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Former AP writer wraps up West Overton Parlor Talks series

| Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014, 9:02 p.m.
D. Byron Yake

Highlighting the history of the area and its occupants in an educational and enlightening manor, the Parlor Talks at the West Overton Museum just keep getting more interesting as speaker after speaker brings everything from fun facts to historical information to those in attendance.

This Sunday, writer and founder of the “Write on Sports” children's camp program, Bryon Yake will be featured, as the final speaker for this year's series, one that has welcomed speakers who covered such topics as music, the history of whiskey and the Mennonites' involvement in the Civil War.

“Our talks have been very successful,” said Jessica Kadie-Barclay, West Overton director. “We are seeing a lot of people that we have never seen before so that is a great thing to see. More people are coming to West Overton and that is our goal.”

Levi Miller, West Overton Board member, has been the organizer for the speakers and is pleased with the amount of interest shown for the talks.

“We have had good attendance, positive responses and stimulating discussions,” Miller said. “The whiskey talk was especially apropos because West Overton Village is looking to incorporate more whiskey into its program, maybe a micro-brewery.”

Miller strives to find speakers that are of local interest or who are originally from the area, bringing even more of a hometown spin to the series.

Yake is a graduate of Southmoreland High School.

The writer later graduated from Goshen College in Indiana, and worked in different capacities including a stint with the Mt. Pleasant Journal that later led to a plum assignment with the Associated Press in Pittsburgh.

“I will we talking about my career which started in Mt. Pleasant and ended with the Associated Press,” Yake said. “I will be talking about that journey and all the things that have gone on in journalism that are good.”

Yake said his time in Pittsburgh consisted of the luck of great timing, as he was on staff during the era of some of the area's greatest sports legends while in their prime.

“There was Terry Bradshaw, Joe Greene, Roberto Clemente, Willie Stargell and Arnold Palmer,” Yake said. “There was a litany of great sports figures.”

After Pittsburgh, Yake continued working with the AP in other areas before retiring in 2005, when he then founded “Write on Sports,” which offers summer writing camps for youths who are interested in learning the finer points of writing.

“He's a homegrown story on a public issue,” Miller said. “News media have greatly changed during Yake's lifetime, and he's going to reflect on those changes.”

The parlor talks are open to everyone and are free to attend.

Miller said the interesting series is a perfect combination of the old and new, bringing an old-fashioned idea to modern day.

“There is something wonderfully 19th century about the well-informed public lecture,” Miller said. “And like a good live music concert, it continues into the 21st century.”

Kadie-Barclay said the hope is to continue the series again next year.

“One of our goals here is to offer low-cost or no cost events to the public to try to generate even more interest in West Overton,” Kadie-Barclay said. “We want to continue to bring entertaining and exciting events to the people of the community.”

As a focus on the importance of writing and youth, Yake also will be visiting with students in the Mt. Pleasant and Southmoreland School districts Monday

The Sunday Parlor Talk will begin at 2:30.

Marilyn Forbes is a contributing writer.