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Local
'Our Town' returns to MU

Bricktown will be the star of its second “Our Town” installment this summer on the region’s public broadcasting station whose representatives met with residents Tuesday night to talk about the Mount Union stories they want to tell.

About 30 prospective storytellers and videographers attended the meeting in the Mount Union Area High School library.

“This is a great turnout. It’s a testament on how much you love your town,” “Our Town” project manager Cassie Caldwell said.

Caldwell said the “Our Town” series, which profiles communities from the perspective of local residents, has been on the air for over 20 years. Mount Union, she said, has been selected for the series’ 100th episode, scheduled to air at 8 p.m. Thursday, June 6.

Caldwell, who was joined by creative director Cole Cullen and editor Bill Wallace, pointed out the first “Our Town” episode to spotlight Mount Union aired in 2010.

“This is an opportunity for us to revisit Mount Union and get caught up,” she said.

The WPSU team shared clips from past “Our Town” installments — including Lewistown, Johnsonburg, Warren and Somerset — to give participants a feel for the range of stories packed into each episode.

“You find things that are important to you,” Cullen advised the audience. “It’s the unique stories that make the shows stand out.”

“Nothing is so deep or so silly that it won’t make a good story for ‘Our Town,’” Wallace said.

Cullen and Wallace reviewed filming tips with the audience and stressed that one of their top duties is provide support for the volunteer team of videographers and storytellers who make each “Our Town” possible.

“Even if you just have a kernel of a story, we’ll help you with that,” Cullen said.

The Mount Union group then shared with the WPSU team ideas they’ve been thinking about for potential inclusion in the upcoming episode, such as local personalities, history, churches, businesses and establishments such as the Mount Union Fire Co., Mount Union Community Library and Simpson-Hunt American Legion Post 107 which will celebrate its 100th anniversary this summer. The communities’ art, music, attractions and events were also suggested as topics.

Cullen and Wallace said that each story will be trimmed down to a 2-3-minutes segment for broadcast. They stressed that, despite the brevity of each story, they want participants to provide as much visual material as they can so Wallace, as editor, can craft an engaging presentation.

“You can’t give us too much footage,” he said.

On-camera interviews with the local participants, filmed by WPSU staff, will take place Saturday, April 13, in the high school library. Caldwell is in charge of scheduling the interviews.

A screening will be scheduled sometime prior to the June broadcast to give all participants a change to see the episode and make corrections if needed.

The WPSU team noted that “Our Town” broadcasts are pledge opportunities for the station. They said that, on the night of the broadcast, they’ll need volunteers from among the episode’s participants to answer phones.

Persons who were unable to attend Tuesday’s meeting but still want to know how they too can take part in the “Our Town” episode, may contact Caldwell at ccaldwell@psu.edu. or at (814) 227-8823. Interested persons are also welcome to join the “Our Town Mount Union” Facebook group to track updates.

Rebecca can be reached at dnews@huntingdondailynews.com.


Local
PRIDE serves to enable others

This mission of Huntingdon County PRIDE (Promoting Rehabilitation, Independence, Dignity and Education) is embedded within the organization’s identity and carries through every aspect of the day-to-day operations — including hiring.

For the past three years, Ed Stull of McConnellstown has been employed at a job he loves.

“PRIDE helps the community,” he said. “It’s really a blessing.”

“When our last person, who used to come in and clean the offices and clean the equipment moved away, we put an advertisement in the paper,” said Huntingdon County PRIDE executive director Adam Pfingstl.

Stull, who works at Skills three days a week, saw that ad and decided to apply.

“I looked through CareerLink, went online and put my application in,” Stull said. “Adam called me to come in for an interview, I came and he called me to tell me I was hired.”

Hiring Stull proved to be an opportunity for both the employer and the employee.

“We hired him immediately,” Pfingstl said. “We look back and say he’s one of the best hires we’ve ever made.”

As part of his job duties, Stull maintains the PRIDE office space in Smithfield Township and works to clean donated items for the organization’s equipment loan program — all with his trademark smile and good-natured humor.

“He always brings a smile to our faces,” said Pfingstl. “He always tells us stories about his week. He’s fun to be around.”

In turn, Stull said he really enjoys working at PRIDE in addition to his work at Skills.

“I like the people. I get along with everybody,” he said. “The staff is great here.”

Pfingstl observed that bringing Stull on staff was a natural choice.

“We have a great need for positions for people who are looking for jobs that sometimes might be overlooked,” he said. “It’s nice to be able to hire someone and highlight their abilities. We want to show the value in showing individuals’ abilities and to help others see that as well.”

As the 45th Huntingdon County PRIDE Telethon begins at 4 p.m. today, Wednesday, March 20, the abilities of many area residents will take center stage, including Stull’s.

“I’m going to be on the Telethon Wednesday,” he said. “I’ve been on for the past three years.”

The Telethon will be televised on the local Comcast Channel 17 live from the Smithfield Fire Hall. The Telethon can also be viewed online at www.huntingdonpride.org.

The live auction will be held Wednesday, Thursday, March 21, and Friday, March 22. Viewers watching online are reminded that there is a delay of several seconds, so bidding in close competition may not be recommended.

The Telethon will be broadcast until approximately midnight Wednesday and Thursday and then until the last item is sold Friday night. Friday will also mark PRIDE day at the Huntingdon Dairy Queen as $1 will be donated to PRIDE for each Blizzard purchased throughout the day. A donation of $1 will be made to PRIDE for every bottle of wine purchased at Reklaimed Vines throughout the Telethon.

A fun-filled, action-packed day is planned Saturday, March 24, at the Telethon, beginning with the PRIDE Walk-a-Thon and mobile dance party. Registration will be held from 9-10 a.m. at the bridge off of River Road near Alexandria. Participants will begin their walk to the Smithfield Fire Hall to open up the final day of the Telethon.

Throughout the day, the visitors to the fire hall can take part in the annual quilt raffle sponsored by the Huntingdon Women’s Club, Pennies for PRIDE sponsored by the Huntingdon Kiwanis Club or make a donation to either incarcerate or bail out jailbirds at the PRIDE Jail manned by members of ABATE.

Individuals are also invited and encouraged to come share their special talents to help raise money for PRIDE.


Local
SHCSB members select food service

The Southern Huntingdon County School District will soon have a change in its food services.

Board members voted unanimously during their monthly meeting Tuesday to accept the low bid from The Nutrition Group, thus selecting not to renew its contract with Metz Culinary Management, which has been the food service provider for the past 15 years.

The change of food service providers will save the district $824.75 over the course of a five-year contract.

The Nutrition Group’s bid was $61,647.23, with the agreement to pay up to $8,500 for costs over the amount of the bid.

Prior to the vote, current food service director Mishell Schlegel addressed the board.

“Obviously I’m going to lose my job tonight if Metz doesn’t get chosen. I think that you’re going to lose out if that does happen. I have 30 plus years of experience in food service. I’ve worked down here for over 15 years. I know the kids, I know what they like, I know what they don’t like,” said Schlegel. “I’ve been short staff by three people until about a couple of weeks ago. I never asked for help, I juggled and I made it work.”

Schlegel listed accomplishments during her tenure which included nearly doubling the breakfast program numbers and starting a breakfast cart and smoothie program.

Following an executive session and the vote, board president Brent Stoltzfus announced the decision to switch providers.

“We would like to say that we appreciate the service of Mishell Schlegel over the past 15 years and her commitment to the district at that time. We would like to make a note that the vote was a monetary decision and is not in anyway a reflection of her job performance here at Southern Huntingdon County School District. We wish her the best in her future endeavors,” he said.

In building and maintenance, the board accepted the low bid of $1,487,000 from Altoona Roofing for a 30-year restoration of the middle/high school roof, with funds to be paid out of the capital reserve.

Board member Ben Whitsel asked for clarification on the project, citing specific project parameters and if the project will include repairs. Stoltzfus clarified with maintenance supervisor Stanley Hall who acknowledged that no repairs need to be made, and superintendent Dwayne Northcraft echoed those sentiments.

“There is not one leak left. We do not have any leaks on the current roof,” said Northcraft.

Whitsel said he advised the board, during renovations, to install a “cone roof” as opposed to keeping the existing flat roof.

“I wanted to put a cone roof on, and I got one vote, mine. They said it was too expensive, and here we are about to spend a million and a half dollars and everybody’s in favor of it,” said Whitsel.

The board also approved soliciting requests for proposals to provide engineering services for the design of the middle/high school dehumidification equipment.


Local
Commissioners OK 911 contracts

Various agreements involving the 911 system in the county were approved by the Huntingdon County Commissioners at their weekly meeting Tuesday morning.

Chris Stevens, the county’s 911 director, presented five agreements with Hilltop Tower Leasing for five 911 towers in the county, including the Round Knob, Neely, Fredericksburg, Loop and Jacks towers.

Stevens noted funds for these towers will be paid for through grants and the county’s 911 funds, not the general fund budget.

He also detailed the cost of each agreement.

“Jack’s Tower will cost $2,500 per month, Round Knob will cost $1,500 per month, Neely will cost $1,500 per month, Fredericksburg will cost $1,500 per month and Loop will cost $1,583.47 per month,” said Stevens, adding the total for all five agreements will total $107,001.64 per year.

“The equipment on the towers, as well as the shelters and radio equipment at the towers are all owned by the county,” said Stevens, explaining the lease is for space on the tower and to house equipment in the area near the tower.

“I just want to thank (Stevens) and (county solicitor) Peter (McManamon) for going through this and identifying what we own and what they own,” said commissioner Jeff Thomas.

The three remaining 911 towers do not have lease agreements, as the tower at Round Knob is being used thanks to an agreement from Valley Rural Electric Cooperative, the tower at Pine Grove is owned by the county, but the land it’s on is owned by the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) and the state Game Commission, and the Tyrone tower is being used for free, thanks to an agreement from Blair County.

Also passed was a five-year maintenance agreement with ComPros of Altoona for maintenance of the 911 system, which includes work done by skilled laborers at the 911 center, as well as any of the eight tower sites.

“Before, we had to pay as items broke, and once we called them, we were charged until they completed the service,” said Stevens, adding this agreement will save the county money, as they will pay one rate per year for five years for services 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

For year one, the cost will be $11,333.33. The cost for year two will be $11,673.33, the cost for year three will be $12.121.67, the cost for year four will be $12,406.33 and the cost for year five will be $12,865.33.

Huntingdon Borough resident Jim Cassatt asked if there is any warranty on the new equipment since the 911 upgrade, and why there are costs for maintenance when that should be covered under any warranties.

“This agreement isn’t for the equipment itself, but for the skilled labor to fix the equipment,” explained board of commissioners’ chair Mark Sather.

“I would think that equipment and skilled are contiguous to one another,” said Cassatt.

Commissioners also approved an agreement with Mission Critical Partners of State College as part of a regional agreement with the Southern Alleghenies 911 Cooperative, which includes Bedford, Blair, Fulton, Somerset, Cambria and Centre counties, to work on things like a geographic information system (GIS) map and cyber security portion.

Additionally, commissioners also approved a two-year agreement with Zito Media Communications to install fiber connectivity as part of the Southern Alleghenies 911 Cooperative, and the county’s portion will be a non-recurring cost of $275,000 and $500 a month for two years.

“The plan is to install fiber connectivity to give redundancy in all of the counties throughout the region,” explained Stevens, who said they have 270 days to do this.

“I don’t think they’ll hit their target, but our part will be done first,” said Stevens, noting that even if they don’t, the county’s portion of the fiber connectivity will be done first, so it should be done within the 270-day time period.

Also Tuesday, chief clerk Heather Fellman was approved to attend two conferences, including the Society of County Human Resource Professionals of Pennsylvania Conference in State College May 20 and the Pennsylvania Counties Risk Pool (PCoRP) Risk Control Workshop April 5.

Claudia Conrad was approved to serve a five-year term with the Huntingdon County Housing Authority. Claudia was appointed to serve the remainder of a term left vacant by Jim Bookhammer last year, but that term expired March 19. The new term will go through March 2024.

Huntingdon Borough Jim Cassatt asked once again if $1.3 million in funds the county received as part of Children and Youth Services after the budget impasse in 2015 was received and if so, how it was spent.

“I’ve been asking you this for months,” he said. “I get the same answer, and it seems as if one should know where the money comes in and how it goes out.”

Sather explained to Cassatt they are going from a cash county to a modified accrual county, where they can have an accounts payable and accounts received, but none of the commissioners were able to directly answer Cassatt’s question, once again saying they would research it.

The commissioners will be attending a County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania Conference March 24-26, so there will be no weekly meeting Tuesday, March 26.


Local
Residents talk fate of park

A crowd of area residents filled the Walker Township Municipal Building Tuesday night for their monthly meeting to address the proposed development of a new facility for Walker Township Supervisors that could potentially impact the athletic fields at the Woodcock Valley Community Park.

Though plans were not approved by supervisors Tuesday evening, as supervisor Joe Harford was not present, proposed plans include building a structure to house offices and meeting space for the supervisors and staff, the water and sewer authority and an equipment garage in an area across the street from the McConnellstown Church of the Nazarene, the former Woodcock Valley Elementary School. The land in question is owned by the township.

Supervisor and chair Rodney Johns read a statement on behalf of the supervisors and municipal authority to clear up what they believe are misleading statements that have been made about the proposed plans.

“The property the ball fields are located on is a separate parcel of property that was obtained from (the Huntingdon Area School District) when (Woodcock Valley Elementary School) was closed years ago,” he said. “This parcel was not ever part of the original park project or master plan for the park.”

Johns also said they’ve offered the park and recreation committee the option of moving the ball fields to another part of the property, but the location hasn’t been finalized.

Additionally, it was noted in the statement from Johns there are no plans to change any structures on park property, and water and sewer bills, as well as taxes, haven’t been raised in order to pay for the project.

“If your utility bill is up, it’s because you’re using more water,” said Johns. “The authority has not had a price increase since the 1990s, and the last adjustment was a price decrease for minimum usage.

“The township receives absolutely no real estate taxes for general operating expenses,” he added. “The only money the township receives from real estate taxes is a fire tax distributed for fire company expenses and a street light tax assessed to residents within the street light system to pay for street lights.”

Johns concluded by noting there was always an area set aside and planned for offices for the township in the park, and by having a presence in the proposed area, they will save on costs of development and be a presence in the area to curb incidents of vandalism.

“This will also free up the area originally set aside (in the park) for some type of multipurpose building, allowing us to add that area back into the park, for quite possibly to relocate the ball fields,” said Johns.

Johns also asked those in attendance to pick a spokesperson for the group if they wished to speak about the park, but were not specifically on the agenda, to keep comments to five minutes or less.

Solicitor Nick Newfield added that plans for a special public meeting are in the works at the park in the next few weeks where area residents can ask questions and address any concerns about the park. Additionally, residents will also be able to see a rendering of plans for the proposed development to get an idea of how that will impact the area.

Former township supervisor Jerome Leamer, who was on the agenda for the meeting, gave those in attendance a history of his involvement with the township, both as a resident and a former supervisor, and asked those in attendance to use civility when addressing the issue.

“We need to have civil discourse and work together to solve the situation,” he said, asking the audience to think about how youth have benefitted from other facilities in the area. “Many of the recreation facilities were not created by tax dollars, but forward thinkers who wanted to give back to the society and community.”

Leamer made the suggestion of forming a committee to explore options and possibilities for a location for new township facilities.

Christopher Linn, a member of the park and recreation committee, who was on the agenda, pointed out the 2-acre lot that’s on the property of the park, was determined by the township engineer to not be the best location because of a Walker Township zoning ordinance which states footprint of a building can’t be more than 35 percent of the whole lot, which the proposed development would be. Linn believes township supervisors gave the impression that was an ordinance that was required on a state level.

“This is not a state (Department of Environmental Protection) or a state rule, but is this a process that can be pursued (with a zoning variance)?” asked Linn.

Newfield said the zoning ordinance follows the county zoning guideline ordinance.

Pam Lesniewski told township supervisors a maintenance shed with heavy equipment has no place in a residential neighborhood.

“The current building is not well kept, so what would become of our neighborhood,” she said. “It’s not appropriate.”

The public meeting will be announced in The Daily News as soon as a date is selected.


Local
Assistant manager hired in borough

Huntingdon Borough Council members decided upon the hiring of an assistant borough manager during their regular monthly meeting Tuesday night.

Following an approximately 20-minute executive session to discuss personnel matters, borough president Nicole Houck introduced a motion to fill the position.

“The administrative committee recommends a motion to hire Chris Stevens as the assistant borough manager on a part-time basis,” said Houck. “Effective May 1, Chris Stevens will be full-time assistant borough manager.”

Houck, vice president Sean Steeg, Dave Quarry, Robert Jackson, Johnathan Hyde, Jim Bair and Terry Green voted unanimously on the hiring of an assistant to aid borough manager Dan Varner.

“Welcome to your new role, Chris,” she said. “We appreciate the work you’ve done for the borough so far. I’m sure Dan is appreciative of having someone to help shoulder the burden. We’re looking forward to moving forward.”

Varner added his words of appreciation for the hiring of an assistant borough manager and shared his hope that Stevens may eventually take on his role as manager.

“As you remember, when I agreed to come back, it was to be part time and temporary. It’s taken a lot longer to address the issues than was anticipated,” he said. “I think this is the beginning of my exit. I’ll be working with Chris to finish up the things we are working on at the moment to set the stage for council moving forward. I’m happy.”

Minutes from the previous month’s regular business and committee meetings were reviewed and approved, as were financial statements and payment of bills.

The administrative committee recommended a motion to forgive the interfund transfer of $5,899 from the cemetery fund to the general fund; the community development committee recommended three motions, one to approve the lowest bid for Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) curb cuts to Mel’s Concrete in the amount of $51,440, the second to recommend a motion to authorize advertising for bidding additional ADA curb cuts and the third to recommend a motion to pass resolution 3-2019 regarding a review of federal grant and CDBG-related assurances and plans; and the maintenance committee recommended a motion to have spring cleanup April 5-7. All motions were approved unanimously.