NEW BETHLEHEM — The Redbank Valley Veterans Memorial Park took one step closer to becoming a reality on Wednesday, as area military veterans turned over the first shovelful of dirt at the site along Arch Street in New Bethlehem. Clarion County commissioners Ed Heasley and Wayne Brosius were in attendance, along with Tina Gibbs, the constituent outreach specialist for state Rep. Donna Oberlander.
Ray Ishman, spokesman for the veterans’ group behind the project, said that the groundbreaking was the first real action on the park.
“We are on the way toward having footers dug and cement poured, and I have flag poles ordered,” he said. “Turning over the first spadeful of dirt was very symbolic. We are on our way.”
“It is gratifying to see our communities honoring our veterans. They have a special place in our history,” Heasley said.
“It is pretty exciting to see towns such as Sligo, New Bethlehem and Rimersburg building veterans memorial parks,” Gibbs said.
A color illustration of the planned layout indicated the future placement of several black granite slabs and smaller plaques on the site. Ishman also said that landscaping, several benches and a paved area will combine to make the park a restful place for contemplation and memories.
To put community veterans’ parks into perspective, most small towns in the area once featured monuments in honor of those who served in various conflicts, most dominated by a roll of veterans’ names. Over time, these have deteriorated or been destroyed. In recent years, there has been a nationwide movement to restore or replace them.
To date, Ishman said, the project is estimated to cost about $50,000 when completed, a figure that includes the price of the vacant lot in the proximity of the town’s new town center and the Redbank Valley Trail.
Along with purchasing memorial pavers for loved ones who served in the military, the Redbank Valley community is invited to make donations directly to the veterans’ park project at Redbank Valley Veterans Memorial Park, American Legion, P.O. Box 244, New Bethlehem, PA 16242.
RIDGWAY — A Ridgway man believes in teaching youth discipline, strength and comaraderie through the traditional practice of martial arts.
Tri-County Tang Soo Do at 164 Main St. in Ridgway is part of the World Tang Soo Do Association, said chief instructor Rick Panebianco, or “Master P.”
Panebianco, a Ridgway resident and mechanic by trade, ran a karate program out of Philipsburg, he said, then started it at the Ridgway YMCA. The current Ridgway studio, which has been remodeled a few times, opened in 2000.
It’s rewarding, Panebianco says, to watch his students grow up and further their karate careers. Some even bring their children back to the studio for classes.
The studio walls are covered with pictures of students and white, orange, green, brown, red, blue and black belts. The classes go by beginner, intermediate and advanced, and a “little dragons” group.
Part of karate is “sugarcoating things very little,” he says. “We build leaders. We build discipline, structure, character and teach integrity and self confidence.”
The traditional Korean martial art is taught the same way it was 2,000 years ago, Panebianco adds.
He was 26 years old when he started martial arts, Panebianco said, and has always been athletic. He liked the structure of the classes and strength of the leader.
“It saved me,” he said. “When I first walked into the class, I said, ‘I want to be the guy up there.’”
Panebianco firmly believes youth need discipline to go out into the world, something he teaches, as well as the physical aspects of strength, flexibility, balance and coordination, agility and cardio-respiratory strengthening.
The DuBois Tang Soo Do location started about two years ago at the DuBois YMCA, and the head instructor there is Doug Walk, Panebianco says. Between both locations, there are eight instructors.
Not only does martial arts give students a vote of confidence, Panebianco said, but it gives them a sense of belonging.
“Nobody sits the bench here,” he said. “Everybody is doing something and trying to achieve the same goals.”
The parents are trained, too, Panebianco says, to be their child’s cheerleader, but to let the instructor do the work.
He keeps a ‘thank you’ book from grateful parents, too. One note says, “We want to thank you for the positive effect you and the studio have had on Rayna, Khloe and Adilynn, as far as self confidence, fighting spirit, good sportsmanship, respect and obedience. You teaching them these key fundamentals is greatly appreciated.”
Panebianco says he believes “Champions are made in empty gymnasiums.”
The studio feels like a family, Panebianco says, with students who started at a young age and now becoming instructors.
“When you become a blackbelt, your duty is to become an instructor,” he said. “We teach them to get better so they can teach others to get better – it’s a ladder of teamwork.”
Panebianco can remember teaching karate with his son in his arms, he says, and now represents a father figure to many of his students.
Karate builds camaraderie, and also helps youth do better in school, he adds. He also teaches it as an anti-bullying mechanism and gives the parents advice on how to handle it.
“I try to teach these kids to stand up for themselves,” he said, tracing martial arts back to the Buddhist monks who did the same. “You’re nobody’s punching bag.”
He says he even keeps track of teacher comments and report cards for his students.
“I tell the parents that I will come to detention and sit with your child if they get in trouble for standing up to a bully,” he said, adding that many child therapists today recommend martial arts.
For more information, visit www.tricountykarate.com, the Facebook page or call 814-773-3226.
KARTHAUS — Last year, members of the Oak Hill Memorial Cemetery Association asked the general public to help them with a certain task — installing a new roof on the Oak Hill Memorial Cemetery Chapel. Thanks to generous donors, that task became a reality over the summer.
Committee member Claire McGonigal-Potter said once the story ran in December in the Tri-County Sunday and The Progress, they started receiving donations of all monetary values – including from many individuals that grew up around the Karthaus area but now live outside of the area.
In its annual early morning service on Easter Sunday at the chapel, the Community Alliance Church of Karthaus took up a collection and gave more than $900.
When all was said and done, McGonigal-Potter said they received more than $7,500 towards the new roof on the chapel that had not received a replacement since 1984.
“We, the committee, appreciate how the people have stood by us and donated towards the chapel roof,” McGonigal-Potter said. “We’ve been so blessed with everything that’s happened and with how the people responded and donated.”
The church itself was originally built in 1870 and was a Lutheran church up until 1962. It then merged with two other parishes to form Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church in Karthaus. Then in 1976, the building and its grounds were donated by Shepherd of the Hills to the Oak Hill Memorial Cemetery Association and it’s maintained it ever since.
With all of the donations, a contractor was chosen and work was done to install a new metal roof in July, which the project was planned to have been completed earlier but weather had not cooperated earlier in the year, putting the contractor behind a bit.
McGonigal-Potter said the majority of the work was completed in three days, with the contractor returning to fix up a couple items. But on July 24, work was completed on the new roof.
“The roof was also extended out more so water wouldn’t run back into the sides of the building,” McGonigal-Potter said. “It’s guaranteed for many years to come.”
The chapel is open to anyone that wants to use it for a wedding, funeral or other service, as the committee only asks for a donation to do so. People may also visit the chapel anytime from the spring to the fall, with it being closed from November to March.
Anyone wanting to utilize the chapel are asked to contact any of the committee members, which include McGonigal-Potter, Joseph Luzier, Dale King, Mary Lee Moore, Lonnie Kovalick, Beverly Hertlein, Tom Luzier, Ben Hoffman, and Dave and Cindy Francisco.
McGonigal-Potter reiterated on how thankful the committee is with the donations it received and it is taking bookings for the rest of the year and for 2020.
“We appreciate the people so much,” McGonigal-Potter said. “It was amazing the turnout we got from everybody.”