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Medical marijuana dispensary opens in Brookville

BROOKVILLE — Jefferson County’s first medical marijuana dispensary has opened in Brookville.

A Wednesday ribbon cutting ceremony marked the opening of the Herbology facility at 240 West Main Street in Brookville, below the Medicine Shoppe.

The new firm’s hours of operation will be 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and Sunday 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Individuals must have a medical marijuana card to enter the dispensary.

According to Ian Gibbs, the Community Marketing Manager for Herbology, Pennsylvania is one of the easiest states in which to apply for a medical marijuana card.

“The process is really simple, you go to the medicalmarijuana.pa.gov to find out the process, or you can call our store and we can explain the process,” Gibbs said.

If an individual does not have a medical marijuana card, and needs help applying, the workers at the dispensary will assist in the process. They will come outside to talk with individuals and explain where the proper forms and paperwork can be found. They can also be reached by calling 814-817-6658.

“Pretty much every cultivator there is, we have them here, so the patients have access to any version or type of medicine that they require,” Gibbs said.

The main supplier of the dispensary is Grassroots, which is the parent company of Herbology. Grass Roots supplies all 59 dispensaries across Pennsylvania, nine of which are Herbologies.

Grassroots has an indoor grow facility in Chambersburg. Having just joined the market in March, they are the newest company in the state. Herbology will be selling its flower, oil concentrates, vape cartridges, and Rick Simpson oil, which is a potent form of THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol), the psychoactive component of marijuana.

Herbology operates a facility in DuBois as well. The Brookville location will provide a closer dispensary to some residents on the western side of Jefferson County and Clarion County.

Another Brookville firm, Cascade Restorative Medical Arts Inc., has a Pennsylvania medical marijuana certified physician. Cascade is “a team dedicated to helping patients who need medical marijuana.”

There are four steps to becoming a medical marijuana card holder in Pennsylvania. Patients must register on the department of health website, www.health.pa.gov. Next they must schedule an appointment with a medical marijuana certified physician like the one at Cascade to review medical records for a qualifying condition. During the appointment the physician will evaluate the patient, and go over the benefits and risks of medical marijuana for their specific condition. Once approved by the physician, the last step is to pay for the medical card, and wait for it to come in the mail.

Once a patient has a medical marijuana card, it can be used at any dispensary, and any location. Pennsylvania currently has 23 qualifying conditions for medical marijuana cards listed on the Pennsylvania Department of Health including; anxiety disorders, cancer, epilepsy, opioid use disorders, severe chronic or intractable pain.


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How workers found the medical marijuana industry

BROOKVILLE — A common thread among all the Grassroots employees present at the Herbology ribbon cutting is that they found their way to the medical marijuana industry through a passion for health.

Community Marketing Manager Ian Gibbs, has been in the industry for a little over a year. He has a background in sports and health science. Gibbs has his own medical marijuana card related to his status as a disabled veteran, and began researching other illnesses.

He was originally a teacher of children with special needs. During one summer, he was working with a child who has epilepsy. This child had a magnet that Gibbs had to rub over his heart when he suffered a seizure.

“I was a card-holder myself... and I wanted to do some research as far as the benefits for epilepsy. I found it, and I took it to this kid’s mom,” Gibbs said.

Gibbs said marijuana transitions to the health and wellness world like a supplement.

“The more research I did, the more information I learned, the more educated I became, the more passionate I became about it,” Gibbs said.

He applied for an internship with the company, and instead they offered him a position once having seen his resume. He attributes his position to luck, as he works on the corporate side of the industry.

Other members of the marketing team present were Erica Kunkle and Jamie Apperson.

Kunkle worked in pharmaceutical sales for many years before moving into medical insurance.

“I’ve seen all sides of the healthcare industry... I’m a true believer in the health benefits of medical marijuana,” Kunkle said.

Once she found her passion for the industry, she realized she wanted to be part of the grower side of it. She researched all the approved companies before deciding which one would be the best fit for her and vice versa. She feels she found a good fit with Grassroots.

Her colleague, Apperson, had worked in marketing for one of Pennsylvania’s major liquor companies before deciding she wanted to be using her marketing skills for something health related. She has always been a supporter of medical marijuana, and passionate about health and wellness.

It was by chance that she met Kunkle and other members of the team during an event Grassroots held in State College. When a position in marketing opened, they remembered meeting her, and reached out to her about the opportunity. Apperson has been with the company about a month now, and is happy about the change in jobs.


BriFleming90 / Brianne Fleming  

Pastor Harold Hills stands in the sanctuary of Smithtown Community Church.


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Juniata Street Bridge expected to re-open by Friday

Sandy Township Public Works Director Matt Cook said the Juniata Street Bridge is expected to be re-opened Friday, just in time for the first day of school for students in the DuBois Area School District.

“It’s probably going to be late Thursday until we finish the black top,” Cook said at Monday’s municipal authority meeting.

Cook said all of the work for the project has been done by several township employees and he is very pleased with how it went.

Cook said he has updated the DuBois Area School District Transportation Director several times about the project.

“I let him know we will be open, one way or the other, Friday, for the first day of school,” said Cook.

DuBois Act 537 Plan The supervisors, at both the municipal authority and supervisors’ regular meeting, approved a resolution approving the City of DuBois’ Act 537 Sewage Plan. Township Engineer Perry Bowser said the resolution will be forwarded to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.

The city is proposing to build a new sewage treatment plant with an estimated project cost of $45 million. The city’s present plant, located at 96 Guy Ave., was built in 1960. The plan will determine how large the city needs to construct its new sewage treatment plant because Falls Creek and the township are municipal customers of the city.

On Wednesday, city Manager John “Herm” Suplizio said once the Act 537 Plan is approved by the DEP, the city will contract with an engineering firm.

“That engineering firm will design our plant and then construction will follow after that,” said Suplizio, noting construction is expected to begin in about two years.


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Back to school: School starts on Friday for DASD students

After four days of classroom preparation and numerous professional development sessions, the DuBois Area School District faculty and staff are prepared to welcome back their 3,500 students Friday, the first day of school for the 2019-2020 school year, according to Superintendent Wendy Benton.

“The faculty and staff of the DuBois Area School District are honored and excited to have students return on Friday,” said Benton. “Our team is stronger than ever and well prepared to begin a new school year. The administration, teachers and staff have worked very hard over the summer months to prepare for the 2019-2020 school year. We are committed to making a positive impact on the lives of our students and to the mission of our district: ‘Teaching today’s learners to be tomorrow’s leaders.’”

A few of the professional development sessions this week included training on:

  • Recognizing and Responding to Children at Risk
  • Trauma Awareness and Strategies for Creating a Trauma-Sensitive Classroom
  • Homelessness and Foster Care
  • Include Me – strategies to include students with significant disabilities within the regular education setting
  • Vernier Training for members of our science department
  • Get More Math & Eureka Math
  • Classroom Diagnostic Tools
  • Positive Behavior Supports
  • Career Cruising
  • Data Analysis of student achievement on PSSA and Keystone Exams
  • STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Music) Training – innovative technology to promote project based and hands on learning

David Volpe, who is one of four high school counselors, said he is excited to get back into the swing of things.

“I like to get the school year going. I like to see my kids and meet the new kids, and make sure that they are all ready for the school year,” said Volpe.

High school chemistry teacher Rob Keith, who is starting his 18th year of teaching, is looking forward to starting the new school year as well.

“We got some new equipment so I’m excited about getting some of that up and running,” said Keith.

During the professional development sessions this week, Keith said he enjoyed a science-specific presentation.

“It was an all-day presentation, learning about new equipment and this company that wants to help with maybe getting a grant together to purchase some of this equipment,” Keith said. “That was really nice because we don’t often get science-specific presentations so the science department, in general, was very excited about that.”

“We’re looking forward to a great year,” said middle school English teacher and DuBois Area Education Association President Dawna Vanderpool. “We’re starting out the year with our new superintendent and assistant superintendent in place and I’m very excited to be working with both of them.”

“It’s been a good week,” said Vanderpool. “Of course, it’s been jam packed full of new information and trying to get a jumpstart on paperwork and forms, but it’s going to come whether we’re ready or not.”

High school English teacher and English Department Chairwoman Dorothea Hackett, who is starting her 41st year, said the trauma awareness presentation was very informative.

“There was lots of new information in that, that I was not aware of. So it really helps enhance any of the strategies and things that I’m working with this year,” said Hackett. “But just overall, once Aug. 1 hits, I am just so ready and itching to get back into the swing of things.”

Hackett, who is also in charge of the theater department, said the spring musical for the 2019-2020 school year has already been decided, “Guys and Dolls,” which is a story set in Depression-era Times Square and is about a couple of big city gamblers and the women who love them. She noted it will be performed by the DAHS cast in April, slightly earlier than usual. However, the first performance of the year for the drama department, a series of one-act plays, will be on Halloween, Hackett said. All proceeds are donated to the Helping Hands Food Bank for the one-act plays.

Wasson Elementary fourth grade teacher Becky Pasternak said she is looking forward to meeting her new students this year and working with them on some of the new STEM projects.

Open house

Benton said all families are invited to join the district for open house on the following dates:

  • Fifth and sixth grades were held Wednesday evening
  • Elementary: Thursday (tonight) from 4:30-6 p.m.
  • Seventh and eighth grade: Thursday, Sept. 12 from 4:30-6 p.m.
  • High school: Thursday, Sept. 26, 4:30-6 p.m.

Free breakfast and lunch

Benton reminds all families that all students are eligible to receive one free breakfast and one free lunch daily.

“We strongly encourage all students to participate,” said Benton.

She noted some reported benefits for children who eat breakfast:

  • Fewer absences from school
  • Gets children to class on time
  • Reduces behavior problems
  • Better test scores
  • Boosts Brain Power
  • Increased energy & attention span
  • Able to concentrate
  • Able to retain information
  • Improves mood and energy
  • Make fewer trips to the school nurse with stomach complaints related to hunger.
  • More likely to be healthy
  • Provides important nutrients kids need
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Participate in physical education
  • Promotes muscle growth
  • Have lower blood cholesterol levels
  • Battles Diabetes
  • Improves heart health

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Msgr. Charles Kaza resigns as president of DuBois Area Catholic Schools

The Catholic Schools Office of the Diocese of Erie has announced that Bishop Lawrence Persico has accepted the resignation of Msgr. Charles Kaza as president of DuBois Area Catholic Schools.

The step was taken, the diocese said, to ensure the school system is able to operate efficiently as the new academic year begins. Msgr. Kaza was placed on administrative leave, restricting him from active ministry, effective May 13, pending investigation of an allegation of sexual abuse. He maintains his innocence and has not resigned as pastor of St. Tobias Parish in Brockway. Father Leo Gallina continues to serve as temporary administrator at the parish.

The responsibilities of the president of DuBois Area Catholic Schools will continue to be handled by the Board of Members and supported by the Catholic Schools Office (CSO) in collaboration with the DuBois Catholic School Board. Gretchen Caruso will remain in her role as headmaster, and will work with the executive committee of the board and the CSO to manage the overall operations of the system.

According to Jim Gallagher, superintendent of schools for the Diocese of Erie, the resignation will give the board and the CSO time to review the administrative needs of DuBois Area Catholic Schools for the future, and to develop an implementation plan for the next school year.

“Everyone involved has only the best interests of the schools in mind,” Gallagher said. “I am confident that Gretchen and the executive committee are well-prepared, and I look forward to a strong year for DuBois Area Catholic Schools.”