Sunday, December 31, 2006

Lebo: MLHS Renovation Project Report

Residents are welcomed and encouraged to attend a public meeting on January 4, 2007 to hear the final report from educational facility planner, Dr. William DeJong. Dr. DeJong will present the information collected during the eight Educational Specifications Committee meetings and the two community workshops held in the fall. The DeJong report will be available at on January 5, 2007.

Thursday, January 4, 2007
7:00 PM - 9:00 PM
Mt. Lebanon High School South Gym

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Saturday, December 30, 2006

Lebo: Developer Seeks State Guarantee For Project

From Thursday's Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:

The developer of the proposed Washington Park condominium project at Washington and Bower Hill roads in Mt. Lebanon will seek a state guarantee for a special financing plan.

The Redevelopment Authority of Allegheny County last week approved submitting a request for the guarantee to the state Commonwealth Finance Agency to enhance the tax increment financing for the $37.7 million project.


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Friday, December 29, 2006

Happy New Year from Blog Lebo

If you've forgotten what snow looks like, there's a hint at left.

Thanks to all Blog Lebo readers for their interest and support in 2006, and Happy New Year for 2007!

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Thursday, December 28, 2006

Lebo: Top 25 List Still Making News

From today's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

When the "Top 25 in 2006" came to the public's attention last spring, the vulgar, sexually explicit ''ranking'' of female students at Mt. Lebanon High School by a male senior shocked community members and school officials.

But the author of the list, in a court filing this month, said the list was meant to be humorous.


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Friday, December 22, 2006

Lebo: Dennis Roddy on Immigration

This week, Mt. Lebanon's Dennis Roddy and the Post-Gazette go multimedia, moving off the printed page with a moving podcast that chronicles American perspectives on immigrants and immigration via the journey of a Mt. Lebanon family, the Drasinovers, originally from Belgrade. Congratulations to the family (listen to the podcast to learn why), and especially to Eva, who along with my daughter will graduate from Mt. Lebanon next June.

Click the banner below to download, or to listen.

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Thursday, December 21, 2006

Lebo: The Gift Of Music

From today's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette South section:

Hurricane Katrina silenced the city that brought jazz to the world.

Now, band members from Mt. Lebanon High School, along with music students from Duquesne University, hope to help get the music flowing again in the land of Mardi Gras.

The Mt. Lebanon High School band is sponsoring a districtwide drive to collect used musical instruments and cash for the band at Eleanor McMain High School in New Orleans, one of only a handful of high schools that have reopened in the city.


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Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Lebo: Welcome, Walgreens Part Deux

Why does Walgreens want to build a store next to St. Clair Hospital, across the street from an existing Eckerd?

From the June 6, 2005 "Drug Store News":

"Meanwhile, as Rite Aid and Brooks-Eckerd smashed heads, Walgreens was pulling the old end-around, quietly opening its first store in the Pittsburgh suburb of Crafton, Pa., just before last Thanksgiving. It was one of the last of the major cities in the United States in which Walgreens had been absent. The plan is to ramp up quickly and develop critical mass in the market within a few years--the same way Walgreens enters every other market.

"If you look at the largest metropolitan areas of the country that we are currently not in, Pittsburgh would be near the top of the list," explained Walgreens spokesman Michael Polzin. "There is a lot of opportunity there and a lot of population to serve. And we think the sites are available for us to be successful."

In addition to Brooks-Eckerd and Rite Aid, Walgreens also has the likes of CVS, the No. 3 chain in the market in terms of share of pharmacy sales, a most formidable player to say the least. With 10 fewer stores operating in the area in 2004, CVS drove 15.5 percent of local pharmacy sales versus Rite Aid's 13.5 percent share. And while Pittsburgh may not always have been a major priority for CVS, that is starting to change, noted James Kelly, vice president of investments and retail at Grubb & Ellis, a major commercial real estate advisory firm.

Still, many believe that not only is there more than enough business to go around at present, there's more still on top of that. Pittsburgh is a growing market. "We are underretailed still, apparently to the tune of about 4 million square feet in this market," Kelly explained. "The retail dynamics are excellent right now."

Framing that opportunity, Kelly said is a large senior population and a mass influx of young professionals and new families--something the area hasn't seen in quite some time.

"We had a perception of young people at one point leaving [Pittsburgh]," Kelly said. "A lot of that had to do with [Pittsburgh's transformation] through an industrial ]economy] to a service economy."

But younger people are coming back into the area, he said, crediting the region's strong university system for attracting a more youthful vibe to the area.

And as interest in the market has grown, so, too, has the value of commercial real estate in Pittsburgh in the last few years. The city has attracted the interest of several real estate investment trusts, a trend that is expected to continue, according to Grubb & Ellis. "[Since] Walgreens came in, the prices [for retail real estate] have gone through the roof, and the competition for the best sites is wild," Kelly said.
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Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Lebo: Pulkowski Ousted

From today's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The school board voted to notify Associate Superintendent Pamela Pulkowski that it will consider other candidates for her position or abolish the post when her contract expires June 30.

Before the vote, Dr. Pulkowski told the board she didn't understand why it would consider ending her employment when she exceeded the goals set for her and raised grant money that was more than 10 times her salary.

Board President Joseph Rodella said the action was "related to the position, not the person."

UPDATE: Full article from Thursday, December 21 --

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Monday, December 18, 2006

LEBO - Life Enriched by Opportunity

There is a new group in town called "LEBO - Life Enriched By Opportunity". They are group targeting young professionals and are dedicated to creating a community by programming and eventually a summer street festival. They have a web site as well as groups on both Facebook and Myspace.

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Thursday, December 14, 2006

Referendum Recommended for EIT Increase

From today's Post-Gazette South Route 19 Briefs

The school district tax study commission has recommended that the school board place a referendum on the primary ballot to increase earned income tax in the community by 0.9 percent, an amount that commission Chairman Christopher Brewer called "modest."

Mr. Brewer said the commission studied the effects of increasing either earned income tax or personal income tax. He said commission members realized that an increase in earned income tax would hurts renters, but that they felt that, given the confines of the legislation, it was the fairest recommendation.
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Lebo: Library Director Honored

Not posted to today's P-G website, but it's there in the paper nonetheless:

Mt. Lebanon Public Library Director Cynthia Richey has been named one of 21 winners of the 2006 New York Times Librarian awards, selected from among 1,300 nominees. Librarians are heroes of democracy and creativity. Congratulations to one of the best!

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Lebo: Update to Associate Superintendent Issue

From this morning's Post-Gazette:
The school board will vote Dec 18 on whether to notify Associate Superintendent Pamela Pulkowski that the board will open her contract when it expires in June.

The board tabled the motion last month after Dr. Pulkowski told members she had been harassed by others in the district in an effort to get her to quit her job and that she had far exceeded goals set for her position.

She told the board she had filed complaints with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Also at last month's meeting, some community members asked the board to renew Dr. Pulkowski's contract.

Opening the position means that others can be considered for the job or that the board can eliminate the position, board President Joseph Rodella said during Monday's board discussion meeting.

Mr. Rodella said it was his opinion that it makes sense for the board to open the position to allow whoever is chosen as the next superintendent to structure his or her own administration.

If the board doesn't vote to notify Dr. Pulkowski that the contract will be opened, her contract is automatically renewed.

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Washington Road Improvement District Dead

A proposal to create a business improvement district on Washington Road in Mt. Lebanon is dead after more than half of property owners in the area objected to the plan. However, it's possible a steering committee could resurrect portions of the plan after hearing comments from owners.

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Lebo Kids Read For World's Title

Students from all of Mt. Lebanon's elementary schools were part of a mammoth undertaking yesterday to break the world record for the most people reading aloud simultaneously in multiple locations, reading a section from E.B. White's classic "Charlotte's Web.

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Lebo: Vote for Aldo Coffee!

Washington Road coffeehouse Aldo Coffee has been nominated for "Best Coffeehouse in Pittsburgh" at AOL Cityguide. To vote for Aldo's, click on the button on the left!
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Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Lebo: Goodbye, Market Place, Hello Cupcakes?

The Market Place on Washington Road, across the street from Aldo Coffee, is gone. That makes at least three failed lunch-oriented food stores in a row in that same location.

That makes me think: Maybe the next store should try something different. If you were going to take the plunge and plunk your life savings (and some of the bank's money) into a new store on Washington Road, what would you sell? Not just "what does Washington Road need," but what do you think would make a viable business?

My bet: A cupcake bar. Because Mt. Lebanon is the South Hills home of The Cupcake Class.
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Lebo: Welcome, Walgreens!

Today's Almanac leads with a story about community opposition to the new Walgreens on Bower Hill Road, which will be built principally in Scott Township.

The merchants in the Bower Hill Shops, which currently occupy the site, express their support for the project. That's consistent with what I've read before.
Stuart Chaban is a lifelong resident of Mt. Lebanon, and owns The Coffee Den in the Bower Hill Shops.

According to Chaban, many of the tenants are anxious for this project to go through so customers return to what has become a desolate shopping center.

"We want to get this done and over with as soon as possible. We have options once we get to that point. The more you prolong this, the less businesses you will have in that shopping center and the more abandoned it is going to look...It is not fair to the business owners," said Chaban.

This is capitalism at work. The charming, walkable community that Mt. Lebanon wants to be requires that people put their spending money where their mouths are. If the Bower Hill Shops were thriving, Walgreens wouldn't be in the picture. The Bower Hill Shops are suffering. Why? Because Mt. Lebanon residents don't spend enough money there.

Want to make sure this doesn't happen again? Don't shop at the mall. Don't buy coffee at Starbucks. And get your prescriptions filled at Asti's on Mt. Lebanon Boulevard. Just for starters.

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Lebo: Coming to Planet Art

Yuletide Spectacular at Planet Art
December 16, 6-9 pm

Ten local artists show us their Holiday spirit. Opening reception December 16 from 6-9 pm.
With music by jazz guitarist Alex Kaufmann.
Show up for the reception in your "full" Santa suit and receive 10% off your purchase, plus the admiration of all.
All works on display through December 24.

Planet Art Gallery
632 Washington Rd Mt. Lebanon, PA 15228
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Friday, December 08, 2006

Mt. Lebanon and Mount Pleasant

From Thursday's Post-Gazette South Section

It's just 49.3 miles from the Mt. Lebanon business district on Washington Road to the business district in Mount Pleasant Borough, Westmoreland County.

At first blush, it might appear as if the towns have nothing in common: Mount Pleasant has 4,728 people in 1.1 square miles. Mt. Lebanon has 33,017 people in 6 square miles.

But Mount Pleasant has done something for 22 years that Mt. Lebanon is just embarking on: It runs a successful business improvement district.

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Six Options For New Pool

From Thursday's Post-Gazette South Section

Pool consultant D. Scot Hunsaker, of Counsilman-Hunsaker, of St. Louis, gave Mt. Lebanon a rundown of six possible pool scenarios he drafted after two public meetings in hopes of helping commissioners imagine what a new aquatic center could be.

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Blighted Site?

From Thursday's Post-Gazette South Section

The Mt. Lebanon Planning Board has agreed that land slated to become a luxury condominium complex called Washington Park meets the criteria for a blight designation.

The board voted 2-1 Nov. 28 to approve a basic conditions report prepared for developer Michael Zamagias Interests, which said the eight parcels on Washington Road at Bower Hill Road meet the Urban Redevelopment Law definition of blight. The plan argues the term is warranted because the buildings on the site have defective design, the current use is economically undesirable and the lot layout is faulty.

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