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Standing Stone VFW Post Commander Fred Hearn, standing, presented a donation of $2,000 to Huntingdon County PRIDE board member Debbie Higgins Friday night at the Smithfield Fire Hall as post members of Standing Stone VFW Post 1754, Huntingdon, front row, from the left, Rich Krause, Sam Noey, Rick Henney; back row, Paul Dell, Mike Knode, Ron Waite, Willard “Buzz” Stewart and Dan Neville, manned the phone bank at the 45th Telethon. The final day of Telethon events will kick off today, Saturday, March 23, with the annual Walk-a-Thon at 9 a.m. at the Old Iron Bridge in Alexandria and Talent and Dare Day will begin on Comcast channel 17 and at at noon.

Symbol of hatred can spark change

The appearance of swastikas in recent incidents of vandalism proved an unsettling development, with divided opinions ranging from concern to dismissal that act was done by those who don’t understand the meaning of the symbol.

The spray-painted swastikas accompanied profanity and property damage at both the Mount Union Little League Field and the Thousand Steps over the weekend.

“There are typically two reasons these types of symbols show up. Someone may intentionally be trying to send a message of intimidation or want to let certain people know they are not welcome. A person who puts a swastika in a public place where it can be viewed and knows the history knows they are sending that message,” said Daniel Welliver, sociology professor at Juniata College. “The other way people use the symbol is as a way to get people’s attention. They might not be aware of how hurtful it is. They might be thrill seekers or want people to think they are bad and on a mission, but they aren’t very aware of what kind of harm it can cause and what kind of concern it can cause.”

Contrary to what one might think, the second scenario is actually the more concerning.

“For those who are most affected by these kinds of symbols and their appearance in the community, the more fearful situation is the latter,” Welliver said. “To have people among you who don’t know the history or don’t have an awareness or deeper understanding of how it can create tension or tear a community apart is scarier than those who know what they are doing.”

The swastika is a religious icon within some cultures, used as a symbol of divinity and spirituality in India. The symbol was used in Europe and the United States to represent good luck up until the 1930s, when the swastika was adopted as an emblem the Nazi Party in Germany. The image is now indelibly linked with racist and antisemitic ideology.

“This was done without the person identifying themselves, which means it’s someone who doesn’t want to confront anyone directly or learn any more about it,” he said. “So, you don’t know what is going through the head of the people who are doing this.”

Through his previous work with the state Human Relations Commission, Welliver has seen how actions like this can impact both residents and visitors within a community.

“It can have a tremendous influence on visitors and affects those people in the midst of it. It creates an impression,” he said. “I think about students who come here from all over the world and wonder what this might mean for them. It should be a concern for all of us who live here.”

While efforts were quickly organized to clean up or paint over the damage, which is ideal, Welliver stressed staying silent or ignoring the incident is not.

“If people remain silent, that sends a message that this is okay as long as it doesn’t escalate or that we expect this to happen,” he said. “That only lets people know they can keep doing this or even up the ante. Don’t sweep it under the rug because you are worried about what people will think of the community.”

Leaders speaking out against the use of symbols like this is vital.

“It’s really important that public officials speak up. I liked the fact that police chief (Adam) Miller stated clearly that this doesn’t represent the community and it isn’t what the community is about,” said Welliver. “The message needs to be this is not who we are.”

He also stressed the opportunity to “turn lemons into lemonade” by turning what was meant to be divisive into a unifying event.

“This can be a moment for the community to express what their values are and can serve as a prompt for goodwill,” he said. “It’s a time to react and speak up. There is an opportunity here not just to find the perpetrator, but to ask what we can do to express our hopes for the future of our community and define what we stand for.”

Culinary arts classes teach more than cooking

Sometimes there is the perception that if students attend a vocational school, they are shrinking their future career options.

“Sometimes people will think students are just going to enter the workforce the day they graduate… going to a mom-and-pop restaurant or McDonald’s,” said Patrick Goodman, instructor of culinary arts at Huntingdon County Career and Technology Center. “But there’s more options for people who leave here than that.”

He added, “the way things are now, these students have as much option to move on to college as those who would stay at their home school and take an academic or business course.”

Goodman explained the great thing about the culinary program is that people will always need to eat.

“Not every student that comes to culinary arts will continue in that career path,” he said. “It just gives them a trade and an option. People will always have to eat, so there are always going to be food service jobs available. Industries change and some start to close down or slow down. Students in this program will always have something to fall back on.”

Students who are unsure of what course they want to take in life can use the culinary program as a way to prepare themselves for whatever other course of life they want to take, he said.

“If they are not sure what they want to do but want to learn a skill, they can come down and learn this and define later when they get older what they want to do,” Goodman said.

He added, “The great thing is, no matter where you go, you are going to need good communication skills and teamwork (skills), whether you go into culinary arts or work in a factory or anywhere.”

Through this process, the program also teaches the other skills of communication and teamwork. After all, working in a kitchen is not usually a job involving a lot of solitude.

“There’s a lot of communication and teamwork,” Goodman said. “They work a lot in groups. More experienced students have more of a chef role in delegating different things to the less experienced students, the first- or second-year students. That’s a big part of it: communicating, listening, talking clearly and following a recipe.”

Following recipes is important in the foodservice industry.

He continued, “A recipe is like the main Bible of what we need to do. As long as you can follow a recipe, your dish will come out successfully.”

Working as a team also gives students a chance to gain leadership experience.

“As class sizes are growing, and every year we’ve gotten more students in the program, I can only be in one place at a time,” Goodman said. “So I sort of set up more experienced students with less experienced ones, and it gives me the flexibility to bounce around from group to group, knowing that they are in good hands with some of the students who have more experience.”

Along with all of the other training, the program still teaches the basics of cooking.

“(We teach) all the different things from baking to the different cooking methods of dry heat, moist heat, to sanitation and safety,” Goodman said. “So basically they have the skills when they leave the program to better themselves and give them an edge on anyone else who would be out there in the industry getting a job in foodservice.”

Students also receive their ServSafe® certification, Goodman said, which can be a good item to bring into a resume or job interview.

Goodman said their students go on to job opportunities.

“You could do anything,” he said. “From fast food to fine dining, from baking as a pastry chef or work your way up to get the experience. We are giving them the understanding of different cooking procedures and how the inner workings of a kitchen would go, but its up to (the students) to decide what they would like to do.”

He continued, “I’ve had students who have gone on to fast food or quick service restaurants, while some have gone on to upscale, fine-dining. Others go on to college level culinary arts programs and when they leave they dive extremely deeply into internships and stuff like that. The sky’s the limit. It’s all in what the student wants, and their idea of what they want to do when they leave here.”

Jesse can be reached at

Hospital needs plan in works

As part of the conditions of the Affordable Care Act, J.C. Blair Memorial Hospital officials are in the process of completing the third community needs health assessment.

This will be the third assessment, as previous community health needs assessments were completed in 2013 and 2016.

Chris Gildea, marketing and community relations director at J.C. Blair Memorial Hospital, explained the first assessment completed in 2013 relied on secondary data complied from the state Department of Health, Centers for Disease Control and local organizations like the Center for Community Action and Huntingdon County United Way.

“It helped to understand what the community needs were and helped us to prioritize our community outreach efforts,” she said.

In 2016, with the help of a Juniata College intern, hospital officials were able to collected updated secondary data and collect primary data through surveys with county stakeholder groups, like churches, schools, health and human services organizations to inform the needs assessment with that data.

“We were able to see how the needs were reinforced from the first assessment and find other things that led us to believe there was work to be done in other areas,” said Gildea, noting the three themes that became priorities in the community in 2016 were healthy behaviors, access to care and mental health and substance abuse disorders.

Gildea said they were able to work with the themes identified in 2016.

“We focused on things like exercise, nutrition, stress management, proper car seat safety and alcohol and drug use prevention with healthy behaviors,” said Gildea. “With access to care, we found restrictions for people who didn’t have enough insurance or didn’t have any insurance, so we set up an application counselor to help people enroll in marketplace insurance (through”

Another item through access to care included places where people could go with extended hours, which helped support the reason they opened J.C. Blair Convenient Care.

The third area was dealing with mental health and substance abuse disorders, which Gildea said they’ve been working on through the integrated health program, where behavioral health consultants are at primary care providers to help manage both mental and physical health.

Gildea said with every assessment, there’s an implementation plan formed to see what they can do, and a committee is formed that includes health and human service providers to help with the formulation and implementation of the plan.

Until the end of March, hospital officials are asking for the community’s help to fill out a survey that will help them compile data for the 2019 plan, which is due to be published by June 30.

“We’re using Facebook to provide access to the online survey, but it’s also on the website if people go to,” she said. “The link to the survey is also on the website.”

A PDF is also available for those who want to print it out and mail it to the hospital.

“We also have Juniata students going out to interview people who may not be on Facebook,” said Gildea. “They will be in places like senior centers, the Huntingdon County Salvation Army and food banks, or locations where people will likely not be able to access it online.”

Gildea also encourages people, if they wish, to contact her at 643-8548 and she’ll send surveys to those who provide a self-address stamped envelope.

In April, this group will review the data collected from the survey to come up with the needs assessment, and after June 30, the implementation committee will review the data and go through another process to update a plan to address needs that come up in the assessment.

The implementation plan will be available in September.

Gildea said the beauty of this plan is that it helps the hospital as well as other agencies in the county when they identify programs they want to implement and grants they want to obtain to help provide services.

The survey can be found at

Volunteers sought for statewide cleanup

Every year, PennDOT and the state Department of Environmental Protection and other partners sponsor the Great American Cleanup of Pennsylvania, a program designed to equip communities and individuals to partake in a number of cleanup activities.

“Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful is grateful to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania for its support footed thousands of volunteers that pitch in to make Pennsylvania a more clean and beautiful place to live, work and play,” said Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful president Shannon Reiter in a press release.

From 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, May 11, the Friends of Raystown Lake will host an event as part of the statewide cleanup event at Tatman Run Recreation Area.

Volunteers will be provided gloves and bags, according to event organizer and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers park ranger Jacob Hohman. The event will also include breakfast and a pulled pork lunch.

Hohman said volunteers should wear boots and prepare to get wet and work in rugged terrain. He said the event is especially in need of volunteer boats and operators to transport volunteers and bags of trash that will be collected.

All interested volunteers should contact Hohman at 658-6813 or via email at

The Great American Cleanup of Pennsylvania runs every year from March 1 through May 31. It seeks to remove trash both for public health, environmental and safety reasons.

“Illegally dumped trash pollutes land, streams, rivers and lakes,” said Deborah Klenotic, deputy director of communications for Pennsylvania department of environmental protection. “(It) breeds mosquitoes, increasing the risk of West Nile Virus. (It) attracts rodents and other vermin and impedes water flow, leading to flooding.”

Illegal dumping sites also put a strain on local and state government.

“Investigating and cleaning up illegal dumping are costly and labor intensive for state and local governments,” she said. “Illegal dumping sites cost an average of $3,000 to clean up. As of 2012, the most recent year for which Keep America beautiful has data, there were more than 6,500 illegal trash dump sites in Pennsylvania.”

In 2018, Huntingdon County hosted 16 events, properly disposed of 32,860 pounds of trash, and cleaned up 25 miles of roads, shoreline and trails, according to a report by Keep Pensylvania Beautiful.

Across the state, over a million pounds of material were recycled, over 6.5 million pounds of trash was disposed of, and just under 11,000 trees, shrubs or flowers were planted to “Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful.”

PennDOT, DEP and other sponsors provide volunteers with gloves, bags and vests, Klenotic said, and can pick up their items at the local PennDOT offices after they have registered the event at

Once the event is concluded, volunteers should take the trash to a local landfill and recyclables to the local drop-off.

“From April 13 through May 6, participants in registered events can take trash to participating landfills for free or a reduced fee,” Klenotic said.

For those who choose to volunteer, Klenotic gave several safety tips:

— Event organizers should inform/involve their local government of the cleanup event, where it will be, and when. Local officials can assist with parking, traffic and other safety concerns. If event organizers live in a community that does not have local police protection, they should contact their local state police barracks for assistance.

— Be aware of private property, and get permission from landowners before going on their land.

— Organize into teams, and have team leaders become familiar with cleanup safety information.

— Roadside litter can be dangerous. Event volunteers shouldn’t open coolers, jugs, bottles, or other sealed containers. Volunteers should report any suspicious or dangerous items to police immediately.

— Volunteers need to be sure to wear gloves, appropriate clothing and safety gear.

— Make sure children are not left unattended near highways or water.

— For volunteer safety, event organizers should inform their volunteers prior to cleanup events what the remnants of a meth lab or a “One Pot” meth lab might contain.

For more information or to volunteer, visit

Jesse can be reached at

Municipalities get liquor license fees

As part of a decades-old statues, municipalities in Huntingdon County have received $6,300 in funds from the state Liquor Control Board.

This is part of funds that are returned to municipalities bi-annually from licensing fees from establishments in municipalities in Huntingdon County. In the state, nearly $2.1 million in licensing fees to 1,103 municipalities in which licensees are located in the state.

The current period of dispersement of licenses represents fees paid from Aug. 1, 2018, to Jan. 31.

According to information provided by PLCB, municipalities that received funds included Alexandria Borough, $300; Broad Top City Borough, $200; Huntingdon Borough, $1,750; Mapleton Borough, $50; Mill Creek Borough, $150; Mount Union, $150; Petersburg Borough, $200; Rockhill Borough, $150; Henderson Township, $300; Miller Township, $150; Oneida Township, $150; Porter Township, $400; Smithfield Township, $1,300; Spruce Creek Township, $150; Walker Township, $200.

Municipalities that receive these funds from liquor licenses are fee to use this for their operations as they see fit.

Elizabeth Brassell, PLCB spokesperson, said local restrictions may apply, depending on the municipality.

“Municipalities have flexibility in allocating and spending the returned license fees to meet local needs,” she said.

She also noted these fees are for all types of liquor licenses, not just one particular license.

“Licensees pay liquor license fees ranging from $125 to $700, depending on the type of license and the population of the municipality in which the license is located, as part of the annual license renewal or validation process, as well as in conjunction with approval of certain new applications,” said Brassell.

While some may be familiar with the decades-old statute, Brassell revealed how long the PLCB has been required to return licensing fees.

“We’ve had the law in effect to return these licensing fees since the 1930s,” she said. “In the past five years, approximately $225 million has been returned to municipalities for licensing fees.For more information about establishments that have paid licensing fees in Huntingdon County and throughout the state, visit