In Reply
Off the Wall, May 4 , 2017

In response to Derry Resident Richard Fitzpatrick’s letter of April 11, 2017, in the Latrobe Bulletin, for one, I commend him for the promotion of maintaining business in downtown Latrobe. Supporting local business is prime to keeping a small town active.

On the other hand, if Mr. Fitzpatrick may recall several years back, many improvements that weren’t visible then are in in place today thanks to any number of people of the community especially The Latrobe Community Revitalization Program (LCRP) under the supervision of Executive Director Jarold Trunzo.

Yes, it is true. It is always hard to see a business move out such as Payne and Dumont. And you were right, their fine products and top-notch service encouraged customers to return time after time because they were aware of all that the store had to offer, particularly the friendly, courteous employees, and yes, the ‘Johnny on the spot’ service calls.

If one takes a look around any community there are always going to be businesses that bow out for various reasons. That happens.

Payne and Dumont was in business for close to fifty years, I, for twenty-two, and others much less because they didn’t understand that in Latrobe it takes ten years to get established.

Three cheers for Payne and Dumont. One never had to even give concern about the people not being cordial. One was greeted with professionalism. Yes, we as residents were all sorry to see these good people go. So, I agree with your point of view, Mr. Fitzpatrick.

But we also must look on to the future and recognize the fact that the LCRP continues to seek grants to improve what I have come to call our tourist community.

Any outsider who is reading this commentary has to recognize the facts that Latrobe is just that. Here are just a few of the many, many firsts that has put us on the map. Home of: Mr. Rogers, Arnold Palmer, first banana split, the Lincoln Highway, the nation’s first coast to coast highway that marked the birth of popular American tourism, Boniface Wimmer who founded the St. Vincent Archabbey, the former Latrobe Brewery that manufactured Rolling Rock Beer, Gregory Forbes who is the weather expert for The Weather Channel, Jackie Mason, comedian, and Joe Page, major league pitcher.

We have a popular airport named after Arnold Palmer, The Fred Rogers Center at St. Vincent College, and an annual Banana Split Celebration honoring David E. Strickler’s mouthwatering invention.

As a community-minded optimist, I know the past will never return. But on the other hand, Trunzo continues to work diligently to give Latrobe a new appearance that will bring businesses back to Latrobe. Just for readers’ information a good number of new businesses have begun transacting in the city. As the LCRP adds more improvement to our place of residency, prospective entrepreneurs will want to pick Latrobe over some of the other towns.

Who wouldn’t want to start up a business in Latrobe, in my opinion? With a new bridge being built that will serve as an invitation into the business district, trees planted in downtown and flowerbeds maintained throughout the city, can things get better?

Most definitely, Mr. Fitzpatrick. From the time he took office to the present date, Trunzo has done more and will do more to make downtown Latrobe the tourist community it has become.

Take that little park across the street from The Latrobe Art Center. So much improvement has been added to that once vacant lot. During the season of Christmas, black tall planters were ornamented with small Christmas trees decorated by residents. And third, we now have a bronze statue of Mr. Rogers sitting on a bench overlooking Rogers Park on the corner of Jefferson and Main Streets.

Latrobe residents care about their community. Their goal - to donate their time and money to always improving its appearance. By doing so, people, including business owners will want to move to Latrobe.

I could go on and on what the LCRP is doing and has done for our community, but before I close, I have to mention The Latrobe Farmers’ Market. Promoted by the LCRP, it has become a tremendous drawing card to bring people into Latrobe. Without people there is no commerce and without business, people move away.

But I can’t see that happening, looking into the future.

Things will improve, sir. Visit Latrobe often and you will see the changes for the better!

- Paul J. Volkmann
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