Cheers to the donors who provided $4.1 million in tuition assistance funding to the Diocese of Greensburg. Diocese officials said $2.4 million of the donation was made anonymously by a family in the local business community, marking the single largest donation received in a single year. The remaining $1.7 million came from individuals and businesses participating in the state’s Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC). The donations will go toward a one-of-a-kind scholarship for those who wish to attend any of the diocese’s 12 Catholic schools, including those in Fayette and Westmoreland counties. The scholarship has been called the St. Pope John Paul II Tuition Opportunity Partnership (TOP), in honor of the single donor family who were profoundly influenced by the pope. Officials said they are hopeful the TOP scholarship will increase enrollment by up to 15%. The kindness and generosity of those in our community is inspiring!

Cheers to the volunteer firefighters from multiple area fire departments who came to the scene of a devastating fire in the early hours of July 4 that destroyed the Mapletown United Methodist Church and a nearby house. Though the buildings were gutted by the blaze, firefighters from around the county quickly responded and worked together to extinguish the flames, prevent more damage to other properties and help the family living in the house escape with no major injuries. And, cheers to the many people who donated funds, food and clothing to the family after they lost everything in the fire. The buildings may have been lost, but the true meaning of selfless community spirit was abundantly found.

Cheers to all those involved in the new Route 40 Watering Trough park, which opened on July 4 along the Westbound lanes of Route 40 coming down Summit Mountain. The park features a pavilion, a watering trough area and a picnic area as well as signage that pays homage to the rich history of the location. According to a spokeswoman for Hardy World in Bentleyville, Joe Hardy heard about the desire for the park and began to work with public officials to see if the community would be supportive of the notion, and with the help of a lot of individuals, the Watering Trough park was born. “The Shoemaker family, Fayette County commissioners, as well as the Laurel Highlands Visitors Bureau and Fayette County Chamber of Commerce, were all great allies of the project and should be thanked,” she said. There are a few more features to be added to the park, she said, which include a dedication plaque to the Shoemaker family and also a watering wheel feature.

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