Election panel OKs use of historic voting site in Derry Township
The historic Simpson Voting House in Derry Township is expected to open to voters for the May 21 primary election.
The Westmoreland County Election Board Tuesday unanimously approved use of the more than 100-year-old polling place.
Completion of a parking area and installation of a handicapped-accessible railing are all that remain to open the site, said Derry Area Historical Society board member Evelyn Ruffing.
Elections were last held in the Simpson Voting House in 2004.
“We always wanted to do it. We wanted to make sure that before we spent more taxpayer money on it, that it met (state standards),” Commissioner Charles Anderson said.
Pennsylvania Department of State officials met with commissioners and historical society representatives in December and determined that the site meets those standards.
“We are excited to have it open. It's a great preservation of history,” Commissioner Tyler Courtney said.
“We are almost there. It's been a long time coming. I think this will be a unique voting experience” for Simpson precinct voters, Commissioner Ted Kopas said.
The county has spent $15,000 and four years working out details of the project, which moved the last free-standing polling place in Westmoreland County from its former site near Pittsburgh Raceway Park to county-owned property a mile east on Route 22 for renovations.
The district's approximately 500 voters were redirected to the New Alexandria Fireman's Club.
Ruffing cited volunteer efforts to re-establish the voting house once it was moved.
“We received a beautiful donation from Keith Dolan of Blairsville,” Ruffing said.
Dolan, president of K. Dolan Construction Corp., said he agreed to provide asphalt, which he was able to purchase at cost, along with labor for excavation and paving.
“I like Evelyn's spirit and her gumption,” Dolan said.
Dolan said he will be moving his company to Derry Township in the near future.
“It's a nice project, and we are fortunate enough to be able to help out,” he said.
Dolan estimated the donation of material and labor at about $10,000.
Such donations helped to lessen the county's contribution, Tyler said.
“If it all gets done, our plan is to open it on May 21,” Anderson said.
“This has really been a good business partnership with the county, the township and the historical society,” Kopas said.
Ruffing said the small building, not much bigger than most people's living rooms, shows up on an 1876 Simpson Farm atlas.
“I believe it is the oldest extant voting property in Westmoreland County,” Ruffing said.
A ceremony to recognize the Keystone of Democracy with Secretary of the Commonwealth Carol Aichele, commissioners and historical society is scheduled for May 16 at the voting house.
To qualify, a polling place must have been in use for at least 50 consecutive years.
“The idea there is to recognize the physical building, the county, the precinct workers and the people who came there to vote,” Ron Ruman, department press secretary, said earlier.
Mary Pickels is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-5401 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
- Latrobe ear-biting suspect loses bid for reduced bail
- Westmoreland County tourism grants promote banana splits, breweries, trolley, railroad
- Request for documents delays Speedway hearing in Unity
- Youngwood aims to reduce amount that ends up in sewage treatment facility
- Hempfield infant fights rare disease
- Laurel Mountain Ski Resort discusses planned revival
- Ligonier doctor’s appeal to practice rejected
- Donora-Monessen bridge ramps to stay open during construction
- Fracking foes pack zoning discussion in Ligonier Township
- Westmoreland judge offers Court in the Classroom
- Forbes: Night at the Races planned at sportsmen’s club