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Norwin News

Norwin adds 5 college courses for students

in Norwin News/School News

Source: Trib Live

Norwin High School students will be able to choose from five new courses next school year, allowing them to earn college credits from two universities and Westmoreland County Community College, as well as save money in the future.

The school board Monday approved the new College in High School courses in partnership with the University of Pittsburgh, Robert Morris University and the community college in Youngwood. The courses — business calculus, introduction to engineering, computer-aided design, child development/early childhood Ed Lab, and anatomy — carry a minimal tuition fee payable to the university, the district said.

Students remain at Norwin and take the classes that meet the college requirements, Natalie McCracken, assistant superintendent, told the school board.

The school district already offers nine courses in which high school students can earn college credits. The district also has 17 Advanced Placement courses that can help students earn college credit.

With the number of advanced placement courses and College in High School courses, students could earn enough college credits to finish college one or two semesters early, Norwin Superintendent Jeff Taylor said.

The school district wants to ensure that students, not only the highest-achieving ones, get the chance to earn college credits in high school, McCracken said.

Students already can earn college credit from Rochester Institute of Technology in engineering introduction and design and computer-integrated manufacturing. Seton Hill University offers Norwin students credits in college writing, Spanish and accounting. Students can earn credits from Pitt in German, information sciences and cybersecurity, and cyber security and the law. Community college already offers credits in French.


Norwin to cap tax hike at 3.4%

in Norwin News/School News

Source: Trib Live

Property owners in the Norwin School District will not see their school taxes increase more than 3.4% — the maximum allowed without state or voter approval.

The Norwin School Board unanimously voted at its meeting this week to limit any tax hike to the state maximum, which is about 2.8 mills in the Westmoreland County communities it serves. The school board does not have to approve a budget for next fiscal year until June 30.

“Everybody’s goal here is to keep it (tax hike) as low as possible,” while maintaining a safe environment and quality education, said board President Brian Carlton.

Ryan Kirsch, business affairs director, said he expects to present a review of the 2020-21 budget at the board meeting in April.

Norwin has raised real estate taxes to the state-permitted limit each of the last four years.

The state’s school districts have until Jan. 9 to either adopt a resolution certifying the the school board will not adopt a budget that exceeds the Act I index, or they must present a proposed preliminary budget.

Norwin last raised real estate taxes by 2.4 mills, or 3%, to 82.4 mills, to fund its current budget of $73.6 million. That tax hike was the maximum permitted under state Act 1, without seeking approval from the state education department or a referendum approved by the voters. One mill of property tax generates about $400,000 for the school district.

The annual millage levy includes 1.2 mills that the school district collects for the Norwin Public Library. The referendum approving the tax allocation was approved by school district voters in 2000.

Eighteen property owners in White Oak and South Versailles who live within the Norwin school boundaries saw their school taxes rise by 0.36 mills. The tax levy differs because of variations in assessment rates between Westmoreland and Allegheny counties.

Norwin raised taxes in the 2018-19 school year by 2.4 mills to 80 mills for its Westmoreland residents. Homeowners with property assessed at the median value of $22,010 paid an additional $53 a year.

In the 2017-18 school year, the district raised taxes 3.3%, also 2.4 mills.


$1.2 million Norwin pool project to more forward

in Norwin News

Source: Trib Live

Norwin is eyeing a Zelienople firm to serve as construction manager for an estimated $1.2 million project to repair and modernize the high school swimming pool.

The board is scheduled to vote on hiring The Foreman Group at its Jan. 13 meeting. The Foreman Group and two other firms were interviewed last year.

Phil Foreman, president of the architectural and engineering firm, told the board Monday his firm would oversee the construction, while Wallover Architects of Lancaster would design the pool repairs. Foreman would be paid $115,000 for the construction management services. A contractor has yet to be hired for the job.

Work on the swimming pool is expected to begin this spring after swimming season is complete and be finished in time for the fall season.

In a study conducted last year, Wallover laid out three options for the district. The board opted for the least expensive. Wallover, which will be paid 8% of the total project cost, recommended improving the filter system, installing a stainless steel gutter, removing the existing deck and laying ceramic mosaic tile, regrouting, installing LED lights and repairing and painting the ceiling.

During the construction, Foreman said his company will have a full-time employee at the pool twice a week. It will work with Wallover to get various government approvals for the project, Foreman said.

Having a construction manager at the site, rather than a school administrator, “will save us money in the long run,” said board President Brian Carlton.

Foreman said his company has worked on the last nine Norwin school construction projects.

Foreman said a Wallover representative should be at the job site once every two weeks.

The school board authorized borrowing about $9.95 million for the project by issuing bonds that were sold to investors.


Norwin library compiling long-range study

in Norwin News

Source: Trib Live

Norwin Public Library officials plan to use the results of a survey to determine the course of the library’s future.

Library Director Diana Falk wants to start implementing programs or services included in a long-range plan being developed.

“We really want to look at it (the study) to see what is feasible and necessary,” said Falk, who has been the librarian since 2005.

This is the first long-range plan the library has conducted since moving to its facility on Caruthers Lane in Irwin in August 2004. It was formerly located at the U.S. post office on Third Street in downtown Irwin.

“It really seems time to evaluate whether the new facility is meeting the needs of the community,” Falk said.

When the library moved to the new location, “e-books and downloadable audio books and WiFi were not part of the mix,” Falk said.

The nine-member board, staff, volunteers and the Friends of the Library organization first received the survey before distributing it to the school district, different community organizations and representatives, Falk said. The nine-question survey sought answers to what the public believes are the library’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, Falk said.

The long-range study “has engaged everyone (on the nine-member board), and it is getting us to think of the future,” Falk said.

“We are winding down the survey. We want to analyze the results and see where we will focus,” Falk said.

It is important for a library to have a plan for moving into the future, “especially with our fast-changing environment,” said Cesare Muccari, executive director of the Westmoreland Library Network, which provides support to 24 member libraries in the county.

“With a plan, I think it is easier for a library to navigate the future,” Muccari said.

With electronic access to the Norwin library, it has become accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week, Falk said.

The library does not have plans to make changes to the two-story building, but if it were to undertake any facility projects, it will depend on the results of a needs assessment, Falk said.

To pay for such projects, the library would seek grants, Falk said. The library receives revenue generated by 1.2 mills real estate tax levied by the Norwin School District. The school district said that tax generated $482,000 for the 2018-2019 school year.


Norwin seeks ‘distinguished alums’ nominees

in Norwin News

Source: Trib Live

The Norwin Alumni & Friends Association is taking nominations until 4 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 8 of Norwin graduates or its predecessor schools who have had distinguished careers to be part of the 2020 Class of Distinguished Alumni.

Norwin community residents can nominate a maximum of two alumni who graduated from Norwin in 2008 or earlier, or graduated from the former Irwin and North Huntingdon high schools. The alumni and friends association may select one Distinguished Friend of Norwin to be honored for service to Norwin schools and its communities.

Among the criteria to be considered for post-high school academic and/or career excellence is service to community through volunteerism, exemplary character and evidence of going above and beyond to distinguish themselves from other Norwin area graduates.

The Norwin School District Community Foundation is working with the alumni association on the distinguished alumni event, which will honor up to 10 Norwin graduates.

The nomination forms are available at

For more information, contact Lauren Steiner, NAFA nominating committee chair, via email at Nomination forms and supporting documents can also be mailed to NAFA 281 McMahon Drive, North Huntingdon, PA, 15642.

Recipients will be honored at the third annual Knight of Distinguished Alumni Recognition Dinner, in May at Stratigos Banquet Centre in North Huntingdon.


Off to fast start, Norwin boys ready to be tested

in Norwin News

Source: Trib Live

Fast starts in basketball are like a big explosion in the first five minutes of a movie.

While the scene engages the audience and might even pique their interest, it quickly is forgotten as the rest of the film plays out.

Norwin’s boys basketball team has set the tone with a hot start, but the Knights are trying to keep perspective despite their flash-bang prelude to section play.

Norwin, under new coach Buddy Valinsky, is 6-0 for its best start since 2014-15.

The Knights play host to Hempfield (2-4) Friday night to open Section 3-6A play.

Like fans and opponents, Valinsky is out to find out if his team is the real deal.

“It’s not a Yogi Berra expression to say you’d rather be 6-0 than 0-6,” said Valinsky, who left Allderdice to come to Norwin after winning six straight City League championships. “You want to be winning; it’s never a bad thing. But we’re not there yet. We’re not an elite 6-0 team. That’s the misconception.”

The combined record of Norwin’s opponents — just one of them is from 6A in Baldwin (3-2) — is 12-21.

Ringgold (3-1) and Mt. Pleasant (4-1) also have winning marks.

Norwin started 6-1 last year but finished 8-13 and missed the playoffs.

Valinsky talked about a five-year plan to help reshape the program, but Year 1 is so far, so good.

“We have to see how good we are in section,” Valinsky said. “I feel like I am getting our kids to believe in what I am trying to do. They don’t want to play losing teams. Winning a playoff game, that’s my success.”

That’s not to say Norwin hasn’t been good. The Knights are holding teams to 46.5 points while playing a more uptempo style and launching 3-pointers.

Copious amounts of 3-pointers.

“We live and die by them,” said junior guard Ty Bilinsky, who is scoring 18 points a game. Norwin has attempted 148 threes (24.5 a game). The Knights have made 44 of them.

“We know we have to shoot it well,” Valinsky said. “If we don’t, we could be down by 25 to a good team real quick. Our guys know they have a green light. If we get open shots, take them.”

Defense is improving steadily, which Valinsky likes to see. Against Jeannette on Tuesday in Norwin’s home opener, the Knights mixed zone and man-to-man schemes to force the Jayhawks into turnovers.

“We’re getting more comfortable with coach’s system,” junior forward Nick Fleming said. “It feels different and we’re playing faster, so it’s fun. The culture is different, too. People are talking about (the team) in school.”

Fleming averages 11 points, junior Josh Williams 8.2, junior Josh Govannucci and junior Alex Gabauer 7.2, and freshman Adam Bilinsky 6.8.

So it’s Valinsky, the Bilinskys and Co. out to get Norwin back into the WPIAL conversation.

Valinsky isn’t as surprised with the perfect start as much as he is with how the Knights have done it without junior forward Jayden Walker. The 6-foot-4 forward had offseason shoulder surgery and is not expected to play until early- to mid-January.

“He was cleared but for non-contact,” Valinsky said. “I am really looking forward to seeing him play. He’s a true post player, and we’ll get him the ball inside.”


Norwin swimmers encouraged by fast start

in Norwin News

Source: Trib Live

Thanks to a new workout regimen, the Norwin swimming teams are off to encouraging starts.

Second-year oach Doug Watson said four individuals and two relays qualified for the WPIAL Class AAA championships in a recent nonsection meet against Franklin Regional.

“Our lineup wasn’t our best,” Watson said. “We wanted to see what our kids could do in their off events, time-wise, as it was exhibition.

“They proved to us they are right on track for a fast season.”

The boys received a boost when seniors Ethan Tulenko and Phong Tran returned after missing last season.

Tulenko, who plans to walk on at George Washington next season, placed sixth in the 50-yard freestyle in the 2018 WPIAL championship.

Tulenko is excited to contribute to relays, two of which (200 freestyle and 400 freestyle) he said he qualified for WPIALs in the first meet.

“I see a lot of potential, especially with some of the younger swimmers,” he said.

Watson expects two returning swimmers, senior Austin Livsey and junior Seth Baiardi, to be among WPIAL individual qualifiers.

Watson said freshmen Nathan Kostrobala and Nicholas Cormas are strong additions.

For the girls, juniors Jordan Kutchak and Elizabeth Smeltzer and sophomore Berna Zukina returned after competing individually in the WPIAL championship.

Junior Sarah Todaro and sophomores Jordyn Heggen and Victoria Heffelfinger are close to making cuts.

Riley Pratt is a promising freshman.

“Our goal is to finish with a winning record in our section, for both the boys and girls,” Watson said. “We are going to have great competition with (Penn-Trafford) and Hempfield, but we are looking forward to it.”

Senior Alaina Gettemy said practices are getting the Knights into good shape.

“They’re building stamina,” she said.

The Knights are scheduled to kick off Section 1-AAA action in January.


Wreaths Across America to honor veterans buried in 3 Norwin cemeteries

in Norwin News

Source: Trib Live

Veterans buried in three Norwin-area cemeteries will be honored Saturday with wreaths placed on their graves by volunteers with the North Huntingdon chapter of Wreaths Across America, a national initiative.

A third cemetery, Long Run Cemetery in North Huntingdon, has been added to Union Cemetery in North Huntingdon and Immaculate Conception Cemetery in Irwin, where wreaths were laid the past two years. The third cemetery brings the number of wreaths to be placed to 2,650, said Wendy Waugh, co-coordinator of the local initiative.

“Our goal has always been to recognize every veteran buried at Union Cemetery and Immaculate Conception Cemetery,” Waugh said.

After meeting that goal in the first two years of the local initiative, volunteers were comfortable taking on the challenge of a third cemetery, she said.

“Long Run Cemetery (where Revolutionary War soldiers are buried) seemed to be a perfect one,” said Waugh, who shares the local coordinator duties with Joyce Swerock.

A check-in tent for volunteers will be open from 11 to 11:45 a.m. Volunteers can sign up by using the organization’s Facebook page, titled Wreaths Across America — North Huntingdon.

An honor guard from J. Howard Snyder Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 781 in North Huntingdon will conduct a ceremony at noon at Union Cemetery, which is on Pennsylvania Avenue in Irwin. Norwin Air Force Junior ROTC students will participate in the ceremony and assist in laying the wreaths on the graves, Waugh said.

Each branch of the service will be recognized with the placement of the ceremonial wreaths. Vietnam War veteran Carl Dayton will lay the POW/MIA wreath.

The VFW honor guard will do a three-volley salute. Taps will be played.

Through a series of fundraisers, Waugh said, the group collected the $39,750 needed to buy wreaths for the graves of all veterans buried in the three cemeteries. Any additional money received this year will go toward the 2020 wreaths program, Waugh said. Donations can be made by mailing checks payable to Wreaths Across America, 494 Sherrick Drive, North Huntingdon, PA 15642.


Phipps, Norwin wrestling ready to take next step

in Norwin News

Source: Trib Live

Kurtis Phipps showed his toughness by battling through a foot injury in last year’s PIAA Class AAA championship match. He suffered the injury a day earlier in his semifinal win.

Phipps lost a 9-5 decision to Nazareth’s Sean Pierson in the championship match, but he experienced the atmosphere of a state final and will look to get back in his senior season.

A three-time WPIAL champion and a Bucknell recruit, Phipps highlights a Norwin team that had a school-record 10 wrestlers advance to the WPIAL tournament last season. Many of them returned this season.

“Last year was good for (Phipps) to get a taste of the (PIAA) finals,” Norwin coach Vince DeAugstine said. “He was obviously fighting through some adversity with his injury. Just getting through that environment and getting close is really good. His work ethic shows that he definitely wants to get that gold medal.”

Phipps had surgery on his left foot in March and spent most of the summer rehabbing. In October, he participated in the Super 32 tournament in Greensboro, N.C., at 126 pounds and dropped a 7-5 decision to Nebraska native Carter Knopick in the first round.

Phipps, who has 111 wins in his high school career, wrestled at 120 last season and will start this year at 132.

“He got on the mat in early August, and we’ve been pretty much going nonstop since then,” DeAugustine said. “He maybe didn’t get the results he wanted to (at the Super 32 tournament), but we’re going to keep working hard until he gets on top of the podium.”

Ryan Weizen is another returning PIAA qualifier for Norwin.

Weizen won the WPIAL title and made the state quarterfinals last year at 220, but he has cut weight over the summer and will start at 182.

“He’s changed his diet around and feels faster and a little bit stronger at 182,” DeAugustine said. “It’s a different weight class, so we’re going to give it a try and see how things go.”

John Altieri, a junior, was 32-8 last season and narrowly missed making states, losing in the WPIAL semifinals and in the loser’s bracket to finish sixth. Altieri will bump up from 132 to 145 to start the season.

“He was a match away from the state tournament, and there were guys that made the state tournament that he beat,” DeAugustine said. “His weight class was pretty good at the WPIAL tournament but no excuses. He has all the talent in the world, and it’s my job to get him over the hump and get him to Hershey this year.”

Seniors Frankie Gill (138), Clayton Morris (182) and sophomore Josh Page (195) qualified for the WPIAL tournament last year. Luke Merkovsky (152), Bryce Long (160), John Ireland (170) and Zach Cypher (285) are graduates who qualified for WPIALs.

Along with the returning WPIAL qualifiers, sophomores Connor Henning (106), Luke Passerelli (113), Andrew Yushinski (145) and junior Kris Oddo (126) are back along with sophomore Chase Kranitz, who missed the postseason because of a knee injury.

In addition to a school-record number of WPIAL qualifiers, the Knights won 17 dual meets last season, another program best.

They are looking for more this winter.

“We did some good things, but we have to continue to grow from that,” DeAugustine said. “As far as individuals go, we left four (weight classes) at home last year, so we want to get all 14 to qualify for the WPIAL tournament. Hopefully, we can continue to progress in a positive direction.”

Norwin qualified for the WPIAL team tournament last season and again will compete in difficult Section 1(A)-AAA with Central Catholic, Franklin Regional, Kiski Area, Penn-Trafford and Plum.

Section 1 (B) has Hempfield, Gateway, Latrobe, Woodland Hills and Penn Hills, making it an even tougher road at individual sectionals.

DeAugustine likes his wrestlers facing tough competition to prepare for individuals, and if they get dual-meet wins in the process, that’s a bonus.

“If you were trying to build a tough schedule these are the teams you would want to schedule and we’re automatically defaulted to them,” DeAugustine said. “I’m not one to focus on the team record. I’m more focused on the individual wins and losses that we have throughout that team portion of the season.”


Discover the magic inside these 10 Downtown Irwin businesses

in Business News/Local News/Norwin News

Source: Trib Live

Holidays are meant to be magical: the twinkling lights, the thrill of a little mistletoe, and the warm gratification of gifting the perfect presents to friends and family.

Of course, with online shopping that experience has become somewhat less enchanting.

What better way to bring back the magic of the holidays than with a little shopping spree in charming Downtown Irwin, Pennsylvania? From imported olive oils to handcrafted purses and jewelry, the historic town is filled with unique gift ideas, specialty shops, boutiques, and entertainment that will have you in the holiday spirit.

This year, instead of praying for — and paying for — reliable expedited shipping, discover all that Irwin’s marketplaces and mom and pop shops have to offer, starting with these 10 great finds.

1. The Line Boutique

207 3rd Street, Irwin, PA 15642


Feature product: Maria Victoria Handbags

Price point: $27-$61

From beach getaway to a night on the town, Maria Victoria handbags are fashionable, functional and fabulous. Handcrafted through Mexico’s high-end textile industry and a fair trade social reform program, Maria Victoria handbags are exclusively available at The Line Boutique. In a gorgeous range of colors and designs these unique bags, made of recyclable PVC, are equally versatile as beautiful, while offering artisans life skills, vocational training and fair trade opportunities.

2. Luxury Lash & Brow Studio

316 Main Street, Irwin, PA 15642


Feature product: Specializing in eyelash extension application

Price point: $5-$179 (monthly specials and memberships available)

Dazzle family, friends and even your significant other with our lightweight, comfortable and natural eyelash extensions. Wake up beautiful before or without applying makeup!

Get cozy in a spa environment while Pittsburgh’s Premier Lash & Brow licensed specialists customize the length, fullness and shape to compliment your eyes, lifestyle and personal preference. Afterwards shop a nice selection of perfect stocking stuffers: Limited supply of Hemp and CBD moisturizers, serums, oils, crystal embellished lash logo shirts and lash brushes. *Studio access to upscale resale.

3. Feathers Artists Market & Gifts

102 4th Street, Irwin, PA 15642


Feature product: Moonglow Jewelry

Price point: $39-$49

Capture a special moment in time with jewelry that carefully depicts the moon on the day of your life’s biggest events. Moonglow is a line of handcrafted jewelry designed in Montreal, Canada by artist Luc Rouleau. Forever remember the sky on the night of your wedding, anniversary, or child’s birthday. Feathers carries all the moon phases in 4 different types of bracelets, and 3 different necklaces.

4. McFeely’s Gourmet Chocolate

202 4th Street, Irwin, PA 15642


Feature product: Gourmet Chocolate Apples

Price point: $16

You will love these big, juicy apples to their core. One-pound Honey Crisp and Mutsu apples coated in decadent caramel and dreamy chocolate get decked out for the holidays with your favorite toppings and crumbles. Locals know it’s not Christmas until they’ve sliced into a McFeely’s Gourmet Chocolate Apple, but they’re only available through December so pick one up today.

5. Main Street Music & Sound

327 Main Street, Irwin, PA 15642


Feature product: Fender FA-115 acoustic guitar with gig bag, guitar strap, picks and extra strings and lifetime warranty

Price point: $149.99

Hear, touch, play, and feel gear that you could never experience by shopping online. Whether you’re a beginner or a pro, Main Street Music & Sound has the service and equipment you need to never stop playing. Gift this Fender FA-115 acoustic guitar with gig bag, guitar strap, picks, and strings, and you’ll encourage a hobby they can love for a lifetime.

6. Miller’s Crossing Fleatique

210 4th Street, Irwin, PA 15642


Visit website

Feature product: 140 vendors

Price point: $1 and up

Explore 14,000 square feet of shopping space featuring more than 140 craft, furniture, jewelry, unique item vendors, collectors and antique dealers. If you can’t find the perfect gift here, you’re not even trying! Location open year round.

7. Natural Solutions for Health & Wellness

Paula Marzaloes

434 Main Street, Irwin, PA 15642


Feature product: Muscle testing to identify imbalances in your energy system

Price point: $15-$30

Empower yourself with the knowledge you need to heal your body the natural way through a professionally conducted muscle test. Muscle testing uses the arms and legs as a guide checking the muscles response to help identify imbalances in your energy system. The response of the arm and leg muscle used can provide helpful insight and information into your body’s energy blockages, organ function, possible nutritional deficiencies, food intolerances, and sensitivities. Let Registered Nurse, Paula Marzaloes, open you up to the possibilities of a healthy new year. Natural Solutions carries a full line of quality nutritional supplements, vitamins and essential oils by Natures Sunshine, VerVita, Nutritional Frontiers, Standard Process, Thorne, doTERRA and Young Living.

8. Olive Pit

411 Main Street, Irwin, PA 15642


Feature product: Basil infused extra virgin olive oil

Price point: $13

Enjoy flavors imported directly from Italy, Greece, Spain, and Chile with a selection of more than 40 olive oils, vinegars, olives, and dips available at the Olive Pit. Stop by to sample your favorite flavors of oils and balsamic vinegars including bacon, black truffle, vanilla fig, sun dried tomato, jalapeño, and many more! Most products are organic and non-gmo. Most products are also keto and Paleo friendly.

9. Brandy’s on Main

200 Main Street, Irwin PA 15642


Visit website

Feature product: Brandy’s Basement

Price point: Free

Curb your holiday hunger pangs with hot, delicious food from Brandy’s on Main. Afterward, head down below to Brandy’s Basement for a cool, relaxing atmosphere featuring local bands and open mic nights. Visit Brandy’s Facebook for an upcoming schedule of events.

10. The Lamp Theatre

222 Main Street, Irwin, PA 15642


Feature product: Harper Family Diner & Courtyard

Price Point: Event tickets range from Free – $45+

Welcome to the coolest concession stand around. Thanks to the Harper family, the old Ritter’s Diner of Pittsburgh’s Shadyside/Bloomfield area was transported to Irwin and completely renovated from the inside and out so that you could be transported back to the 1950s. Stock up on sodas and snacks for a show at the Lamp Theatre, or just enjoy relaxing in this unique diner/courtyard experience. Check out the Lamp Theatre website for a list of upcoming shows!


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