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.