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.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

pretty darn cool!

What do you think about bicycle helmets? Pro or con?

A leading neurosurgeon has controversially claimed that cyclists who wear helmets are wasting their time.
Henry Marsh, who works at St George’s Hospital in Tooting, London, said that many of his patients who have been involved in bike accidents have been wearing helmets that were ‘too flimsy’ to be beneficial.
He made the comments while speaking at the Hay Festival during a discussion with Ian McEwan, whose 2005 novel Saturday featured a neurosurgeon.

Deborah is having an estate sale in Ligonier Township.

Estate sale, loaded with goodies: radial saw, ladder, ladies roll top desk, ikea desk, antiques, vintage bedroom suite...  Too much to list!  Located in Ligonier township.  call for directions.  724 953 7745

Friday, May 30, 2014

WSJ gets it: Organic farming is the way forward; chemical farming, not.

Organic practices could counteract the world’s yearly carbon dioxide output while producing the same amount of food as conventional farming, a new study suggests.

“When you start to grow using organic methods and products, the soil is still depleted,” Executive Director Coach Mark Smallwood said. “That’s why the yield initially isn’t as high.” He says that organic farming betters the soil over time, while conventional farming depletes it. “If the soil is weak, so too will be the plants,” he said.

Mountain Palace - Zha Qie He

The weekend special at Mountain Palace is Zha Qie He which is literally "fried eggplant box." It consists of ground beef cooked in ginger and other mixed spices placed inside slices of eggplant which are then pan fried. It is served with rice and a spiced peanut and celery salad. We feel safe to say you will not find this as the weekend special at any other restaurant in the immediate area (at least within 8,000 miles). Come to Mountain Palace this weekend to enjoy this tasty unique dish or any of our other northern Chinese items. Friday 6 to 9, Saturday 12 to 9 and Sunday 12 to 6. Chinese medical exercise class will continue at Mountain Palace at 11:00 Saturday with continuing emphasis on neck and shoulder issues. Eleven miles north of Ligonier left off of Route 711 onto Creek Road directly across from Mirror Lake.  724 717-8614

new attorney appointed by township in Foxley Farm matter

Ligonier Township supervisors have appointed attorney Gary Falatovich as special legal counsel for matters involving Foxley Farm as it seeks to offer agritourism events and weddings in a district zoned for residential use.

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Thursday, May 29, 2014

Tonight, at Connections...

Forget the rain... Join us for Grilled Pizza on the Porch tonight!

Tonight's pizzas are:
Ricotta & Artichoke
Arugula, Almonds & Balsamic
Pesto Chicken
Crab & Red Pepper

Greek Orzo
Hot Sesame Broccoli
Cauliflower & Peas

Don't forget, Mexican Night is tomorrow! Check our FB page tomorrow for their menu...

Saw this stroller bike in a Google ad and I think it's so cool, I just had to post the video.

Know Any Certified HVAC Technicians Needing A Full Time Job?

Beaufort Services Inc. is seeking a Certified HVAC Technician! 

BSI is a local company providing Plumbing, Heating, Electrical, HVAC, General Construction and Sewage Line tap in services to the surrounding communities within a 40 mile radius of Ligonier. As a Lennox dealer, BSI offers quality heating and cooling equipment with expert installation and maintenance.

This is a full time position with benefits available after the customary probationary period.  Wages commensurate with experience. Experience preferred. Must be flexible.

Please apply at our location:

Beaufort Services Inc.
3731 Route 711
Ligonier, Pa. 15658

car wash proposal rejected for Laughlintown

The Ligonier Township Zoning Hearing Board rejected a request to build a car wash along Route 30 in Laughlintown after eight opponents spoke against putting the business in the neighborhood of Bicentennial Park.
Ligonier Property Development, owned by David Herrholtz, was denied a use variance to allow the construction of the self-service car wash at a board meeting on Tuesday night.
“I just don't see it benefiting the neighborhood whatsoever,” said Donald Warren, who lives on the eastern side of the property. “I don't think it would fit into the scheme of the area.”
Sam McCall, a 7-year-old who resides on the other side of the property, told the board he doesn't want to live next to a car wash.
“It would be noisy and dirty,” Sam said. “If (Herrholtz) wants to put a car wash in, he can put it in his own yard. If he puts it in, I could get run over by a car. We would have to move, and I don't want to move.”

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morning chuckle

Obama prepares military units for use against citizens

The directive was signed by then-Deputy Defense Secretary William J. Lynn. A copy can be found on the Pentagon website:
Defense analysts say there has been a buildup of military units within non-security-related federal agencies, notably the creation of Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) teams. The buildup has raised questions about whether the Obama administration is undermining civil liberties under the guise of counterterrorism and counternarcotics efforts.
Other agencies with SWAT teams reportedly include the Department of Agriculture, the Railroad Retirement Board, the Tennessee Valley Authority, the Office of Personnel Management, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Education Department.
The militarization of federal agencies, under little-known statues [sic] that permit deputization of security officials, comes as the White House has launched verbal attacks on private citizens’ ownership of firearms despite the fact that most gun owners are law-abiding citizens.

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swimming season starts in the valley

Ligonier Beach and Laurel Mountain Park Inc.'s pools are preparing for another season of relaxing recreation in the Ligonier Valley.
Ligonier Beach, along Route 30 in Ligonier Township, opened during Memorial Day weekend, but its pool was not in use due to an issue with its chlorinator. Manager Sherry Kozar said guests can expect crystal clear water by Thursday.
The on-site restaurant and bar will have a “whole new menu” for customers to enjoy this year, Kozar said.

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Wednesday, May 28, 2014

All sorts of plants are blooming in the garden for the first time this season.

I cannot remember what this one is called,  Do you recognize it?

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

"Playing St. Barbara" Author To Visit Ligonier Valley Library - June 4 at 7 PM

The big coal strike of 1928 ends, yet crosses still burn. Angry miners plot. Company policemen stalk and spy. Miner’s wife Clare Sweeney hides bruises inflicted by her husband—and her real name. Her three daughters harbor secrets of their own. Each knows (or guesses) only fragments of the others’ unvoiced stories. Their intertwined lives eerily mirror the 7th century legend of St. Barbara, patroness of miners, reenacted annually in the town pageant. Tested by scandal, heartbreak, and tragedy, each woman will write her own courageous ending to St. Barbara’s story.

Join us on Wednesday, June 4, at 7:00 pm for a special program with author Marian Szczepanski. 

Marian will give a presentation on her book, Playing St. Barbara, which shimmers with unforgettable characters while casting necessary light on a dark chapter in American history - the coal strike of 1928.

The granddaughter of immigrant coal miners, Marian Szczepanski grew up in Greensburg and lived as a young child in the Jamison Coal Company (Crabtree) house where her mother and aunts were raised. She holds an MFA in creative writing from Warren Wilson College and a BA in American Studies from the University of Notre Dame. Marian has won awards for short fiction and magazine feature writing. Playing St. Barbara is her first novel. She lives in Houston, Texas.

This program is free and open to the public. Copies of the author's book will be available for purchase. The event will take place in the Ligonier Valley Library's beautiful, basement community room on Wednesday, June 4, starting at 7:00 pm.

Obamacare is the gift that just keeps on giving.....

Not only did we have an increase in premiums, a change in our plan, now today, we get notice that we may not have a freaking plan at all!

Monday, May 26, 2014

Some turn out Monday for Saturday's Memorial Day services

Lots of disappointed people turned out on the Ligonier Diamond Monday morning for the traditional Memorial Day Services... that were held on Saturday! Those gathering for the ceremony included the LVHS Band, which apparently didn't get the word, along with some JROTC cadets, and a contingent of Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts with their flags and banners. Many of those who turned out held an impromptu service on the Diamond, concluding with the singing of our National Anthem. The Scouts marched up North Market Street as the ceremony concluded.

my dad on leave while serving in Germany - Korean Conflict era

columbine pretty!

Jefferson Llewelyn Civil War veteran and my 3rd great grandfather

Homestead 1918

Friday, May 23, 2014

Mountain Palace - Di San Xian

The special this weekend at Mountain Palace is Di San Xian (literally "the three fresh"), a famous northern Chinese combination of egg plant, potato and green pepper. We will be preparing it in its vegetarian form or with ground beef. Chef Lacy is anxious to share this northern delight that is so popular in her native area. Come to Mountain Palace this weekend for the best Di San Xian in a very wide surrounding area! We will be maintaining normal business hours this weekend of Friday 6 to 9, Saturday 12 to 9 and Sunday 12 to 6. We are closed Monday as always. Eleven miles north of Ligonier left off of Route 711 onto Creek Road directly across from Mirror Lake. Traditional Chinese medical exercise session Saturday at 11:00 will have acupressure focus on neck and shoulder issues or whatever is of interest to participants.  724 288-3872

planners okay B & B for Foxley Farm

Ligonier Township planning commission members have recommended that supervisors approve a request to operate a bed and breakfast at Foxley Farm, but a proposal to run a social recreational club there was not given a similar blessing.
On Wednesday night, the commission granted a request from owners PJ and Maggie Nied to recommend a conditional use be approved to operate a bed and breakfast at the farm, with overnight accommodations for up to 15 guests.
The supervisors must give final approval to the proposal.

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Thursday, May 22, 2014

Grilled Pizza tonight and Mexican Night tomorrow!

Grilled Pizza on the Porch at Connections Tonight!!

Tonight's pizza choices are:
Mushroom & Spinach
Carmelized Onion & Blue Cheese

Quinoa Tabbouleh
Cauliflower & Pea
Black Bean & Roasted Corn

Don't miss the long-awaited return of MEXICAN NIGHT tomorrow, 5-9pm! Stay tuned for the menu...

Take the kiddies to Idlewild for a visit with Daniel Tiger.

Idlewild & SoakZone in Ligonier will open for the season May 22 with a new focus on Daniel Tiger. The cat character from the award-winning preschool series “Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood” will make daily appearances at Idlewild during the summer season.
The site of the former Neighborhood of Make-Believe trolley ride, modeled after the show “Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, will be used this 2014 season for the daily meet-and-greet sessions with Daniel Tiger.

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It's true! "One taste, you're taken." Scamps Toffee is a Ligonier DON'T MISS item.

“One taste, you're taken,” is the motto at Scamps Toffee shop. If the intoxicating aroma of melting toffee as you enter the shop is any indication as to the effect on ones senses, then tasting the sweet confection is sure to confirm the claim.
Longtime friends Debi Stoll, 54, and Amy Helper, 59, both of Ligonier, opened the candy shop in 2011 at 219 East Main Street in Ligonier. Stoll had the secret toffee recipe while Hepler had the eye for design.

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Atty. Hamilton resigns citing a failure of township supervisor to perform their duty

In a resignation letter addressed to supervisors Paul Knupp and Scott Matson, who cast the dissenting votes, Hamilton wrote, “Unfortunately, both of you refused to engage your electorate, and, by so doing, failed to fulfill your duty of leadership.
“Neither of you asked a single question or made any comment on the proposal at hand,” the letter said. “By voting in the negative on the motion to refer the proposed agritourism amendment to the planning commission, you foreclosed the opportunity for the commission to consider this initiative, to provide its input; and, to continue the public debate. In other words, you failed to engage the process which you were elected to administer. The residents of Ligonier Township deserve better.”
On May 15, Knupp and Matson declined to comment.

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Memorial Day observance

During the weeks leading up to Monday's observance in the Ligonier Valley, volunteer veterans from the Fort Ligonier Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 734 and Byers-Tosh American Legion Post 267 and Boy Scout troops visited 17 area cemeteries, placing more than 1,900 American flags on the gravesites of every veteran buried there. The flags will remain on the graves throughout the summer months as a visual reminder of those who served their country.
On Monday, Ligonier VFW Commander John Balega will lead a joint Memorial Day service with American Legion Commander Jackson Welby.

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Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Connections Cafe Happenings...

Join us for...
Grilled Pizza on the porch THURSDAY nights, 5-9pm!


Mexican Night starts up again this FRIDAY, 5-9pm!

Verizon Wireless requests tower location in cemetery.

I just received an anonymous tip that there is a cell tower agenda item on the Ligonier Township Planning Commission meeting for May 21st. Here's the site plan.  I think you can enlarge it by clicking on the image.

The anonymous tipster is concerned and believes a tower placed in the cemetery will be unsightly.  No doubt it will be.  I have to say in my view, however, that these towers are no more unsightly than electrical towers and poles.  I think it's just a case of getting used to them.

Thanks much to the tipster and for those readers who are concerned or would like to make comments to the planning commission, go to the meeting.  ;)

speaking of school taxes

Taco Bell in Latrobe is asking consumers to donate money to help students graduate.  WHAT?  Come on, Taco Bell.  We already pay - whether we own or rent real estate we are already paying loads of cash in school taxes.  Pick a legitimate charity

how much can taxpayers expect to handle?

Prolonging the pain: As if a preliminary 1.5-mill tax-hike estimate isn't bad enough, Ligonier Valley School District taxpayers also have been told to brace for more bad news in the coming years because of projected payment increases to the state's public schools retirement system, according to the district's business manager.

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Monday, May 19, 2014

blessing of the spokes, soles & souls

EME Homer City decision

On April 29, the Supreme Court revived EPA’s Cross-State Air Pollution Rule in Environmental Protection Agency v. EME Homer City Generation, L.P., 134 S. Ct. 1584 (2014).  That set of rules would have imposed budgets on air emissions by sources in upwind states in order to implement the “Good Neighbor” provision, section 110(a)(2)(D)(i)(I)  of the Clean Air Act. My monthly environmental practice column in the Pennsylvania Law Weekly considers the lessons from Justice Ginsburg’s opinion.  She makes entirely clear that Congress has provided almost no helpful guidance to EPA and, indeed, the conceptual model of air pollution that underpins the “Good Neighbor” provision is hopelessly simplistic and wrong.

newpapers...a legacy and what does this mean for our Ligonier Echo?

Nothing gives perspective to life so much as death.
Recently, doctors told me I have an untreatable form of cancer.
Some who dislike me may rejoice at this news. Naturally, I can't share their enthusiasm.
The diagnosis has prompted me to consider my life, the city and region I call home, the country I love, and the many people I have known — especially those who are friends, or whose lives and achievements I respect.
In coming weeks and months, I hope to write about some of these things.
Today, I want to write about one thing that is so important to me: Newspapers.

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Joyce Carol Oates on Wonder, Consciousness, and the Art of Beholding Beauty

"How lovely this world is, really: one simply has to look.

Queer, in fact maddening, to think that “beauty” in nature is for us alone: for the human eye alone. Without our consciousness it doesn’t exist. For though the birds and other creatures “see” one another they don’t, I assume, “see” beauty. And what of certain mollusks that secrete extraordinarily beautiful shells which they themselves never see, since they have no eyes; how on earth can one comprehend that phenomenon…?  …The patterns exist in our mind’s eye, in our human calculating consciousness. Yes, but: they do exist, they are quite real, one is surely not deluded in assuming that seashells do have exquisite patterns. And what is their purpose? Not for camouflage, certainly. In fact they stand out, their colors and designs are so striking.

All of nature, all of the given “world,” is in fact a work of art. Only the human consciousness can register it. But all of creation participates. Is this a sentimental notion, is it perhaps romantically far-fetched? I really don’t think so: it’s the only possible conclusion. And that certain creatures evolved their forms of beauty before the world actually had eyes… before it had any “eyes” at all… seems to me evidence (poetic if nothing else) that evolution, or whatever is meant by evolution, already included the highest form of consciousness at the very start: anticipated it, I mean."

From The Journal of Joyce Carol Oates.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Local beekeepers are your swarm resources

To follow-up to recent posts on honeybees, for anyone requiring the removal of a honeybee swarm, here are some wonderful local beekeepers who may be able to help:

Jody Eberhart 406-690-1113
Roberta Jones 724-433-6626
Sharon D'agostino 724-787-2874
Here are some commonly asked questions about honeybee swarms:
Are the bees dangerous, and will they sting? Not usually. The bees are looking for a new place to call home. If the bees have decided this is their new home, then there is an increased risk of them being agitated as they are protecting their new home. Otherwise, they have no home to protect... and they are often quite docile. However, discretion is advised. Call a beekeeper and have them come get the bees. Don't kill them. We depend on the bees more than they depend on us!
What causes a swarm? An overcrowded hive naturally casts swarms (mostly in the spring) in its effort to populate, and survive. The bees build one or more cells in the old hive, and then the queen and half or more of the bees leave to find and build a new home. These are the swarms that we see in our tree or under our porch... and if left to their own devices, sometimes in the wall of your house!
Can I spray them or burn them out? Please, NO! Honeybees are valuable to humanity... and are the reasons we have fruits, nuts and most of the produce we consume every day. With no bees, we would starve. Beekeepers are already fighting mites, CCD, and a plethora of other problems trying to re-populate the bees. Again, is not as difficult as you might think; call the beekeepers above . Honey bees are not our enemy!
Are the really, really honeybees?
Beekeepers want to know if you really have honeybees before they make the trip out. It's very important. A beekeeper is not equipped to remove or exterminate other bees. During the springtime especially, a beekeeper is usually happy to remove your honeybees for free... and they are prioritizing other bee removals to come see you. Please help identify your bees and make sure they really are honeybees before having a beekeeper come out. Use the chart below to see the difference between honeybees and other common bees.

Here are some question you should be prepared to answer:

  • Are they definitely honeybees? 
  • Where are they? In a tree, in your house, etc?
  • How high from the ground are they?
  • How long have they been there?
  • How big is the ball of bees? i.e. Basketball, footbal-sized?
  • How accessible are they? If they are in your wall, is there a space inside to get at them? Do they have to be cut out? Would you consider such an option?
  • Is there electric available near the bees?
  • Have you called anyone else? It's frustrating to make a trip only to find that someone else was called and arrived first. If you call one of us, we'll always come and get it. If for some reason we can't, we'll immediately call a fellow beekeeper who can make it.

art camp offered at SAMA

LGONIER — The Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art at Ligonier Valley will be the site of a children’s summer art camp from June 23-27.

Sessions at “Art Camp! Imagination and Influence” will be led by local artist Rita Haldeman. She will teach techniques such as drawing, painting, graphic illustration and assemblage.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

quiz time: which industry pays CEOs 1,200 times more than their typical worker?

DemocracyNow! interviews author of the report, "Fast Food Failure: How CEO-to-Worker Pay Disparity Undermines the Industry and the Overall Economy."

Q: How do you respond to the companies saying, "All right, if they increase the workers’ wages, but then consumers have to be willing to pay more for the burgers"?
A: Well, firms have a lot of ways that they could pay for a raise. They don’t necessarily have to pass the cost on to customers. They could do that, but they could also use some of the ways that they’re redirecting their profits right now. Firms like McDonald’s spend billions of dollars a year buying back their own shares of company stock on the market in order to consolidate ownership and bump up earnings per share and meet these short-term benchmarks. But that’s really a short-term understanding of the interest of the firm, right? If they had a longer-term perspective, they would see that rather than investing in their share price, if they were investing in their labor force, they would generate returns—higher productivity, loyal workers with better knowledge of the company processes, you know, lower turnover rates, so lower costs associated with job search—and it would actually receive benefits through that investment that would pay off in the long run.

Q: And the issue of how these companies are subsidized, government-subsidized?
A: That’s right. A study came out recently that shows that fast-food employers like McDonald’s, Subway, Yum! Brands, which owns Taco Bell and KFC and Pizza Hut, Domino’s Pizza, are some of the highest-ranking employers in terms of working poor. So, if you look into who’s receiving healthcare benefits for their families and wage subsidies from the state agencies, from poverty alleviation programs, the highest-ranking firms are Wal-Mart and fast food. So, it’s the taxpayers who are actually paying the—for the ability for these firms to maintain a labor force at all.

charged with robbery

Two men are accused of stealing $1,364 from a Ligonier Township bar while holding two employees at gunpoint.
Richard Lenhart, 31, formerly of Derry and Andrew Brunetto, 19, formerly of Levittown, Bucks County, have been charged by state police with conspiracy, robbery, theft by unlawful taking, false imprisonment and simple assault in connection with an incident last June at Bull's Tavern along Route 30.

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Friday, May 16, 2014

London bees are swarming 'round, swarming 'round, swarming ' fair lady!

NOTE: A swarm of honeybees is not dangerous, despite what Hollywood would have you believe. Having left their nest as part of a natural "reproductive event" (swarming is how bees increase their numbers, when allowed to live naturally) they have nothing to protect and are therefore feeling quite vulnerable. Typically not aggressive while swarming, they are looking for a new home and are not out to sting anyone to death. Call a beekeeper, who will collect them and hive them somewhere else.
A 5,000-strong swarm of honeybees has caused a buzz by nesting on a shop front in the middle of central London. The bees descended on a discount sign on the window of Topshop on Victoria Street, turning the fashion store display into a wall of insects. It is understood the unusual nesting place was picked by the queen bee, who landed there first and was quickly followed by her devoted colony. Shoppers stopped to take photographs of the unusual sight in a busy area of London. Tony Mann, a project manager at nearby John Lewis and a trained beekeeper, dashed over to the shop to lead efforts to smoke the European honeybee colony out. Mann, wearing a white beekeeping suit and netted hat, said: "We have either had a virgin queen or an old queen. She has left the nest, and she has brought the swarm and settled on the shop front." He said some of the bees were flying around the area "like scouts to try to find out where the next best place to go is".

He added: "We are going to smoke them into a box and encourage them to stay there. We will remove them later today." Asked where the bees will be taken, he said: "They will go to whoever wants a hive. We need bees in London as much as we need them on the countryside. Bees are a keystone species." It is common for honeybees to swarm and set up a new hive during the spring time. The colony was later safely moved across the road to the roof of Westminster cathedral, where it will be looked after by beekeepers.It is not known where the bees originally came from, but several shops in the local area do have their own hives.
David Beamont, operations manager at the Victoria Business Improvement District (BID), which manages the interests of businesses in the area, said trained keepers arrived quickly on the scene to deal with the situation. He said: "In Victoria there are over a dozen experienced beekeepers who have all been on an intense training course that focuses on the theory and practical training of urban beekeeping, successfully managing hives for nearly two years. "Local beekeepers were able to respond swiftly to manage the swarm, collect them in a mobile hive and move them to a suitable location. Our ambassadors were also on site to reassure members of the public that the bees were not distressed." Ruth Duston, CEO of Victoria BID, said local businesses kept bees to boost the area's biodiversity. She said: "With a falling national bee population, the bees in Victoria play a key role in showing that London is a healthy, liveable city."

Mountain Palace - Shrimp Broccoli Lomein

This weekend's special at Mountain Palace is shrimp broccoli lomein. If you are looking for something different and remarkably tasty come to Mountain Palace this weekend for the special or any of our other authentic northern Chinese menu items. From hot pots to healthy soups, chicken cashew celery to hui guo rou, or Yuzhen's home made northern Chinese dumplings, Mountain Palace offers a unique and enjoyable dining experience. Saturday at 11 Lacy will conduct a traditional Chinese medical exercise and acupressure session. Mountain Palace is open 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 directly across from Mirror Lake.  724 717-8614

flooded roads

Route 381 and Two Mile Run Road, both in Ligonier Township, are closed this morning due to flooding caused by days of heavy rain

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Bees, please....

About a quarter of America's food crop depends on pollination from honeybees – including almonds, apples and beans.
"Honeybees are dying off at too high a rate to guarantee their long-term survival, even though fewer were lost last winter, a US government report said on Thursday. The total losses among hive honeybees across the country was 23.2% over the 2013-14 winter, the annual report from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) found. That is better than the 30.5% loss over the 2012-13 winter, but the report said the death rate among honeybees over the last eight years was still too high for the bees' long-term survival. “While we are glad to see improvement this year, losses are still too high, and there is still much more work to be done to stabilise bee populations,” the agriculture secretary, Tom Vilsack, said in a statement.

A number of studies – including one from Harvard researchers last week – have linked the collapse of honeybee populations to a widely used class of insecticides, which either kill the bees outright or make them more susceptible to pests and disease. The insecticides, known as neonicotinoids, are used to increase the yields of staple crops such as corn. The European Union banned the three most widely used neonicotinoids last year. However, the chemicals are still in use in America. Agrichemical companies such as Monsanto, Dupont, Syngenta and Bayer – which either make the pesticides or use them for their seed products – say the collapse of the honeybees is due to other factors*, including mites."

*Of course they say that. Imagine a quarter of what we eat gone; imagine the ripple effect of those foods not being available within "system." Join efforts to pressure agribusiness to take responsibility for the devastation their products cause. Insecticides are carcinogenic, too, of course, not just destroying bee populations, but outright killing people "quietly" over time with cancers. Please wake up, Americans; draw a line in the sand and begin to protect your watershed, protect your foodshed, protect your air...use your wallet and buy responsibly -that's the easy part for those with money - and more urgently, stand up against the flagrant irresponsibility of "profits over life itself".

Your grandchildren deserve no less.

Safety over Secrecy Act Introduced

Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) has introduced legislation to protect the health and safety of American citizens by limiting the ability of big corporations to demand that plaintiffs remain silent about their experiences as a condition of settling their disputes.  Currently, for example, natural gas companies facing lawsuits from citizens who claim their water has been contaminated by the extraction process can require citizens to keep details of their cases secret in exchange for a cash settlement.
Whitehouse’s bill, the Safety over Secrecy Act (S. 2317), could help to limit the use of confidentiality agreements in cases involving hazards to public health and safety.

“While confidentiality agreements can be useful tools to protect sensitive information and trade secrets, too often they are used to hide important safety concerns from regulators, policymakers, the news media, public health experts, and the general public,” Whitehouse said in a prepared statement submitted to the Congressional Record.  “Under current law, judges are not specifically required to consider the public interest when determining the enforceability of confidentiality agreements.  In cases involving hazards to public health and safety—and only in those cases—this bill would change that, and would require judges to balance a party’s specific interest in confidentiality against the public interest in disclosure of information when approving or enforcing confidentiality agreements.”

The full text of Whitehouse’s Congressional Record statement is at

Fox guarding the henhouse again...

"It’s a drastic change,” Ms. Vance said of the proposed amendments. “Somebody else should be monitoring [drilling] and governing it, not just people who have such a great stake in it,” she said.

"Loosened rules for Marcellus Shale drilling are part of a proposed overhaul of zoning laws in Robinson, Washington County. Supervisors will hold a public hearing at 6 p.m. June 2 in Fort Cherry High School auditorium, 110 Fort Cherry Rd., to discuss amendments related to natural gas operations, zoning districts, farm regulations and other issues. Chairman Rodger Kendall, who joined the board in January, has said he rewrote much of the zoning ordinance with the help of attorney Loretta Kendall, his sister. In a newsletter set to be distributed to residents, drilling supporters Mr. Kendall and Vice Chairman Stephen Duran said three public workshop meetings in February pointed out problems with zoning regulations such as “a regulatory shut out [sic] of oil and gas drilling,” split zoning of some properties and “unattainable noise standards” on farms. “The amendments proposed by Mr. Kendall addressed the discovered discrepancies,” according to the newsletter.

Supervisor Mark Brositz said Monday that he disagrees with much of the content of the newsletter. He voted against copying and mailing it—a project estimated to cost about $1,500. “I feel that there [are] misstatements and lack of a complete story in several of the articles,” Mr. Brositz said. Mr. Kendall is a leaseholder with driller Range Resources, and Mr. Duran’s father holds a drilling lease. Township attorney Gretchen Moore said Monday that a letter has been sent to the Pennsylvania State Ethics Commission asking for an opinion on the appropriateness of the(se) supervisors voting on drilling issues."

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Grilled Pizza Night at Connections...

Finally, the wait is over . . .
Grilled Pizza Night starts TONIGHT, 5-9pm!! BYOB

Pizza choices:
Hot Peppers & Garlic
Pesto Chicken
Grilled Veggie & Bacon

it's time for the Ligonier Country Market...opening this weekend

The Ligonier Country Market opens at 8 a.m. Saturday. This year's season kicks off with the celebration of a country fair theme.
Westmoreland Fair Queen Hattie Henderson and Derry Township Ag Fair Queen Amanda Wiltrout will be in attendance.
The opening day special feature is a market-wide scarecrow scavenger hunt for children and registration information about upcoming youth activities.
Larry Shew and the Shewstrings band will be performing. The Westmoreland County 4-H square dance group will also perform on opening day.

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Wednesday, May 14, 2014

man identified in burning car incident

LAUGHLINTOWN — An investigation remains underway into a burning car - and body inside it - found in a Ligonier Township parking lot alongside Route 30 on Tuesday.

But Westmoreland County's coroner’s office says it appears the death was not a homicide, saying investigators are looking into what might have caused Jay Francis Larva's sport-utility-vehicle to ignite and if the man might have had a medical issue at the time.

up up and away

Ligonier Valley School District residents could be dealt a 1.5-mill increase in school taxes.
School directors voted 5-4 to adopt a $28.2 million preliminary budget on Monday night that brings the real estate millage rate to 76.5 mills. The budget estimates revenues at $27.7 million, and it proposes using $514,822 from the district's fund balance to cover expenditures.
The district's average taxpayer, with a home with an assessed valuation of $16,890, would face an increase of $25.34 annually. One mill brings in about $169,000 to the district, and there are 4,745 properties in the district.

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Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Police are investigating the death of a person whose body was discovered in a burning vehicle in the parking lot of a Ligonier Township tavern around noon on Tuesday.
Township police Chief Michael Matrunics said police are unsure if the victim found in the driver's seat was the person who owned the vehicle that was destroyed by flames. It is believed to be a man.

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police looking for a person of interest related to murder in Laurel Mountain Borough

Berger has said the man might be driving a dark blue 1995 Mercury Grand Marquis with Pennsylvania plate JGT-7999 and possibly religious stickers on the back bumper.
“We have had reports of a couple of sightings in the Ligonier Valley area, so we believe he may still be around this area,” Berger said.
Despite those reports, police have not been able to find the vehicle.
Investigators said the man frequents the Pittsburgh, Coraopolis and Wilkinsburg areas. Anyone who sees the vehicle is asked to immediately call 911.
Police said the person of interest had not been seen at the residence “for a few days” before Cavalero's body was found. Deputy Coroner Sean Hribal pronounced Cavalero dead at the scene at 11:35 p.m. Friday. Authorities are trying to determine when she was killed.
Cavalero is from the Pittsburgh area and had lived in the Locust Road home for about a year. No one was in the home when her body was found, Berger said.

Monday, May 12, 2014

The Toxic Brew in Our Yards

 The United States Fish and Wildlife Service says homeowners use up to 10 times more chemicals per acre than farmers do. Some of these chemicals rub off on children or pets, but most are washed with rainwater into our streams, lakes and rivers or are absorbed into our groundwater. These are the sources of our drinking water, and tests show these chemicals are indeed contaminating our water supply.

"What we put on our lawns and down our drains winds up in our drinking water, and it is not removed by water treatment. Bottled water is not a solution because it comes from the same sources and is susceptible to the same contaminants. But if we don’t put these chemicals in our yards, they won’t be in our drinking water. In the last decade or so, plenty of homeowners have been rejecting the emerald green lawn and planting with species that do not demand chemicals and constant watering. But not nearly enough of us have taken that step. We need to see a perfect lawn not as enviable, but a sign of harm. 

Natural care of our yards and gardens is surprisingly easy. Increasing diversity in a lawn by adding clover helps supply nutrition naturally because clover fixes nitrogen from the air and makes it available to other plants. Leaving grass clippings not only returns nitrogen to the lawn, but also prevents it from drying out. Letting grass grow to four inches allows the roots to grow long so the grass can absorb more water and excess nutrients during a storm, and withstand a drought. Plants that are native to your region require less water and care and support animals and wildlife, so you will see more birds and butterflies." 

Hey that's my old minicooper!!

My mother and I were at the Homestead Waterfront on Sunday and she said it looked like my old mini. I agreed and walked over to see if it really was my old car.  I had an idea that I could ID it with the Mellow Mike scratches on the back.  Guess what? The well worn scratches were there!

Hello friend!!!

On the subject of women, this Mother's Day week....

Studies that address toxic chemical exposure account for just a drop in the bucket of money spent on breast cancer.

"The study by researchers at the Silent Spring Institute and Harvard School of Public Health was published Monday in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives. "Every woman in America has been exposed to chemicals that may increase her risk of getting breast cancer. Unfortunately, the link between toxic chemicals and breast cancer has largely been ignored," Julia Brody, PhD, study author and Executive Director at Silent Spring Institute, said in a statement. More than 200,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer in the U.S. each year, but the SSI states that only "5‐10 percent of those (breast cancers) are due to high‐risk inherited genes," emphasizing the need for research on environmental exposure-related diagnoses. Yet "studies that address toxic chemical exposure account for just a drop in the bucket of money spent on breast cancer," Brody stated. (As a cancer-surviving friend's sign on Mother's Day at the Komen Race for the Cure states: "What about prevention?" Lots of $$$ spent studying cures, while all the poisoning continues and increases, if you live in industrial the Marcellus Shale.)

The (identified chemicals) include chemicals in gasoline, diesel and other exhaust, flame retardants, stain-resistant textiles, paint removers, and disinfection byproducts in drinking water. Among the specific chemicals on the list of 17 are benzene, which can be found in gasoline, vehicle exhaust, tobacco smoke and solvents; styrene, found in building materials and consumer products made from polystyrene, indoor air, cigarette smoke, polystyrene food packaging; and PFOA and related compounds, which can be found in grease-, water- and stain-proof coatings, or contaminated drinking water. The list also includes endocrine disruptors, which have received increased attention in recent years due to their connection to products containing BPA." and

And it is no secret - it is a well-documented fact* - that fracking emits endocrine-disrupting compounds...but hey, living in PA, on top of the Marcellus Shale involves risk, right? (As in "they profit, we absorb the risk.") One guy's response to that risk of fracking? "Hey, '%&#*' happens!" Nice of him, being a guy, being so willing to risk vulnerable breasts for his convenience. Gotta love the thoughtful men among us.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Happy Mother's Day

the worth of a mother by Carolyn

Something troubled me about a show, Working Mothers, aired on 20/20. I finally got it---there was a contradiction expressed in statements by two separate persons:
  • The psychological need to be a breadwinner
  • Children are our most important resource
It implies that a person not receiving a paycheck is not contributing his/her share. It is too bad that a mother’s worth is defined only in terms of the paycheck they bring home and not in their overall contribution to the good of society.
Another contradiction:
  • Parents not earning a paycheck are not pulling their weight
  • Parents (or others) caring for non-custodial children have more worth because they earn a paycheck

SAMA garden party to feature horses and hounds

LIGONIER — The Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art at Ligonier Valley will incorporate horses and hounds to enliven its 13th annual Garden Party.

Organizers are anticipating a good response when “The Thrill of the Hunt for Art” opens at 5 p.m. May 31 at the facility at 1 Boucher Lane, Ligonier.

Live music, elegant cuisine, silent and live auctions and several hunt-themed activities will combine to make this one of the museum’s most enjoyable events.

The event is open to the public, but reservations must be made by May 21.

Cost is $125 per person.