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Downtown Connellsville gets hand from volunteers in bettering the area

| Saturday, May 3, 2014, 12:21 a.m.
Nancy Henry | for the Daily Courier
As attendees arrived at the Downtown Connellsville business mixer held at the Connellsville Canteen, they enjoyed a meal that included a variety of food — from appetizers to desserts — provided by local restaurants. A program followed with updates given and plans presented for a busy 2014.

Connellsville is a town of vibrancy, vitality and viability.

That was the message related to those who attended the Downtown Connellsville spring business mixer this week in the new Connellsville Canteen.

As the nonprofit moves into its fifth year of revitalizing Connellsville's main street areas, the progress can be measured in many ways, according to the group. Among them:

• The second set of four-year pledges to the program have come in steadily and now stand at $50,000.

• A facade and sign/awning initiative is in its fourth year. Businesses that have been able to take advantage of the program include Restoration Station, the former Masonic Temple and Rumbaugh Chiropractic. Applications are available online at www.downtownconnellsville.org.

An overview of current projects in the city was presented, naming the businesses that have opened as well as those soon to open and those being remodeled and repurposed.

“The business climate in our city is improving, and there is plenty to look forward to,” said Michael Edwards, president of Fayette County Cultural Trust, which umbrellas four committees of Downtown Connellsville: organization, economic restructuring, promotions and design.

A calendar of events listing many of Connellsville's special celebrations as well as the Lions Square Summer Concert dates and bands was distributed. It included dozens of events through the end of 2014.

The vision for Downtown Connellsville is being realized through the work of the volunteers who see the value in rebuilding the city, group members noted. The grand history is being preserved through the Connellsville Canteen opening on May 10; the work being done on the Aaron's building by Shallenberger Construction; the restoration of the West Side Train Station by Somerset Trust Co.; and in many other ways.

New committee volunteers are always welcome.

Downtown Connellsville is sponsoring a one-day bus trip to Washington and the Crime Museum on June 21, with proceeds benefiting the city police bulletproof vest fund.

Other new and fun ideas that will take place this year are a logo contest and an addition to the Mum Festival — to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Ford Mustang, there will be a parade of 50 Mustangs to kick off the event.

Refreshments served at the business mixer were provided by local restaurants and caterers, emphasizing the fact residents don't need to go out of town to enjoy delicious food of all kinds: hoagies from Peanuts Pizza; tortilla chips and salsa, rice and beans from El Canelo Mexican Restaurant; boneless wings in several flavors from The Paint Room; assorted desserts from Pechin Deli; tossed salad with plenty of fresh greens of all kinds from M&M Clubhouse; and a large vegetable tray with dip from Bud Murphy's.

Those who attended the mixer expressed surprise when they learned from where online users were coming to read about the activities of the nonprofit organization that is working to put Connellsville back on the map as a tourist attraction and an outstanding area in which to open a business.

The next Downtown Connellsville business mixer will be held in the fall.

Nancy Henry is a contributing writer.

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