Thursday evening was a time for Huntingdon House to bring the community together, not only to show off the newly renovated Rory Peachey Administration Building, but also to thank community members for their support.
That was the goal Huntingdon House board members and staff at the open house and public briefing held at the administration building.
Jean Collins, executive director of Huntingdon House, gave some reminders of why Huntingdon House has been serving survivors of domestic violence in the county for 33 years.
“It’s a manifestation of the indomitable spirit of the Huntingdon County community,” she said. “Community is why we were created, community is why we’ve survived, and community is why we’re here tonight.”
Collins discussed some of the notable examples of why Huntingdon House continues its mission of helping survivors of domestic violence, which can be found in the house.
“The name of the building is the Rory Peachey Administration Building,” she said. “Rory was a man of strong conviction and one who cared a lot about this community. He cared so much about (domestic violence) survivors living in this community, and he could see the impact of the abuse and violence, to the degree that he took people in his home. He had the first safe houses in this community, and he encouraged other people to do the same.”
Peachey was a part of a group that officially formed Huntingdon House, added Collins.
Another representation of why Huntingdon House staff continues their work is a photo of Michael Ayers, a 2-year-old boy, who along with his mother, Hollie, were shot by his father in a domestic incident in March 2013. The young boy lost his life as a result of that incident.
“They spent many years fleeing that violence, and all the work to flee was stopped short when Michael’s father murdered Michael and shot his mother,” she said. “This is a perfect example of what we’re fighting everyday. We’re literally saving lives with our programs. Because we’re here, these kind of things happen far less.”
Collins also said that those who support the agency make up the spirit of Huntingdon House as well. She acknowledged staff members for their tremendous work to help domestic violence survivors.
“This house is your house,” she said. “We can’t do what we do without you, and we don’t exist without you.”
Tory Smith, assistant executive director of direct services, discussed some of the programs Huntingdon House has that aid in helping domestic violence survivors.
In particular, he touched on three keys things all programs at Huntingdon House focus on to help.
“Our programs are trauma informed, which means we have a understanding of what that trauma is and the impact it can have on people’s lives,” he said. “It’s also survivor centered. This means we recognize and respond to the rights of survivors to determine what is best for them in their case. Also, their care is anti-oppressive, which means an understanding of systematic oppression has an impact on people’s lives.”
Smith also emphasized the 24-hour hotline, at 643-1190, is a key element to connecting a survivor to any services that are needed.
Additionally, Smith told a fictional story of a domestic violence survivor named Jane, who escaped her abuser, along with her dog, Spot. In this story, Smith illustrated that Jane was placed in their emergency shelter program, then later placed in rapid rehousing. Thanks to the help of the community, not only did she find an apartment, but it was furnished thanks to donations. Additionally, her dog was placed in a foster home while she found housing, thanks to the foster a pet program through Huntingdon House. Finally, Jane suffered a traumatic brain injury as a result of years of abuse, so keeping a job was difficult, so Huntingdon House staff helped her to find a more permanent solution.
“While this was a fictional story, it illustrated the very real aspects of what we do each and every day,” said Smith. “Along the way, I showed examples of how the community gets involved in helping domestic violence survivors.”
Brent Rader, chair of the board of directors for Huntingdon House, thanked the community for its help following a fire that destroyed portions of the first floor of the administration building May 2.
“There are so many people we want to thank, but in particular, I want to thank the Huntingdon Presbyterian Church and the Huntingdon Rotary Club for their help,” he said, adding that a ramp way access to the back porch of the house, along with renovations on the inside, are nearly complete.
“It’s been a challenging year,” said Rader, referring to not only the fire, but the loss of grants. “But, we’re putting all of that behind us, and we have some exciting plans. We want to engage with the community to build a stronger financial foundation.
But, Rader acknowledged that the support of the community is what brought Huntingdon House to where it’s at today.
“We’re here because you want us to be here,” he said. “So, thank you for supporting survivors.”
Those looking to host Thanksgiving dinner can expect a budget similar to last year when they head to the store.
Brenneman’s Meat Market in Smithfield Township said prices for turkeys and other popular holiday items have not increased in the last year.
“Prices are pretty close to what they were last year,” said Brenneman’s co-owner Janice Brenneman said. “Eggs have slightly gone up this time of year like normal. Our meat platters vary in price depending on the size. Otherwise, the price is identical to last Thanksgiving. They haven’t gone crazy or anything.”
The holiday rush has already started at Brenneman’s.
“We have an employee making filling balls right now,” Brenneman said. “She’s been working hard on them all morning.”
At Sandy Ridge Market in Orbisonia, meat manager Barb Ballas shared Brenneman’s sentiments, noting their turkey prices have also remained unchanged.
“Our frozen turkeys have stayed the same selling and cost-wise,” Ballas said. “Even our fresh turkeys have stayed the same.”
Sandy Ridge assistant manager Marilyn Hocker confirmed the prices of their other Thanksgiving items have remained the same, as well. This would include potatoes, noodles, stuffing, yams and various pies.
“There hasn’t been an increase with our other Thanksgiving items,” Hocker said. “We’ll be starting to place items on sale in the coming week, too.”
Saxton Market has also observed stable prices this holiday.
“Prices for our frozen and fresh turkeys have been very stable,” assistant manager Steve Hays said. “I would say the same about our other Thanksgiving stock.”
Saxton Market manager Jarod Bowers listed much of their most popular Thanksgiving foodstuffs.
“Egg noodle, bags of potatoes, gravy and stuffing, even pineapple for those who prefer ham, we keep some on hand for them,” Bowers said. “All of those are pretty popular.”
Between the discussed businesses, consumers can look to spend anywhere from 99 cents to $1.49 per pound for a frozen turkey.
A fresh turkey, on the other hand, will be slightly more expensive. Consumers can look to spend around $1.74 per pound for those.
Thanksgiving meals as a whole, according to the Associated Press, cost an average of $52.06 this year, as estimated by some of the large retail grocer chains.
That estimate is up less than $3 from last year.
While shoppers are starting to fill their lists now, Ballas said the store will be busy right up until the last minute.
“Many people will come in last minute to buy food,” she said. “It happens every year.”
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Statewide bear rifle season begins tomorrow, and Richard Danley, the state Game Commission’s law enforcement supervisor for the southcentral region, believes hunters shouldn’t expect anything out of the ordinary.
“Quite honestly, it’s probably going to be par for the course,” he said. “Bear populations across our area have tended to be pretty stable the last few years, so we anticipate an average bear season this year.
From an officer’s standpoint, Danley said bear incident complaints have been stable.
“They didn’t increase any more than in past years, which is good indication of where the population is,” he said.
That said, with the start of deer rifle season starting on the Saturday after Thanksgiving instead of the Monday after, Danley thinks that compared to previous seasons many hunters will be faced with a new choice.
“There’s a little bit of curiosity as to how the opener for deer season is going to affect bear season this year. This is a completely new paradigm for us,” said Danley. “Individuals who are thinking of taking work leave are going to have to decide to take time off Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday, or wait to take off until the 30th when bear opens again.”
Bear rifle season runs Saturday, Nov. 23, through Wednesday Nov. 27, and then picks back up Monday, Dec. 2 (in WMUs 1B, 2C, 3A, 3B, 3C, 3D, 4A, 4B, 4C, 4D, 4E and 5A) when deer rifle season begins.
“Hunters we’ve spoken with will take advantage of the Nov. 30 opener,” said Danley. “People might want to save that vacation day for Monday, Dec. 2, so you may see a reduction in the bear harvest during standard rifle season.”
Hunters don’t seem particularly bothered about the change.
“Everyone appears to be embracing it because of the increased opportunity. Given my choice, I’d rather have the opportunity to harvest as many different species as possible. Hunters don’t seem to be complaining about it,” said Danley.
But some things never change.
“The weather in bear season always has an impact, always. For instance if we get rainy cloud cover, visibility can be reduced,” said Danley. “In the past, it was especially important when bear season was only Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Because of the limited time you really hoped for good weather. In the past, there were cases of an extension of the season due to the weather. With the extended seasons, the early and later seasons, traditional bear season isn’t as important as it once was.”
The bear check station at the Pennsylvania Army National Guard Readiness Center in Smithfield Township will open tomorrow for hunters to bring in their bears.
The center’s hours are 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday, 10 a.m. to noon Sunday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday and Tuesday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday.
Hunters are required to have their bears checked within 24 hours of being harvested
Bears will only be checked at the readiness center during the regular season. During the extended season, bear checks will be conducted at the Game Commission’s southcentral regional office at the bottom of Warrior Ridge on Route 22, Smithfield Township.
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Commissioner Jeff Thomas updated the Huntingdon County Planning Committee at their monthly meeting regarding bringing broadband internet to the county.
Thomas, a member of the Southern Alleghenies Broadband Task Force, announced that Wednesday the Southern Alleghenies Planning and Development Commission awarded a contract to Design Nine Inc., a consulting firm out of Blacksburg, Virginia.
The firm will oversee a study which will clarify the status of local broadband internet service in the eight counties included in the Alleghenies Ahead Comprehensive Plan, which includes Huntingdon County.
“They had a really good presentation; meeting needs, identifying the unserved and underserved, determining the level of service being provided, and they provide an inventory of the broadband assets already in place. They’re going to be starting this process very soon.” said Thomas.
Design Nine will go to work in December, gathering information.
“A lot of this is collecting data. So we have to get the word out that if you receive a broadband survey, please fill it out,” said Thomas. “It’s not asking income, it’s not asking any personal information. It’s going to ask your address, are you happy with the speeds that you’re getting and do you have your speeds. That’s it.”
Key leaders will also be contacted.
“They’ll be reaching out in the community to all the leaders: the school districts, the hospitals, businesses, residents and present the best technologies to meet our impacted community,” said Thomas.
Thomas is chair of the Huntingdon County region of the Southern Alleghenies Broadband Task Force, and says there is unanimous support for the project.
“The commissioners in all the counties are fully supporting getting this implemented,” he said.
Westmoreland, Bedford, Blair, Cambria, Fayette, Fulton, and Somerset are the seven other counties.
Thomas stressed the importance of county residents filling out the surveys.
“We have to get the word out that when the surveys go out we need to get them back in, especially in rural areas,” he said.
Several factors will be considered.
“There’s all sorts of things that will be looked at, whether it should be wireless, whether it should be hardwired,” said Thomas. “You hear about this 5G in everything, well that’s great, but it turns out that’s not great in rural areas.”
Design Nine will do more than just conduct a survey, though.
“They will be done with the survey in early summer and what really sold me is not only are they going to figure out what needs to be done within the eight counties, and they’re doing this county specific, too. They also will give you a plan as to how to implement it, whether that’s forming a co-op or getting the big boys to come in,” said Thomas.
Informing county residents about the process is a top priority.
“What I see as far as the county responsibility at the beginning is just education, education, education. It’s not going to cost you anything. If some service organization implements it, then you’ll have the ability to sign up and get better speed.”
That’s very well summarized,” said Huntingdon County planning director Mark Colussy, who is also a member of the Southern Alleghenies Broadband Task Force. “The study, specifically studying the customers, is very important before we moved forward with what we’re going to do. We’re pleased to see this moving forward.
“There’s a lot of good things on the horizon,” said Thomas.
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An area resident and business owner addressed the Shirley Township Supervisors at their monthly meeting Thursday regarding the operation of her business.
Kiley Beam, who operates Grace Gymnastics Club from a three-bay garage near her home in Shirley Township, was told recently that should would need to have it inspected by Pennsylvania Municipal Code Alliance (PMCA), the township’s third party inspector, so it can be approved for commercial use.
However, the property where the garage is located is designated Clean and Green, and having it inspected for commercial use means Beam would have to pay back taxes on the property.
Clean and Green is a preferential tax assessment program, that bases property taxes on use values rather than fair market values. This ordinarily results in a tax savings for landowners.
“We don’t have $18,000 to pay,” said Beam, noting she’s looking at another building to house her studio, but that building is not ready for use, so she wants to continue to operate at the current location.
Township code enforcement officer Rick Wilson told Beam nobody is forcing her to shut down this location.
Supervisor Gary Frehn agreed.
“We’re not telling you to do anything,” he said. “We did say that PMCA would likely tell you that if you didn’t fill out this paperwork, the township has the right to close it down, but nobody is closing anything down right now.”
In other business, Frehn said crews are working on roads that have been damaged by the Michels Corp., the contractor for the Mariner East II pipeline project.
“I would say about half of work has been completed,” said Frehn, noting people have been there to make sure work has been completed each day, which includes fixing curbs, base repair and other work.
The township received three bids for stone and anti-skid for the winter season, including one from Glenn O. Hawbaker Inc., Grannas Bros. and New Enterprise Stone & Lime Co. Inc.
The township approved going with New Enterprise Stone & Lime Co. with stone and anti-skid bids for 500 tons of type three anti-skid for $18.15 per ton, 700 tons of 2A for $13.15 per ton, 400 tons of 2RC for $10.40 per ton, 400 tons of No. 8 stone for $18.40, 100 tons of No. 57 stone for $15.80, 100 tons of No. 1A for $15.50, 100 tons of No. 10A for $16.90 and 100 tons of No. R3 for $17.40 per ton.
The supervisors also approved CPA Associates as the township’s auditor for 2020.
It was approved to advertise the township reorganization meeting for 7:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 6, and auditors to meet Tuesday, Jan. 7. It was also approved to advertise monthly meetings for 2020 to be at 7:30 p.m. the last Thursday of the month, with the exception of Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020, Thursday, Nov. 19, 2020, and Thursday, Dec. 17, 2020, due to holidays.
An invoice from Grannas Bros. stone and gravel invoice was also approved for $36,906.85 for a Dirt and Gravel Road project for Hogan Road.