DuBOIS — A birthday wish for 8-year-old Jaxon Fritz came true recently thanks to the DuBois City Police Department and Officer Mike Davidson who gave him a tour of the police station and a ride in a police car.
“It was the best day ever! It was even cooler than I expected!” Jaxon, a second-grader at Juniata Elementary School, said.
He wants to be a policeman when he grows up, said Jaxon’s mother, Amy Hilliard.
“It’s literally all he talks about. He gets so excited every time he sees a police car,” Hilliard said.
“I want to be a police officer because I want to help save the city! That’s what police officers do!” an excited Jaxon said.
Another reason for his interest is because his great-grandmother, May Fritz, was a radio dispatcher for the DuBois Police Department from 1987-2004, Hilliard said. She passed away June 10 and the DuBois City Council passed a resolution of condolence in her memory.
Hilliard said Jaxon mentioned to her and his father, John “JD” Fritz, one day that he would really like to meet a police officer and thought it would be a great thing to do for his birthday which was on Nov. 25. She asked her friend, Carrie Rezk, who works at the police station, if she could set something up and she did.
Hilliard said before their visit to the police station, she asked her son if he was going to be good.
“And he said, ‘Of course I’m going to be good. If I’m not, they might not hire me,’” Hilliard said.
“Officer Davidson is the one that took him around and he showed him the radio dispatch area and where Jaxon’s grandma would call through,” Hilliard said.
Jaxon recalled seeing the police gear and a police helmet they let him try on.
“It was heavier than him. It was so cute,” Hilliard said.
Davidson showed him how they use all of the equipment.
“They were heavy, but I still picked them up!” Jaxon said.
He saw the jail cell in the police station and was amazed by the bed.
“I don’t know if that bed is comfortable,” said Jaxon.
“It’s like metal and grate,” said Hilliard.
They enjoyed seeing the interview room where they had fun looking through the one-way mirror.
Davidson also took Jaxon for a ride in the police car in the parking lot.
“They let me use the speaker and I said, ‘May Day, May Day!’” Jaxon said. “It was so much fun.”
Hilliard said the police department put together a packet for him and gave it to him when they were leaving.
“They said, ‘We have something special for you,’” Hilliard said.
It was a bag with whistles in it, an official police badge, coloring books and pens, Jaxon said.
There was also a birthday card which was signed by all of the officers in the department.
“They even had a little police officer uniform for him,” said Hilliard. “It had a hat, and Officer Davidson put on his hat and took a picture with him. It was so cool. He was so happy. I’ve never seen him that excited in my life.”
Davidson, who has been a city policeman for 10 years, said he enjoyed showing Jaxon around the station and talking to him about being a police officer.
“He (Jaxon) was excited. As soon as he came in, he was all smiles, and had lots of questions,” Davidson said. “I just walked him through a normal day for coming in ... whether it’s getting the information from the other officers and from previous shifts through the weekend, checking incidents and messages. I showed him the office, showed him the armory, showed him the cars. We put the tactical gear on him and explained to him what’s it’s for. I showed him the shields, the ram that knock doors in. I showed him how heavy everything is. In the police car, I let him hit the siren and the lights.”
Davidson also explained to Jaxon what it means to be a police officer.
Since his exciting visit to the police station, Jaxon said he wants to be a policeman more than ever.
“They really went above and beyond. They went out of their way to make his birthday special,” said Hilliard. “And it was hands down, the best part of his birthday. We had a party for him that night, but his day was made by that visit. I’m so glad they did it. Now he wants to be a police officer 100 times more, he’s so excited.”
“That’s why I’m smiling,” said Jaxon.
BROCKWAY — A chance conversation with Brockway Mayor William Hrinya lit up Brockway for the holiday season.
April London was at a Boy Scout Troop 40 meeting with Hrinya and asked about the state of decorations on the tree by the Little Toby Creek and American Legion Post.
“I was talking to Bill and said, ‘Who takes care of the borough Christmas tree?’” London recalled. “I remember it used to have decorations on it, but now it was just lights. He said that was something the Kaimanns did and put me in touch with them.”
While London checked into the Kaimanns end of the tree saga, she discovered that the group had been hoping to liven up the tree, but had not gotten anything off the ground. London was volunteered for the job.
London is used to organizing events, working with the Boy Scouts and National Night Out plus her involvement in her church. In order to make the tree successful, she knew she had to get the right people involved. The first step was the Boy Scouts.
“They really want to help their community,” she said. “They decorated the tree and then wanted to put garland and bows on the bridge. We ran out of supplies, so we will finish that up soon.”
The old, glass bulbs for the tree were 12 years old. London’s first step, with money provided by the Kaimanns, was to replace those old white Christmas lights with new, colorful LED lights.
“It’s been just white for so long that we wanted to brighten it up,” she said. “We put together 30 sets of lights.”
London got some assistance from the Brockway Volunteer Fire Department to string up the lights, which totaled 2,100 bulbs. However, the community tree needed more. With some help from Brockway Area Junior-Senior High School, and some donated ornaments purchased by the families and students of Brockway Area Elementary School, Christmas came early for London.
“My son Alex has been in Mrs. (Melanie) Oknefski’s art class for the past couple of years, so I thought I’d ask her,” London said. “Then Mr. (John) Barrow came over and they worked on some ideas for wood and paper decorations.”
Barrow does not like to waste wood in his wood shop, so he takes scrap wood, glues it together, and then lathes it down to a thin panel. The students then cut out Christmas ornament shapes on a jigsaw.
“I do this all year round,” Barrow said. “It’s a great way to keep students working when they finish projects early. I usually send ornaments to the elementary school for them to paint and send back. I had a bag of, maybe, 500 ornaments cut out and ready for someone to paint. Once I got them back, I sprayed them in polyurethane to make them last in the elements.”
Oknefski had also recently done a Christmas card project with her eighth graders. She had designed some Christmas ornaments, and could use concepts recently covered in her elective art classes to quickly turn out some decorations.
“I had some of my students trace and cut out designs,” Oknefski said. “Then they got to choose if they wanted to paint the wooden ones Mr. Barrow brought over or do the cardstock ones.”
Eighth grader Bailey Allison actually made ornaments from start to finish using a method that Oknefski had taught earlier.
“I drew my picture and then traced it on a linoleum piece,” Allison said. “I carved it in, so it was kind of backwards, and then rolled some paint on it. I then pressed that paint on some cardstock and rolled it again.”
This process is similar to the stamping process Oknefski made for the Christmas cards. In fact, since they already had their Christmas card designs done, the students re-did those cards for this tree as well.
Oknefski then joined forces with Shawn Gifford, the school’s librarian, to laminate the cardstock ornaments.
“This was the first time we had laminated Christmas ornaments,” Gifford said. “If it’s all flat and dry, it’s easy. But if it has any thickness to it, you have to be very careful. We also had to make sure all the paint dried. We got some very nice ornaments out of this.”
Senior Kalen Potts spent the whole process cutting out the Christmas baubles and other shapes.
“I cut them out and gave them to other people to decorate,” Potts said. “We didn’t do one particular thing. We made snow globes, gingerbread men, Christmas trees, things like that. Then I had to re-cut them out after they were laminated.”
Overall, the products were perfect for the giant tree standing by the Legion. The newly-redecorated Brockway Community Christmas Tree welcomes travelers into downtown Brockway. When coming into Brockway from the Ridgway side, look to the right when approaching the bridge and railroad tracks, just behind the Kaimanns’ sign.
“Everything was beautiful!” London said. “The students did a wonderful job. I’m pleased with the tree and heard a lot of compliments. People love to see it lit up again.”
FALLS CREEK — Contractors are expressing an interest in the Falls Creek Municipal Authority’s planned interconnection project with the City of DuBois.
Currently, the authority is advertising for bids for the project’s two contracts. One contract is for the water line and vaults and the other is for the communication system and mixer.
At the authority’s meeting last week, engineer Dan Carbaugh reported that 14 contractors picked up the plans on the water line contract and two did so for the communication system contract. He knew of some local contractors that are bidding.
Carbaugh thought it was possible that five or six more contractors could pick up plans.
“The more contractors you get, the better the bids you should receive,” he said.
At 2 p.m. Wednesday, a pre-bid conference will be held and at 2 p.m. on Dec. 20, the bid opening will take place.
Carbaugh said the contractors can attend the pre-bid conference, though attendance is not mandatory.
At the pre-bid conference, the project details will be reviewed and contractors can ask questions, he noted.
Carbaugh said after the bids are unsealed, Keller Engineers will tabulate the bids and do background checks on the contractors.
A recommendation will then be made for the authority for its January meeting.
PENNVEST (Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority) is providing the authority a $1,329,200 loan and a $670,800 grant for the project.
The work involves the construction of an interconnection with the City of DuBois, a control meter vault, pressure reducing valve vault and 12,600 feet of water transmission line, according to a news release from PENNVEST.
Carbaugh said a rate resolution must be passed for the PENNVEST closing on Feb. 22. He expected to have some rates ready for the authority’s January meeting.
Lu Inzana, the authority’s consultant, had a question about the rate resolution.
“We’re establishing a rate, but we don’t really have to increase our rates?” he asked.
“Possibly not,” Carbaugh said. “Basically, the rate resolution has to show that you’re going to have enough revenue coming in to pay PENNVEST back, the money back.”
When asked for comment, authority chairman Chad Smith said he hopes that an increase is not necessary.
The water project is scheduled to be completed no later than June 1, 2018.
The authority entered into a consent order with DEP in 2014 in an attempt to address a number of operational issues and water sources at the infiltration plant and to address long-term liability of the system. A decision was made to abandon the current surface water source and make connection to the City of DuBois’ water system.
Authority solicitor Joe Ryan told the authority that there was some information regarding right-of-ways for the project that needed to be discussed in executive session. Later in the meeting, the authority met behind closed doors, but no decisions were made when the authority emerged from executive session.