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Expanding art horizons

A reception was held for budding young artists and their families to celebrate the culmination of their artistic endeavors at the Alexandria Memorial Library Saturday afternoon.

About 12 middle school students from Huntingdon Area Middle School and Juniata Valley High School participated in a six-week art instruction series at the library under the guidance of three local artists, Don Dietz, Jodi Peachey and Cathy Lane.

This was possible, thanks to a $700 Community Grant from Standing Stone Coffee Co.

Jill McDonald, librarian at the Alexandria Memorial Library, explained how this went from a simple idea to execution.

“We were looking for ways to get that age group into the library,” she said. “We wanted them to pursue something they were interested in and find ways to use the space.”

So, beginning in February, the students met Thursday evenings while the three local artists taught students everything from how to draw a person to more abstract art.

McDonald also talked about how art became the focus of finding programming to draw middle-school students into the library.

“We’re always looking for ideas, and our instructors were willing to help in anyway they could,” she said, noting that all of the instructors volunteer their time with the library in many capacities, including serving as board members at the library.

Because of this endeavor, McDonald said this opens up the possibility of more programming for all ages at the library.

“It’s opened up a conversation with our patrons who have expressed interest in art,” she said. “Whether it’s providing studio space for adults to come together just like we do for the knitting group, or hosting an event like a paint night. This has opened doors for possibilities for all ages at the library.

“We were able to draw from the people and talents we have (at the library),” added McDonald. “But, we always have to be mindful of what we can do in the space we have (at the library).”

McDonald is not only grateful to the families that allowed their children to spend their Thursdays at the library, but she’s grateful to the three instructors for their help.

“This was a great group, and I hope to do more in the future with older and younger groups,” she said. “I’m also grateful for the instructors for their giving their time to help.”

For those who wish to see some of the work done by students in the series, it will be on display at Standing Stone Coffee Co. during the month of May.

Anglers of all ages turn out for opening day of trout season

A Pennsylvanian rite of spring was shared between generations Saturday morning as family members and friends gathered on river and creek banks and lake shores, enjoying sunny skies and mild temperatures as they took part in the opening day of trout season.

Overnight rains swelled and muddied some streams, but had little impact on the enthusiastic crowds.

“The rain affected some of the streams. Some of the mountain streams were running pretty clear and people were catching fish there,” said Corey Girt, waterway conservation officer for the state Fish and Boat Commission. “Some of the bigger streams are muddy, but it’ll work and they’ll still catch some.”

In his travels Saturday morning, Girt observed a great many younger fishermen turned out for the opening day.

“There are lots of kids and youth out,” he said.

Near Cornpropst Mills, the Raystown Chapter of Ducks Unlimited set up an area for children to fish along Stone Creek on property owned by Sonny Heine, just as they have each year more than a decade.

Ducks Unlimited member Scott Walters credited Heine’s generosity and commitment to youth in making the reserved fishing area possible. Ducks Unlimited is the largest private wetland conservation organization in the world and works to preserve and enhance wetland habitat throughout North America.

“We sponsor a children’s fishing area in cooperation with Sonny Heine,” Walters said. “It’s an opportunity to allow the youth to fish in their own area and get experience in outdoors where they can not be crowded out by adults.”

Father and son team Norman and Wyatt Querry, 11, of James Creek, have been fishing together for seven years.

“I started fishing when I was 4 or 5,” said Norman Querry. “We try to do it every year. It’s fun to spend time with the kids and the family every year. It’s a family thing and a chance to watch the kids have fun”

Wyatt agreed that time with family was the best part.

“I like hanging out with my family,” he said. “It’s also a chance to learn and get experience.”

Duane DeArmitt of Bellefonte is a regular visitor to Stone Creek for fishing season and brought his 9-year-old grandson, Layton Covel of State College, to share in the experience.

“I’ve been fishing Stone Creek since I was about 4 years old. We would just fish up and down the stream from McAlevys Fort all the way down to Black’s Bridge,” DeArmitt said. “Coming here is tradition. I started fishing with my father. My grandson and I fished on the lake when he was about 3 or 4 and started coming down here when he was 5 years old.”

Sharing the experience with Layton is a chance to carry on a cherished tradition.

“It’s a chance to spend time with him,” he said. “He loves fishing and it’s nice to see him catch them. It’s just a nice fellowship between different people. He loves coming to camp.”

“Fishing is very fun,” Layton said. “I like reeling them in. It’s fun fishing with my grandfather because he helps me hook fish and he helps me get the big ones in.”

Sophia Harris, 7, of Cresson, visited Stone Creek with her grandfather, Duane Harris, also of Cresson.

“We come down here every year,” Harris said. “She likes to come fishing with her pap.”

She vividly remembers catching her very first fish — a palomino trout — at the same spot when she was 3.

“I love catching fish,” said Sophia, adding that she especially loves spending time with her grandfather. “We like a lot of the same things.”

From their vantage point near the banks, members of Ducks Unlimited enjoyed the opportunity to share in the excitement as cries of “I got one!,” were heard and wide grins accompanied photo ops with a fresh trout on the line.

“It’s nice to see kids catch their first fish,” Walters said. “And it’s nice to see them fish without the extreme competition. It’s a good-natured, family-friendly atmosphere.”

The children’s fishing area near Cornpropst Mills is operated through a permit granted by the Fish and Boat Commission and will continue to be open only to youth for a period of 30 days.


Tammy Ash and her pup led the way for banner-bearers, Karyn Ritchey, left, and Vicki Shultz, at the annual Bark in the Park event Saturday at Portstown Park in Huntingdon to aid the Huntingdon County Humane Society.

Treatment aids spring allergies

Spring has officially arrived and with it an onslaught of pollen sure to send many folks straight to the pharmacy counter in search of relief.

As trees begin to bud and grasses begin to grow, those who suffer from seasonal allergies may experience itching of the eyes, nose, throat and ears, sneezing, irritability, nasal congestion and hoarseness.

“Allergy season is starting,” said Kevin Foor, pharmacist at the Medicine Shoppe, Huntingdon. “As the grass starts to get greener, people start to be affected. We’re not quite there yet as it tends to peak at the end of May and early June, but it’s starting.”

For much of the United States, the advent of allergy season may begin as early as February and carries through early summer. The most common culprits behind the respiratory irritation is the pollen from trees and grasses in the spring and summer, followed by ragweed in the late summer and fall.

“Allergens cause a histamine reaction which is what causes the runny nose and watery eyes,” Foor said. “So, for most people, they treat seasonal allergies with an antihistamine. They block that reaction.”

Histamine is a compound which is involved in immune responses to foreign pathogens and causes an inflammatory reaction.

“Traditional antihistamines like Benedryl and Chlor-Trimeton work well, but the biggest side effect is drowsiness,” he said. “We now have second-generation antihistamines in non-drowsy versions, like Zyrtec, Claritin, Allegra and Xyzal. Those are the standards.”

In years’ past, many antihistamines were available only by prescription, but now, a majority can be purchased at a pharmacy or grocery store.

“Most have become generally available over the counter,” said Foor. “The newer formulations — the non-drowsy — all used to be by prescription only, but in the last few years they have all gone over the counter.”

Another type of medication used to treat seasonal allergies serves to counter the after-effects of the histamine reaction by addressing the inflammation.

“The second line of allergy medications is the nasal sprays. In the same way as the antihistamines, most used to be by prescription but then went to over the counter,” he said. “The nasal sprays are anti-inflammatories and what they do is reduce the inflammation in the nasal passage way.”

Two of the most recognizable brands of nasal sprays currently available include Flonase and Nasacort.

“In general, these are the second stage of treatment for seasonal allergies,” Foor said. “Most people try the antihistamines and then the nasal sprays.”

He added that for all of the name-brand over-the-counter medications mentioned, generics are also available.

“They have gone to over the counter because they are very safe and there are not a lot of side effects and not a lot of long-term effects,” he said. “So many people can self-medicate for their seasonal allergies.”

Seasonal home destroyed by fire

Firefighters from six area volunteer fire companies responded to a fully engulfed structure fire that broke out shortly before 11 a.m. Saturday.

The fire occurred at 17712 Hemlock Ridge Road in Todd Township. The structure, believed to be a seasonal residence, was nearly burned to the ground when Trough Creek Valley volunteers arrived on scene.

Trough Creek volunteers were assisted at the scene by mutual aid companies including those from the Robertsdale, Wood & Broad Top (RW&BT), Three Springs, Marklesburg, Huntingdon Regional Fire and Rescue (HRFR) and Mill Creek volunteer fire companies. A number of other companies were on standby status for the aforementioned or were canceled en route.

The area where the blaze occurred was a driveway just off Hemlock Ridge Road. It was surrounded by large trees and pines and was somewhat isolated and smoke coming from the blaze that could be seen for some distance was the cause for investigation by area residents who called it in.

Trough Creek Valley fire chief Chris Bair was attempting to ascertain who the owner of the property was following the fire. Attempts to gain additional additional information before press time were unsuccessful.

The blaze rekindled on two separate occasions over the weekend. The initial call ended two hours later on Saturday.

Adam can be reached at