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Many in Alle-Kiski Valley shrug off high heat

| Thursday, July 21, 2011

A substantial number of area residents apparently didn't get the oppressive heat wave memo.

Take the dozens of guys playing golf Wednesday at Saxon Golf Course in Clinton Township. Shortly before 2 p.m., as the temperature climbed into the 90s, golfers trickled into the pro shop to pay their greens fees.

"I'm a walker!" one exclaimed, eschewing a golf cart.

"It's not that bad at all," Hank Ablauf of Richland Township said. "You take a bottle of water with you, and when you get moving, the breeze cools you off."

"You find the shade," said John Pelusi, who rode in a golf cart with Ablauf.

Ablauf, Pelusi and two of their friends teed off at 9:30 a.m. and strolled off the 18th green about 1:30 p.m. Sweat dripping from their brows, the retirees denied the heat was too much for them.

Pelusi, a Fort Myers, Fla., resident and Pittsburgh native who has been in town for the past month visiting friends, said he thrives in the heat.

"I hate the cold," he said.

According to the National Weather Service, yesterday's temperature peaked at 91 degrees. Temperatures are expected to creep into the low- to mid-90s the next few days.

It's likely that those who prefer cooler temperatures are avoiding outdoor activity as best they can. But there seemed to be an inordinate number of folks such as Susan Laskowski of Arnold, who took the chance to enjoy a sunny day at Riverview Memorial Park in Tarentum.

Laskowski noted the soaring temperature and was loving it. She relaxed by the Snoopy-shaped toddler's pool while her daughter, Hannah, 8, frolicked in the water.

"I'm a sun person," said Laskowski, who moved to the area from Tampa 15 years ago. "This doesn't bother me."

Standing in front of a griddle bubbling with cooking oil, the Rev. Miroslav Stelmaszczyk flipped potato pancakes at the Tarentum farmers market at the thermometer hit 84 degrees shortly after 11 a.m.

"I know it's hot, but I don't want to disappoint the people who come every week for potato pancakes," said the pastor of Holy Family Roman Catholic Church in the Creighton section of East Deer.

Known by all as "Father Miro," the priest raises funds for his church at the market. He also tries to raise spirits.

"Heat, snow, wind — it doesn't matter," he says. "I celebrate life. It's all about evangelism."

Air-conditioned oases

Authorities in Allegheny and Westmoreland counties kept some senior citizen and community centers open later than usual for residents who might need to cool off.

However, workers at centers in places such as Sharpsburg and Oakmont said few, if any, residents had come through their doors this week to escape the heat.

Senior center directors said many of the residents in local high rises have air conditioning. Others might feel too proud to seek help, they said.

"We are seeing that there's still a need at some of our centers," said Joe Barker, bureau chief of the Allegheny County Department of Health and Human Service's Area Agency on Aging. "At others, there hasn't been as great a need."

Barker said that workers at local senior and community centers would keep their facilities open even if only one person expressed a need for help.

Additional Information:

Cooling centers

Officials in Allegheny and Westmoreland counties said they will keep senior citizen and community centers open longer for residents who need to cool off.

Here are some of those 'cooling centers' in the Alle-Kiski Valley:

Allegheny County

• Allegheny Valley Hospital, 1301 Carlisle St., Harrison, from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. today and Friday.

• Plum Community Center, 499 Center-New Texas Road, from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. today.

Westmoreland County

• Citizens Ambulatory Care Center, 651 Fourth Ave., New Kensington, from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. today and Friday.

• A county official said the senior centers along Railroad Street, Avonmore; 400 McKinley Ave., East Vandergrift; and 1039 Third Ave., New Kensington, will remain open until at least 4 p.m. They will keep extended hours only if there's a need, the official said.

• Authorities in Armstrong and Butler counties said they didn't plan to establish cooling centers.

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