Scenic Pittsburgh sang Connellsville’s praises as the nonprofit presented the city with its inaugural Community Scenic Achievement Award.
“We wanted to highlight some of the towns really doing heroic things to bring back the economies of the community, to make these places more livable, more beautiful and we kept seeing Connellsville everywhere we went,’’ explained Mike Dawida, executive director of Scenic Pittsburgh, which serves 10 counties in Western Pennsylvania and is part of Scenic America.
“We’re here to honor you for having done some pretty special things and to be the role model for other towns everywhere, to learn you can make the place better no matter how bad things have been – whether coal leaves or coke leaves – whatever leaves,’’ said Dawida. “This is still a great place.’’
Mayor Greg Lincoln thanked Scenic Pittsburgh as he accepted the award, adding, “Community spirit is alive here and we’re proud of it.’’
The Molinaro Band welcomed a large crowd to the ceremony, which took place Oct. 16 at the Connellsville Canteen after inclement weather forced a change indoors. Original plans were to present the award in front of the Fayette County Cultural Trust-commissioned mural on the Italian Independent Social Club. Pittsburgh artist Jeremy Raymer has been painting the mural that portrays scenes of Connellsville’s Italian-American community.
A Scenic Pittsburgh release named the mural and Connellsville Canteen, which includes a restaurant and WWII museum in an historic train station, among features including flower plantings, renovated historic buildings, improved facades and public art calling attention to the city’s history and location, adjacent to the Youghiogheny River and Great Allegheny Passage bike trail.
“Connellsville also adopted an ambitious Comprehensive City Plan in April 2019 that focuses on further development of the area as a ‘recreational haven’ and local arts showcase with a walkable downtown,’’ the release noted.
Daniel Cocks, Fayette County Cultural Trust executive director, thanked a long list of government departments, civic leaders, organizations, regional foundations and individuals for their contributions to Connellsville.
Cocks noted, “I’ve been to a lot of places in my life and I’ve never seen this many people work together in one community to make a difference.’’
In his remarks, Cocks pointed out attributes such the city’s promotion of new ideas, unity and togetherness.
“Connellsville is that place,’’ Cocks said, “because of all the organizations and individuals working together to enhance health, beauty, quality of life and promote a well-balanced community.’’
As Lincoln spoke, he thanked Cocks and Michael Edwards, Connellsville Redevelopment Authority executive director, for their contributions over the years.
“They’ve never faltered. They work extremely hard,’’ said Lincoln. “Every organization here has been involved with Michael and Dan.’’
Citations were presented to Connellsville by state Sen. Pat Stefano, R-Bullskin Township; state Rep. Ryan Warner, R-Perryopolis; and Nate Nevala and Patty Yauger on behalf of U.S. Rep. Guy Reschenthaler, R-Peters Township.
Fayette County Commissioner Angela Zimmerlink, members of city council, local departments, organizations and individuals also attended the awards presentation.
Dawida said he would be attending a national conference in Florida where Connellsville was going to be held up as an example.
“You care about your community,’’ Dawida said, “and that’s apparent.’’