The South at a glance

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Congregations celebrate interfaith service

In a tradition that spans nearly 50 years, Bower Hill Community Church, Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church and Temple Emanuel of South Hills will join in a service of thanksgiving and celebration at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at Temple Emanuel of South Hills, 1250 Bower Hill Road.

The service, which includes prayer and music, is open to the public and is a chance for people of different faiths and backgrounds to come together and give thanks.

Guests are encouraged to bring nonperishable food items. A free-will offering along with the donated food items will benefit the South Hills Interfaith Ministries food pantry.

Details: 412-854-9120 or visit

* This season, shoppers can give cheer to area seniors by participating in the Be a Santa to a Senior program.

The program -- run by the local Home Instead Senior Care offices, in partnership with volunteers -- helps ensure seniors who are alone receive gifts and companionship during the holidays.

An estimated 27 percent of people 65 and older --10.8 million people -- are widowed, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Further, the Administration on Aging reports about 28 percent (11.8 million) of noninstitutionalized people 65 and older live alone.

Retailers all over the region are displaying Christmas trees through Dec. 16 with ornaments with seniors' first names and gift requests. Holiday shoppers can pick an ornament, buy the items listed and return them, unwrapped, to the store with the ornament attached.

The local Home Instead offices will enlist volunteers to collect, wrap and distribute gifts.

For details and tree locations in region, visit:

* A group of aspiring engineers and robotic students in the South Hills needs your help.

The Titanium Titans FIRST Robotics Team No. 4467 is vying for $10,000 in team grants from Rockwell Automation as part of its "Engineering Our Future" online video contest.

Students made a video describing what they would engineer that would change the world. Voting is permitted once per day until Nov. 29, when the group with the highest number of votes will win.

To vote, go to:

The group was founded in June through a partnership between robotics teams from the Western Area Career and Technology Center and the Peters Township Public Library. The teams merged in order to serve students from a wider area of Washington County and the South Hills area of Pittsburgh.

The 30-member team comprises 9-12 grade students from Peters, the technology center, cyber-schoolers and home-schoolers.

The team is striving to expand STEM -- science, technology, engineering and math -- education in the classroom with programs for elementary and middle school students.

Programs included a robotics careers presentation to ninth-graders at Burgettstown High School and Elementary Science Olympiad competitions for fourth- through sixth-grade students.

The group is supported by volunteer coaches, mentors and sponsors, such as Comcast Cable and the Perryman Co., which provide funding for competitions, parts, and supplies. More sponsors are needed for the group to begin competition in December.



New principal for Hoover school

Hoover Elementary School has a new principal. Kelly Szesterniak was unanimously approved at a meeting Monday.

Mrs. Szesterniak is assistant principal at Mellon Middle School, where she has worked since 2011. She will make the transition to Hoover the last week in January to fill the post left by the retirement of Mary Ann Schnirel.

Before coming to Mt. Lebanon, Mrs. Szesterniak was a curriculum coordinator and the assistant principal at Lakeside Middle School-Irvine Unified School District in California.

She has a bachelor's degree from the University of Wisconin and a master's degree from California State University, Fullerton.


18th century holiday planned

An 18th century time of visiting and thanksgiving for the harvest will be observed from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. Sunday at the Oliver Miller Homestead in South Park.

Long before President Abraham Lincoln made Thanksgiving a national holiday, it was common for the frontier people to gather after the harvest to give thanks and visit before winter set in.

The Miller family and friends -- volunteers dressed in period attire -- will prepare and display foods common to the times using the open hearth, bake oven and fire pit. Past celebrations have included dishes such as colonial game pie, roast venison and pumpkin soup.

At 2:30 p.m., guests can meet at the log house to learn about a typical church service of that time. "The Rev. John Macmillan" will give Bible readings and read a portion of a sermon from 1780.

Spinning, weaving, quilting and blacksmith work will be demonstrated. Tours of the Stone House, Log House, springhouse, forge and barn will be given throughout the afternoon.

The homestead, a historic landmark and Whiskey Rebellion site, is located on Stone Manse Drive, just off the circle in South Park. It is open from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. every Sunday through Dec. 8. Admission is $2.

Details: or 412-835-1554.


Bridge named for Lt. Gen. Keys

The Route 88 bridge between Washington and Greene counties has been named for a decorated U.S. Marine veteran who was born nearby. The new bridge over Ten Mile Creek is the Lt. Gen. William M. Keys Bridge.

Born in Fredericktown, Gen. Keys graduated from the U. S. Naval Academy and the National War College and served as a company commander in Vietnam. During Operation Desert Storm, he was commanding general of more than 20,000 Marines and devised a famous "two-axis" attack that Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf called "simply brilliant."

Gen. Keys has been awarded the Navy Cross, Silver Star, Bronze Star with Combat "V," two Distinguished Service Medals, the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, Cross of Gallantry, Legion of Merit with Combat "V," Defense Meritorious Service Medal and Vietnam Service Medal with four Bronze Stars.

He retired from the Marine Corps in 1994, after 34 years of service.

The 384-foot, $10 million Route 88 bridge was completed a year ago, replacing an older steel truss bridge. It connects East Bethlehem with Jefferson Township, Greene County.

The state House last week unanimously approved the bill renaming the bridge. The push was led by Sen. Tim Solobay, D-Canonsburg, and Rep. Pam Snyder, D-Jefferson. The bill now heads to Gov. Tom Corbett for his signature.

* Officials from The Meadows Racetrack & Casino this week announced the sale of an adjacent parcel that will serve as the location for the new 155-room Hyatt Place hotel. Meadows Hotel Associates LLC, a privately owned hotel development firm in Pittsburgh, purchased the property from The Meadows and expects to begin construction later this year.

The development site is a 4-acre parcel on Racetrack Road. Part of the construction will include a pedestrian bridge connecting the hotel to the Meadows complex.

The announcement follows a $27 million investment by The Meadows in construction and renovation projects done over the past 24 months.


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