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DuBois Middle School students share love of reading with pre-schoolers

DuBOIS — A group of DuBois Area Middle School students enjoy sharing their love of reading to local pre-school children who attend CenClear on Beaver Drive in DuBois.

“It’s just a little bit of an outreach to pre-schoolers to show them that we love reading,” said seventh-grade teacher Carrie Reynolds, noting that students of seventh-grade teacher Anna Woods participate as well.

“Anna has a connection with someone at CenClear and she asked them if it would be okay for us to bring our class,” Reynolds said. “And they said yes, and then the board approve for us to go. We’ve been going once a month, with the most recent last Thursday.”

“We just walk over,” Reynolds said. “This month, we read a ‘Readers’ Theater’ to the pre-school students.”

Typically, “We’ve been doing like a buddy reading, where they have my students practice a book and then they share it with a pre-schooler.”

Although they did that this month, too, they also performed two Readers’ Theaters.

“At the end of it, we have the pre-schoolers pick their favorite book and then we read it to them,” Reynolds said. “We encourage the reading. The love of it, you know, at such an early age.”

Two charged after infant tests positive for illegal drugs

CLEARFIELD — Two people were arrested after their 9-month-old baby tested positive for cocaine and amphetamines.

On Jan. 24, Lawrence Township police were notified by Children, Youth and Family Services that a 9-month old child tested positive for cocaine and amphetamines the night before.

According to CYS, at approximately 9 p.m. on Jan. 23, at 2273 Montgomery Run Road, the girl’s parents, Joshua A. Root, 32, of Clearfield and Melissa Root, 29, of Clearfield, fed the girl a bottle when she became very fussy and was shaking and vomiting. Melissa Root then asked Joshua Root to take the girl to Penn Highlands DuBois to be evaluated.

Joshua Root reportedly left the residence at 9:30 p.m. but hospital records show they didn’t arrive until 11:54 p.m. Jeff Smallwood accompanied Joshua Root and the girl to the hospital.

When the girl was evaluated and she tested positive for cocaine and amphetamines and she was transferred by ambulance to Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh.

The girl was released on Jan. 25 and was placed into protective custody with her grandparents. The Roots also had a 3-year-old daughter who was also placed in protective custody with her grandparents.

Police attempted to contact Melissa Root but were unsuccessful.

Joshua Root was asked to take a drug test but he refused.

On Jan. 26, CYS officials reported to Lawrence Township police that the Roots were being uncooperative and their stories don’t match up or make sense.

It was also discovered the 3-year-old daughter was very talkative so an interview was set up with the girl at the Child Advocacy Center.

The 3-year-old girl told police her sister began throwing up and “Mommy got mad at Dad” and began hitting him. She said “Daddy” then took her little sister to the hospital.

The girl also said daddy keeps “his stuff” on the coffee table in the living room.

She also said there were two people named “Alicia” and “Smallwood” at their home at the time. She said Alicia and Smallwood were “being bad” in her father’s workshop prior to her sister becoming ill.

On Jan. 27, Joshua and Melissa Root were interviewed at the Lawrence Township Police Station. Melissa Root said she didn’t know how this could have happened and said someone must have put something in the girl’s formula. She also said, she, Joshua and her two daughters were the only ones at the residence that night.

She was asked if she would be willing to take a polygraph test but she refused.

CYS informed police that Melissa Root had just tested positive for methamphetamine but they had to “roll” the test because the results were too low.

Joshua Root told police there were other people at the residence that night other than he, Melissa Root and the children. He also said he didn’t know how his daughter came in contact with cocaine and amphetamines and said someone must have put something in her formula.

He was also asked to take a polygraph but he refused.

Later that day Lawrence Township and Clearfield Borough Oolice officers and a state police K-9 unit served a warrant on the Roots’ home

Several people were at the residence and Joshua Root was inside a shed with the doors open. When he turned around and saw police, Joshua Root placed a glass pipe in his back pocket.

The home was searched and the dog signaled on a grocery bag and a glass pipe inside a dresser and a glass pipe underneath a mattress. Inside the grocery bag were 14 used “stamp bags.” Police also located a sawed off 16-guage shotgun.

Joshua Root admitted to smoking methamphetamine earlier that day.

Joshua Root was arrested and is incarcerated in the Clearfield County Jail in lieu of $25,000 monetary bail. The investigation continues.

While on the scene police also discovered Zachary D. Tibbens, 21, of Latrobe was in a vehicle in the driveway of the residence and he had a warrant for his arrest. Before taking him into custody, Assistant Chief Greg Neeper of the Clearfield Borough Police Department asked Tibbens if he had anything sharp in his pockets that could cut him and Tibbens said he didn’t.

While searching Tibbens, Neeper cut his finger on an uncapped hypodermic needle in Tibbens’ rear pants pocket. Neeper was immediately taken to Penn Highlands Clearfield for treatment.

Tibbens denied knowing the needle was in his pocket and said the needle and the pants weren’t his.

Tibbens was transported to the Clearfield County Jail and was charged with felony aggravated assault and misdemeanor simple assault and recklessly endangering another person.

Tibbens was arrested in September and October after drugs and hypodermic needles were found in his vehicle. A warrant was issued for his arrest for summons undelivered.

He is currently incarcerated in the Clearfield County Jail in lieu of $10,000 monetary.

Booth Joshua Root and Tibbens are scheduled to appear at preliminary hearings on Feb. 7 in front of District Magistrate Patrick Ford.

Survey finds slight increase in number of county homeless

DuBOIS — For the second year in a row, the number of known homeless individuals in Clearfield County has, if only slightly, increased. Volunteers last week located seven unsheltered, homeless people in the county during a federally directed survey.

The Point-in-Time count conducted in the county last year located six, and the one before that found five. The count, which is carried out one day each year nationwide, measures the number of sheltered and unsheltered individuals by county.

Clearfield County’s was conducted by volunteers from several local non-profit agencies. Last Thursday, they drove throughout the county to follow up on reported cases of homelessness.

The count’s findings are ultimately passed on to the U.S. Office of Housing and Urban Development to determine where housing assistance funding is most needed.

The higher number Clearfield County will report this year doesn’t mean homelessness is on the rise, but may mean that awareness of it is. There are likely more cases in the county than are reported, said Amy Rosman of Community Connections of Clearfield/Jefferson Counties.

Rosman, who oversaw the count locally, declined to say where in the county the individuals were located to protect their identities. She did say that several were found at laundromats, parking lots, and State Parks.

Volunteers worked mostly to follow up on leads that were called in just before the search. Rosman said no new tips were called in the day of.

There were no returning cases located this year. Rosman said those located during this year’s search are being directed toward shelter and supplies.

If you are homeless and seeking case assessment, call CenClear at 1-800-525-5437. After business hours, call the Haven Home at 814-371-0333.

Photo by Andy Stine 

Brockway's Leah Lindemuth (left) and Lady Rover head coach Dick Esposito pose for a picture after Lindemuth got her 1,000th point on Monday evening.

Katie Weidenboerner / Katie Weidenboerner  

Danger tape remained around certain areas of West Center Street on Nov. 21, 2017 after a man was shot by a police officer, pursuant to a warrant.

Officer involved shooting investigation referred to AG's office

RIDGWAY — The investigation of an officer involved shooting which occurred on Nov. 21, 2017 in Johnsonburg has been referred to the Office of the Pennsylvania Attorney General.

Under Pennsylvania law a district attorney may refer cases to the Office of the Pennsylvania Attorney General based upon the potential for an actual or apparent conflict on the part of a district attorney or the district attorney’s office.

Elk County District Attorney Shawn McMahon said in a statement released Monday afternoon that the case has been referred due to there being numerous areas of conflict, however he did not provide those reasons publicly. In the statement, he said he would not expound “to preserve the integrity of the pending criminal matter.”

According to an article previously published in the Courier-Express, the shooting occurred at approximately 12:30 a.m. Nov. 21 when a uniformed Johnsonburg Borough police officer approached a 30-year-old man along the 100 block of West Center Street.

While police originally said the officer approached the man pursuant to a warrant. In Monday’s press release, McMahon clarified there was no outstanding arrest warrant for the individual involved but rather a search warrant was outstanding for the individual involved at the time of the incident.

According to police, the man physically resisted the veteran officer’s attempt to take him into custody and fought the officer for several minutes. The officer was unable to gain control of the suspect and the fight escalated to a level where the officer fired one round from his sidearm, striking the subject in the torso.

The suspect was treated locally and then transferred to a trauma hospital where they were stabilized. The suspect’s condition was unknown as of press time.

Clearfield Co. spree killer among death row inmates suing over solitary

DuBOIS — Early in 1995, Mark Newton Spotz shot and killed his own brother in Clearfield County. In the ensuing days, he would kill three more people in a spree spanning Cumberland, Schuylkill and York counties.

For killing his brother, Spotz was convicted of voluntary manslaughter. For killing his other three victims, he was convicted of first-degree murder and thrice sentenced to death in 1996.

Today, after 21 years of solitary confinement and counting in State Correctional Institution Greene, Spotz and four other death row inmates are suing Pennsylvania prison officials in a federal lawsuit.

The suit challenges Pennsylvania policies that “cruelly and baselessly hold death-sentenced prisoners in permanent, degrading, and inhumane solitary confinement.”

The five prisoners, according to the lawsuit, spend 22 to 24 hours alone in their cells each day. Spotz, it said, experiences symptoms of prolonged isolation ranging from hopelessness to hallucinations.

In 2017, it continues, he attempted suicide. He and the four other plaintiffs, the lawsuit said, have no way of challenging their confinement under the Department of Correction’s “blanket policy.”

The suit asks the court to end the confinement of 156 death row inmates in Graterford and Greene state prisons. It is being brought against the wardens of those prisons and the state Corrections secretary.

The suit was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union. Pennsylvania, according to the Associated Press, has executed three people since 1976.

Gov. Tom Wolf enacted three years ago a moratorium on the death penalty that he said will remain in place until a state Senate-commissioned study of capital punishment is complete.