FOR YEARS, residents of the Mon Valley have complained that since the collapse of the steel industry a generation ago they have lived in a land that time forgot when it comes to development and progress. But there's no ignoring Braddock Mayor John Fetterman, 39, a native of York, Pa., who came to Braddock in 2001 to work with AmeriCorps and stayed. Lately he has become a national celebrity by talking up the town's need for revitalization and investment, last week appearing on Comedy Central's "The Colbert Report" and FoxNews' "Studio B w/Shepard Smith" and being earlier featured in a New York Times article. As the Post-Gazette reported last week, Mr. Fetterman is a striking figure with his bald head, goatee, 300-pound-plus 6-foot-8-inch frame and his master's degree in public policy from Harvard University. Good luck to him. Braddock needs the attention.
IF ALL ROADS don't lead to Braddock, then its residents can be comforted by the knowledge that in the Pittsburgh region the roads are often clogged by construction anyway. District 11 of PennDOT last week issued this year's $369 million construction and maintenance plan for Allegheny, Beaver and Lawrence counties. We are in for it -- plans call for closing the Parkway West near Interstate 79 on several weekends, with major work on Route 28, the West End Circle, McKees Rocks Bridge and the Robinson Town Centre interchange, among other projects. The work has to be done, of course, and it certainly will provide jobs.
AS HINTS of spring filled the air last week, another harbinger of warmer days was unfolding in Bradenton, Fla. On Wednesday, the Pirates opened their 35-game exhibition season with an 8-2 thrashing of the world champion Philadelphia Phillies. One robin does not a spring make, just as one orange cone does not a construction season make, but we'll take it as a good omen anyway, because hope springs eternal in the human baseball lover's breast.