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Scottdale mourns the loss of Sturtz and Helkowski

| Friday, June 4, 2004

The community of Scottdale was a better place because of the contributions of men like Rodney Sturtz and Daniel Helkowski.

This week marked the passing away of both men, and left a void in the hearts of local dignitaries and friends who knew and loved them both.

Helkowski, 83, was a former Fourth Ward council member on the Scottdale Borough Council.

According to Pat Walker, who served on Scottdale Borough Council with Helkowski, he was a "perfect gentleman."

"He was just a nice person to work with," said Walker. "All members of council bring ideas to the table and he was no exception."

She added that anytime a person runs for council, they do so to be a part of the community and do what they can to help it.

"The community was a better place because of him," said Walker.

The loss of Helkowski deeply affected the Scottdale Mayor, Tim Carson, who said they formed a friendship over the years.

"I served with Danny on council and when Mayor Gene Barron passed away and I was trying to get the appointment, Danny was one of three people that stood by my side for every vote," said Carson.

He added that Helkowski had a real interest in public works and oversaw that department, making contributions in terms of paving projects and other things.

"He had good ideas to help the community and he was very easy to work with," said Carson. "You could bounce ideas off Danny and he wasn't uptight about it. He took things kind of in stride."

Carson also commented on the passing of Sturtz.

"Rod was somebody who did a lot for the whole community," said Carson. "He was very politically active and got West Overton (museums) on the map by forming a good relationship with the county commissioners and Sen. (Allen) Kukovich."

Carson also described Sturtz as a very caring man who had a love for Scottdale and the surrounding communities.

In 1996 Sturtz became the executive director of West Overton Museums, and under his leadership, memberships increased, financial support increased and buildings were repaired and reopened after years of neglect.

In 2000 Sturtz received the St. Clair Award from the Westmoreland County Historical Society for his efforts.

In Dec. 2003, Sturtz received the Laurel Highlands Chamber of Commerce Appreciation Award for his efforts in community service.

Ron Aldom, director of the Laurel Highlands Chamber of Commerce described Sturtz as an outstanding leader and visionary.

"I learned so much from Rod including the history of this area and the vision he had for the area," said Aldom. "I can truly say that I'm a better person for having met him."

He added that it was not even a question that Sturtz made the area a better place.

"He loved this area and everything about it," said Aldom. "Rod was a visionary in the fact that he realized this area needed to operate as a region as opposed to individual municipalities."

"He's going to be missed," Aldom added.

Carson agreed with Aldom.

"Both of these men will be missed," said Carson. "Scottdale definitely experienced a loss this week with the passing of these two."

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