a newspaper man adjusts his pen

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

A big honor for a scrappy street

By Scott Beveridge,

WEBSTER, Pa. – At one end of a short street in the heart of my hometown sits the rusting and sagging Donora-Webster Bridge that has been closed to traffic for two weeks over safety concerns.

At other end of this tiny road in Webster, Pa., there are crooked stone stairs leading to an abandoned house that is collapsing at a slow rate of speed.

Yet this road that is the length of two mini-blocks has just been given quite a noble feature and it doesn’t involve the one building sharing its address.

Commissioners in Rostraver Township have renamed the street to honor the late Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. Ernest P. Kline who grew up in the village before entering state politics in Beaver County.

It’s a fitting place to call Kline Street because his mother was part of a protest there in the 1970s that local women organized to force state transportation officials to install traffic lights at the intersection. The same confusing signals are still there, even though the traffic has all but disappeared since the bridge closed.

It will surely become more confusing for such people as utility workers and delivery drivers as their likes had trouble finding Webster residences even when the bridge was open.

They had a good excuse.

Kline Street used to be Anderson Street, but that was anyone’s guess because there were no road signs marking the drag until last week. Then Westmoreland County 911 renamed Anderson, deeming it Thomas Street a two years ago when houses here were finally given street numbers. This move was supposed to make it easier and quicker for ambulances to get to emergencies in the village.

A friend tried to get here a few weeks ago for a party and the global positioning system in her van took her to Webster, across the bridge and onto what the GPS gods know as Tenth Street. The same GPS navigators take people to Donora when they try to find my house.

The Kline family must be chuckling at the honor, albeit small, our village has bestowed upon the legacy of Ernie Kline. At least most of its members know how to get here to see their name on three new large street signs in town

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