West Overton in the News
Written & Edited by Karen Rose Overholt Critchfield, June 29, 2004



West Overton News 2004
Researching Published Newspaper Articles
From June 29, 2004 back to January 3, 2004
[special article]
November 16, 2003
~~ Updated June 29, 2004 ~~

Chamber news
Daily Courier, Tuesday, June 29, 2004

The Laurel Highlands Chamber of Commerce is still looking for volunteers to help in the office. Duties include answering the phone, reception and light office work. Volunteers can sign up to work various shifts, ranging from two hours to full days. Just call the chamber office and let us know what time you would be willing to donate and when. Various days and times are available. The chamber can offer something for everyone! Call at 724-547-7521 or e-mail at lhcc@cvzoom.net.

The Laurel Highlands Chamber of Commerce Ambassador Committee is looking for new members. There will be a meeting of all persons interested in serving on this committee at 5 p.m. July 22 at the chamber office in the In-Town Shops, 537 W. Main St., Mount Pleasant. This committee will be discussing membership recruitment and retention as well as planning future chamber mixers or business after hours. If you are interested in attending, contact the office at 724-547-7521 or e-mail lhcc@cvzoom.net.


= Plans for the second annual Bocce event are well under way which will be held from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Aug. 22. Proceeds benefit chamber programs, the Regional Family YMCA of Laurel Highlands and Cardiac Rehabilitation Services at Frick Hospital. Enjoy a day at West Overton Museums with lavishly catered tents lining the lawns. Relax with family, friends and business associates as we take a step back in time. Learn first-hand why Bocce has become such a popular sport. It can be played by everyone! New this year will be a children's Bocce court, with "child size" bocce equipment. Ribbons awarded to all participants. There will be no cost for the children's event. There are various tent rental packages available. Consider this for your company's summer picnic or for your business entertaining. For more details, call 724-547-7521 or e-mail lhcc@cvzoom.net.

[and other items]


At West Overton Village: Founders Day festivities prove successful
by Rachel R. Basinger, Daily Courier, Monday, June 21, 2004

Although rain might have been a problem Saturday morning, it did not hamper the success of the West Overton Village's annual Founders Day celebration.

The celebration actually commemorates the formation of the Westmoreland Fayette Historical Society 76 years ago by Helen Clay Frick, of which West Overton Village was once a part.

"There's been a great deal of people here and I've been giving tours of the homestead and the outbuilding all day," said Grant Gerlich, executive director of West Overton Museums.

The blend of local out-of-town visitors got to "discover and explore their western Pennsylvania heritage from a 19th century perspective."

According to Gerlich, West Overton Museums offers a charming insight for the public to experience the transitional years from 1820 to 1890 as America transformed from an agricultural society into an industrial nation.

This past weekend, visitors from all over took advantage of what the museum had to offer, but almost all had a different reason for coming.

The quilt show actually drew a few couples who didn't even know the Founders Day event was taking place.

Marilyn Dashner of Murrysville visited the area because of the quilt shop close to the village and decided to tour the museum when she found out it was there.

"I'm really enjoying this," said Dashner. "We've been here all day, so what's that tell you."

She and her husband, Bob, are both interested in history as well and enjoyed looking at the display of antique Victorian clothing and furniture in the museum.

Mary Vlahos and her husband, Zach, of Greensburg toured the museum on Saturday after the quilt show drew their interest.

"(West Overton) is very interesting," said Mary Vlahos, who admitted she was a little surprised to find a museum of West Overton's caliber in such a small community.

Jeffrey and Barbara Wright of Stroudsburg actually attended the museum on Saturday because of his interest in Henry Clay Frick.

"This is our first visit here and it's a neat looking town that's unharmed and in relatively good condition," said Jeffrey Wright.

"I'm not really surprised that this place is here because there's a lot of historical places throughout western Pennsylvania," he added.

Libby and Bill Maurer of Belle Vernon were actually in attendance to celebrate Founders Day.

Although they are not from this area, they have been involved with the museum for several years because Libby Maurer's great-great-grandmother was a Frick.

"We've never been able to make it to a Founders Day, so we decided to come this year," said Bill Maurer.

He added that they have been to the museum on several other occasions, including the popular Parlor Talks, and that he learns something every time he comes.

"It was neat to learn how the family lived, and we were able to do that because the house is so well in tact," said Bill Maurer.

Cake, hot dogs and refreshments were served in the newly renovated brick barn, the largest brick barn in Pennsylvania. A brand new pine floor was recently installed and Gerlich was anxious to show it off to the public.

"Things have gone well here today," said Gerlich.

Rachel R. Basinger can be reached at rbasinger@tribweb.com or (724) 626-3536.


Scottdale: West Overton quilt show continues through July 2
by Rachel R. Basinger, Daily Courier, Tuesday, June 15, 2004

SCOTTDALE -- There are no Paducah quilts at West Overton Museum's 21st annual quilt show, but there are still plenty of local quilters who participate.

"Some people felt that the local quilts were just as good as the Paducah quilts were last year, so we decided not to bring them back," said Grant Gerlich, the museum's executive director. He added that at a cost of nearly $2,000 to have the quilts, it was just an unnecessary expense.

So, instead of paying a fee to view the regular quilt show and another one for the Paducah quilt show, this show is free with paid museum admission of $6 for visitors to view the 55 quilts entered by locals as well as individuals as far away as Virginia and Nova Scotia.

Just like past years, the quilt show has brought numerous visitors to the museum.

"Tuesday we had 16 people come to look at the quilts and on Saturday 41 people came," said Gerlich. "I know that doesn't seem like a lot, but compared to the average number of visitors, it's an increase."

He claims that the art of quilt-making is a hobby that is becoming increasingly popular once again.

Grace Ware of Scottdale, one of entrants in the quilt show, said that although quilting is becoming more popular, it is an art that is changing.

"Now there's machine quilting and new styles," said Ware. "Some people are now doing a rough edge rather than folding over the edges. But I don't think those kind of quilts will hold up as long as the old ones."

Ware has been quilting for about 10 years, ever since a friend of hers taught her how to do it.

"It's relaxing and I've always had what I felt was an artistic look at things," said Ware. "I like photography and I like to garden, so I think I just lean toward the artistic types of hobbies."

Ware has entered quilts at West Overton three or four different times, with a patriotic-themed one hanging this year, which took her more than two years to complete.

"I started it in the fall after 9-11 for my grandson and it's all my own design," said Ware. "Each block represented something that, to me, was patriotic."

Gerlich noted that the number of entries this year is down from the 81 entries last year, but added that it takes sometimes up to five years for a person to complete a quilt.

"They can't just decide one day that they're going to make a quilt for this year's quilt show," said Gerlich. "These things take a lot of time to complete."

Viewing quilts is gaining in popularity almost as much as making the quilts.

"It gives people an opportunity to see a type of craftsmanship from a bygone era that's actually still done today," said Gerlich. "Really, these quilts are works of art and it's a hard art. It takes skill to design the quilt as well as sew it. You really have to have an eye for color."

Visitors can view the quilt show in the Old Distillery Building until July 2.

Rachel R. Basinger can be reached at rbasinger@tribweb.com or (724) 626-3536.

[see photo: Grant Gerlich & quilt]

Grant Gerlich, executive director of West Overton Museums, looks over one of the entries at the museums annual quilt show, which will continue until July 2.

Rachel R. Basinger/Daily Courier


Col. Crawford burned at stake 222 years ago
by Robert B. Van Atta, Tribune-Review, Sunday, June 6, 2004

The week marks the 222nd anniversary of the American Indians' burning at the stake of Col. William Crawford, pioneer Connellsville-area settler and first presiding judge of the Westmoreland County courts, at the Indian village at Sandusky, Ohio.

A Virginia native born in 1732, Crawford settled in 1767 along the bank of the Youghiogheny River near what became Connellsville. His log cabin is restored at the site by the Connellsville Area Historical Society.

As a result of some Indian events in the area of Gnadenhutten, Ohio, and Washington County, Pa., of some questionable circumstances, Crawford and an expedition of 480 horsemen set out to investigate the Indian settlements and activity in the area of Sandusky. Crawford's forces battled the Indians, June 5-7, 1782, but the colonel was among prisoners taken by the Indians. On June 10, 17 Indians took Crawford and 10 other prisoners to old Sandusky Indian Town. All but Crawford and a doctor were tomahawked and scalped, after which Crawford was stripped, severely beaten, tied, tortured and burned at the stake; then finally scalped, June 11.

The doctor ultimately escaped and after 22 days of hardship and subsistence in the forest, made his way to Fort McIntosh at Beaver, to relate the tragic fate of Crawford.

[other stories, including . . .]

Seventy-six years ago this month, the H.C. Frick birthplace at West Overton, near Scottdale, was dedicated to historical society use after being donated by Frick's daughter. The impressive program took place at the site, Sunday, June 17, 1928.

It was then under the auspices of the Western Pennsylvania Historical Society and its Fayette-Westmoreland branch. That branch evolved into the West Overton Museums organization of today.

Although Miss Frick attended the event, she did not participate in the program. Her letter of designation of the restored Overholt mansion as "West Overton history house" was read. In it, she expressed hope that the gift would stimulate interest in local history.

A series of talks by prominent historians formed the program for the event.


Scottdale man built a career on his love of music
by Jerry Vondas, Tribune-Review, Saturday, June 5, 2004

By the time they were completing their studies at Scottdale Joint High School, Pam Protheroe and Rod Sturtz knew that their friendship was more than a casual acquaintance.

"Rod was a kind and understanding young man," said his wife, Pam Sturtz. "We loved music and were active in musical organizations both in high school and in our churches."

Rodney A. "Rod" Sturtz, 61, of Scottdale RD1, former executive director of the West Overton Museums, died of cancer on Wednesday, June 2, 2004, at his residence.

Pam Sturtz recalled that date night meant walking downtown to Scottdale and having a pizza. "Or we'd sit on the porch swing in front of my house and just talk. I could sense even then that Rod would use his musical talents as his Christian ministry."

Mr. Sturtz was born and raised in Scottdale, the son of Ruth L. Sherman Sturtz and the late Ray W. Sturtz. The elder Sturtz operated a woodworking shop in Scottdale.

In 1961, after graduation from high school, Mr. Sturtz enrolled at Milligan College in Northeast Tenn., where he received a bachelor of arts degree in music.

In 1966, he married Pam Protheroe, upon her graduation from nurses training.

Mr. Sturtz's career took them to East Sparta, Ohio, where he taught music at Sandy Valley High School, and Johnson City, Tenn., where he was choral director at Science Hill High School and director of choral activities at East Tennessee State University.

One of Mr. Sturtz's proudest moments was when the Science Hill choir was chosen to sing the evensong service on Good Friday 1976 at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C.

Before returning to Scottdale in 1996, Mr. Sturtz was music chairman for Atlanta Christian College in East Point, Ga.

While at Atlanta Christian, he directed musical programs, including some Broadway musicals. He also served as associate minister for music at Westside Christian Church and then East Point Christian Church.

Once the Sturtz family returned to Scottdale, Pam Sturtz was employed as a nurse for the Pennsylvania Department of Health and Mr. Sturtz became executive director of West Overton Museums in Scottdale.

In December 2003, he received the Laurel Highlands Chamber of Commerce Appreciation Award for his efforts in community service.

Mr. Sturtz had a number of hobbies.

"Rod loved model trains," his wife said. "We'd often take train rides together, especially in Chattanooga, Tenn., where we rode the Chattanooga Choo Choo. He also enjoyed putting together model boats and painting in oil and acrylics.

"Rod also enjoyed refinishing furniture, which he learned in his father's woodworking shop."

Mr. Sturtz is survived by his wife, Pamela R. Protheroe Sturtz; his mother, Ruth L. Sherman Sturtz, of Scottdale; three children, Jeffery Sturtz and his wife, Sarah, of Purceville, Va., Brian Sturtz and his wife, Jessica, of Oklahoma City, Okla., and Marjorie Huff and her husband, Jason, of Cleveland, Ohio; and three grandsons.

He also is survived by two sisters, Ruthann Bigley and her husband, Dr. David Bigley, of Scottdale RD2, and Rhonda Allison and her husband, Rob, of Scottdale, and a brother, Ronald R. Sturtz and his wife, Daphney, of Roseburg, Ore.

There will be no public viewing.

The family will receive friends from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. today, followed by a memorial service at Christ United Methodist Church, 203 Market St., Scottdale, with the Rev. Dennis M. Henley officiating.

Arrangements are being handled by the Robert B. Ferguson Funeral Home, Scottdale.

Jerry Vondas can be reached at jvondas@tribweb.com or (412) 320-7823.


Scottdale mourns the loss of Sturtz and Helkowski
by Rachel R. Basinger, Daily Courier, Friday, June 4, 2004

The community of Scottdale was a better place because of the contributions of men like Rodney Sturtz and Daniel Helkowski.

This week marked the passing away of both men, and left a void in the hearts of local dignitaries and friends who knew and loved them both.

Helkowski, 83, was a former Fourth Ward council member on the Scottdale Borough Council. \par According to Pat Walker, who served on Scottdale Borough Council with Helkowski, he was a "perfect gentleman."

"He was just a nice person to work with," said Walker. "All members of council bring ideas to the table and he was no exception."

She added that anytime a person runs for council, they do so to be a part of the community and do what they can to help it.

"The community was a better place because of him," said Walker.

The loss of Helkowski deeply affected the Scottdale Mayor, Tim Carson, who said they formed a friendship over the years.

"I served with Danny on council and when Mayor Gene Barron passed away and I was trying to get the appointment, Danny was one of three people that stood by my side for every vote," said Carson.

He added that Helkowski had a real interest in public works and oversaw that department, making contributions in terms of paving projects and other things.

"He had good ideas to help the community and he was very easy to work with," said Carson. "You could bounce ideas off Danny and he wasn't uptight about it. He took things kind of in stride."

Carson also commented on the passing of Sturtz.

"Rod was somebody who did a lot for the whole community," said Carson. "He was very politically active and got West Overton (museums) on the map by forming a good relationship with the county commissioners and Sen. (Allen) Kukovich."

Carson also described Sturtz as a very caring man who had a love for Scottdale and the surrounding communities.

In 1996 Sturtz became the executive director of West Overton Museums, and under his leadership, memberships increased, financial support increased and buildings were repaired and reopened after years of neglect.

In 2000 Sturtz received the St. Clair Award from the Westmoreland County Historical Society for his efforts.

In Dec. 2003, Sturtz received the Laurel Highlands Chamber of Commerce Appreciation Award for his efforts in community service.

Ron Aldom, director of the Laurel Highlands Chamber of Commerce described Sturtz as an outstanding leader and visionary.

"I learned so much from Rod including the history of this area and the vision he had for the area," said Aldom. "I can truly say that I'm a better person for having met him."

He added that it was not even a question that Sturtz made the area a better place.

"He loved this area and everything about it," said Aldom. "Rod was a visionary in the fact that he realized this area needed to operate as a region as opposed to individual municipalities."

"He's going to be missed," Aldom added.

Carson agreed with Aldom.

"Both of these men will be missed," said Carson. "Scottdale definitely experienced a loss this week with the passing of these two."

Rachel R. Basinger can be reached at rbasinger@tribweb.com or (724) 626-3536.


It's strawberry festival time again
by Patricia Walker, Daily Courier, Thursday, May 27, 2004

On Friday from 4:30 to 7 p.m. enjoy a strawberry festival at Jacob's Creek United Methodist Church, Scottdale-Dawson Road. Cost is $3.50 for adults and $2.50 for children age 10 and younger. On the menu: strawberries, cake, ice cream and a sandwich for the above cost. For a little extra you can purchase potato salad or baked beans.

Reserve a table for $5 each by June 1 for the flea market and bake sale to be held at Jacob's Creek United Methodist Church from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. June 12. For more information, call 724-887-6188.

More promotional dates for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Friday is baseball card set night, Saturday is fireworks night, Sunday is kid glove day and Monday is Sandcastle ticket day -- dollar dog night.

Journey to Fayette County fairgounds, Route 119, Uniontown, Friday through Monday, rain or shine. There will be daily live country entertainment at the 12th annual Pennsylvania Arts & Crafts Country Festival, which runs from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Parking is free. It is wheelchair friendly. Cost is $4.50 for adults, $4 for senior citizens age 65 and older, $1 for children age 6 to 12 and those under age 6 enter free. For more information, call 724-863-4577.

Take time out to wish the Rev. John Salko a happy birthday on Sunday. Send him a card, give him a call or a cheery greeting at the St. John Byzantine Catholic Church, 525 Porter Ave., Scottdale. He is wished a very happy day from all of us in Scottdale and Everson.

The quilt show began on Tuesday at the West Overton Museum and continues through July. Come and view the finished products, which I know are a work of art. For more information, call 724-887-7910.

The Southmoreland School Board will meet at 7 p.m. June 10 at the administration building, Parker Avenue.

The annual community picnic will be held on Father's Day, June 20. It cost $12.50 for an all day pass. For more information, call 724-887-5700.

Say the number 12 to Beth Wisniewski and it tells it all! She has 12 athlete letters from Southmoreland, four years in a combination of basketball, cross country, soccer and track. The communities of Scottdale and Everson are very proud of your achievements.

Officers for the Scottdale Beta Y-Gradale for 2004-05 are as follows: Donna Ritenour, president; Carolyn Porter, secretary; and Darleen Catalina, treasurer. New members are always welcome. Meetings are held mostly at the Regional Family YMCA. Congratulations to the new officers and much success is wished to you in your activities in the upcoming calendar year.

Memorial Day will be celebrated on Monday. If you are unable to commit time to going to a scheduled parade or memorial ceremony, say a prayer for the veterans who have played a part in giving their lives or have lost limbs in past and in the current war. Prayer can change things if you only believe. If you are having a picnic or cook out, invite someone to fellowship with your family as a salute to the first summer holiday.

I was not able to attend the Southmoreland Drug Summit on May 12, but I understand it was a successful affair.

Scottdale Area Chamber of Commerce was host to the Scottie scholar banquet held at the Barn on May 19. It was a delightful sight to see the scholars and their guests in attendance. The scholars were as follows: Michelle Hamill, Jennifer Hodgkiss, Nicholas Huff, Chelsie Hurst, Anna Mast, Rebecca Moxley, Mandy Shallenberger, Rachel Sirgey, Shea Soberdash and Jason Yoder. Go forward and achieve all there is to achieve, grab a hold of and hitch your dreams to the stars and move upward to attain your goals.

Parents, be a large part of your child's life away from home. Talk to them and something I think is even more important, listen to them! You might not agree with everything that is voiced, but listen!

The last day of school is June 2.

Happy vacation to everyone, all the students and teachers (smile).


Eight decades of charitable works: Mount Pleasant Rotary continues aiding community
by Marilyn Forbes, Daily Courier, Tuesday, May 25, 2004

MOUNT PLEASANT -- The Mount Pleasant Rotary, part of a worldwide organization dedicated to building peace and goodwill in the world, has marked eight decades of community service and charitable works in the Mount Pleasant area.

In honor of the occasion, a banquet was held at the Elks, with the Rotary Roll Call given by Rotarian Bob Zelmore. Two past district governors, Robert Blum and George Wood, both Mount Pleasant Rotarians, were present at the banquet. Since there are no existing Rotarians who have been members since the club's inception, present Rotary President Juanita Zimmerman came up with an idea for a special presentation.

"There aren't any members who have been with the club for 80 years, but there where a few who had celebrated 80 birthdays, so we decided to honor them," she explained.

Four local Rotarians honored that evening were Bill Pritts, Robert Hauser, Bob George and Don Robinson. Each was presented a mock check for $80, indicating that that amount had been donated to the Rotary foundation in their name.

Present District Governor George Omiros of Uniontown, presented a plaque to the Rotary in recognition of its 80 years of service.

A large display was also highlighted, which depicted several of the foreign exchange students the local Rotary has sponsored over the years as part of its Youth Exchange Program. The display depicted the students' lives after they left, and an update on them as adults.

Presently, the Mount Pleasant Rotary has 56 active members, who meet every Tuesday for luncheon meetings and to discuss upcoming events, functions and presentations.

The most recent Rotary event was the presentation of a portable heart defibrillator to the Mount Pleasant Senior Citizen Center. This presentation was made at a special luncheon held at the senior center.

"We hope it is something that you never have to use, but maybe someday it will save a life," said Zimmerman as the defibrillator was presented to center director Pam Soforic. The Rotarians were treated to the "nickel tour" of the facility and then served lunch in the center cafeteria.

"This is the least that we can do to show our appreciation," said Soforic.

The defibrillators will soon be a requirement in all senior centers, and Zimmerman is proud that the Rotary was able to supply the Mount Pleasant center with one, making it the first center in the area to have one.

Zimmerman explained that the Rotary wanted to give something back to the community, and the club is focusing on both ends of the spectrum -- something for the seniors and something for school-age children.

The center received the life-saving device, and starting this year, every third-grade student received a dictionary, complete with information on all 50 states and copies of important speeches and documents, such as the Declaration of Independence.

Zimmerman stated that the school children enjoyed the dictionaries, and that the Rotary received many thank-you notes from the students.

"We received wonderful letters and notes from the children," she said. "They were hand-written and they also drew pictures."

The Rotary hopes to continue this program on a yearly basis, and the Rotary Gumball Machines, located at several local businesses, help fund this project.

"We're always looking for businesses to sponsor the machines," noted Zimmerman.

The Rotary this year also made a $1,000 contribution to the Log Cabin Restoration Fund; $500 to the Town Clock Fund; and $2,500 to West Overton Museums to be used in the restoration of the Young Frick House, located at West Overton.

Other Rotary programs and contributions are: the placing of flags on holidays and bell-ringing for the Salvation Army during the holidays.

The club also sponsors two multiphasic blood screenings yearly, and every Christmas members visits Harmon House, where they have a dinner with the residents and present each with a bag of various items.

Mount Pleasant Rotary also has a yearly scholarship banquet, where three Rotary scholarships are presented and the top 10 percent of the Mount Pleasant High School graduating class is honored.

The club also sponsors a Group Study Exchange Team, which sends five area individuals, led by a Rotarian, to foreign countries to study their work places, cultures, visit businesses and learn about their government. In turn, five individuals from that country visit here. The exchange program was with Brazil this year.

Operation Fresh Express, new this year, is another program sponsored by the Rotary. Members bag perishable items and distribute them to local needy families. The next Operation Fresh Express is tentatively scheduled for September and will be held at the YMCA.

Zimmerman, who will be ending her year as president in July, said she has enjoyed her tenure and hopes that she has achieved her goal of "putting back into the community."

"I wanted people to see us putting back to the community," Zimmerman explained. "I wanted people to know what the Rotary means."

For information on the Mount Pleasant Rotary, hosting a Youth Exchange student or to inquire about sponsoring a Gumball Machine, call Zimmerman at 724-423-5000. There are approximately 1.2 million Rotarians worldwide, belonging to more than 31,000 clubs in 166 different countries.


Bocce at West Overton
Daily Courier, Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Why was the first annual Bocce at West Overton such a huge success? Was it the lavishly decorated and creatively catered tents that lined the bocce courts?

Was it the fact that everyone found out that they could play bocce? Or was it just the relaxing afternoon on the lawns of West Overton Museums? Whatever the reason, don't miss the opportunity to be a part of this year's grand event.

It will be held Sunday, Aug. 22, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

It's a great way to reward staff, thank customers or enjoy friends and family. Call the Laurel Highlands Chamber Office at: 724-547-7521 or e-mail lhcc@cvzoom.net for details.


New festival gets tourism grant
by Lynn Kuhn, Tribune-Review, Thursday, May 13, 2004

Stage Right and Westmoreland Heritage received a few extra George Washingtons yesterday to help finance their joint venture, George Washington Days, a festival debuting in August.

The Greensburg-based festival, a three-day celebration of the region's history and the legacy of the country's first president, was one of 19 county organizations to receive funding through the Westmoreland County Tourism Program. The program grants funding to tourism-related organizations and projects using money collected from a 3 percent room tax at county hotels. This year, the program's second, $199,445 was distributed.

George Washington Days will be held Aug. 20-22 and will coincide with the 250th commemoration of the French and Indian War. The festival will kick off with a parade in downtown Greensburg and leads to Lynch Field, where a French and Indian War encampment and food and craft vendors will be set up throughout the weekend.

A musical production written specifically for the event -- "Rivers of Destiny" -- will be staged twice over the weekend at the Palace Theatre, in Greensburg. The musical focuses on a young George Washington and his role and the role of others in the French and Indian War.

The script and lyrics for "Rivers of Destiny" were written by Anthony Marino, artistic director of Stage Right, and the music was composed by Warren Shirer, Stage Right music director and instructor at Point Park University in Pittsburgh. The production will be performed by actors in Stage Right's professional theater company.

According to Marino, the development of "Rivers of Destiny" was made possible by a $25,000 grant received last year from the Pennsylvania Humanities Council. The $15,000 grant received yesterday will be used to market and produce the festival.

The festival is a cooperative effort between Stage Right and Westmoreland Heritage, a private advocacy group that promotes the area's historical assets, based at the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg.

Lectures on the French and Indian War will be held at the Westmoreland Museum of American Art. Trolley rides will transport visitors to sidewalk sales in downtown Greensburg. A colonial tea party will be held at Redstone Highlands.

Other activities planned for the festival include re-enactments and demonstrations, period musical entertainment, children's activities, storytellers and fireworks.

Festival organizers are hoping to make it an annual event.

Other recipients of Westmoreland County tourism grants were named at a news conference at the Westmoreland Museum of American Art yesterday:

Escape to Donegal Partnership, $10,000. Five businesses located within 11/2 miles from the Pennsylvania Turnpike Exit 91 will advertise their businesses in the Pittsburgh and Washington, D.C., areas.

Laurel Highlands Family Adventure Package, $20,000. Nine businesses from Ligonier to Ohiopyle will market their businesses as a family destination in the Pittsburgh, eastern Ohio and West Virginia areas.

Downtown West Newton Inc., $15,000. A grant last year enabled this riverfront development project to conceive the "Bridge for Tomorrow" concept to apply for a PennDOT Enhancement Grant of $275,000 to construct bicycle access from the Youghiogheny Bike Trail, across the river and into town. This year's grant will be used to design the project, slated for construction this fall.

Idlewild & SoakZone, $12,500. The theme park will launch a marketing campaign to five areas in West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Maryland within a two-hour drive.

Jamestown Crystal Outlet, $15,000. Jamestown and three other glass outlets at the Mt. Pleasant Glass Centre will mount a billboard campaign.

Latrobe Area Chamber of Commerce, $5,000. The chamber will develop and distribute a brochure highlighting attractions in its area.

Ligonier Valley Historical Society and Ligonier Valley Chamber of Commerce, $10,000. These two organizations will launch a marketing campaign on cable television.

Loyalhanna Watershed Association, $7,250. This conservation group will produce a "Loyalhanna Nature Trail Companion" booklet.

Mountain Herb Shoppe in Donegal, $2,895. The business will use the grant to advertise and create a brochure.

Overly's Country Christmas, $10,000. The grant will be used for marketing the Christmas light display as a destination.

Family Festivals Association Inc. in Irwin, $12,000. The group will promote its Pennsylvania Arts & Crafts Colonial Festival through a television advertising campaign.

Scottdale Area Chamber of Commerce, $3,500. The grant will be used to create a self-guided walking tour brochure of the town.

Southwestern PA Council for the Arts, $1,800. A brochure will be produced to heighten awareness of local artists, galleries and exhibitions.

Valley Players of Ligonier, $20,000. This capital grant will be used to give the Art Deco theater an interior facelift, including painting, carpeting and replacing the fabric walls. The theater shows movies and hosts live performances by the group.

Victorian Vandergrift Museum & Historical Society, $8,000. The group will produce a brochure promoting attractions in and around Vandergrift.

West Overton Museums, $4,500. Advertising in newspaper, on radio and billboards will promote the industrial village and its events, such as the Annual Quilt Show and Civil War Living History Weekend.

Westmoreland Museum of American Art, $15,000. The museum will mount a billboard campaign to increase awareness of its facility and programs.

Westmoreland Symphony Orchestra, $12,000. The orchestra's current marketing programs will be expanded to include communities outside Westmoreland County.

Lynn Kuhn can be reached at lkuhn@tribweb.com or (724) 836-5569.


Daily Courier Social News
Heirloom plants bring back flavor of old
by Marilyn Forbes, Daily Courier, Thursday, May 6, 2004

It's easy to run out to your favorite store or greenhouse and pick up just any old pack of seeds or starter plants. Throw them in the garden, nurture them, and presto! you get vegetables and flowers that are nice, but maybe nothing to write home about. How about some special plants, say cabbage from 1788, or tomatoes from 1885. No, I do not mean old vegetables laying around, but actual heirloom plants that originated from these plants themselves. From 9 to 11 a.m. May 12, the Gardens of West Overton will be holding its annual heirloom plant sale, and the public is welcome to come and purchase plants that originated from Amish farmers and possibly some of our own local ancestors. There will be a wide range of varieties of both vegetable and flower plants to choose from, and due to the popularity of this sale, Grant Gerlich, director of the West Overton Museums, urges an early arrival to assure that you get the best to choose from. Plants will be sold individually in pots. Cabbage and broccoli plants are 25 cents each or 6 for $1. Brandywine tomatoes, a strain from an Amish farmer from 1885 that if supported, can grow to be seven feet tall, will be available for 50 cents each or five for $2. Perennial herbs such as potted mints, oregano, chives and tansy will also be offered at this sale. So stop in and get some great, old-fashioned tasting vegetables and flowers that carry the smell of childhood. All proceeds from the sale go to upkeep and maintenance of the gardens. For additional information, call the museums at 724-887-7910.

[other items . . .]

For comments or items to be included in future columns, I can be reached at 724-547-0785 or mptownnews@aol.com.


History and art combine in West Overton Museums exhibit
by Maryann Gogniat Eidemiller, Tribune-Review, Thursday, May 6, 2004

Some of the region's most talented artists captured some of the region's richest heritage in "History Through Art," on exhibit through May 30 at West Overton Museums, near Scottdale.

"We understand that it's the first juried show in the state that has original art with the theme of history," said Don Stohl, director of the Southwestern Pennsylvania Council for the Arts, which organized the show in conjunction with the museum.

From more than 150 entries, juror John Dropcho, a retired professor of art from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, selected 56 paintings and photographs by 42 artists who used many styles and media to depict familiar places and events.

Early local history is represented by Ray W. Forquer's acrylic of "Washington at Fort Necessity July 3, 1734," and Jim Miller's woodcut of "Charlie Barkley's Cabin." Mary Kay Karolewics won West Overton's Honorable Mention for her watercolor of "The S-Bridge, 1818," and the Excellence in Photography went to Joy Fairbanks for "Reflections of the Past."

"It was just wonderful how she caught Old Bedford Village," Stohl said. "The juror was really impressed with the quality of that photograph."

Rural heritage was portrayed in Robert Jones' oil painting of "Ebenezer Covered Bridge," Scott Manco's photo of "Henry Covered Bridge," which won an Award of Merit, and the Mail Pouch barn in "An Era Gone," an oil painting by Elizabeth Ohr.

Transportation is featured with a trolley in "#10 Westview," an oil on canvas by Robert D. Huckerstein, Helen Alt's watercolor of "Old B&O Station," and Dai Morgan's acrylic of "Allegheny County Airport." Ray Rafferty used digital art photography for "Art Deco Gas Station," and Roxann Wall did an oil painting of "26 9/10," a gas pump at a ramshackle station.

"That was the price of gas at the time," Stohl said.

William Perry's "North Side Morning" received an Award of Excellence.

"It really hinges on being experimental," Stohl said. "It looks like it's a painting of rectangles and squares, then you look at it and you can see the North Side of Pittsburgh. It's a fabulous watercolor. Another one that the judge thought was fantastic is 'Butler Candy Co.'"

Kit Paulsen did that watercolor painting from a photograph of her grandfather standing by a truck, circa 1920. That won an Award of Merit, and so did Abraham D. Fotta's "Late in the Season," a pencil drawing of a tractor in a shed, with finely detailed hay in the foreground.

Historical buildings are represented in Elenor Skibo's photo of "The Summit Inn" and E. Marie Lint's painting of "Friendship Hill." There were several paintings of past industries, and Cynthia Colley won Best of Show for her acrylic, "Mill Interior With Slag Buckets." Richard A. Stoner photographed recent history in "Flight 93 Crash Memorial, Shanksville Pa. 2002."

"I think it's a wonderful show and we have a great space for it in the basement of the distillery with stone, brick and distressed walls," said Grant Gerlich, executive director of the West Overton Museums. "It's a nice dramatic setting."

The winners

Best of Show: "Mill Interior With Slag Buckets," acrylic by Cynthia Cooley

Award of Excellence: "North Side Morning," watercolor by William Perry

Award of Excellence given by Westmoreland County Historical Society: "Ligonier Tavern," oil by William M. Hoffman Jr.

Awards of Merit: "Late In The Season," pencil drawing by Abraham D. Fotta; "Butler Candy Co.," watercolor by Kit Paulsen

Honorable mention by West Overton: "Another Dawn," acrylic by Allen Maloney; "The S-Bridge, 1818," watercolor by Mary Kay Karolewics

Award of Excellence in photography: "Reflections of the Past" by Joy Fairbanks

Awards of Merit in Photography: "Inside Out" by Betty Elias; "Henry Covered Bridge" by Scott Manko


A unique approach to learning: Students take step back in time
by Marilyn Forbes, Daily Courier, Thursday, April 22, 2004

SCOTTDALE -- Civil War cannons and telegraphs. Cotillions, quilting and shades of blue and gray. Sound like a step back in time? Actually, this is an example of the newest effort brought forth by the eighth-grade teachers of Southmoreland Junior High School and school principal Tim Scott, to enable their students to connect all their subjects into one common theme, showing the students that each subject that they learn is not necessarily limited to just that one class.

This new multi-disciplinary unit based on the American Civil War is being taught now through mid-May, and has already proven its success in the enthusiasm displayed by the students. \par When approached with this idea, the eighth-grade teachers discovered that they all had an interest in the Civil War and that era, and each teacher then conformed their teaching criteria to incorporate something significant to the Civil War.

"It's totally exciting," said Valerie Cosco, language arts teacher. "Secondary teachers usually are in one little niche. With this, we are helping each other out."

The physical education class will be taught the period game of "Rounders," which was very popular during the Civil War and is similar to present day baseball. The students in technology education/industrial arts are building telegraphs, and they will be instructed on the use of Morse code. The art class will design and make a paper log cabin quilt. Students in the family and consumer sciences class will learn the preparation of Civil War foods, and will be making Hard Tack, a hard, bland biscuit, which was a staple in the soldiers daily diet. In mathematics, they are studying statistics relative to casualties during the war, and in science, they will be exploring aspects of the war through the construction of the famous Confederate submarine Hunley, studying among other principles, the basics of buoyancy. The American cultures class is working on live broadcasts of selected Civil War events. Finally, the language arts class is reading and studying the book entitled "Soldiers Heart" by Gary Paulsen, a novel written as seen through the eyes of an overanxious 14-year-old northern boy, who is excited to join the effort, but learns the horrors and truth of war.

At the completion of the unit, each class will present one student an award for the best effort put forward in that particular class.

"They will receive their "Medals of Honor" at the assembly at the end of the unit," explained Cosco.

Friday will be a very special day for the students as they spend their day experiencing the era first-hand.

The morning will begin with the viewing of the first two hours of "Gone With the Wind," followed by an old-fashioned period "Cotillion," which is a dance resembling a ball. The cotillion will take place from noon to 1 p.m., in which students will be either "blue or gray." The students will also be treated to a specially prepared Southern lunch. A Civil War "DJ" will entertain the students with the greatest hits of the 1860s. During the afternoon entertainment, the students will also be able to participate in a Civil War famous person game, with the winner receiving a gift bag filled with Civil War and patriotic items. The afternoon will be wrapped up with the final hours of "Gone with the Wind."

Saturday will be yet another history/fun-filled day as the students embark on a field trip to West Overton Museums.

Grant Gerlich, director of the West Overton Museums, is excited about this program, calling it "really unique."

Gerlich has arranged for several local re-enactors and living history demonstrators to be present at the museum grounds, and has several displays or "stations" planned for the students. Musicians will be present, playing and instructing the students on period music; and cooking and food preparation demonstrations will be performed. A station focusing on artillery will also be available and the life of the infantry foot soldier will also be explored. The students will visit each station and learn, hands on, the ways of the people and soldiers of the era.

After the demonstrations, which end at noon, the students will do a walk-through of the museum grounds, then have lunch in the big barn

"This trip is important to them," stated Gerlich. "They will all be able to learn something."


Westmoreland Heritage to bring program to Penn-Trafford
Tribune-Review, Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Students from Penn-Trafford High School will close the books on Friday and open up the past during a day of historical learning.

"Keystone Kickoff," a collaboration between the students and staff at Penn-Trafford and the Westmoreland Heritage, will feature field trips, re-enactments, movies, special programming and more in an effort to inform the students about the local and state heritage and how it shaped the world they live in today.

"The concept is to familiarize the kids with how the people and places of today are affected by what came before," said Thomas Headley, executive director of the Westmoreland Heritage.

Headley said students have been busy putting together various educational activities and workshops as well as a living timeline from classroom to classroom describing different aspects of the area's heritage.

Westmoreland Heritage will supply a variety of speakers who will talk about regional history and existing historical sites in Westmoreland County. Some of those presenters include Frank Cassell, president of the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg; Glenn Smeltzer, of the Baltzer Meyer Historical Society; Grant Gerlich, of West Overton Museums; Pamela Seigman and Dr. Evelyn Hovanec of the Pennsylvania State University Coal and Coke Museum; Ned Booher, of the Private Industrial Council of Greensburg; Kathleen W. Millward, of Indiana University of Pennsylvania; Tony Marino, of Stage Right Productions; Olga Herbert, of the Lincoln Highway Heritage Corridor; Albert Moore and Phylis Pietruza, of the Archeology of Westmoreland County; and Susan Pollins, of the Westmoreland Museum of American Art.

Westmoreland Heritage has also planned field trips to Bushy Run Battlefield.

"It's amazing how close the school is to Bushy Run Battlefield and how many of the students have never been there," Headley said. "That's why we are taking them. It will especially be good because the battlefield is just beginning the 250th commemorative of the French and Indian War."

A re-enactment will feature living historians dressed in appropriate attire of the French and Indian War.

Headley said the program is a first of its kind for Westmoreland Heritage, and the group is hopeful in getting more schools involved in the years ahead.


Students learn about Civil War in unusual places
by Jeffry Katarski, Tribune-Review, Sunday, April 18, 2004

[see photo online]

From left, Grant Gerlich, executive director of the West Overton Museums, student Christopher Stants, teacher Valarie Cosco and student Clair Hann look over books pupils will read as part of their unit on the Civil War.

Nathan Hoburn and Clair Hann remember studying about the Civil War in history class and taking a field trip to Gettysburg when they were in elementary school.

The two again are studying the Civil War, but this time in a way they and their eighth-grade classmates at Southmoreland Junior High School probably never imagined.

For the next month or so, the nearly 180 students will embark on an adventure that will give them not only the chance to learn about the Civil War, but also to live it.

The students will engage in activities that will offer them insight into the war and the everyday life of those turbulent times.

Teachers at the Scottdale-area school have developed a curriculum that takes the study of the war beyond history class and into others, including art, music, literature, mathematics, science, family and consumer sciences, industrial arts and even physical education.

"Students usually learn subjects as isolated, unrelated areas of study," said Valerie Cosco, an English/reading teacher who helped coordinate the effort. "When that happens, they rarely see any connection with other subjects they study. What we wanted to do was put something together that brings it all together for them in an educational, yet entertaining, way."

Cosco said she and other faculty members intrigued by the idea began by approaching colleagues to see if they could think of ways they could tie the subjects they teach in to the Civil War. In many instances, teachers had to do research on the war and get their creative juices flowing before they could determine if they had anything to contribute to the cause.

Cosco said she was pleasantly surprised by how many teachers were able to come up with activities in their areas of expertise that could be applied to the study.

"Some teachers came up with things you'd never imagine," she said. "They really put a lot of work and thought into it."

For instance, Cosco, along with fellow English/reading teachers Milissa Bruce and David Fellner, will help students gain an understanding of the war by having them read a novel that offers a perspective of the war through the eyes of a teenage Union soldier.

While reading the book, students will be asked to assume the role of the young soldier by keeping a journal in which to record the thoughts and feelings they would experience if they were in his place.

"The idea is to have the students walk in the shoes of someone who fought in the war," said Bruce. "What we want is to give them a perspective of the war they've never had before."

In math class, teachers Ronald Demagall and Dennis Korba will have students compile casualty statistics from the war and interpret the data; while in industrial arts class, teacher Richard Love will have students construct a telegraph that can transmit Morse code, a main form of communication during the Civil War.

In teacher Richard Smith's art class, students will craft a log-cabin quilt from paper. In family and consumer science class, students, with guidance from teacher Jan Bungard, will prepare and sample battlefield favorites such as hardtack and johnnycake.

Perhaps the most ambitious undertaking will be in science class, where teachers Jackie Polakovsky and Stacie Weaver will direct students in designing and building a papier mache version of the H.L. Hunley, a small hand-powered submarine used by Confederate forces during the war.

Students also will learn about and engage in one of the more popular recreational activities of the Civil War era when physical education teachers Bobby Thompson and Ruth Joyce introduce them to "rounders," an early form of baseball.

Even in American cultures class, where historical events like the Civil War are usually taught, students will have the chance to add a new twist.

After students view the Civil War film "The Red Badge of Courage," teachers Philip Detore and Chris Fabian will have them review the movie as well as produce and present a news broadcast about a particular event from the war. The story will be aired live from the school's television studio.

Detore and Fabian also will have students design and produce a travel brochure containing information about famous Civil War battle sites and memorials.

On Friday, students will take part in a variety of activities in school that are in keeping with the theme. Students will dress in either Union blue or Confederate gray and will view the 1939 Civil War epic "Gone with the Wind."

They also will attend a cotillion -- a formal Civil War-era dance -- complete with a Southern-style meal of breaded chicken, candied sweet potatoes, cornbread and peach cobbler.

The following day, students will get an even more realistic view of the times when they visit a Civil War encampment at the West Overton Museums near Scottdale. There, students will witness demonstrations ranging from cooking and quilting to period music performances and artillery practices.

"I think this fits in real well with what the school is doing," said Executive Director Grant Gerlich, who will visit Southmoreland on Tuesday to talk to students about the Civil War and their upcoming trip to West Overton. "We're always looking for ways to bring history to life."

Hoburn and Hann said they are looking forward to the experiences that lie ahead. "I think it should be interesting," said Hoburn. "It might be fun."

Added Hann: "It's definitely going to be different. I think we'll learn a lot."

Jeffry Katarski can be reached at jkatarski@tribweb.com or (724) 626-3503.


eBay Overholt Letter (found online 3-26-04)

7-day listing Ends Mar-26-04

Seller Info: tjsales-collectibles(3964)

This seller's eBay store: T&J Collectibles

Listed in category: Collectibles>Postcards & Paper>Documents>Pre-1940

1876 Hatfield, Pennsylvania PA Letter Overholt Family

Item number: 2233403751

ITEM: Neat old letter postmarked in Hatfield, PA in 1876. The letter is addressed to a Joseph Overholt of Bucks County, Pennsylvania (hard to make out the town name on the envelope but it may be Plumsteadville). The letter appears to be from a Isaac and Elizabeth Overholt of Hatfield, PA and dated December 18, 1876. The letter talks about openning up Johnny's leg and the amount of liquid the came out, seemed like everyone discussed in the letter was sick or hurt. Small note on the back talks about well drilling. Interesting stuff!

[no URL]

Meeting to be held
Daily Courier, February 14, 2004

[other items . . .]

Event cancelled

Due to several unfortunate factors West Overton Museum is canceling the Victorian Tea scheduled for Feb. 15. It has been rescheduled for May 16. The museum apologizes for any inconvenience.


Attend a Victorian tea at West Overton
by Patricia Walker, newspaper name?, Thursday, February 12, 2004

How would you like to attend a Victorian tea? It will be held from 1 to 3 p.m. Sunday at the West Overton Museum. There will be entertainment and food, cost is $6. To make a reservation, call 724-887-7910.

The Hearts and Hands Quilt Guild will meet at 7 p.m. tonight at the Woodcrest Senior Living Community. All interested quilters are welcome. For more information, call 724-887-4682.

For more information on the preschool fall registration for the Scottdale Regional Family YMCA facility (2004-05 school year), call 724-542-YMCA. A discount is offered. This preschool is for children ages 2 to 5.

Everson Borough Council will meet at 6:30 p.m. Monday at the borough building on Brown Street. The public is always welcome to attend.

The Jacobs Creek Watershed Association will meet at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Scottdale Borough Building, 10 Mount Pleasant Road.

A new farmer's market may be starting in Scottdale. If there is an interest, call Tom and Merritt Bailey at 724-887-0952. They will hold a meeting at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Community Room of the Scottdale Bank and Trust.

Friendship Sunday will observed this Sunday at the First Baptist Church on North Chestnut Street (724-887-4453) beginning with a 10:45 a.m. gospel concert featuring the Cordells and a covered dish dinner to follow. Public is welcome to feed their body and soul.

Still looking for a last-minute Valentine's gift. I have a suggestion for you. Collections by Marty, 143 Pittsburgh St., is holding a 20 percent discount on all red gift items with a couple of exclusions, and you must be wearing something red. Sounds like fun to me. You have Friday through Monday to explore all the possibilities. For questions, call 724-887-6488.

Call Westmoreland County Community College and request a noncredit course schedule at 1-800-262-2103. Spring classes are not far away.

Scottdale Showtime Theatre presents the play "Love Letters" 8 p.m. Friday and 3 p.m. Saturday. Reservations can be made by calling 724-887-0887.

Brown bag lecture will be held at the Westmoreland Museum of American Art, North Main Street, Greensburg. Take your lunch and hear a talk on "Let's Talk About Quilts" at noon on Wednesday. For more information, call 724-837-1500 ext. 27.

West Overton Museum members -- there is a need for volunteers for the up and coming events for the 2004 season. How would you like to name the room formerly called the theater or Distillery room? Call LaVern Love at 724-887-7910 with your idea.

Are you aware that Tinstman Estates are located in Scottdale? Call Lynne Kendrish at 724-887-5809 for more information.

Scottdale Area Chamber of Commerce will meet at 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Lido Cafe, 314 Porter Ave. Renew your membership if the paperwork has been sent to you. If you would like to become a member, call the membership chairwoman, Rhonda Hamrock at 724-887-4390 for more information.

Speaking of belonging, how about joining PA Cleanways of Westmoreland County? This nonprofit organization works to keep Westmoreland County beautiful. Call for information on the cost of different categories of membership at 724-836-4129 or fax 724-836-5597.

A thank you to all the voters who took the time to sign petitions for committee persons. With the primary election being early, April 27, we were circulating the petition early in very inclement weather.

When we take on any job in life, we should do it to the best of our individual ability. If you, as a person, feel you have done it to the best of your ability, that is all that is asked. Always try to do your best, and that in itself is a great accomplishment.

Readers, accomplish your dream this week.


[Due to the nature of this story, I am including the whole article.]

Scottdale: New director has big plans for West Overton Museums
by Rachel R. Basinger, Daily Courier, Tuesday, January 20, 2004

SCOTTDALE -- It took him about two weeks to familiarize himself with his job, but now, two months later, the new executive director of West Overton Museums in East Huntingdon Township is settled in and is ready to make a few changes.

Grant Gerlich, who was the former curator of Soldiers and Sailors Museum on the University of Pittsburgh campus in Pittsburgh, saw the open position at West Overton Museums on the Internet. A short time later the board asked him to fill that position, which he accepted with enthusiasm.

Gerlich is now able to offer his opinions and make some changes to the facility of which he is a part. Some small changes that have been made so far can be seen in the museum's newsletter. Rather than being sent out every two months, it will now be made into a quarterly newsletter. The content also will change slightly. There will be more color and more pictures to enhance the newsletter, a calendar of events and a new column written by Gerlich, called "From the Director's Desk."

Some small changes have been made in the basement of the museum, formerly known as the theater, too. The director hopes to open that space up, as well as the stock barn and the big brick barn, for event rentals, especially weddings or receptions. In addition, someone will hand out pamphlets about the museum at the upcoming wedding expo in Pittsburgh, and there's a possibility that an "expo" would be held at West Overton.

On Nov. 6 and 7, Gerlich hopes to have caterers, photographers, travel agents, disc jockeys and anyone else whose business is centered around weddings, come out to the museum to set up tables for West Overton Wedding World.

"It cost an exorbitant amount of money to rent a table for the upcoming wedding expo in Pittsburgh and we're too small for that, but there's nothing keeping us from bringing the brides here for our own wedding expo," said Gerlich. "This way the brides-to-be will get the chance to tour our facilities, which would make a great place to have a wedding."

His plans are to rent the stock barn for $400, the big brick barn for $500 and the old theater for $600. Gerlich added that they are ready for rentals right now.

Gerlich also has plans to open one of the museum-owned buildings to provide dorm rooms for a summer intern program, which he hopes to have up and running within the next couple of years.

"We would bring college students in whose focus might be on horticulture, since we have a period garden; or public history; or history studies; or museum studies and preservation," said Gerlich.

He added that right now his first priority at West Overton is "promoting, promoting, promoting."

His second thing is getting Overholt Drive and Frick Avenue shut down so that the entire village can be secluded. He wants to have an access road running from Route 819 near the Fort Allen Farm Association up behind the main mansion of West Overton.

That might not happen for awhile, said Gerlich. So for now, he is focusing on upcoming events. One of the new things he has brought to the schedule this year is the "West Overton Games."

Scheduled for Sept. 18 and 19, this will be a chance for kids and their parents to get out of the house and play lawn games that were played in the mid-1800s -- sack racing, horseshoes, three-legged races and hoop rolling.

"We scheduled this to coincide with the Scottdale Fall Festival," said Gerlich. "The board wanted a family-friendly program, so we looked to see what else was going on in the area throughout the year before we scheduled it."

Another new event -- "Otherworldly Weekends" -- will take place the weekends of Oct. 23 and 24 and Oct. 30 and 31. The event will depict 19th Century funeral practices and tell the ghost stories of West Overton.

According to Gerlich, Clyde Overholt, great-grandson of Abraham Overholt, committed suicide in the main house, and people have said over the years that they've heard noises in the attic and people running up and down the steps when they are the only ones in the house.

"Decked out December at West Overton" is also new and will take place the first through third weekends of December.

People are encouraged to view the mansion decked in "holiday splendor."

Some events from previous years will return, too, including the Parlor Talks, which have become a tradition at West Overton, as well as the annual quilt show. However, this year, if a person pays museum admission, there will be no extra charge for the quilt show.

Gerlich isn't just looking at short-term events for the museum, he's looking well into the future, hoping to see the dream of making the museum and other in-tact period homes a complete 19th Century working village.

"The Mennonites were very efficient farmers," said Gerlich. "They made bricks and barrels here and raised hogs to eat the mash from the whiskey that was distilled, and they had a weaving center. It's one of the only sites in the country that illustrates how America went from an agricultural to an industrial nation."

Gerlich hopes to turn the workers' houses and other in-tact buildings, back into what they once were. He would like the general store building, where Kate and Becca's Quilt Patch is located, return to a general store, and restore at least one of the workers' houses and have it as a museum so people could see how they lived back then.

Some other ideas he has are to turn the Overholt House into a bed and breakfast; create a blacksmith shop, cooper shop and weaving shop; and maybe turn the hay barn into an information center.

Gerlich also hopes to bring in a restaurant that would serve period-type food such as roast beef, turkey and mashed potatoes rather than hot dogs and french fries.

Rachel R. Basinger can be reached at rbasinger@tribweb.com or (724) 626-3536.


Briefly speaking
Tribune-Review Sunday, January 4, 2004
.......also printed Sunday, January 11, 2004

[Many items, including the following.]


The "Parlor Talks" lecture series at West Overton Museums, Scottdale, will begin 2 p.m. Jan. 18 in the distillery theater. "Young George Washington and Fort Necessity" will be the topic of the first lecture. Remaining topics and dates are: "Old National Road and its Culture and People," Feb. 22; "Queen Aliquippa," March 21; "Fight for the Bloody Angle, Spotsylvania," in April. The lectures are free. Reservations are requested, but walk-ins are welcome. Information: 724-887-7910.


also http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/search/s_173466.html

West Overton to begin Parlor Talk
by Jeffry Katarski, Tribune Review, Sunday, January 4, 2004

Given that it is closed for tours from late fall through early spring, the West Overton Museums can become a forgotten place this time of year.

To help keep the sprawling historical attraction near Scottdale on the radar screen during the long cold-weather months, operators will again offer a series of history programs at the site from January through April.

The sessions are being presented through West Overton's popular Parlor Talk Series, developed nearly 20 years ago to provide educational programming and to draw people to the site during the off-season.

"It's just a way to remind the public at a time of year when we don't get a lot of people that we're still here," said Grant Gerlich, executive director. "It's a way to give us some visibility this time of the year." Like past years, all programs will be held on Sundays and will deal with some aspect of history.

The first will be held Jan. 18 and will examine the role George Washington played at the Battle at Fort Necessity.

The program will be presented by James Tomasic, a park ranger at Fort Necessity and Friendship Hill national parks.

That program will be followed with one on Feb. 22 that will take a look at the Old National Road as well as the people who lived along it and the culture they developed. The presentation will be led by Franklin LaCava, a Uniontown resident who recently published a combination history book and cookbook titled "Bake Slow and Sure: Heirloom Recipes of the National Road Era." LaCava also serves as curator of the Fort Pitt Blockhouse and is past president of the Fayette County Historical Society.

Mary Jane McFadden, a park ranger at Fort Necessity, will present "Queen Aliquippa" on March 21. The series will conclude with a program on April 25 about the Civil War. The presentation, which will examine a pivotal battle in the Virginia town of Spotsylvania, will be led by Ken Williams, a Civil War historian and re-enactor who worked as a park ranger at Gettysburg National Park and the Eisenhower National Historic Site. Williams is also a past board member for West Overton.

All programs will be held at 2 p.m. Except for the last one, which will be held at the large brick barn at West Overton, all sessions will be held in the theater located in the basement of the old distillery building. According to Susan Endersbe, president of West Overton's board of directors, the series was introduced in the mid-1980s.

Endersbe, who was executive director at the time, said the series was conceived to offer an educational outlet for people with an interest in history and to attract more people to the site during the winter months. She said the series was so named because presentations in those days were held in the parlor of the three-story brick house at the site built by Abraham Overholt, son of Henry Overholt, who in the early 1800s settled the area that would become West Overton.

In time, said Endersbe, the series grew so much in popularity that the parlor room could no longer accommodate the number of people who attended programs. In more recent years, presentations have been held across the road from the house in the more spacious theater in the distillery building. Endersbe said programs are designed to be not only educational, but entertaining. She said some presenters will dress in period attire and will bring props and other visual aids to help them illustrate their points.

Sessions are also designed to appeal to people of different interests and tastes. For example, one program last year examined local herbs and their everyday uses in earlier times, while another looked at ways to appraise 18th and 19th century pottery.

Endersbe said audience members are welcome to ask questions and to meet with presenters. Each session, she said, ends with a reception featuring complimentary refreshments. "It's very informal," Endersbe said. "The idea is to have some fun with it." All programs are offered to the public free of charge, with local businesses and other contributors underwriting the cost. She said although presenters receive a modest fee for their time and to cover expenses, most of them return the money to West Overton. Endersbe said she would like to see the series continue for as long as it has a following.

"As long as people come out, I think it would be nice to keep it going," she said. "It's had a pretty good run."

Located along Route 819, West Overton is the birthplace of Henry Clay Frick, a 19th century industrialist who made his fortune in the coke-producing industry. Frick was the son of Abraham Overholt's daughter, Elizabeth, and her husband, John Frick.

The site, which totals more than 40 acres and includes a number of other 19th-century structures, was named to the National Register of Historic Places in 1985.

Gerlich said West Overton is usually closed during the cold-weather months because of lack of heating at the museum, which is located in the distillery building.

Although no reservations are required for presentations, those who want to attend are asked to call beforehand so organizers can plan accordingly. To make a reservation or for more information, call West Overton at 724-887-7910.

Jeffry Katarski can be reached at jkatarski@tribweb.com or (724) 626-3503.


Laurel Highlands Chamber seeks high-visibility location
by Rick Stouffer, Tribune-Review, Saturday, January 3, 2004

The Laurel Highlands Chamber of Commerce is looking this new year for more visibility and is planning to relocate from Main Street in Mt. Pleasant.

Laurel Highlands Chamber President Rob Ferguson is examining a number of locations in the southern Westmoreland-northern Fayette County area, including the crossroads area where routes 119, 819 and 31 converge, and the West Overton Museums complex near Scottdale.

"We're looking for more visibility, to have nicer signage and more exposure," said Ferguson, adding that his operation is "cubbyholed" into 450 square feet at 537 West Main St.

The idea is to place the chamber offices in areas of high traffic, be it vehicle or foot. Certainly the crossroads area qualifies, with the Wal-Mart Supercenter generating considerable activity, while drawing other tenants to the area. A Holiday Inn Express has been proposed near the highway confluence, and the former Ames department store is expected to be refurbished.

Likewise, the Overton Museums facilities, along Route 819 between Mt. Pleasant and Scottdale, generates considerable activity, as the history of Henry Clay Frick and his family draw visitors.

Still another high-traffic area has potential, according to Ferguson. "Perhaps New Stanton is an area we will look at," he said.

One location that Ferguson was very optimistic about has been taken off the table. The Mt. Pleasant Glass Centre facility, along Route 31 east of downtown Mt. Pleasant, was acquired in 2002 by the Westmoreland County Industrial Development Corp. and the Economic Growth Connection of Westmoreland County after Lenox Corp. pulled its glass-manufacturing operation.

About 56,300 square feet of the 153,000-square-foot complex is occupied by five long-term tenants, with an additional 36,316 square feet occupied on a month-to-month lease by Menasha Corp. The development corporation and Growth Connection continue to market some 97,000 square feet of space to long-term occupants. The Industrial Development Corp.'s business development director, April Steffey, said that due to some layout changes made to tenants' space, potential square footage for the Laurel Highlands Chamber no longer is available.

"It would have been a nice complement, though," Steffey said.

Rick Stouffer can be reached at rstouffer@tribweb.com.


[Due to the nature of this story, I am including it here among the 2004 articles.]
[I want to make sure everybody gets to see it.]

Historical site hires new director
by Jeffry Katarski, Tribune-Review,
Sunday, November 16, 2003

Grant Gerlich had heard of the West Overton Museums, but he had never visited the site prior to spotting a job posting on the Internet for the position of executive director.

After touring the sprawling historical complex and meeting with its board of directors, Gerlich had seen enough -- enough to make him want the job when it was offered to him.

A native of Pittsburgh, Gerlich will begin managing the day-to-day operations at the Scottdale area tourist attraction Monday. He replaces Mary Ann Mogus, a retired educator who has been serving in an interim capacity for several months.

Gerlich, 41, comes to West Overton from the Soldiers and Sailors National Military Museum in Pittsburgh, where he held several administrative positions.

"I'm eager to get started," Gerlich said during a recent interview. "I'm looking forward to it."

Gerlich said he was encouraged to apply for the job by a volunteer at the Soldiers and Sailors museum who also was involved with the Westmoreland-Fayette Historical Society and was familiar with West Overton. "He had a lot of good things to say about it," Gerlich said. "It was very positive."

During his visit, Gerlich said he was especially impressed with the 19th-century buildings and structures that dot the rolling landscape, including an old distillery and mill that contain a collection of household farm and industrial tools; a coke oven, barn, carriage house, smoke house and three-story brick mansion.

"It's like a scene from Currier and Ives," said Gerlich, referring to the famous 19th-century lithographers known for their slice-of-life portrayals of the day. "The buildings are wonderful." Gerlich said his job at West Overton will be to work with the board to further develop the site, located along Route 819.

He said he and the board envision the site becoming a replica of an 1800s village that traces its evolution from a farming to an industrial community, complete with shops and people in period attire. "What we'd like to have is a place that re-creates what as once there," he said. "We'd like to have a place that has a story to tell."

Gerlich said he also plans to focus his efforts on more aggressively promoting the historical attraction. He said he hopes to accomplish that by working closely with local and regional tourism agencies and other organizations.

"If there is something to see, and people know about it, they'll come," he said. "The idea is to get exposure."

Gerlich was selected for the position from a list of about 40 candidates nationwide, according to Susan Endersbe, board president.

She said Gerlich's professional experience as well as his education made him the best candidate for the job.

Gerlich earned a bachelor's degree in economics from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Va., and a master's degree in history with a concentration in museum archiving and editing from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh.

From 1997 to 2000, he served as assistant curator for the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall of Allegheny County in Pittsburgh.

He then went to work for the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall and Museum Trust as curator of collections and later for the Soldiers and Sailors National Military Museum and Memorial as curator and director of operations.

Gerlich also worked for a time as an archivist for the John Heinz Regional History Center in Pittsburgh. He also has experience in management, sales and customer relations from working in the appliance and commercial laundry industries.

Gerlich belongs to a number of professional organizations, including the Mid-Atlantic Association of Museums, the American Association of Museums, the Pennsylvania Federation of Museums and Historical Organizations, the Western Pennsylvania Museum Council and the Greater Pittsburgh Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Named to the National Register of Historic Places in 1985, West Overton was founded in the early 1800s by a group of Mennonites from eastern Pennsylvania led by Henry Overholt.

Overholt's son, Abraham, built a three-story brick house as well as a gristmill and distillery at the site. Over the years, the community grew to include brick homes for Overholt employees, a general store and farm.

The site is also the birthplace of Henry Clay Frick, a 19th-century industrialist who made his fortune in the coke-producing industry. Frick was the son of Abraham Overholt's daughter, Elizabeth, and her husband, John Frick.

Gerlich said he is confident that West Overton can be transformed into a first-rate tourist attraction. "I certainly believe it can happen," he said. "But it will take time."

Jeffry Katarski can be reached at jkatarski@tribweb.com or (724) 626-3503.



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West Overton News 2003
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