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Meet Your Neighbors: Means balances work, taking care of healing daughter

| Wednesday, April 17, 2013, 9:01 p.m.
Margie Stanislaw | The Jeannette Spirit

A longtime member of the Jeannette Redevelopment Authority, Jeffry (Jeff) Means is a lifelong resident of Jeannette.

A graduate of Jeannette High School, Means attended Central Westmoreland Vo-Tech for two years after high school graduation where he studied plumbing, heating and welding.

Directly after graduation he went to work for Jeannette Glass and worked there until the company closed in 1982.

After the closure, Means did some various odd jobs and was then hired by New York businessman Abe Zion when he took over the plant. At that time, Zion hired people who had previously worked at Jeannette Glass to maintain the buildings and the sump pumps.

Eventually, Zion installed polishing machines and formed the Atlas Supply Company. Means worked as the warehouse manager for 12 years and then became the plant manager.

He worked in that position until two years ago, when he had to leave work to become a caregiver for his daughter.

Mean's daughter Nicolle was in a serious car accident in June 2011. “They told us she was not going to make it,” Means said.

But Nicolle did survive. She went into intensive physical therapy and has exceeded all the goals and expectations that were set for her. Means resigned from his job, stayed home and has cared for Nicolle for the past two years.

Although she is not completely self-sufficient and still needs care, Means returned to work this year at the old Jeannette Glass site, as the site manager for the demolition of the factory.

Means is also employed by the Westmoreland Housing Authority as an assistant to the purchasing agent.

Means is married to the former Cathey Chiappinelli. According to Means, he and Cathey were married twice. The first time was 15 years ago in a Methodist Church and they were then remarried at Ascension Catholic Church after they both received annulments.

The couple has a blended family, and between the two of them have six children. Krystelle Means Syster and her husband, Bryan, are both in the United States Navy and serve in Portsmouth, Va. They have two children: McKenna, who is in first grade, and Tyler, who is in kindergarten.

Daughter Meaghan Means also serves in the United States Navy and is stationed in Pensacola, Fla., where she is a computer technician.

Nicolle Means and Angel Chiappinelli both reside at home with their parents. Angel Chiappinelli is currently studying at the Bradford Business School in Pittsburgh and she is interning in the retail field at Marshalls in Greensburg.

Sons Joshua Ash and Michael Chiappinelli reside in Texas and Plum Borough respectively.

Means is very active in his the community. He was a volunteer at the High Park Fire Department for 17 years where he served in various positions including chief, president and secretary.

After that, he became a part-time fireman for the City of Jeannette.

“Volunteering is the best thing in the world and makes you feel really good,” said Means.

He likes the position of secretary, as he served in that position for the Jeannette Relief Association for three years, has been a member for the Knights of Columbus for the past 11 years, where he served as secretary for the Home Association for three years and secretary of the council for 10 years.

Means has been on the Jeannette Redevelopment Authority for 11 years, where he has served as secretary for eight years.

“It is interesting to see how the government works. We are always trying to help the city to make things better.

“Jeannette was really nice back in the day. We cruised the avenue up and down. There were people everywhere and shops. It's a good town. It just has some quirks to it.”

To learn more about volunteering in Jeannette, get to know neighbor Jeff Means.

Margie Stanislaw is a freelance writer.