Indiana, PA - Indiana County

BILL HASTINGS' INSIDE INDIANA: Vinegar Hill, Fabrizio, 'Quilt Lady,' etc.

by BILL HASTINGS Of the Gazette staff on April 12, 2013 10:50 AM

To whom it may concern —


It wasn’t that long ago that Indiana University of Pennsylvania leadership cautioned IUP alums, both local and elsewhere, that if they wanted to see the campus and community as they once knew them, they had better not tarry … or they wouldn’t recognize the place.

That was the issue during the IUP Residential Renaissance, when the university was replacing its old-fashioned dormitories, making major changes to its theaters of fine arts, adding a $72 million athletic complex and undertaking other cosmetic niceties.

It was also a period of transition for the community, principally the start of a downtown Indiana revitalization project that has provided a change in Philadelphia Street traffic flow, elimination of the overhead wiring, constructing new sidewalks and making sundry other improvements.

The private sector has also given the project a one-two punch seldom seen in similar municipal projects.

Meanwhile, pedestrians, motorists and main-street curiosity seekers have added an extra dimension to the current activity in the downtown where work is under way updating another Indiana landmark, Vinegar Hill, site of the homestead of movie legend Jimmy Stewart.

And between thee and me, the Vinegar Hill home was not the birthplace of movie legend Jimmy Stewart, who was born in a two-story frame home on the north side of the 900 block of Philadelphia Street. A stone marker is located at the site near the Rairigh-Bence Funeral Home.


Local businesses have teamed up to help Indiana native Fabrizio Pirrone, who was recently diagnosed with acute lymphatic leukemia.

Uptown Fitness, where Fabrizio works as a personal trainer, and Pita Pit, where he is such a loyal customer that a sandwich, “The Fab,” bears his name, will sponsor the event Saturday at the Fitness gymnasium, 655 Church St., Indiana.

“A Fab-ulous Lifting Event” will be a charity performance with a series of events for competitors and spectators alike. Registration for the lifting contest begins at 8:30 a.m., and that competition begins at 10.

There will be a fitness carnival from 9:30 to 10:30, which will be a series of mini-workouts. Participants in that competition will have the chance to win a 42-inch flat- screen TV donated by Uptown Fitness.

“Fabio is extremely outgoing and a very active member of the community,” said Ryan O’Donnell, a brand interactor with No Limit Agency, Pita Pit’s public relations organization. “Fabio has been a wonderful neighbor and member of the community, so the town of Indiana wants to give back and assist in any way they can.”

Pita Pit will provide lunch during the event, and Cosumel will host a dinner buffet for participants. Cozy Corner Caf← will provide baked goods, with all profits going to Fabrizio, whose family owns Donatello’s restaurant, another downtown Indiana establishment.


It’s official. The snow has finally stopped falling, temperatures are steadily rising and the peepers have started peeping.

Bob Pozik, of Homer City, reported to the Gazette that he first heard the peepers near the Auction Barn on Wednesday, April 3.

They are “out like crazy now,” a little more than a week later, he said.

And as reported by the Punxsutawney Spirit, frogcaster Jeff London, of Big Run, heard the peepers at 2:10 p.m. last Friday.

London has taken over the peeper watch from his father, John London, who passed away last year and was known locally for observing and recording the first peeps of spring.


The recent obituary columns included Harriet “The Quilt Lady” Yatsko, of Diamondville, who died Sunday.

For 20 years, she operated Harriet’s Quilt Shop at 271 Philadelphia St., selling the business in 2000.

But that wasn’t her only presence in the community.

Daughter Rebecca Solar, of Homer City, said her mother, who was a homemaker with nine children, wore many other hats throughout her life, working as the elevator operator at Troutman’s department store, a census taker, a waitress at Bruno’s, an Indiana Hospital volunteer and more.

But her passion was quilting and her children, Solar said.


“My wife and I want to raise our family here and be an integral part of this wonderful community. That’s why we came back. Indiana County has something very special that can’t be found elsewhere.” — James Struzzi, of the Pittsburgh area, discussing the reason he chose to return to Indiana and leave his staff position with the state transportation department to become the new president of the Indiana County Chamber of Commerce.


The recent Indiana’s Cookin’ event, sponsored by the Gazette, Indiana University of Pennsylvania’s Department of Food and Nutrition and IUP’s Academy of Culinary Arts, raised $12,000 for Indiana County Community Action Program’s food bank.

Deb Palmer, the Gazette’s marketing director, said that is about a 25 percent increase over last year’s figures.

But wait, there’s more.

She pointed out that the first year the Cookin’ format changed to a benefit for ICCAP in 2008, the show raised $1,200.

“Thank you to everyone who continues to help make this show such a huge success,” Palmer said.

o o o

The IUP Spring Ceramics Sale is scheduled April 19 and 20 at the Robertshaw Building located at 650 S. 13th St.

Proceeds from the sale benefit the IUP Clay Club and the organizers noted that cash, credit cards and checks will be accepted.


Tickets are on sale now for a cash bash to benefit Four Footed Friends.

The bash will be Saturday, April 27, at the Indiana Eagles Club on Philadelphia Street. Doors open at 5 p.m., and prize drawings begin at 6.

The menu includes pasta stations with various choices, tossed salad, Italian bread and dessert.

Food, beer and nonalcoholic beverages are included in the $20 ticket price, and $5,000 total in cash prizes will be awarded every 15 minutes.

For more information, call Four Footed Friends at (724) 349-1144.


Two spaghetti dinner benefits are set for Sunday to benefit local families who have suffered tragedies.

A dinner to benefit the family of Jason Drew, killed in February by a falling tree limb, will be from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Nap’s Cucina Mia on Philadelphia Street in Indiana.

And a dinner to benefit Dove Bright, who has suffered from a rare paralysis due to the neurological disorder acute transverse myelitis, will offer three seatings from 2 to 6:30 p.m. at St. Bernard of Clairvaux in White Township.

Tickets are $9 for adults, $5 for children 10 and younger and free for children under 2.

Tickets are on sale at St. Bernard of Clairvaux, Indiana Church of the Brethren and the Indiana Mall information office.

Advance tickets are recommended, and tickets will also be sold at the door on a first-come, first-served basis. All proceeds benefit the Dove Bright Care Fund at S&T Bank, 800 Philadelphia St., Indiana, PA 15701.


Tickets for the Indiana County Sports Hall of Fame’s annual induction banquet are available beginning today from any member of the ICSHF board, the Gazette’s headquarters at Ninth and Philadelphia streets, and Renda Broadcasting stations in Indiana, Homer City and Blairsville.

The annual banquet will be held Sunday, May 19, at the Rustic Lodge.


“All are invited to help the animals,” says Beverly Philippi, owner of B’s Books, Etc., at 122 E. Mahoning St., Punxsutawney.

Beverly sent a postcard this week to alert Gazette readers of an upcoming fundraiser for Willow Run Animal Sanctuary near Punxs’y.

The event will be Friday, April 19, from 1 to 4 p.m. at the store. It will offer a silent auction, bake sale, sidewalk sale and more.


Colonial Motor Mart is putting the finishing touches on a major remodeling project to its facility on Fourth Street in Indiana. According to company officials, it is the ninth remodel/expansion since moving to this location in 1950. … Gas prices in the area continue to hover around $3.65 a gallon. … Willie, the ex-shoeshine boy, says he couldn’t help rooting for the 14-year-old playing in the Masters, who carded a one-over 72 in the first round.

Good evening!

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April 12, 2013 10:40 AM
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