Charleroi officials hope to honor more people with street names
“What's in a name?” Shakespeare once asked.
For Charleroi, the question may be more appropriately: Where's a name?
The accomplishments of some prominent Charleroi residents are recognized through street names, and even the council chambers. In the coming year, borough leaders hope to hand out more such honors.
Earlier this year, council President Mark Alterici appointed a committee comprising Mayor Nancy Ellis and councilmen Paul Povornik and Randy DiPiazza to set criteria for determining who should be honored and what streets should be named for them.
“It's hard, because there are a lot of good business people who continually step up to the plate, and good business families who have stayed here and continued to give to the community,” Ellis said.
“We're trying to look at how we can honor them and who is deserving. There are so many, and we are lucky to have or have had them.
“And in my opinion, they deserve to be honored. Without them, I don't know where we'd be.”
Ellis declined to identify people being considered, but said naming ceremonies are likely in the coming year.
Alterici said the committee was formed because of requests to rename streets in honor of Charleroi residents who have made differences in the municipality or otherwise. Council wants to prioritize the requests, Alterici said.
“This is just to show tribute to people who have done things for the community,” Alterici said. “They did so because they loved the community so much. A lot of these people never asked for attention for all they did for the community.”
Alterici said the goal is to look at potential streets to name after deserving people. The task is tricky, because for 911 purposes, the borough wants to avoid causing large numbers of residents to change their addressees.
Honoring its own is in such a fashion is nothing new for Charleroi.
In March 2009, council renamed Fourth Street, between McKean and Lincoln avenues, Frank R. Mascara Way.
Mascara served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1994 to 2002. A Democrat, Mascara represented Pennsylvania's 20th District.
Mascara began his political career as Washington County controller, a position he held from 1974 through 1980. He served as chairman of the Washington County Board of Commissioners from 1980 through 1994, when he was elected to Congress.
Mascara was a member of the California University of Pennsylvania Board of Trustees in parts of four decades, beginning in the 1970s and stretching until 2002. He resigned from that post to avoid a conflict of interest while seeking federal dollars for a low-speed magnetic levitation train at the university.
In 2009, council voted to name Sixth Street, between Fallowfield and McKean avenues, Edward M. Paluso Way.
Previously, the community room in the borough building was named for Paluso. It is located across the hall from council chambers, which were named for Mark Mascara, longtime borough solicitor, in 2011.
Paluso was Washington County's longest-tenured commissioner, serving from 1971-91. He was Charleroi mayor from 1993 to 2005.
He served on borough council for four years prior to becoming a commissioner.
Charleroi honored another former county commissioner.
First Street, between Fallowfield and Washington avenues, was named for Mel Bassi. The street runs past the corner where he founded his law firm, Bassi, McCune & Vreeland, P.C.
A director and president of Charleroi Federal Savings Bank for more than 40 years, he served as a Washington County commissioner in 1994-95. He took over the seat vacated when Mascara moved on to the U.S. House.
Bassi served as Washington County solicitor from 1981 through 1995. He spent 45 years as Charleroi School District solicitor and as Washington County Redevelopment Authority solicitor from 1956 to 1970.
Bosson Way, adjacent to the railroad tracks near the chamber plaza parking lot, was named for David Bosson. Bosson, a longtime Greater Charleroi Chamber of Commerce executive director, helped lead the formation of the Speers Industrial Park.
The street was named for Bosson while the road was still property of the former Greater Charleroi chamber. It is now borough property.
Plaques at two playgrounds were erected to honor two residents.
More than a decade ago, the Crest Avenue playground pavilion was named for then-Councilwoman Mary Ann Uhal – in recognition of her work in parks and recreation.
The 13th Street playground was named for Walter “Buck” Klus, a mentor for a group of boys in that neighborhood.
Klus helped build a homemade dirt field that sat on the hill above the plaque site. The playground came years later, thanks to Klus' initiative. With his encouragement, the borough street department paved a basketball court near the field.
Klus died Dec. 31, 2008. When several of the by-then-grown “boys” from the old neighborhood attended a memorial service for Klus, they decided a permanent honor was fitting.
In March 2009, Charleroi council permitted the “family and friends” of Klus to erect the plaque.
Chris Buckley is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2642 or firstname.lastname@example.org.