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Candidates garner support

Some may say it’s an “off-year election,” but that certainly isn’t considered a true statement for those who attended the annual GOP Fall Rally Dinner at Smithfield Fire Hall Thursday evening.

Over 300 people attended the dinner, hoping for a chance to hear from those running for county row offices, as well as GOP political leaders and other prominent GOP figures in the state.

Keynote speaker for the evening was Calvin Tucker, president and CEO of Eagles Capital Advisers LLC and director of engagement and advancement for the state Republican Party.

He said his goal is to bring the Republican Party and philosophy to every part of Pennsylvania, even parts of the state that traditionally vote for Democratic candidates, even in his hometown, the city of Philadelphia.

“You have a winning team here in Huntingdon County, so we’re here to honor you,” said Tucker. “You are the backbone of the party, and we pledge our continued support of your efforts.”

Tucker also noted it’s important to support Republican candidates in 2019 and keep that momentum going for the 2020 presidential election, despite the challenges from the “fake news media,” and other obstacles, like the impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump.

But, Tucker also wants to spread the message that all are welcome to the Republican Party.

“We welcome all Pennsylvanians,” he said. “Regardless of age, gender, old, young, faith, you are welcome to come under one big tent.”

He’s most proud to have served and will serve again as media surrogate for Trump in the 2016 and upcoming 2020 election, and noted some of the promises Trump has kept during his time in office.

“We’ve had a number of new judges,” said Tucker. “About 160 federal judges have been appointed during Trump’s term, and we now also have a comfortable conservative majority on the U.S. Supreme Court.”

Tucker also mentioned it’s important to vote for state Superior Court candidates Judge Christylee Peck and Megan King as well as vote for retention for Judge Judy Olson of the state Superior Court and judges Patricia McCullough and P. Kevin Brobson for state Commonwealth Court.

“Because of the redistricting in 2018, due to a judges ruling from liberal, socialist progressive Democrats, they overturned the will of the people,” he said.

To conclude, Tucker encouraged those in attendance to keep the county Republican, noting that 73.5% of voters went for Trump in the 2016 election.

“The work you do off sets the ‘blue’ counties in the state,” he said. “What you do in 2019 lays the groundwork for 2020.”

McCullough, the judge up for retention in the state Commonwealth Court, spoke, noting it’s been 10 years since she’s been able to hear from citizens about what’s on their hearts.

“I’ve been doing what I pledged to do — uphold the rule of law the Constitution of Pennsylvania and the United States,” she said.

She added this is not an “off-year election” and Pennsylvania has been and continues to be a pivotal place for Democracy.

“This is the place where ‘one nation under God’ was birthed,” said McCullough. “The Constitution was written here. This is the seed of a commission you have to uphold the principles of our nation.”

Republican candidates from county row offices had the opportunity to speak. Current Magisterial District Judge Doug Gummo was brief, but expressed his gratitude.

“I appreciate everyone’s support,” he said, noting he hopes to get an opportunity to speak again in six years, as judges are not allowed to attend political events unless they’re running for election.

Huntingdon County District Attorney Dave Smith acknowledged those behind the scenes who support him, whether it’s with his campaign or every day in the office.

“Whether it’s signing petitions, putting up campaign signs, or anything, I want to thank you for the overwhelming support I’ve seen for my campaign.

“I also want to thank those in my office who work behind the scenes, including my first assistant district attorney Julia Wilt,” Smith added. “I also want to thank the police officers and sheriff’s deputies. They put their lives on the line, and their dedication to their job makes my job easier.”

Coroner Paul Sharum thanked those who have supported him for the last eight years, and said he hopes to serve another term.

He also noted some of the accomplishments he’s achieved in his time in office, including updating the office to the 21st century and getting as much training for deputy coroners as possible.

Register and recorder Jinny Cooper thanked those in her office for their hard work and diligence.

“Nobody does a good job without the people working with them,” she said. “They make me look good.”

She also thanked those in the community for their support.

“There’s nothing better than running into you in public and you tell me what we’ve done for you,” said Cooper. “That means so much.

County treasurer Susan Harry said she hopes to continue to do what she feels is the most important part of her duties in the treasurer’s office.

“The most important part of what I do is watch your money and how it’s spent,” she said.

She also noted that a recent state audit, done every four years, garnered no negative findings in her office.

Huntingdon County Commissioners Mark Sather and Scott Walls both spoke of how they fulfilled their goals of working together for all county residents in their first terms as commissioner.

“We’ve worked together to overcome obstacles,” said Sather. “That’s the big thing (Walls) and I have done.”

“We told everyone (when running for the first term as commissioner) that we needed to bring everyone together to get things done, and we’ve worked with state and federal officials to get things done,” said Walls.

Sather and Walls talked about some of the accomplishments working with other row offices and state and federal officials, including the Redevelopment Assistance Capital Project funds for the 911 infrastructure upgrades for over $1 million.

Other accomplishments include significantly bringing down expenses in Children and Youth Services, with a future goal of bringing back foster care placement to the county as opposed to using outside agencies.

Special guest for the evening was state Republican Committee chair Lawrence Tabas, who said his goal is to support the county committee in all it does to elect Republicans to office.

“Trump was elected (in 2016) because of people like you,” he said. “Data is important, and social media has a role, but elections are won because of people like you. Because of the human touch, we outperformed the counties in the southeastern part of the state. I view my role is being in service for you.”

Tabas said since he became chair nine weeks ago, Peck and King, the state Superior Court Republican candidates, now have more money in their coffers.

“One only had $5,000, and the other had $30,000 with a $35,000 debt,” he said. “Now, together, they have $1 million.”

He also said if people get discouraged, they should think of how Trump deals with adversity.

“If you’re overwhelmed by the news, think of Trump taking it from all sides and not retreating,” he said.

Liberty Township home destroyed by fire

Fire of a yet undetermined origin destroyed a two-story, eight-room dwelling at 8795 Raystown Road in Liberty Township. The blaze broke out shortly after 5 a.m. today, Friday, Oct. 18, at the Deb Lynn residence.

Saxton fire chief Mark Taylor told The Daily News said things are still sketchy, but he noted Lynn was home alone at the time of the blaze. Taylor plans to investigate the cause but does not feel it is suspicious in nature.

“When we arrived on scene, the fire was well involved with extensive flames coming from the structure, but we had a quick knockdown and there was extensive overhaul that needed done,” he said. “No was hurt, that’s what is important.”

Six Mile Run and Saxton volunteer firefighter Brian Wills who serves as Saxton Borough maintenance supervisor/water treatment plant operator said he was on his way to work he passed the residence and saw nothing. By the time he arrived at work and was servicing the borough’s maintenance vehicle, Saxton’s fire whistle began to blow alerting the company to the blaze.

Wills dropped off the borough maintenance vehicle and went to the fire hall where he drove the company’s engine to the blaze. Like Taylor, Wills said there was a lot of fire coming from the structure.

Volunteers from the Six Mile Run, Robertsdale, Wood & Broad Top (RW&BT), Marklesburg, Huntingdon Fire & Regional (HRFR) and Everett volunteer fire companies, assisted Saxton on scene. Southern Cove and Everett volunteers were on standby for Saxton and Six Mile Run volunteers respectively.

Saxton Borough police officer Logan Tornatore also assisted firefighters on scene. The Bedford County Red Cross was contacted to assist Lynn and one other individual that was displaced as a result of the blaze.

Taylor said he was unsure if Lynn had insurance to cover her losses. The call ended three hours later.

Adam can be reached at dnews@huntingdondailynews.com.

Students emphasize positive behavior

Student teams and their faculty advisers from three intermediate units came together at Juniata College Thursday to share their perspectives on effective support for middle and high school students.

The teens took part in The Student Summit: PBIS in ACTion.

“(PBIS means) Positive Behavioral Interventions and Support. It’s an initiative of the state Department of Education (to form) a multi-tiered framework that offers (behavioral) support for schools,” said Kelly Zurybida, network facilitator for the PBIS program and educational consultant for Tuscarora Intermediate Unit 11. “We teach (students) behavior like we teach academics to build a culture of kindness and inclusivity. Other things (we do) include providing interventions and additional support for students who may need it.”

Students, selected by their school’s faculty or volunteers, hosted sessions discussing their perspectives on implementing and improving the program.

“We felt like there was a need to do a student summit so that students had a voice in PBIS in their schools,” Zurybida said. “Students give sessions on different topics they have chosen. These include such topics as overcoming obstacles (with the program) and what kinds of assemblies and events students have hosted to promote the program.”

Zurybida also commented on the event’s reach across the state and the partnership that made this reach possible.

“We (had) 282 students in attendance from about 25 schools, “ Zurybida said. “They came from IU 11, which covers Huntingdon, Fulton and Juniata County, IU 10, which covers the central Pennsylvania region including Centre County, and Appalachia IU 8, which covers Blair and Bedford—the Altoona area. (PBIS associates in these areas) worked together as a consortium called the ACT—Appalachia, Central and Tuscarora—to hold this event, and it is our third year doing it.”

The summit’s popularity, according to Zurybida, forced the ACT to leave their former host space.

“We had to come to Juniata College because we outgrew our other space. Before this, the summit was hosted in a church in State College,” Zurybida said. “Juniata has been very gracious to allow us to host this here.”

Juniata College President James Troha attended the event to welcome guests and support the cause. He believes the ideals promoted by PBIS match those followed by Juniata College.

“I came to welcome everybody to our campus and talk about the power of attitude, “ Troha said. “What (PBIS is) doing today matches well with our core values at Juniata, so I was trying to tie those together, to remind the students that we make choices every day that should help build a culture (of positivity).”

Educational consultant and keynote speaker Judd Pittman agreed; the words displayed outside the Juniata College library are evident of those ideals.

“I walked over to the library (before the event), and saw, what I think, is fitting for today: ‘Everyone is welcome, everyone can learn,’” Pittman said. “That’s what we’re talking about today, for the kids to have the power and the voice to set the conditions so that everyone can engage. It’s a great reminder of the culture we wish all schools would create.”

Joshua can be reached at jblattenberger@huntingdondailynews.com.

No charges coming in MU cat case

Citing extenuating circumstances, Huntingdon County’s district attorney says he won’t pursue charges against a Mount Union resident who’s home is the subject of an ongoing a cat-removal operation.

To date, over 50 cats have been removed from the duplex at 113 W. Vandevender Street.

The removal effort launched Sept. 19 when Mount Union Borough Police, joined by Huntingdon County Humane Society staff, executed a search warrant on the home.

District Attorney David Smith said Thursday that following an extensive review of the case and its many factors, he’s determined criminal charges aren’t appropriate.

“Based on information provided to us and due to extenuating circumstances and issues we can’t talk about, no criminal charges will be filed,” Smith said.

Smith expressed his thanks to the efforts of all who continue to look after the cats removed from the home, and gave special credit to the humane society for their ongoing assistance with the cats taken from the Mount Union home and those removed from a Huntingdon property Aug. 31.

The Huntingdon County Humane Society has provided some form of care to over 100 felines as a result of the two back-to-back rescue operations.

“Knowing the conditions they go into to rescue these cats — it’s horrendous, but they drop everything and go,” Smith said.

In the meantime, Mount Union’s code enforcement officer Alec Brindle visits the Vandevender Street home daily to check traps and provide food and water for the remaining cats. Brindle said he’ll continue those efforts until the home is cleared.

Brindle said he started receiving complaints about the property in April and after multiple attempts to gain entry, was able to set foot inside July 8 and see the situation for himself. Additional efforts on the part of multiple agencies culminated in the search warrant Sept. 19.

The situation in Huntingdon, in which a total of 64 cats were taken from a home and van, has led to criminal charges.

Barbara Kissinger, 67, was arraigned Sept 12 before Magisterial District Judge Rufus Brenneman on 200 charges, including 41 counts of felony 3 aggravated cruelty to animals, each count representing a cat who perished.

Kissinger is scheduled for formal arraignment in the court of common pleas Nov. 7.

Rebecca can be reached at dnews@huntingdondailynews.com.

Planners look at Sheetz plans

Greg Geishauser, an engineer with Stiffler, McGraw & Associates in Hollidaysburg, met with members of the Huntingdon County Planning Commission Thursday evening at the monthly meeting regarding a proposal by Sheetz to build an addition to their store located at the intersection of William Penn Highway and South 4th Street in Smithfield Township.

“They’re proposing a small building addition at the front of the store, between the store and the fuel pumps,” said Geishauser.

“It’s a 332-square-foot addition, and it’s essentially moving the outdoor seating indoors. Four seat tables will be removed and there will be 30 seats inside the new additions.”

To have a restaurant liquor license, a business must have a minimum of 400 square feet in a building, food and seating for at least 30 people.

A press release from the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB) indicated Sheetz was the highest bidder of the license that was available in Huntingdon County, which was one of 20 licenses that were sold in the Sept. 16 auction.

The license, from Shirleysburg Borough, was sold to Sheetz Inc. for $55,000.

Nicholas Ruffner, Sheetz spokesperson, couldn’t reveal which location will use the license.

The commission reviewed and approved their comments on the proposal.

Comments were also reviewed and approved on a proposal by ACE Hardware on William Penn Highway in Smithfield Township to construct two building additions totaling 4,664 square feet.

The property in the proposal is located immediately east of Kish Bank and development also includes construction of a roof over an existing paved area, reconfiguration of pavement markings, a new sidewalk and a revised access to William Penn Highway.

The commission recommended adding landscaping buffers, including large shade trees.

Commission members received a DEP (state Department of Environmental Protection) application for the apartment complex at Westminster Woods from Penn Terra Engineering asking if it was consistent with the county’s comprehensive plan.

The proposed location for the construction of a construction of a four-story, 48-unit senior living apartment building is at the intersection of Cold Springs Road and Stone Ridge Drive in Huntingdon Borough.

Council member Larry Mutti made a motion to say that the project is consistent with the comprehensive plan, which was unanimously approved, after some initial confusion over why they were sent the request, as they have not yet received the land development plans.