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Joy Norwood / Joy Norwood  

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The Jefferson County Commissioners held a virtual meeting for the first time Tuesday as they work to implement safety protocols to keep staff and the public as safe as possible during the coronavirus pandemic. The public meeting was easily assessible from the county’s webpage and even provided a window for people to submit questions that were answered during the public portion of the meeting.


Coronavirus
featured
Jefferson County companies team up to help stop the spread of coronavirus

BROOKVILLE — Plato once said that “necessity is the mother of invention.” Late last week, Brookville Glove Manufacturing Company and Guardian Elder Care discovered that to be true.

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, both companies were faced with their own virus-related dilemmas. Brookville Glove, being told last Thursday that it was not a life-sustaining business, was facing forced closure. This meant that all 20 of the company’s employees would be laid off. On the other hand, Guardian Elder Care, which operates a number of skilled nursing facilities in Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia, was facing a shortage of necessary medical supplies.

“Guardian Elder Care was having a hard time getting masks here in time,” Brookville Glove plant manager Emily Walker said Monday of the Brockway-based senior care center. “They were looking for any avenue they could to get something to protect their employees and residents.”

It was that need that led to a new business venture between the two companies.

According to Walker, representatives from Brookville Glove and Guardian met on Friday and in five hours designed a prototype of medical masks that would be produced at the Brookville factory.

“Once the order was confirmed, my boss, (company CEO) Brian Dougherty, and I worked around the clock on Friday getting everything ready to go,” she said, noting that some of the equipment had to be adjusted to accommodate the new product.

“Sewing our gloves is a little more complex than sewing these masks,” she said. “There was some trial and error to see how we could be more efficient and get more (masks) out at a faster pace.”

Walker said that mask production officially began Saturday morning, with half of the employees working a full shift that day and the other half working a shift on Sunday. She went on to say that by Monday morning the factory was back up to full production.

“They were so excited when they got the phone call from me saying that we were back,” Walker said of the Brookville Glove employees, noting that the transition from gloves to masks was relatively smooth. “I think they were also excited to be able to help with such an important cause. It’s really fulfilling.”

Walker said the factory is able to produce more than 2,000 masks per day with a full staff of workers, and as of Monday afternoon had produced a total of more than 4,000 masks.

As the need for masks grows, Walker said Brookville Glove is already looking to hire workers to staff a second shift that would run Monday through Friday from 3 to 11:30 p.m. Information regarding applications and hiring is available on the company’s website at www.brookvilleglove.com.

Demand for the masks goes well beyond Guardian’s immediate need, Walker said, adding that in addition to many Pennsylvania-based hospitals and nursing homes, Brookville Glove has received several inquiries from as far away as New York and Florida.

She said the masks, which are a unique design created by Guardian and Brookville Glove, are made from a cotton-polyester blend corded material that is rectangular-shaped and covers the mouth and nose.

“They’re more durable, machine-washable and reusable,” she said, adding that the masks also have an elastic strap that can be tied around the head of the wearer.

Voicing her gratitude to Guardian for offering Brookville Glove the opportunity, and noting the creativity and dedication of her staff, Walker said that it was really exciting to be a part of such an undertaking.

“It’s been quite a ride. It’s very fulfilling knowing that we’re helping the medical industry get the protection that they need,” she said.

Walker said any facility in need of masks can contact Brookville Glove at (814) 849-7324.


Local
Borough makes emergency declaration indefinite

BROOKVILLE — The Brookville Borough Council held a bare minimum meeting Tuesday night with its main intent to sign a Declaration of Disaster Emergency for the COVID-19 virus pandemic.

While Mayor Richard Beck and borough manager Dana Schreckengost had signed a declaration earlier this month, that was only in effect for seven days, Schreckengost said. Tuesday night the emergency declaration was signed by the council, Beck, borough Emergency Management Coordinator Todd Gumpher and then attested to by Schreckengost. This action will make the declaration indefinite and will enable the borough to potentially receive federal disater funding.

Council took action to comply with social distancing with only four members being in attendance. Two other council members with higher risks called in via phone.

Council has also postponed a hearing on two ordinance changes.

One ordinance would rezone the Beverage-Air Co. site at 119 Progress St. from office commercial to light industrial as requested by the company. At council’s Jan. 6 meeting, Solicitor Jim Dennison had said it was his understanding that the company is seeking to expand and that the current zoning was likely a mistake and should have remained industrial which it had been before.

The second ordinance would rezone a nearby tract of land from office commercial to medium density residential as requested by the landowners, Fritz Zimmerman and Han Zimmerman. The 9.5-acre site is located at the western boundary of Progress Street. This zoning change would allow for apartment buildings and condos to be constructed.

The rezoning has already been approved by the borough Planning Commission. A hearing was scheduled on the proposed rezoning for the March 17 meeting before that meeting was canceled. It has been postponed once more as the coronavirus crisis continues. Council cannot act on the ordinances until a public hearing is held.

Currently everything is operational at the borough level. Those seeking to stop in at the borough office must first make an appointment. However, appointments will be limited to those actually needed to enter the borough office, such as those residents seeking to turn on water or sewer services. For those simply seeking to pay their water or sewer bill, they can drop their check and bill in the dropbox at the curb, Shreckengost confirmed.

Street crews are working, she said. They are currently on swing shifts.


school meals

BROOKVILLE — The Brookville Area School District was notified Friday that it can now provide meals to children age 18 and younger during the coronavirus emergency.

Monday 132 students received lunches and breakfasts for two days.

Grab and go meals will be available each Monday, Wednesday and Friday during the school closure. Meals can be picked up from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in front of the high school cafeteria.

Superintendent Erich May said specific USDA guidelines have been set up for the meals.

To meet USDA requirement, any child receiving a meal package must be present at each pick up. Each student will receive two lunches and two breakfast.

Becky Kammerdeiner, food services director, said, Monday’s “hot lunch offering was a 3 oz. all beef cheeseburger on kaiser roll with french fries, applesauce cup and milk. The cold lunch they received was an Italian hoagie, Lay’s chips, fresh vegetables, fruit and milk. Students also received breakfasts for two days, which included yogurt, juice, whole grain breakfast items and milk.”

Looking ahead, Kammerdeiner said, “We plan on providing the students’ favorite meals that are both feasible and safe to prepare and distribute. These include nachos grande, hot dogs, deluxe chicken sandwiches, chicken tenders and, of course, pizza! We haven’t forgotten about their favorite breakfast items, which include hot breakfast sandwiches, yogurt smoothies and cinnamon rolls.”

Kammerdeiner commended her staff. They “are quite resilient and creative,” she said. “They worked with me to get everything up and running in one day.

With the first distribution of the meals Monday morning, students and their parent/guardian stopped at the designated area and meals were passed through to the driver, based on the number of children in the car.

May pointed out that children do not have to be BASD students to receive the meals, which are being provided to all students, regardless of meal eligibility.

The school building remained closed, with only food service workers having access to the facilities. The meals were served from carts outside the cafeteria.


Joy Norwood / Joy Norwood 

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Volunteers finish up for the night Thursday at the Brookville Food Pantry. Keeping distance between them, with some opting to wear masks, the volunteers showed up to make sure the pantry’s clients had the food they needed. Modifications were put in place Thursday to limit access to clients, with none allowed into this area of the pantry.


 Patti Slaughter  / 

Third-grader Whitney Sunealitis received $75 for her winning picture.


backpacks

BROOKVILLE — Elementary children needing meals during the school closure had an opportunity to pick up a lunch Friday morning at CREATE Brookville.

Students enrolled in the backpack program were also able to receive their weekly meals.

Backpacks were prepared for the 38 elementary students enrolled in the program, which is provided through the Brookville Food Panty and Second Harvest.

“We are handing out bagged lunches to families with children who might need them,” Kristen Drake, counselor at Hickory Grove, said. She said the announcement was made on the school’s webpage, “so any family that has children who need a bagged lunch for the day could come today.”

“An anonymous donor had donated supplies for the lunches,” she said, which were prepared for 20 students. “We are prepared to pack more if needed.”

“We are also handing out the backpack food that comes from Second Harvest Food Bank of Erie. It goes through the Brookville Food Pantry and the Brookville School District,” she said. “We are making backpacks with two weeks of food for those families as well.”

Eight families received 32 of the backpack meals. Nine families received 27 of the packed lunches.

For the backpack and lunch distributions, Drake said, “We are taking it week by week, because we want to promote the social distancing and the recommendations from the CDC, so we are not encouraging families to come out if they don’t need to. We are encouraging families not to bring the children; they don’t need to show their kids to pick up the meals. We don’t want them to bring more people to this area than are needed.”

The backpacks and lunches were distributed in front of Fusion Cafe “so nobody had to breathe the same air and touch the same doorknobs,” Bill Stein said. “We are limiting contact as much as possible,” Christine Hoffman said. “We are taking as many precautions as possible.”

An anonymous donor has also provided supplies for a second week of lunches. Anyone who would like information about making a donation to CREATE, which is a 501c3 organization, can find more information at www.createbrookville.org.