This is Ligonier's friendly neighborhood blog and an attempt to recapture our lively opinionated debates in a free speech zone.

Please join our conversations. Contributors welcome.

Monday, July 6, 2015

More meaningful than gold...

How would you live then?

What if a hundred rose-breasted grosbeaks
flew in circles around your head?  What if
the mockingbird came into the house with you and
became your advisor?  What if
the bees filled your walls with honey and all
you needed to do was ask them and they would fill
the bowl?  What if the brook slid downhill just
past your bedroom window so you could listen
to it slow prayers as you fell asleep?  What if
the stars began to shout their names, or to run 
this way and that way above the clouds?  What if
you painted a picture of a tree, and the leaves
began to rustle, and a bird cheerfully sang
from its painted branches?  What if you suddenly saw
that the silver of water was brighter than the silver
of money?  What if you finally saw
that the sunflowers, turning toward the sun all day
and every day – who knows how, but they do it – were
more precious, more meaningful than gold?

--Mary Oliver 

General note to excavators...thank you for doing a good job and caring.

I take it at face that most everyone takes pride in their job and I appreciate good follow up.

Recently had some excavation work done at the house and it was done well.

I'm posting this note as a request that the homeowner be given a choice about the final step.  You know, the part where you come back and spread grass seed.

I understand that this is perceived by many as the cherry on top of a job well done and I absolutely get that is it part of a good excavator's customer service process.  Thank you for caring.

I just need to say - and that's why I'm posting this - that not everyone wants grass everywhere.

From one who has to work hard at getting rid of grass to plant ground covers or perennials, bare ground is a gift. It's a blank canvas.

On Friday morning when I went out and saw the hay spread all along the house and in the flower bed on the side of the porch, I was disturbed.  I had asked that no seed be spread but that message didn't get to the right person and so now I had a whole lot of seed laid down on a day when we expected rain.

I pulled the hay off with the hope that some birds would find a good meal.  If I had a shop vac, I'd have sucked up the seed.  I called the contractor and made the request that someone remove the hay and bring a shop vac to take up the seed preferably before that evening when rain was expected.

I left and went to visit my mother in Pittsburgh.  When I got back, the hay was removed but not the seed.  Did someone try to take up the seed but couldn't or did someone decide that I'm a loon and should be ignored.  I don't know.

I do accept and appreciate that excavators think everyone will love the grass seed.  Thank you for caring, however, as we have recently celebrated Independence  Day and the joy of liberty, let us remember that private property does give us some freedom of choice and not all of us love lawn.

I also accept that there is a reason for everything and so perhaps I need to have the zen time to watch the grass seed germinate  and then pull out the shoots.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Secrecy over fracking chemicals clouds environmental risks

Despite a report that links practice to contaminated drinking water, list of more than 1,076 chemicals used during fracking process remains unknown to public
"The fracking industry must be compelled to provide far more detailed information to regulators if the public is to be accurately informed of any risks to the environment, advocacy groups say. A report by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) last month found that hydraulic fracturing for oil and gas can lead, and has led, to the contamination of drinking water. It was the first time the federal government had admitted such a link. [...]
What’s in the water being pumped into the ground? Some of it falls under the auspices of confidential business information and therefore is not subject to public release. Photograph: Spencer Platt/Getty Images 

(Lead analyst at the Center for Science and Democracy at the Union for Concerned Scientists) Goldman says the EPA backed down from its initial promise to undertake prospective studies, which would have involved following a well site and testing its waters before, during and after fracking activities had begun. Such a study would have shed objective light on the fracking process and pushed scientific knowledge forward, she says. Information shared by the industry for the report was very often done on a voluntary basis, the authors reveal, and even when companies were forced to share information through state regulations, they were still allowed to withhold details deemed crucial to their business. One of the most notable elements of fracking that continues to be shrouded in secrecy, for instance, is the identity and mixture of chemicals that are injected into the ground through wells, together with water, at high intensity to fracture underground rocks and release oil or gas. The chemical composition of such injections appears to vary from company to company and well to well."

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Foxley Farm appeal denied

The state Supreme Court has denied an appeal filed by the owners of a 56-acre Ligonier Township farm contesting whether a consent order limiting the number of weddings staged at the property should stand.
A legal dispute involving Foxley Farm owners Margaret and PJ Nied, Ligonier Township and six of the Nieds' neighbors — Christopher and Carolyn Turner, Donald and Carolyn Korb and David and Sally Ann Barnhart — has gone on for nearly three years.
In March 2013, the township pursued an injunction against the Nieds to keep them from holding commercial activities at the farm.

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Joan Tucker at Allegory Gallery

Please join us on Saturday, July 18th from 5PM to 8PM to celebrate the latest work by artist, poet, and ceramist, Joan Tucker.  Her new show, "Cosmic Communications" will open on the Project Wall at Allegory Gallery and will feature her new abstract paintings.  Allegory Gallery is located at 215 East Main Street, Ligonier.  This event is free and open to the public.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Bipartisan discussion of township supervisors this Tuesday night

When: July 7th, 2015, starting @ 7pm
Where: Manor Community Building: 44 Main Street Manor, PA 15665 (west of Greensburg)
Why: To educate the community in the issues surrounding fracking

Protect PT is excited to be hosting a bipartisan discussion with past and current township supervisors from Washington County (where fracking is well-established) on the impacts of Marcellus Shale Gas Development. 

Brian Coppola (R) - Robinson Township. Brian has taken aerial photographs of the changing landscape in Robinson from gas development and infrastructure.
Dave Ball (R) - Peters Township. Dave is currently working with Peters Township task force to determine if and how Marcellus Shale can be developed in Peters Township
Andy Schrader (D) - Cecil Township. Currently working with Cecil Township in trying to establish conditions for MarkWest Gas Compressor Station.
Join us for a discussion on the Supreme Court ruling of Act 13 which stated fracking is an industrial process and that compatible uses should be kept in compatible zones and a visual presentation to better understand the changes that will be affecting our community for residents around Walton Crossings, across Penn Township, and in neighboring communities.
Article 1, Section 27 of the PA Constitution states:
 § 27.  Natural resources and the public estate.
The people have a right to clean air, pure water, and to the preservation of the natural, scenic, historic and esthetic values of the environment. Pennsylvania's public natural resources are the common property of all the people, including generations yet to come. As trustee of these resources, the Commonwealth shall conserve and maintain them for the benefit of all the people.
This event is free and open to the public.
An RSVP is not required, but it will help
us get an idea of how many to expect.

Home Grown Bean Sprouts!

Pork with Bean Sprouts & Rice
Mountain Palace Weekend Special
Friday 6 to 9, Saturday 12 to 9 and Sunday 12 to 6
Eleven miles north of Ligonier left off of Route 711 onto Creek Road onto Creek Road across from Mirror Lake
Traditional Chinese Medical Exercise
Saturday, July 4 11:00
Get Happy Healthy before the cookout!
Mountain Palace Temporarily Closed Except for Frozen Dumpling Sales
Lacy will be returning to China for a few weeks beginning July 12.
Mountain Palace will remain open for normal hours and menu through Friday July 10 but closed on July 11 and 12.
We will be closed except for the sale of frozen dumplings the weekends of July 17 through 19 and July 24 through 26. We are presently uncertain of the July 31 through August 2 weekend but will advise as soon as possible.
We intend to be open for normal operation for the August 7 through 9 weekend.
For dumpling sales or further information:
724 288-3872

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

la luna

la luna

friend and foe ..........moving tidal changes in the river we breathe in....... life everlastng flows .....and luna keeps the beat

gong gong

Newly released documents from the Pennsylvania Department of Health on fracking-related health complaints reveal a lack of follow-through and inaccurate record-keeping.

Dr. David Brown is a toxicologist who has worked with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. He treats patients exposed to fracking chemicals in southwest Pennsylvania. Dr. Brown says he was “appalled” by both the DEP and the DOH response.
Empty water jugs used to haul clean water hang from a house in the small town of Rea, Washington County. Residents suspected nearby gas drilling as the culprit. The DEP investigation concluded drilling was not to blame. According to newly released documents, the Department of Health did little to follow up.

"Brown says Headley’s exposure story is similar to patients he’s treated at the Southwest Pennsylvania Environmental Health Project, a clinic established to care for people exposed to toxins related to natural gas drilling.“We’ve done detailed exams of well over a hundred people and we always see [exposures to toxic] air and sometimes we see air and water [exposures] combined,” he said. “It’s episodic. You can go for some days and nothing happens, and then something happens.” But he also says that DEP would know the substances released during the incident and should have followed up with Headley.
Dr. Amy Pare at her practice in suburban Pittsburgh. Case numbers 6 and 19 were related to her patients. She says attempts to get help from the PA Department of Health were frustrated by constant requests for more information and "paranoid" staffers.

The Right-to-Know request includes documented calls from workers worried about OSHA violations, and toxic chemicals melting their boots. Health professionals and staffers from the federal Centers for Disease Control also made calls on behalf of residents seeking information. Dr. Amy Pare, a plastic surgeon in Washington County, confirmed to StateImpact that case numbers 6 and 19 were related to her patients.Pare says it was difficult to get any information from the Department of Health. She says she provided hundreds of pages of health data on workers and residents she treated for skin lesions. “We faxed hundreds of pages to them,” she said. “After a while my staff said we can’t do this anymore. If you want to be a crusader, you need to do it yourself.”  So Dr. Pare took over. But she says the agency kept telling her they needed more information. “They would say something like, they didn’t have page three. But they didn’t need page three.”"

Whose health is our Department of Health monitoring....the health of gas industry profits, by the looks of it.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Fracketeering: how capitalism is power-hosing the last drops of value out of us all

"Fracking. Could there be a more perfect model for how we’re getting rinsed by this current conspiracy of government and commerce? In a world turned upside down, “conservative” now means the absolute opposite of “leaving things as they are”. Conservative means changing everything. It means dismantling things and selling off the bits. It means drilling into our lives and extracting the marrow. Conservatism and conservation are now about as far apart as it’s possible to get. Friends of Conservation are the ones protecting the countryside. The ones who stand around self-consciously in terrible fancy dress, holding passive-aggressive placards in praise of the noble, selfless badger. Or basically any mammal that looks good in a waistcoat.

Friends of Conservatism, on the other hand, are the ones who roll up on heavy machinery like a pissed Ukrainian militia. The ones who drill deep beneath that area of local countryside whose only “use” so far has been as a picnic site. And who then pump into the ground powerful jets of high-pressure hydrogunk, splintering rock as easily as a walnut. And who, having sucked up a sky’s worth of valuable gas through a massive crack pipe, then pack up and lumber off to fracture and steal someone else’s underground treasure. Welcome to capitalism’s late late show. If you can power-hose the last drop of value out of something, you now have an amoral imperative to do it. Fracking is the chief inspiration for today’s entrepreneurs, those “heroic wealth creators” so admired by Andy Pandery Burnham and half the Labour party. Everything is up for grabs now. The age of the racketeer is over. It’s all about fracketeering now."

...don't miss the rest of this pulls-no-punches piece, which actually isn't about actual fracking after all.

Make & Take Wednesday at Allegory Gallery

It's not too late to grab your spot for this week's Make & Take with Alison.  She'll be teaching how to make this really cool knotted leather bracelet!  It's very summery!  The instruction is free of charge.  All you need to do is pay for materials (which are approximately $22) and show up for about 20 minutes.  You can swing by anytime between 1PM and 4PM.  Make sure to RSVP so we can save you materials and know you're coming.  You can call 724-610-3770 or email us to reserve your space.  Allegory Gallery is located at 215 East Main Street.

Here's a sneak peek at next week's Make & Take:

For April Buckwalter!

Hi April-urgent-I lost your number and I have some things for you!
Please call Maria Carr 610-247-3671


Great day to be alive.

SMILE!  ;)

Monday, June 29, 2015

Five demented opinions today in the Supreme Court...and four healthy ones 

"...cutting-edge research suggests that these particles play a role in some of humanity's most terrifying and mysterious illnesses: degenerative brain diseases."

"We should get out of here," says (MIT research) chemist Eben Cross. At 7 a.m. on this cold November day the wind blows steadily through the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Cambridge campus, cutting through our thin jackets. But Cross isn't afraid of the cold. He worries about the air we're breathing—especially considering the six fire trucks directly ahead, idling in the dim morning light. "We're getting hammered right now," Cross says, shouting over the hum of the engines. He's taken his gloves off to manipulate the display panel on his pollution monitor. The acrid smell of diesel is unmistakable. "Anytime you can smell it, you are in a regime that is very polluted," he says. "In many ways your nose is a better mass spectrometer than any device on the market."
Cross' monitor measures the presence of microscopic particles suspended in the air. Earlier, in his home, the device reported average concentrations of between 10,000 and 100,000 airborne particles per cubic centimeter of air (the latter after he burned some toast). Now it detects millions. The massive size of the fire trucks' engines, combined with their inefficient combustion in cold weather, means that the air reaching us is replete with fine and ultra-fine particles—specks of waste at least 36 times finer than a grain of sand, often riddled with toxic combinations of sulfate, nitrate and ammonium ions, hydrocarbons, and heavy metals. Though we have long known that these tiny particles cause and exacerbate respiratory problems—like asthma and infections and cancers of the lungs—they are also suspected to contribute to a diverse range of disorders, from heart disease to obesity. And now cutting-edge research suggests that these particles play a role in some of humanity's most terrifying and mysterious illnesses: degenerative brain diseases."

Note to Pennsylvanians: Every year in Pennsylvania the natural gas industry emits 4,790 tons of VOCs, 677 tons of air toxics, and over 133,000 tons of methane.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

the Surgeon General speaks...

"With Surgeon General Terry’s warning (fifty years ago), our country was made bluntly aware of the dangers of cigarettes and Tuesday, Surgeon General Murthy was just as direct about the severe health consequences of climate disruption. Climate disruption is fueled primarily by carbon pollution coming from fossil fuels and fossil fuel power plants contribute 40 percent of all U.S. carbon emissions. Therefore, it’s logical to think dirty fossil fuel burning power plants now deserve a bold-print warning label that lets Americans know of the dire consequences similar to a pack of cigarettes.
"(G)ood climate policy is good health policy. The reverse is also true: if we keep burning fossil fuels like we are today, we will destroy our health and the health of our children. This message connecting two important facets of good government is what attracted pillars of the American medical community to the summit including the American Lung Association, the American Public Health Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics. It goes without saying that I was honored to be there with them and join them in celebrating the historical significance of Surgeon General Murthy’s words."

Will you listen...or just continue to deny the evidence before us, evidence that messes with your worldview and your shortsighted, self-serving portfolios? (If not, get out of the way, because we're going to change things in spite of you...and save your grandkids' world without your %@*! help.)

Will those of you who do accept the facts finally take some action to help those working to ensure a future healthy world...or will you just go shopping/to the movies/to the gym/to yoga? (There is a lot of work to be done, and the people doing it are amazing people to work with...join us.)

Yes, it's shaming time. The facts are clear, Dear Consumers of the First World Economy. What needs to be done - ending fossil fuels - is obvious and we are all grown-ups here. It's time to take responsibility.  

Get active...make a difference...Life depends on it.

Friday, June 26, 2015

country market cancelled due to weather expectations

Market has been cancelled for Saturday, June 27...

Due to the increased likelihood of severe weather beginning late this evening and continuing through the day on Saturday, Ligonier Country Market will be CLOSED on Saturday, June 27, 2015.

The safety of our vendors and customers is the first priority of both the Market Manager and the Board of Directors. It has always been and will continue to be the policy of Ligonier Country Market to be open Rain or Shine, so making this decision was difficult. The approaching storm system is predicted to be unusually severe, more than just a light rain.

Please plan to join us on Saturday, July 4, 2015 as we celebrate our 40th consecutive season. 


Eggplant with Ground Beef and Potato
Mountain Palace Weekend Special 
Eggplant:  There is rich Vitamin E and Vitamin P in the purple skin of eggplant.  Vitamin P can increase capillary elasticity and improve microcirculation.  Therefore it can prevent hypertension and atherosclerosis.  It is also known to boost the immune system. The particulate substance contained in the eggplant fibers can lower cholesterol.  
Friday 6 to 9, Saturday 12 to 9 & Sunday 12 to 6
Eleven miles north of Ligonier left off of Route 711 onto Creek Road across from Mirror Lake
Traditional Chinese Medical Exercise Class
Saturday 11:00
Mountain Palace
111 Creek Road, Bolivar
724 17-8614

a tight spot

A hedgehog who misjudged its own girth was rescued by firefighters after becoming wedged between railings. The hedgehog found itself in a tight squeeze when it tried to negotiate the gate on Old Station Road in Newmarket, Suffolk. Firefighters were called to bend the bars and release the animal. The RSPCA said it thought the animal, which has now been returned to the wild, may have got trapped because hedgehogs are short sighted. The animal was spotted on Sunday morning but it is thought it became stuck overnight.
"It is hard to imagine how this little thing got itself into such a tight squeeze," Inspector Richard Lythgoe said. "I can only imagine it misjudged the width of the bars, or perhaps did not see them clearly as hedgehogs are short-sighted. "It was so firmly wedged in between the bars of this gate that the fire crews had to completely stretch them to get it out, and even then all its little spines were squashed down." Despite being an experienced animal rescuer, Mr Lythgoe said releasing the hedgehog without the help of Suffolk Fire and Rescue officers was beyond his abilities. "They did a brilliant job," he said.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

OK!! Game changer...

Fracking produces massive amounts of water tainted with chemicals which must be disposed of in some way, and many states allow drillers to pump that water back into the ground under high pressure. As fracking has boomed across the country, that has led to a large increase in earthquakes in at least eight states.

"Oklahoma is considering tightening regulations on its oil and gas industry, after a spate of earthquakes which regulators say were probably related to an increase in fracking in the state. Between 17 and 24 June, Oklahoma experienced 35 earthquakes of 3.0 or greater magnitude, a huge jump from the average of about 12 a week experienced over the last year, according to the Oklahoma Geological Survey. In April, after years of officially denying that injecting wastewater produced by fracking deep into rock beds could be the cause of the state’s increased earthquakes, Oklahoma officials finally admitted a link. But now the quakes appear to have increased in frequency, and some tremors have struck dangerously close to the more densely populated Oklahoma City area, where there are no nearby wastewater injection sites. “We have to approach it anew,” Matt Skinner, a spokesman for the Oklahoma Corporation Commission, which regulates oil and gas drilling, told Reuters. “There’s been a huge increase. That’s a game changer.”

Two things wrong with this photo. Hint: Both of them are made of metal and one causes earthquakes, as well as other undesirable things like cancer.

Upcoming Make & Take Wednesday Project at Allegory Gallery

Want to learn how to make this cool bracelet?  Join us for the upcoming Make & Take Wednesday at Allegory Gallery on July 1st from 1PM to 4PM.  Alison will be showing how to create this beachy beauty!  Instruction is completely FREE!  The only cost is for materials.  Projects take about 20 minutes to make (depending on how exciting the conversation is).  Please RSVP to reserve your space to as soon as possible; space is limited.  Call (724-610-3770) or email us (  Allegory Gallery is located at 215 East Main Street.

PA Hero Walk

For Gary Thistlethwaite of Ligonier Township, participating in the PA Hero Walk — a grueling trek from Philadelphia to Western Pennsylvania –— has been a way to honor those who served in the military, while raising money for a good cause — helping veterans in need.
“I can't believe the number of people, at every stop along the way, some stopping on a four-lane highway, handing out money,” to help veterans, Thistlethwaite said Wednesday night at the conclusion of a parade on Main Street that wound around the Diamond and down to the American Legion Byers-Tosh Post 267 in Ligonier.

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expect a detour

After some delays last week, repairs to the Route 381 bridge over Laughlintown Run in Ligonier Township began this week, marking the beginning of a series of bridge replacements in Westmoreland County.
The bridge is one of seven in Ligonier Township that will be repaired as part of PennDOT's $899 million Rapid Bridge Replacement Project.
Route 381 traffic will be detoured to routes 2043, 711 and 30.

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Wednesday, June 24, 2015

judge approves sale of school

A Westmoreland County judge gave formal approval Tuesday to the $1.7 million sale of the defunct Laurel Valley Middle/High School to a firm with plans to lease the building for use as a drug and alcohol treatment center.
President Judge Richard E. McCormick Jr. gave the go-ahead for the sale to Western PA Coal Resorts LLC. The Ligonier Valley School Board approved the purchase in April.
The company plans to pen a 20-year lease for the property with Retreat, a firm that operates rehabilitation centers in Lancaster County and Palm Beach County, Fla. The school building is about 12 miles north of Ligonier on Route 711.

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Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Heart of Steel show coming soon

The Ligonier Valley Players are rehearsing the blues musical “Heart of Steel “left right are Rosemary Baird, Eric Harris, Levi Minear and Cait Crowley, The band Mystic Knights Band will perform the music. The show opens Friday Jun. 26 and Sat. Jun. 27 at 8:00 pm for tickets call 724 238 6514.

On the Road to Ruin

First, the school board...We have a school district that just sold a property for $1.7 million when they still owe $5 million on the bond.  The sale price included the mineral rights.  The district has had to tap into their reserve fund to make ends meet.  Several residents have been watching the business affairs and feel that there is a concerted effort to run ”in the red”.  The current superintendent has a record of questionable business practices here and at her previous school district.  What will happen when our school district becomes distressed?  Will a private enterprise, such as Resource Development and Management move in to save the day?

Now on to Ligonier township...The township is following a similar path.  They have doubled the expenses for office staff, duplicated job descriptions, passed a very poor zoning ordinance BEFORE a comprehensive plan was developed and are now faced with the real danger of going bankrupt.  The debt will be incurred through litigation without insurance.  You see, our township manager (newly hired a year ago) has managed to change insurance companies for liability while conveniently neglecting to tell the new insurer about pending litigation.  Now there is no insurance and the taxpayers will have to cover the costs!  This seems to have been done for the purpose of bankrupting the township!  Everything has been carefully orchestrated to enable that Ligonier Township Municipal Authority will HAVE to sell its water to the Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County in order to relieve debt. How convenient for those who want to buy it!

And guess what?  There is a common denominator - the past treasurer and president of the school board is currently a township supervisor.  He is also the township's secretary-treasurer.  And...wait for it...he serves as the Vice-chairman of Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County!  The members of the Ligonier Township Water Authority do not want to sell the township water to MAWC, but will probably be forced to do so, due to a cleverly contrived township budget crisis.

Both the school board and the township supervisors blindly follow the advice of one man.  They respect and fear him, for he has, reportedly, gotten jobs and contracts for them and their family members.  One supervisor, who recently resigned, even accused him of “blackmail” during his resignation speech.  The local media, of course, did not publish that comment. 

Oh, and did I forget to mention that Resource Development and Management can also “rescue” a distressed municipality?  It’s what they do. They currently
manage the Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County.  How convenient!

A Conspiracy Theorist

A major scientific study says fracking uses toxic and carcinogenic chemicals and that an EU-wide ban should be issued until safeguards are in place

"A major new scientific study has concluded that the controversial gas extraction technique known as fracking poses a “significant” risk to human health and British wildlife, and that an EU-wide moratorium should be implemented until widespread regulatory reform is undertaken. The damning report by the CHEM Trust, the British charity that investigates the harm chemicals cause humans and wildlife, highlights serious shortcomings in the UK’s regulatory regime, which the report says will only get worse as the Government makes further budget cuts. It also warns of severe risks to human health if the new Conservative government tries to fast-track fracking of shale gas across the UK. The “scale of commercial fracking” unleashed by the Government’s eagerness to exploit the technique “should not be underestimated”, it cautions. [...]

The CHEM Trust report also focuses on the potential health effects of the hundreds of chemicals, along with sand and water, that fracking companies use to prise open rocks. It warns of “significant” pollution to air, groundwater and surface waters and threats to wildlife. Some of these toxic chemicals have been linked to breast, prostate and testicular cancer in humans as well as coronary heart disease, the report says. It outlines how 38 fracking chemicals are “acutely toxic for humans” and a further 20 are mutagenic, or known or possible carcinogens.

The report gives specific examples of hazardous materials used in fracking, including chemicals “associated with leukaemia in humans” and “toxic to sperm production in males”. The trust warns it is “particularly concerned about the use of hormone-disrupting chemicals”. It is also asking for full disclosure of the chemicals that will be used in the fracking process. Many of the chemicals used in the process remain secret. In the US, nearly 300 products used in fracking fluids contain at least one secret chemical.'

ADVERTISEMENTThe damning report by the CHEM Trust, the British charity that investigates the harm chemicals cause humans and wildlife, highlights serious shortcomings in the UK’s regulatory regime, which the report says will only get worse as the Government makes further budget cuts.It also warns of severe risks to human health if the new Conservative government tries to fast-track fracking of shale gas across the UK. The “scale of commercial fracking” unleashed by the Government’s eagerness to exploit the technique “should not be underestimated”, it cautions.

Monday, June 22, 2015

how one species is destroying its landbase

....(we're alive in) one of those brief, rare episodes in Earth history when the biological framework of life is dismantled, but not by an asteroid or a massive volcanic eruption that blots out the sun.

"This second study, led by Mark Williams, a palaeontologist at the University of Leicester, identified some quite extraordinary novelties at the heart of current events. First, past extinctions have been driven by what are now becoming very familiar horsemen of a planetary apocalypse: massive volcanic outbursts to choke the atmosphere and poison the seas; the mayhem caused by major asteroid impact; and the wrenching effects of rapid climate change. None of these has really figured in the current biological crisis – not even climate change, which is still only in its early stages. (The current destruction will really pick up steam then.)

Instead, the extinctions are being driven by the effects of just one single species, Homo sapiens. Such a mass extinction has not occurred before (with the possible exception, 2.5bn years ago, when a type of microbe evolved photosynthesis to spew out oxygen, a gas that would have been highly toxic to the other microbes living then, and these would have been pushed to the fringes of life on Earth – where they still remain). Even more extraordinarily, this single species is land-living, but has managed to become the top predator in the oceans too, causing populations of whales and fish to collapse."

 The article concludes "Averting a mass extinction is still possible – but we don’t have much time."

Silk Wrapped Boho Bangles Make &Take at Allegory Gallery

Incorporating fibers into jewelry is all the rage these days!  For this week's Make & Take Wednesday, Alison is showing how to create these fashionable Silk Wrapped Boho Bangles!  Instruction is FREE of charge!  The only cost is for materials.  Stop by any time between 1PM and 4PM on Wednesday, June 24th at Allegory Gallery.  Allegory Gallery is located at 215 East Main Street, Ligonier, PA 15658 (in between Scamp's Toffee and The Stationery Shop.  The project will take approximately 20 minutes to make.  Make sure to RSVP to reserve your spot.  Call 724-610-3770 or email us (  Space is limited.

Hope to see you there!

Jewelry Workshops with Kieu Pham Gray Recap

What a wonderful weekend!  It was packed with all kinds of awesome classes with world renowned jewelry artist, Kieu Pham Gray!  She was an excellent teacher with a fun, energetic spirit.  We are so happy that we were able to bring her out to Ligonier.  We had our classes in the new Lower Level Art Center at Main Exhibit Gallery and it was a great space.  There was plenty of room and natural light.  Plus, Mandy and Paul are such gracious hosts!  We will definitely work with them again!

The book signing and trunk show were also a big success!  We are so honored that people braved the torrential rain and high winds to come out to the event!

Here's a sampling of the projects that I made in class!  The first night, we made a bracelet and had an introduction to soldering.  The second day we had two workshops.  In the morning we made the basket-weave silver pendant and in the afternoon we made a ring.  (My ring looks a little bit different than the others in class, because I decided to leave the pearl out.)  On the third day of workshops, we had an extended session where we learned how to bezel set stones.  It was a very enjoyable and educational weekend!

We will definitely invite Kieu to come back.  She was an excellent teacher and such a treat to work with!  Keep your eyes peeled for future Weekend Intensive Workshops offered through Allegory Gallery!

tourism chat

Dennis Davin, secretary of the state Department of Community and Economic Development, promised a more comprehensive approach to tourism promotion during a visit to Ligonier on Friday.
Lawmakers, businesspeople and community leaders met with Davin at the Thistledown at Seger House bed and breakfast along Main Street.
Davin praised the work of local organizations such as the Laurel Highlands Visitors Bureau, but he said the state needs to use more of its money and clout to help such groups by adopting a statewide approach to tourism and marketing.
“We kind of lost the focus there and we want to bring it back,” he said.
Davin, a Pittsburgh native, was director of the Allegheny County Department of Economic Development before moving to his current job in January.

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Saturday, June 20, 2015

Five of eleven myths...

Note: The Charleston shootings this week were a hate crime, a form of home-grown terrorism akin to suicide bombers. The murderer's racist ideology is a legacy of small, impoverished minds conditioned over centuries by fear and by this culture's huge Lie that we are separate beings...when in fact we are completely connected to - and dependent on - the matrix of Life and each other.

Now for some myths about gun control. See the others at The Guardian...

Myth No2: Americans don’t want meaningful gun reforms  Support for universal background checks skyrocketed after the December 2012 Sandy Hook elementary school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, with 90% of Americans behind the proposal at its peak. More than two years later, polls continue to show strong support for expanding background checks, averaging 80%. As a successful 2014 ballot initiative in Washington state proved, if you leave the decision in the hands of voters, they are more likely than politicians to vote for universal background checks.
Myth No4: Switzerland and Israel seem to do OK without gun control  Switzerland is actually second among wealthy countries in terms of annual gun deaths (0.77 per 100,000 of population in one recent survey, versus 2.97 in the US and just 0.07 in England and Wales) but has barely half as many guns per 100 people (45.7 versus 88.8 in the US). But even this comparison gets weaker if you look at the way the Swiss keep their guns, which stems from a tradition of military service that has been considerably tightened over the years. One US study by the National Institutes of Health points out that both  Switzerland and Israel (another alleged exception to the rule touted as proof that guns don’t kill) actually limit firearm ownership considerably and require permit renewal one to four times annually.
Myth No7: Guns are essential for self-defense  According to the nonprofit Violence Policy Center, there were just 258 “justifiable homicides” involving civilians using guns in 2012, as opposed to 8,342 criminal homicides committed with a firearm. And those figures do not even include an estimated 22,000 suicides and accidental shootings annually where guns are involved.
Myth No10: Mass shootings still happen in areas with strict gun laws, so gun control doesn’t work  In the September 2013 Navy Yard incident, the shooter legally purchased firearms in neighboring Virginia despite a criminal record and mental health issues – exposing gaps in the current background checks system. And cities like Chicago are plagued by the illegal trafficking of firearms; there is no current federal law that defines gun trafficking or straw purchasing as a crime.
Myth No11: Universal background checks would create a federal database of gun owners  In fact, the Manchin-Toomey legislation explicitly barred the creation of a federal database in its text, but opponents insisted it would infringe on the liberties of gun owners in America. Aside from that being a false claim, it was notable that just a couple of months later, when it was revealed that the NSA was spying on millions of Americans, the same lawmakers were overwhelmingly supportive of far more intrusive data-gathering.

Kieu Pham Gray Book Signing and Trunk Show at Allegory Gallery

I hope you'll take advantage of this event!  Meet author, Kieu Pham Gray, and get a copy of her new book, "Hot and Cold Jewelry Connections: How to Make Jewelry With and Without a Torch"!  She will also have a selection of specialized jewelry tools.  Stop by tonight at Allegory Gallery from 6PM to 8PM!  Hope you can make it and support the arts in Ligonier!

Friday, June 19, 2015

Ligonier house tour time

Beautiful homes, lush gardens and mountain views will be featured June 27 on the 11th annual Inside Ligonier Valley home tour.
The self-guided driving tour will visit five homes, including a French cottage-style home, a renovated Colonial, a log home with spectacular views, a modern Cape Cod and a newly built condo in town.
Just north of town is the French-style stucco home owned by Carol and Dave Painter. The three-story house was built in 1911. The Painters bought it in 2011 after it had been vacant for 10 years.

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Latrobe Happy Healthy Cooking Class - Saturday 11:00

Happy Healthy Cooking Class

Learn Happy Healthy Cooking with Chef Lacy!

Learn to cook tasty and nutritious meals like those served at Mountain Palace. Lacy will be sharing her cooking skills and healthy food content knowledge this Saturday in Latrobe. Discover dishes that will not only taste good and are easy to prepare, but also benefit your health.   

Olde Main Building

Saturday June 20 11:00
350 Main Street
$25 includes meal

Happy Healthy cooking for obesity, high cholesterol and high blood pressure including chicken, cashews & celery with rice or meatless. 
Traditional Chinese Medical Exercise Class
Sunday June 21 11:00
Mountain Palace
111 Creek Road
Bolivar, Pa

724 288-3872

...he’s no tree-worshipping pagan

"But the heart of the encyclical is less an account of environmental or social destruction than a remarkable attack on the way our world runs: on the “rapidification” of modern life, on the way that economic growth and technology trump all other concerns, on a culture that can waste billions of people. These are neither liberal nor conservative themes, and they are not new for popes: what is new is that the ecological crisis makes them inescapable. Continual economic and technological development may have long been isolating, deadening, spiritually unfulfilling—but it has swept all before it anyway, despite theological protest, because it has delivered the goods. But now, the rapidly rising temperature (and new data this morning showed we’ve just lived through the hottest May since record-keeping began) gives the criticism bite. Our way of life literally doesn’t work. It’s breaking the planet. Given the severity of the situation, Francis writes, “we can finally leave behind the modern myth of unlimited material progress. A fragile world, entrusted by God to human care, challenges us to devise intelligent ways of directing, developing, and limiting our power.”

Neither liberal nor conservative—but definitely radical. Francis calls for nothing less than the demotion of individualism and a renewed concern for what we hold in common as humans (the encyclical is explicitly directed to all of us, Catholic or not, since the environmental crisis is more universal than any challenge before it). “The rejection of every form of self-centeredness and self-absorption [is] essential if we truly wish to care for our brothers and sisters and for the natural environment,” he writes. Get your nose out of your iPhone (“When media and the digital world become omnipresent, their influence can stop people from learning how to live wisely, to think deeply and to love generously”) and join in the fight for a livable world.

Because a fight it is. The pope may have combined the orders of science and spirituality, but he knows they must battle a third magisteria: money, which so far has usually won. He’s caustic about the failures of international conclaves and national politicians, rightly isolating the cause as the ongoing triumph of those for whom accumulation is the only god. “Whatever is fragile, like the environment, is defenseless before the interests of a deified market,” he has written, adding knowingly today that, “consequently the most one can expect [from our leaders] is superficial rhetoric, sporadic acts of philanthropy, and perfunctory expressions of concern.” Indeed, an hour or two after the release of his encyclical, the House voted to give the president “fast-track” authority to negotiate a free trade agreement with Pacific Rim nations, over the protests of advocates for both environmentalists and workers that it would only worsen the problems the encyclical describes."

...well, said Bill McKibben