EDITORIAL: Laurels & Lances: Celebrated centenarians, slippery silence, real recycling

·3 min read

Jun. 11—Laurel: To longevity with brio. Newspapers usually wait for an occurrence of threes to cite a trend, but two will do in this case. This week, we observed the 100th birthdays of two dynamic men: Ufemio "Fem" Biagioni of Leechburg and Frank Pugliano Sr. of Washington Township.

Both are Italian immigrants who came to America before elementary school. They both served in World War II — Biagioni in the Navy, on the USS Boise; Pugliano in the Army, in the Pacific Theater. They settled into their communities, enjoyed long marriages and raised loving families. Pugliano credits his "good Italian genes" for keeping him around this long, and Biagioni's daughter, Karen Zimmerman, noted that longevity seems to run in the family ("his Uncle Ralph lived to almost 102").

Proper nutrition played a role. "My diet is whatever I want to eat, I eat," said Pugliano, who regularly downs three eggs, bacon, hash browns, toast and coffee at Kings. Biagioni keeps going with a Burger King Whopper Jr., fries and Diet Dr. Pepper, followed by trips to Dairy Queen.

But both of these gentleman are possessed with a positive attitude that is life-sustaining. They've served their local communities in various ways, maintained good humor and kept up their social connections. It's an inspiration to anyone of any age.

Lance: To tight lips that sink confidence. The director of the Westmoreland County Election Bureau, JoAnn Sebastiani, was suspended for several days this week — with pay, but with no public explanation by her bosses, the Westmoreland County commissioners. "We can't talk about personnel issues," the county solicitor said.

The axiom of "least said, soonest mended" does not apply in the case of a public servant serving a crucial role, especially someone overseeing elections. At any time, they are the linchpin of governance; at the present moment, the nation's election systems are under scrutiny for reasons real and imagined. This is no time to cloak actions surrounding election administration in a veil of mystery.

Sebastiani, named director in August, was handed a tough job under trying circumstances. County leaders can't keep the public in the dark, casting a cloud over a professional's reputation while eroding confidence in the important work she oversees.

Laurel: To many happy returns. The habit of recycling household waste is encouraged by its ease — and belief in its value. But the word is getting around: Recycling is less valuable because markets don't want contaminated products. It's a result of plastic, paper and glass going out in one blue bin, and sorted later.

The municipalities of O'Hara, Aspinwall and Blawnox have the right idea. They've set up a glass-only recycling bin at the O'Hara Township Office, opening Saturday. The economics are favorable for transforming pure streams of discarded glass. Yes, it's a bit of a hassle to lug it to 325 Fox Chapel Road. But the efforts will be rewarded by the realization that the shards will see new life — and save the local governments a few bucks down the line.

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