Last week, the mayor of Connellsville told a story on his Facebook page of preparing for a visit from one of the candidates running for governor. In the end, the unnamed candidate skipped Connellsville--I suspect it wasn't solely his decision, though--and went to Uniontown instead, and while there's no hard feelings, the mayor is understandably frustrated by preferential treatment of Uniontown.
When you compare the two as they stand now, Uniontown is the clear winner, mostly because of a large number of varied businesses and activities like farmer's markets and shows. Connellsville has a much more limited range of things to do/offer, and the places/things it does have get criticized. More than once now in the past few weeks when I've mentioned Lynn's to natives in conversation, they've said things like, "Everyone who goes there is on drugs." Even Connellsville residents are unhappy with the place, with one commenter saying--and this is copied and pasted as-is--"sorry but nothing good about connellsville, i want to sell my house and leave."
But Connellsville does have potential, and there are some--including the mayor, punk priest Fr. Bob, and some of those Facebook commenters--who do see that. It's just that for some reason, actually getting things moving and improved seems to be difficult. I suspect it's a combination of people with the passion not having the resources and the people with the resources not having the passion. And here's the thing--I think Connellsville has so much potential that it could actually rise above Uniontown and be a nicer, better place.
Now, naturally, Connellsville isn't immune to some of the bigger problems that plague the rest of the county, drugs being the biggest one, and shining up some old buildings and introducing new activities isn't going to fix everything, but it's certainly a start. And when you look at some of what Connellsville has to offer, it's pretty promising.
Sure, Uniontown has proximity to the mountains and its fancy businesses and things and Joe Hardy helping to shine it up, but Connellsville's got just as much if not more. There's the Mighty Yough. There's the bike trails. There's the train station. There's the theater. There's the parks.
And there's been a lot of effort to take advantage of these gems and make Connellsville as great as it can be, as great as it once was. This past winter saw an attempt to bring in an outdoor skating rink.
With summer upon us, there's rafting, biking, and tons of events--St. Rita's parish festival, the farmer's market, Art on the Yough, the summer concert series, reading programs, movie screenings in East Park, and the Geranium Festival (which starts this weekend). That's not even covering other ongoing efforts to improve Connellsville, like the recent efforts to help bring concerts to East Park, Sustainable Connellsville, and volleyball games at Cat's Court.
But change and improvement isn't all up to people in charge. All it takes to start making a difference--and this goes for the entire county--is to care and take an active role in your community. Buy local. Attend events. Donate money, goods, or services as you can where they're needed. Be the change!