DuBOIS — The United States Collegiate Athletic Association (USCAA) Board of Directors has approved a five-year extension with the City of DuBois for the Small College World Series, which locks in DuBois as the official host partner through the 2023-2024 season, according to USCAA Executive Director and CEO Matthew Simms.
DuBois has been host of the baseball and softball national championships since the 2018 season. This marked the first year in the association’s history that the baseball and softball national championships were hosted in the same location and allowed for the creation of the Small College World Series.
Through the extension, the games will continue to be played at DuBois’ Showers Field and Heindl Memorial Field, each first-class turf facilities, Simms said.
“The City of DuBois has over-delivered on their promise to provide the USCAA and its stakeholders with first class competition fields, quality hotels, and an atmosphere like no other in small college baseball and softball,” Simms said. “The city and its residents have welcomed our teams with open arms, and we look forward to returning the favor by signing this five-year deal that will ensure further businesses from USCAA members at DuBois area restaurants, hotels and shops.”
“Working with Matt Simms and the Small College World Series organization has just been an unbelievable adventure,” DuBois City manager John “Herm” Suplizio said. “This is a huge event for not only DuBois, but for the entire area. The hotels that are used stretch from Brookville to Clearfield. Every restaurant should benefit by us having this event. It really gives us the opportunity to show people from around the country what we are about here in DuBois.”
The Small College World Series has generated more than 1,000 room nights from participants alone in 2018 and 2019, with an estimated $450,000 to $500,000 in economic impact to the city.
“Through enhanced marketing efforts and investments into tourism related digital marketing, we hope to up the ante and bring more fans and spectators to the area in years to come,” Simms said.
“Almost three years ago, city Manager Herm Suplizio stood up in a meeting and said that he wanted DuBois to be the Omaha of the Small College World Series,” Simms said. “This is a positive step forward in the process of making that happen. Moving forward we hope for more community partners and sponsoring businesses to help us elevate the quality of events outside of our baseball and softball games and give back to the residents of DuBois and Clearfield County.”
“My hat’s off to Matt Simms and his entire committee,” Suplizio said. “I want to give a special thanks to city engineer Chris Nasuti and Redevelopment Director Joe Mitchell and the entire City of DuBois staff, both in the office and in the public works department, that put this event on. We receive help from everyone, including Steve Dunlap, John Woods, Steve Swauger and Chuck Ferra from the DuBois Area School District, Penn State DuBois, Matt Checchio, from Magnus Marketing, and Amanda Rosman.”
“I believe the reason why we have secured this tournament for five years is because of the hard work and dedication that we have all put into working with Matt Simms and the entire staff of the Small College World Series, who do a tremendous job in this event,” Suplizio said. “But this event is a tribute to the entire community and I’d be remiss if I didn’t give a special thanks to the entire community and especially the major sponsors who help put this on.”
The future championship dates for the Small College World Series are as follows:
The DuBois Area School Board, at its July 25 meeting, approved supporting the USCAA in conjunction with the City of DuBois and Penn State DuBois to host the national championships at Showers Field.
NEW BETHLEHEM – When Joe Geer came home from the military, his daughter noticed that Dad had different characteristics than his siblings. With the help of modern DNA technology several years later, he found a half-brother he never knew about.
After years of waiting, he finally made a connection.
Miles away, Jim Wotring and his family of New Bethlehem had always been interested in genealogy. His son, Jim Jr., decided to do an Ancestry DNA test. When the test came back with some surprising results, Jim Sr. took a test as well.
He was shocked when it matched him with a man in Tennessee.
Jim Jr. contacted Thomas Joseph Geer, who was apparently his father’s half-brother.
Geer and the younger Wotring began corresponding online; Jim Sr. and Geer exchanged several long phone calls and decided to meet in person. Geer and his wife made the trip from Tennessee and found they fit in perfectly with a new and unknown family. During a family get-together at EverMoore’s Restaurant in New Bethlehem in July, the two men shared their story.
“I started asking my sister about the family history after she made a casual remark one day,” Geer said. “We had moved to California from Cleveland when I was a boy, but we had lived somewhere else before that.”
The Geer family had been living in a grandmother’s house in Alcola in the early 1950s before packing up their car suddenly one Thanksgiving night and leaving everything behind.
“My parents had six kids, and took nothing with them but their clothes and a complete Thanksgiving dinner in the back of the car,” Geer said. “They left their furniture and everything else behind and moved to Cleveland where my dad had found a job.”
Geer’s mother was pregnant with him, something the other children did not know at the time. Geer and Wotring, who was a young child when this happened, pieced together the story during their online chats and real-life meeting last month.
Geer’s mother had an relationship with Wotring’s father. The two men were members of the Eagles club in New Bethlehem and may have even worked together in area coal mines in the later 1940s and early 1950s, Wotring said.
“We guessed that Mom came home and told Dad that she was pregnant. He still loved her, and we think they decided to leave town before anyone else knew,” Geer said.
Standing side by side, Joe Geer and Jim Wotring certainly look like brothers. Their hair and eye colors are different, but they are similar in size and build, have nearly identical noses and share more than a few mannerisms.
“Joe says he does not resemble the man who he thought was his father,” Wotring said. “He looks an awful lot like the men in my family, and people probably would have guessed the truth.”
Growing up more than 2,000 miles apart, Geer and Wotring led vastly different lives as adults. Geer traveled the world as a career man in the U.S. military, while Wotring stayed close to his roots in Clarion County. Geer is the talker; Wotring is more inclined to listen.
Both men were amazed by making the connection after more than 60 years apart, but seemed very gratified by it.
“I have this whole other family now,” Geer said. “I fit in with them.”
MINERAL SPRINGS — Dave Knepp of Mineral Springs, rural Clearfield, has fond memories of the Clearfield County Fair.
Knepp, who will be 81 in October, and has been making and performing music for 71 of those years, has numerous remembrances of the fair. Many of those experiences involve volunteer work and music.
He worked as an assistant to the superintendent in the fair’s floral department for years, retiring in 2017. He said his long career helping with the fair’s flower contest earned him numerous friends and the opportunity to catch up with those who faithfully entered flowers into competition each year.
Knepp said his group, The Pennsylvania Ramblers, performed many times at the fair. Knepp said the band was started by his father, Fredrick Knepp, and several years later, he took over as the lead singer and performed along with his brothers, Henry, James and Duane Knepp. Two of the brothers’ cousins also performed with the band during the 20 years it was in existence, Lyle “Rook” Wisor and Richard Woods.
Knepp said some of his favorite recollections are of the country and western band performing at the fair on “Granger’s Day,” which he said was always held on the Thursday of the fair and was a highly anticipated event each year. The Pennsylvania Ramblers provided background music for the county’s granges’ square dancing teams that performed the intricate dance moves for bragging rights in front of the fair’s grandstand.
“That was one of the things we liked best playing for those square dances. We would play music and the teams would dance. We really liked that,” he said.
The Pennsylvania Ramblers, Knepp said, was also one of the first bands to perform during the Clearfield County Fair on the David H. Litz Stage in the Clearfield Driving Park’s grove. “It was really an honor for us,” he said.
“I would like to thank the fair board for allowing both me and my band to perform at the fair,” he said.
Knepp also recalled when performing at the fair earned the band a regular spot on DuBois radio personality Charlie Moore’s show on WCED.
Moore heard the band perform the “Orange Blossom Special” at the fair. “He invited the band to appear on his morning show,” Knepp said, noting the first performance evolved into a standing appointment each Saturday for years. “We were on so often, people started calling us ‘Charlie’s Boys,’” he said.
Knepp also has an “almost” fair experience that he now wishes he could have a do over for. He said many years ago teen idol Bobby Rydell performed twice at the Clearfield County Fair. He said it was prior to Rydell’s first visit when his manager knocked on the door of the home where Knepp lived. He said the manager asked his wife if Knepp would be willing to play lead guitar in his show.
Knepp said, after consideration, he turned him down because he didn’t feel he knew Rydell’s songs well enough to perform with his band but said he now he wishes he had accepted.
Knepp said he has been playing music since he was a young boy. “Both my parents played music. When I was little, my mother, Dorothy June, taught me a song, ‘When My Blue Moon Turns Gold Again’ on her guitar,” he said.
As a second grader, he learned to play chords on a mandolin. He recalls when he was in fourth grade that his music instructor would allow he and another student to lead the music class each Friday because they were both able to play instruments.
Knepp said he performed throughout junior high and high school. He recalls performing for a square dance at the junior prom. His performance was so good, he was invited to perform at the senior prom.
Through the years The Pennsylvania Ramblers was active, Knepp said the band performed many times for free. He said he continues the practice by performing each week for the residents of Mountain Laurel Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center. He said for more than 40 years he has been adding music to resident’s lives starting out with one-hour concerts and now playing a second one-hour concert for the patients with dementia.
“I do it every Sunday. I have a burden for senior citizens,” he said, adding, “My doctor told me I should keep doing it as long as I am able. He said it’s therapy for the residents and something doctors aren’t able to do for them.”
He said the performances are well received. “The residents relate to me. They know me and they sing along with me. They like the older children’s songs like ‘Jesus Loves Me’ and ‘This Little Light of Mine.’ They really sing out when they know the songs.”
The Pennsylvania Ramblers, while no longer taking engagements, have a standing booking at Knepp’s family reunion. “The band gets together every year and performs at the family reunion,” he said.
CLARION — Formed in 1996 by a small group of women who collectively sought to promote gardening, educate members, and beautify area communities, the Wildflower Garden Club (WGC) is now comprised of approximately 28 members, representing locales throughout Clarion County, who continue to actively pursue its original mission.
Judy Miller, WGC president, began gardening with her mother during childhood, tending vegetables and growing flowers. “I guess really what we do, we want people to learn more about gardening. So there’s an educational aspect. And that includes all ages. We basically believe anyone can garden,” she said about the garden club.
Many of the club’s educational endeavors are aimed at exposing children to gardening. Miller pointed to two projects in particular, the Little Sprouts program at North Clarion Elementary School and establishing a youth gardening initiative at the new Clarion YMCA’s Children’s Education Center.
Coordinated by club member Rosie Lawrence, the Little Sprouts program teaches children in grades 4-6 about horticulture through gardening-related crafts, guest speakers, and giving them the opportunity to assist with the school garden. “That’s been very successful at North Clarion Elementary. And it’s won awards at the state level for what we do there. It’s such a treat to see children when it comes to doing things,” Miller said.
In January 2019 the club was awarded a $1,000 Plant America grant from the National Garden Clubs to fund a community project that promoted gardening. Co-authored by Miller and fellow club member Betty McKisson, the grant was put toward covering the cost for the construction of raised garden beds that were installed at the YMCA. A true community collaboration, the beds were built for the cost of materials by two carpentry students under the supervision of industrial arts teacher Dan Emings at the Clarion County Career Center.
“We’re very fortunate. We have three garden trugs (the raised beds) for what it might have cost to buy a little more than one. It really saved us a lot of money. Plus we met two really wonderful young men who built them,” Miller said.
“We are hoping this will be the beginning of teachers there (at the YMCA) being able to teach things about nutrition and vegetables and flowers, herbs, and pollinators. All the good things that go with gardening.”
To further promote gardening the WGC will be hosting its first Garden Tour of Clarion, with proceeds from the Saturday, August 10, event going to the Clarion County YMCA’s Children’s Garden Program and Plantings. The mainly walking tour will run from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and will feature stops at 10 gardens in the Clarion community, including Miller’s, as well as a box lunch.
Suzanne Hartwig, the club member organizing the event, said, “I’ve seen it done in other communities. I went to tours up at Chautauqua Lake and other places. And they’re just always a nice outing. I think that it’s a fun day for people and it kind of gives them inspiration and getting involved in gardening and maybe doing some things on their own properties.
“I think there’d be a lot of inspiration for gardening and trying new methods of gardening because we have such a variety (on the tour), you know, raised beds, we have people that have perennials and wildflowers, we even have a lady who filled in a swimming pool and made it into like a water garden. We just have a nice variety of different styles of gardening. Each place is unique.”
Registration is $20 and can be completed by contacting Hartwig (814-229-3116) or Miller (814-226-4996). To ensure a box lunch interested individuals should register no later than Aug. 6.
In addition to the educational and promotional components of its mission, the WGC also takes gardening beautification responsibilities for the Cook Forest Sawmill Center of the Arts gardens and the Farmington Park Blue Star Memorial garden. WGC members also perform highway clean-up twice a year along a two-mile stretch of Miola Road.
Central to all the WGC’s activities is its monthly meetings, which usually feature a short horticulture lesson for those in attendance and frequently a guest speaker. Topics this past year have included processing and creating dried flower pictures, creating and using compost, organic gardening, and how to attract bees and butterflies to your garden.
“We have some really interesting meetings. We try to use local resources as much as possible and invite people in. This year though we’re making two, we call them field trips. But we have good programs. We have ideas already for next year,” Miller said.
Meetings are held at 6 p.m. at the Tylersburg United Methodist Church on the second Tuesday of each month from February through November. New members are welcome.