In The News
View the following links to see where Washington County has been featured.
OFFERING DIVERSE ACTIVITIES DRIVES NEW OWNERS OF NORTH FRANKLIN GOLF CENTER
Glancing uphill from their North Franklin Township home, Susan and Gary Kowall saw an entrepreneurial opportunity.
“It’s like our backyard,” Susan said of the Red Carpet Golf and Recreation Center complex, which nearly abutted their property. The 10-acre tract was for sale a year ago.
The couple went for it, invested copious amounts of time, money and energy, and rebranded the site before finally launching Interstate Golf and Activity Center. Mini-golf and a driving range are its calling cards, but the facility also is a party destination for all ages – with a party room that seats 70 inside and an expansive deck with room for 30 outdoors.
THAT'S THE SPIRIT
Liberty Pole Spirits is ramping up its production capacity.
The distillery, on West Maiden Street in Washington, received its 600-gallon distillation equipment last week. This new piece will replace the 300-gallon system the family-owned and operated business has used since it opened in July 2016.
Specific Mechanical Systems, of Victoria, British Columbia, built the 600-gallon copper pot still. Liberty Pole’s owners, spouses Jim and Ellen Hough, said in a news release that the piece was constructed “according to exact specifications to replicate the shape and dimensions” of their original still. Their intent is “to maintain the flavor profile” of their small-batch whiskey.
The Houghs praised a neighboring business, Chapman Corp., a multi-discipline contracting company, for providing equipment and expertise to unload and set up the equipment.
PLANS FOR NATIONWIDE TRAIL UNVEILED IN MCDONALD
Someday, runners, hikers and bikers will have one route to follow from Washington, D.C., to Washington County to Washington state.
Tourism agency looking to ramp up youth sports events
While striving to fulfill its mission, the Washington County Tourism Promotion Agency has selected a Florida-based consultant to spearhead a study on how youth and amateur sports may enhance local tourism.
The agency announced Tuesday it has selected Sports Facilities Advisory LLC, a business consultant and management service operator from Clearwater, to assess the demand for athletic facilities across the county and the needs of sports organizations that use these venues.
2019 Annual International Fly Fishing Film Festival
The 2019 Annual International Fly Fishing Film Festival will be held Friday, March 8 at the Washington Elks Lodge. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. with the film screening beginning at 6. Hosted by Washington County Tourism Promotion Agency, films will feature world-wide fly-fishing adventures from Alaska’s barren Kuskokwim River drainage to South American jungles.
There will be product giveaways and other promotions. Tickets are $15 and are available at the Elks prior to the event. Proceeds benefit the Chestnut Ridge Chapter of Trout Unlimited and the Pennsylvania Chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers.
For information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
LETTER: Promoting the county and economy
Washington County’s tourism industry and its importance to our local economy was on full display last week as we welcomed several major events to our area. The DICK’S Sporting Goods PONY League World Series, Washington County Agricultural Fair and National Pike Steam, Gas & Horse Association Summer Show attracted thousands of visitors to our county and generated millions of dollars of economic impact for our local businesses and communities.
AGENCY TRIES TO STIMULATE TRAIL USE, ECONOMIC IMPACT
Washington County Tourism Promotion Agency is trying to lure users to local trails, but they also want to lure them off.
The agency revealed efforts to increase Montour and Panhandle Trail use and, therefore, bring money into Washington County, after the completion of a Trail Tourism Marketing report. Through partnerships with trail councils and adjacent businesses, the agency is making a push to attract and retain trail users, and get them to spend some time – and money – in “trail towns,” particularly McDonald, Burgettstown and the Hendersonville/Southpointe area.
OSP raises the curtain on updated theater
The Bud Allison Auditorium, home of the Old Schoolhouse Players (OSP), is getting a literal floor-to-ceiling makeover just in time for opening weekend.
New seats upon new platforms, paint, carpeting, and a light booth will be ready in time for a Friday reopening.
“We’re blessed so many people came in to help,” said Cindy Berg, OSP artistic director. “Volunteerism is a powerful thing.”
IT WAS A VERY GOOD YEAR FOR WASHINGTON COUNTY'S ECONOMY
“Washington County continues to lead the Greater Pittsburgh Region in creating new economic growth, new job opportunities and countywide expansion,” commissioners Chairman Larry Maggi said Tuesday morning, in opening the county Chamber of Commerce’s sixth annual State of the Economy presentation.
Century Inn reopens today, 30 months after devastating fire
Century Inn will add another chapter to its historic history tonight – when it rises from the ashes.
Thirty months after a devastating fire, the iconic restaurant and tavern will reopen with a Valentine’s Weekend Dinner, reservations only, followed by a similar event Saturday evening.
The two-story inn, along Route 40 in Scenery Hill, had to be rebuilt after a blaze broke out Aug. 15, 2015, in a first-floor utility room.
CANONSBURG DEDICATES HISTORICAL MARKER TO CIVIL WAR DOCTOR, NATIVE SON LETTERMAN
Civil War surgeon and Canonsburg native Dr. Jonathan Letterman, known as “the Father of Battlefield Medicine,” saved the lives of thousands of soldiers during that war by implementing a triage system to treat the wounded.
Many of the techniques Letterman introduced on battlefields at Antietam, Fredericksburg and Gettysburg are still used today.
ARTISANAL CHEESE MERCHANT TAKES RETAIL SPACE IN WASHINGTON
For the past several years, Emerald Valley Artisans of Scenery Hill has had glowing success selling its artisanal cheeses to restaurants and other commercial food outlets across Pennsylvania. Now the company, which makes 11 different types of hard cheeses from locally produced cow’s milk as well as two versions of ricotta cheese, is testing the retail market on Main Street in Washington.
Emerald Valley co-founder Alisa Fava Fasnacht said the “pop-up” store at 145 S. Main St., has the potential to become a permanent location if the company sees ample demand from walk-in customers.
The store is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. It is closed on Sunday and Monday.
CHRISTMAS FESTIVAL KICKS OFF HOLIDAY SEASON
The Christmas in the Village craft festival got underway Friday, continued through Saturday and is set to wrap up today at 5 p.m. Launched three decades ago, when residents opened their homes to show off handmade crafts, it has since grown into a three-day extravaganza where handmade crafts remain the order of the day, along with carriage rides, displays of alpacas and food aplenty.
The focus on handmade fare “is what has made the festival,” said Peggy Strain, a longtime Eldersville resident and the president of the festival, though she prefers to call herself a “team leader.”
WITCHES GATHER IN MONONGAHELA
The cold rain wasn’t strong enough to melt the witches in Monongahela Saturday, during the second annual witch festival at the Noble J. Dick Aquatorium.
“It’s my favorite show,” said one of the vendors, Jade Hertzog, of Beaver County. “With the costumes and the dancing, it’s just beautiful.”
HOUSTON PUMPKIN FESTIVAL DRAWS A BIG CROWD
The festival, which is in its 34th year, began as a way to entertain children. Buzzy Meddings, who once sold produce in the downtown, convinced the mayor to embrace the idea more than three decades ago and it has since grown to raise nearly 80 percent of the fire department’s annual budget.
There are bounce houses for the children and food vendors selling typical festival items such as kettle corn, chicken on a stick and deep-fried Oreo cookies. Lewis said she was excited to attract an Asian wrap maker to the festival from New York for the first time.
HICKORY APPLE FESTIVAL HAS A CERTAIN APPEAL
Brilliant skies, good times and apples, apples everywhere reigned on the first day of the 34th annual festival, staged as always on the cavernous grounds of Mt. Pleasant Volunteer Fire Company. The festival benefits the department’s stations in Hickory and Southview.
A steady stream of patrons, many of whom endured a steady stream of traffic along Route 50, had bushelfuls of fun upon arrival. They varied from newcomers to longtime festivalgoers who consider this event to be the apple of their eye.
WEST ALEXANDER FAIR USHERS IN HOST OF FALL TOURISM EVENTS
At 110 years old, West Alexander Fair has many stories to tell, some of which are being unveiled on a new “History Walk,” a series of nine large boards that depict specific periods in the fair’s history through images, graphics and text.
The setting, inside the fairgrounds’ 2,400-square-foot entertainment center – which received a new concrete floor this year – also was an appropriate place for county, state and fair officials to note why agri-tourism – think fairs, covered bridges, pumpkin festivals and farmers markets featuring the local harvest – attracts multitudes of visitors to the county every autumn.
WHITEHORSE BREWING RIDING TOWARD TAPROOM OPENING ON RACETRACK ROAD
The microbrewery scene continues to heat up in Washington County.
Whitehorse Brewing, based in Berlin, Somerset County, has staked out 1,200 square feet in the Street At The Meadows mixed-use development in North Strabane Township for a taproom for its microbrews.
WORK CONTINUES TO BRING CENTURY INN BACK TO PROMINENCE IN SCENERY HILL
From the vantage point of the entrance to the inn, the building appears to be only a shell of itself, but the sounds of construction coming from behind the front door tell of a major work in progress.
From what Kittridge showed Monday – the company will complete the framing in of the structure next week and electrical and mechanical subcontractors will begin their work the following week – the best guess is that the inn’s restaurant and tavern are on target for a late fall opening.
COUNTY'S HISTORY PULLS INTO WASHINGTON STATION
The Washington County Heritage Alliance, an association comprising nine history-related organizations, unveiled its newly minted information center Friday morning. The offices are in the restored train station – a historical site vintage 1882 – at 273 S. Main St., Washington.
“This was one of the original gateways to Washington County, a key stop, and we’re using it again as a gateway to Washington County,” said Scott Becker, alliance chairman, executive director of the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum and emcee for the news conference.
MONTOUR, PANHANDLE TRAILS PART OF NATIONAL BIKE ROUTE
The first nationally designated bicycle route in Pennsylvania has been established by the state Department of Transportation.
U.S. Bicycle Route 50 includes the Montour Trail, Panhandle Trail and Great Allegheny Passage. Montour Trail runs from the Coraopolis area to Clairton, with a large section in Washington County. Panhandle Trail runs between Weirton, W.Va., and Carnegie, traversing northern Washington County. The two trails intersect in McDonald.
TOURISM IS IMPORTANT TO WASHINGTON COUNTY
Letter to the Editor
I enjoyed reading the recent letter from Jeff Kotula, the president of the Washington County Chamber of Commerce, on “the business of tourism.”
NEW MEADOWS OPERATOR PLANS TO USE ITS SIZE TO BUILD ON CASINO'S DECADE OF SUCCESS
When Las Vegas-based Cannery Casinos Resorts sold the local casino it had built to Wyomissing-based Gaming and Leisure Properties Inc. last year, it handed over the keys to one of the largest casinos on the East Coast. GLPI handed off management duties to Pinnacle, which fulfills that role at 15 other properties.
Centers said The Meadows immediately became one of the top revenue producers in Pinnacle’s portfolio of properties it manages.
FLEATIQUE ON THE MON DRAWS CROWDS
Bargain and treasure hunters started their Saturday morning in Monongahela, where Main Street was lined with tables and tents filled with antiques and other garage sale items.
The event included food and crafting vendors. The next Fleatique on the Mon, which is organized by the Monongahela Area Chamber of Commerce, will be held the first Saturday in October.
SMALL BEGINNINGS: MEADOWS CASINO WENT FROM TEMPORARY TO ONE OF EAST'S BIGGEST
On opening day 2007, there were three hotels on Racetrack Road and a couple of fast-food restaurants.
On that day a decade ago, no one could have predicted the din of 1,700 slot machines in a temporary casino would spawn the hottest entertainment, hospitality and shopping district in the county or the casino would eventually attract millions of visitors a year.
MONONGAHELA AQUATORIUM IS THE PLACE TO BE DURING SUMMER
Aquatorium Innovations Inc., the nonprofit organization that organizes the “Rockin’ on the Mon” summer concert series, which kicks off its fifth season on June 17 with a performance by Come Together, a Beatles tribute band. “We’re excited about the lineup this year. We like the events we’ve got scheduled. We’re bringing in popular tribute bands from the ’70s and ’80s, which seem to attract the largest crowds for us.”
The aquatorium will host other events, too, including the popular Dock Dogs, a canine aquatics competition, which took place May 19-21, and Witch Festival 2017, which Sebben describes as “one of the most unique events ever.”
THE BUSINESS OF TOURISM
Letter for the Editor
The countywide impact of our tourism industry was on full display this past weekend as we welcomed several significant events to our area.
QUILTING SHOW AT THE MEADOWS IS SEW COOL
Seeking a new venue for its 34th annual show, Three Rivers Quilters placed its bet on a betting site – The Meadows Racetrack & Casino.
The South Hills-based nonprofit was a winner, drawing an estimated 2,000 patrons over three days – Thursday through Saturday – in its first year at the North Strabane Township facility.
“It’s been wonderful here,” Ruth Ann Lowery of Nottingham Township, Three Rivers member and publicity chairwoman of the event, said Saturday morning. She stood near the entrance to the show, next to a quilt depicting a harness horse and driver, a tribute to the host location.
COUNTY AWARDS $187,000 IN 2017 TOURISM GRANTS
The recipients, which ranged from those promoting local history and waterways to theater, music and baseball, attended a presentation ceremony in Madeline’s Garden at the LeMoyne House, presented by the Washington County commissioners and the Washington County Tourism Promotion Agency.
RECONSTRUCTION WORK UNDERWAY ON FIRE-GUTTED CENTURY INN
“We are hoping, hoping to be open in the fall,” Harrington said on the last stop of the driving tour of Route 40 sponsored by Washington County History and Landmarks Foundation.
“The only thing left is the stone,” she said. “Once they get started, it’s goes rather quickly.”
Cement City was listed in 1996 on the National Register of Historic Places as significant for being an intact example of company housing and having been built with innovative construction and design styles.
CITY DISTILLERIES WIN NATIONAL AWARDS FOR THEIR PRODUCTS
Less than a year ago, Washington’s two distilleries had yet to open.
Despite their short time in business, both businesses now boast national awards – medallions – for some of their products.
On Feb. 16, Liberty Pole Spirits by Mingo Creek Craft Distillers and Red Pump Spirits took honors for their product entries in a judged competition at the American Craft Spirits Association’s annual Distillers Convention and Vendor Trade Show in Nashville.
Old Schoolhouse Players Still Going Strong at 25 Year
Marilyn McClain’s powers of persuasion are quite remarkable.
Just ask Cynthia Berg, artistic director of the Old Schoolhouse Players.
“Marilyn called me to ask me a question. I went over to talk to her to answer the question and never left,” Berg recalled with a chuckle.
That was 15 years or so ago.
And thanks to a dedicated bunch of actors, their families and volunteers – like Berg – the Old Schoolhouse Players are celebrating their 25th year of showcasing “Broadway in the Country” at the Bud Allison Memorial Auditorium in the Mt. Pleasant Township Community Center in Hickory.
West Alexander takes Fair of the Year honors in Zone III
It was a blue-ribbon year for the West Alexander Fair.
In mid-January, the fair was named the 2016 Zone III Fair of the Year by the Pennsylvania State Association of County Fairs at its annual meeting in Hershey.
And that’s a really big deal for a small-town fair.
“We’re extremely excited,” said Niki Welsh-Ryburn, a member of the West Alexander Fair board of directors. “We were noted as one of the most well-rounded fairs in the state.”
MONTOUR NAMED PA 'TRAIL OF THE YEAR' FOR '17
In a statement last week announcing the designation, DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn cited “a history of support dating back to the 1980s, annual user numbers surpassing 400,000 and a strong volunteer network” among the reasons for recognizing the trail system.
The agency noted the Montour Trail, which occupies the former right of way of the Montour Railroad and Peters Creek Branch of the Pennsylvania Railroad between Clairton and Moon Township, is one of the oldest “rails-to-trails” ventures in the country.
LEMOYNE HOUSE TO HOST GHOST-THEMED TOURS
Published: October 2, 2016
The tale of the mysterious woman in a blue dress haunts even those who don’t believe in ghosts at a historic Washington house museum. Employees at the LeMoyne House claimed to have witnessed the so-called Lady in Blue, oftentimes from the corner of an eye, said Clay Kilgore, executive director of the Washington County Historical Society, which owns the stone house built in 1812.
WALKING THROUGH WASHINGTON'S RICH HISTORY
Published: May 25, 2016
School’s out for summer — but there’s still so much to learn in Washington County. Find a deeper respect for the historical traditions of the area, many of which are reaching monumental milestones in the upcoming months, and get excited for the new ones on the horizon. Bonus points if you can commemorate them all before the fall!
TOURIST ATTRACTIONS RECEIVE GRANTS
Published: May 18, 2016
The Pony League World Series and Whiskey Rebellion Festival were the big recipients of the 2016 tourism promotion grants announced Wednesday by Washington County commissioners on behalf of Washington County Tourism Promotion Agency.
A total of $163,080 in grants were presented for 13 separate attractions and events across the county.
FESTIVAL GOES ON WITHOUT CENTURY INN
Published: May 18, 2016
The 43rd annual National Road Festival, a celebration of the construction of America’s first interstate highway, kicks off Friday. And for the first time since the festival began in 1974, Century Inn will not be a destination for visitors dropping by Scenery Hill.
COKEBURG NATIVE LAUNCHES WASHINGTON'S FIRST LEGAL DISTILLERY SINCE PROHIBITION
Published: May 8, 2016
The first legal distillery in Washington County since Prohibition is a source of grape expectations.
NATIONAL TOURISM WEEK CELEBRATION PLANNED FOR I-79 WELCOME CENTER
Published: April 28, 2016
In honor of National Tourism Week which begins Monday, the state Department of Transportation is throwing a weeklong party at the Pennsylvania Welcome Center on Interstate 79 near Mt. Morris.
MEADOWCROFT OPENS A NEW SEASON SUNDAY
Published: April 28, 2016
Meadowcroft Rockshelter and Historic Village will open its 2016 season Sunday. Meadowcroft is the oldest site of human habitation in North America. Visitors can marvel at the rockshelter, a massive, rock overhang used by the region’s earliest inhabitants for shelter more than 16,000 years ago, and experience what everyday life was like for Upper Ohio Valley inhabitants over the past 400 years.
DANIEL TIGER SPENDS WEEKEND WITH KIDS AT PENNSYLVANIA TROLLEY MUSEUM
Published: April 23, 2016
With parents in tow, toddlers descended on the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum Saturday morning to meet Daniel Tiger, star of the award-winning PBS KIDS television series “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood.”
THE REAL STORY OF THE EASTER BUNNY
Published: March 27, 2016
CBS Sunday Morning's Martha Teichner hops into a history of the furry holiday tradition, and visits with enthusiasts to take raising rabbits to show-stopping extremes. This includes a stop in Washington, Pa!
"CHEF'S BEST DISH" EVENT KICKS OFF WASHINGTON CO. RESTAURANT WEEK
Published: March 3, 2016
At the Bistecca Steakhouse at Meadows Casino, overlooking the racetrack, chefs prepare for the event that will kick off the second annual Washington County Restaurant Week.
WASHINGTON COUNTY RESTAURANT WEEKS PREPS FOR SECOND YEAR
Published: February 26, 2016
After a successful debut in 2015, Washington County Restaurant Week is ready to serve up its second year, with lunch and dinner specials at participating restaurants, including special prix-fixe menus.
COMMISSIONERS: DIVERSIFIED ECONOMY KEEPING WASHINGTON COUNTY ON AN EVEN KEEL
Published: February 25, 2016
While acknowledging the current downturn in the area’s energy industry, Washington County commissioners said Thursday the county’s diversified economy will keep things on an even keel until oil and gas turns around.
The impact of tourism, discussed by Commissioner Harlan Shober, is also a growing contributor to the health of the county’s economy.
‘CHEF'S BEXT DISH’ KICKS OFF WASHINGTON COUNTY RESTAURANT WEEK
Published: February 7, 2016
The Washington County Tourism Promotion Agency will celebrate Washington County Restaurant Week March 7-13. The event was created to highlight Washington County’s premier dining destinations as well as showcase the county’s food, restaurants and chefs.
WASHINGTON, GREENE COUNTIES CELEBRATE LOCAL HERITAGE AT COVERED BRIDGE FESTIVAL
Published: September 19, 2015
Shirley Bedillion and her husband, Lee, have brought their percheron draft horses to several other Covered Bridge Festivals, and though they’ve never seen sleet or snow, they have seen rain and experienced bitter, end-of-summer chill.
RENOVATIONS HELP PRESERVE LOCAL HISTORY
Published: September 11, 2015
If the walls of the LeMoyne House could talk, they would have 203 years worth of tales to tell. The imposing sandstone structure at 49 E. Maiden St., Washington, was built in 1812 by the father of Francis Julius LeMoyne, a physician, philanthropist and builder of the first crematory in the western hemisphere.
COUNTY READY FOR ITS CLOSE UP
Published: August 17, 2015
Last week, we once again welcomed the world to our county with the 64th Annual Dick’s Sporting Goods PONY League World Series. However, what was different this year was that we not only welcomed the world to to Washington County, but we also brought Washington County to the world.
MONONGAHELA RIVERFRONT STAGE IS DRAWING CROWDS
Published: August 17, 2015
A once-dead riverfront stage in Monongahela was transformed into a popular concert destination on Saturday nights this summer. Nearly 2,800 people jammed Noble J. Dick Aquatorium, and some 130 boats dropped anchor there Saturday for a performance by The Clarks, a Pittsburgh-area rock band, said Claudia Williams, a local businesswoman and an organizer of the events.
Washington and Greene counties in southwestern Pennsylvania are home to at least 30 covered bridges, and 10 of the iconic structures are featured each fall during the Covered Bridge Festival, which runs this year on Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 19 and 20.
The Covered Bridge Festival serves as the official kickoff to the area's fall foliage season, according to Washington County Chamber of Commerce director of tourism Dana Bucci. "It is a very scenic and successful arts and crafts festival that has expanded to now feature more than 300 quality craft vendors, a variety of home-style food, entertainment, demonstrations, re-enactments, and more," Bucci explained.
TOURISM SECOND LARGEST INDUSTRY IN WASHINGTON COUNTY
Published: July 23, 2015
Tourism is now the second largest industry in Washington County with only the agriculture industry being larger, Jeff Kotula, president of the Washington County Chamber of Commerce, told a group of 50 or so people July 22 at the Peters Township Public Library.
WASHINGTON COUNTY OFFERS NUMEROUS OUTDOOR OPTIONS
Published: May 7, 2015
I was very encouraged by the article, “Not your father’s gym class,” that appeared in the Sunday Observer-Reporter highlighting three Washington County school districts’ efforts to promote outdoor activities and recreation to their students. The districts of Bethlehem-Center, Canon-McMillan and Avella should be complimented for their creativity in instilling a lifelong appreciation for recreation, fitness and adventure in their students.
EXPERIENCE WASHINGTON COUNTY
February 6, 2015 Issue
Washington County’s restaurant scene is being celebrated March 9 – 15, 2015 during the inaugural Washington County Restaurant Week.
INSIDE WASHINGTON COUNTY MAGAZINE
January 9, 2015 Issue
Mark your calendars and plan to attend the Kick-Off Event to the inaugural Washington County Restaurant Week, being held March 3, 2015 at The Meadows Casino.