Pirates excitement building

Residents of our area have always been supportive of the Pittsburgh Pirates, through the good times and bad.

That’s why it’s never been a big surprise when our annual Steubenville-Weirton Community Night events are so very well attended.

This year’s event, which happened July 13, certainly exceeded many expectations. More than 500 area residents made the trip to PNC Park to see the Pirates down the Mets, 4-2, and enjoy the always-popular postgame fireworks. The local contingent filled seven buses, with many more attendees driving themselves to the game.

There’s a real sense of excitement about this year’s Pirates. Five members of the club made this year’s All-Star team, and the team had the second-best record in the major leagues going into the All-Star break.

Fans are picking up on the enthusiasm that is displayed on the field day in and day out, from manager Clint Hurdle on down.

It’s an exciting time to be a fan – and that’s certainly reflected not only in attendance at PNC Park, but in talk all over the region.

While the Pirates and Mets and community night were undeniably a big draw on July 13, it’s important to note that last weekend was certainly a busy one in our area.

For example, the United Way of Jefferson County held its 14th-annual Memorial Pledge Ride July 13.

The event, which started and ended at Manfred’s on Sunset Boulevard, attracted about 90 participants. Traditionally one of the biggest fundraising events of the year, this year’s ride brought in about $8,000, money which will benefit the local United Way’s member agencies and help area residents.

A big reason for the success of the event was the efforts of Beth Rupert-Warren, the United Way’s executive director; Jodi Goff, the administrative assistant; Anthony Mougianis, this year’s campaign chair; and, of course, Judy Manfred and her hard-working staff.

As a current board member and former president, it’s great to see the campaign get off to a strong start, and this year’s pledge ride did just that.

Last Sunday, the Jefferson County Animal Welfare League held its annual benefit event at St. Florian Hall. With a theme of “A Sunny Day at the Beach,” the event served as a way to recognize the area businesses and individuals who donate their time and money.

Janet Polverini, the AWL program director and fundraising chairperson, Arlene MacQuown, the AWL treasurer, and all of the hard-working volunteers deserve to be commended for the work they do through the year.

And, finally, I, like many residents of Steubenville and the Tri-State Area, was saddened to learn of the death of Tom Abernethy. In addition to being an institution in local radio, Abernethy, who died July 13 at the age of 83, was heavily involved in the community and worked hard to make our area a better place for everyone to live in.

I remember listening to him on the former WSTV-AM (1340 since 1940, silent since December 2011), and, while I never had the opportunity to work with him, I was able to talk with him on many occasions and was able to pick up some sound advice about working in the media.

I can remember running into Abernethy and another local media icon, the late Charles “Red” Donley, while walking down the street or shopping for groceries. We’d discuss stories that had appeared in the paper or reports we had heard on the radio or seen on WTOV-TV, and I was always struck about the encouragement both of the old pros offered the then-young sports writer.

Just knowing that Abernethy and Donley were reading the stories I was writing and were willing to offer up little critiques here and there and a dose of encouragement meant a lot.

As I remind myself again and again, the lessons I learned about the craft of journalism from longtime mentor and friend Marian Houser as well as the late Jim Joyce, John Kirker, Abernethy and Donley were powerful and continue to serve me well.

(Gallabrese, a resident of Steubenville, is executive editor of the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times.)