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Red Kettle Campaign
DuBois Salvation Army Red Kettle Campaign able to help families despite falling short of goal

SPOONER

DuBOIS — The DuBois Salvation Army is grateful for every donor who contributed to the 2020 Red Kettle Campaign: Rescue Christmas during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Our goal this year was $40,000 and we were able to raise a total of $30,823.69 thanks to our very generous community,” said Captain Andrew Spooner, noting this left them with a difference of $9,176.31.

To help the DuBois Salvation Army offset this difference, people can still donate by mailing in their donation to: The Salvation Army, 119 S. Jared St., DuBois PA 15801.

As a result of the campaign, Spooner said the DuBois Salvation Army was able to help a total of 175 families which equals out to 706 individuals this Christmas with toys and food.

“Already we are seeing an increase in request for food and financial assistance requests so every donation received will stay in DuBois and continue to help others in our community,” said Spooner.

In a press release, The Salvation Army Western PA Division said it raised a total of $2.6 million across 28 counties, reaching nearly 115 percent of the total fundraising goal of $2.3 million.

DuBois was one of seven communities in the Western PA Division who did not reach their goals this year. The other six communities were Altoona, Erie, Homewood, Johnstown, New Kensington, and McKeesport.

“Our Worship and Service Centers that did not reach goal continue to reach out to the community for support through donations, as these donations fund critical programs that feed the hungry and serve youth and seniors all year long,” said Major Raphael Jackson, divisional commander of The Salvation Army Western PA Division.

“We are incredibly grateful for our generous donors who supported the Red Kettle Campaign this year, especially knowing that so many families are experiencing financial hardships during the ongoing pandemic,” said Jackson. “We thank God for the support of our neighbors during the toughest of times, and we will use the funds raised to continue to serve those most in need in our communities, doing the most good. With faith in God, anything is possible. God bless you.”


News
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In St. Marys
Community members enjoy outdoor ice skating in St. Marys

ST. MARYS — Community members in St. Marys are enjoying an activity unique to the area this winter — ice skating.

City of St. Marys Parks and Recreation Director Dani Schneider said ice skating has been happening at the parks for a number of years.

Benzinger Park had a rink at the back parking lot once before, she said, as well as a natural ice skating pond at Kaulmont Park.

“We decided to bring skating back to Benzinger, in addition to utilizing the one at Kaulmont,” said Schneider.

This year’s rink, located in the basketball court, opened Jan. 9.

“The unique aspect of this rink is that it is completely portable. There are some things we plan to do differently next year, so this is a trial period for us,” Schneider said.

Providing activities year round for families is the basis of parks and recreation, she said.

“Ice skating is unique, because there’s not really many other places in our area that offer something like this,” Schneider said. “It’s an activity that can be done by the whole family, whether you’re a beginner or an expert. The weather doesn’t always cooperate here, but that hasn’t stopped people from coming to the park just to hang out with friends and family.

“Parks and recreation, especially during these confusing times, is one of the most essential service providers for the community, and we are glad to be able to offer something for everyone.”

Schneider noted that the Benzinger rink is for only ice skating.

“Those wishing to play hockey and such will need to use Kaulmont,” she said, noting that a student Parks worker is shoveling the pond off at Kaulmont.

Schneider said she hopes to see the rink stay open until March, weather permitting.

“We will keep the ice rink open for as long as we possibly can,” Schneider said. “We are looking into creating a few weekday hours to open after school as well.”

City of St. Marys Parks and Recreation received a $5,000 grant form Women Who Care of the Elk County Community Foundation, which allowed for the purchase of a portable rink, Schneider said.

“The nice thing about this rink is that it can literally be installed on any surface (except gravel),” she said. “We can also purchase expanders and make the rink larger as years go on. It’s very easy to install and tear down at the end of the season as well.”

Locals should watch the City of St. Marys Parks and Recreation Facebook page for updates on weather and rink conditions.

Schneider noted she would like to have supervision at Kaulmont for the following year, in addition to having Benzinger staffed.

“We did not forget about those over in that area of town,” she said. “As always, we are super appreciative of the support, donations, and patience from the community as we try new things.”


Coronavirus
Pa. Dept. of Health to conduct mass testing for COVID-19 in Jefferson Co.

REYNOLDSVILLE — The Pennsylvania Department of Health, in conjunction with Jefferson County, will sponsor a COVID-19 mass testing site at the DuBois Regional Airport, 377 Aviation Way, Reynoldsville, between the hours of 9 a.m. until 6 p.m. starting Jan. 28 through Feb. 1, according to the Jefferson County Department of Emergency Services.

The Department of Health has contracted with AMI Expeditionary Health Services to conduct the testing. The Jefferson County Department of Emergency Services will act as the logistics coordinator for the site. This testing initiative is free to everyone between the ages of 3 years old and up who wants to get tested. AMI will ask for private insurance information to help cover the lab fees, however if insurance is not available, AMI will submit to the federal government for reimbursement of costs, according to a news release from JCDES.

AMI has conducted testing in approximately 60 counties within Pennsylvania under contract with the DOH. Their services include capturing the test culture and processing it at the lab, then providing the test results to the individual privately. Jefferson County and the Department of Emergency Services will not collect any patient information, according to the news release. All patient information will be kept confidential.

There is no appointment needed and individuals will be allowed to be tested without getting out of their vehicle. Walk-up testing will be available if needed.

The DOH believes that increased testing in the county will assist in determining the prevalence of the virus and assist the county in moving forward, according to the news release. While the vaccines will be forthcoming, testing will provide a better picture of the spread of the virus so vaccination clinics can be planned for.

“Jefferson County is in the substantial spread of the virus, which is its highest rating available. While case counts are coming down slightly, the virus is still present and we want to do everything possible to eradicate it from the county,” the JCDES said in its news release. “It is important that anyone that wants tested can get tested without any complications or concerns. We would like to thank the Airport for their cooperation with this venture.”

According to the release, this pop-up testing is not limited to just Jefferson County residents. Residents in neighboring counties or who are in the county for whatever reason will have an opportunity for testing.

“It is important that we continue to follow the mitigation measure guidelines of social distancing, washing hands and utilizing hand sanitizer, and wearing some type of a facial covering if your system will allow it,” the JCDES said in the release.

The release continued, “Jefferson County has been in daily talks with our hospitals and pharmaceutical providers preparing for and responding to the vaccination of our critical workforces and the public. Current initiative is to get all healthcare workers and first responders vaccinated, as well as the older populations within our long-term care facilities. The federal government has contracted with CVS and Walgreen’s Pharmacies to provide the vaccines to those in the long-term care facilities as part of Operation Warp Speed. We will continue to keep in dialogue with those facilities to make sure that no one is missed. As in the beginning of the COVID-19 response, things continue to change rapidly, however we will continue to do our best to keep on top of it for our county.”


News
Clearfield County hopeful that virus-infected computer system will be restored

CLEARFIELD — The Clearfield County Commissioners are hoping a computer virus that has crippled its system will be fixed shortly.

Late last week a computer virus got into the county’s computer servers, crippling the county’s computer network.

Servers are computers that perform tasks and provide data to other computers in a network.

The commissioners do not believe any important data was breached.

At Tuesday’s commissioners meeting, Commissioner John Sobel read a statement from the commissioners on the computer virus.

“At this time we do not believe any sensitive information has been compromised,” Sobel said in the statement. “We continue to actively monitor the situation.”

The statement also said all of the county’s essential services remain open including 911.

“The safety and security of the public and county employees remain our top priority and we are working around the clock to work through this cyber incident and ask for the public’s patience as we implement business continuity measures,” according to the statement.

The commissioners will provide updates as they become available, Sobel said.

Clearfield County Director of Technology Adam Curry said the virus entered the county’s computer servers and encrypted all of the data on them making it impossible to retrieve. But he said he doesn’t believe anyone else was able to retrieve the data either.

Commissioner Dave Glass said although only approximately 15 percent of the county’s computers were infected with the virus, the virus did infect all of the county’s servers, which has shut down the county’s network.

He said all the infected computers had their hard drives wiped clean and their software reinstalled.

Sobel thanked Curry for his efforts in working through these issues.

“Adam has been working literally around the clock to get us back up and running,” Sobel said.

He also thanked Glass, whose field is IT and has been working with Curry and Assistant Director of IT Justin Jarrett to correct the problems.

Glass said Curry took quick action as soon as the virus appeared and got a contractor to come over to rebuild the servers using backup data.

“It could have been a lot worse,” Glass said.

When asked by The Progress, a partner publication of the Courier Express, if it was a deliberate or a random attack, Glass said it is still under investigation. And Glass said law enforcement has been informed of the cyber attack.

The Progress asked if this was a ransomware attack where someone infects a computer system and demands payment from the victim to restore the system and Glass and Curry both said no party has yet made any demands of the county.

Glass said they are hoping that much of the county’s system would be fixed by the end of Tuesday.


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