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McCalmont Township home lost to fire

REYNOLDSVILLE — A fire that broke out in McCalmont Township yesterday resulted in the total loss of the home wherein it occurred and the displacement of the three people who lived there. Complicating the response to the fire was snow that had fallen the day before.

The fire occurred on Knox Dale Road at a hillside home. Snow obstructed responding companies’ access to water, resulting in the establishment of a temporary fill station on the street.

Water shipped from Anita was stored in small pools on the road and pumped through the hoses that lead up the driveway to the home.

“The weather conditions are not real favorable right now,” said Chief Orrie Manners of the McCalmont Township Volunteer Fire Company.

Orrie said the fire was called in shortly after 1 p.m. Three people lived in the two-floor home, though none were inside at the time of the fire.

The fire destroyed half of the upper floor of the structure, exposing the inside which appeared badly charred.

Manners said the fire was caused by a faulty flue. The Pennsylvania State Police investigated and ruled the cause of the fire as accidental.

Responding crews appeared to have most of the fire under control by 3 p.m., though smoke was still visible.

The Reynoldsville Fire Department, Knox Township Fire Department, Sykesville Fire Department, Oliver Township Volunteer Fire Company, Big Run Area Volunteer Fire Company, Elk Run Fire Company and Central Fire Department responded.

Sludge pulled from Toby Creek shows promise for fighting pollution

Nearly three tons of thick, red sludge are produced each day between the three water treatment plants along Little Toby Creek. For as long as those plants have operated, it’s just been disposed of in landfills.

But the sludge produced at the plant near Brandy Camp may have a more practical application. Scientists say that it could even be used to treat other sources of water pollution.

Bob Hedin, of Pittsburgh-based consulting firm Hedin Environmental, said it shows particular promise for reducing the amount of phosphorous in agricultural wastewater.

“It reacts very readily with phosphate,” he said.

The sludge, which Hedin referred to as an acid mine drainage residual, is the result of the water treatment process carried out at the plant in Brandy Camp. Water pumped into the plant is aerated and treated with potassium permanganate, lowering its acidity and binding together the iron that contaminates it.

The water is then separated from the iron and pumped back out of the plant, while the iron accumulates as a thick mud.

When dried, Hedin said, it can be applied to manure.

“It’s a big deal in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed,” he said. “Manure management is becoming a very important thing.”

Hedin explained that the manure used by many farmers to fertilize their crops contains phosphorous that washes away in rainstorms and contaminates bodies of water. Working with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, Hedin Environmental tested over the past several years treating manure with acid mine drainage residuals.

The iron, Hedin said, helped to bind the phosphorous in the manure together and prevent it from being washed away easily. The residuals from the Brandy Camp plant, he said, for whatever reason, appeared to do the job very effectively.

That one contaminant could be used to treat another is a little ironic to Bill Sabatose, of the Toby Creek Watershed Association, which manages the Brandy Camp plant.

“I’d like to get this material where we could try and use it as a moneymaker to help operate the system,” Sabatose said.

But Hedin said wide-scale usage of the Toby Creek residuals likely won’t happen any time soon. The issue, he said, is that the plant doesn’t produce enough for such efforts to be sustainable.

'Romeo and Juliet' opens Reitz Theater's 2018 season

DuBOIS — If you’ve seen the posters advertising Shakespeare’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’ at the Reitz Theater as a “tragic comedy” you may have thought it was not the same play often taught in high school.

Director Mary Beth Geppert isn’t putting a new spin on an old classic.

As a Shakespearean scholar and someone who taught Shakespeare in London and Stratford on Avon, England for five years, she is actually returning the mood and pace of the story of the two star crossed lovers to the way it was staged in the Bard’s time. While the story has an unhappy ending, according to Geppert, “the play is quite funny for a tragedy” with a lot of silliness and bawdiness along the way.

Elements Geppert says are downplayed in most productions of “Romeo and Juliet.” While the story is ages old, the setting in the Reitz Theater’s production is relatively contemporary. It’s set in 1958 making it more accessible and relatable to some audience members, and in step with the restored pace of the play.

Misti Bruner (Reigel Quick) is cast as Juliet and Tom Hibbert III as Romeo. Geppert said she has two talented actors who capture the fervor, eagerness, and angst of young love. With the strong emphasis in bringing out the original comedic aspects of the play, Geppert is especially happy to have Gene Deible, one of the original founders of the Reitz Theater in the hilarious role of Juliet’s wet nurse, with David Reitz as her side kick, Peter. Other cast members include Tyson Titler, Marshall Powers, Maria Werner, Tim Weidow, Hannah Allen, Bob Spence, Alyssa Wood, Andrew Benson, David Phillips, Brady Haines and Kaylee Santell.

Geppert heads the production team with Darla Brunquell and Lisa Rutherford serving as assistant directors. Brianna Webber is the stage manager, Gene Deible also designed the set and along with Brian Shaffer designed the lighting. Nicki Gutowski is the costume designer. Fight choreography by Thomas J. Evans IV and Timothy Weidow. Deborah Whitaker is board liaison for Cultural Resources, Inc., the parent entity of the Reitz Theater.

Performances at the Reitz Theater, Scribner Avenue in DuBois are at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 9; Saturday, Feb. 10; Thursday, Feb. 15; Friday, Feb. 16; Saturday, Feb. 17; and at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 11.

Tickets can be purchased online at, or Thursdays at the theater box office between 1:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. Tickets are $10, with 10 percent of all ticket sales being donated to the Clearfield Jefferson Suicide Prevention Team. The team will present a post show talk on suicide prevention following the Sunday, Feb. 11 production.

DuBois interested in purchasing Sandy Twp. water systems

DuBOIS — City Manager John “Herm” Suplizio told the city council that the city has received a letter from Sandy Township regarding its intention to sell its water and wastewater systems.

Suplizio recommended, and the council agreed, to tell the township the city is interested.

Pool rates

The council voted to leave the rates at the city swimming pool unchanged for this summer. Suplizio said there will be major renovations this year and the pool may close a little early so the work can get underway.


Code enforcement Officer Zac Lawhead’s reminder for residents to clear their sidewalks of snow and ice turned into a discussion about sidewalks in general.

Lawhead said there has been a substantial increase in the number of businesses using plow trucks to clear the sidewalks. That, he said, damages the sidewalks and is not allowed.

Suplizio told the council it needs to decide at what level to enforce the rules about sidewalks. Residents are increasingly parking on or across sidewalks in some areas, or removing the sidewalks so they don’t have to take care of them, or letting them grow over, or failing to repair them when they heave up or fall apart.

On a related note, Councilman Ed Walsh asked Suplizio to let PennDOT know that the paving job on Brady Street is “breaking up” less than a year after the work was completed. The city has no recourse in making repairs, since it is a state road.

Letter of support

The council approved sending a letter of support on behalf of Penn Highlands Healthcare’s $20 million renovation of its East Campus.

The work will involve construction of a three-story building and the demolition of the Fugate House and Tyler Building. The campus will become a Behavioral Health Complex that will have a total of 126 inpatient beds, an increase of 82 over its current capacity.

The new complex will create 104 new full- and part-time positions in addition to the current complement of 64 full-time and 24 part-time jobs.


The council passed a resolution of condolence for John S. “Westy” Kucharski Sr., who died Jan. 23. He had worked in the Street Department from 1978-90.

First reading

The council passed the first reading of Council Bill 1931, which amends Ordinance 1829 by reducing the amount of a general obligation note from $181,078 to $129,700 for the purchase of a truck, plow and spreader.

Police activity

Police Chief Blaine Clark delivered the activity report for January.

Officers handled 1,022 calls, which included 19 thefts, four burglaries, 10 forger/fraud incidents, 20 alarms, five criminal mischief incidents, 31 assaults, 17 disorderly conducts, eight domestic disputes, 11 animal complaints, 38 suspicious persons or circumstances, 16 checks on individuals’ welfare or mental health, two missing persons, 17 drug investigations, three DUIs, 23 traffic accidents or investigations and 217 supplemental or follow-up contacts. Officers issued 31 citations, 11 warnings and 124 parking tickets. Calls for January totaled 1,022.

Regular meeting

The council will hold its regular meeting at 7 p.m. Monday in the council chambers at the city building on West Scribner Avenue.

The council’s next work session will be held at 4 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 22.

Thursday’s work session adjourned into a closed meeting for personnel reasons.