Connellsville again becoming nicer place to live, visit
Multi-tasking is a skill mastered only with extreme organization and the sheer determination to accomplish as much as possible — in as little time as possible.
It's difficult to balance two projects at once, let alone three or four or five.
Yet, behind the scenes in Connellsville, that's what has been accomplished in recent years by Michael Edwards and Daniel Cocks with the assistance of positive-minded individuals who believe that it is finally time for Connellsville to again realize its full potential rather than focus solely on the region's illustrious past.
Both men wear several hats. Edwards heads the city's redevelopment authority and serves as president of Fayette County Cultural Trust, the nonprofit group that is working hand-in-hand with local entrepreneur Terry “Tuffy” Shallenberger in constructing the “Connellsville Canteen & Harry Clark Indian Creek Valley Railroad Display.” A grand opening of the West Crawford Avenue facility will be in the spring.
Read all about it
The railroad display is but one project accomplished by the Cultural Trust in 2012. Its volunteer board of directors — which includes Cocks — publishes a quarterly magazine called “Connellsville Crossroads” that focuses on the good news and interesting people and history of the Connellsville area.
The Trust works closely with ArtWorks Connellsville, a nonprofit gallery and learning center that exhibits and sells the creations of more than 80 area artists and 20 local authors. It also hosts many art-related classes for adults and children.
In 2012, some of the most popular classes were soap-making, painting, sewing and mosaics. Its summer art camp for children was well-received and will be held again this summer.
Cocks, who staffs ArtWorks Connellsville and serves as its curator, spends many, many hours at the West Crawford Avenue facility — all of it as a volunteer.
It's a fact
If there is a community event, Cocks and Edwards are working quietly in the background helping it to succeed. Both are heavily involved in Downtown Connellsville, another project of the Trust that focuses on attracting local citizens to such festivities as the Mum Festival in September, a “Buy Local” farmer's market that offers fresh produce on Saturdays during summer and early autumn, and “It's a Connellsville Christmas Festival” — to name a few.
With the assistance of Edwards and Cocks, who are skilled at obtaining grants through the state and private foundations, the Cultural Trust, Downtown Connellsville and ArtWorks Connellsville seamlessly meshed in 2012 to beautify the town and make it more visitor-friendly.
Whether it was planting flowers and pulling weeds along Third Street, assisting the local Garden Club with planting flower baskets in town or placing benches along Crawford Avenue, the city has benefited from these nonprofit groups and their dedicated members.
In 2012, crosswalk signs were installed downtown, an “Empty Store Front” ordinance was presented to council and a proposal submitted to place Amtrak signs in the city.
The Trust hosted its third annual symposium in May and a “Golden Reunion” for Connellsville area alumni, in conjunction with Connellsville Garden Club's Geranium Festival. Its members assisted Connellsville Historical Society with “Braddock's Crossing” at Yough River Park; “Art on the Yough” was celebrated at the same time. The event, which commemorates Gen. Edward Braddock's crossing of the river during the French and Indian War, will observe its 10th anniversary this year.
Friends to FRIENDS
Carnegie Free Library and its FRIENDS group that raises money for library projects received assistance from ArtWorks Connellsville in 2012. ArtWorks hosted events to benefit the library and also held several book signings for local authors.
The 2013 schedule for the Cultural Trust, Downtown Connellsville and ArtWorks Connellsville is shaping up to be just as full as last year's, with those behind the scenes multi-tasking and continuing their quest to make Connellsville as pretty – and positive – as possible.
Laura Szepesi is a freelance writer.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Tenebrae returns for Connellsville’s St. Rita Roman Catholic Church
- Connellsville church collects goods, money for the needy
- Building damaged, no injuries after Fayette recycling center fire
- Henry: Yough River Trail Council races set for Saturday
- Father-and-son blacksmiths still firing up forge in Farmington
- Uniontown songwriter draws big inspiration from Bigfoot for new CD
- Connellsville foundation preserves local theater treasure
- Members of Dawson church to continue Palm Sunday tradition
- Warrant issued for Hopwood man accused of burglary
- Members of Dawson church to continue Palm Sunday tradition
- Connellsville area’s secular, parochial schools push students to excel academically, technologically, leaders say