Winter 2010-11

Beaver Becomes A Mini Hollywood

by Missy Koshute, Age 13, Grade 7

11:00 p.m. Although it is late at night, a mega spotlight floods Second Street, making it look as if it’s a black sky day. A crowd is gathered around all kinds of equipment and tents, while crews scurry back and forth shouting “Rolling! Rolling!”, “Quiet, please!”, “Cut!” and “Moving on.”

This, as you may have guessed, is the site of a movie. Beaver has become a mini Hollywood. The well known company DreamWorks has been filming shots of their new movie “I Am Number Four” at a local house, which just happens to be on our family paper route.

On Tuesday, June 8, till midnight, my mom, my brother and I went and watched all the activity. People walked in and out of the house. Sometimes it was the actors, and sometimes it was people hauling around equipment. For one of the outside scenes, a big water tank truck came and poured the liquid all over the road to make it look like it had been raining. During a break, the main actress came out and took pictures with everyone watching, while the director was seen showing a little kid actor what to do for one of his parts.

A big highlight of the night was when I got to pet one of the four adorable beagles in the movie (this one’s name was Scout) and meet the DreamWorks’ dog trainer, who was very friendly in spite of the late hour. Indeed, Scout was a very well-trained set dog. Members of the crew kept coming over and kissing and petting him as they walked by and he didn’t bark once. I learned that in the film the dog protects the kid from the aliens and that Scout, Robie, Adam, and the other dog’s fur was dyed the same colors so that you can’t tell they’re different dogs in the movie. It was all very interesting.

As we were walking back to our car, suddenly a policeman put his hand up and said, “Stop right there. Just don’t move.” We were caught in filming and, no, not being arrested. We had to stand frozen during this street scene for about five minutes. Then we got in our car and drove home.

What an exciting night it was, not only for us, but for all the local bystanders watching! DreamWorks packed up and moved on a long time ago, but Beaver residents eagerly await the next time a movie comes to town, when Beaver will once again become a mini Hollywood.

[Note: This article was submitted for publication in the Summer 2010 issue of The Bridge, but was omitted in error. We’d like to thank Missy for this wonderful, first-person account of an exciting event in Beaver. “I Am Number Four” is set to debut in February 2011.]

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Percy Jackson’s Big Review

by Nicolette Bogolea, Age 11, 5th Grade

After reading Rick Riordan’s big start to his great series Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief, I think it may be the most adventurous series I have ever read!

It starts out as a 12-year-old boy who suffers from dyslexia and ADHD. In his life, Greek mythology creatures and Half-Bloods find him. At the beginning of the great book, Percy is attending a private school for troubled kids. While he’s there, his best friend and his Latin teacher seem very different. His field trip turns into a disaster, and Percy is taken to a camp for Half-Bloods. On the way, he finds out that Zeus’s lightning bolt has been stolen and Percy is the suspect. Also, his mom gets taken by a minotaur, and Percy wonders if he will ever see her again. At camp he meets two new friends that should help him.

This epic story has an epic ending. I think you’ll want to find out. Flip through these epic pages and read. I recommend this to everyone!

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Let Your Characters Breathe

Melissa Hosack — Author of Paranormal Romance

As a writer, one of the most important lessons I’ve learned over the years in character development is to let your characters tell their own story.

Going by a strict outline never seemed to work for me. In my opinion, I believe a character needs to develop at their own rate. I could never force a character to do what I want them to. Many characters will fight their creator until the very end, while others jump at the chance to have their story told. This variety of dispositions can be a challenge. Some characters have difficult personalities and don’t want to reveal too much about themselves when I may be ready to, but finally getting them to open up is what makes writing the enjoyable and entertaining thing it is.

Characters can become a personality that is almost tangible to the author. I always find it easier to let such a persona take the reins in whatever it is I am writing. I often find myself surprised with how things turn out. In a vampire series yet to be published, I had a character who was only meant to help transition the location of my story from point A to point B. This character was meant to only be a blip in the life of my main character.

As the story progressed, to my surprise, this character continued to pop up and make sure his presence was known. Orion made sure I knew he wasn’t going to be just a blip. He had a background, a history. He had a life I hadn’t even begun to dream about, a life that he needed to share with me. By the end of my book, this character interjected himself into the final battle against the antagonist. He was prepared to give his life for the heroine, and I had nearly written him off as unimportant. Had I stuck to strict rules, never veering from a set outline, I never would have gotten to know and love my timid and kind vampire named Orion.

My advice to my fellow authors: Don’t let yourself get hampered down by rules and regulations. Writing isn’t about sticking to a straight and narrow path. It is about creativity and letting your characters have a voice of  their own. Let your characters breathe. They will thank you for it in the end.

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But Enough About Me

Joline Pinto Atkins

RESTAURANT REVIEW: Biba—Latin Inspired Cuisine

BIBA. It’s fun to say.

BIBA.

Biba, a Latin dialect of the Spanish, bebida, means “drink”. But to hear the true inspiration behind the name of this new restaurant, check in with owner’s Jason and Chrissy Benegasi.

“It’s named after our dog.” Talk about honoring the legacy of your beloved pet. Biba, your name now lives on through Beaver’s recent addition to ethnic dining. Good dog!

I sat down with Jason one October evening while under a tornado watch. A little wind and the threat of being whipped in the face by flying piles of crispy leaves wasn’t about to stop me. I’ve played Dorothy. I know the adventure a twister can bring. There’s no place like Biba!

Entering the restaurant, I was struck by the spaciousness of the tiny venue. Surprisingly, with room for only 11 tables, seating wasn’t tight. And although Biba is considered one of Beaver’s more upscale restaurants, there wasn’t a hint of snootiness.

Jason, formerly of Lidia’s Pittsburgh, dreamed of opening his own place for years.

Why Beaver?

“Beaver is obviously up and coming. It’s a unique small town with a main drag feel – not commercial.” Here, we veered off, swapping opinions on local business vs. corporate establishments as it pertained to certain coffee shops. You can ask him for his thoughts on this subject. I agreed not to print details. Wink.

“Beaver is happening. Everyone here is really into their little town.”

He’s exactly right. We adore our little town. What’s not to love about our “main drag” which now boasts the flavors of Cuba, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Peru, and Argentina, thanks to Biba, whose menu specializes in dishes from South America and the Caribbean, along with Central American and Mexican influences.

“Folks may not recognize what’s on the menu, but it’s really nothing weird,” Jason joked. Chicken, steak, pork, and fish are regulars in the line up, with some new surprises coming in December.

Not to be confused with tapas, (a rumor I think I actually started – oops), Biba is a Latin seasonal restaurant, offering “small plates” (as well as larger dishes) from a unique menu which changes weekly. “Sticking to their guns” by using seasonal, fresh, and local ingredients, Jason shops with venders from our very own community. And while one might find the prices a bit startling at first, the finest ingredients combined with the talent of Executive Chef David Plankenhorn naturally comes at a premium.

I act nonchalant when Jason asks if I’m hungry, but truthfully, I was so hoping he’d ask.

He whips up two of his favorites: a jerk chicken taco on a home-made tortilla, topped with cabbage, pineapple/Serrano pepper salsa and a drizzle of sour cream, followed by a soft taco filled with jumbo lump crab and chorizo, sprinkled with onion and Chihuahua cheese.

“You may need a fork with that one,” he shares. Nope. I had no intention of attempting proper table manners. Those tasty tacos were gone in a snap.

No sooner had I finished than Chef David, a former chocolatier, quietly laid a spoon of chocolate gonache on my plate.

I love him.

Venture into Biba and be treated to a meal that will stretch your culinary palate with dishes from countries far beyond the land of Beaver Bobcats. And if you find “new” to be strange and intimidating, and aren’t brave enough to go it alone, allow me to accompany you. I’ll even hold your hand.

Biba is located at 406 Third Street. (724) 728-7700. Tell them Joline sent you.

Joline Pinto Atkins is no longer the new girl in town. Her take on life, (humorous, and as is the case in life, sometimes not so humorous – although she’ll attempt to find a laugh in any situation) can be found at thecuppajo.blogspot.com. Joline can also be found blogging her musings about entering the “soccer mom” stage of her life every Thursday at PittsburghMom.com.

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NO TO MARCELLUS SHALE DRILLING

Here at The Bridge, we are saddened to hear that the State of Pennsylvania continues to sell out to the Marcellus Shale fracking companies, of which include Halliburton (yes the same Dick Cheney’s Halliburton who put us to war in Iraq) and EOG (formerly known as Enron, remember that one?) and Anadarko our beloved BP’s partner in the Gulf of Mexico spill (a great job there).

Do we want these same multi-national companies in our backyards?  Do you think they care about this area any more than they care about Iraq, the Gulf, America?  Well, they now own the ground beneath the feet of many of us.

These companies with their campaign contributions have taken over the state government and corrupted our politics by turning us against ourselves.  They exploit landowners by pitting them against their neighbors.  Tom Corbett and Pat Toomey are in bed with the Marcellus Shale companies.  Why would we allow drilling in our State Parks?  Why wouldn’t we tax?  Why wouldn’t we investigate the repercussions of drilling from an environmental perspective?  The cost to remediate the damages will far outdo any benefits that trickle down to the public.  As someone stated in a rally against the shale drilling—it will be good for our hospitals and funeral homes.  Exactly.

Please do what you can to oppose any drilling.  The City of Pittsburgh has voted on a ban.  Other counties and places have done the same.  But many have not.  Vote for a ban, or at least a moratorium which would give us time to catch up to see the full effects of fracking on the land and water.

We have done so much to clean up this region after so many years of environmental abuse.  And now we’re repeating the same mistakes again, by privatizing the profits of drilling— giving them to these companies and a few landowners—and socializing the costs by passing the environmental degradation, cleanup, and poisons on to our children and grandchildren.  Think like the Native Americans—of the “Seventh Generation.”  Would this be good for them?

Until the fracking process is proven safe, which it hasn’t been, then BAN IT.  Let these companies go home.

Instead, be energy efficient, look to solar, buy a rain barrel, make your home better insulated, drive less, walk more.  Watch these movies: “Gasland,” “Flow.” Speak out to your leadership and fellow citizens, join Sierra Club, take a permaculture class at Phipps, and do what you can to protect the waters and land for ourselves and for our children, and for theirs too.

Go to: http://www.fractracker.org to see the over 1,500 violations by companies so far (scroll down to find the map from the Wednesday, Nov 17 post).

Go to: http://www.pennfuture.org, http://www.pennenvironment.org, http://www.pecpa.org, http://www.pennsylvania.sierraclub.org, http://www.depweb.state.pa.us to learn more about local environmental issues and how to get involved.

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Summer 2010

In Town

Valentine J. Brkich

I’m obsessed with time, particularly the passage of it, which seems to be speeding up as I grow older. My grandfather once told me that up until age 21 life went slowly. After that, he said, it was one big blur. One minute you’re a wide-eyed kid with your whole life ahead of you, the next you’re an 80-year-old man eating dinner at 3 o’clock in the afternoon.

A couple months ago, I went on a five-day trip to cover a class on the Civil War. Although I was reluctant to leave my wife and two young kids at home, I was really excited to get a first-hand look at American history. OK, I’m a dork.

On the first day of the trip, I felt a little out of place, barreling down the highway on a bus full of college kids. After all, it’s been 17 years since I was a freshman, living in a dorm with no Internet, clad in flannel, and listening to Pearl Jam on my Walkman while typing on my portable electronic word processor. It’s funny how little things have changed a little since then.

As the days went by, however, I began to feel more and more at ease with the students as we got to know each other better.

Then, while eating lunch in Gettysburg, just as I was beginning to feel like one of the gang, somehow the legendary Blizzard of ’93 came up in conversation. “I remember that,” I said. “I was a freshman in college.”

The female student sitting next to me nearly choked on her salad. “Wow!” she said. “I was three years old!”

The next day, I was still reeling from that comment when I arrived home and ran inside to hug my wife and kids. Even though I had only been gone a few days, I immediately noticed that my  2 ½-year old was speaking with a larger vocabulary and in complete sentences. She was even calling me “Dad” instead of “Daddy.” It was like I had just woken up from a coma to find my daughter was all grown up. I fully expected her tattooed, skinny-jeans-wearing, tongue-pierced boyfriend to pop his head in the room and say, “Hey, let’s go, babe. My motorcycle’s runnin’.”

Two days later, the over-18 soccer team on which I play had its first game of the season. At 35, I’m the Brett Favre of the team, minus the talent and athleticism. I’ve been playing soccer since I was 6, and I suppose this is just a last-grasp effort to hold onto what’s left of my youth. I’m actually able to run with most of the players and not look too foolish out there. Yet, here it is, four days later, and I’m still limping around the office.

I guess there’s nothing to do but accept the fact that time keeps ticking away, and that I’m getting older with each tick. It happens to everyone, you know. One minute you’re playing tag at recess, the next you’re clipping your ear hair.

Not that I know anything about that.

For more, visit www.valentinebrkich.com.

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We Need Your Help NOW! – Save Our Public Libraries

Gov. Rendell’s new budget for Fiscal Year 2010-11 calls for yet another cut of 9 percent in the public library subsidy

The Beaver County public libraries, as well as all those in Pennsylvania, received a dramatic cut in funding for 2009-10. Our county libraries lost a total of $250,000. Beaver Library alone received $50,000 less this year than in 2009, a 40% decrease in addition, Access PA and POWERLIBRARY, both vital eResoures needed by students and all library users, suffered a devastating cut of 73%.

The proposed budget provides a $250 million increase for the Basic Education (K-12) subsidy. Despite the obvious disconnect in Harrisburg b eetween education and libraries, Pennsylvanians do consider libraries a key element of education that deserves increased funding, not further cuts.

The public’s need for library services now is greater than ever! Libraries provide vital programs, services, and materials for all citizens (infants, children of all ages, students, adults, and seniors).

Libraries are busieree now than in the past. Several national studies confirm the fact that library usage has increased in all areas over the last several years. At the very time demand is up and the public need is at its greatest, budget cuts have forced libraries to cut hours, to curtail the purchase of materials and computers, to reduce programs for children and senior citizens, and to lay off professional staff.

What Can You Do to Help?

NOW is the moment to speak up and urge fellow library patrons and friends to do likewise! Send Gov. Rendell, your state senator, and your state representative this simple message: NO MORE CUTS TO OUR LIBRARIES! Tell them that cutting libraries in the future is unacceptable, especially during this recession when libraries are busier and more needed than ever. Personal letters and notes, visits, telephone calls, and e-mails are encouraged. Contact information and addresses are available at the Beaver Library (100 College Avenue).

Thank you!

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I Ain’t Afraid of No Ghost!

Do you live in Beaver and have a good ghost story about your house or business?

We’re looking for stories for a new book about haunted sites in Beaver Borough.

If you have a strange or scary story you’d be willing to share, please e-mail it to: ContactTheBridge@gmail.com, or send it to “Haunted Beaver Borough”, P.O. Box 84, Beaver, PA 15009.

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Beer, Brats, and the Bridge! – Come to the PL&E Bridge Festival

Join us as we celebrate the 100th birthday of the P&LE Ohio River Railroad Bridge. Eat, drink, mix, mingle, and listen to some great music!

Food courtesy of Lynn Clayton and Patty Colavincenzo

Music courtesy of  the Weavers

When:      Friday, September 3, 6 p.m. ‘til??

Where:    Beaver History Museum grounds

(East End Avenue, Beaver)

Sponsored by The Beaver Area Heritage Foundation (beaverheritage.org)

For more information, e-mail info@beaverheritage.org.

Become a Facebook fan of the P&LE R.R. Bridge! Just log on to Facebook and search for: “P & LE Ohio River Bridge”

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What is Reiki?

Reiki is an energy healing technique developed by a Japanese man in the early 1900s, which centers around balancing the energy of the body. This may be physically, emotionally, mentally, or spiritually. When you balance the energy of the body, you work towards creating a state of natural balance. Reiki helps realign the body’s energy.

During a typical reiki session, the client will lie, fully clothed, on a massage table. A practitioner will place his/her hands on or above specific energy locations of the body in order to help dissolve energy blockages and tension. There is no pressure, massage, or manipulation. Relaxing music is also played during the session, which usually lasts around 50 minutes.

Reiki is not a religion and is not affiliated with any particular belief system. It is a holistic energy healing modality. Reiki has been used to address all types of cancer, fertility issues, Parkinson’s disease, psychological illnesses, fibromyalgia, chronic pain, digestive problems, and stress-related diseases. Many hospitals around the country are actually adding it in to their regular programs.

Reiki is a wonderful preventative modality as well, and it enhances your ability to continue your happy, positive outlook.

In Good Health and Happiness,

Tabatha Knox, Reiki Master

Alternative Wellness Naturally

568 3rd Street, 2nd Fl., Beaver, Pa.

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Spring 2010

Iron Wonder

Valentine J. Brkich

As you travel northbound on Route 65, it appears off in the distance as you pass the East Rochester bridge. A dark behemoth. A mountain of black iron rising above the Ohio River, spanning the water between Bridgewater and Monaca.

Maybe you’ve never even given it a second thought. Then again, if you’re like me, you’re obsessed with it. You’ve painted it and photographed it. You’re inexplicably drawn to it like Richard Dreyfus’s character was to Devil’s Tower in Close Encounters of the Third Kind. (“This means something. This is important.”) You get giddy every time you hear the rumble of a freight train crossing it, and whenever you drive by it, you have a hard time keeping your eyes on the road.

I’m talking about the Pittsburgh & Lake Erie Ohio River Bridge, which on May 11 will be celebrating its 100th anniversary. This isn’t any old bridge; it’s a landmark. It’s a symbol of the ingenuity, toughness, and solid work ethic of the people of Beaver County. It is our Giza Pyramid. Our Great Wall. Our Colosseum.

Here’s a few interesting facts about this amazing structure:

  • The bridge was built 33 years after the railroad was founded in 1877. The current bridge was the third to be built at this crossing.
  • It was designed by Albert Lucius, and John Abiel Atwood, P&LE chief engineer, was in charge of the construction. Atwood built one of the first houses on Taylor Avenue in Beaver and was the founder of the Beaver Valley Country Club in Patterson Heights.
  • The McClintic and Marshall Construction Co. built the bridge for around $2,000,000.
  • The two main columns of the bridge are 145 feet tall. Each post weighs approximately 250 tons, and was shipped in four pieces. The heaviest single piece weighed 87 tons.
  • The shoes of the main posts sit on rocker-bearing devices that move to better handle the immense weight of the trains.
  • The steel came from Ambridge, where it was loaded on standard flat cars and shipped to the site. The cantilever arms and center span were shipped down the river on barges and hoisted into place.
  • Most of the bridge is held together by a series of large steel pins, the largest of which was 16-in. in diameter, 8-ft. 9-in. long and weighed around 3 tons.
  • The bridge was completed in 223 working days with no more than 100 men.
  • Upon completion, the extreme points were within 1/8-in. of the figured position, both vertically and horizontally.
  • “The Vice President’s Special”, engine No. 23, made the first official trip over the bridge on May 11, 1910. The first passenger train crossed on May 14.

Today, the bridge is owned by CSX and continues to support heavy train traffic without a problem. Take a moment to appreciate it sometime. Two great places to check it out are at the Monaca boat launch and the Bridgewater Crossing development.

(Source: “A History of the Pittsburgh & Lake Erie Railroad Ohio River Bridge” by Valentine J. Brkich. Available at the Beaver Area Heritage Museum.)

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Happy Beaver County

Despite what you hear on the news and read in the local paper, good things are actually happening in our county. Really.

Just ask Happy Beaver County—a new organization whose primary goal is to promote and encourage “positivity” happening within and by the residents of Beaver County. Happy Beaver County wants to show that there really are a lot of good things happening in our region, despite what the local news media would have us believe.

Happy Beaver County invites you to follow them on Twitter:

Username: @HappyBeaverCo

You can also follow them through their tumblr.com blog:

http://happybeaverco.tumblr.com

And you can also become a fan of theirs on the Happy Beaver County Facebook page.

Be happy, Beaver County—good things are happening!!

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LOCAL BUSINESS SPOTLIGHT

Mid-County Rents Where Renting is Worth It.

When you first step into Mid-County Rents on Brodhead Road, you’re immediately greeted by an angry, toothless glare. I’m not talking about Don Dowdy, the owner of the tool and equipment rentals business. I’m talking about Jack Lambert, whose legendary Sports Illustrated cover photo, along with dozens of other pieces of Pittsburgh Steelers memorabilia adorns the front wall.

“When a customer walks in,” says Don, “I want them to know they’re in Steelers Country…just in case they didn’t know.”

Mid-County Rents has been in business since March 1991, when Don and a fellow church member first opened the store in the Center Stage plaza on Old Brodhead Road. With only two other equipment rental shops in the area, they recognized a need in the marketplace, especially in the middle of the county – hence the name. Eventually, they moved the shop across the road, where they built the business over 18 years. Just recently, they relocated to 3395 Brodhead Road.

“The new location is really more customer friendly,” says Don. “It’s more visible from the road, and it gives our customers easy access.”

Previously, Don had been working as an electrician and doing drywall on the side. When he decided to go into business for himself, he found it to be both exhilarating and exhausting. During the first few years, he worked around the clock while still doing electrician work on the side. “I learned as I went,” he says. “Having your own business is an ongoing process, really. Things are always changing. You’re always learning, and every mistake you make costs you money.”

Don learned as he went, however, and the company gradually built a large and loyal clientele, mostly because of his customer-first philosophy. “I’ll help you any way I can,” he says. “And if I can’t help you, I’ll make sure to point you in the right direction to the person or business that can.”

Mid-County Rents serves both contractors and homeowners alike. For contractors, they rent just about every type of tool or machine out there today. But it’s the weekend warriors who are really starting to recognize all that Mid-County has to offer. “We have a large selection of tools and equipment to help homeowners,” says Don. “From tillers and thatchers, to wallpaper tools and carpet cleaners, we’ve got a little bit of everything to make your project a little easier.”

Mid-County also rents U-Hauls, and in addition to refilling your propane tank, they can even refill CO2 cartridges for paintball guns and beer kegs.

Mid-County Rents prides itself on unmatched customer service. As a faith-based business, they offer a personal touch that you just can’t find anywhere else. “One guy sells it, rents it, and maintains it,” says Don. “And you can call us anytime with any questions you might have.”

Stop in to see Don’s Pittsburgh Steelers collection today, or visit them online at:  http://www.midcountyrents.com

Mid-County Rents

3395 Broadhead Road, Aliquippa, PA 15001

(724) 774-2780

www.midcountyrents.com

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Downtown FOCUS E-Newsletters

Town Center Associates, publisher of the Downtown FOCUS E-Newsletter, will be glad to email you your town’s quarterly e-Newsletter. If you would like to receive the FOCUS newsletter online, please send your e-mail address and hometown to mpetro@towncenter.info and you’ll be added to the list.

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Winter 2010

Here at The Bridge, we’d like to wish everybody a happy 2010.  That said, we feel it would be even happier if people got together and did two things this year:

Save Old Economy Village.
Please send your support, be it in the form of  creativity or money or other any skills and efforts to saving Old Economy Village.  Hopefully, together, we can preserve this historic treasure for this and the next generations. See article on this page and ad on the back page for contact information and ways to get involved.

Stop new Wal-Mart.
We would like to express our greatest discontents that Economy Boro is using eminent domain to build another Wal-Mart.  Eminent domain!  This should not be utilized to support private enterprises, especially ones that will compete with our local businesses. This is unlawful, unjust, and unethical.  And beyond that, it’s not smart.

We have enough malls already. Our population hasn’t grown yet the malls never stop being built. We should protect our land and our open spaces.  We should think about our use of public spaces for just that, the best interests of the public, not the best interests of plaza owners, national box stores, and greedy developers. It’s a real shame that more people are not up in arms over such abuse of our civil rights.

Please help to save our land and our towns by expressing your concerns to the Economy Borough Council and attending their meetings:

Baden Borough Council
2nd and 4th Tuesday, 7 p.m.
Municipal Building
2856 Conway Wallrose Road
Baden, PA 15005-2306

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Save Old Economy Village from Closure: Your Voice Matters!

Emily Lapisardi, Secretary, Friends of Old Economy Village Board

On November 16th, nine members of the state staff of Old Economy Village– including all tour guides– were furloughed.  This leaves the 6-acre, 17-building National Historic Landmark site with a state staff of six and the inability to open to the public.

The PHMC now expects the Friends of Old Economy Village (OEV’s non-profit support group) to manage educational and interpretive programming, including tours for about 30,000 yearly visitors (7,000 schoolchildren), special events, lectures, and workshops.  Without these programs, Old Economy Village– one of the premiere historical educational sites in western Pennsylvania– will become “an expensive warehouse.” The Friends were not given advance notice that we would be expected to assume such a large portion of the site’s mission and the associated expenses. Although drastic cuts to PHMC funding necessitated reductions, western Pennsylvania’s sites have been hit harder than some other regions.

Targeting Old Economy Village for closure has devastated lives.  To the furloughed workers, OEV was more than a job: it was a passion.  Old Economy is the geographic, historical, and metaphorical heart of Ambridge, PA—a vital component in the ongoing rejuvenation of the town.  In addition to lost tourist revenue, the closure of Old Economy Village represents a loss of a focal point for economic development, likely leading to neighborhood blight.  Visitors and scholars regularly came to the site from across the USA and other nations.  In stripping us of the ability to share this rich legacy, the closure has killed our history.

The PHMC will preserve the material culture of the Harmony Society– its buildings, artifacts, and archives.  While these items are of immense value, Old Economy Village is more than this.  It is an educational facility, time-travel machine, and monument to the dedication and strength of its immigrant founders.

Those who believe in the value of historical education, who love OEV and wish it to remain open, must act now by calling legislators and signing the official petition at OEV or http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/oldeconomy .

Help is desperately needed.  Please consider attending, volunteering, and/or donating your time.

The Friends of Old Economy Village are dedicated to keeping OEV alive, but the future is uncertain.  Your support and advocacy are deeply appreciated.  Thank you.

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In Town
Valentine J. Brkich

If you’re anything like me, you can’t help but make a list of New Year’s resolutions. I just love lists, in general: to-do lists, favorite book lists, grocery lists, etc. Lists fit right in with my obsessive-compulsive, anal-retentive personality. The New Year’s list is the Grand Poobah of all lists. Just thinking about it gives me chills. I’m a strange bird.

Most people pack their New Year’s list with boring, hard-to-achieve goals (i.e. lose weight, eat better, quit smoking, read more, etc.) I’d like to suggest some others that will not only improve your quality of life but your community’s as well:

Support your local businesses. The owners of your local shops work harder and for longer hours than most. Basically, they live inside their store. We’re lucky to have people like this who are willing to sacrifice so much of their free time so that we can have charming corner coffee shops, distinctive eateries, and unique boutiques. Without these, we’d be forced to eat at those boring national chains, shop at those hideous big-box retailers, and get our coffee at fast-food drive-thrus. This year, make a point of it to think of your local, independent retailers first. We’ll all be better for it.

And when you’re out and about supporting the local economy, don’t just stick to the same old haunts. Be adventurous. Drive 10 minutes away to the next town and see what they have to offer. Head over to Aliquippa and grab some lunch at Uncommon Grounds (www.uncommongroundscafe.org), the charming café on Franklin Avenue. If you haven’t been to Aliquippa in a while, you should check it out. Good things are happening. Don’t believe what you read in the so-called “local” newspaper or what you see on the nightly news. Good things are happening in our towns. You just have to get off the couch every once in a while and go see for yourself.

Leave the car at home. I know we’ve pushed this time and time again, but we don’t mind being pushy. This year, whenever possible, try walking or riding your bike instead of driving. If you’re an able-bodied person, walking four or five blocks to the post office really isn’t that far. Believe me. You’ll feel better for it, there will be less traffic on our streets, and you’ll get to see a whole different side of your town. It’s a win-win situation for everyone.

Get involved. Everyone’s busy. It’s called life. Put down the remote and find some way to get involved with your community. I know it’s hard to believe, but there really is more to life than “CSI: Miami” and “Big Brother.” Join a reading or a writing group. Start a community clean-up committee to pick up litter monthly. Start a walking club. Attend community-sponsored events. When we’re more active within our communities, our communities become better, safer, more fulfilling places in which to live.

Spend more time on your front porch. Believe it or not, but making our communities more safe and friendly is as easy as sitting on your front porch. After dinner, get outside (weather permitting), take a seat on the old porch swing, and have some good old-fashioned conversation with your family, friends, and neighbors. You never know what you’ll see or hear right outside your own front door. (MUST READ: Porch Talk, by Philip Gulley.)

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Old Economy Brewery?
Chad Seamon

Old Economy Village is an historic landmark that few people know about. I’ve lived in the area for years and visited the place only once and it was for wedding pictures. The recent news of its closure, due to lack of funds, didn’t surprise me because the only advertisement I’ve ever seen for the place is a tiny little sign on Route 65. I don’t think the historic landmark needs to rely on state funds to sustain a working budget, it needs a makeover and a creative marketing staff to have the 19th century communal society up and running, with a 21st century attitude.

Brief History: For those who still don’t know, the Harmony Society originated in Germany but members fled to the United States in 1803, due to religious persecution. It was founded by Johann Georg Rapp and for some 100 years the society experienced success and prosperity by dominating most of the trades throughout the area. Internal conflict and the succession of a third of its members eventually sealed the community’s fate and it was ended in 1906. The state purchased the area and it became an historic landmark in 1906.

Ambridge has been in an economic slump for the last 30 years but it’s still known for two things, its love of libations and some of the best drinking water in the land. What is the perfect business when a town has these things working in its favor? That’s right, a brewery. The Old Economy Brewery. There couldn’t be a better plan for the area. Keep the museum in operation and renovate areas of the society to accommodate a restaurant and brewery. This would bring much needed jobs and business to the area and an historic site people would travel great distances to visit.

I know, some may say this is against what the Society believed – being they once practiced celibacy – but it’s either an empty building that goes to waste or it becomes a successful business in the area.

Future Beers

Georg Rapp Ale

Celibacy “Log-her”

Harmony Hops IPA

Steel Mill Stout

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