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Municipal News

By Jill Runfola

At a town hall meeting at the Monongahela Fire Dept. Social Hall, held at 7 p.m. on Monday, September 18, a panel discussed the topic: “What do the Washington

Commish
Pictured are (l-r): Com. Diana Irey Vaughn, Com. Larry Maggi, MARC President George Eckert, and Com. Harlan Shober, Jr.

The group was comprised of the following individuals: Chairman Larry Maggi; Diana Irey Vaughn; and Harlen Shober, the commissioners. Moderator was Anthony Lombardi, former CEO of Mon Valley Hospital. Lombardi said that the night was the biggest audience they had, and he was happy to see everyone.

The meeting was hosted by the Monongahela Area Revitalization Corporation (MARC). Present there on the panel was MARC president George Eckert, and a crowd of 146 residents from Monongahela, New Eagle, Carroll Township, Donora, Belle Vernon, Finleyville, Union Township, Charleroi, Monessen, West Bethlehem Township, Peters Township and Mariana filled the venue to hear and speak about issues they deemed important.

Beginning the meeting, Vaughn spoke on blighted properties, the opioid crisis, and the incarcerated population. She thanked Melanie Patterson for going and holding babies that are in withdrawal.

Chairman of the Board Larry Maggi said, “One of the most important things that’s facing the community here is the local share (gambling money). The casinos are saving it with 30 million dollars. They had no obligation to do that, but did.” He also said that the Mon Valley Expressway is back on the drawing board.

Commissioner Harlen Shober said that the Valley might have been overtaxed at times, and there might have been 1,100 appeals that have gone through. “Taxes are what bring people here. Tax us at the right value, and let’s go forward,” he said.

Shober shifted the conversation to future potential for the Mon Valley, asking, “What do we have in the Mon Valley that is an asset? It is the river. [You have] two things - you have recreation, and you have jobs. We’re trying to get industry in. This is something we really have to work on—how do we get jobs in? We haven’t forgotten the Mon Valley as a community.”

The topic of conversation then turned to the potential CCAC campus, to possibly be located in Donora. Audience member Marie Trozzo said, “We have something now that will benefit the entire area. If anyone thinks that the CCAC campus is just for Donora, they’re mistaken. My plea is a commitment to subsidize their tuition.”

Mayor Donnie Pavelko of Donora and several others addressed the progress of Community College of Allegheny County’s efforts to place a branch campus in the Borough of Donora. The Commissioners responded that they are waiting to hear from CCAC and they whole heartedly back the idea.

An audience member responded to Shober’s earlier comments about Valley assets, noting, “I’m glad you recognized the resource of the river, but the biggest resource we have here in the Mon Valley is the people.”

Shober concluded the meeting by speaking of the need for transportation in the Valley. He said they will be looking into options. MARC President George Eckert thanked the committee and Monongahela Fire Dept. for the use of their facility.

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