Tuesday, May 25, 2010

FBI has interviewed his client in Heinz Field case, lawyer says

Tuesday, May 25, 2010
By Anthony Fenech, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

An attorney for one of the three men police say broke into Heinz Field Sunday morning confirmed the FBI has interviewed his client.

Neville Medhora, who lives in Austin, Texas, met with the FBI today and "answered all questions openly and truthfully," according to his attorney, David J. Shrager.

"He has no ties to any sort of terrorist activities," Mr. Shrager said of his 27-year-old client. "He's just a regular guy."

FBI officials could not be reached for immediate comment.

Mr. Medhora was arrested with two other men, Shazad Mehta, 28, of Elmhurst, Ill., and Adil Minocherhomjee, 22, of La Jolla, Calif., around 7 a.m. Sunday after police said they sneaked under a gate and into Heinz Field.

The trio said they attended a wedding at the stadium the previous night and wanted to take pictures the next day.

"Any activity was in no way, shape or form related to terrorism or destruction of property," Mr. Shrager said.

He said the three men are friends, were in town for a wedding and are Steelers fans.

Of his client, Mr. Medhora, Mr. Shrager said he is a U.S.-born American citizen and is a college graduate of Indian descent.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Common Pleas courts start online payment system

Monday, May 24, 2010
By Anthony Fenech, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Allegheny County Common Pleas Court payments have gone digital.

The court will offer "e-Pay," a Web-based application for Pennsylvania's criminal case management systems, allowing defendants to make court payments online with a credit or debit card.

"e-Pay is yet another tool designed by our Judicial Automation staff to assist court officials in performing their duties," said Pennsylvania Chief Justice Ronald D. Castille.

Allegheny joins a dozen other state counties implementing the e-Pay service, something Steve Schell, spokesman for the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts, believes will benefit the court and citizens alike.

"Not only is it a convenience for the defendant who is making payments, it very much speeds up the process of receiving payments and reduces the need for court staff to re-enter payment data," Mr. Schell said.

In the last two months, the 12 county courts that began using e-Pay have received a total of more than $30,000 in online payments.

Last year, the Allegheny County Common Pleas Court processed more than $11.8 million in payments.

Mr. Schell expects the e-Pay system to be available at the magistrate level sometime next year, once the system is updated.

"We assume, since it's such a convenience, that court officials will sign up at the lower courts."

Anyone interested in making court payments online can navigate to the Unified Judicial Web Portal at http://ujsportal.pacourts.us/. Select the e-Commerce/e-Pay link, then search for cases or payment plans.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Jeannette man attacked by his pit bull

Wednesday, May 19, 2010
By Anthony Fenech, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

A Jeannette man was attacked in his home by his pit bull today, police said.

Bruce Server, 55, was inside his house around 11:30 a.m. when his 5-year-old pit bull attacked him for several minutes, a Jeannette officer said.

Mr. Server's daughter was outside with another dog and rushed to his assistance, dousing the pit bull with hot water and coffee before separating the two.

Mr. Server was flown to a Pittsburgh-area hospital. The officer said the injuries were to both arms and not considered life threatening.

The dog was contained in the house until Jeannette Animal Control arrived.

Obituary: Louis Manesiotis Sr. / Ardent supporter, leader of Greek-American community

Jan. 7, 1918 - May 16, 2010

Wednesday, May 19, 2010
By Anthony Fenech, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Louis Manesiotis Sr. was a successful painting contractor and a tireless worker, one who shook hands with past presidents and represented his Greek heritage on high stages.

He was also one of the local Greek-American community's biggest supporters and philanthropists.

Mr. Manesiotis, of Franklin Park, died Sunday in Good Samaritan Hospice in Wexford. He was 92.

Mr. Manesiotis was born and raised on the North Side, where he graduated from Perry High School in 1936. He played football afterward at Duquesne and Niagara universities and received a number of offers from professional football teams after graduating from Niagara.

He served in the Navy from 1942 to 1945. It was service welcomed by a man who arrived in the United States with his parents as an 11-year-old Greek immigrant.

"I think he felt it was an opportunity to repay what this country gave his parents," said his son, Greg Manesiotis, of Franklin Park. "He knew his parents gave him a new start in life and that was the least he could do."

In the Navy, Mr. Manesiotis met his wife of 65 years, Nelle Miller, who died last year.

He also ran his outfit's athletic program. Upon returning to Pittsburgh, he coached American Legion baseball and led local church basketball teams to national championships.

Mr. Manesiotis joined the field of commercial painting in Pittsburgh and started LG Manesiotis & Co., painting schools, hospitals, churches and office buildings.

For many years he served the Greek Orthodox Church in the Pittsburgh area through the Order of AHEPA -- the American Hellenic Education Progressive Association, one of the world's largest Greek-American organizations.

"Louie," as he was affectionately called in the AHEPA community, attended his first national conference in 1949, and two decades later put a permanent mark on the organization by holding one of the highest positions.

A member of AHEPA for 65 years, Mr. Manesiotis served Aristotle's Chapter 34 locally and was elected supreme president in 1969 and 1970.

"In the history of this organization, there have been few individuals like him," said AHEPA executive director Basil Mossaidis. "We are where we are right now in part because of him.

"He was an affluent individual. He had an incredible ability to communicate to people on all levels and supported everybody, from presidents to paupers."

Mr. Manesiotis was also the national general chairman for the fundraising and restoration for St. Basil's Academy in Garrison, N.Y., raising close to $3 million for the Greek Orthodox-run orphanage.

He was invited to the White House and met several past presidents, including Richard M. Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and Harry S. Truman. He also served as master of ceremonies for several congressional banquets.

"Other than his family, that was his No. 1 priority," his son, Louis Manesiotis Jr. of Franklin Park, said of his commitment to Greek causes. "He lived for it."

The Manesiotis family and AHEPA have agreed to establish a scholarship fund in Mr. Manesiotis' memory.

In addition to Greg and Louis Jr., Mr. Manesiotis is survived by sisters Lula Lester of Wenatchee, Wash., and Mary Black of North Huntingdon; and three grandchildren.

Friends will be received from 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. today in Simons Funeral Home, 7720 Perry Highway, Ross. A funeral service will be held at noon Thursday in St. George Greek Orthodox Chapel, 8941 Ringeisen Road, McCandless.

Memorial contributions may be made to Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church Building Fund, 302 W. North Ave., Pittsburgh 15212.
Anthony Fenech: afenech@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1183.

Read more: http://www.pittsburgpost-gazette.net/pg/10139/1059134-122.stm#ixzz0qBya2BfO

Friday, May 7, 2010

From Vegas to the Yankees, broadcaster recounts his career

By Anthony Fenech

Friday, May 7, 2010 | 2:05 a.m.

Paul Olden has two championship rings.

One is a large, diamond-studded ring encrusted with 113 stones. The other is a smaller ring with one large, single diamond in the middle.

On a spring day in the Bronx, Olden, the New York Yankees’ public address announcer, sat in his office in Yankee Stadium and reflected on the journey between the two rings.

“It was a long wait,” he said. “But I’m proud of the long wait it’s been.”

The first ring is a 2009 New York Yankees World Series championship ring. The second is a 1986 Las Vegas Stars Pacific Coast League championship ring.

“I cherish that one and I still do,” he said of the first ring. “It will always have a special place in my heart, and I’m happy it was in Las Vegas.”

From Las Vegas, where he was the play-by-play voice of the Stars for three seasons in the late 1980s, Olden made his way through the professional broadcasting ranks and is the successor to arguably the most legendary public address announcer of all time, Bob Sheppard.

“This is one of the greatest jobs I’ve ever had,” he said over the phone before the Yankees’ second home stand of the season. “There’s no denying that working for a winning team with the Yankees has its benefits on many levels.”

Like his office. He recites the starting lineups and stadium announcements from an office that is “really a suite,” he said.

The 56-year-old Olden has a laundry list of play-by-play stops on his resume, ranging from baseball to football to basketball, radio to television, and from one side of the country to the other.

He came to Las Vegas from Spokane, Wash., with the Spokane Indians in the aftermath of Mount St. Helens erupting, which consequently hamstrung the team’s funds and led to the birth of the Stars.

“Just being able to broadcast Triple-A baseball in a great market was nice,” Olden said. “But it worked out on many levels because not only was it a great place to sharpen up your skills for the major leagues, but it was the crown jewel of the league.”

While in the PCL, Olden worked closely with current Oakland A’s radio broadcaster Ken Korach, who succeeded ESPN Radio host Colin Cowherd as the Stars’ broadcaster.

“We came up in the business together,” Korach said. “He’s been a great friend for a long time and I remember those days and our quest to get better.”

Since Las Vegas, Olden has been the voice of four American League teams — Tampa Bay, Los Angeles, Cleveland and New York — and has broadcast the Philadelphia Eagles, New York Jets and New Jersey Nets.

And for good measure, he has been the public address announcer for every Super Bowl since 1994.

After a handful of people were shuffled in and out of the P.A. booth as the 99-year-old Sheppard’s health declined in 2008, the Yankees awarded Olden with the job last season.

“The fact that I was a known quantity and established here in New York helped,” he said.

But so too did his relationship with Sheppard. They met in the 1990s, when Olden was broadcasting Yankees games on television. He said they still talk every couple of weeks.

“He enjoys talking and I enjoy hearing him laugh and his stories,” Olden said. “I’ll tell him something funny from the booth or someone that’s asking about him, and he’s always happy to hear that.”

Olden is comfortable outside of the play-by-play booth these days, enjoying the time at home to explore some of his hobbies, which include a photography blog he likes to update.

“I think at this point in my career, this is what I’m supposed to be doing,” he said.

Not bad for a guy who used to sneak a tape recorder into Dodger Stadium as a teenager, reciting broadcasts to an audience of one.

“He has done a marvelous job in a tough position,” Korach said.

And he has another ring to show for it.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Palo Verde's Brandon Wright one step closer to spot in all-star game

By Anthony Fenech

Thursday, May 6, 2010 | 2:10 a.m.

Brandon Wright watched Adrian Peterson.

The Palo Verde High running back watched Peterson on television playing in the U.S. Army All-American high school football game. A few years later, he watched Reggie Bush and C.J. Spiller, too.

“I’ve always wanted to play in the All-American game,” Wright said.

It appears the soon-to-be senior is on the brink of doing just that, joining the likes of Peterson, Bush and Spiller who participated in the prestigious showcase game before shining in college and reaching the NFL.

Wednesday afternoon in the Palo Verde High School gym, in front of a small crowd of family, friends and teammates, Wright was nominated to participate in the 2011 installment of the annual game, which is held each winter in San Antonio.

“This is a big opportunity for me,” Wright said. “It’s that much better of a chance for me to accomplish my goals.”

Palo Verde coach Darwin Rost saw Wright’s potential in the first game last season. On his initial play, he ran for a 35-yard touchdown against Spring.

“That’s when I knew he would be special,” Rost said of the touchdown.

Wright, who also returns kicks and plays defensive back, finished 1,181 rushing yards and 16 touchdowns last fall. As a sophomore, he rushed for 977 yards and 13 touchdowns, adding 18 receptions for 274 yards.

Last January, he participated in the U.S. Army All-American combine, running the 40-yard-dash in 4.4 seconds, the fifth-fastest time at the combine.

The time is part of the reason why he was nominated.

“It’s an honor just to be nominated,” he said. “But man, I want to be in that game.”

Western High defensive lineman Lawrence Guy, who is a junior-to-be at Arizona State, is the last local to play in the game. Former Palo Verde standouts Jarrell Harrison (Missouri) and Mike Smith (Nebraska) were nominated but failed to make the final cut.

“I told him I had good news and bad news,” Rost said. “But I think what he’s done and the offers he has will help him get in.”

Wright has scholarship offers by Colorado and UNLV, with several others expressing interest.

“I’ve progressed a lot,” Wright said. “But next year, I want to blow it out of the water.”

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Rolling with friendship on the bocce court

Competition, conversation inspire these teams at Sun City Anthem

By Anthony Fenech

Saturday, May 1, 2010 | 2:01 a.m.

Sixty-four-year-old David Rosen is sitting on a green bench, trying to ignore the wicked wind so he can give a 25-yard stretch of grass his full attention.

He knows his turf the way an artist knows his canvas.

Rosen is a bocce enthusiast.

To the right is his teammate, Faye. “She’ll kill me if I don’t throw a good shot here,” Rosen says.

Indeed, Faye is also his wife.

And on this day, they are sitting together at Sun City Anthem’s bocce courts, a place they adopted several years ago as the best stand-in for the more grueling bowling alleys of his youth.

Rosen’s left shoulder was replaced years ago, his left knee is gone, neuropathy stole his balance and his bowling days are over.

So now it’s bocce.

“I can’t throw as hard as I’d like to, but I enjoy it a lot,” he says with a Brooklyn accent that seven years ago followed him to Sun City Anthem.

He prepares to stand up; underneath a pair of sunglasses, Rosen looks forward at a scattering of softball-sized metal balls and, more specifically, a smaller, cue ball-looking object near the middle.

“As far as sport goes,” he says of bocce compared to bowling, “the skill aspect is the same.”

David and Faye Rosen represent half of a team called The Nestors, one of about 110 teams with four players each that play in Sun City Anthem bocce leagues.

“This is 90 percent social and 10 percent exercising,” says Dick Krupp, a former president of the league. “It’s about being healthy, mentally and physically, and seeing new faces.”

Krupp serves as the old ranger of the bunch and looks the part, wearing a fit plaid shirt with a forest-green bucket hat tied just below the chin and dark aviator sunglasses.

“This is a great sport,” he says slowly, not finishing his thought, and smiles. “This is a great sport for old people.”

Bocce is bowling and lawn darts mixed in a blender with a sprinkle of a slower pace.

The goal of the game is to roll the ball closer to the palina — a smaller, palm-size white ball — than the other team does. A team accrues points by the number of balls it has closer to the palina than the other team’s closest ball.

One team is chosen at random to place the palina by rolling it between the white and red lines at the end of the 25-yard court. Once the palina is placed, the teams alternate turns rolling.

If the palina is not placed, falling short of the white or passing the red line about two yards from the end, the opposing team gets the opportunity to place it wherever it likes.

“It has the fundamentals of a lot of recreational sports,” says Jesse Buckelew, president of the Sun City Anthem Bocce Club.

And it’s fun, pitting the older kids against the younger ones. “We have people in their upper-70s going against 60-year-olds,” he says, “I like the competition.”

Little wonder. His team, the Untouchables, just completed a 44-0 season. “Tell the paper!” Ro Keller urges him. “Because that’s got to be the first time it’s happened.”

Krupp, the past president, and Buckelew, the current president, are teammates on the Untouchables.

“He’s like my son,” Krupp jokes. “Like I adopted him.”

Buckelew nods his head and laughs.

He is 78 years old. Krupp is 80.

The dozens of seniors braving the wind have one of three things in common: They’re laughing, talking or playing bocce.

Many are multitasking, not with iPods, iPhones or iPads, but through their company, the appreciation of a game being played in a life being lived.

“There’s a fellowship here that makes it unique,” says Al Fortunato, who, as he likes to say, “migrated here like all of the nation.” (He’s from Pittsburgh.)

Faye Rosen and Leslie Neumann know all about that unique fellowship.

Both were born in Queens and graduated together in Newtown High School’s Class of 1968, and then lost touch with one another — only to reconnect over bocce in Sun City Anthem.

“You meet people here who lived around the corner from you or in the next city and didn’t even know it,” Neumann says. “It’s really amazing.”

After Faye Rosen’s roll rests a mere inch or two away from the palina, it’s Neumann’s turn.

“Let’s see how long this lasts,” Rosen says pessimistically.

Neumann’s green ball knocks Rosen’s at just the right angle, exploding the arrangement and giving the Friends 4 Ever team an 11-3 victory in the first game.

“Wow, Leslie,” she says. “Nice shot, you’re spot on today!”

David Rosen walks gingerly onto the bocce court, a little overweight in his older days, wearing an olive green Windbreaker, black pants and black workman’s shoes.

Rosen shuffles toward the blue throwing line, step-by-step, with a four-pound burgundy bocce ball curled up in his right arm and a golden cane helping him along with his left.

“I wasn’t always like this,” he says. “Before, I used to watch. Now, it’s one of the last things I can do.”

He musters what he can with his worn right shoulder and underhands the ball down the court.

The ball rolls slower and slower, missing the front green ball and nestles next to the palina.

“He does very well with that cane,” says the woman who might have killed him over a bad shot.