Hi,

Tomorrow’s the anniversary of the Challenger Space Shuttle Explosion (1986), the adoption of the Great American Seal (1782) and the end of the Israeli Siege of Suez City (1974).  Birth anniversaries  include Swiss scientist, engineer, explorer Jean Felix Piccard (1884), Cuban author Jose Jullian Marti (1853), Canadian statesman Alexander MacKenzie (1822) and American painter Jackson Pollock (1912).

I was inaccurate in my latest whine about the Terminal Building and my apologies to Council Members Harris and Gilman.  The final vote in favor of historic designation included Council members Harris, Gilman, Kraus, Rudiak and Gross.  Those apposed were Council Members Smith, O’Connor, Lavelle and Burgess.  Unfortunately, we needed 6 positive votes for the historic designation and only received five.  Mayor Peduto is looking into other options and apparently the Evil Empire Buncher Group seems more amicable to compromise now.

Tuesday, my CPA informed me that the PA Department of Revenue is insisting that they have access to my bank account to make direct withdrawals for state sales tax I collect.  Absolutely not!  I forgo the convenience of on-line banking for fear of some hacker attacking my computer or my bank’s system.  My identity was stolen in the past, I was one of the victims of the Target breach and I’m always reading about different financial institutions having breaches.  The federal government can’t get the health care website working right (not passing judgement on health care, just pointing out the difficulties  with the Internet.)  When I shop on -line, I never use my debit card, always a credit card for this reason.  So last Tuesday night I sent an e-mail to my Senator Fontana, and Congressmen Wheatley and Doyle  expressing my concern.  Thursday, Senator Fontana replied to my e-mail and said the new system was designed to stream line the process and save the state money.  He said the system was set up to process through credit cards as well as direct withdrawal.  Yeah!  I don’t like it, but using a credit card is an acceptable option, it does provide better protection.  (I haven’t heard from either congressmen yet, but I think the quick response from Senator Fontana is very commendable.

The contractor finished the Lady Palm bathroom project.  He’s come a long way on Ruellia’s bathroom project, but has a good bit to do and unfortunately I was sold out last weekend and need the room.  The fixtures are in place, the walls are closed up and the drywall is finished, but they were unable to install the floor and wall tile so they made the tub area water proof so the guests could use the tub and shower.  The contractor came back today and and put the floor down and started working on the area the fireplace is going in the living room.  Hopefully will have that project completed this week.

Here’s a picture of the new Lady Palm bath:

P1000533

I don’t understand why the state is saddled with $1.78M in debt for a failed development project in Mt Lebanon. It’s that property on the corner of Bower Hill Road and Washington Blvd that at one time had a high rise apartment building and some houses.  There’s been several attempts to develop it which all fell through.   Zamagias Properties received the $1.7M in TIF (tax incremental financing), they spent it on purchasing the property and now they are saying Zamaagias owns the property free and clear.  Why isn’t there save guards on our money?  If Zamagias bought the money with $1.78M from us, shouldn’t there be a lean on the property?  Who’s running the prison, the inmates of the warden?

The Pittsburgh Botanical Gardens plan to open several of there gardens this summer to the public.  So far they’ve spent $10M and anticipate it will take $70M over the next ten years to take to finish the project.  The garden’s being planted out the Parkway West across from the Settler’s Ridge development right before Robinson.  This summer they plan on opening 60 of the 460 acres under their control.  One of the completed projects was cleaning up acid mine drainage with a natural filtration system that’s creating a fresh water lake.  The themed gardens that will open this summer are a Japanese Garden, an Eastern European Woodlands, an English Woodlands, a Dogwood Meadow with established dogwoods, Bookworm Glen will have a “story book house” built by the Greater Pittsburgh Regional Council of Carpenters, a refurbished barn from 1784 and a gazebo in a meadow for weddings and other celebrations.  Pretty impressive for the short time they’ve had the property (maybe two years?).

Jeffrey Lawrence of Ohio is the grandson of John and Mary Flinn Lawrence, the folks that built and lived in Hartwood Acres before they passed away and donated it to the county.  There are still people around that worked at Hartwood while the Lawrences owned it and people that visited, etc the property.  So Jeffrey is trying to round up the tales people have on Hartwood while he can get them first hand.  Although he has never written a book, he’s started a writing project to chronicle what Hartwood was in it’s heyday.   He remembers visiting as a child while his grandmother was still alive and has done a lot of research and there’s a lot of records at Hartwood that have been offered to him by Patti Benaglio, the office manager there.  Jeffrey has created a Facebook page and is encouraging anyone with memories of the estate to post them and maybe pictures.  He’s working with the volunteer group Friends of Hartwood and hopes to merge both groups into one.  If you have any memories, feel free to share.  ;)

The Baldwin-Whitehall School Board really opened Pandora’s box.  I don’t know if you heard about the slimy thing they tried, long time School Board member Martin Schmotzer resigned his post and was immediately appointed to a $120K position as an activities director, at the SAME meeting.  Number 1 it was illegal, you can’t go from a board position to a salaried position without a one year interlude by their official policies.  The newly created position had no posting for someone else to apply for it.  The job description was never posted.  The residents were infuriated.  There was so much stink about it, Schmotzer resigned the position and went back to being a board member.  the School Board meeting went from maybe 12 residents attending to around 100.  It’s so well attended that they only let 87 in the boardroom and the rest of the residents have go into the cafeteria with a live video feed (because of fire code).  I love it when citizens stand up for themselves.

The snobbish Westminster Kennel Club has set up an event for non-pedigreed dogs next month at their show in Orlando.  For the first time since the 1800′s the non-papered pets will be able to vie in an agility contest.  The snobs are calling the mixed breeds “all-American dogs”, more commonly referred to as mutts.  :) Over half Americans have “less than pedigreed” dogs.  It’s about time they get recognized for what they are, man’s best friend no matter what their race, creed, religion or politics may be.  :)

The Arizona Republican Committee is in the process of censuring Senator McCain for not being Republican enough.  I don’t agree with everything Senator McCain says, but I have a lot of respect for the man in general and his ability to  work with others.  The Republicans are not going to be happy until they alienate everyone and splinter into dozens of sub-republican parties.

World renowned glass artist Lino Tagliapietra will be at the Pittsburgh Glass Center in Friendship this week. He’s coming as an artist in residence with his Seattle based team for five days starting today.  The son of a fisherman and dress maker, he became interested in glass blowing when his uncle took him to the glass factory he worked in at age of 6.  He quit school and started working glass at age 11 (he’s now 80) on Murano Island.  By age of 25, he achieved the title Maestro (master glassblower) and has worked all facets of glassblowing including teaching at Dale Chihuly’s glass school.  Lino is not giving classes or anything, but you can just walk in and observe him and his crew working all week from 10 am until 4 pm, and admission’s free to watch them work.  More info by calling 412-365-2145 or by visiting their website.

The Heinz History Center is expanding into the 97 year old Marietta Chair Company at 1221 Penn Avenue.  They’ve owned it for a couple of years now and have been remodeling the nine story building for around $6M.  They plan on using it to store their artifact collection, consolidating storage they use around the city saving around $70K a year in storage fees.  Also they plan on having exhibit space that you can access from the fourth floor of the History Center through a sky walk that will show case items not normally shown at the Center like antique cars, Civil War artifacts and early 19th century police and fire equipment.  They plan on opening this area in the fall.  The renovations included making the facility Smithsonian compliant heating, air conditioning and humidity.  Initially they also plan on leasing several floors to other local museums as well.

That’s it for now, keep warm,

ed

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