The Mon Valley has long been vital to the success and struggles of Western Pennsylvania.

As the City of Monongahela prepares to take a look back at the rich history of one of the Mon Valley’s most vibrant communities with a monumental celebration, the staff of the Observer-Reporter and its niche publications are looking forward to those events honoring the past 250 years while keeping an eye toward the future.

My name is John Santa, and along with my colleague Trista Thurston, we are pleased to be harbingers of some refreshing changes as it relates to our work as co-editors of this – and hopefully many future issues – of Mon Valley Magazine.

For the past six years, I have worked at the Observer-Reporter, as a copy editor/page designer before becoming assistant night editor, where I have had the opportunity to become fully immersed in the stories of Washington and Greene counties’ diverse citizenry. I am also editor of The Almanac, which, over the past several months, has kept me in step with the South Hills’ various communities.

Before my tenure at the O-R began, I was privileged to work as a sports writer at the McKeesport Daily News where I became especially enamored with the athletic endeavors and everyday life of the people who call the Mon Valley home.

I now live in Scott Township with my wife, Jill, and our 9-month-old son, Jack.

Trista Thurston is an exceptional journalist. She began working at the Observer-Reporter as a digital intern in 2014 and returned as a reporter in the Greene County Bureau in 2017. She has since become the O-R’s Digital Operations Director and has masterfully led the newspaper’s efforts online.

There’s also another exciting aspect of Trista’s professional history, which she would likely be too modest to mention.

Too bad she’s not writing this column.

Trista Thurston is a Pulitzer Prize winner, having been part of a Cincinnati Enquirer team of journalists who documented the effects of the opioid epidemic in Ohio.

Trista lives in Washington with her fiancé, Eric, and their astonishingly adorable puppy, Theia.

Please accept our sincere apologies for the disservice we do to you, our readers, by not including Theia’s picture, but that’s sadly the way it must be.

Along with Trista, I can assure you that we will work our hardest to maintain the high quality of the publication left to us by our predecessor, Katie Green.

Katie left big shoes to fill in her tenure as the O-R’s Editorial Director of Niche Publications. Trista and I will work diligently to maintain her legacy at the helm of this publication.

And that begins with this edition of Mon Valley Magazine.

This edition’s cover story takes a look at the 250-year history of Monongahela with a story highlighting many of the city’s most famous events and people.

Also included in this edition is an intriguing story and pictures documenting the considerable rail memorabilia collection one Millsboro man has amassed.

In addition to these stories, many of Mon Valley Magazine’s previous features remain intact, so the magazine should remain very faithful to the quality journalism readers have become accustomed to enjoying.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that Trista and I welcome any story ideas or comments about the magazine readers may have. We can be reached at 724-222-2200 or and

Thank you very much for reading.

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