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Local
College awarded grant

Juniata College’s was awarded a $4 million state grant to renovate and expand L.A. Beeghly Library.

The library will be renamed the Tim & Kathy Stattion Learning Commons, both members of the Juniata class of 1972.

“This project is going to generate a tremendous amount of excitement for the college. People have said for a long time that Beeghly Library needed reimagined. It’s an older building and we’re going to bring it into the 21st century. Students are going to really enjoy it. I think it will be very attractive for them,” said Juniata College president James Troha.

The grant is funded through the state Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP), which provides funds for community and economic development projects throughout the state. RACP projects have a regional impact and generate substantial increases or maintain current levels of employment, tax revenues, or other measures of economic activity.

The campus and local community will enjoy a multi-functional and digital learning space.

“What you’ll see in the design is a creative environment that encourages a lot of collaboration. I think it’s going to create a very engaging learning space. Students today don’t learn like they use to when they were just taking books off shelves. They’ll be able to collaborate more with digital devices and white boards,” said Troha.

Within the Learning Commons, an open floor plan will contain small group study/meeting rooms, extensive built-in technology, a full-service café, compact shelving for the existing 200,000 volumes of text and a secured rare book collection space.

Spaces for creativity and contemplative study, as well as tools for digital scholars, are all hallmarks of this innovative project.

The new design will also include creating a new entrance facing Moore Street.

“The entrance to Moore Street will bring in a lot of pedestrian traffic and will make the facility much more accessible to the students and the broader community,” said Troha.

The President believes the Tim & Kathy Statton Learning Commons could become a meeting place for the campus community.

“One of the most notable features of the new space is going to be the new lounge area and cafe, which will be great for drawing the Juniata community towards a central location near the quad,” he said.

With the designs for the building still being finalized, the college hopes to start working on the project as soon as possible.

“We are hoping that this is going to be in the next two years we will start this project, it could be within 12 and 15 months depending on how things go, and 24 months at the latest,” said Troha.

Nathan can be reached at nwoods@huntingdondailynews.com.


Local
Construction to begin for new Arby’s

After nearly a year of no activity at the proposed location of Arby’s, at the former Burger King location on Route 22 in Smithfield Township, there’s something happening once again.

According to contractors, Arby’s will officially be opening soon. It was announced late last year the fast food giant would be returning to Huntingdon.

“We should be finished in 8 to 10 weeks, depending on the weather we could get a little delayed,” said Osman Yazgan, the owner of Itek Constructions out of northern Virginia, which has been contracted to work on the project.

Robert Grimaldi of G141 Architecture, Kenilworth, New Jersey, who is in charge of the project, told The Daily News last year the building will look completely different once it’s done.

“The building will be getting a complete facelift both internally and externally,” Grimaldi said. “It won’t look like a Burger King with a paint job.”

Ed Habbershon, Smithfield Township code enforcement officer, said he had gotten numerous questions as to the state of the project in recent months.

“Everyone should feel relieved; we’re finally getting an Arby’s”, said Habbershon.

Yazgan says they plan to start demolition work to the interior of the building this Thursday after having a construction meeting Monday and putting up a chain link fence around the premises.

“We should start framing soon afterwards and totally rework the interior,” he said.

Arby’s will be returning to its original location, taking the place of the Burger King now relocated at its new location at 6779 Towne Centre Boulevard near Walmart, also in Smithfield Township.

Finally, area residents will again be able to utter Arby’s well-known slogan, “We have the meats.”

The location will come full circle, as the building originally housed an Arby’s restaurant, which was constructed in 1988 and opened to the public in May 1989. Burger King had operated from that location since its opening Dec. 7, 1997.

Nathan can be reached at nwoods@huntingdondailynews.com.


Local
Signs encourage safety for cyclists, motorists

As part of the work of the Active Transportation Committee, signs will soon be popping up around Huntingdon Borough to encourage motorists to be on the lookout for bicyclists.

Charlie Bierbach, a member of the Active Transportation Committee, talked about why they wanted to create these signs.

“We wanted to prepare signs that could be used as lawn signs to let people know that we have bicycle riders in our community,” he said.

The signs, that were inspired by signs made by ABATE Highlanders Chapter 55, Huntingdon, to alert motorists of sharing the road with motorcyclists, were designed by Tony Brenneman.

“We asked the (Huntingdon Moose Family Center No. 223) to pay for it, and they did,” said Bierbach. “They used the money to purchase the signs so we have them.”

Bierbach said the goal of the signs is for people to display them in their yards.

“In addition to that, we’re asking Huntingdon Borough officials, to take these signs and distribute them,” he said. “We decided if signs made to protect motorcyclists could protect them, we want the same thing for bicyclists. We copied, to some extent, the (motorcycle signs).

He also said these signs are also a way to help the community learn more about the Active Transportation Committee.

“We meet once a month, usually at the planning office, and we’re open to the public,” said Bierbach. “We would love for people to come in and give us their thoughts on active transportation. It doesn’t just have to include bicycles. There’s a lot of work to be done.”

Mark Colussy, Huntingdon County Planning Department director, said one of the goals of the committee is education, and these signs are a great way to encourage that.

“A lot of people don’t know about us yet, so to see the signs, maybe they’ll think they will consider the bicyclists on the road,” said Colussy. “Maybe more people will feel safer being on a bicycle.

“You always want to see progress toward your goals; you don’t want to give lip service,” added Colussy.

Bierbach also noted another important element of riding a bicycle — a helmet.

“What’s more important? Your brain or your hairdo,” he said.

The Active Transportation Committee meets at 9 a.m. the third Tuesday of each month. For more information about the signs and the Active Transportation Committee, contact the planning office at 643-5091.


Local
JOC board hears CDL class issues

Members of the Huntingdon County Career and Technology Center (HCCTC) Joint Operating Committee (JOC) heard a complaint from an adult student regarding the CDL program at the monthly meeting Tuesday evening.

Craig Cresswell, an adult student in the CDL class, said he withdrew from the class June 27 because of safety issues, and he wanted a full refund for the class, despite a policy that indicates there are no refunds.

“I signed an agreement that the equipment would be ready and available to use,” he said. “The truck was not inspected, and the trailer was not registered and licensed. We could only use it for a little bit of maneuvering. The instructor didn’t demonstrate how to operator the truck until we went out on the road June 22.

“We were put in a situation where people could have been injured and damages could have occurred,” Cresswell added.

Cresswell said he wanted a full refund because the school didn’t “fulfill their contract” by not having equipment ready.

“The truck was not inspected until the second week of class,” he said. “I feel the school failed in having a proper course set up. We were put on the road with a 48-foot trailer with no experience behind the wheel. I feel I should have a full refund. If this isn’t hte case, I will be filing a suit in court.”

Andrew Ketner, JOC board member and vice president, said his issues will be addressed, but they could not address it at Tuesday’s meeting since it wasn’t an agenda item.

HCCTC executive director Don Burd added that it will likely be an agenda item at the JOC board meeting in September.

In building expansion news, Burd told JOC members USDA has officially given the final approval for the project to move forward.

“We need to schedule a meeting with architects, building contractors and USDA officials,” he said. “We hope to schedule that within the next two weeks and move on from there.”

An agreement between HCCTC Education and Support Professionals Association and the JOC, or the union agreement, was also approved, and business assistant to the director LaVonda Runk and practical nursing coordinator Jessica McCorkle will also receive 2.5% raises.

A $500 per month stipend for maintenance supervisor David Carolus was approved for the duration of the building expansion project, and Stephanie Stains was granted a Family Medical Leave Act request.

In program offering news, the state Department of Education has officially approved the new program, which administrators recommend be called sports, exercise and rehabilitation therapy.

“I know we discussed the name of the program and have gone back and forth, but we thought a good name for it would be sports, exercise and rehabilitation therapy,” he said. “It covers all aspects of the program. If you look through the task lists of the program, one third of it relates to sports injuries. That’s our recommendation for the program.

This new program — rehabilitaiton aide, locally, like to call it, discuss it back and forth, a good name, sports, exercise and rehabilitation therapy, covers all aspects of the program, look through task lists, 1/3 related to sports injuries, sports, rehabiltiation therapy is a good name for it, that’s our recommendation is for the program.

“We found 18 other programs like it in the state, and 16 out of 18 have sports or exercise in the name, so it’s not anything new we’re doing,” Burd added.


Local
County leaders give updates

Huntingdon County Commissioners gave an update on when Courthouse 1 and part of the ground floor of the Huntingdon County Sheriff’s office will be cleaned.

They were both impacted with traces of mold in late July.

“The sheriff’s office was not cleaned, and we were getting pricing to have it completed,” said commissioner Jeff Thomas. “They’re coming in the near future.”

Thomas added while all of the mold issues have been eradicated, professional cleaners will clean Courtroom 1 and the room in the sheriff’s office soon.

Commissioner Scott Walls noted the room in the sheriff’s office is currently sealed off, and there’s no access to the area.

Huntingdon County Emergency Management Agency Director Joe Thompson brought two items up for approval, including an update for the Hazard Mitigation Update Grant application.

“PEMA requested updating a listing agent,” said Thompson. “I’m going to be listed as the primary contact for the grant, but I won’t be the primary signer for the grant.”

The other approval was for a U.S. Department of Homeland Security Grant Agreement with the South Central Mountains Counterterrorism Task Force, of which Huntingdon County is a member.

“We have to have all eight county commissioners that are in the task force to approve this grant agreement,” said Thompson. “The grant is for $452,000, and it will provide funding for the regional task force that will be used for planning, organization, maintenance and exercises in the task force.”

Both items were approved.

A memorandum of understanding was also approved with Center for Community Action (CCA) for the Retired Seniors Volunteer Program (RSVP). CCA runs the program.

“This spells out what CCA and the county should provide for all volunteers,” said Jinny Cooper, the county’s Register and Recorder. “This is the third memorandum of understanding with CCA, and we’ve been a part of the program for six years.”

Thomas thanked the RSVP participants for what they’ve done for the county offices.

“It’s great to see Jinny help get this program up and running again in the county,” said Thomas. “We appreciate the work the volunteers do.”

Huntingdon Borough resident asked who would assume control of the properties in Spruce Creek Township that are set to be razed in the future, thanks to DCED funding.

“There should be a transfer of ownership, because we’re using taxpayer funds to help demolish the properties,” said Cassatt. “You shouldnt’ spend this money and have no return on this investment.”

Commissioner Mark Sather said they would look into this further, and Walls further commented the state has liens on the property, and the value of the liens is higher than the property value.

Additionally, Cassatt asked why the auditors asked for an extension on this year’s audit until on or before Nov. 1, but it’s due at the end of September.

“The auditors petitioned the court, as they’re waiting on information on retirement,” said commissioner and chair Mark Sather, adding they have not heard further word as to whether that petition has been granted.

“It seems stupid that someone handling taxpayers money can do so without consequences,” said Cassatt.

Cooper also said the Register of Wills, the Recorder of Deeds and Clerk of Orphans Court offices have been audited by the state Attorney General’s office, as part of a regular four-year audit, and everything found was to be in order.


Local
Mount Union picked for SAP&DC grant

A piece of Mount Union’s Pennsylvania Avenue project has fallen into place and will help foot traffic move through the area with better ease.

Southern Alleghenies Planning Development Commission selected Mount Union Borough to receive a Greenways ini-grant for sidewalk improvements and curb replacement in the area of Pennsylvania Avenue.

SAPDC awarded Mount Union $39,607.

“This sidewalk project is a part of a larger vision for Pennsylvania Avenue and the Linear Park area,” borough manager Sue Zinobile said. “This vision is a key component to community revitalization by resolving a blight area, encouraging pedestrian use and helping relay the railroad history of Mount Union.”

She said with improved pedestrian access in the heart of Mount Union, Pennsylvania Avenue can serve as a proper link between the down business areas, the Bricktown Unity Trail and the borough’s riverwalk that runs parallel to the Juniata Rivers.

SAP&DC will make a formal presentation to borough officials Thursday, Aug. 22.

Improving sidewalks is just one piece of the Pennsylvania Avenue puzzle. The borough is in the process of assembling funds move the project toward completion — namely the replacement of the century-old retaining wall that props up the eastbound lane of Pennsylvania Avenue.

While the Greenways grant represents a small piece of the overall picture, Zinobile stressed its critical role in Mount Union’s plans for the Pennsylvania Avenue area which was once a hub of commercial and industrial activity.

“This project is another piece that will allow for the corridor to be fully opened to pedestrians, bicyclists, rail and motorists,” she said.

Council president Carol Kuklo said the grant is welcome news

“This makes me so happy — we’re building up that area and finally getting it back to where it should be,” she said. “It’s going to be a big improvement.”

Like Zinobile, Kuklo pointed out there is much to be done yet with the Pennsylvania Avenue project as a whole but said the SAPDC grant meets a specific need within that frame and gives the borough encouragement in the midst of a large, multi-faceted project.

“It’s something our town needs. A lot of these sidewalks have been destroyed and need to be fixed, she said.

The news from Southern Alleghenies arrived at the same time the borough is hoping to secure a $500,000 multi-modal grant through DCED (Department of Community and Economic Development) for Pennsylvania Avenue. Zinobile competed the 90-page application last month.

Also at the August meeting, council discussed the final steps toward setting up a $400,000 loan through the Pennsylvania Investment Bank, also for the Pennsylvania Avenue project.

Earlier this year, Mount Union learned PennDOT picked the project to receive a multi-modal grant totaling $1.2 million.