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Sykesville retired Chief honored with procession

SYKESVILLE — Sykesville and surrounding fire departments honored retired Chief James “Jim” Zimmerman one final time following his funeral last Thursday.

Zimmerman served the community as an active firefighter for 60 years, joining the Sykesville Fire Department in 1956. He served as the fire chief for 12 years from 1970 to 1981.

He was instrumental in forming the Jefferson County Fireman’s Association, which later developed the Jefferson County Fire School. He was also involved in the organization of the Sykesville Ambulance Service.

Zimmerman was recognized for 50 years of active service by the State Fire Commission, and continued to serve 10 more years. He only quit responding to fire calls in 2016 when he was physically unable to continue, but he still kept his pager with him.

During some years of service he made it to 95 to 100 percent of the fire calls to which the station responded. He continuously inspired new members never to stop learning and training.

“Although we are saddened by the loss of Chief Zimmerman we take comfort in knowing that he will forever watch over us and keep us safe,” A Facebook post on the fire department’s page read.

He was honored with a procession of area fire departments leading the way from the Baronick Funeral Home in DuBois back to the Sykesville Fire Hall. The final trucks in the procession were the Sykesville tanker and engine, which were filled with his fellow firefighters.

As fire trucks arrived, firemen spilled out to line up along the street under the American Flag being held by Reynoldsville and DuBois City Company One’s ladder trucks.

Upon arrival on East Liberty Street, the Sykesville engine stopped and emptied of firemen as they lined up on either side of the hearse to walk next to Zimmerman past the fire hall. Zimmerman’s final call played over the many radios as the department made their way down the street. At the end of the road, firemen climbed back into the fire truck to finish the final ride to the Holy Trinity Byzantine Catholic Cemetery.


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Eye doctor enjoys mentoring students at DAHS

DuBOIS — One of the ways Dr. Wendy Strouse Watt likes to be involved in the community is working with DuBois Area High School teacher Doug Brennan and his students as they prepare the science projects they present and compete through the Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science.

“I include them in my ongoing research,” said Watt, a DuBois optometrist. “We’ve done prisms and we’ve done electrical stimulation for macular degeneration, Stargardt’s disease, and now optic nerve disease.”

Over the past five years, she’s mentored six students.

“It’s once a year. They present their projects in March,” said Watt.

She mentored DAHS graduate Corey Giles for three years. Last year, he received second place for his project on improving eyesight at the regional PJAS competition. The previous year, Giles achieved a first award at the regional competition and then presented at the state competition.

This year, Watt is working with Michaela Albers, a ninth-grader, who presented her project, “Branch Retinal Vein Occlusion.”

“It’s good to give back to the community, but it’s also good to get kids started as researchers,” said Watt. “I like to plant a seed for them.”

What she likes most about mentoring the students is their enthusiasm.

“They’re so eager to learn,” said Watt. “And they pick my brain.”

This month, “the DAHS Science Team recognized Watt for her unwavering support to our students conducting research for the Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science for the past five years of allowing students to conduct research at her office,” said Brennan. “The students thought this would be an appropriate way to show their appreciation.”

“I had no idea. I thought I was just coming to listen to their presentations,” said Watt. “It’s exciting that they appreciate what I do.”

Watt said she always knew she wanted to be an optometrist when she was a junior at DAHS.

That, she said, was the year she started playing basketball.

“I was supposed to shoot. My coach said, ‘Why didn’t you shoot?’” recalled Watt. “I was wearing safety glasses and they were all fogged up. I couldn’t see to shoot. At the same time, my mom’s friend had cataract surgery, and I got contacts and I couldn’t believe a piece of plastic would help me, and another piece of plastic would help her, see. And so, I went to the guidance counselor’s office. They had an office with a library. And they had a book for the Pennsylvania College of Optometry. And that’s when I first decided I’d become an eye doctor.”

Watt graduated with honors from the Pennsylvania College Of Optometry in 1989 and has practiced at her Beaver Drive office, the DuBois Vision Clinic, for more than 31 years.

Watt has been married to Mark Watt since 1991. They live in the Reynoldsville area with their five cats.


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Frank's Pizza in DuBois has served the community for 63 years

DuBOIS — Area native Jodi Shaffer has owned Frank’s Pizza on West Long Avenue for nearly 19 years, but its history in DuBois goes back much further.

Francis Kupetz started Frank’s Pizza in 1957, Shaffer says. It was owned by Al DiGilarmo until 1982, then Barb and Skip Williams. Shaffer’s parents, Dick and Linda, bought it in 1987, and she in 2001.

Shaffer recalls working at Mr. Pizza in the DuBois Mall many years ago. When her father first asked her to take over the quickly-growing pizza business, she declined. Eventually, though, she changed her mind.

Shaffer is glad she kept the family business going, since it has become such a huge part of her life, she says. Since day one, Frank’s Pizza has stayed the same, and it’s a local favorite.

“We make our own dough, grate our own cheese, make our own sauces,” she said.

Frank’s secret is not just the pizza, Shaffer says, but the customer service. For 63 years, Frank’s has welcomed many regulars, and even shipped pizza to people in other states. DuBois natives will move away, Shaffer said, and miss the taste of home. She has shipped to South Carolina, Florida, Texas, New Jersey and others. When a former customer moved to Japan, she shipped there, too.

“People like us, and that we treat people like family,” she said. “I’ve watched their kids grow up and get married.”

Shaffer can recall delivering pizza with her sister when she was younger, seeing children answer the door in their pajamas, who are now have children of their own.

On a typical Friday night, the mom-and-pop shop will put 70 trays or more into the oven, Shaffer said.

Shaffer tries to give back to the community, too, sponsoring a little league fast-pitch team and a YMCA softball league, as well as donating pizza and gift certificates to fundraisers.

Shaffer feels it’s her duty to give to the community that’s been wonderful to her. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2018, having just finished treatment in November, and is now in remission. She had to close for a little while during that time, and was off of work for eight months.

The community sent her cards and showed a vast amount of support during her struggle, Shaffer said.

“People were really there when I needed them,” she said.

Frank’s has about 11 employees, and its manager is Cheri Naugle.

Shaffer has seen restaurants and businesses come and go throughout the years, she said, and it has been encouraging to see Frank’s remain as popular as it ever was 63 years ago.

For more information, visit Frank’s Pizza on Facebook or call 814-371-1757.


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DuBois Area High School students present projects at regional science competition

DuBOIS — Three DuBois Area High School students presented their research projects this month at the Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science regional competition at Penn State University at Altoona, according to teacher Doug Brennan.

The students included senior Felicity Enseki, who presented her project on “Radiation Reducation,” and freshman Michaela Albers, whose project was entitled, “Branch Retinal Vein Occlusion.” Both received first awards and are eligible to attend the PJAS state competition May 17-19 at Penn State University, University Park.

Senior Jayden Fulkroad presented, “How Much Cell Phone Radiation?” receiving a second award.

The Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science is a statewide organization of junior and senior high school students designed to stimulate and promote interest in science among its members through the development of research projects and investigations.

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is divided into 12 PJAS regions. Each PJAS region consists of two or more counties. Every PJAS region has one or more directors and a treasurer who oversee the operation of the region.

PJAS also has a state director, a state secretary, and two state treasurers, as well as committees for judging, safety, technicians and awards.