RIMERSBURG – The newly renovated main gymnasium at Union High School was rededicated during homecoming events last week, with those in attendance honoring the facility’s namesake, longtime basketball coach and teacher Donald Stemmerich.
The 88-year-old Stemmerich was on hand for the ceremony, which was held prior to the homecoming football game on Oct. 4.
Union athletic director Scott Kindel said that the gymnasium, named years earlier in honor of Stemmerich, was severely damaged when a pipe broke during a cold spell last February, which flooded the gym and lobby with several inches of water.
In the months since the flooding caused the wooden gymnasium floor to warp badly, the school’s insurance paid for a new floor, new bleachers that spell out “UNION” when folded up, a new ceiling, new flooring on the gym’s stage and other improvements.
One thing that the insurance would not cover was the plan to upgrade the graphics on the gymnasium floor. In addition to thicker lines, and painted keys for the basketball court, Kindel and others had hoped to honor Stemmerich by including his signature on the floor.
Kindel said that more than $5,000 was raised in donations to pay for the floor upgrades.
“Without our alumni family and friends, we wouldn’t have been able to upgrade this gym,” he said.
Kindel went on to describe Stemmerich, who coached at Union from 1955 to 1993, as “humble, caring, loving, extraordinary.”
“He is still Coach,” Kindel said. “Thank you for making an ordinary town an extraordinary place to go to school. Your legacy at Union remains.”
Union School Board member Mark Rummel, a longtime friend of Stemmerich, spoke about how the coach taught hundreds of kids more than “Xs and Os” over the years.
“We were not just basketball players or students,” Rummel said, explaining that Stemmerich cared about each child. “The community embraced you and you embraced the community.”
Rummel said Stemmerich taught each student athlete by his actions as a devoted father, husband and Christian.
“We learned that through you,” he told Stemmerich. “We took those values with us. You didn’t have to preach it; we saw it in your everyday life.”
“Each one of us has a part of you in our lives,” Rummel continued. “Thank you for being that positive role model in my life. I love you, big guy, you deserve this.”
The humble Stemmerich said that he did not deserve such an honor as having his signature forever placed on each side of the basketball court.
“I wouldn’t be sitting here today if it wouldn’t have been for hundreds of young men who played basketball,” he said.
At the end of the program, Stemmerich was joined on the court by retired teacher Dennis McLaughlin, a member of the first team he coached at Union, and current Union teacher Josh Meeker, a member of the final team he coached.
Kindel also announced that the Sports Boosters plan to host an Alumni Night on Jan. 11, and invited Stemmerich to come out of retirement to coach one final game.
NEW BETHLEHEM – The college in high school program sparked discussion among members of the Redbank Valley School Board during its October meeting.
In her report to the board at Monday night’s meeting, Redbank Valley High School principal Amy Rupp informed board members of the status of college in high school courses offered at RVHS.
“Mount Aloysius [College] for this year has approved Biology II, Chemisty II, AP English and AP Government,” Rupp told board members, noting that biology and chemistry are four-credit courses, while English and government are three-credit courses.
Currently, according to Rupp, 61 of the 78 high school students taking the four courses are enrolled in the college in high school program.
“Some of these students will leave this year with 14 [college] credits by taking these four courses,” she said.
Rupp also said that high school foreign language teacher Pam Liberato contacted Seton Hill University to get German III and IV and Spanish III approved as college-level courses through their program.
She further noted that the high school is considering a community college in Butler and another recommended by district superintendent Dr. John Mastillo for future contacts.
In response to the report, board president Dr. Chad Shaffer voiced a concern raised by a parent of a former Redbank Valley student who said that students graduating from other high schools were able to accumulate more college credits than Redbank by participating in college in high school programs.
“Where we’ve come so far is great,” Shaffer said. “I don’t want to just sit there and take another five or 10 years before we make another step.”
Rupp pointed out that because the curriculum at the high school has been cut by 42 courses over the last three years, Redbank can’t compete with other schools’ offerings.
Board member Jason Barnett asked if all college in high school classes were taught by RVHS faculty.
Rupp indicated that students have the additional choice to take classes at Clarion University during the summer or in the school year taught by university faculty.
“We have students who are taking a psychology or sociology class now during a study hall,” she said. She explained, however, that while the credits transfer, they are not weighted credits. “That frees them up...so they can take another science or math.”
Board members expressed their desire that information regarding college in high school opportunities be intentionally distributed to students and parents so everyone has an opportunity to make an informed decision.
“We can have a child with great aptitude and great motivation, but if the parents are busy on other matters or don’t know there are references, their child may not get the same opportunities,” Shaffer said.
• The board authorized the purchase of a visitor/student information maintenance program system (Raptor) in the amount of $5,784.
Members also approved a $47,947.38 purchase of educational materials to replace items lost in the July flood.
• Approval was given for the establishment of a travel club at the high school advised by high school social studies teacher Dr. Joe Harmon.
• Contracts were approved between the Redbank Valley School District and STA Inc., Minich Bus Services, Valley Lines Inc. and Barrett Busing for student transportation for the 2019-20 school year.
• David Hepler was hired as a secondary math teacher at a salary of $43,288 for a total cost to the district of $69,367.
• The resignation of district special education supervisor Brittany Nowacki was accepted in an 8-1 vote — with board member Dr. Donald Nair casting the lone opposition vote.
• Bobbi McGuire was hired as a four-hour cafeteria aide for 182 days at an annual salary of $6,552, for a total cost of $7,398.
Elizabeth Evans was hired as a four-and-a-half-hour cafeteria food handler for 182 days at an annual salary of $8,190, for a total cost of $9,247.
Both women were hired pending that all background clearances are acceptable.
• Alyssa Burkett was hired as junior high cheerleading coach at a total cost of $2,399. Board member Carrie Adams voted against the motion.
• Megan Nolf was approved as a volunteer high school girls soccer coach.
• Barnett mentioned that the Fact Finding report was finished, and recommended that the board take a formal vote to accept or reject the report. No motion was made.
NEW BETHLEHEM – “As ministers, it’s our job to equip God’s people to play a part in God’s ministry,” said Grace Baptist Church senior pastor the Rev. Bob Ryver. “Everyone has a gift to tell others about Jesus.”
It was that same philosophy that recently led Curtis Twigg of Oak Ridge to join Ryver at the Keck Avenue church in New Bethlehem as the congregation’s first associate/youth pastor.
“The transition has been good and healthy,” Twigg said of his new role, which he began this summer. “The youth had a good program before I stepped in and it has continued.”
Although he was raised in the eastern part of Pennsylvania, Twigg said his connection to the western part of the state stems from his involvement with the Miracle Mountain Ranch, a Christian camp located in Spring Creek. Attending the camp as a child, he moved to the area after high school to take a position on staff. During that time, he met his wife, Amy, who, at the time, was the program director at the neighboring Whitehall camp facility.
Wanting to be more involved with their local community, the couple eventually stepped down from their camp positions, and Twigg went to work with his father-in-law in construction. They started attending Cornerstone Church of Clarion, where Twigg said he began to feel a growing nudge toward church work.
The couple became youth group leaders at Cornerstone, and Twigg stepped into an associate pastor role in January 2018.
“I was very content with serving there,” he said, adding that he served in that position for a year and a half before hearing about the job opening at Grace Baptist Church.
In fact, Twigg said he only considered applying for the new position after much prayer, consideration and guidance from God.
“The Lord gave me peace and seemed to say this is where I was meant to be,” he continued, noting his previous decision to leave Miracle Mountain to be more involved in his community. “Here was an opportunity at a church in the community where I lived.”
He took a leap of faith, and was hired at Grace Baptist Church, beginning in early August. In his new role, Twigg is responsible for church outreach and youth programming.
“Youth is taking up a big part of my time right now,” he said, explaining that he meets with between 10 and 12 youth members each week. The youth group meets Wednesday nights from 6:30 to 8 p.m. and is open to all youth in grades seven through 12. “I’m encouraged with that number. We have some new faces this year.”
According to Ryver, the hiring of Twigg is something new for the congregation, which has never had another person on staff.
“We’ve never hired anyone here,” said Ryver of the church that doesn’t even employ a secretary. “Our ministry leaders are awesome, but we knew we needed help.”
Ryver said that after reviewing applications from as far away as Africa and Britain, Twigg’s philosophies and ties to the area made him the perfect fit for the church.
“God brought us Curtis, [and] it’s nice to have someone on staff,” he said. “We’re hoping he can help raise our young people to be excited about Christ.”
Although only a few months into his new position, Twigg said he is looking forward to building relationships with the church families, and helping the youth become disciples of Christ by instilling in them a God-based foundation that they will want to share with others.
“I hope to see these teens stepping into leadership roles and owning this youth group,” he said. “I think it’s important for kids to see their faith happening in the here and now.”
SLIGO – Sligo Borough Council voted to not accept a letter of resignation from council member Wayne Meier at its October meeting.
The letter from Meier was dated Sept. 12, and stated that his resignation was effective immediately after he read the article in The Leader-Vindicator on Sept. 11 about the apparent member shortage at monthly meetings.
“I know I am not going to be able to attend meetings on a regular basis in the near future,” wrote Meier. “It’s not fair to the community or the other board members for me to hold the position.”
The Sept. 11 meeting saw the council forced to end a meeting shortly after it started after one member left for an emergency and a discussion continued regarding a need for councilmen to attend meetings.
Four of seven members are required to attend a meeting for quorum.
Attending the October meeting were Sherry Laughlin, Michele Elder, Chuck Marsh, Kerry Graham and Tom Switzer. Absent was Wesley “Buck” Wyant. Wyant has not attended any meetings during 2019.
“I make a motion not to accept it,” Graham said of Meier’s resignation. “If he can make it, he can. If he can’t, he can’t.”
Marsh added, “He has stuff going on with his family. It’s not just like he just doesn’t feel like coming.”
“My name was in [the article] too and I’ve done a heck of a lot of volunteer work in this community,” Elder said. “My commitment to my family and Union School District will always come first. On that particular night, I had a parent meeting and then volunteer work.”
“I don’t think you’re one of the issues,” Marsh told Elder. “I made the suggestion that [writer Ron Wilshire] publicize who is there and who isn’t here because a lot of people don’t even know who is on council.”
“Well, the readers of The Leader -Vindicator don’t know that I’m not the issue and I didn’t know it either until I went to a meeting and someone said I had to be at a meeting, and I said what does that mean?” Elder responded “Then she said you have to read the paper.”
Laughlin stated, “It just said you were absent.”
“It wasn’t a very positive article overall,” Elder said. “We need to get together as a council before we put ourselves out there looking ridiculous.”
“Sometimes we don’t get good press,” Laughlin said. “People read it differently. A few times we’ve been made to look like idiots. We need to tell Wayne that we really don’t want to lose him.”
In other business, Rick Smerkar of the Sligo Improvements Committee reported on the status of developing a new community sign for Sligo.
“We had a fantastic workshop,” said Smerkar.
Preliminary designs were discussed along with possible colors. While the design may take some additional time, the goal is to present three or four preliminary signs to borough council. Council is expected to pick the top three signs and the final vote will be held by the community. Details on how the vote will take place are still being developed. Only Sligo residents will vote on the signs.
“We’re a little bit behind our planned target, but I say take your time to make it better,” said Smerkar. “These signs will probably last for 30 years. We are about four to six months out.”
Smerkar also reported on the following fundraisers:
• A scrap metal drive already collected 4,000 pounds that produced $150.
• An adult Halloween party is scheduled for Oct. 26 at $25 dollars per couple in the Sligo Recreation Center from 8 p.m. to midnight.
• Pie sales will be held Thanksgiving week.
• A tentative Christmas event, with a tentative date of Dec. 7, is being discussed.
• House numbers that may include a shamrock are expected for sale soon.
Smerkar thanked everyone and firemen for their support.
• With the passing of borough solicitor Ralph L.S. Montana, both Sligo Borough Authority and Sligo Borough Council elected to retain Knox Law from Erie as their official solicitor. Knox Law has been used in the past couple of years as a backup solicitor. The council and the authority are expected to take action on an appointment of a solicitor for 2020.
• The Sligo Hometown Heroes Committee is selling memorial granite bricks to honor individual veterans from Sligo, Piney Township and Curllsville. The cost will be $65 for each engraved granite brick. Logue and Sons will put the name of the veteran on the brick. Each line on the brick can only contain 18 letters and spaces, with a maximum of three lines. The bricks will be placed along the sidewalk leading to the new Sligo Veterans Memorial. Contact Connie Graham or Nancy Shook for more information.
• Beamer Enterprises replaced the surveillance system in the Recreation Center building for $550. Auctions are also scheduled for Nov. 12 and Dec. 6 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
• The COG pool closed Sept. 1 and COG received membership fee balances from Sligo and Monroe Townships of $1,250 each, and Sligo contributed $1,000 dollars toward the 2019 season-end debt. Season-end debt will be calculated once all bills are in and golf scramble funds are received.
• The Sligo Homes for the Holidays Craft and Gift show will be held Nov. 7-9 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
• Sligo Borough received no word from the DCED Commonwealth Financing Authority regarding the Multimodal Transportation Fund grant application. Union School District is also submitting a grant application to the Eccles–Lesher Foundation. Marsh also suggested investigating a loan for replacement of the footbridge if grant funding is not received.
• Comcast will not donate Internet service to Sligo Borough even outside of the franchise agreement.
• Bob Best from Beels Insurance reviewed the borough policy and determined that a code enforcement officer is covered under public officials and/or the general liability policy. Council is still considering advertising its intent to adopt quality-of-life ordinance.
• Trick-or-Treat for Halloween in Sligo Borough was set for Thursday, Oct. 31 from 6 to 8 p.m.
Those of us who work at The Leader-Vindicator are more than a great team of friends, we are our own family. And last week, with bittersweet emotions, we said goodbye to one of our family members as our office manager, Mary Lou Craig, officially retired.
Mary Lou was with The L-V for nearly 20 years and was an integral part of our team. While we will miss seeing her everyday, we are happy that she can enjoy her retirement with her family. And we know she will be in to visit from time to time.
While we are saddened at one door closing, another door is opening as we welcome Adele Smith to our team and family. Adele worked with Mary Lou the last several weeks to learn the many duties of the position, and we hope you’ll welcome her if you need to call or stop in to place a classified ad, make a subscription change, or to drop off a social news announcement.
Congratulations on your retirement, Mary Lou; and welcome, Adele, to our team.
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We celebrated Mary Lou’s retirement this past Friday as The L-V was set up at the Farmers and Crafters Day at the Clarion Autumn Leaf Festival.
While there, we endured the chilly weather by talking with a number of old and new friends who stopped to say hello.
We also awarded tickets to the Pittsburgh Zoo to a number of people who won our Facebook challenges during the day. The winners included: Ashlyn and Ryder Walker, Sami Goodman, Robin Gauger and Katie Texter.
Congratulations to all!
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You, too, could win tickets to the Pittsburgh Zoo — all you need to do is send us a photo of your child or your pet dressed in their Halloween costume.
Check out our promo inside today’s paper for our upcoming Kids, Critters and Costumes photo contest, and share your costume photos with us.
Be sure to include the names of all those pictured (including your pets) and where there are from, along with your name, address and phone number. Send your photos to: firstname.lastname@example.org by Oct. 23.
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The Redbank Valley Historical Society will present its first annual quilt show on Friday and Saturday, Oct. 11-12, at the New Bethlehem Town Center on Arch Street.
The show will be held in the Gallery of the Town Center, a venue located on the second floor of the extensively renovated building that dates back to 1915 and has undergone major alterations for its multiple new uses. The Gallery is accessible by stairs or an elevator.
The hours for the quilt show will be from 10 a.m. until 7 p.m. on Oct. 11, and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. the following day.
The theme for the show is Voices in Fabric, which reflects the theme of the Historical Society’s published books, collectively named Voices from the Valley and covering topics ranging from the Civil War, the building of railroads in the Redbank Valley, and other subjects dealing with the community identified by the local school district.
Society proceeds from sales of its items and a $5 suggested admission for show visitors will benefit the Historical Society’s hopes to establish and open a center for historical records and genealogy research.
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Our annual Halloween Happenings list of holiday events has returned this week to The L-V.
Featuring Trick-or-Treat times, local Halloween parades and events, the list will be updated weekly as new activities are announced.
If you’d like to include your public Halloween event on our list at no cost, email the details to email@example.com.
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Don’t forget that Monday, Oct. 14, is Columbus Day, meaning that post offices, banks and many governmental offices will be closed.
Also, The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation has announced that all driver license and photo centers will be closed Saturday, Oct. 12, through Monday, Oct. 14, in observance of the Columbus Day holiday.