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O.B. Grant House owners to participate in Ridgway historic tour Saturday

RIDGWAY — Larry and Diane Haney, owners of a renowned historical home on West Main Street in Ridgway, will be a part of the “Foundations of Ridgway — How to Date a House by its Cover” tour Saturday.

Haney — who also owns houses in Florida, Cape May, New Jersey, and Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, outside of Philadelphia — was searching on the National Registry of Historic Places when he came across the O.B. Grant House at 610 West Main St., built in 1876, he said.

He saw it once, he says, and told his wife, “We’re buying it,” about 2 1/2 years ago. He stayed at The Towers Victorian Inn, where he had a great experience and enjoyed the town of Ridgway itself.

Ever since, the Haney’s have attended estate sales and visited antique shops, searching for historical Victorian tables, photographs, bedroom furniture, flower arrangements, dining sets and more to fill the large house with, he said.

Col. Oscar “Doc” B. Grant, born in Sullivan County, New York, served in the U.S. Navy during the Civil War. He and his wife, Sarah M. Grant, lived at the West Main Street Victorian house, completed with a wrap-around porch, in 1876.

Grant dismantled the tannery in Liberty, New York, passed down by his father, Sen. Robert Young Grant, in 1870, moving to Ridgway in 1867, where he continued to work in the leather tanning business. Grant and Charles Horton operated the Ridgway Tannery until it was merged with the United States Leather Company in 1893, according to a narrative history.

Grant became first vice president of the U.S. Leather Co. He was elected school director by Ridgway Township citizens in 1890.

This isn’t the Haney’s first older house, since the one in Montgomery County was built in 1800, he said.

Filling these Victorian masterpieces with “just the right items, in the right place,” has become somewhat of an enjoyable hobby for Haney.

“I had a place in mind for every photo,” he said, adding that he and his wife did a lot of research on Grant and the house itself. When looking back on old photos, the house looks almost exactly the same.

The Haney’s have given a tour of it before, he said, and enjoyed showing people around the home after its restoration.

The home was a “blank canvas” for him, Haney said, having a lot of its original flooring, paint colors and tall door and window frames and high ceilings. Much of the house’s work was done by Hyde-Murphy Company.

Haney, a Vietnam veteran and retired gun shop owner, acquired several historical and U.S. Military-related photos to hang on the walls or on the mantel of the four fireplaces.

The tour, designed by Dale Fox — longtime board member of the Ridgway Heritage Council — will offer 17 “teaching stops” throughout the one-hour adventure, ranging from old, modest structures to newer, grant Victorians. Tours will run every half hour between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.

Tickets can be purchased in advance by calling 814-776-1424 or on the day of the tour at the Ridgway-Elk Chamber of Commerce Welcome Center.

Alex Nelson 

The new One Stop convenience store is under construction and is nearing completion. Klaiber Construction works on the interior.

City of St. Marys '120 Connector Project' receives $2.5 million in funding

ST. MARYS — The City of St. Marys’ request for $2.5 million in funding for a connector project, designed to alleviate traffic difficulties and provide convenient and direct access to State Route 120 downtown, has been approved.

According to a news release by the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, the approval for new funding for transportation infrastructure improvements was announced Tuesday by the Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf Administration.

The Transportation Infrastructure Investment Funds (TIIF) Program, administered in cooperation with the DCED and Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT), approved funds for the City to construct a “connector road” to bypass the Diamond downtown, according to a news release.

This investment, said DCED Secretary Dennis Davin, will improve traffic patterns around the region, and help to alleviate challenges faced by St. Marys drivers.

A study conducted by Michael Baker International in 2018 estimated that a connector would take 17 percent of truck traffic out of the downtown area, according to the City.

“The 120 Connector Project is vital to the long-term economic development of the city of St. Marys, and is an integral part of our downtown revitalization efforts,” said City Manager Timothy Pearson in a news release. “This project will open a corridor for the new downtown city park and the new Straub Beer Visitor Center while creating efficient and safe access for our growing industrial base in the city.”

The State Route 120 connector road, constructed to minimize conflict points, would provide for safer pedestrian traffic, while also improving more efficient routes for businesses, and providing more convenient and direct access to both sections of Route 120, according to the DCED.

In his Facebook post Tuesday night, St. Marys Mayor Lou Radkowski said he is “looking forward” to seeing what comes next for the city.

“Improving walkability in St. Marys has been a big issue for me, and I’m happy that the state is helping us do this,” he said in the post.

Radkowski also thanked the DCED, Pearson, the City’s Community and Economic Development manager Tina Gradizzi, Pennsylvania Sen. Joe Scarnati and Matt Gabler for contributing to this cause.

This project will not just help enhance the City’s traffic flow, but provide better business opportunities in the Elk County area, said PennDOT Secretary Leslie Richards in the DCED news release.

Domico to be honored with Conservation Stewardship Award

Each year, the PA Wilds Center for Entrepreneurship Inc. (PA Wilds Center) recognizes outstanding individuals, organizations, programs, communities and places that exemplify the great work being done across the region to develop nature tourism and the outdoor recreation economy in a way that creates jobs, diversifies local economies, inspires stewardship and improves quality of life.

Curwensville's Pat Domico, who championed the Squirrel Tails for Trout program and has used that program to help stock trout in local waterways, will be honored with the individual Conservation Stewardship Award at the dinner slated for Thursday, Nov. 7 at the DuBois Country Club in DuBois.

Hosted by the PA Wilds Center in coordination with the PA Wilds Planning Team, the PA Wilds Annual Dinner and Awards is a premier annual networking opportunity in the Pennsylvania Wilds. More than 250 businesses and community leaders from across the region, along with state partners and officials from Harrisburg, gather to celebrate the Champions of the Pennsylvania Wilds award winners during the PA Wilds Annual Dinner and Awards.

The theme of this year’s event is “The PA Wilds: A Rural Development Hub,” which will focus on an innovative approach to community and economic development in rural America and uplift the many people involved in such work.

“So many people and organizations contribute to the success of the PA Wilds, and it is our great pleasure to honor champions each year at this event,” said Ta Enos, founder and CEO of the PA Wilds Center. “These winners are making a powerful impact in their communities and within our regional landscape. The PA Wilds Annual Dinner and Awards is a great occasion to celebrate these leaders and honor their accomplishments.”

The following people and places in Clearfield and Elk Counties earned the following awards:

Conservation Stewardship (Individual) Award

Winner: Patrick Domico of Curwensville – Clearfield County

Patrick Domico will receive the Individual Conservation Stewardship Award for his efforts to develop and sustain the Squirrel Tails for Trout organization.

Domico developed the non-profit years ago to improve recreation opportunities and fish stocking so that the local community and visitors can enjoy fishing in the Pennsylvania Wilds. Domico continues to gain support from many businesses and community members, including sponsorships and grants from area businesses.

Domico has also developed and planned many fishing derbies for children of all ages on the Susquehanna River and at Parker Dam State Park, including the Kid’s Fishing Derby which celebrated its 44th year in April. Domico’s conservation impact includes commitment to conservation efforts to improve outdoor recreation and state parks, youth conservation, and wildlife, among others.

Great Places Award Winner: The Depot

at Doolittle’s – DuBois, Clearfield CountyThe Depot at Doolittle’s, developed by Dr. Jeff Rice, has received the Great Places Award due to the innovative asset development and promotion that have worked together to create a unique tourism destination within the Pennsylvania Wilds.

The Depot at Doolittle’s offers creative ventures to draw visitors from all over the country, including five restaurants — four housed in train railcars — that feature fine or regular dining, a brewery, and brick oven pizza; railcars that have been converted into beautiful B&Bs; and, new this year, Dr. Rice created a large animatronic dinosaur exhibit, possibly the largest in Pennsylvania.

More than 1,500 visitors walked through that exhibit during the first weekend of operation. The Depot at Doolittle’s is an affordable, high-value tourism destination that features heritage education, environmental stewardship and conservation, youth programming, and more.

Inspiring Youth Award Winner: Jamie Caskey

& St. Marys Area H.S. Ecology Club – Elk CountyMrs. Jamie Caskey is the 2019 recipient of the Inspiring Youth Award for her dedication, work and commitment as advisor of the St. Marys Area High School Ecology Club.

Under Mrs. Caskey, the Ecology Club works tirelessly in assisting with environmental activities in Elk County. Each year the club does at least one river cleanup; they’ve planted native pollinator gardens, conducted litter pick-ups, built and installed bluebird boxes, and more.

As stated in the nomination, “The student’s that are in the club really work hard, and put their hearts into everything they do. They are a great group of kids to work with” and Mrs. Caskey’s influence is a big part of that.

The 2019 PA Wilds Annual Dinner & Awards will be held Thursday, Nov. 7, at the DuBois Country Club, 10 Lakeside Ave., DuBois. The event will open at 3 p.m. with networking opportunities, and the program will begin at 5 p.m.

Katharine Ferguson, associate director of the Aspen Institute Community Strategies Group (CSG) and director of CSG’s Regional and Rural Development Initiatives, will keynote the event and report on innovative community and economic development models in rural America.

Event registration is now open at http://www.pawildscenter.org/awards-dinner/registration.