New Castle News

Closer Look

April 21, 2014

Upholstery shop showcases music, talent

NEW CASTLE — Following in the footsteps of his father, grandfather and great-grandfather, Jim Ferrante is working to improve his community.

A successful businessman, the president of Ferrante Upholstering and Carpeting on Route 18 in Wampum is serving his third term on Wampum Borough Council. His grandfather, James Ferrante, and great-grandfather, Luigi Ferrante, also were councilmen.

Although his father, Louis Ferrante, did not go into politics, he too worked to benefit his hometown. Lou, whose passion was music, created a community music night. Beginning in the fall of 2000, Lou opened his furniture showroom to the public for a night of music appreciation. A grand piano is an accent piece in the room.

Jim Ferrante is continuing this night of free music and refreshments, which takes place the last Thursday of each month at the furniture store. Programs begin around 7 p.m.

From May through August, music night takes place at the gazebo in downtown Wampum.

Ferrante said both the music night and the gazebo are special projects of his father who, as part of the Wampum Business Association, was instrumental in constructing the gazebo in 1995.

“After my mother died, dad — a drummer — revived his old jazz band,” Ferrante said. “But we offer all sorts of music on the music nights. Last month we had a bagpiper.”

He said the public is invited to enjoy a variety of musical offerings. Violinists, pianists and even magicians have entertained. Special theme gatherings, planned with children in mind, are offered near various holidays. He also is lining up a bluegrass duo on the recommendation of a friend.

Ferrante, who serves on the board of Lawrence County Children and Youth Services, also is working with Wampum Community Revitalization to restore the former Wampum Junction Station.

That project is in partnership with the borough and the Lawrence County commissioners. The organization acquired the station about two years ago and has been raising money for its renovation since then, he said. The nonprofit organization accepts donations for which the contributor can claim a tax exemption.

He said most of the funds have been raised and the organization is waiting for building and sewer permits for the station, a former baggage depot.

The finished station will be located at the trail head of the North County National Scenic Trail, established in 1980.

The trail stretches for 4,600 miles from Crown Point in eastern New York to Lake Sakakawea State Park in central North Dakota. It passes through seven states — New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota and North Dakota.

When completed, Ferrante said, the station will be a stop on the trail to provide water and restroom facilities for users, and also will serve as a cultural and recreational center for the community.

The station will have river access and can be used by canoeists and kayakers, he said. He anticipates the restoration will be completed this fall.

Ferrante said the station, located at the south end of Main Street in Wampum, is the first site anyone coming from Ellwood City or the Beaver Valley sees when entering the town.

“We’re hoping this will make a difference in the town, that it will inspire others and rekindle a sense of community in Wampum,” he said.

“This is and has always been a fabulous little town and it’s small enough that one good project like this might lead the way to encourage more renovations. We anticipate this building will make a real difference on Main Street.”

He also noted the trail passes through Wampum, which, he said, was designated as the first trail town along the North County route.

(Email: nlowry@ncnewsonline.com)

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