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Local
Library volunteer honored

The Mount Union Community Library honored the memory of one of its dedicated volunteers to launch into its eighth anniversary of independence.

The library board, while gathered for one of their regular meetings Wednesday afternoon, paused to remember Jane Wagner, fellow board member, who passed away Aug. 4 at age 70. Ms. Wagner would have celebrated her birthday Dec. 9.

Board president Pat Yagecic credits Ms. Wagner for taking on a pivotal role in the formation of the independent library which served as a branch of the Huntingdon County Library until 2011 when the county organization closed both the Mount Union and Orbisonia locations.

Rather than see the Mount Union branch fold, Ms. Wagner was among local residents, including Yagecic and the majority of the current board, who took on the process of shifting the library from a branch to its own free-standing entity. One task was particularly daunting.

“We inherited all the books,” Yagecic said. “But we didn’t inherit a circulation system.”

Ms. Wagner, she said, undertook the task of cataloguing every book on the library’s shelves into the new system. Yagecic points to “Jane’s Corner,” Ms. Wagner’s favorite spot in the tech station where she spent many hours at her task, now marked with a framed photo.

To further celebrate Ms. Wagner’s memory and service to the library, the board set up a display of her favorite authors — Stuart Woods and James Patterson — whose works she put on the library’s shelves through its “Adopt an Author” program. They also served lemon squares and chocolate brownies, her favorite sweets.

For the rest of the library’s anniversary week, Yagecic said it’s business as usual except for the week-long amnesty period for fines on overdue books and the annual children’s Christmas party scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday.

Visitors stopping by this week and for the rest of the month can enjoy the two Christmas trees on display featuring handmade ornaments created by the Mount Union Area High School Art Club. Ornaments are selling for $2 a piece and proceeds will go toward the purchase of an art book for the library’s children section, plus art club activities.

The day-to-day, Yagecic explained, is where the library really thrives, not just lending the latest best-sellers but providing computer and internet access, children’s programs and an environment where friendships and a love for learning can grow.

At present, the library hosts a book club which meets at 2 p.m. the third Tuesday of every month and an astronomy club which meets at 5 p.m. the second Tuesday of every month. Board members Cinda Imperioli and Vickie McMullen host a story hour for pre-schoolers at 11 a.m. every Thursday. The library partners with other groups, like the high school art club, for special events and endeavors.

Membership is over 2,000 — 2,056 to be exact as of Wednesday’s board meeting.

While membership has flourished, Yagecic said the library welcomes more folks to join in behind the scenes.

“We are looking for some more board members and for some new volunteers willing to give their time,” she said. “Our volunteers are amazing, I can’t say enough about them.”

The library’s year is winding down Yagecic said, noting they’re taking a break for the holidays starting Dec. 24. They will reopen in the new year Jan. 7.

Regular hours are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. The library occupies two floors in the back of the Mount Union Borough Building on Market Street.

For more information, call 542-4572, go to mucl.net or visit Mount Union Community Library on Facebook.

Rebecca can be reached at dnews@huntingdondailynews.com.


Local
Youth introduced to sport of lacrosse

The Huntingdon Community Center (HCC) hosted its first introductory lacrosse session for boys and girls in kindergarten through 6th grade Tuesday night.

The free clinic has three more sessions which will be held at HCC, from 5-6 p.m. each evening: Thursday, Dec. 12, Tuesday, Dec. 17, and Thursday Dec. 19.

Leading the session was the Juniata College women’s lacrosse head coach Naomi Radio, with the help of her assistant coach Natalie Gibson and members of the women’s lacrosse team.

“We’re really trying to provide an intro to the game and teach kids the basics,” said Radio. “We have soft lacrosse sticks and balls. We though it would be a cool way to provide an intro to everyone in kindergarten through 6th grade, boys and girls. And it provides a chance for kids to run around when it’s cold and wet outside.”

The kids won’t be the only ones who will be having all the fun, though.

“We’re encouraging parents to get involved and play, too,” said Radio.

All equipment is included.

Once isolated to certain regions of the country, lacrosse has recently been rapidly increasing in popularity.

“It’s been expanding geographically from Baltimore and the D.C. area, as well as Long Island and into Virginia. Syracuse and Long Island in particular have really good pockets of lacrosse and it has been spreading out for there. It’s becoming way more accessible everywhere,” said Radio. “Certainly over the last 10 years it’s been the fastest growing sport in the country. We’ve added somewhere around 200 intercollegiate programs in that time. We still have a lot of catching up to do with other sports though, specifically with women’s lacrosse.”

More kids are being introduced to the sport at a young age.

“Lacrosse has been getting into gym classes,” said Radio. “It’s a good game for teachers to introduce because it improves hand-eye coordination and agility.”

As to whether lacrosse will become a permanent fixture at the youth level in Huntingdon remains to be seen.

“If there’s enough interest it’s something we could bring to the community center,” said HCC director Ted Aurand. “We’ll wait and see.”

Nathan can be reached at nwoods@huntingdondailynews.com.


Local
Holiday events abound in MU this weekend

The Christmas spirit in Mount Union is kicking into high gear this weekend with a full and festive three-day schedule of new, endearing and updated events.

Wreaths and Trees

The annual Festival of Wreaths and Trees marks its silver anniversary this season and welcomes a pair of new directors. Located in the Mount Union Presbyterian Church, corner of Shirley and Division streets, the festival will run 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 13; 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 14, and 12:30 to 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 15.

Set up is scheduled for 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 12.

Sisters Leslie and Chris Armagost are at the helm of this Mount Union tradition, succeeding Cathy and Norm Wilson who coordinated the event for the first 24 years. The Armagosts, fans of the wreath and tree display, accepted the reins from the Wilsons who were unable to continue in their leadership roles.

Leslie Armagost said she and her sister plan to do everything they can to live up to the standards set over the years by the Wilsons, both retired art teachers.

“I only found out a couple of weeks ago for sure that it wasn’t happening, and then it swiftly became apparent to me that nope, it definitely needed to be happening after all,” she said. Not wanting to see a much-loved tradition face cancelation, but also recognizing the amount of work the Wilsons invested each year, the sisters decided to team up.

Cathy Wilson said she is pleased to past the torch, knowing the event she and her husband developed over the years will continue.

“I am absolutely delighted,” Wilson said.

Because the efforts are arriving a little late in the season, Armagost said this year’s event will be scaled back. There won’t be live music as in past years when the festival featured performances by school groups and private-lesson students. This year’s festival will also miss its unusual model train display.

However, the Armagosts are dedicated to the festival’s centerpiece which is the display of tree and wreaths created by local talent. Plus, the sisters already have their eyes set on Christmas 2020 when they expect the return of live music, model trains and perhaps more.

“It’ll be pretty limited this year, but doing something is very important and there’s enough time to get it going well for next year,” Armagost said.

Regular attendees might notice a slight change in the event: the reversal from the usual “Trees and Wreaths” to “Wreaths and Trees.”

Armagost said swapping the trees and wreaths represents both the charge in supervision and also welcomes more participants to join in the fun of sharing their holiday decorating skills.

“Wreaths can be a little easier to come up with than whole trees, so it can also be taken as subtle encouragement to get more people to participate,” she said.

The events received support from the Mount Union Area Historical Society, Mount Union Chamber of Commerce, Mount Union Art Guild, the Mount Union Sons of Italy chapter, the Huntingdon County Arts Council and the Mount Union Presbyterian Church.

Anyone who wants to display a wreath or tree can call or text Leslie Armagost at (719) 332-6975 or visit MU Festival of Wreaths and Trees to leave a message.

It’s a Wonderful Life

Bricktown Events, located at 28 W. Shirley St., is joining forces with local vendors for the first-ever “It’s a Wonderful Life” holiday celebration which spans the weekend. The event’s mission statement is to celebrate local communities while encouraging the Christmas spirit.

The vendor fair, which anchors the event, runs from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 13, 1 to 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 14, and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday.

There’ll be much more going on around the events center while holiday shoppers browse the potential gifts.

Friday kicks off with a hot breakfast from 7-11 a.m., followed by soup and sandwiches for lunch from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. A spaghetti dinner will be served from 5-7 p.m. and, starting at 7 p.m. is a screening of the classic 1946 movie “It’s a Wonderful Life” starring Pennsylvania-born actor Jimmy Stewart.

Friday is also drop-off day for items going up for bid in the silent auction. And Friday kicks off the gingerbread house contest; the deadline to enter a creation is noon Saturday and winners in three age categories (5-12, 13-18 and 19 and up) will be announced at 4:30 p.m. Sunday. Entries will be judges on creativity, construction and decoration. Contact Ruth Dunkle at 644-8471 or Marie Casella at 599-5442 for further contest details.

Saturday begins with Flapjacks with Frosty from 8-11 a.m., followed by a brown bag lunch with ham and turkey sandwiches from noon to 2 p.m. The cookie and cocoa bar opens from 1-4 p.m., followed by story hour with volunteers from the Mount Union Community Library, from 2-4 p.m. For dinner, the events center is serving up walking tacos from 5-7 p.m. at which time children can pose for pictures with Santa Claus.

Sunday’s activities include brunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and a concert by Chris Woodward and his guitar students from 2-4 p.m. Silent auction winners will be announced starting at 4:30 p.m.

Decorating Contest

Mount Union homeowners and businesses are encouraged to trim and light their properties for the Mount Union Chamber of Commerce’s annual holiday decorating contest. Judging will commence at 6:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 13.

The chamber will award prizes in three categories. One winner will be chosen for the best-decorated business categories, while first, second and third place will be award for the best home and the best door.

There is no need to register, just turn your lights on.

Open House

Before — or after — perusing the trees, wreaths and vendor wares, head over to the Bricktown Museum at 300 W. Small Street which is hosting an open house 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 14, and 1-4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 15. The open house is the public’s opportunity to catch up on the ongoing efforts of the museum’s volunteers, including renovations to their century-old warehouse and additions to their model railroad.

The museum, operated by the Bricktown Model Railroad Association, is dedicated both to preserving Mount Union’s industrial history and giving local model train enthusiasts an outlet for their talents, which include recreating, in miniature, Mount Union and surroundings areas.

“It’s an exciting time at the Bricktown Museum,” public relations director George Sarra reports. “We are nearly finished with renovations and are about to start with displays. We also began reassembling our layout.”

Sarra said members are looking forward to welcoming the public.

“We will have trains running on our layout for the open house,” he said. “We also have large scale trains running at the open house this year.”

In case you miss the museum Dec. 14-15, the open house will resume next weekend 1-3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 21 and 22.

Holiday Bazaar

The Mount Union Area Kiwanis Club is hosting is 38th annual holiday gift bazaar in a new location.

For decades, the the Kiwanians operated the annual gift fair from the basement of the First United Methodist Church on Shirley Street. They’ve moved to the Mount Union Fire Hall on Market Street.

Hours are 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 13, and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 14. Santa Claus will stop by the bazaar from noon to 2 p.m. Saturday to visit with children.

As usual, the bazaar will feature the wares and fares of many area vendors.

“We have lots of food and vendors of all walks,” said Mary Trice, event coordinator. She said anyone browsing for gifts can expect to see jewelry, fine arts, needlecraft and woodworking among the handcrafted items.

In addition, Trice said the Kiwanis Club will hand out hats, gloves and toys for infants to children aged 12, during Santa’s visit Saturday.

Santa Parade

The Mount Union Chamber of Commerce, with help from its North Pole connections, is bringing Santa Claus to town as guest of honor in the annual holiday parade.

The parade kicks off at 4 p.m. and will travel from the fire hall on Market Street to the First United Methodist Church on Shirley Street, where the borough’s official Christmas tree stands. The fire company will escort Santa with musical accompaniment from the Mount Union Area High School marching band.

Once delivered to the church, Santa will greet area children. In the church’s social hall, the congregation will offer cookies and hot cocoa to its visitors. The chamber will distribute free age-appropriate books.

Santa is scheduled to visit with children around the tree but in the event of inclement weather, Santa will greet his young visitors inside the church’s social hall.

Concert

The weekend’s festivities conclude Sunday evening with “I Believe,” a Christmas concert presented by the Mount Union Festival Chorus.

The concert begins at 7 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 15, at the First United Methodist Church, 15 W. Shirley St.

For addition information on the above events, including additional details and a full schedule, visit Bricktown Christmas on Facebook.

Rebecca can be reached at dnews@huntingdondailynews.com.


Local
breaking
Body identified as missing man

Huntingdon Borough Police, along with the Huntingdon County District Attorney’s office, have released the name of the body that was found in the area of Portstown Park Sunday afternoon.

The body is that of 62-year-old Frank Webb, who was reported missing from his Huntingdon home on 13th Street in early November by a family relative, a few days after he told his landlord he was walking down the street Oct. 31 and never returned.

According to Huntingdon Borough Police Chief Jeff Buckley, teenagers initially discovered the body in a wooded area near Portstown Park, and police were called to the scene at approximately 3:30 p.m. Sunday.

Huntingdon County District Attorney David Smith said an autopsy was performed Tuesday evening at Mount Nittany Medical Center in State College.

“Preliminary results indicate that no foul play was involved in the death of (Mr. Webb),” said Smith, noting that an exact cause of death has yet to be determined.

“Final results are pending further testing and a toxicology report,” he said.

Huntingdon Borough Police Officer Andrew Young told The Daily News in late November they had been investigating Mr. Webb’s disappearance since it was reported.

Since Mr. Webb left on foot, Young said they searched nearby rural areas by foot and using a state police helicopter Nov. 10, including the area around where his body was found Sunday.

“It was the pilot and myself. We searched the Peace Chapel, Flagpole Hill, along the river, anywhere that was within walking distance of somewhere he could have gone,” he said. “That yielded nothing.”

Young also contacted Heaven Scent Search and Rescue bloodhounds, which led investigators to the general area of the cliffs with negative results.

Buckley added Mr. Webb’s body was the only one found in the area, and no other incidents from over the weekend are related to the body found at Portstown Park.

Mr. Webb’s aunt, Betty Noey, told The Daily News in late November he had lived in Huntingdon County for two years, having moved from California, where he had lived for 40 years. He also has ties to the Pittsburgh area, as Gibsonia is his hometown.


Local
JOC board sees leadership changes

Members of the Joint Operating Committee (JOC) of Huntingdon County Career and Technology Center (HCCTC) held their reorganization and monthly board meeting Tuesday night.

Andrea Christoff, who has perviously served as chair, was elected by JOC members to serve as chair for the 2020 year. This was a position that was held by board member Aden Russell most recently. Russell, along with board member Shelley Houck, was not in attendance Tuesday night.

Andrew Ketner was approved to serve as vice chair once again.

Meetings will continue to be held at 6:30 p.m. the second Tuesday of each month.

Officers for the Area Board, which consists of board members of all sending schools, will continue to be the same as the officers of the JOC board.

The Area Board only meets for expansion/renovation projects, purchase of property and votes as a whole to approve the budget or make changes to the articles of agreement.

HCCTC executive director Tony Payne gave an update on the expansion.

“They poured the concrete slab last Tuesday and Wednesday,” he said. “There hasn’t been much action since that time. The steel (for the building) has been delivered, and they hope to erect the steel in the next week and a half to two weeks.”

Payne also gave an update on the funding of the project for new JOC board members.

“The total contract for the project is $2.6 million,” he said, adding that HCCTC has spent $400,000 of its own money for the project, and the remaining, and the school districts officially approved their portions of the Kish Bank loan. While the districts won’t be paying for it, they had to approved the $2.2 million loan from Kish Bank for HCCTC to use until the USDA loan is ready to go.

The USDA loan for $1.1 million will be used to pay down the Kish Bank loan as well as the Redevelopment Assistance Capital Project funds for $1.1 million that will be used for the project.

The JOC board approved paying Mid-State Construction for $138,110.43 and Allied Mechanical for $17,065.66.

Additionally, Payne said the foundation was poured for the double-wide trailer, which will house the CDL project.

“I also met with the engineer and discussed some things I had issues with,” he said. “That project is moving forward.”

Justin Lewis, IT instructor, was also approved to do non-instructional work for one hour per day for 116 days at at $21.50 per hour for a total of $2,494.

Payne said this is just additional work for IT services that was previously done by former executive director Don Burd, and this work will be done outside of instructional time.

Though the contract with SchoolPointe to redesign the HCCTC website was approved in October, they approved additional costs, including a total of $3,000 for setup costs, and annual maintenance costs of $3,250 for the 2020-21 school year and $3,250 for the 2021-22 school year.

Adult education coordinator Laura Hicks said they are working with Huntingdon County CareerLink on grants, including one with co-op students supplemented with educational workshops and a STEM career workshop grant, which is similar to the breaking taboo program, putting non-traditional students in different programs.

“This one will be non-traditional students in STEM-related programs,” she said. “We’re also working on submitting a grant with CareerLink for teacher in the workplace, where we’re partnering with school districts, instructors, the chamber and HCBI.”

She also provided updates on a commercial that’s running on WTAJ as well as a beta version of the new HCCTC website.

Payne, in his director’s report, said they are working on completing items as part of the RACP grant that were not completed.

“I’ve made contact with a representative from Pittsburgh, and we’re moving forward,” he said. “There are about 20 items that need to be completed.”

Payne also said he’s working with Pennsylvania School Boards Association on updating policies.


Local
County leaders discuss audit

In addition to voting to approve board members for various positions, more questions were raised about the recently published audit at the regular weekly meeting of Huntingdon County Commissioners Tuesday.

Commissioner Mark Sather, responding to comments from Huntingdon Borough resident Jim Cassatt from last week’s meeting, handed out an amended copy of the audit that is to be published in The Daily News, as he pointed out the first copy of the audit that was published had incorrect information, namely the fixed assets.

“If you look at the corrected copy, it should have read $20,218.016,” said Sather. “Not $17,518.520 like it was published.”

However Cassatt, who was in attendance, had more questions about the audit.

“That’s three years in a row the audit was wrong,” said Cassatt, noting the auditors get the numbers from the departments.

“The audit we saw and was submitted to the state was correct,” said Sather. “The audit in the newspaper was incorrect, and a correct one was submitted to be published.”

Cassatt also had additional questions regarding previous audits, including why the fixed asset amount hadn’t changed until this year. Also, he asked why there was an increased value of $68,000 on the 911 special account bond.

Sather said he would get back to Cassatt on the 911 special account bond, but he also encouraged Cassatt to ask the auditors these questions directly, as the auditors are elected officials and don’t work for the county, but work for the county’s residents.

The commissioners also made a number of appointments for various boards.

Dennis Johnson of Alexandria was approved to serve on the Huntingdon County Conservation District board for a four-year term. Commissioner Jeff Thomas was also approved to serve on the board as a commissioner representative.

Tom Weyandt of Huntingdon and Charles Culbertson of Jackson Township were approved to serve on the Juniata Valley Behavioral and Developmental Services citizens’ advisory board. Weyandt was reappointed to the board, and Culbertson will be serving his first term on the board.

Tammy Park of Mapleton, Barbara Wakefield of Walker Township and Mahlon Morder of Shirleysburg were approved to serve on the Huntingdon County Children’s Services Advisory Committee.

A contract with Rodgers Clock Service was approved for maintenance of the courthouse clock tower for $295 per year for two years. Thomas explained this will allow for the clock, located on the clock tower of the courthouse, to receive regular maintenance, as the only maintenance performed on the clock is when there are repairs needed.

Commissioner Scott Walls added it takes a specialized person to perform regular maintenance on the clock, as it has all of the original parts.