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Archive: Mon Jul 2010

  1. Vandergrift Moves to Preserve Look of Borough Property

    By Rossilynne Skena
    Monday, July 26, 2010

    Borough residents who cut down trees between the sidewalk and the curb could face a fine.

    Those trees are borough property, officials say.

    A new ordinance would enforce that by prohibiting residents from trimming or removing trees along the street — even those in front of their house.

    Councilwoman Kathy Chvala leads the borough’s tree committee, which includes two other council members and four residents.

    Chvala said the fine for a resident cutting down a tree along the street has not been determined.

    She said the property owner would be billed for the cost of replacing the tree.

    She expects council to consider the matter in September.

    Chvala said she’s heard mostly positive feedback.

    The only negative feedback she’s heard is from people who want to have a tree cut down when it’s healthy.

    “We really want to maintain what we have,” she said.

    But council president Brian Carricato said “trees are a very touchy issue in town.”

    It’s not just residents who want to cut down healthy trees that they don’t want. He said but others insist on keeping dying trees standing.

    Mayor Lou Purificato said property owners cutting trees down on their own doesn’t happen often.

    Carricato said the committee wants to keep the town looking the way it does.

    “The last thing you want to do is drive down a street with trees and now they’re all cut down,” he said.

    Chvala remembers beautiful fall foliage along Vandergrift’s curved streets.

    “There was a time that there was twice as many trees in town,” she said. “Probably more than that.”

    Chvala likes to see healthy trees bloom again in the town with colorful autumn leaves.

    Removing dead trees

    While trying to save healthy trees, the borough has awarded a contract with a tree service to clear out the dead ones.

    By fall, the tree committee will start placing those trees with healthy ones.

    M&M Tree Service of Apollo has been awarded a contract worth between $4,500 to $5,000 for tree removal or trimming, Chvala said.

    Nine types of dead trees will be removed along Hancock Avenue, West Adams Avenue, East Adams Avenue, Sherman Avenue, and Lafayette Street.

    Eleven trees along Hancock Avenue, Sherman Avenue, Jefferson Avenue, Harrison Avenue, Franklin Avenue and Lafayette Street will be trimmed.

    The tree committee is looking for donations, Chvala said. Anyone who is interested in donating should contact the borough secretary at 724-567-7818.

    Contributing writer Dale Mann contributed to this report.

  2. Foundation Offering Money to Help Churches Pay For Repairs

    By Jodi Weigand
    Monday, July 26, 2010

    Stained-glass windows at First Baptist Church of Glassport were vandalized Thursday. The church hopes to obtain help from the Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation's Historic Religious Properties Program to make repairs. Jasmine Goldband | Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

    A small Glassport church might have to pay thousands of dollars to replace antique stained-glass windows broken by vandals.

    “They were all handmade,” said the Rev. Ira Kelly, co-pastor of First Baptist Church of Glassport. “They’re as old as the church is, and now they’re lying here on the floor in pieces.”

    In addition to the heartbreak of losing the four 100-year-old windows in the sanctuary late last week, the congregation is suffering sticker shock. Replacements could cost as much as $12,000, Kelly said. That’s a tall sum for the 25-member church, he said.

    In a twist of fate, the vandals hit shortly after the Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation announced the revitalization of a program that could help the congregation pay for the damage. After two years of struggling to fund its Historic Religious Properties Program, the foundation said, an influx of donations has helped raise more than $100,000 for grants to assist churches in paying for renovations.

    “We all felt it was an overwhelming response from our contributors,” said Carole Malakoff, coordinator for the foundation’s religious properties fund. “We were really thrilled at how this (fund drive) turned out.”

    Due to a lack of money, the foundation had not awarded any religious property grants this year and gave just $32,000 in 2009, she said. Typically, the fund yielded about $75,000 a year in grants.

    The recent fundraising push began three months after the foundation’s annual appeal netted just $22,000. Two members offered a $25,000 challenge grant, to which the foundation added a challenge grant of $12,500. The campaign ended last week with 288 gifts totaling $62,710.

    Churches in Allegheny County that are more than 50 years old can apply for a grant of up to $10,000 to be disbursed in 2011. It’s a matching grant, meaning that if a church gets $5,000, the congregation must raise $5,000 to match it.

    Malakoff said she has fielded calls from numerous church leaders seeking money to repair gutters and roofs damaged in February’s record snowfall. The foundation gets about 35 formal applications a year from churches seeking grants.

    This year, the foundation has limited the scope of work to exterior renovations, including stained-glass windows, roofs, gutters and masonry work, Malakoff said.

    “Those are big issues with historic properties,” she said.

    Since 1997, the foundation has awarded about $700,000 in grants, which resulted in about $2.4 million in work on 100 historic religious buildings. Many churches raise money above and beyond the required matching funds, Malakoff said.

    The foundation wants to keep the tradition going by establishing an endowment for permanent funding of the religious properties program, she said.

    “We look at them as the major cornerstone of a community,” Malakoff said. “Many of these buildings are used for all kinds of community outreach programs. They’re of utmost importance to the community.”

    On the Web

    Applications for grants through the Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation’s Historic Religious Properties Program are available online at

    For details about a September technical assistance workshop for churches planning renovations, e-mail Carole Malakoff at

Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation

100 West Station Square Drive, Suite 450

Pittsburgh, PA 15219

Phone: 412-471-5808  |  Fax: 412-471-1633