November 2018 Laurel Highlands Market Update.

This is the November 2018 real estate market report. These reports give you the inside information based on courthouse records as to what has sold at Hidden Valley and 7 Springs Resorts. If you are thinking of selling or buying you need to review these reports and contact us for more information to determine the highest price that will be successful in the market place. Open the links below for a quick look at how sales are going this month.

Keep in mind this is just a small window of information we share with the public. If you want the UNBIASED facts of what is happening in your community and property contact us. We tell you what factual research indicates and not what a marketing department wants you to believe.

YOU HAVE A CHOICE. Choose an experienced TEAM with the highest customer satisfaction ratings in the Laurel Highlands. We help our clients successfully buy or sell at both resorts. Contact us today at 412-897-8535. Open the links below for the reports.

Play VisualTour
Play VisualTour

4th Frank Lloyd Wright house coming to the Laurel Highlands


LAUREL HIGHLANDS, PA., (March 20, 2018) – After a 1,000-mile journey, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Lindholm House, aka Mäntylä, will now join Fallingwater, Kentuck Knob and Duncan House in calling Pennsylvania’s Laurel Highlands home.

Originally built in 1952 in Cloquet, Minn., the Lindholm House was carefully dismantled and shipped to Acme, Pa., in the spring of 2016, where it is currently being rebuilt by Thomas and Heather Papinchak. As owners and operators of Polymath Park, the Papinchaks are no strangers to Wright’s creations. Their architectural resort offers overnight lodging at Wright’s Duncan House, which was moved from Lisle, Ill., and rebuilt on the site in 2007, as well as two homes designed by his apprentice Peter Berndtson, the Balter and Blum homes.

“The groundbreaking and the addition of Wright’s Lindholm house is keeping pace with the thriving and unique experience our guests encounter at Polymath Park,” said Thomas Papinchak, Polymath Park’s CEO and design-builder. “The Lindholm House has been kept private for decades; it will be exciting for all involved to unveil this original grand Usonian masterpiece.”

Typifying Wright’s “Usonian” style-his effort, late in life, to create affordable housing in a design language that expressed his distinctive perception of the “American landscape.” The Lindholm and Duncan houses offer visitors a truly unique opportunity – the chance to stay overnight in a Frank Lloyd Wright house. The Llindholm House is expected to welcome guests in Summer 2018. When guests reserve either home, they are given access to the entire home, not just a specific room. These homes are two of a select few Frank Lloyd Wright buildings in the entire U.S. that offer overnight lodging. Reservations can be made online at or by calling 877.833.7829.

A Must-Do Destination for Architecture Aficionados
To architecture experts, Frank Lloyd Wright was the greatest American architect who ever lived and one of the greatest the world has ever seen. To those who appreciate nature, it’s easy to see how the magnificent natural landscape of Pennsylvania’s Laurel Highlands inspired the prolific architect.

Wright (June 8, 1867-April 9, 1959) designed more than 1,000 structures in his lifetime and saw more than 500 of them to completion, but the high concentration of homes open for public tours in a setting as beautiful as Pennsylvania’s Laurel Highlands is an uncommon occurrence.

Perhaps Wright’s most widely-acclaimed creation, Fallingwater, was built between 1936 and 1939 for the Kaufmanns, a prominent family from Pittsburgh. Dramatically cantilevered over a waterfall, the house exemplifies Wright’s concept of organic architecture: the harmonious union of art and nature. A National Historic Landmark, Fallingwater has been selected as one of “50 places of a lifetime” by National Geographic Traveler. Fallingwater is the only major Wright-designed house to open to the public with its furnishings, artwork and setting intact.

Just seven miles southwest of Fallingwater and high atop a bluff overlooking the Youghiogheny River Gorge stands another Frank Lloyd Wright architectural masterpiece, Kentuck Knob. A great believer in the beauty of natural materials, Wright combined the native sandstone with tide water red cypress to create a chorus of color and texture that replicates the surrounding landscape. Wright began this project for the Hagan family in 1953 at the age of 86, five years before his death. In addition to the house, the grounds of Kentuck Knob feature 30 pieces of sculptures by Andy Goldsworthy, Anthony Caro and Claes Oldenburg.

Located within a short drive of the four Laurel Highlands landmarks, Falling Rock at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort provides a tribute to the organic architectural style of Frank Lloyd Wright. Designed by David Merritt, who studied at Wright’s school at Taliesin and then incorporated the master’s philosophies into his own work, Falling Rock features 42 rooms, each of which is served by a butler. In addition to this top level of service, guests enjoy a pillow menu, nightly cookie turndown and exclusive access to an infinity pool.

About Pennsylvania’s Laurel Highlands
A magnificent mountainous region, the Laurel Highlands spans 3,000 square miles in southwestern Pennsylvania. Located an hour east of Pittsburgh, the beautiful four-season destination offers some of the most spectacular natural scenery, outstanding outdoor recreation, historic sites and attractions, family activities and world-class resorts. Notable destinations within the region include three architectural masterpieces by Frank Lloyd Wright – Fallingwater®, Kentuck Knob and Duncan House – Nemacolin Woodlands Resort, Seven Springs Mountain Resort, Flight 93 National Memorial, Idlewild and Soak Zone, whitewater rafting at Ohiopyle State Park and more.

Located within 200 miles of the major metropolitan areas of Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Cleveland and Washington D.C., the Laurel Highlands can be easily accessed from exits 67, 75, 91 and 110 of the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

Visitors to the Laurel Highlands can find information online at, calling 800.333.5661, and Established in 1958, the Laurel Highlands Visitors Bureau is the official destination marketing organization for Fayette, Somerset and Westmoreland counties in southwestern Pennsylvania. Check out the 2018 Laurel Highlands Destination Guide!


Author: Laurel Highlands Visitors Bureau


January 2018 Real Estate Market Report

This is the January 2018 real estate market report. These reports give you the inside information based on courthouse records as to what has sold at Hidden Valley and 7 Springs Resorts. If you are thinking of selling or buying you need to review these reports and contact us for more information to determine the highest price that will be successful in the market place. Open the links below for a quick look at how sales are going this month.

Keep in mind this is just a small window of information we share with the public. If you want the UNBIASED facts of what is happening in your community and property contact us. We tell you what factual research indicates and not what a marketing department wants you to believe.

YOU HAVE A CHOICE. Choose an experienced TEAM with the highest customer satisfaction ratings in the Laurel Highlands. We help our clients successfully buy or sell at both resorts. Contact us today at 412-897-8535. Open the links below for the reports.

Play VisualTour
Play VisualTour

November 2017 Real Estate Market Report

This is the November 2017 real estate market report. These reports give you the inside information based on courthouse records as to what has sold at Hidden Valley and 7 Springs Resorts. If you are thinking of selling or buying you need to review these reports and contact us for more information to determine the highest price that will be successful in the market place. Open the links below for a quick look at how sales are going this month.

Keep in mind this is just a small window of information we share with the public. If you want the UNBIASED facts of what is happening in your community and property contact us. We tell you what factual research indicates and not what a marketing department wants you to believe.

YOU HAVE A CHOICE. Choose an experienced TEAM with the highest customer satisfaction ratings in the Laurel Highlands. We help our clients successfully buy or sell at both resorts. Contact us today at 412-897-8535. Open the links below for the reports.

Play VisualTour
Play VisualTour

October 2017 Real Estate Market Report

This is the October 2017 real estate market report. These reports give you the inside information based on courthouse records as to what has sold at Hidden Valley and 7 Springs Resorts. If you are thinking of selling or buying you need to review these reports and contact us for more information to determine the highest price that will be successful in the market place. Open the links below for a quick look at how sales are starting this year.

Keep in mind this is just a small window of information we share with the public. If you want the UNBIASED facts of what is happening in your community and property contact us. We tell you what factual research indicates and not what a marketing department wants you to believe.

YOU HAVE A CHOICE. Choose an experienced TEAM with the highest customer satisfaction ratings in the Laurel Highlands. We help our clients successfully buy or sell at both resorts. Contact us today at 412-897-8535. Open the links below for the reports.


Play VisualTour
Play VisualTour


Tax Reform, specifically HOW the mortgage interest deduction will be changed, is something EVERY Home Owner needs to understand! According to a study done by Price Waterhouse IF the mortgage interest deduction is passed as presented, of the 80% of home owners who take the deduction ONLY 5% would still qualify! For properties in PA you would no longer be able to deduct property taxes! Click this link and Let Your Elected Rep Know Where You Stand!


Fast Freddie by Pat McCloskey

Fast Freddie

by patmccloskey

The first time I skied with Fred Siget was in Snowshoe, West Virginia with Larry Walsh of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette. I had some limited training but had experience as a ski instructor. So, as my maiden voyage with a visually impaired skier, I had the original blind skier in our area in front of me headed down Cupp Run. Right turn, left turn, right turn, stay, stay………..all of a sudden the only tree in play was before me as I yelled “crash” and Fred sat down on his way to running into the only tree within hundreds of yards. I felt so bad, but Fred dusted himself off with a smile and said, ” Pat- don’t worry about it at all. This will be one of many.” And we continued down the slope. This began a 40 year friendship with the one and only Fast Freddie Siget.

Fred lost his vision as a result of an accident with a high pressure hose when he was a volunteer fireman. As devastating as this injury was, he was undaunted. He became the first computer programmer for Koppers Corporation that was visually impaired. He continued dancing, and he learned to ski with guys like Larry Walsh, Jim Conley, Lynne(Kravetz) Hartnett, Shorty Leco and Micky Hutchko. People who took the time to work with Fred and make him into a pretty good skier by the time I came along. Fred always had ideas on how to make things easier for blind skiers and how to improve guiding techniques. He was the first guy I knew that purchased a transmitter where the guide had a microphone and he had an ear piece which made calling out commands easier and understandable with snowmaking machines roaring in the background. I used it one time standing on top of a slope and calling commands to Fred as he skied by himself down to the chairlift. With his” Blind Skier” jacket on, people were shocked viewing his run. In the bar afterwards, we had some fun with Herman Dupre the owner of Seven Springs Mountain Resort. I put the microphone on and guided Fred over in front of Herman and told him to tell Herman how much he admired his red flannel shirt. Herman was stunned and later remarked to me laughing that he was starting to “get hot thinking about all the free passes I gave to Fred and now he is telling me how much he likes my shirt!” Hilarious.

Fred was a bus driver in the old days and always missed driving. One night after skiing, I asked Fred if he wanted to drive again. He was puzzled. I took him to the upper parking lot at Seven Springs and guided him into the drivers seat of my Blazer and let him have the wheel. I gave him commands like skiing. Right turn, left turn, stay straight, …the smile on his face was priceless. Then we did some donuts and the laughter was infectious. Fred never forgot that night.

Fred was always anxious to help new guides. He put himself at risk during the training but always felt that it was worth it not only to train guides that could assist him, but to help the other visually impaired skiers who were beginning to show up at the BOLD( Blind Outdoor Leisure Development) outings at Seven Springs.

Fred was a local legend due to his skiing. People knew him and admired him as they skied past him or saw him making turns from the chairlift. They knew him in Vail, Colorado where he skied regularly with the Mon Valley and Pittsburgh Ski Clubs. But perhaps the most compelling thing about Fred was his kindness and appreciation for his fellow skiers and guides. He always remembered your birthday and when he called me, he sang, ” Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday to you, get plastered, you bastard, Happy Birthday to you.” That made me laugh out loud every year. He would always ask about my wife Janet, and my son Jack. Jack would ski with us when he was a young guy and Fred always was interested in how he was doing in school and in his sports. Fred always thought about other people. He was popular for his skiing for sure, but as a person, you could not get a better guy who was always interested in others and never talked much about himself.

We lost Fred this fall at 94 years of age. Although he had an amazing life, we will miss him. I always think of him when I see people who have heartache in their lives or something that has tragically shaped their future. Fred never let his accident slow him down. He always said that he did more as a visually impaired individual than he ever did before losing his sight. He took a perceived bad thing and turned it into opportunity. Shouldn’t we all learn from that lesson? R.I.P Fred, I will miss you for sure. Thanks for reading folks.

patmccloskey | October 19, 2017 at 11:31 am | Tags: Blind Outdoor Leisure Development, Seven Springs Mountain Resort | Categories: Aging, Blind Skiing, Inspiration, outdoor activities, outdoor sports, Outdoors, recreation, Skiing, Volunteering, Winter, winter sports | URL:

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Our National Association of REALTORS has been actively engaged in the tax reform debate. The plan is expected to double the standard deduction and eliminate all personal deductions except the Mortgage Interest Deduction and the deduction for Charitable Contributions. The plan eliminates the deduction for State and Local Taxes. This will be devastating to middle class homeowners by removing economic incentives for homeownership and raising taxes by an average of $851. By doubling the standard deduction, the Mortgage Interest Deduction would only be available to the top 5 percent of taxpayers.



Fall Foliage Forecast by PennLive

By Marcus Schneck
Unseasonably hot, dry weather throughout much of September may have doomed hopes for a particularly vibrant fall-foliage period this fall in much of Pennsylvania.

“Several factors lead me to believe that what looked to be an excellent fall foliage year has been mitigated by this latest hot, dry weather pattern, coupled with outbreaks of maple anthracnose in a fair number of areas,” noted Ryan Reed, the environmental education specialist in the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources who compiles the weekly fall foliage report for the state.

“Despite this, there will be good fall foliage viewing throughout the state in forthcoming weeks. One may have to simply travel further between areas of brilliant color.”

For now, he said, fall foliage season continues in its preliminary stages statewide. Some northern-tier forest districts are showing more than 50 percent color in stands of northern hardwoods like maple, cherry and birch.

Central and southern forests are showing strong indicators of future color, with bittersweet, Virginia creeper, dogwood, walnut, hickory, birch and a few maples sprinkling color over the landscape.

The recent warm spell seems to have slowed the color transition, and even forced early leaf-drop in some areas.

Southwestern Counties (Allegheny, Washington, Greene, Westmoreland, Fayette and Somerset counties): In Forbes State Forest, peak color is expected during the first and second weeks (Negro Mountain and Laurel Ridge) in October.

The Laurel Highlands are separated by three separate ridges that vary in elevation, often leading to a succession of peak foliage. The Mt. Davis Division encompasses the highest point in Pennsylvania and peaks before any other region of the Laurel Highlands. The Laurel Ridge, extending from Ohiopyle to Seward, is the next area to peak, followed by the western-most areas of the Laurel Highlands, Chestnut Ridge, and Pittsburgh area.

Southern Region (Area south and east of a line through southern Monroe, Dauphin, Bedford and southeastern Somerset Counties): In Buchanon State Forest, several vine species (poison ivy, Virginia creeper, bittersweet) are adding early red and yellow colors to the forest edges. Hickories and birches on drier sites have also turned yellow. Route 30 offers a pleasant view of the Buchanon State Forest, and Tower Road and Bark Road vistas reveal beautiful scenery in the valley.


Route 31 Road Construction

It began May 8 and has a very long way to go!! When you exit the PA Turnpike at Donegal be prepared to experience delays! The project begins just above the turnpike exit and continues down to the turn to Route 711 at Sarnelli’s. In a months time much has been done with much more to come! Please pack your patience and watch out for the workers!


National Flood Insurance EXPIRES Sept 30!

The last time the National Flood Insurance was allowed to expire approximately 40,000 transactions, a MONTH didn’t happen!! WHY? Because if your property is in a flood zone area AND you don’t have flood insurance, NO bank will finance it! Being active in our local, state, and national Realtor Associations has allowed Abe to meet face to face with elected representatives in DC and Harrisburg to explain WHY it is critical to ensure it doesn’t expire again! Check out the information slides!  


Pat McCloskey’s thoughts on Laurel Mt. Ski Area

The Return of a Classic Ski Area

by patmccloskey

I have skied a lot of areas in my time and most of them were in New England where there are the giant, corporately run areas and the smaller privately held areas. The smaller areas always held my interest because they had a sense of tradition and a feel of skiing in another time. Recently, in our neck of the woods, down here in the Banana Belt, Laurel Mountain came to life again this year. It went from being one of the lost ski areas to a vibrant, resurgence of a classic ski area reminiscent of those areas in New England. In fact, there is a tie to Mt. Cranmore in the Mt. Washington Valley of New Hampshire. Apparently, when the Mellon family first had the idea to develop a ski area in 1939 for the members of the prestigious Rolling Rock Club in Ligonier, they hired Hannes Schneider to lay out the trails. Hannes Schneider was the ski school director at Mt. Cranmore who was brought to the US from Austria by the industrialist Harry Gibson, a friend of Richard King Mellon. Schneider is widely acclaimed as the father of ski instruction in this country.

When you first pull past the stone entrance hut on the mountain road, you feel as if you are driving back in time. The parking lot is never full and as you make your way to the top of the mountain lodge which has been recently refurbished, you can relax in an Adirondack chair by a roaring fire and put your boots on. You can then take your brown bag lunch inside or take advantage of some good comfort food in the new bar area in the base of the lodge. The picture windows look out on the whole Ligonier Valley which is not only scenic during the day, but a sight at night if you choose to night ski. The refurbished snowmaking by HKD and the new Pistenbully groomer make the Wildcat slope a delight to ski and it is known to have the steepest vertical in the state.

I remember skiing Laurel when it was run by the state and had some amazing powder days there with Frank Pipak, a friend who took the PSIA exam the same year that I did. Although, I spent the winter prior to that exam in Sugarloaf, Maine, I often credit my runs down Lower Wildcat with preparing me for the steeper terrain that was utilized in the exam. My friend Hiller Hardie always says, ” if you want to get your legs ready for the western trips, lapping Wildcat at Laurel will put you in good form.” Your legs get a work out on lower Wildcat with the steep vertical pitch.

When Seven Springs Mountain Resort decided to bring Laurel back to life this season, along with the DCNR of the State of Pennsylvania, it was time to promote it. I have told a lot of friends about my good times at Laurel and how they must try it. Like my two snowboarding friends, Tina and Mark Sauers who were totally enthralled with the area and the family feel to the place.

We have some challenges down here in the banana belt with the weather being on the edge of rain and snow. But credit Laurel with good snowmaking and grooming to make it possible for enthusiasts like me to get the most days out of rather dismal early winter conditions. I have a lot of good memories of skiing at Laurel back in the day including fun times with my son Jack and our visits to Fort Ligonier and the Pie Shop in Laughlintown at the bottom of the mountain.

Two years ago, Hiller, John McWilliams, Jeff Balicki and John O’Toole and yours truly used our snowshoes to hike into the closed area and after unloading our packs, took two runs down Lower Wildcat. Four hours plus of hiking for two runs was “having to have it” and it showed our devotion to an area which we all loved. It is so nice now to have Carl Skylling’s new Sky Trac chairlift instead of bootpacking to claim our vertical.

So if you are a local, get over to Laurel. You won’t regret it and if you are visiting, check it out. Lower Wildcat will surprise you even if you are a veteran of steep skiing from points beyond. I am so happy it is back. Hannes is probably up there smiling at all of us. Thanks for reading.


Best Fall? Laurel Highlands or Vermont?


Below a blog post by biker, skier Pat McCloskey.

My friend Helen Durfee always said that the fall season in Western Pa is just as nice as Vermont, just a little less dramatic. She grew up in the Laurel Highlands and lived the first part of her married life in Vermont. I agree that Vermont and New England are famous for “leaf peeping” but I have to say that this particular fall here in Western Pa. has been spectacular.

I have been treated to some amazing days of mountain biking and hiking this fall where I have taken the time to enjoy the color of the leaves. I have taken the time to “savor” the days like a fine steak or fresh seafood. I try to take little bites and enjoy the flavor. Like my commute to work on Squaw Run Road. I don’t go the fastest route to work but rather the scenic roads to enjoy the changes in the leaves each day. This year the changes have been remarkable.

Another contributing factor to my enjoyment of Fall 2016 has been the app that was suggested to me by my friend Eric Durfee( Helen’s husband and native Vermonter). It is called ProHDX and can be downloaded on your I-Phone. This particular app allows you to shoot a photo and really get the focus and colors sharply so that the end result is an I-Phone photo that looks particularly good compared to most. I am not a real good photographer and the only camera I have is on my I-Phone. But I have really enjoyed using this app and the convenience of the I-Phone on a ride or a hike can yield some spectacularly sharp images.

The one nice thing about a hike or taking in the view from a mountain bike is that you can avoid all of the cars packed with “leaf peepers” and enjoy the quiet transformation of the season in the woods of Western Pennsylvania. Many past seasons have been rushed with race pace rides looking at nothing other than the persons backside in front of me. Games, practices, kid’s activities take a lot of time and effort for many of us. But as you age and the seasons of rushing to activities wane, it is a great practice to slow down, take in the seasons, and enjoy the flames of the maple leaves, the golden colors of the oak trees and even the pale shading of the ferns on the forest floor. In my old backpacking days, I did take the time to hike and enjoy the fall in the Laurel Highlands. But in the many years since, those times had been replaced by soccer games, basketball games and general activities with my wife and son. Now I have a college student who does his own thing, and my wife and I are trying to slow down and enjoy what God provides for us by way of a natural display of color.

So, I guess the message here is to savor your experiences. The yearly season change where the warm days try to hang on into Indian Summer, create some spectacular viewing if you take the time to enjoy the days. You don’t have to go to the mountains to enjoy the scene. Just look out your window, your windshield, or take a walk in the neighborhood. Smell that fall aroma of leaves. See the tannin of the leaves change the creek colors. Notice the difference. Slow down. Thanks for reading.



This incredible 183 acre parcel of breathtaking views, trails and a lake recently transferred. Court house records show the transfer for $999,000. For years it has been a favorite wedding destination with picturesque settings and background vistas. It has a multitude of trails, some rentals, and the main building for entertaining. Records show that the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy was the purchaser.


Pursue Your Happiness

Pursue your Happiness

Just got word that the new slogan and logo for PA Tourism was has been unveiled! Take a look at the video and see what you think! It made me want to get out of the office and have some fun! Check out the Visit PA site to see it live! Look for the next editions of the state’s travel guide to be called “Happy Traveler” and the e-newsletter renamed “Happy Thoughts.”




Dollar General Under Construction

Dollar General 2015

Almost immediately after settlement construction began on the new Dollar General store. The 1 acre parcel (abuts Route 31) sits in front of the Donegal Community Center on the left hand side of the road as you are headed to the resorts. You’ll definitely notice the dirt being moved as they install their own septic system. Most likely you’ll see the store opening sometime in the spring of 2016, weather permitting:)


Shaker Urgent Care Center Under Construction

Right after you pass the Family Dollar store on Route 31 you may have noticed dirt being moved around. It’s the first new construction project we’ve had in the Donegal corridor for some time!   We’re still working on getting more details for you but if you’re looking for rental space here’s their email,


Construction Ahead!

Fall 2016 is to be the beginning of a very major and long road project for Donegal! Beginning at the Donegal turnpike exit and to Sarnelli’s Market at Route 711, Route 31 is going to get wider and have existing roads moved around. Let’s start with the turnpike exit. Below you can see how the new road will extend past the current one!

1 Turnpike

The next major change is the interchange of route 711 to Ligonier and the school. The old road to the school is to the right of the new highlighted road.

2 711 and school

Then comes Schoolhouse Road which will cut across the farm and end up right outside of the BHHS office (bottom left building)!

3 School house - us

And the last major fix is at the Route 31 and 711 intersection as shown below. Sarnelli’s Market is on the corner of the bottom right.

4 31 and 711 Sarnellis

We think you should explore some other options to consider NOW before the construction gets underway. Try getting off at New Stanton to Route 66 and taking the Mount Pleasant exit. There are multiple ways to get to County Line road from there! Catch up with us and we can share some more back roads!


Trout Trail Fly-Fishing March 21

Trout Trail Event Planned

The 4th annual Laurel Highlands Trout Trail will hold an opening reception at 7 p.m. March 21 at the Lincoln Highway Experience.  The evening will start with a presentation by Leo Vense, a premiere fly-fishing guide, and includes a short fishing DVD; an exhibit of vintage fly-fishing rods and reels; demonstrations by Ken Vallino and Scott Minster, whiz fly-tiers; and a sampling of juried artisan items with a trout theme.

The program, for $10 per person, includes craft beers, select wines, and assorted appetizers. To register, visit the Lincoln Highway Heritage Corridor at, click on Gift Shop, then Event Tickets.

The Trout Trail was recently listed on VisitPA’s Ten Places to Fish promotion!


Stoneycreek Rendezvous Whitewater Festival

Stonycreek Rendezvous,

Kiski-Conemaugh Sojourn

The Stonycreek Rendezvous will be held May 15-17 based at Greenhouse Park in Somerset County. The Rendezvous has become one of the biggest whitewater festivals in the country.

A water release is planned all three days to assure adequate flow through the Stonycreek Canyon (Class III-IV whitewater).  If flows are high enough, six other streams in the area offer Class II to V whitewater.  The festival also features food, music, beer, camping, a whitewater rodeo, races and more.  On the web:

The Kiski-Conemaugh Sojourn will be held June 4-7.  The schedule: Thursday, Johnstown to Seward through Conemaugh Gap, 15 miles, mostly flat paddling with a few Class I or II ripples; Friday, Robinson to Blairsville through Packsaddle Gap, 10 miles, mostly flat paddling with a few Class I or II ripples; Saturday, Conemaugh Dam to Avonmore with stop in Saltsburg, 12 miles, flat paddling; Sunday, Avonmore to Roaring Run; 7 miles, mostly flat paddling. See


Caddie Shak For Sale

If you have gone to either 7 Springs or Hidden Valley Resorts from the west you have gone by this favorite summer recreation park on Route 31 just 1.2 miles from the Turnpike Exit 91. This amusement park for kids of ALL ages has a 36 hole par 2 with the famous waterfall, 3 go-cart tracks, bumper boats, kiddie rides and train, arcade, batting cage, driving range and pro shop, 2 picnic pavilions, paintball gaming area, maintenance building and machine shop, and snack shack. This established park is a favorite for many visitors of the Laurel Highlands and appeals to all ages and members of the family. Contact Robert Wagner for more information about this venue or visit the web page on this site.





It is one of the most frequently asked questions we receive, “Where can we ride our ATV’s?” Here’s one option, the Indian Creek Valley ATV Club. Easily found by staying on 711 to White, maybe 8 miles from Sarnelli’s, then look for the sign on the right (if you come to Indian Head you passed it).  They offer year round riding for ATV’s and UTV’s on over 30 miles of “safe and groomed trails.” There’s a mix of elevation and difficulty to challenge any rider. Their website offers more details, check it out and safe riding!


Pennsylvania Turnpike Traveler Advisorary Panel

The Turnpike Commission is in the midst of the largest capital rebuilding plan in their history! This panel is an on-line research community that will provide feedback from 4,000 customers! We know our readers spend a good bit of time on the PA Turnpike and you may qualify to be a part of the Advisory Panel! Here’s your chance to be heard and to receive some treats in return! The first step is taking a short survey as they want to ensure they have a good mix of different types of travelers sharing their thoughts.


Public Notice for Donegal Mine Posted

PA - CMAP Template

This was the public notice from LCT Energy for their proposed mine in Donegal and Saltlick Township as written in the Tribune Review.

PUBLIC NOTICE Pursuant to the PENNSYLVANIA CLEAN STREAMS LAW, the PENNSYLVANIA DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION Rules and Regulations, the SURFACE MINING CONSERVATION and RECLAMATION ACT, and the BITUMINOUS MINE SUBSIDENCE and LAND CONSERVATION ACT as amended, notice is hereby given that LCT Energy, LP, doing business at 938 Mt. Airy Drive, Suite 200, Johnstown, PA 15904, has made application to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection for a new underground Coal Mining Activity Permit, related NPDES permit and request for a new blasting plan. The proposed Rustic Ridge #1 Mine will consist of approximately 2,886.5 acres in the underground permit area. The proposed subsidence control plan area will consist of approximately 2,780.6 acres. The underground permit area is located in Donegal Township, Westmoreland County and Saltlick Township, Fayette County within the four corners described as follows: The southernmost point is approximately 2,300 feet southwest of the intersection of Indian Creek Valley Road (SR-711) and County Line Road (SR-1058). The northernmost point is approximately 6,600 feet northeast of the intersection of School House Ln (T-308) and SR-31. The westernmost point is approximately 1,900 feet southwest of the intersection of Thompson Road (T-878) and SR-31. The easternmost point is located approximately 2,200 feet southeast of the intersection of School House Lane (T-308) and Jones Mills-Stahlstown Road (SR-2031). The subsidence control plan area is located in Donegal Township, Westmoreland County and Saltlick Township, Fayette County and is the same as the underground permit area with the exception of approximately 106 acres located within the four corners described as follows: The northernmost point is at the intersection of School House Lane (T-308) and Jones Mills-Stahlstown Road (SR-2031). The southernmost point is approximately 1,770 feet southeast of the intersection of SR-31 and School House Lane (T-308). The easternmost point is approximately 3,305 feet east of the intersection of SR-31 and School House Lane (T-308). The westernmost point is approximately 665 feet southwest of the intersection of SR-31 and School House Lane (T-308). The surface activity site boundary will include approximately 67.7 acres and is located in Donegal Township, Westmoreland County. The entrance to the surface activity site is located at a point approximately 3,600 feet north along County Line Road (SR-1058) from the intersection of County Line Road (SR-1058) and Hellen School Road (SR-2029). The proposed areas can be found on the Donegal, Seven Springs, and Stahlstown, PA U.S.G.S., 7.5 minute topographic maps. The proposed operation includes three NPDES discharge points that will discharge into Champion Creek. The discharge points are located as follows: Point 001 is located approximately 380 feet northeast from the point where Champion Creek passes beneath County Line Road (SR-1058) and will discharge treated surface runoff to Champion Creek. Point 002 is located approximately 1,970 feet northeast from the point where Champion Creek passes beneath County Line Road (SR-1058) and will discharge treated surface runoff to Champion Creek. Point 003 is located approximately 2,110 feet northeast from the point where Champion Creek passes beneath County Line Road (SR-1058) and will discharge treated mine drainage to Champion Creek. This application includes a request for a new blasting plan. A stream variance is requested for Champion Creek beginning at the intersection of UNT #10 and Champion Creek, and continuing approximately 300 feet upstream, the variance includes activities of construction of diversion and collection ditches. The total variance area is approximately 0.2 acres. A stream variance is requested for Champion Creek beginning at a point 3380 feet upstream of where Champion Creek crosses under County Line Road (SR-1058), and continuing upstream approximately 270 feet, the variance includes activities of construction of diversion and collection ditches. The total variance area is approximately 0.1 acres. A stream variance is requested for Champion Creek beginning at a point 2430 feet upstream of where Champion Creek crosses under County Line Road (SR-1058), and continuing upstream approximately 60 feet, the variance includes activities of construction of a sediment pond. The total variance area is less than 0.1 acres. A stream variance is requested for UNT #9 to Champion Creek beginning at a point 140 feet upstream of the intersection of UNT #9 to Champion Creek and continuing upstream approximately 700 feet, the variance includes activities of construction of a sedimentation pond, diversion and collection ditches, a stream crossing, and an access road. The total variance area is approximately 0.9 acres. A stream variance is requested for Champion Creek beginning at a point 120 feet upstream of where Champion Creek crosses under County Line Road (SR-1058), and continuing upstream approximately 680 feet, the variance includes activities of construction of a haul road, stream crossing, erosion and sediment controls, sedimentation traps, and roadside ditches. The total variance area is approximately 0.6 acres. A copy of the application is available for public inspection and copying for a fee, by appointment, at the Westmoreland County Recorder of Deeds, 2 North Main Street, Suite 503, Greensburg, PA 15601 and Fayette Recorder of Deeds, Fayette County Courthouse, 61 East Main Street, Uniontown, PA 15401. Written comments, objections, or a request for a public hearing or informal conference may be submitted to the Department of Environmental Protection, California District Mining Office, 25 Technology Drive, California Technology Park, Coal Center, PA 15423, no later than 30 days following the final (4th) publication of this notice and must include the person’s name, address, telephone number, and a brief statement as to the nature of the objection(s). 58739583(7-3,10,17,24-14)


Communtiy Meeting on Deep Mine Permit

Add a reminder in your calendar that on Wednesday,  May 21 at the Highlands Hall (corner of Route 31 and 711)  from 7 to 9 there will be a community meeting to hear about the planned Deep Mine for Donegal and Saltlick areas. On the agenda are the “people and places” that could be affected. Mining maps will be available for review. The Mountain Watershed Association has more details on their site. 


Abe and Wags Team Awarded 5 Star Agent 5th Year

The Abe and Wags Team has been awarded the Pittsburgh Magazine 5 Star Agent Award for the 5th year and they are one of the very few who have been given the award EVERY YEAR. Their proven client communication systems and “Key to Closing” marketing program continuously places this team as the very best in the Laurel Highlands for Customer Satisfaction. Five Star Professional surveyed Pittsburgh area residents who purchased a home priced at more than $150,000 within a 6 month period (June 2012 to November 2012). The final list of 2013 Realtors is a select group, representing less than 5% of real estate agents in the area. The Award recipients will be listed in the June Pittsburgh Magazine.


Proposed Deep Mining In Donegal and Saltlick Twps

Take a look at the map and see where the proposed deep mine boundaries now lie within these two townships. Several years ago Johnstown-based LCT Energy LP hired CME Engineering LP of Somerset to prepare a mining permit application for the project as outlined in this TribLive story from 2012.  The local Mountain Watershed Association offers their concerns in this .
Proposed Mining Map



Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices

BSHH coming signWe are sure you know that there are very few companies that are permitted to use the trusted name of Berkshire Hathaway! Well coming very soon Prudential Preferred Realty will be Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices The Preferred Realty!! New name, new colors, new affiliation! Stay tuned for more details!


Donegal Interchange and Route 31 Proposed Construction

Full Project

We are getting closer to a huge construction project from the PA Donegal Turnpike Interchange to the Rt 31 intersection of Rt 711. The featured picture shows 3 miles of the proposed project that will involve adding lanes and stop lights. Our local Mountain Laurel Chamber of Commerce offered a meeting with PennDot representatives Liberty Hill  and engineers PRIOR to the public meetings that will be happening this spring.  While there are are several options on the table they are awaiting clearances from the EPA.  Construction is tentatively slated for 2016-2018 and the work will be out for bids.

There will be strip takes and some total displacements that will occur. This is considered a  capacity adding and safety project. There were 19 different pages presented for the 3 miles of road changes. Route 31 by the the actual turnpike exchange is going to be moved so that a “flowing T” can be constructed. Stay tuned for more details!Turnpike InerchangeRt 31 & Rt 711


NAR Forcasts improving market for housing.

This is a repost from PAR Just Listed, blog of the PA Association of Realtors.

The housing recovery is expected to remain strong in the new year, driven by economic growth and continued job creation, according to Lawrence Yun, the National Association of Realtors®’ chief economist.

The housing recovery is expected to continue on its path in the new year with home prices continuing to rise; sales to rise slightly; and the foreclosure crisis expected to finally draw to an end.

“For the general consumer, the market will be good in 2014,” said Yun. “Home values will continue to rise, but not sharply, but there won’t be a decline.”

This year has marked the second straight one of a “very respectable recovery,” said Yun, with a 20 percent cumulative increase in existing-home sales over the past two years and nearly a 20 percent rise in home prices. However, he notes that existing-home sales will likely plateau in 2014.

Home prices, which rose 11 percent in 2013, will grow at a slower pace of five percent in 2014, Yun estimates.

He attributes the expected slowdown in the home-price rise to “less affordable conditions from higher prices and higher mortgage rates.”

The Federal Reserve last week said it would in January start tapering economic stimulus that has helped keep interest rates low. But it included language about keeping its target range for the federal funds rate, giving hope that mortgage rates won’t head far north.

Yun sees the 30-year fixed rate mortgage rate going above five percent by the second half of 2014, up from an average 4.26 percent in November and 4.47 percent last week. That will hurt affordability, Yun says.

While rising interest rates will have a negative impact on the housing market, continued job creation will have a positive influence, says Yun. He estimates two million or more jobs will be created in 2014.

About Diana Dietz, e-PRO: Diana Dietz is the Communications Manager at the Pennsylvania Association of Realtors®. Follow Diana on Twitter.

No More School Tax??

At our state Realtor Association meetings in Harrisburg this September more details on the progress of PA House Bill 76 and PA Senate Bill 76 were disclosed.  The goal is to replace the school property tax with a personal or earned income tax.

Our association is committed to property tax reform and is moving forward with a campaign to support these bills. A presentation was made at our meetings by Jason Horwitz of the Anderson Economic Group. Check out their research on this topic. Soon the PAR Realtor Association will have a website with more details.

If it passes, all homeowners would no longer be paying property taxes to support a school district.  Homeowners without children have long cried, “no fair” to school taxes. Our second home owners at Hidden Valley and Seven Springs would no longer pay a tax to a school that their children do not attend.

The numbers appear to work so keep your eyes and ears open so you can have a say!



If you haven’t been to Seven Springs recently be prepared for the ROAD WORK! Right now there are 3 temporary stop lights set up, yes STOP LIGHTS!  Here’s what it should look like when it’s completed 7S Road Change. Please wait your turn as you can not see all three lights and if anyone is coming in your direction! Eventually there will be a dedicated turning lane into the main entrance.  Our sources have shared that hopefully, without more rain, the work will finish up this November.


Lights, Camera, Action!

We are always excited to share good news about the Laurel Highlands! Cami Dibattista reported in the Tribune-Review that filming has been done for a 30 minute segment for PBS “Fringe Benefits” in 2014. Check out the story to see if your favorite destination was highlighted! Television series explores the Laurel Highlands


Real Estate in Pittsburgh Improving

With over 92% of Laurel Highlands homeowners living within 2 hours of the resorts the health of the real estate market follows the real estate market in Pittsburgh and surrounding counties. It is good news to see the numbers in the Pittsburgh market moving the right direction as this market will follow soon. Now is the time to buy in the Laurel Highlands as low interest rates make the dream of a second home even more affordable. Contact us if you would like to buy or sell a home in this area.
April Market Report


Discover your footprint!

For those of you who haven’t heard Abe is in a Masters degree program for real estate. This class is all about Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, “LEED” and sustainable development, in other words being green, saving our world and reducing our foot prints! One of her first homework assignments was to measure her ecological footprint.  Take the interactive short test (maybe 5 minutes great for kids too) and see the impact YOU are having on the planet!! She’ll share how many earths we’ll need if everyone lives like her, if you share your number!


Hidden Valley February 2013 Real Estate Market Report

A strong start to the year at Hidden Valley and 7 Springs. Both resorts are on track to improve over a weak 2012. We think that many of the buyers that stayed out of the market during the last quarter because of all the political distraction are coming back in since they know what the next 4 years will be like. Our buyers agent Amanda is booked solid on the weekends so if there is property you would like to tour contact her early to get an appointment. While funding is still the greatest restriction in the market place we do see it slightly improving over the last few sales. Open the visual tour for the entire story.


Play VisualTour

Lifestyles Map in Information Tab

Laurel Highlands Living has a activities and life style mapping feature on the activities page in the Information Tab. This map uses google maps for its backdrop and adds local dining, activities, entertainment, and attractions. The default map opens with these amenities already loaded, but users can expand the map to included information about schools, zip codes, shopping, and much more. Any vendor who would like to be on this map and is not can enter their information on, the source for the activities information.



10 years ago Prudential Preferred Realty wooed Adrienne ”Abe” Wagner, Realtor, then Broker of Record for Kettler Forlines, the developer at 7 Springs, to manage their new Donegal Office. Shortly after this move her husband Robert “Wags” Wagner got his license to assist her. Since then this aggressive team has used their expertise in negotiations and technology to help over 267 clients in the sale or acquisition of real estate in the Laurel Highlands.

This team is experienced and knowledgeable in transacting real estate at 7 Springs, Hidden Valley and the Laurel Highlands. They have brokered some of the most expensive properties in the area and at both resorts.

If you want an experienced team with a proven track record of success to assist you in the sale or acquisition of real estate contact Abe and Wags today at 412-897-8535.

Data from Prudential Preferred agent production records


7 Springs November 2012 Real Estate Market Update

7 Springs Resort is open with limited skiing on the weekends. Expected cold weather and snow may allow for full time operations soon. Inventory is slowly dropping at this resort as buyers take advantage of low interest rates and try to get in before the ski season. Don’t wait to long as the most popular locations and floor plans are becoming short in supply.  Open the visual tour for the complete story.


Play VisualTour

Seven Springs October 2012 Real Estate Market Report

Sandy sat over the Laurel Highlands for 2 days last week and dropped over 20″ of heavy wet snow causing trees and branches to fall and power out in certain areas for 4 days. The snow didn’t stop Hidden Valley from taking over the total amount of property transfers for the year but pending sales may change that story. Both resorts are below total sales from last year at this time and inventory remains high with pressure on sellers to price right and fix up or expect to sit on the market for another year. Sarnellis Corner Market is our featured businss this month, the perfect place to stop and stock up on your way into the Laurel Highlands. Open the tour for more on this market.

Play VisualTour

Hidden Valley October 2012 Real Estate Market Report

Sandy sat over the Laurel Highlands for 2 days last week and dropped over 20″ of heavy wet snow causing trees and branches to fall and power out in certain areas for 4 days. The snow didn’t stop Hidden Valley from taking over the total amount of property transfers for the year but pending sales may change that story. Both resorts are below total sales from last year at this time and inventory remains high with pressure on sellers to price right and fix up or expect to sit on the market for another year. Sarnellis Corner Market is our featured businss this month, the perfect place to stop and stock up on your way into the Laurel Highlands. Open the tour for more on this market.


Play VisualTour

Sarnellis Corner Market Jones Mills PA

Sarnelli’s Corner has provided Jones Mills, PA and its surrounding areas with all of its shopping needs for over 33 years. Located on the corner of Routes 31 & 711 South, they have 3 separate stores that offer many items, including food and market goods, import and domestic beer sales, and a large wine cellar featuring local Pennsylvania wines.

From beer sales to delicious homemade foods, this family owned and operated business has everything that you may need in one convenient location. Hours are 7AM to 11PM 7 days a week.

For more information go to their website


NEW Home Feedback System for Listing Clients

Robert “Wags” Wagner and Adrienne “Abe” Wagner, award winning Realtors in the Laurel Highlands of SW PA, announced they will be integrating the Home Feedback System by Showing Suite for all their property listings. ” This is a very powerful program and will provide our clients with notice of appointments and the feedback from the showing agent” says Robert Wagner. The program integrates with information from the Supra Lock box used by the Wagner’s. When someone accesses the lock box notification is immediately sent to the listing agent and the property owner. A custom questionnaire is sent to the showing agent requesting information about the showing. That response is sent to the Wagner’s and their clients.  This system will keep the client informed as to how the prospective buyer considers the property and will help in making adjustments for a successful showing and offer. This is one of the many forms of technology the Wagner’s use to keep their clients informed.


Smart Growth Newsletter Highlights Latrobe

The latest newsletter from Smart Growth, a community planning and develop group, highlights the local city of Latrobe. If you didn’t know, this is the home of Arnold Palmer, golfer, and St. Vincent College, where the Pittsburgh Steelers start the football season. Here is a link to the city site. Latrobe


Laurel Highlands Conservation Newsletter

The latest edition of the Laurel Highlands Conservation Landscape Initiative Newsletter talks about Governor Tom Corbett’s paddle through Conemaugh Gap, the bidding for the new visitors center in Ohiopyle, the proposed Amtrack Station in Rockwood and more. Here is the link to the Newsletter.  CLICK HERE


Prudential Preferred opening office at Hidden Valley Resort Soon.

June 1st Prudential Preferred Realty will become the onsite agency for Hidden Valley Resort, Hidden Valley PA 15502! Their Laurel Highlands office in Donegal PA 15628 will remain open and continue to provide services for Seven Springs and Laurel Highlands property owners and buyers!  Adrienne Abe Wagner and Robert Wags Wagner, Realtors, are very excited about the opportunities this expansion creates for buyers and sellers.

Ron Crousure, Broker of Record of Prudential Preferred Realty now will have offices in Ligonier, Donegal, and Hidden Valley. Anyone looking to buy or sell property in the Laurel Highlands should catch up with us to be current on market activity!



Nemacolin Ski Lodge Burns Down

Sunday evening Nemacolin Ski Lodge completely burned down. The fire started about 8:00 and was reported by an employee in the building who got out. There were no injuries to the staff. Nearly every fire department in Fayette County responded to the fire alarm. Here is a link to a report and video by Pittsburgh Channel 4 WTAE.


Authority signs off on water deal for Bakersville

Our little area keeps growing! Bakersville is behind the CoGo gas station on Rt 31, east of the main entrance to Hidden Valley. What additional impact this could have is this is also where the land for future residential development by the owners of Hidden Valley, the Buncher Group, is located. This would allow them to tap into this system if there were anough additional taps to support their community.

Authority signs off on water deal for Bakersville.


Laurel Highlands CLI Newsletter

This newsletter speaks to the Stonycreek being named River of the Year, the upcoming Conservation Coalition meeting, the most recent grants from the DCNR, and information from the Pennsylvania Environmental Council. This coming Labor Day there will be a bike ride on the Great Allegheny Passage. For the full story open the link Laurel Highlands CLI Newsletter


Bridge open on the Laurel Highlands Trail

This is a repost of a recent article in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette

Bridge is back on Laurel Highlands trail

Sunday, February 05, 2012
By Shannon M. Nass, Special to the Post-Gazette
Bridge spanning the Pennsylvania Turnpike on  the Laurel Highlands Trail.

 Outdoor enthusiasts who traverse the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail are  hiking, skiing and snowmobiling for joy. They are celebrating the Jan. 28  completion of a new bridge that spans the Pennsylvania Turnpike and rejoins the  70-mile trail stretching along Laurel Mountain from the Youghiogheny River at  Ohiopyle to the Conemaugh Gorge near Johnstown.

Terry Brady, deputy press secretary for the Department of Conservation and  Natural Resources (DCNR), said the bridge has been long-awaited and much  anticipated by those who traverse the trail.

“They love it,” he said. “It’s a very, very popular trail … through the  heart of some of our prettiest of state park and state forest land in that  area.”

The bridge project was awarded last March and totaled nearly $1.3 million for  work on the 10-foot-wide, 184-foot-long span.

The previous structure had been built in 1970 but was closed in late 2009 and  dismantled after an inspection found conditions that could endanger hikers and  snowmobilers using the bridge, as well as commuters passing beneath.

“It was in really bad shape both for the users of the bridge and passersby on  the turnpike,” Brady said. “It was starting to literally fall apart.”

The new bridge, located midway between the turnpike’s Somerset and Donegal  interchanges between mileposts 36 and 37, reconnects various trail systems in  the Laurel Highlands and facilitates foot traffic as well as snowmobilers and  cross-country skiers.

Bicycles and horses remain prohibited from the trail. Brady said all-terrain  vehicles also are not allowed on the bridge.

“What it won’t allow to cross — the way it’s designed — is ATVs,” said  Brady. “The trail is off-limits to ATVs, and we don’t want ATVs using [the  bridge].”

To ensure their exclusion, Brady said the bridge was designed with a  step-down ledge that prevents them from crossing.

With through passage again possible, Brady said he hopes the bridge, which is  owned by the Bureau of State Parks, will encourage more people to get out and  use the trail.

“That trail is just incredible,” he said. “The idea is just to get people  out, especially during nice weather.”

First published on February 5, 2012 at 12:00  am

Read more:


Plenty of snow on the slopes in the Laurel Highlands

We were just up both resorts in the last few days and want to report that there is plenty of snow on the slopes and all slopes and trails are open. Even though the weather has been mild it does not diminish the snow on slopes much since it has been packed and groomed. With evening temperatures forecast in the 20’s next week snow making will start back up and conditions should be AWESOME with spring like conditions. Hey, I was on Ski Patrol for about 15 years and believe me I would rather be out skiing in 40F than 10F with 20 mph of wind. This is great weather to enjoy snow sports and road conditions are dry and clear. Don’t miss these nice days in the middle of winter, trust me that the cold will come back.


Laurel Highlands Trail Bridge to open in January

This is a repost of a recent Daily American Article
VICKI ROCK Daily American Staff Writer

Two years ago the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail Bridge was closed because an inspection found major structural deficiencies.

The old bridge, built in 1970, was demolished. Now a replacement bridge is scheduled to be opened to recreational use on Jan. 6. A dedication ceremony will be scheduled for the spring.

The bridge spans the Pennsylvania Turnpike between the Somerset and Donegal interchanges. It connects the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail, a 70-mile corridor running north and south through state parklands and the Forbes State Forest. The Bureau of State Parks owns the bridge.

“The removal of the old bridge cut the Laurel Highlands trail in half,” said Mike Mumau, Laurel Hill State Park complex manager. “It also cut the multi-use trail system in Forbes State Forest — about 120 miles of connected trails — in half.”

People who use snowmobiles or mountain bikes could only use half of the trail. There was a six-mile detour for hikers on township roads and forestry roads.

Mosites Construction Co. of Pittsburgh was awarded the contract of $1,297,060.  It was funded by the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. The final work to be done includes installation of a protective cage over the bridge, installation of right of way fencing and trail gates and the final seeding and landscaping.

“People miss the bridge,” Mumau said. “It is arguably the most vital trail connection in Pennsylvania. It is a major link between the hiking trail and the multi-use systems that allow hiking, snowmobiling and equestrian use. It’s one of the main bridges in the system.”

Because the bridge was demolished, that gave park managers a chance to re-evaluate their plans, and they will now allow equestrians on the new larger, wider bridge in addition to hikers, mountain bikers and snowmobilers.

“It makes sense to work with our sister bureau, forestry, because mountain bikers and equestrians use the Forbes State Forest trails on both sides of the bridge,” he said. “Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail is still for foot traffic only. The signage directs people to the multi-use trails.”

Ed Callahan, district forester, Forbes State Forest, said there are some adventurous people who use the entire 120-mile Forbes trail system, which is near Route 30.

“When people want a long ride, this is it,” he said. “I know the snowmobilers especially will be glad to hear the bridge is opening. Not having a bridge cut the trail in half. This is a big deal for us.”

Another problem for the Forbes system was that the old bridge was too narrow for the snow grooming equipment to cross. The new bridge is wide enough.

“It is a nice, stunning bridge,” Mumau said. “Mosites Construction has done an outstanding job on this project and we are very pleased with it. This project moved very quickly. We’re excited it’s being opened for recreational groups. We look forward to it being in place for many years to come.”


Copyright © 2011, Daily American




Mt Watershed Newsletter

Here is the Link to the latest newsletter about the Laurel Mountain Watershed.


Laurel Highlands CLI Newsletter Vol 3 No 7


Imgrund to lead bureau
Lauren Imgrund was recently selected to head the Bureau of Recreation and Conservation at DCNR.

Lauren has helped to steer the Laurel Highlands CLI since its inception as DCNR’s “lead internal partner” and she also served as coordinator of all seven CLI’s across the state.

While we will miss her hands-on leadership in the Laurel Highlands CLI, she will continue to support our efforts as burea director and we are confident that she will do an outstanding job.
PEC is proud to be the lead external partner in the CLI. Please see PEC at:

Follow-up Links
DCNR’s CLI page.
PEC’s Laurel Highlands CLI page.
Laurel Highlands Visitors Bureau.

Laurel Highlands CLI
Vol. 3 No. 7

Conservation Coalition Conference Nov. 7
A broad-ranging program will be featured in the third conference of the Laurel Highlands Conservation Coalition from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday, Nov. 7, at Powdermill Nature Reserve, 1847 Route 381, near Rector.

The coalition was created last year by grass-roots conservation and environmental groups in Fayette, Westmoreland, Somerset and Cambria Counties to support funding for conservation efforts, provide information about key issues and to network.
Conference presentations
The Conservation Coalition conference will have four featured presentations.

At 9:30 a.m., John Wenzel, Director for Biodiversity and Ecosystems at Powdermill, will exlain Powdermill’s traditional research on birds and its explanding mission into areas such as biodiversity.

At 10:45 a.m., Davitt Woodwell, vice president of the Pennsylvania Environmental Council, will provide a broad update on the Marcellus industry and issues, including the status of a proposed impact fee.

At 12:45 p.m., Dr. Tim Kelsey, professor of Agricultural Economics at Penn State University, will talk about the values of open space and conservation, including ways of assessing land-use options.

At 2:15, Michelle Chapkis of Women for a Healthy Environment, wil talk about potential health impacts of various environmental issues, including Marcellus shale.

There will also be a brief presentation on the economic impacts of State Parks in the Laurel Highlands and Statewide, as well as a wrap-up discusion for feedback from participants at 3:15 p.m.

Directions to Powermill
Powdermill Nature Reserve is centrally located within the Laurel Highlands along Route 381 between Route 30 and Route 31.

From the intersection of Route 30 and Route 711 in Ligonier, take route 711 south 3.3 miles to the Rector/Darlington intersection; see signs for Powdermill and Linn Run State Park. Turn left toward Rector and go 1 mile. At the bottom of the hill, before going over the bridge, turn right onto Route 381 South. Follow Route 381 South for 3.3 miles to the Nature Reserve headquarters.

From the PA Turnpike exit in Donegal, take Route 31 east for 2.7 miles. Turn left onto Route 381 North. Follow Route 381 North for 6.4 miles to the Nature Reserve headquarters.

Information on Powdermill:

Conference registration
The cost for the Laurel Highlands Conservation Coalition conference will be $20, which will cover lunch, morning coffee, and water and soda for breaks. Registration deadline will be Saturday, Oct. 29.
Registration information will be included in an e-mail that will be sent soon and posted at

Stony whitewater progress
Stonycreek River whitewater releases planned next summer cleared a big hurdle when recent tests showed very little vibration of a valve stem inside the dam.

Cambria Somerset Authority, owner of the Quemahoning Lake, completed $59,000 in repairs to a 100-year old valve stem that assists with the release of water from a new valve.

The valve now can release up to 500 cubic feet of water per second, which boaters say will create outstanding whitewater conditions in the Stony.
Fun Events
Links to information on many of these and other events are located on the web site of Laurel Highlands Visitors Bureau at

Autumnfest at Seven Springs Mountain Resort, HallowBoo! at Idlewild, Haunted Hayloft Rides, Haunted Hollow and similar events, Oct. 22-23.

Haunted History Hayride, Bushy Run Battlefield, Oct. 22.

Halloween at the Johnstown Children’s Discovery Center, Oct. 23.

Third annual Yough Defense Fund Fundraiser will be held Nov. 17 at Falls City Pub in Ohiopyle; watch for details.


Fall Foliage Peak is Here NOW in the Laurel Highlands PA

Repost from the Somerset Daily American.
Article written by Ralph Couey

7:10 p.m. EDT, October 14, 2011
After 11 long months of waiting, October, my favorite month, has finally arrived.

I’ve written a lot about my love of autumn, maybe too much. But I can’t help myself. I love forests, but when the chlorophyll is withdrawn from the leaves and their natural colors reveal themselves, a dormant part of myself comes alive.

It is the month I actually make time to spend in the woods, camera in hand, or winding along the roads through these mountains trying to capture forever these all-too-ephemeral days.

We are so very fortunate to be in an area that rarely disappoints us leaf hunters. Vermont and New Hampshire may boast and brag, but the Laurel Highlands is truly a fall foliage paradise.

We live in what is called “Fall Zone 2” a…well…tree-shaped area of Pennsylvania. The roots and trunk start in the east in Pike, Monroe, and Northampton counties and runs west as far as Centre County where it “branches” northwest to Erie and southwest to Fulton, engulfing the rest of the western half of Pennsylvania. As far as I can determine according to several authoritative websites, the peak of these counties should arrive this weekend.

The warm summer and abundant (in some cases over-abundant) rainfall, along with the prompt arrival of cool weather has provided the set-up for what I’m told should be one of the most spectacular years in recent memory.

The great thing about living in the Laurel Highlands is that you don’t have to go far at all for spectacular vistas. For some, all that will be required is a glance outside the kitchen window.

I’ve found a few favorite places to go to absorb Fall’s karma. One of my favorites is the drive (or ride for us motorcyclists) along Route 381 from US 30 running south past Ohiopyle to the National Pike, US 40. Another favorite is the heavily forested Route 31 between Bakersville and Laurelville. For a short jaunt, I take Trent Road south from Route 31, through Laurel Hill State Park, to the Copper Kettle Highway/County Line Road past Seven Springs to Champion.

Another great drive is Route 271 from Westmont over Laurel Mountain to Ligonier, then going west on 30 through the Loyalhanna Gorge. It’s so pretty, I have to do it twice. Mt. Davis Road around High Point Lake provides some beautiful vistas as does Route 56 through the Conemaugh River Gorge northwest of Johnstown. There’s also US 219 from Somerset through Berlin and Meyersdale, leading to the Maryland border.

Route 30, the Lincoln Highway, is highly recommended, essentially running from the Loyalhanna Gorge all the way to Gettysburg. An area I found last year is along Old Forbes Road, starting just east of Stoystown and going to Ridge Road, which takes you back to the Lincoln Highway.

These are few of my favorites, but I’m sure everyone reading this has found their very own autumn nirvana, which is one of the many benefits to living around here. The challenge, of course is to do this safely, ensuring I don’t drive off the road or into the oncoming lane while rubbernecking at the leaves.

You don’t even have to be in a car, for that matter. The Laurel Highlands has an abundance of forest trails, including the 70-mile-long Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail, for both casual strollers and hard-core hikers that will take you through the hills amongst the glowing trees. There, of course, you get to enjoy that unique fall aroma of the leaves, and that soul-satisfying experience of swishing through them while walking along.

I particularly enjoy the two-mile path that leads to the Allegheny Portage Tunnel near Mineral Point. You walk in the darkness of that 900-foot tunnel and suddenly a hillside lit up in reds and golds appears at your feet. It just doesn’t get any better than that.

Words are my tools, my toys, my playground. But even after years of effort, I have been unable to fully articulate the miraculous joy that I feel on an autumn day. The bright sunlight, cool air, and the glorious colors in the trees combine to create in me an inexpressible happiness.

This is a busy time of year, especially for families. But try to find the time in that short span of time when the leaves are peaking to take a drive, take a ride, or take a walk somewhere. It’ll be a memory you’ll treasure forever.

Oh, and don’t forget your camera!


Mountain Watershed Day of Giving October 4

September 29, 2011

 Dear Friends of the Laurel Highlands,

 On October 4, 2011 the Community Foundation of Westmoreland County will hold its 2011 Day of Giving. The Day of Giving was created to encourage charitable donations in our region. Mountain Watershed Association will participate in the 2011 Day of Giving, meaning that for a 24 hour period starting October 4th at 12:00 AM your donation by credit card to MWA through the Westmoreland Gives website ( will be partially matched by the Community Foundation.

 As 2011 and the Mountain Watershed Association’s 17th year comes to a close, we continue to work toward comprehensive restoration of the Indian Creek Watershed. When we started this work in 1994, Indian Creek was a stream running orange and ravaged by abandoned mine drainage. With five passive mine drainage treatment systems now in operation and a sixth under construction, we are seeing dramatic and measurable improvements in Indian Creek.  We also continue to expand our Youghiogheny Riverkeeper program, which extends MWA’s vision of conservation, protection and restoration into the larger Youghiogheny River basin. We are currently building support and seeking funding to design and implement a comprehensive water monitoring plan in the Yough basin.

 Your support has helped to make this possible. Your donation through October 4, 2011 will work even harder as it will be partially matched by the Community Foundation for Westmoreland County. If you would like to renew your membership or make a contribution, please consider doing so on October 4, 2011 through

 Only credit card (MasterCard and Visa) donations received through during the 24 hours of October 4, 2011 (starting at 12:00 AM and ending at 11:59 PM) will be accepted and matched for this event. The Donate Now link will appear on at 12:00 a.m. on October 4, 2011.  No donations via check, cash or stock will be accepted. The minimum gift is $25. The maximum gift that an individual can give per organization is $10,000.  The Community Foundation of Westmoreland County is affiliated with The Pittsburgh Foundation. Learn more at

 Thank you for your support of the Mountain Watershed Association.


Beverly Braverman


Laurel Highlands Initative Newsletter June 2011

This is a copy of the Laurel Highlands Conservation Landscape Initiative Newsletter. We are not the authors of this information.

In This Issue
Scenic Byways grant approved
Mini-grants get big response
Whitewater valve dedicated
WPC completes easements
About the CLI

The Laurel Highlands Conservation Landscape Initiative (CLI) is a partnership that strives to raise the region’s quality of life while crafting a model of sustainable development tied to the natural and cultural assets of the region. The initiative connects communities and partners in the area with state agencies and funding partners to conserve and protect the high quality assets and enhance the region’s economic viability.

The Pennsylvania Department of Conservation & Natural Resources has created seven CLIs. Pennsylvania Environmental Council is proud to serve as lead external partner to the Laurel Highlands CLI.

Laurel Highlands CLI
Laurel Highlands e-blast update Vol. 3 No. 4

Scenic Byways grant approved
A $4 million grant from the Federal Highway Administration’s National Scenic Byways program has been awarded for the Laurel Highlands Falls Area Visitors Center in Ohiopyle State Park. The state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources will build the new visitor center at a total cost of $6.8 million, including exhibits.

Ohiopyle Falls Race.

“This is a key project of the regional Conservation Landscape Initiative, a strategy for natural resource stewardship and community revitalization,” DCNR acting Secretary Richard Allan said. “The new welcome center at Ohiopyle State Park will teach people about the region’s natural, historic and recreation assets and point them to nationally significant trails, challenging whitewater, fishing and other outdoor pursuits.”

Ohiopyle State Park, located along the Laurel Highlands Scenic Byway and near the Historic National Road, is the region’s portal with more than 1.5 million visitors annually.

Mini-grants get big response
Trails, phone apps, signage…. Lots of good projects are under review for the Laurel Highlands Mini-Grant Program.

Despite very short notice, 47 organizations submitted letters of intent to apply for the grants program managed by the National Road and Lincoln Highway Heritage Corridors. Letters were sent to 23 of the organizations inviting them to submit full applications. Notices of award will be sent out in mid-June.

DCNR has provided $100,000 for mini-grants of up to $15,000 to support efforts to revitalize communities by connecting them to outdoor recreation, natural resources, heritage or cultural resources, and agriculture.

Stonycreek whitewater valve dedicated
The Laurel Highlands now has two rivers with scheduled releases of dam water to support whitewater boating. Over 100 people attended the dedication of the whitewater release valve installed in Quemahoning Dam with grants from DCNR and the Mellon and Colcom Foundations.

Playboaters on Stonycreek.
DCNR Deputy Secretary Cindy Dunn spoke at the event, which attracted live coverage from WJAC-TV and widespread newspaper coverage, including coverage in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette ( The Cambria Somerset Authority, established to support economic development from the water system previously owned by Bethlehem Steel Corp., was lauded for recognizing the value of outdoor recreation from dollars spent by visitors and making the region more attractive for general job development.

The dedication kicked off the annual Stonycreek Rendezvous, which attracts about 1,000 people.

WPC competes 3 easements
Three properties near Ligonier are permanently protected through conservation easements completed in May by the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy.

The privately-owned, 58-acre Ligonier Camp and Conference Center includes 2,000 feet of frontage on Loyalhanna Creek and is easily viewed from Route 30. A 48-acre farm owned by sisters Julie and Ann Donovan includes a house, barns and outbuildings, and shares about a mile of Loyalhanna Creek with the Center property.

The 139-acre Kevin and Debra McVicker farm has highly visible, picturesque hills surrounding a section of Hanna’s Run, a tributary to Loyalhanna Creek.

For more information:

Construction started May 31 on the new Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail bridge over the Pennsylvania Turnpike near Somerset. The $1.3 million contract was awarded to Pittsburgh-based Mosites Construction Co. Work on the 10-foot-wide, 184-foot-long span is scheduled to be complete in early December.

A 600-seat outdoor pavilion and stage will be built this year at the 3.5-acre Festival Park in Johnstown, where the annual AmeriServ Flood City Music Festival is held (see events below). Peoples Natural Gas Co. donated $500,000 to complete the funding for the $4 million project, which includes a $2 million state Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program grant and $100,000 from the Katherine Mabis McKenna Foundation.

The Trail Town Program® is offering matching grants to help businesses install bike racks and/or custom-made and locally-produced signs that reflect the special nature of each participating business along the Great Allegheny Passage. Contact Amy Camp, Trail Town Program® Manager for more information at (724) 216-9160 or

Coon Cave in Westmoreland County near Blairsville has been re-opened for recreation by Forbes State Forest. Further assessments are planned on Barton Cave near Uniontown and Lemon Hole Cave, also near Blairville. White nose syndrome in bats has been an issue. Inexperienced cavers should not go in alone: e-mail to contact the area caving organization.

The DCNR Bureau of Recreation and Conservation is now on Facebook. People are encouraged to friend the bureau at Pennsylvania Community Conservation Partnerships Program Grants to stay current with conservation and recreation funding and technical assistance news. Folks can also track Ohiopyle, Laurel Hill and Kooser State Parks as well as Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail on Facebook.

The state’s five-year Statewide Outdoor Recreation Plan was honored as the best in the nation by to the National Park Service and the National Association for Recreation Resource Planners at a recent conference.

The Rails to Trails Conservancy’s 9th annual Greenways Sojourn will pass through the Laurel Highlands and feature parts of the developing Pennsylvania Main Line Canal Greenway on July 19-24. Register now to explore the Path of the Flood, Ghost Town, Hoodlebug, West Penn, Roaring Run and Westmoreland Heritage Trails from just north of Johnstown through part of the Conemaugh River corridor and beyond. For information, visit the Rails to Trails Conservancy web site.

The AmeriServ Flood City Music Festival on August 5-7 will feature 25 musical performers including Gregg Allman, JJ Grey and Mofro, Bettye LaVette, Tab Benoit, the Hackensaw Boys and Shelf Life String Band. For information:

Events noted on the Laurel Highlands Visitors Bureau web site ( include an Evening Eco-Paddle June 10 at Laurel Hill State Park, a fishing Derby and casting contest June 11 at Keystone State Park, the First Commonwealth Johnstown Film Festival June 15-18, National Road Chainsaw Carving Festival June 17 at Addison, the Laurel Highlands Bluegrass Festival June 17-18 at Waterford, and Braddock’s Crossing of the Youghiogheny in Connellsville on June 25.


Nemacolin Resort gets Casino License

It was reported today by the Tribune Review that Nemacolin Resort in Fayette County was selected for the last $5 Million slots license. This license will allow up to 600 slot machines and 28 table games. For the complete story go to


Laurel Highlands CLI Newsletter

Laurel Highlands Conservation Landscape Initiative Newsletter

Laurel Highlands e-blast update Vol. 3 No. 3



Mini-Grant program announced at Summit

            Announcement of a new mini-grant program for the Laurel Highlands Conservation Landscape Initiative (CLI) was a highlight i n the successful Laurel Highlands Summit help April 4 at the Fred Rogers Center at St. Vincent College.

The summit attracted 180 people who learned about economic benefits, how to develop trails and better conserve our natural resources, and how to build capacity in small local organizations.

 The economic benefits of tourism, recreation, conservation and active living were emphasized throughout the day to help participants understand and be able to articulate the fact that funding for these efforts is not just a “feel-good” thing but in fact is an investment with a financial payback for communities and the state.




Mini-Grant deadline, other details

             April 21 is the deadline for submitting a Letter of Intent to receive a Laurel Highlands mini-grant. A total of $50,000 is available in the program, which will provide small grants of $1,500 to $15,000 to help local governments, non-profits and state park friends’ groups to implement projects that support tourism, recreational or conservation in the priority landscapes of the CLI (Laurel Ridge, Chestnut Ridge, Great Allegheny Passage and the Stonycreek River and Johnstown area).  All grants will require a cash match.

            The program is being administered by the Lincoln Highway Heritage Corridor and the National Road Heritage Corridor, who of the state heritage areas that are central partners in the CLI effort.

            Organizations interested in applying must submit the letter of intent by April 21 to the Lincoln Highway (e-mail if they are north of the Pennsylvania Turnpike and to the National Road (e-mail if they are south of the Turnpike.  Invitations to submit the full application will be provided on May 10 and full applications will be due May 31 with notification of awards on June 17.




Keynote highlights beneifts of open space 

In the keynote presentation, Tood Poole, president of 4ward Planning, noted several things that bode well for tourism in the Laurel Highlands.  For instance, people are looking for one-tank vacations and spending more on “experiences” rather than material purchases, and 4.9 million people live within three hours.  These visitors spend money, creating direct, indirect and induced economic benefits for the region.

However, most of the benefits of open space and parks do not necessarily show up as a direct bottom line.  Poole outlined the benefits in four categorites.

  • Citizens can enjoy recreational amenities, mental and physical health, improved air and water Quality, and cultural amenities.
  • Businesses, especially those involved with visitors, receive increased revenues, while all businesses in the region enjoy improved employee recruitment and improved employee retention.
  • Property owners have increased property value, better stormwater management and the enhanced aesthetic value of the scenery.
  • Governments benefit from low cost ecosystem services, increased taxable values, and improved business retention and attraction.




Summit feedback and powerpoints 

The feedback received from a survey of Summit participants also showed how successful it was. Nearly 90 percent of participants rated the program excellent or good, while less than 10 percent rated it fair.

Several excellent comments were provided on Poole’s keynote address. The Powerpoint from his presentation and a powerpoint on about 40 studies or reports on economic benefits of tourism, recreation, conservation and active lifestyles are available on the Laurel Highlands CLI web site at www.pecpa.or/Laurel_Highlands.

The highest rated breakout sessions were community-based trail development, telling your trail’s story, Marcellus shale conservation strategies, capacity-building and using social media and smart-phone apps.




CLI events coming up

The Stonycreek Rendezvous on May 13-15 will feature the first official water release through the release valve installed in Quemahoning Dam. The full weekend agenda of races, the whitewater rodeo, music, gear, food, etc. is available at

 The Stonycreek valve will be dedicated at a program about noon May 13, and later that day, several local conservation organizations will hold the third Laurel Highlands Green Drinks event starting at 6 p.m. at Greenhouse Park, the location where many of the whitewater boaters camp. Green Drinks offers an opportunity for social networking in an informal atmosphere encouraging support for recreation, conservation and related efforts.

A new Amtrak passenger-rail station will be dedicated in Connellsville at 10 a.m. April 29. Officials from Amtrak, DCNR and local government will join tourism-development advocates to highlight the potential to use passenger train service to access the Great Allegheny Passage and other area recreational and heritage assets.

The 17th annual Yough River Trail Race will be held at 9 a.m. on Saturday, April 23, in Connellsville, featuring 5K walks and runs, and 10K and 10-mile runs. The event benefits the Yough River Trail Council, which supports a section of the Great Allegheny Passage. Information is at

 The Rails to Trails Conservancy’s 9th annual Greenways Sojourn will pass through the Laurel Highlands and feature parts of the developing Pennsylvania Mainline Canal Greenway on July 19-24. Register now to explore the Path of the Flood, Ghost Town, Hoodlebug, West Penn, Roaring Run and Westmoreland Heritage Trails from just north of Johnstown through part of the Conemaugh River corridor and beyond. For information and to register:



Donegal South Pipeline Community Meeting

Williams Energy is proposing a natural gas pipeline which if permitted will be constructed through the Indian Creek Valley. According to the Mountain Watershed Association, “the pipeline will impact streams and wetlands approximately 54 times in its 16.5 mile length.”

The Association is sponsoring an informational meeting for the community to learn more about the project and ask questions of a Department of Environmental Protection Representative.

Here is a flyer if you would like to share! We’ll see you at the Donegal Community Center, 113 Community Center Lane, Donegal, PA 15628 Wednesday March 23, 2011 from 7:00 to 8:30 PM!

For more info contact Veronica at MWA: 724-455-4200 extension 4 or visit their web site.


Laurel Highlands Conservation Landscape Newsletter

This is a repost of the Laurel Highlands Conservation Landscape Initiative and is their content. Credit also goes to the Pennsylvania Environmental Council. Please support these important organizations.

Articles in this issue
Register Now for Laurel Highlands Summit
Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail Bridge on track
Stony a close 2nd; valve dedication set
Rails to Trails Sojourn coming to Highlands
DEP’s latest Growing Greener grants
Projects advance, Boat Commission sets sessions

About the CLI

The Laurel Highlands Conservation Landscape Initiative (CLI) is a partnership that strives to raise the region’s quality of life while crafting a model of sustainable development tied to the natural and cultural assets of the region. The initiative connects communities and partners in the area with state agencies and funding partners to conserve and protect the high quality assets and enhance the region’s economic viability.

The Pennsylvania Department of Conservation & Natural Resources has created seven CLIs. Pennsylvania Environmental Council is proud to serve as lead external partner to the Laurel Highlands CLI.

Laurel Highlands CLI
Laurel Highlands e-blast update Vol. 3 No. 1

Register NOW for April 4 Laurel Highlands Summit

Advance your knowledge about trail development, conservation, capacity building, funding opportunities in the new era, and the economic benefits of trails, conservation, recreation and tourism at the second Summit of the Laurel Highlands Conservation Landscape Initiative.

The Summit begins with registration from 8:30 to 9 a.m. on Monday, April 4, and continues until 4 p.m. at the Fred Rogers Center at St. Vincent College in Latrobe.

The incoming secretaries of DCNR, DEP and PennDOT are being invited to speak and another keynote speaker will be Todd Poole, principal of 4ward Planning, an economist who has been involved in economic impact studies across Pennsylvania who compares the economic benefits of development versus open space.

Please see for an overview and links to the full schedule and registration information. You may need to copy and past that web address rather than just click on it.

Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail bridge on track

news on the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail bridge-replacement project: Funds are in place and bids will be opened on March 10 to replace the structure over the Pennsylvania Turnpike. DCNR was forced the remove the bridge last year when serious structural issues were identified that could risk the safety of Turnpike travelers.

Project updates are available by calling (814) 445-7725.

This critical project will not only re-connect the LHHT but also open access to the multi-use trail system for snowmobile, equestrian and mountain-bike users at Forbes State Forest.

Stonycreek close 2nd for River of Year; valve dedication set

Lined up for Rendezvous Rodeo
The Stonycreek River finished only 216 votes short of the Delaware River in public voting for River of the Year.
Mike Quinn of the Stonycreek Quemahoning Initiative helped to publicize the Stony’s nomination and said, “Congratulations to them. But considering that the Delaware folks had a significantly larger population base from which to solicit votes, I think the Stony’s finish says volumes about the high level of support for your efforts to make the Stony environmentally safe and a recreation destination.”

The release valve recently installed in Quemahoning Dam to provide water for whitewater boating will be dedicated Friday, May 13, to open the three-day Stonycreek Rendezvous. The Rendezvous typically attracts 800 to 1,000 whitewater enthusiasts from across Wisconsin to Florida but historically has been run in April when the water is often icy cold. With additional water from the Que, the Stonycreek will be boatable on every other weekend into October provided sufficient water is available in the dam pool.

Rails to Trails Sojourn coming to Highlands

The 9th Annual Greenway Sojourn of the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC) will be held July 19-24 on trails that are in or border the Laurel Highlands. Almost 2,500 people, representing every state in the country, have participated in these memorable bicycle rides, experiencing the joys and benefits of rail-trails and the communities that support them.

The 2011 Sojourn will focus on the Ghost Town, West Penn and Hoodelbug trails in Cambria, Indiana and Westmoreland counties, and an optional day will feature the Path of the Flood Trail in near Johnstown in Cambria County. See

Tom Sexton, director of RTC’s Northeast Regional Office, said, “Bringing the Greenway Sojourn to the region will show business and government leaders that an investment in trails is worthwhile. Last year, our 300 riders spent over $200,000 along the corridor they biked just that week.”

DEP’s latest Growing Greener grants

DEP has announced its latest round of Growing Greener grants – a much lesser amount than in previous years because of expiring and diverted program funds. The grants approved included:
 Mountain Watershed Association, $179,510 for operation, maintenance and replacement plan for its watershed restoration projects in Donegal, Saltlick and Springfield townships.
 Conemaugh Valley Conservancy, $38,515 for watershed monitoring of the Conemaugh and tributaries.
 Jacobs Creek Watershed Association, $110,800 for streambank stabilization and the UNT 2 abandoned-mine discharge treatment project.
 Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, $216,000 to restore Hypocrite Creek, a tributary to Loyalhanna Creek.
 Westmoreland Conservation District, $97,590 for stormwater retrofits at an industrial parks.

Regional projects funded include $130,000 for the Western Pennsylvania Coalition for Abandoned Mine Drainage and $236,000 for Trout Unlimited for AMD assistance, $116,883 for Pennsylvania Environmental Council stormwater and green infrastructure assistance, and $79,591 for Stream Restoration, Inc., to maintain Datashed, a web-based data-management tool for watersheds.
All four counties in the Laurel Highlands adopted resolutions supporting Renew Growing Greener!

Projects advance; Boat Commission sets sessions
Lincoln Highway State Heritage Corridor has selected Smeltzer Construction of Apollo, PA, to restore two historic diners to museum standards inside the Lincoln Highway Experience Museum. The contract includes restoration of one an 1938 tourist cabin.

AMTRAK work in Connellsville

A new AMTRAK station is under construction in Connellsville. A temporary station is in place and will be removed once the new station opens. Much concrete work is being done now, mostly for the platform area around the new station.

Cambria County Conservation and Recreation Authority has “purchased” the right of way of the former Johnstown and Stonycreek Railroad from the Cambria County Conservation and Recreation Authority for $1. Two sections of the Jim Mayer Riverswalk Trail have been completed in the City of Johnstown and will be connected using this ROW to make a 3.5-mile trail through the community.

Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission has scheduled public meetings to receive comments about the agency’s draft river management plans for the Ohio and other major water basins. Based on factors affecting the rivers’ biological health, PFBC biologists will prioritize fisheries-management needs. Sessions are scheduled from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Feb. 19 at Doubletree Hotel, Monroeville, and from 6 to 8 p.m. Feb. 24 in Conference Rooms 301 and 302, Stover Campus Center, Waynesburg University, Waynesburg. See


Gas Leases Good, Bad, or Somewhere in Between

Jefferson Township Somerset County had three “Hydrocarbon Transfers” that were all more than 1.3 million dollars since June of this year. This township happens to be where Hidden Valley Resort is located along with Kooser State Park and Laurel Hill Creek, which was one of the 10 most endangered streams in the United States.

We’ve been trying hard to share information with our readers that allows us all to understand the pros and cons of this evolving business. Sunday evening CBS 60 Minutes aired the story below. Have you had an experience you would like to share?


Holiday Inn Express Donegal, PA

Many of you are wondering “WHAT” is being constructed on the left hand side of the road when you exit 91 of the PA turnpike on the Laurel Highlands Gateway (Rt 31)! According to the Donegal Township Supervisors it’s a Holiday Inn Express!

Sitting on approximately 7.9 acres some of the rooms will overlook Donegal Lake. Located across from the Laurel Highland Campland center it will give visitors another housing option during our four seasons of fun.

As we have NO city sewage these folks have to build their own treatment plant. It’s called a “packaged plant” and this one will hold up to 20,000 gallons a day. The hotel will not have a restaurant so locals are watching closely to see if a small franchise might come in too!

We keep sharing with you that this stretch of Route 31 has potential for business growth over the next 10 years. Consider that 80%? of the 2,800 homeowners from both resorts exit the turnpike at Donegal to get to their places!! Then add the tourists coming into visit the Laurel Highlands all four seasons!! We’re sure that the Family Dollar Store, Rustic Lodge Furniture, and the new Holiday Inn Express checked out the traffic count before they opened their doors!

If you have an idea for these consumers to spend money or just need more room for your company, we have the space! Check out the Visual Tour on our listing at 3843 Rt 31. With over two acres of ground and frontage on both Rt 31 and School House Lane this building is ready for you to take possession!


Wildflower walk, 8 May 2010

The Mountain Watershed Authorities Trillium Bedannual wildflower walk in the Indian Creek Gorge will be held on Saturday, May 8 at 9AM. Meet us at the entrance to the Indian Creek Gorge (turn toward Camp Christian from Rt. 381 between Normalville and Mill Run, near the Mill Run Reservoir) for a leisurely 1-2 mile hike in the gorge. Wear sturdy shoes and a jacket, and bring water. Our wildflower walk is led by local naturalist and MWA Board Member Lisa Smith. Please contact Lindsey with any questions! Call her at 724-455-4200.

If you want an unguided wildflower walk we suggest the first mile of the rails to trails from Champion to Indianhead. Here is a link to the MAP. We have been walking this trail for years and Abe has identified over 150 different wildflowers on this first mile. The trillium and marshMarsh Marigold marigolds are in bloom. The Marsh Marigolds are a yellow plant growing in a wetlands area on the left about .2 miles on the trail and the trillium at the 1 mile marker on the left. See our previous blog for more on this spectacular wildflower bed. .


Record Snowfall in the Laurel Highlands

Seven Springs Tops In The Country For 48-Hour Snowfall

Seven Springs Mountain Resort just topped the list of ski resorts nationwide for total natural snowfall in a 48-hour time frame!

The list created by places Seven Springs at number one in the country with a natural snowfall total of 27 inches in 48 hours. Since January 1, the popular Laurel Highlands resort has received 35 inches. According to the National Weather Service, Seven Springs is expected to receive 14 – 16 additional inches by the morning of Saturday, January 9, 2010.

“Conditions are phenomenal here at Seven Springs,” added Dick Barron, Director of Ski Operations. “This winter has been shaping up to be one for the record books as it’s been quite some time since we have seen a winter like this.”

The abundance of snow is also allowing for construction and snowmaking for the creation of the resort’s Superpipe, which is ranked number one on the East Coast by Transworld Snowboarding. This project is coming along smoothly and the pipe could be open by month’s end.

if you haven’t made plans to come up for this weekend, now’s the time to do so! The hotel has rooms available for the weekend, as well as condos and cabins. Please call (866) 437-1300 for more information or to make a reservation.

MLK Weekend Package
January 15 – 18, 2010

Make the most of the three day weekend and make a new memory at Seven Springs! This new package features two nights of lodging, breakfast, unlimited skiing during your stay, snow tubing and up to two kids age 11 and under are FREE! This package starts at only $299 per adult. Don’t delay, book today! Learn more…


Donegal, PA Design Workshop

This month the Donegal Community Design Workshop was held at the local community center. The 24 page DRAFT crafted from the last charette was shared with those of us who attended. This Draft is a large PDF with tons of pictures so if you are linking to it go grab a cup of coffee! Anyway if you exit 91 off of the PA turnpike to partake in any of the resorts activities or to visit any part of the Laurel Highlands YOU should REVIEW the draft.

We keep sharing what is happening at the local community levels that 10 to 20 years from NOW will be making huge impacts on our visitors impressions of areas. What type of community will we grow up to be?

The attendees at the workshop were given the opportunity to select a table topic from six or seven hot issues ranging from a visitors center to signage. One of our personal and professional passions is seeing a viable Visitors Center to WELCOME all of the guests that come through our GATEWAY TO THE LAUREL HIGHALNDS.  Pay special attention to pages 12 through 14 as there are aerial photos highlighting areas of great interest.

The Donegal Township web site list important contacts for anyone considering a business opportunity. Remember we have an incredible commercial offering   right along Rt 31 across from the Family Dollar Store. It has over 6,000 square feet of space to work with, a flat parking lot, new roof…. And 2 acres the possibilities are endless!


All information deemed reliable but not guaranteed. Copyright 2018.

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