The Year in Review: 2003 came wrapped in opinion, prediction, sarcasm, wit, wisdom and eloquence

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It's time again to review where we've been, what we've done, who we've met and what we've accomplished in 2003, with hope it will serve as a guide to where we might be headed in 2004.

So as tradition dictates, we offer our annual Quotes of the Year, which again are foaming over with insights and opinions, a few good and a few bad predictions, a snide remark or two, a bit of humor, a tad of wisdom, some good turns of phrase and grand overtures about the life and times of Washington County residents.

-- David Templeton, Washington County bureau chief.

"It's different being a wife and a mother and a commissioner, so I needed extra help in organizing and keeping everything straight." Washington County Commissioner Diana Irey, describing why she was the only candidate in the 1999 commissioners race to hire a full-time campaign manager. Jan. 5.

"I'm prejudiced in favor of logic, reason and rationality. But if you think there's a unicorn in your back yard, go take a look." James Randi, of the James Randi Education Foundation in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., criticizing plans by two Belle Vernon people to search the old Washington County Jail for ghosts. The two could not make arrangements with county officials to do the search before renovations began to transform the jail into county offices. Jan. 5.

"We were horse-and-buggy people and now look at it today -- unbelievable." Elmo George, 74, of Washington, participating in a Think Tank panel discussing the pros and cons of aging. Jan. 12.

"We don't want clients looking like orange crayons." Laurie Gillespie, marketing manager of Heartland Tanning Inc., of Lee's Summit, Mo., describing the company's Sun Spritz machine that sprays people with a cosmetic solution that gives them a bronze tan. Riviera Tanning Salon and Gifts has a Sun Spritz machine in its South Strabane salon. Jan. 12.

"It's as though you dug a 300-foot ditch for a waterline, then wake up to find that the neighbor filled it in." Washington County District Attorney John C. Pettit, commenting on retrials of Lawrence Barnes and Rodney Yarbor in the killing of Robert Hannen in 1992. A key witness in the 1996 trials says he was pressured by Pettit to testify against the two Washington men under threat of facing drug charges, a claim Pettit said was untrue. Jan. 12.

"When I see e-mails like this, it activates my baloney detector." Rich Buhler, creator of TruthOrFiction.com, reacting to e-mail from people in African nations who promise millions to help them recover money from secret accounts. The pitches are schemes designed to empty rather than fill responders' bank accounts. Jan. 19.

"She spent her entire life trying to prove she was a worthwhile individual. I don't think anyone ever doubted that except my mother." John Krause, of Seattle, describing his mother, Gail, who operated Krause's antique store in Washington. Considered an expert on Duncan & Miller glassware, she wrote "The Encyclopedia of Duncan Glass" and had a collection of glassware valued at $100,000 when she died Dec. 6, 2002. Jan. 19.

"Finally, we came up with Three Sided Circle because it's catchy and makes people think, because it's a geometric figure that can't possibly exist." Matt Rosemeier, 17, the lead singer and guitar player from Chartiers, perhaps over-explaining the creation of his punk rock band's name. Jan. 19.

"Come in and neb." A sign at Yesterday's Best, a resale shop in New Eagle owned by Lorys Crisafulli, who has decided to sell it after 20 years of operation. Jan. 26.

"We live in the meat-and-potatoes capital of the world." Nicole Bazant, nutritionist at the Wilfred R. Cameron Wellness Center in South Strabane, pointing out local culinary trends which lead to weight gain and ill health. Jan. 26.

"We modified our environment with something called L.L. Bean." Joseph Merritt, director of the Powdermill Nature Reserve in Rector, Westmoreland County, explaining how humans survive winter weather with warm clothing rather than fur or feathers. Jan. 26.

"This place was built for parties." John W. McIlvaine III, describing the character and grandeur of his and his wife, Kerrin's, Mediterranean-style house in South Strabane. Feb. 2.

"You got to be clean. You got to be willing to work to help other people. You got to be young and pure of heart." Sara R. Beckner, daughter ruler of the Western Star Temple 3, the women's auxiliary of the Keystone Lodge 6 of the Improved Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks of the World, known locally as the Black Elks. She was describing qualifications to join the auxiliary. Feb. 2.

"I don't think the government should pay for everything, because I am the government." Think Tank participant Maya Patch, of Carroll, commenting on whether government should get involved in lowering the cost of prescription drugs. Feb. 9.

"It clearly did not take very long for everyone in the courtroom to believe that what Kenneth Jackson was saying on this particular day was not worthy of belief." Washington County District Attorney John Pettit's reaction to new testimony from Jackson, Pettit's witness in the 1996 homicide trials of Rodney Yarbor and Lawrence Barnes, who received life sentences for the 1992 beating death of Robert Hannen, of East Washington. Jackson said his 1996 testimony was coerced and not truthful. Feb. 9.

"When he walks, you can feel the ground shake under him." Dave Nichols, of Nichols Farms Ltd. in Bridgewater, Iowa, describing SVJ Power Surge, a champion Simmental bull he bought from breeders Justin, Valerie and Sam Mankey and Dr. Duane Snee, of Amwell. Feb. 16.

"Everyone wants it." Art King, who grows 58 kinds of vegetables, commenting on plans to grow the Pennsylvania Simply Sweet onion, developed in Washington County, on his 124-acre Harvest Valley Farms in Middlesex, Butler County. Feb. 16.

"In my own experience, what I find intriguing is people want to take what I find to be very complex and multidimensional issues and try to get them boiled down to sound bites." Al Newell, Washington and Jefferson College dean of enrollment, commenting on the controversy over the University of Michigan's policy emphasizing diversity. Feb. 16.

"They are sort of like faces. Each one is individual. Each one has its own story." Jean Bear, of Canton, describing the bricks she collects. Feb. 23.

"I believe there could be machines up at several of the tracks by Christmastime." Gov. Ed Rendell, commenting on plans to legalize slot machines at three racetracks throughout the state, including The Meadows harness racing track in North Strabane. Not so. It's past Christmastime, and the debate over legalizing slot machines continues. Feb. 23.

"It is my understanding that people connected with the transaction were given the message that, in essence, it was kind of difficult for this to move forward when Leo Trich is actively supporting the 'wrong' candidates for commissioner." Washington County Commissioner J. Bracken Burns, discussing reasons his fellow commissioners opposed a $5.5 million bond issue for Ballpark Scholarships Inc., which developed Falconi Field in North Franklin. Trich, a legislator at the time, led the project to have the ball field built. March 2.

"He grabbed my arm and wouldn't let go. I hit him in the side five times to get him off my arm." Ron "Monk" Marshall, of Georges, Fayette County, describing how a bobcat that lived in his house for two days attacked him when he tried to feed his cat.The bobcat eventually was killed, but the state Game Commission never recovered the body. March 2.

"I said that we should preserve freedom and protect freedom and defend freedom. That's our obligation." Amanda Muetzel, a Peters Township High School senior, who won a $5,000 savings bond and expense-paid trip to the nation's capital for taking first place in the state Voice of Democracy speech-writing contest sponsored by the Veterans of Foreign Wars. March 2.

"What the heck is wrong with the guy?" Uniontown car dealer B. Scott Detweiler, of the Fayette Chamber of Commerce, commenting on the surprise decision by Joe Hardy, the multimillionaire who founded 84 Lumber Co. and Nemacolin Woodlands Resort and Spa, to run as a Republican candidate for Fayette County commissioner. March 9.

"The only thing we don't have at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort and Spa is the ocean. But we're working on it." Joe Hardy, founder of 84 Lumber Co. and the Nemacolin resort in Wharton, Fayette County. March 9.

"We'll also explain why it takes 40 gallons of maple sap to make one gallon of pure maple syrup." Cristine Emery, recreation program coordinator at Washington County Parks and Recreation, describing a program at Mingo Creek County Park designed to unravel the mysteries of maple sugar-making. March 9.

"We're billing the series as an elegant respite nestled in the middle of a busy day." Sandee Umbach, director of the Washington Community Arts and Cultural Center in Washington, discussing a series of musical events the center held that featured gourmet luncheons. March 9.

"I'm a star. Get me two bodyguards. I'm a star." Lori White, a mentally disabled employee at Arc Human Services Inc., reacting to having her photograph taken for a column about Arc's detail shop in Chartiers. March 16.

"In Vietnam, if they wanted to get information out of a guy, they'd take two up in a helicopter, throw one out. The second one talked." Steve Dugas, past commander of VFW Post 6553 in Slovan and Think Tank participant, discussing whether torture should be used to get information from terrorists. He said he believed in using torture. March 16.

"It's terrible. ... But we had to do it." Lawrence Barnes, 39, of Washington, reacting to his and Rodney Yarbor's decision to plead guilty to the 1992 murder of East Washington businessman Robert Hannen despite their long-standing contention of their innocence. March 23

"Thou shall not steal from the taxpayer." Washington County Redevelopment Authority member and Canonsburg Mayor Anthony L. Colaizzo, disagreeing with the authority's proposal to sell the Southpointe billboard to park property owners for $30,000 to be paid over 10 years. Colaizzo said the sign was worth $100,000 and the county spent $57,000 in legal fees to reclaim the billboard mistakenly conveyed to a developer. There also was no appraisal done on the billboard before the sale occurred. March 30.

"I think the real loser here today is the taxpayer of Washington County." Washington County Commissioner John P. Bevec, reacting to the county Redevelopment Authority's decision to sell the Southpointe billboard to park property owners. April 6.

"Come on, it's a flag. Steal something from my truck -- my stereo or CDs -- but not my flag." David Spence, of Canton, whose 8-foot-by-5-foot American flag was lowered from his front-yard flagpole and stolen two days after the war in Iraq began, prompting him to offer a $25 award for anyone who would return it, no questions asked. April 6.

"I think when you get a little older, you sort of want to return the goodies." Jack Piatt Sr., noting one reason for his $100 million plan to remake the Washington business district with a mall with outlet shops and a development of loft apartments and townhouses, all sprawling across two square blocks. April 13.

"This area -- southwestern Pennsylvania -- is probably the nicest area to live in. We have very few tornadoes, virtually no hurricanes, no earthquakes. The winters, with the exception of this past one, are not that severe and the summers not that hot." Think Tank participant Bill Brna, of Carroll, going off on a pleasant tangent while discussing how he plans to celebrate the arrival of spring. April 13.

"The adrenaline was going and waves were breaking -- boom, boom, boom -- so you had to hold on." Glenn Sinclair, 34, of Castle Shannon, who received a Coast Guard Medal in April for working on the deck of the USS Tamaroa and helping to save four men during the Perfect Storm hurricane in the North Atlantic which featured waves as high as 100 feet. April 13.

"A small piece of shell passed through my overcoat near the collar, turning my whiskers to one side and afterward went into a horse's head nearby. Another ball from a sharpshooter struck me in the breast, passing through my overcoat cape and bruising me a little." Maj. James Morrison Gaston in one of the 400 letters he sent to his wife, Matilda, at their Union Township home during his involvement in numerous battles during the Civil War. Marilyn Palas, Gaston's great-great granddaughter, found the treasure trove of letters while cleaning out her late mother's basement in 1990. April 20.

"I can touch somebody with it, make them feel less isolated and let them know they're not the only person who feels like that. Basically, I'm saying, 'Hey, look, I'm depressed, too.' " California High School junior Albert Pipik, a poet who has written 210 poems, explaining how his poetry attempts to reach people who do not have many friends but have many family problems. April 20.

"Sometimes common sense does rule the day." Frank Gladysz, of Canton, whose property abuts Vorum's Stables LLC. The stable's owners had sought permission to seek a state harness racing permit but were blocked when Canton supervisors voted against the project. April 20.

"So we ought not see any Christians coming out of the state stores on Sundays." A statement by Mabel Cole, a Think Tank participant from Washington, who said the Sabbath is for worship and anything hindering worship should not be done on Sunday. The group was discussing the new Sunday schedule for liquor sales at a limited number of state stores. April 27.

"Terrorism is a growing business . . . and I think it will be here for many years." Norman Shorr, 84, a Mt. Lebanon man and chemical engineer for Polycom Huntsman Inc. before its sale in 1997 who developed bulletproof glass for PPG Industries Inc. and developed a bulletproof vest made of glass and plastic that stops the world's hardest handgun bullets. He now hopes to find someone to market his vest. April 27.

"For lack of a better word, Milo is a Spuds McKenzie, party animal." Timothy Thomas, trainer for the white bull terrier, Milo, whose real name is Champion Action Bestuvall Zodi Act Up, owned by Kimberly C. Moore, of South Fayette. Milo, ranked last year as the No. 1 white bull terrier in American Kennel Club confirmation competitions, was hanging onto his top-dog status this year. April 27.

"I call it a movie theater street," West Alexander fire Chief Gary Richey, commenting on buildings on Main Street that have fancy fronts and make a nice impression to passers-by, but whose neglected backs aren't much to see. May 4.

"You let their questions drive the research, rather than do the 'sage on the stage' thing." Gary Popiolkowski, a Chartiers-Houston seventh-grade science teacher who received a $2,500 grant to have pupils build a river in his classroom for the study of storm water. May 4.

"But I'd say Leo, for the most part, really played point." John Swiatek, the Wild Things' managing partner, explaining then-state Rep. Leo Trich Jr.'s role as "point guard" in getting the independent Frontier League team established in Washington. After retiring as a lawmaker, Trich was named as director of development for the Frontier League. May 4.

"If you would run a state or a school budget like you run your money at home, you don't spend what you don't have. It's that simple." Maya Patch, a Think Tank participant from Carroll, discussing Gov. Ed Rendell's budget passed by the state Legislature without much discussion. May 11.

"It's a wicked snake." Lou Dugas, 71, the owner of Panhandle Distributing in the village of Slovan in Smith, discussing dangerous Route 18. May 11.

"It's a ticket on the Titanic, and who's going to buy it?" Washington County Commissioner J. Bracken Burns, describing the candidacy of fellow Democratic Commissioner John Bevec, who has been at odds with Burns since the first day of their term when Bevec sided with Republican Diana Irey. Burns' prediction came true. He and his running mate, Democrat Larry Maggi, defeated Bevec in the May primary. May 11.

"I've heard all the excuses." Kadee Lewis, owner of Bodytech Health and Fitness, commenting on people's questionable explanations about their plumpness during the "Drop a Ton" weigh-ins at Iceoplex in Southpointe. May 25.

"I want to make sure my wife is more attracted to me so we will have more sex." John Murray, a Chemsteel Construction Division employee, describing his motivation for joining the "Drop a Ton" weight-loss challenge in Southpointe. May 25.

"Just because somebody's from the hills don't mean they're retarded." Jim Gilbert, of New Freeport, Greene County, commenting on CBS' proposal to borrow from the classic television series, "The Beverly Hillbillies," and move a real-life rural family to an upscale community. May 25.

"I came in with a can-do attitude, and they think I can do." Joe Hardy, founder of 84 Lumber Co., commenting on his successful campaign for the Republican nomination for Fayette County commissioner. May 25.

"It's a no-brainer for anyone who has a brain." Washington County Commissioner J. Bracken Burns, commenting on the values of the Panhandle Trail project in the northern part of the county, which was delayed because of, among other reasons, political infighting among the commissioners. May 25.

"I understand how Columbine could have occurred." Lisa Van Syckel, of the International Coalition for Drug Awareness, commenting on dozens of cases in which juveniles hurt themselves and others, including the murders at Columbine, while taking prescription drugs. Another case the group is following is that of John Gebauer, accused of killing his mother, Alison, when he was 15. John Gebauer was prescribed Prozac before the Gebauers adopted him. June 1.

"When you own it, you become a ... slave to it, but it's the most enjoyable slavery I've ever experienced." James Luzier, owner of a historic stone house in Clarksville. June 1.

"In fact, we may even have one of our Native American re-enactors do a dance to make sure we don't run into inclement weather." Patrick Cooper, a re-enactor and spokesman for Frontier Days at the Hughes Covered Bridge in Amwell, which attracted 100 Native American re-enactors. June 1.

"You could dye your hair 1980s purple, you could come to work every day in a different sling or cast, or you could put a Nobel Prize plaque at your cubicle." From Amy Joyce's first book, "I Went To College For This: How to Turn your Job Into a Career You Love." Joyce, a former Pittsburgh Post-Gazette freelance writer, is a full-time staff writer and careers columnist for the Washington Post. June 8.

"As I worked on my jewelry, I realized that I had an affinity for a creative outlet that let me apply my art to an economically viable enterprise." Highly regarded jeweler Michelle Sabol, 34, of Washington, who sold her jewelry during the Three Rivers Arts Festival in Pittsburgh. June 15.

"Those who choose not to follow the proclamation may purchase a permit badge or risk being captured by Midway's Keystone Kops and subjected to Kangaroo Kourt." From Midway Mayor Karen Bartosh's proclamation that prohibited men from shaving and women from wearing makeup during the weeklong centennial celebration in the borough. June 15.

"It doesn't get any better than Irving Berlin." Barry Simpson, director of the Washington Community Theater production of "Annie Get Your Gun," which featured Berlin songs. June 22.

"Some of them have even donated money. That blows me away." Les Wilson, community relations manager of Washington County City Mission, noting how some homeless people have benefited from their stay at the mission. June 22.

"I don't know how anybody moves from the North to Florida, because you have no seasons down there. You can't have spring bulbs down there. You have no cold down there. You don't have that smell of spring." Edna Malone, discussing her garden at her home in Chartiers. June 29.

"We come for every performance with both barrels loaded." Dean Zuccaro, 49, of Burgettstown, discussing his band, Zuke, which has been performing for 23 years, including a gig at the Pittsburgh Rib, Wing and Music Spectacular at the Washington County Fairgrounds. June 29.

"We're skirting around the issue." Karen Scharf, Peters Township School District director, reacting to a question of whether the board should raise taxes and suggesting a tax increase. June 29.

"When the curtain rises, we'll start off with a candlelight procession that will feature a Como-style cardigan carried in on a red pillow with gold fringe that will then be set in a place of honor." Shirley Pohl, co-producer of "Dream Along With Me: A Musical Tribute to Perry Como." The show was a musical review held for seven weeks at Toy's My Way Cafe in Canonsburg, which featured 30 of Como's hits and enough dialogue to give the audience information about the famous crooner's life and career. June 29.

"Where did I go wrong?/ Never wanted to hurt no one./ No excuse for the things I've done./ Only wanted to be someone./ Wanted friends and a little fun." Haunting poem written by Jerry Cushey Jr., 29, of Monongahela, who has been missing for two years and is presumed to be a murder victim. June 29.

"I think small crime, small time." Think Tank participant Maya Patch, commenting on the need for some punishment for female students at Glenbrook North High School in suburban Chicago who were involved in a hazing ritual that turned violent. July 6.

"We're not testing anyone's blood at the door." Clara Lee-Fisher, a descendant of slave Sally Hemings and probably Thomas Jefferson, discussing a reunion of descendants of the Jefferson-Heming line at Jefferson's historic home, Monticello. Although largely proven through DNA analysis, the Hemings-Jefferson line of descendants was denied membership in the Monticello Association, comprising descendants of Jefferson's legitimate daughters. July 6.

"He said he had plans that night." Jeremy Wingo, recalling what Jerry Cushey Jr., 29, of Monongahela, told him the last time Wingo saw him Oct. 12, 2001. Cushey has been missing since that date and is presumed dead. July 6.

"I get panic attacks over the stinking toast." Toy Gregorakis, owner of Toy's My Way Cafe in Canonsburg, commenting on the most difficult aspect of her Fourth of July buffet breakfast held before the mammoth parade. July 13.

"I came from a heathen background. The only time I heard Jesus Christ was in a cuss word." Think Tank participant Donna George, of Chartiers, discussing Christianity and why she does not ascribe to organized religion. July 20.

"I remember watching that first plane hit the World Trade Center on 9/11. I told my boss I would have been running up those steps. The next day, I told my boss that probably I would have also been one of the casualties. That is the way we are. We do this to serve others." Jeff Lawrence, president of the Finleyville Volunteer Fire Department, commenting on the department's 75th anniversary. July 20.

"One of the reasons we don't do weddings is because our repertoire doesn't include rock or pop songs." Norm "Pete" Camino, director of the SNPJ International Button Box Club in North Strabane. July 20.

"I'm in business to glorify God, and, obviously, to make a living." Harlan Kauffman, a Mennonite who operates Kauffman Family Marketplace on Route 18 in Smith. A Mennonite community is taking shape in northern Washington County. July 20.

"I haven't even started to add to the ceiling." Pat Brady, a former Monongahela man, discussing the game room inside his Montgomery Village, Md., home that's decorated with Pittsburgh sports memorabilia. July 27.

"It has to be the biggest bargain in the entertainment world." Dick Horstman, Washington County Fair board director, describing what's available at the fair for $8 for regular tickets and $6 if purchased on weekdays before 4 p.m. July 27.

"My family knows if someone dies, they'd better be put on ice for a day, because I will not miss the Brownsville Community Kennywood Day." Nancy Sealy, 63, of Brownsville. Aug. 3.

"Out West, one in every three guys is like me." Washington lawyer Bill Johnson, who also enjoys roping cows, scoffing at the suggestion he is unique by pairing two seemly incompatible lifestyles. Aug. 3.

"People still buy with their eyes." Mark Breimeister, a marketer for the AmeriSweet onion grown in Michigan, arguing the Pennsylvania Simply Sweet onion developed in Washington County will have a hard time competing with other sweet onions because of what he described as its dirty appearance. Aug. 3

"I was born and raised on a farm. If you didn't do it, you couldn't afford to have it done." Floyd Ankrom, of Amwell, discussing his and his wife, Dorothy's, garden gazebo which he built 13 years ago. Aug. 10.

"When you have a shortcut to heaven, why not? You take it." Aref Al-Khattar, a former intelligence officer for the Jordanian government and now associate professor of criminal justice at California University of Pennsylvania, discussing how terrorists misinterpret their religions but believe they're martyrs. Aug. 10.

"Without a garden and dirt, I'm useless." Robin West, describing how her husband, Peter, built a garden on the roof of their building on North Main Street, Washington, to persuade her to move to the city. Aug. 17.

"If I said no, would you believe me?" Washington County Sheriff Larry Maggi's reaction when asked if he ever had heard of rumors that Mickey Flynn, owner of the Union Grill Restaurant, was involved in a sports-betting operation. Flynn was arrested Aug. 7 on various charges related to bookmaking. Aug. 17.

"This whole deal was a set-up [expletive] deal." Mickey Flynn, owner of the Union Grill Restaurant in Washington, who was arrested on a variety of charges related to bookmaking and participating in a corrupt organization. Aug. 17.

"No is no." Think Tank participant Steve Dugas, of the village of Slovan in Smith, discussing Los Angeles Lakers basketball star Kobe Bryant's rape case. Aug. 20.

"They have the right to consent to sex, and they have the right to refuse or end sex, no matter who wants it and no matter what the circumstances. Period. What human right could be more fundamental.?" Karen Berchin, clinical supervisor at Southwestern Pennsylvania Human Services in Washington, commenting on women in connection with the Kobe Bryant rape case. Aug. 20.

"It's time for Roy's rock to roll." Ayesha Khan, legal director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, commenting on a Think Tank panel discussion about Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore's decision to place a 2 1/2-ton granite monument of the Ten Commandments in the lobby of the state Supreme Court. Khan was arguing for its removal. Aug. 31.

"So I said, 'Great. We've had this boat for five years. What are you going to do with it?' He said, 'I'm going to take it in the front yard and sink it,' and that's what he did." Dorothy Schultz, of Peters, describing what her husband, Bob, did with an old boat they owned. He sank it into the front yard in their nautical-theme garden and filled it with wax begonias. Sept. 7.

"I feel much like a newborn fawn standing on shaky legs when it comes to my prose." Poet John Thomas Menesini, of Greensburg, contrasting the poems in his book, "The Last Great Glass Meat Million," with short stories he has written. Poetry, he said, is easier to write. Menesini was interviewed before reading his poetry at Geezer's Bookstore in Brownsville. Sept. 7.

"I have too many steps -- outside, inside, everywhere, all steps. I want it. I want it, and I want the first floor." Frances Allison, of Smith, arguing in favor of a proposed $4 million, four-story, 42-unit apartment building for senior citizens in Burgettstown. Marcella Dalverney, a retired schoolteacher, has refused to sell about 1 acre in Burgettstown for the project, forcing the government to consider seizing it through eminent domain. Sept. 14.

"Thomas Edison said there are 10,000 ways not to make a light bulb. I know 20 ways not to make an Indian flute." Richard Hawkey, a retired McMechen, W.Va., doctor, who has recorded and sold 10,000 compact discs of Indian music he played on an Indian flute. He now is making flutes to sell. He helped to organize the Native American Pow Wow held in McDonald. Sept. 14.

"It might not be the best thing since sliced bread, but it could be something that leads to it." Jay Hill, founder of American Clean Energy Systems Inc., a Lawrence County company that plans to move to Starpointe Industrial and Business Park in Hanover in 2005 to produce and sell a diesel fuel additive that reduces pollutants and increases energy efficiency, among various other advantages. Sept. 23.

"If we bring people like Jay Hill together and create 100 or 200 new jobs, I'll be as happy as a pig in slop." State Sen. J. Barry Stout, D-Bentleyville, who is helping Hill and his company, American Clean Energy Systems Inc. in Lawrence County, to move to the Starpointe Industrial Park in Hanover in 2005. Sept. 21.

"Yeah, and I have to clean the drool off his shirts." Linda Halverson, of Donora, describing what she has to do every time her husband-to-be Damon Stanley returns home after shopping at the new Gander Mountain Store in North Franklin. The two were married inside the store dressed in camouflage. Sept. 21.

"The future is here now." Bob O'Connor, former Pittsburgh city councilman and now spokesman for Gov. Ed Rendell, discussing the $100 million project proposed by Jack Piatt to redevelop several blocks of Washington and create 1,200 jobs in the city. Sept. 21.

"It happened a short while ago, when a woman in the audience came up to me after a performance of 'Tuna Christmas' and told me that I was the first person to make her laugh since her husband passed away a few months previously. She said she wanted to thank me for making her realize that she had to continue on with her life." Veteran actor Art DeConciliius, 43, of Bethel Park, before the premier of his one-man show, "Chesapeake," at Little Lake Theatre, discussing why he enjoys acting. He has performed 85 roles at the North Strabane theater. Sept. 21.

"It will be like another Vietnam." Think Tank participant Bernie Hobach, of Canonsburg, discussing the $87 billion that Congress appropriated, at President Bush's request, for Iraq. Sept. 28.

"He scared the hell out of me." State police Trooper Rebecca Loving, describing how David R. Kennedy, 48, a Cecil man charged with the 1977 murder of Deborah Capiola, leaned forward during questioning and told her he had been following her, naming places she'd been recently and details of what the trooper had worn on certain days. Sept. 28.

"It's time to say to the Pennsylvania Coal Association that it no longer owns the state Capitol." Jeanne Clark, spokeswoman for PennFuture, speaking about the negative impact longwall mining has had on the homes and properties of Greene and Washington county residents. She spoke during the premier of the documentary film, "Subsided Ground ... Fallen Futures" in the Waynesburg Theatre. Sept. 28.

"Wondering what it would feel like to hold a secret inside, I decided to have various people whisper their deepest secret inside the bottle, then immediately seal it with things like wax or iron clamps. I chose glass and gut because they're fragile and, if I'm not careful, the bottles may fall off and break and become metaphors for what happens when we break a promise to keep something secret." Martha Raisanen, whose sculpture made of pieces of glass from hundreds of bottles held together by dried beef gut and suspended from the ceiling, describing her artwork that was included in an exhibit of works by new members of the Department of Art and Design at California University of Pennsylvania. Sept. 28.

"We were living in our own little world until somebody invaded it." Hazel Ritter, the mother of Brenda Lee Ritter, 18, who was killed in May 1977 near her home in North Strabane, raising fears that a serial killer was stalking women in the area. Her killer has not been found. Oct. 5.

"I like a ranch house. I have bad knees." Gary Casper, of South Strabane, discussing why he built his grand, one-story British-style ranch house that does not require him to climb stairs. Oct. 5.

"We've even gotten mail addressed to 'Pornography.' " Washington County Prothonotary Phyllis Ranko Matheny, describing public confusion about the office and the office's function in filing records for civil court. She is leading challenger Judith Fisher by seven votes, in a bitterly contested race in which 46,207 votes were cast. Results won't be finalized until after Fisher's legal challenges are litigated. Oct. 12.

"I have 100 ideas, and they all involve blood -- pumping blood, flowing blood and squirting blood." Gary "Gutch" Mandarino, 48, the Monessen man described as the "completely brilliant and irreplaceable" mastermind behind Tom Savini's TerrorMania in Monessen. He's developing horror-house exhibits that will be produced locally and sold worldwide. Oct. 12.

"We discussed our history, our current struggles, and our future as a people as the smoke of our fires rose into the surrounding woodlands and carried our messages, thoughts, and prayers on the four winds to those who would hear them, heed them and learn from them." From the prospectus describing the 13th annual Native American Art Exposition at Waynesburg College. Lee Dingus, chairman of the exhibition committee and a Cherokee descendant, wrote the prospectus. Oct. 12.

"They will have to implode it with me inside." Peter West, owner of World West Galleries, describing the only way Washington officials can remove him from his North Main Street building if it is seized through eminent domain to clear way for hotel construction. The only way he will leave is "in a body bag." Oct. 26.

"I am a conscientious individual." Ken Barna, 54, director of the Washington County Tax-Revenue Department, whose involvement in a home-construction business that bought dozens of tax-delinquent properties from his department is under county review. Oct. 26.

"I was going to tear this house down, and I was going to put a big cemetery here." Frank Behm, former Greene County coroner, describing the Gothic Revival house along Route 188 in Jefferson Township, Greene County, that he restored to stately elegance enhanced by a smokehouse, carriage house, barn, woodshed and outhouse. Nov. 2.

"We're just a little tired, and we need a little pep." Citizens Library Director Susan Priest, describing the impact of a $750,000 library renovation project, which will make the library wheelchair accessible among other upgrades. Nov. 2.

"The butterflies go away, then you start getting frustrated and aggravated. We yell at each other and call each other names. Therein lies the value of working together as a team. There is mental anguish and time restraints. But you have to rein in emotions and do what you have to do." Rod Henry, captain of Consol Energy's Enlow Fork Mine Rescue Team, describing the emotional turmoil involved in fighting a mine fire. The team defeated 40 other teams to repeat as the winner of the National Mine Rescue Championship in Louisville, Ky., in September. Nov. 2.

"For everybody who says, 'My vote doesn't count' -- boy, I tell you, this should be a real eye-opener." Incumbent Prothonotary Phyllis Ranko Matheny, 62, of North Strabane, reacting to edging Judith Fisher, 64, of South Strabane, by four votes. Eventually, a recount boosted Matheny's lead to seven votes with 46,207 cast. Results won't be final until completion of Fisher's recount suit. Nov. 9.

"I can sum it up in one word -- smoke." Jude Pohl, writer/producer of "Dream Along With Me: A Musical Tribute to Perry Como," describing why he decided not to hold "Perry Como Christmas" in Toy's My Way Cafe in Canonsburg and moved the production to the Canonsburg Elks Club. He said remnant cigarette smoke inside the cafe bothered his performers. Nov. 9.

"When doing the house, close to 20 years ago, in my zeal to be as authentic as possible I tried to make homemade paint using eggs, milk, iron oxide, lime and linseed oil and came up with a red that's in the family room and on the trim. I painted it, and it looked great. The only problem was that it wouldn't adhere. It was a fiasco." Donald Saxton, describing his efforts to restore his Greek Revival home in Canton to reflect its 1830's origin. Nov. 16.

"I never sold drugs." Fred Brilla, who served time for a drug conviction in 1993 after police found 28 baggies of 97 percent pure cocaine in his North Strabane house. He later successfully sued Washington County District Attorney John Pettit for failing to return money and other belongings seized during drug raids in his home. The lawsuit ended with an order that Pettit pay Brilla $65,000 plus interest. Soon after, Brilla was found shot to death inside Price's Tavern in North Strabane. Police said his killing was linked to drug trafficking, and Gerald Gregg, of South Franklin, was charged with the homicide. Nov. 16.

"Shopping is a bad thing." Patty Kreamer, a professional organizer from Green Tree who blames incessant shopping for cluttering our lives. Nov. 16.

"The taking of $18,000 of estate funds cannot be excused based upon a generalized statement of poor bookkeeping and a substandard office arrangement." The Disciplinary Board of the state Supreme Court's ruling against John T. Olshock, assistant Washington County district attorney, who lost his license to practice law for three years for misappropriating more than $18,000 from an estate he represented in his private practice in Washington. Nov. 23.

"The toilet is a critical link between order and disorder." From "The History of Toilets" at www.PlumbingSupply.com, written by Bindeswar Pathak and quoted in a Seldom Seen column about the importance of toilets to human civilization. Nov. 23.

"There are very few professors I want to listen to." William "Wild Willy" Frankfort, a Union man who works with horns and is involved in 18th century re-enactments, critical of college professors for not using historians such as him in teaching more hands-on history. Nov. 30.

"People seem to think of me as a lady with a magic wand, capable of pulling the proverbial rabbit out of a hat." Kathleen Mitchell, the Washington woman who has made a career of sewing historical costumes for theatrical productions throughout the region. Many times, she's been asked at the last minute to provide costumes, and she usually has managed to produce them. Dec. 7.

"Honestly, I hate to say it, but we're sounding good." Pete Kouklakis, tenor for the Four Townsmen, of Canonsburg, discussing a hometown Christmas show the do-wop group planned to perform 44 years after it was organized. Dec. 7.

"I just gave him a cold, hard stare, and I think he got the message." Washington County District Attorney John C. Pettit, describing his reaction to double-killing suspect Gerald A. Gregg, of South Franklin, who smiled at Pettit when a witness testified that Gregg had said, "John Pettit is going to commit suicide. It's going to look like suicide." Dec. 14.

"It's taxes. I don't care what anybody says. It all boils down to taxes." Think Tank participant Maya Patch, of Carroll, reacting to Pittsburgh Mayor Tom Murphy's claims of suburban racism in response to opposition to a proposal to combine Pittsburgh and Allegheny County services. Dec. 21.

"At first glance, it might seem a bit incongruous to be interested in both music and wrestling." Arnie Brock, of South Franklin, who directs the 114-member Washington Community Arts Choir, reacting to his career as a wrestling coach with 371 victories at Clintondale High School near Detroit and a successful singing and directing career. Both require discipline and a strong work ethic, he said. Dec. 21.



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