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Who supervises the supervisors?

REDBANK TWP. – After reducing the pay and benefits for working elected supervisors in Redbank Township (Clarion County) last month, the township’s auditors came prepared last night (Tuesday) to defend their actions.

And while a special meeting on Jan. 31 reportedly erupted as residents questioned the auditors’ actions, the regular meeting last night stayed relatively calm as auditors Josh Minich and Rebecca Doverspike explained why they, and fellow auditor Steve Allison, reduced the pay and benefits for supervisors Tim Shaffer and Kenneth Lee.

Minich said that at the supervisors’ reorganization meeting at the start of the year, Shaffer commented that he felt township employees were overpaid and that the situation needed to be corrected.

“As auditors, we said maybe we ought to check into it,” Minich said.

While the board of three elected supervisors set the pay for the township’s regular employees, the three auditors are tasked with setting the pay and benefits for the elected supervisors, including those who choose to be “working supervisors” such as Shaffer and Lee.

Minich said at last night’s meeting that the auditors talked with representatives from the Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors who said that in setting pay for elected supervisors, they should look at the amounts paid by similar townships in the area using objective criteria.

“Our intent was the same as Mr. Shaffer’s,” Minich said, noting that the auditors just wanted to bring the township’s pay scale in line with other townships in the area.

After receiving data from five local townships, some larger and some smaller than Redbank, Minich said that the auditors discovered that the Redbank Township roadmaster’s pay was 10 percent higher than the average of those in the other townships, and that the working supervisors in Redbank received 16.5 percent more than their counterparts in other townships.

Minich said that the Redbank officials also benefitted by having more vacation time and personal days than their counterparts.

At their meeting on Jan. 7, the auditors decided to remedy the situation by averaging the pay earned by supervisors in the other five townships, and setting new rates for the Redbank supervisors.

The auditors said they went even further to show that Redbank officials were being overpaid, and reached out to additional townships in the area to compare wages. Of the 13 townships surveyed, the average wage for the township roadmaster was $16.84 per hour, while the average wage for working supervisors was $15.16.

Minich said the auditors felt justified in reducing the pay for Redbank Township roadmaster, a position held by Shaffer, From $20 per hour to $16.50 per hour.

They also set the hourly pay for Kenneth Lee at $15, noting that Lee currently does not have the commercial drivers license (CDL) needed to operate some of the township’s trucks. They agreed to increase that wage to $16.50 per hour once he obtains the proper license.

Vacation days and personal days were also scaled back to be more in line with those offered by neighboring townships.

“I think we were very justified,” Doverspike told those at the meeting last night. “It’s definitely in line with what everybody else is getting paid in the area.”

Minich also emphasized that while serving as auditor the past two years while his father, Doug Minich, served as one of the supervisors, he abstained from voting on or discussing any issues related to his father and his father’s pay scale.

While the supervisors remained mostly silent during the auditor’s presentation last night, after the meeting was over Shaffer said he certainly didn’t agree with much of what was presented, saying that the auditors compared “apples to oranges.”

Shaffer said that his 30 years of experience working with the township was not taken into consideration because he was not authorized by the previous board of supervisors to be a working supervisor.

“It’s been one-sided for over two years,” Shaffer claimed. “Nothing has changed.”

When asked if he would challenge or accept the auditor’s pay change, Shaffer said that he did not know yet.

“The township has a cancer, and until we cut the cancer out, we’re not going to heal,” Shaffer concluded.

Canyon Coffee brings the perfect brew to Newbie

NEW BETHLEHEM – Whether your preference is for lattes, cappuccinos, macchiatos, tea or plain drip coffee, Canyon Coffee Co. has the perfect brew for you.

Located along the 200 Block of Broad Street in New Bethlehem, Canyon Coffee officially opened its doors last weekend, marking the final phase of a plan that has been in the works for owners Esther Clyde and Jennifer Hosey for several years.

As relative new-comers to the New Bethlehem area, Clyde and Hosey got to know each other through their husbands who have been friends since childhood. The new friends began to bond over their mutual love of coffee and even made trips to Pittsburgh to visit coffee shops. That’s when conversations about a possible shop locally began.

“We both love coffee, and we always thought a coffee shop in town would be awesome,” Clyde said, noting that she and Hosey just wanted to create a relaxing and inviting space locally where people could enjoy a cup of coffee and enjoy some time with friends. “Some of my fondest memories come from hanging out with my friends at the local coffee shop.”

“There was nothing in this community that fostered that,” Hosey added. “A coffee shop is a good place for anyone to be able to hang out and get away from the real world.”

Although the pair talked about opening a shop for years, it wasn’t until a trip to Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon two years ago that the pair started talking seriously about the plan.

“On the four-and-a-half-hour drive from Vegas to the Grand Canyon, we had a lot of time to talk,” Clyde said. “That’s really when this shop and the name Canyon Coffee came into existence.”

Still not sure about the possible success of such a venture, Clyde and Hosey decided to try some test marketing.

“We started going to the Gumtown Market and setting up down there,” Hosey said.

Aided by a single home espresso machine, they offered iced lattes and some pastries. The response was better than they expected.

“We were shocked at the number of people that came, but we weren’t sure if that was our actual market,” Clyde said.

In the wake of a couple of farmers’ markets and a Community Center event, however, the soon-to-be business partners decided that the community was up for the venture. That was when the search for a space began.

Once secured, the current location took about a year-and-a-half to renovate, with their husbands doing most of the construction work.

Wanting additional seating in the small space, Clyde said they tore down a wall and added an extended loft, creating double the space.

“We really wanted it to have an open and clean feel,” Hosey said of the shop, noting that many of the design elements were inspired by the Grand Canyon.

When it comes to the menu, Clyde and Hosey said that Canyon Coffee offers standard drip coffee as well as espresso-based beverages — including lattes, cappuccinos and macchiatos — made from beans sourced from the Pittsburgh area. Other options such as teas and hot chocolate are also available for non-coffee drinkers.

“A drink that we’ve sold a lot of so far is our Berry Splash,” Hosey said. “It’s super refreshing with no caffeine.”

In addition to a variety of hot and cold drinks, Canyon Coffee also offers a small variety of pastries and baked goods.

“We usually have muffins and a couple different types of pastries such as turnovers, cheese danish, mini cheesecakes and almond croissants,” Hosey said, noting that additional food options may be available in the future. “We’re just kind of testing the market.”

Although the shop has only been open for a short time, Clyde and Hosey said that business has been “very good.”

“I actually didn’t think we’d be as busy as we have been,” Hosey said last Wednesday, leading up to the shop’s official grand opening celebration on Feb. 8. “The community has been very good supporting us.”

“We’ve been doing super well for not having really advertised yet,” Clyde agreed. “We’ve had a steady flow.”

Pointing out that while many coffee shops aren’t friendly to children, as new mothers themselves Clyde and Hosey said youngsters are always welcome at Canyon Coffee

“Mothers have kids and they have to bring them around with them,” Hosey said, adding that they would even eventually like to add a small play area for children at the shop. “We want kids to come in. They are part of life and we love kids.”

Clyde noted that the shop’s goal is to offer a place that’s inviting to everyone.

“Personally, I’m looking forward to getting to know the community, and making good coffee for people,” she said. “I just really like making people happy with good coffee and I’m looking forward to turning someone’s day around one cup at a time.”

Canyon Coffee is open Monday through Saturday from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. For more information, visit Canyon Coffee on Facebook and Instagram.

Josh W / By JOSH WALZAK L-V Editor 

THE GRAND PRIZE WINNER of The Leader-Vindicator’s annual Valentine’s Day Contest was Allie Pence of Mayport. Pictured at left with her boys, Pence received a night’s stay at the Brick House Bed & Breakfast, dinner at Zack’s, a certificate for Tonell’s Jewelry, a bottle or Porchvue Wine, and candy from Char-Val Candies and Dan Smith Candies. L-V advertising representative Deb Huffman (right) presented the prize package to Pence on Friday. For our second and third place winners, see inside today’s issue. Thank you to all of our prize sponsors and the hundreds of people who entered this year’s contest.

Man who helped build Mahoning Dam honored on 100th birthday

KITTANNING – Armstrong County officials last week not only honored a local man who served during World War II and fought in the Battle of the Bulge, but an individual who also in his youth worked on the construction of the Mahoning Dam.

During their Feb. 6 meeting, Armstrong County Commissioners Jason Renshaw and Pat Fabian proclaimed Feb. 14, 2020 as Benjamin G. Rupp Day in the county in observance of Rupp’s 100th birthday.

Born in 1920 near Dayton, Rupp is the son of William and Anna Belle Rupp. In his early years, he worked on the family farm and sawmill, and then joined the massive undertaking to build the Mahoning Dam along Mahoning Creek near Dayton.

“Dad had a hard worth ethic,” his daughter, Annette Rupp, told the commissioners last week. “We learned to work hard and take care of everything.”

Benjamin Rupp was joined at the ceremony by his daughter, Annette, and son, David Rupp, along with his caregiver and other family members.

After working on the dam project, Rupp served his country during World War II with the 80th Division, 318th Infantry, Company M. 3rd Battalion under General George S. Patton.

“He fought in battles in Normandy, France and throughout Central Europe, including the Battle of the Bulge,” the county’s proclamation states. “Mr. Rupp earned multiple bars and badges for shooting and marksmanship and received various medals including the Bronze Star, Good Conduct medal, American Campaign medal and the World War II Victory medal.”

“He was very proud to serve his county,” Annette Rupp said.

After returning home from the war, Rupp worked in various jobs before purchasing a car repair business in Kittanning where he worked until the age of 95.

The proclamation states that Rupp married Helen White in June 1947, and that he is the oldest member of the Concord Presbyterian Church. In addition to his two children, he has two grandchildren, a step-grandchild, three great-grandchildren and two step-great-grandchildren.

Despite battling cancer and other health issues, Rupp was able to be in attendance at the ceremony.

The commissioners thanked him for his service to the nation and to the county.

Slashing suspect sentenced to 20-40 years in state prison

CLARION – A 38-year-old Brookville man was recently sentenced to state prison after he was found guilty of an October 2018 slashing at a New Bethlehem bar.

On Friday, Feb. 7, Matthew Duane Atcheson received an aggregate sentence of 20 to 40 years on one count of attempted first degree murder. Senior Judge James G. Arner also sentenced Atcheson to a minimum of 33 months to a maximum of 66 months for one second-degree felony count of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, and a minimum of 12 months to 24 months on one count of reckless endangerment.

The sentences will run concurrently.

Atcheson was found guilty of attempted first degree murder, two counts each of aggravated and simple assault, and reckless endangerment on Dec. 20, 2019 following a three-day trial.

During the sentencing hearing, according to reports, Atcheson’s attorney urged the judge to consider a lesser sentence explaining that Atcheson’s actions were “not unprovoked.” In turn, District Attorney Drew Welsh noted the defendant’s “seeming lack of remorse and apparent tendency to shift blame.”

Citing his concerns, Arner reportedly said that he also believed that Atcheson did not appear to take “full responsibility for the incident and its effects.”

Atcheson will await his transfer to a state facility at the Clarion County Jail.

Atcheson’s conviction stemmed from an Oct. 27, 2018 incident in which he reportedly pulled a knife from his pocket and slit the throat of 27-year-old Damen DuBrock of New Bethlehem during an altercation at approximately 11:45 p.m. at Desperado’s Bar.

As previously reported, state police responded to the bar’s Broad Street location after being notified around 12:30 a.m. on Sunday, Oct. 28 of a physical assault which was possibly going to become a homicide investigation.

A Desperado’s employee reportedly told police that Atcheson had been inside the bar several times on Oct. 27, beginning at 7 p.m. Despite being asked to leave multiple times due to his behavior, Atcheson allegedly continued to return.

When bar staff refused to serve him, Atcheson reportedly became argumentative and got into a verbal dispute with DuBrock, which eventually turned physical.

Police said Atcheson returned a short time later and, at one point allegedly threatened to stab DuBrock. An altercation ensued near the pool table, and she soon saw DuBrock with his hands around his neck covering a wound.

During a later interview, a second witness reportedly told police that Atcheson had been causing problems within the bar and was told to leave.

The witness reportedly stated that Atcheson got into a physical fight with his wife when she attempted to get him out of the bar. They eventually left through the back exit.

Atcheson was allegedly kicked out of Desperado’s three times before entering for a fourth time.

Reports state Atcheson yelled at the bartender and took a knife from his back pants pocket. Noticing the knife before Atcheson removed it from his pocket, the witness reportedly yelled “knife” to DuBrock.

When DuBrock turned to look, Atcheson allegedly pulled the knife from his pocket and used it to cut DuBrock’s throat.

An “excessive” amount of blood was immediately observed coming from DuBrock’s neck, court documents state.

Following the attack, Atcheson allegedly ran out the back entrance of the bar, and 911 was called while other patrons ran to help DuBrock.

Police said video surveillance footage from inside the bar confirmed witness interviews.

Trail Town future encouraged for Sligo

SLIGO– Sligo Borough could become a Trail Town, if one borough councilman gets his wish.

“I think it’s important, but there would be more grants available to us,” said councilman Chuck Marsh at the recent Sligo Borough monthly meeting. “After the growth of Rails to Trails and available grants, we could be part of the Redbank Valley trail system. It would help the Rec Center and the COG pool.”

“I’m checking with PennDOT, and the trail already comes close to Sligo near Baker Street,” Marsh said. “It’s doable and within reach. Once you get into town, it could connect the businesses for some refreshments, the COG Pool, and the elementary school. Who knows? The trail may cough up the money for a sidewalk from the school to the pool. That would be so kids wouldn’t be cutting through the grass, and not going out onto the road.

“These are all multi-modal projects and could be included in a grant.”

Some property owners have indicated they do not want the trail on their property, but Marsh said there are ways to continue on the trail without using their property.

Other Business

• UMWA Local 3123 is moving out of the Sligo Recreation Center’s upstairs room by the end of February. The union paid $75 per month rent. Chairman Chuck Marsh said efforts are continuing to renovate a large room in the center for rental to another group, and efforts will continue to find another renter for the UMWA room. Loss of renters impacts on the center’s budget.

• Marsh also announced a new fundraiser for the COG pool. A daily lottery calendar authorized under Pennsylvania small games of chance will be sold throughout the area.

• Sligo continues to look for funding for the footbridge and will pursue the possibility of working with Clarion County and Delta Development for a grant application to the state. Council plans to meet with Clarion County Commissioner Ted Tharan concerning support for seeking the needed funds.

• The Clarion Conservation District Board did not approve either of Sligo’s projects under dirt and gravel road funding. Another funding cycle could include the projects.

• Sligo Mayor and Code Enforcement Officer Jeremy Shumaker will investigate ordinance violations on Lincoln Street and Madison Street. If there are ordinance violations, Shumaker will file complaints at the magistrate’s office.

• Community yard sales are scheduled for June 25-27.

• Attending the meeting were president Sherry Laughlin, vice president Chuck Marsh, Michele Elder, Kerry Graham, Wayne Meier, Tom Switzer, Andy Wiser and Mayor Jeremy Shumaker. Wesley “Buck” Wyant was absent and has not attended a meeting since 2018.

• The Sligo Borough Authority is awaiting a visit from Penn Power Systems to assess a diesel generator conversion to natural gas. The cost of a new generator is estimated at $45,000.

• The authority and council continued their discussion on the purchase of a new truck. Instead of the new pickup truck, both organizations decided to search for a dump truck that would be fitted with a snowplow, allowing more usage for authority and borough activities.

• Authority members attending included chairman Chuck Marsh, Jeff Elder, Michele Elder and Tom Switzer.

Leisurely Visits

As you’ll see on our pages today, we had several big winners for our annual Valentine’s Day Contest.

First, we want to thank all the businesses who helped make this holiday promotion so special for these folks by donating items that will surely be enjoyed.

And thank you to our readers, both in print and online, who sent in hundreds and hundreds of entries for the contest. Each year this contest continues to grow, and it’s common for us to get 30, 40 or even 50 entries most days leading up to the drawing.

Congratulations to all the winners, and keep watching The L-V as we will have some more great prize give-away opportunities coming up this year!

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And speaking of our readers coming through with submissions, we certainly don’t have to beg for our readers to send in photos of their beloved pets.

With the deadline coming up Friday for our National Love Your Pet Day photo pages, we already have well more pictures than we received last year.

So be sure to check out next week’s issue which will feature 50-plus photos from our readers of their dogs, cats and other pets. And if you’d still like to have your pet featured, email us a photo, along with the pet’s name and the owner’s name and address, to news@tlv.comcastbiz.net by this Friday.

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As you prepare to celebrate Valentine’s Day this Friday, Feb. 14, be sure to support your local businesses which can provide just about anything you need when it comes to the traditional gifts of the season. From candy to flowers, Valentine cards to jewelry, and much more, it’s important to keep your business local.

And check out the many great dining deals being offered this holiday by restaurants in our area. You don’t have to drive far to find a romantic dinner place for two. Make your reservations today!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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The snow this year has been hit or miss, but regardless of how Mother Nature cooperates, the Cook Forest Vacation Bureau will hold its annual Snowman in the Forest event this Saturday, Feb. 15, at the new shelter along River Road in Cook Forest.

Events kick off at 11:30 a.m. with lunch and a chili cook-off. From then until 2:30 p.m., there will be carriage rides, sledding, snowman building, ice skating and more.

A snowshoe interpretive hike within the old growth forest along Cook Trail will take place from noon to 1 p.m.

The Happy Dog Contest gets underway at 1 p.m., and door prize awards will be given away at 2 p.m.

Enjoy a wonderful day among family and friends in Cooksburg’s winter wonderland.

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Don’t forget that Monday, Feb. 17, is Presidents Day, a national holiday during which post offices, banks and many government offices are closed.

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation has announced that all driver license and photo centers will be closed Saturday, Feb. 15, through Monday, Feb. 17, in observance of Presidents Day.

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The Armstrong-Indiana-Clarion Drug & Alcohol Commission is encouraging tobacco users to commit or recommit to healthy, smoke-free lives by participating in the Tobacco Resistance Unit’s Annual Great American Spit Out event on Feb. 20.

Unfortunately, the myths concerning smokeless tobacco are still in existence, giving tobacco users a false hope. This is a great time to step up to the challenge of quitting smokeless tobacco. Stay dip-free for 24 hours and get started on a tobacco-free future.

Chewing smokeless tobacco contains 28 carcinogens (cancer-causing agents). However, it is the nicotine in these products that cause the addiction. Nicotine absorption in smokeless tobacco products is three to four times that of smoking tobacco products and its slow absorption allows for a longer length of stay in the bloodstream.

From 2011 to 2019, current use of smokeless tobacco went down among middle and high school students. However, Clarion County youth use is above the national average at 15.3 percent.

For assistance quitting, visit www.becomeanex.org.