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Chamber of Commerce puts Tour de StrongLand on 'hiatus'

| Monday, Sept. 29, 2014, 12:11 a.m.
The Tour de StrongLand bike race gets underway on Grant Avenue in Vandergrift on Sunday, Sept. 9, 2012.
For Trib Total Media
The Tour de StrongLand bike race gets underway on Grant Avenue in Vandergrift on Sunday, Sept. 9, 2012.

After 25 successful years, the Tour de StrongLand bicycle race didn't take place this year, but its absence may be brief.

Western Pennsylvania's oldest and largest citizens' bike race, a two-day event held annually in early September, was sponsored by the StrongLand Chamber of Commerce.

However, the merger of the StrongLand, Allegheny Valley and Armstrong chambers led to the cancellation of the event. The merger took place in August 2013, and the new organization went into operation this year.

“We just decided to put it on hiatus,” said Frank Amato Jr., the president of the new chamber called Alle Kiski Strong. “We just decided to put it on hold and see where we are in a few months.”

Amato, who was the chairman of the 2013 Tour, sits on the board of directors of the StrongLand Foundation, which actually sponsored the event.

“The foundation right now is sort of in limbo,” said Anthony Ferrante Sr., the foundation's recently retired chairman who chaired the tour through its early years. “It still exists, but I think at some point the Alle Kiski Strong chamber is going to have to take over the foundation.”

“The problem is they (chambers) all had foundations ... so they have to decide which foundations they are going to hold onto and which ones they are going to close down,” he said. “I think it is going to take them a year.”

He said StrongLand also sponsored an industrial development arm, Kiski Valley Enterprises, which built the Wilder Business Park in Hyde Park.

In addition to the tour, which Ferrante said was the first big event the foundation sponsored, there is a fishing tournament, an Allegheny-Kiski River canoe sojourn and the HomeXpo, which became its biggest event.

According to Ferrante, the tour and the fishing tournament were suspended. He said the canoe sojourn was taken over by the Crooked Creek Learning Center this year, but the HomeXpo was held in February.

Amato said right now, the task is to determine what other events have the necessary support from the Alle Kiski Strong members. He thinks the tour will have that support and return next year.

“I think that's a fair assessment, that those things are out there and people still want to do them,” Amato said.

“It brings a lot of attention to the chamber,” Ferrante said.

Tom Yerace is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4675 or tyerace@tribweb.com.

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