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Cheryl Oknefski is a deck of all creative trades in Ridgway

RIDGWAY — Cheryl Oknefski, a deck of all creative trades, offers alternative and holistic health services out of her Main Street studio.

Through the expertise of more than one instructor, “Peaces of Me” studio in Ridgway is an underground gateway to several services, including yoga sessions, reiki, reflexology, massage, guitar lessons and more.

Oknefski dips her foot in several creative outlets. She is also a chainsaw carver, painter and jewelry maker, and sells the artwork of other artists at her studio.

Oknefski moved back to Ridgway in 2010 with her yoga certification, teaching at churches and other locations, she said. POM studio opened in December 2016 at South Street Botanical Designs.

After she hosted a “shoulder, neck and back” yoga session and had 25 participants, Oknefski wanted to make it a regular part of her schedule. POM studio now hosts the class at 4:25 p.m. Tuesdays. It’s also offered at 3:10 p.m. at Francis S. Grandinetti Elementary School during the school year.

Other than the aerial yoga class, anyone who is a beginner can attend a session, Oknefski said. She does her best to make everyone feel at home and at peace.

“I help guide every student, so they know exactly what they’re doing in the poses,” she said. “Everyone is within their own selves here — they don’t focus on what others are doing.”

Each of POM’s five instructors specializes in a different kind of yoga, Oknefski said, and offers some form of healing, which can include anything from a focus on energy and music to baton twirling.

The studio’s presence is all about love and peace, Oknefski says, with calming paint colors, running water, dim lighting and the smell of essential oils.

POM started with just a yoga room before the entire downstairs space was renovated, Oknefski said. It now has a space for guitar lessons with Frank O’Connell, massage, yoga and reiki rooms and Oknefski plans to add a “salt vault” to help detoxify the air and the body.

Oknefski also hosts several workshops, including metalworking and dreamcatcher sessions and paint and sips.

Oknefski can be seen at the Chainsaw Carvers Rendezvous with willow tree angel, peace sign or yoga creations. She also makes salves and sprays, and sells natural products at “Up the Crick” wine and antiques shop in Jersey Shore.

Oknefski and her partner, Snuffy Destefano, who is also a well-known chainsaw carver, live on a farm in Ridgway where they grow their own vegetables and berries, aiming to live a sustainable lifestyle.

For more information, call Oknefski at 814-512-6387, visit Peaces Of Me on Facebook or www.peacewithcheryl.com or email peace625@live.com.


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DASD holds public hearing for $17.3 million Wasson Elementary renovation project

About 10 members of the public attended a public hearing Tuesday for the purpose of reviewing the planning, designing, constructing, furnishing and equipping of an addition to Wasson Elementary School in Sandy Township.

Also at the Act 34 hearing were several school administrators, directors and Mike Kelly from KCBA Architects. Act 34 of 1973 requires that a public hearing be held on all new construction and substantial additions for second, third and fourth class school districts.

During the hearing, a description of the elementary school project was presented. This included information concerning the educational, physical, administrative, budgetary and fiscal matters related to the project. Prior to the public hearing, this information was also available at the district administrative office, 500 Liberty Boulevard.

Earlier this year, the DuBois Area School Board, by resolution, adopted and authorized the maximum project cost of $17,390,504 and a maximum building construction cost of $3,386,267.

During the public comment portion of the hearing, only one person, Jim LaBorde, asked about the construction egress due to concerns about construction vehicles being on his property located near the school.

A project update will be held at the board work session on Oct. 24, which will include construction documents.

At the Dec. 4 board meeting, KCBA will provide another project update and seek approval to go out to bid.

The project is expected to be “out to bid” on Jan. 28, 2020. Final approval of the building project is anticipated in March 2020.

At the April board meeting, the board granted approval for KCBA Architects to move forward with plans for renovating and expanding Wasson Elementary School.

The renovation and expansion is expected to include: A full renovation of the existing building, a new roof, reconfiguration of the floor plan, replacement and modernization of interior finishes, replacement of heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems, upgrades to plumbing and fire protection systems, security upgrades, accessibility and code upgrades and an eight-classroom addition.


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Summerville Story Project takes on new goal

SUMMERVILLE – A group has been working in Summerville not only to preserve the history of the town, but to bring back some of the history in new ways.

The Summerville Story Project is a group dedicated to gathering the stories and history of the town, even if some of those stories have become clouded over the years.

The group is currently raising funds to build a shelter on the Rails to Trails stop, which used to be a train station when the tracks were in use. Group member Dan Bowser said the organization wants the shelter to be reminiscent of the old train station building.

He is also hoping the shelter can be converted into a completed building later. There will also be a chestnut grove planted around the structure like the ones that grew there before a blight came through.

The trees will be planted before the structure is started because the group already knows where the shelter will go. Penn State has authentic American Chestnut trees, which are the closest to what originally grew in the area.

“We’re making an attempt to bring back some of the life and sense of pride to the area,” Bowser said.

Bowser helped to write a book on the history of Summerville, which was published two years ago. The book, “Troy/Summerville Pennsylvania is a collection of facts, oral history, memories, and many pictures used to tell the story of Summerville form 1782 to 2016.

The book takes its title from Summerville’s once having been known as Troy. The land was bought by Summers Baldwin in 1812. The area was perfect for logging, rafting and farming, which started the growth of industry and population in the area. Later the industry would shift to coal and clay mining, all of which is captured in the book.

The group responsible for the book met weekly for three years, with a total of more than 75 people attending the project meetings. Each person’s name appears at the end of the chapter for which they helped compile information.

One of their main fundraisers is the sale of calendars. They now have 2020 calendars available for purchase. The 2020 calendars were mostly designed by Summerville resident Peggy Ohl.

Ohl didn’t grow up in Summerville as many of those involved in the Story Project did. Her grandparents lived here, and she would come to visit. She had always wanted to live in Summerville.

She moved to town when her grandmother’s house was offered for sale, and she was able to buy it. She is now very involved in the project, and was the main force behind the new calendars.

The theme for the 2020 calendar is men and woman at work, with full historical photos on the top of the each page. Some of the days of the month have small photos on them showing historical events that happened in town on those days. Bowser said there are more than 5,000 images used in the calendar. The back cover also has 12 bonus photos for those who purchase a calendar.

The money from the calendars, and any donations the group receives will go toward building the structure at the trail head.


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Senator resigns after child porn arrest revelation

HARRISBURG — Pennsylvania state Sen. Mike Folmer has resigned in the aftermath of an arrest on charges of possession of child pornography.

Folmer’s resignation was announced Wednesday afternoon in a news release from Senate Republican leaders Joe Scarnati and Jake Corman.

“We are sickened and disturbed by the charges brought against Mike Folmer yesterday,” Scarnati and Corman said in a joint statement. “We have reviewed the criminal complaint and spoke with Mike Folmer early this morning to insist on his resignation from the Senate. We are in receipt of his letter of resignation and the 48th Senatorial District seat is now vacant.”

Folmer, formerly the powerful chairman of the Senate State Government Committee, was arrested Tuesday after an investigation by the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office, which said it discovered images of child pornography on his personal phone. The investigation was sparked by a tip by the Tumblr social media website, which alerted authorities that child pornography had been uploaded by a user.

The Pennsylvania Republican Party weighed in with a statement condemning Folmer after word emerged of his resignation.

“There is nothing partisan about protecting children who are the most vulnerable among us,” the party’s statement read. “The shocking and utterly reprehensible allegations against Senator Folmer necessitated his immediate removal from the Pennsylvania Senate and we are glad that he has resigned accordingly.”

The resignation came after a morning filled by demands from many of Folmer’s colleagues and state officials, including Gov. Tom Wolf, that he needed to step down from his legislative post.

“Last evening, Senator Mike Folmer was charged with possession of child pornography by the State Attorney General’s Office,” said Sen. John DiSanto, one of Folmer’s fellow Republicans, Wednesday morning on Twitter. “The sexual exploitation of children is immoral and criminal. He needs to resign immediately and be held accountable for his actions.”

“The charges against Senator Folmer are deeply disturbing,” said Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa. “Given his acknowledgement to possessing child pornography I am calling for his resignation. I believe his constituents and the Senate would be best served by his stepping aside.”

Media reports Wednesday indicated that Folmer was released on $25,000 bail following his arrest Tuesday.

As chairman of the State Government Committee, Folmer was one of the leading voices for redistricting reform, drawing praise from Democratic lawmakers for having the courage to call a hearing in 2018 to discuss proposals to reform the state’s process for drawing legislative districts despite alleged opposition from legislative leaders in the state. At the same time, he has also been a prominent conservative voice against the growth of government in the state.