community

An Altoona community project, StART Here, aims to support and promote local art. Residents participated in painting a mural as part of the event.
Min Xian / WPSU

ArtsAltoona, a local organization hosted a community event, StART Here, on Saturday, aiming to support and promote local art. Event organ­­izers say they want to use art to encourage growth in the community.

Pamela Snyder Etters, the creator of a 35-foot-wide community mural on the North 4th Street, was busy climbing on and off a mechanic lift to draw the outline of the mural as well as directing volunteers to hand out burshes and paint.

As Alyce Ritti sat in the recliner in her bedroom, Camille-Yvette Welsch shared a poem she wrote inspired by Ritti’s life (see poem below).

Welsch met Ritti 15 years earlier, when she was writing an article about Ritti’s art. Poems from Life brought them back together.

“Oh, I have tears of joy,” Ritti cried after hearing Welsch’s poem.

Welsch laughed. “I’m glad. I’m glad.”

A blighted home sits on 12th Avenue in Altoona, Pennsylvania.
Min Xian / WPSU

Altoona’s Blight Task Force released a plan Wednesday to address the city’s rundown property problem. The plan looked at the extent of blight in Altoona and recommended next steps.

Over the past five months, the task force surveyed the city's housing conditions. They found more than half of about 9,000 parcels of land surveyed are in need of minor repairs, such as a new coat of paint. Meanwhile, nearly 400 parcels require major repairs and even demolition.

Altoona Forum
Kate Lao Shaffner/WPSU

Altoona area residents who came to the Keystone Crossroads/WPSU public forum described their hometown with these words:

  • full of promise
  • sad
  • isolated
  • a nice place to raise a family
  • nostalgic (some say to a fault)

And the word "nativism" came up a fair amount. This simultaneous nostalgia, sadness and hope was a common theme in discussions among the 60 people who attended the forum at Penn State Altoona's Devorris Downtown Center on Tuesday evening.