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USDA Assists in the Rebirth of the Tomato Capitol of the World

(L to R) Anne Hogya, Pittston Library Director , Thomas Williams, USDA Rural Development State Director, and Barbara Quinn, Library Board President, display artist renderings of the library expansion slated to begin this summer. USDA photos.

(L to R) Anne Hogya, Pittston Library Director, Thomas Williams, USDA Rural Development State Director, and Barbara Quinn, Library Board President, display artist renderings of the library expansion slated to begin this summer. USDA photos.

Nestled among mountain regions between Scranton and Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania the city of Pittston is the gateway to the Wyoming Valley. The city gained prominence in the late 19th and early 20th centuries as a booming coal mining center.  After experiencing many ups and downs, Pittston is experiencing a rebirth as family businesses come back to the downtown area. With local, state and federal funding from USDA Rural Development, Transportation Enhancement Grants and state gaming revenue grants, Pittston is halfway through a 20-year revitalization project that includes continued upgrades to the streetscape, library and City Hall.

Pittston promotes itself as “The Quality Tomato Capital of the World.” The Pittston Tomato Festival, in its 30th year, is held annually to celebrate the city’s tradition and heritage in cultivating the tomato. The event includes many food vendors from the Greater Pittston area, a beauty pageant, a tomato tasting contest, a best looking and ugliest tomato contest, a 5 km run through the city, tomato fights, live entertainment, and a parade.

The streetscape project is currently the most visible, with new cobblestone-like sidewalks, pedestrian street crossings, historical-style street lights, and signage and façade improvements.  Businesses received state grant funding to update signage and facades. In addition, Pittston recently applied for Rural Development funding to complete the third phase of the streetscape project that will extend south from the area already completed.

Pittston Memorial Library received a Rural Development Community Facilities grant for new books and computers.  The city also obtained a Rural Development loan and grant to expand the library with a new children’s area and community room annex. Library Director Anne Hogya claims, “I don’t sleep much” as she is always anticipating another new project to expand or improve the library.

Just down the street, Pittston City Hall recently received a Rural Development Community Facilities loan for renovations.  According to Pittston Mayor Jason C. Klush, “The proposed improvements to Pittston City Hall will enable the City to modernize the service capabilities of the Municipal Government by improving the physical plant, allowing for enhanced professional police services and accessibility to the community including the Magisterial District Justice Office. The library is an invaluable community asset that benefits a large cross section of the Greater Pittston area, providing services to our stakeholders from youth to senior citizens.”

Just starting a community revitalization project or currently have one in the works?  Talk to your local USDA Rural Development office to determine the Rural Development programs that can best support your project.

Renovations will begin soon on the 40-year-old Pittston City Hall, modernizing the exterior façade and upgrading the building to make it handicap accessible by adding an elevator. USDA photos.

Renovations will begin soon on the 40-year-old Pittston City Hall, modernizing the exterior façade and upgrading the building to make it handicap accessible by adding an elevator. USDA photos.

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