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DuBois Kidnetix founder and her daughter get makeovers on NBC 'Today Show'

A mother and daughter from DuBois received an early Mother’s Day surprise when they were chosen to receive makeovers from the Today Show on NBC while visiting New York City.

Mary Beth Brennan and her 24-year-old daughter, Marissa Brennan, were selected for Ambush Makeover, a segment of the morning news and entertainment show in which fans are given complete makeovers.

“It was so surreal,” said Mary Beth Brennan, who was brought to tears when she saw her new look for the first time.

Mary Beth, founder of Kidnetix Baton Corp., an award-winning baton twirling organization in DuBois, was on a quick trip with her daughter to see “The Lion King” on Broadway on May 1. The next morning they were outside the Today Show studio when the show’s fashion contributor, Jill Martin, and celebrity hairstylist, Louis Licari, came out and surveyed the crowd for a candidate for the makeover segment.

“We actually made it late out of our hotel so we weren’t sure if we were actually going to get into the plaza area,” Marissa Brennan said. When they finally arrived, they wrote, “This mom is here to meet the moms of Today,” on a sign provided by the show.

“You can write whatever you want on the signs,” Marissa Brennan said. “And so we went into the plaza area and I held up that sign and it immediately caught the attention of Louis Licari and Jill Martin, who are two of the Ambush Makeover experts for The Hoda and Jenna Show. They asked us where we were from and how old I was, and then, more or less, why we were there in New York.”

She told them they were in New York for the Broadway show, and then they wanted to check out the Today Show on the plaza.

“It was just sort of out of luck,” Marissa Brennan said. “We didn’t think we were even going to make it to be in the crowd because we were late getting there and we were behind everybody else there. They (Martin and Licari) saw the sign, and they pulled us forward. It took us totally by surprise.”

Mary Beth Brennan said she suggested what to write on the sign because she is a mom and knows there are a lot of new moms who are on the Today Show.

“I thought it would be neat for them to come over to me and say, ‘Hello,’” she said.

Then the mother and daughter were asked if they would be interested in having makeovers.

“They pretty much eyed us up in the crowd. And I was like, ‘Oh, I didn’t know I looked that bad this morning,’” Marissa Brennan said with a laugh. “We had some makeup on, but definitely we were both pretty tired.”

Once they agreed to the makeovers, Mary Beth and Marissa were both instructed to take their makeup off and take their hair down before they were taken up to the front of the crowd for the live filming event, where they had to re-enact being chosen from the crowd and act surprised.

“I was excited,” Marissa Brennan said. “I think she (her mom) was more nervous than I was.”

The makeovers took no longer than three hours as a team applied makeup, trimmed, colored and styled their hair and helped them try several clothing changes.

The mother and daughter were not allowed to see each other, nor were they allowed to look at themselves until the big reveal that happened live on air.

“Louis Lacari had asked me, he said, ‘Now, was your hair always this color? Was it brighter when you were little?’” Marissa Brennan said. “And I said, “Well, it was a little bit redder whenever I was little, and he was like, oh, okay. So, I had an idea in my mind from whatever he decided. He just did a semi-permanent in my hair just because my hair’s still pretty red.”

“They just asked if I was up for a change,” Mary Beth Brennan said. “I said, ‘I normally don’t have really short hair, so I’d prefer to not have anything really drastic.’”

She said she wasn’t nervous because she didn’t trust them.

“I was nervous because of the experience. It was just like was this really all happening now? I just tried to stay calm and knew it would be all right, because I’ve watched it so many other times on TV before, so I knew exactly what was going to happen.”

Mary Beth was the first to walk out for the big reveal in a pair of flattering, straight-leg black jeans, a sophisticated cream blazer and a blue statement necklace.

“It doesn’t even look like me,” said an emotional Mary Beth as she looked at herself in the mirror.

Then it was daughter Marissa’s turn to walk out in a breezy maxi dress in an elegant green-and-blue color combination to complement her new look.

“She wanted something bold to match her personality,” Martin said.

“I don’t look anything like myself,” said Marissa Brennan, whose hair looked warmer and brighter with a “glaze” that Lacari put in it.

After the live show, the mother and daughter were allowed to keep the clothes, “which was very cool,” Marissa Brennan saids. However, they did have to return the shoes and jewelry.

Mary Beth admits that she has not yet watched the recording of the big reveal.

“I cannot bring myself to watch it, because I am not a person that’s about myself at all,” she said. “I am more a person who gets my joy from what I can do to make other people happy, what I can do, and I get my joy from that, not from making myself happy.”

Marissa, who graduated from Penn State University in December with a master’s degree in material science and engineering, said she is finishing working at the Applied Research Lab at PSU. She’ll be moving to Niskayuna, N.Y., in the beginning of August to work with General Electric’s Global Research Center program.

Mary Beth, who is married to DuBois Area High School teacher Doug Brennan, will continue working with talented young women who have a passion for twirling. Marissa, with her two sisters, Gabrielle and Kayla, are also all baton experts and help instruct the Kidnetix classes.

Back in operation, The Bakery on Broad is ready for grand opening

NEW BETHLEHEM — Noticing that patrons enjoyed sipping a cup of coffee while shopping, the owner of the Valley Flowers and Gifts in New Bethlehem hit on the idea of opening a bakery next door. After a brief false start and a few months of regrouping, The Bakery on Broad is open for business and getting ready for its grand opening on May 17.

Renee Rapp-Minsterman and her indispensable operations manager, Tiffany Hopper, found themselves with an enthusiastic and loyal regular clientele, townspeople and those passing through town on the way to somewhere else. Now open on Thursdays and Fridays from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Saturdays from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m., the bakery offers cinnamon rolls on a regular basis as well as scones, cookies and more.

One of the best sellers is Shirley Peanut Butter Rolls, a treat baked for her family by Rapp’s grandmother, named in her honor, and now enjoyed by bakery customers. In a town sustained by the jobs and products of Smucker’s peanut butter factory, few goodies come close to their popularity.

As with peanut butter and sweet rolls, Rapp said, “The two businesses are a natural fit, especially since they are connected by a common doorway. Customers come into the flower shop and stroll over to the bakery for coffee and a quick bite. Bakery customers come in for a snack, wander over to the other side to look around and end up buying a little something.”

Visitors to the flower shop enjoy the restoration miracle that Rapp, her family and friends performed on a vintage storefront. Original wooden floors were refinished, an early 1900s tin ceiling exposed. The adjoining bakery will receive the same loving attention in the future.

Vintage French doors divide the two spaces, and antique doors are a big part of the present décor in the bakery, along with an ancient gas cookstove now serving as a sidebar and coffee station behind the bakery counter.

Rapp and her staff are busy churning out a neverending stream of doughnuts, rolls, raspberry cream-cheese pastries and oatmeal raisin creme-filled cookies. The Bakery on Board also takes special orders for graduation and holiday cakes and cupcakes.

“Our cakes are pretty simple and basic because our decorating capacity is limited,” Rapp said. “And we like to keep things simple and natural – sugar, flour, eggs, salt and milk.”

The bakery is a small operation with only two ovens. While Rapp and Hopper often get requests for gluten-free, paleo and no-sugar baked goods, they are beyond what the facility can produce.

“Really, to be genuinely gluten-free,” Hopper said, “everything would have to be baked in a separate and dedicated work area. We do not have the space or equipment for that right now.”

Rapp said, “We bake everything fresh every day. Neither of us likes wasting food, especially in a world where many people do not have a meal.”

This is one of the reasons that the bakery is only open three days a week. Unsold treats are offered at a discount the next day. On Saturdays, Rapp and Hopper donate whatever is left at the close of business to local nonprofit organizations having a social event that evening.

The other major reason is a relative lack of dedicated and skilled people willing to start work at 4 a.m. Fortunately, Rapp and Hopper can rely on lead baker Terry Hopper to show up every morning, along with her assistant and customer service associate, Mary Ozoskey.

“It is hard finding people willing to work and who have even basic baking skills,” Rapp said. “That was why we were open only briefly last year.”

Rapp and Hopper are expecting smoother sailing the second time around. The bakery is a work in progress and additional store hours may appear in the future.

“But we cannot complain,” Rapp said. “Our location is almost perfect. We are near one of the two stoplights in town, and we get through-traffic from either direction – people driving between DuBois and Pittsburgh, for the most part.”

And then there is the local foot traffic, residents ready to enjoy a downtown bakery again. The former Fabra’s Bakery, on the opposite side of the street and up a few blocks from the Bakery on Board, closed several decades ago.

Customers are sometimes disappointed when they find that their favorite goodies are sold out. Rapp noted that ordering a day ahead for pick-up is a good way to ensure not missing out on those famous peanut butter rolls.

More information about The Bakery on Broad can be found on its Facebook page or by calling (814) 275-1114.

John Potts recognized for decades of environmental work

CLEARFIELD — John Potts, 75, of Clearfield spent more than two decades protecting local watersheds and was recently recognized by the Clearfield County Conservation District for his work.

Potts has been a member of the Clearfield County Senior Environmental Corps since 1998 and was recently awarded the Watershed Stewardship Award by the Clearfield County Conservation District at its annual banquet.

“There were many people just as deserving of the award, including my wife (Nancy Potts),” he said.

Potts is a retired electrical supervisor at the Shawville Power Plant and said he joined the senior environmental corps in 1998 after seeing an ad in The Progress.

However, one has to be 55 years old to be a member and at that time he was still a couple months too young. So his wife Nancy had to wait a few months before joining the senior environmental corps.

As a member of the corps, his main interest is conducting water quality testing of various waterways in the area, checking for pollution.

They used several methods for checking water quality. Sometimes they would collect water samples for the Department of Environmental Protection to do laboratory testing for biological studies looking for e coli, various bacteria, etc.

They would also bring kits in the field to test for acidity/alkalinity, phosphates, sulphates etc. as well as water conductivity. “Water conductivity tests involve running electrical current through the water and this measures the amount of heavy metals in the stream,” Potts said.

This entailed placing two probes in the stream itself but sometimes they would take a sample from the stream to do the test.

“Sometimes when it was 20 degrees out we would put the water in a beaker and test it,”Potts said. And he said they would do testing several times a week.

“It was interesting and once you began to understand the chemistry behind it, it became even more interesting,” Potts said

The testing is important, he said, because many local streams have been impacted by old mining operations.

But natural gas well drilling can also impact local waterways, he said. Once, several years ago as a member of the Senior Environmental Corps, they discovered that a gas well drilling operation contaminated a local spring and sections of a couple of small streams in the Reynoldsville area. The incident was reported to the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and as a result the gas company had to provide water to residents until the contamination passed.

“I’m not against gas well drilling, they just need to do it right,” Potts said.

He said the conservation district and local watershed groups have made significant progress in cleaning up acid mine drainage.

“The conservation district really does a very good job,” Potts said.

In addition to the stream testing, the Senior Environmental Corps will also, from time to time, participate in cleaning up trash, clear trails etc.

Potts said he doesn’t know how long he will be a member of the corps as he doesn’t know how long before his health will force him to quit.

“But it hasn’t happened yet,” Potts said

He and his wife Nancy have two sons, David and Dan, and two daughters, Susan Mikesell and Rebecca Brickley.

For more information on the Senior Environmental Corps contact the Clearfield County Conservation District at 765-2629.