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The Blue Streak could use a push to get rolling again



Published: Thu, July 8, 2010 @ 12:00 a.m.

The Blue Streak roller coaster at Conneaut Lake Park was a bone-jarring, bruise- inducing beast. What it lacked in height (at 77 feet, it was no Millennium Force), it made up in speed and fury.

It actually seemed to have anger-management issues.

But the trains have been sidelined since 2006 because of the Crawford County, Pa., park’s financial woes (which kept it closed in 2008 and ’09), and more recently, the need for an overhaul.

The 108-year-old amusement park is open again and is doing better. The newly refurbished hotel is also open and reportedly doing good business. But things won’t be totally back to normal until the Blue Streak gets back on track.

The coaster is being repaired, and park officials say it could be operational by the end of the season — as long as the money holds out.

Here’s where you come in. And it won’t cost you a penny.

The Blue Streak restoration job has qualified for the Pepsi Refresh Project, which awards $1.3 million each month to a variety of projects. The projects that receive the most votes from the public get the cash.

Voting is done online, and it will be cut off at the end of July. If the Blue Streak’s total finishes in the top 10, it will receive $50,000 from Pepsi.

It costs nothing to vote (although you must be at least 13). All you have to do is go to www.refresheverything.com/conneautlakeparkbluestreak. Go to the $50,000 category, then find the Blue Streak project.

And vote every day.

Lisa Rawson, spokeswoman for Conneaut, said the Blue Streak project has a price tag of $125,000, and about 30 percent of that already has been raised. The American Coaster Enthusiasts group (ACE) alone has kicked in $10,000.

ACE bestowed “historic” status upon the Blue Streak — the sixth oldest coaster in the United States — at its annual convention, which was at Conneaut on June 24.

The Blue Streak opened in 1938 and is one of only two by famed coaster designer Edward Vettel that is left in the country (the other is in Denver). The restoration — replacing timbers, etc. — is being done by Leonard and Lenny Adams of Pennsylvania, who are perfect for the job, since they also refurbished its Denver counterpart in recent years.

ART OUTREACH GALLERY IS SEEKING DONATIONS

Art Outreach Gallery in the Eastwood Mall is looking for community “angels” to support its youth summer workshops. More than 150 students are participating in the workshops that run through July 31. The organization needs $3,100 to finish funding the program. Donations should be sent to Art Outreach Gallery, PO Box 1343, Warren, Ohio 44482.

An easier way to help the program is to dine at Applebee’s, 904 Great East Plaza, Niles, between 11 a.m. and closing every Wednesday and Thursday through August. The restaurant will donate 10 percent of the sales to the workshop program. Pick up a Dine to Donate flier at the gallery or online at www.artoutreach.org. The flier must be presented to the server for the donation to apply.

FILM CREW IS BACK IN THE VALLEY

Cleveland-based filmmaker Vitaliy Versace, who made “The Last Vampire on Earth” last year, is returning to the Mahoning Valley to finish his next film, “Oil Spill.”

It’s a disaster movie that plays off the BP catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico. Off-shore oil spills plague the globe and eventually dry up the oceans in the apocalyptic thriller. As the world becomes arid, lawlessness breaks out as people battle for survival.

Shooting started June 26 in Cleveland. More scenes will be shot in the Youngstown area later this summer. Casting is being handled by LeModeln Model and Talent Agency of Boardman.

“The Last Vampire on Earth” also was shot in the Mahoning Valley. It was shown in a red-carpet premiere earlier this year at Main Street Theater in Columbiana.


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