Road-WorkOn June 30th the outbound lane of the Bloomfield Bridge was closed from Bigelow Boulevard to Liberty Avenue. The lane will remain closed to traffic for 44 days and is the first leg of a 13-month reconstruction project that will include the complete concrete reconstruction of the Bloomfield Bridge, as well as Bigelow Boulevard between the Bloomfield Bridge and Baum Boulevard, and Baum to Morewood Avenue.

The improvement project, which will cost $12.34M, will be implemented in five phases and is projected for completion in July of 2016. In addition to bridge and road improvements, PennDOT will also install new traffic signals at many intersections.

At a public meeting in June, a PennDOT spokesman introduced representatives from Swank Construction Company, the contractor on the project. While community members generally approved of the plan to improve the neighborhood’s deteriorating roadways, they voiced concerns about detour routes, noise, dust, and increased traffic. Several attendees pointed out that PennDOT had bypassed community groups when planning the project and noted that involving them would have ensured that the plan aligned with their communities’ current vision and master plans.

To accommodate traffic during Little Italy Days, PennDOT has agreed to open as many safely operational lanes into Bloomfield as possible. The Department has also agreed to a second community meeting that will take place in two months to update community members and hear their concerns.

Questions or concerns about the project? Check out the website created to track construction and provide updates. Contact Mavis Rainey of the Oakland Transportation Management Authority (OTMA). Rainey, who is working with PennDOT to coordinate community feedback and questions, can be reached at 412.687.4505 or by email at info@otma-pgh.org.

 

 

 

 

 

Saturday Market ad The Bloomfield Saturday Market opened for business on Saturday, May 30th and runs through November 7th.

Located in the heart of Bloomfield, the Market is two parts farmer’s market and one-part family-friendly festival. Market vendors offer fresh produce, cheeses, meats, oils, prepared hot and cold foods, all with an emphasis on locally-grown and produced products. In addition, the market features one or more events each week, including healthy cooking demonstrations, live music, children’s activities, dancers, and more.

Market offerings included organic produce from Freedom Farms in Butler County, apples from Sturges Farm in Beaver County, locally made Greek yogurt from Pastitsio’s in Lawrenceville, 100% grass-fed beef from PittsBurgher Highland Farm in Westmoreland County, and baked goods from Eliza’s Oven in Bloomfield.

This year the Market has partnered with Just Harvest’s Fresh Access program to give SNAP users a $2 match for every $5 dollars spent. Read more about SNAP at the Market.

Open rain or shine, the Market runs May 30-November 7, 9AM-1PM and is located at 5050 Liberty Avenue, 15224 (between S. Winebiddle and Gross Street).
 

See a list of our Market sponsors.

Christina Howell DayOn May 14th, Christina Howell, the Bloomfield Development Corporation’s interim Executive Director, received a proclamation from Pittsburgh City Council for her work with the Bloomfield Development Corporation.

Presented by Bloomfield councilwoman, Deb Gross, the proclamation, thanked Howell for  “a decade of her impactful, inspiring, and selfless efforts to her neighborhood, as well as for her undeniable role in the implementation and success of the Bloomfield Saturday Market.”

The City Council further declared Saturday May 30th as Christina Howell Day in the City of Pittsburgh.

Howell, who has been a Bloomfield resident for nine years, has been active in the community since she moved to the neighborhood. Last year she was hired by the Bloomfield Development Corporation (BDC) to establish the Bloomfield Saturday Market and was named the BDC’s interim director last December.

Even amidst the rubble, photos from the recent earthquake in Nepal are filled with color. Bright prayer flags that had flown from the tops of temples now dangle in the ruins. Female evacuees in vivid, multi-colored dress carry baggage and babies over dusty roads. And bodies shrouded in orange are lifted onto funeral pyres near the river.

So much color seems a startling juxtaposition to all the destruction, but it is also reflective of the richness of the culture—a culture that Nima Lama and his wife, Kunchok, both from Nepal, sought to support and share when they opened their shop, Kathmandu Artifacts in 2013.

By purchasing handmade goods directly from Nepalese craftsmen, rather than from factories churning out souvenirs, the Lamas have been providing fair economic returns to the artists who make the jewelry, clothing, and exquisitely crafted artwork they carry in their shop. Given that Nepal is the poorest country in South Asia and ranks as the twelfth poorest countries in the world, their support is of  real significance to these Nepalese artists and their families.  And by selling Nepalese goods in their Bloomfield shop, they also share their homeland’s rich artistic heritage with everyone who walks through the door.

Owner Nima Lama stand behind the counter while customers shop.
Owner Nima Lama stand behind the counter while customers shop.

Nima, a soft spoken man in his early forties, calmly answers questions about relatives in Nepal. Although he no longer has family there, his wife’s parents and her extended family are now living on the street in front of their home in Kathmandu, which was destroyed in the quake. Fortunately, his wife can speak on the phone to her parents nearly everyday. And for now, they have enough food and water. It is those living outside of Kathmandu, Nima explains, those living in difficult-to-reach villages, who are suffering the most.

Inside Kathmandu
Masks of Ganesh and other deities hover over all who enter.

A cell phone rings and Nima’s mother, a tiny woman with an apologetic smile, answers. Her conversation is animated, so Nima takes the opportunity to walk to the front of the store and explain the significance of the statuary and other ritual objects displayed throughout. He points out that that the Thangka suspended in his shop window is a silk wall-hanging that is traditionally decorated with a painting depicting a Buddhist deity, scene, or mandala. In this case, the Thangka is also embroidered with gold, and took an artist well over a month to produce.

On the wall above an elaborately carved case filled with casted statues of the Buddha, a wildly colorful line of masks punctuates the spare, white wall. Several are of the elephant-deity Ganesh, a Hindu Lord of success and destroyer of evils and obstacles. Ganesh, is also the god of education, knowledge, wisdom, and wealth. Given that the Lamas moved to the United States to secure a better education and future for their eight year-old son, Sangay, Ganesh’s presence in their shop seems particularly appropriate.

A prayer wheel made with turquoise, coral, and lapis.
A prayer wheel made with turquoise, coral, and lapis.

Hung at eye level is a Tibetan Buddhist prayer wheel on a spindle. Made of copper, and decorated with turquoise, coral and lapis, the wheel displays a mantra, and when turned by a supplicant, has an effect similar to the recitation of prayers.

The Lamas, along with the Nepalese Community of Greater Pittsburgh, are now turning their prayers toward those who are suffering in their homeland.

On June 7th the community is hosting a traditional Nepalese dinner to raise funds for rebuilding Golche, a village in the Himalayan Mountains north of Kathmandu.

The dinner, which will be held at Congregation Beth Shalom located at 5915 Beacon Street, will be served between 5 and 7 p.m. A minimum $20 donation per person is suggested. RSVP by June 1st to rebuildinggolche@gmail.com.

In addition to ritual objects, Kathmandu Artifacts carries a wide assortment of colorful Nepalese clothing, brightly decorated accessories including, bags, hats, and scarves, as well as a large selection of hand-made silver jewelry

Inside Kathmandu   Inside Kathmandu 2

Ron Andro West PennAllegheny Health Network has announced the appointment of Ronald Andro as the new President and CEO of West Penn Hospital. He will assume responsibilities on June 1st from Duke Rupert who has transitioned to the same role at Forbes Hospital in Monroeville.

Mr. Andro joined Allegheny Health Network (AHN) in 2013, serving as the Chief Operating Officer at Allegheny General Hospital (AGH). While under his guidance, AGH oversaw the operational income grow from $28M to $92M in two years and the emergency department metrics improve significantly. In addition, the HCAHPS scores, the national metrics where patients evaluate hospitals and the care they received, increased markedly as well.

“It is an honor to be asked to lead the already outstanding team at West Penn Hospital,” said Ron Andro. “The rich history of West Penn and the Bloomfield community is well known. Duke has done an amazing job these past two years re-opening the hospital and restoring it to its former glory. I look forward to continuing those efforts and serving the Bloomfield – and western Pennsylvania – communities.”

Previously, Mr. Andro served as Senior VP and COO at the University of Maryland Baltimore Washington Medical Center in Glen Burnie, MD as well as VP of Operations at UPMC Mercy and Shadyside Hospitals. Mr. Andro has a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Winona State University in Winona, Minnesota and a Masters of Science in Health Systems Management from Rush University in Chicago.

Duke Rupert, the much loved and respected outgoing President and CEO of West Penn Hospital (WPH), said “It has been a true labor of love working with the talented and dedicated staff at West Penn. With the financial and moral support of Highmark executive leadership, we reopened the WPH Emergency Department in February of 2012 and never stopped growing and innovating from there. We are very proud to offer our patients outstanding care – from our PCPs to leading specialists in every area – and to support the local community in its own revitalization and growth.”

“I look forward to bringing that same spirit of innovation and community involvement to Forbes Hospital,” Mr. Rupert continued. “The Bloomfield community has been incredibly supportive of West Penn Hospital. I can’t thank them enough for their unwavering dedication over the past few years.”