Looking back at Greene County history
A look at some of the headlines gracing the pages of the Observer-Reporter and Waynesburg Republican this week in Greene County history:
It’s official: New armory coming
WAYNESBURG – U.S. Rep. John P. Murtha made it very clear Tuesday that with the National Guard bearing so much of the burden in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, it’s imperative that these soldiers have the equipment and training necessary for them to complete their mission safely.
Murtha made his comments at the 93-year-old Capt. Robert C. Wiley Armory in Waynesburg, which by all accounts has outlived its usefulness.
Because of that, Murtha and Maj. Gen. Jessica L. Wright, adjutant general of the Pennsylvania National Guard, officially acknowledged that a new Pennsylvania National Guard readiness center will be built on an 18-acre site at EverGreene Industrial Park in Franklin Township.
The present armory on North Washington Street, built in 1914, serves as home to Company C, 1-110th Infantry, consisting of soldiers split between existing armories in Waynesburg and Canonsburg.
Of the $12.8 million cost for the new armory, $9.2 million will come from the federal government and $3.6 million from the state.
The new, state-of-the-art readiness center will be a one-story building with an assembly hall, administrative space, classrooms, locker rooms, a physical fitness room and kitchen space. A supporting facility will include a military equipment parking lot and a lot for private vehicles.
Construction of the new building is expected to begin this fall and will take about one year to complete.
•PRPS chosen as excellence award winner
WAYNESBURG – The Pennsylvania Recreation and Park Society Inc. has selected Greene County Department of Recreation as winner of its 61st annual Excellence in Programming Award in the category of Children and Youth. Greene County Director of Recreation Jake Blaker was recognized for his Summer Day Camp program, “Intro to Patriotism” at the March 11 ceremony at Seven Springs Mountain Resort in Champion.
“Recipients of these awards demonstrate outstanding quality, innovation and efficient use of resources,” said Susan Lohoefer, chairman of the PRPS Recognition and Awards Committee. “Each was selected by a 10-person committee by comparing the entry to others in the same category.”
This six-week series was led by Paulette Phillips, a retired teacher and mother of the late Steven Phillips, a Marine who died while serving in Iraq. Close to 1,000 children of all ages were taught the true meaning of “patriotism” in the context of relay races, singing familiar patriotic songs and hands-on activities, such as making homemade ice cream. This grant-funded program ended with a huge display of crafts, hundreds of letters sent to U.S. soldiers, a flag folding contest and the playing of TAPS.
Prison employees hope Rendell gets their message
WAYNESBURG – “Keep it open,” about 75 prison workers angrily shouted Wednesday as they rallied againt possible state budget cuts that could eliminate their jobs.
Employees hope the rallying cry will be repeated loudly enough to force state leaders into rethinking the prospect of closing State Correctional Institution-Waynesburg. The minimum security prison in Morgan Township should not be confused with SCI-Greene, a maximum security facility in Franklin Township.
As part of Gov. Ed Rendell’s $21 billion state budget proposal, SCI-Waynesburg and SCI-Pittsburgh would close by the end of this year or the beginning of 2004. Representatives from at least three unions which represent prison employees invited local and state officials to hear why that part of the governor’s budget is a bad idea.
Closing two prisons while the system already is above capacity will lead to increased inmate violence, chance of escape and lost jobs, union representatives said.
However, closing these aging lockups would save money because it costs more to house inmates there. The average cost across the entire state prison system is about $29,000 a year, while annual costs at SCI-Waynesburg are about $33,000 for each inmate, according to statistics compiled by the state Department of Corrections.
•Carmichaels student trips canceled because of war
CARMICHAELS – Carmichaels Area School Board voted Thursday to cancel two student field trips because of safety concerns related to the war with Iraq and the increased potential for terrorism. After discussing the matter with trip sponsors, the board canceled a May 2 trip by the band to New York City to participate in a competition and a May 9 senior class trip to the Rock ‘N Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio, and Cedar Point amusement park in Sandusky, Ohio.
Board members said they were sorry to have to cancel the trips, especially because students had been counting on going. They asked each sponsor to see if he could arrange other plans for the students.
“I hate to see the kids miss these events, but with the way things are, we really have to watch what’s going on,” board President Ken Ganocy said.
Band director William Craig told the board the band will lose part of its deposit if the trip is canceled.
Vending machine miasma
WAYNESBURG – The possibility of banning vending machines from sidewalks in the downtown business district was discussed by Waynesburg Borough Council.
The discussion was triggered by a letter from the borough zoning hearing board regarding complaints received about a soft drink machine that had been placed on the sidewalkof a new business across from the courthouse, with the letter stating that such controls are outside the jurisdiction of the zoning board.
Several council members said they also had received complaints about the same machine, but that it had since been moved from the sidewalk into the entrance of an unused doorway on the property.
Clarksville bank hit
Two men, one of the armed with a pistol, held up the Clarksville office of the First National Bank of Washington at 12:30 p.m. Tuesday.
They, and a third man who was left outside as a lookout, escaped with some $18,000, eluding police roadblocks set up throughout the tri-county area. This marked the second bank holdup in about two weeks at a branch office of First National Bank and the third bank holdup in Washington County this year.