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Jeannette resident has lifelong relationship with neighborhood

| Thursday, Jan. 3, 2013, 9:18 p.m.
Chuck Highlands is a longtime Jeannette resident, former councilman and current member of the redevelopment authority. Margie Stanislaw | The Jeannette Spirit

Chuck Highlands is a lifelong resident of Jeannette and today lives only a half mile from where he was born.

Highlands is a 1958 graduate of Jeannette Senior High School, and married his high school sweetheart Meryl Kessel. This year the couple celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary.

In Highlands' graduating class there were about nine couples who got married after graduation. Jokingly Highlands attributes the phenomenon to the fact that “no one had cars back then.”

Beginning at about 10 years of age, Highlands started working at the Greensburg Country Club, where, during his teen years, he did everything from being a golf caddy to working the concession stand.

Working at the Country Club is where Highlands developed his lifelong love of the game of golf. For many years, Highlands golfed at the Lincoln Hills Country Club with his friends, and they managed to play more than 100 rounds a year.

Currently, he and his friends play probably just as many rounds per year, but at the Norvelt Golf Club. He also takes an annual trip with more than 30 other golfers to Myrtle Beach.

“You are considered an avid golfer if you play 25 rounds a year,” said Highlands. “I'm not sure what that makes me…maybe a maniac?”

After graduation from high school, Highlands did a two-year tour of duty, stateside with the U.S. Army. Upon his return home, he began working in the trucking industry.

He began his career as a dispatcher and worked his way up the career ladder to regional manager and then vice president of credit and collections for five trucking companies owned by his friends.

All of the companies are located in the southern United States. Highlands has had job offers all over the United States, but has never left Jeannette.

“I like to walk down the street and wave to people I know,” said Highlands. “I didn't want to live in a big transient city.”

Highlands still works three days each week.

“Working keeps your mind young and active. I don't know when I will retire.”

Highlands also likes to garden, although he is not sure that is really a hobby, and he has also been involved in city government for more than 20 years.

In addition to serving as a city councilman, where he was the liaison to the Recreation Commission, Highlands has also been on the Sewage Authority and is currently serving on the Redevelopment Authority.

“I always have questions to ask and I'm interested in my city,” said Highlands. “I feel that I both contribute and learn by asking questions.”

The Highlands have two sons, Randy and Scott. Randy Highlands lives in the City of Jeannette and he and his wife, Donna, have three children, Ryan, Matt and Lindsey. Randy and Donna Highlands are both members of the City of Jeannette School Board.

Scott Highlands lives in Hempfield Township and he and his wife, Beth, have one son, Jason.

To learn more about golfing, gardening or city government, get to know neighbor Chuck Highlands.

Margie Stanislaw is a freelance writer.