Sunday, February 5, 2012

Bears, etc.

Hines from Heinz: As mentioned in a previous blog, Hines Ward is featured on a TV program with CHS student Carlton Dennis. The show will air on USA Network at 4:00 west coast time (I've already set my timer to record) so I am assuming it will play at 7:00 pm this Friday on the east coast.The quote from a Daily News article reads in part, “Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward and Clairton City School District junior Carlton Dennis will be featured as part of an upcoming documentary.” Divittorio goes on to explain that USA Network will do aa series beginning Feb. 10 entitled “NFL Characters Unite,” a series designed to help students deal with racism, bullying, and other forms of abuse. Featured will be Steeler great Hines Ward and CHS junior Carlton Dennis. Ward, the MVP of Super Bowl XL, spent time at CHS having lunch with the students, attending an assembly, and spending time with Carlton." Just one more snapshot of our community in the headlines for something good.

"Keep those cards and letters and checks coming in:" Sue Wessel tells me that the donations to help the three-time winners of the Pennsylvania State Championship Clairton Bears have begun to flow in. The kids need your help for the once-in-a-lifetime experience. Let's face it, as good as the Bears have been, most of the team will not earn scholarships for their football prowess, and for those who do it is unlikely that they'll ever win a championship. The experience of having been part of such a phenomenal run is something the young men will remember for a lifetime. Please send your donations to help cover the cost of the rings to:Sue Wessel, 512 N. 6th Street, Clairton, Pa 15025. Make checks payable to the "Clairton Athletic Champions Club.”

Just like the walls of Jericho: If you remember your Sunday School lessons, the walls of Jericho came tumbling down. Many of the locks on the Monongahela River look to suffer a similar fate. According to a recent investigative report by Tribune writer C. Togneri, "When three barges broke loose 10 days ago on the Monongahela River, bouncing off bridges, forcing road closures and slowing the morning commute, the accident resulted in yet-another unscheduled waterway closure in the Army Corps of Engineers' Pittsburgh District.

While most closures are not nearly as spectacular, they are common, according to local and national waterway officials. They promise to get worse.

Western Pennsylvania's 23 locks are old and, in some cases, crumbling, officials said. The Dashields lock and dam on the Ohio River has unstable chamber walls that move when vessels pass. At Lock and Dam No. 2 on the Allegheny, large chunks of concrete have fallen off chamber walls, risking vessels and crew. At the 76-year-old Montgomery Lock and Dam on the Ohio, the gates are so old and weak that two gave out in 2005 after loose barges crashed into them, although they are designed to sustain such a hit.

Combine that with continued cuts to federal funding for maintenance and operations, and the region's waterways are not only unreliable for industry, but approaching a "scary" status, officials said.

"We already have double the national average of unscheduled outages, and with cuts to federal funding, we're going to quadruple the national average this year," said Jim McCarville, executive director of the Port of Pittsburgh Commission. "When you think about it, it's really quite scary."

In a nation full of aging waterway infrastructure, Pittsburgh's is the oldest. Designed to last 50 years, about half of locks in the United States are 50 years or older, according to statistics from the Army Corps. In Western Pennsylvania, 66 percent are 50 years or older. The Emsworth locks on the Ohio River are 91 years old, and of the eight locks and dams on the Allegheny, the youngest, in Rimer, is 74 years old.

"They are aging and fatigued," said Jim Fisher, chief of operations for the corps' Pittsburgh District. "The only good news is that we know there are major problems."

Rimer and another Allegheny lock, at Templeton, have been shut down because there is no money for upkeep. Commercial vessels must call 24 hours in advance to pass.

Federal funding for maintenance and operations in the district is expected to drop for a second straight year, from $101 million in fiscal year 2010 and $83.3 million in 2011 to $71.4 million in 2012, according to the corps. The 2012 number is a projection; officials expect to get the final number in days, said Dan Jones, an Army Corps spokesman.

"We're doing no more major preventative maintenance," Fisher said.

The corps oversees nine locks on the Monongahela River, eight on the Allegheny River and six on the Ohio River. Its repair fleet -- which responds to vessel and lock emergencies and maintains the locks and dams -- has slashed hours of operation from 24 hours to 16 hours a day, Fisher said.

In the Jan. 19 accident, two coal barges headed for U.S. Steel's Clairton Works got loose near the Liberty Bridge. One floated to the Ohio and sank; the other struck a moored barge filled with sand at Frank Bryan Inc., a South Side construction materials supply business. It ripped that barge loose, then pinned it against a Smithfield Street Bridge pier. The Coast Guard is investigating the cause.

U.S. Steel depends on the Monongahela Ohio River system for transporting raw materials and finished steel to and from its Clairton, Irvin, and Edgar Thomson plants in the Mon Valley, said company spokeswoman Erin DiPietro.

"Without an efficient water transportation system, these plants would be significantly less competitive in today's steel market," she said.

Coal shipped to Clairton is used to make coke, she said. The coke is shipped to U.S. Steel blast furnaces in Braddock; Gary, Ind.; Detroit; Fairfield, Ala.; and Granite City, Ill.

Last year, there were 475 unscheduled closures of locks on Western Pennsylvania rivers, mostly from equipment failures, but also the result of rarer issues, such as loose barges and flooding, officials said. Unscheduled closings blocked river traffic for almost 9,500 hours combined, federal statistics show.

"We no longer have a reliable system. It's as simple as that," Fisher said.

The Coast Guard closed the Monongahela for two days while crews salvaged the loose barges. Traffic on the Ohio and Allegheny was not affected."

Clairton boy passes away: Under the "What ever happened to" category, Larry Clipper left home for a brilliant career in higher education. His recent obituary reads as follows: "LAWRENCE JON CLIPPER December 13, 1930 - January 22, 2012 Naval Veteran and Scholar Lawrence Jon Clipper, U.S. Navy Ret. and Emeritus Professor of English Literature, Indiana University at South Bend, died Sunday, January 22, 2012 in Good Samaritan Hospital, West Palm Beach, after a long illness. He was born December 13, 1930 in Clairton, PA to Rose T. and Eli Clipper. After graduating from Clairton High School, Class of 1948, Lawrence went on to Brown University on an NROTC Scholarship and graduated in the Class of 1953. He then served as a line officer in the U.S. Navy principally on three ships, the USS Newport News, the USS Wisconsin, and the USS Intrepid, during the Korean conflict. After his naval career, Lawrence went to The George Washington University, receiving his Master's Degree in 1958. He moved to the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, where he earned his Ph.D. Lawrence taught at Dickinson College in Carlisle, PA; Ball State University, Muncie, IN; and Indiana University at South Bend (IUSB), South Bend, IN. He taught at IUSB for 28 years, retiring to Florida in 1994. He performed scholarly work on the Victorians, in particular the writings of Thomas Hardy and Charles Dickens. He published several scholarly works on G.K. Chesterton. Professor Clipper is survived by his wife, Patricia Clipper of West Palm Beach and their two daughters, Melanie C. Zatti of West Palm Beach and Stephanie Clipper of Washington, D.C."

Keep the home fires burning: Roger and Kathy Tachoir are Clairtonians to the core. In addition to having their business in Clairton they both take active roles in the community. Roger sits on the School Board and Kathy is president of the Clairton Chamber of Commerce and serves on the City Council. Kathy's family were the proprietors of Grisnik's Bakery across from the post office. Kathy recently sent us an email announcing two upcoming activities.
Saturday, May 26, 2012, 3rd Annual Clairton Chamber of Commerce 5kRace/ 2 mile Race.
Saturday, September 15th, 2012 from 12-5pm 7th Annual Clairton CommUNITY Day.
If you live in the area, please plan to participate in both events. They could also use volunteers to help with the events so if you are able please email me and I'll pass your contact information on.

Can it be true? Finally, we heard from a questionable source about a local doctor. His business had been pretty slow. In fact one day he had only three patients. The first came in with a headache so he prescribed aspirin. The second came in with a stomach ache so he prescribed Maalox. The third was a local woman who came into his office and said, "Doc, I've been up in the mountains of West Virginia for six weeks and haven't seen a man. What can you do for me?" So he gave her eye drops.

A little blogging music Maestro… “My Little Town" by Simon and Garfunkel

Dr. Forgot

notify me now if I can count on you to volunteer or have any new ideas for us.

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