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Monongahela native honored with a Google Doodle

On Sept. 1, 1945, the single-panel cartoon “Patty-Jo ‘n’ Ginger” appeared in the pages of The Pittsburgh Courier for the first time.

It depicted Ginger, a clever Black 6-year-old, speaking uncomfortable truths about issues of the day, to her fashionable older sister Patty-Jo. Over the next 11 years, Ginger would offer witty commentary about racism, the Red Scare, the threat of nuclear annihilation and a host of other topics.

“Patty-Jo ‘n’ Ginger” was the creation of Jackie Ormes, a Monongahela native who blazed a trail by being the first female and Black cartoonist to have her work syndicated. On the 75th anniversary of the debut of “Patty-Jo ‘n’ Ginger,” Ormes was honored Tuesday with a Google Doodle, which took the place of the company’s logo on the Google homepage.

The Google Doodle was accompanied by a slideshow detailing Ormes’ life and work as a cartoonist. The Doodle was illustrated by Philadelphia-area artist Liz Montague, who said Ormes was “a huge inspiration” for her.

“She made such honest, fearless work and centered it entirely around Black women,” Montague said. “Her work is so timeless, too. I read her cartoons today, and I feel so seen.”

Montague added, “Her work is just the total package.”

Ormes was born Zelda Mavin Jackson in Pittsburgh in 1911. Her family moved to Monongahela after her father was killed in an automobile accident and her mother remarried. Displaying a knack for drawing early on, she went to work for the Courier as a proofreader and reporter. Before “Patty-Jo ‘n’ Ginger,” she created the strip, “Torchy Brown in ‘Dixie to Harlem,’” the tale of a girl who leaves the South in search of stardom at the Cotton Club in New York. Torchy Brown exemplified the struggles Black Americans had as they migrated from the South to the North.

Ormes died in Chicago in 1985. A marker honoring her was placed in Monongahela’s Chess Park in 2016 by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission.


Localnews
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Big pipe led to big dig; site struck by vandalism

Things seemed to have been moving smoothly with alleviation of flooding at West Chestnut Street and Franklin Farms Road, but a vandal struck last weekend.

The actions, reported to state police, came to light Tuesday morning at a status conference convened by Washington County Judge Michael Lucas, who issued a temporary injunction in June and continues to monitor progress of the project, deemed a matter of public safety.

The vandal or vandals struck between 11 p.m. Friday and Monday morning, coinciding with some rainy weather.

Geoffrey C. Phillips of Phillips and Associates Inc., engineering consultants, of Wall, Allegheny County, testified Tuesday someone familiar with industrial pumps changed a setting on a control.

The pump is part of temporary measures put in place during construction.

“It took a while for the water to drain down,” Phillips said of the weekend rains.

The judge asked if the vandalism was coupled with a theft but he was told nothing was stolen.

A control unit, however, was damaged and had to be replaced.

A crew from Alex Paris Construction was hard at work Tuesday while the litigants were in court.

Additional security will be added to the construction site, it was stated during the course of the hearing.

The judge plans to have the parties confer by telephone in late October, by which time the project may be finished.

The flash-flood waters at West Chestnut Street and Franklin Farms Road have been deep enough to strand motorists and attract kayakers, and forceful enough to send up a geyser in the parking lot of the Bob Evans restaurant. Fire departments responded many times to emergencies there in the the past few years.

Guttman real estate company, owner of a gasoline station tract, won an injunction aimed at abating flooding by filling what is known as a failed “Big Pipe” and substituting another.

The parties, including Orion Development, which owns the Rite Aid drugstore property, reached a cooperative agreement on the matter earlier this summer.

Until it became clogged and caused flooding, the Big Pipe channeled storm water away from the West Chestnut Street commercial corridor and into Chartiers Creek, which flows along and below Franklin Farms Road.

The intersection remains open, but unrelated gas line replacement has been causing traffic backups on Franklin Farms between West Chestnut and Park Avenue.


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Washington County adds 12 additional COVID-19 cases

Twelve additional cases of COVID-19 were recorded in Washington County Tuesday, bringing the county’s total to 1,066 confirmed cases since it began spreading in the area in March.

The 12 new cases in Washington County were part of 770 additional cases of the coronavirus that were recorded in the commonwealth as of Tuesday, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Health. Along with the dozen cases in Washington County, Allegheny County logged 29 new cases, plus four more deaths, bringing its overall case count to 10,376. Fayette County added two more cases, bringing its total to 694. The state’s health department reported no new cases in Greene County, with its number staying at 140.

Across Pennsylvania, there were 18 new deaths. Since March, 7,691 of the commonwealth’s residents have died as a result of COVID-19.

There were 163,092 tests administered across Pennsylvania between Aug. 25 and Aug. 31, with 4,551 positive cases.

Also on Tuesday, Department of Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine and Department of Human Services Secretary Teresa Miller announced that all assisted living residences, private intermediate care facilities and personal care homes licensed by the human services department have completed universal baseline COVID-19 testing.

The announcement comes two months after Levine issued a testing order directing that residents and staff of these facilities be tested by Aug. 31. Nursing facilities licensed by the Department of Health completed testing on July 24.

Of the 7,691 deaths in Pennsylvania attributed to COVID-19, 5,192 have been residents of nursing or personal care facilities, about 67% of the total deaths. Levine explained that many of the cases in the facilities were the result of staff unwittingly coming to work when they were asymptomatic and spreading it among residents.

Since the start of the pandemic, according to the state heath department, 60 residents of nursing and personal care homes in Washington County have tested positive, as have 14 staffers. Five people have died. In Greene County, two residents and two staffers have come down with the coronavirus, but there have been no deaths. In Fayette County, 18 residents and 15 staff members of these facilities have become infected, with one death resulting.

Levine said the health department would like to expand testing into other vulnerable communities.

“It’s really important to expand testing to minority communities,” she said.


Coronavirus
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Governor urges lawmakers to extend moratorium on evictions

Gov. Tom Wolf on Tuesday urged the state general assembly to protect renters and homeowners from eviction and foreclosure, after the moratorium on evictions ran out on Monday.

After two extensions, the eviction ban that began in March amid the COVID-19 pandemic expired at midnight.

An estimated 1 in 5 renters and homeowners in Pennsylvania are behind on their lease and mortgage payments, and are at risk of being evicted.

At the news conference, Wolf, along with some Democratic lawmakers and housing advocates, asked the Republican-controlled state Legislature to extend the moratorium for 90 days or longer.

The governor said he is unable to extend it again because of limits to his executive powers in the state’s Emergency Services Code.

Wolf also is asking legislators to consider $200 million in CARES Act funding to prevent evictions and the cutoff of utilities.

The Wolf administration estimated 400,000 Pennsylvanians may not be able to make their August and September payments.

“Ultimately, what we’re doing is trying to keep families in their homes,” Wolf said during the press conference.

Among the speakers Tuesday was Jesus Rodriguez, a colon cancer survivor who worked in the restaurant industry for 20 years, but lost his job in March as a result of the pandemic.

He said that in the past, he has never missed a rental payment, but has fallen several months behind and faces eviction.

“Pennsylvania is now facing a housing catastrophe as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. I am amplifying the voice of more than half a million families finding themselves in the same situation,” he said.

Sen. Jay Costa called on Senate Republicans to call the Senate back into session to extend the moratorium.

“No one should worry about losing the roof over their head at the same time they’re worried about contracting a highly contagious, deadly virus,” said Costa. “It’s our job to keep families safe, not stand idly by as they’re made homeless in droves.”

Also this week, Wolf signed a second renewal of his 90-day disaster declaration for the COVID-19 pandemic.

He originally signed it March 6 following the announcement of the first two presumptive positive cases of the virus in the commonwealth.

“As we approach the six-month mark of this crisis, I continue to be amazed at the resiliency and strength shown by Pennsylvanians during this pandemic,” Wolf said. “We are going to continue to combat the health and economic effects of COVID-19, and the renewal of my disaster declaration will provide us with resources and support needed for this effort.”

According to a press release from Wolf’s office, the emergency disaster declaration provides for increased support to state agencies involved in the continued response to the virus and recovery for the state during reopening. It includes expediting supply procurement and lifting certain regulations to allow for efficient and effective mitigation.