Jeff’s October Update

October was a key month for the River Towns, as we have to wrap up lots of projects before the winter hits here in Pennsylvania. We spent several days working outside on a variety of projects. In November and December, we will have to switch back to more office work. Our sponsoring organization, the Pennsylvania Environmental Council, graciously gave us $3000 to complete small projects. It was up to each of us to pick projects in our communities to complete. In Fredericktown, since our main focus has been business development, and connecting outdoor recreation to businesses, I began a simple facade restoration program in the downtown area. If a business owner was willing to put in time to help me, than I would provide supplies and help them with a project. I had two property owners agree to help me paint the front of their buildings. I also purchased fall mums and put them out on the main street, near the veteran’s memorial. Local community members also helped out on their own projects, including taking down outdated event banners, painting concrete flower beds, and installing some public art sculptures that were recently donated. These projects were all accomplished prior to a tour of the region by representatives of some major Pittsburgh area foundations. These groups are looking to fund new projects for next year, so we showed them the kind of work we are doing in our communities. October was also the due date of the Washington County Local Share Account program, which I have been working on for months now. We had to write some last minute letters, make engineering diagrams of the existing public boat docks, and compile all permits, but that application finally was sent in. Now we must wait until the county decides what projects to fund. The entire River Towns Corps spent one day touring Monessen, a town along the Monongahela River, but located closer to Pittsburgh. We met with a few community groups and saw what kind of work they have been doing. I also worked at the Sustainable Energy Fair in Ohiopyle, and attended a regional trails meeting, hosted by the “Power of 32” group. Finally, we had several very important meetings in October. The most recent meeting of the Fredericktown Action Team decided on several projects for next year, and local community members stepped up and took on responsibilities. I had meetings with two new partners, that I hope to work with a lot in the future: the Boy Scout Troop in Rices Landing, and the California University’s ‘Eco Action’ Club. Lastly, we had a major meeting with McCollom Development Strategies to decide which projects would be a focus of next year’s corps.