PUNXSUTAWNEY — Once again a large crowd gathered at Gobbler’s Knob in Punxsutawney to find out what Phil’s prediction would be this year. By 5:30 a.m. the number of people was already more than 10,000 and still growing steadily.
The buses were continuously packed with people shuttling from their cars, and more were still trying to find parking a mere hour before Phil would come out. All the parking areas were full, overflow parking was heading to the high school, and anyone who could was just parking in the snow.
When the inner circle made their way through the crowd of people, renewed energy took over the crowd that had been standing in the single-digit temperatures all morning.
They acknowledged inner circle member Rusty Johnson, as this was his 50th Groundhog Day celebration that he’s been a part of.
When it was time for Phil to be brought out from his burrow, the crowd waited to see what the next six weeks of weather would be like. There was no shadow, and an early spring was announced to be on its way.
The crowd quickly split into two groups after the famous weather prediction was made. Some made their way towards the stage for pictures, while others rushed to escape from the icy weather.
Two members of the crowd, Roger and Diane Beecher, came all the way from Romeo, Michigan, for the event. They made the six-hour drive to Clarion which was the closest hotel they were able to find for the weekend. They came to the annual Groundhog Day celebration as a way to celebrate Roger Beecher’s 60th birthday, which happens to fall on the same day.
“We’re extremely impressed with their marketing team... and it shows with the size of the crowd,” Roger Beecher said. They explained the marketing team worked very well with them to plan ahead. There were excited to be attending the Groundhog Ball Saturday evening.
Mark Macyk and Jacqueline Ricciardi only had to travel from Philadelphia to get to the celebration, but they had an interesting reason for coming. This was their first time attending the event. The couple wore matching groundhog onesies and were promoting a book they had written about Groundhog Day. They described the book, titled “Kaboom,” as a comedy thriller about the day itself.
People traveled from all over to see the famous Punxsutawney Phil, many, including those who live locally, hoping his predictions of an early spring will hold true, and they will see some warmer weather soon.
CLARION — A dream for decades, and years of planning came to fruition this week as the new full-service YMCA facility opened its doors in Clarion County.
“What an accomplishment for Clarion County,” YMCA trustee Milissa Bauer told the large crowd gathered Thursday morning in the YMCA’s new gymnasium for the official ribbon cutting ceremony. “This is truly the story of a small rural community that joined together.”
“This place is going to change people’s lives,” YMCA branch director Jesse Kelley said. “God is smiling on us today.”
Despite the negative temperatures outside at the time of the grand opening, the feeling inside was nothing but positive as local dignitaries, YMCA officials, donors and community members gathered to celebrate the occasion and to tour the new 40,000-square-foot, $12 million facility located along Mayfield Road, next to the Clarion Oaks Golf Course.
Bauer, who along with Al Lander led the capital campaign that raised the money to build the new YMCA, said that the planning began eight years ago when a group of supporters agreed that it could be done.
“I’m just elated we were able to make it to this day,” she said.
Lander looked at the bigger picture, saying that the county’s forefathers built the county’s institutions, large and small, and handed them off to the next generations.
“Now we add this facility to improve the quality of life (for the area),” he said, noting that the YMCA’s new location is central in the county, and a 15- to 20-minute drive for just about any resident.
Lander credited the many local donors who “dug deep” to support the project, including the Kriebel family, which donated much of the land, and golf course owners Dana and Karen Davis, who contributed the remaining land needed.
He said the YMCA was built with large windows on all sides so that those using its facilities could see the amazing views offered by the choice location.
Other speakers at the ribbon cutting included video presentations from state Rep. Donna Oberlander (R-Clarion) and Gov. Tom Wolf, and comments from Clarion County Commissioners Ed Heasley and Wayne Brosius, Clarion County Economic Development Corp. Director Shannon Barrios, and YMCA officials Kurtis Bell, Gerritt Rex and Tom Spence.
Brosius said the county commissioners were supportive of the project from the beginning, particularly because the new facility would help improve the health of county residents.
“We need help,” he said. “This, I hope, will do wonders. A healthy community is a strong community.”
Looking at the facility from an economic development background, Barrios said that surveys of millennials show that the top thing they look for in a community is a full service health and fitness center.
“This is economic opportunity,” she said. “This is such a gift to the community.”
Following the speeches and the ribbon cutting, guests were able to tour the new building, which includes three levels. The lower floor will soon feature the YMCA’s child care center, while the main floor is home to the swimming pool, gymnasium, a multi-purpose room, locker rooms, chapel and more. The upper floor houses the large fitness center with a wide array of workout equipment and free weights, an indoor walking and running track, and a room for group fitness programs.
The facility also includes an outdoor porch area that connects with the lobby and multi-purpose room, an outdoor play area that will be developed for the child care center, and an area for a soccer field between the YMCA building and the golf course.
For details about the YMCA, along with its programs and membership information, visit www.clarioncountyymca.org or call (814) 764-3400.
BROOKVILLE — Glenn E. Tetro, 58, of Summerville, was found guilty on three of the five counts of each of three felony charges – Rape/Person Less Than 13 (F1), Indecent Deviate Sexual Intercourse (F1) and Statutory Sexual Assault (F2) – and four of the 32 counts of Indecent Assault/Person Less Than 13 (M1) following two days of testimony.
There was almost a hung jury when the 12-member jury sent a one line note to Jefferson County Judge John H. Foradora saying the members could not come to a unanimous decision on the charges after five hours of deliberations. Foradora sent the members of the jury back to the jury room to deliberate some more in the hopes that they might be able to come to a decision on the charges, which they were able to do just before midnight Wednesday.
The charges stemmed from accusations that Tetro had sexually assaulted a 6-year-old girl over a four-year period.
The jury heard testimony from state Trooper Derek Weaver and from Tetro himself Wednesday.
During Weaver’s time on the stand, Jefferson County District Attorney Jeff Burkett played several portions of the taped interview Weaver conducted with Tetro after reading him his Miranda rights. During the interview Tetro is heard telling the state trooper that the victim was obsessed with sex from the young age of 4 and describe a couple of instances when she had either touched herself or touched him inappropriately.
When asked during the interview why the victim at the age of 15 or 16 told her mother that he had touched her, Tetro responded that the victim’s mother kept asking her three or four times if he had touched her before the victim said yes. He said she (the mother) kept asking and suggested that the victim might have thought she gave the wrong answer” and so finally said yes.
As the tape played, jurors could hear state Trooper William Craddock enter the interview room and begin to ask Tetro questions about what was said during the two phone calls the victim made to the defendant. The calls, Weaver testified, had been made in the presence of himself and the county detective.
Tetro is heard saying that the victim asked for help sorting stuff out, noting that he was filling the dual roles of father and therapist. As the troopers press for more details on the conversations and finally tell Tetro “we heard everything on those phone calls,” Tetro is heard telling the troopers that the interview is over.
The calls were made on February 20, 2018, and Feb. 27, 2018. Weaver testified that the defendant’s cellphone was processed and the analysis confirmed contacts and that he had obtained a search warrant for the phone.
During recross, Tetro’s attorney Matthew Thomas Ness, of Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC in Pittsburgh, asked Weaver if he asked the victim who else she told about the alleged molestation. Weaver said not every question is asked during the interview process but once a case is determined to go to trial the troopers go over everything with a fine tooth comb.
Ness also questioned the use of the victim to “interrogate” the defendant, noting that Tetro was not told the phone calls were being taped nor was he given his Miranda rights at that time.
Weaver replied that Miranda rights only apply when the suspect is in custody and an interrogation was going on. Ness and Weaver disagreed on the words interview and interrogation being interchangeable, as Ness called the phone call an interrogation. Weaver said the police just wanted the facts and they talked over the calls with the victim before she made them because it would be a “horrifying experience” to talk to the person who you believe is your abuser and would make her nervous.
Ness asked why all the cloak and dagger with the phone calls and Weaver replied, “Believe it or not Mr. Ness, in my profession people lie to us.”
In the redirect, Burkett asked Weaver if legal procedures and statutes that govern such calls were followed and Weaver said yes. Ness had brought up that Weaver had not gotten the judge’s signature for the wiretap but the law doesn’t require the judge’s signature, but rather the district attorney’s. Burkett had signed the orders.
With Weaver’s testimony the prosecution rested and Ness called Tetro to the stand.
He testified that when he and his wife were going through a divorce and custody battle that she allegedly threatened him, accusing him of not wanting to pay child support and saying she’d have the victim tell the court that he had molested her.
When asked if he was worried about that, he said no and when asked why not, he said because he was sure the “court would see through that BS.”
Tetro also testified that during the phone calls with the victim he was initially excited to hear from her again. “I raised her my whole life. She was my daughter.”
His testimony on the phone calls implied that any alleged admission of guilt was him simply being a therapist. She “believed she was confronting her abuser. The worst thing you can do is tell them they’re a liar or not believe them,” Tetro testified.
He said when talking to the victim he realized the “sword” with which his ex-wife had “stabbed him in the back” had ended up in the victim’s “heart.” Then he said it was like King Arthur and he was the “only one able to pull it out.”
Tetro testified that he was not confessing on the phone calls but rather “agreeing with what her situation was.”
He said he didn’t invoke his rights during the interview with Weaver because he “didn’t do anything wrong” and “had nothing to hide.” Tetro added that he wanted to give Weaver the “full picture” and “let him do his job.”
Under cross examination, Burkett brought up instances that he said showed Tetro lied to the officers and noted that Tetro lied when it suited him. One such instance was when he told Weaver that he didn’t remember his answer during one of the phone calls when the victim asked about specific sexual acts. On the stand Tetro acknowledged he did know the answer at the time of the interview.
During closing arguments, Ness noting that there was no forensic evidence in the case against Tetro and no collaboration of the allegations. He also questioned why it took so long for the victim to come forward and noted that the state police seemed to believe the victim on her word alone.
In his closing statement, Burkett noted that Tetro’s comments on the phone calls were collaboration of the victim’s allegations. He referred in part to when the victim asked about getting counseling which Tetro at first agrees with but when she asks if it would be OK to talk with a counselor about Tetro, he suggests that he counsel her, something that he admitted on the stand was not the norm for therapists to suggest.
Burkett noted that Tetro had the chance in the police interview to make it right but didn’t, saying instead tht Tetro lied for his own benefit.
No date has as yet been set for Tetro’s sentencing.