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Elaine Haskins / Photo by Elaine Haskins  

DuBois Area Middle School students are shown leaving school Thursday afternoon. The DuBois Area School District is considering moving fifth-graders to the middle school.

Will DASD fifth-graders be moved to middle school? Board vote expected at tonight's meeting

DuBOIS — It’s time to hear if the DuBois Area School Board wants to move fifth-graders from their elementary schools to the middle school.

That proposal is expected to be on Thursday’s regular board meeting agenda. Board President Patty Fish recommended it at last week’s work session following Assistant Superintendent Wendy Benton’s presentation on the proposal.

“We have hundreds of hours of work into this and there is still a lot of work ahead,” Benton said.

That work includes:

  • Developing a master schedule;
  • Talking about course offerings: Curricular development and enhancements and additional instructional equipment and resources;
  • Making transition plans for students;
  • Discussing a Morning Extended Learning Opportunities period;
  • Determining bell schedules and staff assignments;
  • Identifying technology and instructional needs;
  • Building maps/configuration of classrooms.

“I would respectfully ask for some direction from the school board to see if we continue to invest in planning for the possibility of moving the fifth grade into the middle school,” Benton said. “We’re just looking for some guidance.”

“They are doing a lot of work,” Fish said. “If it is something we don’t want to do, we should not have them invest all this time.”

Tonight’s meeting will be held at 7 p.m. at the Administrative Center on Liberty Boulevard, DuBois.

Tentative plans call for renovating Pantall Hotel

PUNXSUTAWNEY — The dream of a renovated Pantall Hotel is still very much alive.

Jefferson County Commissioner Jack Matson said Tuesday that he and Commissioner Herb Bullers recently attended a meeting in Punxsutawney where tentative plans were rolled out by PRIDE (Punxsutawney Revitalization: Investing, Developing, Enhancing), for the future of the hotel.

The 64-room historic hotel was built in 1888 by Theo Pantall and was renovated in 1970.

In recent years, the hotel ran into financial difficulties, including back taxes.

Jefferson County Treasurer Jim VanSteenberg said the owners owed the 2017 taxes but were current on other back taxes.

Frank Roberts, of the Punxsutawney Regional Development Council, made a presentation about the hotel at a meeting with Pennsylvania Department of Commerce and Economic Development Secretary David Davin several years ago. Roberts said that group was in contact with the owner of the Pantall Hotel in Punxsutawney. He said the PRDC hoped to have control of the site and, once his group has site control it can begin to plan on renovating the structure.

Roberts said a complete overhaul would cost an estimated $5 million.

Photo by Chris Wechtenhiser 

DuBois Central Catholic's Jordy Kosko (22) makes a pass along the baseline as she is defended by Brockway's Kaitlyn Morelli (1) during second-half action Wednesday.

Borough to pursue meeting with township over ATV ordinance

RIDGWAY — The topic of all-terrain vehicle use on borough streets, which made waves at last week’s Ridgway Borough council meeting, was revisited Wednesday by members of its Street Lighting, Parking and Traffic Committee. The committee did not develop an ordinance to submit to council before adjourning, however it is now pursuing a broader ATV ordinance with Ridgway Township.

Borough residents in favor of the ordinance attended Wednesday’s meeting to work with committee members to develop an ATV ordinance that they say would bring tourism –and subsequently, businesses –into the area. But committee members said that the plan laid out before them highlighted several roads owned by entities other than borough.

Committee members appear to favor an ordinance that would permit ATV use within and not outside the borough.

“If we were to pass an ordinance today, you would have nowhere to go,” Committee and Council Member J.R. Geitner said.

Tom Fitch, who has appeared before council several times advocating for dual-use, said Wednesday that he has spoken with several individuals who are interested in starting new business ventures in town should tourism pick up. He and others hope to one day have a direct path between the borough and the Timberline Trail, an off-road trail in the nearby Allegheny National Forest, which would require municipalities outside of the borough pass similar ordinances.

The group of residents favoring the ordinance, some of whom belong to the Elk County Wilds Tourism Association, say that some form of action is needed in order to get the ball rolling.

Geitner noted that he spoke recently with officials from Ridgway Township who were not in favor opening their streets to the dual-use of ATVs and motor vehicles. Borough Manager Paul McCurdy previously told the Courier-Express that efforts to coordinate with the township, which owns roads abutting the borough, were met without firm commitment.

Talks with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, which owns state routes that cut through the borough, similarly went nowhere, he said.

The committee officially recommended it have a workshop with Ridgway Township officials to discuss the matter further in advance of a potential public meeting between the Ridgway Borough Council and Ridgway Township Supervisors regarding a joint effort.

Non-profit volunteers to survey county homeless population

DuBOIS — As part of a nationally coordinated effort, teams of local volunteers will be driving through Clearfield County today to compile an estimate of its homeless population. Findings they report will be used in applications for federal housing assistance programs benefitting local agencies.

Carried out one day each January, the Point-in-Time count measures the number of sheltered and unsheltered homeless persons in a given area. Volunteers from several local non-profit agencies are joining forces to conduct the count in Clearfield County.

“We’ll go out and count all of the unsheltered people, give them resources, try to help them,” Amy Rosman, Community Connections of Clearfield/Jefferson Counties Housing Specialist said. “It’s important to show HUD that homeless people are still out there.”

The count’s findings will be passed onto the Western Pennsylvania Continuum of Care and then to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. HUD uses the findings when determining the allocation of housing assistance funds.

Continuums of Care — local entities that assist homeless persons and programs — are required by HUD to submit count reports each year.

Rosman, who is overseeing the count in Clearfield County, said she and the other volunteers will follow up on tips called in about unsheltered individuals. If they locate a person about whom they receive a call, they will approach that person and ask him or her for permission to interview.

Rosman said the volunteers will be acting on information recently called in and on information called in throughout the day. She noted that the volunteer’s search is specifically for unsheltered individuals.

Sheltered persons are counted in shelter.

The Western Pennsylvania Continuum of Care comprises Clearfield, Jefferson, Elk and 17 other counties and last year reported a total homeless population of 837. Rosman said six unsheltered people were counted in Clearfield County last year, but there are likely others whose cases are never called in.

“We are aware that there are more out there,” she said.

To report potential cases of unsheltered homelessness during today’s search, call the Crossroads domestic violence project 1-800-598-3998. Crossroads will handle these reports only during today’s count.