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Native returns to his Jeannette roots to make a difference

| Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2013, 9:01 p.m.
Corey Tragesser, a new neighbor in Jeannette, has joined the Zoning Hearing Board and become active in his new community. Margie Stanislaw | The Jeannette Spirit

Jeannette has a new resident, who is not only an avid golfer and gardener, but who also received a personal letter from former President Ronald Reagan.

Corey Tragesser moved to Jeannette in April 2012. He was born and raised in the Irwin area, but has many relatives in the Jeannette and Grapeville areas. His family at one time owned a restaurant on Route 130 near Oakford Park known as DiDomenico's. Much of his early childhood was spent at his grandparents in Grapeville, who did their shopping and other errands in the City of Jeannette.

“I spent a lot of summers at Oakford Park.”

In the late 1980s, many of Tragesser's relatives worked in the steel industry in the McKeesport area. This was during the time that mills in the area were winding down, with the last of the massive layoffs occurring. One of his grandfathers and some of his aunts and uncles were laid off and it was a topic of concern within his family.

Tragesser took the initiative to write a letter to then President of the United States, Ronald Reagan, expressing his concern about the unemployment not only in his family, but in the region. At the time he was only 13 years old.

Surprisingly, Tragesser received a personal response from Reagan, discussing the unemployment situation, commending him on his interest and informing him that the White House was working hard to restore employment. Tragesser still has the letter today and it is in mint condition.

After graduation from Norwin High School, Tragesser attended California University for two years. He then began his career working for D-Bug Pest Control and Waterproofing and currently works for the Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County.

After college, Tragesser married and moved to Sutersville. The day he moved in to his home he said there was no water and the problem continued with water outages of an entire day happening on a frequent basis. Tragesser also found out that there was no public sewage system in Sutersville and the playgrounds needed attention.

Tragesser said the letter from Reagan sparked his interest in politics and he believed that this was his chance to help rectify the problems. He decided to run for public office and was the mayor of Sutersville Borough from 2001 to 2008.

“The infrastructure needed updated,” said Tragesser. “When I left, we had paved roads, water, sewage and a new playground. The quality of life for the borough had improved.”

Tragesser convinced the Water Authority to run a secondary main line into the borough so that when the main water line was interrupted, as frequently happened, people would be without water for less than two hours at a time. Tragesser has since divorced and when he began looking for a new home, he said, “I decided to return to my roots.”

Since moving to Jeannette, Tragesser has already gotten involved with his new community.

“I always kept track of Jeannette political wise in the paper. They were always dealing with things that were of interest to me.”

He submitted his name for both the Redevelopment Authority and the Zoning Board, and was appointed to the Zoning Board in August.

“What I like about working with the Zoning Board is that I know how ordinances work. A lot of them are old and the environment or needs may have changed in that area. I like the fact that we are democratic and people can bring their concerns about the ordinance to a meeting and ask for exceptions and explain why. We can then use common sense. It is not just a final no,” he said.

Tragesser is a golfer and belongs to the Irwin Moose Golf League and enjoys golfing at Irwin Country Club. In Jeannette, he belongs to the American Legion where he is a member of the Sons of the American Legion and is also a social member at the Ukrainian Club. Tragesser is an avid gardener and has already tilled a garden plot on his property and amended the soil so it can rest through the winter and be ready for planting this spring.

To discuss politics, gardening or golf, get to know this new neighbor, Corey Tragesser.

Editor's note: Meet Your Neighbors is a recurring feature in The Jeannette Spirit. If you know of a neighbor with an interesting life story to tell, someone who deserves some recognition for volunteer work, a resident with a special talent or an avid collector who would like to be featured, call 724-838-5154 or send an email to klinden@tribweb.com.

Margie Stanislaw is a freelance writer.

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