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Food pantries make modifications for coronavirus

BROOKVILLE — The Brookville Food Pantry will continue to provide food to its clients as usual but it has made some changes to its operations because of the coronavirus shutting down businesses.

Joe Snell, assistant director of the Brookville Food Pantry, says they are still open each Thursday as usual but have taken steps to lower the risk of people coming into contact with each other.

While clients used to gather in one room to fill out forms on what they needed –pasta, soup, etc. – now only one individual at a time will be allowed into this area. All others must wait in their vehicles.

“They come in for maybe five minutes at most, one person at a time. That’s how were handling it,” Snell said, adding that during the pantry’s Board of directors meeting Tuesday they had laid out “laid this plan out” and made some modifications. Originally, they were going to have two or three people at a time come in, thereby staying under the 10 person limit but after the meeting, he said it was decided to just go down to one family at a time to come in to the physical building. “The room usually has 75-80 chairs and a bunch of tables. We’ve moved everything out of there. So now we have to sanitize four or five tables.”

When the person comes in they sanitize their hands, so the room does not need to be sanitized between each person.

“They get a number outside and when they call their number they come in and the next person comes up to the door. When the first person comes out the next one goes in. They stay six to eight feet away from the people in the office,” Snell said. “And they just talk back and forth. They don’t even open the door. We have somebody open it for them so they don’t touch anything.

Normally, the clients would have to sign a pad, Snell says, Erie has given permission for the office volunteers to sign the client’s name and initial it afterwards.

The pantry is part of the Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest Pennsylvania, which is located in Erie. PA.

The pantry puts out a menu every week and it depends on the number of people in the family as to how much a client receives. So a family of four will receive a different amount from a family of six. “Of course, it goes by what we have is what they get,” Snell said, adding that the pantry is pretty well stocked with another truck of food arriving Wednesday from Erie.

Last Thursday, he noted, that someone put out word that clients were supposed to call before coming out to see if the pantry was open. That is not needed, Snell said. They were down 20-25 people Thursday and believe those people tried calling and when no one was able to answer likely thought the food pantry was closed. The pantry is not closed and will be open this coming Thursday during its usual times from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. and from 6:30 to 8 p.m. They are currently serving 155-170 families or close to 500 people. The number served varies from week to week.

“During the holiday we get over 600 people,” Brookville Food Pantry Director Ed Pearce said.

Snell said they have been told by the county commissioners that there is the possibility that those numbers could increase. “They’re looking for that to happen,” he said. “We aren’t changing anything until we start seeing numbers increasing. If they do, then we’ll compensate for it.

“We’ve got roughly two months of food sitting back here now and probably another two months coming on a truck for everybody we have,” he said. “So if it were to double, we still have two months of food. And we can order every month. After I talked to Erie the other day, they thought we could probably order every two weeks if we need to.”

Snell also noted that the Erie warehouse is still getting trucks arriving there with supplies. “But in order to increase what we have here, we’d have to see the numbers increasing before we order and do that.”

Even if the numbers increased the hours of operation would not change. If it takes until 12:30 or 12:45 p.m. then that’s what it will take, Pearce noted.

Another change has been that normally they would ask the clients to bring their own boxes back. “We’re not doing that because we don’t want to mess with possible contamination,” Snell said, adding that that may pose a problem down the road because they are not sure where they will find 150 boxes each week. For now they have enough boxes for this coming Thursday. Snell said they’ve reached out to Erie but haven’t heard yet whether it will be able to send 60 empty boxes down to them or not.

The modifications worked this past Thursday and everything ran smoothly and it is expected that this Thursday will be no different.

Irvona committee working to make 9-11 memorial a reality

IRVONA — A group in Irvona is looking for some assistance from the community to help it realize a long-time dream.

For several years, the Irvona Borough Holiday Decorating Committee has been working to establish a monument at Irvona’s Elderberry Park raising capital to pay for the memorial a few hundred dollars at a time, using proven money-makers such as food sales and other fundraisers at events in Irvona such as the annual Irvona Yard Sale.

The monument, expected to cost approximately $10,000 would be created of two approximately 5-to-6-foot high stone pillars on a base with a section of metal from the World Trade Center connecting the two pillars. It will be engraved with information about the incident and Mary Ellen Tiesi.

Former borough resident Mary Ellen Tiesi lost her life when the World Trade Center’s South Tower crumbled following the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center buildings on Sept. 11, 2001. She is believed to be the only Clearfield County resident killed in the incident.

Tiesi worked on the 105th floor of the South Tower. After the plane hit the tower early on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, she was exiting the tower, via the stairs, with a friend when they stopped to wait for Tiesi’s boss. Tiesi’s friend and her boss, who had a heart condition, opted to take the elevator while Tiesi continued on the stairs. Her friend and boss made it out of the tower, Tiesi did not.

Through tremendous effort by the late borough Mayor John P.J. Patterson, the borough received the piece of twisted steel from the World Trade Center structures. Patterson, the council and the committee originally hoped to install the piece of steel near the bridge on Route 53, named in Tiesi’s memory, but found it was unable to do so because of various restrictions.

Since that time, the IBHDC has taken up the effort as part of its work to beautify the community. According to committee members it has paid a $2,500 deposit on the stone columns but needs to raise the balance so that it can have the stones delivered, set and engraved. There will also be costs for protective fencing, landscaping and lighting, once the memorial is completed.

Committee members said they have written to state and federal legislators inquiring about the possibility of grant funding to help cover the costs of the memorial but have not received replies from any of them.

The committee also plans to continue raising funds and has an upcoming raffle and collects scrap metal to sell, but said to date, progress to raise the money for the memorial has been slow.

“Because of all that P.J. did and to remember Mary Ellen and Sept. 11 that’s why we are working to make sure this becomes a reality,” IBHDC Secretary Cate Hutton said. “We want people to know we remember and that we are standing strong here in Irvona. This memorial is a good way for people to see that.”

The committee is hoping the community would agree and lend its support. Donations may be sent to the IBHDC at 316 Hoop Up Rd., Irvona, PA 16656.

The IBHDC has been in existence since 2005. It decorates the bridge, an open store front on Rose Street and the park for Easter, Christmas and Independence Day.

Members of the committee are Sandy Smith, president; Norma Dudurich, vice president; Hutton, secretary; and Wendy Baer, Donna Morrison, Dan Smith, Dan Dudurich, Kathy Keith and Dolly Ninosky.

Dianne Byers  

Several members of the Irvona Borough Holiday Decorating Committee are pictured with the piece of steel from the World Trade Center towers it hopes to incorporate into a memorial to be added at Elderberry Park, Irvona. From left are Wendy Baer, Sandy Smith and Cate Hutton.

File photo by Chris Wechtenhiser 

DuBois head coach Dave Bennett watches the action during a game earlier this season. Bennett was named the TCS/CE Coach of the Year after leading DuBois to a 19-4 season, its most wins in a season in 20 years, in just his second season at the helm.

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DOH provides update on COVID-19; 103 new positives bring statewide total to 371

HARRISBURG — The Pennsylvania Department of Health on Saturday confirmed that, as of noon, there are 103 additional positive cases of COVID-19 and one additional death in Allegheny County, bringing the statewide total to 371 in 28 counties. All people are either in isolation at home or being treated at the hospital.

“Our notable increase in cases over the last few days indicate we need everyone to take COVID-19 seriously,” Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said. “Pennsylvanians have a very important job right now: stay calm, stay home and stay safe. We have seen case counts continue to increase and the best way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is to stay home.”

Statewide, there are 371 cases of COVID-19 reported from commercial, hospital and state labs. There are 3,766 patients who have tested negative, and two deaths. With commercial labs being the primary testing option for most Pennsylvanians, data is not available on the total number of tests pending.

Statewide – The Wolf Administration has announced:

  • All non-life-sustaining businesses must close to slow the spread of COVID-19
  • Pennsylvania k-12 schools closed with guidance provided.
  • Postponing in-person events that consist of 10 people or more throughout the United States.
  • Discretion for religious leaders in holding services.
  • No-visitor policies at all State correctional facilities and nursing homes to ensure the safety of inmates, residents, staff and visitors.
  • Restricted-visitor policies in state centers.
  • Restricted-visitor policies in assisted living and personal care homes.

Crafting group offers relaxation to busy community workers

NEW BETHLEHEM — The monthly meeting of Stamping With Dee at the Redbank Valley Community Center is more than a gathering of crafters.

Although everything is on hold right now, and the community center is temporarily closed because of the coronavirus shutdowns, the group is the center of a web of social and community connections that helps power volunteerism in the New Bethlehem area.

The membership is loose and informal. There are no officers, no regular dues and no set agenda. For the women making up the group, Stamping With Dee is pure relaxation and fellowship.

Dee Yeaney has been crafting handmade cards since 1990, gradually attracting others to her hobby over the past 30 years.

“It is a timeless hobby, and we started this group back in the days before Facebook,” she said. “Technology has given us better tools over the years, but the processes are the same as they were back in the beginning. The major difference is the change from wood to Lucite for the stamping blocks.”

Yeaney and her self-described partner in crime, Debbie Silvis, use hand-stamped card-making to relax from their many community- and church-based involvements.

“Dee does demonstrations and holds small classes at Edgewood Heights retirement facility,” Silvis said. “We are both involved with the Methodist church choir in town, make bags for the church’s silent auction each year and work at the community thrift shop on Broad Street.”

“I started out with stamping as a way to deal with empty-nest syndrome,” Yeaney said. “I keep saying that I am practicing at becoming retired, but that does not seem to have happened yet.”

She serves as the group’s informal leader, selling stamping supplies to the other members, finding new project ideas in craft catalogs and taking online classes. Class attendees contribute cash for the supplies they receive. That is the only money that changes hands.

On a recent Tuesday, the turnout was light. The Redbank Valley girls’ basketball team was in a playoff game and even committed stampers had to shift their priorities. Member Sue Shirey joined the other two a little late because of a prior commitment.

But Yeaney never missed a beat, methodically gluing a tiny butterfly to card stock embellished with lavender ink. On the table before her were various tools of the craft used in creating a special card for a loved one or friend.

The pace was relaxed, an island of calm amid lives full of service to others, fueled by a casual cup of coffee and a plate of homemade cookies.

Once everything returns to normal and the community center reopens, Stamping With Dee is held on the second Tuesday of the month from 6:30 until about 8:30 p.m. Even the meeting time is relaxed and somewhat fluid.