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Contact Colin McNickle (412-320-7836 or

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Monday, April 8, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

The circle of redistribution: It's tough to miss the irony of a $35,000 tourism grant, funded by a tax on Westmoreland County hotel rooms, that will advertise Laurel Highlands attractions to passengers aboard Spirit Airlines' flights into Arnold Palmer Regional Airport. If the ads entice airline passengers to visit the region, then they, too, will pay the hotel room tax (3 percent), a portion of which pays for the grants, which go to the redistributionists, who pick the winners, who receive an arbitrary share of the tourism grant money. Read on.

Grant fairness?: Reviewing the list of various tourism grant recipients, it's difficult to fathom the logic of a five-member committee that decided which of the 59 businesses (out of 103 applications) got greased and for how much. For example, two similar Ligonier-area restaurants each picked up grants — one received $2,500 while the other picked up $5,000. Based on the criteria for the grants, did the latter accrue twice the tourism revenue for the Laurel Highlands?

Is your dog licensed?: Throughout April, dog wardens in Westmoreland County will be on the lookout for unlicensed, unvaccinated dogs, which can cost owners fines of up to $300 per dog. Why risk it? For owners and their pooches, licensing (should a dog get loose) and vaccinations make sense. What's required is nothing more than being a responsible pet owner.

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