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SPECIAL: Greensburg Salem Real Estate


INSIDE: Greensburg Salem School District News

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IN Greensburg Salem is a non-partisan community publication dedicated to representing, encouraging and promoting the Greensburg, Salem Township area and its comprising municipalities by focusing on the talents and gifts of the people who live and work here. Our goal is to provide readers with the most informative and professional regional publication in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.


IN Greensburg Salem | SUMMER 2013 |

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C.A.S.E. Awards ..................................... | 12 Nearly 500 people turned out for the inaugural IN Community Magazines’ Community Awards for Service Excellence (CASE) presented by Northwest Savings Bank in the West Club Lounge at Heinz Field.



Greensburg winners recognized for their service were Michael Hoke, Fred Rogers Center for Early Learning and Children’s Media, Jane Murtland, and the Westmoreland County Animal Response Team.

Greensburg-Salem Middle School’s staging of The Little Mermaid Jr. met with rave reviews. See page 26 for more of the fun.





Greensburg Salem School District Message from the Superintendent ................................................. | Lion Pride: Outstanding Student Achievement ................................. |

4 6

Greensburg Volunteer Fire Department Truck #2 Preserves the Legacy of Service .....................................



Meet Councilman Robert DePasquale ...........................






How I Got into Gardening .................................................



Colonial Court Reenactment at Site of Westmoreland County’s First Courthouse ................................................ |


Taste of Westmoreland .......................................................



Houses of Worship ...............................................................



Food for the Hungry Heart ................................................



Greensburg Hempfield Summer Library Programs

IN Greensburg Salem Welcome to the summer issue of Greensburg Salem magazine. While we focus on the communities that we serve, we don’t live in a bubble. The world throws curveballs at each of us, and each of us has to decide whether or not to swing at it. In the case of the Boston Marathon bombing, the city swung and knocked it out of the park. Residents came together to present a united front. First responders put their lives on hold and on the line until the threat was removed. Boston is not unique in that regard. Over the past decade or more that I’ve been publishing magazines, I’ve had the good fortune to come into contact with a lot of residents in the communities we serve. I’ve met dozens upon dozens of municipal officials, police and fire chiefs, EMS teams, and elected officials. I’ve seen them deal with their own issues, and I’ve seen them from time to time mourn their losses in the press. What I’ve seen and who I’ve met along the way has convinced me that the resilience of Boston is not a regional attribute. It’s a way of life that seems to be somehow tied to our very genes. Fortunately, not every city will face a challenge of that magnitude. But we do have it in us to take the inspiration demonstrated by the people of Boston and apply it to our daily lives. We can take small steps every day to ensure that the community we live in is a little bit better by the time we lay our heads down on the pillow at night. Whether it’s raising money for a cause, or visiting someone who needs to see a smiling face, young or old we can all do something to make our surroundings a little bit better. And by making things a little bit better for each other, hopefully, we can be better prepared to help one another if things suddenly get worse. This May, we honored volunteers and organizations in the community that help make a difference in such ways. Those people and causes were chosen by you, and we are proud to thank them for their service to their communities. We thank you for your dedication to our magazines and hope that you continue to be part of them and contribute your thoughts and ideas to our editors. There are many more stories to be told, and we always welcome your help in finding them. Have a wonderful summer! Wayne Dollard, Publisher




Pamela Palongue [North and East] Mark Berton [South, West and Erie] OF F ICE MAN AGE R




Anna Buzzelli Sharon Cobb Mike Miller

Joe Milne Melissa St. Giles Tamara Tylenda


Jonathan Barnes Jennifer Brozak Matt Fascetti Tracy Fedkoe Mike Ference Jacob Flannick Britt Fresa Elvira Hoff

Heather Holtschlag Chelsie Kozera Leigh Lyons Dana Black McGrath Joanne Naser Melanie Paulick Gina Sallinger Judith Schardt


Ginni Klein Len Pancoast Primetime Shots

Kathleen Rudolph Gary Yon


Tamara Myers

Tom Poljak


Sophia Alfaras Julie Graff Jason Kalakos Peter Leben Anna Marie Lee Connie McDaniel Brian McKee



Why is your Pet the Best Pet

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Gabriel Negri Aimee Nicolia Vincent Sabatini Mark Seamans Michael Silvert RJ Vighetti Nikki Capezio-Watson

This magazine is carrier route mailed to all district households and businesses. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission is prohibited. Copyright 2013. CORRESPONDENCE Direct all inquiries, comments and press releases to: IN Community Magazines Attn: Editorial 603 East McMurray Road McMurray, PA 15317 Ph: 724.942.0940 Fax: 724.942.0968

Fall content deadline: July 19

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Letter from the Superintendent The day a school year ends, schools committed to excellence begin to prepare for the upcoming school year. To students, summer means a long break and lingering, lazy days relaxing in the warm weather. But for school administration, summer marks the start of our “second shift” – a time to deliberately reflect on past practice and then begin to focus on the upcoming year as a fresh opportunity to renew ourselves in a cycle of continuous improvement.

Dr. Eileen Amato – Superintendent Photo by Jeremy Lenzi

At Greensburg Salem, we recognize and acknowledge that even though we are identified as one of the region’s most high achieving school districts, we can always get better so we resist the temptation of settling in and finding comfort with the status quo. For our staff, the summer months provide us with a small window of treasured time to focus on our ongoing growth as a district. Every year we welcome this time and strive to use it wisely.

Shortly after the busses pull down the drive in June, teams of teachers and administrators begin to analyze the previous year’s data. Critical questions drive our work. Who are our highest achievers? Who are our lowest achievers? How much are students growing each year in each content area? Are there departments or classes that we consistently do well in? Are there areas in which we don’t experience as much growth? How successful are our students after graduation? How are they faring in colleges and universities or in the world of work? Do they value and participate in the arts? Are they contributing members of their neighborhoods and families? Using the information gleaned, staff members then review curriculum and discuss structures and practices that promote even higher levels of academic and social success for all students and propose changes that might be needed. At Greensburg Salem, we believe all teachers are leaders and can learn a lot from each other. We encourage teachers to talk freely and openly about their successes and struggles as we work together to do the best possible job of educating our community’s young people. Summer is also the perfect time for our administration and teachers to use the days away from the classroom to grow as individuals and professionals. Many of our staff members take classes, join book clubs or participate in experiences that they can then share with their students or colleagues in the fall. Some travel to other lands and learn about various cultures and gather resources for their classrooms.


Greensburg Salem

Many teach, tutor or coach and stay connected to young people throughout the vacation. Others take advantage of workshops and seminars offered by local colleges and universities that center around their content areas or put themselves in the role of a learner and experience something totally new. It is a time of growth and renewal. As a professional learning community, our district prides itself in keeping abreast of the latest educational research centering on student learning. As a collaborative team, we use the summer months to study the current work of experts in the field. We believe it is critical to embrace research based best practices and work to abandon outdated practices that stand in the way of maximum student learning. Improvement matters to us in the Greensburg Salem School District; it affects the lives of children. Summer is a wonderful time to find our common ground, reaffirm our beliefs and values and set goals and focus areas for the year to come. Summer is also a time to analyze our publications, forms, schedules and routines so that we operate in the most efficient manner possible. Many things are reviewed with a critical eye and are revised, as needed. Without students in the building, we also take the time to work on our facilities and do needed repairs, updates and upgrades. We also like to learn about the latest technology advances that might help us deliver and access content more readily, house student information more efficiently and help us communicate with each other and parents more effectively. In addition, we use some of our time to carefully assess our fiscal and human resources. As a district, we are careful to acknowledge the power and value of the individuals who educate our children. Yearly, we take the time to make sure we are deliberate about assigning staff and students to classes where their strengths and talents can be maximized. The summer months are also a time to begin to train new staff members and meet with various groups of teachers regarding new initiatives and decision making that impacts the upcoming year. Over the years, what used to be a nine month position for a public educator has slowly expanded to be a yearlong venture. Here at Greensburg Salem, we wish all our students and families a restful and relaxing summer vacation. We hope you enjoy the fruits of our summertime labor in the fall.

The Greensburg Salem School District pages are edited and compiled by the Community Relations Department. For more information please contact Anita Rometo, community liaison, at 724-832-2907 or

‘ E F F O R T C R E AT E S A B I L I T Y ’

The face of GSEF!

Greensburg Salem High School art students were given the opportunity to design the logo for the recently established Greensburg Salem Education Foundation. The students produced some powerful pieces of art but when it came to choosing a logo – one entry stood above the rest. Tenth grader Taryn Six created a logo that grouped a golden lion head with an apple, visually connecting the GS mascot with a traditional education motif. This logo will be featured prominently on all GSEF publications and correspondence. Coming soon to a computer or mailbox near you … the GSEF webpage, fund raising opportunities, and teacher grant applications. To learn more, please visit, scheduled to launch June 15, 2013.

Preschool-to-Primary Partnership Meets Greensburg Salem kindergarten teachers hosted local preschool providers for some light dining and lively dialogue to share ideas related to the important transition from preschool to kindergarten. The 35 attendees worked together sharing programs and expectations.

As a result the following “Steps for a Successful Transition to Kindergarten” were developed. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7.

Works well with others and works independently Plays with words and rhyme Identifies and prints first name Knows some letters and their sounds Has a sense of numbers and counting Recognizes shapes, colors and patterns Sits to listen and respond to stories

Equally as important… 8. Draws pictures and is beginning to be a writer 9. Colors, cuts, etc… (fine motor skills) 10. Can catch a ball, hop, etc… (gross motor skills)

Greensburg Salem High School’s preschool program, Cub’s Den, is now accepting applications for children four and five years old. Cub’s Den is a free program to children residing in the Greensburg Salem School District. All lesson plans follow PA Early Childhood Standards and focus on a thematic curriculum emphasizing physical, social, emotional, and cognitive development. For further information or applications please contact Kristen Vassar at (724) 832-2962 or visit the Greensburg Salem Website at Once at Website click on Schools, GSHS, Programs & Activities, and finally Cubs Den. Greensburg Salem | Summer 2013 | 5


The LION’S PRIDE Outstanding Achievement…

GS on the Road to State Championships and Beyond The 2012-13 school year has been one of exceptional performances by Greensburg Salem students as individuals, on teams and in a wide variety of endeavors. Several of our students qualified to compete in state and or national events. These students became eligible for this honor by their performances at the local and/or regional levels.

Athletes Particpating in State Tournaments

Poetry Out Loud




Zach Heater Tyler Reinhart Zach Votek Daniel Yu Adam Weyandt

Bowling Wrestling Wrestling Swimming 50 M Freestyle Bowling

Rachel Kruszyinsky

6th 4th 9th 7th

NFL Students Participating in PA High School Speech League – State Competition

Boys Bowling Team Members Adam Barnard, Dylan DiRado, Adam Falkosky, Zach Heater, Randy Knox, Adam Weyandt, and Ryan Zulisky.



Nick Germano TJ Howard Steven Martz Paige Oswald John Shaffer Greg Smith Fernando Soriano

Congressional Debate Radio Announcing Public Forum Debate (team) Congressional Debate Public Forum Debate (team) Congressional Debate Lincoln-Douglas Debate

Qualifying for National Competitions

Steven Martz and John Shaffer will be representing Greensburg Salem at the National Forensic League’s national competition in Birmingham, AL. They will be competing in the team event – Public Forum Debate.

GSHS pole-vaulter Courtney McQuaide qualified for the prestigious Penn Relays in Philadelphia as well as the New Balance Indoor Track National meet held in New York City.

CWCTC Students Participating in Skills USA – State Competition NAME


Thomas Hodnik Savannah Howarth Eric Ligus Sabrina Staats

Plumbing Nail Care Masonry Culinary Arts



CWCTC Students Participating in Culinary Arts – FCCLA – State Competition NAME



Arminda Raines Maranda Rodericks Brittany Shaw

Food Innovation Job Interview Service Project Display Culinary Arts

Silver Bronze

Sabrina Staats


Greensburg Salem

Top 5

Bronze Bronze

‘ E F F O R T C R E AT E S A B I L I T Y ’

GS Mock Trial Team Continues Winning Ways Greensburg Salem Mock Trial Team started on the road to the Dauphin County Courthouse and the state championship competition by winning the Westmoreland County tournament for the 14th time in the last 15 years. During the two-day state tournament, in four separate trials, the team argued the prosecution or defense in the case of Tatum Zillias, a developer building a public housing project in Philadelphia. Zillias was charged with two counts of third degree murder when a crane collapsed at the construction site killing two people. Seniors Courtney Wright and Caitlin Hensel served as attorneys on both the prosecution and defense sides of the case. Junior Kenny Clark portrayed the defendant and served as an attorney for the prosecution. Junior Teddy Russell served as an attorney for the defense and as a witness for the prosecution. Juniors Anna George, Paige Kemsey, and Lauren Nicassio, as well as sophomore Garrett King, portrayed witnesses. Sophomore Rachael Hensel contributed as an analyst for the team. The team defeated both The Episcopal Academy and Wyoming Seminary Prep School on Friday, March 22, and advanced to the semi-final round where they defeated Plumstead Christian School the following day. Earning a second-place finish, the team lost the championship round to Quigley Catholic High School on Saturday. In total, 329 teams participated in the PA Mock Trial process this school year. The final round of the competition is available to view on by going to

Surrounded by the stately, marble walls of the Westmoreland County Courthouse the Greensburg Salem Mock Trial team includes (front row, l-r) Lauren Nicassio, Rachel Hensel, Paige Kemsey. (middle row) Courtney Wright, Kenny Clark, Teddy Russell. (back row) Catlin Hensel, Garrett King and Anna George.

Victorious GSMS Mathcounts Team Advanced to States Greensburg Salem Middle School dominated the Westmoreland County Mathcounts competition in February. Not only did the team of Tristan Elma, Asher Joy, Mary Joy, and Adam Petro earn first place team honors but these GSMS students earned first through fourth places in the individual scores as well. Leading her team was Mary Joy (1) followed by Adam Petro (2), Asher Joy (3) and Tristan Elma (4). Other GSMS students that placed in the individual rankings were Chris Schecengost (6), Julius McBride (7), and Scott Armentrout (9). The four team members, along with Schecengost and McBride, qualified for the state competition in Harrisburg on March 22 and 23. Twenty-five teams and 175 students competed at the state Mathcounts tournament. The Greensburg Salem team placed fifth with Asher Joy being recognized as the highest scoring 6th grade student. Holding their Westmoreland County awards are the GSMS students who advanced to the state competition. Seated (l-r) are Asher Joy, Mary Joy and Adam Petro; standing Julius McBride, Chris Schecengost and Tristan Elma.

Greensburg Salem | Summer 2013 | 7


Focus on Improving Student Learning Leads to iPads in the Classroom When Metzgar Elementary teacher Bethany Ferrari received the announcement of a grant opportunity from the Westmoreland Intermediate Unit Foundation, she could have ignored it – but she didn’t. The grant was for educators in special education classrooms to support innovative classroom projects. Miss Ferrari wanted to create a project concept that would be meaningful and that would positively impact her learning support students.

As the teachers are implementing this technology, their professional learning community has grown. The teachers meet frequently with Mr. Chris Suppo, coordinator of technology, to discuss items from iPad functionality to classroom uses. During these sessions, the teachers are excited to share the applications, known as apps, they have found and how they have applied them to help their students learn.

With the help of Mrs. Ashley Nestor, coordinator of elementary education, federal programs and instruction, Miss Ferrari explored a variety of options. For the past several years, one of the focuses of the district’s professional education has been on inclusion and differentiated instruction. Inclusion is an effort to make sure students with disabilities attend their neighborhood school, with their friends, while receiving the special designed instruction and support they need to learn successfully. Differentiation means tailoring instruction to meet individual needs of a student – it is helpful for all students but differentiation is absolutely imperative for children with special needs. As a result, educators are faced with the challenge of teaching students with a diverse range of differences and disabilities within a single classroom.

Introduction of this technology has enhanced learning and created successes for struggling students. By using phonics apps like Word Builder Express and Howie’s Word Families, a student who could not pass spelling tests because she could not make sense of or remember specific phonics patterns, is now consistently earning scores of 90% or better. A second-grade student with a mathematical disability is developing quick addition and subtraction fact recall with the help of apps like Meerkat Math. He is better able to grasp and enjoy difficult and abstract concepts, like fractions, through the Fraction Pizzeria app.

Ferrari wrote a proposal and was awarded $1000 to purchase two iPads to help the primary grade teachers meet this educational challenge. Around the same time, Metzgar Elementary received $2,500 from the America’s Farmers Grows Communities Fund. Principal Tina Federico determined these funds would be used to expand the “Implementing iPads into Primary Classrooms” project by making an iPad available for every classroom at Metzgar.

Primary Learning Support teacher Bethany Ferrari working on an iPad with a kindergarten student during class.


Greensburg Salem

“One of the things I am most excited about is that the implementation of iPads at Metzgar Elementary will be sustained and will continue for many years to come,” commented Ferrari. “There are always new educational apps being created and many are designed specifically for students with learning disabilities. Such apps can be matched to students according to their learning needs. I look forward to seeing the continued growth as I follow this cohort of learning support children as they progress through the grades.”

‘ E F F O R T C R E AT E S A B I L I T Y ’

Reading is one of the foundations of learning – and learning to enjoy reading is a gift that keeps giving. To help kindergarten students and their parents realize the pleasures of reading, Greensburg Salem’s three elementary schools host a Raising Readers program. For six-sessions, Raising Readers focuses on reading, writing, listening, and speaking lessons. Each session includes the building blocks of reading – phonemic awareness, word building, word recognition, comprehension, and writing activities. Each child receives a quality paperback book at each session through a partnership between the GSSD Early Transition Team and the United Way of Westmoreland County.

GS Families are Raising Readers!

During the sessions, children and their parents work side-by-side as the kindergarten teachers model a variety of strategies that support independent reading and writing in the kindergarten classroom. As the family enjoys an evening for reading together, the parents are learning techniques they can practice at home in order to help their children become stronger readers. The fun activities families share include reading six great books, learning new vocabulary, comparing stories by the same author, performing “Readers Theater” skits for each other, creating mini-books, writing opinion pieces, and playing word games as they practiced important skills. Maybe Dr. Seuss said it best in his book I Can Read With My Eyes Shut. “The more you read, the more things you will know. The more that your learn, the more places you’ll go.”

Jump in your Jammies and Join Us for The Silliness of Dr. Seuss

At The Sneetches station, Miss Pennesi helped children travel through Mr. McBeam’s Star-Bellied Sneetch Machine. Students also decorated their very own star and the families played Sneetch Beach Ball – a game that involved rhyming words from the story. Mrs. Gennard read from the beginning of The Foot Book and encouraged students to finish the story by reading the “feet” hanging on the wall. Each foot was a page from the book. Students also measured their own feet using a ruler and recorded that amount. They then estimated how many feet all those inches would equal by the end of the night. The grand total was 77 feet.

As part of the PTO’s Annual Family Reading Night, Nicely Elementary celebrated Dr. Seuss’s birthday with an exciting and interactive event designed to promote the importance of reading. More than 125 Nicely students and their families were treated to stories, freebies, games, and more during the Jump into Your Jammies and Join Us for the Silliness of Dr. Seuss themed event. The evening’s activities brought to life Seuss favorites: The Foot Book, The Sneetches, One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish, and The Cat in the Hat. Each station featured hands-on learning experiences that made the kids giggle, inspired their imaginations, and even challenged their strength and endurance during an obstacle race. Local actor and attorney John Noble served as a special guest reader. The kids were thrilled by his many surprises – especially his striped socks – as the story of the Cat in the Hat unraveled in a way that amazed everyone. Greensburg Salem | Summer 2013 | 9


Golden Lion Gallery

Art student, Krystal Ciccarelli created a showcase installation for her senior project at Greensburg Salem High School. The installation includes a variety of wildlife that Krystal painted on wood and installed into the space, surrounded by hand painted walls and floors. Art teacher Mr. Raphael Pantalone mentored Krystal throughout the process of creating the project.

Metzgar Elementary's fourth-grade artists created Illuminated Manuscripts in Miss Brenda Alberth's Art class. Students combined the look of a papyrus scroll with decorated lettering to produce an artwork with animal symbolism. Artists researched historic meanings of animal symbols and chose one to fit their own unique personality. Here, Tanner Dobrosky chose a Tiger to represent his strength and bravery.

At Nicely Elementary, the second graders learned interesting concepts in different classes about wondrous rainforests. Each student chose a particular animal to research. Sam Spigarelli, a hard-working artist in Miss Brenda Alberth’s Art classroom, created a detailed drawing of a Macaw on transparent paper, layering it over a tissue collage. This technique helps young artists begin to imagine perspective. For example, what is closest to the viewer is clear and detailed while what is far away looks blurrier. It's like practicing with the "focus" feature on your camera.


Greensburg Salem

Jakob Curry, a Hutchinson Elementary fourth grader from Mrs. Carnicelli’s art class, created this detailed dragon drawing. He effectively used pencil, marker, and crayon to depict a dragon in its volcanic environment. For inspiration, students heard stories about dragons from different cultures and then made up their own stories about the dragon they imagined.

Mrs. McCune’s sixth graders at GSMS created mixed media landscapes as the culminating project of a unit on “spaces.” Students were asked to create a space that invited the viewer to step inside the artwork. Artist Sarah Lukacs used layers of tissue paper, polymer media and permanent markers to craft her landscape.

‘ E F F O R T C R E AT E S A B I L I T Y ’

They dare to dream… All kids dream. When they play sports, they dream of winning the big game. They dream of earning trophies for their athletic prowess. They dream of being recognized for their efforts. But it takes more than dreaming to be on a championship team. As this story goes to print, the Greensburg Salem Girls Softball team is ranked number 1 in the WPIAL for AAA schools. Their eyes are on the prize of a WPIAL championship and beyond. These girls have been doing a lot more than dreaming. These young athletes have received direction and vision under the guidance of a skilled and experienced coaching staff led by head varsity coach Jody Morgan and including Rick Petro, Kristen Mehan, and Kevin Hutchinson. Miss Morgan has been the Varsity Softball coach for 34 years – since her first year of teaching at Greensburg Salem.

Like many other Greensburg Salem student athletes, several members of the softball team have made a year-round commitment and play on traveling teams during the offseason. Again, like a lot of students at Greensburg Salem, many of them are multi-sport athletes. “Greensburg Salem has a tradition of dedicated athletes that play more than one sport,” stated Lynn Jobe, GSSD athletic director. “We have found that multi-sport athletes are well-rounded and that play on more than one team helps to reduce burnout, boredom, and injuries. It is also good for the students to be exposed to different coaching styles and philosophies.” Jobe went on to say, “Our programs that include multi-sport athletes are the example of what interscholastic sports should be – we not only want our students to give their all on the playing field but also in the classroom.

Students can take the leadership skills and team-concepts that they learn during play and use them in all the other parts of their lives – for the rest of their lives.” Displaying those leadership skills on the softball field are three seniors – Syndey Bacha, Taylor Mehan, and Jane Oberdorf. As 4-year veterans of the team they have playoff experience and the skills and positive attitudes that characterize the whole team. The team is loaded with talent from freshmen to seniors, with everyone contributing to the program’s success. By the time you are reading this, the softball season will be over. The team may have earned their dreamed of WPIAL championship, or maybe not. But if at the end of the day, when they put their heads on their pillows, they will know that they did the best they could – that they gave it their all – and they won’t need to dream to know that they are champions.

Greensburg Salem | Summer 2013 | 11

The awards were created by former IN Community Magazines editor Monica Haynes to honor the work of individual volunteers and nonprofit organizations throughout the magazines’ coverage area. A total of 111 awardees representing 33 magazines received certificates during the event, for which WTAE-TV anchor Andrew Stockey served as Master of Ceremonies. IN Community Magazines publisher Wayne Dollard welcomed attendees and spoke about the importance of community service, as did Northwest Savings Bank president Chris Martin. Providing a perfect ending to the evening was an acoustic set by The Clarks. Below is Haynes’ first person account of how the awards came to be: During my tenure as an editor for In Community Magazines, one of the cover stories we did was about food pantries, those places that provide grocery basics for those who don’t have enough income to keep their kitchens stocked. This meant finding a food pantry to visit so I could conduct interviews. I found one and scheduled an interview around noon, which is the time it opened. It was a cold, blustery day as I made my way up the hill to the church, where the food bank was located. There were some slick spots on the road and I was praying the whole way up, “God, please don’t let me slide over the hillside.” Finally, I arrived at the church. Inside, it was buzzing like a hive with volunteers moving about among the shelves and tables to fill the grocery bags with various food items for pickup by those signed up 12

Greensburg Salem

for the pantry. Most of the volunteers were retirees and could easily be in their nice warm homes instead of braving the cold wind and snow flurries to help their fellow residents. I imagine they could ditch Pittsburgh all together during the winter months to enjoy three or four months of Florida sun. But they didn’t. Every week, they made their way to that church and filled those bags and answered the phones and signed people up, listening to the stories of how they ended up needing to utilize a food pantry. The volunteers always treat them with dignity and respect. They listen with compassion. I was inspired by these volunteers and others I’d met and talked to. There was a couple who volunteered with a group that helped senior citizens. The husband would help the senior by carrying out home repairs. The wife would drive him or her to doctor appointments and to shop at the supermarket. Many times they’d go above and beyond their initial volunteer duties. People need to know about these and all the unsung volunteers and organizations that serve so unselfishly the members of their community, I thought. I wrote a proposal for an awards program that would shine just a bit of light on these volunteers. I knew they didn’t do it for recognition or any fanfare, but I was so inspired that I felt if others were able to know about what the volunteers do and how they give, they might be motivated and inspired to do the same.

When I presented the proposal to Wayne Dollard, publisher of IN Community Magazines, his immediate response was, “Let’s do it.” And so I set about developing the categories, the criteria, the nomination form, etc. We put the nomination form in all the magazines, but also sent forms to clubs, schools, libraries, senior centers, and places that utilize volunteers. I knew that I wanted young people to have a category. Over the years, I have encountered so many amazing high school and college students who have donated countless hours and their talents to help others. I wanted them to be recognized for being so outstanding when it is so easy to think only about themselves and having a good time. Slowly but steadily, the nominations came in and it was very humbling to see what people were doing in their communities, in their schools, churches, hospitals, food pantries, athletic fields, senior centers, community centers, etc. Personally, it made me want to go out and do more. I was enlightened and moved by their giving and doing. Some had been giving of their time, efforts and resources for decades. Some youngsters not only volunteered for organizations but started their own organizations and groups to help fellow students, younger students, students with disabilities, or to help older residents. There were organizations, both large and small, quietly going about their missions of healing, helping, saving, counseling, teaching, encouraging and caring.

Carl P. Stillitano CPS Photography

Chris Martin, President of the Southwest Region of Northwest Savings Bank (right), poses with the Greensburg winners.

Youth Volunteer of the Year, Michael Hoke: Michael is a diligent worker and leader in the community. His volunteering involves but is not limited to helping daily with his family’s dairy farm, building and fixing animal enclosures for his school and creating awareness for recycling with PA Cleanways. Michael has great construction and electrical abilities that allow him to help his community in many ways. Michael is a very organized young man with a strong determination to succeed.

Small Nonprofit of the Year, Fred Rogers Center for Early Learning and Children’s Media: Rogers Center for Early Learning and Children’s Media at Saint Vincent College carries forward Fred Rogers’ legacy of tapping the potential of technology and digital media to support learning and development for young children. The Center’s Early Learning Environment website addresses school readiness by providing free resources in early literacy for teachers, family child care providers, and families.

The year of planning, sorting, reviewing and selecting culminated in a marvelous awards dinner, which shined just a little bit of the spotlight on young and more-seasoned volunteers and small and large nonprofit organizations. “As someone who has managed volunteers for 10 years, it was wonderful to witness your recognition efforts of so many deserving individuals and organizations. Thank you again,” said Vickie Mottern, volunteer and outreach coordinator for Brevillier Village, where IN Harbor Creek CASE honoree Catherine Pugliese volunteers. “I just want to take a minute to thank you for such an amazing event. We are so grateful to be recognized as Small Nonprofit of the Year for IN Norwin at the

Volunteer of the Year, Jane Murtland: Jane volunteers her time and talents at the American Red Cross, serving over 490,000 residents. She is a national disaster responder, first responder for local disaster, a member of the Disaster Action Team (DAT) and a blood services volunteer since August 2006.

Large Nonprofit of the Year, Westmoreland County Animal Response Team: The Westmoreland County Animal Response Team, or CART, is a part of a statewide organization called

Inaugural CASE Awards,” wrote Jodi Fowler, one of the founders of Genre’s Kids with Cancer Fund. “ At Genre’s Kids with Cancer Fund, we truly believe that our work is blessed by God, and our purpose is to serve oncology families in need. Never did we imagine, when Genre was diagnosed with leukemia, that we would be at this point, developing our organization and receiving this amazing award because of our incredible volunteers – just a few years later . We honestly appreciate the opportunity this allows to share our story and mission with readers in our community.” “My family and I had a wonderful time! It was a great event! The food was excellent; the speeches

the Pennsylvania State Animal Response Team (PASART). It is a specialty team of first responders with equipment and training in handling a variety of animals. The CART is a county resource, much like the fire departments or Red Cross, as it is called out by 911 to assist any domesticated animal effected by a disaster situation such as a fire, tornado, flood, accident or evacuation. CART handles technical rescue and temporary sheltering. CART also does community events to teach the public how to be prepared in an emergency with their pets.

interesting, nice and short; Andrew Stockey was wonderful; and we thoroughly enjoyed The Clarks. Thank you for this honor and recognition and a fun family evening to top it off,” wrote IN Chartiers Valley Volunteer of the Year Susan Zuk. These are just a few of the comments IN Community Magazines received about the awards dinner. We’d like to thank everyone for their participation. And we would like to congratulate all of our honorees, all of the nominees and even those who were not nominated. It is your constant devotion to helping others, which all too often goes unnoticed, that makes our communities a great place to live!

Greensburg Salem | Summer 2013 | 13

Greensburg Volunteer Fire Department Truck #2 Preserves Legacy of Service By Jennifer Brozak

In 1736, Benjamin Franklin organized the country’s very first volunteer fire department after a series of devastating fires destroyed Philadelphia’s commercial district. Today, some 277 years later, volunteer fire departments comprise more than 70 percent of all fire departments nationwide, and each one is a vital component to maintaining the safety of local communities like Greensburg. For more than 120 years, Greensburg Volunteer Fire Department Truck Company #2, located on North Pennsylvania Avenue, has been servicing the city of Greensburg. Originally founded on January 12, 1891, the department is one of Greensburg's five volunteer fire departments. The station was originally known as Hose Company #2 and fought fires with what was then considered “modern” technology: a horse-drawn ladder truck and two hose carts. The station itself, known at the time as the “Hole in the Wall” station, was part of the city’s original volunteer fire department. “The men in those days had to more than likely run from their house, hitch the horse, then go,” said Pierre DeFelice, the station’s captain. “Of course, their coverage area wasn’t as large is it is today, but a run across town that we can get to in a few minutes presently, probably took them three or four times as long.” Today, it’s safe to say that the station possesses much more sophisticated equipment, including a 1988 Pierce aerial ladder truck, a 2004 Ford positive pressure ventilation and foam truck, a 2012 Ford air truck and a Chevrolet utility truck that provides supplemental foam and tubing.


Greensburg Salem

DeFelice, who has been with the station for 35 years, also pointed out how Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) has changed since the department's inception. “Take into consideration the type of PPE they [the original firefighters] had at the time compared to the safety of the available gear today. They had no air masks to protect them from smoke. Although today's smoke contains more harmful components with the various plastics and polymers, they still had to breathe that dirty air,” he said. Of course, no matter how advanced the technology, a volunteer fire department would not be possible without the dedication of its members. Just like paid firefighters, volunteer firefighters must undergo extensive training. DeFelice, who started his career with the Broughton VFD in South Park Township in 1974 when he was 16, said that members must complete department, company and state requirements and undergo a variety of training drills, classroom learning, and testing. “First of all, you need to be dedicated and committed,” he said. “It is extremely helpful if you are physically fit, since you can be submitted to stressful situations in a volatile environment, and some of the tasks we perform are tiring on the body. Add in the protective gear, which increases your body temperature, and you have another extenuating factor.”

Truck Company #2 currently has 44 members and about half of them are active firefighters on a continual basis. New members are considered "probationary" until they complete the department’s requirements. The process normally takes about 6 months to complete. "Training and certifications are required and take time. You have to want to provide a service to your community that many times goes without notice and thanks. Probably the most important part is an understanding spouse, girlfriend or boyfriend, and also your kids for the time you spend away from them," said DeFelice. He adds that his department is known nationally and internationally for the caliber of its physical fitness program, which was instituted by Chief Ed Hutchison several years ago. The department also boasts bloodhound and rescue diver teams and a swift water rescue team. "There is a lot of training available now for all departments that offer state and national certifications, but our department was proactive years ago," DeFelice states. Even with all of its success and recognition, Truck #2 is facing challenges, one of which is the departments' aging members. “There are no longer any ‘old guys,’ as we used to refer to them,” said DeFelice. “We are the old guys.” He said that the lack of interest from younger firefighters has also been a challenge. “Some of the younger people who join lose interest when they find out all of the time they need to devote,” he said.

The expense of replacing aging equipment has been an issue as well. For instance, the department plans to purchase a new aerial ladder in July. The cost: $1 million. “There are limited ways we can raise money. There’s only so much money to go around,” he said, pointing out that Pennsylvania’s Small Games of Chance law, which is currently undergoing revisions, would make it increasingly difficult to host fundraisers. Despite these challenges, DeFelice and his team of dedicated volunteer firefighters remain proud of the service they provide to the community. “I think one of the proudest things is when you’re on vacation or out of town for work and someone sees a T-shirt you have on and knows your department and the department’s reputation,” he said. “Whenever someone you’ve helped at a fire, accident or storm-related incident says ‘thanks,’ it makes it all worthwhile.” Anyone interested in joining Greensburg Volunteer Fire Department Truck Company #2, should call the station at 724.834.3902, stop by the station on North Pennsylvania Avenue to speak with a member, or visit Greensburg’s city administrator’s office at City Hall on South Main Street to complete an application. Volunteer firefighters must be at least 18 years old, pass a doctor's physical examination and criminal background check, and be available on Monday evenings for meetings and drills. Junior firefighters must be at least 16 years old.

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Councilman Robert DePasquale – A Labor of Love By Matthew J. Fascetti

Actor Adrian Greiner once said, “It is enough to indulge and be selfish, but true happiness is really when you start giving back.” Lifelong Greensburg resident Robert DePasquale is one such individual who has found happiness by giving back. After many years of service in various capacities, the 60-year old DePasquale is in his last year of service as a City of Greensburg Councilman. Before serving as a councilman, he served as City Treasurer for four years. DePasquale is a professor of accounting at Saint Vincent College, where he has served as President of the Faculty Council, member of the Board of Directors Long-Range Planning Committee and as a member of various other college committees. He was one of the founders of the Saint Vincent College Small Business Development Center, and served as Business Administration chair from 1981 to 1996. In 1997, he was the inaugural winner of the Thoburn Foundation Excellence in Teaching Award at Saint Vincent College, and in 2000, he was named a Distinguished Alumnus by the Alumni Council.


Greensburg Salem

Locally, DePasquale has served as Chair of the Leadership Program of the Latrobe Area Chamber of Commerce, Chair of the Eastern Westmoreland Junior Achievement Advisory Council, vice-chairman of the Board of Directors of Adelphoi Village, Inc., and as a member of several other local committees. In 2002, DePasquale was the inaugural recipient of Greensburg Central Catholic High School’s annual Centurion Award (Distinguished Alum). When asked why he enjoys service, DePasquale did not hesitate in his reply. “I love this community. I was born and raised here, and I believe you have to give back,” he said. “I have really enjoyed it. I have worked with so many great people at my various posts over the years, and I have learned a great deal.” DePasquale said that part of the reason he decided not to run for another term as councilman is because he wishes to teach abroad, which would make the job as councilman difficult. He has taught abroad previously, including a semester in China in the spring of 1997; a semester in London in the spring of 2002; and in Taiwan in the summer of 2006. What made DePasquale a commodity on boards, committees and in public service is two-fold. “I quickly found out that people with a financial background are very coveted on many boards and committees,” he said. “No matter what business you are conducting, it is imperative that the finances are in order. Secondly, I always liked to stay very active, so I was always willing to dedicate a lot of time to every position I have held.” DePasquale received his undergraduate degree in accounting (with highest honors) from Saint Vincent College and his MBA and Ph.D. from the University of Pittsburgh. He holds the Certified Public Accountant, Certified Management Accountant, and Certified Financial Manager designations. Additionally, he was the 2009-10 Vice-President of the Pennsylvania Institute of Certified Public Accountants, and has served as President of its Southwestern Chapter. Greensburg will be losing a very dedicated man. DePasquale added that he will miss his service to the City of Greensburg. “This has truly been a labor of love f or me because this city means so much to me.”

Greensburg Salem | Summer 2013 | 17

How I got into

It was time to grow my business and reach more customers, but baking a cake that would fit into a mailbox was impractical. Until I found the next best thing... My IN Community Magazines campaign remains my single most cost-effective method of advertising.

IN Greensburg Salem reaches directly into 13,907 households

CALL 724.942.0940 18

Greensburg Salem

How I Got into Gardening I started gardening when I was a little boy. I began entering my produce in the Westmoreland County Fair and won lots of ribbons with my vegetables. Many of the vegetables I grow, I give to my neighbors and I also volunteer for the Penn State Master Gardeners, an organization which plants massive amounts of vegetables which are then given the food bank. We grow lettuce, garlic, tomatoes, peppers, green beans, cabbage and cucumbers. We also grow pumpkins and gourds and have a flower garden, a butterfly garden and even a pizza garden. The garden also has a nature park which is very nice for taking calming walks and animals can often be seen running about the area. It is a very positive experience because my fellow gardeners are all great people and I get to help others with my gardening through giving to the food bank. -Submitted by Tim Gazze

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Bring a chair or beach blanket to St. Clair Park to enjoy these FREE concerts:

A Silent Film

Jessie Dee

June 7

July 19

Rosco Bandana

Guggenheim Grotto

June 14

July 26

Marrakesh Express

Snarky Puppy

June 21

August 2

David Bach Consort

The Black Lillies

June 28

August 9

Brother Joscephus & The Love Revolution

The SteelDrivers

July 5

Lake Street Drive

Sweetback Sisters

August 23

July 12

August 16

Yarn August 30

Shows begin at 7 p.m. Preshow music 6:15-6:45 p.m. unless noted otherwise.

"The best outdoor music series in Western PA."


Greensburg Salem

‘ The Westmoreland County Historical Society will present reenactments of Colonial Court, on Saturday and Sunday, July 6th and 7th at Historic Hanna’s Town. Step back in time to when the Revolutionary War era village of Hanna’s Town served as the seat of government for Westmoreland County and held the first English court west of the Allegheny Mountains. Sessions of Colonial Court, featuring actual cases heard at Hanna’s Town between 1773 and 1786, will be presented outside the tavern in Historic Hanna’s Town. Along with hearings for disorderly conduct and selling liquor without a license, cases will be presented against an “alleged” horse thief and an indentured servant girl accused of stealing clothing. Charges of treason will be heard. See how those who were convicted of crimes paid their debt to society in the 18th century. Historic Hanna’s Town volunteers and members of the Independent Battalion Westmoreland County Pennsylvania will reenact selected cases. Also, the Museum Shop will offer holiday specials. Hanna’s Town was attacked and burned on July 13, 1782 by a raiding party of Native Americans and their British allies while court was in session. The town never recovered and ceased being the county seat in 1786 when it was moved to Greensburg. Court will be held at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Saturday and at 2 p.m. on Sunday. Admission is $5 for adults and $4 for seniors/children and includes a site tour in addition to court. Historic Hanna’s Town is located at 809 Forbes Trail Road, Hempfield Township, 15601. For additional information, call 724.532.1935 or visit Follow our activities on the Westmoreland County Historical Society Facebook page, and on Twitter @WCHistory.

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Food Lovers Unite at Annual Taste of Westmoreland By Autumn A. Altieri

This year’s Taste of Westmoreland proved, once again to be a success among people of all ages throughout Westmoreland County. For 21 years this popular event has attracted food enthusiasts to the Pitt-Greensburg campus by offering attendees the unique opportunity to fill their plates with food from over 20 restaurants and vendors, five of which were new this year. This year’s “Taste” was held on March 16 and many of the several hundred diners sported green in honor of Saint Patrick’s Day. Attendees enjoyed a wide variety of delicious local food and silent auctions, a 50/50 raffle and caricatures by Randy Bish, cartoon editorialist of the Tribune-Review. The Taste of Westmoreland is sponsored by the Congregation Emanu-El Israel (CEI) in Greensburg. Member Terri Katzman has chaired the event for the past seven years. Katzman stated, "The vendors pulled out all of the stops for the evening. The food was fantastic and the variety exceptional. We heard many ‘tasters’ saying that they can't wait until next year.” Proceeds from the “Taste” will be used to fund outreach programs for CEI.

Pictured from left to right: Event organizer Terri Katzman with several committee members Bob Slone, Irene Rothschild, Mark Greenberg, Nancy Krokosky, Shayla Anthony. 22

Greensburg Salem

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Houses of Worship

Abundant Life Assembly of God


637 W. Pittsburgh St. Greensburg, PA 15601 724.836.7510

Congruity Presbyterian Church

First Evangelical Lutheran Church

Blessed Sacrament Cathedral

136 Fenneltown Rd. New Alexandria, PA 15670 724.668.7740

246 S. Main St. Greensburg, PA 15601 724.834.1457

300 N. Main St. Greensburg, PA 15601 724.834.3710

Covenant Church East

First Presbyterian Church

Bethel AME Church

623 Highland Ave. Greensburg, PA 15601 724.838.7611

300 S. Main St. Greensburg, PA 15601 724.832.0150

33 N. Spring St. Greensburg, PA 15601 724.832.2256

First Antioch Baptist Church

First United Church of Christ

Calvary Chapel of Westmoreland

726 W. Pittsburgh St. Greensburg, PA 15601 724.832.1737

312 S. Maple Ave. Greensburg, PA 15601 724.837.2410

500 Chestnut St. Greensburg, PA 15601 724.838.1797

First Church of God in Christ

First United Methodist Church

Charter Oak United Methodist

302 S. Pennsylvania Ave. Greensburg, PA 15601 724.834.2301

15 E 2nd St. Greensburg, PA 15601 724.834.3111

449 Frye Farm Road Greensburg, PA 15601 724.805.0355

Christ Church 122 N. Maple Ave. Greensburg, PA 15601 724.834.4750

Christian Science Church 425 S. Main St. Greensburg, PA 15601 724.837.1984

Church of the Open Door 970 N. Main St. Greensburg, PA 15601 724.837-0057

Congregation Emanu-El Israel 222 N. Main St. Greensburg, PA 15601 724.834.0560 24

Greensburg Salem

Seventh Day Adventist 500 Sewickley St. Greensburg, PA 15601 724.836.0505

Greater Parkview Church 103 Westminster Avenue Greensburg, PA 15601 724.219.3280

Greensburg Church of the Brethren 554 Stanton St. Greensburg, PA 15601 724.834.2130

Holy Ghost Orthodox Church 714 Westmoreland Ave. Slickville, PA 15684 724.468.5581

Life Spring Christian Church 314 S Pennsylvania Ave. Greensburg, PA 15601 724.832.7514

St. Sylvester Church 3028 State Rd. 819 Slickville, PA 15684 724.468.5794

The Salvation Army New Life Tabernacle United Pentecostal Church 323 Oakland Ave. Greensburg, PA 15601 724.837.8433

Otterbein United Methodist 111 College Ave. Greensburg, PA 724.834.4060

St. Bartholomew Church 2538 Rt. 119 Crabtree, PA 15624 724.834.0709

St. Bruno Church 1707 Poplar St. Greensburg, PA 15601 724.836.0690

131 E. Otterman St. Greensburg, PA 15601 724.834.3335

South Greensburg UMC 411 Sheridan Ave. Greensburg, PA 15601 724.832.3651

Trinity United Methodist Church 210 W. 4th St. Greensburg, PA 15601 724.834.9395

Westminster Presbyterian Church 1120 Harvey Ave. Greensburg, PA 15601 724.837.3540

Zion Lutheran Church St. Michael’s Orthodox Church 1182 Ashland Ave. Greensburg, PA 15601 724.834.1311

St. Nicholas Byzantine Church 622 E. Pittsburgh St. Greensburg, PA 15601 724.837.0295

140 S Pennsylvania Ave. Greensburg, PA 15601 724.834.9060 *If you would like to add your house of worship to our directory, please email your listing to our editor, Pamela Palongue at





out religion

out faith Contemporary Service Sunday 11:15 am 101 N. Main St., Greensburg Pa, 15601, (724)989-3552

Greensburg Salem | Summer 2013 | 25


Greensburg Salem

In a magical kingdom below the sea, the beautiful young mermaid Ariel longs to leave her ocean home. But first, she’ll have to defy her father King Triton, make a deal with the evil sea witch Ursula, and convince Prince Eric that she’s the girl who saved him from the shipwreck. Featuring the musical hits ‘Under the Sea’ and ‘Part of Your World’, this musical, performed by kids for kids, was a great family night out.

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Some of the hungry will be children... The Empty Bowl event helps to support the local food bank to feed the hungry.

Not all of our neighbors in Westmoreland County will have enough to eat tonight.

Don't get left out of our fall education section! Call us for further details on how to get involved.

724.942.0940 28

Greensburg Salem

The 5th Annual Empty Bowl Event benefiting the Westmoreland Food Bank, was the best to date. The bowls that were donated were beautiful! They were extraordinary to look at especially when 1,000 were put on the tables at the same time. People walked around trying to decide which bowl they would purchase and they often chose more than one. Many schools made the bowls in their ceramic classes along with four pottery shops that participated. This year 32 different soups were offered for guests to enjoy along with bread from Panera Bread, Jeannette Bakery and Nino’s Restaurant, with water provided by CoGo’s. Nearly 100 volunteers worked over a 3-day period to make the event a success. The parish of St. Bruno's kindly shared their facility for the event. No money was spent for this wonderful benefit. Everything for the project was donated. Karen Piper, an organizer for the event noted, “The whole of Westmoreland County is really behind this project as shown by the many, many items that were given for the two auctions. We had a Chinese Auction with 28 bowls (baskets) full of items that were gathered from all over. Some of the Auction Baskets had things in them totaling over $300 in value.

The Silent Auction had special bowls and donated items up for bid. These included a signed bowl by Mario Lemieux which was presented with 2 front row tickets for the 28th game; a bowl signed by Mike Tomlin with a Steelers hat, team photo and a Steelers camp chair... I could go on and on.� The Shriner Clowns along with a variety of entertainment made the whole event special. This year's event was the largest attendance ever, which helped raise over $14,000 for the Westmoreland Food Bank. For every dollar that is raised, the Food Bank is able to buy $5 worth of food.

The ďŹ ve year total for the Empty Bowls event is over $70,000 which means that the Food Bank has been able to buy $350,000 worth of food. Food is a basic to all human life. The Westmoreland Food Bank is helping to ensure that all citizens have enough to eat for a better life. For more information on the the food bank or to contribute, please visit the website at, or call 724.468.8660.

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IN GREENSBURG Real estate is a big part of our lives. For the vast majority of us it is the biggest purchase we will ever make, as well as the largest investment. Not to mention the fact that our purchase is “our home”…the place we laugh, cry, raise children, share timeless memories with friends and family and so much more. So it is very important that we understand every aspect of the selling and purchasing of a home. is includes mortgage and finance information, curb appeal, new housing developments and new ways to look for homes. professionally cleaned carpeting, new hardware on the kitchen cabinets, new stain on a rear deck, new exterior and interior light Curb appeal is a well-known term that refers to the attractiveness fixtures and de-cluttering of the interior of the home. of the interior and exterior of a home. While the term seems Always think of curb appeal when marketing your home or lookoverused, it is a very real phenomenon. The old saying goes, “You ing at a new home. It may not sell your home on its own, or entice only get one chance at a first impression.” This phrase perfectly exyou to buy a home on its own, but it does make a difference. You plains the importance of curb appeal. When someone pulls up to a won’t be sorry because it is worth the time and relatively low cost. house for the first time, things like paint, landscaping, carpeting and light fixtures, just to name a few, make a huge difference in the person’s opinion. It is STAGING much harder for most Selling a home requires people to envision the more than a “For Sale” sign. potential of a home Competition is fierce, and if you when unattractiveness want the best offers and your abounds everywhere home to sell quickly, home they look. Most people staging is essential. Staging looking at a home make involves cleaning, de-cluttering, a snap judgment the and decorating a home so it apmoment they enter the peals to buyers. Never confuse * Data provided by Data presented is representative of the property. Sure, these decorating for staging. Décor is time of publication. For up-to-date information, go to snap judgments can be an expression of a particular changed with other style, while staging is a strategy. positive attributes, but why take the chance when adding curb According to, there are five basic steps to appeal can be so easy and cost-effective. staging your home. Curb appeal can be accomplished by any number of methods #1 - Clean. Your home must sparkle! To achieve this level is often including exterior decorations, repainting, extensive attention only feasible by hiring a cleaning crew. In fact, having a cleaning to the landscaping, timely grass cutting, new or even recently service return weekly while your house is for sale is probably a


Real Estate by the Numbers

IN Greensburg Salem

Homes for Sale: 334 Recently Sold: 231


Greensburg Salem

pretty good investment. Get your windows professionally cleaned inside and out too. #2 - Fix. Got a dripping faucet or a cracked tile? These will send the wrong message to potential buyers. Getting them fixed before you put your house on the market is a smart idea. #3 - Eliminate Clutter. The “50% Rule” requires that you eliminate the clutter in your home by at least half. This may be the hardest rule of all! We love our clutter – it reflects our memories, hobbies, and values. But it doesn’t sell homes! Clutter makes homes seem smaller and disorganized. (Have you ever noticed that the really expensive stores seem to have an expansive, clutter-free layout, while “cheap” stores are often a jumble of merchandise?) Even the ancient practice of Feng Shui has as a central focus the elimination of clutter. #4 - Go Executive Neutral. Neutral colors sell. It’s a fact. Try to convey an image of quality and neutrality. Potential buyers walking through your home want to imagine themselves as the owners. If you use styles or colors they would never select, you’ve just turned them off. Staying high-quality, but neutral is safest. #5 - De-personalize. Remove objects that your potential buyers won’t be able to identify with. For example, political and religious items may turn off whole groups of buyers, because they cannot “imagine” your home as their home. Buying a home is an emotional decision, and you want potential buyers to make an emotional connection with your home by being able to “see” themselves in it.

Federally-insured reverse mortgages, known as Home Equity Conversion Mortgages (HECMs) and backed by the U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Proprietary reverse mortgages, private loans that are backed by the companies that develop them. Single-purpose reverse mortgages are the least expensive option. They are not available everywhere and can be used for only one purpose, which is specified by the government or nonprofit lender. For example, the lender might say the loan may be used only to pay for home repairs, improvements, or property taxes. Most homeowners with low or moderate income can qualify for these loans. HECMs and proprietary reverse mortgages may be more expensive than traditional home loans, and the upfront costs can be high. That’s important to consider, especially if you plan to stay in your home for just a short time or borrow a small amount. HECM loans are widely available, have no income or medical requirements, and can be used for any purpose. Before applying for a HECM, you must meet with a counselor from an independent government-approved housing counseling continued on page 32

REVERSE MORTGAGE According to, if you’re 62 or older – and looking for money to finance a home improvement, pay off your current mortgage, supplement your retirement income, or pay for health-care expenses – you may be considering a reverse mortgage. It’s a product that allows you to convert part of the equity in your home into cash without having to sell your home or pay additional monthly bills. In a “regular” mortgage, you make monthly payments to the lender. In a “reverse” mortgage, you receive money from the lender, and generally don’t have to pay it back for as long as you live in your home. The loan is repaid when you die, sell your home, or when your home is no longer your primary residence. The proceeds of a reverse mortgage generally are tax-free, and many reverse mortgages have no income restrictions. There are three types of reverse mortgages: Single-purpose reverse mortgages, offered by some state and local government agencies and nonprofit organizations.

Greensburg Salem | Summer 2013 | 31


agency. Some lenders offering proprietary reverse mortgages also require counseling. The counselor is required to explain the loan’s costs and financial implications, and possible alternatives to a HECM, like government and nonprofit programs or a singlepurpose or proprietary reverse mortgage. The counselor also should be able to help you compare the costs of different types of reverse mortgages and tell you how different payment options, fees, and other costs affect the total cost of the loan over time. You can visit HUD for a list of counselors or call the agency at 1.800.569.4287. Most counseling agencies charge around $125 for their services. The fee can be paid from the loan proceeds, but you cannot be turned away if you can’t afford the fee. How much you can borrow with a HECM or proprietary reverse mortgage depends on several factors, including your age, the type of reverse mortgage you select, the appraised value of your home, and current interest rates. In general, the older you are, the more equity you have in your home, and the less you owe on it, the more money you can get. 32

Greensburg Salem

The HECM lets you choose among several payment options. You can select: A “term” option – fixed monthly cash advances for a specific time. A “tenure” option – fixed monthly cash advances for as long as you live in your home. A line of credit that lets you draw down the loan proceeds at any time in amounts you choose until you have used up the line of credit. A combination of monthly payments and a line of credit. You can change your payment option any time for about $20. HECMs generally provide bigger loan advances at a lower total cost compared with proprietary loans. But if you own a highervalued home, you may get a bigger loan advance from a proprietary reverse mortgage. So if your home has a higher appraised value and you have a small mortgage, you may qualify for more funds. Reverse mortgage loan advances are not taxable, and generally don’t affect your Social Security or Medicare benefits. You retain the title to your home, and you don’t have to make monthly repayments. The loan must be repaid when the last surviving borrower dies, sells the home, or no longer lives in the home as a principal residence. In the HECM program, a borrower can live in a nursing home or other medical facility for up to 12 consecutive months before the loan must be repaid. If you’re considering a reverse mortgage, be aware that: Lenders generally charge an origination fee, a mortgage insurance premium (for federally-insured HECMs), and other closing costs for a reverse mortgage. Lenders also may charge servicing fees during the term of the mortgage. The lender sometimes sets these fees and costs, although origination fees for HECMs currently are dictated by law. Your upfront costs can be lowered if you borrow a smaller amount through a reverse mortgage product called “HECM Saver.” The amount you owe on a reverse mortgage grows over time. Interest is charged on the outstanding balance and added to the amount you owe each month. That means your total debt increases as the loan funds are advanced to you and interest on the loan accrues. Although some reverse mortgages have fixed rates, most have variable rates that are tied to a financial index: they are likely to change with market conditions. Reverse mortgages can use up all or some of the equity in your home, and leave fewer assets for you and your heirs. Most reverse mortgages have a “nonrecourse” clause, which prevents you or your estate from owing more than the value of your home when the loan becomes due and the home is sold. However, if you or your heirs want to retain ownership of the home, you usually must repay the loan in full – continued on page 34

Our Real Estate


Country Farms (724)837-4650 •

Country Farms is a family-owned garden center and landscape contracting company, proudly serving southwestern Pennsylvania for over 32 years. We are a service-oriented organization, offering our clients a very personal and unique landscape experience. Our garden center is known for its huge selection of plant material, as well as an extensive array of landscape materials and supplies for homeowners and contractors alike.

Donahue’s Inc. Heating and Cooling 535 Rugh St., Greensburg, PA • (724) 834-9178

Donahue’s Heating and Cooling is family owned and operated. Offering fast, dependable service to Westmoreland County since 1962. Call us for all your home comfort needs. Heating, air conditioning, heat pumps, geothermal heat pumps, ductless systems, air purifiers, duct cleaning, maintenance, installation and 24-hour service. We treat you like family!

Valley Pools Hempfield Plaza (next to Sam’s Club) (724) 837-7030

Valley Pool & Spa is your community, family owned Pool & Spa superstore since 1967. We pride ourselves on creating a unique shopping atmosphere with a huge product selection in our stores. Ditch your pool boy! Valley’s experts will teach you how to do-it-all-yourself! With free computerized water testing and pool experts on staff, we can help with your every need. Visit one of our stores today in Monroeville, North Versailles, or Greensburg and experience the Valley difference.

Greensburg Salem | Summer 2013 | 33


even if the loan balance is greater than the value of the home. Because you retain title to your home, you are responsible for property taxes, insurance, utilities, fuel, maintenance, and other expenses. If you don’t pay property taxes, carry homeowner’s insurance, or maintain the condition of your home, your loan may become due and payable. Interest on reverse mortgages is not deductible on income tax returns until the loan is paid off in part or whole.

FINANCING AND INTEREST RATES There is both good news and bad news when it comes to home financing and mortgage interest rates. The great news is that interest rates are still extremely low. According to, the interest rates on 12/26/12 were 3.59% on a 30-year fixed rate, 2.87% on a 15-year fixed, 2.77% on a 5/1 ARM and 4.07% on a 30-year jumbo. However, the bad news is that, due to new mortgage laws adopted after the nation’s foreclosure crisis of several years back, it is more difficult to get a mortgage than ever before. Credit scores are even more scrutinized and debt-to-income ratios are more strict. There is an infinite number of loan types out there, and lenders are constantly coming up with creative ways to wrangle in new homeowners. The type of home loan you choose can make or break you as a borrower, so make sure you fully understand it before making any kind of commitment. Most prospective homeowners these days seem to be interested in 100% financing, generally because they don’t have the assets necessary for a down payment. Unfortunately, the proliferation of these types of home loan programs have increased the number of high-risk borrowers in the United States at an alarming rate. But if you take the time to educate yourself on the many home loan types out there, you’ll effectively decrease your chances of defaulting on your mortgage. That said, let’s talk about the many different loan types and programs available today. Following is a list of the types of loans available to potential homeowners.

CONFORMING LOANS AND NON-CONFORMING LOANS One way home loans are differentiated is by their Government Sponsored Enterprise (GSE) eligibility. If the loan meets requirements set forth by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, it is considered a conforming loan. If the loan does not meet all the underwriting requirements set forth by the pair of GSEs, it is considered “non-conforming.” The main guideline that determines whether a mortgage is conforming or not is the loan amount. Generally, a mortgage with a loan amount below $417,000 is considered conforming, whereas any loan amount above $417,000 is considered a jumbo loan. However, in Alaska and Hawaii the conforming limit is $625,500. Note that the conforming limit may change annually, and has risen quite a bit in the past few years as housing prices skyrocketed. A jumbo loan may meet all of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s loan underwriting guidelines, but if the loan amount exceeds the conforming limit, it will be considered non-conforming and


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carry a higher mortgage rate as a result. If your loan amount is on the fringe of the conforming limit, sometimes simply dropping your loan amount a few thousand dollars can lower your mortgage rate tremendously, so keep this in mind anytime your loan amount is near the limit.

CONVENTIONAL LOANS AND GOVERNMENT LOANS Mortgages are also classified as either “conventional loans” or “government loans.” Conventional loans can be conforming or jumbo, but are not insured or guaranteed by the government. Then there are government loans, such as the widely popular FHA loan. This type of mortgage is backed by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). Another common government loan is the VA loan, backed by the Department of Veterans Affairs. The maximum loan amount for these types of loans varies by county. Now that you know a bit about different home loan types, we can focus on home loan programs. As mentioned earlier, there are a ton of different loan programs out there, and more seem to surface every day. Let’s start with the most basic of loan programs, the 30-year fixed-rate loan.

LOAN PROGRAMS The 30-year fixed loan is as simple as they come. Most mortgages are based on a 30-year amortization, and the 30-year fixed is no different. The 30-year fixed loan is just how it sounds, a loan with a 30-year term at a fixed interest rate for 30 years. What this means is that the loan will take 30 years to pay off, and the rate will stay the same during those entire 30 years. There isn’t much else to it. Let’s say you secure a rate of 6.5% on a 30-year fixed loan with a loan amount of $500,000. You’ll have monthly mortgage payments of $3,160.34 for a total of 360 months, or 30 years. You will be required to pay the same amount each month until the loan is paid off. So the total amount you would pay on a $500,000 loan at 6.5% over 30 years would be $1,137,722.40.

LOCAL HOUSING MARKET According to, unlike the overall U.S. market, the housing market in Pittsburgh does not have to bounce back from falling prices and is showing remarkable consistency across a number of metrics. continued on page 36

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For more than six months the prices of houses sold and the number of homes sold has remained solidly up more than 10% year-overyear. That’s an unusual level of consistent growth, especially since the sales took place in periods of both higher and lower seasonal activity. The third quarter also showed a consistent trend in the year-over-year growth in new construction. Through nine months there were a total of 2,396 new dwelling units started compared to 2,155 during the same period in 2011, an increase of 11.2%. The increased activity was constant whether the construction was traditional detached single-family homes (and attached) or multi-family units, with each cohort up between 10-12%. Permits were issued for 1,393 units of detached dwellings compared to 1,264 in 2011 and for 1,003 attached units this year compared to 891 last year. While there is growing evidence that financing conditions are normalizing so that buyers can buy, the dwindling supply of lots are keeping a broader housing recovery from spreading into 2013, although the construction of multi-family apartments will boom for at least the next 18 months.

SMARTPHONE APPS FOR HOUSE HUNTING This is 2013 and we are an “on the go” society. So doesn’t it just make sense to use apps for house hunting before contacting a real estate agent? According to, today there are dozens of cheap — even free — applications you can download that can make your home buying quest easier and savvier than ever before. So go ahead and download ‘em, take ‘em for a test drive… then hit the open-house circuit. This time, you’re guaranteed to waste less time finding a new “home sweet home.”

TOOLS TO HELP yOU FIND A HOME — ALL WITH GPS says its app has more listings — reportedly more than 3 million — than any other app in the country. You can highlight areas of town to search, check for homes for sale near you and search for open houses. Most homes show multiple photos as well as pricing and open-house info. (Free.) ZipRealty allows the user to view listings in nearly 5,000 cities — including asking price, photos, distance from where you are, etc. The app also allows you to see homes that have sold recently. (Free.) Zillow not only lets you see listings and the estimated worth of any home — not just homes for sale – but also has rental-rate estimates. (Free.) 36

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NAVIGATING THE REAL-ESTATE MAZE Dictionary of Real Estate Terms. Baffled by a bilateral contract? Confused by carrying charges? You need this dictionary. ($1.99 for iPhone and iPad. Other dictionaries available for different devices.) Mortgage Calculator. A solid calculator to help steer you through the finances of a home purchase, this calculator computes monthly rate, price per square foot and your amortization schedule. (99 cents for iPad and iPhone. Other calculators available for different devices.) Can you afford that home? Home Buying Power lets you input variables — desired payment or income percentage, plus down payment, loan term and interest rate — and then tells you how much house you can afford to pay for on a monthly basis. ($1.99 for iPad and iPhone.)

CHOOSING THE RIGHT CITy AND NEIGHBORHOOD Learn your neighborhood: With Wikihood, you can get a mini-tour of most any neighborhood in the world — everything from the history to the culture to companies in the area. (Free for iPad and iPhone.) Wonder where that smell is coming from? Worried by those airplanes flying low overhead? You need Suburb Scout. This app allows users to search for possible nuisances near a home — airports, landfills, sewage-treatment plants and more. ($1.99 for Android.) Are you worried about sex offenders? Consider getting Safe Neighborhood. This app gives you access to the National Sex Offender Registry and can tell you locations of sex offenders in your area. It’s a little controversial — not only can you search by address, but you can pull up names and pictures of the offenders. (Free for Android.) Trying to pick a new city? You might want to look at the crime statistics. The app Crime Stats lets you see statistics on several violent crimes and property crimes for cities nationwide, using FBI data. The app also lets you compare those stats to the national average and to other cities. (99 cents for iPhone and iPad.)

WANT TO KNOW WHAT KIND OF AMENITIES yOUR NEIGHBORHOOD HAS? Download the Walk Score app. It gives a home a score of up to 100, based on residents’ ability to walk to things such as a grocery, a pub, etc. The better the score, the more walkable the neighborhood. Somewhat related, Around Me tells you the distances to key spots such as banks, coffee shops and post offices. (Both are free for iPhone and iPad.) SiteWise gives the demographics of your prospective home’s immediate area, using info up to and including the 2010 Census. The app creates a demographic report that includes population by age, education level, number of children, household income, number of renters versus owners and more. ($9.99 for Blackberry and iPhone users.)

When looking hard at a home Photo Measures is an app that lets you take pictures of, say, a room and then allows you to save your measurements of the room’s dimensions on the photos. You can take photos during your walk-throughs of an appealing house, note the dimensions of walls and doors and cabinets, then plan your space and refer to the measurements later. ($4.99 for iPhone.) ColorSmart. With paintmaker Behr’s ColorSmart app, you can visualize colors in your prospective home. Just take a photo, then fill in the walls with a Behr paint color to check out the new look. (Free for iPhone and iPad.) You now have 15 new ways to find your perfect home — and no excuses.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN A REAL ESTATE AGENT Sometimes when the time comes to buy or sell a home the focus is so much on the homes that the real estate agent is an afterthought. However, it is very important to pick the right one for your needs. On the site is a blogger who has worked in the title industry for 11 years and has met and worked with countless real estate agents. He has come up with a list of things to look for before signing a contract with an agent: “Personable: I want someone who does not make the hair on the back of my neck stand up. Someone I can tolerate talking to or sitting across from on more than one occasion. “Licensed: Sounds dumb but it is not. I want my agent to be licensed and in good standing, i.e. no complaints [no legitimate complaints one way]. Google is your friend. Go to, put [potential agents’ names] in quotations and see what Google and other consumers have to say about them. “Tech Savvy: an agent who is savvy with technology is a non-negotiable for me. I want someone who has a strong website, who understands the Internet and search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing. Not so much social media. Remember, 98% of consumers start their home search online — my real estate agent better know how to get my home to stand out online — where the eyeballs are. “Knowledgeable: I want an agent who knows [his/her] way around the purchase contract and how to negotiate. Just because [agents are] licensed does not mean they understand either. I also want an agent who specializes in what I am buying or selling. “Familiar with the local market: I would want an agent who is familiar with my neighborhood, builder, and local market conditions. Local market conditions — not an area 20 miles away. [Yes, markets can vary considerably in as few as 20 miles.] “Communicates well and often: You would hope that service and communication would be the basics [for being] in the real estate industry…but sadly it is not. There are real estate agents out there who are horrible at returning calls or emails or even giving updates. Maybe that is why the #1 complaint in the real estate industry is lack of communication. In an occupation that requires communication, the #1 complaint is lack of it. I want my real estate agent to communicate with me in the method that I prefer [email, text, phone call, Facebook, Twitter, smoke signal, Morse code etc.] whatever that is.

I also want a regular schedule of check-ins — even if there is nothing to report. Keep me in the loop! “Truthful: Someone who is going to tell me the truth whether I want to hear it or not. ‘Yes, Mr Garner, that purple carpet is ugly and needs to go’ or ‘Stephen, the deer head or stuffed bear in the den is not a good idea.’ “Full Time: Real estate is not a part-time job. My agent needs to be available when a potential buyer is. I don’t want to have to wait until my agent gets off his/her shift at Walgreen’s before [responding to] an offer on my home. This is where an agent with a team can be beneficial as they can cover for each other so I can get the service I deserve. “Integrity: Integrity is one of those [attributes] that many people say they have. In my opinion, integrity is demonstrated, not necessarily spoken. I want a real estate agent/REALTOR to put my interests above [his/her] own. That offer of $400,000 on my $430,000 home may only equal a reduction of $900 for the agent’s commission but it equals a $30,000 reduction to me. If I’m buying with an agent and I’m interested in 4-bedroom, 2-bath homes, show them all to me, even the ones offering a reduced commission and the ones listed by an agent you don’t necessarily care for. Put my interests above your own. If my agent represents me, I want him/her to represent me.”

NEW HOME TRENDS The housing industry has taken a beating these past few years, but a glimmer of hope is on the horizon. Housing starts are increasing, according to a story by the National Association of Business Economics. Not surprisingly, though, the Great Recession curtailed many of the extravagances that buyers desired before things went south. Homebuyers want different things from their homes today. The watchword is “flexibility” — things such as rooms that serve multiple purposes and homes that can accommodate either “boomerang” children or aging parents. According to, [researchers] talked to homebuilders and industry watchers to find out what will be behind the front doors of new homes. Go online before you shop. Many retailers postcontinued online on page 38 special promotions and coupons that you can apply to purchases. Check what’s available before you make a purchase online or head out to the store. Sites like RetailMeNot make finding discounts easy by listing

Greensburg Salem | Summer 2013 | 37




Accessibility is big and likely only to get bigger, says Kermit Baker, chief economist of the American Institute of Architects (AIA). “It’s strictly an aging-related thing: Boomers are getting older, and parents of boomers are getting older.” Baby boomers in particular are starting to think about what their homes need to look like if they’re going to stay in them as the years advance. That means single-story homes, homes with grab bars in the bathroom, fewer stairs and perhaps even wheelchair ramps. In the AIA’s most recent survey, almost half of the architects who responded said accessibility was a growing design priority. A bigger garage — for everything but cars Not long ago, homebuilders were adding garage space to accommodate SUVs. Now some are making more room in the garage for all the other items families put there, from tricycles to golf carts. “We know that growing families accumulate a lot of stuff,” says Scott Thomas, director of product design for Pulte Group, which includes Pulte Homes, Centex and Del Webb retirement communities. “These garages help avoid clutter. A trend for the larger garages is to use part of it as a ‘man cave’ of sorts — space where you can fit two cars, in addition to a sofa, TV, weights, etc.”

Almost one-third of American adults today are “doubled up,” or living in the same household with another adult generation, the U.S. Census Bureau says. Those adults could be “boomerang” kids who have come back home to live after college, or aging parents who moved in with adult children. Homebuilders are starting to respond to this trend. “We’re seeing a huge growth in floor plans that include dual master suites,” Barista says. Lennar Homes has introduced its NextGen home in several areas of the country. “It really is a home within a home,” says Alan Jones, Arizona division president for Lennar. Imagine a home that contains a separate apartment with its own sleeping area, kitchenette, bathroom and perhaps even garage. A door connects it to the rest of the house, Jones says.

THE ‘RESOURCE CENTER’ People want homes that are more flexible, more versatile. Rooms dedicated to one purpose are less popular now, according to the AIA survey. As homes shrank in the past few years, people asked, “Where’s that space going to come from?” Baker says. Those people are realizing that in a smaller home, rooms can serve multiple functions. David Barista, editor in chief of Professional Builder and Custom Builder magazines, calls these multipurpose areas “resource centers” — nooks that include a desk, printer, room for a laptop and even some cubbyholes for mail and bills. “You don’t need this huge den/office anymore,” he says. “Most families are working off laptops or iPads.” Also hearing that demand, Pulte Group has been adding “planning centers” to its homes — spaces adjacent to the kitchen “that serve as the family command center of sorts,” Thomas says. “It’s a place where the kids can do their homework and be within earshot of the parents. They are great for family organization, paying bills.”

NOT JUST ‘GREEN’ – REALLy GREEN Homebuilders have been edging toward greater energy efficiency in the past few years, with features such as compact fluorescent bulbs and Energy Star appliances. But Barista sees an even bigger leap. Once the realm of “out there” rich people, “net zero energy homes” — houses that create as much energy as they consume — are going mainstream, he says. “The production builders (larger builders) are becoming masters at building homes that have really tight building envelopes” — that is, homes that don’t leak air where not intended, he says. For several thousand dollars more, large builders are offering homes with solar panels that help power the house. That’s not only good for the environment, but it helps the homes stand out in the market. “I’ve heard of other big builders going in this direction, too,” Barista says.

HOME PLANS THAT FIT TODAy Another trend Barista sees is “home plans that work for today’s buyers,” he says. In other words, homes designed to accommodate the ways people live today and use their homes. Here are some examples: Laundry. “We’re seeing a lot of floor plans that have direct access to laundry rooms,” Barista says — for instance, a laundry alcove that’s right in the master suite, where it’s easy to use. He’s even seen continued on page 40


Greensburg Salem

Seton Hill University to Build Dance and Visual Arts Center Downtown Greensburg will soon be home to a new cultural center which will house the Seton Hill Dance Academy, a Community Arts Program and the university's art gallery and will serve the school's 125 students enrolled in the university's visual arts program. Construction is set to begin in summer 2013 and is expected to take 12 to 18 months for completion.

The center is projected to generate over $15 million in net revenue for the local economy over a five-year period. It will be located at the corner of West Otterman Street and College Avenue in the cultural district of downtown Greensburg, forming an arts corridor with Seton Hill's Performing Arts Center, the Palace Theatre, and the Westmoreland Museum of Art. The center is sure to contribute to the cultural vitality of the region and to enhance the creative sector of the community.

Greensburg Salem | Summer 2013 | 39


laundry chutes. “Costco” pantries. One designer told Barista about the appearance of large pantries just off the garage where people can store all the bulk items that they buy at warehouse stores. Drop zones. These are small spots, usually near the kitchen, that are dedicated to dropping off your cell phone, keys, purse, maybe the mail, too. “It’s just another example of home plans working for today’s homeowner,” he says.

THE HOUSE THAT FLOWS Several builders and observers mentioned a trend that’s not exactly new, but continues to pick up speed: the open plan. As homes have gotten smaller in recent years, an open plan is a way to make a home seem larger than it is, Barista says. The most obvious example is the way many new homes now have a continuous space and open sightline — a great room — that extends from kitchen to dining area to living area, says Brent Anderson, vice president of Investor Relations for Meritage Homes. That suits today’s more casual family, he says. “You can watch the football game while you’re cooking dinner.” By losing the walls and hallways, a home can seem much bigger,

Anderson says. “If I walked through a home today that’s a 3,200square-foot, four-bedroom home, it looks, feels and lives better than a 4,000-square-foot home of 20 years ago. You would literally think that you are in a larger home. But you’re in a home that’s 20% smaller.”

INFILL IS IN Finally, one shift doesn’t involve just what’s in homes but where homes are being built. There’s a real shift toward smaller-scale “infill” development projects within existing towns and cities — projects that emphasize affordability, access to public transportation, commercial opportunities and job centers, according to the AIA. “During the housing boom, builders were building where they could reach sufficient scale in their operations. So they needed big land parcels to produce the volume that they wanted to produce,” Baker says. But companies aren’t building as many homes right now and no longer need all that land, Baker says. Moreover, not everyone liked those sprawling suburbs where “you have to drive 15 minutes to get a quart of milk.” Hence, they are looking back into towns and cities, he says.


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