Latrobe earns Local Government Excellence award |

Latrobe earns Local Government Excellence award

Jeff Himler
Phil Wilson | For Trib Total Media
Jim Brewer, left, visiting from New Jersey, and Marilyn Rosa of Derry explore a section of the walking trail that follows Lincoln Avenue between PA 981 and PA 982 in Latrobe during a 2015 outing.

The City of Latrobe will be among recipients of the 2018 Governor’s Awards for Local Government Excellence at an April 11 ceremony at the Governor’s Residence in Harrisburg.

“I think it’s good recognition for the city,” Mayor Rosie Wolford told council this week as she announced the award at the monthly agenda preparation session. She pointed out having the award could give Latrobe an extra advantage when it seeks state funding.

City officials applied for the award, based on the theme “Building Community Partnerships,” and learned Latrobe had won in a Feb. 14 letter from Dennis Davin, secretary of the state Department of Community and Economic Development.

In the application, Latrobe officials noted the city has worked cooperatively with the Greater Latrobe School District, Latrobe-Greater Latrobe School District Parks and Recreation Commission, the Latrobe Community Revitalization Program, the local Chamber of Commerce and local businesses, organizations and foundations to “make significant improvements in our downtown.”

Among projects cited in the application:

• Completion of 23 facade improvements for downtown buildings, representing an investment of $840,000 with support from a state-funded program

• Development of annual festivals that relate to icons associated with the community — Steelers Fest, the Great American Banana Split Festival and Mister Rogers Family Day

• Ongoing construction of the new Latrobe Elementary School on a former athletic field the school district acquired from the city

• Creation of a popular walking trail on an abandoned rail line parallel to Lincoln Avenue, and plans for a trail connection from Saint Vincent College to downtown Latrobe

• Replacement of 17 deteriorated homes along Route 981 with new, affordable housing through a partnership with the organization Homes Build Hope.

“As a result of the team-building, cooperation and collaboration of so many stakeholders in and around the City of Latrobe, we are reversing a long-standing trend of the deterioration of our downtown that is so prevalent in small communities,” the application states.

“The creation of the Latrobe Community Revitalization Program is that catalyst that jump-started the transformation of our Latrobe community,” the application adds. “When visitors and residents see once-deteriorated and dilapidated buildings restored and occupied, it brings excitement and enthusiasm to a community. … It is contagious.”

Jeff Himler is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-836-6622, [email protected] or via Twitter @jhimler_news.

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