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, October 31, 2015

Conservative good 'ol boys wake up and point at the naked truth

''The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Scientific Advisory Board met this week to review the agency’s draft assessment of the impact of fracking on drinking water resources, but the largely academic exercise got a dose of reality from residents of Dimock, Pennsylvania; Pavillion, Wyoming; and Parker County, Texas who have fought for years to get U.S. EPA to act. Inexplicably, their cases of contamination were excluded in the thousands of pages that make up the EPA’s assessment. Given only five minutes each, the residents demanded that the EPA stop ignoring their cases.

Fracking-affected residents came to Washington, DC this week to confront the U.S. EPA over its failed fracking report. From left to right: Ray Kemble, an affected landowner and former gas industry worker from Dimock, Pennsylvania; Steve Lipsky, an affected homeowner from Weatherford, Texas; and John Fenton, a rancher and affected landowner from Pavillion, Wyoming. Photo credit: Craig Stevens

Ray Kemble, an affected landowner and former gas industry worker, testified, “In 2008, gas drilling caused my water to become poisoned. The Pennsylvania DEP and the EPA confirmed this contamination, but abandoned us in 2012 and did not even include us in their long-term study. I am here today to demand that EPA recognize us, include our case in this study, and reopen the investigation.” John Fenton, a rancher and affected landowner in Pavillion also spoke out. “When EPA launched its national study of fracking’s drinking water impacts, we thought they’d look first here in Pavillion where they’d already found pollution. But instead they ignored us without explanation. Science means taking the facts as they are. But EPA seems to be intent on (only) finding the facts to support the conclusion they’ve already reached—‘fracking is safe.’”  

And that conclusion would be wrong...clearly wrong, demonstrably wrong, and their wrongness is backed up by science and evidence that the EPA chooses to ignore. As in the old fable, saying the emperor's clothes are beautiful* because that is what is expected - as in saying that fracking is safe because industry has paid you off to do so - does not make the emperor clothed. He's still nakednakednaked... . 

Fracking causes harm, pollutes and needs to stop.


Friday, October 30, 2015

Happy Halloween: The undead are alive and well, profiting on Wall Street.

         ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson. Photograph: LM Otero/Associated Press 

"Leading US environmental campaigners have joined a diverse line-up of pressure groups to demand a federal investigation into allegations that the oil giant ExxonMobil illegally covered up the truth about climate change. Earlier in the week, first Bernie Sanders and then Hillary Clinton, the leading Democratic presidential candidates, called for the US government to announce an official investigation. On Friday morning,, an environmental movement, issued a letter signed by climate campaigners, civil rights organizations, indigenous people’s groups and others, calling on US attorney general Loretta Lynch to investigate. The letter cited “revelations that ExxonMobil knew about climate change as early as the 1970s, but chose to mislead the public about the crisis in order to maximize their profits from fossil fuels”."

Some interesting context about the man pictured above in the uber-expensive suit:
Exxon CEO Tillerson suffers from (among other things*) NIMBY syndrome - as in "NotInMyBackYard"- which is often the case with the rich and those who aspire to be rich. In early 2014, when a fracking-related water tower was to be built near his multi-million dollar ranch in (where else?) Texas, he and a few other neighbor friends (namely, House Majority Leader Dick Armey, R-Texas) sued. Said it would ruin property values...theirs.

Fracking does ruin property values, which an Exxon CEO is happy long as the property in question is yours, not his.

Nice, Rexy're a real friend to the earth and all its inhabitants.

The undead are alive and well, profiting on Wall Street.

*Things such as an absence of a conscience, a lack of humanity, um, an anti-social personality name but a few. But, luckily for him, he doesn't suffer alone: He's got the majority of the upper strata of corporate America for company in his disease.

Pork Green Beans & Dumpling Classes

Mountain Palace Weekend Special
Pork and Green Beans with Rice

Miracle Dumpling Classes
Yuzhen's Homemade Northern Chinese Dumplings made from scratch!
Authentic Chinese dumplings taught by a lady who knows a thing or two about making them. Yuzhen will be returning to China on November 11 and wanted to share this skill with the many friends she has made here in the United States before leaving.
Sunday Nov. 1 at 12:00
Wednesday Nov. 4 at 5:00
$25 includes meal
Reservations requested
724 717-8614
724 288-3872

Mountain Palace is located eleven miles north of Ligonier left off of Route 711 onto Creek Road across from Mirror Lake
Friday 5 to 9, Saturday 12 to 9 & Sunday 12 to 8

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

on the fire

A state police fire marshal is investigating the cause of a blaze Tuesday morning in Ligonier that damaged two businesses, according to Paul Church, chief of Ligonier Volunteer Hose Company No. 1.
The fire appears to have started on the side of the two-story structure on North Fairfield Street that houses Batter Up! Cakes, Church said. An adjoining children's clothing store, Kid Happiness, sustained smoke and heat damage, he said.
The building was partially engulfed on both floors when firefighters arrived at about 5:40 a.m. from the department, which is just across the street, Church said.

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Tuesday, October 27, 2015

a company who values its employees over profits...may they prosper because of it!

"The holiday season is coming, and there’s a big countdown clock on REI’s website counting the seconds until Black Friday. It’s not for a sale or a big blow-out event. The clock is counting down to the time when most of the outdoor sports retailer’s employees can go out and enjoy the day doing things like hiking, running and whatever else they like. The #optoutside campaign was announced on Monday, when Jerry Stritzke, president and CEO of Recreational Equipment Inc, emailed employees and co-op members to say that REI will close on Black Friday – the biggest shopping day of the year. 

“On November 27, we’ll be closing all 143 of our stores and paying our employees to head outside,” announced Stritzke, who runs the largest consumer co-op. REI has about 5.5 million co-op members. “For 76 years, our co-op has been dedicated to one thing and one thing only: a life outdoors. We believe that being outside makes our lives better. And Black Friday is the perfect time to remind ourselves of this essential truth.

See also

Black Friday is Buy Nothing Day, the international day of protest against consumerism celebrated annually just after Thanksgiving.

a new blog....Song Mine

Every blog has a first official post and this is the Song Mine blog's first.

Hello.  My name is Diane Cipa.  I am hooked on songwriting and I've only written 1 1/2 songs.  I'm a newbie.  Been immersed in music forEVER and just didn't think I had the ability to create a melody, figure out chord progressions and match all of that up with lyrics that work within a song.

Words are not my problem.  I can write.  Words come easily.  Actually melodies come easily to me, too. If I'm not listening to someone else singing, I'm creating melodies in my head.  I can make up all kinds of crazy harmonies, too, because I'm always singing outside and around the melody when I listen to tunes.but somehow I just couldn't grasp how it all came together in song craft.

Monday, October 26, 2015


It's DOUBLE HEADER FRIDAY on October 30th!

Our last show of the year at Arsenal Cider & Wine Cellar in Lawrenceville, PGH from 5-8pm!

Touchdown Club 2 in Latrobe, PA from 9-midnight! Don't forget your costume!!

Jane & Meredith
West Holliday Trip

Saturday, October 24, 2015

wisdom from 2000 years ago, from Seneca

"(Seneca) captures what a perilous form of self-hypnosis our trance of busyness is:
No one will bring back the years; no one will restore you to yourself. Life will follow the path it began to take, and will neither reverse nor check its course. It will cause no commotion to remind you of its swiftness, but glide on quietly. It will not lengthen itself for a king’s command or a people’s favor. As it started out on its first day, so it will run on, nowhere pausing or turning aside. What will be the outcome? You have been preoccupied while life hastens on. Meanwhile death will arrive, and you have no choice in making yourself available for that.
But even “more idiotic,” to use his unambiguous language, than keeping ourselves busy is indulging the vice of procrastination — not the productivity-related kind, but the existential kind, that limiting longing for certainty and guarantees, which causes us to obsessively plan and chronically put off pursuing our greatest aspirations and living our greatest truths on the pretext that the future will somehow provide a more favorable backdrop:
Putting things off is the biggest waste of life: it snatches away each day as it comes, and denies us the present by promising the future. The greatest obstacle to living is expectancy, which hangs upon tomorrow and loses today. You are arranging what lies in Fortune’s control, and abandoning what lies in yours. What are you looking at? To what goal are you straining? The whole future lies in uncertainty: live immediately.
Seneca reframes this with an apt metaphor:
You must match time’s swiftness with your speed in using it, and you must drink quickly as though from a rapid stream that will not always flow… Just as travelers are beguiled by conversation or reading or some profound meditation, and find they have arrived at their destination before they knew they were approaching it; so it is with this unceasing and extremely fast-moving journey of life, which waking or sleeping we make at the same pace — the preoccupied become aware of it only when it is over."

BrainPickings is wonderfulwonderfulwonderful.... . 

Friday, October 23, 2015


Open Stage on Friday nights from 9:00 p.m. until 1:00 a.m. Come out and enjoy listen to friends as they sing some of their favorite songs. Kitchen is open until 11:00 p.m. Must be 21.


always wanted to play the piano?

Remember it's never too late to start piano lessons!!! If you're interested in giving your kids or yourself the gift of music please feel free to send a message! or you can email me at I live right in Ligonier and I'm currently taking students of all ages and experience.

Josh Ben

music notes.......JANE WEST tonight at Ligonier Country Inn

I'm back at Ligonier Country Inn this Friday! Come into the bar, I'll be playing from 8-11pm in front of the dart board.... Only I'll have the darts!!!


Shrimp Youcai & Dumpling Classes

Shrimp Youcai & Rice Special
Mountain Palace
Youcai is a water vegetable resembling a baby bok choy rich in nutrients. Health benefits include cancer prevention, digestive health, eye health, reducing high blood pressure, weight loss, pregnancy health, immune support, strong bones, as well as nervous system and cardiovascular health and reducing anxiety. Best of all, it tastes great! 

Yuzhen's Northern Chinese Miracle Dumplings
Made from Scratch
Cooking Classes
Sunday November 1 12:00
Wednesday November 4 5:00
$25 includes meal
Reservations Requested
724 717-8614
724 288-3872

Mountain Palace is located eleven miles north of Ligonier left off of Route 711 onto Creek Road across from Mirror Lake
Friday 5 to 9, Saturday 12 to 9 & Sunday 12 to 8

Thursday, October 22, 2015

from UofTexas, of all places: Majority of Americans want climate action, local drilling control

This is the university's ninth biannual energy poll, which queried 2,019 people around the United States and had a margin of error of 3.1 percentage points 

"A new poll out Tuesday shows the majority of Americans are urging political action on climate change.The University of Texas survey shows growing support for legislation to phase out coal, require renewable energy in public utilities and allow cities to ban hydraulic fracturing. Forty-eight percent of participants said they were familiar with fracking, and about 58 percent of those familiar with the practice said cities should have the right to ban fracking, even if it clashes with state law. [...]

The poll noted that Democrats and millennials have greater percentages in favor of the new fossil fuel regulations, but Republicans, too, have a growing number of members concerned with climate change and carbon-emitting practices. About 90 percent of Democrats believe climate change is occurring, as opposed to 59 percent of Republicans, but this is up from 47 percent among Republicans only six months ago, according to the poll. Among Democrats in the poll, 74 percent said they're more likely to vote for someone requiring utilities to use a certain amount of renewables. Fifty percent of Republicans said the same."

Foxley Farm news

Neighbors who challenged proposed zoning changes in Ligonier Township have been dismissed from a lawsuit filed by the owners of a farm seeking the changes that would have allowed them to host weddings and other events on their property.
But in making his ruling, Westmoreland County Judge Richard E. McCormick Jr. allowed the lawsuit filed by Margaret and Paul Nied to continue against township officials and the municipality's former lawyers, who the couple says acted inappropriately in refusing to approve zoning changes to allow commercial use of their 59-acre property, Foxley Farm.
The Nieds are seeking compensatory and punitive damages from the township and the lawyers.

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Art Walk time

Gallery owners will gather in celebration of all things art during the 2015 Ligonier Art Walk slated for Nov. 7.
“The Ligonier Art Walk is a really special event that celebrates that visual language and promotes community involvement in the arts,” said Andrew Thornton co-owner of Allegory Gallery.
“Ligonier is fortunate to support a vibrant art scene, featuring not only local work but from artists from around the world. The Art Walk spotlights that creativity and features the venues in town dedicated to actively supporting and fostering that visual language.”
Six galleries and the Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art will participate in the event by featuring special exhibits and artist demonstrations — Allegory Gallery, 215 E. Main St.; Conte Design-Lifestyle Gallery, 113 E. Main St.; Dovecote Ligonier, 136 W. Main St.; G Squared Gallery, 138 E. Main St.; Jaime Cooper Gallery & Studio, 212 W. Main St.; and Main Exhibit Gallery, 301 W. Main St.

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Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Ligonier Art Walk

We hope that you'll join us for the Ligonier Art Walk!  All of the participating venues are super excited and have been working hard on putting together a really creative and inspiring event!  The fall art walk will take place on Saturday, November 7th.  It's coming up fast!  Make sure to mark your calendars and set a reminder!  To find out more about the Ligonier Art Walk, please take a look at the article that appeared in the Ligonier Echo:

music notes.....WEST HOLLIDAY TRIP

Last time we played at Springhill Suites we made some friends in the music world (Amy Grant & Vince Gill!!), so who knows who we will meet tonight!

TONIGHT: Springhill Suites, West Holliday Trip in Latrobe from 6:30-9pm!

music notes...........Woodz Rising

Have plans to kick off your Saturday night? 
Come for dinner & drinks! 
No cover charge

music notes.....SHIVA SKYDRIVER

22nd - The Wooden Nickel - North Huntingdon, PA - 7pm

29th - Nino's Restaurant - Mt Pleasant PA - 7pm

30th - Ramada - Greensburg PA - 9pm

If you love Led Zeppelin, you'll LOVE Shiva Skydriver.

They play a wide variety of rock plus some originals.

PS - The Nino's gig is a Halloween costume party.  FUN!

Even corporate America wants campaign finance reform to stop crony capitalism

What is most striking about the report is who is behind it. The CEO of CED is former Romney supporter Steve Odland. A former top lobbyist for PepsiCo, a republican called Larry Thompson is endorsing the single most important structural reform in America: publicly financed elections. Thompson is the Co-Chair of CED’s Sustainable Capitalism Subcommittee, a driver in the release of the report. Paul Atkins, another member of the CED board (and the sustainable capitalism subcommittee) was a Bush-appointed SEC Commissioner who opposed rules constraining hedge funds.

 "Political corruption is eating our democracy out from the inside. Most Americans know that. But democratic and economic health can’t be easily disentangled. As it diminishes our public sphere and drowns out the myriad of citizen voices, it also sucks the energy and vitality from our economy. This causes pain to business owners. According to a recent report from the Committee on Economic Development, an old, white-shoe non-partisan organization that came out of the aftermath of World War II (and was a booster for the Marshall Plan), the United States economy is increasingly represented by crony capitalism, not competitive capitalism.

Lobbyists and privately funded elections have, according to the CED: “exerted an important toll on the US economy”. They propose banning registered lobbyists from raising money for federal candidates and officeholders, and implementing strict revolving door policies. Crony capitalism, the report details, leads to “rent-seeking through subsidies or taxes that benefit vested interests at the expense of others, rather than the pursuit of profit through socially and economically productive behavior”." 

Friday, October 16, 2015

Pork Seaweed & Cooking Classes!

Pork Seaweed with Rice Special
Mountain Palace

Seaweed remains one of the healthiest food sources on the planet, rich in nutrients otherwise unavailable. It provides protection against cancer, supports healthy thyroid function as a rich source of iodine, its folic acid helps prevent birth defects, spina bifida and high blood pressure, its high magnesium levels act as a natural relaxant and anti-inflammatory, its lignans help relieve menopausal symptoms as hot flashes, and its high levels of alginic acid help remove heavy metal toxins.

Friday 5 to 9, Saturday 12 to 9 & Sunday 12 to 8
Eleven miles north of Ligonier left off of Route 711 onto Creek Road across from Mirror Lake

Cooking Class 
Chicken, Cashew & Celery
This Sunday, October 18 12:00 $25 includes meal

Cooking Class
Northern Chinese Dumplings from Scratch
Yuzhen wanted to share her knowledge of making authentic Northern Chinese Dumplings before her departure for China on November 11. Anyone who has had the good fortune to enjoy her tasty Miracle Dumplings, which have been so popular at Mountain Palace, is encouraged to attend.
Sunday, November 1 12:00 $25 includes meal

Reservations Requested for Cooking Classes
724 717-8614
724 288-3872

Cheyanne Anderson at Allegory Gallery

Please join us this weekend to celebrate the work of Cheyanne Anderson!  She will be showing her new photographs on the Project Wall at Allegory Gallery.  Her new show, "in ruins..." will open on Saturday, October 17th from 5PM to 8PM.  Stop by to see her latest photographs and meet the artist.  This event is free and open to the public.  Allegory Gallery is located at 215 East Main Street.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

good point, but I'll bet they can burn in Russia!

Several residents spoke during public comment to express their opposition to the ordinance and its restrictions.
“I hope you people are smart enough not to vote for it,” said lifelong resident Rick Penrod. “I mean, we're not in Russia. We just pledged allegiance to the flag here just a second ago. Surely, you don't believe in this.”
Initially, Supervisor Bruce Robinson made a motion to reject the ordinance and send it back to the planning commission with comments so that the commission could continue working on it, but the motion was defeated.
The board voted unanimously to table it, so the ordinance will be on the agenda again next month.
“It needs a lot of work,” said Supervisor Paul Knupp, who said he wants to research what other communities have in place regarding burning.
Supervisor Gary Thistlethwaite said he wants more time to review the ordinance.
“I think we need some time to think about it and make some comments to the planning commission,” said chairman Wade Thomas, who felt the ordinance lacked common sense. “That ordinance is absolutely ridiculous.”

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Tuesday, October 13, 2015

LVSD news

With the state surpassing 100 days without a budget, the Ligonier Valley school board has approved a few precautionary measures to make sure its financial obligations are covered while it awaits state funding.
During its meeting Monday night, the board approved temporarily using committed funds for operational purposes until the state budget is passed and the district begins receiving state funding. It approved giving authorization to issue a tax and revenue anticipation note or to secure a line of credit not to exceed $3 million if the state budget is not passed by December.
“Because the state has not approved the budget, it has put many districts in dire financial straits,” board member Irvin Tantlinger said. “Fortunately, we are able to maintain our obligations until at least December, and hopefully by that time, the state will have a budget approved.”

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talking borough politics

The candidates have slightly differing views about how to move forward with renovation of the Diamond especially when discussion turns to replacing some of its trees.
McDonnell said he would like input from arborists before removing any of the trees that are more than 65 years old. Hoffer is concerned that new trees would not be as majestic. Murphy grudgingly accepts the need to replace the trees.
“I know my wife and a lot of people are upset because they're going to be taking down the trees,” Murphy said. “When something is around for a long period of time, you really get attached to it. Change is difficult for some people, but you have to do these things because the life expectancy of these trees — they're beyond where they should be.”

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Interested in your health? Mark your calendars: November 18th

November 18, 2015  8:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. University of Pittsburgh University Club, 123 University Place, Pittsburgh.
Presented by the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania’s “Straight Scoop on Shale” initiative and hosted by the Pitt Graduate School of Public Health
As in previous years, this year’s conference will feature important new research on shale and public health impacts. This year’s conference includes a round-table brainstorming session where the public can interact with experts and civic leaders. There is also a special breakout session on addressing shale issues in practice for those seeking professional credit hours.
Nationally known experts presenting research regarding the impact of shale gas fracking on human health, including:
  • Karen Hacker MD MPH Director, Allegheny County Health Department
  • Bruce Pitt PhD Professor & Dept. Chair, Environmental and Occupational Health, Pitt Graduate School of Public Health – Perinatal Outcomes and Unconventional Natural Gas Development (UNGD) in Southwest Pennsylvania
  • Wilma Subra MS President Subra Company, Chemist and Microbiologist, Chair of STRONGER Pennsylvania Air Quality Regulations Review Committee, served on many EPA committees and MacArthur Fellow – Ethane crackers, the Louisiana experience, shale and public health issues
  • Jill Kriesky PhD, Associate Director, SWPA-Environmental Health Project – Establishing Pennsylvania’s Health Registry
  • Brian Schwartz MD  Professor and Associate Chair, John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and School of Medicine and Senior Investigator, Geisinger Health System– Public health considerations of Marcellus UNGD, new Geisinger research
  • Cynthia Richburg PhD CCC-A, FAAA Professor and Clinician, Indiana University of Pennsylvania  – Research on hearing loss and health effects near shale gas development sites
  • Bernard Goldstein MD Emeritus Dean/ProfessorPitt Graduate School of Public Health – Shale Health Policy and Practices in Germany, the EU, and the US
  • Round-table Brainstorming Session where the public can interact with experts and civic leaders
  • Session for Practitioners – Addressing Shale Health Issues in Practice – Ned Ketyer, MD FAAP, pediatrician; Lenore Resick, PhD, CRNP, FNP-BC Family Nurse Practitioner, Southwest Pennsylvania Environmental Health Project
Please share information about this conference with interested colleagues and friends.  For those coming from out-of-town, a block of hotel rooms is available at the Wyndham Pittsburgh University Center.  Ask for League of Women Voters Shale & Public Health conference.

The conference itself is free. There will be a $14 charge for lunch.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

The British are coming, the British are coming!!! (Again...)

"On a sunny fall morning, Kevin Hollinrake stands with a group of parents across a road from a gas processing plant in Butler County. Trucks come and go as workers hustle to put together the Bluestone Processing Plant, which will prepare gas from locally drilled wells for market. Hollinrake is a member of the British Parliament and a Conservative from a district in northern England. A company has applied to frack for natural gas in his district. Hollinrake has come to Pennsylvania—where more than 8,000 wells have been drilled since 2008—to see the fracking process firsthand. The parents tell him about the smells they say emanate from the plant. They’re standing in the driveway of a suburban-style house that’s now right across the street from what is essentially a small refinery. (The plant is also near a landfill.) One parent, Amy Nassif, asks where he would put a plant like this in his country. “I have no idea," he says with a chuckle. "Not near my house.
Kevin Hollinrake, a Conservative British MP, hears concerns from a parents group about a natural gas processing plant in Butler County. (Photo: Reid R. Frazier)

Hollinrake is the latest European to look to Pennsylvania as an example of what works and what doesn’t in hydraulic fracturing. More than 40 countries around the world have shale gas deposits. But many countries, especially in Europe, are approaching hydraulic fracturing with ambivalence. Right now, the United Kingdom is debating whether to allow fracking. Hollinrake says he came to Pennsylvania to get a full-spectrum view of what it’s like to live in a fracking area. “We've tried to see the worst of it, as well as hear the best of it,” he says. “And I think in Pennsylvania, you've seen certainly the worst of it.” He started his trip in Dimock, the town where a state investigation found more than a dozen water wells were contaminated from gas drilling."

Friday, October 9, 2015

Blek leading parade

One of the most distinctive features of Fort Ligonier Days is the huge Saturday morning parade, a 1½- to 2-hour spectacle that stretches about a mile along Main Street in Ligonier Borough and draws thousands of spectators.
When the planning committee this year discussed who should be grand marshal of the parade, someone suggested Blek, Ligonier Township’s K-9 officer who was seriously injured in a head-on crash in May that killed Blek’s partner, police Lt. Eric Eslary, 40.

Shredded Potato, Ground Beef & Hot Pepper Special

Mountain Palace
Shredded Potato, Ground Beef & Hot Pepper Special
Enjoy one of our favorite cooler weather tasty happy healthy treats!

Friday 5 to 9, Saturday 12 to 9 & Sunday 12 to 8 
Eleven miles north of Ligonier left off of Route 711 across from Mirror Lake

Chinese International Students
Greater Johnstown High School
This Sunday 1 to 5 we are anticipating approximately 35 people at one time. We may not be able to provide our customary speedy service! Please plan accordingly.

Cooking Class Sunday October 18 12:00
Chicken, Cashews & Celery with Rice
$25 includes meal
Reservations requested, we are nearly at capacity 

Photo above - daughter Lucy's White Coat event from Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine at Seton Hill University

724 717-8614

Memo to everyone in Ligonier today

Have fun.  Enjoy this lovely festival.  Strive to be happy.

It's a hitchhike life we are living.  We dance on a moonbeam thread. Come dance with me in the moonlight.  It's real and for now we're not dead.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Memo to Ligonier Valley area young couples: Move somewhere else

Johns Hopkins Bloomburg School of Public Health study results published: Fracking Industry Wells Associated With Premature Birth

"Expectant mothers who live near active natural gas wells operated by the fracking industry in Pennsylvania are at an increased risk of giving birth prematurely and for having high-risk pregnancies, new Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health research suggests. The findings, published online last week in the journal Epidemiology, shed light on some of the possible adverse health outcomes associated with the fracking industry, which has been booming in the decade since the first wells were drilled. Health officials have been concerned about the effect of this type of drilling on air and water quality, as well as the stress of living near a well where just developing the site of the well can require 1,000 truck trips on once-quiet roads.

“The growth in the fracking industry has gotten way out ahead of our ability to assess what the environmental and, just as importantly, public health impacts are,” says study leader Brian S. Schwartz, MD, a professor in the Department of Environmental Health Sciences at the Bloomberg School. “More than 8,000 unconventional gas wells have been drilled in Pennsylvania alone and we’re allowing this while knowing almost nothing about what it can do to health. Our research adds evidence to the very few studies that have been done in showing adverse health outcomes associated with the fracking industry.” In Pennsylvania in 2006, there were fewer than 100 unconventional gas wells; now there are more than 8,000."

Eastwood Inn lives on

If walls could talk, the Eastwood Inn would probably have a lot to say.
The iconic restaurant along state Route 30 in Ligonier has entertained the likes of Dean Martin, Neil Armstrong and countless local celebrities for 81 years.
It has built a reputation of exclusivity with no advertising, a somewhat formal dress code and a doorbell required for entry.
Finding the place was a bit of a wink-and-a-nod-later act for years.
For the first time in its storied history, the restaurant will operate under a new family. The Eastwood Inn is now owned by Drue Spallholz, 33, and Erica Nuckles, 33 of Ligonier. The couple are the first owners not related to the Stroupe family to own the place, but they are dedicated to retaining the restaurant's aura.

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It's Fort Days!!

The street light flags are raised.
The tents are sprouting up around town.
The traffic detour signs are in place.
The busiest weekend in Ligonier is set to begin tomorrow.
The 56th Fort Ligonier Days, commemorating the French and Indian War's Battle of Fort Ligonier, will take place Friday, Saturday and Sunday, bringing in an assortment of entertainment.
The festival will officially kick off at noon Friday on the Diamond with opening ceremony remarks from re-enactor Robert Rambo portraying Chief Attakullakulla, a Cherokee peace chief at Fort Ligonier. Rambo will also appear at the fort from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m., accompanied by Ben Newton, who will portray Gen. John Forbes. Ligonier's many merchants will offer sidewalk sales beginning at 10 a.m. and continue throughout the weekend.
The day's musical entertainment will include classic rock groups HY-5 and Jeff Jimmerson and Airborne, Celtic folk band Melissa Cox & Mythica and country act Justin Fabus Band.
Other musical acts set to perform during the weekend are southern rock and fiddle band Second Wind, acoustic guitarist Jane West, Johnny Crash tribute band Ole 97 Band, classic hits band Phil Dirt and the Dozers, swing jazz rock group Neon Swing X-perience and country group Chris Woodward & Shindiggin.

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Check out Mark's photography while in Ligonier. 14 prints are at Twisted Vine at 5 are at Second Chapter Books.

The Economy Tour – My First Photo Show
By Mark Sliwa

Recently I received an invitation hang some travel photos at the Green Gables Playhouse in Jennerstown. The showing would be in the entrance hall to the theater and compliment a seasonal play. I had an interesting selection of prints from former Soviet Republics around the Black Sea region, Moldova, Ukraine, and Romania in particular, however everything was in digital and nothing was framed. Before accepting the invitation, I asked if any grants or assistance were available for a starving artist. Not being a trust fund kid enjoying a flavor of the week whim, printing/framing enough photos to fill up the entrance hall would not be a cheap undertaking.  No jealously against the better funded, just financial realism.

So I delayed my acceptance for potential fame and began to research a more economical way to make this happen. First I rode up to the Green Gables viewed the hall; deciding 20 to 30 pieces would be required to fill the walls. To professionally frame and print that number would add up, particularly if none of my work sold. I then ran this by an illustrator/artist friend of mine, John Ritter, who has an amazing 007 color printer in his studio bunker here in the Ligonier highlands. He said to accept the invitation and we’d make it work. With that confirmed, there was 5 weeks to put it all together.

Starting with framing and matting, John suggested using pre-matted units from Walmart or Dollar General. What a great idea! China sourced components never entered my mind. An 11x14 black frame for $6.00 at Dollar General seemed the best ticket.  After selecting 50 photos, the editing process brought the number down to 30 and further editing down to 22. With that number in mind, I began to buy out all the 11x14 stock at the Ligonier, Jennerstown, Latrobe, and Derry Dollar Generals. Most of the stores only had 3 or 4 of that size in stock and additional inventory only coming in on Sundays. Having only a motorcycle for transportation currently, I bounced from store to store bungeeing stacks of frames on the rear of the bike.

Now for the printing: John recommended a white water color paper as opposed to the standard glossy photo stock – this would be less expensive and easier to print. One challenge though in printing from digital to paper is that many of my photos had a different pixel size that affected resolution. Not wanting to have an art show of blur, much creativity was utilized to have each final print in a similar size that would not only be clear but also come close to the matting borders. The printer from Q branch delivered the goods! A few photos came out smaller than the mat but a white background would alleviate the gaps.

Finally all the pieces were framed, matted, and ready to go. Bravo! Borrowing a friend’s car (multiple bungee trips on the bike got old), I took the whole collection up to Green Gables. I had gone a few days prior to my opening to avoid any rush. Arriving, I was told a wedding would be hosted in 45 minutes upon which the hall would be closed. With a flurry of hammer and nails, I shot-gunned my frames all over the walls. I returned the following day - using better communication for access to the hall - and finished my work. Armed with a tape measure, I was surprised how minutes turned into hours to neatly arrange everything.  Rechecking things, I also noticed several pictures looked distorted; apparently moisture in the air had made the water color paper wavy. No problem, taking an old cardboard box I cut out some strips and shimmed them in between the mattings. Hand printed 3x5 note cards under each piece completed the hanging. The result turned out to be a good balance. The show opened, and the images of faraway travel appeared well received by patrons on their way to see the play. After the play’s run, four of my pieces did get sold.

So a great experience for my first venture into the art world and production costs were kind. As a plug for sales, the remaining prints hang in Second Chapter Books on Main St and the Twisted Vine on Rte. 30.  I now ponder the Metropolitan in the Big Apple. 

Meet Greg Ogden at Allegory Gallery

 Author and artist, Greg Ogden, will be signing copies of his book, "Franklin Frog and the Fallen Tree" this weekend at Allegory Gallery at 215 East Main Street.  Come by and meet him!  He'll be in front of the shop all weekend in conjunction with the Fort Ligonier Days festivities.

If we're lucky, he might be bringing a sneak peek at his latest comic strip project!  Hope to see you around this weekend!

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Diamond plan moving forward

Rounded corners of the inner island of the Ligonier Diamond would be shaved in a design suggested to make the road wider and reduce damage from cars and trucks.
After viewing a couple drawings from engineer Greg Elliott of the EADS Group, borough council this week voted 5-2 to approve the design that is intended to deter semi-tractor trailer drivers and others from driving over the curb.
The 3 feet that would be taken off would taper toward the sides of the island.
Elliott said the change won't eliminate damage to the Diamond, but it will help curb the problem.
“I think that this would be an improvement,” he said.
Councilwoman Judy Hoffer voted against the design that is part of a project to renovate the Diamond area.

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Did you get a survey?

Did everyone get a copy of the borough survey and fill it out? Any thoughts on it?
retired in Ligonier

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

There may be flowing water on Mars. But is there intelligent life on Earth?

Our alienation from the world of wonders, with which we evolved, has only intensified since David Bowie described a girl stumbling through a “sunken dream”, on her way to be “hooked to the silver screen”, where a long series of distractions diverts her from life’s great questions. The song, of course, was Life on Mars.

"Think of what would change if we valued terrestrial water as much as we value the possibility of water on Mars. Only 3% of the water on this planet is fresh; and of that, two-thirds is frozen. Yet we lay waste to the accessible portion. Sixty per cent of the water used in farming is needlessly piddled away by careless irrigation. Rivers, lakes and aquifers are sucked dry, while what remains is often so contaminated that it threatens the lives of those who drink it. In the UK, domestic demand is such that the upper reaches of many rivers disappear during the summer. Yet still we install clunky old toilets and showers that gush like waterfalls.

As for salty water, of the kind that so enthralls us when apparently detected on Mars, on Earth we express our appreciation with a frenzy of destruction. A new report suggests fish numbers have halved since 1970. Pacific bluefin tuna, which once roamed the seas in untold millions, have been reduced to an estimated 40,000, yet still they are pursued. Coral reefs are under such pressure that most could be gone by 2050. And in our own deep space, our desire for exotic fish rips through a world scarcely better known to us than the red planet’s surface. Trawlers are now working at depths of 2,000 metres. We can only guess at what they could be destroying."

it's Mellow Mike night!

MELLOW MIKEmellow mikemellow mikemellow mikemellow mikeMELLOW MIKEmellow mike

tonight at the Ligonier Tavern 6:30 to 9:30