IN 2013, THERE WERE FEW REGRETS from Latrobe residents when a notorious nuisance bar at the corner of Ligonier and Main streets in the heart of the downtown was destroyed by a fire that officials determined was caused by arson. The dirt-covered lot that lingered for several years afterward served as a constant marker of deterioration in a town struggling to recover from a decades-long recession.
It’s an unfortunate fact that most local elected officials win their positions by way of a small percentage of those eligible to vote. But holding office as a member of a school board, council, board of supervisors or mayor means something far greater than what is represented in a vote tally.
PENNSYLVANIA — specifically, native son Benjamin Franklin — created the concept of volunteer fire brigades, which have served small communities since 1736. But nearly three centuries later, rural communities like many in Westmoreland County are struggling to maintain that selfless tradition.
Faced with a sharp decline in volunteer firefighters, philanthropic and emergency services officials turned to a federal government program to make Westmoreland the proving ground for a novel recruitment strategy.