Best of 2016

I say the same thing every Dec. 31: This was my most pivotal year of my life. 

I finished digging out of $100,000 in debt, celebrated my third year as a professional photojournalist, joined a new photo staff and grew stronger friendships. 

But the most notable change was watching many of my dear colleagues move on from the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. To be honest it felt isolating, as I looked up to them like photojournalism superheroes or rockstars. They're what I want to be like when I grow up.

With 2017 barging in without knocking, it can be easy to mentally close the door and reminisce of what things were like. Thankfully we are forced to keep moving through time, space, obstacles, challenges and opportunities.

This year I resolve to move through entrances, not exits. 

October 2016

September 2016

Chairman of Arnold Palmer Enterprises Alastair Johnston and Arnold Palmer's grandson Sam Saunders react during a press conference at Latrobe Country Club on Monday, Sept. 26, 2016. Arnold Palmer, 87, died Sunday night.

Chairman of Arnold Palmer Enterprises Alastair Johnston and Arnold Palmer's grandson Sam Saunders react during a press conference at Latrobe Country Club on Monday, Sept. 26, 2016. Arnold Palmer, 87, died Sunday night.

Genevieve Johnson, the longtime librarian at Seton Hill University, sneaks some icing before blowing out her candles during her 95th birthday party on Friday, Sept. 30, 2016 at Mt. Odin Golf Course in Greensburg.

Genevieve Johnson, the longtime librarian at Seton Hill University, sneaks some icing before blowing out her candles during her 95th birthday party on Friday, Sept. 30, 2016 at Mt. Odin Golf Course in Greensburg.

Governor Tom Wolf visits homes affected by flood damage in Connellsville on Friday, Sept. 2, 2016.

Governor Tom Wolf visits homes affected by flood damage in Connellsville on Friday, Sept. 2, 2016.

A bird hovers past the Westmoreland County Courthouse on a dreary morning Friday, Sept. 30, 2016 in Greensburg.

A bird hovers past the Westmoreland County Courthouse on a dreary morning Friday, Sept. 30, 2016 in Greensburg.

A young girl watches the rain fall as a pedestrian keeps herself dry along Otterman Street in Greensburg on Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2016.

A young girl watches the rain fall as a pedestrian keeps herself dry along Otterman Street in Greensburg on Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2016.

Lydia Grant, 6 of Penn Township, rides a swing during the Penn Township Fall Festival on Saturday, Sept. 17, 2016 at the Penn Township Municipal Park in Harrison City. The second phase of the $500,000 improvements to the 63-acre park was the highlight of the festival.

Lydia Grant, 6 of Penn Township, rides a swing during the Penn Township Fall Festival on Saturday, Sept. 17, 2016 at the Penn Township Municipal Park in Harrison City. The second phase of the $500,000 improvements to the 63-acre park was the highlight of the festival.

Eddie Miller leans back as his granddaughter Alexis Nadell (left), granddaughter Hayley Nadell (center) and daughter Heather Nadell gather candy from a parade float during the Penn Township Fall Festival on Saturday, Sept. 17, 2016 at the Penn Township Municipal Park in Harrison City. The second phase of the $500,000 improvements to the 63-acre park was the highlight of the festival.

Eddie Miller leans back as his granddaughter Alexis Nadell (left), granddaughter Hayley Nadell (center) and daughter Heather Nadell gather candy from a parade float during the Penn Township Fall Festival on Saturday, Sept. 17, 2016 at the Penn Township Municipal Park in Harrison City. The second phase of the $500,000 improvements to the 63-acre park was the highlight of the festival.

Silhouetted under the St Pius X Church booth, Joe Minick of Mt. Pleasant holds zip ties in his mouth while fastening down an awning on Thursday, Sept. 22, 2016 in preparation for the Mt. Pleasant Glass and Ethnic Festival. The festival runs Friday, Sept. 23 through Sunday, Sept. 25.

Silhouetted under the St Pius X Church booth, Joe Minick of Mt. Pleasant holds zip ties in his mouth while fastening down an awning on Thursday, Sept. 22, 2016 in preparation for the Mt. Pleasant Glass and Ethnic Festival. The festival runs Friday, Sept. 23 through Sunday, Sept. 25.

James Coverbale of Fireflow Inc., based in Manahawkin, N.J., tests 80,000 feet of fire hose from the 12 Hempfield Township fire departments on Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2016 in the Z and M Cycle Sales parking lot. Fireflow services the Tri-State area of New Jersey, Delaware and Pennsylvania.

James Coverbale of Fireflow Inc., based in Manahawkin, N.J., tests 80,000 feet of fire hose from the 12 Hempfield Township fire departments on Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2016 in the Z and M Cycle Sales parking lot. Fireflow services the Tri-State area of New Jersey, Delaware and Pennsylvania.

A bee carries pollen away from a wildflower along Calvary Hill Road near Hannastown on Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2016.

A bee carries pollen away from a wildflower along Calvary Hill Road near Hannastown on Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2016.

The sun sets behind Seton Hill University in Greensburg on Saturday, Sept. 3, 2016.

The sun sets behind Seton Hill University in Greensburg on Saturday, Sept. 3, 2016.

South Park gathers for a prayer before playing Derry on Friday, Sept. 23, 2016 during a football game at Derry Area High School. Derry won 35-23.

South Park gathers for a prayer before playing Derry on Friday, Sept. 23, 2016 during a football game at Derry Area High School. Derry won 35-23.

South Park’s Mia Daube listens to her coaches' pep talks before playing Derry on Friday, Sept. 23, 2016 during a football game at Derry Area High School. Derry won 35-23.

South Park’s Mia Daube listens to her coaches' pep talks before playing Derry on Friday, Sept. 23, 2016 during a football game at Derry Area High School. Derry won 35-23.

Derry’s Collin Holden is upended by South Park’s Jordan Kmonk on Friday, Sept. 23, 2016 during a football game at Derry Area High School.

Derry’s Collin Holden is upended by South Park’s Jordan Kmonk on Friday, Sept. 23, 2016 during a football game at Derry Area High School.

Derry’s Kerek Hoffman attempts to catch a one-handed pass in front of South Park’s Aaron Walker on Friday, Sept. 23, 2016 during a football game at Derry Area High School.

Derry’s Kerek Hoffman attempts to catch a one-handed pass in front of South Park’s Aaron Walker on Friday, Sept. 23, 2016 during a football game at Derry Area High School.

Franklin Regional’s Vinny Pysnik defends against McKeesport’s Layton Jordan during an attempted reception on Friday, Sept. 2, 2016 in McKeesport. McKeesport won 14-7.

Franklin Regional’s Vinny Pysnik defends against McKeesport’s Layton Jordan during an attempted reception on Friday, Sept. 2, 2016 in McKeesport. McKeesport won 14-7.

McKeesport’s Breon Green stiff arms Franklin Regional’s Vinny Pysnik on Friday, Sept. 2, 2016 in McKeesport.

McKeesport’s Breon Green stiff arms Franklin Regional’s Vinny Pysnik on Friday, Sept. 2, 2016 in McKeesport.

The sun begins to set as McKeesport prepares to play Franklin Regional on Friday, Sept. 2, 2016 in McKeesport. McKeesport won 14-7.

The sun begins to set as McKeesport prepares to play Franklin Regional on Friday, Sept. 2, 2016 in McKeesport. McKeesport won 14-7.

Franklin Regional’s Joe Cattani pauses for a moment in the shower before playing McKeesport on Friday, Sept. 2, 2016 in McKeesport. McKeesport won 14-7.

Franklin Regional’s Joe Cattani pauses for a moment in the shower before playing McKeesport on Friday, Sept. 2, 2016 in McKeesport. McKeesport won 14-7.

West Virginia safety Jarrod Harper #22 pumps up his team before taking the field against Youngstown State on Saturday, Sept. 10, 2016 at Milan Puskar Stadium in Morgantown, W.Va. WVU won 38-21.

West Virginia safety Jarrod Harper #22 pumps up his team before taking the field against Youngstown State on Saturday, Sept. 10, 2016 at Milan Puskar Stadium in Morgantown, W.Va. WVU won 38-21.

Missouri wide receiver Chris Black #1 dives into the end zone for a touchdown against West Virginia during an NCAA football game on Saturday, Sept. 3, 2016 at Milan Puskar Stadium in Morgantown, W.Va. WVU won 26-11.

Missouri wide receiver Chris Black #1 dives into the end zone for a touchdown against West Virginia during an NCAA football game on Saturday, Sept. 3, 2016 at Milan Puskar Stadium in Morgantown, W.Va. WVU won 26-11.

Missouri wide receiver Chris Black #1 dives into the end zone for a touchdown against West Virginia during an NCAA football game on Saturday, Sept. 3, 2016 at Milan Puskar Stadium in Morgantown, W.Va. WVU won 26-11.

Missouri wide receiver Chris Black #1 dives into the end zone for a touchdown against West Virginia during an NCAA football game on Saturday, Sept. 3, 2016 at Milan Puskar Stadium in Morgantown, W.Va. WVU won 26-11.

August 2016

From left to right, Dominik Jellison, Jesse Hammer and Conner Watt of Derry Area cheer for their team as they take the field before playing Greater Latrobe in a football game on Friday, Aug. 26, 2016 Latrobe's Memorial Stadium.

From left to right, Dominik Jellison, Jesse Hammer and Conner Watt of Derry Area cheer for their team as they take the field before playing Greater Latrobe in a football game on Friday, Aug. 26, 2016 Latrobe's Memorial Stadium.

Latrobe’s Austin Butler fumbles the ball while hit by Derry’s Noah Wiencek during a football game on Friday, Aug. 26, 2016 Latrobe's Memorial Stadium. Derry won 28-20.

Latrobe’s Austin Butler fumbles the ball while hit by Derry’s Noah Wiencek during a football game on Friday, Aug. 26, 2016 Latrobe's Memorial Stadium. Derry won 28-20.

Derry celebrates their win with the student section after beating Latrobe during a football game on Friday, Aug. 26, 2016 Latrobe's Memorial Stadium. Derry won 28-20.

Derry celebrates their win with the student section after beating Latrobe during a football game on Friday, Aug. 26, 2016 Latrobe's Memorial Stadium. Derry won 28-20.

Jeannette Jayhawk Shayne Darling takes a water break with his teammates during the first day of WPIAL football practices on Monday, Aug. 15, 2016. The first game of the regular season is Friday, Sept. 2. 

Jeannette Jayhawk Shayne Darling takes a water break with his teammates during the first day of WPIAL football practices on Monday, Aug. 15, 2016. The first game of the regular season is Friday, Sept. 2. 

A storm cloud hovers over Dan Zak, an employee of Ligonier contractor Bob Bauer, as he finishes painting the last side of Leslie Baum Rossi's property in Youngstown on Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2016.

A storm cloud hovers over Dan Zak, an employee of Ligonier contractor Bob Bauer, as he finishes painting the last side of Leslie Baum Rossi's property in Youngstown on Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2016.

Rain falls around a pedestrian as she shields herself with an umbrella while making her way along Clay Avenue in Jeannette on Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2016.

Rain falls around a pedestrian as she shields herself with an umbrella while making her way along Clay Avenue in Jeannette on Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2016.

A woman, who did not wish to give her name, admires the car cruise during the Great American Banana Split Festival on Saturday, Aug. 27, 2016 in Latrobe.

A woman, who did not wish to give her name, admires the car cruise during the Great American Banana Split Festival on Saturday, Aug. 27, 2016 in Latrobe.

Carol Visnovsky of Johnstown selects a black-eyed susan  while shopping the Lamb's Ear Farm booth during the Ligonier Country Market on Saturday, Aug. 20, 2016.

Carol Visnovsky of Johnstown selects a black-eyed susan  while shopping the Lamb's Ear Farm booth during the Ligonier Country Market on Saturday, Aug. 20, 2016.

Robert Moem of Scottdale hangs swings to the Yo-Yo ride on Thursday, Aug. 18, 2016 in preparation for the first day of the Westmoreland Fair in Mt. Pleasant Twp, which runs from Aug. 19 through Aug. 27.

Robert Moem of Scottdale hangs swings to the Yo-Yo ride on Thursday, Aug. 18, 2016 in preparation for the first day of the Westmoreland Fair in Mt. Pleasant Twp, which runs from Aug. 19 through Aug. 27.

Clara Baker, 2 of Scottdale, helps her mother Vickie (not pictured) sweep the aisle of her family's Maple Bottom Farm stalls on at the Fayette County Fair Thursday, Aug. 4, 2016 near Dunbar.

Clara Baker, 2 of Scottdale, helps her mother Vickie (not pictured) sweep the aisle of her family's Maple Bottom Farm stalls on at the Fayette County Fair Thursday, Aug. 4, 2016 near Dunbar.

July 2016

Charli White, 9 of Latrobe, splashes in a puddle she made at while swimming at Keystone State Park near Derry Township on Tuesday, July 26, 2016. "I'm the mud watermelon queen!" White said while sporting her watermelon swimsuit.

Charli White, 9 of Latrobe, splashes in a puddle she made at while swimming at Keystone State Park near Derry Township on Tuesday, July 26, 2016. "I'm the mud watermelon queen!" White said while sporting her watermelon swimsuit.

Olivia Weishaar (left) stands at attention with her twin sister Hanna, both 8 of Harrison City, while taking commands from Brian Harris, reenacting a private of Ourry's 60th Royal American Regime, during Living History Day Camp at Bushy Run Battlefield on Tuesday, July 12, 2016. At the camp, kids discovered military camp life as it was in the 1760s of British soldiers and colonial civilians while learning the history behind the Battle of Bushy Run.

Olivia Weishaar (left) stands at attention with her twin sister Hanna, both 8 of Harrison City, while taking commands from Brian Harris, reenacting a private of Ourry's 60th Royal American Regime, during Living History Day Camp at Bushy Run Battlefield on Tuesday, July 12, 2016. At the camp, kids discovered military camp life as it was in the 1760s of British soldiers and colonial civilians while learning the history behind the Battle of Bushy Run.

Eric Poole, who was named the 2016 National Outstanding Young Guernsey Farmer by the American Guernsey Association, milks his cows at his family farm in Tarrs on Friday, July 8, 2016.

Eric Poole, who was named the 2016 National Outstanding Young Guernsey Farmer by the American Guernsey Association, milks his cows at his family farm in Tarrs on Friday, July 8, 2016.

Deborah Goeller of Morris Farm in Irwin places her sunflowers in a container during the Murrysville Farmer's Market on Thursday, July 21, 2016.

Deborah Goeller of Morris Farm in Irwin places her sunflowers in a container during the Murrysville Farmer's Market on Thursday, July 21, 2016.

Cammeron Bluey, 9 (left), plays with his brother Logan, 8, in the mud with their bikes while watching a District 31 American Legion baseball playoff game on Thursday, July 7, 2016 in Whitney. The brothers, who dubbed themselves "The Dirtiest Kids in Whitney," often play rough. "He knocked my tooth out and when I got paid by the tooth fairy, I gave him 50 cents," Cammeron said smartly. "I tell him to do it. We've done it several times."

Cammeron Bluey, 9 (left), plays with his brother Logan, 8, in the mud with their bikes while watching a District 31 American Legion baseball playoff game on Thursday, July 7, 2016 in Whitney. The brothers, who dubbed themselves "The Dirtiest Kids in Whitney," often play rough. "He knocked my tooth out and when I got paid by the tooth fairy, I gave him 50 cents," Cammeron said smartly. "I tell him to do it. We've done it several times."

Unity's Vince Guerrieri leaps for the ball during a District 31 American Legion baseball playoff game against Murrysville on Thursday, July 7, 2016. Murrysville won 9-3.

Unity's Vince Guerrieri leaps for the ball during a District 31 American Legion baseball playoff game against Murrysville on Thursday, July 7, 2016. Murrysville won 9-3.

Members of the Dormont-Mt. Lebanon Sportsmen's Club rifle team from left to right, Tom Benedict of Sewickley, John Funk of Murrysville, Cassidy Fairman of Indiana and Dean Trew of Bentleyville pose for a portrait on Saturday, July 9, 2016. The team recently won a national title in indoor smallbore rifle shooting.

Members of the Dormont-Mt. Lebanon Sportsmen's Club rifle team from left to right, Tom Benedict of Sewickley, John Funk of Murrysville, Cassidy Fairman of Indiana and Dean Trew of Bentleyville pose for a portrait on Saturday, July 9, 2016. The team recently won a national title in indoor smallbore rifle shooting.

June 2016

West Greene’s Madison Renner becomes emotional as Williams Valley celebrates their win during the Class A PIAA Softball Championships Thursday, June 16, 2016 at Penn State University. Williams Valley won 3-2.

West Greene’s Madison Renner becomes emotional as Williams Valley celebrates their win during the Class A PIAA Softball Championships Thursday, June 16, 2016 at Penn State University. Williams Valley won 3-2.

 Williams Valley celebrates their win over West Greene during the Class A PIAA Softball Championships Thursday, June 16, 2016 at Penn State University. Williams Valley won 3-2.

 Williams Valley celebrates their win over West Greene during the Class A PIAA Softball Championships Thursday, June 16, 2016 at Penn State University. Williams Valley won 3-2.

Plum’s Jason Maltese throws his bat after he struck out against Boyerstown in the last out during the Class AAAA PIAA Baseball Championships Thursday, June 16, 2016 at Penn State University. Boyerstown won 4-1.

Plum’s Jason Maltese throws his bat after he struck out against Boyerstown in the last out during the Class AAAA PIAA Baseball Championships Thursday, June 16, 2016 at Penn State University. Boyerstown won 4-1.

Norwin’s Reno Rainey is tagged out at home plate by Plum’s Michael Anderson in the WPIAL Class AAAA championship game on Wednesday, June, 2016, at Consol Energy Park in Washington. Norwin won 7-3.

Norwin’s Reno Rainey is tagged out at home plate by Plum’s Michael Anderson in the WPIAL Class AAAA championship game on Wednesday, June, 2016, at Consol Energy Park in Washington. Norwin won 7-3.

Riverside's Michael Boswell hangs his head after losing to Bishop McCort during a PIAA semifinal baseball game on Monday, June 13, 2016 at Greater Latrobe High School. Riverside lost 1-0.

Riverside's Michael Boswell hangs his head after losing to Bishop McCort during a PIAA semifinal baseball game on Monday, June 13, 2016 at Greater Latrobe High School. Riverside lost 1-0.

Serra Catholic’s Noah Kinser is bombarded by teammates after his bunt that drove in the winning run against Portage during a PIAA Class A playoff game on Monday, June 6, 2016 at Greater Latrobe High School. Serra Catholic won 4-3.

Serra Catholic’s Noah Kinser is bombarded by teammates after his bunt that drove in the winning run against Portage during a PIAA Class A playoff game on Monday, June 6, 2016 at Greater Latrobe High School. Serra Catholic won 4-3.

Serra Catholic’s Zachary Bowen is lifted by Serra Catholic’s Ryan Anselmino as Serra Catholic’s Jake Eged and teammates celebrate their win over Portage during a PIAA Class A playoff game on Monday, June 6, 2016 at Greater Latrobe High School. Serra Catholic won 4-3.

Serra Catholic’s Zachary Bowen is lifted by Serra Catholic’s Ryan Anselmino as Serra Catholic’s Jake Eged and teammates celebrate their win over Portage during a PIAA Class A playoff game on Monday, June 6, 2016 at Greater Latrobe High School. Serra Catholic won 4-3.

Portage's Nathan Teno dives but misses the ball against Serra Catholic during a PIAA Class A playoff game on Monday, June 6, 2016 at Greater Latrobe High School. Serra Catholic won 4-3.

Portage's Nathan Teno dives but misses the ball against Serra Catholic during a PIAA Class A playoff game on Monday, June 6, 2016 at Greater Latrobe High School. Serra Catholic won 4-3.

Vincentian Academy celebrates their win over Serra Catholic during a PIAA semifinal baseball game on Monday, June 13, 2016 at Greater Latrobe High School. Vincentian Academy won 2-0.

Vincentian Academy celebrates their win over Serra Catholic during a PIAA semifinal baseball game on Monday, June 13, 2016 at Greater Latrobe High School. Vincentian Academy won 2-0.

Greensburg Central Catholic’s Zack Skatell rests in the dugout before playing Serra Catholic in the WPIAL Class A championship game on Wednesday, June, 2016, at Consol Energy Park in Washington. Serra Catholic won 6-3.

Greensburg Central Catholic’s Zack Skatell rests in the dugout before playing Serra Catholic in the WPIAL Class A championship game on Wednesday, June, 2016, at Consol Energy Park in Washington. Serra Catholic won 6-3.

Serra Catholic’s Jake Eged dives for a ball against Greensburg Central Catholic in the WPIAL Class A championship game on Wednesday, June, 2016, at Consol Energy Park in Washington. Serra Catholic won 6-3.

Serra Catholic’s Jake Eged dives for a ball against Greensburg Central Catholic in the WPIAL Class A championship game on Wednesday, June, 2016, at Consol Energy Park in Washington. Serra Catholic won 6-3.

Serra Catholic’s Jake Eged dives for a ball against Greensburg Central Catholic in the WPIAL Class A championship game on Wednesday, June, 2016, at Consol Energy Park in Washington. Serra Catholic won 6-3.

Serra Catholic’s Jake Eged dives for a ball against Greensburg Central Catholic in the WPIAL Class A championship game on Wednesday, June, 2016, at Consol Energy Park in Washington. Serra Catholic won 6-3.

Pennsylvania’s Miles Sanders (Woodland Hills, Penn State) makes a leaping catch for a touchdown in front of Maryland’s Jordan Hill (Paint Branch, Harvard) during the Big 33 Football Classic between Pennsylvania and Maryland on Saturday, June 18, 2016 at Hersheypark Stadium. Pennsylvania won 26-14.

Pennsylvania’s Miles Sanders (Woodland Hills, Penn State) makes a leaping catch for a touchdown in front of Maryland’s Jordan Hill (Paint Branch, Harvard) during the Big 33 Football Classic between Pennsylvania and Maryland on Saturday, June 18, 2016 at Hersheypark Stadium. Pennsylvania won 26-14.

Fans trickle into Consol Energy Center during the Stanley Cup Finals, between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the San Jose Sharks, Game 6 indoor watch party at Consol Energy Center on Sunday, June 12, 2016.

Fans trickle into Consol Energy Center during the Stanley Cup Finals, between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the San Jose Sharks, Game 6 indoor watch party at Consol Energy Center on Sunday, June 12, 2016.

Chris Hankin, right, and Anthony Rack of Bethel Park cheer during the Stanley Cup Finals, between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the San Jose Sharks, Game 6 indoor watch party at Consol Energy Center on Sunday, June 12, 2016.

Chris Hankin, right, and Anthony Rack of Bethel Park cheer during the Stanley Cup Finals, between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the San Jose Sharks, Game 6 indoor watch party at Consol Energy Center on Sunday, June 12, 2016.

Red light from the final buzzer illuminates Mike Cummings of Overbrook as he hoists his homemade Stanley Cup during the Stanley Cup Finals, between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the San Jose Sharks, Game 6 indoor watch party at Consol Energy Center on Sunday, June 12, 2016.

Red light from the final buzzer illuminates Mike Cummings of Overbrook as he hoists his homemade Stanley Cup during the Stanley Cup Finals, between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the San Jose Sharks, Game 6 indoor watch party at Consol Energy Center on Sunday, June 12, 2016.

$100,281.29

We did it.

 

A 2007 Mazda hatchback, a 2010 Honda Civic and a mountain of Malone University private, out-of-state student loans strangled us for 2 years and 7 months.

 

That’s a lot of numbers.

 

Newlywed life was such bliss. After graduating college and getting married two weeks later, we moved into our cute two-bedroom cottage on Gull Lake, Mich., driving straight from our honeymoon in the Finger Lakes region.

 

We were chasing our dreams; Keven interned as an audio technician at Gull Lake Ministries and I interned at MLive Media Group with the Kalamazoo Gazette.  Not the most lucrative career trajectories but they are our passions, and we were living in them with each other, in love.

 

Then the grace period ended. And adulthood knocked our teeth and spirit out with a merciless uppercut. We double-checked our math. Over and again. The sum of only the minimum payments equaled $1535.80 a month.

 

I couldn’t tame my anxiety for several months. I wept in my formerly leased, then financed basic model Civic with no power locks or center console cover after a night shift at my first full-time job, a dream job, with the Tribune-Review.

 

The average American household carries a debt of $203,163 for financial baggage such as mortgages, credit card balances and student loan debt, according to a recent NerdWallet analysis.

 

I guess this was the only positivity I could muster up in this nightmare: at least it wasn’t worse.

 

After my bitterness toward the situation healed, we rolled up our sleeves and went to work. Any extra shifts, any freelance, anything. Minimal groceries, limited air conditioning, rare clothing purchases. No cable, no subscriptions, no fun (for a while, before we drove ourselves crazy).

 

We were either all in or chained to an iron ball for a decade. We chose the former for our future.

By far this is the biggest life accomplishment I have ever achieved. And of course, it is the best lesson of discipline, wisdom, patience and contentment we have ever learned.

Although we were the victims of our own decisions, we would not have prevailed without each other’s love, support and sacrifice. We’ve only known of debt in our short three years of marriage, but we chose freedom for the rest of our life.

 

For richer or for poorer…until death do us part. 

Bigfoot believers, skeptics gather near Farmington for camping adventure

When the Comini family celebrates holidays, Annie always receives the brunt of Bigfoot jokes.

“My family thinks I'm nuts,” the Sewickley Township mother of three said as her husband, Chuck, laughed. “I've told them all I want written apologies, when (an uncovered body) comes out.”

Like thousands, Annie became fascinated with Bigfoot when TV shows like “Finding Bigfoot” and “Mountain Monsters” rose in popularity. Then, her intrigue shifted from entertainment to education, which brought her to last month's 2016 Pennsylvania Bigfoot Camping Adventure, the gathering's inaugural event.

Experts, enthusiasts, believers and skeptics, most from the tri-state area but some from as far away as California, assembled at Benner's Meadow Run, a campground and Sasquatch hotbed near Farmington in Forbes State Forest. Day hikes, night investigations, speakers and cookouts filled the weekend itinerary for those who purchased the 225 tickets sold. Proceeds benefited three local charities.

“There were no TV shows when I started this. Bigfooting wasn't cool,” event organizer and Bigfoot researcher of 35 years Eric Altman of Jeannette said. “With the experience, education and the scientific, objective research that we do, we want to teach the new people that are interested in it the right way to do it.”

Despite some people's reason for attendance being pure amusement, several took advantage of the event's empathetic fellowship to offset harassment from family and colleagues.

“It took me about three years to talk. I didn't want the ridicule,” said Dave Groves, who joked he is “the Bigfoot guy from Mars (Pa.).” “There's a community that I never knew existed.”

But the weekend wouldn't be complete without an abnormal encounter, even for Annie's skeptic husband, whom she coaxed to come along. A shadowy figure caught playing peek-a-boo on a thermal imaging device moved the needle of Chuck's disbelief.

“It was nothing we ever heard in the woods before,” said Chuck, an avid hunter who compared the encounter to game. “There's so much of the world that we don't know. Take a ride in an airplane and look down at the ground. See how much is actually woods. There are still spots on our Earth that man hasn't touched.”

BAPS Bigfoot and Paranormal Society co-founder Shawn Dennis pauses at the top of a pipeline tree clearing during the 2016 Pennsylvania Bigfoot Camping Adventure at Benner's Meadow Run campground near Farmington on Friday, May 6. Experts say Bigfeet prefer hilly, wooded areas and pipeline clearings make their habitats easily accessible. The Farmington area has been known as a Bigfoot hotbed with numerous encounters reported by campers, hunters and locals.

BAPS Bigfoot and Paranormal Society co-founder Shawn Dennis pauses at the top of a pipeline tree clearing during the 2016 Pennsylvania Bigfoot Camping Adventure at Benner's Meadow Run campground near Farmington on Friday, May 6. Experts say Bigfeet prefer hilly, wooded areas and pipeline clearings make their habitats easily accessible. The Farmington area has been known as a Bigfoot hotbed with numerous encounters reported by campers, hunters and locals.

A vanity license plate owned by Kathy Altman, wife of event organizer and Bigfoot expert Eric Altman of Jeannette, drips with rain during the 2016 Pennsylvania Bigfoot Camping Adventure at Benner's Meadow Run campground near Farmington on Friday, May 6. The Farmington area has been known as a Bigfoot hotbed with numerous encounters reported by campers, hunters and locals.

A vanity license plate owned by Kathy Altman, wife of event organizer and Bigfoot expert Eric Altman of Jeannette, drips with rain during the 2016 Pennsylvania Bigfoot Camping Adventure at Benner's Meadow Run campground near Farmington on Friday, May 6. The Farmington area has been known as a Bigfoot hotbed with numerous encounters reported by campers, hunters and locals.

Event organizer and Bigfoot expert Eric Altman of Jeannette (center) leads a group along a damp trail as he educates on what to hear and look for when Bigfoot researching during the 2016 Pennsylvania Bigfoot Camping Adventure at Benner's Meadow Run campground near Farmington on Friday, May 6. The Farmington area has been known as a Bigfoot hotbed with numerous encounters reported by campers, hunters and locals.

Event organizer and Bigfoot expert Eric Altman of Jeannette (center) leads a group along a damp trail as he educates on what to hear and look for when Bigfoot researching during the 2016 Pennsylvania Bigfoot Camping Adventure at Benner's Meadow Run campground near Farmington on Friday, May 6. The Farmington area has been known as a Bigfoot hotbed with numerous encounters reported by campers, hunters and locals.

Kaden Theys, 8, of South Fork, Cambria County, catches rain with his tongue while hiking with event organizer and Bigfoot expert Eric Altman of Jeannette as Altman leads a group along a trail during the 2016 Pennsylvania Bigfoot Camping Adventure at Benner's Meadow Run campground near Farmington on Friday, May 6. The Farmington area has been known as a Bigfoot hotbed with numerous encounters reported by campers, hunters and locals.

Kaden Theys, 8, of South Fork, Cambria County, catches rain with his tongue while hiking with event organizer and Bigfoot expert Eric Altman of Jeannette as Altman leads a group along a trail during the 2016 Pennsylvania Bigfoot Camping Adventure at Benner's Meadow Run campground near Farmington on Friday, May 6. The Farmington area has been known as a Bigfoot hotbed with numerous encounters reported by campers, hunters and locals.

Tom Crowell of Altoona listens to event organizer and Bigfoot expert Eric Altman of Jeannette as Altman leads a group through the woods educating them on what to hear and look for when Bigfoot researching during the 2016 Pennsylvania Bigfoot Camping Adventure at Benner's Meadow Run campground near Farmington on Friday, May 6. The Farmington area has been known as a Bigfoot hotbed with numerous encounters reported by campers, hunters and locals.

Tom Crowell of Altoona listens to event organizer and Bigfoot expert Eric Altman of Jeannette as Altman leads a group through the woods educating them on what to hear and look for when Bigfoot researching during the 2016 Pennsylvania Bigfoot Camping Adventure at Benner's Meadow Run campground near Farmington on Friday, May 6. The Farmington area has been known as a Bigfoot hotbed with numerous encounters reported by campers, hunters and locals.

Jim Brown of Smithfield uses his homemade high-gain amplifier to listen to a possible "fourth knock" he heard after the group made three tree knocks while on a night research hike during the 2016 Pennsylvania Bigfoot Camping Adventure at Benner's Meadow Run campground near Farmington on Friday, May 6. The Farmington area has been known as a Bigfoot hotbed with numerous encounters reported by campers, hunters and locals.

Jim Brown of Smithfield uses his homemade high-gain amplifier to listen to a possible "fourth knock" he heard after the group made three tree knocks while on a night research hike during the 2016 Pennsylvania Bigfoot Camping Adventure at Benner's Meadow Run campground near Farmington on Friday, May 6. The Farmington area has been known as a Bigfoot hotbed with numerous encounters reported by campers, hunters and locals.

Ohio anomalous researcher and ParaNexus Executive Director Brian Parsons scans the forest floor for evidence while on a night research hike during the 2016 Pennsylvania Bigfoot Camping Adventure at Benner's Meadow Run campground near Farmington on Friday, May 6. The Farmington area has been known as a Bigfoot hotbed with numerous encounters reported by campers, hunters and locals.

Ohio anomalous researcher and ParaNexus Executive Director Brian Parsons scans the forest floor for evidence while on a night research hike during the 2016 Pennsylvania Bigfoot Camping Adventure at Benner's Meadow Run campground near Farmington on Friday, May 6. The Farmington area has been known as a Bigfoot hotbed with numerous encounters reported by campers, hunters and locals.

Ohio anomalous researcher and ParaNexus Executive Director Brian Parsons listens to frogs' ceased croaking, which could be a sign of something large in the woods, while on a night research hike during the 2016 Pennsylvania Bigfoot Camping Adventure at Benner's Meadow Run campground near Farmington on Friday, May 6. The Farmington area has been known as a Bigfoot hotbed with numerous encounters reported by campers, hunters and locals.

Ohio anomalous researcher and ParaNexus Executive Director Brian Parsons listens to frogs' ceased croaking, which could be a sign of something large in the woods, while on a night research hike during the 2016 Pennsylvania Bigfoot Camping Adventure at Benner's Meadow Run campground near Farmington on Friday, May 6. The Farmington area has been known as a Bigfoot hotbed with numerous encounters reported by campers, hunters and locals.

Chuck Comini of Hutchinson, a Bigfoot skeptic who supports his wife Annie who is a believer, shows a screenshot of a thermal image captured by former licensed private Investigator of 19 years Steve Kulls from Sasquatch Detective Radio the day after on a night research hike during the 2016 Pennsylvania Bigfoot Camping Adventure at Benner's Meadow Run campground near Farmington on Saturday, May 7. “Last night made me believe more but I’m still not 100 percent sold,” Comini said. “There were three guys there, all hunters, and we all said it was nothing we ever heard in the woods before." The Farmington area has been known as a Bigfoot hotbed with numerous encounters reported by campers, hunters and locals.

Chuck Comini of Hutchinson, a Bigfoot skeptic who supports his wife Annie who is a believer, shows a screenshot of a thermal image captured by former licensed private Investigator of 19 years Steve Kulls from Sasquatch Detective Radio the day after on a night research hike during the 2016 Pennsylvania Bigfoot Camping Adventure at Benner's Meadow Run campground near Farmington on Saturday, May 7. “Last night made me believe more but I’m still not 100 percent sold,” Comini said. “There were three guys there, all hunters, and we all said it was nothing we ever heard in the woods before." The Farmington area has been known as a Bigfoot hotbed with numerous encounters reported by campers, hunters and locals.

Cryptozoologist Dave Dragosin of Clairton listens to a woman describe her Bigfoot encounter while looking at his forensic style’ sketches he is known for during the 2016 Pennsylvania Bigfoot Camping Adventure at Benner's Meadow Run campground near Farmington on Saturday, May 7. The Farmington area has been known as a Bigfoot hotbed with numerous encounters reported by campers, hunters and locals.

Cryptozoologist Dave Dragosin of Clairton listens to a woman describe her Bigfoot encounter while looking at his forensic style’ sketches he is known for during the 2016 Pennsylvania Bigfoot Camping Adventure at Benner's Meadow Run campground near Farmington on Saturday, May 7. The Farmington area has been known as a Bigfoot hotbed with numerous encounters reported by campers, hunters and locals.

Owner of Benner's Meadow Run campground Marylou Rohlf kisses "Mountain Monsters" television star Trapper during the 2016 Pennsylvania Bigfoot Camping Adventure at Benner's Meadow Run campground near Farmington on Saturday, May 7. Rohlf said over 225 tickets were sold, and she welcomes the first-time event again next year. TV shows like "Mountain Monsters" and "Finding Bigfoot" has spoked tremendous interest in Bigfoot, said several attendees. The Farmington area has been known as a Bigfoot hotbed with numerous encounters reported by campers, hunters and locals.

Owner of Benner's Meadow Run campground Marylou Rohlf kisses "Mountain Monsters" television star Trapper during the 2016 Pennsylvania Bigfoot Camping Adventure at Benner's Meadow Run campground near Farmington on Saturday, May 7. Rohlf said over 225 tickets were sold, and she welcomes the first-time event again next year. TV shows like "Mountain Monsters" and "Finding Bigfoot" has spoked tremendous interest in Bigfoot, said several attendees. The Farmington area has been known as a Bigfoot hotbed with numerous encounters reported by campers, hunters and locals.

Tom Crowell of Altoona looks into the woods while on an educational Bigfoot hike lead by event organizer and Bigfoot expert Eric Altman of Jeannette during the 2016 Pennsylvania Bigfoot Camping Adventure at Benner's Meadow Run campground near Farmington on Friday, May 6. The Farmington area has been known as a Bigfoot hotbed with numerous encounters reported by campers, hunters and locals.

Tom Crowell of Altoona looks into the woods while on an educational Bigfoot hike lead by event organizer and Bigfoot expert Eric Altman of Jeannette during the 2016 Pennsylvania Bigfoot Camping Adventure at Benner's Meadow Run campground near Farmington on Friday, May 6. The Farmington area has been known as a Bigfoot hotbed with numerous encounters reported by campers, hunters and locals.

May 2016

Lawson Miller, 6, of Canonsburg flies his toy airplane as the Canadian Forces Snowbirds pass overhead during the second day of the Shop ’n Save Westmoreland County International Air Show at Arnold Palmer Regional Airport in Unity Township on Sunday, May 22, 2016.

Lawson Miller, 6, of Canonsburg flies his toy airplane as the Canadian Forces Snowbirds pass overhead during the second day of the Shop ’n Save Westmoreland County International Air Show at Arnold Palmer Regional Airport in Unity Township on Sunday, May 22, 2016.

The Lucas Oil Pitts Bi-Plane, flown by Mike Wiskus, performs a stunt during the second day of the Shop ’n Save Westmoreland County International Air Show at Arnold Palmer Regional Airport in Unity Township on Sunday, May 22, 2016.

The Lucas Oil Pitts Bi-Plane, flown by Mike Wiskus, performs a stunt during the second day of the Shop ’n Save Westmoreland County International Air Show at Arnold Palmer Regional Airport in Unity Township on Sunday, May 22, 2016.

Irene Hummert embraces boyfriend an Air Force veteran Chuck Boal of Monroeville as they watch pilot Michael Wiskus at the Westmoreland County Shop ‘n Save Airshow at Arnold Palmer Regional Airport on Saturday, May 21, 2016.

Irene Hummert embraces boyfriend an Air Force veteran Chuck Boal of Monroeville as they watch pilot Michael Wiskus at the Westmoreland County Shop ‘n Save Airshow at Arnold Palmer Regional Airport on Saturday, May 21, 2016.

Yough High School senior Jason Walko assists in raising one of 353 American flags with about 40 other Yough students, members of the West Newton VFW Post 7812 and members of West Newton Moose Lodge 31 on Friday, May 13, 2016 at the West Newton Cemetery. In its 22nd year, the Avenue of Flags will honor 353 deceased veterans with flags, which will fly until June 4. Each flag is given by a family member in honor of a local veteran who has passed away. 

Yough High School senior Jason Walko assists in raising one of 353 American flags with about 40 other Yough students, members of the West Newton VFW Post 7812 and members of West Newton Moose Lodge 31 on Friday, May 13, 2016 at the West Newton Cemetery. In its 22nd year, the Avenue of Flags will honor 353 deceased veterans with flags, which will fly until June 4. Each flag is given by a family member in honor of a local veteran who has passed away. 

Teresa Masarik of Greensburg prays during the National Day of Prayer in front of the Westmoreland County Courthouse in Greensburg on Wednesday, May 5, 2016.

Teresa Masarik of Greensburg prays during the National Day of Prayer in front of the Westmoreland County Courthouse in Greensburg on Wednesday, May 5, 2016.

Mt. Pleasant's Christiana Czegan attempts to avoid the tag by Indiana's Logan Everett on Wednesday, May 18, 2016 at Greater Latrobe High School. Mt. Pleasant won 3-2 in eight innings.

Mt. Pleasant's Christiana Czegan attempts to avoid the tag by Indiana's Logan Everett on Wednesday, May 18, 2016 at Greater Latrobe High School. Mt. Pleasant won 3-2 in eight innings.

The braids of Mt. Pleasant's Maddie Kromer fly as she throws to first base against Indiana on Wednesday, May 18, 2016 at Greater Latrobe High School. Mt. Pleasant won 3-2 in eight innings.

The braids of Mt. Pleasant's Maddie Kromer fly as she throws to first base against Indiana on Wednesday, May 18, 2016 at Greater Latrobe High School. Mt. Pleasant won 3-2 in eight innings.

West Greene's Madison Renner puts catcher Shelby Morris in a headlock after beating Monessen during the WPIAL Class A softball semifinal on Wednesday, May 25, 2016 at California University of Pennsylvania. West Greene won 10-0.

West Greene's Madison Renner puts catcher Shelby Morris in a headlock after beating Monessen during the WPIAL Class A softball semifinal on Wednesday, May 25, 2016 at California University of Pennsylvania. West Greene won 10-0.

South Park's Maura Huwalt warms up her discus throw during the Class AA PIAA track and field championships at Shippensburg University on Friday, May 27, 2016 in Shippensburg.

South Park's Maura Huwalt warms up her discus throw during the Class AA PIAA track and field championships at Shippensburg University on Friday, May 27, 2016 in Shippensburg.

Kiski Area's Jace Roundtree reacts after winning the 110 meter hurdles during the Class AAA PIAA track and field championships at Shippensburg University on Saturday, May 28, 2016 in Shippensburg.

Kiski Area's Jace Roundtree reacts after winning the 110 meter hurdles during the Class AAA PIAA track and field championships at Shippensburg University on Saturday, May 28, 2016 in Shippensburg.

State College's Griffin Thompson reacts after his pole vault clear during the Class AAA PIAA track and field championships at Shippensburg University on Friday, May 27, 2016 in Shippensburg. Thompson finished in first place. 

State College's Griffin Thompson reacts after his pole vault clear during the Class AAA PIAA track and field championships at Shippensburg University on Friday, May 27, 2016 in Shippensburg. Thompson finished in first place. 

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April 2016

Mark Johnston hangs his head for a moment on Saturday, April 30, 2016 next to his home that was damaged by heat from a natural gas pipeline explosion Friday in Salem Township close to the intersection of Routes 819 and 22.

Mark Johnston hangs his head for a moment on Saturday, April 30, 2016 next to his home that was damaged by heat from a natural gas pipeline explosion Friday in Salem Township close to the intersection of Routes 819 and 22.

Police work the scene of a shooting at the Marathon gas station along Route 22 in Murrysville on Wednesday, April 20, 2016.

Police work the scene of a shooting at the Marathon gas station along Route 22 in Murrysville on Wednesday, April 20, 2016.

Eric Beauford of Rochester carries balloons during the 9th annual Race for Grace at Norwin High School in North Huntingdon on Saturday, April 2, 2016. Race For Grace and its beneficiary Foundation are named after Grace Elizabeth Ekis, a precious 5-year-old girl, who lost her courageous 13-month battle with a rare cancerous brain tumor on Valentine’s Day 2008.

Eric Beauford of Rochester carries balloons during the 9th annual Race for Grace at Norwin High School in North Huntingdon on Saturday, April 2, 2016. Race For Grace and its beneficiary Foundation are named after Grace Elizabeth Ekis, a precious 5-year-old girl, who lost her courageous 13-month battle with a rare cancerous brain tumor on Valentine’s Day 2008.

John Picciano of Hempfield fishes along the Loyalhanna Creek near Ligonier as the sun rises on Saturday, April 16, 2016. Saturday at 8 a.m. marked the opening day of trout season.

John Picciano of Hempfield fishes along the Loyalhanna Creek near Ligonier as the sun rises on Saturday, April 16, 2016. Saturday at 8 a.m. marked the opening day of trout season.

Latrobe's Jared Kollar pitches against Norwin on Tuesday, April 12, 2016 at Greater Latrobe High School. Norwin won 1-0. 

Latrobe's Jared Kollar pitches against Norwin on Tuesday, April 12, 2016 at Greater Latrobe High School. Norwin won 1-0. 

Latrobe's Lauren Sigut is "crowned" rock, paper, scissors champion by Morgan Schweizer while waiting out a rain delay during a softball game at Hempfield on Friday, April 22, 2016. Hempfield won 7-1.

Latrobe's Lauren Sigut is "crowned" rock, paper, scissors champion by Morgan Schweizer while waiting out a rain delay during a softball game at Hempfield on Friday, April 22, 2016. Hempfield won 7-1.

Taylor Hoffman collides with Latrobe's Karley Kovatch during a softball game at Hempfield on Friday, April 22, 2016. Hempfield won 7-1.

Taylor Hoffman collides with Latrobe's Karley Kovatch during a softball game at Hempfield on Friday, April 22, 2016. Hempfield won 7-1.

Franklin Regional's Alex Christie reacts as his teammates dog pile Bryce Halleck after Halleck's game-winning RBI after beating Gateway at Haymaker Park in Murrysville on Wednesday, April 27, 2016. Franklin Regional won 3-2 in 11 innings.

Franklin Regional's Alex Christie reacts as his teammates dog pile Bryce Halleck after Halleck's game-winning RBI after beating Gateway at Haymaker Park in Murrysville on Wednesday, April 27, 2016. Franklin Regional won 3-2 in 11 innings.

Hempfield gathers around catcher Mitch Golden for a good luck cheer against Norwin on Thursday, April 14, 2016 at Hempfield Area High School. Hempfield won 5-3.

Hempfield gathers around catcher Mitch Golden for a good luck cheer against Norwin on Thursday, April 14, 2016 at Hempfield Area High School. Hempfield won 5-3.

Mt. Pleasant's Jason Beranek tags out Penn-Trafford's Robbie Buck on Friday, April 1, 2016 at Penn-Trafford High School. Penn-Trafford won 3-2.

Mt. Pleasant's Jason Beranek tags out Penn-Trafford's Robbie Buck on Friday, April 1, 2016 at Penn-Trafford High School. Penn-Trafford won 3-2.

Latrobe's Jack Fenton reacts after the final point against Penn-Trafford during a volleyball match at Latrobe on Thursday, April 28, 2016. Latrobe won 3-0.

Latrobe's Jack Fenton reacts after the final point against Penn-Trafford during a volleyball match at Latrobe on Thursday, April 28, 2016. Latrobe won 3-0.

March 2016

March was madness as they say in the basketball world, and I definitely had my fair share of it. With state playoffs until the championship games in Hershey, I was witnessing the biggest highs and lows of these kids' lives. There were only a few feature hunts and other news assignments that kept me away from the wood floor this month.

Aliquippa celebrates their win over Mastery Charter North-Pickett during the PIAA Class AA boys basketball championship on Saturday, March 19, 2016 at the Giant Center in Hershey, Pa. Aliquippa won 68-49.

Aliquippa celebrates their win over Mastery Charter North-Pickett during the PIAA Class AA boys basketball championship on Saturday, March 19, 2016 at the Giant Center in Hershey, Pa. Aliquippa won 68-49.

Mars Area’s Christian Schmitt (23) rests on the shoulder of Mars Area’s John Castello (3) with their runner-up trophy during the PIAA Class AAA boys basketball championship on Friday, March 18, 2016 at the Giant Center in Hershey, Pa. Neumann-Goretti won 99-66.

Mars Area’s Christian Schmitt (23) rests on the shoulder of Mars Area’s John Castello (3) with their runner-up trophy during the PIAA Class AAA boys basketball championship on Friday, March 18, 2016 at the Giant Center in Hershey, Pa. Neumann-Goretti won 99-66.

Aliquippa’s Jassir Jordan (1) is lit before announcements of teams during the PIAA Class AA boys basketball championship on Saturday, March 19, 2016 at the Giant Center in Hershey, Pa. Aliquippa won 68-49.

Aliquippa’s Jassir Jordan (1) is lit before announcements of teams during the PIAA Class AA boys basketball championship on Saturday, March 19, 2016 at the Giant Center in Hershey, Pa. Aliquippa won 68-49.

Mars Area assistant coach Scott Pfeiffer celebrates his team's win in the locker room over Bishop McDevitt during a PIAA Class AAA semifinal on Tuesday, March 15, 2016 at Altoona High School. Mars won 80-62.

Mars Area assistant coach Scott Pfeiffer celebrates his team's win in the locker room over Bishop McDevitt during a PIAA Class AAA semifinal on Tuesday, March 15, 2016 at Altoona High School. Mars won 80-62.

Homer-Center's John Ireland reacts after his teams loss to Sewickley Academy during a PIAA playoff game on Tuesday, March 8, 2016 at Plum High School. Sewickley Academy won 48-38.

Homer-Center's John Ireland reacts after his teams loss to Sewickley Academy during a PIAA playoff game on Tuesday, March 8, 2016 at Plum High School. Sewickley Academy won 48-38.

Burrell's Nicole Kristof (15) reacts with Burrell's Eliza Oswalt (2) and Burrell's Bailie Taylor (23) after their loss to North Star during a PIAA Class AA quarterfinal game on Friday, March 11, 2016 at Hempfield Area High School. North Star won 47 - 41.

Burrell's Nicole Kristof (15) reacts with Burrell's Eliza Oswalt (2) and Burrell's Bailie Taylor (23) after their loss to North Star during a PIAA Class AA quarterfinal game on Friday, March 11, 2016 at Hempfield Area High School. North Star won 47 - 41.

Pittsburgh Public Schools superintendent Linda Lane consoles Allderdice’s Jordan Rawis (50) after his loss to Roman Catholic during the PIAA Class AAAA boys basketball championship on Saturday, March 19, 2016 at the Giant Center in Hershey, Pa. 

Pittsburgh Public Schools superintendent Linda Lane consoles Allderdice’s Jordan Rawis (50) after his loss to Roman Catholic during the PIAA Class AAAA boys basketball championship on Saturday, March 19, 2016 at the Giant Center in Hershey, Pa. 

North Allegheny’s Piper Morningstar (21) and North Allegheny’s Rachel Martindale (14) walk off the court dejected as Cumberland Valley celebrates their win during a PIAA Class AAAA semifinal on Tuesday, March 15, 2016 at Altoona High School. Cumberland Valley won 43-42.

North Allegheny’s Piper Morningstar (21) and North Allegheny’s Rachel Martindale (14) walk off the court dejected as Cumberland Valley celebrates their win during a PIAA Class AAAA semifinal on Tuesday, March 15, 2016 at Altoona High School. Cumberland Valley won 43-42.

Mars Area’s Robby Carmody (24) smacks Bishop McDevitt’s Kobay White (4) while battling for a rebound during a PIAA Class AAA semifinal on Tuesday, March 15, 2016 at Altoona High School. Mars won 80-62.

Mars Area’s Robby Carmody (24) smacks Bishop McDevitt’s Kobay White (4) while battling for a rebound during a PIAA Class AAA semifinal on Tuesday, March 15, 2016 at Altoona High School. Mars won 80-62.

Penn Hills coach John Tate reacts to a play against Norwin during a PIAA playoff game on Tuesday, March 8, 2016 at Plum High School. Norwin won 48-35.

Penn Hills coach John Tate reacts to a play against Norwin during a PIAA playoff game on Tuesday, March 8, 2016 at Plum High School. Norwin won 48-35.

Latrobe's Austin Butler poses for a portrait on Friday, March 25, 2016. Butler is the 2016 Tribune-Review boys basketball player of the year.

Latrobe's Austin Butler poses for a portrait on Friday, March 25, 2016. Butler is the 2016 Tribune-Review boys basketball player of the year.

Beth-Center's Anthony Welsh is announced prior to his 171-pound championship bout before the Southwest Regional AA Wrestling Championships on Saturday, March 5, 2016 at Canon-McMillan High School.

Beth-Center's Anthony Welsh is announced prior to his 171-pound championship bout before the Southwest Regional AA Wrestling Championships on Saturday, March 5, 2016 at Canon-McMillan High School.

The braid of Armstrong's Breanna McGaughey is silhouetted as she watches her pop fly against Hempfield on Tuesday, March 30, 2016 at Hempfield Area High School. Hempfield won 8-1.

The braid of Armstrong's Breanna McGaughey is silhouetted as she watches her pop fly against Hempfield on Tuesday, March 30, 2016 at Hempfield Area High School. Hempfield won 8-1.

Members of Penn-Trafford's baseball team warm up their arms before practice on Wednesday, March 23, 2016 at the high school field in Harrison City. The first play date of WPIAL baseball is March 24, and section competition starts April 4.

Members of Penn-Trafford's baseball team warm up their arms before practice on Wednesday, March 23, 2016 at the high school field in Harrison City. The first play date of WPIAL baseball is March 24, and section competition starts April 4.

A pedestrian shields herself from the rain with an animal print umbrella on Thursday, March 10, 2016 along Otterman Street in Greensburg.

A pedestrian shields herself from the rain with an animal print umbrella on Thursday, March 10, 2016 along Otterman Street in Greensburg.

Family and friends mourn J.R. Gustafson of Mt. Pleasant, 13, after his funeral at Brooks Funeral Home in Mt. Pleasant on Thursday, March 24, 2016. Gustafson was shot Sunday when he and his friend were playing with a handgun. Gustafson wanted to be a junior fireman when he turned 14 in June.

Family and friends mourn J.R. Gustafson of Mt. Pleasant, 13, after his funeral at Brooks Funeral Home in Mt. Pleasant on Thursday, March 24, 2016. Gustafson was shot Sunday when he and his friend were playing with a handgun. Gustafson wanted to be a junior fireman when he turned 14 in June.

February 2016

Here are my favorite frames from February, which consisted of a continuation of basketball playoffs and other slices of life. My most memorable experience was shooting a Valentine's Day dance party at SeniorLife. Esther Czekaj really knew how to boogie!

A firefighter knocks down a brush fire behind Hempfield Area High School on Saturday, Feb. 20, 2016.

A firefighter knocks down a brush fire behind Hempfield Area High School on Saturday, Feb. 20, 2016.

A wintery mix of freezing rain and snow surround a woman  as she walks underneath a clock at the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg on Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2016.

A wintery mix of freezing rain and snow surround a woman  as she walks underneath a clock at the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg on Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2016.

Abby Wirth kisses her boyfriend Shane Ostrosky after Ostrosky scratched off a lottery ticket worth $50 while the couple enjoys a picnic in the 60-degree weather on Saturday, Feb. 20, 2016 at Mammoth Park near Mt. Pleasant.

Abby Wirth kisses her boyfriend Shane Ostrosky after Ostrosky scratched off a lottery ticket worth $50 while the couple enjoys a picnic in the 60-degree weather on Saturday, Feb. 20, 2016 at Mammoth Park near Mt. Pleasant.

Kristen Wagner, 38 of Charleroi, poses for a portrait in her home on Friday, Feb. 12, 2016. Not many people know that adults are treated at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC. The Adult Congenital Heart Disease Center (ACHD) provides long-term care at Children’s to adults with congenital heart disease. These adults have lived their life with a heart condition and some were once treated at Children’s when they were younger.  Now, as an adult, they can receive comprehensive medical care at the same facility to continue to lead a happy, healthy and productive life. Wagner was immediately rushed to Children's after she was born in Uniontown. It was discovered that she had no pulmonary valve, a hole in her heart, and her right atrium was undeveloped. She was then diagnosed with pulmonary atresia with intact ventricular septum (PAIVS), a rare congenital heart defect. Kristen has underwent two more surgeries, one at 14 months old and then in 2014. She was doing well through her teen years, and when she was in her early 30’s, she started to not feel right again. She met with Dr. Stephen Cook, director, Adult Congenital Heart Disease Center at Children’s in 2011. They did a heart catherization in 2013, and it was discovered that she had several holes in her heart that were spreading. So, in 2014, after looking at all options, she had surgery and received a pig valve and all of the holes were patched up. Today, she is doing wonderful and is a college professor teaching math at Westmoreland County Community College.

Kristen Wagner, 38 of Charleroi, poses for a portrait in her home on Friday, Feb. 12, 2016. Not many people know that adults are treated at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC. The Adult Congenital Heart Disease Center (ACHD) provides long-term care at Children’s to adults with congenital heart disease. These adults have lived their life with a heart condition and some were once treated at Children’s when they were younger.  Now, as an adult, they can receive comprehensive medical care at the same facility to continue to lead a happy, healthy and productive life. Wagner was immediately rushed to Children's after she was born in Uniontown. It was discovered that she had no pulmonary valve, a hole in her heart, and her right atrium was undeveloped. She was then diagnosed with pulmonary atresia with intact ventricular septum (PAIVS), a rare congenital heart defect. Kristen has underwent two more surgeries, one at 14 months old and then in 2014. She was doing well through her teen years, and when she was in her early 30’s, she started to not feel right again. She met with Dr. Stephen Cook, director, Adult Congenital Heart Disease Center at Children’s in 2011. They did a heart catherization in 2013, and it was discovered that she had several holes in her heart that were spreading. So, in 2014, after looking at all options, she had surgery and received a pig valve and all of the holes were patched up. Today, she is doing wonderful and is a college professor teaching math at Westmoreland County Community College.

Seton Hill University student Savannah Burch, a junior art therapy major from Bloomington, Ind., makes a bed at Saint Emma Monastery in Greensburg on Saturday, Feb. 6, 2016. Seton Hill faculty, staff and students volunteered at eight community organizations in Greensburg and Hempfield as part of the university’s annual day of community service, “Take the Day On,” in honor of Martin Luther King Jr.

Seton Hill University student Savannah Burch, a junior art therapy major from Bloomington, Ind., makes a bed at Saint Emma Monastery in Greensburg on Saturday, Feb. 6, 2016. Seton Hill faculty, staff and students volunteered at eight community organizations in Greensburg and Hempfield as part of the university’s annual day of community service, “Take the Day On,” in honor of Martin Luther King Jr.

Esther Czekaj, 75 of Mt. Pleasant, uses her cane as an "air guitar" during a Valentine's dance at Senior LIFE in Greensburg on Monday, Feb. 15, 2016.

Esther Czekaj, 75 of Mt. Pleasant, uses her cane as an "air guitar" during a Valentine's dance at Senior LIFE in Greensburg on Monday, Feb. 15, 2016.

Esther Czekaj, 75 of Mt. Pleasant, receives a hug from Antonio Moffa, 91 of Jeannette, during a Valentine's dance at Senior LIFE in Greensburg on Monday, Feb. 15, 2016.

Esther Czekaj, 75 of Mt. Pleasant, receives a hug from Antonio Moffa, 91 of Jeannette, during a Valentine's dance at Senior LIFE in Greensburg on Monday, Feb. 15, 2016.

Hempfield's Michelle Burns is embraced in the locker room after beating Peters Township on Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2016 at Charleroi High School. Hempfield won 62-56.

Hempfield's Michelle Burns is embraced in the locker room after beating Peters Township on Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2016 at Charleroi High School. Hempfield won 62-56.

Hempfield's Michelle Burns collects a loose ball against Peters Township's Lillian Young on Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2016 at Charleroi High School. Hempfield won 62-56.

Hempfield's Michelle Burns collects a loose ball against Peters Township's Lillian Young on Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2016 at Charleroi High School. Hempfield won 62-56.

Latrobe amps up before playing against Mt. Lebanon during a WPIAL Class AAAA first round basketball game on Thursday, Feb. 18, 2016 at Plum High School. Latrobe won 72-55.

Latrobe amps up before playing against Mt. Lebanon during a WPIAL Class AAAA first round basketball game on Thursday, Feb. 18, 2016 at Plum High School. Latrobe won 72-55.

Norwin's Maura O'Donnell lifts Taylor Ingel as the team celebrates their win over Pine Richland during the WPIAL semifinal on Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2016 at Fox Chapel High School. Norwin won 59-30.

Norwin's Maura O'Donnell lifts Taylor Ingel as the team celebrates their win over Pine Richland during the WPIAL semifinal on Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2016 at Fox Chapel High School. Norwin won 59-30.

January 2016

Happy New Year! So far things are starting off well for me, and I hope life is positive for you as well. I found out I won the National Press Photographer's Association's Mid-Atlantic Region Clip Photographer of the Year contest which really surprised me since I tend to shoot mainly features and sporting events due to my evening shifts. But though it was a shock, I am so thankful to receive many virtual "pats-on-the-back" from the association members, colleagues, mentors, friends and family. I have felt that the smallest of kind gestures, such as a simple "congratulations",  really warms your heart and motivates you to make the most of each day despite the assignments you're given. 

Southmoreland's Jaden Datz sits in a hallway after his first round loss on Friday, Jan. 8, 2015 during the WCCA tournament.

Southmoreland's Jaden Datz sits in a hallway after his first round loss on Friday, Jan. 8, 2015 during the WCCA tournament.

Kiski Area's Collin Murray reacts while held by Mt. Pleasant's Mike Novak on Friday, Jan. 8, 2015 during the WCCA tournament.

Kiski Area's Collin Murray reacts while held by Mt. Pleasant's Mike Novak on Friday, Jan. 8, 2015 during the WCCA tournament.

Jefferson Morgan's Kayla Yorko, center, reacts with teammates after beating California during a girls basketball game on Thursday, Jan. 28, 2016 at California Area High School. Jefferson Morgan won 41-34.

Jefferson Morgan's Kayla Yorko, center, reacts with teammates after beating California during a girls basketball game on Thursday, Jan. 28, 2016 at California Area High School. Jefferson Morgan won 41-34.

Greensburg Central Catholic's Mikayla Bisignani reacts after winning the 50-yard freestyle event during the WCCA swimming championship on Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016 at Derry Area High School.

Greensburg Central Catholic's Mikayla Bisignani reacts after winning the 50-yard freestyle event during the WCCA swimming championship on Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016 at Derry Area High School.

Kiski's Josh Madzy competes in the 200-yard medley during the WCCA swimming championship on Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016 at Derry Area High School.

Kiski's Josh Madzy competes in the 200-yard medley during the WCCA swimming championship on Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016 at Derry Area High School.

Franklin Regional's Natasha Bayne dives during the WCCA diving championship on Friday, Jan. 29, 2016 at Greater Latrobe High School.

Franklin Regional's Natasha Bayne dives during the WCCA diving championship on Friday, Jan. 29, 2016 at Greater Latrobe High School.

Alice Wilkinson, 8 of Hempfield township, looks up toward the top of a sledding hill at Hempfield Park on Sunday, Jan. 24, 2016, a day after winter storm Jonas.

Alice Wilkinson, 8 of Hempfield township, looks up toward the top of a sledding hill at Hempfield Park on Sunday, Jan. 24, 2016, a day after winter storm Jonas.

Steven Kaminski of Greensburg lifts his collar over his ears while smoking a cigar past a frosty window along Main Street in Greensburg on Monday, Jan 18., 2016. The National Weather Service has issued a wind chill advisory until noon Monday. Winds are expected at 10-15 mph, with gusts up to 25 mph.

Steven Kaminski of Greensburg lifts his collar over his ears while smoking a cigar past a frosty window along Main Street in Greensburg on Monday, Jan 18., 2016. The National Weather Service has issued a wind chill advisory until noon Monday. Winds are expected at 10-15 mph, with gusts up to 25 mph.

A statue and Jay Keenan of Pittsburgh's South Side (left), sporting strikingly similar flat caps, face toward the Westmoreland County Courthouse while looking at artwork inside the Westmoreland Museum of American Art in Greensburg on Saturday, Jan. 16, 2016.

A statue and Jay Keenan of Pittsburgh's South Side (left), sporting strikingly similar flat caps, face toward the Westmoreland County Courthouse while looking at artwork inside the Westmoreland Museum of American Art in Greensburg on Saturday, Jan. 16, 2016.

Connor Kok of Latrobe, a freshman student at Seton Hill University, plays hockey on a pond near St. Vincent College on Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2016. Kok's childhood idol was former Pittsburgh Penguin Jaromír Jágr.

Connor Kok of Latrobe, a freshman student at Seton Hill University, plays hockey on a pond near St. Vincent College on Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2016. Kok's childhood idol was former Pittsburgh Penguin Jaromír Jágr.

Best of 2015

As I reflect on 2015, I continue to experience the blessings God has given to me throughout the year and in my lifetime. Oftentimes while exploring Westmoreland County for a feature or after an adrenaline-pumped sports event, I mentally pause while driving home at weird times of my night shift expressing my gratitude in prayer. How could I refrain when I have the best job ever?!

Without a doubt, I would not feel this pure joy without the many special people in my life that support my love for photojournalism. There are no words that accurately describe my thankfulness to use a camera every day to capture my community's fleeting moments of life.

I am excited to feel new growth in 2016. Though it may be tough in my industry with constant change, I plan to remain grateful through it all. 

To my colleagues, friends and family, I wish you a year of intentional progress. Never cease to count all of life's simplest blessings.

-Steph  

A young fan looks to congratulate West Virginia linebacker Marvin Gross (18) after West Virginia beat Texas Tech on Saturday, Nov. 7, 2015, at Milan Puskar Stadium in Morgantown, W.Va. WVU won 31-26.

A young fan looks to congratulate West Virginia linebacker Marvin Gross (18) after West Virginia beat Texas Tech on Saturday, Nov. 7, 2015, at Milan Puskar Stadium in Morgantown, W.Va. WVU won 31-26.

West Virginia safety Dravon Askew-Henry (6) defends Texas Tech wide receiver Jakeem Grant (11) on Saturday, Nov. 7, 2015, at Milan Puskar Stadium in Morgantown, W.Va. The pass was incomplete. WVU won 31-26.

West Virginia safety Dravon Askew-Henry (6) defends Texas Tech wide receiver Jakeem Grant (11) on Saturday, Nov. 7, 2015, at Milan Puskar Stadium in Morgantown, W.Va. The pass was incomplete. WVU won 31-26.

A West Virginia tuba player sings a march after losing his horn top on Saturday, Sept. 12, 2015 at Milan Puskar Stadium in Morgantown, W.Va. WVU won 41-17 over Liberty.

A West Virginia tuba player sings a march after losing his horn top on Saturday, Sept. 12, 2015 at Milan Puskar Stadium in Morgantown, W.Va. WVU won 41-17 over Liberty.

West Virginia running back Wendell Smallwood (4) fumbles the ball near the end zone against Oklahoma State  on Saturday, Oct. 10, 2015 at Milan Puskar Stadium in Morgantown, W.Va. Oklahoma State won 33-26 in overtime.

West Virginia running back Wendell Smallwood (4) fumbles the ball near the end zone against Oklahoma State  on Saturday, Oct. 10, 2015 at Milan Puskar Stadium in Morgantown, W.Va. Oklahoma State won 33-26 in overtime.

West Virginia quarterback Skyler Howard (3) reacts after his touchdown against Texas Tech on Saturday, Nov. 7, 2015, at Milan Puskar Stadium in Morgantown, W.Va. WVU won 31-26.

West Virginia quarterback Skyler Howard (3) reacts after his touchdown against Texas Tech on Saturday, Nov. 7, 2015, at Milan Puskar Stadium in Morgantown, W.Va. WVU won 31-26.

West Virginia offensive lineman Adam Pankey (57) amps up with his team before playing Oklahoma State on Saturday, Oct. 10, 2015 at Milan Puskar Stadium in Morgantown, W.Va. Oklahoma State won 33-26 in overtime.

West Virginia offensive lineman Adam Pankey (57) amps up with his team before playing Oklahoma State on Saturday, Oct. 10, 2015 at Milan Puskar Stadium in Morgantown, W.Va. Oklahoma State won 33-26 in overtime.

West Virginia safety Jeremy Tyler (24) runs onto the field before playing Texas on Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015, at Milan Puskar Stadium in Morgantown, W.Va. WVU won 38-20.

West Virginia safety Jeremy Tyler (24) runs onto the field before playing Texas on Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015, at Milan Puskar Stadium in Morgantown, W.Va. WVU won 38-20.

Penn-Trafford's Casey Aunkst and Jeannette's Julian Batts, the Tribune-Review's Athletes of the Year, are photographed on Wednesday, July 1, 2015 at Penn-Trafford High School. Aunkst, who will be playing soccer at Duquesne University, holds the school record for football field goals, basketball all-time assists and was named all-state for soccer. Batts, who will be playing basketball at a junior college in Connecticut, is the school's second all-time leading scorer and a star quarterback.

Penn-Trafford's Casey Aunkst and Jeannette's Julian Batts, the Tribune-Review's Athletes of the Year, are photographed on Wednesday, July 1, 2015 at Penn-Trafford High School. Aunkst, who will be playing soccer at Duquesne University, holds the school record for football field goals, basketball all-time assists and was named all-state for soccer. Batts, who will be playing basketball at a junior college in Connecticut, is the school's second all-time leading scorer and a star quarterback.

Penn-Trafford's Jared Phillips tries to gain possession from the legs of Hempfield's Ben Midlik on Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2015 at Hempfield Area High School. Hempfield won 2-1.

Penn-Trafford's Jared Phillips tries to gain possession from the legs of Hempfield's Ben Midlik on Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2015 at Hempfield Area High School. Hempfield won 2-1.

Greensburg Central Catholic's Jake Nesser collides with Riverview's Brandon Davis at home plate on Tuesday, May 12, 2015 at Mt. Pleasant Area High School. Nesser was tagged out. GCC won 11-1 in five innings.

Greensburg Central Catholic's Jake Nesser collides with Riverview's Brandon Davis at home plate on Tuesday, May 12, 2015 at Mt. Pleasant Area High School. Nesser was tagged out. GCC won 11-1 in five innings.

Greensburg Salem's Jesse Quatse is checked by medics after his injury against Latrobe's Joe Russo during their 120-pound bout on Wednesday, Jan. 14, 2015 at Latrobe High School. Latrobe won 65-6.

Greensburg Salem's Jesse Quatse is checked by medics after his injury against Latrobe's Joe Russo during their 120-pound bout on Wednesday, Jan. 14, 2015 at Latrobe High School. Latrobe won 65-6.

Greensburg Central Catholic's Brad Caric looks back to Riley Slike, right, during a victory slide after beating Serra Catholic on Thursday, Oct. 8, 2015 at Greensburg Central Catholic. GCC won 3-0.

Greensburg Central Catholic's Brad Caric looks back to Riley Slike, right, during a victory slide after beating Serra Catholic on Thursday, Oct. 8, 2015 at Greensburg Central Catholic. GCC won 3-0.

Mt. Pleasant's Dom Monstrola celebrates his team's win against Greensburg Salem on Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2015 at Mt. Pleasant. Mt. Pleasant won 1-0.

Mt. Pleasant's Dom Monstrola celebrates his team's win against Greensburg Salem on Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2015 at Mt. Pleasant. Mt. Pleasant won 1-0.

Penns Manor's Bailey Mumau hoists the Heritage Conference plaque as Zach Hnatko reacts after beating Ligonier Valley during a football game on Friday, Oct. 23, 2015 in Ligonier. Penns Manor won 19-12.

Penns Manor's Bailey Mumau hoists the Heritage Conference plaque as Zach Hnatko reacts after beating Ligonier Valley during a football game on Friday, Oct. 23, 2015 in Ligonier. Penns Manor won 19-12.

A bead of sweat falls from the face of Penn Trafford lineman Andre Guest during the first day of high school football training camp on Monday, Aug. 17, 2015 at Warrior Stadium in Harrison City.

A bead of sweat falls from the face of Penn Trafford lineman Andre Guest during the first day of high school football training camp on Monday, Aug. 17, 2015 at Warrior Stadium in Harrison City.

Southmoreland first baseman Michael Baird gathers with his team after they beat Greensburg Salem on Monday, April 13, 2015 at Greensburg Salem High School. Southmoreland won 9-6.

Southmoreland first baseman Michael Baird gathers with his team after they beat Greensburg Salem on Monday, April 13, 2015 at Greensburg Salem High School. Southmoreland won 9-6.

Jeannette's Jimmy Malik, right, prepares to take the field against Chartiers-Houston during a WPIAL football game on Friday, Nov. 6, 2015 at Jeannette's McKee Stadium.

Jeannette's Jimmy Malik, right, prepares to take the field against Chartiers-Houston during a WPIAL football game on Friday, Nov. 6, 2015 at Jeannette's McKee Stadium.

Connellsville's Tim Bish holds an American flag while listening to the national anthem prior to playing Penn-Trafford during the second week of WPIAL football on Friday, Sept. 11, 2015 at Falcon Stadium in Connellsville.

Connellsville's Tim Bish holds an American flag while listening to the national anthem prior to playing Penn-Trafford during the second week of WPIAL football on Friday, Sept. 11, 2015 at Falcon Stadium in Connellsville.

Greensburg Salem girls lacrosse practices in the golden light on Tuesday, April 28, 2015 at Offutt Field in Greensburg. 

Greensburg Salem girls lacrosse practices in the golden light on Tuesday, April 28, 2015 at Offutt Field in Greensburg. 

Burrell's Natalie Myers walks off the court as Bishop Canevin celebrates their 32-30 win during the WPIAL semifinal AA girls basketball game on Tuesday, Feb. 24, 2015 at Hampton High School.

Burrell's Natalie Myers walks off the court as Bishop Canevin celebrates their 32-30 win during the WPIAL semifinal AA girls basketball game on Tuesday, Feb. 24, 2015 at Hampton High School.

Latrobe's Tommy Kisick (52), Matt Dragon (14), Sean Graytok (41) and Seth Holler (far right) celebrate as Upper St. Clair's Andrew Wheeler reacts after a call against Upper St. Clair as during the first round of AAAA WPIAL boys basketball playoffs on Saturday, Feb. 14, 2015 at Charleroi Area High School. Upper St. Clair won 61-59.

Latrobe's Tommy Kisick (52), Matt Dragon (14), Sean Graytok (41) and Seth Holler (far right) celebrate as Upper St. Clair's Andrew Wheeler reacts after a call against Upper St. Clair as during the first round of AAAA WPIAL boys basketball playoffs on Saturday, Feb. 14, 2015 at Charleroi Area High School. Upper St. Clair won 61-59.

Neshannock's Jason Swope (top) celebrates with his team their victory over Neumann-Goretti in during the PIAA Class AA baseball title game at Penn State’s Medlar Field at Lubano Park on Friday, June 12, 2015. Neshannock won 9-0.

Neshannock's Jason Swope (top) celebrates with his team their victory over Neumann-Goretti in during the PIAA Class AA baseball title game at Penn State’s Medlar Field at Lubano Park on Friday, June 12, 2015. Neshannock won 9-0.

Neshannock's Thomas Scott is overcome with emotion after beating Neumann-Goretti during the PIAA Class AA baseball title game at Penn State’s Medlar Field at Lubano Park on Friday, June 12, 2015. Neshannock won 9-0.

Neshannock's Thomas Scott is overcome with emotion after beating Neumann-Goretti during the PIAA Class AA baseball title game at Penn State’s Medlar Field at Lubano Park on Friday, June 12, 2015. Neshannock won 9-0.

Burrell's Nicole Scherer reacts after winning the 100-meter dash at the Class AA PIAA track and field championships at Shippensburg University on May 23, 2015 in Shippensburg. Scherer's time was 12.32.

Burrell's Nicole Scherer reacts after winning the 100-meter dash at the Class AA PIAA track and field championships at Shippensburg University on May 23, 2015 in Shippensburg. Scherer's time was 12.32.

PIAA official Jim Maple shoots a starting pistol during Lady Spartan/Wildcat track invitational at Latrobe Memorial Stadium on Friday, April 10, 2015.

PIAA official Jim Maple shoots a starting pistol during Lady Spartan/Wildcat track invitational at Latrobe Memorial Stadium on Friday, April 10, 2015.

Ian Van Wingert of Friendsville, Md. rides down an 18-foot waterfall during 16th annual Ohiopyle Over The Falls Festival on Saturday, Aug. 22, 2015.

Ian Van Wingert of Friendsville, Md. rides down an 18-foot waterfall during 16th annual Ohiopyle Over The Falls Festival on Saturday, Aug. 22, 2015.

Seton-La Salle bombards Cassidy Walsh after her buzzer beater shot as Greensburg Central Catholic's Carolyn Appleby (5) reacts during a PIAA game on Tuesday, March 10, 2015 at Canon-McMillan High School. Seton-La Salle won 54-52.

Seton-La Salle bombards Cassidy Walsh after her buzzer beater shot as Greensburg Central Catholic's Carolyn Appleby (5) reacts during a PIAA game on Tuesday, March 10, 2015 at Canon-McMillan High School. Seton-La Salle won 54-52.

Deer Lakes' Maria Taliani, center, hugs pitcher Tiffany Edwards, right, as they celebrate with teammates their win over Mohawk during the WPIAL Class AA softball championship on Thursday, May 28, 2015 at California University of Pennsylvania. Deer Lakes won 13-5.

Deer Lakes' Maria Taliani, center, hugs pitcher Tiffany Edwards, right, as they celebrate with teammates their win over Mohawk during the WPIAL Class AA softball championship on Thursday, May 28, 2015 at California University of Pennsylvania. Deer Lakes won 13-5.

Bethel Park cheerleader Erin Brown reacts as she is pushed around while waiting for champions to be named at the WPIAL Competitive Spirit championships on Saturday, Jan. 10, 2015 at Hempfield Area High School.

Bethel Park cheerleader Erin Brown reacts as she is pushed around while waiting for champions to be named at the WPIAL Competitive Spirit championships on Saturday, Jan. 10, 2015 at Hempfield Area High School.

From right to left, Jenny Campbell, Haley Pilston, Sam Kolar, Lisa Reddington wait to compete in the WPIAL Competitive Spirit championships on Saturday, Jan. 10, 2015 at Hempfield Area High School.

From right to left, Jenny Campbell, Haley Pilston, Sam Kolar, Lisa Reddington wait to compete in the WPIAL Competitive Spirit championships on Saturday, Jan. 10, 2015 at Hempfield Area High School.

Huntingdon's Collin Glorioso is introduced before wrestling Jefferson Morgan's Brendan Howard during their 120-pound championship match in the Southwest Regional Class AA wrestling tournament on Saturday, Feb. 28, 2015 at Canon-McMillan High School. Glorioso won 8-2.

Huntingdon's Collin Glorioso is introduced before wrestling Jefferson Morgan's Brendan Howard during their 120-pound championship match in the Southwest Regional Class AA wrestling tournament on Saturday, Feb. 28, 2015 at Canon-McMillan High School. Glorioso won 8-2.

Quaker Valley's John Medich tags out Neshannock's Jason Swope at home plate during the WPIAL Class AA Championship on Tuesday, May 26, 2015 at Consol Energy Park in Washington. Neshannock won 4-0.

Quaker Valley's John Medich tags out Neshannock's Jason Swope at home plate during the WPIAL Class AA Championship on Tuesday, May 26, 2015 at Consol Energy Park in Washington. Neshannock won 4-0.

Mohawk's Samantha Carr cries as she embraces Christine Jones after their loss to Deer Lakes during the WPIAL Class AA softball championship on Thursday, May 28, 2015 at California University of Pennsylvania. Deer Lakes won 13-5.

Mohawk's Samantha Carr cries as she embraces Christine Jones after their loss to Deer Lakes during the WPIAL Class AA softball championship on Thursday, May 28, 2015 at California University of Pennsylvania. Deer Lakes won 13-5.

Ligonier Township Police Chief Michael Matrunics wipes his eye during a press conference describing the death of Lt. Eric Eslary on Tuesday, May 5, 2015 at the Ligonier Township Police Department. Eslary was killed early Tuesday when a van headed the wrong way on Route 30 West struck his sport utility vehicle head-on in front of Idlewild Park, according to police reports. K-9 Blek was taken to Monroeville for surgery.  

Ligonier Township Police Chief Michael Matrunics wipes his eye during a press conference describing the death of Lt. Eric Eslary on Tuesday, May 5, 2015 at the Ligonier Township Police Department. Eslary was killed early Tuesday when a van headed the wrong way on Route 30 West struck his sport utility vehicle head-on in front of Idlewild Park, according to police reports. K-9 Blek was taken to Monroeville for surgery.

 

Mourners watch from Route 30 as a hearse escorts Ligonier Township police Lt. Eric Eslary after his funeral at Holy Trinity Catholic Church to Ligonier Valley Cemetery on Saturday, May 9, 2015.

Mourners watch from Route 30 as a hearse escorts Ligonier Township police Lt. Eric Eslary after his funeral at Holy Trinity Catholic Church to Ligonier Valley Cemetery on Saturday, May 9, 2015.

Army veteran Darrell Moody, 88, of Latrobe watches floats from inside his assisted living home during the 4th of July Parade on Saturday, July 4, 2015 in Latrobe. "I am a World War II veteran, a Korean veteran and a veteran here (in the home)," Moody said laughing.

Army veteran Darrell Moody, 88, of Latrobe watches floats from inside his assisted living home during the 4th of July Parade on Saturday, July 4, 2015 in Latrobe. "I am a World War II veteran, a Korean veteran and a veteran here (in the home)," Moody said laughing.

Riders carry flags before a rodeo during the Bullskin Township Community Fair on Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2015 in Wooddale.

Riders carry flags before a rodeo during the Bullskin Township Community Fair on Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2015 in Wooddale.

Demolished cars make for an unusual backdrop for  6-year-old horse Macy as owner Doreen Ulery of Bullskin cares for her before a rodeo at the Fayette County Fair on Thursday, Aug. 6, 2015 in Dunbar.

Demolished cars make for an unusual backdrop for  6-year-old horse Macy as owner Doreen Ulery of Bullskin cares for her before a rodeo at the Fayette County Fair on Thursday, Aug. 6, 2015 in Dunbar.

People watch as a 57-pound bear is weighed at the Pennsylvania Game Commission Southwest Region Office on Saturday, Nov. 21, 2015, in Bolivar.

People watch as a 57-pound bear is weighed at the Pennsylvania Game Commission Southwest Region Office on Saturday, Nov. 21, 2015, in Bolivar.

Kevin Mikita of Santella Excavating exhales cold air as he tends to one of two simultaneous water main breaks in Latrobe on the 400th block of Main Street on Friday, Feb. 20, 2015.

Kevin Mikita of Santella Excavating exhales cold air as he tends to one of two simultaneous water main breaks in Latrobe on the 400th block of Main Street on Friday, Feb. 20, 2015.

Michaela Sopher reaches for the right apple in an attempt to out balance her friend Jaelyn Roupe, both 11, while the two take a break from a neighborhood apple fight along Harvey Avenue in Greensburg on Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2015.

Michaela Sopher reaches for the right apple in an attempt to out balance her friend Jaelyn Roupe, both 11, while the two take a break from a neighborhood apple fight along Harvey Avenue in Greensburg on Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2015.

Gene Jackson (left) of Level Green, 72, and Ray Hunsberger of Wilkins Township, 73, roll their golf carts around a snowy green on Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2015 at Meadowink Golf Course in Murrysville. Jackson, Hunsberger and Bill Jones of Delmont, 72, (not pictured) are Air Force veterans.

Gene Jackson (left) of Level Green, 72, and Ray Hunsberger of Wilkins Township, 73, roll their golf carts around a snowy green on Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2015 at Meadowink Golf Course in Murrysville. Jackson, Hunsberger and Bill Jones of Delmont, 72, (not pictured) are Air Force veterans.

Deb Tatarka of Greensburg grasps her scarf as she walks past a butterfly mural while temperatures hover in the teens along Pennsylvania Avenue in Greensburg on Jan. 8, 2015. 

Deb Tatarka of Greensburg grasps her scarf as she walks past a butterfly mural while temperatures hover in the teens along Pennsylvania Avenue in Greensburg on Jan. 8, 2015. 

A biker rides along the Great Allegheny Passage over the Youghiogheny River and fall foliage in Ohiopyle State Park on Sunday, Oct. 18, 2015.

A biker rides along the Great Allegheny Passage over the Youghiogheny River and fall foliage in Ohiopyle State Park on Sunday, Oct. 18, 2015.

A biker rides along the Great Allegheny Passage past fall foliage in Ohiopyle State Park on Sunday, Oct. 18, 2015.

A biker rides along the Great Allegheny Passage past fall foliage in Ohiopyle State Park on Sunday, Oct. 18, 2015.

A pedestrian makes her way along a soggy Pennsylvania Avenue in Greensburg near Seton Hill University's visual arts center on Tuesday, March 10, 2015.

A pedestrian makes her way along a soggy Pennsylvania Avenue in Greensburg near Seton Hill University's visual arts center on Tuesday, March 10, 2015.

Rob Holland in a Window World MXS and Jack Knutson in an Extra 300 S fly during the Westmoreland County Airshow on Saturday, June 20, 2015 at Arnold Palmer Regional Airport near Latrobe.

Rob Holland in a Window World MXS and Jack Knutson in an Extra 300 S fly during the Westmoreland County Airshow on Saturday, June 20, 2015 at Arnold Palmer Regional Airport near Latrobe.

Rob Holland in a Window World MXS, Matt Chapman in an Eagle 540, Jack Knutson in an Extra 300 S and Bill Stein in a Zivko Edge 540 collectively fly in a formation called "The 4ce" over rural Westmoreland County during a practice in between rain showers on Friday, June 19, 2015 in preparation for Saturday and Sunday's Westmoreland County Airshow at Arnold Palmer Regional Airport near Latrobe.

Rob Holland in a Window World MXS, Matt Chapman in an Eagle 540, Jack Knutson in an Extra 300 S and Bill Stein in a Zivko Edge 540 collectively fly in a formation called "The 4ce" over rural Westmoreland County during a practice in between rain showers on Friday, June 19, 2015 in preparation for Saturday and Sunday's Westmoreland County Airshow at Arnold Palmer Regional Airport near Latrobe.

A storm moves in after the first day of the Westmoreland County Air Show at the Arnold Palmer Regional Airport near Latrobe on Saturday, June 20, 2015. The expected storms held off for the entire air show.

A storm moves in after the first day of the Westmoreland County Air Show at the Arnold Palmer Regional Airport near Latrobe on Saturday, June 20, 2015. The expected storms held off for the entire air show.

Sal Mignogna, 75, of Greensburg pulls Marsha Kirker-Bozich close to him as they dance during a Valentine's Ball on Thursday, February 12, 2015 at Senior LIFE in Greensburg. "I've never seen him so happy," said Kirker-Bozich, the activities coordinator. "He remembers jitter-bugging with his girlfriend."

Sal Mignogna, 75, of Greensburg pulls Marsha Kirker-Bozich close to him as they dance during a Valentine's Ball on Thursday, February 12, 2015 at Senior LIFE in Greensburg. "I've never seen him so happy," said Kirker-Bozich, the activities coordinator. "He remembers jitter-bugging with his girlfriend."

Molly Ray, 6, kisses her grandfather former Army Sgt. Merle Ray before she went back to class as Beverly Ray looks on after a Veterans Concert at Derry Area's Grandview Elementary School on Friday, Nov. 6, 2015. 

Molly Ray, 6, kisses her grandfather former Army Sgt. Merle Ray before she went back to class as Beverly Ray looks on after a Veterans Concert at Derry Area's Grandview Elementary School on Friday, Nov. 6, 2015. 

November 2015

Molly Ray, 6, kisses her grandfather former Army Sgt. Merle Ray before she went back to class as Beverly Ray looks on after a Veterans Concert at Derry Area's Grandview Elementary School on Friday, Nov. 6, 2015. 

Molly Ray, 6, kisses her grandfather former Army Sgt. Merle Ray before she went back to class as Beverly Ray looks on after a Veterans Concert at Derry Area's Grandview Elementary School on Friday, Nov. 6, 2015. 

A young fan looks to congratulate West Virginia linebacker Marvin Gross (18) after West Virginia beat Texas Tech on Saturday, Nov. 7, 2015, at Milan Puskar Stadium in Morgantown, W.Va. WVU won 31-26.

A young fan looks to congratulate West Virginia linebacker Marvin Gross (18) after West Virginia beat Texas Tech on Saturday, Nov. 7, 2015, at Milan Puskar Stadium in Morgantown, W.Va. WVU won 31-26.

West Virginia quarterback Skyler Howard (3) reacts after his touchdown against Texas Tech on Saturday, Nov. 7, 2015, at Milan Puskar Stadium in Morgantown, W.Va. WVU won 31-26.

West Virginia quarterback Skyler Howard (3) reacts after his touchdown against Texas Tech on Saturday, Nov. 7, 2015, at Milan Puskar Stadium in Morgantown, W.Va. WVU won 31-26.

West Virginia wide receiver Shelton Gibson (1) attempts to make a diving catch in front of Iowa State defensive back Jomal Wiltz (17) on Saturday, Nov. 28, 2015, at Milan Puskar Stadium in Morgantown, W.Va. Gibson couldn't complete the pass in the end zone. WVU won 30-6.

West Virginia wide receiver Shelton Gibson (1) attempts to make a diving catch in front of Iowa State defensive back Jomal Wiltz (17) on Saturday, Nov. 28, 2015, at Milan Puskar Stadium in Morgantown, W.Va. Gibson couldn't complete the pass in the end zone. WVU won 30-6.

West Virginia safety Jeremy Tyler (24) runs onto the field before playing Texas on Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015, at Milan Puskar Stadium in Morgantown, W.Va. WVU won 38-20.

West Virginia safety Jeremy Tyler (24) runs onto the field before playing Texas on Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015, at Milan Puskar Stadium in Morgantown, W.Va. WVU won 38-20.

West Virginia head coach Dana Holgerson greets Iowa State Offensive Coordinator Todd Sturdy on Saturday, Nov. 28, 2015, at Milan Puskar Stadium in Morgantown, W.Va. WVU won 30-6.

West Virginia head coach Dana Holgerson greets Iowa State Offensive Coordinator Todd Sturdy on Saturday, Nov. 28, 2015, at Milan Puskar Stadium in Morgantown, W.Va. WVU won 30-6.

West Virginia head coach Dana Holgerson greets West Virginia punter Nick O'Toole (91) during senior day festivities before playing Iowa State on Saturday, Nov. 28, 2015, at Milan Puskar Stadium in Morgantown, W.Va. WVU won 30-6.

West Virginia head coach Dana Holgerson greets West Virginia punter Nick O'Toole (91) during senior day festivities before playing Iowa State on Saturday, Nov. 28, 2015, at Milan Puskar Stadium in Morgantown, W.Va. WVU won 30-6.

West Virginia safety Dravon Askew-Henry (6) defends Texas Tech wide receiver Jakeem Grant (11) on Saturday, Nov. 7, 2015, at Milan Puskar Stadium in Morgantown, W.Va. The pass was incomplete. WVU won 31-26.

West Virginia safety Dravon Askew-Henry (6) defends Texas Tech wide receiver Jakeem Grant (11) on Saturday, Nov. 7, 2015, at Milan Puskar Stadium in Morgantown, W.Va. The pass was incomplete. WVU won 31-26.

Penn Trafford's Nick Koval (34) reacts after beating Pine Richland during the WPIAL Class AAAA football semifinal on Friday, Nov. 20, 2015, at Penn Hills High School. Penn-Trafford won 38-34.

Penn Trafford's Nick Koval (34) reacts after beating Pine Richland during the WPIAL Class AAAA football semifinal on Friday, Nov. 20, 2015, at Penn Hills High School. Penn-Trafford won 38-34.

Jeannette's Jimmy Malik, right, prepares to take the field against Chartiers-Houston during a WPIAL football game on Friday, Nov. 6, 2015 at Jeannette's McKee Stadium.

Jeannette's Jimmy Malik, right, prepares to take the field against Chartiers-Houston during a WPIAL football game on Friday, Nov. 6, 2015 at Jeannette's McKee Stadium.

Members of the Seton Hill University marching band make their way down Main Street during the 24th annual holiday parade on Saturday, Nov. 21, 2015, in Greensburg.

Members of the Seton Hill University marching band make their way down Main Street during the 24th annual holiday parade on Saturday, Nov. 21, 2015, in Greensburg.

Dozens of floats make their way down Main Street during the 24th annual holiday parade on Saturday, Nov. 21, 2015, in Greensburg.

Dozens of floats make their way down Main Street during the 24th annual holiday parade on Saturday, Nov. 21, 2015, in Greensburg.

Brady Williams, 3, falls asleep on the shoulder of his father Dan, of Greensburg just before Santa's arrival during the 24th annual holiday parade on Saturday, Nov. 21, 2015, in Greensburg.

Brady Williams, 3, falls asleep on the shoulder of his father Dan, of Greensburg just before Santa's arrival during the 24th annual holiday parade on Saturday, Nov. 21, 2015, in Greensburg.

A woman is seen through a window of a Santa-themed float during the 24th annual holiday parade on Saturday, Nov. 21, 2015, in Greensburg.

A woman is seen through a window of a Santa-themed float during the 24th annual holiday parade on Saturday, Nov. 21, 2015, in Greensburg.

The city of Jeannette rallies around its football team with a bon fire on Friday, Nov. 27, 2015 at the West Jeannette baseball field. Jeannette plays Clairton tomorrow for the WPIAL Class A championship at Heinz Field.

The city of Jeannette rallies around its football team with a bon fire on Friday, Nov. 27, 2015 at the West Jeannette baseball field. Jeannette plays Clairton tomorrow for the WPIAL Class A championship at Heinz Field.

Police search for a suspect in connection with an officer shooting on Saturday, Nov. 28, 2015 in Seward.

Police search for a suspect in connection with an officer shooting on Saturday, Nov. 28, 2015 in Seward.

Police investigate the scene of St. Clair Township police office Lloyd Reed's death at 131 Ligonier Street  in New Florence on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2015. 

Police investigate the scene of St. Clair Township police office Lloyd Reed's death at 131 Ligonier Street  in New Florence on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2015. 

Police search for a suspect in connection with an officer shooting on Saturday, Nov. 28, 2015 in Seward.

Police search for a suspect in connection with an officer shooting on Saturday, Nov. 28, 2015 in Seward.

Trooper Stephen Limani lays photo of suspect Ray Shetler Jr., 31 of New Florence, on his police car during a search on Saturday, Nov. 28, 2015 in New Florence.

Trooper Stephen Limani lays photo of suspect Ray Shetler Jr., 31 of New Florence, on his police car during a search on Saturday, Nov. 28, 2015 in New Florence.

First Day of Bear Season

The first day of bear season is like a holiday as dozens of families cram into a small bloodied garage to see truckloads of bears pull in. It's what you do on that Saturday night in Bolivar, home to one of six game commission weigh stations in the state. Some bears are big, and some are surprisingly small. "That bear is as big as you," one mother whispered to her wide-eyed young son, who probably weighed 60 pounds.

Game commission workers and volunteers lift the bears on a suspended scale, dripping. Then, they removed a tooth to determine the bear's age. Men in orange roam the garage with a proud smirk as children pet their trophies. It's a family affair to learn and appreciate the nature around us.

Lee McClinton, a Fayette game lands maintenance worker from Uniontown, checks in a 460-pound black bear shot by Larry Knepper of Richland township at the Pennsylvania Game Commission Southwest Region Office on Saturday, Nov. 21, 2015, in Bolivar.

Lee McClinton, a Fayette game lands maintenance worker from Uniontown, checks in a 460-pound black bear shot by Larry Knepper of Richland township at the Pennsylvania Game Commission Southwest Region Office on Saturday, Nov. 21, 2015, in Bolivar.

Lee McClinton, a Fayette game lands maintenance worker from Uniontown, weighs a black bear at the Pennsylvania Game Commission Southwest Region Office on Saturday, Nov. 21, 2015, in Bolivar.

Lee McClinton, a Fayette game lands maintenance worker from Uniontown, weighs a black bear at the Pennsylvania Game Commission Southwest Region Office on Saturday, Nov. 21, 2015, in Bolivar.

People watch as a 57-pound bear is weighed at the Pennsylvania Game Commission Southwest Region Office on Saturday, Nov. 21, 2015, in Bolivar.

People watch as a 57-pound bear is weighed at the Pennsylvania Game Commission Southwest Region Office on Saturday, Nov. 21, 2015, in Bolivar.

A black bear is weighed at the Pennsylvania Game Commission Southwest Region Office on Saturday, Nov. 21, 2015, in Bolivar.

A black bear is weighed at the Pennsylvania Game Commission Southwest Region Office on Saturday, Nov. 21, 2015, in Bolivar.

Gordon Matson, 17 of Ligonier waits with other hunters while his bear is weighed at the Pennsylvania Game Commission Southwest Region Office on Saturday, Nov. 21, 2015, in Bolivar.

Gordon Matson, 17 of Ligonier waits with other hunters while his bear is weighed at the Pennsylvania Game Commission Southwest Region Office on Saturday, Nov. 21, 2015, in Bolivar.

A black bear is processed at the Pennsylvania Game Commission Southwest Region Office on Saturday, Nov. 21, 2015, in Bolivar.

A black bear is processed at the Pennsylvania Game Commission Southwest Region Office on Saturday, Nov. 21, 2015, in Bolivar.

Alexandra Fazi, 9, covers her nose as Stephen Leiendecker, a game lands management group supervisor for Fayette and Greene counties, processes a black bear at the Pennsylvania Game Commission Southwest Region Office on Saturday, Nov. 21, 2015, in Bolivar.

Alexandra Fazi, 9, covers her nose as Stephen Leiendecker, a game lands management group supervisor for Fayette and Greene counties, processes a black bear at the Pennsylvania Game Commission Southwest Region Office on Saturday, Nov. 21, 2015, in Bolivar.

Jesse Shaw of Jeannette unwraps his 212-pound female black bear he shot in Armstrong County at the Pennsylvania Game Commission Southwest Region Office on Saturday, Nov. 21, 2015, in Bolivar.

Jesse Shaw of Jeannette unwraps his 212-pound female black bear he shot in Armstrong County at the Pennsylvania Game Commission Southwest Region Office on Saturday, Nov. 21, 2015, in Bolivar.

All that remains from a black bear processing is blood drippings from the bed of a pickup truck at the Pennsylvania Game Commission Southwest Region Office on Saturday, Nov. 21, 2015, in Bolivar.

All that remains from a black bear processing is blood drippings from the bed of a pickup truck at the Pennsylvania Game Commission Southwest Region Office on Saturday, Nov. 21, 2015, in Bolivar.

October 2015

My favorite images from October have to be the first two seen below. Who isn't a sucker for fall foliage? Most photographers scan maps from the Department of Natural Resources to see which weekend is the most color abundant in their area. This year however, I felt like there was a shortened time window for some reason. Colors quickly went from green to fallen very quickly so I felt challenged to create at least one frame I loved before trees became bare.

A biker rides along the Great Allegheny Passage over the Youghiogheny River and fall foliage in Ohiopyle State Park on Sunday, Oct. 18, 2015.

A biker rides along the Great Allegheny Passage over the Youghiogheny River and fall foliage in Ohiopyle State Park on Sunday, Oct. 18, 2015.

A biker rides along the Great Allegheny Passage past fall foliage in Ohiopyle State Park on Sunday, Oct. 18, 2015.

A biker rides along the Great Allegheny Passage past fall foliage in Ohiopyle State Park on Sunday, Oct. 18, 2015.

A Greensburg Salem runner races during the Westmoreland County Coaches Association cross country meet on Thursday, Oct. 15, 2015 at Westmoreland County Community College.

A Greensburg Salem runner races during the Westmoreland County Coaches Association cross country meet on Thursday, Oct. 15, 2015 at Westmoreland County Community College.

Two members of Penn-Trafford collapse after the Westmoreland County Coaches Association cross country meet on Thursday, Oct. 15, 2015 at Westmoreland County Community College.

Two members of Penn-Trafford collapse after the Westmoreland County Coaches Association cross country meet on Thursday, Oct. 15, 2015 at Westmoreland County Community College.

Greensburg Central Catholic's Brad Caric looks back to Riley Slike, right, during a victory slide after beating Serra Catholic on Thursday, Oct. 8, 2015 at Greensburg Central Catholic. GCC won 3-0.

Greensburg Central Catholic's Brad Caric looks back to Riley Slike, right, during a victory slide after beating Serra Catholic on Thursday, Oct. 8, 2015 at Greensburg Central Catholic. GCC won 3-0.

The braid of Armstrong's Ali Bowers partially blocks her view of a ball she missed returning against Connellsville on Oct. 28, 2015 at Hempfield Area High School. Armstrong won 3-0.

The braid of Armstrong's Ali Bowers partially blocks her view of a ball she missed returning against Connellsville on Oct. 28, 2015 at Hempfield Area High School. Armstrong won 3-0.

Latrobe's Jason Armstrong (6) is pushed out of bounds by Hempfield's Colin Critchfield (22) just short of a touchdown during a football game on Friday, Oct. 16, 2015 at Hempfield Area High School. Hempfield won 62-12.

Latrobe's Jason Armstrong (6) is pushed out of bounds by Hempfield's Colin Critchfield (22) just short of a touchdown during a football game on Friday, Oct. 16, 2015 at Hempfield Area High School. Hempfield won 62-12.

Hempfield's Emma Pevarnik receives a hug from Gabby Holmberg after beating Penn-Trafford during a volleyball game on Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2015 at Penn-Trafford High School. Hempfield won.

Hempfield's Emma Pevarnik receives a hug from Gabby Holmberg after beating Penn-Trafford during a volleyball game on Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2015 at Penn-Trafford High School. Hempfield won.

Mt. Pleasant's Dom Monstrola celebrates his team's win against Greensburg Salem on Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2015 at Mt. Pleasant. Mt. Pleasant won 1-0.

Mt. Pleasant's Dom Monstrola celebrates his team's win against Greensburg Salem on Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2015 at Mt. Pleasant. Mt. Pleasant won 1-0.

Penns Manor's Bailey Mumau hoists the Heritage Conference plaque as Zach Hnatko reacts after beating Ligonier Valley during a football game on Friday, Oct. 23, 2015 in Ligonier. Penns Manor won 19-12.

Penns Manor's Bailey Mumau hoists the Heritage Conference plaque as Zach Hnatko reacts after beating Ligonier Valley during a football game on Friday, Oct. 23, 2015 in Ligonier. Penns Manor won 19-12.

West Virginia running back Wendell Smallwood (4) fumbles the ball near the end zone against Oklahoma State  on Saturday, Oct. 10, 2015 at Milan Puskar Stadium in Morgantown, W.Va. Oklahoma State won 33-26 in overtime.

West Virginia running back Wendell Smallwood (4) fumbles the ball near the end zone against Oklahoma State  on Saturday, Oct. 10, 2015 at Milan Puskar Stadium in Morgantown, W.Va. Oklahoma State won 33-26 in overtime.

West Virginia quarterback Skyler Howard (3) rushes past Oklahoma State safety Jordan Sterns (13) on Saturday, Oct. 10, 2015 at Milan Puskar Stadium in Morgantown, W.Va. Oklahoma State won 33-26 in overtime.

West Virginia quarterback Skyler Howard (3) rushes past Oklahoma State safety Jordan Sterns (13) on Saturday, Oct. 10, 2015 at Milan Puskar Stadium in Morgantown, W.Va. Oklahoma State won 33-26 in overtime.

West Virginia offensive lineman Adam Pankey (57) amps up with his team before playing Oklahoma State on Saturday, Oct. 10, 2015 at Milan Puskar Stadium in Morgantown, W.Va. Oklahoma State won 33-26 in overtime.

West Virginia offensive lineman Adam Pankey (57) amps up with his team before playing Oklahoma State on Saturday, Oct. 10, 2015 at Milan Puskar Stadium in Morgantown, W.Va. Oklahoma State won 33-26 in overtime.

John Weaver of North Braddock shares a moment with his 12-year-old macaw Drew Barrymore during the OHPA bird fair on Sunday, Oct. 18, 2015 at the Circleville Volunteer Fire Department near Irwin. Three more events are planning for Pittsburgh in 2016.

John Weaver of North Braddock shares a moment with his 12-year-old macaw Drew Barrymore during the OHPA bird fair on Sunday, Oct. 18, 2015 at the Circleville Volunteer Fire Department near Irwin. Three more events are planning for Pittsburgh in 2016.

Mary Thompson, 51, poses for a portrait with a photograph of her sister Teala on Friday, Oct. 30, 2015 at her home in Pitcairn. Thompson believes the unidentified body being exhumed at Potter's Field in Hempfield is Teala, who was 13 when she went missing on in 1967.

Mary Thompson, 51, poses for a portrait with a photograph of her sister Teala on Friday, Oct. 30, 2015 at her home in Pitcairn. Thompson believes the unidentified body being exhumed at Potter's Field in Hempfield is Teala, who was 13 when she went missing on in 1967.

A firefighter looks out of a Halloween decorated window while extinguishing a house fire along Garfield Avenue in Scottdale on Wednesday. Oct. 21, 2015.

A firefighter looks out of a Halloween decorated window while extinguishing a house fire along Garfield Avenue in Scottdale on Wednesday. Oct. 21, 2015.

Dave Leiendecker of Plum, impersonating a member of Proctor's Militia, adjusts his hat in the wind during Fall Family Day at Historic Hanna’s Townon Saturday, Oct. 17, 2015. The event continues Sunday.

Dave Leiendecker of Plum, impersonating a member of Proctor's Militia, adjusts his hat in the wind during Fall Family Day at Historic Hanna’s Townon Saturday, Oct. 17, 2015. The event continues Sunday.

Maren Newcaster, 4, of Jeannette sleeps on her mother Amber as the choir sings "Be Still My Soul" during the third Diocese of Greensburg's First Responders Prayer Service at Blessed Sacrament Cathedral on Thursday, Oct. 22, 2015. Newcaster is the daughter of Lt. Nick Newcaster of the state police.

Maren Newcaster, 4, of Jeannette sleeps on her mother Amber as the choir sings "Be Still My Soul" during the third Diocese of Greensburg's First Responders Prayer Service at Blessed Sacrament Cathedral on Thursday, Oct. 22, 2015. Newcaster is the daughter of Lt. Nick Newcaster of the state police.

Kokilaben Patel of India closes her eyes and holds up her right hand as she takes an oath of allegiance during a naturalization ceremony on Friday, Oct. 23, 2015 at Indiana University of Pennsylvania's Kovalchick Convention Center-Toretti Auditorium. The ceremony granted citizenship for 101 candidates from 44 countries, who live in the greater Pittsburgh area.

Kokilaben Patel of India closes her eyes and holds up her right hand as she takes an oath of allegiance during a naturalization ceremony on Friday, Oct. 23, 2015 at Indiana University of Pennsylvania's Kovalchick Convention Center-Toretti Auditorium. The ceremony granted citizenship for 101 candidates from 44 countries, who live in the greater Pittsburgh area.

Eryn Doerue, 2, of Liberia uses a flag as a pacifier after a naturalization ceremony on Friday, Oct. 23, 2015 at Indiana University of Pennsylvania's Kovalchick Convention Center-Toretti Auditorium. The ceremony granted citizenship for 101 candidates from 44 countries, who live in the greater Pittsburgh area.

Eryn Doerue, 2, of Liberia uses a flag as a pacifier after a naturalization ceremony on Friday, Oct. 23, 2015 at Indiana University of Pennsylvania's Kovalchick Convention Center-Toretti Auditorium. The ceremony granted citizenship for 101 candidates from 44 countries, who live in the greater Pittsburgh area.

A pedestrian blends into a wall along Pennsylvania Avenue in Greensburg during a rain shower on Oct. 28, 2015.

A pedestrian blends into a wall along Pennsylvania Avenue in Greensburg during a rain shower on Oct. 28, 2015.

September 2015

The most notable events this September were the opening of the Flight 93 Memorial Visitor Center and the kickoff of football season. 

During one of West Virginia's home games, Brad Paisley made a surprise appearance and sang "Country Roads" before the national anthem. Unlucky for me, I had my first ever memory card corrupt on me during his performance. But thankfully, I carried an extra memory card by some miracle. Lesson learned: always prepare for a worst case scenario. Even today's innovative technology is still man made.

Brett Spaulding, a ranger at Monocacy National Battle Field, stands at the dedication of the Flight 93 National Memorial Visitor Center on Thursday, Sept. 10, 2015 near Shanksville. The $26 million center opened on this eve of the 14th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

Brett Spaulding, a ranger at Monocacy National Battle Field, stands at the dedication of the Flight 93 National Memorial Visitor Center on Thursday, Sept. 10, 2015 near Shanksville. The $26 million center opened on this eve of the 14th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

William Battcock, a retired member of the New York City Fire Department, reacts at the dedication of the Flight 93 National Memorial Visitor Center on Thursday, Sept. 10, 2015 near Shanksville. The $26 million center opened on this eve of the 14th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

William Battcock, a retired member of the New York City Fire Department, reacts at the dedication of the Flight 93 National Memorial Visitor Center on Thursday, Sept. 10, 2015 near Shanksville. The $26 million center opened on this eve of the 14th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

A man makes his way through the Flight 93 National Memorial Visitor Center on Thursday, Sept. 10, 2015 near Shanksville. The $26 million center opened on this eve of the 14th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

A man makes his way through the Flight 93 National Memorial Visitor Center on Thursday, Sept. 10, 2015 near Shanksville. The $26 million center opened on this eve of the 14th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

A pedestrian crosses Ligonier Street in Latrobe during a soggy Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2015.

A pedestrian crosses Ligonier Street in Latrobe during a soggy Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2015.

Craig Fallucco, the wine specialist at Westmoreland Mall State store, poses for a portrait inside the business' temperature controlled wine cellar on Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2015. Fallucco retired as sommelier at Rolling Rock about seven years ago when his mother was dying to care for her in Pittsburgh home. Eventually, he stumbled onto a part-time job at the East Liberty store and about three years ago came to Greensburg full time. Since then, wine sales have increased and Craig has developed a following including several local restaurants who have tapped him for their wine lists.

Craig Fallucco, the wine specialist at Westmoreland Mall State store, poses for a portrait inside the business' temperature controlled wine cellar on Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2015. Fallucco retired as sommelier at Rolling Rock about seven years ago when his mother was dying to care for her in Pittsburgh home. Eventually, he stumbled onto a part-time job at the East Liberty store and about three years ago came to Greensburg full time. Since then, wine sales have increased and Craig has developed a following including several local restaurants who have tapped him for their wine lists.

A motorcyclist cruises past a mostly complete mural on 4th Street in Jeannette on Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2015.

A motorcyclist cruises past a mostly complete mural on 4th Street in Jeannette on Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2015.

Greensburg Salem's Christian Seanor (25) stretches his leg at Offutt Field in Greensburg after a storm delayed the Greensburg Salem versus Gateway football game and others on WPIAL opening night, Friday, Sept. 4, 2015.

Greensburg Salem's Christian Seanor (25) stretches his leg at Offutt Field in Greensburg after a storm delayed the Greensburg Salem versus Gateway football game and others on WPIAL opening night, Friday, Sept. 4, 2015.

Greensburg Salem's Imuni Wespi (88) watches his fumble against Gateway during the WPIAL football opening night on Friday, Sept. 4, 2015 at Offutt Field in Greensburg. Gateway won 28-10.

Greensburg Salem's Imuni Wespi (88) watches his fumble against Gateway during the WPIAL football opening night on Friday, Sept. 4, 2015 at Offutt Field in Greensburg. Gateway won 28-10.

Gateway's Aidan Howard barely misses a touchdown catch against Greensburg Salem's Connor Forkey (35) during the WPIAL football opening night on Friday, Sept. 4, 2015 at Offutt Field in Greensburg. Gateway won 28-10.

Gateway's Aidan Howard barely misses a touchdown catch against Greensburg Salem's Connor Forkey (35) during the WPIAL football opening night on Friday, Sept. 4, 2015 at Offutt Field in Greensburg. Gateway won 28-10.

Hempfield's goalkeeper Nate Burkhart throws the ball in the rain against Norwin on Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2015 at Norwin. Norwin won 1-0.

Hempfield's goalkeeper Nate Burkhart throws the ball in the rain against Norwin on Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2015 at Norwin. Norwin won 1-0.

Penn-Trafford's Jared Phillips tries to gain possession from the legs of Hempfield's Ben Midlik on Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2015 at Hempfield Area High School. Hempfield won 2-1.

Penn-Trafford's Jared Phillips tries to gain possession from the legs of Hempfield's Ben Midlik on Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2015 at Hempfield Area High School. Hempfield won 2-1.

Penn-Trafford's Trevor Momeyer celebrates his goal against Hempfield on Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2015 at Hempfield Area High School. Hempfield won 2-1.

Penn-Trafford's Trevor Momeyer celebrates his goal against Hempfield on Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2015 at Hempfield Area High School. Hempfield won 2-1.

Connellsville's Tim Bish holds an American flag while listening to the national anthem prior to playing Penn-Trafford during the second week of WPIAL football on Friday, Sept. 11, 2015 at Falcon Stadium in Connellsville.

Connellsville's Tim Bish holds an American flag while listening to the national anthem prior to playing Penn-Trafford during the second week of WPIAL football on Friday, Sept. 11, 2015 at Falcon Stadium in Connellsville.

Ligonier Valley's Jackson Daugherty (center) pauses for a moment in the locker room before playing Blairsville on Friday, Sept. 25, 2015 at Blairsville. Ligonier Valley won 57-13.

Ligonier Valley's Jackson Daugherty (center) pauses for a moment in the locker room before playing Blairsville on Friday, Sept. 25, 2015 at Blairsville. Ligonier Valley won 57-13.

Ligonier Valley makes their way off the field during halftime against Blairsville on Friday, Sept. 25, 2015 at Blairsville. Ligonier Valley won 57-13.

Ligonier Valley makes their way off the field during halftime against Blairsville on Friday, Sept. 25, 2015 at Blairsville. Ligonier Valley won 57-13.

West Virginia linebacker Al-Rasheed Benton (17) amps up his team before playing Liberty on Saturday, Sept. 12, 2015 at Milan Puskar Stadium in Morgantown, W.Va. WVU won 41-17.

West Virginia linebacker Al-Rasheed Benton (17) amps up his team before playing Liberty on Saturday, Sept. 12, 2015 at Milan Puskar Stadium in Morgantown, W.Va. WVU won 41-17.

West Virginia quarterback Skyler Howard (3) gains yardage against Liberty safety Avery James (11) on Saturday, Sept. 12, 2015 at Milan Puskar Stadium in Morgantown, W.Va. WVU won 41-17.

West Virginia quarterback Skyler Howard (3) gains yardage against Liberty safety Avery James (11) on Saturday, Sept. 12, 2015 at Milan Puskar Stadium in Morgantown, W.Va. WVU won 41-17.

A West Virginia tuba player sings a march after losing his horn top on Saturday, Sept. 12, 2015 at Milan Puskar Stadium in Morgantown, W.Va. WVU won 41-17 over Liberty.

A West Virginia tuba player sings a march after losing his horn top on Saturday, Sept. 12, 2015 at Milan Puskar Stadium in Morgantown, W.Va. WVU won 41-17 over Liberty.

Country musician Brad Paisley, born in Glen Dale, W.Va., listens to the national anthem an NCAA football game between West Virginia Mountaineers and Maryland Terrapins on Saturday, Sept. 26, 2015 at Milan Puskar Stadium in Morgantown, W.Va. WVU won 45-6.

Country musician Brad Paisley, born in Glen Dale, W.Va., listens to the national anthem an NCAA football game between West Virginia Mountaineers and Maryland Terrapins on Saturday, Sept. 26, 2015 at Milan Puskar Stadium in Morgantown, W.Va. WVU won 45-6.

West Virginia wide receiver Daikiel Shorts (6) catches a touchdown pass next to Maryland Terrapins defensive back William Likely (4) during an NCAA football game on Saturday, Sept. 26, 2015 at Milan Puskar Stadium in Morgantown, W.Va. WVU won 45-6.

West Virginia wide receiver Daikiel Shorts (6) catches a touchdown pass next to Maryland Terrapins defensive back William Likely (4) during an NCAA football game on Saturday, Sept. 26, 2015 at Milan Puskar Stadium in Morgantown, W.Va. WVU won 45-6.

West Virginia wide receiver Shelton Gibson (1) celebrates a touchdown against Maryland Terrapins during an NCAA football game on Saturday, Sept. 26, 2015 at Milan Puskar Stadium in Morgantown, W.Va. WVU won 45-6.

West Virginia wide receiver Shelton Gibson (1) celebrates a touchdown against Maryland Terrapins during an NCAA football game on Saturday, Sept. 26, 2015 at Milan Puskar Stadium in Morgantown, W.Va. WVU won 45-6.

August 2015

Michaela Sopher reaches for the right apple in an attempt to out balance her friend Jaelyn Roupe, both 11, while the two take a break from a neighborhood apple fight along Harvey Avenue in Greensburg on Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2015.

Michaela Sopher reaches for the right apple in an attempt to out balance her friend Jaelyn Roupe, both 11, while the two take a break from a neighborhood apple fight along Harvey Avenue in Greensburg on Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2015.

Demolished cars make for an unusual backdrop for  6-year-old horse Macy as owner Doreen Ulery of Bullskin cares for her before a rodeo at the Fayette County Fair on Thursday, Aug. 6, 2015 in Dunbar.

Demolished cars make for an unusual backdrop for  6-year-old horse Macy as owner Doreen Ulery of Bullskin cares for her before a rodeo at the Fayette County Fair on Thursday, Aug. 6, 2015 in Dunbar.

Marissa Anderton, an incoming freshman, plays her trumpet as a storm passes over Penn-Trafford's band camp at Warrior Stadium in Harrison City on Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2015. Anderton wears her top hat on Tuesdays. 

Marissa Anderton, an incoming freshman, plays her trumpet as a storm passes over Penn-Trafford's band camp at Warrior Stadium in Harrison City on Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2015. Anderton wears her top hat on Tuesdays. 

Holly Hayford and her mother Margie Sides, both of Jeannette, wash down their chicken strips with cold beverages as a chicken watches in disbelief on Thursday, Aug. 13, 2015 at Tastyland in Greensburg.

Holly Hayford and her mother Margie Sides, both of Jeannette, wash down their chicken strips with cold beverages as a chicken watches in disbelief on Thursday, Aug. 13, 2015 at Tastyland in Greensburg.

Ian Van Wingert of Friendsville, Md. rides down an 18-foot waterfall during 16th annual Ohiopyle Over The Falls Festival on Saturday, Aug. 22, 2015.

Ian Van Wingert of Friendsville, Md. rides down an 18-foot waterfall during 16th annual Ohiopyle Over The Falls Festival on Saturday, Aug. 22, 2015.

A bead of sweat falls from the face of Penn Trafford lineman Andre Guest during the first day of high school football training camp on Monday, Aug. 17, 2015 at Warrior Stadium in Harrison City.

A bead of sweat falls from the face of Penn Trafford lineman Andre Guest during the first day of high school football training camp on Monday, Aug. 17, 2015 at Warrior Stadium in Harrison City.

A bright umbrella shields the sun from Tuan T of Latrobe as she walks along Route 981 in Latrobe on Friday, Aug. 14, 2015.

A bright umbrella shields the sun from Tuan T of Latrobe as she walks along Route 981 in Latrobe on Friday, Aug. 14, 2015.

Pennsylvania state police cadets stand during a formal inspection on Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2015 at the Pennsylvania State Police Academy in Hershey, Pa. There is a major recruiting pitch for new cadets to replace a large number of state police troopers who are retiring. Though the full complement of troopers is supposed to be over 4,600 statewide, the current number is down by more than 300 troopers and is continuing to decline. In addition, 50 percent of the remaining troopers are going to be eligible to retire over the next four years.

Pennsylvania state police cadets stand during a formal inspection on Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2015 at the Pennsylvania State Police Academy in Hershey, Pa. There is a major recruiting pitch for new cadets to replace a large number of state police troopers who are retiring. Though the full complement of troopers is supposed to be over 4,600 statewide, the current number is down by more than 300 troopers and is continuing to decline. In addition, 50 percent of the remaining troopers are going to be eligible to retire over the next four years.

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