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It won't be long and the new school year will be starting.
First day of school is August 22nd.
Start preparing now
By Eric Slagle
Published: Saturday, July 27, 2013, 1:46 a.m.
Updated: Saturday, July 27, 2013
In its second year, the Community Jubilee Garden in Clairton remains a point of interest both within and outside of the community.
Located near the intersection of Miller and St. Clair avenues in the heart of the city, the garden has a regular core of about 16 volunteers who tend individual and shared lots within the property.
This week, a group of volunteers from a Greenville, N.C., church group visited the garden to pull weeds and participate in other maintenance.
Members of the Life Teen program from St. Peter Catholic Church make annual trips to the Pittsburgh region to volunteer at soup kitchens, homeless shelters and various other charitable causes.
Hosted by St. Paul of the Cross Monastery on the South Side, the group had 121 volunteers this year. Five of them came to the Clairton garden.
“I think you can bring a community together around a garden,” said Stephanie Cervi, 18, one of the volunteers from the Greenville group. In her fifth summer of volunteering, Cervi said she's worked in other community-style gardens but Clairton's was the first in such an urbanized setting.
Allegheny Grows — which has provided support in the form of materials, land preparation assistance an instruction for the Clairton garden and others in the region — and its partner organization Grow Pittsburgh, is focused on teaching and promoting urban gardening.
Jessica McNally of Allegheny Grows said she's seen improvements at the Clairton garden.
“We did a lot better at growing everything this year,” McNally said.
She attributed the greater productivity to a number of things. Gardeners have easier access to water because of a line that was installed in the middle of last year's growing season. McNally said participants are more knowledgeable about gardening this year, too.
Gardening instruction is a component of the Allegheny Grows program. Communities must demonstrate a high level of need and show support for community gardening in order to qualify for the county program. Once selected, they receive two years of gardening support through education, materials and equipment and assistance with obtaining land for gardening.
The goal is for communities to continue sustainable gardens after the program period ends.
Clairton Councilman Rich Ford, who has been a big promoter of the community garden through the city's Unity Group, said he believes the Clairton garden will remain viable in future years.
“We've got a couple of really dedicated people,” he said.
He thinks more people will come to the community garden if they know it is there and open to the public, and he hopes to get more young people involved.
A number of improvements are yet to be made to the lot. There are plans to connect rain barrels to a toolshed constructed on the property last year. An embankment facing St. Clair Avenue is scheduled to have perennial flowers planted on it to prevent erosion and make it more attractive.
In addition to vegetables, garden visitors may notice bushes and trees that bear figs, currants, pears and hazelnuts. A section of ever-bearing strawberry plants is popular with children who visit the garden.
For more information about the Clairton garden, call 412-215-6830.
To learn more about community gardens in general, visit the Grow Pittsburgh website at www.growpittsburgh.org.
Eric Slagle is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.
He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1966, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Robert D. Haramia of Harwil Associates in Clairton was moderator for the Mon Yough Area Chamber of Commerce 'lunch and learn' session on the Affordable Care Act on Thursday at Auberle. Panelists included, seated from left, John Mills of UPMC Health Plan, Joseph A. Vater Jr., Esq., of Meyer, Unkovic & Scott, James C. Cooper of Jefferson Regional Medical Center, A.J. Harper of the Hospital Council of Western Pennsylvania and Carl Knoblock of the Small Business Administration.
‘Lunch and learn’ event looks at health care act
By Patrick Cloonan
Published: Friday, July 26, 2013, 2:26 a.m.
Updated: Friday, July 26, 013
Change is coming to health care in the United States regardless of what happens to the Affordable Care Act, a panel of experts told the Mon Yough Area Chamber of Commerce.
A “lunch and learn” seminar at McKeesport's Auberle on Thursday addressed legal, medical and business angles of health care reform, although no one referred to it as “ObamaCare.”
“Do whatever has to be done to make sure you are in compliance,” moderator Robert Haramia of Harwil Associates in Clairton said.
Carl Knoblock, director of the Small Business Administration's Western Pennsylvania district, urged businesses
to develop a 3-5 year strategic plan that includes health care.
“You are dealing with a series of regulators,” Knoblock said, including the IRS and departments of Labor and Health and Human Services.
“Are they necessarily talking to each other? No,” he said.
Knoblock said assisting employees with mandatory paperwork will help in the long run, regardless of whether a company offers insurance.
Companies will have to offer insurance if they employ the equivalent of at least 50 full-time employees working at least 30 hours a week, or they could be fined $2,000 per employee under the Affordable Care Act.
Attorney Joseph A. Vater Jr. of Meyer Unkovic & Scott said he doubts that the limit will be changed from 50.
Vater handed out explanations of how full-time equivalence is determined for part-timers.
The usual way will be to take the aggravate number of work hours in a month and divide that sum by 120.
Hospital Council of Western Pennsylvania president A.J. Harper said that even politicians opposed to the 2010 law tell him they find “a lot in this legislation that they like.”
Harper pointed out cuts in federal payments for Medicaid and Medicare, including a 2 percent across-the-board cut because of budget sequestration.
Harper said refusal to expand Medicaid cost Pennsylvania 35,000 jobs and greater Disproportional Share Hospital adjustment payments to cover large volumes of low-income patients.
Some panelists stressed an emphasis on wellness, be it to encourage employees to stop smoking, or managing stress or community activities such as walks.
“Over half of (medical) expenses are directly linked to personal health care choices,” Jefferson Regional Medical Center senior vice president James C. Cooper said.
John Mills, senior director of commercial projects for UPMC Health Plan, said there will be changes in how much is charged for insurance.
Mills said companies now can charge a 64-year-old up to five times what a 19-year-old is charged, but the Affordable Care Act allows only up to three times that much.
Mills said tobacco use could mean 50 percent greater premiums, but he expects hikes of only around 10 percent.
“We want (smokers) to go into tobacco cessation programs,” Mills said. “We want them to be honest.”
Cooper and Harper talked about research being done into community needs. Cooper said that led Jefferson to form a new obstetrics unit and add emphasis to women's services in Clairton.
Patrick Cloonan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.
He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1967, or email@example.com.
Andy Nixon learned early on that he was considered less than his classmates due to his poor grades. Report card day became a time of high anxiety as he took his report card home for the required parent signature. Accusations of "You could be doing much better," and, "You're just lazy," were regular comments to him by adults.
From a traumatic childhood as an abject failure academically, to a chance opportunity to attend college, and his awakening to the fact that he learned differently from most other students, to the achievement of the ultimate degree - Doctor of Education, he tells his story with humor and tears. Somehow, Andy made it through the taunting, humiliation, and demeaning comments by teachers, and lived to tell the tale of his exploits.
In his book, 50 Shades of Grades, My Journey Through Wacademia, Dr. Andy Nixon offers a testament to the difficulty many children encounter in early grades and beyond, to what he dreamed he could
achieve in life. This despite the fact that the traditional education system was geared against his learning style, and the power of determination and willingness to stick with the struggle and overcome the odds. Dr. Nixon's philosophy is, "It is no sin to be knocked down. It is only a sin to not get back up."
Andy also has a blog where he writes many stories of Clairton. His blog can be found at: http://drforgot.blogspot.com. Since publication of his book, Andy has started a new site at: http://50shadesofgrades.com/buy-50-shades-of-grades/
50 Shades of Grades can be purchased through Amazon.com, Barnes and Nobel, and Kindle. You can find it by searching by title and author - Andrew Nixon, 50 Shades of Grades, My Journey Through Wacademia.
By Michael DiVittorio
Published: Monday, July 29, 2013, 3:31 a.m
University of Pittsburgh student-athletes taught Clairton Little League Football Association players the importance of hard work and education during a football camp Saturday morning.
Clairton graduates Tyler Boyd, Terrish Webb, Trent Coles, Emmanuel Williams and Kevin Weatherspoon and their Pitt teammates Manasseh Garner and Ed Tinker led about 50 young Bears in drills and lessons until storms cut the session short.
“We had (the campers) doing the cone drill and footwork techniques,” Boyd said. “We were doing routes, defensive back drills, back peddling. We knew the rain was coming but we stayed outside as long as we could. I told them, ‘You may end up playing in this weather.' They listened. They just kept going.”
Association president Tonya Payne, Boyd's mother. said the youngsters' persistence despite the weather was a good lesson.
“I see something positive for them,” she said. “I know what the program gave to my son, what he got through it.”
She said having a group of Clairton's hometown football heroes conduct the camp helped build enthusiasm among the participants.
“They were excited when we passed out the information that the Pitt guys were coming to do a camp with them,” Payne said. “It's usually hard to keep the younger ones' attention, but they were focused. A lot of them look up to Tyler and Kevin and Trenton and Parrish. They're like celebrities. The Bears are like the Steelers.”
The association is for players ages 5-14. Boyd and Webb played together in the program and went on to help lead the high school team to a 63-game winning streak — which is the longest in the nation — and several WPIAL and state championships.
Payne organized the football camp with the college players. NCAA rules prohibit coaches from participating.
“I just feel like it inspired them to become what we are now,” Boyd said. “We didn't have college players work with us at that age. We had to work off each other. I think it's probably going to be easier on them than it was for us.”
Jaivion Clifford, 6, said he most enjoyed playing with Weatherspoon, his cousin, and taking pictures with Boyd.
“I listened and I was catching the ball,” Jaivion said.
“He was speechless,” Jaivion's mother Darlene Clifford said. “He was smiling from ear to ear. His cheeks had to hurt.”
The college players emphasized the importance of education and getting good grades in order to play football.
Darlene Clifford, a preschool teacher with the Allegheny Intermediate Unit, said the association teaches that message by monitoring its members' progress in the classroom.
“It's not just an extracurricular activity,” she said. “They work together with the school to make sure these kids make it. Education has to come first. That's how these kids are going to make it in life.”
“I'm going to make honor roll again,” Jaivion said.
Clairton Middle School reading teacher Maria Suss watched as her sons Mason, 7, and Maddox, 6, were instructed by her former students.
“It was almost a surreal kind of a thing because I taught all the (college) kids who came,” Suss said. “It's like they're paying it back. It's really neat for me to see them succeed.”
Suss said her boys love playing football in any weather.
“I think even if it was snowing they would have loved every minute of it,” she said.
The Pitt players were treated to a luncheon at Mt.Olive Baptist Church in Clairton in appreciation for their participation.
Michael DiVittorio is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.
He can be reached at 412-664-9161 ext. 1965. or firstname.lastname@example.org.