McKeesport Area. International Village. McKeesport Celebrates. School & City News Page 27. Calendar of Fall Festivals Page 20

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1 An INCOMMUNITY Magazine McKeesport Area McKeesport Celebrates International Village School & City News Page 27 Calendar of Fall Festivals Page 20 FALL 2014 icmags.com Special Section: Trends in Education Page 7

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3 CONTENTS features fall The Future of Education: Trends to Watch From preschool to college, find out what s shaping your child s schooling. 16 Seven Qualities to Look for in a Lawyer A good lawyer can help you navigate the confusing and complex federal, state and local laws that govern your individual situation. 18 A Celebration of Neighborhoods Congratulations to the winners of the 2014 Northwood Neighborhood Awards contest. 20 Calendar of Fall Festivals As the weather is cooling down, fall fests are heating up! Here s a calendar of some of the fabulous family festivals in our area. on the cover Rankin Jr. Tamburitzan Faith Rydzak performs at McKeesport s International Village. See page 40. Photo by Primetime Shots, Inc. 22 Reflections in Flight Although today McKeesport plays more of a supporting role in aviation, at one time it had a bustling airport with landings by famous aviators, including one of its own. 24 Dead Man s Hollow The 440-acre conservation is veiled in mystery. departments 2 From the Publisher 28 School News 6 IN Good Taste: Oswaldo Fortini, Owner/Chef, and Jairo Mirante Azevedo, Chef, Green Forest Brazilian Restaurant 36 City News 48 IN the Know 14 IN Person: Jamie Holmes See Excela Health page 3 24 IN Community is a publication dedicated to representing, encouraging and promoting the McKeesport Area and its comprising municipalities by focusing on the talents and gifts of the people who live and work here. Our goal is to provide readers with the most informative and professional regional publication in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

4 FROM THE PUBLISHER Welcome to the Fall issue of IN McKeesport Area magazine. I hope you have enjoyed your summer and had a chance to get out and enjoy some of the sunny days that were wedged between all of the storms. While summer is traditionally seen as vacation time, for us it s an even busier time than usual. Schools are out, which lessens the amount of school news we can bring to you for the fall issue. So, our editors brainstorm what we can do to make the fall issues even better. This issue reflects the fruits of those efforts, as we bring you the results of the Northwood Neighborhood Awards, where readers wrote essays and nominated their neighborhood for best block party, best park, best holiday decorations, best neighborhood spirit and more! Also in this issue is a special section on trends in education as well as a calendar of fall festivals in the area. In an effort to keep our magazines hyper-local, we ve changed our logo to emphasize each community. In short, we ve attempted to continue to bring you the best features, chef profiles, history, events and profiles of intriguing people in your community who are making a difference. It is my sincere hope that you agree. I know that I, for one, will be getting out to some of those fall festivals with my family. Maybe I ll see you there! Have a great autumn! Send Us Your Story Ideas! We d love to hear from you if you know someone in your community who is making a difference or has done something extraordinary. We re also looking for interesting story ideas (little-known facts, history or other news) within your community. If you have suggestions, us at Wayne Dollard Publisher To Advertise As the largest magazine publisher in Western Pennsylvania, IN Community Magazines are direct mailed to more than 518,000 households, reaching 1.15 million readers. If you d like to partner with us, please contact our office manager, Leo Vighetti, at CEO & PUBLISHER Wayne Dollard PRESIDENT Bill Northrop EDITORIAL DIRECTOR Julie Talerico / REGIONAL EDITORS Mark Berton South, West & Erie Pamela Palongue North & East OFFICE MANAGER Leo Vighetti / CREATIVE DIRECTOR Jim Paladino / SENIOR DESIGNER Michael Miller / DESIGNERS Anna Buzzelli Sharon Cobb Jan McEvoy Melissa St. Giles Tamara Tylenda CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Jonathan Barnes Leigh Lyons Jennifer Brozak Joanne Naser Earl Bugaile Melanie Paulick Tracy Fedkoe Marilyn Wempa Heather Holtschlag Mandie Zoller CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS Ginni Klein Kathleen Rudolph Primetime Shots Evan Sanders VICE PRESIDENT OF SALES Tamara Myers / REGIONAL SALES MANAGER-SOUTH Brian McKee / ADVERTISING SALES SOUTH Jennifer Dahlem Brittany Russell Kim Davidovich Vinnie Sabatini Tiffany Marcovsky RJ Vighetti REGIONAL SALES MANAGER-EAST Jeff Rose / ADVERTISING SALES-EAST Sophia Alfaras Jen Mascaro Jim Keefer Connie McDaniel Kyle Majerick Mike Silvert REGIONAL SALES MANAGER-NORTH Laura Early / ADVERTISING SALES-NORTH Kelly Arbogast Gabe Negri Jim Hiteshew ADVERTISING SALES-ERIE Aimee Nicolia ADVERTISING COORDINATOR Debbie Mountain / 2014 by IN Community Magazines. All rights reserved. Reproduction or reuse of any part of this publication is prohibited without the written permission of the publisher. Direct all inquiries, letters to the editor and press releases to: IN Community Magazines 603 East McMurray Road McMurray, PA ; Fax: / icmags.com Please recycle this magazine when you are through enjoying it TO ADVERTISE McKeesport Area

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8 IN GOOD TASTE Candid conversations with the dining scene s most engaging chefs Oswaldo Fortini, Owner/Chef, and Jairo Mirante Azevedo, Chef, Green Forest Brazilian Restaurant Green Forest Brazilian Restaurant 655 Rodi Road, Penn Hills; , greenforestdining.com On the Menu: Brazilian cuisine Why did you become a chef? O.F.: My passion was and Q A remains food, and a love of horses (from age four until my 20s, I rode horses) and I m fortunate that I ve had an opportunity to pursue both. However, since I left Brazil 19 years ago, I ve been involved with restaurants in all roles from kitchen to management, including buying ingredients, preparation, recipe creation, cooking, hiring and managing kitchen staff and providing quality service. J.M.A.: I had a restaurant in Minas Gerais, Brazil. There, I had a cook who was very good, but sometimes she couldn t make some dishes so I had to learn how. I had a love for cooking so it wasn t a sacrifice it made me keep my restaurant going with or without her. What led you to open Green Forest Restaurant? O.F.: I was living in New York City and received an invitation to be a manager at Green Forest and I came. Within four years, I moved up to general manager and by then the owners decided to sell the restaurant. My wife, Flavia, a waitress here, and I decided to buy it. Who has influenced your cooking the most? J.M.A.: My dear friend Ailton, a Brazilian chef in New York City, influenced me. Ailton taught me many things with food, most importantly how to create my own recipes. What kitchen tool can t you live without? O.F. & J.M.A.: Our chef s knife well sharpened. Best cooking advice for a novice? O.F.: Try making every dish from scratch, creating your own meals and always being open to new dishes. J.M.A.: Be in love with food and be open to learning new recipes. Oswaldo Fortini (standing), Owner/Chef, and Jairo Mirante Azevedo, Chef, Green Forest Brazilian Restaurant. Your favorite quick meal to prepare at home? O.F.: I like to grill meats with white rice, a simple salad and bread. J.M.A.: My favorite quick meal to prepare when I m home is a salad with grilled chicken, fettuccini with shrimp in a fresh mushroom and tomato basil sauce. Other than your own restaurant, where s your favorite place to eat within walking distance? O.F. & J.M.A.: We don t have a favorite place to go. I like to try different cuisines and never go to a franchise or chain, Fortini explains. What s your favorite go-to ingredient? O.F.: Protein of any kind. Photos courtesy of Green Forest Brazilian Restaurant. The dining room at Green Forest Brazilian Restaurant. J.M.A.: Herbs. They add flavor and presentation to every plate. What s the next big food or dining trend? O.F.: Brazilian cuisine is the next big dining trend because of the variety and cultural diversity expressed through the food. Reese Randall Visit us online For one of these chef s favorite recipes, go to icmags.com/recipe TO ADVERTISE McKeesport Area

9 The Future of Education: TRENDS TO WATCH From preschool to college, find out what s shaping your child s schooling. McKeesport Area Fall 2014 icmags.com 7

10 EDUCATION TRENDS Education has changed dramatically over the years, from even just 10 to 20 years ago. It was long thought that the most effective way to teach students was through a teacher standing in front of the room, next to the chalkboard, chalk in hand, communicating to the class through use of a textbook that closely resembled the size of an encyclopedia. Students would flip through the pages as the teacher read from them, taking time to answer questions and form a discussion only when a student raised his hand. Remember your school s biggest fundraiser was a set of encyclopedia volumes, neatly arranged in a big box for ease of use? These concepts have long ago fallen by the wayside, as they are thought to be ineffective at teaching the youth of today. However, they have given way to more compatible methods for teaching children that have been founded on research about how children learn. Why the changes? There are several answers to this question. For starters, teachers need to meet the needs of a more diverse student population. Students who attend public schools often present with learning challenges that demand alternative ways of teacher-student interaction. Because of this, teachers and other educators must stay on top of leading research and immerse themselves in the most effective ways to teach the children so that they learn the skills they will need to be successful. Additionally, the onset, availability and ease of access to computers, new technology and the Internet has commanded a fast overhaul of the educational system and the way students are taught. Other causes for such remarkable change include home schooling and ideas such as those that suggest children need to become better equipped to enter the real world with real-life skills like critical thinking, communication, problem solving, collaboration and creativity. To keep up with the latest trends in education, to better prepare students for the outside world, and to proactively adapt to how the companies who hire these students are changing, schools continue to make changes in their curriculum at a fast and frequent pace, even as early as preschool. Learning through play is perhaps one of the major focuses of preschools today. It is because children developmentally grow while learning through play, and from the infant to kindergarten stages, children are experiencing and learning new things every day. With play consuming most of their time, there are different things children learn during every stage of their growth, said Bob Santo, director of The Goddard School in Peters Township. Here at The Goddard School, we offer F.L.E.X., or Fun Learning Experience. It is a concept that is child-inspired and teacher-led that includes child-focused lesson plans, child-centered learning and teachable moments, and electronic daily activity reports. Dina Speranza, M.Ed., owner of The Goddard School in Cranberry Township, suggests that play helps to support several educational goals, including offering the children endless opportunities for research and development and to learn from their mistakes without having to pay for them. Play also benefits children s physical development and perceptual motor skills and promotes autonomy. At The Goddard School, children select activities and materials to discover, explore and invent in their own imaginative and creative way, Speranza said. The program provides a warm, nurturing environment where children can make many supportable choices, independently explore learning Preschool Trends materials and develop socialization skills as they interact with others. At many preschools, students also are provided an ample opportunity to learn from the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) approach to teaching. (At the preschool level), there really does not need to be a set curriculum, but rather an awareness of how the four aspects of STEM are naturally developed, said Nancy Mehalic, director of the Montessori School for Creative Learning in Moon Township. According to Mehalic, each STEM concept can be introduced to preschool children in a number of ways. Simple science experiments like color making are huge for children, like when they discover that red mixed with blue makes purple, she noted. Some of these discoveries are spontaneous, teachable moments. In our classrooms, we do a lot with botany, zoology and physical science. We learn about life cycles of living things and discovering what sinks or floats. Mehalic suggested that the use of technology should be minimal at preschool age, although most children who enter preschool have used computers, ipads and other electronic items. Children at this age benefit from concrete, hands-on experiences. The abstract learning with computers and online learning will be far more successful with the foundation of concrete experiences. Children are exposed to the engineering concept by simply building with blocks TO ADVERTISE McKeesport Area

11 According to Mehalic, through this type of play, the child is experiencing balance, symmetry and aesthetics. And in mathematics, children have what is referred to at Montessori as a mathematical mind. They can recognize simple, mathematical concepts and it is important for preschools to nurture this natural interest in mathematical experiences before they become the written equations. Outdoor or environmental learning also is a crucial element in a child s education. An outdoor learning environment is not separate from the learning that goes on inside the classroom, Speranza said. It is an extension of that learning and provides opportunities for the application of learning in meaningful ways. One of the outdoor activities that Speranza and her staff have found to be particularly beneficial is setting up and maintaining a garden, which provides an almost endless opportunity for learning and emphasizes that gardens can help to teach and reinforce socialization, cooperation, mathematics and science. In addition to these trends, The Goddard School is the first preschool program to be a member of the Partnership for 21st Century Skills (P21). By teaching our students reading, writing, mathematics and the 4Cs critical thinking, communication, collaboration and creativity we equip our students with the skills they need to succeed in school and in life, Santo noted. Elementary School Trends Students at the elementary school level share some similar educational trends to preschoolers, just at a more advanced level. Learning through play, for example, could be defined as creativity, imagination, problem-solving, discovery, deconstruction and construction, and deep thinking skills that do not necessarily demand a specific location. Let s look at the classroom, said Yvonne L. Hawkins, Ed. D., assistant superintendent of curriculum at Chartiers Valley School District. At a glance, play may seem like undirected and unplanned experiences as children of any age play with items such as blocks, Continued on next page McKeesport Area Fall 2014 icmags.com 9

12 EDUCATION TRENDS beads, string, balls or levers. But as you get a closer look, the experience is not only play, but exploration as children create, imagine, design, or evaluate. Children go to the Children s Museum to play in water, with puppets, wheels and gears and machines, but in reality, they are engaged in a learning that will build skills for a lifetime. STEM, or STEAM, which includes an art component at Chartiers Valley School District and other schools, is not necessarily a new concept, as all students are exposed regularly to the subjects of science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics. They have just been repackaged, according to Hawkins. STEM, or STEAM, is now formalized, intentional, articulated and supported because the integration of these subject areas requires teachers to collaborate with the purpose of designing lessons to help students to understand and appreciate the connections across the curriculum, Hawkins explained. The why is answered for students, and they better understand the connection and relevance of what their teachers are asking them to do. In addition, universities and businesses are telling schools that they are looking for students and employees who can think deeply and critically, transfer knowledge, collaborate, and problem solve. STEM/STEAM is a way of thinking about teaching and learning, and it is the responsibility of educators to provide such experiences for all students. Online learning and interest-based learning also are making their way into curriculum at the elementary school level. As Hawkins explained, both are a means of differentiating instruction, or DI. DI is a natural, embedded approach to instruction and assessment that looks at data and prescribes an instructional approach for the teacher, she explained. A comparison can be made to the medical field. Teachers and physicians look at data, prescribe a course of action, monitor the progress and then adjust or conclude the plan. DI requires teachers to meet children where they are and then develop a plan to move them through a collaborative, designed path, she continued. The path may require extra time, manipulatives, peer coaching, or even tutoring. It could be interest-based and completed within the classroom through learning stations or even online from school or home. The path should be relevant and rigorous, which, in turn, will be motivating for the student. The outcome, no matter what the approach, however, is student growth. According to Hawkins, these emerging and growing trends are nothing but beneficial to students, particularly in the long term. The benefits of trends such as STEM/STEAM and learning through play increase the probability of transferability across setting and time. When students see how their work connects to the real world, then their question of Why am I doing this? becomes answered. Middle School Trends One of the common threads among all levels of learning is that of students having the opportunity and the ability to acquire real world skills. They are learning more about real-life concepts such as critical thinking, communication and collaboration, in addition to the traditional subjects like science and math. As educators, we are determined to help all students reach their full potential, said Tammy Andreyko, Ed.D., assistant superintendent of academic advancement at North Allegheny School District. This is no small challenge, and it is our responsibility to prepare our young people for the unique demands of the 21st century. We all believe that every child should possess strong content mastery, as well as the four Cs. Another education trend that is featured in the North Allegheny School District is that of online learning. Online learning in an asynchronous approach is used in our North Allegheny Cyber Academy in grades three to eight, Dr. Andreyko said. We use a third-party provider for instruction and curriculum solutions for this program. Otherwise, students explore online resources that are often provided by textbook publishers, online resources that are available through the Internet and apps that are deemed of high quality and necessary by our teaching staff. These resources supplement classroom instruction and provide timely, interactive and vivid lessons for students TO ADVERTISE McKeesport Area

13 Dr. Andreyko also mentioned project-based learning as a growing trend in this level of schooling, attributing it to one of the strategies likely to help accentuate the importance of problem solving. Project-based learning, or problem-based learning, often employs inquiry-based learning activities that serve as an educational practice, she said. This method of instruction has grown in popularity and is used primarily to improve learning by asking students to construct meaning based on experiences facilitated by the teacher. During project-based learning, a lesson begins with a question or problem that is provided and explained by the teacher. The students, usually while in cooperative groups, decide on a strategy for resolution of the problem. Depending on the level of the students, some lessons may take a short time, while others will end with a culminating activity or a reflection that spans throughout an entire unit of study. Teachers and educators have a huge role to play to ensure that every student is adequately prepared for careers and college, Dr. Andreyko explained. Helping teachers through quality professional development can directly impact how we prepare students for a new global landscape. Student achievement is at the heart of what we do. Preparing students for tomorrow starts today. Continued on next page Education Directory Bidwell Training Center Inc Ext Bidwell Training Center is a nonprofit career training school that provides career training at no cost to students. To qualify, a person must live in Pennsylvania, have a high school diploma or GED, and complete the three-step admissions process. Visit us on a Monday or Wednesday at 8:45 a.m. to learn more. Bidwell is a 2012 ACCSC School of Excellence. Penn State Greater Allegheny Penn State Greater Allegheny offers students an education from an internationally recognized research university in a small college community. Students can complete one of nine baccalaureate degrees at the campus, or begin the first two years of most of Penn State s more than 160 bachelor s degrees. The diverse, international student population enriches learning, with students hailing from more than 20 states and eight countries. McKeesport Area Fall 2014 icmags.com 11

14 EDUCATION TRENDS High School Trends The growth and increase in popularity of STEM, or STEAM, particularly at the high school level, is likely due to an increase in the availability of STEM-related fields and careers. Students need to be prepared for these types of jobs when they graduate, said Michael Silbaugh, assistant principal at Pine-Richland High School. There has been a tremendous growth in technology during the past several years, and there is a greater emphasis on using the skills that students learn through STEAM concepts. Education is changing so rapidly, and we, as educators, must prepare students for jobs that may not have even been available years ago. According to Silbaugh, students at Pine- Richland discover how to use problem solving and creativities in the STEAM areas by projects taught in class such as how to design and build a guitar and then applying physics instruction to tune the instrument. All of our students are exposed to STEAM concepts and programs in some way, Silbaugh said. And some students may opt for a more deliberate approach, if they choose, by enrolling in classes such as CAD design, robotics, comparative anatomy, AP science classes, AP math courses and various arts courses. By exposing our students to these subjects and skills, we are enabling them to see the relevance of what they could be doing later in life. Silbaugh said that the students also have the opportunity to study real people who are in STEAM-based careers, so as to make the career aspect of their education a bit more relevant. Technology is another area in which Silbaugh has witnessed a growth in popularity in the classroom. Technology can help students become better problem solvers and we even offer the use of ipads in class, along with a set of guidelines on their use and when it is appropriate to use them, Silbaugh explained. Teachers recognize that there are times when using an ipad may be beneficial to the learning process. Though there are times, such as during a science lab or during other classes that may require hands-on activities, when use of an ipad may not be entirely appropriate and it is important that we make that distinction with students as well. Technical education is another growing trend among high school students, who seem to perform better when they have access to acquiring real world, hands-on experiences in fields that are of interest to them. In fact, according to Silent Epidemic: Perspectives of High School Dropouts, a report by Civic Enterprises in association with Peter D. Hart Research Associates for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, more than 80 percent of high school dropouts said relevant, real-world opportunities would have given them incentive to stay in school. Technical education goes beyond merely giving students hands-on experiences, however. This type of education trains students for highpaying careers that are in high demand, making it easier for them to find jobs after graduation. And, it helps to prepare students for post-secondary education and their careers by offering core academic skills paired with employability skills. It also aids employers who are searching for employees with specialized skills and experience. The impact that these trends will have on the students futures is apparent, according to Silbaugh. Better problem solving leads to a greater appreciation for learning lifelong lessons and in preparing the next generations for the job force that awaits. College & Continuing Education Trends Problem-based learning also is a growing trend at the college level, particularly for students enrolled in the health science programs at Chatham University. As health care and health sciences jobs continue to drive the economy, problembased learning, which was developed by Howard Barrows and associates at McMaster University for medical education, has been implemented in a number of health care professional educational programs, said Bill Campbell, vice president of marketing and communications at Chatham. Campbell defined problem-based learning at the college level as a rigorous, highly structured teaching methodology, which places the student in a position of active responsibility for learning and mastering content. In TO ADVERTISE McKeesport Area a group of peers, for instance, the student learns new material by confronting and solving problems in the form of a clinical patient case. Campbell explained that problem-based learning is a key component of many of Chatham s programs, especially in the emerging field of sustainability. Through projects, sustainability students understand the whys and practice the hows of sustainability, he said, which helps them immediately effect change on a local level. Whether in class or during various summer immersion projects, students see their work make an impact through the application of the knowledge that they have gained through hands-on experience. Similar to the thoughts of the others, Campbell, too, believes that the growth of technology online learning, tablets and video, to name just a few has fundamentally changed many aspects of the ways people learn and are taught. Technology has facilitated better communication, collaboration and working in groups, all of which are valuable skills for which employers are looking, he explained. At the same time, though, the need to be able to think creatively and communicate effectively is as critical as ever. The use of technology with a blend of professional career preparation and liberal arts skill building will continue to be critical for student success in school and in life.

15 we got you covered. 34 COMMUNITIES AND COUNTING

16 INPERSON Jamie s Dream Team White Oak resident Jamie Holmes makes dreams come true for the seriously ill. For many young people, choosing a career takes quite a bit of time. For a large number of people, a final decision doesn t come until college, or even later. But for Jamie Holmes of White Oak, she knew what her life s mission was while still a child. The 27-year-old White Oak resident was born with V.A.T.E.R. Syndrome, a rare disorder causing congenital abnormalities of the vertebrae, lower intestine, trachea, esophagus and kidneys. Holmes has had more than 45 surgeries and medical procedures, including reconstruction of her esophagus, trachea and lower intestine, and also to fuse several vertebrae in her spine. Holmes has only one kidney, which is not fully functional, however it hasn t stopped her from fulfilling the wishes of others who face similar medical problems. Holmes makes dreams come true with the organization she founded in 2005, known as Jamie s Dream Team. It was during her time as a child in intensive care that she decided she wanted to make dreams come true for the many others like herself. A graduate of McKeesport High School, she will soon mark the 10th anniversary of Jamie s Dream Team, which has granted over 1,000 dreams for people in the Pittsburgh region and across much of the United States. The Jamie s Dream Team mission is to lift the spirits of those suffering from serious illness, injury, disability or trauma, thereby easing their burden. Friends and family would always visit me when I was in the hospital and they made me feel like a princess, Holmes explains. I remember wanting to share that joy with other kids in the hospital, and I would give things away to bring them happiness. A licensed nonprofit in Pennsylvania, Jamie s Dream Team is led by a board of directors. Even though there are similar organizations in existence, Holmes group is completely volunteer. We are a family-based organization. We are an organization by paper, but a family by heart, says Holmes. By Earl Bugaile...fulfilling dreams is the best healing of all, as receiving a dream helps heal the spirit TO ADVERTISE McKeesport Area

17 The dreams granted by the nonprofit have come in all varieties. They ve happened in less than 24 hours, or one even occurred within three hours, Holmes says. I don t like waiting lists. One recently granted dream enabled a terminally ill woman to visit her relatives in North Carolina. The patient was too ill to travel by car, but Jamie s Dream Team was able to make a private jet available to fly the woman to her relatives in less than two hours. Jamie s Dream Team has also helped create parties, special events and even arranged a visit to the White House in Washington, D.C. The requirement for having a dream fulfilled is that the individual must have a serious illness. The nonprofit does not fulfill dreams for financial aid, vehicles or housing, but pretty much anything else is a possibility, with the Dream Team s volunteers, generous donors and sponsors. Holmes says there are no dreams that stand alone as unique, because each dream is unique. The organization has reunited long-lost friends and even planned weddings. One such wedding was for a nursing student who was paralyzed when she jumped from a bridge near Waynesburg in an attempt to help an injured motorist. There are probably about 100 regular donors who will jump in and help fulfill a need right away. They are a combination of companies and individuals. In addition, Jamie s Dream Team holds fundraisers and events throughout the year. One upcoming event will be a Toy Bash, planned for November. For Jamie Holmes, the work keeps her going, even on days when she has her own medical needs. I will continue my work, Holmes says. My heart has always been with others who are suffering. I know that fulfilling dreams is the best healing of all, as receiving a dream helps heal the spirit. To suggest a person in need of a dream fulfilled, visit JamiesDreamTeam.org. McKeesport Area Fall 2014 icmags.com 15

18 Seven Qualities TO LOOK FOR IN A LAWYER Chances are, at some point in your life, you ll need to seek the help of an attorney. Whether you re drawing up a will, transferring a deed, filing for divorce or facing a legal dispute, a lawyer can help you navigate the confusing and complex federal, state and local laws that govern your individual situation. Once you ve determined that you need a lawyer, you may be unsure as to how to go about finding a reputable one to represent your case. You can start by asking your family, friends, coworkers or business owners for recommendations, or you can contact the Pennsylvania Bar Association s Lawyer Referral Service, which will match you with a lawyer who specializes in the field of law that relates to your specific case. While you ll obviously want to hire a lawyer with an outstanding reputation, there are a number of essential qualities that encompass an effective lawyer. Overall, you ll want to be sure you feel comfortable with the lawyer s skill set, experience and fees before proceeding to hire him or her. Before making any decisions about legal representation, you ll want to research these qualities, each of which can help to ensure a productive and positive working relationship with the attorney you choose to represent your case. Experience. First and foremost, you want a lawyer who has experience and a proven track record. While 10 years of practice experience is a solid benchmark, you could consider hiring a less-experienced lawyer who has a history of success, or who is part of a larger, more experienced firm. The more experience a chosen lawyer has in a particular field, the better. At your first meeting, be sure to ask the attorney about similar cases he or she has handled, as well as the outcomes of the cases. Specialty. You want to choose a lawyer who has specific experience in the field in which you need help. Just like you wouldn t visit a dentist for heart surgery, you wouldn t visit a bankruptcy lawyer to help you settle an injury claim. Preferably, find a lawyer who is state bar certified in the particular area you need, and be wary of those who will take any case that walks through the door. Lawyers who are state bar certified in areas like appellate law, bankruptcy law, criminal law, estate planning, probate law, malpractice law and taxation law must demonstrate a high level of competency in the specific field and fulfill ongoing education requirements TO ADVERTISE McKeesport Area

19 Availability. In the lawyer-client relationship, a situation may arise where you need immediate legal advice. As such, you ll want a lawyer who responds to your requests in a timely manner. Talk to the lawyer s current or former clients to find out how often he or she is available for meetings and emergency phone calls, and discuss how quickly you can expect phone calls or s to be returned. Look for attorneys who make it a practice of responding to clients within a 24-hour time frame. Resources. Is the lawyer in practice by himself, or is he part of a larger firm? Standalone practices are fine for simple, straightforward concerns, but you ll want a lawyer who has a large staff and the financial resources of an experienced, established firm if you re involved in a lengthy, complicated case. After all, if the case drags on for longer than expected, you won t want to work with a firm that is trying to convince you to settle just so its lawyers can get paid. Fees. There is no doubt that lawyers can be expensive. Some lawyers bill by the hour or charge a retainer; others charge a flat fee for a specific service. Don t immediately settle for the lawyer with the lowest fees, and be sure to sign a fee agreement before proceeding with your case. As with any big purchase, shop around so that you get the most for your money. Research how the lawyers bill their time, as well as when and how they expect to be paid. References. Before hiring a lawyer, ask for references. Talk to his or her previous clients about each of the qualities addressed above. Also, secure professional references by asking for the names of other attorneys he or she has worked with in the past. LAW DIRECTORY Dugan & Associates, P.C , Mitch Dugan is a Pennsylvania Superlawyer and top 50 Pittsburgh lawyer Dugan & Associates team of attorneys and staff fight to get you the money and benefits you deserve. No fee unless recovery. Mitch Dugan has 25 years experience handling Work Injury, Social Security and Personal Injury cases. If you re injured in an accident or are disabled call now for a free consultation. Rapport. Finally, don t underestimate the power of good chemistry. If you don t feel comfortable talking with a particular lawyer, keep searching. Since you re going to be spending a good bit of time with the lawyer especially if you re dealing with a complex case you ll want to find someone that you get along with and trust. McKeesport Area Fall 2014 icmags.com 17

20 A Celebration OF NEIGHBORHOODS Northwood Realty Services and IN Community Magazines are honored to introduce the winners of the 2014 Northwood Neighborhood Awards, a new recognition program showcasing all the hidden gems that collectively make the Pittsburgh region such an incredible place to live. Nominations in a range of categories were free and open to all residents in Allegheny, Butler, Washington and Westmoreland counties. Each nomination was reviewed by a diverse panel of neighborhood experts from Northwood Realty Services and other community stakeholders who selected multiple winners in each category. The goal of the awards is to highlight the distinct and special places we call home. After all, the Pittsburgh region has a proud sense of identity as seen in our work ethic, shared history and diverse ethnicities and lifestyles. This spirit is reflected in the neighborhoods that make up one of the most livable regions in the country. Congratulations to all of the 2014 winners! Winning photographs and essays are featured online at NorthwoodKnowsNeighborhoods.com and can be seen in various upcoming fall and winter IN Community Magazines TO ADVERTISE McKeesport Area

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