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Connellsville community urged to support tourism efforts

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Sunday, May 26, 2013, 12:18 p.m.

“Without a unified community, it's hard to move the needle of success.”

Those are the thoughts of Connellsville businesswoman Robin Bubarth.

The owner of Bud Murphys and Rock Starz in Connellsville,attended last week's Yough Country Symposium, sponsored by the Fayette County Cultural Trust.

Business and community leaders from throughout the Fay-West area gathered at the event to discuss the region's future and the importance of tourism in local development.

Hospitality offered by businesses, restaurants, hotels and similar businesses is important when dealing with tourists, Bubarth said.

“Hospitality is not exclusive to the restaurant businesses or to bed and breakfasts, but hospitality must be a way of life for all of us,” she said.

Bubarth said it is important to improve the overall hospitable feel of the city. She urged the community to get involved, get to know their neighbors and do things that utilize the resources at hand.

“Use your library, use your parks, and fish and play in our beautiful river,” Bubarth said. “Volunteer. Start a tradition or participate in an old one. Build a reservoir of good will and add to that every day.”

Gino Gallo of Sustainable Connellsville said his group is making efforts to make the city greener and environmentally friendly.

“We are an organization that works towards the economic betterment of the community,” he said.

Sustainable Connellsville is completing a green cottage project near Yough River Park, Gallo said.

He stressed that there is a need for cottages or smaller cabin units along the Youghiogheny River and the bike trail that goes through the area.

“Those who use a trail traditionally don't opt for hotels, but they prefer cabins, bed and breakfasts or smaller inns,” Gallo said. “The lodging problem is the biggest one that we have in the city of Connellsville right now. There is a real opportunity for bed-and- breakfasts, and people are also talking about inns.”

His group focuses on the condition of the river by leading annual river cleanups, he said.

“River cleanups make an impact, and we hope to do that as an annual thing,” Gallo said.

Karen Hechler of the Connellsville Area Historical Society acknowledged that Connellsville is rich in history. The historical society showcases that history in the Gibson House, purchased in 2002 and under renovations. The society aims to turn the second floor of the house into a military room.

In addition, the society's new book, “Around Connellsville,” is now available to be pre-ordered.

The society is gearing up for the June 29 and 30 Braddock's Crossing, marking the 10th anniversary of the event.

Cassandra Vivian of the Mt. Pleasant Cultural Trust, a guest at last week's symposium, said her organization is working to promote the Braddock Trail. The new Mt. Pleasant Glass Museum is attracting interest, too, she noted.

The cultural trust worked with the Mt. Pleasant Historical Society to create maps of the Braddock Trail, which runs through the Fay-West area, Vivian said. The trust purchased special signs that designate the route for tourists to follow.

The trust is attempting to locate, log and provide information plaques that would point out where area coal mines and coke ovens were located along the trails and in near other areas, she said.

“We don't need to restore them; we need to stabilize them,” Vivian said of the mines and ovens. “These are all coal mine trails, and this would help in the restoring of our pride in our heritage.

“We all share incredible history here to which we should all be proud,” she added. “Our ethnicity is special.”

Marilyn Forbes is a freelance writer.

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