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Clarion County Fair Week begins

ALCOLA – The Clarion County Fair opens today (Wednesday) for its abbreviated four-day run at Redbank Valley Municipal Park near New Bethlehem.

Shortened from its usual seven-day week due to COVID-19 restrictions, organizers, volunteers, vendors and many others spent the past couple of days setting up booths and exhibits in preparation for today’s opening.

Fair Board president Josh Minich said yesterday that many of the food vendors, as well as a company bringing in multiple midway games, arrived at the park Monday evening to set up. And Tuesday morning brought with it many of the livestock entries.

“The animals are rolling in,” Minich said.

This year’s fair will be without the usual carnival, but between the games company and local groups, Minich said an old-fashioned midway will greet fairgoers this year. The midway games will open at 3 p.m. each day

He added that most of the usual food vendors returned to the fair this year, accompanied by several new vendors. The food court area is being spread out more this year to help with social distancing.

“We have over 30 acres at the park, so there will be plenty of places to enjoy all the usual fair treats,” Minich said.

To help with the fair’s main shows, additional seating has been added around the grandstand field.

“We finalized the extra outside seating last night,” Minich said.

The grandstand will play host to the Motown and oldies band, Reminisce, tonight (Wednesday) at 7 p.m.

Today’s lineup also includes the Pig Show at 8 a.m., the Lamb Show at 11 a.m., the Rabbit Show at noon, the Goat Show at 12:30 p.m. and the Beef Show at 4 p.m. The baked goods auction will be held at 5 p.m. in the skating rink.

On Thursday, the fair opens with the Horse Performance Show at 9 a.m., followed by the Dairy Show at 11 a.m. and the Lead Line Contest at 3 p.m. The Master Showmanship Contest, at the horse rink, will be held at 4 p.m.

The night’s featured attraction is the Derby Dogs Demolition Derby, with compact car classes starting at 7 p.m.

Friday’s schedule offers the Antique Tractor Show from noon to 5 p.m., and the Livestock Sale at 5 p.m.

On the grandstand field, the Antique Tractor Pull gets underway at 6 p.m., while the Truck and Tractor Pull begins at 7 p.m.

Fair Week concludes on Saturday with the Open Horse Show Games at 9 a.m. and the Kiddie Pedal Tractor Pull at 11 a.m.

The Derby Dogs Demolition Derby returns to the grandstand at 6 p.m. with trucks, mini-vans, full size cars and the new windshield class.

Throughout Fair Week, commercial exhibits will be housed in the blue barn this year, which is open from 3 to 9 p.m. daily, and 1 to 6 p.m. on Saturday.

Bingo will be held daily from 6 to 10 p.m., with a special matinee added from 2 to 5 p.m. on Saturday.

The fair’s entertainment stage will feature the Allegheny Boys at 6 and 9 p.m. on Thursday, as well as Jimmy Swogger & Friends at 7 and 9 p.m. on Thursday. On Friday, the stage will feature karaoke and vocals with Leroy Walter from 6 to 10 p.m. And on Saturday, the band, The Rust Project, will perform from 7 to 10 p.m.

“They’re calling for a beautiful forecast this week,” Minich said. “And we’re excited to be having one of the few fairs in the state.”

Admission was reduced this year to $5 per person, which includes parking, admission to the grounds, and all shows and exhibits.

“Come on out and support the kids, the vendors and the fair,” Minich added. “We’re ready to roll.”


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Armstrong OKs courthouse restorations

KITTANNING – Armstrong County’s historic courthouse will soon get a facelift as county officials last week approved restoration contracts totaling nearly $3 million.

At a special meeting on July 23, in which commissioners’ chairman Don Myers was present in the board room and fellow commissioners Jason Renshaw and Pat Fabian participating on the phone, the trio voted to move forward with the restoration of the courthouse cupola area.

Bids were opened for the project in June, and only the Pittsburgh-based firm of Miller-Thomas-Gyekis submitted a proposal for the general construction contract.

The original bid was $2,843,000; however, the commissioners said the county worked with the company, which agreed to reduce the cost by 2.5 percent, down to $2,772,760.

Further cost savings of around $70,000 could have been realized by substituting foam for cast iron in some places, and by using traditional copper on the cupola dome rather than oxidized copper-zinc.

Myers said he was in favor of making those less expensive substitutions, while Renshaw and Fabian said they supported going with the original materials. They argued that the cast iron would hold up better than foam in the long run, and that the copper and zinc dome would not change colors over time as the less expensive copper dome would.

“How often do you fix the cupola?” Renshaw asked in supporting the additional expenses. “Do it right. This is the focal point in the community.”

“It’s something everyone takes pride in,” he added, noting that residents have approached him about wanting to see the courthouse restored properly. “Hopefully we don’t have to touch this thing for another hundred years.”

Myers said he supported the overall restoration of the courthouse, but felt the savings realized by using copper would have been worthwhile.

“This maintains the historic value of the cupola,” he said. “It’s a very labor intensive job.”

While Myers voted against the general construction motion, all three commissioners voted in favor of the electrical contract to light the cupola.

The contract, in the amount of $146,850, went to I.E. Power of Freeport.

Noting that the money they had available through a bond issue was running low, the commissioners unanimously agreed to put off additional roofing work on the courthouse and annex, as well as HVAC renovations.

The lone HVAC bid was for $949,300, while the lone roofing bid was for $815,386.

“I don’t think there’s room in the budget right now,” Fabian said of the additional projects. He said that in talking with the contractor, the roofs on the county buildings could make it another three or more years. Renshaw agreed, noting that the county had to pick and choose its projects right now.

After the meeting, county planning director Darin Alviano said the courthouse project is expected to take about a year to complete, and will involve a lot of scaffolding on the downtown Kittanning building.

“It’s a big job and I think it was a priority to get it done,” he said.


NEW BETHLEHEM CREWS will be collecting garbage this week with the borough’s new garbage truck. The 2021 model Ford 650 truck was fitted with a Pac-Mac 10-yard capacity garbage collection unit. The truck also features a tipper on the back (inset photo, with street commissioner Roger Hilliard) that will allow crews to mechanically unload certain kinds of garbage cans into the truck. The $101,700 truck was purchased through a USDA grant of $53,700, along with a low-interest loan of $32,000 and borough funds of $16,000.


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C-L approves back to school plan

LIMESTONE TWP. – With the start of the school year fast approaching, Clarion-Limestone Area School District officials last week released details on the district’s Phased Reopening Health and Safety Plan for the start of the 2020-21 school year.

The plan — which was approved by the board at its July 22 meeting — details practices and procedures for classroom management, food services, scheduling, masks, transportation and disinfecting. Coinciding with Gov. Tom Wolf’s phased reopening plan, C-L’s plan also outlines contingencies in case the state requires more restrictive phases for reopening.

“Although we will be in the Green Phase when we enter school, we want to reassure you that the Yellow Phase is very similar to the Green Phase,” C-L superintendent Amy Glasl explained in a video detailing the district’s phased reopening plan, which was played for board members, staff and parents gathered at the Limestone Fire Department pavilion for last week’s meeting. “We’re taking extra precaution in the Green Phase so if, and when, the Yellow Phase happens we won’t have to do things much differently than what we’re doing.”

According to Glasl, two modes of instruction will be available to students to start the new school year — in-person instruction at the school and an online, at home option — both of which will be provided by C-L teachers. A third, very limited option is for students to be placed into a principal-and-superintendent-approved cyber school.

“We want the very best education for your child,” Glasl said, noting that the plan calls for students, parents and teachers to maintain familiarity with online instruction.

To that end, she said, face-to-face classes will meet Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, leaving Wednesdays for district-wide online instruction, and faculty lesson prep and development.

“On Wednesdays, the teachers will make online plans for the whole next week,” Glasl said, explaining that if the district would have to shutdown again, teachers and students would not have to learn a new process in order to make the switch to full-time online education. “The teachers are already going to know how to do [online education] and plan for it.”

When asked by the board why the break was coming in the middle rather than at the end of the week, elementary school principal Kristie Taylor pointed out that not only would it give the custodial staff the opportunity to thoroughly clean the school buildings mid-week, but it would also provide a much needed mental health break for everyone dealing with the new restrictions.

“School is going to look very different this year with all the extra guidelines,” Taylor said, noting that the new procedures will be especially difficult for the younger students. “It will lower the kids’ stress levels mid-week and help them decompress before they come back.”

Glasl’s video also addressed the heated issue of wearing masks during the school day. She said that students and staff members will be required to wear face coverings in hallways and common areas during class transitions, when social distancing is not physically possible, and when entering and exiting school buildings. Students will also be required to wear face coverings while traveling on a school bus. Masks and face shields will be provided by the district to students and staff, or can be brought from home.

“Please note that none of these plans require your child to wear a mask or face shield all day,” board member Rebecca Allison said in a prepared statement to those attending the meeting. “In specific situations, yes; all day, no.”

In addition, the district’s plan calls for students to utilize the school cafeteria and “alternate locations to provide better physical distancing” during lunchtime. In the event the school district is mandated to close, meal programs will continue.

When it comes to cleaning and disinfecting, the plan states that high-touch surfaces and restrooms will be cleaned with disinfectant, buildings and buses will be disinfected nightly, and sanitizer and wipes will be available in all classrooms and school lobbies.

While the district’s Phased Reopening Health and Safety Plan required an affirmative vote from the board before it’s sent to the state Department of Education for final approval, Glasl pointed out that the plan is a “working document” and can change depending on the latest Department of Health restrictions, as well as feedback received from parents, students and staff members.

“This plan is what we know of it today,” she said, noting that parents, students and staff can email questions and concerns regarding the plan on the district’s website. “Know that this is a work in progress and can be amended.”

Offering her opinion of the process and the plan, Allison said, “As a school board, we must address and respect the needs and concerns of all, and no one group or family is going to receive everything they desire in a plan.”

She continued that in order for the district to succeed and “make the best of a challenging situation,” everyone involved must be willing to compromise.

“In the best of circumstances, there are no perfect options,” she said. “It’s my hope that we can all appeal to our rational natures and see these plans for what they are — options for each and every family to make their own personal choice.”

C-L’s complete Health and Safety Plan can be found on the district’s website, www.clasd.net.


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Leisurely Visits

We honestly never thought we would get to say it this year, but here we go: Welcome to Clarion County Fair Week!

That’s right, the shortened version of the fair gets underway today (Wednesday) and continues through Saturday at Redbank Valley Municipal Park.

This year’s fair may not offer everything that we are treated to most years, but the heart of the fair — our local kids with their animal projects — remains intact, and we can still enjoy the grandstand shows, music acts, exhibits and, of course, all the fair food.

While you’re at the fair this year, stop by The Leader-Vindicator’s booth for some free goodies, and be sure to check out our special Fair Week subscription deal, which will get you two bonus months added to your 12-month subscription. Just call us at (814) 275-3131 ext. 221 to get the deal today!

* * *

Since we published the special section last week for the Clarion County Fair, some of the additional music acts have been announced.

The fair’s free stage, located away from the grandstand, will feature the Allegheny Boys at 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Thursday, and Jimmy Swogger & Friends at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. on Thursday.

On Friday, from 6 to 10 p.m., Leroy Walter will host karaoke and vocals.

And on Saturday from 7 to 10 p.m., the stage will feature The Rust Project.

Grab some of your favorite tasty treats from fair vendors, find a nice spot on the grounds, and listen to these shows.

* * *

The Leader-Vindicator wants to see how you’ve been enjoying the area’s rivers, streams, lakes and waterways this summer — and you could win big!

Our annual Down By The River special section is coming up in August, and we are asking readers to submit photos of themselves and loved ones staying cool with water-related activities. From swimming and boating, canoe and kayaking, fishing and stone skipping, and what ever else you do along the river, we want to see it.

Send your photos to us at news@tlv.comcastbiz.net or watch for one of our Down By The River posts on Facebook where you can post your photo. Please include the name of everyone in the photo, and tell us where it was taken.

One lucky winner will be randomly chosen to receive a Family Four-Pack of tickets to the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium.

Don’t delay, send in your photos today!

* * *

And speaking of photos, if you’re headed to any local events this weekend, or still taking your summer vacation, be sure to remember to “Take The L-V With You!”

Each year, we ask readers to take a copy of our newspaper with them on their travels, and to submit a photo of them with the paper at a memorable stop along the journey. Send your photos to us at news@tlv.comcastbiz.net, or mail them to: The Leader-Vindicator, 435 Broad Street, New Bethlehem, PA 16242.

We will collect all the photos throughout the summer, and publish them at the end of the season. We can’t wait to see where you Take The L-V this year!

* * *

Finally, each week The Leader-Vindicator selects a Subscriber of the Week and publishes their name on either Page A-1 or A-2 of the paper.

From those weekly winners, we randomly select a Subscriber of the Month who receives one month of The L-V added to their subscription.

For July, our Subscriber of the Month is Melissa Goodman of New Bethlehem. Congratulations!

To subscribe to The L-V, and to take advantage of our Fair Week special going on now, call (814) 275-3131 ext. 221.