Laurels & lances: Plates, promotions, Peru, payment, and presents |

Laurels & lances: Plates, promotions, Peru, payment, and presents

Laurel : To the mayor of New Kensington. Tom Guzzo is a guy who understands that the more people at the table, the better the party. For eight years, his method of giving back has been a Christmas dinner where the whole community has a plate.

“It’s my favorite day of the year. I enjoy it so much. I get emotional over it,” Guzzo said. “We, hopefully, put some smiles on a lot of people’s faces, and that’s all it’s about.”

This year’s dinner will be Dec. 7 at 6 p.m. at Fire Station No. 1.

Laurel : To the Irwin Business and Professional Association for spearheading events, such as holiday parades, concerts and sidewalk sales, that bring people into downtown Irwin. Organizations like the IBPA and the chambers of commerce are important for promoting communities and bringing people back into downtowns, that remain a vital part of living in the region.

Laurel : To Sean McHugh of Murrysville and his quest to further our understanding (and protection) of the natural world.

McHugh recently returned from a research expedition in the Colibri cloud forest of Peru, where he potentially discovered two new species of primate. This is the first time anyone has studied wildlife in this relatively inaccessible region, and his work could lead to additional conservation measures and protection of the forest.

Lance : To the Westmoreland County court system for not fully vetting the source of the $101,000 that Lee Kunkle Jr. paid in October as part of the restitution he owes South Greensburg.

The former borough secretary, pleaded guilty to taking more than $155,000 of taxpayer money and using it for his own expenses. Judge Rita Hathaway delayed his plea hearing in order for the source of the money to be examined. Now, nearly two months later, county detectives are spending more public resources to determine if a large portion of the money came from his father’s bank account. This should have been fully resolved before more taxpayer money was spent.

Laurel : To Norvelt Fire Department and a
$1 million building makeover.

President Lee Speer acknowledged firefighters were eagerly awaiting formal word and looking forward to construction of a new fire station. USDA officials noted in the announcement the building’s age (some portions exceed 80 years), condition and drainage problems make renovation too costly.

While it may seem like Christmas came early to the Mt. Pleasant Township department, finding funding for the project has long been in the works.

“The department’s been working on getting this for a couple of years now,” Speer said.

Laurel : To the givers of Giving Tuesday. Donations to more than 380 Western Pennsylvania nonprofits topped $1.6 million. Top recipients include Light of Life Rescue Mission in Pittsburgh’s North Side and the Westmoreland County Food Bank, showing donors’ attention to basic needs including food and shelter. Contributions also will help Latrobe-based Adelphoi provide holiday gifts for children in its residential and foster care programs.

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