Bluegrass Band Is Recognized

The Wheeling Park High School bluegrass band has received some well-deserved recognition at one of its favorite performing venues.

The band returned to the Gettysburg (Pa.) Bluegrass Festival to perfom on the main stage in mid-May. A feature article about the band and three photographs of the group appeared on the front page of a special festival supplement published by the Evening Sun newspaper in Gettysburg.

Heather Faulhefer, of the Evening Sun staff, wrote that the Wheeling Park bluegrass band “made a triumphant return” to the festival, performing one evening and presenting a workshop the next morning.

“For the six kids of the Wheeling Park band, it was the first time on the stage at Gettysburg,” Faulhefer stated. “But older festival attendants might remember the years of watching the band, seeing its former members grow from freshmen to seniors and becoming better musicians along the way.”

The band’s founder and teacher, Bob Turbanic, said he had been leading the band for six years when the group performed on the workshop stage at Gettysburg in 1999. After hearing many favorable comments from concert-goers, Joe Cornett, the festival’s founder, got the band on the main stage for subsequent years.

However, the article pointed out, the scheduling of West Virginia’s statewide standardized test interferred with the band’s gig when the WESTEST began to fall on the same week as the Gettysburg Bluegrass Festival. This year, though, two fluke occurrences propelled the bluegrass band back to Gettysburg. The WESTEST was pushed up a week earlier than usual, and a cancellation at the festival prompted owner Rich Winklemann to call Turbanic and invite the group to return.

The newspaper reporter observed that, for the students and the teacher, keeping the band going is “a labor of love,” as they rely on donated instruments and monetary contributions.

Turbanic told the Gettysburg paper that four or five band members have gone on to perform professionally, including Amanda Kowalski, the co-founder and former band member of Della Mae.

We have grown accustomed in the Ohio Valley to absorbing bad economic news, so it’s always a pleasure to read news of good economic developments. Making that joy even sweeter is when a national news organization (especially one known for bashing the tri-state area whenever it gets a chance) discovers and reports that good news.

An article published in the New York Times this past week stated that American Mug and Stein Co., a small pottery in East Liverpool, has experienced a turnaround since securing a contract to make coffee mugs for Starbucks.

According to the Times, the East Liverpool manufacturer was on the verge of closing last fall, until Ulrich Honighausen, owner of Hausenware, a tableware company in California, called with a plan to pair American Mug and Starbucks.

“I almost didn’t take his call because I figured it was a crank call or something,” Clyde M. McClellan, owner of American Mug, told the Times.

Fortunately, McClellan took the call, and the offer was legitimate. His company’s mugs went on sale in Starbucks stores across the country Tuesday, June 12, as part of a new line of American-made merchandise branded Indivisible.

The New York Times article stated, “American Mug’s production has kept four people employed and created eight more jobs here (in East Liverpool), and money from the sale of the mugs and other Indivisible merchandise will go to support Starbucks’ Create Jobs for USA Fund.”

Happy Father’s Day! If you’re still trying to think of how to honor a special father, you could always go to Starbucks and buy dear old dad an Indivisible mug made in good old East Liverpool!

Linda Comins can be reached via e-mail at: