Tomorrow’s birth days include actress Lucille Ball (1911), poet Lord Tennyson (1809) and artist Andy Warhol (1927), it is the anniversary of the atomic bomb being dropped on Hiroshima (1945), the disappearance of NY Supreme Justice Joseph Crater (1930), Colordado’s admittance to the Union (1876), the emancipation of both the Bahamas (1834) and Grenada (1834) and Jamaica’s Independence (1962).

Somerset’s 42nd Annual Antique Show will be held this coming August 11 from 8 am until 4 pm.  This is a clean antique show, no flea market or crafters are let in (nothing against them, it’s just not their thing).  Sponsored by the Somerset Chamber of Commerce, this well organized affair has memorabilia, furniture, glassware, jewelry, quilts, etc.  More details at the web site or by calling 814.445.6431

Paint Monkey is a welcome addition to the growing artist community centering in Lawrenceville.  Owners Joe Groom and Mary Lou Bradley have lived in Florida and New York (Mary Lou’s originally from da burg), they rented space in the Ice House on 43rd Street and opened a BYOB painting studio.  The sessions run for two or three hours for $35 and $45 respectively.  They supply stretched canvas with the image sketched on for you to get started.  They supply the image you select from their web site ahead of time, paints and other materials as well as glassware and ice.  You supply the BYOB.  🙂  I couldn’t find an actual web site, they seem to be promoting their business through social media like Facebook, Yelp, etc.  So the link is to their Yelp page.  Pretty cool alternative to going to bar, sitting at home watching TV or going to a movie for entertainment.

ALCOSAN has been placed under court order to clean up the storm water runoff that is flowing into the rivers carrying pollutants.  Typically, they are planning on using old school grey water treatment plans at a cost of up to $3.6B instead of a green project.  I have talked about putting a rain garden in my Courtyard to handle my roof runoff.  When it is time to replace my parking lot surface, I intend to use a non-permeable asphalt.  Why can’t ALCOSAN take a comprehensive look at this problem and figure out a way to make a green solution that treats the problem at it’s source?  ALCOSAN’s excuse is they can’t force the many municipalities in their jurisdiction to comply with a master plan like this.  Have they tried?  Look at what Lancaster is doing in conjunction with Live Green.  Philadelphia is even using a green solution to their EPA mandated storm water runoff problem.  Back in the 80’s when I worked in Atlantic City, people couldn’t tear down the old buildings fast enough to make parking lots for the casinos and attractions.  After awhile, the city mandated that these barren pieces of asphalt be at least edged with green space.  This was for aesthetic reasons.  But I had always been impressed with how much nicer these looked.  Why don’t we (ALCOSAN in conjunction with the county and local municipalities) come up with a minimum master plan.  The the city and municipalities can take greening one step further if they want.  There’s a ton of expertise out there that would be glad to offer incites into getting this up and running for free (all these environmental organizations have a wealth of knowledge they would be more than willing to share.)  For example, the experts could tell us how many trees and planting swells would be needed to cover a Sears parking lot.  That would be one easy solution to much of our problems.  Something I hate about all of our parking lots is the trees that are placed there, they are ornamental.  Every time I leave my truck or Prius in a lot, they are steaming when I come back.  I leave da boiz at home many times because I don’t want them to bake in a parking lot.  If they planted full sized trees, not only would my vehicles stay cooler, the overall temperature in the surrounding lot would be lower, lowering the cost of air conditioning the businesses, absorbing more CO2 and creating more oxygen.  Parking lots could be sloped to rain gardens/swells to capture extra runoff.  This could be huge.  We should have mandatory building requirements for these large lots.  ALCOSAN does not “charge” us on what we put into the sewer system, they can’t track it.  They do track our water consumption and our sewer bill is based on that.  But, factored into the sewer bill is a percentage over what water we take out of the system.  Why not offer incentives to take our roof runoff out of the equation?  $3.6B would buy a lot of rain barrels.  🙂  There’s a lot of vacant lots and abandoned lots and buildings in the city.  Why not approach neighborhood associations and see about turning these over to the neighborhood for community rain gardens where multiple houses divert their roof runoff to a central locations?  We’ve gotten rid of an eyesore, we’ve taken rainwater out of the equation and we’ve created little neighborhood parklets that the residents could enjoy and take pride in. When they rebuilt Western Avenue several years ago, I thought they had come up with a great idea.  They tore out the old storm water catch basins and filled stone in the whole.  I thought what a great idea, put a storm water catch basin without a bottom, that would safely eliminate a sizable amount of storm water going into the system.  Let some of it leach into the soil below the street.  Wrong, the put catch basins that were completely contained.  I sent ALCOSAN an e-mail with my suggestion and never heard from them.  I know I’m a dreamer.  I’m looking for some sense to come out of a city hall that doesn’t have a noise ordinance in place and  a city counsel woman that hasn’t responded to my complaint about noise for three weeks and counting.  This could be wonderful.  Think what our city would look like if we spent $3.6B on greening the problem!

I spoke of this up coming weekend’s Bantam Jeep Festival in Butler (the home of the iconic jeep) in a past blog.  It runs from this coming Friday through Sunday and drew 35,000 people last year (their first Fest).  They are planning a Street Festival Friday from 6 – 10 pm with vendors, demonstrations and shows at the Big Butler Fairgrounds Saturday from 9 am until 9 pm and Sunday from 9 am till 3 pm Sunday.  More info at their web site.

Mt Lebanon is celebrating it’s 100 year centennial this year.  On September 8 they plan on having a parade on Washington Road with a Street Party afterward starting at 3 pm.  On September 15 they will be giving period dressed guided tours of the St Clair Cemetery where many 18th century soldiers are buried.  And on October 1 – 5 about two dozen “plein air” artists will be working on new works, the finished products will be on display at the municipal building starting at 7 pm on October 5.  More info at the Historical Society of Mt Lebanon  web site and the Mt Lebanon Municipality web site.

Mt Lebanon started in 1912 as a “Trolley Suburb”, obvious why that title.  When they completed the Liberty Tunnels (or tubes if your native) in 1924, Mt Lebanon pretty much exploded and luckily they had great city planners and developers that incorporated some great ideas.  Commercial areas mixed in with residential areas, a commitment to schools within walking distance for the kids, developments that were designed with the hills instead of against them.  In the 1930’s, Mt Lebanon had more cars registered than residents, the dawn of the two car family.  🙂  One of the first projects of Lawrence Stevenson, one of the premier develops at the time who saw himself as a community developer was Mission Hills.  Being from the south hills, one of my first jobs after high school was painting houses and we did a lot of work in Mission Hills, Virginia Manor and many of the other 1920’s developments.  All of these homes were so well constructed with quality building materials and craftsmanship that they don’t look like they’re ninety years old.

Well, have a great week and we’ll chat again soon,


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