Busy lives made newsmakers of neighbors in 2012

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Our weekly feature of "newsmakers you should know" highlighted achievements by many West residents whose accomplishments were noteworthy. Here's a recap of our West newsmakers:

David D. Anderson of Montgomery, Texas, returned to his alma mater, Penn State Beaver, to receive the campus Outstanding Alumnus Award.

Jeremy Angus of Ambridge said he wants to raise the academic bar at Bishop Canevin High School in his new job as director of development and alumni affairs.

Elmer Brown, 92, of McDonald was recognized by McDonald council for 30 years of service to McDonald Area Food Bank, where he helped collect, package and distribute food every month.

Kyle Aurin-Davies of Raccoon, a senior at Hopewell Area High School, was honored with a certificate of appreciation for raising $3,260 for the Serve-A-Soldier program at the Military and Family Courtesy Center at Pittsburgh International Airport.

Joshua Balkovec of Bridgeville, who has been diagnosed with complex congenital heart disease, made his first trip to Walt Disney World in Orlando, courtesy of the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Jared Bellan of Monaca, a heroin addict who spent time in prison, has founded the City Reach Church to reach out to the community that once was a place of trials and tribulations for him.

Cathy Benscoter of Beaver was honored with a Gold CUPPIE award from CUPRAP, a communications professionals organization for an article she wrote and photographed for the spring 2011 edition of the Nittanny News.

Caitlan Carney, a Quigley Catholic High School senior, has teamed up with Goals Haiti to reach out to victims of the 2010 earthquake that devastated the island nation by collecting donated soccer equipment to provide recreation for Haitian children.

John Chapin of Aliquippa received the U.S. House of Representatives Congressional Victims' Rights Caucus Certificate for his work on behalf of victims of crime.

Paula and Bruce Cote of Baden trekked the Appalachian Trail in the spring to raise money for Urban Impact, a faith-based nonprofit on the North Side that invests in the lives of at-risk children, youth and their families.

Harry "Hawkeye" Demel, a freelance artist from Coraopolis, created a movable mural on the westerly side of the Historical Society of Carnegie building near Chartiers Creek on the West Mall Plaza.

Joe DeNardo, former television weatherman, is honored for his work with Moon parks with the dedication of DeNardo Way, the main street through the township park.

Terry O'Rourke Donahue of North Fayette, who, after a long and varied career in academia and the telecommunications industry, became president of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart High School in Moon.

Patrick Dorrenbacher, a lifelong resident of Stowe, was appointed to the Region 2 seat on the Sto-Rox school board to complete the term of Joseph Vojtecky, who had resigned.

Jeff Farley of Chester, W.Va., who remained in human resources but switched employers from Mardi Gas Casino and Resort in Cross Lanes, W.Va., to Beaver County Community College.

Ronald "Huck" Gamble of Oakdale, who has served as a justice of the peace, a councilman and a state legislator, was elected to another term as president of Oakdale council.

Marissa Gerkey of Brighton Heights, who brought her experience of five years as assistant planning director from the Crawford County Planning Commission to Moon, where she is serving as planning director.

Hans Gruenert, managing director of Off the Wall Productions, converted a former 7,000-square-foot office building into a 960-seat theater in Carnegie.

Mark Iampietro of Baldwin became principal at Fred L. Aiken Elementary School in Green Tree with the responsibility of upholding the school's Blue Ribbon status.

Melanie Kerber, Sto-Rox Middle School principal, was one of the driving forces behind a youth violence prevention initiative for the Sto-Rox community to curb what many in the district see as an alarming trend.

Melissa Kolarosky of Moon, who played the viola as a senior at the Lincoln Park Performing Arts Charter School in Midland ,was selected for the National Association for Music Education All-National Orchestra and played at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.

Barb Lazer of Crafton, who found her place in a second career in social services with Focus On Renewal in McKees Rocks.

Kati Lightholder of North Fayette was selected as co-host of the public television series "Pedal America." She traveled to road cycling and mountain biking cities, spending a week in each, filming for the half-hour episodes.

Jill Marsilio-Colonna of Chippewa, who received the Ed Stout Memorial Award for Outstanding Victim Advocacy from the Congressional Victims' Rights Caucus in Washington, D.C., for her work in victim rights.

Joseph McCormick of Robinson was elected president of the board of directors of the Spina Bifida Association of Western Pennsylvania. His daughter, Abby, suffers from spina bifida.

Bill Merrell won the right to his teaching job at Chartiers Valley Intermediate School in Scott after 15 years of legal wrangling.

Marissa Morrison of Beaver Falls designed one of the five holiday greeting cards selected by Make-A-Wish Greater Pennsylvania and Southern West Virginia.

Nancy Patton Mills of Moon, who was born and raised in a family that included generations of politicians, became Allegheny County Democratic Committee chair.

Lisa Novak of Upper St. Clair has a lifelong participation in recreational activities, which may have led to her selection as Collier's first full-time parks and recreation director.

Sally O'Leary of New Sewickley, who had been a public relations assistant for the Pittsburgh Pirates, stays active with the ball club by serving as alumni liaison and writes an alumni newsletter for the organization from her home in Beaver County.

John Douglas Perkey of Robinson, who had worked nearly 30 years with Deluxe Check Printers until it closed in 2004, was named to complete the two-year term as Robinson treasurer. He had served as part-time deputy treasurer.

Debby Perry of McDonald, a blogging mom who was recognized as the 2012 Publisher Mom of the Year by Macaroni Kid, a national organization of parents who put together free weekly e-newsletters and websites on community events for children and their families.

John Pippy, R-Moon, who had served eight years in the state House and eight years in the state Senate, resigned to head the Pennsylvania Coal Alliance.

Bill Repack of Moon, formerly of McKees Rocks, who is a Robert Morris University professor, is collaborating with others at Sto-Rox to create an alumni association and to fund scholarships.

Nancy Aloi Rose of Ambridge, a Beaver Falls native, was named superintendent of the Bethel Park School District.

Alexis Sergeant of Center, a native of the Pittsburgh area who worked in Florida and Georgia, returned home to become communications director for Moon.

Sarah Shaw of Mount Washington loved teaching elementary children, but she has given it up to become principal of Cornell Elementary School in Coraopolis.

Michael Simmons of Raccoon, who has worked since 1992 with the state Department of Transportation, was named the agency's Beaver County maintenance manager.

Tom Sray, a South Fayette commissioner who uses a wheelchair, was named local spokesman for National Mobility Awareness Month for his work in finding ways to improve accessibility for those who are disabled.

Machell Swoager of Hookstown was honored in Pittsburgh International Airport's NICE program -- Neutralizing Irritations Customers Experience. While on a shift at the Hyatt Regency's Olive Press restaurant at the airport, she assisted an elderly female patron who had become ill while dining.

Gena Turner of West End was named Volunteer of the Year by the Clean Pittsburgh Commission. As a Clean Pittsburgh Steward for the Elliott neighborhood, she organizes and leads spring and fall cleanups.

Dr. Sam Urick of Moon, a doctor of osteopathic medicine, joined the advancement committee, which focuses on publicity and fundraising for his alma mater, Our Lady of the Sacred Heart High School in Moon.

Frank Vitale celebrated his 90th birthday doing what he has been doing for 60 years -- cutting hair in his barbershop, Vitale's Hair Styling for Men and Women, in Building 10 at Foster Plaza in Green Tree. The business has been there since 1982, but it was preceded by shops at four other locations.

Pam Volakis of Findlay was among 102 teachers from 25 states who were honored for innovative use of classroom technology as part of the Microsoft Partners in Learning 2012 U.S. Forum.

Tom Wiese of Cheswick, the new executive director of Girls Hope, a ministry of the Sisters of St. Joseph in Baden, said he has brought with him a heart for helping people in need, particularly at-risk youth.

Samuel Wilcox, 16, earned his Boy Scout Eagle Scout award by designing and creating a Teen Room in formerly unused space in the Andrew Carnegie Free Library and Music Hall in Carnegie.



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