Looking back at Greene County history
A look at some of the headlines of the Observer-Reporter and Waynesburg Republican this week in Greene County history:
Fair start: ‘There’s nothing better’
WIND RIDGE – A perfect summer evening with blue skies, long shadows and comfortable temperatures helped make for a good start to the 143rd edition of the Jacktown Fair.
Said to be oldest continuously operating country fair in the nation, the Jacktown Fair began its five-day run with the annual parade and the crowning of Miss Jacktown Fair.
The parade, which started in Wind Ridge and wound its way down Route 21 to the fairgrounds, included about 95 units. Residents lined the route, waiting for the parade to draw to an end so they, too, could enter the fairgrounds for the night’s festivities.
The weather is “gorgeous,” said Mike Gardner a longtime director of the Richhill Agricultural Society, which sponsors the annual fair. “There’s nothing better.”
Gardner said the parade drew a good turnout and the crowd at the opening ceremonies at the grandstand was “better than average.”
“I think it’s a good start,” Gardner said. Fair week always includes several events and activities, including a demolition derby, entertainment and livestock judging.
A saying has long been associated with Jacktown and it is “You can’t die happy until you’ve been to the Jacktown Fair.”
Great skate debate
WAYNESBURG – Skateboarders usually are scolded when they grind their boards on rails and hurdle over obstacles in the borough.
But on Wednesday, that activity was very much encouraged when American Ramp Co. set up a mobile skate park in Central Park.
Skate parks “have certainly grown in popularity in recent years. They are almost as common as playgrounds anymore,” said Chip Taylor of the Joplin, Mo., company. “It’s amazing. A lot of folks don’t realize how many kids do this in their town until they build a skate park and see how many kids are using it.”
A few dozen teenagers on skateboards and in-line skates took turns rolling down two quarter pipe ramps and doing tricks on grind rails and a stair platform.
The scene may become commonplace if borough officials proceed with tentative plans to build a skate park near the Central Park playground.
The borough received a $15,000 state grant to get started, but more money will need to be raised before the park can be built. Taylor said a permanent skate park that is similar to the mobile one demonstrated Wednesday would cost $30,000 to $35,000.
The borough also will have to acquire land on which to construct the park.
Athena Bowman, borough secretary, said she checked with the borough’s liability insurance carrier to determine how a skate park would effect the insurance premium.
“It would go up, but it really wasn’t that much,” she said.
Aleppo parents make pitch for school
ALEPPO – West Greene School District could save as much as $300,000 annually if it works to consolidate buildings, district administrators said Tuesday.
However, some residents complained that too much emphasis is being placed on the bottom line and not enough on the children.
“It’s all boiling down to dollars and cents and it shouldn’t be all about (that),” said Tracy Stoneking of New Freeport. “My child should not boil down to dollars and cents.”
School directors heard from several parents and residents asking them to spare an elementary school that has been part of their community for 53 years. The board is considering closing Aleppo Elementary School and heard comments at a public hearing Tuesday.
Administrators also introduced options to consider if directors decide to close the aging building before the 2003-04 school year.
If the board chooses to close Aleppo and send students to Springhill-Freeport or Graysville elementary schools, the district would start saving $110,354 annually.
Lawmakers resigned to shutdown of Waynesburg prison
WAYNESBURG – The state Department of Corrections has begun moving ahead with plans to mothball the state Correctional Institution at Waynesburg.
DOC began implementing plans to close the minimum-security prison this week under a timetable calling for the relocation of inmates and the transfer of existing staff from the institution to be completed by Nov. 1.
DOC Secretary Jeffrey Beard announced in March that SCI-Waynesburg and SCI-Pittsburgh would be closed to help the department meet spending limits included in Gov. Ed Rendell’s budget.
The department earlier agreed to halt implementation of its plan for SCI-Waynesburg at the urging of area legislators, who asked DOC first to consider proposals to reduce the prison’s operating costs and bring them more in line with the state average.
Sharon Thomas, a spokeswoman for state Sen. J. Barry Stout, D-Bentleyville, said Stout continues to oppose the mothballing of the prison. However, Stout also has to consider the fate of the prison’s 215 employees, she said.
Greene County residents urged to reduce water consumption
WAYNESBURG – Although municipal water companies in Greene County continue to have good water supplies, most urge customers to honor Gov. Robert Casey’s plan for voluntary reductions in water use.
Conserving water “would be the best thing that could possibly happen for everybody,” said Joe Simatic, manager of the Southwestern Pennsylvania Water Authority.
The authority, which serves some 10,000 customers in Greene and Fayette counties, has an adequate water supply, most of which is drawn from the Monongahela River.
But Simatic warned, “If the weather continues on this trend we may be experiencing some difficulties.” The authority now is denying requests for water to fill swimming pools and has placed restrictions on the use of fire hydrants for non-emergency uses.
Chamber clarifies game stand
The Greater Waynesburg Area Chamber of Commerce issued a statement to clarify its position on a decision by Waynesburg College to hold the Waynesburg – Fairmont football game at Uniontown High School Stadium.
Chamber officials said that at the meeting held Monday those present voted unanimously to support the decision of the college in view of the factors which were involved.
The question came up, they explained, because some merchants objected that moving the game out of town deprived them of an opportunity to serve persons who would be in town for the game.
The game is to be played September 14. It is expected to attract a large number of spectators since Fairmont last year handed Waynesburg its only defeat en routes to the 1967 NAIA championship, a title which the Yellow Jackets had won in 1966.
It was pointed out that College Field at Waynesburg will accommodate only 3,500 fans and that parking and other facilities are limited whereas the Uniontown field will seat approximately 7,700 spectators. Already some 3,000 tickets have been committed to Fairmont State College and its fans.