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Bringing old media to life

The Huntingdon County Library received a check for $1,170 Wednesday from the Huntingdon County Chamber Foundation (HCCF) for the creation of a free-to-use Memory Lab.

HCCF treasurer John Eastman and HCCF board member Phil Thompson presented the funding to Lisa Erickson, executive director of the Huntingdon County Library, for the project which will digitize old media such as home movies, photographs, 3.5-inch floppy disks or cassette tapes.

The HCCF, a charitable organization, funds “projects that are creative and support social investment” within Huntingdon County.

“I think this project can really benefit the community,” said Eastman.

“It’s a do-it-yourself digitization station that was inspired by the D.C. Public Library,” said Erickson. They do it on obviously a very large scale. I was excited about the idea and something I thought people in Huntingdon would be interested in.

The old formats will be able to be saved onto an external hard drive, USB or cloud storage.

“If you have a video of your grandma’s birthday party or something that people might want to see in the future, and it’s on VHS, it’s already almost impossible to watch it. Many people have things in their house that they can no longer use or watch,” said Erickson.

Now that funding has been secured, the library plans to launch the lab at beginning of next year.

“We’re hoping to have staff trained to get it started and then have the public use it on their own,” said Erickson.

The project has received assistance from different sources at Juniata College.

Students from a class titled innovations for industry have been researching what equipment is needed and what policies should be in to cover copyright and liability issues, as well as establishing protocol for the Memory Lab.

“We ordered the equipment and it should be in later this week,” said Hudson Speck, a student at Juniata College. “We’re going to test it at Juniata and with the funds we just received order everything needed for the lab here and print off step-by-step instructions for how to use it,” Once you get it set up, it’s pretty straightforward.”

Once staff is trained, community members can learn from them and eventually will control the process from start to finish.

“We do foresee there being people who aren’t very tech savvy. All of these things are pretty user friendly, but if you’ve never used a computer you’ll need a little help to get started,” said Erickson.

Madison Troha, a Juniata College student who is currently interning at the library, thinks the project could create opportunities for community members to come together.

“Hopefully there will be inter-generational relationships that will develop through this,” she said. “Younger generations could teach older community members, maybe the people at Westminster Woods. They could lead workshops, and as they are doing this I would envision it as a way of initiating storytelling.”

The project seeks to remedy the potential loss of years of local history.

“When you talk to your grandparents and you think about how their lives were different, I think there’s some value in that and knowing where you’ve come from,” said Erickson. We’re losing entire decades worth of information. That’s really what we’re talking about. We want people to have access to this information.”

Nathan can be reached at nwoods@huntingdondailynews.com.

Banner project honors vets

This Veterans Day, Monday, Nov. 11, the Huntingdon Borough Hometown Heroes Banner Project will debut outside of the Huntingdon Borough Office at 4:30 p.m., presented by Huntingdon Borough and the Huntingdon County Chamber of Commerce.

On this day, 12 banners will go up featuring military personnel from Huntingdon Borough who have served or are serving their country.

“I think we’re seeing an upward trend in taking care of and honoring our veterans,” said Huntingdon Borough Mayor David Wessels.

Each 30-inch by 60-inch banner which will be displayed on poles throughout the borough and will honor a specific individual and will include his/her photo, the branch of service and the era of their service.

This is just the start of the non-political, non-partisan program, which Wessels hopes will expand throughout the county.

“We’re looking to have 76 total by Memorial Day and next year to have 120 banners throughout the county,” said Wessels. “We want to encourage other municipalities to get involved, too.”

There are 44 banner slots available in the borough, with 32 slots yet to be filled.

Applications for the banners are available at the Huntingdon Borough Building and the Huntingdon County Chamber of Commerce, and the plan is to eventually have them available at American Legions throughout the county as more municipalities become involved.

With enrollment ongoing, applications for banners cost $150, as well as an extra fee of $35 if a bracket needs to be purchased for the banner.

“I’d say that since the Gulf War I’ve seen a new wave a patriotism being born,” said Wessels. “You see more decorated heroes doing more now than ever. They might have their own brands of whiskey or their own brand apparel...you see medal of honor recipients in movies. They’re celebrities in their own right. It’s just how this generation is choosing to honor veterans.”

Wessels had heard from community members who had seen similar banners in the Broad Top and Orbisonia areas, asking how the borough could do the same.

“So I started asking questions,” said Wessels. “As it turns out, around that time Sharon Anderson, a Huntingdon native who now lives in New York, came to the chamber and talked to them about the project and helped to get it going.”

All are welcome to attend Monday’s debut. Families who sponsored banners will be joined by community officials, and potentially a color guard and rifle squad could be present.

Nathan can be reached at dnews@huntingdondailynews.com.

Toy drive to support Salvation Army's Christmas campaign

One of the Huntingdon County Salvation Army’s auxiliary captains will soon have the opportunity to tell the other to “go jump in a lake.”

Captains Philip and Charity Bender are taking part in a friendly competition as part of the a national toy drive Saturday, Nov. 9, at Walmart in Smithfield Township.

“We thought we’d make it a friendly competition. I’ll have the black van and Charity will have the gold van and the one who collects the least toys will have to jump in the lake next week,” said Salvation Army Auxiliary Captain Philip Bender.

“And I don’t like to be cold,” said his wife, Salvation Army Auxiliary Captain Charity Bender.

Toys will be collected at both Walmart entrances from 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. and will go to benefit the Treasurers for Children campaign this Christmas season.

The Benders said they were more than happy to work with Walmart on this initiative.

“Walmart in Huntingdon is always willing to work with us,” said P. Bender. “No matter what we ask, they’re always more than willing to do it. And that goes for the rest of Huntingdon County, too.”

The Benders are hoping for a good turnout Saturday.

“We’ve only had a short time to plan, a couple of weeks, but we’ll have our vans outside Walmart and folks who purchase toys will be able to put them in there or in the boxes inside Walmart. People can come and ask what is needed and we’ll have fliers like we did for the back-to-school event that will include ideas,” said C. Bender.

“Toys can range from $1, $5, whatever. Anything at all helps,” said P. Bender.

In addition to collecting toys, the Salvation Army will also be able to ring bells for its Red Kettle Campaign Saturday. The 2019 Red Kettle Campaign kicks off in the county tomorrow, Friday, Nov. 8.

“It should be a great kickstart to the campaign,” said P. Bender.

Volunteers are still needed to ring bells, as well as to help at the toy donation tables Saturday. To volunteer, call the Salvation Army office at 643-1430.

Bell ringing will start at 9 a.m. Friday at Sandy Ridge Market in Orbisonia and Appleby’s Drug Store in Mount Union and at 10 a.m. at Peebles in Huntingdon. The famous red kettles will return to Walmart Black Friday, Nov. 29, with the kickoff of the national Red Kettle Campaign.

“This year’s kettle goal has been set at $47,000,” said P. Bender. “That doesn’t make us nervous because of the way people give. Huntingdon County is full of incredible, wonderful people who give. It’s been a wonderful blessing.

Last year’s goal was $45,000, but volunteers helped to bring in $49,113 in kettle donations.

“We just pray that we make our goal. That’s all we can really do,” said P. Bender. “Huntingdon County always comes through when people need them.”

Reaching their goal is important, not just because of an increased need in the county, but because the Salvation Army uses the kettle campaign funds to operate all year long.

“It not only provides Christmas meals, toys and food boxes, but it helps folks with electric and heat. It funds our kids’ club program, kids going to camp, basic utilities for our own building and more,” said P. Bender. “Kettle money is not just used at Christmas, it sustains us all year long. It’s pretty much our bread and butter.”

One hundred percent of the funds donated to the kettle campaign stay in Huntingdon County. The Salvation Army is a United Way partner agency.

Becky can be reached at bweikert@huntingdondailynews.com.

Crash claims life of woman

Emergency personnel in the county were dispatched to two motor vehicle crashes, one of the crashes resulting in the death of a McVeytown woman, Wednesday.

The first crash took place at around 3 p.m. at the intersection of U.S. Highway 522 South and Old U.S. Highway 22, just over the Huntingdon County line in Wayne Township, Mifflin County.

State police at Lewistown report Heather Stidfole, 39, the operator of a 2013 Toyota 4-Runner, succumbed to her injuries sustained in this crash and was pronounced dead at the scene as a result.

Police say 2013 International Harvester Durastar operated by Hunter Houck, 21, Petersburg, was traveling south and was approaching an active work zone where there was a portable sign indicating there was a flagger ahead, and northbound traffic was traveling through the work zone.

Houck was unable to stop in time and, as a result, traveled into the northbound lane and struck Mrs. Stidfole’s Toyota head on, causing the Toyota to strike a guard rail and go down an embankment. Mrs. Stidfole was ejected from the vehicle. It is unknown if she was wearing a seat belt at the time of the crash.

After the International Harvester struck the Toyota, it continued south and a 2003 Peterbilt 379, operated by Joel Swartzentruber, 54, McVeytown, swerved to avoid the International Harvester, but the International Harvester struck the passenger side rear of the Peterbilt. The Peterbilt came to a final rest in the southbound lane, but later pulled ahead into the northbound lane to avoid a fire that ignited in the International Harvester.

The International Harvester continued southbound after striking the Peterbilt and came to a final rest facing south. As a result of the damage to the International Harvester, it caught fire.

A passenger of the Toyota, a 15-year-old McVeytown male, was transported by medical helicopter to UPMC Altoona for treatment of injuries. Houck and a passenger in the International Harvester, Jacob Houck, 21, Petersburg, were not injured. Swartzentruber was also not injured as a result of the crash. All other operators and passengers were wearing seat belts at the time of the crash.

Emergency personnel had the road shut down for over 12 hours, and the road opened up at 4:09 a.m., as state police at Lewistown did accident reconstruction at the scene.

In addition to Newton-Wayne Volunteer Fire Co., Huntingdon County units responded to the scene. They included Huntingdon Ambulance, Mount Union Ambulance, Mount Union Volunteer Fire Co., Huntingdon Regional Fire & Rescue and Orbisonia-Rockhill Volunteer Fire Co.

Later that evening, emergency crews responded to a two-vehicle crash on Chester Furnace Road in Cromwell Township at 6:20 p.m. where two people were critically injured as a result.

While state police at Huntingdon have not issued a report on this crash, Orbisonia-Rockhill Volunteer Fire Co. chief Matt Gilliland was able to provide preliminary details on the crash.

“A woman with two children was traveling west while another vehicle operated by a male was traveling east when they collided head on when they were going around a turn,” he said. “The operators of both vehicles were both extricated from the vehicles and were found to be critical condition.”

Gilliland said one operator was transported by medical helicopter for treatment of injuries and another was transported by ambulance to UPMC Altoona.

Two children in one of the vehicles were released to family members and were found to have no injuries.

As the crash is currently under investigation, Gilliland could not say if either operator was wearing a seat belt at this time.

In addition to Orbisonia-Rockhill Volunteer Fire Co., Three Springs Volunteer Fire Co., Orbisonia-Rockhill EMS, state police at Huntingdon and Huntingdon Ambulance and an ambulance from Mifflin County responded to the crash.

The scene was cleared at 8:48 p.m.

MU boro. manager steps down

Mount Union’s borough manager tendered her resignation Wednesday, six months after accepting the post.

Sue Zinobile handed in her letter of resignation to council president Carol Kuklo Wednesday afternoon. Council accepted Zinobile’s decision during the monthly meeting that followed in the evening.

Kuklo said she did try to decline the letter and encouraged Zinobile to stay on but did not sway her to reconsider.

Nancy Lynn made the motion to accepted Zinobile’s resignation with regret. The motion was seconded by Michael Shields and garnered unanimous approval from all nine council members present.

This morning, Zinobile shared some of her concerns for the borough.

In particular, she believes race issues are hampering council’s ability to move forward.

“It always seems to be in the center of any accomplishment or any tasks that you attempt to do,” Zinobile said, adding she made efforts to address concerns by connecting Mount Union with a human resources ethics class at Penn State University. The class is developing a handbook for the borough.

The handbook, she said, was going to be a strong piece in the borough’s efforts to address concerns about diversity. Zinobile also worked with representatives from Juniata College on developing a diversity policy for the borough which as adopted last month.

“I don’t know what direction that will go now,” she said. “The constant focus on disciplining staff and not looking outwardly to the community was very difficult. The working atmosphere is more than a challenge. I deeply care about Mount Union and would love to see things change I do not believe that this council is going to allow that to happen.”

She said there are a number of projects, including replacement of the Pennsylvania Avenue retaining wall, that are yet in motion and that she’s fearful some of those projects and related tasks may stray off course.

For now, Zinobile said she’s going to retire and spend time with her husband, children and grandchildren.

Mount Union has now seen the arrival and exit of two borough managers within one calendar year.

In January, Adam Miller began duties as borough manager. A former borough police officer and former director of the county’s emergency management department, Miller was also hired as police chief.

Miller gave notice at a special meeting in March and left the post in April.

Following Wednesday’s meeting, Kuklo said because Zinobile’s resignation came in about 90 minutes ahead of the 6 p.m. meeting, council members haven’t had opportunity to ponder their next move.

Kuklo said council has a lot to think about about how it wants to approach the position of borough manager. She said she isn’t anticipating any decisions on the matter this late in the year.

Prior to Miller assuming duties in January, Mount Union had operated without a borough manager and police chief for about 10 years.

Zinobile was employed by the borough from 1977 to 1987 as executive secretary, and during that 10-year period she served as acting interim between borough managers. Later on, she served a four-year term on council, including two years as president.

Rebecca can be reached at dnews@huntingdondailynews.com.