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Preparing to save lives

To mark the recently declared Stop Overdoses in PA Week Monday, Dec. 10, through Friday, Dec. 14, Gov. Tom Wolf announced Thursday that a free statewide naloxone distribution event will be held Thursday, Dec. 13.

Locally, the opioid overdose reversal drug commonly known as Narcan will be available to the public from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Huntingdon State Health Center, 6311 Margy Drive, Suite 1, and nearly 80 locations across Pennsylvania.

“The life-saving medication naloxone is essential for all of us to have on hand, particularly if you have a loved one suffering from opioid-use disorder,” Wolf said in a press release issued Thursday. “We want to ensure that through this opportunity for free naloxone, we can save more lives and get more Pennsylvanians into treatment. Keeping naloxone in your home, work or even in your car can make the difference between someone getting into treatment or dying from this disease.”

More than 20,000 individuals have been revived with naloxone administered by police officers and EMS providers since November 2014 in Pennsylvania.

“Everyone should consider getting Narcan with the free distribution for multiple reasons,” said Kelly Maffia of Mainstream Counseling. “Narcan functions a lot like learning CPR in the event you are in a situation where you suspect someone is having an overdose. Having Narcan means you could be a citizen responder who can help save a person’s life.”

While a standing prescription has been available for any Pennsylvanian in need of Narcan since last year as issued by state Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine, the cost of the medication ranges around $150-$200 out of pocket. Those with public or private insurance may be able to fill the prescription for free or low cost.

“Naloxone has one function: to reverse the effects of opioids on the brain and respiratory system and save someone’s life,“ Levine said. “It is impossible to get someone in to treatment who is dead. Every Pennsylvanian has a role to play as a potential first responder and can save a life by having naloxone on hand and using it if they come across someone who has overdosed.”

Even if the overdose is not related to opioids, the administration of Narcan may help and will certainly not hurt.

“A bystander may not know what the substance causing the overdose is, but it’s generally safe to go ahead and administer Narcan. It will help restore respiratory function and buy time for emergency personnel,” Maffia said. “If it’s not an opioid overdose, it will not do any harm.”

Narcan may also be a good idea for those with loved ones who might be at risk of accidentally overdosing on prescription medication.

“There might be individuals out there who think they don’t need it. However, you never know where you might be in a situation where they could use Narcan,” she said. “It’s helpful not only in cases where someone has an active opioid disorder, but there are times when someone may unintentionally take too much medication, particularly older adults. They might take too much medication and end up in a situation where they unintentionally overdose.”

Maffia added that it’s important to remember the dosage of the Narcan distributed to the public is lower than that utilized by emergency responders.

“Sometimes people have fears that someone will wake up and be combative. With the Narcan available to the public, it will bring them around enough to continue breathing, but they are not likely to be combative. They might be confused, but they’re not likely to be combative,” said Maffia. “It’s also important for the public to know that administering Narcan is just the first step. You still need to call 911. Further medical intervention is required.”

Additional information on Stop Overdoses Week and naloxone can be found at

Riparian buffer completed at business park

After more than 10 years of discussion and planning, the Riverview Business Center in Shirley Township is home to a forest of new trees.

The forestry line, or rather a riparian buffer, has reached completion after Huntingdon County Business and Industry (HCBI), the Huntingdon County Conservation District and Keller Engineers planted the final tree in the business park this week.

The trees, an assortment of native species, were planted in the business center to enhance storm water control and aesthetics. The riparian buffer will play a factor in storm water plans for new construction. Since the buffer was completed, the rate control requirements for new construction will only need to be met on developed lots and can now be met using underground detention pipe.

The buffer will also make the Riverview Business Park a more attractive area, allowing additional vegetation to grow, protecting the environment and making land development more cost-effective within the park.

“This was a fantastic partnership,” said HCBI director Robert Reitman. “It allowed each partner to do what we were good at and it made the project a lightweight effort overall.”

Reitman said the buffer’s biggest effect on the park’s land and surrounding properties is that it will mitigate future storm water retention.

“Future builders can get credit for a forested riparian buffer on a permit application and less of the remaining land will be used for storm water retention as a result,” he said.

Riparian buffers are areas of forest vegetation along streams, lakes, rivers and reservoirs that are left untouched to protect water quality and to separate development areas from surface waters.

“A property is altered when a building is placed or built on it,” said Reitman. “Drainage from the roof and around the building changes and affects drainage on the property. The amount of water retained is larger. This buffer will lessen the amount of storm water retention that is on the property. Future entrepreneurs won’t have to take up any more of the existing land to add a retention pond and more of the remaining land can be used.”

Reitman said the buffer will provide significant water filtration and slow water entry into the stream and help improve water quality, decrease erosion and improve volume retention.

The buffer was funded through a state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) grant through the Western PA Conservancy. Neighboring businesses to the park, Bonney Forge and IFC Services, also partnered to allow their stream borders to become a part of the buffer. The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, DCNR and Keller Engineers provided additional aid and technical and surveying assistance for the overall project.

“This buffer does increase the value of those lots, and their value has continued to climb,” said Reitman, noting he’s hopeful now that with the new buffer and stormwater retention efforts the lots within the park will see entrepreneur interest. “As business development continues to occur, I hope there will be fewer spaces left in the park. I believe we will see a demand increase for these lots.”

Reitman said he’s pleased with the outcome of the project.

“Everyone really came together to make this effort happen,” he said. “It is not only a benefit to the surrounding environment, but to the community. It will also make the park a much nicer place.”

Santa Claus arrives in Saxton

The Christmas spirit was alive in Saxton Thursday evening as 600 folks turned out to participate in the Changes in the Parkway (CHIP) committee’s fourth annual Christmas program.

Crowds began assembling early on Lower Main Street in anticipation of the events that included the announcement of coloring contest winners, the arrival of Santa and Mrs. Claus, the lighting of the community Christmas tree and other festivities.

Serving as master of ceremonies was Saxton Borough Council president Lester Meck and borough mayor Alan Smith. Santa and Mrs. Claus were escorted through the streets of Saxton on Saxton Volunteer Fire Co.’s ladder truck.

Meck recognized members of Saxton Borough Council and Liberty Township Supervisors present at the event.

Meck thanked the jolly couple for making the journey to Saxton and wished them well. He introduced Smith who gave the couple an official welcome to the community.

“Isn’t this wonderful? We got the real Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus here in beautiful downtown Saxton, Pennsylvania! Let me be the first to wish you all a Merry Christmas,” Smith told a cheering and jubilant crowd of residents of all ages.

Smith said the community has truly been blessed the past couple of years and there is much more to follow in coming years.

“The tree-lighting ceremony and the arrival of Santa and Mrs. Claus has truly become a special evening as we gather in a community with family, friends and neighbors to not only promote the excitement, enthusiasm, energy and charm of the holiday season, but to recognize the goodness of the people who have gathered here tonight.

From Saxton to Six Mile, from Robertsdale, Riddlesburg, Broad Top City, Dudley and Coalmont and all points between that we call home, let’s recognize that we exhibit a great legacy. Let’s use that legacy as a time for caring and sharing and let’s pass that legacy down to the children here tonight so that we can continue to live in harmony and fellowship for years to come,” Smith said.

Smith acknowledged the CHIP committee for decorating the parkway and making it a very special place during the Christmas holiday. This has been a great year and 2019 has much more in store,” concluded Smith.

Following the festivities, Meck shared Smith’s enthusiasm and thanked the CHIP committee for once again doing a super job. He said he really appreciated White Jenkins Johnson Insurance Agency providing popcorn and Martin General Stores providing hot coffee and hot chocolate.

“It’s really nice when the community comes together for this. Despite the cold weather, I’m really glad to see such a great turnout for this event because the CHIP committee really puts a lot into it to make it happen,” he said.

CHIP committee chairman Travis Chamberlain said he was pleased with Thursday evening’s turnout. Like Meck, he was hesitant in what the weather produced and although there was a biting wind present, he felt the event went as planned.

Chamberlain took the opportunity to thank all who make Christmas in the Parkway what it is. From planning to decorating and most importantly, all those who came out and supported the event.

The Christmas event, he said, is the committee’s last event for 2018. The committee has already started focusing on its 2019 murder mystery dinner production, “Murder at the Chalfonte” that will take place Saturday, March 9, at the Saxton Fire Hall.

There will be 150 tickets will be available for the event, which go on sale Jan. 6, 2019. Those interested in purchasing tickets can contact committee member Cindy Baker at 635-3232 or

Annual rainfall breaks record

Precipitation has been a favored topic of conversation since the beginning of 2018 as the frequent rainfall gave even perfect strangers a topic of discussion in what is set to become the wettest year on record.

“It was a unique year,” said National Weather Service meteorologist Michael Colbert.

Data collected by the Huntingdon County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) indicate that as of Nov. 30, the county received an average of 51.88 inches in contrast to the typical average of 37 inches by that same point in time.

“State College has definitely broken the all time record for the most annual precipitation and the record was broken as of Dec. 1 with almost a whole month to spare. The latest number here is up to 59.87 since Jan. 1,” Colbert said. “The records for State College go back to 1893.”

Records tracking rainfall in the region go back to 1893. For State College, the previous record was set in 1996 with 59.3 inches.

Within Huntingdon County, precipitation was slightly below average in January, February and March and very slightly above average in April. May brought approximately 5.61 inches to the county, over the typical 4.02 inches, followed by 4.96 inches over the average 3.94 inches in June.

“Heavy rains started in July. As of June 1, year to date, we were only about 3 inches above average. We had a storm around June 10 or 11 which brought 1-2 inches of rain in State College and that was the start of it,” he said. “Things really got going in mid- to late-July. By the end of July, we had even more rain and up until that time there were no named tropical storms.”

The jet stream positioned in such a way to bring ample moisture from the tropics, combined with cold fronts and warm fronts stalling out over Pennsylvania, continued to drench the region through July, when the county received 8.33 inches over the normal 3.58 inches, and August with 4.91 inches over the typical 3.46 inches. During these months, the county

“In September, we also had the impact of the remnants of Tropical Storm Florence and Tropical Storm Gordon,” said Colbert. “They brought even more moisture and focused some higher amounts of rain over Central Pennsylvania. Those were the main drivers.”

County residents were bailing out once more in September with 8.75 inches, far surpassing the average 3.58 inches. October actually fell below the norm, with 3.07 inches versus the normal 3.27 inches.

Umbrellas came out again in November, with 6.07 inches, an increase over the average 3.39 inches.

“Even November was a pretty wet month, even with no named tropical storms,” he said. “Add that all together and you have the wettest year on record.”

Whether this year represents an anomaly or a trend has yet to be determined, but what is known for sure is that weather patterns are changing.

“It’s difficult to say as far as the distant future goes. The Earth is warming and becoming capable of holding more moisture,” Colbert said. “Where that moisture gets focused can cause more rainfall. It’s something to keep in mind, but hard to tell if this is the new normal.”

Residents invited to view bridge plans

Broad Top area residents are invited to a special public forum at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 11, in Robertsdale to review PennDOT plans for the construction of a new bridge in Wood Township.

In an announcement made by Thomas Prestash, district executive at PennDOT’s District 9-0 office in Hollidaysburg, the public will have the opportunity to review plans and ask PennDOT officials questions about the bridge replacement project.

The session, which will run from 6-7:30 p.m., will take place in the RW&BT Fire Hall, just off Route 913 (6340 New Grenada Highway) in Robertsdale.

The public forum is being scheduled as PennDOT officials move ahead with the development of plans for the Great Trough Creek Bridge No. 2 Replacement project, Prestash explained.

According to the engineer, plans call for replacing the aged and deteriorating bridge located at the center of Robertsdale on the eastern end of the “company square.” The bridge takes Route 913 over Great Trough Creek.

Initial plans call for replacement of the two-lane conduit with minimal approach roadway work.

“During construction, current plans are to maintain traffic on the bridge using a single alternating lane,” explained the PennDOT engineer.

A proposed timetable along with plans for the bridge project will be available at the Dec. 11 session. Individuals and representatives of area organizations, etc. are invited to attend the public plans display, at which time they will have the opportunity to ask questions and offer comments.

Visitors may attend the meeting, which will be organized, in an open house format session, during the meeting hours.

For additional information about the public plans display, contact PennDOT project manager Tracey Farabaugh at 696-6841.

Grace period for loans to end

For recent college graduates who have federal student loans, the six-month grace period before repayment begins ends this month.

Tracie Patrick, director of financial student planning at Juniata College, said her department advises students before they graduate to plan ahead for when they need to start repaying student loans.

“Before a student graduates, all schools are required to give an exit interview,” said Patrick. “That’s when all the schools give information as to what servicer will have their loans. An important thing we tell students is to stay in contact with the servicer of the loan.”

Though students are borrowing money from the federal government, servicers are agencies that work for the federal government where students send their loan payments.

“We tell students to stay in contact with them because if they lose their job, or even change their address, we make sure they contact their servicer so someone can always find them,” said Patrick. “Sometimes, students will say they never got anything because they didn’t tell the servicer they were changing address, and that’s not a good excuse.”

If borrowers are unable to gain employment, lose their job or do not make enough money to repay student loans, there are options.

According to a press release from the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA), options are available to see if someone qualifies for a reduced payment plan or if they’re eligible for an economic hardship or deferment or forbearance.

“The worst thing they can do is just let it go,” said Patrick. “The servicer can work out things if they’re still not working or their income isn’t high. There are definite repayment options. Don’t avoid it, because you don’t want to ruin your credit right out of college.”

The exception to that would be with Subsidized Direct Stafford Loans and Subsidized Consolidation Loans on which the federal government pays the interest during periods of deferment, according to a press release from PHEAA.

Unlike any other loan, Patrick agreed the federal government makes it as easy as possible for borrowers to make payments.

“I think they’ve done a good job in giving the opportunity to make student debt bearable with deferments and forbearances,” she said.

However, some students opt for private loans in addition to federal student loans, and Patrick reminds students before they graduate to contact the bank where they have the loan to make sure they know their options.

“We tell them to contact their lender or banks, and a lot of them have options (for repayment),” she said. “We always advise students to not let it go or avoid it, because you will ruin your credit.”

James Kenney 

Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry (22) runs into the end zone for a touchdown against the Jacksonville Jaguars during the second half of an NFL football game, Thursday, Dec. 6, 2018, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/James Kenney)