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Reunited and it’s been so good
Reunited and it's been so good

Bill and Judy Setto were childhood sweethearts, then high school rivals before losing touch for 20 years. This year, the Canonsburg couple will celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary and a love story “only God” could have authored.

They went to Alexander Elementary School in Strabane. She was a cheerleader and he was involved in sports. They often rode the buses together and had mutual friends.

“We were a thing all through school,” Judy said. “We were declared – our friends knew we were boyfriend and girlfriend.”

She gave him a turquoise scarf that he tied around his bike handlebars.

“So I rode around Strabane with that scarf on my bike,” he said.

Dating looked different back then for eighth-graders. They listened to records, went bowling, attended school dances and played games like kickball, jacks and marbles.

“Playing marbles was like the Super Bowl – that’s what entertained us,” Bill said.

He moved out of Strabane and into Houston, switching from the Canon-McMillan School District to the Chartiers-Houston district.

“When he moved it was just kind of done, and we never really talked,” Judy said.

They each had different significant others in high school. He became a football star in Chartiers and she was the pep squad leader for Canon-Mac. One time, before a big football game between the rival schools, Judy and her Canon-Mac squad paraded through Houston to stir up trouble.

“I was sitting on the back of a convertible like a queen,” she recalled.

Bill and his Chartiers crew knew they were coming, so they got their “ammunition ready,” he said.

“We sprayed them with water and threw tomatoes at them,” he said. “We got ‘em.”

After graduation, they went their separate ways. Bill never left Washington County; Judy never left the Canonsburg area. For two decades they never saw each other.

“It’s amazing because we never ran into each other even though we lived close by to each other,” Bill said. “It was done.”

In 1962, Bill married and had four children – Kimberley Gloady, Billy Setto, Kelley Deep and Bobby Setto. He divorced about 15 years later. Judy was married in 1964, and had a daughter Laura Borish. Judy got divorced in 1978.

Later in 1978, she and Bill reconnected through Bill’s brother Paul, who happened to be Laura’s middle school math teacher.

“He said to me, ‘Guess who I saw?’” Bill recalled. “He said, ‘I saw Judy.’”

Paul asked Bill if he’d like to call Judy to catch up.

“That big macho guy over there had his brother call me first,” Judy said, pointing at Bill. “So when Paul called me he said, ‘I was talking to my brother and he’d like to know if you’d want to go out for coffee.’ Talk about a worm.”

Neither of them wanted another relationship – at least, that’s what they thought. They were in their late 30s with most of their time and attention going to their children, who were still in grade school and high school.

“I already went through one, I wasn’t going to go through another one,” Bill said, talking about marriage. “And you start to wonder if you’re going to find somebody that will accept me and my children, because it’s a package deal.”

They decided to get coffee in Washington to talk about the good old days, with the expectation that it was only coffee, not a lifetime commitment. They had a good time.

“We both had the feeling that we would meet again,” Bill said.

They went out a few times and eventually started doing more things together with their children and eventually fell in love.

“You know how something just feels right – It felt right,” Judy said. “He really cared for his kids, and that’s what impressed me.”

The couple married April 25, 1980, at a very crowded South Canonsburg Church. Their wedding song was “Reunited” by Peaches & Herb. Judy said so many people came to their wedding because they thought their story was a “fairy tale.”

But their marriage wasn’t always a fairytale. When they moved in together, that’s “when the fun began,” Bill said. Their children had a difficult time adjusting at first, but “with a lot of prayer” they started to get along, he said.

The Settos, who attend Champion Christian Center, are people of faith – They started this interview in prayer. They are adamant that “only God” could have brought them together again after so long apart, and that “only God” could have built the beautiful family they have now, with 13 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

“It’s not perfect, but it’s ours,” Judy said. “This is what God can do.”

They’re looking forward to their 40th anniversary and many more.

“It’s been a good life,” Bill said. “It’s amazing how things worked out.”

West Virginia Democrat fires back at Trump criticism

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin has fired back at President Donald Trump’s criticism of the West Virginia Democrat for voting guilty on two articles of impeachment. Manchin says he – not Trump – has fought tirelessly for his constituents.

Manchin issued the response Saturday night on Twitter, a day after Trump tweeted that he was “very surprised & disappointed” with Manchin’s votes and claimed no president has done more for the state.

Trump carried West Virginia by a whopping 42 percentage points in 2016.

Manchin said that “no Democrat has worked harder in a bipartisan way in the hopes that you would succeed.” He added that West Virginia residents “know exactly” who has worked day and night for the last five years to secure their health care and pensions, and “it wasn’t you.”

Trump asserted in a subsequent tweet Friday that Manchin was “just a puppet” for the Democratic leaders in the House and Senate.

“That’s all he is!” Trump tweeted.

Trump was acquitted by the Senate on Wednesday on charges that he abused his office after senators narrowly rejected Democratic demands to summon witnesses for the impeachment trial.

In announcing his decision on the impeachment vote Wednesday, Manchin said the evidence presented by House managers clearly supported the charges brought against the president.

“I’ve read the transcripts thoroughly & listened to the witnesses under oath,” Manchin said Saturday on Twitter. “Where I come from a person accused defends themselves with witnesses and evidence.”

Trump continued his criticism of Manchin on Sunday, tweeting that “they are really mad at Senator Joe Munchkin in West Virginia. He couldn’t understand the Transcripts.”

Manchin is serving his second term as a U.S. senator and was the state’s governor from 2005 to 2010.

Manchin announced in September that he would not run for governor again, ending speculation on whether the moderate Democrat would challenge Jim Justice, a Trump-backed incumbent who ran as a Democrat but changed parties less than a year after taking office.

Manchin and Trump appeared to have a warmer relationship than the president has with most Democratic lawmakers. Trump invited him to the White House in August when the president presented former basketball player Bob Cousy with the Medal of Freedom. A month later, Manchin was again at the White House when Trump presented the Medal of Freedom to another former basketball great, West Virginia native Jerry West.

Republicans have gained the upper hand in West Virginia in recent decades. But the moderate Manchin won a second full term to the Senate in the 2018 elections in a tight race against a Trump-backed challenger.

U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, a West Virginia Republican who voted against impeachment, told Fox News on Thursday that people in the state are “rather mystified” by Manchin’s vote.

“I just feel that probably Sen. Schumer just pulled the noose a little tight and said, ‘Come on, everybody, we’re going to jump off this cliff together,’ and back here, West Virginians, they’re very surprised,” she said.

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Contamination monitoring continues near Washington brownfield site

Two years after the Redevelopment Authority of Washington County started the environmental remediation of a brownfield site in Washington, they’re still finding traces of contaminated material.

The redevelopment authority still plans to build a house where the former Salsberry Bump Shop, 443-445 Donnan Ave., sits. Before they can build, they have to have clearance from the state Department of Environmental Protection, according to Rob Phillips, assistant community development director for the redevelopment authority.

“That would give us permission to start building there – that the site is clean enough for residential use,” he said.

The auto shop burned to the ground after three juveniles set it on fire in 2009.

“We did a lot of work there after the fire,” said Councilman Joe Manning.

Manning said before it was a body shop, it was a car dealership, situated in the middle of a residential neighborhood.

“I remember that from when I was a kid,” he said. “It was the weirdest thing because the street was house, house, house, car dealership, then more houses.”

After the fire, the razed property sat for years, until the Salsberry family donated it to the Washington Citywide Development Corp. in 2016 in lieu of paying back taxes. The CDC engaged the redevelopment authority to conduct the remediation.

In January 2019, a hard rain resulted in the county’s hazardous materials team responding to the site for a petroleum-related sheen on C Avenue, an alleyway that’s down-grade from the site between Donnan and Duncan avenues. The team discovered an underground storage tank in a back corner of the property that hadn’t been tested.

“We didn’t anticipate having anything there,” Phillips said.

They excavated and removed the tank, but the DEP still wanted them to drill “monitoring wells” in the alley to “see if there was any trace of contaminants,” he said.

“Those wells showed a trace,” he said.

The DEP suggested the redevelopment authority approach property owners down-grade of the property to conduct testing for contaminants in their yards, but none of them were willing to participate.

Following a Monday conversation between Phillips and City Council members, the redevelopment authority plans to go beyond those houses into Duncan Avenue and drill monitoring wells there to check for contaminants and to “find where the limit of this thing is,” Phillips said.

“We’re confident that there is no concern at this point,” he said. “The parcel itself is clean.”

Phillips said the authority has invested about $150,000 into testing, consulting and remediation of the site to date, more than anticipated. They’re not giving up though, he said, adding that he believes they’re close to finally being able to rebuild the lot.

“We don’t want to just leave it vacant,” he said. “We’re committed to building a house there.”

No new object

The weekly 100 Objects feature highlighting artifacts that are part of the Washington County Historical Society’s collection does not appear in today’s Observer-Reporter.