Thank you for the privilege of the past two months. We have much to do in the months and years ahead, and I can’t wait to get started. Community benevolence is leaving any and all of our anxiety or lost wagers at the doorstep, and walking full-long into a place of intent. We are a small town with typical small-town problems, but with the benefit of a team of caring citizens and leaders who are ready to seize the unique opportunities that face us. Let us all travel this road together. Onward. We have work to get done.
Coraopolis is rich with ethnic diversity, interesting architecture, and fascinating people! This is a tremendous advantage, because without variety of thought, experience, and passion, we could become very boring. "Diversity in society allows for richness and variety, boosting innovation which leads to economic growth, improving access to jobs, producing culturally vibrant and varied communities and preventing stagnation." It is the diversity of people and ideas that give a place its heart and soul.
We are lucky to not only have proximity to parks, trailheads, waterways and wonderful greenspaces, we have them right here! Tomorrow, we will be showcasing Shelley Jones Park for a final Meet the Candidates event. Light food and beverages will be provided, and you can meet some of candidates who are on the ballot this coming Tuesday – all candidates have been invited and are welcome. The event will run noon-2:00. If you can’t make it, perhaps you’ll be able to visit one of our own parks or trails that you’ve not previously seen. They’re just one more of our advantages here in Coraopolis.
The curfew whistle that sounds faithfully at 10:00 every night throughout Coraopolis is one of my favorite sounds. It is a reminder that we want our streets to be safe, secure and prepared. Our police, firefighters, paramedics and other emergency and safety personnel work hard to keep us safe. We should thank them, along with the military veterans who are serving us, and have served us, so faithfully and courageously.
We are the perfect location or launch for a day-trip. We happen to sit on the banks of the storied Ohio River, adjacent to a major US Interstate, a short drive from several other walkabout communities, and the potential starting point for a thousand journeys. We have it all at our disposal: city, suburb, woodland, farmland, and everything in between, plus the public transportation to provide the ride. Our rivers and hills here are easy on the eyes, and create interesting landscapes in all seasons.
Most historians agree that the fabric of any society is stronger when the institutions in that society are healthy and vibrant. I personally believe that as the institutions go, so goes the whole community. Our schools, churches and organizations must serve as our foundations, and here in Coraopolis as in other cities and towns, that has always been the case. We have both history and opportunity here today. Greater involvement and commitment must be a consideration, for all of us. If not in a school, church, or club, then in some other way. The increase in community good and measurable progress rarely happens from a single person, but in groups of people – and groups with common goals and values.
I may be the only official candidate for mayor but our campaign is just getting started. Forward-thinking planning is essential. Signs of forward-thinking planning are visible, from an updated borough headquarters to recreational areas to building renovations. These will serve us very soon, but will also serve future generations. Technology, greenspaces, infrastructure, clean water, business-friendly management, strength in public safety and education, and community networking – these are the hallmarks of cities and towns who are thinking ahead. And while we acknowledge that we’re not getting top marks in each and every area yet, I am convinced we will. There are so many of you committed to seeing this through. Keep your eyes out for more signs of forward-thinking in the months to come – I’m committed to them!
Thank you to the homes and businesses that have recently raised the bar in Coraopolis. A town like ours can, and will, see façade and structural improvements. We can access opportunities to collectively and intentionally make Coraopolis more beautiful. Let’s keep the momentum going. A can of paint and a bottle of Windex can go a long way. This week’s question is NOT about pointing to others, but about ourselves. What can YOU do different, and what will YOU commit yourself to improving your own space?
I’ve always found comfort in those words. Hasn’t each of us realized that we probably have more in common with each other than we first thought? I’m not saying that our likes and tastes are all the same (that would be boring), but that our basic hopes and desires look – in the end – very similar.
Over the next few months, I want to explore in more detail the Advantages of a Better Community, one at a time, in no specific order. These are, to me, the “common denominators” of good community. In some ways, they are reflective of the foundations that already exist here in Coraopolis; in other ways, they are aspirational. Some will resonate with you more than others, but I think you’ll agree they all are advantages we seek. They are the advantages I am working for each day. I look forward to your own thoughtful comments!
The Advantages of a Better Community: #6 – Historically Proud
No April Fool’s joke: Our original name was Middletown!
According to local historian Stacey Christe, whose love of history and community inspired her to singled-handedly bring us the most thorough and comprehensive archive of our town in her website, Coraopolis History Archive, the name Coraopolis was not the town founders’ first choice. From the website:
We should be grateful today that we aren’t called “Montour’s Bottom” – or we’d really have an identity crisis!
Now I’ll be honest with you, I wrote a press release yesterday (March 31) in which I proposed, as a campaign platform, to change the town’s name back to Middletown. It was, of course, an April Fool’s joke, and a follow-up press released would have announced as much. However, as much as we all appreciate a good joke, it seemed inappropriate to allow for one more jab to hit us. We are Coraopolis, and we’re proud of how we all got here. We have so much history, and so many reasons to be proud.
Did you know, for instance, that Coraopolis – often center for heated debate around education – made two significant contributions to modern educational practice? In 1955, Dr. Harry Houtz published a six year study in the National Education Journal demonstrating that phonics was a more effective way of teaching reading, and in 1957, Herbert Snell published his study of performance-based academic tracking in junior high, which became widely adopted. (Pennsylvania PTA Call to Convention 2012 vol87, no.3, page2.)
Further, did you know that Coraopolis was one of the first towns of its size to have its own water source? According to an article published in 1907:
Stacey Christe adds “Based on the newspapers, it was clearly a source of pride that Coraopolis had its own independent source of water. This was used as a selling point for area real estate.”
You don’t have to walk around town very long to see the history in our homes, business, churches and other structures. My personal favorite, our historic Train Station, is being lovingly restored back to its original splendor, and will be one of the crowning jewels of our community’s pride in the coming years. Many of you have histories of your own that go back generations. There is a wonderful sense of pride that emerges when we all talk about our past; we also are hearing a new tone of pride and hope when we talk about our future.
You tell me: what about our history makes you most proud? We’d love to hear your own stories and see your own pictures of Coraopolis’s past. You can email us or post! Oh, and if you want a copy of the press release that didn’t go out last night, shoot me an email.
Shawn P. Reed
Democrat Candidate for Mayor
Someone asked me very recently “how do you plan on accomplishing all that you’re trying to do if you become mayor?” I quickly replied “with your help.” Because the circles of one life overlap the circles of another, a network gets built, and those who have each other in common begin to affect change. Or more simply put: kind and smart people of every walk of life need to come off the sidelines, and into the game. Coraopolis is abundant with opportunities for involvement and impact, and that will only continue in the years to come.