Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Local native makes substantial donation to Meals on Wheels

It's been a while--how about some really awesome news?

Pittsburgh lawyer John Gismondi donated $100,000 to Meals on Wheels, inspired by his mother. Although he's currently based in Pittsburgh, he's originally from Fayette County.

You'll need a subscription to the Daily Courier for more, which I unfortunately do not have, so head over there for the full story.

Let's hope his philanthropy inspires other similar donations.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Black basketball player harassed with racist chants

I believe I said some time ago that my posts had become very, very infrequent due to lot interest on my part--keeping up with Fayette County's news is kind of tiring, and unfortunately, this blog started to feel more like a chore most days than something fun.

But leave it to Connellsville high-school students and their horrible racism to draw me out of retirement!

During "Hick Night" at Connellsville, which already means we're off to a great start, Connellsville high-school students shouted racist statements at visiting players from Uniontown.
The parents tell the Uniontown Herald Standard that Connellsville students yelled chants including "Build that wall!" and "Get them out of here!" at black Uniontown players.
Look, I'm not gonna sugarcoat it or spare anyone's feelings here--this is horrible, disgusting, and downright unacceptable. What bothers me the most is that "build that wall" was a prominent slogan during Trump's campaign dealing with building a wall along the US/Mexico border and here, it's been turned into a phrase meant to single out and target non-white people, and that's something I find very troubling. I had enough issues with the phrase and campaign promise to begin with, but to turn it into something to ostracize those of other races is even worse.

I have many, many reasons why I find President Trump disgusting, and this is one. But beyond that, my heart aches for people like those players and others around the country who have faced similar harassment between the election cycle and now who are being singled out and made to feel as though they are lesser than and don't belong. But Trump isn't the only problem--these behaviors are taught, and people need to take a close look at what attitudes and behaviors they're passing on to their children and what those children are putting out into the world. These teenagers and their parents both should be ashamed that this is the way they behave in public at a sporting event, which, despite competitiveness, should be a relatively lighthearted event where everyone can enjoy themselves.

Fortunately, the students were told how their actions could be perceived, but frankly, if this happens again, students need to face some sort of punishment.

And fellow white people? You're not better than anyone because of the color of your skin, so shut up.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Uniontown featured in NPR post-election segment

One of my regrets now that we're in the aftermath of the election is the fact that I didn't post more during the election, particularly regarding campaign promises and local hopes. I don't think I would've swayed people one way or the other, necessarily, but I like to think maybe people would've at least considered what I had to say.

See, the thing is, a lot of people around here seem to think Trump is their solution and salvation, the key to turning what's long been a struggling county around and back to what is was in its prime. And I think those people are wrong. I think that for a variety of reasons I won't get into today.

For now, NPR has run a story on the expectations people have of a Trump presidency, particularly in little ol' Uniontown. One of the things they mention is that for the first time in 20 years, Pennsylvania went red and voted Republican, something that seemed to surprise pundits and I suspect the politicians themselves--but it didn't surprise me, and I can't imagine it surprised many other residents, either. The flip from blue to red has been brewing a long while. I've mentioned on this blog in the past that I noticed during Obama's first run in 2008 many more yards had McCain signs than Obama, and having spent my whole life living here, I was fairly confident that had a hell of a lot more to do with skin color than it did policy. Even other Democrats bought into the unfounded rumors that Obama was born in Africa and his father was a terrorist.

Similarly, in my new location of nearby Washington and all the way down 40 to Uniontown, Trump signs dominated. While Fayette and Washington counties certainly aren't representative of the entire state, they seemed to reflect the attitudes and opinions of a lot of other people in the state, and while pundits seemed to speak of Pennsylvania as though it were a guaranteed blue state, I was skeptical. Like I said, in the end, we went red, and I wasn't surprised in the slightest. I wasn't alone, either.

Community members of all political persuasions came out for the event including Fayette County Democratic Party Chairman Jim Davis. 
In the spring, Davis was trying to raise alarm bells to his party. He told NPR that he was concerned about the large Republican turnout in the Pennsylvania primary and he that he was seeing Democrats in his country switch their party registration so they could vote for Trump in the general election. 
The writing was on the wall. 
"We didn't want to see it," Davis says. "We didn't want to accept it but ... it was obvious." 

Part of that has to do with the desire to see the coal industry make a comeback, and it's hard to argue with people who are feeling the impact of that loss. There's even a post back lurking in the archives of this blog dedicated to the impact the loss of the industry had on the area. It's pretty evident, really. The thing is, I think these hopes that Trump is going to bring it back are unrealistic. For one, I think he's barely aware of the county's existence, and on top of that--and this is one of the many reasons I couldn't vote for him--he doesn't seem to have a true understanding of how to fix our problems. The best example of this is evident in the fact that he promised to help both the coal and natural-gas industries, both of which have business in Fayette County. But the problem is the two compete with each other, making it impossible to truly help both. In the end, it'll be one or the other.

As much as I understand why people are holding on to the hope that coal will be saved, maybe it's time for Fayette County to move on. Maybe it's time for us to take a look at what else we have to offer and how we can rebuild our economy in another way. Take Pittsburgh, for example, which is becoming known more and more for sectors like technology and medicine. Even a look at the Waterfront will show you how the city is moved past its steel history--the area now boasts shopping, dining, and even entertainment, with places like Dave & Busters or the Improv comedy club, plus the Carnegie library/music venue up the hill. That's what we need to strive for--not a revival of an industry that truly doesn't seem like it's coming back or a president-elect full of empty promises, but rather an alternative to pick us back up again.

In the NPR article, Davis says something similar:

Davis believes the Democratic Party has to reinvent what they stand for in order to win back blue-collar voters and stop putting social issues at the forefront of the party. Democrats, he says, have to start talking about things like how to bring decent jobs into places like Fayette County. 
"Not a job that pays $8 an hour with no benefits, but a job that can pay a reasonable wage with benefits that a man can raise his family, can hopefully buy a house and send his children off to college, maybe state school, but college," Davis says. "That's the kind of thing we've got to start talking about."

Monday, October 31, 2016

Fayette County gets mention in Funny or Die video

First of all, if you're not familiar with comedian Keegan-Michael Key, you should really change that. I recommend starting here.

More recently, Key, a Penn State alumnus, did a video for Funny or Die encouraging Pennsylvanians to get out and vote--and I encourage you, too! But more importantly, the video references our own Fayettenam, including specific mentions of Connellsville and Bud Murphy's. And while our registration deadline may have passed and this video is now a little outdated, it's still pretty funny and worth the watch.

Thursday, October 6, 2016


Hello, everyone! Long time, no post. Truth be told, the reason posts have fizzled out is because I really just didn't feel like doing them--keeping up with Fayette County's news can be tiring and disheartening, and on top of that, there have been times where I felt I didn't have much to say and I'd only be rehashing a news article, and I don't think that's what anyone is interested in reading.

That said, I don't want to end the blog altogether, and I will try to surprise you with the occasional post. I have some Nam Nuptials posts I'd like to do, and there's a political post brewing. But first, I wanted to tackle something a little simpler and a bit more pressing--registering to vote.

It's election season, and we're all surrounded by ads and social-media posts about who should or not be president. But the thing is, you have to do more than just discuss politics--you have to get involved, and you have to get out and vote on election day. And of course, in order to vote, you have to first be registered, and you have to be registered by a certain day to be able to vote on Nov. 8.

The deadline for us here in Pennsylvania is Oct. 11. You can register with a paper form and mail it to your county voter-registration office as long as it's postmarked by the 11th, or you can register online by clicking here. For the most part, all the form requires is some basic personal information.

If you think you may already be registered but aren't sure, you can check by clicking here and searching using your name or your driver's-license number.

If you're registered but aren't sure where to go to vote, you can search for your polling place by clicking here and entering your address.

And remember, take the time to learn about all the candidates--including those running for local positions--and make an informed decision.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Veteran denied service at Darby's due to service animal

I'm fascinated by service animals, to be honest. I love animals in general (I'm probably like the only vegetarian to come out of Fayette County), but service animals in particular really interest me due to the numerous ways they can be used to help people and what a benefit they are. One of the things they're great for is veterans with PTSD, like local man Eric Stump, recipient of the Purple Heart and Bronze Star who did three tours in Afghanistan. Unfortunately, Stump was recently denied entry on a visit to Darby's because of his service dog, Dixie, who I'm sure is adorable.

I'll be honest, my initial plan for this post was to take Darby's to task for it and encourage a boycott, because not only is it super shitty to deny service animals, but it's also illegal unless the animal is causing a disturbance. But I have to give credit where credit is due--the owner handled the situation promptly and appropriately by apologizing.
"I feel bad. I don't ever want to hurt anybody's feelings, ever," [Barbara] Johnston said.
 While I'm glad the situation has been resolved, this does seem like a good case for ensuring employees--and business owners--are aware of laws regarding service animals. And remember, kids, if you're out and about and see a service animal that you just really, really want to pet because nothing's cuter than a dog in a vest, don't. It can be disrespectful, and more importantly, it can distract the animal from its job, which can be anything from assisting a blind person to providing support for people with mental illness.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Pechin's goes on lockdown, internet responds accordingly

Man, there's nothing like scrolling through your Facebook feed on a Friday on your lunch break and seeing that Pechin's is locked down because of a possible active-shooter situation.

The world's been a little chaotic and violent lately--we all know that. I couldn't help but think, "Not another one." Fortunately, it was a bit of a misunderstanding, and a man simply was hoping to sell a gun at the flea market...which is kind of ridiculous thing in itself, selling guns at flea markets. But I am glad it wasn't a situation where anyone was in direct danger.

The Internet being, well, the Internet, someone made it a meme.