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Second DuBois Hometown Heroes dedication ceremony to be held Dec. 8

DuBOIS — The Downtown DuBois Revitalization Group will host a Dedication Ceremony for its second round of Hometown Heroes fundraiser project on Sunday, Dec. 8, at the DuBois Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 813 located at 114 Fuller St., DuBois, according to Lisa M. Gabler, DDRG board and fundraising chairperson.

Gabler said the event will begin at 2 p.m.

The event will give those attending an opportunity to see the large banners that will be hung in the downtown area. Those who also ordered individual banners will have a chance to pick them up as well, she said.

“We are going to have some short speakers, music and light refreshments,” Gabler said. “The ceremony should only be about an hour and then time for mingling and photographs. You are welcome to bring other family members with you as well.”

Each individual banner is unique and includes the person’s picture, name, branch of service, medallion logo with branch or service, and sponsor’s name. The program is non-political and non-partisan.

The banners are 18 inches wide and 36 inches high and will be located on street lights throughout the city.

Family members and loved ones were able to purchase a banner themselves or obtain a sponsorship by a local business.

The cost of one banner is $200. And then individuals had the opportunity to purchase smaller, keepsake banners for $14 apiece.

Gabler said those interested may look up the DuBois Hometown Heroes Facebook page to respond to the event with additional questions, as well as view the online album of all the hometown heroes located there.

Those who ordered individual flags and are unable to attend may still pick up their personal flags at the Farmers Insurance Office at 21 W. Long Ave. in DuBois.

“It is an honor to recognize our DuBois Hometown Heroes,” said Gabler previously. “Our military, firefighters, EMTs, police and all who serve this community, past and present, are greatly appreciated. Now we can show them.”

Mapleview Schoolhouse still being used to teach

PUNXSUTAWNEY — The Mapleview Elementary building might no longer be a school, but teaching is still happening within the walls of the building.

When the Punxsutawney School District consolidated the elementary schools in the district, they auctioned off the five buildings, one of which was the Mapleview Elementary School. The owner, Judy Smith, has big plans for the future of the building that she is slowly watching become reality.

The building, now called the Mapleview Schoolhouse Market and Event Center, has been the site of several craft and vendor fairs over the last year, and is slowly renting spaces out to some of the vendors.

Smith said she would love to see the classroom spaces filled with vendors of different crafts and skills, and holding lessons on their craft in the schoolhouse.

“My dream is to have different classrooms have workshops where people can come, like a destination place,” Smith said. “Quilting, painting classes, drawing classes, whatever you want to do.”

She also likes the idea of having environmental classes held at the center because of the space they have outside. Other ideas she favors is having beekeeping classes or alternative energy classes.

“We have a camp where we run everything on solar and hydro energy,” Smith said. “People want to learn about this stuff, and with the kitchen I’d like to see canning classes or cooking classes. I’ve got so many ideas.”

The first event Smith held in the schoolhouse was a “spring fever” vendor fair in March, and she had 46 vendors. Then, she had another event in June with 42 vendors, and finally she had a third “winter market” with 27 vendors at the start of November. She is already planning to have these three events again next year.

“I have so many ideas of things to do here, but I have to pick and chose what I’m going to do. I’d like to see something every month, but I’m only one person,” she said.

Smith also rents out the cafeteria space with the tables and stage for $50 for the first two hours, and then $10 for every additional hour. The full commercial kitchen is still functioning, and the Perry Township Fire Department cooked food out of it during the winter market.

“People that walk through that door who came to school here, this was family. This was everything to them, and whenever they closed the school they were devastated because generations have gone here,” Smith said. “I included in my Facebook write-up that Mapleview is still a happy place.”

Kelsey Snyder and Missy Humble of K&M Pottery have been renting a space in the building since Sept. 1, and have held several ceramics workshops since getting the space. They can teach pottery wheel or sculpting classes with the equipment in the old art room.

Getting the space in Mapleview allowed Snyder and Humble to expand to teaching classes instead of just making their own creations to sell.

There are 19 classrooms in the building each about 675 square feet, which are rented for $350 a month, which includes heat and electric. Doterra Essential Oils is another vendor who rents a room at the center.

Tasty fundraiser benefits Clarion Library

CLARION — When they opened Mechanistic Brewing Company this past May, owners Chelsea and George Alexander envisioned it as a place for people to come together and, in so doing, support others. The name of the brew pub, located on Clarion’s Liberty Street in the former West Penn Power building, even reflects that vision.

“’Mechanistic’ was George’s idea. ‘Mechanistic’ is the act of bringing small pieces together to make a bigger whole. So we were thinking beer, high quality beer, brings people and people make a community,” Chelsea Alexander said.

The Alexanders’ commitment to community was demonstrated Nov. 22 when Mechanistic hosted the 2019 Stew & Brew Fundraiser to benefit the Friends of the Clarion Free Library (FCFL). Mechanistic provided the brew, offering craft beers from its varied line-up ranging from a light, crispy libation to an IPA to a darker porter- or stout-style draught. The Alexanders also recruited the 14 chefs who donated stews, as well as soups and chilis, for the event.

The first Stew & Brew was held in 2017 among the stacks at the Clarion Free Library in before going on hiatus last year. Miranda Spessard, president of the FCFL, said, “The idea was to have a fun event to bring the community together and, with the weather turning colder at the time, having an assortment of soups and stews felt like a perfect fit. The brewery wasn’t open but they (the Alexanders) were perfecting their brewing process. They offered to have a selection of their beer available for sampling and thus Stew and Brew was born.”

Added Chelsea Alexander, “Two years ago was a huge success. Different businesses donated roasters of soup. So I wanted to really bring it back this year. I was like ‘Let’s just have it here.’ We have the space.”

This year’s event was not only a fundraiser, but also a friendly competition. Prizes were awarded to the chefs that raised the most money, while two FCFL board members sampled each concoction to determine a “judge’s choice” winner. With 14 cooks in the mix, the offerings were eclectic. “It’s basically anything that you can eat on a spoon,” Chelsea Alexander noted.

Clarion County Treasurer Tom McConnell made ciorba de fasole, a bean and sausage soup often associated with Romania. Discussing his soup, McConnell said, “I was just kind of looking for something new and different. I was browsing the internet and I happened to find it. And I really like dill and it has an emphasis on dill. And it has cool toppings to put on it too. So that’s always fun.”

Randy Shook, culinary arts director at the Clarion County Career Center, was on hand with a dill pickle potato lager soup. “I decided to make something kind of different that nobody else was going to do. And I wanted to put some beer in it because we’re at a brewery,” said Shook, who finished third in donations earned.

Clarion resident Brad Grant also seized upon the idea of incorporating beer into his offering, a chili. “I made a beer chili from Mechanistic Brewery beer. And hopefully it’s very good.” he said.

Adding an international flavor, Carla Valdez, an exchange student from Argentina living with the Alexanders, made guiso, a traditional stew from her native county. Describing her offering, Valdez said “It’s a stew with beef and veggies, like carrots and potatoes and pumpkin and sweet potatoes, and noodles.”

The soup, which received the most donations and hence could be considered the winner, was a vegan dish prepared by John Miller of Artfunkle’s in Clarion. “A friend of mine and I got together. He made a chili. I was going to join him in preparing that. But then I talked to another friend of mine, I wanted him to come over (to the event), and he’s vegan. So he said he wouldn’t eat the chili because it had meat in it. So as a result of that, I made an entirely different soup. It’s a miso-tofu soup, a Japanese-based soup. I’ve only made it once before and that was years ago,” Miller said.

Brian Luton of Luton’s Plumbing and Heating was second in donations with his southwest chicken stew.

The “judge’s choice” award went to Martin Berkery, of Knox, who made a Greek lamb stew.

According to Chelsea Alexander, this year’s Stew & Brew raised approximately $1,050, with the money going toward FCFL’s support of the local library.

“We do not have specific plans for the funds raised from this event, but we have some projects in the works. The roof at the library has been in need of repair. Earlier this year we (the FCFL) committed $7,000 to help with this needed renovation,” Spessard said.

“The credit for this event goes to Mechanistic Brewing Company. They are such generous and hardworking members of our community. We are humbled that they offered to hold another fundraiser at their brewery for us this year (they previously held a guest bartender fundraiser),” she said.

Mahaffey native Troupe wins NASCAR Xfinity Series title as team engineer

MAHAFFEY — If you’re a fan of racing, particularly NASCAR, you may not know that there’s a local person taking part on its highest level as a team engineer – the NASCAR Cup Series. Mahaffey native Nate Troupe will work at the famed Richard Childress Racing with driver Tyler Reddick for the 2020 season. Troupe is moving up with Reddick to the Cup Series after the team won the 2019 NASCAR Xfinity Series championship.

So how did he get involved with racing? Troupe said that years ago, he happened to watch the Daytona 500 as it was a week or two after the Super Bowl at the time.

“I happened to turn it on because football, my sport of choice at the time, was no longer on,” he said. “I’m not going to lie, at first I thought it was a bunch of cars just going left but the more I watched, the more intrigued I became. It was interesting to see the strategy unfold for the teams and to see how it reminded me more and more of football. As much as you plan, or prepare, you have to be able to adapt and call audible’s to keep up with the ever changing environment. Rarely does anything ever go according to plan. From that point forward, I was hooked.”

Troupe said he put his dream of playing football aside for a new dream and stated how racing announcers were talking of how engineering was an integral part of race teams. So the 2004 graduate of Purchase Line High School decided he would go on an engineering path and attend Penn State University with the intentions of someday working for a NASCAR team.

“In order to do that though, I had done some research and was advised that I should get real race experience,” Troupe said. “So I got my foot in the door by volunteering with Benny Gordon from DuBois. He was racing in the USAR Hooter’s Pro Cup Series. I started by sweeping the floors, cleaning parts, etc.”

Troupe then worked with Gordon’s race team at Predator Performance and worked his way up eventually to a front tire changer and they won the series in 2008. After two years at Penn State DuBois, he transferred to Penn State University Park and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering in 2008 and an master’s degree in mechanical engineering in 2011.

“After graduating from Penn State and even a few months before graduating, I was working multiple jobs at the time,” Troupe said.

He said he was determined to get into NASCAR – so much in fact that he took extraordinary steps in trying to get a job.

“I was trying to get my foot in the door and I felt it was important that I delivered my resume in person,” Troupe said. “So once a month I would drive down to Mooresville, North Carolina, since that is Race City USA and that is where (the) majority of the NASCAR teams are headquartered. I would go to as many of the shops before they closed upon arrival in town and then get up early the next day to hit up as many of the other organizations before I had to drive back north to start one of my many jobs.”

Since 2012, he has been with Richard Childress Racing. He first started on the #2 NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series with Kevin Harvick, Brendan Gaughan and Tim George Jr. and moved up to the Cup shop and the #27 team with Paul Menard months later. Troupe worked there for the rest of 2012 and 2013.

“From there, Germain Racing had formed a technical alliance with RCR,” Troupe said. “I was called upon to be the liaison between the two organizations and to be the team engineer on their car. I served as the team engineer for the #13 (Germain Racing team) for five years – Casey Mears from 2014-2016 and Ty Dillon from 2017-2018.

But for 2019, Troupe was called back to be on the #2 NASCAR Xfinity Series car with Reddick, who had just won the 2018 title with JR Motorsports.

Troupe said there’s a lot that goes into racing each week.

“It’s no different than preparing for a football game,” he said. “Typically a race weekend is started weeks in advance. I’m like an offensive or defensive coordinator. I’ll work with the crew chief who is like the head coach. We will put together a build sheet for the event that we are competing in. For the build we will look at what we struggled with the last time we were there and try to come up with a game plan to fix those issues. Once we send the build to the crew, they are like the lineman. I will then build that car in our simulation program. From there I can run through a variety of changes. The simulation allows me to put together different setups that we want to try for the weekend and I can work out all the details before we get to the race track.”

On race day itself, Troupe helps the crew chief in calling the race while also calculating fuel mileage and scanning the other race competitors frequencies.

During last year’s championship season, Troupe said his favorite moment was his team’s win at Las Vegas, as he said their late race strategy turned out to be the best.

“We were getting much better fuel mileage than we expected and a caution came out that put us right on the edge of making it to the end,” Troupe said. “We called the audible and pitted. We were able to stretch the mileage to the end of the race. It’s not commonly known but race cars do not have fuel gauges in them. When I first calculated the fuel mileage from one of our stops it was unusually high. I asked our fueler if he was sure he got the car full. He said he was, and sure enough, I got the same kind of fuel numbers on our following stop. We would have never made that call otherwise and with that win. We won the regular season points and we could carry that momentum into the playoffs. That was a pivotal win and it showed that the fastest car doesn’t always win.”

Another memorable moment of the season included winning at Bristol Motor Speedway as Troupe’s dad was in attendance.

“Bristol was the first NASCAR race, as a fan, that he took me to,” Troupe said. “It’s where I told him and his friends that I was going to be an engineer in the sport some day. They of course laughed, but it eventually happened and I was just glad that he was there. We were able to get our picture taken in victory lane with Tyler and the trophy.”

Troupe said the thing he loves the most about being in NASCAR is the competition itself.

“These are the best racers in the country and you could possibly argue the world,” he said. “Most people would say F1 is the quintessential of racing. I would say from a car technology stand point, yes, they are far superior. But when it comes to a driver, our drivers control everything on the car with the lack of onboard computers. That may make NASCAR more barbaric looking compared to F1 but it truly shows the strength of a team. Our onboard computer is the driver and the only way that we can make the car better is based off of their input. Communication is key and the human element makes it special.”

Troupe said he didn’t do much racing on his own growing up.

“Just a lot of speeding tickets,” he joked.

However, his favorite driver growing up was Jeff Gordon and he actually got to meet him in Gordon’s last season as Troupe’s former crew chief Robert “Bootie” Barker knew Gordon.

“Bootie had taken the time to introduce me to Jeff and I was able to get my picture with him,” Troupe said. “That was a pretty neat moment from the race fan side of things.”

Troupe said he will be moving back to the Cup Series after a one year hiatus with Reddick for his rookie season, as a majority of the championship winning team is moving up as well. The 23-year-old Reddick is one of the rising stars of the sport and became the first back-to-back Xfinity Series champion since Ricky Stenhouse Jr. in 2011-12. Others winning back-to-back titles there include Martin Truex Jr. and Dale Earnhardt Jr.

“I’m definitely excited about our opportunity to compete for rookie of the year,” Troupe said. “It’s really neat to be on the ground floor with a young driver in the Cup Series. I know we will have our ups and downs but ‘Lil Buddy’ is quite the wheelman and I know that him and our team is up for the challenge.”

Troupe said after winning with Harvick in the Truck Series in 2012 and having Xfinity wins and last year’s title under his belt, the next goal is to win at the Cup level and then obviously a championship. He also said maybe someday he’d like to become a crew chief and compete in events outside of NASCAR, specifically naming the 24 Hours of LeMans.

“I would love it if I could get the opportunity to take part in that race,” Troupe said of LeMans, mentioning it occasionally falls on a NASCAR off-weekend.

For those wanting to follow the career path of Troupe, he said his biggest advice is to “be persistent.”

“Just like anything in life, if you want it, you can do it,” Troupe said. “It’s going to take a lot of time and sacrifice. Get involved and get experience.”

He said he is also extremely thankful for the support he gets back home.

“That is the great thing about this area,” Troupe said. “I have always had an amazing support system. Not only my family – immediate and extended – but everyone from the community of Mahaffey to faculty at Penn State and Purchase Line High School.”