A1 A1
JOC members OK selling devices

Members of the Huntingdon County Career and Technology Center (HCCTC) Joint Operating Committee (JOC) approved a request for the Everett Area School District to purchase a MacBook and iPad used by former executive director Don Burd at the monthly meeting Tuesday evening.

According to Michael Zinobile, superintendent of record for HCCTC, the school district said they would purchase the equipment for $750.

“The MacBook was seven to eight years old, and the iPad was three to four years old,” said Zinobile. “We feel we can use that to get something comparable for (new executive director) Tony Payne.”

Many JOC board members thought the request was odd, and board president Aden Russell questioned if Burd would still have access to items which he no longer needs access.

“Selling the device doesn’t have any baring on his access (to logins and other sensitive information),” said Huntingdon Area School District Superintendent Fred Foster. “There’s still a lot of transition, but we don’t have any reason to cut him off from the information immediately.”

HCCTC assistant executive director Michael Douglas pointed out that he’s been named the administrator on a lot of accounts, like security accounts and other things where Burd would no longer need access.

JOC board member Lucinda Dell asked why the Everett Area School District is purchasing the equipment, but Zinobile and Foster said they don’t really know.

“It’s an odd request, but as long as the information can be wiped on it, that would be OK,” said JOC board member Shelley Houck.

Foster suggested allowing Burd to access anything he needs on the computer, and once he has all of the files he needs, the computer can be wiped by an IT person from any of the sending districts before giving the equipment to Everett Area School District.

New executive director Tony Payne also had a request to do something as part of his doctoral work at the California University of Pennsylvania that may ultimately benefit HCCTC.

“I’m about two-thirds of the way through getting my doctorate, and instead of doing a dissertation, I am actually doing a research project,” he said. “I chose to start a pre-apprenticeship program through the Youth Forestry Camp, and I had the approval process already started, but now, it’s pretty much null and void.

“After speaking with the committee chair at (California University of Pennsylvania), I think we can try that sort of project here, as it’s set up based on a career and tech program.”

Payne explained the pre-apprenticeship program is trying to find a business partner that would take a small group of students working in a particular program offered at HCCTC to work with them under this program, then after they graduate and get any certifications needed, these students would have a job with that company. The students could either be high school or adult students.

“There’s quite a bit of work involved with getting something like this started, but the first step is getting approval,” said Payne.

The request was approved by JOC members.

Zinobile also asked JOC members what they should do with extra equipment that sending districts may be interested in, as members advised them to let sending districts look at it before anything is sold at auction.

This equipment is no longer needed by the welding department, and Zinobile said they wanted to get rid of any extra equipment before they move to the current collision repair department, as collision repair will be moving to the new building when it’s completed.

“We didn’t know if you wanted the districts to pay for them, or if you wanted to give it to them,” said Zinobile.

JOC members said they have no issues with giving away the equipment sending districts are interested in, but want to make sure it is legal to do so.

Douglas said some of the equipment that’s no longer needed includes hand tools, drill indexes, a pedestal grinder and other items.

Commissioners OK EMA grant

The Huntingdon County Commissioners approved a grant at their weekly meeting Tuesday morning that will aid the county’s emergency management agency (EMA).

Huntingdon County EMA director Joe Thompson explained the grant, the Emergency Management Performance Grant, is awarded to the county by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security through the state Emergency Management Agency (PEMA).

“This grant runs Oct. 1, 2018, through Sept. 30, 2021,” he said. “The allocation, which is $47,607.58, is about 50 percent of my salary as well as the salary of my office staff.”

Thompson gave thanks to Katie Unger, EMA office manager, as well as volunteer staff for their work to make sure they got to the point where they were awarded the money.

“We had to meet benchmarks with certifications to get this money, and I just want to thank Katie and the fiscal office staff for their work,” he said.

Commissioner Scott Walls also commended Thompson and the EMA staff, paid and volunteer, for their work.

“I know there were certifications that were needed to get this done,” he said. “I commend them for their hard work and dedication.”

Also Tuesday, board of commissioners’ chair Mark Sather also commended the Children and Youth Services department for coming into compliance from the state Department of Human Services.

“After receiving a Title 4e compliance review, they received a 100% compliance rating for random and in-home studies,” said Sather. “I just want to acknowledge them for a job well done.”

Additionally, Children and Youth Services administrator Shannon Walborn garnered approval to hire Keri Ondrejik to fill the caseworker I position, which will bring the CYS office to full staff.

The commissioners also approved work involving digging trenches to divert water from impacting a sand mound at the Shirley Home for the Aged for $9,600.

“There was a concern the sand mound may be malfunctioning,” said commissioner Jeff Thomas. “After the sewage enforcement officer inspected it, it was determined it was functioning properly, but there’s a hole near ridges where water is coming down near the sand mound. They want to dig trenches to divert water away from the sand mound.”

A heating oil bid for $2.159 per gallon was also approved Tuesday from Bumgardner & Flasher Oil Inc.

Supreme Court hears discrimination arguments

Wednesday the Supreme Court heard oral arguments as to whether discrimination in the workplace based on sexual orientation is forbidden under the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

The act prevents discrimination based on of a person’s “race, color, religion, sex or national origin.”

The issue is whether sexual orientation falls under the category of sex.

More specifically, the question is whether an employer can fire an employee because they are gay or transgender.

Courts are often required to interpret old laws even after the language in the laws has changed their connotations.

“In this case, for example, the issue is that this is a law that was passed more than 50 years ago, so in 1964 Congress had no idea that same sex marriage was on the horizon, or that transgender people would be in positions where discrimination would be an issue. The courts are all called upon to apply old language to new situations. They will come up with a certain standard and whether one thing or another was intended by Congress,” said Dr. Jack Barlow, professor of politics at Juniata College.

Gerald Bostock, a child welfare coordinator in Georgia, said he was fired when his boss found out he was gay.

The second case presented pertained to Aimee Stephens, who worked as a funeral director for six years before revealing her gender identity to her employer.

Stephens was fired two weeks later.

A court case by itself does not change a law, it just provides an interpretation of the law.

“The court will likely not hand down a decision until May or June. If they decide discrimination on the basis of sex does not apply to someone who is homosexual, then Congress is going to have some pressure to act, if they say it does apply, Congress doesn’t have to do anything,” said Barlow.

Nathan can be reached at nwoods@huntingdondailynews.com.

Business leaders honored

Members of the Huntingdon County Chamber of Commerce honored local business leaders Tuesday night at their annual awards gala at the Huntingdon Country Club.

Yvonne Martin, president and CEO of the Huntingdon County Chamber of Commerce, was the master of ceremonies and introduced each of the awards presenters.

The 2019 Educator of the Year Awards had two recipients this year, Linda Ford and Samantha Hiles of Little Jewels Academy in Orbisonia.

“They create lessons and activities that engage the children to help them grow educationally and spiritually,” said presenter Juniata College President Jim Troha. “ Students learn to be good citizens and friends, while learning about our community.”

“Thirty years ago I never thought I would be standing here today and Little Jewels would be where it is,” said Ford.

“We were really shocked and honored to receive this award. The phrase I try to think about for our students is that we try to prepare them for kindergarten and eternity...the main thing we try to teach them is God’s love,” said Hiles.

The first award of the night was sponsored by Juniata College in recognition of an educator who demonstrated “above and beyond commitment and service in the field of education.”

The second award of the night was sponsored by AristaCare at Huntingdon Park and AristaCare at Woodland Park.

The 2019 Business of the Year Award went to Bumgardner & Flasher Oil and was accepted by company president and CEO Darlene Bumgardner.

The oil company saw substantial growth after purchasing Thousand Hills Petroleum in 2010, has supported numerous community organizations and, “They pride themselves on dependable, prompt and courteous service along with a close interaction with their customers,” said presenter Doug Roles.

The Business of the Year Award was sponsored by Valley Rural Electric Cooperative and recognizes a business that has contributed to the economic growth and development of Huntingdon County.

“I am honored and humbled to receive this award,” said Bumgardner.

The 2019 Customer Service Award winner was AristaCare at Huntingdon Park. Melanie McAleer, nursing home administrator at AristaCare at Huntingdon Park, and Kammi Plummer, community outreach director, accepted the award.

“Residents think of staff as their family, and staff most definitely consider them family, as well. They love when former residents visit and show the team just how well they are doing at home with the previous help of the incredible therapy and loving care they receive,” said presenter Barbara Covert.

“This is such an honor for me, but mostly for my staff. Truly it is the staff that work at AristaCare that deserve this, both past and present,” said McAleer.

“I go to work every day thinking ‘be the change you want to see in the world’. We are truly honored to be in the industry that we’re in and take care of the loved ones that we do,” said Plummer.

The award was sponsored by Bonney Forge Corp. and is presented to a business for its excellence in providing quality customer service.

The 2019 Volunteer of the Year Award went to Dee Dee Brown who is currently serving her second round on the chamber board of directors.

Sponsored by SPE Federal Credit Union, the award is for a chamber member who has gone above and beyond in support of the mission and the goals of the chamber.

She “often stops in the office to see chamber staff to make sure there is nothing they need help with and has volunteered to help wherever and whenever needed,” said presenter Christina Swanger.

“I guess I learned to volunteer when I became a chamber member because that’s what you do,” said Brown, who wanted to give credit to the many people and organizations with whom she has collaborated. “I accept this award in their recognition because they are the people who work together for our community and I thank you very much for that.”

The 2019 David K. Goodman, Jr. Community Service Award went to John Eastman.

Sponsored by Huntingdon Elks Lodge 976, the award recognizes an individual or organization who has demonstrated exemplary dedication of time or resources for the betterment of the community.

Eastman “spends roughly 800 hours a year volunteering in the community,” said presenter Gary Huff, Exalted Ruler of Huntingdon Elks Lodge 976, and has been in involved in Rotary Club, the Huntingdon County Chamber Foundation Board of Trustees, the J.C. Blair Hospital benefit and numerous other projects and organizations.

“I’m deeply honored to be worthy of this recognition. We’re all blessed to be able to live and work in this wonderful area with caring people who all give back to the community in their own way,” said Eastman.

The Entrepreneurial Success Award winner was Strickler’s Ice, Bottled Water and Cold Beer.

Sponsored by Highmark Blue Cross & Blue Shield, the purpose of this award is to recognize a business owned by a community member, that has been in business for a minimum of three years, initially launched as a small business, that has shown innovation and aided in the advancement of the community.

“As times have changed with recent law changes allowing convenience stores and grocery stores to sell beer, they have adapted to now offer freshly made adult slushies, and have become the largest seller of craft beer in the area,” said presenter Doug Roles.

“I want to say thank you on behalf of Ed and Ryan. Ed really doesn’t like everyone knowing about all the charity work that Strickler’s does in the community. I’ve lost track of the amount of ice we put in different families vehicles for charity events,” said Strickler’s employee Johnathan Hyde, who accepted the award on behalf of the Strickler family.

The 2019 ATHENA Award winner was Bernice Dysard, national accounts manager at Mineral Springs.

“Presented to leaders across professional sectors, the ATHENA Leadership Award’s rich history, international scope and focus on mentorship distinguish it as one of the most prestigious leadership awards one can receive,” said Martin, who noted this id the only award where the recipient was not informed they were the winner.

Dysard “is the current president of the Huntingdon County Women’s Club and is head of the membership committee. The club gives donations each month to organizations such as Huntingdon House, First Book, backpack programs, food banks, nursing homes, PRIDE, Crossroads Pregnancy Center, the Salvation Army and many more,” said presenter Mary Jane Smith.

“Thank you all so much. I never expected to be here. I was just honored to be nominated. My family, you mean the world to me. Mineral Springs, you let me fly and have put your faith in me and that has proven to be very positive,” said Dysard.

The award was sponsored by Bumgardner & Flasher Oil, FirstEnergy Corp., Grier School, Headline Marketing & Communications, Huntingdon Area School District, Huntingdon Dance Academy, Lincoln Caverns and Whisper Rocks, MJEM’s Photos, Team Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and World Marketing of America.

Nathan can be reached at nwoods@huntingdondailynews.com.

Pumpkin growth, sales unaffected by above average temps

Higher-than-average temperatures in recent weeks have led some to believe the growth and sales of pumpkins would be adversely affected. However, a local farmer and several local vendors beg to differ.

Temperatures throughout September and the first days of October stayed consistently above 70 degrees Fahrenheit in Huntingdon County, some days reaching well in the 80s.

Davey Martin of Martin’s Garden Center in Morris Township said those unseasonably warm temperatures haven’t impacted his pumpkins.

“The weather isn’t what most people looking to buy pumpkins would expect,” he said, “but there have been good growing conditions overall.”

After a wet 2018 growing season, Martin said this year has been much better.

“Everything’s gone well for the most part. It’s been a good growing season,” he said.

Dale Baker of Baker Landscaping near Mill Creek doesn’t grow his own pumpkins, but he does buy them to sell to his customers. He’s seen average prices and sales, which also reflect a good growing season.

“(Sales have) been about average,” said Baker, “but they tend to get better as it gets colder. The quality of the pumpkins is the same as it’s always been. They are still very nice. The price of the pumpkins has been a little higher, actually. Everything is going well.”

Rosa Stoltzfus, an employee of Martin’s Garden Center, shared Baker’s sentiments.

“Sales and quality have been pretty good,” she said. “The prices have stayed the same, too.”

Joshua can be reached at jblattenberger@huntingdondailynews.com.