Community Connection
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By Ginny Tonkin staff blogger
Ginny Tonkin loves traveling off the beaten path, learning about new cultures through food, and everything outdoors. She recently spent eight months teaching English in Vietnam, and loves swapping travel stories.   Read more about this blog.
 Phone: 814-464-5589


Posts tagged "titusville"
Posted: March 19th, 2012

What does Crawford County mean to you?

Want to be famous? Or at least, Facebook famous? needs your help: We’re launching our Facebook Timeline profile page, and we want your photography featured. Post on the Facebook wall, in our community album, or email ( to submit your photo for our Facebook Timeline cover photo competition.

We want to know: What does Crawford County mean to you?

Show us; submit your photos for our Timeline cover photo.

Deadline? Wednesday March 29; We need you photos on our Facebook wall, in our community album, or in our in box by 11:59 p.m.

Remember, Facebook Timeline cover photos are horizontal; try to find a shot that works well within the space.

Want some wacky inspiration? Click through creative profiles here and here. Browse our galleries, or our community photo album to see what others have posted in the past.

Don’t forget to Like on Facebook; share your work with your friends and community.

So, what does Crawford County mean to you? Show us; a picture is worth 1,000 words.

Posted in: Crawford County
Posted: March 16th, 2012

Unseasonably warm weather gets me thinking about ice cream, and Susie’s Ice Cream Factory is back in the business. The 16-year-old Titusville institution now operates as a “factory,” selling sizes pint and larger from their location and distributing to area vendors for that traditional scoop-on-cone experience.

For vendors and future customers, the creamery has an invitation only Open House this Saturday.

“It’s to thank the people who served Susie’s this past year,” said Kim Dickson, a Susie’s worker, “and to invite other customers to buy our product–to help the grow, too.”

Their regular hours are 12-6 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday and Fridays 9 a.m.-12 p.m. and 1-4 p.m. at their Titusville location.

Can’t visit the factory or one of their Titusville-area vendor locations? Order directly online at Their flavor list is drool-worthy with flavors like Mocha Almond Fudge, Chocolate Carmel Truffle, and Black Gold–Susie’s version of Death by Chocolate.

Check out their Facebook page for more information on their hours and operations.

Posted in: Crawford County
Posted: February 21st, 2012

Let the eat cake. And soup. And throw in a scoop of ice cream, too.

The Community Improvement Center, operated through the United Way of Western Crawford County, will throw a Cake Walk, Soup and Ice Cream Social, February 26 from 3-6 p.m. at the ARC of Crawford County. An outgrowth of the successful community improvement day, Make a Difference Day, the CIC is raising funds to propel their project-based service organization forward.

“Every year about 125 projects are completed on Make a Difference Day,” said Amy Woods, Executive Director of the United Way of Western Crawford County. “Throughout the year, we hope to complete another 125 projects through the CIC.”

“Now we have to beg, borrow, and steal (for funding),” said Woods.

“Make a Difference Day” is an event that makes an army of volunteers of the Crawford community for a day participating in projects like building ramp ways for wheelchairs and installing roofs. Unfortunately, 24 hours doesn’t provide enough time or materials to get all projects completed. The Community Improvement Center was started to address those issues, and operates within the United Way of Western Crawford County.

“Ours is unique because it’s project-based,” said Katie Huser, the United Way’s VISTA, who currently heads the Center.

The CIC’s issue—and the aim—is to become sustainable.

“The more funding we get, the more projects we can complete, and the more we can do for the community,” said Woods, who wants to bring awareness and funding to the CIC. “We have a waiting list of people, because we have no funding for materials. We rely 100% on fundraising and volunteers.”

Huser envisions the CIC as a “clearing house,” a place to connect those who have needs to those who can help them.

“People who call in [a project] are generally those physically and financially unable,” said Huser, calling some stories “heart-breaking” to hear.

The CIC’s Calk Walk, Soup and Ice Cream Social aims to bring funds and awareness to the center. Local restaurants and organizations are pitching in to help the event, including donations of cakes and soups. The recently re-opened Susie’s Ice Cream Factory in Titusville will be donating all the ice cream for the Social.

David Funk of Susie’s said the re-imagined ice cream factory loves to keep the community strong. “We really support local; United Way is a great organization,” said Funk. “We donate out in the community when there’s certain events; we try to keep it all local.”

Want to help? Here’s how.

1)   Show up. And have fun.

The three-hour event is packed with activity, as the name suggests, including a calk walk, a soup contest, and an ice cream social. Vote for your favorite soup in the cook-off; the soup with the most money in its jar will be declared a winner. Take stroll on the cakewalk; tickets are $1 per game, $6 for five, or $10 for an unlimited pass.

2)   Bake

Showcase your culinary talents, and donate a cake! The CIC is taking donations of cakes for the cakewalk. Crawford County restaurants will compete for the best soup; throw yours into the running, too.

3)   Donate.

Your time, your money. Contact the CIC and ask for Katie Huser at 814-337-1251 if you or your organization want to volunteer.

4)   Spread the word.

Know someone in need? Tell them to contact the CIC.

Event Details:

What?  Cake Walk, Soup, and Ice Cream Social

Where? The ARC of Crawford County, 22 Chestnut Street, Meadville

When? 3-6 pm February 26

Benefiting who? The Community Improvement Center, operated through the United Way.

More info? Find the United Way of Western Crawford County on Facebook, and visit their event page.

Posted in: Crawford County
Posted: December 12th, 2011

Photoholics Anonymous. Its members are seriously addicted: they can meet anytime, anywhere there’s an internet connection, and post several times a day. Now they’ve taken it to the next level—meeting face to face.

After “meeting” on Facebook since late spring, the Oil City-based group Photoholics Anonymous is now meeting offline. This photography club has begun hosting a six-week long masters class on lighting for those photoholics interested in learning more about their craft. Interested photographers can join the crew every Tuesday night at the Queen City Café and Gallery in Titusville.

On Facebook, the group posts exquisite, thoughtful, and fun photos, often around a theme, like a letter of the alphabet—often several times a day.

Oil City resident, Timothy Rudisille started the Facebook group in May, looking to talk photography—without bugging everyone else on his friends list. Starting from 10 of his local friends, this Facebook group has blossomed into an international community of 144.

“A good portion of the people are local but it has grown nationally because of everyone adding their friends. We even have a guy from France and two from Australia,” said Rudisille. “We’ve bonded into quite the family, a great group of people, and we’re all photoholics.”

“The group actually is more interesting with the diversity, we see things in pictures we might not ever get to see if not for this group,” said Robert Specht, a Photoholics regular who hails from California. Asked to join the group by Timothy, he’s grateful to have joined a supportive group.

Although not all of their international and domestically far-flung members can meet face-to-face, offline the group has started to utilize their community—and their talents—to learn from each other.

“There used to be an active camera club in Oil City, but there’s been a resurgence since digital photography became popular,” said Mike Henderson, a photography vet, who’s teaching the master class on lighting at the “Q.”

An intimate, yet passionate group of ten was at the first master class.

“I think we all learned a lot and had some great discussions! We definitely now have a regular weekly thing going,” said Henderson.

Want to get involved? Search “Photoholics Anonymous” on Facebook, and ask to join the group.

Interested in learning more about the master’s class? Call the Queen City Café at 814-775-0898. Find the “Q” at 106 North Kerr Street, in Titusville.

Want to share your photos with the community? Post your own photos in our community album on; just click on “Submit photos.”

Posted in: Crawford County
Posted: September 21st, 2011

“Maraschino cherries count as a fruit serving, right?” joked Kitty Freeze from behind the counter at the Queen City Café & Gallery.

I had wandered into the cafe after a meeting with the Titusville Community Council at the Titusville Health and Aging Center, and my eyes had set on a muffin in the case. This baked good looked healthy enough for the health nut in me, a darker color dotted with red, I thought it must be a multigrain muffin with berries.

Nope. Chocolate cherry.

My hesitation lasted less than a second–I had tasted Kitty’s baking before. I wasn’t disappointed; it was well-worth whatever calorie count it had. Moist and cakey, this muffin is not one to pass up!

A lot of things had changed since I’d been in shortly before their grand opening. Then, the menu had not quite developed, but now, they’re are really expanding their idea of “fast casual.” Whether you eat on the run, or want to take your time, the menu is now loaded with breakfast items, easy-to-snag choices like Cliff Bars, soups, smoothies, and sandwiches.

And for all you high school football fans, they’ve also begun broadcasting Rocket THS football games on their HD TVs.

Keep in touch with the Queen City Café & Gallery on Facebook; they regularly update with news and daily specials. Tell them Ginny sent you.

Speaking of the Titusville Community Council, I was honored to speak just for a quick few minutes about and how community members can publish information in the community news product, just by creating an article directly online, as well as photos and events.

What a room of movers and shakers. Lead by Mike Waychoff of the Titusville YMCA, his group of dedicated community members was resuming their monthly meetings after a break for the summer. Members from groups including the Titusville Area United Way, the Titusville YWCA, and Big Brothers and Sisters of Crawford County, met to discuss how to better serve the needs of the community.

Get in touch with Mike on the YMCA’s website, for more information.

Follow me on Twitter @GinnyTonkin, or @GoCrawfordCTY; we love to hear from you!

Posted in: Crawford County
Posted: August 8th, 2011

Thanks for all the positive response to “The ‘Q:’ Open for you.” For all those interested in where to find Queen City Cafe & Gallery, head to this address: 106 North Kerr Street, Titusville, Pennsylvania 16354.

Close to the University of Pittsburgh-Titusville and down the street from the elementary school one way, and the high school the other, the “Q” is nicely situated as a central hub or meeting place.

Find directions to the “Q” on their Google maps place page, and check their facebook page, regularly updated by “Q” staff for specials, information, and events.

Save the date for Queen City’s “Grand Opening,” August 11th. Live music and activities will be held from 5 to 8pm.

Have you been yet? Comment below and let us know what you think!

Posted in: Crawford County
Posted: August 4th, 2011

Heads up drivers en route from Meadville to Titusville: Highway 27 is closed just after the Titusville Airport. Driving from a meeting with the Meadville AM Rotary to chat with the Titusville School District, I met with this detour just miles before my GPS was bound to calmly say, “You have reached your destination.”

Thankfully, the detour on 408 is quick and simple, and the people in Titusville are super helpful and friendly. Calling to update my appointment that I would be delayed, I was successfully directed to my destination.

I even got my first introduction through Hydetown, population 605. The 408 detour takes you right through the town into Titusville, past the Walmart.

Has anyone else been affected by roadwork in the area? In Erie, it seems that August should be re-named “construction.” How about Crawford?

Posted in: Crawford County
Posted: August 2nd, 2011

Queen City Café & Gallery, affectionately nicknamed the “Q,” aims to be not just your next stop for lunch, but Titusville’s new community gathering place, a hub to get the town’s creative juices flowing.

One quick look around the café, and one can see the Q is serious about local creativity.

Hand-painted tabletops showcase local students’ artistic flair, art from regional artists hangs on the walls, and a small stage holds a stool, waiting for Titusville musicians to step up to the mike.

The “Q” is the brainchild of Tambra Warner Sabatini, who also runs the Titusville Council on the Arts. A stop in a Mexican bistro on vacation in Puetro Vallerta inspired her. Also hosting an art gallery, the bistro incorporated artwork as décor.

“I thought it’d be fun to create a place that was more than just a place to eat,” said Warner Sabatini.

She kept the idea in the back of her mind, but this spring, she partnered with friend Kitty Freeze to make her dream a reality.

Submitting a full business plan and a vision of how the Q would benefit and involve the community, the pair won “Downtown Titusville’s Next Entrepreneur Could Be You” competition, and received a prize package valued at $5,000 from the Titusville Chamber of Commerce.

“We want to be a clearing house for community information,” said queen of the kitchen, Kitty Freeze, who manages the menu and the staff. ”

Freeze trains her staff to be knowledgeable about community events, so that when outside visitors come in, Q staff can help circulate information about the community. She also stresses hospitality with Q staff. Instead of “Your welcome,” Q City staff responds to thanks with, “It’s my pleasure,” a response that Freeze says helps people feel invited.

“If you have the right attitude, that’s what makes the difference,” said Freeze.

The pair also wants Q customers to feel like they can move at their own pace with a fast-casual dining style, and free wifi encourages visitors to utilize the community space.

Warner Sabatini says they have the perfect location to reach into multiple segments of the Titusville community, including the nearby middle and high schools and the University of Pittsburgh-Titusville.

“Where do you go after an event if everything is closed except McDonalds and Perkins,” said Warner Sabatini, “We want the community involved.”


Find “The ‘Q:’ Open for You” in Friday’s Don’t forget to add your own articles, photos, and events directly online!

Posted in: Crawford County
Posted: July 26th, 2011

Thanks for all your responses from “You can’t get there from here!” I had people email and comment, helping me find my wayward way back to Erie from Titusville.

Several of you caught my typo: I meant “Union City,” instead of “Oil City.” Unfortunately, I didn’t get to catch that mistake before went to print, so you’ll be seeing that again on Friday when the print edition comes to your mailbox.

I’d have to agree with both @Chris Ostergard and @sik1210006, who suggested taking 8N to 97 then, following 97 or taking 19, depending where you need to go in Erie.

In other Titusville news, I’ve enjoyed stopping by Queen City Cafe & Gallery at 106 N. Kerr Street! Check back soon for a full review of the Cafe!

In the meantime, watch videos from The Q in the player on the front page.

If you’d like me to come visit you in Crawford County, comment below or shoot me an email. Follow me @GinnyTonkin on Twitter, or watch the feed on Community Connection, to get live updates from me and

Posted in: Crawford County
Posted: July 25th, 2011
Crawford/Erie County line: "There"

Crawford/Erie County line: "There"

“A direct route?” The pair I had been meeting with in Titusville looked at each other with slightly puzzled looks on their faces. “Back to Erie? Uh, not really.”

Asking locals from Titusville how to get back from there to Erie, I half expected to hear in a thick New England accent, “You can’t get there from here.”

Originally from New England, I’m familiar with this phrase born from backcountry Maine—and the difficulties of navigating windy country roads.

Does it make sense? Only if you can relate: It means there’s not direct route from where you are and where you want to go.

Does this even make sense Crawford County? Ever try to get from Erie to Titusville? Is there really one direct way? Yeah, didn’t think so. I haven’t got the same answer from two people.

Crawford/Erie County line: "Here"

Crawford/Erie County line: "Here"

I live in Fairview, but I travel in Crawford four to five times a week. I love exploring the different communities that comprise Crawford County.  American flags line city streets, cornfields fill the landscape, and trucks share the road with Amish buggies. Americana at its best.

However, I’ve definitely had my “You can’t get there from here” moments trying to get south from Erie County, with me ready to throw my handy dandy Garmin GPS out the car window.

Try imagining a straight shot from the birthplace of the oil industry to the lake. Does it exist?

The first couple of times I tried navigating to Titusville, I gave myself plenty of extra time—I knew this wouldn’t be a straight shot trip. Routes via Google Maps took forever, and I felt betrayed by my GPS telling me such genius moves such as turning right into a cemetery via a dirt road.

Everybody seems to have his or her own way to get “there” from “here.” At Titusville’s new Queen City Café and Gallery, each person I asked seemed to take a unique route. Technology even failed us: when hand-held devices were helpfully pulled out and put to the test, both had different directions, even compared to the GPS.

Lots of opportunities to get lost have helped me find the winner: 99 through Edinboro, 6N to Oil City, and then South on 8 until Titusville.

Can “you get there from here?” If you think you have a better way, tell me! Comment on my blog on, or respond via Twitter @GinnyTonkin.

Posted in: Crawford County

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