Food or prizes? There seems to be some disagreement as to why more than 300 people flocked to the Crowne Plaza Pittsburgh South on Nov. 6 to attend Bethel Bounty.
The annual event is the primary fundraiser for the Bethel Park Community Foundation (BPCF). The municipality’s largest philanthropic organization has raised more than $1 million in 20 years to provide scholarships and grants to students, businesses and organizations within the community.
Of the event, which featured some 16 food vendors and more than 50 raffled prizes, Raj Jadhav said that it is good to see all the local businesses and the community present in one place. A Peters Township resident, Jadhav is one of three investors/owners in Highpoint Fitness Center, located in the AHN Health and Wellness Pavilion on Higbee Drive.
“I like the awards that they do at the end of the show especially,” he said of the prize raffles. “I would still be here even if they didn’t have food. It’s a fun event. You get to see some people that you don’t normally see in your everyday life.”
Andy Amrhein is glad to hear such comments. A lifelong BP resident, he is one of Bethel Park Community Foundation’s at-large members and a board of trustee member. He is also the proprietor of Evey True Value Hardware, one of the event’s major sponsors. Plus, Amrhein co-chairs the event with Katie Hogue as well as serves as the event’s emcee.
Amrhein admits the food is the draw, even though this year’s giveaways afforded more chances to win. Local merchants donated high-end to regular prizes: everything from jewelry to paintings; a big-screen television to a fire pit; an Ooni oven to a lightweight vacuum cleaner.
“People love them both, but if you just had a roomful of prizes and no food, I don’t know if they would come back next year,” Armhein said. “Between the food and the wine, the beer and desserts, everyone is very happy and their bellies are full at the end of the day.”
After the sold-out event, the BPCF’s coffers were full, too.
In the past year, the organization has awarded a $30,000 grant to the South Park Theatre for the construction of a concrete patio. A similar amount provided 18 scholarships to students. The Bethel Park Public Library was the recipient of a $13,000 grant, and $10,000 each was donated to the Bethel Park Recreation Farmer’s Market as well as the Bethel Park Historical Society.
“The foundation does so much for the community, and everyone in the community knows about us now,” Amrhein said. “It’s heartwarming that when we have an event like this people want to come and support us.
“We couldn’t do it without the food vendors,” he added. “It’s not a struggle to find them. They want to be part of it too because they know how important it is for them and their businesses. We like showcasing them because without them we couldn’t do the event.”
Among the vendors to provide edibles from their establishments were: Metz Culinary Management, Rowdy BBQ, The Pie Place, Pasta Too, Ma and Pop’s Country Kitchen, Crave, Nemacolin Country Club, Trolley Stop Inn, Rice Inn, Cyd West Comfort Catering, Judy’s Java Join, Toss Pizza and Wings, Spoonwood Brewery, Piada Italian Street Food, Bethel Bakery and Dairy Queen.
In addition to Evey True Value Hardware, sponsors at the $1,000 Diamond level included: Brentwood Bank, Peak Energy, Bethel Bakery and Santel Landscaping and Design. The $500 Platinum sponsors included: Staley Electric, 412 Property Sisters, Highpoint Fitness, Bob McTiernan, Tucker Arnsberg, Sam Moore and Hess Physical Therapy
Added TouchesWhile the food and prizes are staples of Bethel Bounty, the event added a few new touches this year.
In addition to members of the high school’s National Honor Society, the Interact Club and the Young Marines served as volunteers, performing essential tasks such as bussing tables and assisting in other areas.
“We do a lot of community service, including outside events like this,” said Addison Hill of the Interact Club. “We’re here to help. We serve. That’s what we do.”
Bethel Bounty made a good first impression upon Hill and her 10 volunteers.
“It is absolutely beautiful how everything is put together,” said the senior. “I can tell a lot of work was put into it with all the raffle baskets and all the organization with the tables and the vendors outside.”
Hill and her friends were eager to sample items, especially the goodies from Bethel Bakery.
“They always have something very nicely put together. Just very well-rounded,” Hill said.
Brody Pava agreed. In full military regalia, he has been involved in the Young Marines since his mother saw them perform a ceremony at the Jefferson Memorial Cemetery, Funeral Home, Crematory & Arboretum in Pleasant Hills.
Pava said the Young Marines and Bethel Bounty are both great programs.
“It’s pretty fun, and everything looks so nice,” he observed. “Lots of food. Bethel Bakery is what I want to try,” he added.
Joan Morton adores Bethel Bakery as much as Bethel Bounty itself. A former teacher and the wife of the former mayor (Clifford), she relished the opportunity to reconnect with old friends like John Walsh, owner of the bakery. She also shared memories with a parent whose children she had in class.
“This is one of my favorite places,” Morton said. “I love to be here because of all the people and friendliness. We meet all kinds of wonderful people here and many from out of the past.”
Guests, like Morton and many others, had the opportunity to document the event thanks to a free photo booth. Emme (elite’s magical mirror experience) provided the services, a first for Bethel Bounty.
“It was something different that we felt could appeal to everyone. We thought it would add to the fun,” said Katie Hogue, who helped chair the event with Amrhein.
Hogue noted the company donated the booth and all photos were complimentary and texted to individually. It was just another added touch that makes the event special.
“I think it is the coming together of business and all the community members. We have everyone here from the school board to the mayor, to the students, adults and businesspeople. They are all coming together for one purpose. Raising money for the foundation is special because all the funds go right back into the community. It’s all about supporting the community that is near and dear to our hearts.”
Bethel Park certainly is Amrhein’s favorite spot. He said that he has no desire to ever leave the municipality.
“It’s a big community with a very big heart and a small country feel,” he said. “Everybody knows everyone. I could walk down the street and know 99% of the people I come in contact with, and that’s the way the other people in the community feel. Even when somebody moves to the community, they may not know anybody but within a week, they will have had at least a dozen people come up and introduce themselves.
“That’s Bethel Park,” he continued. “It has a big heart and they care for each other. It is obvious by the people that are here.”
Because of this year’s success – the event sold out within two weeks – Amrhein says Bethel Bounty may be looking for a bigger home. “So we can grow some more,” he noted.
“We are thrilled to death and very excited about the turnout. Everyone is happy and smiling,”
And those who overindulged may wish to heed the advice of George Hess. The owner of Hess Physical Therapy was a first-year attendant. He passed out beverages along with Matt Melczak and Jessica Homer, who are employed at the business located on Fort Couch Road.
“Maybe they should get some rest for a little bit. Let that food digest and then get back to it and exercise to burn off some of those calories. Just don’t get hurt doing it,” he advised.
Hess added it won’t hurt the business to return to Bethel Bounty.
“It’s fantastic. Something terrific in the community,” Hess said.. “The people here are fantasti,c and we were really happy and excited to be part of this and looking forward to being part of it in the future.”
Mt. Lebanon and Pittsburgh gets a jump on the season when they light up the night for the holidays.
On Nov. 17, from 6 to 8 p.m., Mt. Lebanon transforms into a winter wonderland with its annual lighting of the tree at Clearview Common. In addition to music and other activities, there will be a visit from the North Pole’s most distinguished resident.
Festivities switch to downtown on Nov. 18 as the 11th annual Peoples Gas Holiday Market opens in Market Square and on Nov. 19 with the 61st annual Highmark Light Up Night.
The Holiday Market will open daily at 11 a.m. Closing hours are 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 9:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 6 p.m. Sundays until Dec. 24. The Holiday Market will not be open on Nov. 24, Thanksgiving Day.
The Holiday Market weaves through wooden chalets brimming with high-quality gifts and experiences filled with international flair and local charm.
The Rink at PPG Place opens at 4:45 p.m. Nov. 18 with a figure skating show by the Robert Morris University Island Sports and East End Kids followed by the Tribute of Light ceremony honoring those who have been affected by cancer. Grayson Pulling, 6, from Youngstown will flip the switch on the holiday tree at approximately 6 p.m.
Also on Nov. 18, Santa arrives at noon and will be available for visits at his brand new house in the Heinz Hall Courtyard. Regular season hours until Dec. 23 will be noon to 3 p.m. and 4 to 7 p.m. Wednesdays through Friday; noon to 8 p.m. Saturdays and noon to 6 p.m. Sundays.
On Nov. 19, several other trees will be lit throughout the city.
At 5 p.m. the city-county building event will feature the City of Pittsburgh Tree illuminated with a rooftop fireworks display. At 6 p.m. the Highmark Tree will be lit with similar pomp between Stanwix Street and Penn Avenue. The evening concludes with a fireworks display from the Allegheny Overlook on Ft. Duquesne Boulevard at 9:30 p.m.
Throughout the day there will be music and entertainment at a variety of venues. Joan Jett and the Blackhearts is the headliner event at 8:30 p.m.
Visit downtownpittsburgh.com/holidays for more details.
Many other South Hills municipalities get into the Spirit of the Season later in the month and at the start of December.
After two years outdoors due to the pandemic, Bethel Park returns to an indoor tree-lighting event on Nov. 30 at the community center, located on Park Avenue. Events run from 6 to 8 p.m.
The high school orchestra and the Independence Middle School singers will provide the musical entertainment as citizens await the arrival of Santa. There will be a reindeer food-making station, selfie-photo booth, hot chocolate bar and cookies provided by Bethel Bakery.
Event organizer Emily Skoczlas is eager to experience her first BP Light-up Night. She is the new assistant director at the recreation center.
“I’m excited to see how the community comets together to celebrate the holidays,” she said. “It should be a real exciting evening. I know I’ve had fun organizing it and all the volunteers have been helpful as I navigated putting together this event.”
Beverly Brite Nite will be the second of two tree illuminating ceremonies in Mt. Lebanon. The holiday tradition closes down Beverly Road from 7 to 8:30 p.m. for a night of carols, holiday treats and a visit from Santa.
Dormont will hold a Home for the Holidays event from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dec. 3. Events kick off with a parade followed by an outdoor holiday event along Potomac Avenue featuring activities, music and an artisan fair.
Peters Township’s Holiday Kickoff will be held at 6 p.m. Dec. 4 at the community recreation center on Meredith Drive in Venetia.
Participants should bring along a letter with a return address or create one at the event to give to Santa as he makes his checklist. The event will also feature crafts, games and refreshments.
Carnegie will celebrate the season with carols and a tree lighting ceremony from 6 to 8 p.m. Dec. 2 at the borough building located on One Veterans Way. Cookies and hot chocolate will be provided.
Carnegie is also hosting a holiday farmers market from noon to 3 p.m. Nov. 20 on East Main Street between Mary and Broadway. In addition to produce, there will be assorted beverages, flowers, jewelry, preserves, art, baked goods, candles, pet food and accessories, essential oils, pierogi, hummus, mosaics, soaps and empanadas.
Visit: www.carnegieborough.com or call 412-276-1414 for more details.
Canonsburg’s Old Fashioned Christmas will be held from 4 to 9 p.m. Dec. 2 and from noon to 9 p.m. Dec.3.
The tree-lighting ceremony starts at 6 p.m. Dec. 2 at the borough building, located on East Pike Street. The parade begins at 6 p.m. Dec. 3 near Iron Street and Greenside Avenue.
On both days there will be Christmas Markets at three different locations as well as a miniature train display at the City Mission Thrift Store on West Pike Street. Additionally, there will be photos with Santa, Christmas and gingerbread house competitions.
Visit https://www.canonsburgsoldfashionedchristmas.com for an entire list of activities.
South Hills Lights will be held at 5 p.m. Dec. 19 at the Dormont Pool parking lot as neighbors and friends of Chabad of the South Hills participate in a Chanukah grand menorah lighting event. The evening features music, latkes, doughnuts and Chanukah swag.
Holiday bells, mallets and drums will fill the air during the Mt. Lebanon annual holiday concert being held at 7 p.m. Dec. 9 and at 1 and 7 p.m. Dec. 10 in the high school auditorium. Mt. Lebanon students provide the entertainment.
The Joy of Christmas Craft Show will be held from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Nov. 19 at St. Louise de Marillac School and LeGras Parish Center. The Labouré Ladies Guild’s annual event includes 115 artists and crafters, auction and 50/50 raffle. Lunch and snacks will be available for purchase. Admission is $2.
A work-related argument turned deadly when the manager of a Scott Township fast-food restaurant shot and killed an employee Wednesday, according to Allegheny County police.
Zairyre Simmons, 23, faces a homicide charge and additional felonies of receiving stolen property and carrying a firearm without a license.
According to the criminal complaint, Simmons is the manager of the Taco Bell at 1690 Cochran Road. Police said Simmons pursued Dorian Carver, 32, from the restaurant to the nearby Northwestern Mutual office, where Simmons shot him at about noon Wednesday.
Carver was declared dead at the scene. According to the complaint, a couple days before the shooting, Simmons filed a disciplinary write-up on Carver. On Wednesday they argued about the write-up and had to be separated, according to the complaint.
An employee at Northwestern Mutual identified Simmons as the shooter to police. According to the complaint, Carver went into the building and asked the employee if he could use the phone to call his girlfriend.
Before Carver could provide the number, Simmons walked into the lobby and pulled a gun on Carver, according to the complaint. Police said no one else was in the lobby at the time.
The employee fled for a rear exit and reported hearing at least three gun shots before getting out of the building.
The shooting led to police blocking off a large perimeter around the scene as they searched for the suspect. Mt. Lebanon Police posted to Facebook during the search that Lincoln Elementary School was sheltering in place out of caution, but that there was no immediate danger.
According to the complaint, police found a firearm behind a vacant building next to Northwestern Mutual and learned it had been reported stolen out of Pittsburgh last month.
Simmons turned himself in to police at about 7:45 p.m. Wednesday. He was arraigned Thursday morning before District Judge Eugene Ricciardi, who sent him to the Allegheny County Prison without bond.
Simmons is due to appear for a preliminary hearing at 8 a.m. Dec. 2.
The “red wave” of Republican victories many prognosticators predicted did not sweep across the country in the midterm election that concluded Tuesday, and that was reflected in the victory of Democrat Chris Deluzio in the 17th Congressional District.
The district sweeps from Mt. Lebanon, South Fayette and Scott Township on its southern edge, up to Ross Township, Wexford and into Beaver County, mixing together upscale voters in suburban neighborhoods along with blue-collar voters in small towns and rural areas. It has all the ingredients of a swing district, and the contest between Deluzio and his Republican opponent, former Ross Township commissioner Jeremy Shaffer, was bitterly fought. Millions of dollars in attack ads flooded local airwaves paid for by the campaigns and outside groups. However, in the end, Deluzio won the seat with 52% of the vote to Shaffer’s 46%, as of totals available on Wednesday afternoon.
Deluzio, a voting rights attorney, had a slightly larger margin of victory than outgoing Democrat Conor Lamb, who did not run for reelection to the seat. In 2020, Lamb took 51% of the vote, with Republican Sean Parnell getting 48%.
In a statement released after the contest was called in his favor, Deluzio said, “We won this race because we offered something different. The good people of Western Pennsylvania believe, as I do, in fighting for the common good, for our shared prosperity, for a government that serves all of us and puts people first. It will be the honor of my lifetime to represent all of us in Congress.”
Conceding the race, Shaffer said, “We honor the results that are there. We’re going to be continuing to work in our communities to try to make a difference.”
U.S. Rep. Guy Reschenthaler, a Republican, ran unopposed in the 14th Congressional District, which includes Peters Township. Democrat Summer Lee will go to Capitol Hill in January, representing the 12th Congressional District, which includes Bethel Park, Bridgeville, Pittsburgh and parts of Westmoreland County. Lee defeated Republican Mike Doyle, a candidate with the same name as the veteran Democrat who is vacating the seat.
The battle between Deluzio and Shaffer was the marquee race in the South Hills, but voters also made decisions on who would represent them in Harrisburg. The night was good for incumbents, as Democratic incumbent state Rep. Anita Astorino Kulik won reelection in a redrawn 45th Legislative District against Republican Mike Pendel.
In the 40th Legislative District, which includes Peters Township, Upper St. Clair and Bethel Park, incumbent Republican state Rep. Natalie Mihalek easily won reelection over Democrat Chris Todd.