been to college, while 61 percent of Mt. > More

Pa. towns need way to merge, says state report
It soon could be easier for struggling boroughs to merge with their neighbors or even to dissolve themselves. In a report released yesterday, State Planning Board members said existing law provides too little guidance on government mergers and does not allow municipalities to revert to unincorporated status. "Some municipalities in this commonwealth are in very serious financial trouble with huge deficits and problems with infrastructure, but it’s been impossible to dissolve or merge into an adjacent municipality," said board member Ron Bailey, who is a land use planner in Chester County > More

Commission backs state gas tax increase
The head of Western Pennsylvania’s top highway planning agency Thursday backed a state recommendation to increase the gasoline tax by 11.5 cents. Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission Chairman J. Bracken Burns endorsed the hefty gas tax increase recommended by Gov. Ed Rendell’s Transportation Funding and Reform Commission. "If we have the worst problem in America, we should pay the most money to make that problem go away," Burns said. > More

Rendell's bus takes public for taxing ride
Time again for another edition of "What a Difference a Year Makes!" Today’s contestant: Ed Rendell. Thanks for playing, governor. Now then, step into this column’s patented time-travel capsule. It won’t hurt, I promise, although the potential side effects include lingering dry mouth and persistent itching. We’re going back to Nov. 19, 2005, when you wearily but jubilantly announced the Port Authority of Allegheny County had reached a tentative labor agreement with its bus and trolley operators. > More

The transit report: The highwaymen
Here we go again: A "blue-ribbon" panel is charged with fixing something that particularly ails us. The report conveniently is released right after the election to lessen the impact on the fortunes of the politician who charged the panel. The report calls for all manner of economy-killing tax increases to address the critical problem. Read More  > More

State eyes gas tax increase
Motorists and public transit riders reacted with anger and skepticism to sweeping state tax increases proposed Monday to pay for deteriorating highways and bridges and to bail out cash-strapped transit systems. The plan to raise gas taxes by 11.5 cents a gallon, the realty transfer tax by almost 1 percent and driver registration and license fees by an average of about $15 a vehicle is "lousy," said Chuck Tessmer, of Ross, an occasional bus rider. > More

Transportation report calls for increased gas tax, fees
Repairing Pennsylvania’s deficient bridges and highways, and properly providing financial support for mass transit will come with a price. That price was unveiled Monday. And it may be too steep a price for lawmakers, let alone consumers. The Transportation Funding and Reform Commission released the findings of a 16-month study that includes recommendations to increase various fees and taxes to raise $900 million for highway and bridge repairs and $760 million in public transit. > More

HARRISBURG -- The bipartisan Transportation Funding and Reform Commission issued a final report today, offering a funding solution to pay for critical improvements to Pennsylvania’s highways and bridges and for public transit which provides 413 million rides a year across the state. Transportation Secretary Allen D. Biehler, P.E., who chaired the commission, said, “Not only is the commission proposing a solution to ensure Pennsylvanians have a better transportation system, but it also is recommending management and financial practices for the Department of Transportation and tran > More

State should stop subsidizing sprawl to revitalize towns
BY THOMAS HYLTON Major league gambling has arrived in Pennsylvania. Casino licenses to five racetracks were awarded last month, and nine other licenses will soon be awarded throughout the state -- all in the name of tax relief. For all the hoopla, however, even the most optimistic revenue projections equal just 2 percent of the state’s operating budget. And the big payoff -- up to $1 billion for school district property tax relief -- only amounts to $200 for the average homeowner. > More

Vandergrift Improvement Program (VIP)
Volunteers are needed to help the VIP plan and publicize special events such as Light-Up Night and a Fine Arts Festival, conduct surveys, and help with the weekly Farmer’s Market. Whatever your interest or skills, the VIP needs you. Contact Shaun (412) 471-5808 or shaun@phlf.org or the VIP office (724) 567-5286 to volunteer. For more information go to www.officialvandergrift.com  > More

A really smart way to grow
Joel Kotkin saw a lot more of Pennsylvania’s empty countryside than he wanted to last week. But his 250-mile car ride from Wilkes-Barre to the Smart Growth Partnership of Westmoreland County’s conference near Greensburg on Wednesday morning was not a waste of time. Kotkin learned firsthand how big, beautiful and unpeopled the Keystone State is. And he realized that Pennsylvania could probably use about 5 million more residents. > More

Activists speak out for 'treasured spots'
Greensburg business owner Angela J. Rose-O’Brien would like Twin Lakes Park to be more accessible. Mary Clymer wants a beautification program around her downtown Greensburg home. Kim Miller simply hopes areas of rural beauty like those near his New Alexandria farm are left as is. Those three and many others were called to list their "treasured spots" in Westmoreland County at Wednesday’s sixth annual Smart Growth Summit at St. > More

Local officials to attend summit
More than 100 community members will converge today (Wednesday) to discuss the Route 30 corridor at the sixth annual Smart Growth summit in Greensburg. "I’m excited about getting the ball rolling for Route 30," said Alex Graziani, executive director of Smart Growth Partnership of Westmoreland County. "This project is more about getting people’s input. We’re not going to be like, ’We’re the experts and this is how we’ll do it.’ It’s more of letting people tell us what they think will help us make good choices." To help participants form ideas abou > More

Bushy Run Battlefield protected
The Pennsylvania House of Representatives passed a resolution yesterday authorizing the state and its Historical and Museum Commission to accept a donation of 34 acres of land around Bushy Run Battlefield in Penn Township. The bill will protect and preserve the land as part of the historic battlefield and protect it from any future or encroaching development. The site, situated alongside Route 933, is considered a pivotal battleground during a 1763 clash between Native Americans and the British during the French and Indian War. > More

High bid forces delay of Route 30 project
A PennDOT project designed primarily to widen and enhance the intersection of routes 30 and 981 in Unity Township has hit a roadblock. The estimated $13 million project was scheduled to begin in July and last until spring. In June, it was postponed to September to accommodate Route 30 traffic to and from Pittsburgh Steelers training camp at St. Vincent College. Read more  > More

Latrobe nearing bid for revitalization grant
By month’s end, Latrobe city officials may apply for a $90,000 grant from the Pennsylvania Main Street program, Rosie Wolford, chairwoman of the Latrobe Community Revitalization Committee, reported this week. Before that time, the committee needs written verification of all monetary pledges from all community individuals, agencies and foundations contributing to the state-required match of the Main Street money. > More

Officials meet to discuss junction of Mount Pleasant Road, Route 30
As director of transportation for Hempfield Area School District, Pat Carnicella does not perceive the intersection of Route 30 and Mount Pleasant Road to be a daily danger for his school bus drivers, mostly because most drivers give buses a pretty wide berth. But as someone who lives less than a mile from the interchange on Mount Pleasant Road, Mr. Carnicella, 51, has had lengthy and detailed conversations with family members about how to navigate the area safely. > More

Route 30 and Mount Pleasant Road interchange studied
Top highway officials yesterday toured the troublesome intersection of U.S. Route 30 and Mount Pleasant Road in Hempfield, the site of 21 accidents since 2003. Federal Highway Administration official Rick Capka was invited to visit by U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Upper St. Clair, who was contacted by local residents with traffic and safety concerns about the interchange. It has nine separate entrances and exits within 400 feet, and is surrounded by development. > More

Dangerous intersection could cost 'large dollars'
Screeching tires burn Monsignor Raymond Riffle’s ears every day. The pastor at Our Lady of Grace Church along Mt. Pleasant Road near the Route 30 interchange in Hempfield Township lives and works at what’s become one of the most dangerous intersections in the region. "I’ve called 911 probably five times in my whole life. Three of those times were after I came here," Riffle said. He was among about 50 people to attend a town hall meeting on the intersection on Monday hosted by U.S. > More

Murphy Brings Top Highway Official to Westmoreland
Washington, Sep 18 - With recent development throughout Southwestern Pennsylvania, the region’s transportation needs are rapidly changing. Congressman Tim Murphy (PA-18) invited Federal Highway Administrator Rick Capka and Federal Highway Administration (FHA) Pennsylvania Division Administrator James Cheatham to Hempfield Township today to tour the intersection of Mt. Pleasant Road and Route 30, and meet with officials and residents. > More

Irwin acts on storm sewer plan
A reluctant Irwin Council agreed Wednesday night to borrow $768,000 toward the first phase of a state and federally mandated storm and sanitary sewer separation project that will last at least five years and cost about $6 million. The first phase of the three-phase project carries an estimated $1.6 million price tag and will last about a year, according to solicitor Alan Berk. Council last night adopted an ordinance authorizing a $768,000 PennVEST loan, which will be paid off over 20 years. > More

Arnie tees up Laurel Valley Connector
Pro golf icon Arnold Palmer is pushing for a Pennsylvania Turnpike exit that would lead motorists into the Laurel Highlands toward his hometown of Latrobe and the Unity Township airport bearing his name. A concept known as the Laurel Valley Connector has been the subject of on-again, off-again discussion since the 1960s. Palmer said he wants to see the exit at the turnpike’s intersection with Route 981 to be finally built. > More

Demolition issues add up to bad news
Greensburg will be shelling out $100,000 after being ordered to do so by two state agencies over problems with city demolition projects. The city will have to pay $80,000 more to have asbestos removed from buildings under demolition for parking areas. The city also is responsible for paying nearly $20,000 to Laudadio Excavation and Demolition for problems associated with last year’s demolition of the fire-damaged apartment building at 303 E. > More

$1.75M in grants will aid conservation
Land conservation efforts received a major boost on Thursday as Westmoreland County commissioners awarded $1.75 million in grants to 21 projects. Commissioners set aside $363,000 for the creation of a trust fund designed to preserve open spaces in developed areas. Ted Kopas, aide to Commissioner Tom Balya, said the trust was the centerpiece of allocations. "We want to preserve tracts of land threatened by development. > More

Retail project 2 years off
Developing the former Buncher property in Murrysville into a retail center featuring two major stores likely will not happen in the next year even if it is rezoned. Steven Victor of Victor-Wetzel Associates, a planner working for property owner Manor Development Group II, acknowledged that prospect Tuesday after making a presentation to Murrysville’s planning commission. "I think, realistically, it’s two years," Victor said. > More

Starbucks courts Murrysville
Starbucks and Murrysville seem to go together like, ahh, coffee and cream -- and it looks like a match destined to happen. Murrysville’s planning commission Tuesday night heard a proposal for a Starbucks coffee shop along Route 22. The plan for coffee shop at the site of a former Gulf Oil Co. service station on the northern side of Route 22 was outlined by Randolph L. Bowers of Civil and Environmental Technologies LLC on behalf of the Seattle-based corporation. > More

County, WCCC put ball in play
Westmoreland County officials want to take another run at bringing minor league baseball to the area. Discussions are under way that could lead to the renovation of the baseball field at Westmoreland County Community College in Hempfield Township. Preliminary plans call for construction of a 2,500-seat grandstand and upgraded locker rooms and concessions. The facility would serve as a home ballpark to a Frontier League team, the same independent minor league that includes the Washington Wild Things. > More

Short Rostraver airstrip may deter fliers
Several times a month, Jerry Borrasso fires up his Falcon 50 jet, spends 15 minutes performing routine checks, and embarks on a six-minute flight. The Rostraver Airport-based Execujet Inc. pilot flies over McKeesport at about 2,500 feet before touching down in West Mifflin in Allegheny County for fuel and a longer runway. Although Rostraver sells some of the cheapest fuel in the region, its 4,000-foot runway is so short that the full tank required by the FAA can make a plane too heavy for a safe takeoff. > More

Reaction to Irwin Comprehensive Plan Mixed
Over the past 10 months, Irwin residents watched a comprehensive plan for the future of their town take shape through a series of public meetings and workshops. Now in the home stretch, a group of nearly 40 residents turned out to hear a summation Tuesday evening at a question-and-answer session hosted by the Irwin planning commission and presented by the borough’s planning consultant. Eric Fulmer, of Mullen and Lonergan, a Pittsburgh consulting firm, offered a slide presentation that separated the borough into five neighborhoods and laid out suggestions for improvements. > More

Fence Proves Un-pallet-able for Some
Murrysville officials call it debris, but Ronald Thompson calls the structure along his property a fence. A Westmoreland County judge may get the last word on what the 800-foot-long line of black-, orange- and yellow-painted wooden pallets is. Mayor Joyce Somers said Thompson was cited on Friday by Code Enforcement Officer Tom McGuire for having debris, including the pallets, on the 27-acre Kemmerer Hollow Road property where he lives. > More

Curve on Rt. 981 blamed for crashes
A Mt. Pleasant Township man wants PennDOT to install a guide rail to stop vehicles from careening into his aunt’s yard and house, but the state agency may lack the authority. A car went off Route 981 at Magnolia Drive in Calumet around noon Tuesday and struck a house owned by 79-year-old Margaret Osif. Osif wasn’t home at the time of the accident, said her nephew, David Barlock, also of Calumet. > More

Planners reject development plan
North Huntingdon Township planners voted unanimously Monday night to recommend that the board of commissioners deny the latest version of a subdivision proposal and site plan for commercial development across from the Norwin Hills Shopping Center. The vote marks the second time planners have rejected a proposal by WD North Huntingdon Investors to develop property along Norwin Avenue. Read More  > More

Greensburg sets sights on beauty
It was standing-room only in Greensburg City Hall on Monday night as members of the planning commission listened to citizens’ ideas concerning a zoning ordinance to create "gateway overlay districts." Planning Director Barbara Ciampini said the districts would strengthen the city visually (specifically at major entry and exit points) and make the area more pedestrian-friendly while creating a mixed-use neighborhood and protecting natural resources. > More

Route 22 work renewed
Another phase of the Route 22 reconstruction is under way. Ground was broken Monday on a $51 million project covering a 4.3-mile stretch of the highway. "It is important for the continued stability and continued growth of our economy here that we continue to make transportation improvements," Gov. Ed Rendell said at a groundbreaking ceremony in Derry Township. "This is crucial for a number of things -- our way of life, (and) of course, safety. > More

Mellon money saves millions of U.S. acres
The late Constance Prosser Mellon rode horses nearly every day and frequently led camping trips to Alaska, where the family matriarch once pulled a guide’s bad tooth without any medical assistance. Her sons Richard and Prosser kept raccoons, deer, a fox and skunk as pets while they were children in the 1950s. "We grew up with the outdoors at the center of our lives," Richard Mellon once said. > More

Greensburg may spruce up welcome mats
Gianna Capozoli said she supports an effort by Greensburg officials to create mixed-use neighborhoods if it makes the streets leading into the city look more appealing. "I think it’s a great idea," said Capozoli, owner of The Everyday Gourmet Bakery and Bistro on East Pittsburgh Street. "I think it would bring a better feel to the area." Greensburg Planner Barb Ciampini said the city hopes to set up so-called gateway overlay districts on the roads to make them more pedestrian-oriented and to allow for more diverse property uses. > More

Retail project in the works
A team of local developers are planning a big-box shopping center on an 89-acre farm in Murrysville. Dominic Gigliotti, David Trueman and Frank Spagnolo recently purchased the farm on U.S. Route 22 at Berlin Farm Road from the Buncher Family Foundation, which is affiliated with the owners of the Squirrel Hill-based development firm, The Buncher Co. The land sold for $1.9 million, according to Westmoreland County property records. > More

New developer takes swing at building country club homes
Just a few years after previous plans fizzled, a new developer is taking a crack at building almost 600 homes on part of the golf course at River Forest Country Club near Freeport. S&A Homes of State College plans to build 597 units, including townhouses, duplexes, quadplexes and single-family houses, on a dormant nine-hole section of the golf course, as well as along the fairways of the remaining 18-hole course, next to the Allegheny River. > More

'Overlay' may pave the way for Irwin
A vacant school in Irwin may be resurrected as a personal care home because of the incorporation of an overlay zoning district. For communities such as Irwin that are experiencing neighborhood changes, the overlay zoning district can trigger effective, controlled development. "We’re trying to make residents happy, put the building on the tax rolls and take it off the school district’s hands," said council President Danyce Neal. > More

North Huntingdon goes out on limb for trees
Members of North Huntingdon’s planning commission say they don’t mind sinking some green into preserving tree-lined streets in township neighborhoods. Township commissioners had asked planners to reconsider the street tree ordinance when concerns surfaced about the cost of maintaining trees over the years. The ordinance was incorporated into the township’s 2000 comprehensive plan and requires subdivisions to plant a street tree for each house approximately 70-80 feet apart in the right of way. > More

Sewickley Township takes slow approach on zoning
Douglas Ward climbed the steep hillside next to his home in Sewickley Township where a field, stretching to a far tree line, commands a spectacular view of the countryside. "I like to live in the open space," said Ward, a retired school teacher. He mentioned some housing developments in neighboring North Huntingdon Township -- spacious, pricey homes squeezed onto small lots. "This is much, much better," he said. > More

Adding 46 houses gets initial approval
Forty-six single-family houses will be added to the Rolling Ridge Estates plan in Murrysville, pending an agreement between the developer and the sewage authority. Murrysville Council on Wednesday approved the plan, the final phase of the planned residential development located at School Road South and Haymaker Farm Road. The approval, which includes the waiver of several development standards, is contingent upon the Franklin Township Municipal Sanitary Authority’s concurrence with the developer’s sewage plan. > More

Murphy backs intersection fix
Elaine Semenko, of Hempfield Township, told U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy, of Allegheny County, on Monday about the accidents she has seen near the intersection of Mt. Pleasant Road and Route 30. "We stand at our kitchen window and watch people hit one another," said Semenko, who lives on Towne Square Drive, about 200 feet from the intersection. About 40 people discussed the intersection with Murphy, an Upper St. > More

Planned ordinance draws opposition
Although the proposed Salem Township land development ordinance changed, the opposition to it did not. That was clear at Thursday’s public hearing on the ordinance, which would establish some detailed standards for developing land in the rural township and controlling growth. Until now, the township has followed Westmoreland County’s basic land development ordinance and overall has few development regulations of its own. > More

Irwin residents trade views on streetscape changes
Irwin Project chairman Bob Michaud joked that the previous public meeting attracted just 30 people, but sending out a postcard asking for input on spending a $2 million state grant brought four times that number Wednesday night. Around 120 Irwin residents jammed the Covenant Hall basement to tell planning consultants exactly what they thought of suggestions for streetscape improvements to bring folks into Irwin. > More

NEWS RELEASE - Route 30 Master Plan RFP Announcement
As a result of the Route 30 Master Plan RFQ, the Smart Growth Partnership of Westmoreland County, in affiliation with the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg, has invited four firms to submit proposals. Those firms are; URS, Parsons Brinkerhoff, Orth-Rodgers, and Renaissance Group. Proposals are due to be submitted by 3:00 pm Friday, July 21, 2006. > More

Commuter program brings carpoolers together
Rare are the people who are able to commute from their home to their business and stay within the borders of the same town. People who live in the suburbs quickly find that they need to commute somewhere else for their jobs. But those commutes are taxing on workers’ patience and pocketbooks. With the high price of gasoline, it’s no wonder that more and more people are trying to find other ways to work in the morning. > More

Nailing it
Tina Thomas was having trouble finding the right words to describe the way she felt. After all, she was watching people build what is going to be a new two-bedroom, ranch-style home for her and her daughter, Rachael, 19, who has cerebral palsy. For the last six years, they’ve lived in a second-floor, one-bedroom apartment. The lack of an elevator in the building makes it difficult for Thomas to transport her wheelchair-bound daughter to and from the apartment. > More

Church plan gets supervisors' approval
By adhering to Ligonier Township’s building height guidelines, developers of a proposed nondenominational church got the go-ahead Tuesday from the supervisors for what would be the second-largest project in the township. The board granted a conditional-use permit for Grace Community Church of the Valley, to be built on the former Shirey Farm property on the north side of Route 30, so that the building can exceed the height limit of 35 feet. > More

Ligonier Twp. church plan advances
Construction of a nondenominational church that would be Ligonier Township’s second-largest building project may soon get the go-ahead, according to architect Joseph Bleehash of Foothills Architecture and Consulting, Latrobe. Last week, the planning commission approved a revised site plan for Grace Community Church of the Valley on the former Shirey Farm property on the north side of Route 30. > More

Big Transit rides again
Two Fridays ago the folks responsible for the Pittsburgh region’s collection of mass transit boondoggles and inadequate highways uncorked another mega transportation/planning study. Ignored and unread by the tax-paying masses, as these dangerous things always are, it’s called "A Regional Strategic Vision for Public Transportation Serving Southwestern Pennsylvania" -- "20/20 Transit Vision" for short. > More

Mon-Fayette Expressway funds may fall short
The estimated cost of the Mon-Fayette Expressway and Southern Beltway has jumped by $1.4 billion -- to $5.4 billion -- during the past five years and completion of the roads may be too expensive. That’s the conclusion of a report that will be released today by the Urban Land Institute, a national organization of mostly architects, developers and real estate professionals with 200 members in the Pittsburgh chapter. > More

Greensburg-Pittsburgh rail system gets support from public
The congested road into Pittsburgh led Vicky Vrabel to quit a good job. The Hempfield Township woman said she would be putting in 60-hour work weeks -- 40 hours working at Highmark and another 20 just getting back and forth. Vrabel was one of about 25 people who attended a public meeting Monday night on a prospective rail system between Greensburg and Pittsburgh. Planners expect that the trains would appeal to commuters while boosting the regional economy. > More

Unity Twp. to get grant for comprehensive plan
In the mission to revise Unity Township’s comprehensive plan, supervisors helped to ensure that residents will get back what they’re paying for and then some. The board recently was told the township would receive a $76,200 grant from the state Department of Community and Economic Development toward completion of the $150,000 plan. Supervisor Mike O’Barto said the township was awarded the funds because the board pledged to budget for $75,000 in expenditures between this year and 2008 to match money made available for the plan’s completion. > More

Public can affect eastern transit service
Transit leaders want to get input on improving service in the densely populated eastern suburbs during five hearings scheduled for today and Tuesday. Officials intend to narrow the list of five proposals -- including commuter rail service, extending the T or building the East Busway beyond Swissvale -- within six months. They say the decision will be based largely on what the public has to say. Read More  > More

For the Pittsburgh region, change is busting out all over
Despite city’s reputation for resistance, many areas of civic life head in a new direction Consider the past year’s transitions in a city known to view change with the same hesitation its drivers use to approach tunnels: A boosterish, clean-up-the-city mayor, replacing an aloof 12-year incumbent, focuses immediately on carrying out long-stalled plans to revitalize Downtown. Read More  > More

Forum: All together now (for real)
In Pittsburgh legend, city neighborhoods are stubbornly independent. But these days, as DIANA NELSON JONES chronicles, a new spirit of cooperation prevails -- with results to prove it Hundreds of neighborhood mavens met last fall at a Town Hall Summit on the South Side, hoping to collaborate on a unified vision to present to the new mayor. They divided into groups to discuss crime, funding sources, slumlords and other quality-of-neighborhood topics. > More

Forum: Public transit -- we're all in it
We love our cars, but the reality has changed. A new vision for transit is crucial to this region’s well-being, says CAREN GLOTFELTY Gasoline prices spike above $3 a gallon; American Society of Civil Engineers issues a "D" grade on condition of Pennsylvania’s roads and bridges; state and federal budgets for new highways shrinking. Pick up any newspaper or catch any news broadcast in our region these days and you’re bound to get sobering headlines like these. > More

Pa. study emphasizes transit-development link
Communities in 10 Western Pennsylvania counties should follow Cranberry’s lead by better coordinating public transportation expansion with economic development, according to a $2 million study released Friday. Cranberry officials long have recognized the link between development and transit. The township’s comprehensive plan, written in 1995, overhauled the municipal code to make development more dense, preserve green space and make public transit a consideration. > More

Smart Growth Proponents Honored for Work
Betty Jean Chase’s life got a lot easier last year after she moved to Latrobe’s Lloyd Avenue. Before then, Chase, a 36-year-old single mother, lived with her two kids in the Trafford home of her father, Russ Geiger, 68. "That got a little cramped," Chase said, adding that she has a medical condition that required a 35-minute drive to a specialist at Diagnostic Associates in Latrobe. Chase and her family landed one of 18 houses built in a $3.6 million project by the nonprofit Homes Build Hope Inc. > More

Land-use ordinance raises stir
About 100 people gathered at the Slickville fire hall Thursday night for the first of two public hearings supervisors are holding on a proposed subdivision and land-development ordinance in Salem Township. The 73-page ordinance provides regulations that range from parking to stormwater management to property setbacks. Many of those who spoke last night criticized the ordinance. Read More  > More

HARRISBURG - Governor Edward G. Rendell today said Pennsylvania children will have safer routes to school and residents will enjoy improved trails, transportation facilities and hometown streets with a $115 million investment made today. "Investing in small and mid-size towns is critical for Pennsylvania’s future. Funding projects that make our roads safer, make our streets more appealing and preserve historic transportation facilities translates to a brighter future for our children and opens the door for more economic opportunities for Pennsylvanians," Governor Rendell said. > More

Latrobe takes big steps toward revitalization
The city of Latrobe sank sizable stock into its revitalization Monday. City council voted 6-0 to authorize the Latrobe Community Revitalization Program to apply for a $175,000 grant from the Pennsylvania Main Street program to finance new storefront facades and other shopper-friendly aesthetic enhancements. With the vote, council also agreed to contribute $30,000 in local funding to help meet the Main Street program’s matching fund requirements via $6,000 annual payments for five years, said city Solicitor James E. > More

Salem Twp. seeks feedback on proposed land-use ordinance
The battle of individual property rights versus local government regulation will flare again in Salem Township. On Thursday and Friday, supervisors will conduct public hearings at 7 p.m. in the Slickville fire hall to receive feedback from residents on a proposed subdivision and land-development ordinance. The 73-page ordinance provides regulations for development that range from parking to stormwater management to setback requirements in the township of about 7,000 people. > More

Residents want lower speeds on Route 819
In the more than 50 years since Delmus Loughner moved into his house on Route 819, the Greensburg man has noticed a marked increase in the number of vehicles that use the two-lane state road. In fact, he said, traffic is now so heavy that it’s difficult for he and other residents to pull out of their driveways. "If we go up our driveway, we very seldom can go out on the road, we have to wait," said Loughner. > More

Irwin's future a two-way street?
When Al Lardo moved from Pittsburgh to Irwin a decade ago, he envisioned a downtown business district with unique, artsy shops much like the Shadyside neighborhood he left behind. "I envisioned another Shadyside, with quality businesses and things you can’t find on an everyday trip to the mall," he said. True to his vision, Lardo owns a downtown Irwin building that houses a bookstore and the Green Bough Holistic Learning Center. > More

Regional transportation troubles, steady financing targeted again
Local organizations have teamed up to head off a looming transit crisis at year’s end and try again to convince lawmakers that dedicated funding is the long-term solution. Sustainable Pittsburgh, an environmental-urban growth group, brought together civic, government and business officials at the Regional Enterprise Tower this week to launch the "Transportation Funding Initiative." Read More  > More

Accident scene noted for speeders
In 1998, Victor and Kathleen Sinemus grieved with Cliff and Millie Felton after the Feltons’ 38-year-old daughter, Renee Pierdominici, was killed in a multivehicle accident at Smith Hill Road and Route 30 in Unity Township. "Cliff and I go back a long way, all the way to high school, long before we had kids," said Victor Sinemus, of Derry. In her teens, Pierdominici worked with the Sinemus’ daughter, Vicki, at Derry Florist and Greenhouse while the two attended Derry Area High School. > More

NEWS RELEASE - Route 30 Master Plan RFQ Announcement
The Smart Growth Partnership of Westmoreland County in affiliation with University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg intends to hire a consultant for the development of a Master Plan for US Route 30 in Westmoreland County. The Route 30 Master Plan will be a strategic blueprint for Westmoreland County’s growth corridor. The plan will utilize sound transportation and land use planning to develop cost-conscious investment priorities, intelligent approaches to congestion management and multi-municipal development regulations and design guidelines. > More

Sewickley Twp. seeks tax hike for library
Sewickley Township residents are being asked to give a little more in local taxes to get a return on state dollars for library funding. Township voters will be posed with a library tax referendum when they go to the polls May 16. A yes vote would support a plan to raise property taxes by .85 mill, or a total of nearly $45,000 annually, to fund the Sewickley Township Public Library. It would equal an extra $12 or so for a taxpayer with property assessed at or near the average value of about $15,000, said Barbara McMillan, library board president. > More

Housing plan doesn't offer the right green
A "green" housing development wasn’t exactly the type of "green" most North Huntingdon commissioners felt could be produced by rezoning an industrial tract to residential. This week, the board shot down a proposed rezoning of about 30 acres along Colonial Manor Road, despite a positive recommendation by the planning commission and the support of the Westmoreland County Conservation District. > More

Sheetz gets county OK for new store in Latrobe
Plans for a new Sheetz store at a busy Latrobe intersection got the green light Wednesday from Westmoreland County engineer Henry G. Fitz. Fitz said the county will issue a waiver to PennDOT for the county-owned Ligonier Street Extension at state Route 982 on behalf of the project traffic engineer, David E. Wooster and Associates of Pittsburgh. Sheetz Corp., of Altoona, plans to build the store bordering the eastbound lane of Ligonier Street Extension and the northbound lane of Route 982, according to Sheetz spokesman David P. > More

Land sale interests housing authority
Developers have been showing interest in the Westmoreland County Housing Authority headquarters property located near a growing Hempfield Township business district. Authority members are thinking about cashing in. There have been no offers made, but authority Executive Director Michael Washowich told his board of directors on Tuesday that developers have been asking about the land. The 55-acre grounds near the intersection of Route 30 and South Greengate Road in Hempfield Township contain administrative offices but no public housing. > More

Ligonier warned to protect itself for future mining
Over time, the effect of surface mining throughout Indian Creek Watershed in Fayette County has become distressingly obvious to Bev Braverman, executive director of the Mountain Watershed Association. "The Indian Creek Watershed is totally mined out, and the drainage into our streams are like open sores," said Braverman at Tuesday’s Ligonier Township supervisors meeting. "If you don’t take some really proactive steps, Loyalhanna Watershed will look like ours." Braverman distributed a 2004 document from the state Department of Environmental Protection that reviews various mining-rel > More

Hempfield amends zoning rules
Hempfield Township supervisors have approved an amendment that allows businesses to seek permission to locate in residentially zoned areas. The amendment to the township’s zoning ordinance sets up two business transition overlay districts, one along Towne Square Drive at Greensburg-Mt. Pleasant Road, the other along Route 136 from South Greengate Road to Hempfield Area Senior High School. A business can now be placed in either area, both of which are currently zoned residential, after obtaining a special exception from the zoning hearing board. > More

New Web site aims to unite Latrobe area
The Greater Latrobe Community Network is seeking area residents and businesses to participate on its newly designed interactive Web site, www.greaterlatrobe.net. The nonprofit group asked for support Thursday from roughly 20 community leaders, organizations and schools from Latrobe, Unity Township, Derry Township, Derry Borough, Youngstown Borough and New Alexandria. "We’ve tried to make this an informative, interactive, intergenerational Web site, and now to make this a successful Web site, we need your support," said network administrator John Senko at Arnold Palmer Regional Airport. > More

Irwin prepares for difficult goodbye to Isaly's
Ethel Lewis sat in a booth at Isaly’s Bakery Dairy and Deli along Main Street in Irwin reminiscing about the business’ six-decade history over a cup of coffee and a fresh doughnut. Lewis, 89, and her late husband, Arthur, opened the business in December 1945 after her husband convinced Pittsburgh-area manager Henry Isaly that they had the ideal location. "He told him he had the best building in Irwin on the best side of the street. > More

Municipal Authority to break ground
Construction of a $9 million headquarters for the Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County is scheduled to begin this week. Water authority officials plan to break ground on Friday in New Stanton. The building, to be located next to the Turnpike Commission’s Western Regional building at the Arona Road exit of the Amos K. Hutchinson Bypass, is expected to be open by July 2007. Authority Executive Director Chris Kerr said the public water agency has outgrown its current office space at Route 30 and South Greengate Road in Hempfield Township. > More

UPG president a chancellor finalist
The president of the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg is one of four finalists scheduled to interview for a similar position at a Minnesota campus this month. Frank A. Cassell, UPG’s president since 1997, will head to the University of Minnesota, Morris, April 17 to interview for the chancellor job there, that university reported on its Web site. Cassell, 65, acknowledged his finalist status in a prepared statement issued by UPG Friday. > More

National Award for Smart Growth Achievement
2006 Call for Entries The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is pleased to announce that applications are now being accepted for the fifth annual National Award for Smart Growth Achievement. This competition is open to local or state governments and other public sector entities that have used the principles of smart growth to create better places and improve the environment. This year, applications will be accepted in five categories: •Built Projects •Policies and Regulations •Small Communities •Equitable Development •Overall Excellence in Smart Growth Applications are due on May 1, 2 > More

County offices are growing up
By February, the one-story Courthouse Square Extension in downtown Greensburg is expected to stand 85 feet in the air, a five-story beacon of Westmoreland County’s economic future and a monument to a changing county seat. Under plans unveiled Thursday, construction will begin within eight weeks. The 11-year-old building is located at the intersection of Pennsylvania Avenue and West Otterman Street, behind the Courthouse Annex. > More

Blizzard of savings aids roads
PennDOT expects a little extra money in its coffers for road improvements this spring, thanks to the mild winter. "Right now, at this point, we’re predicting a savings of $8 million to $10 million (statewide)," said PennDOT spokesman Steve Chizmar. Area municipalities also saved, and the added money will be used for road improvements or kept for next winter, local officials said. PennDOT’s savings in its $175 million budget mostly came in two areas -- winter overtime costs and material purchases, Chizmar said. > More

Rostraver runway plan concerns residents
Some residents worry that a project to help pilots land safely at Rostraver Airport could cause problems for traffic on the ground. A proposed runway buffer zone would extend 300 feet beyond the 4,000-foot runway, splitting apart a stretch of homes and businesses between Westmoreland and Allegheny counties known as Airport Road. About two dozen people attended a Rostraver Township commissioners meeting on Monday to voice concerns about the prospective closure. > More

Supervisors hire employee for public works, parks
Hempfield Township supervisors on Monday hired a deputy director/assistant superintendent of parks for the Public Works Department. Douglas J. Cisco, of Fosterville Road, will be paid $40,000 annually to start. After a six-month probationary period, his annual salary will increase to $43,000. Cisco fills a position that has been vacant for at least two years, Supervisor Kim Ward said. Currently, Cisco is director of sports recreation for Hidden Valley Four Seasons Resort. > More

Rostraver Airport project to be on display
Picture this: A single-engine jet overshoots the runway at Rostraver Airport. In a failed attempt to stop, the aircraft tumbles through a wire fence at the bottom of a 15-foot embankment. It slams into asphalt. It cartwheels down a second embankment, this one 45 feet, toward Route 51. Those in charge of the 300-acre airport have kept their fingers crossed that that never happens. But under federal regulations, they have to do more. > More

Recreation director likes to be out of the office
Don’t let the official title fool you. You might expect a director of any municipal department to spend a great deal of time behind a desk, but not Chandra Scheftic. As the new director of recreation programming in North Huntingdon Township, the 23-year-old has a craving for outdoor activity and plans to be a familiar face in the community’s 10 parks and six ball fields. "I’ve always been an active person, and outdoors person," she said, noting that she has competed in track and cross country events, races mountain bikes and spent time as a whitewater rafting guide in North C > More

Seton Hill project jumps $7 million
The cost of Seton Hill University’s proposed Center for the Performing Arts in Westmoreland County has jumped to $19 million, up $7 million from earlier estimates. University officials are looking to complete the formerly three-phase project in one phase by late 2008 or early 2009, university President JoAnne Boyle said. "What we’ve really been able to do, because our funding source has been so strong, is add the remaining two phases to the project so we can do the whole thing in one effort," Boyle said. > More

State funding will hold down sewer rates
Another rate increase probably won’t be needed soon for customers of the Greater Greensburg Sewage Authority, the authority’s manager said Wednesday. The authority expects to receive nearly $5.5 million in a state loan and a grant to help with improvements, officials said yesterday. "I think it will help the construction costs, obviously. And we won’t have to consider a rate increase anytime in the near future," said Gino Rizzi, authority manager. > More

Local entrepreneurs aim to claim a share of fast-growing self-storage market
After his mother-in-law suffered a stroke two years ago and had to move from her home, Jim Bollman needed a place to store her furniture and personal belongings. Darrell Sapp, Post-Gazette Jim Bollman, above, and Phil Duvall are the owners of Space To Go, a storage company that launched its products this month at the Pittsburgh Home & Garden Show. What started out as a quest to relocate the stuff out of his suburban garage, eventually resulted in a new mobile storage company, Space-to-Go, a spinoff from his primary business that makes industrial tanks and storage vessels. > More

Proposed land use ordinance advances
The Salem Township Supervisors on Thursday night approved a motion to advertise for a public hearing on a proposed Subdivision and Land Development Ordinance for the township. The proposed ordinance ostensibly is meant to provide some township oversight on development although the final draft has not been made public. Any potential for government regulation of privately owned land usually spurs adamant opposition by at least some residents. > More

Residents object to commercial use of school lot
Neighbors of a closed Irwin school building made it clear Monday night that any development of the idle 1.5-acre site should be of the residential persuasion. A standing-room-only crowd that included mostly neighbors, peppered with some council and planning commission members, told the borough’s planning consultants any commercial or high-density developments would be unacceptable. Read More  > More

Latrobe residents speak out on zoning ordinance
A crowd of roughly 60 Latrobe residents coaxed City Council into tabling a vote Monday on a revised city zoning ordinance and map by voicing concerns over how such changes might mar their neighborhoods. "We have to preserve the quality of this community, and while the revised ordinance might help out with commercial development in the city, it might also help erode our residential areas," said James Okonak, executive director of the McFeely-Rogers Foundation, at a public comment session before a meeting on the zoning ordinance revision. > More

Planners back new school
North Huntingdon planners have recommended that township commissioners approve construction of Hahntown Elementary School. The township planning commission approved the plan Monday night after the project’s architect, acting on behalf of the Norwin School District, agreed to include a paved sidewalk that will link the elementary school to the high school. Read More  > More

Latrobe sees big role for small-town appeal
The early vision for a revitalized Latrobe is a safer, more marketable, attractive city benefiting residents and visitors. Public input gathered since Feb. 2 by the Latrobe Community Revitalization Committee culminated in Thursday’s third and final "visioning" workshop, where city officials, residents and growth experts discussed exactly how to make that vision a reality. Read More  > More

Briefings on transit alternatives from Downtown to Westmoreland County
Officials continue to study transit alternatives in five corridors from Downtown east into Westmoreland County. A first round of public briefings will be held as part of the planning effort following the Eastern Corridor Transit Study completed in 2003. Each will consist of a 45-minute presentation that will be followed by a 45-minute question-and-answer period. Read more  > More

Neighbor may sue to stop crematorium
Belle Vernon resident Jim Lori lives a block away from a garage in which a crematorium is to be installed. He plans to meet with a lawyer this morning in hopes that the plans can be stopped. Read More  > More

Hempfield to rework zoning amendment
A proposed amendment that would allow businesses to locate in residentially zoned areas in Hempfield Township was sent back to the drawing board after homeowners told supervisors it isn’t restrictive enough. The amendment to the township’s zoning ordinance would have allowed for two business transition overlay districts in residential areas: one along Towne Square Drive at Greensburg-Mt. > More

B&Bs to be OK'd
It comes down to a difference of opinion in Delmont, where it appears the bed-and-breakfast industry could be welcome by next month. Borough officials, on the advice of newly appointed Solicitor Daniel J. Hewitt, are looking to amend the borough zoning ordinance and allow residential homes to be open to paying sleep-over guests Read More > More

Smart growth initiatives slowly but surely take root in region
In a region where economic growth has been far from certain since the collapse of the steel industry, the prospects of a smart growth movement in the Pittsburgh region might seem unlikely. Yet advocacy for smart growth -- which emphasizes maintaining the value of established communities and preserving rural areas as a method to make best use of public and private resources -- continues to grow in southwestern Pennsylvania. > More

Hempfield hires planner/development director
Hempfield Township supervisors have selected a Clarion County man to serve as township planner and director of community development. Benjamin J. Breniman, of Shippenville, will be paid $50,000 annually. During a special meeting Wednesday, supervisors also approved a month-to-month lease agreement with Breniman for his use of a township-owned house located in Hempfield Park. Breniman will pay $450 per month and utility costs. > More

Former U.S. Steel chief, wife buy 117-acre Girl Scout camp near Rector
A longtime summer sanctuary in eastern Westmoreland County for Girl Scouts will soon be transformed into a retreat for inner-city children. United States Steel Corp.’s retired chairman, Thomas J. Usher, and his wife, Sandra, recently founded a nonprofit corporation that purchased Laurel Mountain Camp, near Rector, from the now-defunct Girl Scout Council of Westmoreland for $1.375 million. Read more > More

4th Annual Smart Growth Awards Dinner Call for Nominations
CALL FOR NOMINATIONS 2006 SMART GROWTH AWARDS The Smart Growth Partnership of Westmoreland County will be recognizing smart growth developments, plans and individuals/groups that have distinguished themselves by achieving the smart growth cause at its Fourth Annual Awards Dinner on Thursday, May 18, 2006. Categories include: Existing Development Proposed Development Municipal Plan Implementation Community Service Student Award Criterion for judging - 10 Smart Growth Principles Mix land uses Take advantage of compact building design Create a range of housing opportunities and choices Create wal > More

Latrobe residents start to envision future today
The Latrobe Community Revitalization Program invites people to the first of three public Visioning Workshops to be held today at 7 p.m. in the Latrobe Municipal Building, City Council Chambers. Alex Graziani, director of Smart Growth Partnership of Westmoreland County, the program board of directors and committee volunteers will be on hand to listen to citizens’ ideas and visions on the future of Latrobe. > More

Forum targets Rte. 30
Growing up in Rochester, N.Y., Pennsylvania Secretary of Transportation Allen Biehler knew nearby U.S. Route 104 as a two-lane road. "When I left there, though, it was five lanes, and that sounds a lot like what (U.S.) Route 30 might be over time," Biehler said Friday at the Westmoreland County Route 30 Task Force Summit in Unity Township. "In some ways it was good, I suppose, because (U.S. Route 104) handled more traffic and there was a need for that." Read More  > More

Rte. 30 plan altered
In time, Unity Township supervisors say the intersection at routes 30 and 981 could be the busiest in Westmoreland County. Roughly 30,000 cars pass daily through the junction on the way to such places as Arnold Palmer Regional Airport, St. Vincent College, the Fred Rogers Center, the Winnie Palmer Nature Reserve, Westmoreland Industrial Park and Kennametal Inc. Read more  > More

Costs could damper sewage project speed
Mt. Pleasant Township officials are moving ahead with the design phase of a sewage treatment project that they hope eventually will serve almost 1,000 homes and businesses, but rising costs could put a crimp in those plans. The project, designed to serve 955 customers in United, Hecla, Calumet and parts of Norvelt, has been in the planning stages for about five years. Read more  > More

Unity votes to apply for grant
Unity Township supervisors voted Tuesday to apply for a $75,000 state grant to help defray the cost of revising the township’s 20-year comprehensive plan and land-use plan. Read more  > More

Planning commission balance questioned
With a population of about 41,000, Greene County has five elected and appointed members on the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission, the same as Allegheny County with a population of 1.3 million. Consequently, rural Greene County has as many votes as urban Allegheny on the 67-member SPC board, which also serves as the metropolitan planning organization, or MPO, responsible for prioritizing hundreds of millions of dollars in state and federal transportation funds to the 10-county region. > More

The Make Up of Metropolitan Planning
Metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs), often the conduit through which billions of federal and state transportation dollars flow for regional transportation investments, hold major responsibilities for metropolitan growth patterns as well as the creation of economic and social opportunity. Yet, these boards are generally not elected, nor are they required by law to have representational voting. > More

Could Smart Growth Tip the Next Presidential Election?
Talk about stirring a state, and perhaps a nation, to rein in sprawl and ease congestion. Last Monday, the newly-elected centrist Democrat Timothy M. Kaine marched into the General Assembly and told lawmakers that his first priority as Virginia’s governor is giving local leaders the authority to block new housing and business construction if roads cannot handle the increased traffic. Read more  > More

Development plan approved
Monroeville’s new comprehensive development plan has a component its predecessor did not: a catalyst to get things done, one councilman says. "The difference between the new comprehensive plan and the old one is this one has a ’strategic action plan’ which is critical," Councilman Dave Kucherer said. "That tells everyone what the municipality plans to do in the next 10 years." Read more  > More

Moving forward: Murrysville community profile
Volunteerism is at the heart and soul of Murrysville. "We get a lot done without our taxpayers having to pay for it because of the people in our municipality. They step forward when things need done," said Mayor Joyce Somers. "Our volunteerism makes us a special town." In December, council members presented the Murrysville planning commission -- Jeff Franke, Robert Mitall, Frank Muzika, Ron O’Toole, Rachel Remlinger, William Yant Jr., and Charles Yates -- its volunteer of the year award for work on the zoning map. > More

DEP delays mining application
The state Department of Environmental Protection on Monday told Amerikohl Mining that its permit application for the A&R surface mine atop Chestnut Ridge in Ligonier and Derry townships requires more work, said Amerikohl attorney David C. Pohland. In December, DEP official Scott Bradley said the Stahlstown company could not mine about 60 acres of the Brookville coal seam for fear of an acid mine discharge at the Hanson Aggregates property off Latrobe Quarry Road. > More

Skate park among plaza proposals
The North Huntingdon Township Zoning Hearing Board is considering a request by Clay Pike Development to locate a soft-serve ice cream business and an indoor skateboarding facility in a plaza at 2021 Clay Pike Road. The plaza, located at the intersection of Clay Pike and Barnes Lake roads, already has a dry-cleaning business, a pizza parlor, a tanning salon and a convenience store, but two storefronts -- one 1,800 square feet and the other 800 square feet -- have yet to be leased. > More

Airport authority OKs increased budge
Westmoreland County Airport Authority on Tuesday adopted a budget of about $1.9 million for 2006. The spending plan, passed unanimously at the board’s regular meeting yesterday, represents an increase of nearly 2.5 percent over last year’s and shows a slight decrease in the amount contributed by the county. Read more  > More

Zoning changed to allow more senior citizens apartments
In one of the first official acts of the new year, Cranberry supervisors put in place the zoning for a second senior citizens apartment complex in the township. Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to extend special zoning known as the Traditional Neighborhood District to five acres on the west side of Powell Road, across from the Park Place development that is being built. Read more  > More

Arnold Palmer Airport looks to spread its wings
Bad weather and reduced business traffic had fewer people flying Northwest Airlines out of Arnold Palmer Regional Airport in December, but airport officials have been looking forward to 2006 and hope to increase service this year, possibly by adding a second airline. Read more  > More

Planners OK more homes for Lemon Road
Unity Township Planning Commission on Tuesday granted preliminary approval to a fourth subdivision that could bring 21 additional homes to the Yok-Wood Ridge Plan on Lemon Road. The building plan for the roughly 8-acre parcel must still be approved by township supervisors, the municipal authority, township engineer Dan Schmitt of Gibson-Thomas Engineering Co. Inc., Latrobe, and the state Department of Environmental Protection, said project engineer Stephen Pilipovich of Tri-County Engineering, LLC. > More

Wal-Mart traffic study snubs Irwin officials
As the reality of a new Wal-Mart begins to materialize in North Huntingdon Township, officials in neighboring Irwin are seeing red at not being included in the traffic study plans. "We have been overlooked. There are two lights in their synchronization plans that are in Irwin Borough and we’d like to be included in these talks. PennDOT should have at least asked us how it will affect us. It will be sending more traffic onto Pennsylvania Avenue, Ash Street and Brush Hill Road," Council President Danyce Neal said Tuesday. > More

An Inherit Bias?
Geographic and Rural Ethnic Patterns of Metropolitan Planning. Read More  > More

Mayors look ahead to new year
When Michael Cafasso took over the mayor’s job in Jeannette last January after John Kisic resigned, he had one major goal -- to bring a grocery store back into the community. That goal was realized when the Save-A-Lot store on Lowry Avenue opened at the site of the former Sparkle Market, which closed in December 2004. Read more  > More

Managed Competition
There are two schools of thought regarding architectural competitions. One is that they bring out a higher standard of work by challenging the best designers and allowing a real comparison of artistic possibilities, in a way that handshake deals with favorite boardroom architects do not allow. The other is that competitions cause architects to work hurriedly and in isolation from their clients, short-circuiting important feedback that would improve their designs. > More

Traffic impact fees introduced
Marshall supervisors hope a new fee charged to all new developers will improve roads and alleviate future traffic problems. The traffic impact fee ordinance will force all future developers to pay for road improvements that additional traffic will require. Read more  > More

Land development up for vote
North Huntingdon Township commissioners are expected to vote Wednesday on whether to approve the applications of WD Investors Ltd. to develop a 7.4-acre parcel of land east of Norwin Avenue, across from the Norwin Hills shopping center. Read more  > More

North Huntingdon continues debate on Mills Pointe center
The fate of a proposed commercial development that would include a Walgreens drug store as the anchor plus an Applebee’s restaurant now rests in the hands of township commissioners. Following more than two hours of debate, the planning commission voted 5-3 last week to deny a final site plan for development of 7.4 acres along Route 30 between the Norwin Hills shopping center and the proposed Mills Pointe center that incudes a Wal-Mart superstore. > More

Funding for Westmoreland County road project
A plan to build a road leading to the new Greengate Centre mall in Westmoreland County received a boost Thursday when Pennsylvania pledged to invest $4.4 million over the next 10 years. Read more  > More

Planning official wants to make municipal consolidation easier
The new chairman of the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission called for a state constitutional convention yesterday to rewrite Pennsylvania law so that local governments can more easily consolidate. Read more  > More

Agency to help relocate owners
With the Westmoreland County commissioners endorsing a development plan for downtown Greensburg, work to relocate occupants of six properties slated for demolition could begin as early as today. County Redevelopment Authority Director John J. Karazsia said he will be in contact with appraisers to determine the value of the properties that planners need to acquire. Read More  > More

Brookings: State underuses school-community ties
Pennsylvania may be underutilizing higher education resources to generate economic and community development. In a report released today, the Brookings Institution found the schools’ "true value -- both real and potential -- has not been fully tapped." Read More  > More

Planners nix NHT plan
The North Huntingdon Planning Commission, in a split vote Monday, recommended denial of the application by WD Investors Ltd. to build a commercial development across Norwin Avenue from the Norwin Hills shopping plaza. Read More  > More

Walmart Plan Ok'd
North Huntingdon Township Planning Commission has signed off on a subdivision needed for a Wal-Mart store and retail hub development near the Pennsylvania Turnpike. The commission Monday night, by a 6-1 vote, recommended that the township commissioners give final approval to the Mills Barnes Lake Partnership Subdivision Plan involving more than 56 acres at the intersection of Route 30 and Barnes Lake Road. > More

Hillside zoning changes prescribed
The Pittsburgh Planning Commission and the Pittsburgh Hillsides Committee recommended new zoning restrictions Wednesday that aim to protect the city’s scenic, forested hillsides. Read more  > More

East Junior High renovation backers send message
"Renovate the school!" That unequivocal message was communicated repeatedly to Woodland Hills School Board members at last week’s open town meeting in Turtle Creek, organized by the Committee to Save Turtle Creek High School. Read more  > More

Fayette farmers slam officials for zoning changes
Unlike most of the crowds at the State Theatre Center for the Arts, an audience Thursday was given the chance for passionate participation. And almost all of the comments deluged Fayette County officials with criticism for crafting changes to the county’s zoning ordinance that members of the agricultural community believe are too intrusive. Read more  > More

Subsidizing downtown living
A study of downtown living in America by the Brookings Institution has its fatal flaw in the first page: "Downtown housing provides visible and tangible evidence of urban vitality that has important psychological and economic impacts." Read more  > More

Another Wal-Mart?: Smiling faces & frowns
Just what Westmoreland County needs -- another Wal-Mart. After a three-year wrangle with North Huntingdon officials, the township and Baldock Development Partnership have entered an agreement that may pave the way for yet another big-box superstore. Read more  > More

Arts plan gains council approval
Greensburg Council endorsed Wednesday a revamped downtown development proposal for Seton Hill University’s planned arts center and another unrelated project, saying in the long run the city would benefit. The backing of the proposal yesterday by Mayor Karl Eisaman and councilmen Thomas Tridico and Emil Peterinelli came despite the opposition of people concerned about the role of tax money in the plan and the potential use of eminent domain powers. > More

New strip shopping center planned
A new $2.2 million strip shopping center planned in Southwest Greensburg could house 10 businesses and create 75 to 100 jobs, according to developers. Westmoreland Crossroads will be built at the site of the former Hempfield Foundries, off Route 119 just south of Greensburg, below the Route 30 overpass in Southwest Greensburg. Read more  > More

Center’s Legislative Board Members Are Prime Sponsors
On October 24, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives and Senate unanimously passed resolutions recognizing the importance of the state’s historic barns. The resolutions also call for a statewide inventory of these historically significant structures. Read more  > More

Overlay district rules hinder residents
Hempfield Township supervisors are moving ahead with plans to allow for businesses in a residential area along Towne Square Drive at Greensburg-Mt. Pleasant Road, and are making it clear to upset residents that selling-and-moving may not be as simple a solution as it sounds. Read more  > More

Wal-Mart project advances
North Huntingdon Township commissioners and Baldock Development Partnership have entered into an agreement that appears to pave the way for a Wal-Mart store to be built near the Pennsylvania Turnpike interchange in the township. Read More  > More

Jeannette gets funds for downtown projects
The city of Jeannette will receive $250,000 in federal funds for downtown redevelopment projects and improvements to the business district. The money was included in the 2006 Transportation, Treasury and Urban Development Appropriations Act, which was passed by the House of Representatives. More than $6.8 million was included in the bill for the 18th Congressional District. Read more  > More

Hispanic Heartland
LEXINGTON, Neb. -- At halftime, when the announcer tells the crowd about a game the high school won by 15 touchdowns 100 years ago, it fits with the Friday night illusion that things haven’t changed much in this small town on the plains. The few brown faces scattered throughout the stands barely hint at the enormous wave of immigrants that has turned Lexington, in just one decade, into the only place in Nebraska where Hispanics are the majority. > More

Panelists seek public opinion on roads, transportation issues
How much should the state increase the gasoline tax? Or does anyone have a better suggestion for raising revenue for roads and bridges? Read more  > More

Vandergrift hoping its going green movement will make old steel town more livable
Westmoreland community looks back to the future VANDERGRIFT, Pa. -- A former company steel town overlooking a bend of the Kiskiminetas River, Vandergrift was born of a radical notion for its time: that the best steelworker was a churchgoing, educated man who could own a home, live in a nice, leafy neighborhood and walk through a park on his way to the mill. George McMurtry, president of Apollo Iron and Steel Works, wanted his Westmoreland County mill town to be "unique and in all respects more attractive than the average manufacturing town of the present day." He asked Frederick Law Olmsted, a > More

Vandergrift hoping its going green movement will make old steel town more livable
Westmoreland community looks back to the future VANDERGRIFT, Pa. -- A former company steel town overlooking a bend of the Kiskiminetas River, Vandergrift was born of a radical notion for its time: that the best steelworker was a churchgoing, educated man who could own a home, live in a nice, leafy neighborhood and walk through a park on his way to the mill. George McMurtry, president of Apollo Iron and Steel Works, wanted his Westmoreland County mill town to be "unique and in all respects more attractive than the average manufacturing town of the present day." He asked Frederick Law Olmsted, a > More

Lofty plans for Troutman building
A six-story annex to the Troutman building could become loft apartments. Greensburg officials are in the process of negotiating a six-month lease to allow small-scale renovations of the structure on Pennsylvania Avenue by Susquehanna Property Co. More large-scale development could happen later. Read More  > More

The Irwin Project gets a grant boost
Irwin’s plan for the future will get a boost this week in the form of a $20,000 Community Revitalization Grant delivered by state Sen. Bob Regola. The Hempfield Township Republican is expected to deliver the funding to borough officials Thursday morning. Last week, council approved $100,000 contract to hire the firm of Mullin and Lonergan, of Pittsburgh, to develop a comprehensive plan. Read more  > More

Blazing a trail
West Newton’s residents and business owners realize the importance of linking the town’s rich historical past with the future. With that in mind, work on revitalizing the downtown in connection with the Great Allegheny Passage continues today in earnest. Read More  > More

Westmoreland looks to make economic development easier
When a growing business in Western Pennsylvania shops for a new location, it’s faced with a dizzying number of helping hands. Depending on where it looks, the list of chambers of commerce, redevelopment authorities, industrial partnerships and growth commissions seems to lengthen at every turn. Westmoreland County wants to simplify all that, and make setting up shop an easy one-stop decision for potential business magnates. > More

4 Economic Development Agencies Join in 1 Coucil
Businesses seeking to locate or expand in Westmoreland County will soon be able to explore options with a "one-stop shop" for economic development -- the Westmoreland Development Council. Read More  > More

Candidates say future's onthe line
There’s one thing that Democratic incumbent Mike O’Barto and his Republican opponent, Marcus Wisneski, agree on in their race for Unity Township supervisor Tuesday. This election is about the future of the fast-growing township located east of Greensburg. Read more  > More

Agencies announce principles for growth
The Governor’s Economic Development Cabinet announced yesterday a set of principles and criteria that will be used by state agencies to guide investment and support local growth and economic development across the commonwealth. The principles and criteria realize Governor Edward G. Rendell’s vision that the state needs to offer vibrant, clean and beautiful communities if families and businesses are going to call Pennsylvania home. > More

Agencies Announce Keystone Principles for Growth, Investment & Resource Conservation
HARRISBURG -- The Governor’s Economic Development Cabinet today announced a set of principles and criteria that will be used by state agencies to guide investment and support local growth and economic development across the commonwealth. The principles and criteria realize Governor Edward G. Rendell’s vision that the state needs to offer vibrant, clean and beautiful communities if families and businesses are going to call Pennsylvania home. > More

Governor Rendell Announces $200,000 Investment in Downtown Latrobe
LATROBE - Governor Edward G. Rendell today announced the investment of $200,000 to help Latrobe develop a senior citizens housing facility near the city’s central business district. “Not only will this building give some of Latrobe’s senior citizens a safe and secure place to live, it will bring them downtown and make them an integral part of the communities revitalization,” Governor Rendell said. > More

Sewickley Township adopts zoning ordinance
Jim Pashek sees great potential for commercial and recreational growth in Sewickley Township, but not at the expense of the green woodlands and pastures that those living there love. "The community spoke and said that they liked the township’s rural character," said Pashek, of Pashek Associates, Pittsburgh, which designed a zoning plan and map to outline an "organized expansion" there. "We tried to craft this plan to fit that." Read more  > More

County wants to take Route 30 as far as it can go
Westmoreland County officials are hoping a $200,000 state-funded traffic study makes the county’s most congested traffic artery safer and easier to navigate. State Sen. Bob Regola, R-Hempfield, announced Thursday that he secured the money for a comprehensive study of the 30-mile stretch of Route 30 extending from the county’s western border in North Huntingdon Township to its eastern border on Laurel Ridge in Ligonier Township. > More

Thinking about the future
Leaders from four Westmoreland County communities are optimistic the relationships they built while working together on a multimunicipal comprehensive plan will continue to prove of mutual benefit. "This is the catalyst I hope goes on to greater things for the region," Doug Weimer, Hempfield Township supervisor, said Thursday night during an unveiling of the plan held at Greensburg Civic Center. Read more.... > More

Route 30 corridor eyes 'smart growth'
Once shunned by business types for its negative connotation, "smart growth" has emerged has a possible guiding principle of development for the Route 30 corridor of Unity Township. One manifestation of its newly found popularity may be glimpsed in the new mission statement of the Greater Latrobe Chamber of Commerce. According to the statement, the chamber favors "encouraging ... smart growth for our communities." Read more.... > More

Irwin Project gaining momentum
Eric Fulmer has a very good feeling about the Irwin Project. His firm, Mullin & Lonergan, of Pittsburgh, in association with Pashek Association, successfully won the approval of Irwin council and was hired as consultants to develop the borough’s new comprehensive plan. Fulmer’s optimism lies in the timing of the effort. "It has a lot to do with the restructuring of the Community Development Block Grant program. > More

City-country zoning friction produces hard feelings and a pig farm
On the first day of August, Tom Belsterling saw his skeet-shooting business blown right out of the sky. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court declined that day to hear his appeal of a May 2003 decision by the New Sewickley Zoning Hearing Board. The board had ruled Belsterling’s skeet range illegal, and the decision had been upheld at every level of county and state court. So on the first day of September, lacking the ability to make further appeals, Belsterling went for lack of appeal instead: He bought some pigs. > More

'Cutting-edge' land-use plan in the works
Sewickley Township supervisors are mulling a zoning ordinance proposal that could help draw more commercial businesses to the municipality while preserving much of its open space and rural residential areas. At Monday’s public meeting, the board voted to advertise the proposal and accompanying map presented by Allen Cohen of Pashek Associates PC, Pittsburgh. "The map is a vision of the township that really set in place a land-use plan that preserves the open spaces and rural character of the township," Cohen said. > More

Is it suburban sprawl or suburban brawl?
Who could have predicted that an annual conference of policy wonks, civil engineers and township planners would nearly come to blows over a research report with the less-than-exhilarating title of "Growth, Economic Development, and Local Government Structure in Pennsylvania?" Evidently, symposiums on suburban development trends can do that to people. Read more...  > More

Speakers exchange barbs at growth summit
We don’t say "sprawl" anymore. Now, it’s "suburbanization." That’s according to some of the speakers at the Smart Growth Partnership of Westmoreland County’s fifth annual summit, held Friday at the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg. The forum focused on responses to "Back to Prosperity: A Competitive Agenda for Renewing Pennsylvania," a report released in 2003 by the Brookings Institution, a Washington, D.C., think thank. > More

Smart Growth summit stirs ire
People are so concerned about the economic future of Pennsylvania that those in disagreement screamed at each other during a summit. Professor Wendell Cox and Ronald Bailey were two of the speakers Friday at the fifth annual Smart Growth summit at Ferguson Theater in Smith Hall at the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg. Read more....  > More

Great Expectations
By Bob Stiles TRIBUNE-REVIEW Tuesday, August 30, 2005 Max Kayhart calls them "his regulars," the employees from the Westmoreland County Courthouse and downtown Greensburg banks and law firms who come almost daily to his Mean Bean Cafe for lunch. He hopes to add to the list of familiar faces in his Main Street business, thanks to a new state office building and Seton Hill University’s arts center that are proposed for downtown Greensburg. > More

Suburban sprawl reflects freedom of choice
Development will happen where people want it, study argues Suburban sprawl is a normal part of economic growth, and Pennsylvania officials can’t reverse the phenomenon by forcing some of the state’s more than 2,500 local governments to merge. That’s the main argument put forward in a report released this week by the Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors, a group that hopes to counter the growing call for government mergers that came in the wake of a 120-page Brookings Institution study, "Back to Prosperity: A Competitive Agenda for Renewing Pennsylvania." Com > More

Rostraver landowners seek agricultural security status
There’s no set time Peter Skurkay plows soil, harvests hay or spreads manure on his Rostraver Township farmland. "You do it when you’ve got time," said Skurkay, 61, a third-generation farmer who owns nearly 60 acres of property off Route 201. "It also depends on the weather. If you know there’s a storm coming, then you spread the manure so the water soaks everything into the ground." If that time is before dawn, the steady drone of a tractor could violate a township ordinance prohibiting loud noise before 7 a.m. > More

Funding to help revitalize areas
A Hazelwood organization hoping to revitalize Second Avenue, the Pittsburgh neighborhood’s long-suffering main street, is getting a boost toward designing a redevelopment plan for that heavily-traveled road. Read More.  > More

New Hempfield development emphasizes density, walkability, sustainability
Out in the undulating green farmland of Westmoreland County, Route 819 and Forbes Trail Road form a lonely crossroads in Hempfield. This rural junction is watched over by a few faded barns, and is easily missed in a blink through the windshields of speeding motorists. Read more . > More

Connellsville, Irwin among 'Blueprint Communities'
Connellsville Mayor Judy Reed is thrilled that her city will be on Gov. Ed Rendell’s radar next week. Irwin Council President Danyce Neal shares her excitement. Read more.  > More

Penn Township Plan Sets Course
Penn Township’s comprehensive plan may need more focus on addressing business development, residents said Monday. Read More  > More

PA's Slice of Road Funding Pie Still Undetermined
PA Department of Transportation officals said it will be sometime next week before they finish reviewing the complex highway and mass-transit legislation Congress approved yesterday to determine how much the state will get for roads, bridges and transit. Read more  > More

Better Models for Development in Pennsylvania
DCNR and partners providing better models book to inspire ideas for livable and attractive communities DCNR, in partnership with the Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) and The Conservation Fund, has released a 134-page book intended as a tool for local governments to encourage development that makes their communities more attractive, livable and prosperous. Better Models for Development in Pennsylvania is available to government planners, public officials, developers and interested citizens for them to use as a guide as they design and plan the future of their communities. > More

Irwin Borough is seeking professional services from a qualified consulting firm for the purposes of developing a comprehensive municipal plan. A copy of the Request For Proposal and Work Plan can be obtained by visiting www.IrwinProject.org . Copies are also available at the Irwin Borough municipal offices located at 424 Main Street, Irwin, PA 15642. Please direct any inquiries to Robert Michaud, Revitalization Committee Chairman, at (724) 978-2724 or Mary Benko, Borough Manager, (724) 864-3100. > More

Penn Township feels strain of residential boom
As Penn Township closes in on its 150th anniversary next month, officials in the Westmoreland County community are hashing over the sort of perennial questions common to other booming suburban communities: How much growth is too much? Read more  > More

New malls becoming more than just places to buy stuff
People who flock to the region’s newest shopping mall -- the Galleria at Pittsburgh Mills, which officially opens today in Frazer -- will find places to bowl, watch movies, have a few drinks and drive around in mini-race cars. For those so inclined, there will be stores, too. Read more.  > More

Rendell signs "green" bill
Governor Ed Rendell yesterday signed a $625 million measure to improve state parks, forests, farms and streams. Read more.  > More

New Hempfield development emphasizes density, walkability, sustainability
Out in the undulating green farmland of Westmoreland County, Route 819 and Forbes Trail Road form a lonely crossroads in Hempfield. This rural junction is watched over by a few faded barns, and is easily missed in a blink through the windshields of speeding motorists. But if developers have their way, this piece of great wide open space soon will be the seed of a new community, the main street of a 700-acre "traditional neighborhood development" called Northpointe. > More

GREENSBURG, WESTMORELAND COUNTY: On behalf of Governor Edward G. Rendell, Environmental Protection Secretary Kathleen A. McGinty today named the Westmoreland Conservation District as one of 11 winners of the 2004 Governor’s Award for Environmental Excellence for its Conservation Education Outreach Program. “How we live our daily lives affects our natural resources and environmental quality,” Secretary McGinty said. > More

Unity Officials Get Glimpse of Future
The Smart Growth Partnership will present possible infrastructure improvements. Unity Township officials are hoping to get a glimpse into the future - at least in terms of development. Read more . > More

Dark past, sunny future for Westmoreland solar company
Robert Levin, owner of Levin Furniture, wanted his latest store, in Monroeville, to be environmentally friendly and was surprised to learn he could have a solar-powered roofing system manufactured right in Western Pennsylvania. Read more . > More

Farmland Becomes Suburbs
Housing developments taking the rural out of N. Huntingdon. When Trudy Parry was groing up in North Huntingdon, the two-lane farm road that ran in front of her parents’ greenhouses and florist business was a "red dog" road -- paved with red, pebbly refuse of burnt coal. Read more . > More

Hempfield Family Eyes Housing Plan
A Hempfield Township family wants to build a 2,000 unit pedestrian-friendly community on a 700 acre parcel of land that would be the first of its kind in the municipality, but they want the supervisors to give the plans conceptual approval before proceeding. Read more  > More

Rendell hails deal on "green" bond issue
HARRISBURG -- The legislative compromise that will put a $625 million bond issue before Pennsylvania voters on May 17 isn’t a victory for the governor or any specific legislator or either political party, Gov. Ed Rendell said yesterday. Read More.  > More

Saturday Essay: The Ties That Bind
A Brookings Institution study that pinned Pennsylvania’s economic woes on suburban sprawl also put an ample cherry on Big Government’s sundae. Read More  > More

Comprehensive plan outlines 'Time for Action'
With a first-ever comprehensive plan in place, Westmoreland County leaders now are looking to local officials to help put that new guide to use. "Now’s the time to roll up our sleeves and get to work," Alex Graziani told a group of more than 150 community leaders and residents Thursday at the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg, in Hempfield Township. Read More...  > More

Ideas for comprehensive plan aired
They were huddled in eight groups around lunch tables in the cafeteria at Hempfield Area Senior High School. In voices forceful but tinged with respect, they debated and brainstormed, cramming before time was up. "It’s so hard to do this in 30 minutes," Mark Sobota said. Unlike other days at the cafeteria, where students might be squeezing in some last-minute studying before a class, Hempfield students were sitting side-by-side Wednesday night with Hempfield Township officials, Greensburg business people, real-estate developers and educators. > More

What do you want your community to look like in the future?
PRESS RELEASE: Come participate in an interactive public visioning meeting for the City of Greensburg, Hempfield Township, South Greensburg, and Southwest Greensburg Public Input Meeting: Wednesday, March 16, 2005 Hempfield Area High School Cafeteria, 7:00 pm What do you want your community to look like in the future? To answer this question the municipalities of Greensburg, Hempfield, South Greensburg, and Southwest Greensburg are holding a joint public meeting on Wednesday, March 16 at 7:00 pm in the Hempfield High School Cafeteria to hear residents’ ideas on the type of place the fo > More

Stormwater program may help improve water quality
Unity Township supervisors held a special stormwater management program Tuesday that reviewed ways to improve water quality in the community. Read more  > More

Sprawl is here to stay
The battle’s over. For half a century, legions of planner, urbanists, environmentalists and big-city editorialists have waged war against sprawl. Now it’s time to call it a day and declare a victor. Read More  > More

Developer ignores her pleas to save trees
Out of their dining room window, the Colletti family sees towering evergreen trees stretching toward the sky. Take five steps into their kitchen, and the view instead shows Route 30, parking lots and the heavy machinery of a construction site. Read more  > More

Organization hopes to create more walkable community
For more than a decade, George A. Sam has wanted more foot traffic in downtown West Newton. Right now, downtown isn’t very pedestrian-friendly, said Sam, a 1988 founder of the nonprofit Downtown West Newton Inc. Read More  > More

12 more drivers cited in Mt. Lebanon pedestrian safety effort
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette A dozen more drivers were cited yesterday for failing to yield to people in crosswalks yesterday during Mt. Lebanon’s ongoing pedestrian safety program. Police also cited two motorists for traffic-light violations and warned three people for failing to obey pedestrian control signals. Officers stopped the drivers and pedestrians in heavily traveled sections of Beverly Road, Mt. > More

High school senior learns valuable civic lesson
Ashley Colletti, honor student, tennis star and self-proclaimed tree hugger, came home from school Thursday and looked out her back window to see a gigantic pine tree falling into a pit of mud near her neighbor’s snow-covered yard. Beyond that loomed the box stores and parking lots of North Huntingdon Square shopping center. Read more  > More

Downtown Greensburg Getting Help
State to move offices, 265 employees to new 72,000 square-foot building. Like many downtowns across the country, Greensburg’s central business district has been trying for years to rebound from an economic and cultural downturn. Read more . > More

Zoning Map Seen as Conflict to Murrysville's Comp. Plan
Murrysville knows what it wants to look like in another 15 years, and acres of sports bars, chain stores and McMansion subdivisions are only a minor part of that dream. Read More  > More

State Funds 19 Regional Street, Sidewalk Projects
The state Transporation Commission has approved $9.9 million for 19 projects in Southwestern PA, including pedestrian-friendly improvements in East Liberty and Oakland. Read More  > More

Green PA Proposal Released
The House Republican Caucus released a proposal today to invest $2 billion through 2033 for open space and farmland preservation, cleaning hazardous waste sites and dangerous mines, watershed protection, mine reclamation, water and sewer systems, etc. Their proposal is very interesting in that it is a bond issue on the ballot but required no new fees or taxes. You can see their proposal on the web click here . > More

Officials laud proposed rail service
As an undergraduate student at the University of Pittsburgh during the late 1940’s, Latrobe resident Richard Jim would hop aboard a Pennsylvania Railroad train to travel to Pittsburgh for classes. Read more . > More

Ligonier Valley Vision and Policy Plan Community Design Interactive Open House
VERY IMPORTANT COMMUNITY EVENT PROVIDE INPUT IN GUIDING THE FUTURE OF THE LIGONIER VALLEY! The Ligonier Valley municipalities of Ligonier and Cook Townships, and Ligonier and Laurel Mountain Boroughs are holding a Community Design Open House on January 28 and 29. The public open house is one of the primary interactive events to obtain ideas from the residents and businesses throughout the Ligonier Valley. > More

Southwestern PA Regional Indicators Report
Sustainable Pittsburgh released its second compehensive assessment of regional sustainability trends for the six-county region. The findings of the report serve as a foundation for strategic thinking, priority setting and action steps by those interested in the future of the region. To read more, click here . > More

2005 budget adopted; 4-mill tax hike on the way
A voluntary plan for Westmoreland County’s development drew a crowd of skeptics and supporters to a commissioners meeting Thursday, while a hefty tax increase was adopted with little hubbub. Read more...  > More

Westmoreland County OKs budget, tax increase
Westmoreland County Commissioners met this morning to approve a budget for 2005 that includes a 4-mill tax hike. They expected some public "input." But the crowd that packed their meeting room at the Greensburg court house this morning was more concerned about another item on the agenda: A comprehensive plan for Westmoreland’s future. The 400-page document took two years to compile, and sets out ideals for housing developments, land use, industrial parks, highways, farms, and economic stimulus programs. > More

City developers discuss construction of state building
Greensburg hopes to start the new year with news of who will build a state office building in the downtown business district. Read More.  > More

Massive turnpike project sparks several concerns
Hempfield Township farmer Tom Logan says he’s dreading an upcoming project that will widen the Pennsylvania Turnpike between Irwin and New Stanton. Read More.  > More

Passenger air service returning to Westmoreland County
After months of eerie quiet, the whine and roar of commercial jet engines will echo again in the corridors of Arnold Palmer Regional Airport in April, when Northwest Airlines launches commuter service, filling the void US Airways left in July when it pulled the plug on its Latrobe-Pittsburgh shuttle. Read more.  > More

Some county residents suspicious of proposed comprehensive plan
More than 50 people commented Monday on Westmoreland County’s first proposed comprehensive plan, and many were suspicious. "The county looks to be doing well, and we don’t have a plan. Why do we need one?" said Dwight Sarver, of Salem Township. Sarver, along with others, expressed concern about the lessening of property rights if all the recommendations in the 400-plus page plan are followed. > More

Private Sector Says that Smart Growth is Smart Business
Washington, DC -- With the spinoffs of urban sprawl, like oppressive commutes, huge infrastructure funding shortages, and a scarcity of worker housing, eating into profits and eroding metro areas’s competitiveness, business leaders across the country are pushing for smarter planning and development, according to a report unveiled today by former Maryland Gov. Parris N. Glendening. Read more. > More

Roadmap to the future
Westmoreland County’s roadmap for the next 10 years -- an effort to guide what sort of place the county will be -- will be presented to the public at 7 p.m. today at the county courthouse. Read More.  > More

County Planning Process Drawing to a Close
Westmoreland County will conclude its comprehensive planning process by presenting its proposed comprehensive plan at a public hearing on Monday, November 22, 2004 at 7:00 p.m. in the commissioner’s meeting room at the county courthouse in Greensburg. The public hearing will begin with a presentation on various aspects of the proposed comprehensive plan - housing, land use, economic development, transportation, recreation, etc. > More

Homebuyers Favor Shorter Commutes, Walkable Neighborhoods
The prospect of lengthening commutes is leading more Americans to seek walkable neighborhoods in close-in suburbs and cities, according to the 2004 American Community Survey sponsored by the National Association of Realtors and Smart Growth America. Read more . > More

Walking to School
School districts have been steadily abandoning walkable neighborhood schools in favor of corporate-style campuses outside established population centers. These "sprawl" schools not only make it impossible to walk, but also generate a demand for new housing and public water and sewer lines in rural areas. Meanwhile, abandoned schools help drain the life out of older, established communities, leading to population loss and lowered property values. > More

Trust may restore Irwin building
The Westmoreland Trust is eyeing a 117-year-old building along Irwin’s Main Street for its first restoration project outside of the county seat. "This has been part of our strategic plan ... to expand our fingerprint beyond Greensburg," said John Bolha, controller for the nonprofit trust. "We’re very excited about it." The object of the organization’s interest is the old Thompson Building, a two-story structure at 312 Main St., directly across from the stately Irwin Bank and Trust building. > More

Sprawl Brawl - Is there a proper balance between progress and preservation?
Ray Russell is the kind of guy Beaver County covets. Any community in western Pennsylvania would be glad to have him, a youngish professional with a wife and child, intent on establishing a home and a career in the land of his birth. After living in several other states, he thought he was home for good, now he’s not so sure he’ll stay. Read more . > More

Program to discuss farming's future
Westmoreland Country farmers will kick off a series of meetings this week to help determine the future of their industry. It’s part of a program called "The Future of Westmoreland Agriculture." The program is based on a model developed by the Penn State Cooperative Extension to come up with ways to increase business. Organizers have scheduled four meetings over the next month, and then will conduct one-on-one interviews at 10 percent of the county’s 1,300 farms. > More

Input sought on developing comprehensive plan
Edward Kuszajewski, who has dealt with South Greensburg borough business for the past 18 years as a council member, wants the future of his town to include improvements to the main entryways into the downtown business district. Kuszajewski, who has served as council president for eight years, said he would like to see the multimunicipal comprehensive plan for the Greensburg-Hempfield area address that issue of improving Huff Avenue from Route 119 to Broad Street. > More

Improvement program charts Vandergrift's future
VANDERGRIFT -- Ten months ago, concerned residents and business owners brainstormed how to revitalize the downtown, which is struggling like many others are against suburban competition. Out of that meeting, the Vandergrift Improvement Program was born. Since then, the group has grown to more than 50 members. They have a storefront along Grant Avenue and a Web site at vandergrift.biz. They are launching a key card program, with discounts available through participating borough merchants. > More

Preserving County's Resources Underlined
Preservation of Westmoreland County’s charm was a theme running through a recently released 418-page report based on information gathered in a series of public meetings and surveys of county residents. Click here to learn more.  > More

County Commissioners Announce Regional Planning Meetings
The Board of Commissioners of Westmoreland County has announced a second series of public meetings to generate input regarding the county’s comprehensive plan. A total of seven meetings will be held. Meetings will be conducted in each of the seven districts established by the county for planning purposes. Meeting dates and locations include: •7 PM on Thursday, October 7th: Ligonier Township Municipal Building •7 PM on Tuesday, October 12th: New Alexandria Community Building •7 PM on Wednesday, October 20th: Mt. > More

Irwin revitalization group members chosen
A North Huntingdon planning and zoning officer is filling a key role in The Irwin Project, a proposed revitalization program for Irwin’s historic downtown business section. "We’re fortunate that a man of Allen Cohen’s caliber is involved in getting The Irwin Project up and going. His ideas, plus expertise as a planner and experience with main street revitalization projects in the past, will provide the guidance that is vital both early on and in the future," said Robert Michaud, marketing director of Irwin Bank and Trust Co. > More

State dollars aimed at Route 22 improvements
Route 22 has snagged the lion’s share of funding in Westmoreland County’s portion of the state’s new transportation project agenda for the region. The highway was the clear priority in the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission’s Transportation Improvement Program for 2005-2008, which was adopted last month by the state Transportation Commission. Read more....  > More

Mount Joy Borough Adopts Inclusionary Zoning Density Bonus
By: Mark Hiester AICP, August 26, 2004 Last night, Mount Joy Borough Council adopted without question, four zoning density bonuses, including a "workforce" (affordable) housing density bonus, and all other anticipated zoning text changes and one map change. The borough may be the first in the Commonwealth to adopt such inclusionary zoning incentives. Zoning Section 308.F.9.a was amended by a new subsection (4): "The maximum density may be increased by a maximum of one additional dwelling unit per acre when the Traditional Neighborhood Development provides, at a minimum, that at least 10 percen > More

Unity planners end legal battle over development
Unity Township supervisors approved a revised plan for an upscale housing development Tuesday, effectively ending a six-month legal battle with the developer. Carney Road LLC may now proceed with the first phase of Kingsbrook Estates, a planned residential development proposed on a 55-acre site along Carney Road near Mountain View and East High Acres. The limited-liability corporation is looking to create 109 single-family and duplex home sites to sell at prices starting at $220,000. > More

Unity sewer project to require rate boost
Unity Township Municipal Authority customers will see a 76 percent hike in debt-service fees in their sewage bills this fall. Money generated from the $7-a-month increase will be used to refinance the authority’s debt and pay for an $18.5 million plan to improve township sewer facilities. Read more.... > More

Route 30 corridor to see development
The prospect of sewer lines along a stretch of Route 30 in Unity Township has officials pondering the development that’s likely to follow. The Unity Township Municipal Authority is moving ahead with a plan to install sewer lines along a commercially zoned stretch of the highway from Mountain View to Wimmerton by the summer of 2007. "One of the reasons there hasn’t been a lot of commercial development there was the lack of infrastructure," township supervisors Chairman Michael O’Barto said. > More

Pastoral Bounty:
Farm life proves to be berry, berry good for Westmoreland County entrepreneurs who just wanted to live in the country. Now their berry-growing business serves as a model for how small, specialty farms can thrive When Rob Schilling and brother-in-law Rick Lynn planted their first five acres of raspberries in 1986, the harsh economics of agriculture were mowing down farms like a combine cutting hay. > More

The myriad challenges that face Pennsylvania -- "brain drain," loss of manufacturing jobs, decaying infrastructure, high-cost older communities, loss of open space and much more -- were not unforeseen. In the early 1980s, Pennsylvania’s state Planning Board was active, engaged and trying to get residents and public officials thinking about where the state was headed and what policies were needed to create a brighter future. > More

Highway to History: The Lincoln Highway
Mary Johnson went for a Sunday drive and drove smack into Abe Lincoln, a herd of bison and a two-story coffee pot. Quite a trip for someone who has never thought of Route 30, which runs past her Greensburg back yard, as a tourist attraction. Read more....  > More

How To Become a Millionaire
Here is a strategy that can provide a million dollars to a person with an average income, and it is enjoyable, healthy and ethical. Simply minimize your driving expenses and invest the savings. Most households can reduce their vehicle expenditures. For example, owning and operating a typical new luxury car, SUV or van costs about $8,000 a year, and most households own multiple vehicles. If you buy a reliable used car, share it with other family members, and minimize your driving by using transit, cycling and walking when possible, you can reasonably cut your vehicle expenses in half. > More

Hempfield Township tops Cranberry in new home construction
Where were the local "hot spots" for new home construction through the first half of 2004? It’s many of the usual suspects, a real estate market survey of activity in the six-county Pittsburgh region shows. For single-family homes, this time the market leader was Hempfield Township in Westmoreland County, with 104 new units, according to Pittsburgh Construction News, a firm that tracks building permits issued in Allegheny, Beaver, Butler, Fayette, Washington and Westmoreland counties. > More

HARRISBURG: Governor Edward G. Rendell today announced the reactivation of the State Planning Board. This advisory board, comprised of cabinet secretaries, state legislators and citizens, has a mission to monitor trends and issues of concern to the Commonwealth, gather input from state and local officials and citizens and develop reports and recommendations for the Governor and the Legislature on improved state policies and programs. > More

Westmoreland prepares 14th industrial park
MOUNT PLEASANT -- Westmoreland County economic development officials are poised to add another entree to their menu of industrial parks -- the development of 200 acres in East Huntingdon Township into large, pad-ready sites that the county hopes will lure large companies. Read More  > More

Pennsylvania Rail-Trail Guide,
The 2004 ninth edition of Pennsylvania’s Rail-Trails guidebook provides all the details necessary to enjoy more than 1,200 miles of rail-trail. Each trail listing contains a photograph, historical description, trailhead directions, trail map, trail details, a local trail contact and more. New to the ninth edition are the latitude and longitude coordinates of at least one trailhead for each trail. > More

Officials look to spiff up Huff Ave.
South Greensburg officials are hoping that a major beautification project for Huff Avenue will catch the attention of motorists who pass the town’s main entrance as they travel on Route 119. "We’d just like to have people realize there’s a town up there," council President Edward Kuszajewski said. Read More.....  > More

Regulations for residential developments face tightening
Unity Township officials are starting to tighten the screws on regulations governing planned residential developments. The township’s planning commission Tuesday agreed to recommend approval of a proposed amendment to the municipality’s zoning ordinance that would increase the minimum site size for planned residential developments from 10 acres to 25 acres. Read moore...  > More

Mon Valley towns invited to join council of governments
Mon Valley leaders got an assignment from Carnegie Mellon University professor David Lewis Tuesday night, and it may be their biggest challenge to date. During a public forum last night at California University of Pennsylvania, Lewis challenged officials from Mon Valley river towns to convince their fellow council members to join a local council of governments. > More

Local history in schools given priority
Teaching local history in Westmoreland County schools was the No. 1 priority of a small gathering of historical preservationists who met Saturday under the auspices of the Young Preservationists Association of Pittsburgh. Read more...  > More

Greensburg offers to sell parking lot, livery stable site
Greensburg wants to give downtown revitalization efforts a major boost by convincing the state to put 265 office workers in a new building just a block from the county courthouse. Read more...  > More

PennDOT wants to put bloom on Rt. 30 project
PennDOT has aesthetics in mind as it plans major improvements to the intersection of routes 30 and 981 in Unity Township. But some strips of green space and flower beds seem to be the only ways to enhance the $26 million project. "I don’t want to sound negative, but this project area doesn’t really lend itself to context-sensitive issues," said Jerry Bendo, a project manager with the state Department of Transportation. > More

Expert: State must lure technology industries
Pennsylvania is continuing to flounder -- bleeding higher paying jobs and its young people -- but it’s not too late to right the ship, the lead author of a recently completed 18-month study of the state’s economy said Thursday. Mark Muro, a senior policy analyst at the Brookings Institution and among the authors of its report, "Back to Prosperity: A Comprehensive Agenda for Renewing Pennsylvania," said the state must develop strategies to lure more technology industries that pay higher wages to reverse a trend of losing its young workers to other states. > More

New festival gets tourism grant
Stage Right and Westmoreland Heritage recieved a few extra George Washingtons yesterday to help finance their joint venture, George Washington Days, a festival debuting in August. The Greensburg-based festival, a three-day celebration of the region’s history and the legacy of the counrty’s first presdent, was one of 19 county organizations to recieve funding through the Westmoreland County Tourism Program. > More

Downtown receptive to proposed arts center
A group of community leaders and merchants responded favorably Tuesday to Seton Hill University’s plan for an $11.3 million arts center in Greensburg’s downtown cultural district. "As a relative newcomer to Greensburg, I am very excited about it. I support the vision," said Judith O’Toole, director of the Westmoreland Museum of American Art. The museum, on North Main Street, is just a short distance from the proposed arts center. > More

Smart Growth to honor four from Westmoreland County
Four Westmoreland countians who have championed economic growth will be honored at 7 p.m. Thursday at the second annual Smart Growth Partnership of Westmoreland County awards dinner at the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg. The 2004 awardees include Linda McKenna Boxx, of the Katherine Mabis McKenna Foundation, for her distinguished service and contributions to the community. She is a founder of the local Smart Growth organization and a longtime supporter of environmental protection, including the development of recreational trails and greenways. > More

Seton Hill, Greensburg officials seek input on project
Terrie Barrill, owner of DV8 Espresso Bar and Gallery on Pennsylvania Avenue in Greensburg, is looking forward to the possible influx of people that Seton Hill University’s proposed arts center will bring into the downtown cultural district. "I think it can only help all of downtown Greensburg, especially bringing the students downtown," said Barrill, who is vice president of the new Greensburg Business Association Inc. > More

Officials consider applying for program
As Seton Hill University makes plans for an $11.3 million project in Greensburg’s cultural district, the city and a newly formed business association are considering applying for a state program designed to help downtown economic development. The city is working with the nonprofit Greensburg Business Association Inc. on the Main Street Program, a five-year effort that promotes downtown revitalization and involves hiring a downtown manager, said David DeLisi, president of the business association. > More

PDC Roadshow
MAIN STREET? ELM STREET? DOWNTOWN REVITALIZATOIN? WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN? Harrisburg, PA? The Pennsylvania Downtown Center, the statewide nonprofit organization whose mission is to promote and support the revitalization of downtowns and neighborhood business districts across the Commonwealth, is hosting its fifth Road Show at the Westmoreland Museum of American Art, 221 N. Main Street Greensburg on April 14. > More

The Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission has a big job and a low profile. It deserves more respect from both its own members and the public, Chris Zurawsky says
Ask the average resident what the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission is, and some version of "no clue" will be the likely answer. That’s a shame, given that the 30-year-old, federally mandated planning organization has final say on much of the highway spending in the 10-county region. Over the next three decades that could add up to more than $30 billion in federal and state funds. Read More  > More

Route 30 upgrade project imminent
State Department of Transportation officials say plans are on track to upgrade the intersection of routes 30 and 981 in Unity Township next spring. It still will take two years to finish the first of the $26 million project’s three phases, which is all that is currently funded. "We don’t want to sugar-coat anything," said Rosanne Rodgers of SAI Consulting Engineers Inc., of Pittsburgh, PennDOT’s consultant for the project. > More

Westmoreland Heritage to bring program to Penn-Trafford
Students from Penn-Trafford High School will close the books on Friday and open up the past during a day of historical learning. "Keystone Kickoff," a collaboration between the students and staff at Penn-Trafford and the Westmoreland Heritage, will feature field trips, re-enactments, movies, special programming and more in an effort to inform the students about the local and state heritage and how it shaped the world they live in today. > More

Time for cooperation
Frequently we hear about the need for better cooperation and planning between, and among, municipalities. The next stage of development at Greensburg Commerce Park provides a valid case - and an opportunity. Although the city’s planning commission recommended approval of the Shops at Towne Square, city council only approved plans for phase one of this project. At issue for Greensburg and neighboring Hempfield Township are traffic concerns along Hempfield’s Towne Square Drive - the only access road. > More

Planning together
Most of southwestern Pennsylvania’s patchwork of municipalities, big and small, continue to go it alone when it comes to land use, planning and development. Maybe it’s time to rethink that strategy. Read more...  > More

Laurel Valley transportation improvement project
Here we go again: The multimillion-dollar Laurel Valley Transportation Improvement Project, which over the decades has had all the forward momentum of a three-legged tortoise with a bad limp, is being re-evaluated by PennDOT. In other words, don’t expect to see this project take any meaningful shape in the short term. Read more....  > More

Funds found for Route 22 project
Commuters who use U.S. Route 22 in Westmoreland County may soon see the forever-under construction highway expanded to four lanes from Export to Delmont. A four-mile stretch known as "BO-2" has finally been funded, according to county commissioners. Pennsylvania Transportation Secretary Allen Biehler awarded the project $20 million from a discretionary "spike fund" of federal transportation dollars.Read More  > More

Lago de Vita hearing cut short
Questions over who has a say in whether or not townhomes should be built in an upscale Hempfield Township housing development prompted supervisors Tuesday night to cut short a hearing on the matter. Joseph Kondisko, president of Allmar LLC, wants permission to build 16 patio homes on 4 1/2 acres in Lago de Vita. Lago de Vita is a planned residential community with its own rules governing development. > More

Borough considers re-zoning request
South Greensburg could see the development of more than 65 townhomes and several restaurants along Route 119 if the borough rezones a 15-acre parcel at the junction of routes 30 and 119. James Schimizzi, a co-owner of the former Century Motors dealership in the 1200 block of South Main Street, told borough council Monday that he wants to change the zoning on his parcel from manufacturing to commercial. > More

Resturaunt Parking Plan Questioned
Bob Evans Restaurants wants to demolish its eatery along Route 30 in North Huntingdon Township and replace it with a newer model building. But first it will have to prove to the township planning commission that some of its parking spaces actually exist. The current building was erected 20 years ago under a number of different regulations, planners said Monday. One parking space, for example, was required for each 100 square feet of building in the original plans. > More

Agriculture meeting planned
The future of agriculture in Westmoreland County will be the topic of a public meeting set for 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Four Points Sheraton hotel, near Greensburg. At the meeting Penn State Cooperative Extension will introduce a new program, "The Future of Agriculture in Our Community," designed to develop an action plan for the county’s farming industry. "They key to the process is a communitywide approach, involving both farmers and non-farmers," said Anita Nichols, community development extension director with the agency. > More

Block wall concerns residents
Construction of a cement block wall has raised the ire of some South Greensburg residents. The wall, located along an alley between Broad and Parr streets in the borough, sits on property owned by Matt Anderson. Its builder is Kirk Kim, owner of the Spitfire Grille in South Greensburg and a commercial landscaping company in Mt. Pleasant. "The wall is holding back dirt for a parking lot directly across the street from my restaurant," Kim said. > More

Developers milking a loophole
Millions of dollars in property-tax breaks intended to preserve farmland instead are going to companies that bulldoze farms to build housing subdivisions, malls and industrial parks, an Associated Press investigation has found. The practice is taking place coast to coast, costing local governments sorely needed revenue or forcing them to increase the taxes of other property owners. The breaks can be enormous. > More

Concern building over code
Home builders Steven A. Catarinella and Jack Pellis, along with officials in more than 2,560 municipalities statewide, face important decisions on how to deal with the state’s new building code. Costs -- estimated to be as high as $5,000 for each new home built -- appear to be the one great unknown stemming from the new code, formally called the Uniform Construction Code, which on Friday becomes the standard for all residential and commercial construction in Pennsylvania. > More

April Fools Day ad legal, group says
Getting input from residents is no joke to the Salem Township supervisors, according to township Solicitor Gary Falatovich. He said getting that input regarding the soon-to-be-imposed state Uniform Construction Code was at least an ulterior motive for the supervisors taking advantage of April Fools’ Day by placing a legal advertisement which was only partly accurate. "We have been talking about the implementation of the Uniform Construction Code for eight months and that it was coming to Salem Township and the interest in it had been declining," Falatovich said. > More

Westmoreland Laurels and Lances
excerpt An Observation : Twice now, Salem Township residents have slammed the door on suggestions from Westmoreland County’s Smart Growth Partnership, a nonprofit agency that works with municipal governments and their constituents -- not against them. Rather than consider some of the preliminary ideas presented at a second public meeting by Smart Growth’s Alex Graziani, some residents grumbled. > More

Supervisors address code issue
When it comes to their constituents, the Salem Township supervisors know which buttons to push. On Thursday, about 60 residents responded to a legal ad for a special meeting. The ad said there would be a discussion of the adoption of zoning and comprehensive planning, topics guaranteed to raise some residents’ ire. But the discussion proved to be less than advertised. "I think April 1 will go down in Salem Township history," Anders Johnson, supervisor chairman, said as he began the discussion. > More

PennDOT 're-evaluates' Laurel Valley plan
The Laurel Valley Transportation Improvement Project is one of 12 big-ticket projects being "re-evaluated" by the state Department of Transportation. But PennDOT officials say the long-planned and often reworked project is "still viable." The project was listed last week among 25 statewide that were identified in a proposal by state Transportation Secretary Allen Biehler to revise the state’s transportation program. > More

Partnerships vital to curb sprawl, drain
Philadelphia must stem the tide of business and population loss. This drain has left behind vacant and abandoned properties, a diminished tax base, fewer job opportunities, and neighborhoods where the quality of life is ebbing. Meanwhile, officials in some suburbs acknowledge that the uncoordinated, sprawling nature of their development has brought spiraling property taxes, traffic congestion, overburdened schools, and a huge loss of open space. > More

Salem Township residents reject Smart Growth ideas
Alex Graziani makes it clear that he does not carry the Smart Growth community concepts to places it’s not wanted. He won’t be returning to Salem Township. Graziani is the executive director of the Smart Growth Partnership of Westmoreland County. It is a nonprofit entity that works with local governments to help them make sound long-term planning decisions and to address the challenges of economic growth and development. > More

Local Government Academy Announcements
Reminder: 2004 Multi-Municipal Planning Grant application deadline is May 1, 2004 and November 1, 2004. > More

Municipalities discuss forming coalition
Three Ligonier-area municipalities are taking steps toward forming a coalition so they can find ways to increase the quality of life for their residents. Representatives of the Ligonier Township Board of Supervisors, Ligonier Borough Council and Laurel Mountain Borough Council met Thursday to introduce the plan to their constituents. Each municipality plans to opt in or out of the agreement in April. > More

Some folks react to municipal planning the way certain children turn their noses up at brussels sprouts. Even when they’ve never tried them. Is better planning worth a "taste" in Salem Township? http://www.PittsburghLive.com > More

Westmoreland Saturday Essay
Some folks react to municipal planning the way certain children turn their noses up at Brussels sprouts. Even when they’ve never tried them. Is better planning worth a "taste" in Salem Township? If it’s perceived as a back door to zoning, then a lot of residents probably will say no. They’d rather keep things just as they are. read more....  > More

Mt. Pleasant Twp.: Agriculture, farmland preservation focus of committee's discussion
Agriculture in Mount Pleasant Township was the focus this week of the third monthly meeting of the township’s recently formed Self-Study Committee, but the issue of farmland preservation dominated the discussion .  > More

Kasunic announces funding for intersection
HARRISBURG, February 26, 2004 -- State Sen. Richard A. Kasunic today announced the allocation of $7,200 to relocate a utility poll at a dangerous intersection in Donegal Township. read more....  > More

Leaders: Building Partnerships a Key
Building partnerships between municipalities as well as public-private partnerships will be necessary to make the Greensburg-Hempfield area a better place to live, according to a committee of local leaders that developed a vision for the future. The "visioning statement" unveiled Thursday night at Seton Hill University in Greensburg paints a picture of a community that will offer a high quality of life, provide good employment opportunities, encourage partnerships with educational institutions and offer recreational and cultural programs. > More

Westmoreland Laurels and Lances
Laurel: To Mt. Pleasant Township Supervisor Don Scott. Last month he organized a two-hour introductory program with Westmoreland Smart Growth exec Alex Graziani, and that may lead to more sessions addressing the township’s future. An ad hoc committee of residents will explore local concerns and make recommendations. It’s an opportunity, Scott said, "... to sit down and have dialogues as to who we are, where we are going, and where we started from." We wish Mt. > More

Group gives Vandergrift a boost
VANDERGRIFT: A new group is springing up in town with a mission to improve economic vitality and attempt to cut the number of empty storefronts. Some 40 residents, business owners and service club members braved a snowstorm to come to the first meeting of the Vandergrift Community and Economic Development Committee.  > More

Greene commissioner to lead regional planning agency
Greene County Commissioner Dave Coder was elected chairman of the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission yesterday, replacing Butler County Commissioner James Kennedy. Coder has represented Greene County on the commission for eight years and served as vice chairman the past two years. Commissioner J. Bracken Burns of Washington County was named vice chairman, and former Pittsburgh planning director Eloise Hirsh was re-elected secretary-treasurer, a post she has held since 1996.Read More  > More

Westmoreland County Comprehensive Plan
A Comprehensive Plan is a non-regulatory document that provides information on the existing conditions of Westmoreland County, assesses the issues facing the County, establishes a vision for future growth, and formulates goals and strategies to implement the County’s vision. Although it is not a legislative document, it is now a requirement for all counties in Pennsylvania to create and adopt a Comprehensive Plan according to the State’s planning legislation, the Municipalities Planning Code (Act of 1968, P.L. > More

Volunteers and contributors honored at parks board luncheon
"We know the park system can touch people’s lives in many ways," said Westmoreland County Commissioner Tom Balya, who pledged his continued support in light of "challenges with the county budget at this time." Balya’s words of encouragement were addressed to those attending Westmoreland County Parks and Recreation Citizens Advisory Board’s Green Luncheon, held noon Friday at the Center for Conservation Education -- better known as "The Barn" -- off Donohoe Road, east of Greensburg. > More

Zoning course to be offered at UPG
Registration is open for the Pennsylvania Municipal Planning Education Institute’s basic course in zoning that will be held Feb. 17, 24 and March 2 at the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg. The course, sponsored in part by the Smart Growth Partnership of Westmoreland County, is aimed at educating municipal officials and local planners on zoning issues. Among the instructors is Alex Graziani, a certified planner and Smart Growth’s executive director. > More

Greensburg gets OK to build new cell tower
Greensburg’s council got approval from another city board Wednesday to build a 150-foot communications tower behind Hose Company No. 7. The zoning hearing board approved the city’s request for a special exception to build a monopole tower in a C-1 neighborhood shopping district despite opposition from several neighbors who said they did not want it in their neighborhood. The new structure would replace an existing 90-foot triangular-shaped tower that also is behind the fire hall at 625 E. > More

Order against Jeannette business removed
Jeannette’s zoning hearing board removed a "cease and desist" order against a city business, but not without more than 2.5 hours of testimony and deliberation, and one negative vote. One of the main issues was the definition of "storage of waste material" under the city’s zoning ordinances, referring to an automotive repair and towing service operated by Ronald O’Neil at 601 N. 4th St. > More

Norwin directors eye former school as senior citizens center
Norwin School District agreed to work toward preparing a plan to create a senior citizen center at the former Pennsylvania Avenue Elementary School in Irwin. Superintendent Dr. Richard Watson said Monday he had met with representatives from the Norwin Rotary Club, Meals on Wheels, the Norwin Credit Union and the North Huntingdon Township police union last week about occupying the remaining space of the former school. > More

Official: Rendell's stimulus package won't be enough
The economic growth promised by Gov. Ed Rendell’s proposed $2 billion statewide economic stimulus package won’t be enough to solve Pittsburgh’s money woes, the secretary of the state Department of Community and Economic Development acknowledged Tuesday. Dennis Yablonsky, of Mt. Lebanon, spoke before several hundred members of the local chapter of the Association for Corporate Growth to promote the stimulus package, which awaits approval by the General Assembly. > More

Seton Hill's center may pursue an incubator
Seton Hill University’s National Education Center for Women in Business named Jayne H. Huston its new director and proposed a feasibility study for a business incubator that would complement economic development and enhance entrepreneurial success in the region. Please click here for more information. > More

Smart Growth reaches out
Alex Graziani likes communities to be aware of the challenges that could lie ahead in development. The executive director of the Smart Growth Partnership of Westmoreland County held a meeting to do just that with a crowd of about 50 residents, business owners and officials of Salem Township Tuesday evening at James H. Metzgar Elementary School. "It’s your money, shouldn’t you decide how it gets spent?" Graziani said. > More

Planning board addresses mining plan
Ligonier Township supervisors will have to vote on an application for a coal mining site without a recommendation from the township planning commission. Under a revised plan, Amerikohl Mining Inc. is seeking approval to remove coal from 8.3 acres off Ridge Road, southwest of Idlewild Park. The project would include an operational area of 24.5 acres. Please click here for more information. > More

Sony road project 'to promote job growth'
A $7 million project that will relocate a section of Old Route 119 near the Sony Technology Center-Pittsburgh plant in East Huntingdon Township is being touted as a boon to economic development. The new road will be close to the second-phase area of the Westmoreland Distribution Center, an industrial park near the Sony plant. The reconfigured road will improve access to the new, multi-modular transportation center and other proposed development sites in that area. > More

Murrysville planning director resigns
Citing philosophical differences over how to proceed with Murrysville’s comprehensive plan, Planning Director Fred Wilder has submitted his resignation. Chief Administrator Don Pepe said he has notified council of Wilder’s decision. Wilder indicated he will stay in the position until Feb. 27. Please click here for more information. > More

Committee discusses plan for township's future
Mt. Pleasant Township’s future could hinge on recommendations made by an ad hoc committee that comprises a cross-section of township residents who met for the first time Tuesday. While the words "comprehensive plan" were used cautiously during last night’s session, meeting moderator Alex Graziani, executive director of the Smart Growth Partnership, made it clear that, "We’re not talking about any zoning ordinance here. > More

Several townships welcoming new members
On Monday, Bullskin, East Huntingdon and Mount Pleasant townships will all welcome one new face to their board of supervisors. Jack Rutkowski will be that face on the Mount Pleasant Township board of supervisors. He will be coming off a very unusual election, winning the position on a Republican ticket even though he was a registered Democrat in the primaries. Click here for more information. > More

Township residents question costs of comprehensive plan
Mt. Pleasant Township Supervisor Don Scott would like to develop a comprehensive plan that would help set the direction for the municipality’s future, but on Tuesday he took some heat from residents who are questioning the process. Scott told a small group of concerned citizens yesterday that it has been his aim since he took office four years ago to develop a comprehensive plan that would address such issues as land use, infrastructure, housing, budgeting and recreation. > More

Montco to revive older towns through open-space initiative
Montgomery County officials, who promised to use a new open-space initiative to help redevelop the county’s older communities, have agreed to a $150 million spending outline with provisions to do just that. Please click here for more information. > More

This 'elixir' is poison
"So why does Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell and some other state politicians abhor the activity of small business?" That’s the question asked recently by Raymond J. Keating, chief economist for the Small Business Survival Committee in Washington, D.C. Click here for more information. > More

Forum: State hasn't made wise investments on economic development
Thomas Hylton: ’Instead of investing in its towns, the state has splurged to create infrastructure in formerly rural areas. This simply transfers jobs and residents from established communities to sprawling new ones’ Click here for more information. > More

Brookings Institution - Back to Prosperity: A Competitive Agenda for Renewing Pennsylvania
This report contends that the economic future of a major rust belt state depends on revitalizing its demographic mix and curbing some of the nation’s most radical patterns of sprawl and abandonment. For more information, please go to: www.brookings.org/es/urban/urban.htm  > More

Study calls for focus on established towns - Arresting sprawl won't be easy
Reinvesting in Pennsylvania’s established communities instead of supporting sprawl into outlying areas is a noble goal, but community leaders say it won’t be easy. Bruce Katz, director of the Brookings Institution Center on Urban and Metropolitan Policy, presented his agency’s stark report on development in Pennsylvania yesterday to more than 200 people at a breakfast meeting held by Sustainable Pittsburgh. > More

State development spending driving migration from city
Pennsylvania is spending plenty of money on economic development, but it’s spending it in the wrong places. The effect is that people have been encouraged to move into outlying areas and abandon urban and suburban centers. And that’s been more prevalent in Western Pennsylvania than in other parts of the state. Click here for more information. > More

Transportation impact fee debated
Future real estate developments in Murrysville could be assessed a transportation impact fee. Council passed a resolution that notifies the public of the municipality’s intent to adopt the fee. This allows for an interim impact fee of $1,000 per peak hour vehicle trip. A transportation impact fee can be assessed to developers for off-site improvements related to the traffic increase the development would cause. > More

North Huntingdon - Wal-Mart hearing to resume
When North Huntingdon Township officials resume a public hearing on a planned Wal-Mart Supercenter this week, it will mark the seventh time they’ve met to hear testimony on the project since it was unveiled last year. Please click here for more information. > More

Mount Pleasant Business District Authority News
The Mount Pleasant Business District Authority (BDA) is proud to announce the 6th successful business incubation from the In-Town Shops. Kelly’s Blossoms has recently moved to 616 West Main Street, Mount Pleasant. Kelly’s Blossoms joins Advertising & Printing Specialties, Nails by Marsee, Country Cottage, Markdowns and Mickeys Crafts as businesses that started and grew in the In-Town Shops. > More

Westmoreland Municipal Recreation Providers Create Alliance
GREENSBURG - Westmoreland County’s municipal parks and recreation professionals have formed an alliance aimed at improving programs and facilities in the region. The Westmoreland County Parks and Recreation Alliance was organized during a session held in the Westmoreland County Center for Conservation Education in Greensburg on November 13. Representatives from nine municipal recreation departments were in attendance. > More

Westmoreland's comprehensive plan: Better late than never
Westmoreland County needs a road map, a collective vision culled from residents on land development, transportation and infrastructure. The county’s planning department and its consultants are in the process of formulating just such a blueprint. Please click here for more information. > More

Getting Around: Slowly unfolding transit study to offer nine-county vision
The Port Authority and the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission, transportation planning agency for the nine-county region, are joint sponsors of a 20/20 Vision Study. In November 2000, they hired consultants to recommend goals for public transit. The $1.8 million study was supposed to be concluded in June 2002. The way things have gone, maybe they meant June 2020. Read More  > More

Continuing education program offered
"Commercial Land Use and Smart Growth" is the topic of a seminar to be offered next month at St. Vincent College, near Latrobe. The event, set for 1-4 p.m. Nov. 7, is one of several programs offered by the college that may enable attorneys, certified public accountants and other professionals to fulfill Continuing Legal Education and Continuing Professional Education requirements. Click here for more information. > More

Funding, transportation hot topics
Westmoreland County officials got an earful Wednesday in Ligonier Township over the lack of funding for expansion of water and sewer lines and concerns over transportation and rising taxes. The county planning department and its consultant, Mullin & Lonergan Associates, a Philadelphia-based firm, held the first of seven public meetings last night seeking input on formulating a proposed comprehensive development plan for the county. > More

Midweek Perspectives: Clarke Thomas/The $33.3 billion question
Fact 1: Between now and 2030, this region can expect $33.3 billion in federal and state dollars for its infrastructure -- highways, transit, water and sewer facilities and the like. Fact 2: In our multicounty region, between 1982 and 1997, nearly half as much land (43 percent) was built on, paved or otherwise developed as in the entire two centuries before -- while the population was declining by 8 percent Big question: Will these billions be spent on more urban sprawl? > More

Westmoreland making a plan
During the next seven weeks, Westmoreland County residents will get the chance to tell their leaders what to do. The county planning department will hold a series of public meetings, starting Wednesday in Ligonier Township and concluding Nov. 24 in Greensburg, to collect area residents’ ideas about a comprehensive development plan. The comments will be used to assess future planning needs and to form the basis of the document. > More

UPG at 40
It opened in 1963 with 209 students and seven full-time facility members in the former Vogel Building on North Maple Avenue, Greensburg. Today it boasts 1,800 students and 72 full-time faculty at the former Charles McKenna Lynch estate in Hempfield Township. Click here for more information. > More

Planners anticipate strong population growth
In the nine counties of southwestern Pennsylvania, the population will grow by about 430,000 residents by 2024, and leaders will have to make decisions for generations ahead, planners said Friday. Click here for more information. > More

Summit to address area growth issues
Nationally syndicated columnist and author Neal R. Peirce will be the featured speaker at the third annual Westmoreland County Smart Growth Summit, set for Sept. 26 at the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg. Click here for more information. > More

Sprawl Zone realized
In January 2002, after Unity Township supervisors rejected a sprawling retail development off Route 30, we offered this nightmarish scenario: What if, heaven forbid, two huge retailers had been approved before PennDOT got around to crucial highway improvements? We called it "The Sprawl Zone." Click here for more information. > More

Companies like possibilities intermodal terminal presents
The president of Sony Technology Center-Pittsburgh likes what he sees just a stone’s throw from his operation, and what he sees may have repercussions as far away as the West Coast. Please click here for details > More

Region's population slips
Westmoreland County and the surrounding region continued to show a slight downward population trend, according to 2003 estimates released this week by the U.S. Census Bureau. The figures, which detail population changes in the three years since the official 2000 census count, show Westmoreland County losing about one half of 1 percent of its population. Westmoreland County is estimated to have 368,224 residents, the report shows. > More

New Pittsburgh: Group seeks ban on funds for projects that abet sprawl
Sustainable Pittsburgh, seeking to spark public discussion and guide political leaders as the region plans for growth, wants state funds and other public subsidies to be withheld from projects that encourage sprawl. The recommendation was contained in a report whose release coincides with a 30-day public comment period on the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission’s long-range transportation and development plan for the region. > More

New Pittsburgh: Group seeks ban on funds for projects that abet sprawl
Sustainable Pittsburgh, seeking to spark public discussion and guide political leaders as the region plans for growth, wants state funds and other public subsidies to be withheld from projects that encourage sprawl. The recommendation was contained in a report whose release coincides with a 30-day public comment period on the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission’s long-range transportation and development plan for the region. > More

Newsmaker: James Scahill / Strong supporter of Armstrong County
Armstrong County Commissioner James Scahill didn’t sound like a big fan of regional economic cooperation back in October 2001. He was hopping mad after unexpectedly losing out to Allegheny County in a contest to land a much-coveted Siemens Westinghouse fuel-cell plant and its 500 jobs. "Call the coroner -- regionalism is probably dead," snapped the outspoken Scahill, who’d been blindsided by Allegheny County’s last-minute entry into the competition for the $122 million facility, which Scahill thought was headed to an industrial park in Armstrong County. > More

Citizen's Vision for Smart Growth
There is increasing public awareness that our region’s sprawling land use patterns have negative social, economic, and environmental consequences. Accordingly, we are increasingly hearing pronouncements by insightful public officials and community leaders that it is high time for reforms that favor a regional approach to land use planning for our region’s prosperity. Based on insights from land use trends forums we held around the region, Sustainable Pittsburgh has created a vision for the region’s development. > More

Rapid 'growth:' Armstrong County added to metro area
The Pittsburgh metropolitan area, stung by a 1.5 percent population loss during the 1990s, just gained 72,000 people. Overnight. Read More  > More

Speaker Urges Avoiding Sprawl Follies
Symposium on Abandoned Buildings and Vacant Land  > More

Promoting Regional Equity Through Smart Growth
Southwestern Pennsylvania Smart Growth Conference - "Promoting Regional Equity Through Smart Growth"  > More

Transportation and Development Plan for Southwestern Pennsylvania
An update of the long-range regional plan is now available in draft form for public review. This plan includes broad goals and objectives for the region. It is a strategy for investment in transportation and economic development in nine counties of southwestern Pennsylvania through the year 2030. The public comment period runs from June 1, 2003 through June 30, 2003. Public Participation Panels are holding meetings in each county during June, where you may comment on the Plan update. > More

Pittsburgh urban area now includes parts of Butler County, census says
Middlesex resident Marcie Rosiek thinks she lives in the country. Looking out the window of her Forsythe Road home, she sees birds winging past verdant hills and bud-covered trees. Absent are the towering apartment buildings, traffic jams and soot-spewing buses of the urban landscape. Rosiek likes it that way. "When I moved here, I wanted peace and serenity," she said. But Rosiek’s rural nook isn’t so rural anymore. > More

Public Officials Law Series Workshop
Please goto Tribune-Review for details > More

Randall Arendt Visit South Fayette Development
Smart Growth office funded Randall Arendt%7E%7B!/%7E%7Ds visit to South Fayette development  > More

Westmoreland County Leaders Impressed by Nearby Developments in Pittsburgh
Please go to Pittsburgh Live to see the Tribune-Review article > More

20/20 Vision Study
The Port Authority of Allegheny County and the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission (SPC), in partnership with the Heinz Endowments, Port of Pittsburgh Commission, Steel Industry Heritage Corporation, along with the region’s public transit agencies and a variety of other community partners, are developing a regional vision to identify transportation needs and recommend transportation improvements for Southwestern Pennsylvania. > More

SG Summit Remarks by Senator Allen Kukovich
Second Annual Smart Growth Summit Remarks by Senator Allen Kukovich Thank You. They say a lot can happen in a year. When we think back to being in this room for the 1st Annual Smart Growth Summit, last year, we were as an organization a month or two old. I think some of us were filled with optimism and probably also a bit of uneasiness. We knew last year that the concept was a good one, but we weren’t sure how it would be received, and by what measure we could define success. > More

One commissioner's view: Smart growth a smart decision
Dear Editor: The rapid decline of Greengate Mall in Hempfield Township, just a few miles west of Westmoreland County’s most populous municipality and county seat, Greensburg, has saddened and puzzled me. Now renamed "Net Tech 30," an attempt (of questionable legitimacy) to reposition its function, it remains an esthetically pleasing structure with a purpose that has become a mystery to all of us, even the most prominent real estate professionals. > More

Scholar says area sprawl worse than L.A.'s
To Bruce Katz, Pittsburgh is slowly sprawling out of control. Surprisingly, the Brookings Institution scholar sees more unnecessary, unchecked suburban development in the six-county Pittsburgh metropolitan area than in traffic-choked Los Angeles, Phoenix or Atlanta. "If you regard sprawl not as congestion but as [inefficient] use of land, Pittsburgh did not perform very well in the 1990s," Katz said yesterday. > More

Forum: This land is everyone's land
Pittsburgh and southwestern Pennsylvania look more beautiful than at any time since 1840, while Atlanta, Denver, Chicago, Phoenix and Los Angeles have become vast indistinguishable, treeless suburban nightmares. While some cities grow like cancers at their edges, their urban cores often languish and decay. Read More  > More

Forum: How transportation choices shape our destiny
The following is based on a speech delivered at "Transit Visions," a recent conference to launch an 18-month transit study by the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission and the Port Authority of Allegheny County. As southwestern Pennsylvania begins a year and a half of transit planning, here’s something we should keep in mind: The transportation choices we make now will do more than determine how we move goods and people around in the years ahead. > More

Unity's Vision
The undeveloped portions of Route 30 in Unity Township some day may attract the interest of commercial developers. By the time that happens, local leaders intend to be ready. Unity already has a springboard for discussion and future planning - a Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission study, which found that 85 percent of land bordering the four-lane highway in the township is "vacant." Additionally, the study projects that population and development within the township will increase significantly over the next 20 years. > More

Midweek Perspectives: A plea for regional leadership
Over the years, transportation and land-use professionals locally and outside have urged the board of the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission - our regional transportation planning agency - to adjust its approach to planning our region’s future. SPC has traditionally planned road construction in reaction to development that occurs on the easiest sites to develop. It has not taken the more beneficial approach of planning roads that encourage building on the most suitable land - in step with a regional plan. > More

Perspectives: Regionalism in reality
At the beginning of this year, I became chairman of the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission, the main forum where collaborative planning takes place for our nine-county region. I consider my chairmanship of SPC to be one of the most important duties I will carry out while being a Westmoreland County commissioner. Read More  > More

The Future of Agriculture
The Future of Westmoreland Agriculture(FWA) program is being launched to understand and address the challenges and opportunities facing the farming community in Westmoreland County. A key first step in the program is gathering input from farmers across Westmoreland County to identify the challenges and opportunities you see in farming today and in the future. Informal discussion meetings called Farmer "Let’s Talk" sessions will be held in October and November. > More

Oil, gas drilling booming in state, study says
By Rick Stouffer TRIBUNE-REVIEW Monday, November 17, 2008 The number of new oil and natural gas wells drilled in Pennsylvania tripled between 2000 and 2007, with the state’s 79,000 active wells making it third-highest among all states, a study released today shows. Oil and gas generates more than $7.1 billion in annual economic impact, with more than 26,500 jobs directly and indirectly supported by the industry, the Pennsylvania Economy League study found. > More

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Somerset County’s rural beauty can likely be preserved alongside the plans of potential business developers along the Flight 93 National Memorial Travel Corridor. During the 9/11 terrorist attacks, United Flight 93 crashed into a scenic mountainside near Shanksville, killing 40 passengers and the four hijackers. Jim Klein, lead consultant for the travel-corridor study, said a final version of a draft prepared by Lardner/Klein Landscape Architects of Alexandria, Va., will soon be ready. > More

Executives see a future beneath region's land
Thursday, June 18, 2009 By Sarah Eidemiller Drilling for natural gas in the shale that lies deep below the surface of Western Pennsylvania could create jobs in the region for years to come while providing royalty payments to property owners for the gas rights, say officials with local companies involved in the process. "Natural gas production and development will have its place in the energy mix for decades as our country continues to try and develop alternative sources of energy," said Christopher Fiano, vice president and chief financial officer of Penneco Oil Co. > More

Call for Nominations - Smart Growth
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Northeast SAR
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Power of 32 Highlights of Recent Milestones
Power of 32  engaged thousands of citizens in Community Conversations to develop a vision for the region. From this input, Issue Teams were formed to address ideas for change in six key categories: Economy, Education, Environment, Government, People & Community, and Transportation & Infrastructure. The Teams identified 14 Projects to unlock the potential of the region and improve its future. > More

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:+ The borough’s legacy beckons renewed life
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:+ The borough’s legacy beckons renewed life
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News you may have missed during the busy Holiday season -- "“The work that Mr. Tobin completed for the City of New Kensington provided both measurable results in current time and set the stage for the future. His assistance with our Better Block events through his direction in tactical urbanism helped us to plan for the enormously successful events. His help has become a part of our overall redevelopment plan that will be utilized in our efforts to successfully transform our ... > More

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