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ONCE A WEEK

the crew from ABC's "Extreme Makeover" transforms a hovel into a palace for a deserving family. Outside the world of entertainment, though, resources for home improvement projects are not easy to come by. That's why it's good news that the Home Depot Foundation has joined with Mayor Luke Ravenstahl to create the Sustainable Home Improvement Partnership. The foundation is providing a $500,000 grant for materials and labor, but lots of the heavy lifting will be done by volunteers in the city's ServePGH program. The effort will focus on East Liberty, Garfield, Homewood and Larimer, but don't look for tractor-trailers filled with the latest appliances and furnishings that are featured on the popular TV program. The work here will include electrical and plumbing upgrades, structural repairs, new wheelchair ramps and energy-saving fixes. Ten community groups and the city's Urban Redevelopment Authority will pitch in. Naturally the list of needs exceeds the ability to meet them. This partnership shows how Pittsburghers, and companies that do business here, can make the city a better place to live.

HOME IMPROVEMENT of a different sort took place Monday at a boarded-up house on Fairfield Street in Stanton Heights. The red-brick ranch from which Richard Poplawski gunned down three Pittsburgh police officers was demolished by Jadell Minniefield Construction of Hazelwood in less than 30 minutes. The vacant eyesore was a grim reminder to the rest of the neighborhood of the tragedy that unfolded one April morning in 2009. Now it is gone. Mr. Poplawski was convicted and sentenced to death in June. Although departed officers Eric G. Kelly, Paul J. Sciullo II and Stephen J. Mayhle will not be forgotten, the sooner this house is, the better.

STRONG OPINIONS were afoot elsewhere last week, as indicated by a Mercyhurst College poll on Marcellus Shale gas drilling. The sample of 426 Pennsylvanians interviewed between Sept. 19 and Oct. 7 showed a majority -- 55 percent -- in favor of using fracking to extract natural gas, compared to 27 percent against. An even higher portion, 73 percent, said they supported a gas extraction tax, something Gov. Tom Corbett adamantly opposes. The governor recently proposed a drilling impact fee, which he estimated would generate $120 million in the first year. But the fee won't yield nearly as much revenue as other states get from a drilling tax -- the kind Pennsylvania deserves to support its general budget. If only Mr. Corbett were willing to level the playing field and allow his state to reap the full range of benefits from drilling, Pennsylvania might be a friendlier home to this growing, yet controversial, industry.



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