With the upheaval in national politics, North Boroughs residents joined citizens across the United States wondering what the new year would bring, and what effect the 2016 election results would have close to home. Turns out that the ripple traveled quickly, adding to all the expected events of 2017.


By TOM STEINER Being named the top student trombonist in Pennsylvania last year was quite an honor for Lukas Helsel, but the Avonworth junior did not stop there.Over Thanksgiving break, Lukas traveled to the National Association for Music Education's All-National Orchestra at Disney's Coronado Spring Resort in Orlando. After last year's state achievement, he had submitted a video audition and was among six trombonists accepted into the orchestra and 14 into the concert band.


The Pennsylvania School Counselor Association recently named Avonworth's Nicole Levis School Counselor of the Year at its annual conference, this year held at the Hershey Lodge in Hershey, PA on Thursday, Nov. 30.

The presentation highlighted an awards banquet held during the organization's 62nd annual meeting.


The Avon Club’s 2017 Ben Avon Holiday House Tour will be held Saturday, Dec. 2, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. and 6 – 9 p.m Tickets are $25 in advance, $30 on the day of the tour. For information, visit or e-mail: Tickets may be bought in person at Anchor & Anvil Coffee Bar, 7221 Church Ave, Ben Avon, PA 15202,


The Aug. 18 issue of “Vogue” magazine includes an article headlined, “…the Most Important Art Show in America Is Underway in Pittsburgh.”

The author, John Ortved explains how “…the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, famous for showing artworks by those of African descent, joins forces with the Carnegie [Museum of Art], one of the U.S.’s most revered art institutions, to present something nearly impossible: the idea of America, through art.”


Not many sophomores today would decide to do what Greg Henniquan did back in 1966.

It probably would not even be possible for a sophomore of today to do what he did, but he was determined to pursue the direction that he had mapped out for his life.

Spending days in the classroom on Dickson Avenue where Avonworth High School was located back then just was not his style. Serving his country, which was embroiled in the war in Vietnam, had a much stronger emotional pull on him.

Greg, now 69, explains it simply by saying, “I wanted to serve my country.”


When Bellevue Elementary students hear the sounds of fire sirens echoing in their town, they have a fairly good idea of what’s going on. They may not know where the fire is or how serious it is, but they can visualize what is going on at the fire station and they know the work that the firefighters are doing to end the emergency as quickly and as safely as possible.


“In 1926, radium was a miracle cure. Madame Curie was an international celebrity, and luminous watches were a fashion rage,” writes theater and book critic D. W. Geary.

But the fashion of that era, wristwatches with numbers and dials that gave off an eerie glow, soon turned into the nightmare of that era as the girls who applied the paint to those numbers and rotating dials began to show symptoms of a serious illness.


Move over “Nightmare on Elm Street.” There is a very scary competitor in Bellevue at the “Nightmare 2 on North Sprague!” 63 N. Sprague, to be precise.

Created by Ken Azzarello and wife, Susan Vesch -- along with help from sons Dennis and Zade -- the fright site consists of a meandering walkway that leads brave visitors through a maze of monsters staffed (appropriately) by Northgate cheerleaders and football players.


An Ohio Township man and his business partners have recently developed an app that could solve lots of problems for lots of couples struggling with financial issues, a situation long regarded as being a leading cause of divorce,

Joe Stanish of Ohio Township and two business partners, Ramy Serageldin and Sam Schultz, have developed the “Honeyfi” app, a blend of Honey -- the couple -- and finances -- the problem.

For those in need, getting started is easy, according to Stanish.


While there is no shortage of history books, travel books, personal memoirs on a broad range of subjects, there are very few that combine all three with such original insight as can be found in “Discovering Gettysburg,” written by Dr. W. Stephen Coleman and illustrated by local artist Tim Hartman.

Hartman explained that the “team effort” began five years ago when Coleman “…asked me to meet him at the Public Theater to talk about a project he wanted to do.


While age and a recent illness have taken a toll on some of her long lifetime of memories, there remain with Florence Mertz of Kilbuck a glint in her eyes and a passion in her voice as she looks back on nearly a century of a life filled with family, friends and service to her country.


Not too many years ago, carnivals sponsored by suburban fire departments were among the mainstays of the summer social agenda.

But times have changed, as Ohio Township Volunteer Fire Company (OTVFC) carnival chairman William Thomas observed.

“In a time when many fire companies have abandoned their carnivals, OTVFC continues to host its carnival, which started back in 1948 and is a tradition that multiple generations in our community have enjoyed,” he said.


If Bellevue is looking a little tidier these days, it is not necessarily because people have begun butting their cigarettes in sand pots provided or because they have suddenly become more careful about where to dispose of trash.

Well, maybe they actually have, but it also is because Bellevue has had some extra help lately in keeping the area clean, thanks to a young man, Alex Workinger, who has been stationed around the streets as a summer employee provided by Pennsylvania's Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR).


The Bellevue Community Herb Garden is open for use by the community.

Everyone is invited to "pinch what you need and use what you pinch".

Some of the plants that are large enough to provide herbs already are tarragon, oregano, parsley, marjoram, lavender, chamomile, and thyme. Sweet, purple, and Thai basil will be ready in a few weeks. Signs are posted to identify the plants and explain how they can be used.


Drivers passing by Jack and Tracy Ferguson’s Kilbuck residence have no reason to lurch to a stop to observe gardens of bubbling fountains, mesmerizing night lights, intricate floral arrangements. That’s because there aren’t any.


Nothing unusual about a 5-year-old girl enjoying a pony ride gift for her birthday.

But for Avonworth eighth grader Emma Smith, that gift has not ended, as she continues to ride, four to five days each week, building her skills as a hunter/jumper, riding and honing her skills at Candy Lane Acres in Sewickley.

Emma's mom, Janae, said that as a child, Emma showed an early interest, had a great passion for all animals and liked to jump the horses. But what started as a pastime has now advanced to some intense competition for students in grades 6-12.


College students majoring in education take four years of content and teaching courses and then work in classroom settings before graduating to job search. One piece of information rarely offered in any of their academic instruction is very important, but only a few wise professors pass it along to soon-to-be teachers. The advice: Learn to appreciate the secretaries in the schools where you eventually will work. Greet them each day with a smile and a few kind words, because secretaries are as important as superintendents in keeping schools functioning efficiently.


Avonworth and Northgate high schools presented diplomas to the graduating classes of 2017 during ceremonies held last Friday at Avonworth, and Monday at Northgate.Both schools honored their top academic achievers.

Avonworth valedictorian Julianna Nicolaus, at right, daughter of John and Linda Nicolaus, will attend Carnegie Mellon University, where she will major in math and science. Salutatorian Abby Busse, daughter of Lisa and John Paul Busse, will attend George Mason University, where she will major in bio-engineering.

Photo by Tom Steiner for The Citizen


Avonworth and Northgate high schools presented diplomas to the graduating classes of 2017 during ceremonies held last Friday at Avonworth, and Monday at Northgate.Both schools honored their top academic achievers.

Pictured here, Northgate valedictorian Alex Sklyar is the son of Sergey and Tatyana Sklyar of Bellevue. He will study neuroscience at the University of Pittsburgh in the fall. Salutatorian Kathleen King is the daughter of Lori and Andrew King, also of Bellevue. She will attend Chatham University next fall, majoring in biology as part of the physician assistant track.


“An army travels on its stomach.”

So who said it? Napoleon? Frederick the Great? Some historians attribute the statement to both of them.

Whoever. The message is the same: In combat, nutrition is almost as important as munitions in achieving victory.

But can the same be said for sports teams?

Step behind the scenes of the current Penguins quest for victory and head chef Geoff Straub would say that most assuredly, good nutrition is right up there with good teamwork in making it to the Stanley Cup playoffs.


The Pennsylvania Music Educators' Association's All-State Festival, April 19-22, featured the best high school vocalists and musicians, with Avonworth sophomore Lukas Helsel being named the top trombonist in the state.

Studying and playing the instrument for the past seven years, Lukas, age 15, said that although he originally wanted to play the French horn, he decided on the trombone because, “I liked the fact that it had a slide and that it could make unique sounds.”


What started as a classroom discussion in Avonworth teachers Jason Smith's and Melissa DeSimone's co-taught eighth grade civics class turned into a memorable event involving all of the eighth grade, as well as students from other grade levels and several adults.

“We started working on the project in January after a class survey showed that over 75 percent of eighth grade students felt the country was 'too divided' right now,” Smith said. “Students were challenged to find a way to bring their community together and build citizenship skills by making a positive impact that unites people.”


What’s a good age for students to start becoming involved in community service, giving back, making a difference?

For Avonworth Primary Center teacher Maureen Frew, kindergarten through fourth grade is as good a time as any to start developing social awareness.

Frew said that the idea of helping out in their community was student-inspired, starting “…in 2016 when two first graders -- Julia Nardozzi and Amelia Lucas -- asked me if we could start a business of girls who could make items and sell them.”