Coopersdale residents believe they are the friendliest people in Johnstown, and now they have a sparkling greeting to buttress their convictions.

A huge “Welcome to Coopersdale” sign, finished with reflective paint so that it’s visible at night, greets motorists as they cross the Coopersdale Bridge.

The sign, 8 feet long and 4 feet tall, was installed July 1 by Lou Ann Bowser, her mother, Shirley Fabina, and other members of their family, all of whom reside in Coopersdale.

The sign was the brainchild of Fabina, who decided her beloved Coopersdale should have a welcome mat similar to those being installed in other neighborhoods.

“We are proud of our neighborhood,” Fabina said. “It is a nice place to live. A lot of people were happy that we were doing this.”

Her idea was grasped by Bowser’s husband, David, who got the ball rolling and procured the site, used by a billboard business, for the sign.

The family also is displaying an American flag at the location to show the community’s patriotism.

The project was a family affair with Bowser’s cousin, Bill Fabina, an artist, who designed and painted the sign; her brother-in-law, Bob Stevanus, who landscaped the site; her father, Lou Fabina, who built the sign’s wooden frame; and her brother, Bob Fabina, who led the installation effort.

Lou Ann Bowser and her sister, Becky Stevanus, led the effort in the spring to collect hundreds of dollars in donations from Coopersdale residents and businesses for the sign. Their mother also helped.

“It didn’t take long to collect the money,” Lou Ann Bowser said. “It took only five days to raise $700, and the only reason it took that long was because of the nice conversations we had with our neighbors.

Residents and the two businesses in Coopersdale – Quaker Sales Corp. and The Tire Clinic Inc. – were generous, she said.

She said the defunct Coopersdale Crime Watch donated the remaining $180 in its account to the project. That money will be used to maintain and buy new flowers for the site.

“Our community is amazing,” said Bowser, a lifelong resident of Coopersdale.

“There is such a connection with people here. When you have lived here all you life, the whole community gives you a sense of family.”

She said Coopersdale is blessed with a rich history.

She said many families, including hers, have lived in the community for generations.

The main thoroughfare in Coopersdale, Cooper Avenue, was a canal and part of the Pennsylvania Canal, built in the early 1800s. That’s why Cooper Avenue is so wide, Bowser said.

The neighborhood at that time was named Perkinsville after James Perkins, who ran the canal locks, she said. In 1869, it was renamed Coopersdale after James Cooper, who developed the area.

For their efforts, Bowser and her mother are the Persons of the Week.

Fritz Woods, a lifelong resident of Coopersdale, said the sign is impressive. “They did a good job,” he said.

Woods, along with other lifelong residents, Mary Louise Wagner and Dan McClurkin, are pleased that the Fabina family took so much of an interest in the community to develop the sign.

“I’m proud of my neighborhood,” McClurkin said. “I think it’s nice that they stepped forward and took the initiative to do it.”

Wagner said the entire community embraced the project that the Fabinas started.

“I’m glad it was a project that the community took an interest in, because it shows that we are still bound to the community,” she said.

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