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Fitzgerald Announces Launch of Parks Trails App for County Parks System

PITTSBURGH – Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald announced today the launch of a new Trails App which will give users information on trails available in the Allegheny County Parks System. Using their mobile devices, residents and visitors alike will be able to discover and navigate park trails both in advance of a hike, and while in the park too.

“We’re excited to launch the Trails App for our residents and visitors. Our nine county parks contain 12,000 acres and attract over two million visitors each year,” said Fitzgerald. “For hikers, being able to plan hikes, as well as utilize information while hiking will make their experience even better. We’re proud of the work that has been done on this effort to date and look forward to the continued offerings that this technology will provide to park users.”

The app focuses on navigation information for all users at each of the county’s nine parks. All trails – blazed, unmarked and paved – are shown in the map. Information on the blazed trails also includes length and difficulty (based on a hiker’s perspective). When the mobile device’s GPS is turned on, the app can also provide live elevation information when on a blazed trail. Additionally, users will have access to current weather conditions, alerts and upcoming forecasts from the National Weather Service.

“Our parks are a wonderful resource for so many different organizations and groups, many of which take full advantage of our many trails,” said Council Member John Palmiere, Chair of County Council’s Parks Committee. “Having a resource such as this app which makes the users’ experience better, safer and more enjoyable ensures that residents and visitors have a good, positive interaction with our parks system.”

The Division of Computer Services partnered with Esri, a geographic information systems (GIS) mapping software company, to create a product using the county’s GIS data. Working with Esri, the Pittsburgh Trails Advocacy Group, and the Allegheny County Park Rangers, the data and information collected was developed into an application that reflects current conditions for users. Work on future versions of the app will include information on trailheads, parking options, shelters and restroom facilities.

The map-based, GPS-enabled app is available and free to download in the Apple App Store. It will be available through the Android Play Store by the end of the week. The app can be found by searching “Allegheny County Parks Trails.”

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Office of the County Executive
101 Courthouse • 436 Grant Street • Pittsburgh, PA 15219
Phone (412) 350-6500 • Fax (412) 350-6512

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This Region Needs the Mon-Fayette Expressway Extension

This Region Needs the Mon-Fayette Expressway Extension

Late last year the Construction Legislative Council issued a report reviewing a number of key transportation projects essential for the economic future of our region. On this list was the completion of the Mon-Fayette Expressway link from Route 51 to Monroeville, with extension of the Martin Luther King Jr. East Busway to the expressway.

The report was developed by a committee of the region’s leading transportation engineers, planners and professionals with expertise in development and design of public infrastructure.

It was disappointing that the Post-Gazette took a negative position on the expressway project in its Feb. 2 editorial “False Promise: The New Mon-Fayette Segment Is a Road to Nowhere.”

Our region has shown its resilience through evolution and adoption of new industries such as health care, education, technology, robotics, financial services, film and most recently oil and natural gas. However, southwestern Pennsylvania is crippled by severe congestion that significantly limits our economic competitiveness.

In the case of the Mon Valley, a lack of modern highway access has significantly limited the redevelopment opportunities of brownfield industrial sites. Linking these sites to regional and interstate markets is essential to increase jobs in the Mon Valley.

In addition, transit access into Oakland and other parts of Pittsburgh from the extension of the busway to the expressway would both improve access of Mon Valley residents to job opportunities throughout the region and spur redevelopment of Mon Valley communities.

We hope that businesses and residents of the Mon Valley will take the opportunity to participate in meetings and hearings on the restart of the expressway project and offer their thoughts on the benefits of this valuable transportation improvement.

Construction Legislative Committee
Green Tree

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A New Pennsylvania Tourism Slogan? It’s About That Time

March 8, 2016

We’re going to bet Thomas Jefferson and the other founding fathers never really thought about how to make Pennsylvania stick in the common man’s mind as a travel destination.

But at the rate Pennsylvania’s going in the 21st Century, those guys from Independence Hall may soon start demanding royalties.

The state Tourism Office unveiled its new marketing slogan for state tourism promotion Tuesday, and it is – drum roll please: “Pennsylvania. Pursue Your Happiness.”

The accompanying logo is designed, officials said, to present a fresh look for Pennsylvania, with the hint of a smile.

The new tagline is central to a re-branding effort tagged to traditional travel guides and paid advertising, as well as very 21st-Century social media campaigns that developers hope will spawn an inter-active conversation.

“We’re asking our social media followers to join the conversation and share photos of what makes them happy about travel in Pennsylvania using the hashtag #PATravelHappy,” Department of Community and Economic Development spokeswoman Lyndsay Kensinger said.

The slogan replaces “State of Independence,” the winner of a contest sponsored by former Gov. Ed Rendell’s administration that also happened to play off the Philadelphia-born Declaration of Independence.

“This new slogan encourages travelers to satisfy a core virtue which we all desire and can never have too much of — happiness,” Karen Winner Sed, co-chair of the Pennsylvania Tourism Partnership, said during the official unveiling at a Somerset County winery Tuesday.

“Whether you are looking to explore the outdoors, a historical attraction, or an urban setting the overarching motivator is happiness,” Winner Sed said.

The tourism partnership is a public-private entity that helped lead consumer research and brand development efforts to develop the new brand over the last 18 months, at a cost of roughly $500,000 split between state funds and private matches.

Because the initiative was kicked off and funded in the 2013-14 fiscal year, it was not stopped by this year’s budget impasse, Kensinger said.
DCED still has about $500,000 on hand to kick off the new campaign’s roll-out, which will be supplemented by additional private sector matches, according to Kensinger.

New PA Slogan

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Business Booms in Monroeville Medical Corridor with Forbes, UPMC East

Business Booms in Monroeville Medical Corridor with Forbes, UPMC East

Monroeville Mayor Greg Erosenko proudly refers to it as “mini Oakland,” the one-mile stretch of Mosside Boulevard housing rival hospitals owned by UPMC and Allegheny Health Network.

For Erosenko, business booms in a medical corridor with more jobs, more commerce and more competition between AHN’s community mainstay Forbes Hospital and the glistening, state-of-the-art UPMC East.

“Sincerely, it has been good not just for Monroeville residents, but for everyone out east,” the mayor said. “The competition has kept both health systems on the cutting edge, and that’s definitely not a bad thing.”

As UPMC postures to build a controversial hospital in the South Hills — less than a mile from AHN’s Jefferson Hospital — Erosenko points to the eastern suburbs as a model for coexistence of dueling hospitals.

An open question is whether 341-bed Jefferson Hospital can handle the competition. AHN lost $39 million in 2015, according to financial documents filed with the Pennsylvania Insurance Department.

David Holmberg, president and CEO of AHN’s parent company Highmark Health, is confident Jefferson will thrive. Still, he’s not thrilled with the prospect of a neighboring hospital in the South Hills.

“I don’t think we need more beds in the region,” Holmberg told the Tribune-Review. “Jefferson is an excellent facility. It has everything people need in the South Hills to take care of them. You have to ask what the motivations are for putting a hospital right next to a high-performing institution like that.”

UPMC plans to invest as much as $200 million to build the proposed 300,000 square-foot UPMC South, similar in size to UPMC East, with promises of 500 permanent jobs. The health care giant’s most recent plan was to build UPMC South in Pleasant Hills off Route 51 at Lindsay-Snyder Drive, although resident complaints could persuade UPMC to select an alternate site. A hearing on the plan before the Pleasant Hills zoning board is scheduled for April 25.

“We are optimistic that the UPMC proposal will foster sustained economic development in the 51 corridor,” said John Biedrzycki, vice president of the South Hills Chamber of Commerce. UPMC Health Plan is a member of the chamber. AHN is not.

Paul Wood, spokesman for UPMC, said motivation for building UPMC South is simple: thousands of UPMC Health Plan members live in communities along the Route 51 corridor that want and need a local hospital.

The South Hills proposal has opened a new chapter in an ongoing feud between UPMC and Highmark. As a result of the dispute, most UPMC hospitals no longer accept most Highmark insurance and UPMC Health Plan doesn’t contract with most Allegheny Health Network hospitals.

There are some exceptions. A Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision issued in late November required UPMC to include seniors in a group of “vulnerable” Highmark patients that the state is requiring UPMC to continue treating until 2019, when a consent decree governing relations between the nonprofits expires. People with Highmark insurance who are disabled, poor or engaged in a “continuing course of treatment” at UPMC hospitals are also protected until 2019.

Another exception is Jefferson Hospital. Unlike the other hospitals in Allegheny Health Network, Jefferson admits anyone with UPMC Health Plan insurance because it has a separate contract with the insurer. The terms of that contract, including when it expires, are confidential, both systems said.

“We do provide access to UPMC patients at Jefferson, whereas UPMC has said to us, they don’t want to see Highmark customers,” Holmberg said. “They have made it very clear. So it’s a different motivation.”


When UPMC announced plans for a hospital in Monroeville, said Forbes Chief Medical Officer Mark Rubino, patients asked: “Why are they hurting you? Why are they trying to kill you?”

“Most cities are not building additional hospital beds in a stable population. Yet, that was the UPMC model,” Rubino said. “Here, we try to provide high quality, comprehensive acute care services. We need to have strong core services to do that. To have it diluted by excess bed capacity doesn’t really make sense.”

Mark Sevco, president of UPMC East, said demand prompted the opening of the Monroeville hospital. UPMC Shadyside was over capacity and 30 percent of its patients were driving into Pittsburgh from the eastern suburbs, he said. The $250 million UPMC East opened in 2012.

“Our strategy was to provide low-cost, high-quality care in a community where our patients live,” Sevco said.

Forbes executives point out their hospital is full-service, offering medical services that UPMC East does not, such as open heart surgery, inpatient psychiatric care, complex brain and spine surgery, trauma care and baby deliveries. Forbes is certified as a Level II trauma center, which Holmberg said saved lives during the April 9, 2014, stabbings of 20 students and an adult at Franklin Regional High School in Murrysville.

UPMC East is just one piece of a regional Western Pennsylvania network that satisfies the full range of patient needs, Sevco said. Trauma patients can be flown by helicopter to UPMC Presbyterian or Montefiore hospitals in Oakland. Magee-Womens Hospital offers quality women’s health care, he said.

At UPMC East, planners sought to avoid duplicating services of other UPMC hospitals, Sevco said. Planners left the more complicated procedures to doctors who perform the procedures more often. Research shows that medical teams that perform higher volumes of procedures often have better outcomes, he said.

UPMC East does medical imaging and heart procedures, has a critical care unit, a rehabilitation program and performs a broad range of surgeries, he said.

“In medicine, like most things in life, the more you do something the better you are at it,” Sevco said. “For us, it’s about supporting a network of coordinated patient care, not duplicating services within our network. The focus is integrated and we work very hard at making patient transfers seamless.”

Forbes took a hit when UPMC East opened, losing 17 percent of its emergency department patient volume, according to its president and CEO Duke Rupert. However, much of the volume has bounced back, he said.

“We still have our challenges going forward with UPMC East right here,” Rupert said. “Obviously, if you put another inpatient facility in the community, it starts to split the volume.

“I think the future is bright for Forbes, but it’s not without investment and time and expenses.”


Since the formation of AHN in July 2013, Highmark has invested about $34 million in renovations, new technology and program expansions at Forbes.

Among them: a new trauma program, a new 20-bed intensive care unit, an expanded obstetrics and postpartum unit, installation of an electronic medical record system, a reconstructed emergency room waiting area, a dedicated patient elevator tower designed to improve the admission and transport of patients throughout the hospital and new signs atop and outside of the hospital.

The investments aren’t lost on Monroeville resident Kimberly Miller, 47, who wondered whether Forbes would survive after UPMC East opened.

“As a resident, I was very nervous that Forbes would immediately shut down and become a vacant eyesore in the community,” she said. “On top of that, there would be lost jobs. Nobody wants that.”

Miller, who three years ago switched from Highmark to a UPMC health insurance plan for her family, is thrilled with the convenience of UPMC East. A mother of four, she has made several visits to the emergency room for bumps, bruises and illnesses.

“The parking is great, there are low wait times and the building is super clean since it’s brand spanking new,” she said.

Although she hasn’t visited Forbes much since her switch in health insurance, she is pleased that Forbes is still around.

“They are certainly putting on the persona that they are making improvements and trying to stay a leader in health care out here,” she said.

Bernhard Erb, who served on Monroeville’s council from 2010 through 2014, said he believes UPMC’s plan is to continue growing locally, nationally and internationally. He joked that the only headache associated with UPMC East’s construction was creating an extra turning lane off Mosside into the hospital campus area.

“You’ve got great doctors at both facilities in Monroeville; you’ve got many of them moving to the region,” he said. “If the only benefit this new hospital brings to the South Hills is doctors and surgeons with six-figure salaries moving into the area, that’s still a great thing.”

Ben Schmitt and Wes Venteicher are Tribune-Review staff writers. Reach Schmitt at 412-320-7991 or Reach Venteicher at 412-380-5676 or

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Monroeville Mall Announces Additional Security Upgrades

JUNE 30, 2015

Additional Security Upgrades Planned for Monroeville Mall
Monroeville, PA (June 30, 2015) – At a press conference today, Monroeville Mall officials announced additional security upgrades for Monroeville Mall, located in the Monroeville suburb of Pittsburgh. Security upgrades include the installation of an internal and external state-of-the-art video camera system. This cutting edge system will have both on and off-site monitoring capabilities. Monroeville Mall’s security provider will also take other measures to enhance visibility and maximize coverage of the center; including adding additional security hours and shifts.

This announcement comes on the heels of many other security measures that have already been put in place. A Monroeville Police Department Substation opened inside the mall in March and on-duty Monroeville Police officers will be available at the Police Substation during peak shopping hours. In addition, Monroeville Police will increase the number of patrolling officers throughout the malls interior and exterior.

In February, management launched a Youth Escort Policy (YEP), which requires anyone under the age of 18 to be accompanied by a parent or guardian over the age of 21 on Friday and Saturday evenings after 6pm. This program has been met with positive feedback from customers, retailers, and Monroeville officials.

“Thank you Lance and CBL for your leadership in working with all of the retailers here at the mall, and with law enforcement officials and community leaders toward re-assuring shoppers that the mall at Monroeville is a terrific, convenient and safe place to shop,” said Mark Ionadi, Macy’s Representative.

In addition to the announced security upgrades, officials discussed their plans for the mall’s multi-million dollar renovation, currently underway. Once completed, the interior will feature an updated color scheme, new lighting fixtures to brighten common areas, and sleek, stainless steel railings lining the walkways.

Guests will discover modernized, soft-seating lounge stations designed for relaxation and conversation. Remodeled restrooms will feature new tile, granite, and cherry wood finishes. The food court will also receive a facelift that includes new furniture to complement the overall contemporary design. New benches and receptacles will also enhance the mall’s exterior appeal. In addition, the children’s play area will be updated with a brand new look, theme and play elements. The renovation is slated to be complete just in time for the 2015 holiday season with details about a renovation celebration and play area grand opening being announced later this year.

“Our commitment to the community is clear. We have and are continuing to make significant investments in Monroeville Mall through these security enhancements and the comprehensive revitalization,” said Lance Ivy, Regional Director of Management at CBL & Associates Properties, Inc., owner of Monroeville Mall. “Monroeville Mall has long held a special place in the community as a favored destination. Our goal through these upgrades is to ensure that shoppers can continue to expect a welcoming, vibrant destination to shop, dine, and spend time with family and friends for years to come.”

About Monroeville Mall
Owned and managed by Chattanooga-based CBL & Associates Properties, Inc., Monroeville Mall is a super-regional, two-level shopping center featuring Crazy 8, Christopher & Banks, Hollister Co., The Children’s Place, Rue 21 and White House | Black Market. Recent additions to Monroeville Mall include H&M, Cinemark Theatre, Gift-ology, Red Robin Gourmet Burgers, Soma, and Teavana. Monroeville Mall also features an 80,000 square-foot lifestyle streetscape expansion called “The District” featuring Barnes & Noble Booksellers, Jos. A. Bank, ULTA Cosmetics, Chico’s, and SAGA Japanese Steak House.


Post announcement coverage:

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Monroeville Area Chamber of Commerce and Visit Monroeville Sign Affiliation Agreement

Monroeville Area Chamber of Commerce, Visit Monroeville Sign Affiliation Agreement — Chamber Names Sean Logan President & CEO

For Immediate Release
May 27, 2015

Monroeville, PA – The Monroeville Area Chamber of Commerce (MACC) and Visit Monroeville signed an affiliation agreement today, marking the official beginning of a partnership between the two.

In addition, the MACC Board of Directors named Sean Logan President & CEO of the organization. Mr. Logan will continue to serve as Executive Director & CEO of Visit Monroeville.

“The agreement is designed to help strengthen both organizations,” said Sean Logan, Chief Executive Officer of Visit Monroeville and President of the Monroeville Area Chamber. “It also creates efficiencies by reducing overhead costs and sharing services.”

The management consolidation between MACC and Visit Monroeville will allow both organizations to align common missions, share resources and reduce administrative costs. While both organizations will retain their separate boards of directors and fiscal oversight, the staffs will combine under a joint Chief Executive Officer. A third advisory board will be created to oversee the partnership.

Visit Monroeville and the Monroeville Area Chamber of Commerce remain committed to their missions, which each play a role in continuing to promote Monroeville and the surrounding area as a great place to live, work, visit and do business.

Contact: Sean Logan – 412-856-7422


About the Monroeville Area Chamber of Commerce: The Monroeville Area Chamber of Commerce is a diverse, member-driven organization, focused on being an advocate to promote and advance business excellence and business alliances, thereby strengthening our local communities.

About Visit Monroeville: Visit Monroeville was established in 1987 to increase and serve the convention, trade show, and travel industry. The agency also works to promote local businesses and services – including hotels, restaurants, and retail establishments – to visitors to the region. The staff works closely with the staff of the Monroeville Convention Center to market and promote the region as a low-cost, high-quality location for trade shows and conventions. In addition to providing traditional meeting planning services, Visit Monroeville offers shuttle service to and from Monroeville’s meeting spaces, hotels, banquet facilities, and shopping.

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