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Jeannette grad Chanoski lives on the family homestead

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Photos: Margie Stanislaw | For Trib Total Media
Mike Chanoski has bins of fresh red potatoes that were harvested this year in the basement of his home.
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Beef cattle graze at the Chanoski homestead.
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Mike and Sue Chanoski pose for a portrait at their home.

A 1967 graduate of Jeannette High School, Mike Chanoski was raised in the Arlington neighborhood of the city and has a lot of fond memories of those years.

“In seventh grade, Teddy Antoniak and I put up our hands and volunteered to spend a weekend at St. Vincent. I think we were supposed to be finding out about being priests, but we just wanted to play basketball,” said Chanoski.

He eventually did end up at St. Vincent College where he earned a degree in economics. However, this was during the Vietnam War when the U.S. still had a lottery draft and Chanoski’s number was 67.

“I was drafted into the U.S. Army and served two years in the military police where I got paid $99 a month,” said Chanoski.

After returning home, Chanoski heard the Penn Township Police Department was hiring and he got selected for the job. Chanoski worked for the police department for more than 20 years, but after two back surgeries, he left the department.

Over the years, he worked for Westmoreland Community Action as a caseworker for delinquent boys, as a teacher’s aide at Valley Middle School, as a “sub caller,” calling in substitute teacher from 5- 9 a.m. in the morning at Yough School District and as a security guard at school football games.

“I’m a jack-of-all trades and a master of none,” said Chanoski, who recently decided it was time to give the extra jobs up and collect his Social Security.

What has remained consistent through a lot of this time is that Chanoski’s family owned 11 acres near Penn Borough, which was part of his family’s farm.

“It was part of our family homestead and was purchased in 1939 for $500,” said Chanoski.

In 1999, Chanoski, his wife, Sue, and their two sons, Samuel and Jonathon, moved from their home near Bushy Run to a new home built on the family farm.

“It’s a Green Acres kind of farm,” Chanoski said.

But, unlike Green Acres, the Chanoskis harvested 3,000 potatoes this year. “We also raise beef and sell it and we try not to waste anything out here. It’s a lot of hard work, but it’s better for the blood pressure.”

Currently, Chanoski’s youngest son, Jonathon, still lives at home and does a lot of the farming with his dad.

The Chanoskis are looking for outlets to sell potatoes. They sold potatoes from a stand in their driveway this year.

“There is always something to do here every day even though you’re retired.”

Chanoski and his wife also have a large garden and some flowers and landscaping around the house. Sue Chanoski is retired after more than 30 years at Franklin Regional School District, where she worked as a school nurse.

In addition to his various jobs and his farming, Chanoski has been active in his community and served as a Boy Scout leader for 25 years.

To learn about potatoes, beef cattle, policing or farming, get to know neighbor Mike Chanoski.

Editor’s note: Meet Your Neighbors is a recurring feature in The Jeannette Spirit.

If you know of a neighbor with an interesting life story to tell, someone who deserves some recognition for volunteer work, a resident with a special talent or an avid collector who would like to be featured, call the Spirit at 724-838-5154 or send an email to [email protected].

Margie Stanislaw is a contributing writer.

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