NEW BETHLEHEM – The site of the Redbank Valley’s new Veterans Memorial Park saw a flurry of activity over the past week as local veterans worked to bring their dream to reality.
Air Force veteran and project organizer Ray Ishman said that despite some delays this year as a result of the pandemic, the new park along Arch Street in New Bethlehem is taking shape.
Last Thursday, a team of veterans from the area along with crews from First Impressions Landscaping of Kittanning worked on the two trenched areas of the park, filling in the areas with stone that serve as a solid foundation for the block walls began to be installed on Friday.
A rectangular border was created around the perimeter of the new park, while an inner semi-circle and walkway were also included from the park’s entrance which faces the Redbank Valley Trail. Ishman explained that two-sided blocks would be used to make an exterior wall, while a different one-sided block would be placed around the circle level with the center area.
Inside the circle already stand five black granite monuments and flags, one for each branch of military service including the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard. Three taller flag poles stand in the center that will feature the American flag flanked by the state flag on one side and the POW/MIA flag on the other.
Ishman said that once other work is done, paver bricks purchased by local residents in honor or memory of area veterans will be placed in the center circle.
Also, he said, seven large black granite monuments will be the centerpiece of the park, and will stand rounding the back of the circle area. Unfortunately, Ishman noted, the monuments were ordered in March but have been delayed as a result of the pandemic. Each one will showcase etched images from seven wars and conflicts, including the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam and the Gulf war.
A couple of benches will also be added at the site, and landscaping will take place once the other work is complete.
Ishman also added that while work is ongoing, donations are still needed, and additional bricks are also being sold to help raise money for the project, which is being spearheaded by the Walter W. Craig American Legion Post in New Bethlehem, with cooperation from the local VFW Post. Applications to order bricks can be found at the Redbank Valley Public Library.
Donations for the park can be sent to: Redbank Valley Veterans Memorial Park, c/o American Legion, P.O. Box 244, New Bethlehem, PA 16242.
RIMERSBURG – The pandemic is forcing local crafters to get craftier in order to come up with new ways for their creations to get into the hands of an eager public in time for the holidays.
Such is the case in the Rimersburg area, as many crafters and vendors who normally take part in the annual “A Christmas Present” event have turned to new avenues since that area-wide show has been canceled.
Tracy Rankin said that with the cancelation of the annual event, she and others decided to step up and fill the void.
Two locations are planned in the Rimersburg area, while three sites will be able to be found along Route 861 between Rimersburg and New Bethlehem for the Nov. 5-7 event.
At the Rimersburg Community Building, several crafters will be set up for “Christmas in the Community.”
Items available there will include primitives, swags, Christmas trees, other homemade crafts, baked goods, soups, buns and homemade breads and pies.
The site will be observing pandemic practices.
Just south of Rimersburg, off Route 68 and Long Lane West, will be a large group of crafters and vendors spread out on the Fox Farm property.
Organizer Kelly Himes said that the location will be open Nov. 6-7 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., with nearly 30 vendors on hand.
“Many are people who usually set up at Autumn Leaf Festival but couldn’t do so this year,” Himes said.
The wide range of products available at the Fox Farm will include wine tasting, kettle corn, apple butter, candies, homemade dog treats, soups and sauces, homemade soaps, afghans, wreaths, wood crafts, custom signs and personalized items, jewelry, Thirty-One products, vintage items and more.
There will also be soups and sandwiches available for sale, Himes said, along with lots of parking and a spread-out venue.
Along Route 861, Rankin will host “Christmas in the Country” at her property, as Lee Ann Ishman’s Smiling Hearts can be found a little farther along the road toward New Bethlehem.
“Christmas in the Little House” will be hosted by Judy Hetrick about three miles west of New Bethlehem, offering canned and baked goods, candies and more, along with other vendors who will have baked goods, holiday aprons, pillow cases, masks, tote bags, American Doll clothes, turned wooden bowls, embroidery items, toll painting and more.
The three stops along Route 861, as well as the Rimersburg Community Building, will be open Nov. 5-7 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Signs will be posted in the yards to announce the event.
Additionally in the area, the annual Sligo “Homes for the Holidays” craft show will be held Nov. 5-7 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., with a number of crafters and vendors set up in the Sligo Recreation Center, as well as Ma Ma’s Christmas Attic at 524 Penn Street in Sligo, and Grannie’s Attic at the Grace Community Church in Curllsville.
Details about the Sligo event can be found on Page B-4 of today’s paper.
CLARION – With less than a week to go until the 2020 election, Clarion County officials said they are still in limbo as to what to do with mail-in ballots that are received after the traditional election day deadline.
Following a negative ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court regarding a request by Wisconsin Democrats to count mail in votes received up to six days after the Nov. 3 election, Commissioners Wayne Brocious, Ted Tharan and Ed Heasley addressed county plans at their Oct. 27 meeting.
“It’s still in litigation right now,” Tharan said of a similar case in Pennsylvania in which the state Supreme Court ruled that mail-in votes could be counted up to three days after the election.
According to reports, the first Republican-mounted challenge ended in a 4-4 tie in the U.S. Supreme Court, keeping the state ruling in place. Now, in the wake of the confirmation of a new conservative justice to the Supreme Court, Republicans are asking the high court for the second time to fast-track their request.
In light of the uncertainty, Tharan said that Clarion County election officials had recently discussed the possibility of counting all votes received by the 8 p.m. deadline on election day and holding all votes received after the deadline until a final ruling is handed down.
“We find it in our best interests if we keep those separate,” Tharan said of any late votes, noting that such action could prevent any possible confusion following a definitive ruling.
The commissioners reported on Tuesday that more than 5,000, or approximately 70 percent, of the county’s mail-in ballots have already been received. There are more than 23,000 registered voters in Clarion County.
While the commissioners think that the number of potential late votes could be relatively low, they are still anxious for a definitive ruling.
“Let’s just hope we have a definitive answer by election day,” Brosius said.
NEW BETHLEHEM – New Bethlehem officials last week gave approval of the local Methodist Church’s plans to host a drive-through Christmas Eve program at the municipal parking lot.
The Rev. Bud Davis told borough council members at their Oct. 20 meeting that due to the pandemic, church leaders decided it was not possible to hold the traditional Christmas Eve service inside the Penn Street church.
Instead, to keep parishioners safe and protected, the church is planning a drive-through living nativity program. Davis asked the borough if the church could use the parking spots between the trail and Arch Street at the town parking lot for the service so that attendees can slowly drive past on the street.
Additionally, the minister said that the program would also feature caroling, hot chocolate and possibly a brass band. He explained that the church would need use of the area from 6:30 to 8 p.m. on Dec. 24.
The council unanimously approved the request.
In other business, borough officials brainstormed ideas for which to seek funding from the county’s annual Liquid Fuels grant program.
Members suggested applying for a grant to widen Walnut Street to improve access to the J.M. Smucker peanut butter factory, as well as possibly paving Penn Street from Keck Avenue to Walnut Street. Another idea that was floated was to seek funding to improve the Penn Street bridge over Leasure Run.
Officials said that the deadline to submit grant applications to the county is Nov. 15.
• Council vice president Sandy Mateer said that the borough was awaiting a permit from the state Department of Environmental Protection before beginning work to remove the debris extending the majority of the way across Red Bank Creek at Leasure Run due to the July 2019 flood.
• Mayor Gordon Barrows told the council that an online survey brought in a number of “great ideas” for the possible use of the Northwest Savings Bank building, which the bank plans to vacate in December.
The mayor also indicated that “there’s quite a few folks” interested in the building, located at the corner of Broad and Lafayette streets.
• Barrows also noted that the council is still looking for a junior council member, a position that is open to high school sophomores, juniors and seniors who live in the borough.
• The council approved a motion to have the borough solicitor draft an ordinance to deal with nuisance and blight issues in town.
This year may be the year of big changes to our regular lives, but folks in our area got creative last weekend to ensure that children and families had the chance for some holiday fun.
Leading up to Halloween, the Redbank Valley PTO’s Spooktacular event at Redbank Valley Municipal Park, and the Sligo Improvement Committee’s Halloween Festival at the community’s ballfields were both great activities for kids and adults alike. Photos from both can be found in today’s paper, and videos from the events will be posted on our website at www.leader-vindicator.com.
The Halloween celebration continues on Saturday, Oct. 31, as towns across our area hold trick-or-treating, and even the annual pumpkin chunkin’ event, normally held in New Bethlehem, will move to Redbank Valley Municipal Park to give attendees more room to space out.
And don’t forget about the Hawthorn Fire Department’s haunted house, which continues this Friday and Saturday evenings in the old shirt factory building.
For all the details, check out our Halloween Happenings listing inside today’s paper.
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Another successful season for the Gumtown Market wraps up this Friday, as the weekly farm market in New Bethlehem’s Gumtown Park prepares to close for the year.
Be sure to stop down at the market this Friday from 12:30 to 5 p.m., especially if you still have Farmers Market Nutrition Program vouchers to use.
Although late in the season, the market is still well stocked with vegetables, apples, chestnuts, baked goods, canned goods, holiday aprons and much more.
Stock up now before the winter weather arrives.
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Also don’t forget that daylight saving time ends this weekend, so that’s great news for everyone who would like a little more time to celebrate Halloween!
Remember to “Fall Back” and set your clocks back an hour when you eventually go to bed Saturday night.
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Even though it seems like there is no way anyone could possibly forget that Tuesday, Nov. 3, is Election Day, we do offer this reminder that polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. across the state.
State officials are also encouraging voters who have received mail-in or absentee ballots to hand-deliver their voted ballot to their county election office or other officially designated site, including drop boxes.
“If you haven’t already, voters with mail ballots should immediately hand-deliver your ballot to your county-designated location,” said Gov. Wolf. “Don’t wait until election day. Hand-delivering your own ballot now will give you the peace of mind that your vote will be counted, and your voice will be heard in this historic election.”
More than 3 million Pennsylvanians have applied to vote by mail, made possible by a new law the governor signed last year creating the most sweeping election reforms in 80 years.
The deadline to drop off your completed mail ballots is 8 p.m. on election day, Tuesday, Nov. 3. And remember, ballots must be sealed in the inner secrecy envelop which is then placed inside the pre-addressed outer return envelope which the voter must sign.
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You won’t want to miss the next few issues of The Leader-Vindicator as we have some great project lined up for you.
Next week’s newspaper will include our annual Landmarks special section, featuring stories and photos about many landmark buildings and other sites in our region.
And our Nov. 11-12 issue will feature our Hometown Heroes section, honoring the hundreds of local men and women featured on the veterans’ banners in local towns such as the Redbank Valley, Rimersburg, Sligo, East Brady, Callensburg, Parker, Foxburg and Dayton.
Due to the Veterans Day legal holiday, that week’s newspaper will be published a day earlier, on Tuesday, Nov. 10.