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‘Reimagining’ Westmoreland’s many advantages

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Kyle Hodges
Joe Zyvith and his son, Joe Jr., enjoy some fishing at Twin Lakes Park, one of Westmoreland County's many amenities. (Trib photo)

Westmoreland County, like many areas of Western Pennsylvania, has its challenges. But unlike other counties, we are not shying away from those challenges. We are taking them head on and maximizing our many assets.

Our county is home to global high-tech companies, respected institutions of higher education, thriving city and suburban school districts, well-known tourist attractions and world-class cultural amenities — all situated in the heart of the picturesque Laurel Highlands. We have a lot to offer anyone looking to live here, raise a family, get a job or start a business.

We are, in effect, “Reimagining Westmoreland,” which when completed will update to the county’s decade-old comprehensive plan. As part of this process, we have conducted a series of public sessions as well as continued online outreach to gauge not only where we are, but where we want to be. Along the way we’ve been reminded of our many advantages.

That are good jobs in Westmoreland County. We are home to nationally recognized companies, such as Kennametal, Elliott Group, Philips Respironics and Siemens. Through our Advanced Technology Center at Westmoreland County Community College we are training workers for the high-tech careers of today and tomorrow. And we have joined together with our 17 school districts and workforce development partners to devise curriculum to best meet the needs of employers and aspirations of employees.

Families here enjoy numerous attractions, such as Idlewild Park and SoakZone; a network of hiking and biking trails; and parks and open space for both passive and active recreation. Sportsmen can enjoy pristine fishing streams and abundant gamelands. For history buffs, there’s Fort Ligonier, Historic Hanna’s Town, West Overton Village and Bushy Run Battlefield.

Westmoreland County also is home to a symphony, a ballet, The Westmoreland Museum of American Art and hosts nationally known acts at Greensburg’s Palace Theatre, Irwin’s Lamp Theatre and Vandergrift’s Casino Theatre. Wine lovers can discover a variety of vintages at one of our growing list of wineries. And we’re the summer home of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

And you can live comfortably in Westmoreland County. We have low taxes and homes to meet any family’s needs. With a median price for a quality family home of $138,000, it’s affordable too. After graduating from one of our respected public schools, students can continue their studies at any of our prestigious colleges and universities, including the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg, Penn State New Kensington, Saint Vincent College and Seton Hill University. And, when it’s time to vacation, our Arnold Palmer Regional Airport flies 300,000 travelers every year direct to Florida and South Carolina.

County government has been responsive to our changing needs as well. In addition to the comprehensive plan update, we are embarking on our first-ever marketing plan in conjunction with the Laurel Highlands Visitors Bureau. Through our land bank we are tackling blight more aggressively than ever.

We in Westmoreland honor our heritage. We are excited about where we can go. As we “Reimagine Westmoreland,” we will think big and act boldly. We hope you will join us.

Ted Kopas, a Democrat, is serving his second term as Westmoreland County commissioner ([email protected] or www.TedKopas.com).

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