Mid Mon Making its Mark

Washington PA  Observer Reporter
29 December 2011
By Emily Petsko, Staff writer

Pennsylvania rivers are praised for their natural beauty, recreational outlets and historical significance, but only one is named the River of the Year annually.

The program has been sponsored since 1983 through the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources in conjunction with the Pennsylvania Organization for Watersheds and Rivers. A $10,000 grant to be used for year-long community events is awarded to the organization sponsoring the winning river, and this year, the Middle Monongahela River is one of four finalists.

The Middle Monongahela, which runs from Brownsville to Elizabeth, was nominated for being a source of both commerce and recreation. Other finalists include the Upper Juniata River, which is composed of two rivers that merge near Petersburg; the Kiskiminetas River, which runs from Saltsburg to Freeport; and the Stonycreek River, located between Somerset County and Johnstown.

Anyone can vote for the river of his or her choice on the POWR website. As of Wednesday, the Middle Monongahela was leading with 31.9 percent of the vote, with the Stonycreek River following close behind with 31.7 percent.

The Brownsville Area Revitalization Corp. - which aims to improve the community of Brownsville by promoting cultural events and local businesses - is planning to use the grant for several sojourns along the river and other activities if the Middle Monongahela is selected.

Dennis Cremonese, BARC executive director, said that if chosen, there is a possibility for a celebratory symphony concert and painted mural along the wall of the Brownsville wharf, but no plans are definite.

"We have a lot of ideas, but you don't count your chickens before they're hatched," Cremonese said.

If chosen, BARC plans to partner with the Redevelopment Authority of Fayette County, Rotary Club, Greater Brownsville Chamber of Commerce and Brownsville Historical Society to establish event programming for 2012.

Cremonese said BARC is pleased with the opportunity for the Middle Monongahela to gain recognition as a recreational outlet and natural landmark.

"We certainly hope it stands a good chance of winning. I think as far as rivers go, they all are unique in their own right," he said. "There is a lot of beauty along this section of the river."

To vote, visit www.pawatersheds.org/vote/. Voting is open until midnight Saturday, and each person is allowed one vote.