Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

River of the Year? C'mon, Man, It's Got to Be the Mon

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

River of the Year? C'mon, Man, It's Got to Be the Mon

Article excerpt

The Morning File hasn't been this excited about a voting competition since the time we and friends conducted a late-night poll in a bar about which Pittsburgh celebrity seemed least like a Pittsburgher. (Andy Warhol won over Dennis Miller.)

We're talking now, of course, about the online voting for Pennsylvania's 2013 River of the Year.

This is a historic Western Pennsylvania moment because the Monongahela River has the chance to be designated, for the first time ever, as the state River of the Year. Never in its many thousands of years of existence has the Mon been so close to such a noble distinction. (It might have once been voted Best River to Spit in From a Bridge, but that's about it.)

The annual River of the Year designation dates only to 1983 rather than the Ice Age, but still, you'd think the mighty Mon would have been picked sometime during the past three decades. Sure, it's had its down years, littered with pollution, but it's not like it's the flaming Cuyahoga or anything.

For many years, the River of the Year was chosen by state officials with no democratic vote. It was as though our waterways were all running through North Korea. That changed in 2011, when it was first put to an online ballot, and the Clarion River emerged the winner. Last year, the Mon finished second to the Stonycreek River near Johnstown (another underdog, to be sure).

This year, it's a six-river race in voting at www.pawatersheds.org/vote. Here's where the vote tallies stood at the end of last week, with balloting permitted through this coming Friday:

* Schuylkill River near Philadelphia (a potentially strong winner you'd love to hate -- sort of the Ed Rendell of waterways): 30.75 percent.

* Lackawanna River in the state's northeast (presumably pulling in lots of votes from fans of "The Office"): 26.28 percent.

* Monongahela (name comes from the Indian for "many, many coal barges"): 24.13 percent.

* Kiskiminetas River (an unfortunate vote-splitter for the local region): 10.49 percent.

* Swatara Creek (c'mon, shouldn't that be in the Creek of the Year contest?): 5.46 percent.

* Juniata River in the south-central part of the state: 2. …

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