Taken from The Progress News, August 27, 2019
Taking time out from a tour of downtown Emlenton was PA Downtown Center’s, L-R: Bill Fontana, Dir. of Strategic Initiatives; Mary Tate, Field Service Specialist; A-C River Valley Blueprint Coordinator Selina Pedi; Emlenton Mayor Jamie Hunt and ACRV Core Team Member Paul Kentzel.

The A-C River Valley Region Blueprint Community has received its official recertification from FHLBank Pittsburgh!  Valid through the end of 2024, this recertification will allow the community continued access to special funding, technical assistance programs, and partnership opportunities for Blueprint towns.  A bank spokesperson acknowledged that there are always challenges for Blueprint Core Team members, but that “it is important to keep the momentum moving,” adding that they are “proud of the work you’re doing and the positive impact and change you are bringing to the community.”  The Blueprint team will now work with FHLBank Pittsburgh to complete the evaluation portion of the recertification process, and with members of the Pennsylvania Downtown Center (PDC) to finalize the Five-Year Plan for the remainder of the program.

To get the ball rolling, Bill Fontana and Mary Tate of the PDC visited the Valley for a day-long tour on Friday, August 16 to see firsthand the work done over the last five years and to discuss the challenges and opportunities ahead.  Led by Blueprint Coordinator Selina Pedi, the group was joined by Emlenton Core Team members Doug Bell, Paul Kentzel and Mayor Jamie Hunt while in Emlenton, and by Foxburg Mayor and Core Team member Dick Garrard for lunch at Foxburg Pizza. The tour took in many past and upcoming project sites while also talking to a number of locals and visiting tourists who were taking in the day’s fine weather and were excited at the prospect of upgrades to area facilities.

One project of great interest to many in and around the Valley, vistors and locals alike, is the redevelopment of the old Fuchs Lubricants plant at the edge of Emlenton, which closed in 2012. Currently owned by the Oil Region Alliance (ORA), a strategic partner in the A/C Valley Blueprint Community, the property is a prime location for increased recreational and community facilities and amenities, and the ORA has committed itself to exploring feasible options for transforming the site from brownfield to community asset. The Blueprint tour was an opportunity for the Core Team and PDC to discuss community input to date as well as potential funding and technical assistance programs. Pedi noted that her position as an employee of the ORA appointed to coordinate and facilitate the local Blueprint program allows her to help in the redevelopment of these properties in a way that encourages and values the input of the entire community, adding that she is very excited to see what opportunities arise in the coming years.

Opportunity is certainly the buzzword for the Blueprint Core Team as they embark on the difficult but vital and fulfilling work of engaging with and helping local residents and business owners to build the community they imagine for themselves, their children, and their children’s children.  It all starts with one step, and thanks to the support of FHLBank Pittsburgh, the PDC, the ORA, and the dedicated locals driving the Blueprint Community Initiative, the A/C River Valley is able to continue marching on toward progress.  Anyone interested in being involved with the Blueprint Initiative and this next wave of positive momentum is invited to contact Selina Pedi at: spedi@oilregion.org or 724-264-5772.