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Sandy Twp. approves sanitary sewer agreement with DuBois

After months of Sandy Township-DuBois sewer committee meetings, a sanitary sewer agreement between the two entities has been reached, said township Manager Shawn Arbaugh at Monday’s municipal authority meeting.

Arbaugh said the contract has been agreed to by both the township and city solicitors, as well as members of the sewer committee.

“We’re looking for approval tonight, a signature on the sewer agreement to send to DuBois to sign at their meeting on Aug. 12,” said Arbaugh. “After that, we would be anticipating to sign the resolution, supporting their Act 537 plan submission at our Aug. 15 meeting. I believe this was a good compromise and allows us really to have a sustainable sewer and water system here moving forward into the future.”

Supervisor Kevin Salandra made a motion to accept the agreement as presented, sign it and forward it to the city, with Supervisor Mark Sullivan seconding that motion.

“The only thing I have under the agreement number 3A ... is that the same rates as the city rates or are they different until 2024?” said Supervisors’ Chairman Jim Jeffers.

“They will be the same rates ... the city would keep those rates,” said Arbaugh. “If they (city) didn’t, so for example, under 3B it shows a $12 per thousand in the rate year 2020. If the city didn’t move the rates to that $12, we would be at the lower rate, but we would not exceed that $12 per thousand.”

The supervisors unanimously approved the sanitary sewer agreement.

“It’s been a long, exhaustive process,” said Arbaugh. “I really appreciate the sewer committee and the board’s approval of that, and am excited to move forward on this new agreement. I think it’s a positive step in the right direction.”

“I just want to thank the rest of the board for approving our agreement,” said Sullivan. “I know the two sewer committees have been at it for a couple of years now. I’m glad that we’re finally bringing this to conclusion. As Shawn stated, I think it’s a good thing for the township and the city.”

“I echo what Mark said and what Shawn said,” said Salandra. “We compromised and did the best we could for our residents.”

Supervisor Andy Shenkle thanked those on the committee for their hard work and said he believes the savings to the residents of the township will be “tremendous.”

Jeffers thanked Salandra for serving as the chairman of the sub-committee, as well as Sullivan for assisting him. He also expressed appreciation to Arbaugh and previous manager Dave Monella, in addition to citizen-at-large Dave Stern, who also helped with the agreement.

“It’s been a long grind,” said Jeffers. “Time will tell it’s a good agreement. It appears to be good. I know there’s been a lot of work, a lot of thought, a lot of discussion has been put into it. Let’s hope for the best and go from there.”

During the public comment portion of the meeting, Chad Stone, plant director at Danone North America’s facility located on the Oklahoma-Salem Road in Sandy Township, said, “I think it’s also the board’s openness to new opportunities and new conversations because I know it’s difficult with the city and I think the city is in the same boat. And so I think we win together. Time will tell if it’s a good agreement. I haven’t seen the agreement, honestly. I hope for the best for the businesses as well. The more money we can save ... we can invest in our businesses ... and create more jobs in the area.”

Details of the agreement have not yet been released.


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New York man serves up 'Dog Gone Crazy Hot Dogs' in Ridgway

RIDGWAY — A hot dog cart and trailer concession stand have been heating things up New York style in this Elk County community.

New York native Paul Akat, a retired New York City corrections officer who lives in St. Marys, prides himself on friendly customer service, all-beef hot dogs and hot sausage accompanied by a special sauce from his home state.

Akat bought the business from a man who sold the hot dogs in front of the Clearfield County Courthouse, keeping the business’ same name, “Dog Gone Crazy Hot Dogs.”

Akat said the hot dog cart was in downtown St. Marys for a couple of years, before he located to Ridgway; first, the St. Leo’s Parish parking lot, and now, at Lazy River Canoe Rental on West Main Street.

The hot dog cart has received a massive amount of positive feedback, he said, with people stopping by for a Coney Island dog with nachos and a drink or a New York dog with spicy brown mustard.

“Selling hot dogs on the corner feels like NYC to me,” Akat said. “I love interacting with people. This is my hobby and my fun.”

Besides local hot dog fans, Akat encounters travelers, too, including people from Oklahoma or Texas recently. LRCR has been a popular stop, especially on weekends, he says.

While Akat operates the hot dog cart in Ridgway, his wife has helped to run the concession stand in other locations, including Johnsonburg, he said.

“This is all-American food,” Akat said. “How can you go wrong with an all-beef hotdog with New York style sauce? People seem to love it.”

When Akat received word from St. Leo’s Parish that he had to remove his hot dog stand to accommodate another vendor in June, his Facebook post about the move drew 62 comments and more than 70 shares from valued Ridgway customers.

“Everyone offered me support and a place to bring my business,” he said. He ultimately decided on LRCR.

The Ridgway Borough Council is also searching for a downtown location where Akat can keep his concession trailer, he said.

A huge part of Akat’s business involves generosity, he says, such as giving away free hot dogs to youth with good report cards or fundraising for law enforcement and first responders. Almost every day, just by sharing or commenting on a Facebook post, people have the chance to win a free hot dog or sausage.

“I love Ridgway,” Akat said. “It’s a community of beautiful people, and I’m here to stay.”

For more information, visit Dog Gone Crazy Hot Dogs on Facebook or call 814-335-5969.


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Maple Shade Mansion brings guests to Brockway

BROCKWAY — For the past year and a half, the Maple Shade Mansion has hosted guests from all across the country and even as far away as Australia.

And it has a 5-star rating on Google.

That success came along with some new opportunities that excite proprietor Sharon Varischetti. However, the history is still a major part of the bed and breakfast’s continued success.

“The people who used to live here come to see what we’ve done and love it,” Varischetti said. “Especially the Ferraro family. They’ve visited here, stayed over, and shared pictures and stories about how their aunt used the home. We even had a grandson stay here. When he came here, he wanted to stay in his old bedroom. He showed us pictures of what that room used to be.”

Maple Shade Mansion was once the Buzzard Mansion on Main Street in Brockway. Time had not been kind to it, as it began to deteriorate. Despite the years it sat empty, Varischetti saw something beautiful beneath the decay. The house had beautiful parquet wood flooring, but it was black when Varischetti got inside. The central fireplaces had tile on them, but they, too, looked black. Leaks in the third floor, neglect, and time had ravaged the house that had been built in 1889.

Now, Maple Shade Mansion has six bedrooms with private baths. It has wifi. The formal dining area can be used for meetings and luncheons. The back garden can be used for parties and receptions. There is a basement area that is now open. Business is humming.

“We’ve been busy with luncheons, local dinners, and a guest chef for a day,” Varischetti said. “We did a wine and chocolate event with Dan Smith’s, and we taught people how to make chocolate martinis.”

While baby showers and bridal showers also take up schedule space, the weekday schedule is filled with business travel.

“We’ve been so blessed to have that capacity business,” said Maple Shade Manager Karl McCall. “And we have people coming on the weekends for weekend getaways.”

The weekenders are often local people who just need a break. Many are Brockway residents who just want to see what the place looks like inside.

The lunches, however, are taking off. They are getting ServSafe certified because that unexpected part of the business is taking up more and more time.

“We did our first luncheon as a favor,” McCall said. “Then word-of-mouth meant we’re doing them all the time. Today, we have someone staying. We served breakfast, then flipped the breakfast area for a luncheon, had them in and gone, and then flipped the space again to serve refreshments to the people staying here.”

People have booked based on the picture of the house and the high reviews online. The woman from Australia is getting married to a businessman in Brookville, and she said that the bed and breakfast had the best reviews.

Business guests come in to meet people in any town in the area, not just Brockway. Recently, some umpires had a chance to make a call on the B&B.

“We just had such a good week because Herm Suplizio from DuBois called us to see if the umpires from the baseball playoffs could stay here,” Varischetti said. “They were such a great group of guys. It worked well because the umpires didn’t have to interact with the players.”

Varischetti is very proud of how Maple Shade is allowing visitors to experience Brockway. People go to eat at the Rocky Grill or jog around the community in the mornings. Other guests have praised Taylor Memorial Park.

The repeat business keeps Varischetti and McCall happy. People call in and schedule trips over and over.

“People love the quaintness of our town,” Varischetti said. “It’s very exciting. It’s been a great year.”

Pictures and booking information are available on the mansion’s website, www.mapleshademansion.com.


Photo by Rich Rhoades 

Brookville Grays pitcher Thomas Plummer struck out 14 and walked one in a two-hit shutout as the Grays captured the Federation League title with a four-game sweep after Tuesday's 3-0 win over Pulaski.


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Dickinson Center Inc. offers hot meals to Elk County families this week

JOHNSONBURG — A behavioral health provider serving Elk and surrounding counties has been offering hot meals in different communities throughout the week.

Dickinson Center, Inc., of Servidea Drive in Ridgway, has started a “Hungry for Hope” initiative, providing food and resources to children and families in need in St. Marys, Emporium, Johnsonburg and Ridgway.

DCI staff members were on hand in St. Marys July 29, in Emporium Monday, Ridgway on Tuesday and its last stop is at 1 p.m. at 606 Market Street in Johnsonburg today. Any person in need is welcome, said organizer Heidi Thomas.

DCI, a nonprofit organization that provides behavioral health, intellectual and developmental disabilities and children’s prevention services, is recognized as one of the leading rural behavioral health providers in northwestern Pennsylvania, according to its website.

This effort is brand new, and stemmed from results of a Pennsylvania youth survey and a recent discussion at an Elk County Family Resource Network meeting, Thomas said. Results showed Elk County youth were expressing concerns when it comes to food.

“We know we certainly aren’t going to solve the problem, but we’d like to help,” Thomas said.

DCI staff understands that food security can very well impact a person’s mental well being, Thomas said.

Part of HFH is educating people on the resources available to them, such as the Salvation Army or area food banks, Thomas said.

“There are so many resources in our community that people don’t know about,” she said. “We want people to have that information.”

In each community, the meal was catered, with DCI staff members serving the food, Thomas said.

DCI hopes to offer the initiative over Thanksgiving and Easter breaks as well, Thomas said.

“This is an all-new venture for us,” she said. “We will try something else if this doesn’t work.”

Those wanting to help can make checks payable to Dickinson Center, and send them to 43 Servidea Drive, Ridgway, PA 15853. Nonperishable foods may also be taken to the facility’s drop-off location.


Photo Submitted 

Dogs and their owners both get to enjoy the fun in the pool at the Punxsutawney Pool’s Dog Swim.