Off the Wall, January 15,

Now, I realize my title is not a real word. On the other hand, it speaks its worth, particularly when one hears comments such as Allen Snifendoodel laid on me recently when I spoke about businesses in downtown Latrobe.

A matter of fact, I mentioned three outlets, Farmers Insurance, Trader Dan’s and Gypsy Cowgirls Novelty Shop and Colonial Cleaners, all within blocks of each other. Regarding the latter, Al stated, “I didn’t know there was a dry cleaners downtown,” to which I replied, “Can you name three stores that are in the main business district?” Guess what? There was silence which filled the air for several seconds.

When I heard recently that there is a growing trend in our country toward obesity, I know why. I blame the motorized vehicles. How often has one heard, “Oh, I’m out of milk and bread? I’ll be right back. I have to go get them.” And these people jump into their cars and off they go – three to five blocks, buy the items, and then zoom back to their residence.

Or maybe people, such as my acquaintance, will head out of town to the mall or even the Latrobe Shoppes to a certain store there when we have the same products right downtown under our noses at various locations.

Then we have Alice Wichersnazel. Just about every time she is in my midst, she keeps complaining, “We have to bring new businesses into Latrobe. It’s terrible. Look at all the empty store fronts. Again, I state, “Sure, in every little town (and I consider my home town a small city), there are going to be empty store fronts, but with organizations such as the Latrobe Revitalization Program under the leadership of Jarod Trunzo, things are beginning to happen.”

Why do people just sit and look at me when I tell them the truth, now I ask? Could it be that they are displaying their ignorance?

I think both Alice and Allen should buddy up and get out of their vehicles and take a walk up Main Street from Jefferson to Alexandria Streets and on Ligonier Street from Holy Family Church to the railroad bridge. Their eyes may be opened and they may take in our community of vendors.

Actually, there has been a surge of new store fronts from State Route 982 and Ligonier, when Sheetz made its presence. All the way from that intersection, up and along Ligonier Street are relatively new businesses. One of those is Willow Tree Gymnastics that is not far from my residence (1544 Ligonier St.) across the street from Frederick Funeral Home. There are a number of businesses between these two points, including a restaurant, an attorney’s office and two new structures being built to replace older buildings that have seen better days.

Don’t tell me Latrobe is a dying town and there are few businesses left. That’s “ear-o-tatting.!”

I had to laugh when Allen called me not long ago to tell me he had actually walked a number of blocks and back to his house. I was about to call the Greater Latrobe High School Band to parade in front of his residence. After all, I felt it was time to party. If he could do that, why not walk the streets of downtown and discover the marketplace that is growing and not dying.

This may be an unsuitable time of the year to make this statement, but maybe there is never a wrong time to plan ahead for what must be future strategies for more store facade improvement. It really doesn’t necessitate high cost values.

Clean windows and a bit of paint can be masterful approach to making a place look upbeat and not rundown. One can resurrect old buildings by utilizing maybe an hour or two of work. A past advertising slogan applies here fantabulously – “A little dab will do it!” Maybe we could call it “Pee Vee’s Brush and Rub Syndrome.” After all, I have gotten into the habit of calling everything that I have coined as to a certain clump of actions, some kind of syndromes. So, why not this, may I ask?

Here again, Trunzo has done magnificently in his leadership for the Latrobe Revitalization Program. Back in December, trees were planted on some of the major Latrobe thruways to beautify the surroundings.

In closing, maybe we should give assignments to all who think downtown Latrobe is a dying town by asking them the question, “Where can one buy gluten-free-bagged cookies?”

- Paul J. Volkmann
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To buy my book, Off the Wall Favorites, call me at 724-539-8850.