Sunday, May 16, 2010

Clairton, Now and Then

Catching up on Clairton

Trying our best: On a recent blog post we talked about the recently elected mayor and his vision for upgrading Clairton. One method of extolling the virtues of our hometown, according the the mayor’s published comments, was to reach out to people via the internet and give them some reasons to consider Clairton as a place to reside. Included were the attractive housing prices, low taxes, and a beautiful park. We tried to email the mayor in an effort to have him expand his comments. We were unable to find an email address for him and nearly every time we Googled Clairton Mayor, other names came up in our search but not that of current Mayor Lattanzi. And when we Googled his name and Clairton, the only hits we received spoke to him as a Councilman.

We got grit. We won’t quit: If the mayor is not easily reachable via internet, we’ll phone him. I found a phone number for Clairton Mayor, dialed it, and received a disconnect recording. So I searched again and found an email address of and promptly emailed him then looked for a Clairton web page. I quickly discovered a one page web page at Pulled up the web page and saw phone numbers for Administration, Engineering, Financing, Parks and Recreation, Public Safety, Public Works, and Zoning... even one for Recycling. But no number for the Mayor. So I thought I’d take a chance and call the general number which was the same one for Administration. AHA! After only 5 rings a real live person answered and I asked if I could be connected to the Mayor. She said no, that the Mayor didn’t come in until 4:30.

I asked if the Mayor had voice mail and if so could she transfer me. He did and she did. Finally I was able to hear the mellifluous voice of the Mayor, albeit on a recording. After the beep I introduced myself, identified myself as a former resident who grew up 5 houses from the City Building, and stated my business. Oh, I also mentioned that I’d emailed him and left my email and phone number, inviting him to write or call me back. Two weeks have passed and nothing, nada, zippo, zilch and I’m still unable to find anything touting Clairton’s assets to potential future residents on the web.

Memo to the Mayor: If you are going to be interviewed in a major local newspaper, and in that interview you share your vision for the City we both love, perhaps you should have your staff check to see if readers of that article have a pathway to follow up. If when "Clairton Mayor" is Googled and it is more difficult to find on the internet than Mayors Mullen, Stilley, Fuge, or Bush, that is a problem. You need to have staff work on the web site. If there is no money to do such a thing, here is an idea: Why not take the challenge to the high school and have a contest to design web pages. Have local merchants donate prizes for the winners. Just thinking out loud.

Bad news on the doorstep. I couldn’t take one more step: Blog reader and former Clairtonian Celia sent us a newspaper article that is shocking. Clairton’s crown jewel is the Park, and Clairton Park’s crown jewel is the swimming pool. The pool has been operating at a loss the past couple of years and is in need of repair. The city has received a grant of $143,000 from the County provided they come up with 15% (about $20,000) in matching funds. At a recent council meeting the mayor said that if the pool opens this year it would be July at the earliest. Councilman Julian suggested the pool not open the entire season, and resident Kathy Tachoir asked that the revenue shortfall be addressed.

Although the status of the pool was the sexiest issue on the agenda, cost cutting issues were discussed at length. The mayor announced the merging of two positions saving $38,000. Currently six City employees are on furlough, three of whom are secretaries. One other hot topic that was discussed was the requirement that City employees be required to live in the City. Finally, Councilman Lewis made a plea that more residents attend Council meetings and provide input. And THAT is the state of the City.

More on the reunion: As mentioned in this space previously, the summer will be rife with CHS reunions. CHS classes of ’00, ’90, ’80, and ’70 are eligible for their Tenth, Twentieth, Thirtieth, and Fortieth, respectively and the CHS class of ’60 is planning a big bash at a hotel in South Hills to celebrate its Fiftieth anniversary reunion featuring some hillbilly as the keynote speaker. From regular reader and guest blogger Jill Urso comes the following information about another very special reunion held annually at Clairton Park: “Every year on the first Saturday in September there is a combined reunion at Clairton Park. Previously, the cutoff class was 1960, but this year they have expanded that to classes up to and including 1970. You can get more information about it at

"Also note at the bottom of that web page that there is information about a Clairton reunion that is held every year on the third Saturday in February at Ft. DeSoto Park near St. Petersburg, Florida. Jim and I are hoping to attend in 2011 and I'd like to encourage any of you who may be available to join us. I know that Lynne Galamb Polsky has been there the last couple years (you can see her in the pictures on the website) and I'm sure she'd like to see some of her classmates there.”

Keep the tradition going.

A little blogging music Maestro.... “When the Saints Go Marching In,” performed by Benny Benack.

Dr. Forgot

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