Businessman gives $25K to help preserve Tarentum school clock tower
John Greco Jr. sees the Highlands Elementary School clock tower every day as he drives across the Tarentum Bridge on his way to work.
The prospect of the prominent landmark not being there moved him to act.
Greco and his wife, Sally Greco, of Lower Burrell are giving $25,000 to Highlands School District to use for the repair and restoration of the clock tower.
The senior Greco, who died in 1988, graduated from the building in 1934 when it was Tarentum High School. Pauline Greco, who was from Oakmont, died in 2016.
Greco Jr. is a Deer Lakes graduate, having lived in East Deer.
“It means a lot to me to do something to honor them,” Greco said.
Greco said he decided to get involved and reached out to school board President Debbie Beale after hearing that district officials were considering removing the tower, which is in need of roof and masonry repair, instead of fixing it. The clock hasn’t worked for many years.
“It’s such a beautiful building. The entire building is very impressive,” he said. “I didn’t want to see the clock tower removed or not properly repaired.”
P.G. Greco Sons is named for Greco’s grandfather, Pasquale Greco, who immigrated to the United States from Italy in the late 1800s. He learned his trade in the scrap industry in the Pittsburgh area before moving his family to Tarentum in 1909.
Greco took over the business after his father died. It now has locations in Tarentum, East Deer, Kittanning and Clarion, and he said they’ll soon be opening a new location in Indiana, Pa.
He’s owned the restaurant in the historic Tarentum train station since 2008.
Greco and his wife will celebrate their 43rd wedding anniversary in October. They have two sons and two grandsons. Greco said his wife was all for the donation to the school district.
“She knows what my parents meant to me. She knows how important Tarentum is to me, being that the whole Greco family grew up in Tarentum,” he said. “Tarentum means a lot to me. It’s one of the reasons why I bought the Tarentum station and reopened it.”
Greco said he based the amount of his donation on the school district’s cost estimate to properly fix the tower.
In February, the school board approved paying VEBH Architects about $22,000 to provide architectural services related to restoring the clock tower’s masonry and fixing its leaking roof.
District officials expect the work, which will include replacing the broken clock with a new one that works, to be done this summer.
Beale had said the district decided to go ahead with fixing the tower after finding out it would cost more to remove it.
The school board honored the Grecos at its meeting Monday. A plaque honoring Greco’s parents and their support of the district and its students will be placed on the building, Beale said.
“What an unbelievable gentleman — humble and just so giving and generous,” Substitute Superintendent Monique Mawhinney said of Greco. “It really says what this community is about. He still is so dedicated to his community. To give that generous donation to help us is just unbelievable. It warms my heart.”
Brian C. Rittmeyer is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Brian at 724-226-4701, [email protected] or via Twitter .