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First step for growth: Penn Highlands DuBois West Wing Annex construction under way

DuBOIS — Construction of the new five-story Penn Highlands DuBois West Wing annex is well under way.

With construction having started June 4, hospital officials said everything is on schedule. As of Thursday, contractors were excavating. Work is being done by Hallstrom Construction of DuBois and Dave Roman Excavating Inc. of Reynoldsville.

On June 8, Penn Highlands Healthcare announced a $111 million master facilities plan that will create 400 jobs across the region over the next three years.

Cited as the largest capital improvement project since the inception of Penn Highlands Healthcare, the eight major expansion and renovation projects are designed to enhance access to critical services and advanced care for residents in the region. More than 50 percent of the projects will be located in DuBois.

The Penn Highlands DuBois West Wing Annex is the first step in facilitating Penn Highlands Helathcare’s growth for the future, officials said.

The annex will be five stories plus a basement. The ground floor will be home to a new kitchen that will facilitate the preparation of meals for all patients, visitors and staff at PH DuBois West.

On the first floor will be the retail cafeteria area where staff and visitors may enjoy a new dining experience. The first floor will also have an atrium that rises to the second floor. The current Intensive Care Unit will not expand, but the current rooms will look out to the atrium.

The remainder of the second floor will house a new physicians’ lounge with a separate entrance and parking, a new administrative wing as well as new conference/meeting rooms.

The third floor will be earmarked for future expansion of the Maternal and Child Center Maternity Department. It will create an area with more privacy for families who experience a traumatic birth situation. In addition, the third floor will allow for the expansion of the region’s only Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

The fourth floor will be a continuation of the Surgery Services offered already on the current fourth floor of the hospital. A new Ambulatory Surgery Center will offer patients of all ages a safe, comfortable environment for outpatient surgical procedures. It will have its own recovery area, pre- and post-surgery area and operating rooms. The unit will stand alone from the current Short Stay Unit.

A new waiting room will also be created in the peak of the wall of glass windows that now form the infamous PH DuBois window pyramid.

The fifth floor will be earmarked for future expansion of The Heart Center and cardiology services.The current Cardiopulmonary Services – treatment, monitoring and post-procedure rehabilitation – will expand as well.

The other seven projects include:

  • Expansion and renovation of the Penn Highlands DuBois East behavioral health facility;
  • A new Emergency Department that will serve as a Level III trauma center;
  • A new three-story building housing Centers of Excellence in orthopedics, pediatrics and women’s health;
  • Emergency Department renovations at Penn Highlands Clearfield;
  • A new three-story Brookville Medical Office Building;
  • Renovations at Pinecrest Manor
  • A new two-story Clarion Outpatient Facility.

To support these building efforts, Penn Highlands Healthcare will recruit approximately 100 additional physicians and advanced practice providers and more than 300 professional staff members in the nursing and support services fields.

Photo by Chris Wechtenhiser 

The St. Marys Minor League All-Star softball team takes off on a victory lap around the field at Benzinger Park with the Section 1 championship banner following a 10-0, 5-inning win against Harborcreek in the title game Thursday.

S'MORES MOBILE: Walmart shoppers leave with summer treat

DuBOIS — Many shoppers at the Walmart Supercenter in DuBois left with more than just groceries Wednesday afternoon.

‘Tis the season for S’mores — a classic, sweet campfire treat many families and children indulge in this time of year.

The Hershey’s S’mores Mobile was parked outside Walmart’s lawn and garden center that day, where the goodies were offered to the public for free.

Even though it was a hot afternoon, people were seen enjoying the graham cracker chocolate stackers, which are not typically something you see being distributed from a food truck.

Stephanie Visniesky and her two youngsters, Harper and Nolan, of Falls Creek visited the DuBois Walmart to do some shopping that day.

“We always go to Walmart, and it was such a nice surprise,” Visniesky said. “It made my kids’ day to get a S’more. It was a nice thing for them to do.”

People may be seeing all kinds of food trucks at area fairs right now, including those serving pizza and stromboli, funnel cakes or chicken barbecue.

The S’mores Mobile is not only unique in the sticky snack it provides, but people were surprised to find the treats were free.

A S’mores Mobile spokesperson said because Walmart purchases such a large quantity of Hershey’s chocolate products, the Hershey truck travels and serves the s’mores free, as a way to give back at Walmart stores in several states.

In the months of May and June, the Mobile was in midwestern parts of the country, visiting Walmart stores in Junction City, Kan. and Houghton Lake, Michigan. It’s usually parked at a store for about three hours in the afternoon or evening.

According to the Hershey company, S’mores are a big seller not only because of how good they taste, but because of the memories they help build between families around the fire.

An average of 2.1 million S’mores are consumed every day, and 35 million Hershey’s milk chocolate bar six-packs are sold just from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day, according to

Walmart stores keep extra supplies of chocolate, marshmallows and Honey Maid graham crackers on their shelves during the summer months.

Elaine Haskins / Penn Highlands  

The creation of the West Wing Annex — five stories plus a basement — makes way for the new Emergency Department at Penn Highlands DuBois.

Key points for West Wing Annex project
  • Five floors
  • 50,000 square feet
  • New cafeteria and kitchen
  • Expanded surgical services
  • Ambulatory surgery center
  • Future expansion for Maternal and Child Center
  • Future expansion of The Heart Center
  • New physician lounge and administration area

A COLORFUL COMMUNITY: Chalk contest to bring creativity to Ridgway

RIDGWAY — Local youth will have the chance to color their community with creativity this month.

The Elk County Council on the Arts will host a “Chalk the Walk” sidewalk decorating contest during the Ridgway Firemen’s Parade, which is part of the Ridgway Firemen’s Carnival, Saturday, July 28. The contest will be from 8 a.m. to noon at 237 Main Street in Ridgeway.

Sara Frank, who is the Executive Director of the ECCOTA, said the Sidewalk Chalk effort is just another extension of being an organization that stays involved in the community.

“We wanted to coordinate another community-oriented public art event before the end of summer, and the Ridgway Firemen’s Parade brings the whole community together,” she said. “We want to give back to the community that has supported us for so many years.”

A portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Ridgway Fire Department by the ECCOTA, after the cost of supplies is covered, Frank said.

“The Ridgway Fire Department is a vital asset to our community,” she said. “We benefit from the foot traffic their carnival and parade brings to Main Street, and this is our way of saying ‘thank you’ for everything they do.”

Founded in 1984, the ECCOTA is a sales gallery full of several types of creative talent, including sculptures, weaving, painting, handmade products, music, literature and more. More than 50 artists with their work on display have to meet certain presentation requirements in order to keep their items in the gallery.

“We always try to engage local youth, especially with our summer programming,” Frank said. “The arts are such an important part of a child’s intellectual development and overall well being.”

More than just a gallery, though, the ECCOTA hosts youth-oriented events throughout the summer, including the Visual Arts, Theatre camps and field trips.

Artists don’t have to draw anything specific, Frank said.

“It would be great to fill the sidewalks with whatever makes people happy, and depictions of what they love about their community.”

Around 40 businesses along Main Street “donate” their sidewalks for youth to express themselves, Frank said.

A set of nine colors will be provided for partipants. Artists and groups of all ages and skill levels are welcome to participate. Cash prizes will be awarded to a first place winner and a runner up. The registration fee will be waived for any artist under the age of 10. The deadline to register is July 24. For more information, visit

Master facilities plan summary to occur over next three years

DuBOIS — Phase 1 of Penn Highlands Healthcare’s $111 million master facilities plan will come into being over the next three years.

Recruiting efforts are under way to support these building efforts.

To support these building efforts, it will recruit an additional 100 providers (physicians and advanced practice providers) and more than 300 new professional staff members in the nursing and support services fields.

Penn Highlands DuBois will hold a job fair from 8-11 a.m. Saturday at the Central Resource Center Assembly Room, 204 Hospital Ave., DuBois, next to PH DuBois West. On-site interviews for registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, certified nurse aides and others are planned. Participants should bring resumes and arrive early. For more information, call 814-375-6548.

“These are exciting times for Penn Highlands Healthcare and we look forward to your support as we continue to grow as the largest independent community- based healthcare provider in the Northwestern/Central Pennsylvania region,” a hospital official said.