ALCOLA – Actress and author Naya Rivera once said, “Butterflies can’t see their wings. They can’t see how truly beautiful they are, but everyone else can.” This week, visitors at the Clarion County Fair can experience the truth of Rivera’s words.
Making its debut at the local fair for 2018, the Butterfly Experience brings learning about butterflies to life by offering a close-up and personal encounter with these colorful insects.
“It’s a really nice thing for people of all ages to enjoy,” said Joe Damiano, who, along with wife Lacey, owns and operates the Butterfly Experience, which includes eight traveling butterfly exhibits based out of Long Island, N.Y. “Not too many people get the chance to be this close to butterflies.”
The Damianos were inspired to start their family-owned business a year-and-a-half ago when they saw a butterfly flying by while visiting one of their local fairs.
“He [Joe] said I think we could do something like that,” Lacey Damiano said, noting that the couple have been traveling all over the country with their exhibits ever since. Although both still work full-time jobs, they hope to focus solely on the Butterfly Experience in the near future.
“Everyone loves butterflies,” Joe Damiano added, explaining that he and Lacey try booking between 15 and 20 fairs per year. In addition to fairs and festivals, the Butterfly Experience will also book weddings and other special events — complete with butterfly releases — as well as host education programs in schools and home expo conventions.
According to the Damianos, fairgoers who visit the Butterfly Experience will have the unique opportunity to interact with and feed three different species of butterflies — Monarch, Painted Ladies and TomPawlesh.
“Everybody always asks what butterflies eat,” Joe Damiano laughed, noting that the insects’ diet consists mostly of sugar water. Visitors feed the butterflies using a stick with a sponge on the end, which is dipped into the sugary substance providing the perfect landing zone for the more than 140 butterflies in the exhibit. “It really does make for a good time.”
Each butterfly in the Butterfly Experience is either bred by the Damianos, purchased from another breeder or collected by the Damianos from its native area.
In addition to providing one-on-one experiences with the insects, Joe Damiano said butterfly kits are also available for purchase at the exhibit. Equipped with enough food to last until the metamorphosis process begins, each kit comes complete with a Painted Lady caterpillar.
“It’s another great way for people, especially kids, to be able to watch all the stages in the metamorphosis process,” Joe Damiano said, explaining that when the time is right, the caterpillar will make its way to the top of the container to form a chrysalis where it will remain for seven to 10 days before emerging as a butterfly.
Along with exhibiting and educating crowds about butterflies, the Damianos also accept donations to support the migration of the Monarch butterfly species.
“It really helps to put the butterflies back in nature,” Joe Damiano said of their efforts.
Joe and Lacey Damiano said that what makes their exhibit unique is the individual experience that each visitor has with while interacting with the butterflies.
“It can be a very spiritual and emotional experience for some people,” Lacey Damiano said, adding that butterflies often symbolize remembrance of a loved one or the beginning of new life.
The couple agreed that what they like most about their job is being able to travel and work with the butterflies together as a family.
“The best part of our job is being together and working as a family,” Lacey Damiano said, noting that the Butterfly Experience wants every fairgoer to feel like they are part of the family. “It’s great being able not only travel, but be around butterflies.”
The Damianos are looking forward to their first time at the Clarion County Fair, and want to thank Kemmer’s Greenhouse for providing the flowers to enhance the Butterfly Experience. The flowers will be available for sale at the end of the week.
The Butterfly Experience is open daily at the Clarion County Fair, and admission to the exhibit is included in the fair’s pay-one price entry fee.
For more information, visit the Butterfly Experience on Facebook, or www.thebutterflyexperience.net.
RIMERSBURG – When Union students return to school in a little more than a month, they’ll do so under the watch of a new team of security officers at each of the district’s three schools.
At last week’s meeting of the Union School Board, directors approved the hiring of three retired state police troopers, and agreed to advertise for additional officers for the upcoming school year.
Alan Carmichael, Mike Boltz and James Shaftic were all hired effective Aug. 13 as school police officers.
“Safety and security are the top priorities for our school district,” Union superintendent Jean McCleary said following the July 19 meeting.”We have made upgrades to our school security throughout my tenure as superintendent. However, with the addition of school police officers and metal detectors, it provides another layer of safety and security.”
McCleary said that in addition to the officers, the district has budgeted money to install metal detectors at the schools for this school year.
For right now, McCleary explained, the plan is to have one police officer at each school — Union High School, and Rimersburg and Sligo elementary schools. She said that the district is again advertising for officers to receive more applications. Part-time officers are also being sought to fill in for the full-timers as needed.
“In the event, the district hires more school police officers, there may be two officers positioned at the high school and one officer at each elementary building,” she said.
McCleary said the first-year cost to the district, which includes the purchase of metal detectors and four full-time police officers, is estimated at $186,000.
“Although, I must state, all the layers of protection don’t guarantee a 100 percent safe and secure learning environment,” McCleary cautioned. “In conjunction with the board of directors, hiring school police officers and the use of metal detectors, will increase our school security even more. Once again, the commitment of the board of directors has been demonstrated by their actions and approval to take the necessary steps to improve district safety and security.”
The hirings were approved at last week’s meeting by a unanimous vote. Board members Eric Shick and Adam Vogle were absent.
The action came following a 20-minute executive session for personnel matters. A crowd of around 25 local residents was on hand for the meeting; however, they sat silently during the board’s two opportunities for public comments at the meeting.
The approximately hour-long meeting ended with a second executive session, during which former Union High School principal Mark Schlosser was asked to remain for the closed session.
• School lunch prices were raised 5 cents per meal for the upcoming school year. The school board set the prices at $2.30 for elementary students, $2.55 for high school students, and $3.45 for adults.
• The board approved school bus contracts and rates for the 2018-19 school year as per the state formula with a 3 cent alteration. The extra hauling rate was set at $2.52 per mile, with a layover rate of $7.25 per hour after three hours.
• The district contracted with Mr. and Mrs. Ed Weaver for special transportation services during the school year at a rate of $1.64 per mile, and $1.67 per mile for a wheelchair van.
• Christina Smith was hired effective Aug. 13 as school psychologist.
• Rhonda Barger and Kim Wolfe were hired as a part-time support cafeteria employees, effective Aug. 27.
• Clay Kennemuth was hired as second assistant varsity football coach at a salary of $1,500. Chris Elliott was hired as head junior high football coach at a salary of $1,450.
• The board approved the resignation of cross country co-coach John Lundy and agreed to advertise the opening.
• Approval was given to hold a fifth and sixth grade boys and girls basketball program for six weeks during the school year, and to advertise for the coaching positions.
• Board members rescheduled their August work session and meeting for Thursday, Aug. 9, at 6 p.m. The work session will be held first, with the meeting to follow.
NEW BETHLEHEM – The recent flap over New Bethlehem’s resident family of swans on Red Bank Creek is being dealt with, borough officials acknowledged in the past week.
During their meeting on July 17, New Bethlehem Borough Council members noted that efforts were being made to relocate the swans to a new home following reports this summer of the swans attacking or acting aggressively toward boaters and sightseers on the land.
“As I understand it, some of the folks involved with bringing the swans in have found a farm that is willing to take the swan family and they hope to remove them to the farm sometime this week,” council president Sandy Mateer said following last week’s meeting.
She reported on Monday evening that the adult male swan had been relocated to its new home that evening, and that the others may be relocated soon. The borough is not involved in the matter, and Mateer noted that she does not know if the plans are to relocate all the swans or to leave one on the local creek.
She did note that if the local residents did not relocate the swans, she was told that Pennsylvania Game Commission officers planned to do so as the swans are not a native species for this area.
Discussion of the swans at last week’s meeting followed a debate about the upcoming resurfacing work on the borough’s parking lot behind RMS Furniture.
Officials debated whether or not to remove the unenforced parking meters and poles prior to the sealcoating work, or to allow them to remain.
Councilman Stewart Bain supported removing the poles completely.
“The idea is to beautify the town,” he said. With the poles gone, he said, the parking lot would look better and would be able to be used for events.
Borough maintenance supervisor Roger Hilliard pointed out that snow plowing in the lot would also be easier with the poles removed.
The council voted 5-1 to contract with Barry Downs who will jackhammer the poles out prior to the sealcoating work. Councilman Ron Geist voted against the measure, stating that he didn’t see the need to spend the money on the project.
Mateer supported the action, adding that additional signage would be needed to designate handicap parking spaces in the newly reworked lot.
Officials said the sealcoating work is expected to be completed by Aug. 31.
• The council approved a new social media policy for borough employees that applies “at any time they give the appearance of speaking on behalf of the borough or its affiliates” or when they identify themselves as borough employees or when they discuss the borough.
• The borough is conducting an online survey to determine if residents favor adding a per capita tax of $2 or $3 per person to support Redbank Valley Municipal Park. Officials noted that New Bethlehem was once a member of the park commission, and supported the park financially, but has not done so for at least 20 years. The survey can be found at www.newbethlehemboro.com/redbank-park-survey/.
• Mateer said the borough received a “very nice” letter of support from Clarion County for the borough’s efforts to secure a grant for repairs to the Penn Street bridge over Leasure Run.
ALCOLA – Clarion County Fair week got off to a great start, according to organizers who said they are looking forward to a big end to the fair’s 80th anniversary edition.
“We’ve had a good turnout so far,” Clarion County Fair Board president Josh Minich said Tuesday. “And we’re looking to build on it every day as we get into the big events like the demolition derby, Tough Truck racing and our truck and tractor pulls.”
Minich said the fair has also been blessed with good weather through its first three days, despite forecasts that called for rain.
“The weather is looking beautiful for the weekend,” he said.
Fair Week continues tonight (Wednesday) with the Derby Dogs Demolition Derby at 7 p.m., preceded at 6 p.m. with a pre-show concert by country music performer Coston Cross.
On Thursday, the fair’s schedule includes the Open Horse Show at 9 a.m., Special Needs Day from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Barnyard Games at 1:30 p.m., the Master Showmanship Contest at 6:30 p.m. and the Team STORM Tough Truck Racing under the grandstand lights at 7:30 p.m.
Not only will the fair be raffling off a truck that the winner can drive in the Tough Truck races, Minich said the raffle will also include tickets for the Pocono Raceway.
On Friday, the fair offers free admission to senior citizens until 3 p.m. The day’s lineup includes the Clarion Hospital/Semeyn Family Practice Health Fair from 10 a.m. to noon, the antique tractor show from noon to 5 p.m., the 4-H Livestock Sale at 7 p.m. and the truck and tractor pulls at 7 p.m.
Fair Week concludes on Saturday with the mini horse pulls at 9 a.m., full-size horse pulls at noon, 4-H Games at 10 a.m., the Kiddie Pedal Tractor Pull at 11 a.m. and the Full Pull Productions USA East Sanctioned Truck and Tractor Pull at 7 p.m.
Minich also touted the fair’s free grounds shows and exhibits, which are all included with the pay-one-price admission.
“Brian Franzen’s Elephants are here now on the grounds,” Minich said of the twice-daily show. “A lot of people are stopping to look at the elephants. The kids are excited to be up close and personal with these beautiful creatures.”
Minich said the fairgoers can also enjoy the Knocker Ball game and rides on the mechanical bull, all included with the fair’s admission.
“We have the hypnotist show, the magic show and the Butterfly Experience,” Minich said, noting that more than 100 butterflies were added to that attraction on Tuesday.
He also encouraged fairgoers to stop by the 4-H and Redbank Valley Community Center food booths, which each offer daily home cooked specials.
“And don’t forget the exhibitors, many of which are offering free giveaways and other specials,” he said.
For a full schedule, visit www.clarioncountyfair.com.
The Clarion County Fair is in full swing, and The Leader-Vindicator has a special guest appearing at our booth this evening (Wednesday).
Stop by The L-V’s booth to meet local author David Drayer, who has written several novels and has just released his latest book, “Wayward Son: Travels and Reflections.” David will have copies of his book available for sale, that he’d be happy to autograph for you.
And while you’re at The Leader-Vindicator’s booth, sign up for a free chance to win a new Char-Broil propane grill, compliments of Redbank Chevrolet, as well as daily drawings for a Family 4-Pack of tickets to the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium.
As of press time, we’ve drawn two winners for the zoo tickets — Tammy Himes of Emlenton and Leeann Livingston of Fairmount City. Congratulations!
And don’t miss our amazing subscription special just for Fair Week — for new subscribers, buy one year of The L-V at our low regular price of $42 and get six months free. Current subscribers can cash in as well with two months free for a one-year renewal. Call (814) 275-3131 ext. 221 to sign up today.
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Our compliments to the dozens of volunteers who bring the Clarion County Fair to life every year.
This year’s 80th anniversary edition of the fair looks great, with the grounds packed with shows, rides, exhibits and more. For everything that is included in the $8 admission price, there’s no better deal around.
The Fair is also offering a limited edition stoneware crock to celebrate the 80th year. The crocks are just $35 and can be purchased at the fair office.
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A campaign is also underway at this year’s Clarion County Fair to raise $15,000 to install new pig pens inside the newly renovated pig barn at the fairgrounds.
Fair board member Joel Kerle said sponsors will be recognized with their names on a banner in the barn for years to come.
He added that the fair is using pens on loan this year from the Venango County Fair, and is very appreciative of the loan.
Donations in any amount are being accepted. Stop by the Fair office for details, or call (814) 591-7235.
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Monday night saw the finals of the Clarion Fair’s Got Talent competition. It was great to see so many talented folks from the area, who put on a fantastic show.
The winners in the children’s division (up to age 12) were: Mercy Smith, first place; Mason Montana, second place; and Victory Brunner, third place.
Winners in the youth division were: Austin Hefflefinger, first place; Alena Keller, second place; and Mollie Smith, third place.
And finally, the winners in the adult division were: Carl Smith, first place; Easyln and Amy Huey, second place; and Pearl Adams, third place.
Congratulations to everyone.
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Conrad Warner, a candidate for the state House seat in the 63rd District, which includes Clarion County, and portions of Armstrong and Forest counties, will host Art in the Park this Sunday, July 29, at Clarion County Park in Paint Township.
The event will feature live music, tie-dying, face painting, hot dogs and an artist showcase. It will be held at the large pavilion near the playground from 1 to 4 p.m. The cost to attend is $10 per adult, and children 12 and under are free.
Part of the event will be an art competition where the winner will have their work showcased on T-shirts for the Unity for 63 campaign. Those interested in submitting artwork should use the theme “Unity for 63” in the colors red, white and blue. The fee to enter is $10.
Art in the Park will also provide an opportunity for all artists — musicians, food crafters, authors, painters, sculptors and more — to participate by showcasing their work. Artists can register to set-up tables to display and sell their work for $10.
Email email@example.com for details.