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GOP candidates launch multi-day campaign tour in Tri-County area and beyond

DuBOIS — On Tuesday, U.S. Rep. Glenn “GT” Thompson joined several statewide Pennsylvania Senate and General Assembly candidates on a GOP four-county campaign tour which began at the DuBois Diner and was scheduled for nine stops over a two-day period.

Others participating in the Republican tour include Pennsylvania attorney general candidate Heather Heidelbaugh, Pennsylvania auditor general candidate Tim DeFoor and Pennsylvania treasurer candidate Stacy Garrity.

In addition to statewide candidates, the tour features Pennsylvania Senate candidates Cris Dush, 25th District, and Wayne Langerholc Jr., 35th District, and Pennsylvania General Assembly candidates seeking reelection, Rep. Martin Causer (67th), and Rep. Tommy Sankey (73rd). Additionally, open seat candidates for the Pennsylvania General Assembly Brian Smith (66th) and Mike Armanini (75th) are scheduled to be in attendance. State Rep. Matt Gabler, who is not seeking reelection, was also in attendance.

The campaign tour began with a stop in DuBois. Thompson then traveled to Jefferson County to attend a meet-and-greet at the GOP headquarters in Punxsutawney. There was another stop at Memorial Park in Brookville. The tour continued in Ridgway, with a scheduled stop at the Elk County Courthouse lawn, followed by a dinner at the Red Fern Inn in Kersey.

On Wednesday (today), the tour is set to continue in Emporium, Cameron County, with an 8 a.m. breakfast at the Emporium Fire Hall. The candidates will make their way to McKean County for a lunch at Evergreen Park in Kane, starting at noon.

Thompson’s final stop with the tour is scheduled to be in Bradford, McKean County, at the Bradford Callahan Park Pavilion from 5-8 p.m.

While at the diner, Dush told supporters that he is grateful for the partnership with the Thompson campaign on the tour.

“I want to stress this. Every one of us needs to make sure that every single person who can vote in rural Pennsylvania gets out to vote,” said Dush.

Dush said he, along with Sankey and Gabler, have approximately 64,000 constituents.

“Same thing goes for the ones down in Bucks and Montgomery and Chester County, Delaware County in Philadelphia,” said Dush. “They’re turning out 35,000 people to vote down there to our 20 in presidential elections. In 2016, we bumped from 20,000 to 25,000 and President Trump won by 44,000. Now, just Causer’s, (state) Rep. Kathy Rapp’s and mine, that’s 18,000 of those votes out of 44,000. If rural Pennsylvania shows up, all rural Pennsylvania shows up at about 35,000, there’s a half million votes there that Philadelphia can’t cheat enough to overcome. We outnumber them and with all the garbage that’s going on in our cities, we need to show up and we need to vote. Nobody in rural Pennsylvania sits on the sidelines this year.”

Democratic incumbent Attorney General Josh Shapiro is not running for attorney general so much as he’s running for governor, said Dush, noting “we’ve got a great opportunity here” with Shapiro’s challenger Heidelbaugh.

“He’s (Shapiro) already started the campaign,” said Dush. “Believe it or not, for some reason, his office now apparently has a graphics designer that they hired. I don’t know why an attorney general’s office needs that, but it’s my understanding they now have one. You’re hiring a bunch of new attorneys straight out of college and pushing the experienced people out. I’m getting a lot of information lately from people who used to be in the AG’s office who are very frustrated with what’s going on down there.”

Dush also noted that Shapiro wants to get rid of the Amish’s ability to buy firearms because there’s no photo ID.

“I’ve had over a hundred Amish signing up and now they’re bringing their women folk in to register,” said Dush. “He (Shapiro) really wants to restrict our access to firearms. Instead of doing the things that the attorney general should be doing, he’s focusing on political stuff, policy. That’s not the attorney general’s domain. All three of these row officers are very key.”

Thompson, also at the diner, said both Pennsylvania and the nation need to heal.

“It needs to be a physical healing, but it needs to be an economic healing,” said Thompson. “And I think somewhat, it needs to be a psychological and a spiritual healing, as well, given everything that we’ve been through. And we need the right people to do that, and I’ll be honest with you, I think the right people are in this room this morning.”

Thompson was wearing a T-shirt that said, “Save Our Farm Show, vote Republican.”

“We have a governor who, in the month of August no less, announced that he was going to cancel the Farm Show in January,” said Thompson. “I’m sorry, I thought you said January was starting to see team sports again? And yet, it just shows you how he feels about rural Pennsylvania.”

The T-shirts are being sold for $15 each and Thompson said every penny of that money will be donated to the Farm Show Scholarship Fund.

“Because without the Farm Show, there’s going to be a lot of kids that would be missing out on a tremendous opportunity, the scholarships that are given out to kids,” said Thompson.

Davenport is Jeff Tech's new practical nursing coordinator

REYNOLDSVILLE — DuBois native Cara Davenport has started the 2020-21 school year at Jeff Tech (Jefferson County Vocational Technical School) as the new practical nursing coordinator.

Davenport, who went to Jeff Tech her senior year of high school, attended Lock Haven University for nursing. After graduation, she moved to New Mexico, where she lived for 25 years, working as a nurse, primarily in pediatrics at University of New Mexico Hospital.

“I always knew I wanted to be in leadership,” she said.

Davenport, who has a master’s degree in nursing leadership, was also director of an outpatient clinic. Prior to Jeff Tech’s position, she worked at Penn Highlands Healthcare.

“My drive for leadership was to be able to impact as many staff members as possible, who impacted the patients they cared for,” she said.

The practical nursing program at Jeff Tech is in its 67th year, Davenport says, and teaches students how to be a part of the professional workforce.

“I can shape them to take care of and touch the community,” she said.

One of Davenport’s goals, she noted, is to look how students can do more at-home learning, doing both in-classroom and online sessions. She also hopes to look at having a part-time nursing program, to better accommodate students who work.

Another goal is to get students out into the community, Davenport said, such as volunteering with different community programs, promoting what nurses do and showing “the face of the program.”

“The people they are caring for are in this community,” she said. “When you are out there in the community, you’re in that roll.”

Attorney General candidate Heather Heidelbaugh visits DuBois

DuBOIS — Republican Heather Heidelbaugh, who is running for Pennsylvania Attorney General against Democratic incumbent Josh Shapiro, talked about experience, electability and principles with a group of supporters during a campaign stop at the DuBois Diner Tuesday.

Heidelbaugh, a Pittsburgh-area attorney, defended herself regarding a television ad, in which Shapiro calls Heidelbaugh a “hack lawyer.”

“I was raised in Missouri and you’re not allowed to brag about yourself but once somebody calls you a hack, you’re allowed to defend yourself and one of the greatest movies of all time is ‘Lady and the Tramp’ and lady says, ‘Ladies do not start fights but they can finish them.’”

Heidelbaugh said she’s been practicing law for 36 years.

“I don’t think he (Shapiro) would call a man who practiced law for 36 years a hack,” said Heidelbaugh. “I practice law for 54 of 67 counties. I am very familiar with the Courts of Common Pleas in Pennsylvania. I’ve also practiced in federal court in all three businesses. I know what lawyers do. The attorney general is an executive position. It’s not a legislative position. I know how to write legislation. I know how to argue for legislation. An attorney general is not a legislator. You are to enforce the existing law written by our senators or representatives.”

During an interview with the Courier Express, Heidelbaugh said she wants the voters of Pennsylvania to know that she has the experience to be the state’s top lawyer.

“I’ve tried cases. My opponent has never tried a case,” said Heidelbaugh. “He really didn’t practice law. He went straight from law school to state representative. He didn’t finish that. Then he went to commissioner. Didn’t finish that. He wants to run for a second term of AG. He’s not going to finish that. I’ll stay. I know the law.”

Heidelbaugh’s reference to Shapiro not finishing is because it is widely known that Shapiro’s ambition is to run for governor in 2022, which would be in the middle of his second term if he wins reelection on Nov. 3.

Heidelbaugh said Shapiro has criminalized behavior that was regulatory before. As an example, she referred to the Bureau of Labor and Industry.

“Let’s say you don’t pay your employees correctly, and somebody turns you in as a business. The Bureau of Labor and Industry will come in, it’s very unpleasant. They will investigate you. They will pull all your paperwork. They will fine you, you will get in trouble, very uncomfortable situation. He’s taken that and criminalized it,” she said.

There are a lot of people in jail already, said Heidelbaugh, noting that in the United States, one in 10 people are in jail.

“I’m not really sure we should be adding to the criminal justice system. He’s not going after the people in Philadelphia who commit crimes with illegal guns, he won’t do that. He’s not talking about the looting or the rioting, but he wants to put people in jail who make regulatory mistakes,” said Heidelbaugh.

Heidelbaugh said she wants to be tough on crime if elected as the attorney general.

“There’s an enormous amount of drugs in Pennsylvania communities, we need to work with the district attorney to do that,” she said. “And if a business is a bad business, they’re defrauding consumers, they’re doing the wrong thing, I’m going to go after them tough. But I want to go after the bad actors. I don’t want to go after headlines, which is what he (Shapiro) does.”

As a statewide candidate, Heidelbaugh said she hears from people that they don’t come to rural areas such as Clearfield, Jefferson and Elk counties because it’s rural.

“That always hurts my heart when I hear that,” Heidelbaugh said. “I have to be quite honest with you and say, why would anyone not want to be here? It’s absolutely beautiful. We came from Pittsburgh. We saw the beautiful fog against the rolling hills if you follow the river up. So, if I’m so lucky to be elected attorney general, believe me, I will be here many many times because it’s absolutely beautiful. You people have the warmest hearts. So, I appreciate that.”

Wolf to loosen indoor capacity limit for restaurants, bars

Indoor capacity limits on Pennsylvania’s bars and restaurants can relax to 50 percent later this month, Gov. Tom Wolf said Tuesday.

The announcement comes nearly two months after the administration told establishments to cut indoor service to 25 percent – a policy change the industry called so drastic and devastating that more than 7,000 risked permanent closure.

Restaurants can increase indoor capacity beginning Sept. 21, so long as they certify with the state that they are following social distancing mandates no later than Oct. 5. The results will appear in the Open & Certified Pennsylvania searchable online database for public use.

Wolf said the database provides confidence to consumers and supports the struggling hospitality industry – arguably the hardest hit by economic sanctions implemented as a result of the pandemic.

“The self-certification ensures that restaurants can expand indoor operations and commit to all appropriate orders so that employees and customers alike can be confident they are properly protected,” he said.

A survey conducted by the Pennsylvania Licensed Beverage and Tavern Association last month extrapolated the alarming condition of the industry, with seven in 10 respondents indicating they would close by 2021 without a change in the state’s policies. More than two-thirds experienced cash flow problems caused by the restrictions.

The survey of 100 licensed restaurants and bars, released Tuesday, found 13 percent closed already, with 29 percent set to close by December. More than 109,200 employees have been laid off, the association estimates.

“These results shouldn’t surprise anyone,” said Chuck Moran, executive director of the PLBTA. “When you’re limited to 25 percent indoor capacity and have seen increased expenses along with other difficulties due to state orders, you can expect a serious crisis to develop.”

House Republicans think the change – while necessary – doesn’t go far enough. House GOP spokesperson Jason Gottesman also questioned why it will take another two weeks to implement.

“The governor’s announcement today is a step in the right direction, but opening restaurants to 50 percent is merely a break-even point for many of these small businesses and the order puts a number of restrictions on these establishments’ ability to do business,” he said.

Moran agreed that 50 percent capacity won’t solve the financial crisis many businesses are facing – especially when outdoor service becomes impossible during fall and winter.

He also noted that buried in Wolf’s announcement is a new rule restricting alcohol sales after 10 p.m. – a policy he says weakens the higher capacity rule and discriminates against its members that don’t offer daytime service.

“This hidden rule will help put many more establishments out of business,” he said. “In a 2019 survey of Pennsylvania small business taverns and licensed restaurants, alcohol sales make up 63 percent of their business. Cutting four hours of sales off a 10- to 14-hour business operation hurts significantly.”