Saturday, July 31, 2010

Clairton Happenings

(To read more about Clairton, see “Lables” and scroll down.)

Welcome to Clairton, City of Prayer: The Clairton Silver Anniversary book published in 1947 lists, in no particular order, the following houses of worship in a city of some 10,000 souls: Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church, St. Paulinus Roman Catholic Church, First Presbyterian Church, First Methodist Church, United Free Gospel Mission, First African Methodist Episcopal Church, Wilson Presbyterian Church, Clairton Christian Church, St. Joseph's Roman Catholic Church, Morning Star Baptist Church, Pine Run Methodist Church, The First Slavish Roman Catholic Greek Rite Church, St. Clare's Roman Catholic Church, Episcopal Church of the Transfiguration, Christian Missionary Alliance, Mount Olive First Baptist Church, Church of God in Christ, Greek Church, Serbian Orthodox Church, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

Many continue as houses of worship today including Mount Olive First Baptist Church which recently celebrated its Centennial Anniversary. The church began in the early 20th century as a prayer band that moved from house to house. In 1910 Rev. J. Dowling became the first pastor of the church, then located in the home of Mary Williams on Railroad Street. For the next 10 years the church made several moves including the Liberty Theater and the attic of Rev. Columbus McElroy, until the congregation built a permanent home in 1921. Rev. William C. Callaway has led the church since 1962. We wish the church and its congregants the best for at least another century.

Clairton and drugs: You’ve heard the stereotype. Clairton has fallen into disrepair (true); many longtime residents have died or moved on (true, though many have stayed and continue to live and contribute) and those who remain cause problems and use drugs. According to a recent article in the local paper, Clairton might be getting a bad rap.

The Tribune Review did a story that focused and gleaned information from the Allegheny County Medical Examiner regarding drug deaths from 2006-2008. During that period 650 people died from drug overdoses and another 70 from drug assisted suicides; a number that exceeded deaths from murders and car accidents combined. The killer drugs were most likely to have come not from illegal street sales but from medicine cabinets.

The Tribune-Review analysis shows: 2 of 3 deaths involved at least one prescription drug; 4 of 5 victims were white; 7 of 10 were men and 2 of 3 victims lived in the suburbs.

Drug overdose deaths are not unique to poor, urban inner city residents. According to Dr. Neil Capretto, medical director of Gateway Rehabilitation Center, which has 20 locations in Western Pennsylvania and Ohio, “Twenty-five years ago, it was rare for a National Honor Society student from an upper-middle-class family or a 45-year-old accountant with an MBA to fatally overdose. Now, it is commonplace."

Make no mistake, drugs are abused in Clairton but more common is the case of James Trasp, 49, a father of two, seemed unlikely to die of a drug overdose. He was white, middle-aged, an iron worker who lived in Jefferson Hills. Nearly 7 million Americans abuse prescription drugs -- "more than the number who are abusing cocaine, heroin, hallucinogens, ecstasy and inhalants combined," according to the federal Drug Enforcement Administration. In Bethel Park, for example, heroin was officially listed as a cause of death in about half of the South Hills municipality's 11 fatal overdoses from 2006 through 2008. We are killing ourselves and too often it is done with drugs that are prescribed.

March for the Next Generation: John Hodish is the Public Affairs Director of the Clairton Community Outreach Program. He is also a Clairton native son – born and raised. He has spent much of his adult life trying to educate people to the inequalities that exist in Clairton. Some days he is more successful than others. The other days are the ones that he feels like he is talking to a brick wall. It was one of the latter days that he decided to do something rash… take a walk. Not so rash, you say? Well this is a 270 mile walk that will go from Clairton to Washington, D.C. By doing the walk Hodish hopes to get attention and thus donations to expand the efforts of the CCOP. The program offers drug and alcohol education to residents of all ages through clubs, activities, and counseling groups. The program relies on donations and volunteers for its survival. The walkers plan to make it to D.C. by August 13 and with the help of PA politicians, plan to send the president a message – literally – in the form of a package that will include information about CCOP, the cite, and letters from children. See the web site at John hodish, Clairton boy.

Working to keep Clairton healthy: Kathy Tachoir is the 29th president of the Clairton Chamber of Commerce. Clairton and commerce are in her blood. She and her husband Roger own Tachoir’s Body Shop in Clairton, a successful business for decades. But her DNA runs deeper. She is the daughter of a family that owned Grisnik’s Bakery for generations. The photo above was taken in 1918. Sitting on the hood of truck towards front is Frank Grisnik, Jr.; Mike Kalcevich beside him, Mr. Kalcevic in front of Frank, Jr. Standing at foot of running board is Frank Grisnik, Sr., beside him Mike Verbanic, and at the rear of truck is John Snyder.

As president of the Chamber of Commerce she represents the chamber on the board of the Clairton PartnerSHIP, the State Health Improvement Program which is dedicated to better health in Clairton. The chamber also is part of the Unity group in Clairton, which includes churches, schools, the city and the local economic development corporation. Kathy Tachoir, Clairton gal and business leader.
Special thanks to the following people who provided information for today’s blog: Ralph Posmoga, Maryann Achorn, and Jim Hartman.

A little blogging music Maestro... “My Hometown” by Brucew Springsteen.

Dr. Forgot

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