DuBOIS — “Phil! Phil! Phil! Phil! Phil!”
Those were the chants — and lots of applause — heard from students at DuBois Central Catholic Elementary School when the most famous groundhog in Pennsylvania visited them Monday.
“We’re so happy to see the enthusiasm in here for Phil,” said handler John Griffiths, who was accompanied by former handler and stump warden Ron Ploucha, and, of course, Phil.
The two members of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club’s Inner Circle talked about what groundhogs eat (his favorite food is kale), where they live and other interesting facts about Phil and his hometown. The students learned that Phil’s wife is Phyllis and he bites his handlers often.
Students learned that in less than two weeks, Pennsylvania’s No. 1 groundhog will be pulled out of his Punxsy burrow and, according to legend, if he sees his shadow, there will be six more weeks of winter.
That will be Groundhog Day, which is on Feb. 2.
The Inner Circle members also initiated some audience participation including bringing first-grader Tyler Pfingstler and fourth-grader Mattie Gritzer up on the stage because they both have Groundhog Day birthdays, Feb. 2. In addition to receiving “It’s My Birthday On Groundhog Day” badges and black top hats, both of the students were officially crowned Groundhog King and Queen of the DCC Elementary School.
They also tried to see if they could possibly influence Phil’s decision on Feb. 2 — with a singing contest between the winter cheerleaders and the spring cheerleaders.
The students were also made Punxsutawney Phil Ambassadors.
“If you see somebody from out of town, you make sure you welcome them and you help them anyway you can, and thank them for coming to our area because you’re all benefiting a little from Punxsutawney Phil. It’s not just Punxsy, it’s for everybody in the region,” Griffiths said.
The DuBois and Brockway girls basketball teams held their 8th Annual Pink Game Monday night at DuBois, and the event was another huge success for both teams and their communities and the Hahne Cancer Center.
This year’s theme was “Tougher Together,” and the two communities proved that mantra to be true in every aspect as they packed the DuBois Area High School Gymnasium.
In between the junior varsity and varsity games, every player on each side was introduced and escorted an honoree of their choice who is a cancer survivor or currently is battling the disease. Honorees ranged from family members, family friends or even teachers, among others.
Members of the DuBois Dream minor league basketball team were on hand to help introduce and celebrate those honorees.
The two teams also honored Harry “Topper” Martz who passed away from cancer on Dec. 8. Martz was a former coach who made a huge impact on the Lady Rover basketball program and the student athletes at Brockway. A flower was placed on the scorer’s table during the ceremony in his memory.
A raffle ticket and basket auction, along with a 50/50 drawing was held during both games as part of the fundraising effort. And by night’s end, the two teams had raised a total of $12,872.36.
With that amount, the schools have now raised $124,446 for the Hahne Center over the eight-year history of the event.
The end of the night saw DuBois’ Michelle Snyder pass on the “Pink Ball” to Sue Olsakovsky and Therese Inzana, who will coordinate the 9th Annual Pink Game in Brockway next year.
DuBOIS — Cut off from appropriations in the wake of the U.S. Government shutdown, the United States Department of Agriculture closed offices and all-terrain vehicle trails in the Allegheny National Forest. Calls to the Forest Supervisor’s office and Ranger District offices Monday were met only with a pre-recorded message.
According to the message, offices and trails will both reopen once federal funding is restored.
According to the USDA Forest Service website, the Allegheny National Forest spans 517,000 acres. Comprising parts of Elk, Forest, McKean and Warren Counties, it is Pennsylvania’s only national forest.
Prior to the shutdown, only two of the forest’s five off-road trails were open. The Timberline trail, the park’s longest at 39 miles, and the Rocky Gap trail opened earlier this month but closed because of the shutdown.
The three other off-road trails were not due to open until May 25, according to the USDA. There over 100 miles of forest trails open to ATV, dirt bike and off-highway motorcycles throughout the forest.
Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Spokesperson Terry Brady previously told the Courier-Express that there were 1,908 active ATVs currently registered with department. There are a further 1,016 limited registrations in the county for ATVs used only on private property.
Brady previously noted that the registration numbers reflect only the number of vehicles, not the number of riders. In total, there are 173,090 active registrations in all of Pennsylvania.
USDA emergency services in the park were not affected by the shutdown. By the end of the day Monday, the Bradford and Marienville District Ranger offices had not yet reopened.