Laurels & lances: Tax breaks, empty bowls, inmates and moving home
Laurel: To Irwin Council for giving borough residents who are active volunteers for the Irwin Volunteer Fire Department a break on their real estate and earned income taxes, if they meet certain criteria for the number of emergency calls they respond to and amount of training they undergo.
Unfortunately, North Huntingdon residents who are members of Irwin’s fire department, like Chief Justin Mochar, do not get any credit for their active volunteerism because North Huntingdon does not reciprocate. That may change with an intermunicipal agreement.
Laurel: To area food banks and food pantries and the people who support them.
Among the most well-attended and biggest fundraisers are Empty Bowl events where participants purchase a ticket, enjoy a nourishing meal of soup and bread and take home a keepsake bowl. The empty bowls are fashioned by area artists and amateurs, including art students from Hempfield Area High School. The funds raised boost food banks’ purchasing power and keep the pantries full.
Events are planned this year for March 3 at Hempfield Area High School and March 10 at Rodef Shalom in Oakland.
Laurel: To Westmoreland County officials working on creating a re-entry program for jail inmates. The program could offer services, ranging from vocational training to drug and alcohol treatment, both for inmates inside the jail and once they’re released. The program would be aimed at reducing recidivism while helping former inmates get on their feet, stay out of trouble and lead productive lives.
The county was denied funding last year to get the program off the ground. Fingers crossed there’s a pot of money out there that could jump-start this comprehensive effort.
Laurel: To a move home for the Delmont Farmers Market, courtesy of vendor Amanda Bank and patron Alice Heasley, who plan to organize the market in its original Rose Wigfield Parklet location on Greensburg Street.
The 2018 market was hosted by the nearby Fairview Park Association, after Delmont Mayor Alyce Urban said she would not be able to coordinate all of the issues related to running the event without additional volunteers.
Bank and Heasley decided it was a task they could manage. A Facebook page for the market has been created, and Bank said a registration form for vendors will be uploaded in the near future.
The market will open June 1 and run Saturdays through Sept. 7, with the exception of July 6 and Aug. 31.