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Trolley to shuttle visitors around St. Vincent campus

| Wednesday, April 17, 2013, 5:36 p.m.
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A trolley similar to the one that St. Vincent College has ordered from Molly Corp. in Wells, Maine.

A replica of the famous Mister Rogers' Neighborhood Trolley could be shuttling students, staff and visitors around St. Vincent College's neighborhood next spring, college officials say.

“It will have a Fred Rogers theme and be used mostly in the spring, summer and fall,” said Brother Paul R. Taylor, executive vice president of the college in Unity.

The trolley also will be licensed to travel on highways, Taylor said.

St. Vincent anticipates that the motorized trolley will provide transportation to campus attractions, including the basilica, gristmill, Sis and Herman Dupré Science Pavilion, Fred. M. Rogers Center, Foster and Muriel McCarl Coverlet Gallery, St. Vincent Gallery, the Winnie Palmer Nature Reserve, the Monastery Run improvement project, the college's summer theater events and the Pittsburgh Steelers training camp in July and August, which attracts thousands of fans.

St. Vincent has ordered the 30-passenger customized Molly Trolley from Molly Corp. of Wells, Maine, Taylor said.

Building the customized trolleys usually takes only six weeks, but the company has about 25 others on order before it can begin building one for St. Vincent, said Jamie Bradish, owner of Molly Corp., which has about 14 employees.

The college selected the company's Imperial Molly Trolley model, which is fashioned after the traditional San Francisco trolley. The trolley is typically between 27 and 34 feet in length, 8 feet wide with a 208-inch wheelbase. Molly Corp. builds the tolleys on a Freightliner commercial bus chassis.

The college has not yet decided on the final design or the color scheme of the trolley, Bradish said.

The trolley will cost about $137,000, and St. Vincent is in the process of raising money to cover that cost, Taylor said.

The university was recently awarded a $7,000 Westmoreland County tourism capital grant to help pay for the trolley. The Laurel Highlands Visitors Bureau, the state-authorized tourism agency for Westmoreland, Fayette and Somerset counties, distributed the grant to the college as part of 63 grants that it awarded to 59 tourism-related businesses in the county.

The tourism bureau awarded grants totaling $413,624 — money generated by the county's 3 percent tax on all overnight accommodations.

Ronald Virag, executive director of the visitors bureau, said the selection committee sought to give grants to organizations and initiatives that will bring tourists into the county and boost the economy.

“It's all about bringing the visitors in. A key question is: What impact will the grant have on tourism in Westmoreland County?” Virag said.

The largest single grant went to the Westmoreland County Airport Authority, which wants to promote tourist sites in the Laurel Highlands by making a card that will be inserted in the back seat flap of Spirit Airlines flights for three months this summer. The authority anticipates that it may be viewed by as many as 3 million passengers this summer.

Among the other central and eastern Westmoreland County organizations receiving the assistance from the hotel tax were:

• Campbell House Bed & Breakfast, Ligonier: $3,500 for ads in the visitors bureau's romantic getaway e-newsletters.

• Carol & Dave's Roadhouse, Ligonier: $2,500 to redesign their website.

• Champion Lakes Golf Course and Bed & Breakfast, Fairfield Township: $1,500 to pay for billboards in Fayette, Washington and Allegheny counties.

• Fort Ligonier: $15,000 for website upgrades, electronic marketing initiatives and television ads.

• Fort Ligonier Days: $14,000 to attract visitors from the Cleveland and Baltimore areas, with a multimedia campaign, including online marketing initiatives.

• Idlewild Park & Soakzone: $25,000 for an outdoor marketing campaign in northeast Ohio, with $5,000 earmarked for back-seat inserts on Spirit Airlines flights.

• Ligonier Valley Chamber of Commerce: $8,000 to increase awareness of the chamber's special events, using a brochure and e-marketing campaign.

• Ligonier Valley Historical Society: $7,000 to increase visits at its 1799 stagecoach stop in Laughlintown by participating in visitors bureau programs.

• Lincoln Highway Heritage Corridor: $2,000 to assist the organization in improving signage for its office along Route 30 at Kingston.

• Ramada Inn, Ligonier: $10,000 to advertise at the Arnold Palmer Regional Airport and participate in the visitors bureau's marketing events.

• St. Vincent College: $5,000 to increase awareness of the Foster and Muriel McCarl Coverlet Gallery on campus by advertising in Pittsburgh-based publications.

• Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art at Ligonier Valley: $1,000 to assist with public relations efforts to promote exhibits and artists.

• Springhill Suites by Marriott Pittsburgh Latrobe: $10,000 to target golfers in Orlando and South Florida with newspaper and magazine ads and on Golftrips.com.

• The Road Toad, Ligonier Township: $5,000 to design and install a new outdoor sign to reflect the natural beauty of the Ligonier Valley.

Joe Napsha is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-836-5252 or jnapsha@tribweb.com.

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