RAVES that here in Fayette County, we have admirable
people with character and integrity a decade or two
past retirement, who do not sit on their butts and do
RAVES that Dr. Evelyn Hovanec took on the challenge
to organize a crew of dedicated people to gather up
over 3,000 signatures of registered voters to sign
petitions, outraged that the public had no say in public
hearings and no input in decisions made about
spending $60+ million of public funds for an all new jail.
RAVES that she, John Cofchin, Dave Show, Ralph and
Gerry Mazza and John Buchanon led the force behind
the impressive signature gathering process to present
in two days to the Election Bureau. RAVES that people
sometimes drove tens of miles from snowy and icy
corners of the county to approach set up tables to sign
the petitions and vent over how they felt shut out of
the decision making process.
No, those public hearings when citizens were not
allowed to speak left a good many people entering
Giant Eagle, Laurel Mall or the Patriot Office to exclaim
angrily their comments such as, "I really thought Al
Ambrosini was going to be Fayette's savior," or "Why
wouldn't he have another public meeting and deduct
Crabtree's parking garage from that estimate, upgrade
our historic jail and build an annex out back?"
When they were really frustrated, or really angry, some just cussed up a storm about how all the
decisions about the project were made in private... and how Fayette will never recover from the massive
debt if an all new jail is built and sewage has to be included in the price... as they signed their names and
completed the petition sections.
And how much longer, many would ask, were the Referendum Group members and helpers going to still
be there getting signatures, because they were going home and getting others to come in to sign.
Once in a while, during the few hours that I helped get signatures in the store, I would notice county
employees coming by, of course, not having time to stop and sign. The homeowner in them, however,
and fear of county property taxes skyrocketing, sometimes was probably the motivating reason they
smiled if they asked how it was going, this signature gathering process.
Some -- if this referendum makes it to the ballot -- will likely oppose the expenditure there. Others,
privately later, confessed they still would be too afraid for their jobs or retribution from the county to
vote to oppose the jail expenditure. Two emailed here that they likely will leave the question unanswered
on the ballot -- i.e., if it makes the ballot -- because that's how little they trust county leaders not to leave
sacred the privacy of the voting process.
That, no doubt, is the absolute worst image of county leaders that anyone can have or imagine to be
Alas, though, the signature gathering period is winding down today and the counting process is
underway. A few last minute signatures will probably still get in tomorrow and a few more petitions will
likely be notarized at the last minute.
Well done, Fayette County, well done! Lets say a prayer that foolish men stop being foolish and that court
action or other methods are not needed to get this message across. (9 Mar 14)
The county's $1.25 million dollar land deal:
where 2 teens died, eight others were
injured, in 1942 mine subsidence cave in
At last week's special meeting called to vote to buy land for a county jail, Mount Braddock businessman,
Steve Laskey, poignantly relayed his story of business disaster located at the industrial park there.
County Commission Chairman Al Ambrosini, quite frankly, blew Laskey off when he tried to show him
photos of his business under water from flooding. Ambrosini didn't seem to mind too much, either,
when Laskey relayed how raw sewage shoots up from toilets and cripples his business and profits from
high flood insurance premiums and nightmares that already sent four other businesses there packing.
Ambrosini didn't even seem to flinch or even seem at all interested in hearing more when Laskey asked
him whether he was aware of a dance hall collapsing on the site where the county leader wants to put a
new jail. Laskey clearly stated at that meeting that people died there, although Ambrosini continued to
want to stifle public comments and rush through the meeting and get to the vote.
Did Ambrosini not believe Laskey? Did he not care? The video of the meeting doesn't give the
impression whatsoever that he cared. He just kept right on going with the plan to build a state of the art
$60 Million jail there to save us money.
Laskey, however, was right on target with his assessment of the land, though it's so doubtful whether
the $28-30 million dollars that Ambrosini quoted at that meeting will cover getting the land ready for
building, solving the flooding and sewage problems and building the jail.
Laskey, also, was painfully truthful when he said that people died on the land that Ambrosini and
Commissioner Vince Zapotosky selected for the jail.
Two teens were killed and three others were injured when "like a house of cards, the Community
Recreation Center in Mount Braddock, Fayette County coal town midway between here and Uniontown,
collapsed late yesterday," the Pittsburgh Press reported on January 3, 1942.
"The collapse, which came without warning, was caused by a cave in of an abandoned coal mine tunnel,
directly under the frame structure," the tragic story continued.
The Connellsville Courier, that same day, reported that two died and eight were injured when the
building "dropped like an elevator." The young victims were just 15 and 20 years old. The younger of
the two died trying to shield the dance instructor from harm.
At last week's meeting, however, none of these startling facts seemed to impress Ambrosini or
Zapotosky or even cause to phase them to ask for more information. They wanted the land and, by God,
they voted to start the process of buying it.
Lets hope in this 90-day window of time that they have to re-think it all, that they actually do begin to
conduct their so-called "due diligence" mission thoroughly and determine, realistically, what it will cost
to stabilize that wasteland enough to put lives in jeopardy again on it.
with much thanks to Natalie and Steve Laskey
10 Mar 14
Editor's Note: The above piece was shared with county commissioners earlier today and they were asked for
comment. Yes, Hell will probably freeze over before the majority commissioners reply, I know. But they were
asked to click on the links to the 1942 newspaper stories that confirm what Laskey said at the 2-26-14
special meeting. I felt an obligation to point this out to them. At that meeting, when I told Ambrosini that he
had not done his "due diligence" and said that I believed all the people who had spoken before me -- i.e.,
Laskey, the two township supervisors, residents nearby, other citizens -- Ambrosini looked down at the table
and smiled. His reaction is noted on video and cannot be denied. I hope he believes us all now.
RAVES that KDKA TV news featured a 7 AM promo on the 11 AM rally today at the courthouse before the
Referendum Group presents the petitions with over 3,700 signatures on them to the Election Bureau.
The tv news folks also have the information on the 1942 mine subsidence tragedy at the Mt. Braddock
land that the commission majority selected for a new jail. It is noted that several persons at each area
newspaper received the press release and information and there's not one word about anything of this
in print media out there today! It's noted, too, that the KDKA clip is recurring on the CW news channel they
have, each half hour. Word will get to them that the jail really is NOT falling down. (11 Mar 14)
Over 3,700 sign Fayette
Referendum Group petitions!
Prior to the rally today, Dr. Evelyn Hovanec, is shown
being interviewed for WPXI TV news. Other members of
the Referendum Group are shown to the left.
Larry Blosser, director of the Election Bureau,
is shown receiving a basket of petitions with
3,700 signatures of county registered voters,
who oppose the way decisions were made in
private by the county commission majority to
build an all-new jail.