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Local
Sharing love of the game

Members of the community are being asked to “Share the Love of the Game” through an equipment drive to ensure that local children preparing to take to the baseball field this spring are well-equipped.

The initiative originated last year and was spearheaded by two Huntingdon Little League moms, Julie Gutshall and Kelly Zaleski, as a way to help curb expenses associated with having a child playing a sport.

“We did it last year and called it ‘Share the Love of the Game,’” Zaleski said. “We’re trying to collect anything we can use to help Huntingdon Little League kids and families offset the cost of the equipment they need.”

Collection boxes for gently used baseball or softball related equipment, have been placed at both Southside and Standing Stone elementary schools, as well as in the lobby of J.C. Blair Memorial Hospital, Huntingdon. Fliers have been sent home with the students at both Huntingdon elementary schools to alert families to the gear collection effort.

“We are taking any donations of gently-used or new baseball or softball gear,” she said. “We are collecting bats, gloves, cleats, pants, ball bags and helmets.”

Financial donations are also being accepted.

“Last year, we even had baseballs donated,” said Zaleski.

Costs for sporting equipment can add up quickly and, compiled with the fact kids may hit a growth spurt mid-season, the gear they start out with may no longer be suitable later on.

“We’ve had kids who need stuff mid-season — maybe they’ve grown out of their cleats or their baseball pants,” she said. “A lot of times, the stores have moved that stuff out and you can’t find it if you need it.”

The items collected through Share the Love of the Game will be made available to anyone interested from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, March 2, at the J.C. Blair Education Center.

“If families want to come and pick out stuff, it’s all free,” Zaleski said. “Julie has been cleaning, tagging and organizing everything. We’re hoping for a really good turnout like we did last year. We plan to keep on doing this as long as we can.”

Community members can also aid the Huntingdon Little League by checking out a special registry set up at Walmart.com to help restore the food booth which sustained heavy damage during last September’s floods. Most of the equipment stored within the booth was destroyed completely and will need to be replaced.

“A registry has been set up as a wedding registry, with items like food storage containers, utensils, raffle tickets, dish cloths and hand towels included,” she said. “We need a new microwave and I believe some crock pots and roaster pans were donated. We had to tear out all of the cabinets, so we also need monetary donations to rebuild.”

To view the registry, visit www.walmart.com/lists/view-wedding-registry-items?id=8442614e-a54e-4756-afcc-dbc310bf90f7.

“The food booth is the only way we make money. It’s our biggest fundraiser and helps us to buy things throughout the season,” said Zaleski.

For more information, call Gutshall at 386-1291 or Kelly Zaleski at (508) 816- 9238.


Local
MUASB members thanked for service

Following up on School Board Appreciation Week (Feb. 10-16), administrators thanked members of the Mount Union Area School Board during their monthly meeting Monday night.

The board met at the Huntingdon County Career and Technology Center in Mill Creek, enjoying a meal and tour ahead of the monthly agenda.

“Sometimes it’s a thankless job, but thank you for sitting on this board,” said high school principal Curt Whitesel.

The district’s director of special education, Dianne Thomas, also extended her thanks.

“I’d like to thank the board for its support to our administrators,” she said.

Mount Union-Kistler Elementary principal Matt Franks also extended his thanks.

“Your work often goes unnoticed,” he said. “Thank you for all of your work.”

Also Monday, the board approved adjustments to the school calendar due to inclement weather cancelations. Make-up days were approved for Tuesday, April 23 (for Jan. 31), Friday, May 31 (for Feb. 12), Monday, June 3 (for Feb. 20) and Tuesday, June 4 (for Feb. 21). In addition, an in-service half day originally scheduled for Friday, May 31, will now be moved to Wednesday, June 5.

Board member Greg Dimoff asked Whitesel if the make-up days will impact graduation.

“I still have three Saturdays to use at my discretion,” said Whitesel. “We won’t make a final determination on graduation until mid to late March.”

During his report Monday night, Whitesel also noted there have been talks with Penn College to discuss students taking classes for college credits. The credits would be transferrable.

He also gave credit to athletes, noting winter sports have concluded, with two wrestlers moving on to the state individual tournament. Spring sports start Monday, March 4.

“And today is my twins’ 11th birthday,” he concluded, noting the girls asked him to mention their special day.

Franks, during his report, informed the board his building scored 100 percent on a recent Positive Behavior Instructional Support (PBIS) evaluation.

“They said they don’t see scores like that often,” he said. “Kudos to the Kistler staff. I’m very proud of their efforts. It’s a time-consuming program.”

Elementary administrators also told the board of activities being held at the three schools this week in recognition of Read Across America.

To close Monday’s meeting, board president Dolly Ranck congratulated Thomas and superintendent Amy Smith on the completing their doctoral program and graduation in December 2018.

Thomas completed her dissertation, “The Impact of School-Wide Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports on Academic Achievement at the Sixth Grade Level withint Three High Poverty/High Needs Rural Elementary Schools,” which will be published by Wert Publishing, as is Smith’s, titled, “An Exploratory Study of Parental Perceptions of Family Engagement in a Rural, High Poverty Junior High School.”

“This is a milestone in your educational careers,” said Ranck. “A goal that was obtained through time and effort on your part, along with fulfilling the responsibilities of your administrative positions in the district.”

Smith thanked the board for its support and allowing her conduct research in the junior high school.

Becky can be reached a bweikert@huntingdondailynews.com.


Local
Seasonal affective disorder can be difficult

Gray skies and diminished hours of daylight are enough to put anyone “in a mood,” but for some, the season can trigger depressive episodes that last for weeks or even months.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that typically starts in the late fall or early winter and goes away during the spring and the summer.

“By nature, seasonal affective disorder does tend to occur more in certain times of the year than in others,” said Shelly Rivello, LCSW, the director of Integrated Care at J.C. Blair Memorial Hospital, Huntingdon. “It tends to happen in fall, winter and early spring, when there is a seasonal change.”

Discerning a separation between SAD and major depression can be difficult.

“Some may have depression year-round, but it may be more obvious in the winter,” Rivello said. “People tend to label the symptoms that come with seasonal affective disorder as low mood, fatigue, limited social interaction and feeling hopeless. Those feelings are similar to depression. Seasonal affective disorder is a mood disorder, as is depression.”

NIMH lists the symptoms of depression as feeling depressed most of the day — nearly every day, feeling hopeless or worthless, having low energy, experiencing loss of interest in activities once enjoyed, having sleep difficulties, experiencing changes in appetite or weight, feeling sluggish or agitated, having difficulty concentrating and having frequent thoughts of death or suicide.

The symptoms listed for SAD are having low energy, hypersomnia, overeating, weight gain, craving carbohydrates and social withdrawal.

“It’s important to focus less on the label and more on the symptoms,” she said. “The whole picture is important. It may be that someone has depression year round. There are things with seasonal affective disorder that can get exacerbated during the winter.”

Rivello encouraged those dealing with symptoms of depression — whether seasonal or not — to seek medical care and discuss it with their health care provider.

“The most important thing is if you don’t feel like your normal self and it’s causing interference in your normal life, talk about it. Get some assistance,” said Rivello. “Medication management with medication designed to treat depression will help to manage symptoms. Counseling and psychotherapy can help provide support and help you cope.”

Light therapy may also provide relief.

“Light therapy is often recommended for seasonal affective disorder because the therapy is an opportunity to get more light exposure,” she said. “A lot of people in this area tend to miss the sunlight and everything that comes with it.”

Less daylight and inclement weather conditions can impede social interaction and physical activity, which in turn, can contribute to mood shifts with the change in seasons.

“Strategies when it comes to managing symptoms include paying attention to physical health, doing things to keep active, healthy and well-rounded,” said Rivello. “Recognize that there are some coping strategies we can use. We could all use better strategies to manage stress and improve relationships. Do the things that bring you joy. It often takes some external push and encouragement, so people should be in tune with that.”


Local
House passes robocall bill

IRVIN

A bill has recently passed the state House that could help those who receive unwanted telemarketer calls.

House Bill 318, which passed with overwhelming bipartisan support, gives people in the state the ability to sign up for the “do not call” list without requiring them to sign up again in five years.

State Rep. Rich Irvin, who voted for the bill, said this is a way to take care of some of the issues with telemarketing calls, but some of the issues surrounding telemarketing calls need to be addressed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

“For example, there’s spoofing, where they use a local number to make a telemarketing or robocall, that would almost have to be dealt with at the federal level,” said Irvin.

Irvin said this is an issue he knows his constituents deal with on a regular basis, and he hopes it will curb the number of unwanted telemarketer calls, if the bill passes in the state Senate and is signed into law by Gov. Tom Wolf.

He also discussed some of the additional measures on the bill.

“This would also prevent telemarketers from making calls on federal holidays,” he said. “It also allow businesses to sign up for the do-not-call list. I hear from people who run businesses all the time where people tell me they spend more time on the phone with telemarketers than they do actually conducting business. It’s a big issue in our district.”

State Sen. Judy Ward said this bill was introduced in the state House when she still served as state representative, and she believes at one point, she was co-sponsor of the bill.

“We hear often people are annoyed by these telemarketers and, sometimes, it’s problematic, especially for our senior citizens, in addition to being plain annoying,” she said. “It never made sense to me that you could opt out, but every five years, you have to re-opt out. This will be a one-time thing where you won’t need to re-register.”

Ward explained that the bill almost mandates that for those who sign-up for the do-not-call list, there’s a toll-free number that needs to be available for those who wish to sign up for it.

She agrees the FCC needs to take more measures to curb robocalls and telemarketing calls by using the spoofing method.

“It’s so frustrating, because people receive calls and it may be their child’s school or a doctor’s office,” she said. “I’ve had children’s names of people I know come up on my phone, and it’s one of these spoofing calls. It’s just wrong.”

Ward said the next step for the bill would be to take it up in committee, and she’s hopeful it will move out of committee this time.

“I know it’s passed in the state House in the last two sessions, but the state Senate hasn’t taken it up,” she said. “I don’t know why that is, but I’m hopeful it will be passed this time.”


Local
HCBI members share reports

The board of directors of Huntingdon County Business and Industry met Monday for their monthly meeting.

The members shared updates for their committees. Tom Mincemoyer of the business development committee discussed the topic of “agritourism.”

“Our committee has been working on developing priorities for our next fiscal year and at our last meeting we kind of finalized our focus on a business development effort which will focus around agritourism. As we talked around lots of ideas, the fact that we have a really strong tourism industry already in Huntingdon County and that agriculture is our number one industry. It just seemed like a very logical thing for us to establish as our focus,” said Mincemoyer. “If you think ‘dude ranch,’ that’s the thing that immediately comes to my mind. That’s been an agritourism thing forever. It’s anything from a roadside market to a B&B that might be a farm experience. there’s a whole series of activities that fall into that category. I don’t think it’s something that’s well understood in the community, and probably including in the agriculture community.”

Mincemoyer asked the board that if they know of people that are interested in business development in general or agritourism to contact him. He also expressed that if the concept takes off, they may form a subcommittee designated for the efforts.

“Really early on in the process, we want to get people together that have a stake in this — in the tourism and agricultural industry and find out who’s interested and who’s doing this type of thing,” said Mincemoyer. “Maybe it makes sense to have a summit or even an information event sometime just to get people interested and educated about what’s going on and to get people interested that way.”

Tracey Cook gave an update for the investment committee.

“Currently we are at 56 percent of our goal. We have 61 total investors and four new investors. Three are businesses, which one was Kiki’s, J. Porter, and the third which is Hicks LLC, and we had one individual as well,” said Cook. “We’re on track for this year’s campaign. As far as prospects, the thing that we’re looking to do next is form a Facebook promotion. We’re going to try to promote HCBI through Facebook, and we’re going to pick a segment to focus on to highlight our current members and try to push members in that industry to join.”

HCBI director Robert Reitman expressed that February has been another busy month for HCBI.

“A key highlight was the All American grand re-opening last Friday. Christa McGeary kind of realized in December that they really needed a renovation. She came in and we looked at her books and we looked at her financial ability and we talked over what should be included while she was doing it. She updated her plan and got in touch with a contractor very quickly and she very quickly put together an entire business plan that gave it to us in a binder. I’ve never seen that kind of turnaround since I’ve been with HCBI,” said Reitman.

“There’s still work to do in the front, but it’s going really well. It resulted in 22 extra seats, and Christa told me last Friday night when I stopped in for a pizza, that she hired three more people. That’s just an outstanding example of someone recognizing the need and reinvesting in their own business and reinvesting in the county. I thank that’s a really good picture of what people can do when they see that rapid return. It doesn’t always happen that quickly, we’ve seen very organized businesses take a lot longer than that. It’s proof that if you have all of your ducks in a row, you can execute really quickly,” said Reitman.

Ed Stoddard of the Huntingdon County Visitor’s Bureau presented the 2019 visitors guide to the board.

“Some new things this year, of course there is some editorial in the front, it’s very much focusing on family fun in the Raystown Lake region. Another new thing we’ve got this year is we’ve reformatted our maps in a pull-out poster. Myself, a group of Juniata College students, and Huntingdon County mapping departments put together the maps of the area this year,” said Stoddard.

Stoddard informed that the visitor’s guide is available at many locations throughout the county, as well as rest stops in surrounding areas, and even via direct mail to those who request a copy.

The board heard updates from representatives from the offices of state Sen. Jake Corman, state Sen. Judy Ward, and state Rep. Rich Irvin. Each of the county commissioners gave a report on the initiatives they are currently working on for the county, which included the elevation of Route 453 to National Highway status.

Reports were also heard from the Huntingdon County Chamber of Commerce, PA CareerLink, and Juniata College Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership.

The next meeting of the board of directors at HCBI will be Monday, March 25, at the J.C. Blair Education Center.


Local
Outages continue following storm

Utility crews were still working diligently throughout the day Monday to restore power to area residents as a result of the high winds that pushed through the area Sunday into Monday.

Todd Meyers, Penelec spokesperson, said that as of this morning, there were still 23 customers in Huntingdon County without power.

“Most of those 23 should be back on by 11 p.m. tonight, and one or two of them back on by sometime Wednesday,” he said.

Meyers said that at the peak of the wind event Sunday and Monday, around 115,000 Penelec customers were without power in the 30-plus county area Penelec covers in Pennsylvania.

“We were contending with probably more than a day’s worth of wind that was gusting up to 55 mph with sustained winds that reached 40 mph,” he said. “That, along with crew personnel not being able to go up in bucket trucks safely, meant a lot of work was done Sunday into Monday where our crews had to climb the poles or work on the ground, which was an unusual challenge.”

Another challenge, due to the widespread nature of the winds that affected Pennsylvania and some surrounding states, Penelec was unable to get utility workers from other subsidiaries of First Energy, the parent company of Penelec, to help in Huntingdon County.

“We couldn’t release those workers because it was so widespread,” said Meyers.

As of today, he noted, “We’re on the home stretch.”

It seems as if crews from Valley Rural Electric Cooperative had also hit the home stretch as of this morning, as 50 member accounts are still without power in Huntingdon County, out of the 62 in the Valley Rural service territory.

The outages include six in Barree Township, one in Brady Township, one in Henderson Township, one in Hopewell Township, one in Oneida Township, one in Jackson Township, four in Springfield Township and 32 in West Township.

The remainder of the outages are in Juniata County.

“Our crews put in some long hours, and we’re still tracking down smaller outages,” said Doug Roles, vice president of member services for Valley Rural Electric Cooperative. “There are instances were we have our line crews go out, and they fix one line of power, and we get multiple members back online with one repair job. Now we’re down to the smaller jobs where we have a member here or there where service has dropped, and we go to their house and one or two accounts go back online.

“Now, we’re focusing on the smaller outages and unoccupied places, which includes any seasonal accounts, like hunting cabins, and unoccupied buildings,” he added. “We understand that anyone without power right now is anxious to see crews come out to get things back to normal.”

Some reports also indicated that Comcast customers were without service due to the wind event Sunday and Monday, and some Comcast crews were seen throughout the day Monday at the Crooked Creek area in Smithfield Township working to restore service.

No widespread outages from Comcast were reported to the Huntingdon County Emergency Management Agency office, according to Joe Thompson, EMA director.

Thompson also noted the most significant damage reported to his office Monday from local emergency management coordinators (EMCs) was a tree that went into a dwelling in Walker Township. Officials have wrapped up reports from EMCs as a result of the storm.

“There was a tree that went into a dwelling on Tanglewood Drive with significant damage to the residence,” he said. “The power has been shut off to the residence, and the EMC suggested residents not stay there until at least initial roof repairs have been made.”

Other damage as a result of the storm, from what Thompson has received, included some roof damage and carport damage.