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ONE COMMON GOAL: Punxsutawney Lions share passion for helping people

PUNXSUTAWNEY — The 45 members of the Punxsutawney Lions Club all have a common goal — helping people in need.

Marlin Rearick, former Punxsutawney Lions Club president, said the club has been participating in local projects since 1945.

The largest they have spearheaded is the new building for the Punxsutawney VFW, Rearick said, a project that has taken about three years.

The idea came about in 2015, and brought local clubs and community members together for a good purpose.

“The VFW project really pulled our club together, tighter than it had been for years,” he said.

Part of being a Punxsutawney Lions Club member also means supporting other local organizations and efforts, Rearick said. They support other nonprofits, like Snacks to Grow On, which provides healthy meals for school children.

“We support other local groups — it doesn’t matter what they’re doing, we help them do it,” he said.

The Lions contribute widely to certain causes, such as diabetes awareness, service dogs and helping people receive glasses or hearing aids.

“White Cane Day,” a Lions fundraiser that benefits all of these causes, will be held on Sept. 22 in Punxsutawney.

They also attend community events, like Safety Day in Brookville and the canopy setup at the annual Punxsutawney Groundhog Festival. They host a steak fry fundraiser each year in August, where other clubs and people are invited.

The Lions support Leader Dog For the Blind in Michigan, a guide-dog training organization, and the Pennsylvania Lions Beacon Lodge Camp for children and adults with special needs.

They have given up to $500 gift certificates away, and raffled off scooters and four-wheelers. All of the proceeds they collect go back into various community projects.

“We pay our dues so we can raise money and give it away,” he said.

When he joined the Lions Club years ago, there were members in their 70s from whom he learned a lot, Rearick said. They taught him a lot about the club, how it was formed and what its goals were.

“I’d sit and talk to those guys and listen to what they had to say, and that’s how I learned everything,” he said.

The camaraderie of the group and the meetings is something that keeps the men coming together — having the same passion for helping people, Rearick said.

“The goal is helping people out — that’s the reason all the guys belong,” he said. “The desire to help people who need it is what draws us together.”

The Lions meet the first and third Thursday of every month. For more information, visit the Punxsutawney Lions Club Facebook page.

Keith Srakocic 

Pittsburgh Pirates' Adam Frazier (26) is doused with buckets of sports drinks as he heads towards home plate as his teammates celebrate after Frazier hit the walk-off game winning home run against the Chicago Cubs in the 11th inning of a baseball game, Sunday, Aug. 19, 2018, in Pittsburgh. The Pirates won 2-1. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

St. Marys horse farm incorporates new national riding team for students

ST MARYS — A St. Marys horse farm is incorporating a new riding team for middle and high school students, giving them the chance to experience competition and fellowship at a national level.

Rachel Fledderman and her husband, Steve purchased Windfall Farms on North St. Marys Street in 2015. Fledderman grew up on a farm and was involved in 4H, always hoping to have her own piece of land.

Windfall Farms offers riding lessons for adults, as well as beginner to advanced-level lessons, boarding, training, birthday parties, horse camp and other various events. The farm’s “Fall Festival” will be held Sept. 21 and 22.

The facility is now incorporating a Interscholastic Equestrian Association (IEA) riding team at Windfall Farms. The nonprofit organization, which started in 2002 with just 200 riders, is for students in sixth through 12th grades. The IEA is now in 42 states across North America.

IEA competitions are unique for riders, since participants don’t have to own a horse to participate.

“It’s a great opportunity for those who don’t own their own horse to ride at a national level,” Fledderman said.

Through the development of school or barn-associated equestrian programs, IEA aims to provide guidance and coaching for understanding and appreciation of equestrian sports, according to the IEA website. Students can also earn scholarships toward their college education through competitions and additional educational opportunities.

“The mission of the IEA is to introduce students in private and public middle and secondary schools to equestrian sports, and to promote and improve the quality of equestrian competition and instruction,” according to

“Horses and equipment are provided to each rider, at every event, by the host team,” she said. “Since the horse is new to the rider, scores are based upon horsemanship and equitation.”

The IEA shows offer classes from beginner to walk-trot-canter, so participants will compete against others at similar riding levels, Fledderman said. Not only does IEA offer affordable competition for riders, but it allows them to be a part of a team and support others like them.

“Being a part of an IEA team means a place for everyone,” she said. “You will see local riders that own their own horse and do local shows, as well as riders competing at higher levels, all hanging out together, cheering on their teammates.”

Practice will be essential leading up to IEA competitions, Fledderman says.

“The horse show staff works hard to make sure the horses are suitable and level-appropriate,” she said. “This will give the rider the best opportunity to showcase his or her talents.”

The IEA program will run throughout the school year, with practices at Windfall Farms, Coach Ashley Wells will meet with any rider who is interested. IEA will include weekly lessons for students.

For more information, visit the Windfall Farms Facebook page or call 814-335-4363.

Punxsutawney woman combines love for goats, soap into solo business

PUNXSUTAWNEY — Debbie Heckendorn of Punxsutawney has turned her passion for goats into a solo soap-making business.

Growing up, she always had horses and was involved in 4H, Heckendorn said, but is no longer able to manage a large animal.

They started buying goats for her children, so they could raise meat goats for market projects, Heckendorn said. They now have 22 of them.

When she was in the 4th grade, she went on a field trip to the Old Bedford Village, Heckendorn said, where she went from house to house, learning about life in days past.

When she came to a house with a woman making soap, she immediately fell in love, she said. She had only a couple of dollars to spend that day, and chose to buy a block of soap for her mother.

“I loved everything about that chunk of soap — I held it and I loved the way it felt and smelled, everything about it. I was obsessed with that piece of soap.”

It started with a Nubian goat named Isabel, who is pictured in The Soapy Goat’s logo with Heckendorn's grandmother.

She is more than just a goat-soap machine, though — ‘Baby Bel’ is Heckendorn's baby, she says. Goats are personable animals that can make very good pets, she says.

“We have a bond — she is a pet to me,” she said. “They work their way into your heart.”

She has had Isabel since she was two weeks old, and bottle-raised her, Heckendorn said. Bel follows her around and looks to her as a mother figure.

From the beginning, it was important to her to create and use her own recipe, Heckendorn said. The process of making soap can generate a lot of heat, which can boil the milk and ruin the sugars in the soap.

After a milking, she strains the milk into ice cube trays and freezes it. She gathers up enough milk for the whole year, drying Isabelle out so she doesn’t have to milk her all year round, Heckendorn said.

“The process of freezing the milk first is really important,” she said. “When they’re properly processed, the sugars in the milk add the most creamy, lovely feel to the soap.”

When Isabel is bred and has her babies, she is full of milk in the morning, Heckendorn said. She raises her babies and supplies her with goat milk, and they make the perfect team.

Goat milk also contains many vitamins and minerals beneficial for skin, Heckendorn says. Her goat soap contains 9 ounces of milk, and one milking can produce 65-70 ounces, Heckerdorn said.

Her products combine goat milk and a pinch of fragrance, with no detergents or preservatives.

“Everyone’s recipes are different — I felt it was very important to have my own recipe,” she said. “That sets me apart from someone else who’s making goat milk soap.”

She sells her Soapy Goat products in seven local shops, including Southside Pickers of DuBois and Little G's Boutique, offering scents like oatmeal milk and honey, lavender, peppermint and seasonal ones such as apple jack and orange peel. Wholesale orders are also available.

For more information, call 814-365-5163 or visit The Soapy Goat Soap Works on Facebook.

Three DASD residents apply for vacant school board seat

DuBOIS — Directors of the DuBois Area School District are expected to interview three residents interested in filling a vacant Region B seat at a special meeting on Thursday.

The seat, which represents Falls Creek, Bloom, Huston, Sandy and Union townships, was left vacant by the July 29 death of Randall L. Curley Sr., 60, of Rockton.

Interested candidates were to submit a letter of interest indicating their address and a resume to the district by noon Friday.

Three Region B residents applied — Gilbert Barker, Henry Daugherty and Tom Stafford, according to board Secretary Danette Farrell.

A special board meeting has been scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday at the Administrative Center on Liberty Boulevard, DuBois, for the purpose of interviewing the candidates to fill this vacancy and for all other general business matters. The board’s regular meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday and appointing someone to the vacant seat will be on the agenda.

As per Section 3-315 of Public School Code, when a vacancy occurs by reason of death, resignation, removal from a district or region, or other reasons, the vacancy will be filled in accordance with the School Code and Sunshine Act and by appointment by a majority vote of the remaining members of the board within 30 days of the occurrence of the vacancy.

Curley’s four-year term expires in December 2019.