MINGO JUNCTION - A group of village residents has been meeting for more than a year trying to move the town forward.
That group, the Mingo Revitalization Committee, is working on beautification projects and trying to spur economic development.
Committee member Alberta Herrick said she talked with former Village Administrator Frank Fuscardo on what they can do as beautification volunteer group to beautify the town.
LOOKING BETTER — Members of the Mingo Revitalization Committee have been working on completing several beautification projects in the village, including turning a vacant lot next to the Municipal Building into a green space. Standing in the lot are committee members, from left, Holly Minch-Hick, Alberta Herrick, Glenna DeBacco, Frank Bovina and Michael Herrick. -- Mark Law
"We wanted to do some baby-step stuff and make the town look nice," Herrick said. "One thing led to another and he (Fuscardo) suggested starting a committee."
The first meeting was by invitation, with business people and residents. Others joined, and Frank Bovina came on as chairman.
Michael Herrick, who serves on the committee as Village Council representative, said there are about 18 people now on the Mingo Revitalization Committee. The group meets on the second and fourth Mondays of the month.
"It is a diversified group, with both young and older people. It is a good mixture," Michael Herrick said.
There are school officials, business owners and grandparents on the committee, said committee member Holly Minch-Hick.
Alberta Herrick said the committee wanted to get students involved in projects. The group met with principals at the schools, who agreed to allow the kids to participate.
Bovina said Fuscardo visualized the committee could do other projects. Fuscardo said the committee then started looking at providing additional business services in the village, such as getting a bank back in the town.
Fuscardo left the administrator post and was replaced by Charlie Bowman. Bovina said Bowman picked up on helping the committee. Bovina said Bowman had a planning background and began preparing a strategic plan for Mingo Junction.
Bowman didn't see the revitalization committee as just taking care of beautification projects but also focusing on various areas of development, Bovina said. He added other communities have used similar committees in the economic-development process.
Bovina said the former Progress Alliance members were at the first revitalization committee meetings, but Progress Alliance and the Community Improvement Corp. disbanded to allow the county port authority to take over economic development work throughout the county.
Bovina said the tight village finances were a major stumbling block for the revitalization committee.
"We decided we could still do things in our own realm," Bovina said.
Committee member Glenna DeBacco said the group has been meeting for about a year but now is just getting momentum.
"We hung in there when it appeared nothing was being done," she said.
The committee recently received a $1,000 grant from the JB Green Team that will be used to turn a vacant lot next to the Municipal Building into a green space.
DeBacco said DiGregrory's Greenhouse in Steubenville has helped with the design, which will include trees and flowers.
Alberta Herrick said the group also is pursuing other grant opportunities.
Other beautification projects being considered are Potter Springs, which is a national historical landmark for where George Washington once slept while surveying land in 1770; the restroom building at the swimming pool at Aracoma Park; and the clock tower in downtown.
The revitalization committee also is planning a beautification day in the village on May 2. Mingo Pharmacy donated $250 to the Junior National Honor Society at Indian Creek Middle School that will be used on the beautification day.
Committee member Jodie Fitzgerald has established a Facebook page for the committee, which also is looking to establish a website on the Internet. Bovina said the committee wants a professionally designed website that shows what land is available for business development.
Bovina noted the group is in the process of developing a strategic plan for the village.
Questionnaires are available at the village water office. The committee is asking residents and business owners to fill out the questionnaire that ask about the the positive aspects of the town and what they want to see in town in the future.
"It asks about the strengths and weaknesses that will help us develop a vision for the community -what do people want the community to become," Bovina said.
The results of the survey and the strategic plan will be presented to the public and Village Council, probably in the late summer or fall.
"It will be our guiding light as far as other projects," Bovina said. "It is the same mechanism other communities have used."
Bovina wants to get the Mingo Business Association, Women's Club and Lions Club involved in the strategic plan and workings of the revitalization committee so everyone in town can have a common vision.
"We hope to work in conjunction with those groups on various projects," Bovina said.
Michael Herrick said a meeting needs to be scheduled with those groups so they can be informed where the revitalization committee stands and allow the organizations to make suggestions.
Minch-Hick said the possibilities are limitless as far as what the group can do to develop the community.
"We are not a council meeting," Alberta Herrick said. Minch-Hick said, "We have a common vision."
Bovina added the members each bring their own expertise.
"I have a young family and want my children to live in a nice community," Minch-Hick said.
DeBacco said she believes the townspeople have a sense that the village has to change and move on.
"We are trying to focus on everyone's common ground," Bovina said.
"We have a strong community with good people," Minch-Hick added.
"Mingo has always had a strong sense of pride and family," Bovina said. "We can take the view of (the town) is failing, why try, or Mingo will redevelop and there is a future. We can take that as a precept and move forward. As a group, we have decided we are here for the longterm. There will be some short-term goals."
"We have beautiful schools. It is comforting to have an elementary school in your community," Minch-Hick added.
Bovina said the town also has Aracoma Park and a swimming pool. "It makes us an attractive community for young families. It is still conveniently located, being about 45 minutes from the (Pittsburgh International) airport.
There is potential economic development in town, including the oil and gas industry and the mill site now owned by Frontier Industrial, Bovina said.
"I can see all positive things happening," he stated.
Bovina noted the downtown area is the difficult part of the redevelopment efforts. He said in the old days, state Route 7 ran through the downtown, and there were businesses lining both sides of Commercial Street.
"One big question for the village is how to put that environment back where business can use each other. That has to be discussed with council, residents and the business community."
Bovina said the committee has gone from baby steps to slowly walking by developing relationships, finding funding and setting up projects.
"We are such a strong group and committed. We are determine and we will not quit," Minch-Hick said.
"I feel proud of the fact people are coming to the meetings," Michael Herrick said.
"We want young people to be involved. We recognize the need for them to continue on," Bovina said.