On Wednesday, March 20th, 2013, concerns about the trash problem near the Liberty Trail access were brought to the attention of the Liberty Borough council members during their monthly meeting. After reviewing photographs of the dumpsite, Council Vice President Ron Pope stated that Borough officials would look into the matter. He also made the suggestion that a chain be placed across the driveway leading into the property in order to prevent any further unauthorized dumping.
In the days that followed the public meeting, trail users found the property closed to motor vehicles. The chain and padlock mentioned by Council were now in place. In addition to that, it appeared that heavy construction equipment pushed a barrier of earth and rock in front of the area in question to prevent vehicles from driving up to the edge of the hill. Residents living nearby were also noticing the positive change with every truck that has to turn around at the gate and leaving with the debris.
Hopefully, this is the first step in the right direction. The DMH Website still asks local residents and trail users to keep a watchful eye on this property to ensure that the clean up efforts are truly underway.
Exactly one week after the DMH Website reported on a shameful situation taking place near the Liberty Trail access to the Youghiogheny River Trail, it would appear that even more trash has been discarded along the hillside. Item such as an Air Hockey game table, lumber tarps, and old tires are clearly visible from the paved trail below. Black plastic garbage bags filled with some sort of debris are also piling up in the undergrowth. Clearly, this is a problem that will continue to grow if nothing is done about it.
With that, the DMH Website's administration is asking both concerned residents of Liberty Borough and Youghiogheny River Trail users to get involved. Resident are encouraged to attend the Borough's next monthly meeting to call this matter to the attention of the council. Trail users and others who would like to support this worthy cause can also help by contacting the Regional Trail Corporation and its Chapters to inform them about this upsetting situation. The more people that get involved, the greater the chance of successfully putting a stop to this terrible act.
While enjoying some leisure time on the Youghiogheny River Trail, many visitors are beginning to take notice of the disturbing sight on the steep hill near the Liberty Trail access. What originally started out as a place to dispose of environmentally safe 'clean fill' material is slowly turning into a problem. Now, the residents who live near the site want it stopped.
Initially, Liberty Borough established this property for 'clean fill' disposal. Materials such as lawn and garden debris, cinder blocks, brick, soil and rock were all that was permitted. However, it is now evident that certain individuals are ignoring the specific guidelines set by the Borough and abusing the property. Unsightly items like black plastic trash bags, partially used drywall, plastic buckets and other framing materials are now building up along the edge of the cliff. Upon closer inspection, one will find that even used patio furniture cushions and plastic pipes were improperly disposed of. Clearly this dangerous situation needs to be rectified before the trash finds its way down the hill and onto the recreational trail below.
The images above are certainly heartbreaking. This is especially true for anyone who has volunteered his or her time to help keep the YRT looking its best. The photographs are also upsetting to those individuals who reside in the homes above the dumpsite. No one should have to live or play next to a situation like this.
Fortunately, there is an awareness among both residents and trail users. People are now asked to be vigilant when in the vicinity of the Liberty Trail access and the Borough's dumpsite. Anyone who witnesses the disposal of questionable material like furniture or bagged trash on the property is asked to alert the police immediately. If that is not an option, simply collecting information like a vehicle description and a license plate number is another way to help. It is also imperative that anyone who observes these acts take the necessary precaution to ensure his or her personal safety. Please do not attempt to confront anyone who is dumping illegal material on your own.
Thank you for your help!
Did you know that you can receive the latest information from the Dead Man's Hollow area with the DMH Website's counterpart on facebook? Using your facebook account, simply go to 'Dead Man's Hollow : The Official Website' and add our page to your list of favorites. It's that simple!
Are you in need of a New Year's Resolution that's easy to keep and one that will benefit an amazing organization? Then the DMH Website's administration would like to suggest resolving to help out our friends at the Western Pennsylvania Humane Society during 2013. There are so many great ways to help too! In addition to simply mailing the organization a monetary donation, the W.P.H.S. appreciates other forms of donations that can be physically dropped off at the shelters. With the help of family, friends and coworkers, you can start a collection for unopened pet food, pet supplies, and items needed for animal care. Lists of specific needs are available by calling the W.P.H.S. Of course, if you would really like to make an impact, you can always give the gift of your time. The organization welcomes* individuals to become volunteer 'dog walkers' or 'cat coddlers' at their facilities. And the pets will never turn down the extra attention!
* Please note - The W.P.H.S. screens all potential volunteers before permitting animal interaction.
FROM THE DMH WEBSITE!
The Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future...
Thanks to the writings of Charles Dickens, the three spirits that terrified Ebenezer Scrooge on Christmas Eve have become a cherished part of the holiday season. In fact, the classic piece of literature has inspired a great deal of decorating themes, social events and even giftware like miniature ceramic houses. One popular belief also suggests that A Christmas Carol sparked an old world tradition of telling ghostly tales at winter gatherings; a custom that has since faded as Halloween gained popularity. Of course, those 'scary ghost stories' will always be remembered thanks to a simple verse in the holiday song - The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year.
During this festive time, many of us find that the 'ghosts' are a small but acceptable token of the holidays. However, there are a few people who are quick to disagree. Some of these individuals have even gone to extremes to keep the spirits silent, especially the local ones. The following is a word for word conversation that I had with someone of that mindset back in July of 2011.
"No ghosts!" Patricia Harris frowned at the idea of a Dead Man's Hollow themed Christmas Tree standing among all of the other trees inside the Jacob Woll Pavilion. "I don't want no Halloween Tree," she stated in a raspy voice.
As co-chairwoman to the McKeesport Festival Of Trees, Ms. Harris indicated that she believed all Christmas Trees were supposed to be beautiful and not covered with 'awful things like skeletons and tombstones.'
After listening to her concerns, I assured her that the DMH Website's festival entry would focus entirely on the various types of recreation and education that the 440 acre conservation area is used for. I explained that the homemade ornaments would feature old photographs of the pipe factory, its employees, and the families who resided there many years ago. Additional ornaments would highlight the wildlife native to the area. As the founder of the website, I then reassured Ms. Harris that the Dead Man's Hollow tree would not mention any of the grisly legends or ghost stories. Still, Ms. Harris was not convinced.
"Even if I did let you have a tree, I wouldn't let you call it the Dead Man's Hollow one," stated the festival representative.
Was she kidding? I couldn't help but smirk at her comment. "Well, I can't change the name. That's what it's called." Then I added, "Since 1874!"
That was when Patricia Harris turned her attention to an approaching acquaintance. Apparently, she had grown tired of discussing my suggested entry for the Festival Of Trees. Of course, I still had a few things left to say.
"If it would make you feel better, we can call it the The DMH Website's tree," I said in an attempt to smooth things over.
"A website?" her voice croaked out. Ms. Harris stopped in her tracks and turned to face me again. "You need to be a part of an organization, a business or a community group to have a tree. A website can't have one!"
"Why not?" I asked while shaking my head from left to right in disbelief. "Amazon is a recognizable website. EBAY is another one. You know, a lot of people consider websites to be a modern form of business. So I don't think that it's fair of you to rule out the DMH Website as a participant just because you are not familiar with the internet." For about a minute, I actually thought that I had a chance to change her way of thinking. "Furthermore, everyone who is involved with the DMH Website considers it to be a nonprofit anyway. We spawned a volunteer group that works with Allegheny Land Trust to maintain and monitor Dead Man's Hollow and the surrounding trails. We also collect donations for the Western Pennsylvania Humane Society periodically and help out other local nonprofits. So, why can't a website be a part of the festival?
Patricia Harris ended the debate with one word. "No!" She then disappeared outside for a cigarette.
Two very similar conversations with Ms. Harris followed in the months after our initial meeting. As expected, she remained in total opposition. At the time, it was looking bleak for the Dead Man's Hollow tree because the co-chairwoman was firm on keeping it out of the festival. Surprisingly, in October of 2012, the DMH Website's Tree finally caught a break in an unexpected way.
After recognizing Dead Man's Hollow as an important part of the community, the staff at the McKeesport Regional History & Heritage Center welcomed the idea of a Christmas Tree showcasing the wonders of the preserve. A few weeks later, on Monday, November 19th, the DMH Tree was taking shape.
On that particular day, Patricia Harris was also visiting the McKeesport Regional History & Heritage Center. "Oh there's a pretty tree," she said out loud as she approached the DMH Website's tree from the main lobby. When she stopped, Ms. Harris gazed upon all of the wildlife ornaments with a smile. Seconds later, her facial expression changed dramatically as her eyes reached the top of the tree.
"Oh there's that word again," she said, referring to 'DEAD' in the Dead Man's Hollow sign replica. Then she waved her hand in the air to disregard the tree. "It's not appropriate for Christmas."
I laughed to myself as my thoughts turned back to A Christmas Carol and how the very first sentence read 'Marley was dead: to begin with.' No matter though. The tree was already up and Ms. Harris was just going to have to learn to live with it. Right?
By the time the Festival of Trees was in full swing, there was talk around the Jacob Woll Pavilion about the Dead Man's Hollow tree being a sore spot with Ms. Harris. Whenever the tree was mentioned, it was said that her attitude would immediately turn sour and comments like "Oh, I can't stand that tree!" would follow. Organizers and volunteers soon found themselves scratching their heads and wondering why the co-chairwoman would demonstrate so much hostility toward a Christmas Tree.
Stranger yet was how many recalled The Daily News quoting Ms. Harris as saying, "I welcome the new people, and I'm very happy to have the past participants back again."
Regardless of her personal feelings toward the DMH Website's tree, many felt that the co-chairwoman should have taken the higher road and simply accepted the entry. Some even suggested that Ms. Harris 'abused' her position of authority by forbidding the entry. One thing is certain, there is no longer any room for this type of unacceptable behavior in such a wonderful community event. Hopefully, this issue will be addressed by other committee members to prevent further discrimination of future entries.
In closing, I would like to take a moment to remind everyone to be kind and keep an open mind to new things. And may any ghosts that visit you during this holiday season be good-natured.
Earlier this month, a father and his 12 year old daughter from the city of Pittsburgh were visiting a section of the Youghiogheny River Trail between Boston and Sutersville. As their bicycles neared the Historic Dravo Cemetery, the father was alarmed to hear the sound of sporadic gunfire. To add to the confusion, the man noticed armed sportsmen wearing blaze orange hunting apparel emerging from the woods along the trail's edge. Concerned for their safety, the father and daughter immediately left the area. Once at home, the family forwarded their unnerving account to the local media.
A few days later, The Pittsburgh Post Gazette included a brief article about the incident with the November 17th, 2012 edition. In the article, the father described a frightening scene in a place that is known for its tranquility. Though at times, certain details of his story did seem irregular and outlandish. Suggestions like 'nonstop gunfire' and 'bow and rifle hunters shooting from bass boats' were extremely difficult to believe, especially for those readers who frequent the trail all year. Regardless, it was a noteworthy attempt to raise awareness about trail user safety during Pennsylvania's hunting seasons.
After being contacted by a local resident regarding Allegheny Land Trust's policy on hunting in the Dead Man's Hollow conservation area, the DMH Website was directed to the newspaper article. The administration of the website immediately began to question the circumstances that worried visitors on that particular Saturday afternoon. Surprisingly, it did not take long for them to figure out what really happened that day. It was discovered that the sound of 'nonstop gunfire' heard by trail visitors originated from Shaner Sportsman's Club in Rillton, Pennsylvania. A member of the club confirmed that a scheduled 'shoot' did in fact take place on the day that the father and his daughter were riding their bicycles in the area. Since the club is located on the ridge across the Youghiogheny River from the Dravo Cemetery, any activity at the firing range could've easily be heard by trail users. It was also stated by the member that events held at the sportsman's club are never a threat to Youghiogheny River Trail visitors. Then, he added that the father's claim of being "shocked at how much hunting was going on" was a definite sign of someone who was not familiar with the area or the state's hunting season schedules. It was clearly a misunderstanding.
Map of the area where the incident occurred.
For the answer to the question of whether or not hunting is permitted on or around the Youghiogheny River Trail, the DMH Website turned to the organization the governs this portion of the Great Allegheny Passage. The Regional Trail Corporation, or RTC, stated in 2010 that sportsmen are not permitted to hunt from the trail or in close proximity. However, these individuals are allowed to use the YRT to access properties adjacent to the trail where hunting is permitted. This could possibly explain why the father and his daughter crossed paths with individuals with hunting gear. Taking that into consideration, it would've been a shocking sight for anyone who was not aware of the RTC's policies.
Next, the suggestion that 'bow and rifle hunters (were) shooting from bass boats' did raise a few eyebrows. A visit to the Pennsylvania Boat and Fish Commission's website and a quick review of the laws posted there led the administrators of the DMH Website to believe that hunting from watercraft is legal. It was not clear if it was for waterfowl hunting only though? For further verification, the DMH Website turned to the Pennsylvania Game Commission's website. Unfortunately, detailed information related to hunting Whitetail Deer from a boat was not available. After asking the opinion of a few local hunters, it was unanimous that most sportsmen would never consider hunting deer from a boat.
After examining the story from the Post Gazette, affiliates of the DMH Website felt it necessary to reassure visitors that the YRT is not as scary as the publication suggested. Of course, the misleading article did open a discussion for trail safety during hunting season. With that, the DMH Website would like to remind everyone to take extra precautions to ensure their personal safety while out in the woods and on the trail. For hunters, please practice safe hunting techniques and be sure to positively identify your target before firing. For those who do not hunt, it is strongly recommended that you add at least one article of bright orange colored clothing to your attire. Don't forget to do the same for your pets. Additional safety tips are available on the Trail Safety
page of this website.
Courtesy of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette
The DMH Website and all of its associates would like to wish those who have served and are actively serving in the United States Armed Forces a Happy Veterans Day. We salute you and thank you for your courage and commitment.