Tomorrow is It’s a Wonderful Life premier (1946-see below), the Montgomery Bus Boycott ended (1956), the Clinton impeachment by the House (1998), the US invasion of Panama (1989), the Virginia Company departed England and settled Jamestown, VA (1606-the first English settlement in the New World), South Carolina seceded from the US (1860-the first state to do so) and the cathode-ray tube was first patented (1938).  Birth anniversaries include baseballer Branch Rickey (1881) and industrialist Harvey Firestone (1868).

Way to go Pittsburgh!  I take no credit for it, but in my last post (I think) I talked about the Pittsburgh Foundation offering to match donations up to $100,000 to the food bank.  That challenge was met within 24 hours, so they made the same challenge, which was also met.  I guess their running out of money, 🙂  the latest challenge is they will match up to $50,000 (which is almost maxed out already also).  You see all this negative stuff in the news and then you see this, warms the heart.

Beware!  And you thought the stink bug invasion was bad, wait until we get hit with kudzu bug.  Smaller with a more rounded top, instead of that shield shaped top the stink bugs have.  Of Asian origin, they were first found devouring the Kudzu plant (that could be a good thing) but have branched out to other plants wreaking havoc on soy bean crops.  They made it to Maryland this year and are expected to reach us next fall.  Though smaller than the stink bug, when crushed they have a more intense small and actually can stain objects.

Did you notice Arch disappeared from that little parklet on the corner of  7th Street and Ft Duquesne Blvd a year ago.  Arch is that bright yellow “transformers” looking piece of sculpture that’s been there since 2008.  The twenty foot sculpture of steel and fiberglass that was commissioned for our 250th birthday is moving to the airport to greet arriving travelers.  I don’t know  where in the airport he’s going to be installed, but if you don’t remember him, parts of his body look just like many of our bridges.

The Carnegie Science Center’s Miniature Railroad and Village has 250,000 hand made trees.  They take copper wire and twist it to create the trunks and branches and then glue multicolored pieces of wild dried hydrangea flowers.  Each a unique tree.  That’s a lot of trees.   🙂  The display has lots of Pittsburgh themes running through it with steel mills, our rivers and clippers as well as noted buildings like Emanuel Episcopal Church right down the Allegheny Avenue from me designed by HH Richardson (he also did out Courthouse and jail.)

Actor Jimmy Stewart, from Indiana, PA was an amazing person.  A descendant from Revolutionary War, the War of 1812 and the Civil War veterns,  He was both a World War II and Vietnam veteran that rose to the rank of Brigadier General in the Air Force Reserve.  A very laid back kind of guy initially balked at the idea of creating a museum dedicated to him in his hometown.  He felt it would be self-aggrandizement.  Eventually, family and friends convinced him to give it his stamp of approval.  The Jimmy Steward Museum is housed over the library right across the street from where his father’s hardware store was.  And it’s recently had it’s own “Christmas story” like his movie It’s a Wonderful Life.  It gets very little government funding and has been struggling for years to survive.  Last year, a retired San Diego couple donated $25,000 to keep the museum afloat and they now will match the Stewart family’s yearly donation.  The Schultz’s are from Western PA, but have no link either to Jimmy Stewart or Indiana.  He was just one of their favorite actors and when they heard of the financial difficulties decided it was a good cause.  Admission’s just $6 and Indiana is just over an hour out route 22 if you’re looking for a day trip.

Ouch.  Former chief Penn State Counsel Cynthia Baldwin said “I can’t get inside his mind, but the fact is that there is not doubt the he lied to me” in her recently released secret testimony last year to the grand jury probe of PSU ex-president Graham Spanier.  She added that he is “not a person of integrity” and that he misled school trustees and the public.  Ouch again.  🙂

I’m sure you all saw that blind guy in New York that fainted in a subway as a train approached and his 11 year old lab jumped down onto the tracks to protect him.  The train ran over them, luckily the conductor was able to slow the train down due to people shouting at him about the danger.  They were able to back the train up and both human and canine were rescued with minor injuries.  Cecil, the blind man, stated his regrets, but Orlando, the lab, was retiring and he couldn’t afford to keep him since he needs a new guide dog and Guiding Eyes can only support one animal.  Needless to say, there’s been a major outpouring of support.  The people that raised and trained Orlando said they would be elated to take him back for his retirement.  Others are offering adoption and some are looking into setting up a fund so Orlando can live out his retirement with Cecil.  How sweet.  🙂  (Orlando really looks like Razor, just not quite as much grey).

The SBA has finally denied Battalion LLC’s attempt to be accredited as a disabled veteran owned small business.  It’s a front for Sota Construction who’s office is in a Sota owned building with one employee, a disabled veteran named Jason Harris.  They beat out a legitimate small business owned by a disabled veteran on a project at the airport.  P Fleming LLC of Connecticut suspected the sham and filed a claim last year with the SBA.  It’s a shame it took a year and there’s no word if the Air Force is going to again put the project out to bid.

The Christmas Day Meal for the City is celebrating it’s 20th anniversary at Beaver Falls High School cafeteria at 1701 Eighth Avenue Christmas Day from 11:30 until 3 pm.  They are expecting 1,500 guests for this event.  They have no requirements who can attend and try to make it as much of a family meal as apposed to a soup kitchen.  Last year, the 260 volunteers from sixty churches pulled this off.  Expenses are covered by donations to the Christian Assembly of Beaver Falls, 814 Lincoln Place, BF, PA 15010.  They also distribute clothing and toys to the kids they collect throughout the year.  Co-founder Rebecca Ficca-Salopek’s employer, Clearview Federal Credit Union, was the largest donor after honoring her with their their Joseph C Cirelli Community Service Award.  They donated $2,500.  This turkey, ham and fixings are all prepared by the volunteers.  Many local elderly attend not so much that they are in need as for the social contact on Christmas Day.

Rick Fosbrink, executive director of the Chicago based Theater Historical Society of America is planning a tour of about 30 neighborhood theaters in Western PA in June (he’s originally from Connellsville) and they expect about 150 to attend.  Some of the theaters have been turned into non-profits, some are in the planning stages and some just sit vacant.  Neighborhood theaters were a backbone of small towns’ social fabric in the past and they are trying to do the same thing now with classic films, themed events, small concerts and other performing arts.  In the past, I’ve talked about the Hollywood Theater in Dormont, the Denis Theater in Mt Lebanon and the Roxian Theater in McKees Rocks.  All three are in various stages of rejuvenation.  These are such beautiful buildings (a bit shabby these days, but so was The Parador Inn when I bought it).  🙂  All it takes  is a lot of love and a lot of money, I know.  It’s worth every penny, trust me.

In case I don’t get a chance for another post before, I wish all a very happy holiday and great new years,






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