Ten Mile Creek Access #1 and Ten Mile Creek Water Trail Ribbon Cutting Ceremony

The vision to establish accessible year round boating and fishing in Marianna Pennsylvania along North Ten Mile Creek has been achieved! On July 17th the Marianna Outdoorsmen Association along with Chevron, EQT Foundation, Washington County Tourism and Promotion Agency, the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, and other dedicated partners had the opportunity to enjoy the collective team effort by officially opening the Ten Mile Creek Access #1 located in Marianna PA via a Ribbon Cutting Ceremony. The ceremony also officially opened the Ten Mile Creek Water Trail which utilizes North Ten Mile Creek for canoeing, kayaking, and fishing for a distance of eight miles, connecting four municipalities along the way via recreation before ending in Clarksville at the Ten Mile Creek Access #2 owned by East Beth Township. It has been a steady uphill climb over the past nine years, but through dedication, hard work, and a collective team effort we are achieving our goals one at a time.

Marianna is the second accessible trout stocked location along a river or stream in Southwestern Pennsylvania. Southwestern Pennsylvania is broken into ten counties by the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission. The only access that is provided in Southwestern Pennsylvania by the Fish and Boat Commission is located at the Youghiogheny Dam Outflow in Fayette County.

The Marianna Outdoorsmen Association stocks approximately $12,000 of trout and catfish annually along North Ten Mile Creek throughout Marianna. These stockings typically take place in April, July, and October. The organization views these stockings as critical pieces of a larger vision to draw people to the area by properly utilizing our natural resources.

We are trying very hard to have the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission commit to stocking North Ten Mile Creek in the Marianna and Clarksville areas. The benefits of this stocking by the state are a list that is too long to list. We are committed to team efforts and partnerships to bring progress. This effort by the state would show the people that they are also committed to this collective vision to utilize our natural resources and property promote our recreational assets.

We invite everyone to get involved in our collective vision. Our natural resources and recreation as a whole are valuable assets that can improve our educational system, economy, and give opportunities to those that otherwise would be unavailable. Get involved and remember that a little bit is better than nothing at all.

Trail Towns: Bringing Outdoor Recreation and Communities Together

Date: Thursday, July 30, 2015, 2:00 to 3:30 pm Eastern
Length: 1.5 hours
Cost: Free for SORP members, $45 for non-members
Register: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/7413526787022027778
Registration Deadline: July 30, 2015, 1:30 pm Eastern

This webinar has been approved for 1.0 AICP continuing maintenance credit. 

The video recording and slides will be posted at recpro.org following the webinar. 


This webinar kicks off a series featuring trails, tourism and outdoor recreation. Renee Tkach, project manager from the Friends of Columbia Gorge, will present the Gorge Towns to Trails project which supports land protection, recreation enhancements and economic development. Elaine Wilson from the Kentucky Trail Town Program takes a community development approach to creating marketable trails across Kentucky. Participants will learn about creating connections and partnerships utilizing the best practices of Gateway, Portal, Trail Town, and Geo-tourism philosophies and developmental assessments. These approaches bring outdoor recreation and communities together for both physical and economic growth.

Learning Objectives

• Recognizing and establishing a tourism destination through recreation; 
• Elements involved in formatting partnerships;
• Methods to build trails through advocacy and grassroots organizing;
• Tools used to assist communities and public trail managers; and
• Evaluating methods to measure results.


Renee Tkach returned to Friends of the Columbia Gorge in 2011 as the project manager for Gorge Towns to Trails, a project that supports land protection, recreation enhancements and economic development. Renee originally was the organization’s outdoor program coordinator, but then left in 2010 to serve as development outreach director for Hells Canyon Preservation Council. The organization lured back with the launch of Gorge Towns to Trails. Renee is also a founding member of Cape Horn Conservancy, Trailkeepers of Oregon and Columbia River Gorge Visitors Association. Her enthusiasm for the Gorge and the people that enjoy it is contagious. Renee is eager to share the ways Friends is working to promote more recreation opportunities in the Gorge.
Elaine H. Wilson is the Executive Director for the Office for Adventure Tourism in the Kentucky Tourism Arts & Heritage Cabinet. In this role she is was given an opportunity to utilize her life-long passion as an outdoor recreationist and 22 year experience as a travel and tourism professional. Ms. Wilson has hiked and paddled across 50 states and numerous countries and experienced quality destinations where visitor experience reigns memorable. In her current role she has researched the best adventure, geo-tourism destination development practices across the county to bring them to Kentucky communities where land and water trail systems offer adventure activities in the most pristine natural and cultural areas in the state. Her background combined with both a local and state government experience prospective, provides a practical approach to sustainable development. Ms. Wilson has a degree in Education from Eastern Kentucky University and is a graduate of Marketing College in Dahlonega Georgia.

Business is rollin’ on the river in Charleroi

At the end of the 19th century, Belgian immigrants settled along the banks of the Monongahela River in the town that would become Charleroi, Pennsylvania. Among them were quite a few glassmakers, and glassmaking became one of the primary businesses in town. It remains so today.

The Pittsburgh Plate Glass Company (today PPG Industries), had one of its major factories located at Charleroi’s Chamber Plaza; at one time it was one of the largest glass factories in the world. For the last 50 years, Charleroi has also been home to the makers of Pyrex cookware. The company, which just celebrated its 100th anniversary, remains the second largest employer in town.

Charleroi was also known as a thriving retail hub. Shoppers came from all around — even from Pittsburgh, 21 miles to the north — to shop in the busy downtown commercial district.

“Going downtown on a Saturday when the stores stayed open until 9 p.m. at night was a big deal when I was a kid,” recalls John Jeffries, 63, who grew up in Charleroi, as did his mother before him; his aunt owned the Colonial Floral & Gift Shoppe. “There was not a single thing you couldn’t buy in that town. The streets were packed on a weekend night. People came into Charleroi and spent their money.”

But as happened in many small western Pennsylvania town, “the malls came and the mills went,” as Jeffries puts it. Visits home to see his parents became disheartening as he saw the empty store fronts proliferate. “I’ve always been a river guy, a water guy. Here was Charleroi, and nothing was left alive but the river — and the town had its back to the Mon.”

Not anymore. Charleroi is an active member of the Mon River Valley Coalition, and has embraced the organization’s Business Attraction agenda. The Coalition is a consortium of 13 communities bordering the Monongahela River working together to promote river recreation and other outdoor activities while connecting to the rich heritage of the towns. The goal is to increase recognition of the Valley as a great place to live, work and play.

Led by Borough Manager Donn Henderson, Charleroi is using its location and its most valuable assets — the Mon River and the historic buildings in its downtown district — to attract new businesses.

Henderson credits the River Town Program, an initiative that predates and complements the Coalition, with bringing a lot of players to the table: state and county officials, the community and private funders.

“Because of participation in the River Town Program, Charleroi is learning how to effectively use the river toward its economic revitalization,” she says. “The Mon River Valley Coalition encourages communities to look at the river in new ways. In Charleroi we have a tremendous opportunity to open our riverfront to new development and connect it to the historic commercial district.”
The borough helps business owners locate a building right for their needs, and offers guidance on the purchase and rehab, or with leasing.

“Charleroi is not going to become a booming retail sector again anytime soon,” adds Henderson. “But we can attract other businesses to our available office space downtown. We are appealing to and getting a lot of interest from a wide variety of artists and artisans, outdoor recreation and heritage tourism businesses, and service-related businesses that don’t rely so much on traditional foot traffic.”

Henderson and Charleroi are serious about helping the town’s small businesses grow, and they’re using a diverse slate of tools and incentives. Tax credits are offered for locating in undervalued downtown properties (information can be found at the borough’s website).

In addition, Henderson, River Town Program Director Cathy McCollom and Donna Holdorff, executive director of the National Road Heritage Corridor, recently announced an initiative to encourage new and existing business to expand in the Mon Valley: the Sustainable Marketplace for Arts and Artisans, Recreation and Trending Businesses or SMAART.

The program provides educational workshops, professional technical assistance and hands-on services to entrepreneurs. SMAART is also holding a Business Plan contest starting on August 1, open to all River Towns; three prizes of $10,000 in cash and services will be awarded. Because Charleroi took the lead in this exciting economic venture, two of the three prizes will go to businesses located there. (Click here for details and requirements to enter.)

SMAART is supported, in part, by a $65,000 grant from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED).  An additional $35,000 was provided by the Mon River Valley Coalition.

Charleroi is also hosting “UpTo Mainstreet,” a pop-up education program and resource center for small businesses from July 20 through July 31 at an empty storefront downtown. UpTo will provide a free one-on-one marketing strategy session to all participants. Entrepreneurs can also choose from a menu of low cost assistance in design, social media and public relations, including logo design, press release assistance and social media consulting. (Online appointments are encouraged; visit whatareyouupto.org.)

“Charleroi is a perfect location for this pop-up” says Jennifer Highfield, a partner in UpTo. “Because of the SMAART program, folks in Charleroi are ideal candidates for our services. They are already in the business creation and expansion mindset. It’s really unique.”

UpTo is also offering a professional “head shot” photo session with photographer Joshua Tarquinio at a greatly reduced price on Wednesday, July 22 and Wednesday, July 29 between 4 and 7 p.m. (Schedule your photo shoot here).

The Resource Center and the SMAART Business Contest are financed in part by a grant from DCED’s “Discovered in PA, Developed in PA” program. Additional support came from the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation through the National Road Heritage Corridor, the fiscal agent and lead partner for the Mon River Valley Coalition.

Once businesses locate in town, Charleroi wants them to thrive. The borough acts as a liaison between landlords and commercial tenants when necessary, and helps business owners procure interns through institutions such as California University of Pennsylvania. Charleroi used funds from oil and gas revenues to install surveillance cameras and protect downtown businesses from vandalism. Business owners joined together and chipped in for the installation of more cameras.

Startups and existing businesses don’t have to go it alone. The Manager’s Office operates a website that provides entrepreneurs with information on grants, loans, workshops and planning. It highlights local businesses and provides links to valuable resources. The Mon Valley Regional Chamber of Commerce is located in Charleroi. In 2012, a group of business owners and the Greater Charleroi Community Development Corporation joined forces to form TEAM Charleroi, promoting community and business development.

When those first Belgian immigrants saw the Mon River Valley and built the town of Charleroi, they knew they had found a great place to ply their trade. The manufacturing engine that once drove the community’s commerce may have moved on, but the Mon is still there, along with the opportunity to grow a successful business in this town on its banks.



WENDY DUCHENE is an attorney with offices in Allegheny and Somerset Counties. She is also an avid user of the many hiking and biking trails in western PA, where she can often be found on her recumbent bike or walking her dog Sander.

This story was created in partnership with the Keystone Edge.

UpTo – Charleroi Small Business Resource Fair 07/22 & 07/29

UpTo- Charleroi  Small Business Resource Fair 07/22 & 07/29

  • Wednesday July 22 & Wednesday July 29
  • 4:00pm – 7:00pm
  • UpTo Charleroi at 209 Fifth Street

There will be exhibitors highlighting resources available to small business.  This could include local non-profits, financial institutions, planning and design services and more. It is an Open House style where attendees can stop in any time.  A brief welcome/presentation will take place at 5:30pm.  Light refreshments will be available.  Please respond tojennifer@whatareyouupto.org  if you have any questions or need any additional information. Your RSVP is appreciate so we can plan the space accordingly.

The River Town Program in West Virginia welcomes Morgantown, Star City and Fairmont

Hub LogoThe River Town Program in West Virginia welcomes Morgantown, Star City and Fairmont.  This program is managed by Patrick Kirby of Civic Elements and is an initiative of the West Virginia Development Hub.

Since 2009 the West Virginia Community Development Hub has been at the heart of local efforts to improve West Virginia’s economy, health, leadership and quality of life. It does this by helping local communities boost their for capacity for community development, by facilitating collaboration and coordination among development sectors, and by turning the needs and concerns of West Virginia’s citizens into policy change. For more information, visit wvhub.org

Main Street Fairmont is creating a weekly “buzz´ with their 1230 Thursday gatherings to discuss all things Fairmont!

d3e6914a252ae2b72b8935f0_420x236According to the newsletter (contact kate@mainstreetfairmont.org) the 1230 Room is a weekly work session meant to everyone a voice in the community.   A platform for change as new ideas are embraced and discussed as well as a chance to make new connections.

One of the initiatives from this group is known as BAD Buildings Group.   A small committed group of volunteers working now on inventorying the blighted, abandoned and dilapidated —BAD—- buildings throughout the city.

Learn more about the BAD Buildings Program at www.fairmontwv.gov/392/BAD-Buildings-Group