The Pennsylvania Middle School Association has honored Avonworth Middle School principal Tom Ralston with the Administrator's Award, an honor that recognizes his achievements in promoting middle school education and encouraging professional development.

Now in his fifth year as an Avonworth principal, Ralston has earned high marks from his students, as well as from PMSA, with three eighth graders expressing their views.

"Mr. Ralston is the most amazing and understanding principal in the state," said Natalie Malloy.


North Hills Community Outreach (NHCO) and Community Auto have formally merged in order to operate more efficiently.

NHCO is a 23-year-old interfaith organization addressing the needs of people in crisis, hardship and poverty. Programs include two food pantries, utility assistance, emergency financial help and volunteer care-giving for older adults.

Community Auto was founded in 2003 as a volunteer-run program to accept donated vehicles, have them repaired and sell them at reasonable prices to low-income people.


For the second consecutive year, North Hills Community Outreach is partnering with Christ Lutheran Church in Millvale to provide minor home repairs to qualified seniors and adults with physical disabilities.

Applications are now being accepted for repair projects that will be completed by supervised groups of youth between June 28 and July 2.

Senior citizens or adults with physical disabilities who wish to be considered for home repairs should:

Own and reside in a home in northern Allegheny County, outside of the city limits.


Avalon residents were thrilled to find their Citizen delivery uninterrupted during the recent blizzard, thanks to carrier Jesron Hall, something neither of the daily papers could do.


In an effort to promote cultural diversity and a global perspective within the community, Avonworth High School will hold its second annual multicultural dinner festival on Feb. 6, starting at 6 p.m. in the school cafeteria.

The opening attraction of the evening -- food -- will feature cuisine prepared by parents, teachers and students, as well as by restaurants.


Avonworth and Northgate students joined millions of Americans in holding fund-raisers for Haitian earthquake relief, with some activities beginning last week and others extending throughout the rest of the month.


A local Navy veteran has been honored in Navy Recruiting District Pittsburgh.

Petty Officer First Class Matthew Koll, a graduate of Northgate High School, won Recruiter in Charge [RINC] of the Year honors at Navy Recruiting District Pittsburgh's annual awards banquet in Niagara Falls.


Christmas dinner came to Bellevue a little early for Kim Roney and her sons.

And Santa came almost two weeks ahead of schedule, with presents exchanged on Dec. 13.

But the family was not rushing the season. They were just fitting everything in before Josh, 24, and Mark, 22 had to report back to their ships, Josh to the USS George Washington in Yokosuka, Japan, and Mark to the USS Enterprise in Norfolk, VA.

The family last spent time together in August, 2008, just before Josh deployed to Japan.


An Ohio Township man has been named as the North American representative to an international council focused on Carpatho-Rusyn culture.

John J. Righetti was elected to the North American seat of the World Council of Rusyns, the coordinating body for Carpatho-Rusyn cultural activity internationally.

He was elected at the 10th World Congress of Rusyns held in Ruski Kerestur, Serbia, in June.


Northgate’s James Brahm Chapter of the National Honor Society is collecting new and gently used formalwear.

Gowns, wraps, jewelry, purses, shoes and other accessories will be collected until March 1. The students then will hold a sale, with all proceeds benefiting “His Place” in Pittsburgh. Any unsold items will be donated to a local charity.

Gowns should be dry-cleaned.

Items can be dropped off at Northgate High School, 589 Union Ave.


While politicians and television personalities dither about what to do to protect the environment and some argue if global warming even exists, two Avonworth High School students have taken on a pro-ject that addresses the perils of the planet, with special emphasis on the plight of polar bears.


Avalon Library is offering "Letters from Santa Claus." Parents can have a personalized letter sent from Santa to their children.


Tim Hartman laughs at any suggestion that his family name is taking on the fame of the legendary Barrymores.


Something about the North Boroughs inspires holiday decorations. Valentine's Day, Easter, Christmas, of course, and for some residents, what has become the favorite outlet of their creativity: Halloween.

While almost every area street sports its share of monster inflatables, witches, goblins and lights, Jeff and Mary Marous, who have lived in Avalon for the past eight years, have pumped the art of Halloween decoration to a new level -- sort of an interactive "happening."


People who need a little structure and encouragement in their efforts to get healthy may find success in the new community wellness program sponsored by Allegheny General Hospital - Suburban Campus.

The “20 Week Challenge” that begins Monday, Oct. 12, will promote healthier choices related to diet, exercise and relaxation.


An Emsworth man was named "Volunteer of the Month" for September by the American Red Cross Southwestern Pennsylvania Chapter.

Dan Lenz volunteers as a member of the Red Cross Disaster Action Team (DAT), which responds to house fires, flooding and other emergencies, helping victims find food, shelter and other necessities. A volunteer for the past four and a half years, Lenz also trains new DAT members and works as part of the the group's public affairs team.


In what probably seems another lifetime, home for Dubrvka and Zdenko Moro and their daughter, Vanesa, 23 and son Marjan, 21, was the city of Mostar in Bosnia and Herzegovina, where they lived until war broke out in the region in 1992.

“When it started, we moved the family to Germany, where we stayed for seven years. After the war ended in 1999, life was very hard, and so we moved here, with help from Catholic Charities,” Dubrvka said.


Just because Henry “Hank” Comerer moved into a fourth floor Avalon apartment three years ago doesn’t mean that he had any intentions of giving away his gardening tools. And despite having his planting area reduced from a large garden to a 10 x 5 balcony space, Hank, now 91, has managed to plant a thriving garden of flowers and vegetables that enjoy exposure to all-day sun, along with his careful tending.

Hank was born and grew up in Emsworth, where his grandmother had lived “… before it was Emsworth. My uncle, John Sevin, was the borough clerk for 54 years,” Hank said.


Most realtors rank curb appeal near the top of the list of features needed to sell a house. Zero curb appeal -- nearly zero chances of selling the property.

Linda Cumer and husband Bill became exceptions to that rule when they purchased their Emsworth home two years ago.


Tyler Frew of Kilbuck Township recalls when he first knew that he wanted to pursue a medical career.


Bill Thoma has probably spent far more time than money in assembling his Ben Avon garden.

From the flowers to the veggies to the stone walls, a pattern of recycling and reusing prevails, starting at the front sidewalk and carrying through to the wooded boundary at the far end of his back yard.

Thoma’s garden provides a break from working construction and for Duquesne Light for the past 19 years, although he admits that he hasn’t done much with the front yard since the family moved in.


It’s not exactly a Hallmark holiday.


Give it time, though, and you just might find cards celebrating the All-American event that occurs this weekend: National Garage Sale Day.

Not that I need to have a day set aside to celebrate this seasonal phenomenon that occurs late March through late October. I celebrate it every Saturday -- and sometimes on Friday and Sunday as well, if it is a heavily scheduled weekend.

Why? I have no convincing answer for myself or for anyone who asks.


A quote from Confucius tells us, "Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life."

It is a philosophy with which Dean Smith of Ben Avon wholeheartedly agrees, and he stands as a living example of its truth.

"My hobby and my life's passion is my job," he says.

Especially during the last five months, which is how long it's been since Smith opened his martial arts school, the Dojo, on North Balph Avenue in Bellevue.


Gardening is part of Maryann and Nicholas Hatala’s love affair with life, as well as with Nature.