The European leader is in the United States for business in Cleveland.
By LAURE CIOFFI
VINDICATOR NEW CASTLE BUREAU
S.N.P.J., Pa. -- The president of one of Europe's tiniest countries will be visiting one of Pennsylvania's smallest communities.
Milan Kucan, president of the independent Republic of Slovenia, plans to attend a ribbon cutting Saturday for the newly remodeled recreation center in S.N.P.J., located roughly eight miles west of state Route 60 in Lawrence County.
Independence: Kucan, the first and only president of the Republic of Slovenia, has served as Slovenia's head of state since the country declared independence for Yugoslavia in 1991. He has been instrumental in Slovenia's progress as an independent nation, helping to forge diplomatic ties throughout Europe and around the world.
Slovenia, a country roughly the size of New Jersey, is in central Europe and is bordered by Austria to the north, Italy to the west, Hungary to the east and Croatia to the south.
Under Kucan's leadership, Slovenia has made the successful transition from a constituent republic within communist-led Yugoslavia to an independent democracy.
Visiting Cleveland: Kucan is in the United States for business in Cleveland and will stop by the newly remodeled S.N.P.J. center from 1 to 3 p.m., said Jay Sedmak, editor of Prosveta, a national newspaper put out by the Slovene National Benefit Society in Imperial, Pa.
The S.N.P.J. Recreation Center, originally constructed in 1965, underwent a $1.7 million update to its banquet and reception area, as well as a new addition, which will house the S.N.P.J. Slovenian Heritage Center. Construction on the heritage center should end sometime later this month, Sedmak said.
About S.N.P.J.: The recreation center is the focus of community life in S.N.P.J. and the reason there is a town at all. According to Vindicator files, the borough was created in 1978 to grant the recreation center a liquor license. During the summer months, 300 to 400 people converge on the tiny borough for events, including polka festivals and the annual Slovenefest.
S.N.P.J. recently made headlines when the 2000 Census population reported that the borough lost 100 percent of its population since 1990. However, Lawrence County elections records report that 12 registered voters live in the borough.