Saturday, November 27, 2010

Bearly Winning

Clairton Updates
When is 13 a lucky number? Oh, I don’t know. Maybe it is when our Clairton Bear football teams goes 13-0 and wins the WPIAL championship for the fourth time in five years. Maybe it is lucky when the team outscores its opponents 410-26. Maybe it is when the team earns 5,000 yards for the season, holds its opponents to a total of four touchdowns and shuts out 9 of its 13 opponents. The mighty Bear football team of 1020 did all that and is now headed to State where if they win another three games, they will be state champs for the second consecutive year. Congratulations to Coach Tom Nola and his staff as well as Bear seniors Josh Page, Brian Boyd, Devante Dockery, Deon Ellis, Desimon Green, Brandon Small, Marquis Norris, Devon Porter, Keith Craven, William Ingram, Wesley Sutton, and Bishop Neal, as well as all the undergraduates that made this a winning season. In the year 2061 you will gather to celebrate your 50th high school reunion and the memories that you are making today will be as fresh and satisfying then as they are now. Congratulations and enjoy the rest of the ride.

The victory at Heniz Field clinched the WPIAL championship for Clairton for the third consecutive year. The Class A division for high schools has had playoffs since 1928 and prior to Clairton’s third consecutive honor, only one other team had won three consecutive Class A WPIAP championships – Rochester, the team Clairton beat for the honor. Clairton has played Rochester five times since 1992. Rochester won the first two meetings and Clairton the last three. Clairton Coach Tom Nola was gracious in his victory speech stating, “It was a typical Clairton-Rochester game. Both teams played great defense.” But Rochester Coach Gene Matsook, whose team posted the fourth consecutive loss at Heniz Field was less so. His post game comments included, “Not taking anything away from Clairton but our defense is as good as theirs.”

Clairton has not lost a conference game since 2005 and are the defending PIAA and WPIAL Champs. The Bears have won four of the past five WPIAL Class A championships and has won seven WPIAL titles. Clairton has made 14 WPIAL championship-game appearances and has won its conference title five consecutive years.

Twenty years ago: Clairton lost to Farrell – 40 – 0.

Thirty years ago: Coach Tom Nola began his coaching career at Martinsville, (VA) High School.

Fifty years ago: Clairton High School All American Jim Kelly spent his freshman year at Notre Dame where he continued his outstanding career. Jim would go on to earn All America honors as a senior at Notre Dame and play professionally for the Philadelphia Eagles.

Those are just a few of the highlights and tradition at Clairton High School Go Bears.

More Clairton News: City officials and members of the school board are working together on a comprehensive community improvement plan. More recreational opportunities, revitalizing the business districts in Clairton, strengthening municipal partnerships and services, providing housing options and improving transportation to, from and within Clairton are among the plan’s components. Further information about the plan may be obtained at the Clairton Municipal Building either by visiting in person or phoning the main office at 412.233.4299.

Bridge to Clairton: A groundbreaking was held recently on the J.R. Taylor Memorial Bridge, which will eventually carry a branch of the Montour Trail. When completed the bridge will measure 17 1/2 feet high and connect two segments where bicyclists and pedestrians previously had to take ramps down from the trail, cross the two busy roads and go back up to the trail. About 40 miles of completed trail travel in a rough half-circle from Moon to Clairton and is broken up by incomplete segments through Bethel Park, South Park and Jefferson Hills.

Clairton minister promoted: Rev. Jerome Robinson was born in Braddock. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Geneva College as well as a doctorate from Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. He has been s licensed and ordained since 1991. Rev. Robinson served as pastor at the Morningstar Baptist Church in West Mifflin before his transfer to the Morningstar Baptist Church in Clairton. He was recently installed as moderator of the Allegheny Union Baptist Association but will continue as head pastor of the Clairton church as well. Congratulations Rev. Robinson.

Clairton benefits from grant: U.S. Senator Bob Casey recently announced that the Department of Justice (DOJ) has awarded $674,313 to three southwestern Pennsylvania communities to hire new police officers. The funding is available through DOJ's COPS Office. Clairton Police Department received $165,964 to hire a new police officer.

It’s a dirty shame: Twenty-three year old India Banks of Clairton was pulled over by police. The officer asked if they could search her car and she agreed, but handed a dirty diaper to the officer and asked if the officer would toss it in the trash. But the smell that emanated from the dirty diaper was more than manure. It was in fact the unmistakable odor of marijuana! Ms. Banks recently appeared in court as a result of the traffic stop but she did not crap out. Instead she was placed into a special program for first time offenders. The program will allow her record to be expunged if she complies with the terms of her probation. If so the dirty deed will be eliminated.

A little blogging music Maestro… “Backfield in Motion” by Mel and Tim.

Dr. Forgot

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Clairton and Pittsburgh

Clairton and the little neighbor down the street;
Today’s rambling

Clairton 26 Springdale 7. Total so far this year; Clairton 598, Opponents 26

They’re everywhere: I got a call this weekend from Bill Bennett, transplanted Clairtonian who lives in Phoenix. He told me that Jack and Clair Pierosh and George and Francine Zdrale were in Vegas to celebrate Jack’s son’s 40th birthday. Last time they’d been to Vegas was to celebrate Jack’s 40th

They left the “kids” and we Clairton grads got together to watch the Steelers beat the pants off Oakland whilst getting homered by their own refs. The event got me thinking about the historical significance of Pittsburgh. I’ve written about Clairton’s history. Here is a little about the little village down the river.

Some facts about the ‘Burgh: In 1758 George Washington and General Forbes rode up to the smoldering remains of Fort Duquesne at the Point and decided to name the small village “Pitts-Borough” which soon became localized to “Pittsburgh.” In 1803 Lewis and Clark began their expedition at the Point. McGuffy’s Reader became the school reading standard and in 184o the Duff’s became first business college to open. In 1908 the City celebrated its 150th anniversary in grand style with parades on land and on the water, and the cornerstone was laid for Soldiers and Sailors Hall. Fifty years later, the Bicentennial was celebrated with celebrations that resembled a World’s Fair atmosphere, and the cornerstone of the Civic Arena was laid. It was the first building with a retractable roof.

Other historical facts about that little village down the river from Clairton include the invention of wire cable that made suspension bridges possible. The oil industry was started by a Pittsburgh resident. Foundries built cannons for the Civil War and the first armor plated warship. The first ground coffee was packaged by John Arbuckle and the invention of Westinghouse air brakes made train travel much safer. In 1881 Pittsburgh became the birthplace of labor unions. Alcoa aluminum was made in the Strip District and Andrew Carnegie opened his first library in Braddock.

Pro football began in Pittsburgh and local George Ferris invented the Ferris Wheel for the 1893 Columbia Exposition of the Chicago World’s Fair. The wheel was higher than the Eifel Tower! H. J. Heinz, of course became the world leader in packaged foods and the Pirates hosted the first World Series in 1903. The banana split, movie theater, bingo, gas station, and road maps, were all firsts in the ‘Burgh. And Pitt was the first college to attach numbers to their football jerseys. Local Nellie Bly became the first female war correspondent and of course, KDKA became the first radio station to broadcast.

In 1924 the Liberty Tubes became the longest artificially ventilated automobile tunnels. The following year a Pittsburgher made the first cross-country flight. In 1929 Isaly’s introduced the Klondike. Other inventions by locals included the Zippo lighter, Ice Capades, and the Jeep.

In the medical field Jonas Salk invented polio vaccine, Alcoa built the first aluminum skyscraper, and WQED became the first educational TV channel. The first atomic-powered submarine and electric plants made their debut at the 1958 bicentennial and of course, one of man’s happiest inventions, the pop top beer can and later aluminum bottles were invented by Iron City Breweries and the Big Mac was a local invention. And the world-famous St. Louis Arch? Prefabricated and erected by Pitt locals. Clean air legislation started downtown. The Steelers were the first NFL team to win four Super Bowls. Local doctors did the first heart-liver-kidney transplant.

I’m from the government and I’m here to help you: In 1890 President Benjamin Harrison created a U. S. Board on Geographic Names in an effort to bring some order to the naming of cities, towns, lakes, mountains, and other things that needed to be named. At the time some states had as many as five towns with the same name. One of the first orders of business of the board was to have the “H” dropped from any city whose name ended in “burgh.” Pittsburgh area people have always been a proud, independent lot and they decided to keep their “H” since the town was obviously a historical exception. In short, they told the Board to stick the rules where the sun don’t shine, and they didn’t mean the smoggy skies of their city. For the next 20 years they waged a torrid campaign to keep their beloved “H” even in the face of threatened federal troop intervention. In 1911 the Board finally relented and let Pittsburgh be Pittsburgh.

Three cheers for North Dakota: Oh, did I mention a couple of other US cities named Pittsburg sans “H?” The list of almost name-alikes included:
Pittsburg, California - Contra Costa County
Pittsburg, Colorado - Gunnison County
Pittsburg, Florida - Polk County
Pittsburg, Georgia - DeKalb County
Pittsburg, Illinois - Fayette County
Pittsburg, Illinois - Williamson County
Pittsburg, Indiana - Carroll County
Pittsburg, Iowa - Van Buren County
Pittsburg, Kansas - Crawford County
Pittsburg, Kentucky - Laurel County
Pittsburg, Michigan - Shiawassee County
Pittsburg, Missouri - Hickory County
Pittsburg, New Hampshire - Coos County
Pittsburg, Oklahoma - Pittsburg County
Pittsburg, Oregon - Columbia County
Pittsburg, South Carolina - Greenwood County
Pittsburg, Texas - Camp County
Pittsburg, Utah - Piute County
Pittsburgh, North Dakota - Pembina County They might not have Iron City Beer or an incline, but they have the fortitude to keep their “H.”

A little blogging music Maestro… (all together now) “There’s a pawn shop on the corner, in Pittsburgh Pennsyl-van-i-a…”

Dr. Forgot

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Of Bears today and days gone by.

Bears Roll Continues

How ‘bout those Bears: Thanks to Jay Graft, Cal Sabo, Jim Hartman, and all who send me updates on our Clairton Bear Football team. The regular high school season is over in the WPIAL and post season play has begun. CHS played their second playoff game. Elizabeth-Forward Warrior field hosted the game between Clairton and Bishop Canevin and the bears won another squeaker, 47-0. That was the Bears 26th consecutive win and they move on to the semi-finals next week against Springdale.

Senior Josh Page used the game to demonstrate his skills, intercepting four passes on defense and while on offense catching four on offense for 95 yards and a touchdown. The score was 35-o at halftime! Halftime! In a playoff game! Pitt recruit Desimon Green didn’t do too badly either, rushing for two touchdowns and passing for two more.

The next opponent, Springdale (10-1), is no patsy. They are the last team to beat Clairton, 21-20 in a 2007 semifinals. The two teams have not played since. It should be a whale of a game, and of course we will bring you the results.

Those who stayed: Many readers of this blog are ex-patriot Clairtonians who moved away for school or work or service, and did not return. Others who have stayed include a core of hard workers whose desire is to male Clairton the best it can be. The Clairton Chamber of Commerce, under the direction of current leader Kathy Tachoir has been a key influence to that end. To that end, I encourage all who can make it to attend the CLAIRTON COMPREHENSIVE PLAN COMMUNITY MEETING which will take place MONDAY, NOVEMBER 15, 2020 6:30PM at the CLAIRTON EDUCATION CENTER-AUDITORIUM

The plan will be presented to the Community for their knowledge and understanding.
There will be time for questions and answers.

The Comprehensive Plan Steering Committee along with the City and School District have worked for many months to develop this plan. We listened to the residents comments from the first Community Meeting in January and incorporated the items the residents cited as concerns.

We ask you to contact your family and friends who can make it and invite them to join with us begin to: "MAKE CLAIRTON THE BEST THAT IT CAN BE".

Republicans sweep election: The election was a landslide in many parts of Pennsylvania including Clairton as Republicans swept the election two years after one of the most enigmatic presidents was elected on the Democrat ticket. Despite the popularity of the young, good looking president, many of the young people who supported him in the previous election simply did not turn out to vote in the mid-term. Still the election of a president with his background was groundbreaking. But Republicans constantly hammered away at issues such as the economy and the fact that he has not kept many of his campaign promises. The result is the new mayor and several councilmen were sworn in. The list included Mayor Bob Stokes, new councilmen James J. Daily and Ross Valvo, Controller Dr. George Wright and Congressman James G. Fulton. The year was 1962 and John F. Kennedy, the first Catholic to hold the presidency had been elected on the strength of the youth vote.

Tight budgets: The economic circumstances of 1962 caused the City Council to pass a smaller, more austere budget. That budget did not contain enough money to meet the payroll for City workers for the rest of the year. The previous year’s (1961) budget had been just over $1 million, but the new one came in at $958,870. Although the budget was reduced by just over $64,000, Councilman Bob Medvivovich complained that his department could not be run on the $86,000 allotted to it. There had been no tax increases the previous four years for Clairton residents.

More bad news on the doorstep, I couldn’t take one more step: A prominent family from Large, the Marion Batinich family, owners of Marion’s Tavern, was returning home from a holiday visit to Florida. The big car was loaded with six family members when the driver lost control on a state highway in Dillon, South Carolina. Killed in the crash was Marion Batinich, 62, believed to have been driving, his wife, Mary, 52, daughter Carol Ann, 20, and another daughter, Anna Mae Majernich. Frances Batinich and Mrs. Majernich’s one month old daughter were taken to a local hospital.

Things looking up in 1962 Clairton: Newly elected mayor Robert Stokes in his “State of the City” speech, predicted that Clairton would become “the most booming mill town in the valley” within the next four years. Speaking to a standing room only crowd in the Clairton High School auditorium, the mayor stated there will be a “tremendous effort to supply jobs to the jobless.” Among the other dignitaries on the stage were Congressman James G. Fulton, Commissioner John Walker, and former Clairton Mayor Robert W. Ostermayer. Mayor Stokes outlined several projects that would help the city get back on its feet, including the establishment of a new Housing Authority for Clairton and the release of some 400 lots in the city that could be used to build affordable housing.

In Summary: Republicans being swept in during a mid-term election two years after the election of a young dynamic Democrat president, budget woes in the city, a high jobless rate and the need for affordable housing. A review of the January 3, 1962 Clairton Progress, aside from its single copy price of seven cents and annual subscription rate of $3.00 suggest considerable truth to the old adage, “The more things change the more they stay the same.

Thanks to Jim Hartman and the Mifflin Historical Society for the copies of the Clairton Progress.

A little blogging Maestro: The number I hit song five weeks in a row in 1962, “Sherry,” by the Four Seasons.

Dr. Forgot

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Clairton Today and Yesterday

The Spirit of Clairton History

Bears and Honeybears: The Clairton Bears knocked off another opponent. A Districts 7 (WPIAL); 5 football 2010 - Round 1 - Game 1. This time the victim was Carmichaels and the score was 42-0. The next playoff opponent will be Bishop Canevin next Friday. We will keep you posted. By the way, Clairton is the only team to advance in the playoffs from the Black Hills Conference. Fort Cherry, Chartiers-Houston and Brentwood lost their first-round games.

There is more to Clairton than just football even though it seems to get the most ink. A full complement of mens and womens sports has been a tradition of CHS for many decades. The band is among the many extra-curricular activities available to students and the majorettes, renamed Honeybears in the 1950s are among the pride of Clairton. Reader Gary Irvine sent me the photo of the majorettes circa 1952. It was a few years after the photo above that Benny Benack took over from Rutilio Rotilli as the head of the band and majorettes. Benny was a cool dude in those days. His parents ran the photo studio that took most of the school pictures and Benny was a prodigy. He regularly played his trumpet and led bands at Steeler and Pirate games and had the majorettes select a name for their group. They chose “Honeybears.

The drum major has not yet been identified but the girls, so talented yet still in high school, from left to right are: Peggy Manual, Nancy Irvine, Nora Fiore, Clair Cicchini, Viola Roberts, Mary Jane Pittman, Audrey Slate, and Agnes Martis. We also mention with sadness that Nancy Irvine recently passed away in Charleston, S.C. at age 75.

Cheerleaders: The majorettes of 1952 were complemented by a unique group of cheerleaders. Why unique? They were all male! George Kraynak, Michael Mihalov, Burt Finney, Roy Verbanes, Angelo Sgroi, and Paul LeDonne were the five male cheerleaders who, according to the Clairtonian, “… mastered the old standby cheers and added to the list, Sound Off, Where, Where, and Ichabod.” Whether 1952 or nearly 60 years thereafter, school spirit is alive and well at Clairton High School.

Not just a good football team: Most educators groaned when the federal government introduced the “No Child Left Behind” Act. The idea was a good one but the first problem was that it was an unfunded initiative, which meant schools were mandated to do several things including scads and scads of student testing, but no monies were provided with which to accomplish the task. Still schools were measured against one another and each year a report card, called, AYP, or Average Yearly Progress measures the success to which all students are held. In a recent letter, Clairton School District Superintendent Dr. Lucille L. Abellonio wrote, “We are extremely proud to announce that the district has achieved AYP status in reading and mathematics for the third consecutive year! Congratulations for all their hard work to staff and students.

“In order to continue our academic progress, there are many exciting changes planned for this year at Clairton City School District! The district is beginning a ninth grade academy at the high school level. There will be a wing on the high school floor which will house all ninth grade classrooms and faculty. This will establish a sense of community for those students and provide a vehicle to foster communication between staff members working with our ninth grade students. New courses are being offered in the High School. The departments offering the new courses include English, Social Studies, Science, Mathematics, Business Education, Family and Consumer Science, Technology Education and Art Education.

“Student court, the school newspaper, and the production of morning announcements are just a few of the new activities available for student participation. We are excited to begin Project Grad during the fall semester and provide academic support services and college access services to our high school students throughout the day. The program will be located in room 224.

“Some middle school students will participate in Read 180 a computer based reading program. This program is based on individual student ability and incorporates videos, teacher instruction and books with CDs for independent instruction.

“Elementary school will continue the academic academies and learning academies which were instituted last year. Children, parents and teachers have provided much positive feedback regarding the elementary program.

“We are welcoming a new social worker this year, Ms. Cassidy Yeager, who is coming to us from the Pittsburgh Public Schools and will be working with all our students from kindergarten through twelfth grade. She has many exciting plans for the coming year.

“The district received the Enhancing Education through Technology (EETT) grant in the amount of $50,000.00 which will be used to continue to integrate technology into classroom lessons. A new District website is being developed, and wireless network access will be available on the high school level as well as other common areas such as the cafeteria and auditorium.” A tip of the hat to the good Doctor and her staff.

Too many homeless: Homelessness is an issue in many parts of the country, and western PA is no exception. For the children of homeless parents the problem is even more acute. .Nicole Anderson, coordinator of the Allegheny Intermediate Unit's Homeless Children's Initiative, which covers nine southwestern Pennsylvania counties has conducted training sessions for districts outlining their responsibilities to homeless students. Clairton School District participated in a session and has developed a partnership with a local agency providing transitional housing for single parents of 24 children. On the first Wednesday of each month, high school guidance counselor Maureen McGarvey goes to Sisters Place in Clairton to check in with moms. On her first visit she gave them enrollment packets and a list of important numbers and dates. There must be a special lounge in heaven for people who do certain things on earth. That lounge would include military heroes, palliative care workers, and guidance counselors such as Maureen who go above and beyond the call for our children.

A follow up: Thanks to readers Doe, Shelby, and bill who forwarded us information Clairton Club 46. It is a social club run by volunteer firemen who drive Clairton Fire Truck #46. Word is that the cook is great and the fish frys are yummy. We’ll have to give it a try on our next visit.
A little blogging music Maestro… “You’re My Inspiration” by the Chicago.

Dr. Forgot