BENNETT: What’s Right About the County?

by Jack Bennett

As I begin to write this week, my one hope is that you are as gratified as I am with what I saw  and experienced in our county this past week.  (List is not all-inclusive)

1.  The new Richard G. Snyder YMCA Campus at 1150 North Water Street in Kittanning. A dream has finally come true for Armstrong County as the new YMCA prepares to open on May 29th, just three weeks away.  I had the opportunity to walk thru the new facility about two months ago with the CEO Gary Miller and again last Friday.    On the first trip, we entered thru a wooden 4 x 8 that covered the entrance area and walked to the pool area, just a hole in the ground at that time.  Now it’s nearly completed and filled with water.  The area for the pool must be three if not four times the size of the old  pool.   It is bright and cheery with three separate pools for use.  One ‘lap’ pool, one family pool and one therapeutic pool for people with special needs.  A huge exercise room is on the second floor with two stair cases and an elevator providing access.  The view is great too, as one side is of the pool, the other is of the gym and a third  is of the river.  Many additional offices and smaller training rooms are available. Plans for additions have already been implemented into the current structure when other facilities become needed.  Many, many other features are available.  Go see for yourself. Sign up at the old “Y” on the 10th (Thursday) for a tour of the new facility, which by the way opens on May 29th.

A teen driver sits in the simulator that tests his reaction to driving response while texting. Peer Awareness technician Jason Cunningham runs the computerized program.

2.  Driver Awareness Day at West Shamokin High School.  On Wednesday of this past week, I had the opportunity to attend and broadcast from West Shamokin during their conduct of Driver Awareness Days for the students10 thru 12 grade.  Students were given the opportunity to drive a simulator car (rigged  by computer) and text at the same time to show them what can and does happen behind the wheel.  One senior remarked, “I thought I could “beat” the  machine because I can text without looking at the key pad.   I still couldn’t control the car.” Other activities included:, checking out the blind areas for a coal truck driver (actually getting in a new truck), riding peddle cars around a track with “impalement” goggles on, taking an inventory of what was wrong with a car, a seat belt competition of ” buckle up”  and  then move to the next seat,   walk a straight line with goggles on and finally several local  insurance companies were on board to provide info.   The Shannock Valley Car Club was the passing out info and Stan Berdell was there and Donna Oberlander’s office was also represented. In my view, all high schools of the district should run such a program.  Thanks go to Mr. Dave Powers,  Mrs. Brigitte Kennedy, and Principal Kirk Lorigan for their support in arranging for the days activities.

3.  The National Day of Prayer.  The Tri-Ministerium (Worthington, Kittanning and Ford City) participated in the day with special programs conducted at Salem Baptist Church in the morning, Ford City conducted the service in the park at noon with the Rev Tom Bonomo as main speaker and the evening service was held at the First Church of God in Kittanning Such diverse  locations were suggested to attract additional attendees from previous years when the program was held in the park at Kittanning or Divine Redeemer School in Ford City at noon.

4.  Plans are well underway for the 6th Annual Memorial Day Parade in Kittanning.  For many years the parade had been missing from the day’s activities until revived by AMVETS,  Post 13, Kittanning.  Together with the John T. Crawford Camp #43, Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War and the Sara A. Crawford Ladies Auxiliary,  the combined parade and service in the John Murtha Amphitheater was begun again in 2007. Each year the parade has gotten larger and the program better.   A perennial favorite is the medley of service songs played for the veterans who rise and are recognized when “their” song is played.

5.  A new event this year will be conduced on the 19th of May at the Pony Farm Trap & Gun Club.  The Sportsmen’s Family Event sponsored by Sen Don White, Rep Jeff Pyle and Rep Donna Oberlander will feature the opportunity for area residents to fire hand guns, rifles, and shotguns under the direct supervision of members of the Firearms Owners against Crime from Pittsburgh as well as NRA qualified instructors from the Pony Farm.  Other activities will include but are not limited to: archery, fishing, boating and wildlife displays.  Refreshments will be available.   Call 724-543-3026 for further information.

Many other activities are on going as we speak.  Please contact me at 724-548-8000 if you have an activity you would like to have highlighted.