Monday, December 20, 2010

The Air Out There

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette just ran an eight-part series titled "Mapping Mortality" by staff writers David Templeton and Don Hopey (Mr. Hopey is a former resident of Mt. Lebanon).  In it, they addressed the higher-than-national-average mortality rates that prevail in Pittsburgh and southwestern Pennsylvania believed to accrue from the incidence of air pollution linked to coal-fired power plants and other industrial companies labeled by the EPA as major sources of pollution.

While the news for southwestern Pennsylvania is not good, a silver lining may be that "several municipalities with mortality rates less than the national average suggest a smaller polution burden along with socioeconomic factors that reduce disease risk.  These include Mt. Lebanon with a rate 10 percent below the national rate and Upper St. Clair, whose mortality rates are 32 percent below national rates...South Fayette in western Allegheny County is 28 [percent] under the national average."  The flip side?  Close-by communities Bridgeville, Heidelberg and Carnegie have a combined mortality rate that is 36 percent above the national average and lung cancer rates in Heidelberg are an astonishing 140 percent higher than the national average.

A summary of this informative series can be found on the P-G's Staff Blogs.

The Emmaus Community Needs Your Help!

From our friend and Mt. Lebanon resident Karen Jacobsen, executive director of the Emmaus Community, a non-profit which runs transitional homes (for those with autism and other intellectual disabilities) in Mt. Lebanon, Dormont and neighboring communities:

The Emmaus Community of Pittsburgh is currently seeking a group of creative, motivated individuals between the ages of 22 and 40 to serve on our new Young Professional Advisory Board.  We are excited to be partnering with American Eagle to launch this new project!  The purpose of the Young Professional Advisory Board will be to develop deeper relationships between Emmaus and Pittsburgh’s young professional community and to work together with Emmaus staff, Board, and residents to support the Emmaus mission.

If you are looking for a way to dedicate some time and effort to helping others while meeting new people and expanding your network, we believe this will be a great fit!  We seek individuals who want to share their skills and expertise in a collaborative setting.  Potential opportunities include: helping to grow the Emmaus young professional network and increasing awareness of our mission; supporting Emmaus programs, special events, and fundraising efforts; engaging in volunteer activities with our residents; and finding innovative, fun ways to partner in order to further our mission.  We hope that members will become involved in the areas most suitable to their skills, passions and lifestyles.

Interested in learning more?  Contact Tiffany at 412-381-0277 or e-mail

The gifts of time and energy are among the most valuable.  Please consider helping the Emmaus Community.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Roaster Is On At Aldo Coffee

Post-Gazette restaurant critic China Millman has kind words for Rich and Melanie Westerfield, owners of Aldo Coffee on Washington Road, in today's paper.  Rich is now roasting and selling his own beans as opposed to carrying those of highly-regarded (and far-off) roasters Intelligentsia (Chicago) and Stumptown (Portland, Oregon).

Here's raising a cup(pa joe) to their continued success!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Holiday Doorways, Part Deux

Junior shutterbug "SGL" was at it again and doubled the size of the "Holiday Doorways" slide show on the blog's right sidebar.  Take a peek at the bounty of Mt. Lebanon during this holiday season.

All thanks to friends and neighbors who collectively make Mt. Lebanon such a beautiful place throughout the year.

Happy Holidays From Mt. Lebanon Magazine!

From our friends at Mt. Lebanon Magazine, a holiday pictorial that reminds us of the many reasons we choose to live here.  How can you not love a town with its own Halloween Parade, brewfest and UltraParty?  Count me in!

Public Service In Action

Have you ever wondered how our municipality runs? is it The Little Engine That Could or a bureaucracy rife with red tape?  Get a taste of civic government in action at tonight's Regular Meeting of the Mt. Lebanon Commission, scheduled for Monday, December 13 at 8 p.m. in the Commission chambers at 710 Washington Road.  Among the items up for discussion are the 2011 municipal budget.  View the full agenda here.

Citizen comments are welcomed at the beginning of all Commission meetings.

Wish List

During this time of holiday wish lists and expressions of gratitude, I'm delighted to be able to notch one off my list.  It looks as if we're finally getting a Trader Joe's close by, in the location of the Pier One Imports store on Washington Road.  Details are still being worked out but many of  us have long thought this a great fit (let's face it, Pier One isn't what it used to be).  We still need a Target store closer to Mt. Lebanon and while it probably won't be in the old Boscov's location in South Hills Village (Target generally seeks out strip malls, not enclosed, high-end malls), you would think the mod retailer from Minneapolis could find some space in that big-box heaven in and around Bethel Park.

Speaking of Boscov's...when will something fill that gargantuan mall space? will Nordstrom finally trek to the South Hills?  Not many anchor-type stores are branching out in this economy and while Saks Fifth Avenue may or may not re-up its lease downtown, it seems like Nordstrom is the better fit in these parts.

While I'm talking retail, I've long thought (as have many of us Lebo gals!) that what our Uptown shopping district needs is a great shoe store, a cross between Little's in Squirrel Hill and Pavement in Lawrenceville.  Read:  great selection, fashion-forward, reasonable price point.  Small clothing boutiques would likely follow and these stores would be on the path of everyone between downtown Pittsburgh and the far South Hills.  We have enough gallery, accessory and jewelry stores in Uptown and on Beverly Road already -- clothing and shoes will round out the offerings nicely.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Mt. Lebanon's Dori Oldaker Nominated For Dapper Dan Award

Mt. Lebanon Girl's Basketball coach Dori Oldaker is one of four nominees for the Dapper Dan Sportswoman of the Year award.  From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's ballot:

"Dori Oldaker, Mt. Lebanon girl's basketball coach - Oldaker coached the Blue Devils to WPIAL and PIAA championships for the second consecutive season and became the first coach to lead a WPIAL Class AAAA girls' basketball team to consecutive PIAA championships. She previously won two WPIAL and two PIAA titles as a coach at Blackhawk."

Recent winners in the category include the Penn State women's volleyball team and Pitt All-America guard Shavonte Zellous.

Winners for the Sportsman and Sportswoman of the Year are determined by reader voting at the Post-Gazette.  The 75th Annual Dapper Dan Dinner & Sports Auction will be held on February 9, 2011 at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center.  Cast your vote for Lebo's own, Coach Oldaker, by clicking here.

Congratulations, coach!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Holiday Doorways in Mt. Lebanon

Maybe it was the light snowfall or the nip in the air...or perhaps it was the holiday cheer at long last latching on to him and refusing to let go.  Whatever the case, avid photographer and nine-year-old resident "SGL" set about finding the most beautiful holiday doorways of Mt. Lebanon on Friday afternoon.  The resulting slide show is on the blog's right sidebar and will remain there throughout the holiday season.

"I might add some more photos if I find stuff I like more," noted the junior shutterbug.  His mother (and co-scribe at this blog) couldn't be prouder of the boy's first public show.

(Note to Mt. Lebanon parents: if your son/daughter loves to write or take photographs, we welcome submissions!  We'd love to see and hear their take on the town.)

Mt. Lebanon Floral Is A Winter Wonderland Once Again

Just as day turns to night and the Steelers can be counted on to win whilst the Pirates lose, Mt. Lebanon Floral on Washington Road is once again a winter wonderland this holiday season.  No sooner has Thanksgiving passed that the store decorates a handful of trees with myriad ornaments and the puffiest of bows.  Step inside this magical space and if you don't feel like a kid on Christmas Eve, well, your name must be Scrooge.

The staff of Mt. Lebanon Floral is busy this holiday season, creating wreaths, bows and other specialty items for their loyal clientele.  Stop in and prepare to be enchanted by something special for your home.  If nothing catches your eye (!), a quick conversation should lead to the perfect bow or tree-topper.  Go!  Feel the magic.

Friday, December 3, 2010

"Main Streets" Program Brightens Lebo Business Districts

Businesses along the Washington Road and Beverly Road corridors are being encouraged to apply for facade improvement grants currently available and co-sponsored by the municipality and the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development.

In brief, the program is a 1/3 match up to $5,000 so that for every two dollars spent on improvements by the business owner, a dollar of grant money is obtained.  Eligible facade improvements include new signs, awnings, lighting, painting, a reconfiguration of entrances and door or window replacement/repair.

Taking wonderful advantage of the program is Elizabeth Boyd, owner of Uptown Coffee on Washington Road.  Her cafe is benefitting from a totally-revamped entryway with new exterior lighting, painting and trim.  The added space at the front of the cafe allows for sink-into-me chairs you may never want to leave.

The grant sunsets on June 30, 2011.  Interested parties should contact Eric Milliron at emilliron at to determine eligibility, process and cost issues.  Eric would love to see more participation!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

It's Arbor Day Every Day In Mt. Lebanon

Now that the leaves have fallen and our trees are ready to take a break for the winter, we had Arborel Tree Service come out to assess, and care for, our trees.  Arborel is a family-run business that has been active in the South Hills for years.  They employ certified arborists and have a wealth of knowlege about trees commonly seen in Mt. Lebanon.

Our two sprawling lilac bushes were cut way back, as they should be every 3-5 years.  A harness was placed on a tall maple in the back yard to protect it from wind storms (better late than never -- we lost two large branches during the freak afternoon wind storm in September) and our majestic oak was culled of dry/dead growth.

In the front yard, my favorite (and one-and-only) dogwood tree had to part with a couple of significant branches, one which was shattered during Snowmageddon and another that was rubbing against the tree's core branch, which would gradually deaden one or the other (we removed the smaller of the two branches).  Our hemlock was given better shape and a second harness was wrapped around our curbside birch (Snowmageddon at work yet again -- this tree's branches almost hit the ground under the weight of the heavy, wet snow).

Finally, we chose to do some work on the pear tree that belongs to Mt. Lebanon as it was wracked by fire blight and the municipality doesn't have the funds to address these trees (we were told to do it or lose it so we had the work done).  Fire blight is affecting many of the streetside apple and pear trees in our community and while there is no known "cure," pruning of affected areas this time of year is recommended and may forestall the spread of the disease.

Arborel was suggested by friends and neighbors shortly after we arrived in Mt. Lebanon and we couldn't be happier with the work they've done on our property over the last several years.  Whether you work with them or another tree company in Mt. Lebanon, this is the right time of year to get the job done. 

Friday, November 19, 2010

Mt. Lebanon Veterans Memorial Video Is Worth Watching

A new video on the proposed Mt. Lebanon Veterans Memorial can be seen on YouTube:

Former Steeler Rocky Bleier, a Vietnam vet, is featured in the video and you'll hear the how and why of the project and what you can do to support this worthwhile endeavor (read: donations!).

Let's show our steely resolve and make this Memorial happen.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Let's Light Up Mt. Lebanon Tonight, November 18!

Yep, tonight's the Night to Light up Mt. Lebanon.  Tree lighting ceremonies and assorted merriment will be held in and around Clearview Common and along Washington Road from 6-9 p.m.  Expect horse-drawn carriage rides, entertainment and a visit from you-know-who (he of ho-ho-ho fame:  Santa!).

Sharon Clark of Ona Boutique at 692 Washington Road send this cheery holiday note:

"Be sure to stop by ONA and sample some Gourmet treats by Beth of Cuccina Verde, have a glass of wine or sample one of our beers out front with the guys. Hope to see you there!"

Participating merchants have made this a fun event over the years so head on down and welcome the holiday season with friends and neighbors.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Battle Of The Invasives (Plants, That Is) In Bird Park

Debbie Larson, a longtime resident and board member of the Mt. Lebanon Nature Conservancy, had noticed that invasive plants in Bird Park were only getting worse at about the same time Mayfair Drive resident Louanne Baily approached her to ask if there was anything the Conservancy could do about the problem.  The two joined forces as co-chairs of the group's Invasives Task Force and set about assessing where there was the most damage in order to formulate a plan.

The plants deemed to be the most serious offenders were labeled Tier 1 and include Japanese knotweed, bittersweet, English ivy and garlic mustard.  Less problematic but still causing damage are plants in Tier 2, including Tree-of-Heaven, a pesky offender.

While the problem is not new to local parks and green spaces, it has gotten progressively worse in recent years as trees have come down due to storm damage and attendant clearing.  The resultant light filtering into the woods makes for ideal growing conditions for invasive plants.

Today, a casual stroller through Bird Park will find patches of ground covered in English ivy and large swaths of land given over to grapevine and knotweed.  These plantings may look attractive but, in actuality, they choke out the native plants that make for healthy, self-sustaining forestation.

Since June of this year, the Conservancy has organized volunteers who meet in Bird Park monthly to cut back (or pull out) invasive plants.  It's not enough, however, and in the case of knotweed, only spraying to kill the plant will stop the fast-growing species from moving further into the park.

The Conservancy has petitioned the Municipality to spend $15,000 over the next three years on a vegetation management program to stem the tide of invasives, to be handled by a licensed contractor.  If the program is put into place, the group vows to remain vigilant and continue its campaign of cutting and clearing invasive plants.

Larson has spoken to a similar group in Fox Chapel that has been battling invasives for the past ten years and notes that their vegetation management program is showing results.  "They started at the top of a watershed and are still working on it but, finally, native plants are moving back in."

Those interested in volunteering for the Conservancy's monthly meetup in Bird Park can contact Larson at larsondrc at verizon dot net or Baily at lbaily at earthlink dot net.  Alternatively, letters of support can be emailed to the Mt. Lebanon commissioners at commission at mtlebanon dot org.  The next Bird Park event will be held in December, weather permitting, or in Spring 2011.

What Are They Feeding Them In Woodland Hills?

Seeing as how Woodland Hills High grad and New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski completely dismantled the Steelers' secondary in the Pats' Sunday night victory, it's a little easier to understand Mt. Lebanon's defeat at the hands of Woodland Hills in the WPIAL quarterfinals this past weekend.  Or not.  In any case, I have to wonder what they're feeding them boys in Woodland Hills 'cause they're big and strong and "COULD. GO. ALL. THE. WAY." (cue Chris Berman of ESPN for that last chant).

From our own Dave Reese, media relations maven and stats man for the Blue Devils:

"We more than held our own with the boys from Woodland Hills.  We had the edge in almost every stat category but the most important one: the score.

Our drive in the fourth quarter to take the lead was spectacular: moved the ball 69 yards in 17 plays and consumed 8:40 on the clock (Luke Hagy carried the ball on 16 of the 17 plays for 66 of those yards).  We just left them a bit too much time to come back, and they connected on a couple of passes that were just south of miraculous.

Our kids gave everything they had.  I was sure proud of them."

Hats off to the Lebo High football team -- great year, boys!  Silver lining?  Juniors Pat Goff (QB) and Luke Hagy (RB) are back next season.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Mt. Lebanon vs. Woodland Hills in WPIAL football, tonight!

Mt. Lebanon will take on Woodland Hills in a WPIAL quarterfinal football game tonight, November 12, at 7:30 p.m. at Baldwin stadium.  Woodland Hills is an east end powerhouse but the Blue Devils have a good history against them, beating tonight's foe for the WPIAL championship in 2000 in the last game played in Three Rivers Stadium.  The Blue Devils also emerged victorious against the Wolverines in the opening game of both the 2006 and 2007 season.  Lebo coach Chris Haering sports a 3-2 lifetime record against the Wolverines.

Juniors Pat Goff and Luke Hagy are once again the keys to the game, according to Dave Reese, team statistician and media liaison.  "I expect a very close game," says Reese, "and we'll have to work hard to contain Lafayette Pitts," the Wolverines tailback who is headed to (where else?) Pitt on a football scholarship.  Woodland Hills also has one of the best defenses in the WPIAL, according to Reese, and the game could come down to a fourth-quarter field goal, which might favor the Wolverines' top-notch kicker, Sam Scifo (Lebo's starting kicker is currently injured).

Keys to the game for the Blue Devils?  "Run the ball, maintain possession and keep Pitts off the field!" says Reese.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Let's Salute Our Veterans

Seeing as how my eight-year-old son just sent a letter to Grandpa thanking him for his service to our country many moons ago, it is my pleasure to give a shout-out to the "Salute to Veterans" being held on Thursday, November 11 at 7 pm in the Chartiers Room of the Providence Point Retirement Community (near Our Lady of Grace Church).  All vets are welcome and the event will premiere a new video about Mt. Lebanon veterans.  Retired Marine Lt. Col. Jay Kopelman, author of two New York Times bestsellers on his experiences in Iraq, is the featured speaker.  This promises to be a worthwhile evening.

I'll be at the High School Evening Theater's performance of "Get Smart" at the same time (how did Thursday nights become so popular in Lebo?) but will be thinking about the fine men and women who have served our country so ably for generations, and still do to this day.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

It's Raining Leaves!

It's been raining leaves in Mt. Lebanon for several weeks now and there is no clearer sign of that than the piles of dried leaves along our many winding streets.  A patchwork quilt of yellow, orange, beige and brown, these reminders of a summer well spent under cooling oaks and maples signal a shift in seasons that will usher in the cold, dark days of winter.

As I sit at my window on this Fall afternoon, I can still glimpse a neighbor's graceful maple, its leaves a neon shade of plum-pink in the waning afternoon sun.  My dogwood and birch are bony shadows of their former selves and the apple tree at the curb is alarmingly bi-polar, a mash-up of green and red leaves fighting for top dog status.

We just finished what we expect to be the last (lawn) mow of the season and are hurriedly raking leaves in anticipation of the weekly pickup.  If you're uncertain of leaf pickup procedures in your neighborhood, visit the leaf collection page at the Mt. Lebanon municipal web site.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

GREAT New Video! Check it out!

Hi Folks,

I wanted to be sure to let everyone know about a fantastic new video supporting the high school renovation. Check it out here:

The intent is to spread important information pertaining to the much needed high school renovation while representing a great cross-section of the many, many people in our community who wholeheartedly support it.

Check it out!

Want a yard sign to show your support for the renovation? Go to and request one.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

It's All About Community

Mt. Lebanon introduces 'star' in business district

About the writer
Matthew Santoni is a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review staff writer and can be reached at 412-380-5625 or via e-mail.

-->By Matthew SantoniPITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEWSaturday, October 2, 2010

For years, Mt. Lebanon's Uptown business district has been a paradox: a slice of downtown in a suburban setting; a walkable community that didn't take off until the Liberty Tunnels and automobiles opened up the South Hills to widespread settlement.
Last night, officials cut the ribbon on a $737,000 revitalization project along Washington Road, designed to add a touch of parkland and performance space to the businesses, offices and residences Uptown.
"It's so unique to this area to have a cool downtown area in the middle of a suburb," said Joe Ravita, owner of Empire Music and president of the Uptown Business Association. "Uptown is a place people can recognize immediately, and (this project) is kind of like the star on the top of the tree."
This summer, contractors added a small pavilion to the Clearview Common parklet, located at the intersection of Washington Road and Alfred Street, which can be used for live music, lectures, weddings and other performances, said Eric Milliron, commercial districts manager for Mt. Lebanon. Together with electrical work, plumbing, painting, lighting, sidewalk repairs, new decorations and new banners, the project represented a "re-branding" for Uptown, he said.
"There's a sense of community pride that's intangible, but important," Milliron said. "If you don't make these improvements from time to time, your downtown becomes obsolete."
The banners, interspersed with the logo for the municipality, urge passers-by to shop locally.
"We wanted to emphasize in these hard times how important it is to shop local and support your neighbors," Milliron said.
Much of the funding for the project is from $341,809 in state Department of Community and Economic Development grants, with the municipality adding $205,625, local businesses contributing $91,250 toward facade improvements and the Mt. Lebanon Parking Authority adding $80,000 worth of new parking meters to the area that are solar-powered and accept credit cards, said Mt. Lebanon spokeswoman Laura Pace Lilley. The Mt. Lebanon Industrial Development Authority and the Mt. Lebanon Partnership contributed the rest.
The ribbon-cutting took place at the last of the season's "First Fridays" events, though the pavilion itself got its first use in July when local band Donora played the mostly finished stage, Milliron said.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Way to Go Lebo!

Magazine calls Mt. Lebanon 1 of 25 'coolest suburbs' in U.S.
Thursday, September 30, 2010
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The editors of Travel + Leisure have named Mt. Lebanon among the 25 "Coolest Suburbs Worth a Visit." The article, out this month, includes a picture of the facade of Washington Road's Uptown Coffee.
A quote from the article in Travel: "Part of this town's allure is the friendly vibe and proximity to Downtown Pittsburgh, six miles away . . . Social life bustles along Washington Road, where you'll find requisite boutiques and bistro-style dining options as well as specialty purveyors like Dinardo's Candy."
Travel + Leisure's Executive Editor, Rich Beattie, said the editorial team was looking for towns that are "attractive to people under 40, to singles and to couples not necessarily looking to raise a family." They had several criteria, including: A dynamic, walkable downtown, flourishing local restaurants that appeal to foodies, an established nightlife/bar scene and worthy cultural attractions.
Among the other notable communities are Evanston, Ill., La Jolla, Calif. and The Woodlands, Texas.
Read more:

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Ditch the Drugs!!

Mt. Lebanon: hazardous waste to be collected
By staff reports, TRIBUNE-REVIEW Thursday, September 9, 2010
Your local news

The Southwestern Pa. Household Hazardous Waste Task Force is partnering with Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield to host a collection of unwanted pharmaceuticals (prescription, over-the-counter and veterinary medications) from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Oct. 23 at the Mt. Lebanon Municipal Building, 710 Washington Road.
Residents will be able to safely dispose of unwanted or expired pharmaceutical products, including both controlled and non-controlled substances. A licensed contractor, law enforcement officials and licensed pharmacists will be on hand to ensure all materials collected are handled in accordance with federal, state and local laws.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

New Charges Filed in Fatal Mt. Lebanon Accident

Police: Toxicology Test Results Show Driver Had Marijuana In System MT. LEBANON (KDKA) ―

Thursday, September 02, 2010
By Kaitlynn Riely, Pittsburgh Post-GazetteRead more:

Authorities have filed new charges against a driver in connection to a pedestrian accident that killed a mother in Mt. Lebanon.Lisa Styles, 36, of Mt. Lebanon, was jogging with her 3-year-old son and 1-year-old daughter in a double stroller when she was struck and killed by an SUV at the intersection Washington and Beadling Roads back in June.According to investigators, 20-year-old Benjamin Cope allegedly went through a stop sign and hit Styles.Initially, police charged him with DUI. That charge was withdrawn in order to file new charges against him which include homicide by vehicle while driving under the influence, homicide by vehicle, involuntary manslaughter and reckless driving.Mt. Lebanon police say toxicology test results show Cope had marijuana in his system at the time of the crash.A warrant has been issued for Cope's arrest. Police say Cope's attorney is arranging for his client to turn himself in to authorities.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Citizens Fire Academy

Sign up for the Citizens Fire Academy. Series of free classes runs Thursdays from 7 to 10, Sept. 9-Oct. 21. You’ll get to don your own fire gear, learn how to put out fires and use the jaws of life. You’ll also get to ride along with firefighters on real calls. Register at 412-343-3402 or

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Foster Elementary School Gets New Playround "Digs"

The kids at Foster Elementary have surely something to cheer about...and when I say "the kids", I mean ALL kids as the new Foster playground was built with ALL kids in mind regardless of any disability they may have. As a member of the Foster Playground Committee, I am proud to say that a new playground was installed this summer through a community build which took place on July 26. After years of preparation, planning, and fundraising our goal has been realized - we have a new playground that is accessable to all children including children with physical or mental disabilities. I wish to thank the co-chairs of this committee, Julie Maselko and Kim McFadden for their tireless efforts.

For the full story click on the following link to an article in last week's Almanac.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Dog Daze Of Summer

After having lived in Mt. Lebanon for only a week (we moved here from San Francisco three years ago), my then-five year old son said "Mom, it's so much EASIER living here!"  I knew exactly what he meant:  the walkable neighborhoods, friendly families and plentiful services and diversions were a boon to our city-weary family.  It seems that summer is the easiest of the seasons (my husband would beg to differ as he hates humidity) as the number of things to do is almost limitless.

On most mornings, my son trots off to playground camp, a cavalcade of activities that allows for imaginary play and the fantastical creations of young minds.  Warmer afternoons are spent at the oh-so-refreshing Mt. Lebanon Pool or if clouds loom, we head for a nearby tennis court to hit some balls (we don't pretend to have a "game").  The Mt. Lebanon Public Library is also a regular stop for summer reads that keep us busy at odd hours or on weekends away.  If we're in town, we follow most library visits with a stop at Uptown Coffee for sweets and a refreshing drink.

We're tickled pink that the Galleria Theater is still around, the better to catch summer matinees in an air-conditioned space.  Bowling at AMF Lanes on Washington Road is an even sweeter deal thanks to our "Kids Bowl Free" coupons, obtained at the start of summer at the AMF web site (and the two games per day really ARE free, even if bowling shoes have to be rented for a small fee).  Some days, we opt for a slice of pizza at the lanes but the truth is we head over to Bruster's on Library Road more often than not for a creamy cone (Key Lime Pie, oh my!).

And then there are the really simple pleasures, like sitting on the back deck for a late dinner and watching fireflies as they light up the night sky.  I love how a neighbor will often call and offer up a cold one at their backyard or mine and how easy it is to catch a group of folks chatting at the proverbial "stoop."  This last pleasure always brings back memories of my youth, tugging at my father's shirt as he talked to the "men" of the neighborhood in Bridgeport, Connecticut, solving the world's problems in one night.

It's a gift to be living in Mt. Lebanon, one that is not lost on me or my family.  Happy summer, everyone!

In Memory of Lisa Styles

Saturday, July 17, 2010

ULTRAparty - August 7th, 2010

The Mt. Lebanon Historical Society is partnering with the Mt. Lebanon Partnership for ULTRAparty, 8 p.m. to midnight, Saturday, August 7, on Washington Road. The '80s cover band Velveeta will perform. $5 donation for those over 21 gets you a wristband that allows you to purchase beer. Proceeds will go to area organizations, including the Children's Institute Center for Autism and the Historical Society.

ULTRAparty 2010 provides an excellent opportunity for the young (and young-at-heart) to literally party in the street, enjoying live music and refreshments in desirable and easy-to-access Uptown Mt. Lebanon. The street is closed to vehicular traffic, the stage is centrally located, and food and drink vendors are strategically placed on each side of the closed street area. Registration tables are set-up to check IDs and sell wristbands to those 21 and older. Wristbands are required to purchase alcohol.

Click on this link for more info:

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Mt. Lebanon Couple Dedicated to Fight Cystic Fibrosis

Edward and Jodi Kubit have been selected as one of Pittsburgh’s Finest Couples. The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation chose the couples based on their leadership and commitment to helping their community.

Ed and Jodi’s dedication to their community is demonstrated through their involvement in various activities, board, chair, and volunteer positions. Jodi has always had a passion for philanthropic causes. For the past three years she has been a Brownie Troop Leader, organizing many community service projects with the troop, she was a part of Mt. Lebanon’s Junior Women’s Club for five years, where she served as a member of their philanthropy committee, along with serving as President, Newsletter Editor, and Silent Auction Co-Chair, she is active in Markham Elementary PTA and Mt. Lebanon City Council of PTA and she was the chair for the 75th Anniversary Gala for Mt. Lebanon Public Library which raised over $50,000. Ed is a phenomenal asset to Mt. Lebanon’s School District. He is the President of Mt. Lebanon’s School Board and is currently dedicating his time to the high school’s construction project. He has been serving on the School Board since 2007. Along with his volunteer position as President, Ed is a territory representative for the software company, Check Point. The Kubit’s have three children; Molly Anne, Eddie, and Lilly, ages five, eight, and nine and have been married for 10 years.

On September 11, 2010, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation will host an event, Pittsburgh’s Finest Couples for a Cure at the Smart House in Mt. Washington. The event will be held to thank and celebrate the couples that have dedicated their time to their community and helping to fight for a cure for cystic fibrosis. Tickets to this fabulous event for a cause cost $100 each. In 2009, Pittsburgh’s Finest Couples raised over $120,000 for cystic fibrosis research and this amount is expected to grow this year.

If you would like to make a donation in honor of Ed and Jodi, visit the Cystic Fibrosis website at! Or contact Jodi at

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Lisa Styles - Mother....Hero...


Lisa Styles, 36, is being praised as a hero for pushing the stroller carrying two of her children out of harm's way. Family and friends of a Mt. Lebanon woman fatally struck by an SUV last week while pushing a stroller said goodbye.Lisa Styles, 36, was at the intersection Washington and Beadling Roads. She's being praised as a hero for pushing the stroller carrying two of her children out of harm's way.Styles appeared to have a life only most people could dream of. She was a well-educated woman with a law degree; a mother happily devoted to her three young children and had a husband who adored her."And it touched me when he said … how he was honored just to be her husband, that she was his wife," John Mihm, of Mt. Lebanon, said.Styles was killed when an SUV ran a stop sign. She was running with two of her kids in a stroller. She was training for a half marathon.The 20-year-old man charged with the accident may be facing prison time.For two of Lisa Styles' children, they'll grow up knowing that their mother gave her life while saving theirs."She acted to protect her children," Nihm said. "She gave her life for her children."Some mourners expressed the hope that the Styles family will find a way to forgive and not be overwhelmed with anger."I just hope that God will give them the strength to carry on and not to let hate enter his heart because his life was so drastically changed," Nihm said.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

July 4th Festivities Right in Our Own Backyard!

Our very own Mt. Lebanon Park will be host to a fun-filled day of July 4th activities. Games, Food and Fun from 12 - 5 PM/ a concert by Dancing Queen at 7:30/ Fireworks at 9:30 PM. Enjoy the day!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Obituary: Lisa Styles/ being a mom was Mt. Lebanon woman's true calling

Jan. 1, 1974 - June 29, 2010

Thursday, July 01, 2010
By Kaitlynn Riely, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Lisa Clay Styles planned princess birthday parties, made cakes with smiley faces and filled each weekend with activities and field trips for her three young children.
"Her sails were most full when she became a mother," said Brett Styles, her husband.
She would call in the middle of the day to tell him when one of their children accomplished something, even if it was a small thing. Not long ago, she called him to say that their son Nate, 3, who has autism spectrum disorder, was able to put his first two-word, simple sentence together: "Turn page."

"She made every day like that," Mr. Styles said. "She looked at being a mother as these sequential triumphs, so excited about every single step."

On Monday, Ms. Styles, who was training to do the Chicago half-marathon with her brother in September, was running with a double jogging stroller along Washington Road in Mt. Lebanon, where the family moved in December. As she crossed Beadling Road, she was struck by an SUV that failed to stop at the stop sign as it turned onto Washington Road. Ms. Styles died at UPMC Mercy the next day from a severe head injury. She was 36.

The stroller carrying Nate and Ms. Styles' daughter Evelyn, 14 months, turned on its side into Washington Road, but the children were not injured. Another daughter, June, 4, was at a play date.

Ms. Styles, born Jan. 1, 1974 to Ellen and Carl Clay, was the first baby born in Cobb County, Ga., that year. Her family lived in Atlanta until 1983, then moved to Wexford. She attended North Allegheny High School, then went to Tufts University near Boston, where she received a bachelor's degree in English, with a minor in Mandarin. She became practically fluent in the language after she spent her junior year of college in Hong Kong.

Traveling became a hobby, and over the next several years she lived in Ireland for a few months, and traveled to places such as New Zealand, Portugal, French Guiana, and then closer places like Canada and the Caribbean once she had children.

She spent a few years after college living in San Francisco, where she waitressed and bartended and developed a talent for cooking.

She decided she wanted to get into child advocacy work, so she moved to Cleveland to attend Case Western Reserve University. Her initial plan was to do a 5-year program at Case Western and get a master's in social work and a law degree.

But she ran into Brett Styles, a high school classmate, on a visit to Gooski's bar in Polish Hill in 2002, and they began dating. After she earned her master's, she decided to get her law degree at the University of Pittsburgh.

They bought a house in Brookline and married in 2004. She continued to attend school while June was an infant and while she was pregnant with Nate.

"She sat for the bar and she passed the bar while she was eight months pregnant," her brother, Kevin Clay, of Omaha, Neb., said. "She had to get special bathroom privileges."
Her son was born prematurely and spent weeks in the neonatal intensive care unit. Ms. Styles would take him for 25 hours of therapy a week, Mr. Styles said, and put off pursuing a career so she could take care of him and his sisters.

"She dropped everything for her family," Mr. Styles said.
The last six years of her life were her happiest, her brother, Mr. Clay said, and the part that defined her the most.

Ms. Styles planned to pursue child advocacy work once her children were all in school.
"She was brilliant, and I think the main act of her life, it started now," Mr. Styles said.
In addition to her husband, brother and three children, Ms. Styles is survived by her mother, Ellen Clay of Cleveland.

Visitation will be Monday from 2 to 4 and 6 to 8 p.m. at Beinhauer Mortuary on West Liberty Avenue in Beechview. Funeral services will be held Tuesday at noon at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Mt. Lebanon, with a private interment.

The family suggested that memorial donations be made to groups supporting autism research.Read more:

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

In Memory of Lisa Styles

Here is a post from Tom Moertel at Blog Lebo regarding donations in memory of Lisa Styles:

A friend of the Styles family wrote to say that if readers are interested in making a donation in Lisa's name, there are two good options:
Make a contribution to The Autism Society of America in Lisa Styles's name

Or, if you want to give directly to the Styles family in this time of distress, you may donate to "Children of Lisa Styles Trust" at Dollar Bank


The vigil for Lisa Styles, the Mt. Lebanon mom who was tragically killed by a car while jogging with her children, will be held tomorrow, July 1, at 7:30 PM at the location of the accident - Washington Rd. at Beadling. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family...

Candlelight Vigil for Lisa Styles

A candlelight vigil is being planned following the death of a local mother who died one day after she was struck by an SUV while jogging with her children in Mount Lebanon. Lisa Styles, 36, was pushing a stroller with her 1-year-old daughter and 3-year-old son inside Monday when police say she was struck by an SUV driven by 20-year-old Benjamin Cope. According to police, he did not stop at a stop sign and struck Styles as she was crossing the street at Beadling Road and Washington Road.Officials with the Medical Examiner's Office said Tuesday that Styles died at UPMC Mercy Hospital.Cope is now facing charges."We're specifically charging him with the controlled substances section of the DUI vehicle code violation. So, we're saying he had controlled substances in his system at the time of the accident," Lt. Aaron Lauth said. "We're suspecting marijuana at this time."The children were not seriously hurt, but Styles had a major head injury. A candlelight vigil is being planned for Thursday to remember Styles and remind people to slow down while driving in that area.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Helping Our Community

Mt. Lebanon's website keep a running list of volunteer opportunities in our great community. Below is that very list - take a look! Summertime is a great time to get out in the community and make a difference while having fun too!

St. Clair Hospital Seeking volunteers for clerical work, event planning, fund-raising, information desk, escorts, gift shop and snack bar. 1000 Bower Hill Road. 412-344-6600 ext. 1650.

St. Winifred Food Bank Services Provides services to people with limited income or resources. 412-343-3320.

Mt. Lebanon Library Seeking volunteers for typing, telephoning, shelving new books, stuffing envelopes, mailing, programs, creating book lists and making homebound deliveries. 16 Castle Shannon Boulevard. 412-531-1912.

Meals on Wheels To help prepare or deliver meals, call Lutheran Service Society at 412-734-9330.

Asbury Heights/Asbury Place Seeking volunteer escorts and clerks for the country store. 412-571-5150.

Baptist Homes Seeking volunteer escorts, help for outings and special activities, van drivers and gift shop help. 412-563-6550.

Contact Pittsburgh This crisis and suicide hotline is looking for nonjudgmental listeners to provide immediate emotional support to adults and teens. Classes for the 30-hour training course are available periodically. Upon completion, volunteers are asked to work eight to 12 service hours per month. 412-820-0100 or,

Hospital Outreach in the Neonatal Intensive Care Units
Parent Resource Network, 5151 Penn Avenue, seeks parent volunteers who have experienced the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit to provide outreach to other families currently in the hospital. Comprehensive, free training is available. Apply online at or call (toll free) 877-647-4373 ext 705.

Mt. Lebanon Volunteer Fire Company seeking volunteers. Mt. Lebanon Fire Department, 555 Washington Road. 412-343-3402.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Neighbors Helping Neighbors

As some of you already know, Christopher Marshall, 13,
was suddenly diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, also known as ALL, over Memorial Day weekend. He was immediately admitted to Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC, where a wonderful team of doctors and nurses have been giving him the best possible care. Chris has received chemotherapy and transfusions of red blood cells and platelets, as an
important part of his treatment. He will continue this
treatment for the next three years.

Chris is the son of Dean and Nancy Marshall, of
Mt. Lebanon, and has an older brother, John, 14,
and a younger sister, Lindsey, 11. Chris just finished
the 7th grade at Mellon Middle School. The family
attends Beverly Heights Presbyterian Church.
The community is encouraged to donate blood at
this special blood drive to help replenish the community
blood supply from which Chris is using and in
support of his journey back to health. Please donate
blood in honor of Chris!

Central Blood Bank is the not-for-profit organization
that supplies the blood products and transfusion related
services to more than 40 hospitals in western
Pennsylvania, northern West Virginia, and eastern
Ohio, including Children’s Hospital.


Tuesday, July 6, 2010
1:00 pm to 7:00 pm

Beverly Heights Presbyterian Church
Social Room
1207 Washington Road

To schedule an appointment,
please log on to and
enter sponsor code ZRTN0681
or email Lauren

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Let's Hear It For the Girls!!!

Way to go, ladies!!!

PIAA Softball: 'Perfect' Badolato leads Mt. Lebanon to state title
Saturday, June 19, 2010
By Michael Sanserino, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Matt Freed/Post-Gazette
Mt. Lebanon players lift their trophy after defeating Central Bucks South in the PIAA Class AAAA Championship in Shippensburg Friday.
SHIPPENSBURG, Pa. -- Neon orange fingernails dug into a bright yellow ball as Mt. Lebanon pitcher Geena Badolato stared down her 21st batter.
Facing a 3-2 count, Ms. Badolato was one strike away from a perfect game -- and one ball away from a near miss.
"I know I have a perfect game, but, if I walk her ..." Ms. Badolato said, her voice trailing.
That "if" will remain hypothetical.
Ms. Badolato capped her perfect game with a strikeout as Mt. Lebanon beat Central Bucks South, 1-0, to win the PIAA Class AAAA softball championship Friday at Shippensburg University.
She struck out 11 batters for Mt. Lebanon's first state title and the first perfect game in PIAA softball championship history.
"I'm just so at a loss for words," Ms. Badolato said. "It's definitely something I've worked for. One of my goals was to put a banner up at my school."
Ms. Badolato received the only run she needed in the first inning, when No. 3 hitter Tess Apke drilled a home run over the right-center field wall.
"I just saw the ball in and did my best," said Ms. Apke, who also hit the deciding homer in a 1-0 victory against Shaler in the PIAA quarterfinals.
Mt. Lebanon coach Nicole Fajtak was not sure the run would stand, but Ms. Badolato made her a believer.
A Robert Morris recruit, Ms. Badolato quickly worked through the South batting order. Only 10 balls were hit in play, and none left the dirt infield.
The game's defensive gem came in the top of the fifth. South third baseman Morgan Decker smashed a line drive toward the hole between second and third, but Mt. Lebanon third baseman Kathleen Mathison lunged left and snagged the low liner out of the air.
"That actually takes some of the pressure off Geena because she knows she has a great defense behind her," Ms. Fajtak said. "I think that's what makes her throw as well as she does."
Ms. Badolato had pitched several no-hitters in her career, but never a perfect game. She said the distinction belonged to her whole team, since they could not commit an error in order for it to happen.
"If I have it on the mound, everyone else has to have it behind me," she said. "And I knew they had it today."
Once the Blue Devils got out of the fifth, the murmurs of a perfect game started to grow.
In the stands, Ms. Badolato's sister, Leah, and father, Frank, stayed silent.
"I was thinking it the whole time," Leah said. "I didn't want to say anything to jinx it."
In the midst of a no-hitter or a perfect game, superstition prohibits anyone involved from talking about what might happen. For a few innings, it was the elephant in a crowded Mt. Lebanon dugout.
"We looked at each other in the sixth inning," Ms. Fajtak said, "and none of us said anything because none of us speak of it."
Ms. Badolato sat at the end of the dugout -- as she always does -- and casually talked to teammates about opposing pitcher Francesca Carrullo, who also was pitching a gem.
But when Ms. Badolato and the Blue Devils walked on the field at the top of the seventh inning, the nerves reached a crescendo.
Before every inning, Ms. Badolato throws three warmup pitches to catcher Jen Bahm, who throws to second base. But, as Ms. Badolato prepared to throw the most important inning of her life, Ms. Bahm jumped the gun, throwing the ball to second base after only two warmup pitches.
"It scared me," Ms. Badolato said. "We always do three pitches."
Ms. Bahm said she did not mean to break tradition; she was just a little distracted.
"I was nervous," she said. "I knew we had a good shot [at a perfect game], but it was still nerve-wracking."
Ms. Badolato quickly retired the first two batters of the inning, but with one batter separating her from a perfect game, she ran the count to 3-2 for the third time all game.
"You want the win," Ms. Fajtak said, "but, for Geena, I wanted her to go out the way that she deserved to. I was looking for that strike three like no other."
Ms. Badolato threw a fastball over the plate, and when South second baseman Haileigh Stocks swung and missed, the Mt. Lebanon dugout erupted.
"She deserved that," Ms. Fajtak said. "That was the best way. If I could write a story, that's how I would write her leaving the softball field."
The pitcher has painted her fingernails neon orange during Mt. Lebanon's run through the postseason. Chips force her to repaint them before every game. But she won't paint over that paint job, even if it chips soon.
"I'll keep it on for awhile now," Ms. Badolato said. "I'll just let this one wear off."
She does not want to wash away any memory from this game, which was some cap to her high school career.
"It was just the perfect way," she said, pausing for a moment to recall what she just said. "Literally."
Michael Sanserino: 412-263-1722.Read more:

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Music in the Air

Our very own Mt. Lebanon residents, Raul and Jennifer Faure, comprise two-thirds of the wonderful Faure String Trio. I wanted to take this opportunity to let you know about two exciting events that they will be offering. The first one is a concert at the Michael Berger Gallery on the South Side. This FREE concert will take place on June 26 at 7:30 PM. Their other showcase event is geared more towards the children of our community. The trio will be hosting a String Chamber Music Camp at Southminster Presbyterian Church from July 12 - 16. Check out their cool website for more details:

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Mt. Lebanon's Relay for Life

This past weekend's first annual Mt. Lebanon Relay for Life sure was proof that this community is a great one. As a first-time event the goal of the Relay was to round up 20 teams and raise $25,000 . Well...Lebo had 76 teams signed up and we collectively raised over $150,000 for the fight against cancer!!!!! That's what I call coming together for the common good. We broke an all-time record for $$ raised in Allegheny county! We even broke a national record for most $$ raised at a first-time event!! I was so proud to participate with my family and friends. We were on Team Roycroft with other friends and neighbors from our street. Kudos to Jennifer Cooney for organizing our troops! I was even more proud of our community - a little teamwork goes a long way!! I feel so fortunate to live in such a great place. Thanks to all who participated!

In the words of my son:

Haiku for Life

The Relay for Life,
Fighting cancer by walking,
I know we can win.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Now If Only The Pirates Would Sign Them...

Hats off to the Mt. Lebanon Girls Softball Team!  The good news from the MTLSD Twitter stream below.

Girls' Softball Win WPIAL
June 3, 2010
The girls' softball team just won the WPIAL Championship this afternoon beating Shaler 7 -2!! Congratulations to Coach Fajtak and all of the girls for a terrific year. The girls will start their state playoff run on Monday.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Inspiring Words of Wisdom...

"Imagine what our real neighborhoods would be like, if each of us offered as a matter of course, just one kind word to another person. One kind word has a wonderful way of turning into many." ~ Fred Rogers

Friday, May 21, 2010

Heart O'My Town: Jr. Dukes Soccer Academy

"I wanted to do something kinda neat in my own backyard," muses Jake Ouimet, head coach of the Men's Soccer team at Duquesne University and the guiding force behind the Jr. Dukes Soccer Academy in Mt. Lebanon.  Noting the popularity of youth soccer around town and eager to see a competitive camp for kids in grades K-5, he teamed up with the Recreation Department to offer a week-long soccer camp that is much more than Soccer 101.

Along with players and coaches from Duquesne as well as other area coaches, Ouimet starts the day with a big camp warm-up.  Kids are then broken into small groups according to age and gender and put through a series of skills and drills that provide continual learning.  The many rotations stave off boredom and prizes along the way further engage the group.  Everyone gets to watch the college players take the field for a demonstration before the junior set gets its game on with a scrimmage of their own.

"We have a different theme every year," continues Ouimet.  "Last year it was the World Cup and on the last day of camp, kids dressed up in the colors of a particular country and even learned facts about that country.  Everyone from 'Team Ireland' showed up in green goggles!"  The kids also benefit from playing with those with whom they're most familiar.  "At this age, girls are more comfortable playing with girls and the same goes for boys," says Ouimet.  "It's good for them, too.  In a large camp where skill level can vary widely, being grouped according to age and sex is the great equalizer."

As the coach of a Division I program, Ouimet gets to see the best of the best during the course of the season and his very competitive squad toured Europe for a series of games two years ago.  At home, he provide tips to his two daughers, ages 10 and 7.

So who is the coach picking in this summer's World Cup?  "Spain might win it," says Ouimet.  "They won the European championship and they could be the team this year.  But I'll still be rooting for the U.S."

Space is still available for this summer's camp on June 14-17.  Register online here.


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Car Free Friday is THIS Friday in Mt. Lebanon!

Mt. Lebanon will play host to the first Car Free Friday of the year on Friday, May 21st.  Residents are encouraged to ditch the car for the day and to sign a pledge that says so (pick up pledge cards at the clock tower near the T station on Washington Road between 7:30-10 a.m.).  Return to Mt. Lebanon from 6-9 p.m. and use your voucher for discounts from local merchants amid the alt-country sounds of the City Dwelling Nature Seekers in Clearview Common.  Keep in mind that you're not obliged to commute into downtown to participate.  You simply have to commit to leaving the car at home for the day.

This is Mt. Lebanon's first foray into Car Free Fridays.  Other communities that will play host to the event over the course of the summer include East Liberty, Lawrenceville and the South Side and yes, each neighborhood is chock full of good shopping and eats, much like Mt. Lebanon.

Hats off to Commercial Districts Manager Eric Milliron for getting Mt. Lebanon on board.  More info here.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

County to Offer Prescription Discount Card

Good news via this week's Almanac:

Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato has announced the county will soon introduce a prescription discount card program to help consumers cope with the high price of prescriptions.
Allegheny County has signed a contract to make free prescription discount cards available under a program sponsored by the National Association of Counties (NACo) that offers average savings of 22 percent off the retail price of commonly prescribed drugs.

The cards, which will be available in mid-June, may be used by all Allegheny County residents, regardless of age, income or existing health coverage. There are more than 300 pharmacies in Allegheny County that will accept the NACo card, and a national network of more than 60,000 participating retail pharmacies will also honor the card.

"The NACo prescription discount card will offer significant savings for the uninsured and underinsured residents of Allegheny County," said Onorato. "Even those fortunate to have prescription coverage may use the card to save money on drugs that are not covered by their health plan. The cards will be available to any resident, and there is no enrollment form, no membership fee, and no restrictions or limits on frequency of use."

There is no cost to taxpayers for NACo and Allegheny County to make these money-saving cards available to residents. Cards will be available via the Internet, at various county facilities, and at other easily accessible public locations. More details will be released when the program is launched in June.

Using the NACo prescription discount card will be easy as the cardholder must simply present the card at a participating pharmacy. Cardholders and their family members may use the card any time their prescriptions are not covered by insurance. The discount card can also be used when a pet is prescribed a medication that is used to treat a human condition.
The NACo prescription discount card program is administered by CVS Caremark.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

#1 AGAIN!!!

The results are in! recently named Pittsburgh "the most livable city in America" AGAIN!!! Even the Post-Gazette's reader poll shows a strong lead with those who agree with the claim. Life is good in the 'Burgh...this transplant agrees!

"The business publication ranked the metropolitan area as No. 1, based on its arts and leisure scene, job prospects, safety and affordability -- but not, obviously, on its baseball team.Read more:"

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Mt. Lebanon School District Wins Roy A. Hunt Foundation Award

The Frick Art & Historical Center announced on Friday that the Mt. Lebanon School District was this year's recipient of the Roy A. Hunt Foundation Award for "commitment to education in the arts and humanities."  How cool is that?  In a nutshell, the district has "instilled appreciation for art and history and begun the life-long habit of museum-going for its students at an early age."  You'll find more information on the award below.

In Lebo, we ROCK the arts, yet another good reason why we should all make a beeline to a performance of "Thoroughly Modern Millie" at the High School May 5-8.

For anyone who hasn't been to the Frick, it is one of the region's cultural gems and its indoor/outdoor cafe an absolute joy in the springtime.



School district acknowledged for successfully integrating art and humanities into its curriculum

Award Program: Wednesday, May 12, 2010: 12:00 p.m. at The Frick Art Museum auditorium

Pittsburgh, PA, April 30, 2010- The Frick Art & Historical Center is pleased to announce Mt. Lebanon School District as the recipient of the 2010 Roy A. Hunt Foundation Award for Commitment to Education in the Arts and Humanities.

In 1999, the Roy A. Hunt Foundation made a designated grant to the Frick Art & Historical Center to be utilized for an ongoing excellence in teaching award. The Roy A. Hunt Foundation Award for Commitment to Education in the Arts and Humanities is given annually to an educator who has demonstrated a commitment to participating in the Frick's education programs, and who has successfully integrated the arts into the students' learning experience. For the first time, the award is being given to an entire school district for demonstrating its strong commitment to the arts and humanities.

Frick Art & Historical Center Director Bill Bodine comments, "Through participation in a breadth of Frick educational programs over the years, the Mt. Lebanon School District has instilled appreciation for art and history and begun the life-long habit of museum-going for its students at an early age."

Since 1998, 5,344 Mt. Lebanon School District students from grades K-12 have visited the Frick and/or participated in more than 30 of its different programs. Of these student participants, 4,863 are from the district's seven elementary schools, 63 are from Mellon Middle School, and 418 are from Mt. Lebanon High School.

Markham Elementary School is an exemplary participant in programs offered by the Frick. Markham kindergarten students regularly participate in A Tuneful Trip to the Museum, in which they sing their way through The Frick Art Museum and the Car and Carriage Museum. These students return to the Frick in second or third grade to tour and learn about Growing up at Clayton. A highlight of fourth grade at Markham is a day spent participating in the Frick's Letterboxing program, which involves following clues and compass bearings to hidden boxes on the Frick grounds. The great enthusiasm of Markham teachers Diana Sanner, Patti McAuley and Christa Daube has inspired participation by other Mt. Lebanon elementary schools.

Mt. Lebanon High School students visit the Frick regularly for programs ranging from Vasarely's Visuals to Kôgyo Blockprinting offered in conjunction with special exhibitions at The Frick Art Museum.

Says Mt. Lebanon School District Superintendent, Dr. Timothy Steinhauer, "On behalf of the staff and students of the Mt. Lebanon School District I want to thank the Frick Art & Historical Center for honoring us with the Roy A. Hunt Foundation Award for Commitment to Education in the Arts and Humanities. Over the years, the Frick's programs have provided our students with outstanding enrichment opportunities in the arts as well as a greater appreciation of the rich cultural history of Pittsburgh."

The Mt. Lebanon School District will be recognized at a ceremony in The Frick Art Museum auditorium on Wednesday, May 12, 2010 at 12:00 p.m. The ceremony will be attended by Diana Sanner-a kindergarten teacher at Markham Elementary who has brought her students to the Frick the past ten years-and her students, who will present a short workshop performance.

Bea Carter, Executive Director of the Roy A. Hunt Foundation, will present the award. On hand for the award presentation will be Torrence M. Hunt, Jr., Trustee, Roy A. Hunt Foundation;  David A. Brownlee, Chairman, Board of Trustees, Frick Art & Historical Center; and Bill Bodine, Director of the Frick Art & Historical Center, as well as representatives from the Mt. Lebanon School District: Dr. Timothy Steinhauer, Superintendent of Schools; Dr. Deborah Allen, Assistant Superintendent; and Mariann Fox, Director of Fine Arts, who will be presented with a plaque and an award of $3,000 for district students to participate in future field trips and enrichment activities, as well as 180 free Clayton tour passes for students' families.

The Roy A. Hunt Foundation Award for Commitment to Education in the Arts and Humanities   was established at the Frick Art & Historical Center through the efforts of Torrence M. Hunt, Sr. (1921-2004), a longtime Alcoa executive who was involved with many civic, educational, wildlife, and conservation groups. Following his retirement from Alcoa in 1982, Mr. Hunt served as senior trustee of the Roy A. Hunt Foundation, named for his father and established in 1966. Thanks to the generosity of  Mr. Hunt and the Foundation, including Torrence M. Hunt, Jr., who serves as a trustee on the foundation's board, thousands of students have participated in enrichment activities through support provided by The Roy A. Hunt Foundation Award for Commitment to Education in the Arts and Humanities.

The Mt. Lebanon School District is a nationally recognized and award-winning school district with the mission to provide the best education possible for each and every student. The District operates seven elementary schools (grades k-5), two middle schools (grades 6-8), and a high school (grades 9-12). The combination of a highly trained staff with educated and committed families results in students who achieve local, state and national honors in instructional, athletic and arts forums.

The Frick Art & Historical Center offers educational programs for children, students, adults and families. During the Frick's last fiscal year (2009-2010), these programs served more than 14,000 individuals.  For more information about the Frick and its educational programs, please call 412-205-2022 or visit Free parking is available in the Frick's off-street lot, or along adjacent neighborhood streets.

The Frick Art & Historical Center, a museum, historic site and cultural center serves the public through preservation, presentation, and interpretation of the fine and decorative arts and historically significant artifacts for all residents of and visitors to Western Pennsylvania.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

More Good Press for the "Burgh"!

Today's Huffington Post had an intersting article entitled The Best and Worst Places for the Newly Graduated - and guess what!? Pittsburgh is listed as the second best in the country! Below is a quick quote from the article.

"Pittsburgh seems an unlikely place for a renaissance, but the city escaped the recession relatively unscathed and is moving forward in many areas. Besides having bustling education and health care sectors, the city is also generous with arts initiatives. Incidentally, its mayor, Luke Ravenstahl, became one of the youngest mayors in American history at the age of 26."

Here the link to the entire article.

Go Pittsburgh!!!

VOICE of Mt. Lebanon

I encourage everyone to check out a newly launched website -

The website is dedicated to giving the true facts about our town's impending high school renovation. The members of VOICE support the renovation and are dedicated to making it happen. Check it out! While you're there, click on the upper left section called "Your Voice". There you can, with one easy click, send a letter of support to the school board and commission. It's worth a look!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Coffee With The Manager A Terrific Community Service

I attended my first Coffee With The Manager, Steve Feller, on Tuesday morning at Uptown Coffee.   About 25 residents were in attendance and the conversation was wide-ranging, taking in everything from nuisance properties to the municipal pool and the recent power outage.  The manager and his colleagues from the planning and building departments listened attentively and answered residents' questions to the best of their ability.  As is so often the case, connections were made and it made a world of difference to be able to put a face to a name.

My only hope is that the next coffee is scheduled before October!  That's the date that was mentioned and this is far too useful a community service to be held but twice a year.

At Earth Day Celebration, Zero Is The Hero

Here's some information from the municipality on the Earth Day celebration at Mt. Lebanon Park scheduled for Saturday, April 24 from 10 a.m.-2 p.m.  This is always a fun party but will be all the more special this year thanks to its emphasis on zero waste generation.  Yes, zero is the new black -- zero waste, net zero energy buildings -- and it's all about taking care of the planet alongside a mantra of reduce, reuse, recycle.  More info below.  Thanks to the Mt. Lebanon municipality for giving this year's Earth Day event special meaning!


Earth Day Celebration Hopes To Can The Trash

 Is it possible to get the family together to celebrate Earth Day, eat delicious food, shop with local farmers, learn about conservation and sustainability, create crafts and listen to music and poetry with hundreds of other people…all without generating even one piece of trash? A local grassroots volunteer group is going to try at this year’s Earth Day in Mt. Lebanon, in Mt. Lebanon Park, Saturday, April 24 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

 This year’s event will be unusual because the group is aiming for a Zero Waste Certification, from Zero Waste Pittsburgh, a program of the Pennsylvania Resources Council. Zero Waste has a goal of encouraging people to reuse what would previously be considered trash, in the hopes of eventually generating no true garbage. The park will have NO TRASH CANS for the event. Everything will either be recycled or put into a bin for composting, with volunteers to help revelers know where to put it. The organizers will turn their data into Zero Waste Pittsburgh and the certification would come after the event.

 Last year’s event drew several hundred people. Attendees this year can check out solar panel demonstrations, shop for handmade glassware and jewelry, sign up for Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), purchase fresh herbs and learn the latest environmental efforts by local utility companies.

 Admission is free and the event is sponsored by Mt. Lebanon Municipality, Gateway Engineers, Aladdin’s Eatery, Janice Caputo of Coldwell Banker and The Savvy Fox. For details and schedules, go to:

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Happy Earth Day!!!

I hope everyone enjoys this lovely spring day! In honor of Mother Earth, I encourage everyone to do at least one small deed today that will help our planet.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

My Mother Taught Me Never To Lie

I bring to your attention a letter that was sent to the school board and commission regarding the petition opposing the high school renovation. As many have suspected all along, the solicitors of this petition are so focused on derailing this project that they have been willing to prey on unsuspecting, uninformed victims, feeding them with a plethora of half-truths and flat out lies. These fear-mongering tactics include telling people that the high school renovation will raise their taxes by 50% (I’ve even heard 70% by some!!!), telling them that there is a much more reasonable $75M “option” that the board has dismissed when in reality no such option has ever existed, insinuating that the board is planning to close neighborhood elementary schools, create substantially larger class sizes, cut curriculum and programs, cut field trips and activity travel, lay off teachers, administrators and support staff, and the list goes on. If this isn’t fear-mongering, I don’t know what is. The letter I am about to share is from just one of many residents who originally signed the petition and who are now regretful after learning the real facts. This particular resident is a single mom of a special needs elementary school child. She fiercely supports her child’s educational needs. At the same time her hands are full with her responsibilities as a single parent. Her free time is very limited and she has not had the time to keep up with the ins and outs of the high school project. It is safe to say she was an easy target, as many have been. I will not post her name (nor did I last night) as I would hate for the solicitors of that petition to harass her any more than they already have. (This practically made the opposed citizens to go crazy last night - one of them literally yelling at me and the board to reveal the name and address of the author of the letter. Talk about intent to harrass!!) The board has already received this letter with her full name indicated. I trust the board will respect her privacy.

My name is_________ and I am a resident of Mt. Lebanon. I recently received a request to sign a petition regarding the high school renovation project. The solicitor of the petition told me that my taxes would go up 50% if the current plan is carried out. I now realize that I was misinformed and regret having signed this petition. Please remove my name from the list of signatures on this petition.


After seeing the real facts, she went on to say the following in an email to me. - “I have been emailed, snail mailed and called by several people about the HS renovation plan....all telling me that my taxes would be raised by 50%. This is why I signed the petition. The amount was totally misrepresented to me. I am all for the renovation. I am most certainly willing to pay more taxes for this! I wish I had the time to be more involved."

Last night I urged the board not to be intimidated by the people in this community who are willing to do anything to derail this project – the very same people who yell and scream and show great disrespect for their fellow neighbors at these board meetings. The kicker at last night's board meeting was when a member of the opposed citizens to the high school renovation got up and flat out LIED on local television - stating (in response to me and the letter that I read from the resident who wanted her name removed from the petition) that they have never stated to anyone that taxes would go up 50%! How ludicrous! These very same people have even stated that number in board meetings in the past! It's a little late to back-pedal now wouldn't you say!!?!?!! Their disingenuous, underhanded approach is not only amoral but inexcusable. As their credibility crumbles, I encourage the board to remain focused on this extremely important project. As always, I thank them for their tireless efforts.

Get the real facts, folks. There are people out there who will literally say and do ANYTHING to derail this project. Be very cautious about what you hear on the street. There are two things that I just can't tolerate - mean people and liars. The people who call themselves the "Concerned Citizens of Mt. Lebanon" have got both of those covered! I'm am so happy that residents are finally getting the real facts and are rethinking their allegiance to this fringe group.

Monday, April 19, 2010

VOICE of Mt. Lebanon

For immediate release:

A group of Mt. Lebanon residents who support the existing high school project have formed a new group to provide accurate information regarding the project to the community—VOICE of Mt. Lebanon. VOICE is an acronym for vision, opportunity, investment, community and excellence; we see these as core values of the community that are directly relevant to the high school project.

VOICE of Mt. Lebanon has the following mission statement: We invite the community to join us in a conversation based on facts, not fear, regarding the Mt. Lebanon High School project. We are your neighbors—parents, seniors, empty-nesters, singles. We are your fellow taxpayers. We are committed to preserving the excellence that is Mt. Lebanon. Learn the facts about this project, and let your voice be heard.

VOICE of Mt. Lebanon is committed to getting the facts of the high school project out to the community, especially the following

The $113 million for the project is a ceiling for expenditures. The board is taking every step to lower the actual cost of the project, which realistically could come in well below $100 million

Taxes for borrowing the remaining $38 million (maximum) as bonds to fully fund the project would amount to $9/month for a $100,000 assessed home. The maximum total cost to taxpayers would be approximately $28/month on a $100,000 assessed home

Estimates for repairs alone for the current facility range from $89 to $103 million

There is no $75 million option to cover the cost of repairs—the cost of repairs alone exceeds this figure (see above)

Because of the scale of the project, the district will not be eligible for additional state reimbursement for high school renovation/construction for the next twenty years. The project cannot be staged as separate projects over the next 5-10 years without losing this reimbursement

Pursuing Silver LEED certification for the project will increase state reimbursement and lead to a substantial reduction in utility costs over the life of the school. Utility costs for 2006-7 for the high school were $974,121

VOICE of Mt. Lebanon will pursue many avenues to educate the community. For additional information, please contact Nancy Tashman at 412-343-1898, cell 412.651.7038 or

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Options, Options, Options....

There seems to be quite a bit of talk lately about a less costly $75M. "option" for the high school renovation. The only problem is that this "option" doesn't exist. It never did. All that exists are some people who would like to believe that such an option exists and are happy to say so. Unfortunately, it does not, as Dan Remely pointed out at last week's board meeting. $75M would not even cover all of the superficial repairs needed. The $75M might as well have been plucked out of the sky. Ironically, it just happens to be the amount we currently have on hand without any additional bonds.

The bottom line is that there is no viable option that would cost $75M. To insist that there must be reaps nothing. It's like being on a plane (back when they still served food on planes, of course...) and having the flight attendant ask if you would like chicken or fish for dinner, and your response is "I'll have the beef". Well, guess what!!??! There IS no beef! There IS no $75M option!!

To my knowledge, no one, including Mr. Dirk Taylor, has presented a specific $75M schematic design and no one has consulted with or hired a construction manager to cost out any such project.

Needless to say, I am pleased that the current project continues to move forward. It is my hope that some of the opponents of this project will soon step back and allow the board to spend more time on finding cost savings, and less time enduring hysteria and ridicule. It is truly time to move on.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Asbestos Anyone???

I have finally located the photograph of the leaky asbestos pipe that drips in the weight room at the high school. This was taken by a student who was rather alarmed by its presence....understandably!! Mind you, this leaky asbestos-wrapped pipe leaves puddles on the weight room floor where the kids work out!!!! This can't be good. We owe it to the children, to the community, and to ourselves to get this renovation done now. Don't be misled by the misinformation out there. This is serious.

St. Anne Spring Festival

This sounds like a great event that shouldn't be missed!

St. Anne Spring Festival
A Gathering of Fair Trade and Organic Vendors
Sunday, April 25
1pm - 4pm
St. Anne Church

Some of those present will be:

member of the World Fair trade Organization, a
global network of more than 350 fair trade
organizations in 70 countries. A variety of
artisan’s goods will be available for purchase at
the Festival.

The mission of GROW PITTSBURGH
is to demonstrate, teach and promote
responsible urban food production.
It was formed in 2005 by the
owner operators of two
urban farms. GROW PITTSBURGH guests will speak
about Urban Farming and also provide
seedlings and other produce
for sale at the Festiva

THE KRETSCHMANN FARM provides Pittsburgh area customers
with organically grown produce, fruits and meats. One of the first
organic growers in Western PA, Kretschmann Farms is certified
organic with OEFFA. Don supports CSA (Community Supported
Agriculture) and will deliver to convenient drop-offs in the South
Hills. Subscriptions taken at the Festival. Don will speak regarding
Organic Farmer and CSA organic farming practices and offer produce for sale.

LA PRIMA ESPRESSO is a certified
fair-trade and certified organic
roaster based here in Pittsburgh. All
are welcome to sample espresso and
coffees during the festival; pre-sale
coffee orders are also being taken.
Sale proceeds from La Prima coffees
will benefit the St. Anne St. Vincent
de Paul Society

please call 412-531-5964 or email OR for more information

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Just The Facts, Ma'am

School Board Directors Dan Remely and Elaine Cappucci presented a clear and detailed breakdown of the High School renovation project at last night's School Board meeting.  School Board Director Jo Posti spells out those facts today on her blog, Center Court.  I've pasted them below as well.  Thanks to Jo, Dan and Elaine for helping to clear up the misconceptions and outright misinformation being circulated about this project.


As Mr. Remely and Mrs. Cappucci pointed out last night during the architects' update, a $75 million [High School renovation] project does not exist. Entertaining such a project would:
  • Result in added costs associate with a complete redesign
  • Not solve the zoning issues currently pending litigation
  • Provide no funds for any classroom or lab improvements
  • Provide no funds for new technology
  • Provide no funds for improvements to the auditorium or fine arts theater outside of ADA compliance
  • Keep the current 5-lane pool
  • Keep all three cafeterias but not provide staging space for the expanded elementary lunch program
  • Make no improvements to special education space or design for inclusion
  • Keep the current athletic space with no new field house
  • Not allow for LEED certification or the resulting $1.2 million State reimbursement
  • Keep energy costs at a similar level to our current cost
  • Require modular classrooms and an extended construction schedule
  • Require waiting 20 years for any additional renovation in order to apply for State reimbursement
Mr. Remely calculated what could be done for $75 million and estimated that if we were to renovate the existing facility with a $75 million cap, we would only renovate the current building and we might expect to see a budget such as this:
  • Contingency: $7.5 million (10% of project budget)
  • Mechanical / Electrical improvements:  $35 million ($39 million was original estimate)
  • Roofs:  $2.5 million
  • ADA upgrades:  $7,360,000 (required for projects renovating at least 25% of plant)
  • Exterior:  $7.6 million (bringing windows and walls up to code)
  • Owners' soft costs:  $3 million (permits, construction manager, legal fees)
  • Abatement:  $6.5 million (originally estimated at $7.4 million but there may be less material than previously thought to require abatement)
  • Architects' fees:  $6.3 million (fee plus supervision of the abatement project)
This would take the project to $75,760,000 without making any interior or FF&E improvements, which he estimated to be another $13,250,000 for a total project cost of $89,010,000.

So while I appreciate the time constituents took to write the Board asking for a project cap, I wish those who asked them to write had taken the time to provide complete information related to a $75 million cap.  In the scenario described above, a $75 million budget would be exceeded and 13 or the project's 15 design criteria would not be met.  At the project's current projected budget of $113 million or $18 per month more than the initial bond for a house assessed at $200,000 we will:
  • Develop appropriately-sized classrooms, labs, and adjacencies
  • Reduce square footage to reflect our current and future enrollment needs
  • Build large-group space for collaborative instruction
  • Improve band, orchestra and chorus rehearsal space
  • Develop appropriate fine arts space
  • Centralize the library
  • Build ESL and special education space that is appropriately located to encourage inclusion
  • Meet all ADA requirements, including centralized elevators
  • Decrease the number of entrances and install security cameras, improving security
  • Position services near the entrances
  • House gyms in one location, improving gym security to the competition gym
  • Build an 8-lane pool
  • Increase the size of the wrestling room
  • Improve locker room spaces, eliminating the need for the current field house
  • Obtain Silver LEED certification
  • Decrease energy costs
  • Develop natural daylighting
  • Reduce the number of cafeterias to one and provide staging for the elementary lunch program
  • Completely renovate both theaters
  • Renovate central office and community-use space

Local Construction Industry Says Goodbye To Large Commercial Projects

From the Pittsburgh Business Times on March 29 comes this article on the dearth of large commercial construction projects in the Pittsburgh region for 2010 and beyond.  With a number of large projects (Children's Hospital, the North Shore Connector) either completed or nearing completion, the area's construction companies are awaiting a handful of projects in the education sector, with Mt. Lebanon's $100 million high school renovation one of the most sought-after projects among bidders.

It's good to be in the driver's seat with respect to the current bidding climate.

Who Will Advocate for the Children??

As a parent of a special needs child - actually, a twice exceptional child who is both highly gifted AND learning disabled, I know all about advocacy. I might just win the prize for the number of IEP meetings attended in a year. As a parent, I recognize my responsibility and job as advocate for my children. If I don't speak up, who will? Any mother (or father) knows the deep commitment and love I refer to when I say that I would be willing to move mountains for my children. I AM their voice. I have to be. It's my job and I accept it willingly.

This is why I am so passionate about the high school renovation. The children are not being heard and their needs are not being considered by some who seem hyper-focused on their own pocketbooks. I was so happy to hear a teen speak up at last night's board meeting. He said he was there to represent ALL children. I have great respect for that boy - his courage and conviction was riveting. My older child often begs me to allow him to speak at board meetings about the high school project. I know I can't let him do that. He is far too young to be introduced to the truth about just how ruthless, nasty, and downright mean human beings can be. It would be like throwing him (and myself- I've already been accused of being a bad mother by some "concerned citizens"- HA!) into a pool of piranhas. I'm not sure why this issue has become such a personal one - it really isn't about me, or's about our community. However, all of this makes my conviction even stronger - I will not give up. I will not waver in my opinion, and my right to express what I know is right for ALL children.

I found it particularly curious that practically every person who spoke against the high school project last night either does not have children, has children in private schools, or has grown children. The latter group all referred to their grown children's excellent educations received by our very district. My question to those people is "Why is it ok that someone before you had to pay for your child's excellent education, but you are not willing to 'pay it forward' and help pay for the continuation of an excellent education for future generations?" That seems rather selfish to me. It also seems rather foolish because if this district loses its excellent reputation, all of our home values will plummet. Period. Statistics show that at least 40% of a home's value is based on the school district's reputation.

I will continue to advocate for ALL children for as long as it takes. They deserve a voice. There is no better investment than children's educations. They ARE the future. I encourage everyone to go to the MTLSD website: to get the real facts. I also discourage everyone from relying on all of the misleading information that is out on the street. Fear tactics are unfair and unproductive. Get the real facts. Get involved. The children of this town are depending on you and me.