Pennsylvania Bridges July 2018 – “Land of the Free”

july-2018-cover_9xThe July 2018 edition of Pennsylvania Bridges – “Land of the Free” – is now available online and in print.

Also, did you know? You can now read individual stories on our website! Keep scrolling for all the fantastic features contained in the pages of our July edition.

Thoughts from our Editor: Land of the Free

stars_stripes_296498As I write this, July is fast approaching, and my Facebook feed is filled with photos of friends on vacation. Some are sunbathing on beaches, while others are dancing in the rain at music festivals. While I certainly don’t begrudge them their fun, I must admit their photos of frolicking out of doors are vivid reminders to me that I’ve been stuck indoors, working on this edition, for what’s starting to seem like an eternity.

Don’t misunderstand me, I love what I do, so much so that I hardly even consider it work. But when deadlines loom and I’m forced indoors for an extended period, I get a little stir crazy, and the urge to roam is intense.

I love to travel, and I’ve been fortunate in that I’ve had the opportunity to travel widely. From the banks of the Mississippi River, where I spent my formative years, to the Monongahela Valley region I now call home, I’ve made numerous stops along the way. I’ve witnessed the plunging rapids of Niagara Falls, hiked beneath the towering trees of the Redwood Forest, and swam in the Gulf of Mexico, just to name a few of the experiences I’ve had touring this marvelous land.

While I’ve not traveled all 50 states, I’ve come close to visiting most of them, and as an American, my heart swells with pride to know I live in such a beautiful and diverse country.

At this time of year, as we prepare to celebrate our independence on the Fourth of July, I think it’s appropriate for all Americans to reflect on the ideals that truly make this country great. Ideals like freedom of expression spring to mind, without which I wouldn’t be penning this column or – for that matter – putting out a monthly publication.

Because I so cherish that freedom, I admire others who also express themselves, whether it be through the written word, song and dance, or some other medium. More often than not, the results of those expressions mirror the magnificence of America itself. This edition is inspired by these expressions, and by the people who exercise their freedom to have a voice, whether it be in their local communities or on the world stage.

Until next month,

Carla E. Anderton

The Entertainment Chuckwagon: I don’t wanna grow up!

Washington-Mall-Toys-R-Us-EBack in my day, we didn’t have Amazon.com. We had these places called toy stores. You know, stores that sold toys. Just toys, not weed whackers, kitty litter, or hygiene products – just toys. And, we liked it!

There was Children’s Palace, Toyco, Circus World, Kay Bee, and more. But, now, those stores are gone. Toys R Us was truly the last of the stores that was solely toy focused, where a kid might look at this, look at that, get excited, and later throw a temper tantrum in the middle of the store until their parents bought them the toy they desired. Come on, you know you know someone who did this.

For me, it was a world of He-Man, The Real Ghostbusters, Go-Bots – that’s right, I said Go-Bots, not Transformers. I didn’t wanna grow up, I was a Toys R Us Kid.

So, when it was announced this past March that Toys R Us would be closing their doors for good, for this old fart, it signaled the end of an era for this middle aged guy. With the closing of Toys R Us, it so went the final piece of my childhood. First Children’s Place and Kay Bee Toys, now Toys R Us, now forever shuttered. That’s a real bummer, and it prompted me to learn more about the origins of the store.

So, where did it all begin for the Toys R Us saga?

According to toysrus.com, the store was the brainchild of 25 year old Charles Lazarus, who first opened a baby furniture store called Children’s Bargain Town in 1948 in Washington, D.C.

In 1950, Lazarus decided to try selling toys as well, soon discovering that when toys broke or fell out of fashion, parents would bring their children back to buy more. In order to ensure the success of his venture, Lazarus offered a wide assortment of toys for Joe and Jane Consumer to purchase for their children.

Then came 1957. Americans liked Ike, as he was sworn in for his second term as 34th President of the United States, Great Balls of Fire! was a huge hit for Jerry Lee Lewis, and Doris Day was playing The Pajama Game to the delight of packed movie houses across the country.

It was also the year the very first Toys R Us Store was opened in Rockville, Maryland. The “R” in the store logo appeared backwards to give the impression it was written by a child.  With a catchy name in place, now Toys R Us needed just the right mascot.

Choosing the right mascot is essential for a brand. Lucky Charms has Lucky the Leprechaun. The Pittsburgh Pirates have The Pirate Parrot. Pennsylvania Bridges has Chuck Brutz. And Toys R Us has Geoffrey Giraffe, a character who soon became as beloved as Toys R Us itself.

Geoffrey Giraffe made his commercial debut in 1973 as a live action guy dancing in a giraffe suit, then appeared in animated form as well. Geoffrey soon found a wife, Gigi. Soon, Junior and Baby Gee joined the family.

In 1983, the company branched out into selling children’s clothes as well, with the addition of Kids R Us, followed by Babies R Us in 1996 in 1996. In 1990, Lazarus was inducted in the Toy Industry Association Hall of Fame.

Sadly, Lazarus passed away on March 22 of this year from respiratory failure. Only two months earlier, in January, Toys R Us had announced that like Macy’s, Sears, and K-Mart, they would be closing a limited number of stores.

However, two months later, it was announced that all Toys R Us Stores would be closing their doors for good. Some in the Pittsburgh area closed by April, while the remaining locations closed this past June 27.

In an age of Amazon.com and Wal-Mart, specialty retail stores are a dying breed. Some may call that progress, but shopping online lacks of the excitement of a visit to an actual toy store.

Goodbye, Toys R Us, you may be gone, but never forgotten in our hearts. We’ll always be Toys R Us Kids.

Story by Chuck Brutz for Pennsylvania Bridges

Freshness is always in season at Triple B Farms in Monongahela

corn12Sticker shock. Though it happens when looking at new cars, there is a more common arena in life where it’s more prevalent – the grocery store. Small containers of berries, usually trucked in from out of state, can command prices ranging from $4 or $5 and up. Apples, peaches, corn, and more also cause one to swallow hard when deciding to pay the price. Freshness is compromised by shipping, and many a consumer has been dismayed to discover mold on their pricey produce the next day after purchase.

And taking the whole family to the grocery store for a shopping trip? Oy, what a headache.

The good news is, there is place to avoid sub-par produce while having a grand time with the entire family, and Triple B Farms, at 823 Berry Lane in Monongahela, is pleased to be that place.

Triple B’s berries, apples, peaches, corn, and much more are produced on location, as is fresh honey from their own hives. It’s easy to walk in and pick up something fresh and delicious, such as seasonal fruits, pies, jams, jellies, homemade fudge, and other delectables, but it’s during picking season where family fun on the farm comes into play.

Pop’s FarmYard, open on weekends during all picking seasons, provides plenty of fun – such as tube slides, jumping pillows, and rope maze, to name a few activities – along with Education Acres, where everyone can learn about agriculture in an entertaining, hands-on atmosphere.

“We do special (pancake) breakfasts and have a farmyard activity area where everybody plays together, and for adults and children to enjoy together,” said Suzanne Beinlich, who helps manage the market. The operation is owned and run by the Beinlich family, who have made it the family friendly location it is today. “If it’s a nice day, people enjoy getting out together as a family, and healthy, fresh food is a good thing now, and people enjoy doing that,” Beinlich said.

Triple B Farms provides agriculturally themed children’s books and toys to go along with education, Beinlich said. “One of the things we provide during the spring field trip is we teach (kids) to plant in a plastic glove, and once it sprouts they can remove the seeds and plant it and watch it grow.”

Picking seasons vary with crops, with berries in full swing now, and peaches, apples, and pumpkins available in the not too distant future. Head right in to Triple B and turn left to get started picking your own. In addition to having the freshest fruit picked by your own hand, saving money in the process is another plus. “Generally speaking, when you’re doing the labor, you’re saving some amount (over store bought) and that’s the idea behind pick your own crop,” Beinlich said, adding “and it’s a family activity everybody likes to do together. And you learn where your food comes from and how it grows”

Picking hours are limited generally from 9 a.m. – 2 p.m., because, as Beinlich notes, “ripe fruit should be picked in the morning hours, because later when it gets warm, it’s getting soft, and by the time you get it home it has made its own jelly. We want you to have fresh fruit you can enjoy in the next 24 – 48 hours.”

Triple B Farms offers seasonal tours which focus on various growing season stages. In the spring it’s planting and growing, while in the fall it’s harvesting and storing crops. It’s the summer season, however, when visitors not only learn how bees pollinate crops and fruit, but they can view bees hard at work at a real hive built with Plexiglass.

No southwest Pennsylvania cookout would be complete without fresh corn, and Triple B Farms is known to have the sweetest around. Starting in July and through September is the best time to get corn on the cob, and Beinlich offers an important cooking tip: “Don’t overcook your corn. 2 – 3 minutes in boiling water is all you need because it’s already so sweet that, if you cook it longer, you’re cooking the tenderness and sweetness right out of it.”

Beinlich advises checking the web site ahead of time for updated crop picking availability. “I realize we’re a destination, so it makes sense to call ahead so you’re not disappointed when you get here.” However, Triple B Farms is always stocked with fresh food even when picking season isn’t in full swing.

Visit Triple B Farms at triplebfarms.com/ to learn more about upcoming events and festivals, growing season, picking seasons, and much more. Or, call ahead to check picking availability at 724-258-3557.

Story by Keren Lee Dreyer for Pennsylvania Bridges

Pastor Hargraves: On Beginning a Dialogue

I attended our Western Pennsylvania Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church in June and like most years am often surprised by the legislative item that stands out with controversy. This year in my naiveté, I again found myself again caught by surprise. That surprise came when we debated a piece of legislation written to encourage our local United Methodist churches to begin to have conversations about gun violence.

Gun violence conversation is the topic, nothing more. Yet even now, as you read this, you may have already shifted to one side or the other hearing gun rights or gun restrictions. The fact is that the legislation (W.PA United Methodist Church only) is about gun violence and not at all about gun rights or gun restriction. More so, the legislation is about conversations about gun violence. Conversation, which we at Annual Conference didn’t really do well because the debate was heated from my perspective.

I want us to say/read this word slowly: C O N V E R S A T I O N

We, United Methodists, that were at our Annual Conference pretty much looked a lot like the rest of the country when it comes to having a conversation about gun violence. We dug in, planted our heels, staked our claim, pitched out tents on the side we represent and generally speaking did not want to hear one word from those other people (said with an air of disdain). We skipped over “conversation” and went right for the debate and argument. The murmuring happened. The social media happens. The positioning happens. The conversation does NOT happen. Yes, I intentionally changed the tense there. The conversation did not happen and does not happen. Fortunately, the voice of authority, our Bishop, told us what we are voting about, period.

In three of the gospel accounts, this authority tells us “it is said a house torn apart by division will collapse.” (Matt. Mk. Luke) In my house, the understanding is, “if momma ain’t happy, no one is happy.” This doesn’t mean I get my way. This means we work together to build up, work together, maintain so there is no collapse. This requires we converse and not just those that think like us, rather we converse with others, those that do not have the same thoughts and perspective as us. That we have diverse points of view in the conversation.

This means that self-awareness of our position on any sensitive and hot topic be desensitized so that the emotions that drive us to a fight or flight mode do not come in to play. Then a conversation can occur. Why is this a good way? Well, I don’t know about you but I’m not always right, so clearly, I should be in conversation with someone else other than one who thinks just like me.

And conversations don’t have to hurt where gun violence always hurts or worse.  

Isn’t it better to converse than to fight and be divided? Even the winner of a fight walks away with busted knuckles. Talk need not be cheap.

Written by Pastor Dawn Hargraves for Pennsylvania Bridges

The Jakob’s Ferry Stragglers: “Appalachian Bluegrass”

JFS-(1)During the 1600s, Irish, Scottish, and English settlers in Jamestown, Virginia, brought with them musical influences from their respective countries, typically played with passion and skill on stringed instruments.

As the New World began to grow and these settlers expanded their borders, stories about their travels, or their rural farming way of life, peppered their lyrics, painting verbal pictures of life in a pre-United States landscape. And with the advent of high technology in the 1900s, viz, records and radio, “mountain music,” as bluegrass was formerly known, could finally debut to a national audience.

However, it wasn’t until 1948 when Kentucky native, Bill Monroe, assembled his Blue Grass Boys that this musical style solidified as a genre. Named after Kentucky’s state motto, the Bluegrass State, Monroe’s bluegrass band formulation of acoustic guitar, banjo, fiddle, mandolin, and upright bass, would set the standard for generations to come. Though the mid-1940s saw the Dobro introduced into the genre – thanks to The Foggy Mountain Boys, formed by Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs – Monroe’s instrumental assemblage most commonly forms the instrumental basis of today’s bluegrass music.

Those seeking traditional “country” inspired music will not be disappointed by the powerful sound and lyrical purity of today’s bluegrass artists. Still, there is one band, The Jakob’s Ferry Stragglers, who are redefining just what bluegrass music is by combining both the tradition of writing about their own experiences on the road, and in life, but with more intricate and hard-edged twists on the typical bluegrass playing style.

Gary Antol, 2014 co-founder of The Jakob’s Ferry Stragglers, along with Libby Eddy, describes the band’s sound as “Appalachian Bluegrass.” According to Antol, an audience member once said, “You guys sound great, but do you have to be so aggressive?” “Have you ever been to Appalachia?” Antol asked, “You’ll find the people there are pretty aggressive and pretty hard. Guys walked out of coal mines and wrote fiddle tunes, and they were pretty hard guys.”

While two prior releases from the band reflect life and times on the road – Lane Change, 2014, and White Lightning Road, 2016 – it is their new release, Poison River, where the Appalachian Bluegrass sound rings most clear.

Lyrical inspiration for Poison River developed through the band’s extensive cross-country touring schedule, meaning they are in disparate geographic, and cultural, locations on an almost day-to-day basis.

Poison River is “just the experience of playing all the time and fitting in on a cultural level with different people,” Antol said. “Being in Pennsylvania one day, North Carolina another, people are completely different with different views and outlooks on things. It’s made me listen more, and so it’s been a learning experience.”

PoisonRiverCoverWith Poison River, The Jakob’s Ferry Stragglers lyrically echo a more global view of life. Antol describes the CD’s overall timber as reflecting a “sadness about the way the world is going. I wrote four (songs), Libby and I co-wrote, our mandolin player co-wrote, and three songs were written by friends we’re covering.”

“It’s a dark but pretty album. On this one, we went for a little more intricacy on the arrangements,” Antol said of the production process. “This one was different and neat because it really was a collaborative effort in how it was arranged. That’s because we had the time this time. I think we got it, actually, and I’m really happy about it.”

Though The Jakob’s Ferry Stragglers only formed in 2014, Antol has realized his long-time goal of seeing the Stragglers perform at the International Bluegrass Music Association’s Bluegrass Ramble showcase, coming up in Raleigh North Carolina, September 25 – 29, 2018.

“It’s good for a career move, and I only had one goal for the year, and that was to get into that,” Antol enthused, adding “I wanted to make a new record (Poison River) that would get us into that.” However, Antol notes that ego wasn’t part of his motivation; instead, his desire to “reflect all aspects of Americana with original sounding material” was the underlying goal.

The Jakob’s Ferry Stragglers are: Gary Antol, guitar and vocals; Libby Eddy, fiddle and vocals; Evan Bell, upright bass; Ray Bruckman, mandolin, fiddle, and vocals; and part-time member Jody Mosser, Dobro.

Step into the world of Appalachian Bluegrass by visiting The Jakob’s Ferry Stragglers at jakobsferry.comfacebook.com/Jakobsferrystragglers/; twitter.com/jakobsferry15; and instagram.com/thejakobsferrystragglers/.

Find Poison River, tour information, videos, & more at jakobsferry.com/store

Photo: (from left) Evan Bell, bass; Libby Eddy, fiddle & vocals; Gary Antol, guitar & vocals; Ray Bruckman, mandolin, fiddle, & vocals, & Jody Mosser, Dobro (part-time member)

Photo of The Jakob’s Ferry Stragglers by Ed Dewitt. Cover design for Poison River by Chelsea Elliot.

Story by Keren Lee Dreyer for Pennsylvania Bridges

Keep PA Beautiful Calls for Fresh Paint Days Applications

brushes_industrial_196405Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful is accepting applications for their 2018 Fresh Paint Days Pennsylvania, a program designed to provide community groups with paint and painting supplies enabling them to renew a community structure in need into something beautiful through the application of fresh paint. This event is held in partnership with support from BEHR paint and The Home Depot. Eight grants of up to 20 gallons of exterior paint and a gift card for painting supplies will be awarded to tax-exempt groups within the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Groups will have 30 days to complete their projects, September 1 through 30.

Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful will select the eight winning projects from among applications submitted. Selected grantees must meet the following requirements to be considered – only one building per application, proof of liability insurance, signed permission to paint from the building owner and two before photos of the intended project. Selected grantees must also agree to select a color from the Behr paint line and provide a final report with during and after photos.

Applications must be received by July 31, 2018 and grants will be awarded early-August. For more information or to download the application click here keeppabeautiful.org/grants-awards/fresh-paint-days. Questions can be answered by Michelle Dunn, Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful Program Coordinator, at 877-772-3673 ext. 113 or mdunn@keeppabeautiful.org. The Fresh Paint Days Pennsylvania grant is available to any tax-exempt group within the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Private property owners or individual applicants cannot apply.

Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful’s mission is empowering Pennsylvanians to make our communities clean and beautiful. Since 1990, Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful and its volunteers have removed over 133 million pounds of litter from Pennsylvania’s roadways, greenways, parks, forests, and waterways. To learn more about Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful, visit keeppabeautiful.org.

Mental Health Spotlight: Spotlight on Suicide Prevention

mental-health

Wednesday night was a pretty special night for me. After decades of fandom, I finally saw Peter Frampton. Frampton Comes Alive was one of the first albums that I ever owned, and I listened to it to the point of chiseling grooves into the old 33 RPM. For those younger readers, before digital everything, record players kept our teen years occupied.

Music has always been a safe place for me with my illness in addition to one of my passions. I’ve never given up my love for playing acoustic guitar, albeit rather poorly. Midway through the concert, an amazing thing happened. Mr. Frampton spoke briefly about his instrumental Grammy winning album, “Fingerprints,” more specifically one track, Black Hole Sun.

Any fans of Chris Cornell, Audioslave and/or Soundgarden know who he is, his body of work and untimely suicide. Although when it comes to suicide, is there any such thing as a timely one? It seems more and more entertainment figures have succumbed to this terrible fate from whatever mental health diseases they endure.

It’s difficult imaging why those who are incredibly successful choose this end. They seem to be on top of the world, no financial worries, apparent storybook lives. Perhaps that is the best way to understand this disease called “mental illness.” One in five have it and when it comes to suicide, there is no rhyme or reason, it is the final action. The decision center of the mind is broken. It’s not more complicated than that. These people we look up to, admire and emulate may have the perfect lives to the casual onlooker, which we all are, but inside they are fighting a very difficult struggle. The frequency of this issue has become so severe, a national light has been cast on it. By the time this article goes to print, the time will have passed on a Town Hall Meeting, moderated by Anderson Cooper on suicide on CNN. I am sure that the broadcast can be streamed by the time you read this, and/or a transcript will be available. I will update you in the next issue with any applicable links related to this important program.

I’ve never been enough of a fanboy to place anyone in the public eye on any higher pedestal than anyone else. Sure, I enjoyed the Frampton concert, but if I were to meet him, I’d prefer discussing normal stuff but I don’t know him at all so where would I begin? Conversely, we are surrounded by heroes every day who never get their credit, pay or live that same illusory storybook life. Odds are you know one, have them in your family or talk to them on a consistent basis. If the same fate were to befall them, would it have the same impact as a celebrity you’ve never met?

The reason I ask this is that we all have the opportunity to connect with those who struggle in our friend circle, families and community. Our companionship can make all of the difference when those afflicted hit the wall where that decision-making process is no longer functional. For those who are the one in five who deal with a mental illness, identify a friend or family member who accepts you through the stigma. It may even be a person you know from group therapy. Explain to that person how it feels when you are slipping, the signs that you are having a bad day and may require a little help. Ensure they have emergency numbers like the one below this article in the event you may require help.

We are our own advocates and must proactively take care of ourselves, but some days we need a little help from our friends, as the Beatles remind us. It’s not a backslide, nor are you a failure if help becomes necessary. This is the nature of the illnesses we all suffer. Think about it, if you are a diabetic, have you asked a friend or family member to help with insulin injections or medications in the case of emergency? I would even go so far as creating a Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP) with realistic expectations and review with that one or two people you have chosen as a wellness partner. Also, prep a mental health first aid kit with things that are uplifting. They might include photographs, memories, or – in my case – music, anything that makes you feel better and grounds you in the here and now.

Remember, you are more important than anyone you may look up to in the entertainment field. You are unique, loved and irreplaceable. Treat yourself this way.

NEED HELP? IN THE U.S., CALL 1-800-273-8255 FOR THE NATIONAL SUICIDE PREVENTION LIFELINE.*Mental Health Spotlight is an opinion based column. Any resources mentioned are provided for informational purposes only and should not be used to replace the specialized training and professional judgment of a health care or mental health care professional.

Mental Health Spotlight is Written by Fred Terling for Pennsylvania Bridges

“Summer at the State” offers high quality theater experiences

Promos-007-(1)Summer theatre programs have been just the fix theatre lovers need in the lull between the usual fall – spring touring show season. And with Peter Pan opening in mid July, and The Music Man opening soon afterwards at the State Theatre Center for the Arts at 37 E Main Street in Uniontown, PA, summer theatre goers are in store for high quality family entertainment that won’t break the bank.

Starting in 2014, the State Theatre has been hosting summer shows featuring local talent and top-notch music, lighting, and stage production, though it wasn’t always this way.

Founding producer of “Summer at the Theatre” and production stage manager, Kristen Tunney, explains “Before we started, the State Theatre Center for the Arts had previously self-produced a few summer musicals, but there had been several years when the theatre was ‘dark’ all summer. We wanted to change that and get the local theatrical community back on stage.”

Since the success of “Hairspray” in the summer of 2014, Summer at the State has grown to two shows, fostered in large part by director/choreographer, John Wagner III, Kristen Tunney, board member and production manager Toby Maykuth, and “amazing support from Executive Director, Erica Miller and the State Theatre staff,” said Tunney. Additionally, all summer shows feature live music performed by the best local musicians, with music director Lisa Harrier keeping everything in tune and in time.

Toby Maykuth, Production manager for the Summer at the State shows, has also been involved since the beginning, both as performer and as a board member of the Greater Uniontown Heritage Consortium, which owns and operates the State Theatre. Maykuth functions as the liaison between the Board and the productions.

Promos-002“For me, the opportunity to provide quality community theater experiences to local performers has been the greatest aspect of working with the Summer at the State program. Uniontown was once a very culturally rich community with several theaters and many performing arts organizations, so to see some of that glory return to the area, especially at the State Theatre which is personally special, has been a great joy.”

“It’s a great way to do a musical,” said State Theatre Executive Director, Erica Miller. “We produce these pretty highly, and bring in a lot of high tech lighting equipment and professional lighting and scenic designers. The shows are very well done and it’s great to give people a chance to see how talented our local performers are. But, it’s also a chance to see a great show at a low cost.” At only $15 per adult and $10 for children 12 and under, it’s a great way for families to enjoy a quality show – or two.

Cast members hail from localities ranging across Pittsburgh to Morgantown, and all around the local area, Tunney said, continuing, “Work with the casts is going really well…(and) we rehearse both shows simultaneously, starting in May.” A total of 72 cast members round out the shows, with about 16 of them performing in both productions.

Greensburg actress and dance instructor, Breanna Deutsch, landed her dream role as Peter Pan for this year’s production, and should fit the bill perfectly. “As an actor, she approaches every moment of the show with such a fierce joy and enthusiasm – exactly what you want for Peter Pan…we’re so excited by what she’s brought to the role already. Peter Pan’s protagonist, Wendy Darling, will be played by recent Cal-U theatre graduate, Kayla Grimm.

Other members of the Peter Pan cast, as outlined by Tunney, include: Adam Drabish, a rising junior at Albert Gallatin High School as John Darling; Ian Grodz, entering the second grade, as Michael Darling; Tiger Lily will be played by Delaney Harvey, a rising junior at Brownsville Area High School (Delaney was in the 2015 production of Mary Poppins); and Toby Maykuth, taking on the role of Captain Hook.

Filling in the cast for The Music Man, “we have Brian Eisiminger playing Harold Hill. Brian works in the musical theatre department at CALU and lives in Pittsburgh, PA. Emily Hamilla, a Seton Hill grad with a degree in musical theatre, plays Marian Paroo, and Rachael Szabo will be playing her mother. The quartet includes Bill Dreucci, Will Dixon, Rylan Jenkins-Snaith and Jim Champlin. Brennen Malia plays Tommy Djilas, and Mairead Roddy, a current student at Point Park University in Pittsburgh, plays Zaneeta,” Tunney said.

While some cast members regularly perform throughout the area, others – from children to adults – are performing for the first time at Summer at the State, Tunney said. “This range of experiences and our rehearsal process bonds our casts as they all work together to tell the story of the show.”

What this means for audiences is first-rate production quality in shows the entire family can enjoy. “People would be surprised at the high quality of the shows we produce every summer,” Miller said. “They’re incredibly well done and I encourage everybody to come and see them.”

Peter Pan runs July 13 and 14, at 7:30 p.m., with a matinee on July 15 at 2 p.m., while The Music Man runs July 27 and 28 at 7:30 p.m., with a matinee on July 29 at 2 p.m.

Visit statetheatre.info to buy your tickets now. Find them on Facebook at facebook.com/StateTheatreUniontown

Story by Keren Lee Dreyer & Photos by Kelly Tunney for Pennsylvania Bridges

Oliver the Office Cat fundraising for Fayette Friends of Animals

Who's that cat?!? It's Oliver the Office Cat, and he's celebrating his birthday!

Who’s that cat?!? It’s Oliver the Office Cat, and he’s celebrating his birthday!

From feral porch kitten to office therapy cat, that is the life of Oliver. The large orange tomcat was adopted as a tiny kitten in 2015 by attorney Lisa Buday and now rules her office. Oliver is visited by college students and locals who keep an eye out for him hanging out in the window of the office at 200 Third Street in California.

Attorney Buday notes, “He seems to know when clients are upset and truly comforts them. I have had more than one client pet him while telling me their stories of injuries or loss. I also have seen more than one man babytalk to him. He really is the character of the office.”   

Oliver has always been one to try to help the animal community. At Christmas, when he hit 500 friends on his Facebook page Oliver the Office Cat, a $500 donation was made in his name to Fayette Friends of Animals. For his birthday, July 27, attorney Buday is accepting donations for Fayette Friends of Animals at her office throughout the month of July. You can call the office at 724-938-1355 to arrange drop offs or stop by.

Oliver hates filing. After a busy day of being the official "Office Cat" of Attorney Buday, he needs a nap!

Oliver hates filing. After a busy day of being the official “Office Cat” of Attorney Buday, he needs a nap.

Bring what you can to the Office of Lisa J. Buday, 200 Third Street, California or to the Fayette Friends location. View their wish list from fayettefriendsofanimals.net. You can also donate to them online at their website. Tell them that Oliver sent you!

Birthday cake and refreshments will be served at the office of Lisa Buday on July 26 from 2 to 4 p.m. Please feel free to stop and visit.

Also, don’t forget to “like” Oliver the Office Cat on Facebook.