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DeMans Gift Shop and Newsroom is closing
DeMans Newsroom and Gift Shop to close, DeMans Sports Team staying open

BROOKVILLE — DeMans Gift Shop and Newsroom is closing at the end of January, marking the end of an era for the business, but the name and legacy will live on with the continuation of DeMans Team Sports.

The name “DeMans” comes from a combination of the two business men who originally partnered to buy a newsstand out of bankruptcy, John DeMotte and C.D. Manspeaker. Six weeks after opening Manspeaker sold his share to DeMotte and returned to Pittsburgh.

DeMans, Inc. has served the community in many ways for 61 years –62 in March –and the newsroom has been a constant since it’s opening day in March 1960. While the newsroom and gift shop will close at the end of the month, DeMans Team Sports in the upstairs of the building will stay open.

The official closing date for the newsstand and gift shop is scheduled for Monday, Jan. 31.

In the history of the newsstand, several other departments have come and gone, at one time having the largest selections of toys in town, a hunting and fishing department, and the gift shop. In 1968 DeMotte began servicing athletic needs of local high schools, and in 1973 his son, Jack DeMotte, joined the sporting goods department.

“It is with sadness that we’re announcing the closing of this business, but I really want to thank all of the customers who have supported us for 61 years, and more importantly all the employees. We’ve had several 100 people in our employ over the years, through paper boys to outside salesmen to retail clerks to warehouse people. They’ve been the reason for our success,” DeMotte said.

According to Jack, the magazine display in the newsstand was the largest, longest standing display in Pennsylvania at one time. Jack DeMotte sold the gift shop and newsroom portion of the business about eight years ago.

The building itself is one of the oldest on Main Street, dating back to 1860, and housing the Henderson Tin Shop. It was the only building on its block to survive the fire of 1876, according to the historical plaque on the building.

“I had mixed emotions when the current owner told me about closing his business. COVID, the pandemic restrictions, have definitely affected the business… So it was a bittersweet announcement,” DeMotte said. “I understood his reasoning, however it’s been my whole life. It’s been part of my life for 61 years.”

The decision to close was made by current owner, Tim Lowmaster, of Punxsutawney, who was leasing the space. Lowmaster cited such things as the impacts of the pandemic and a marked decrease in foot traffic as factors in his decision to close.

DeMotte also said the internet has played a role in people no longer coming to get magazines and news in person.

“Newsstands, gift shops, card shops, are foot traffic businesses, and with the effects of the pandemic, foot traffic has been significantly affected,” DeMotte said. “Realistically, we’re a business of the 70s and 80s, not of the 2000s.”

“A lot of the products and services that we sold and based our business on have been chipped away by time,” he added.

DeMotte is open to any business that might be interested in the space, but said he is hopeful for something that will complement the Main Street program. He said he is involved with the downtown development and said he “will lease that with an eye to what is good for the downtown.”

“The space will be for lease here shortly after the closing,” DeMotte said. “Probably by, I would say by the end of February it should be cleaned out.”

The downstairs will also still act as the pathway to the upstairs to DeMans Team Sports. There will still be signage placed pointing customers to the Team Sports business upstairs.

“There will be no changes in the Team Sports, and we look forward to continuing to serve our loyal customers from Brockway, DuBois, Punxsutawney, Brookville and the surrounding areas,” he said.

DeMotte said he grew up in the business before becoming a full-time employee of the Sports Team business. He started working when he was 8 years old, working as a paperboy, then working at the cash register at 12 years old. He then worked in the hunting and fishing department during high school, before going away to college.

“Essentially I have grown up my entire life in this business,” DeMotte said. “Then, after I went to college for a while and came back, and then entered Team Sports in 1973 and I’ve been here ever since full-time.”

He said he feels blessed to have watched the business develop and the change of retail over the years. He said the changes in purchasing patterns, reduction of foot traffic, changing demographics and supply chain issues have made it difficult for a business built in the 60s and 70s to continue.

“It’s an evolutionary process and a change process, and it comes whether we like it or not,” DeMotte said.

Ready to start his pull in the truck and tractor pull at the 2021 Jefferson County Fair was John Roy, driving Never Satisfied, a Minneapolis Moline tractor. Roy was satisfied when he was named the winner, with a pull of 306.3 feet.


Brookville Municipal Authority to award Main Street bid to Terra Works

BROOKVILLE — The Brookville Municipal Authority opened the 11 bids it received for the Main Street Waterline Replacement Project, and voted to award the bid to low bidder Terra Works, Inc.

Municipal Engineer Steve Gibson reported the bids were opened on Jan. 5, and the apparent low bidder was Terra Works, of Clarion, with a total bid price of $1,491,139. This price is just 1 percent higher than the 2021 estimated cost of $1,470,000, which is within the funds allocated for the project by PennVEST.

“The authority has done many projects with Terra Works in the past, and we recently completed the East Main Street Water and Sanitary Sewer and the White Street Pump Station, among various other projects,” Gibson said.

He said the two lowest bids were within a few thousand dollars of one another, and good local interest on the job. He recommended the authority issue a notice-of-intent to award the bid to Terra Works.

When asked about possible material and supply chain issues with the project, Gibson said in talking with Terra Works, the bigger concern is approving the contract so the prices can be locked in at the current rates.

“We did talk to Terra Works right after the bid opening, and we asked them that question, based on the issues of the supply chain. Their biggest concern was locking in the prices as soon as possible,” Gibson said.

Once the authority approves the contractor, it gives them the authorization to secure the prices with their supplier “so they don’t see an increase and what not.”

Gibson said Terra Works indicated there might be “a longer lead time” getting valves and fitting. He was not worried by this with the start time for the project still a few months away, as the authority is planning on an April/May start time.

The authority also held two opportunities for business owners to meet with and talk with Gibson, Authority Manager Dana Rooney, and Authority Commissioner Aaron Haines about the project. Rooney said both occasions went well.

“There were about five or six people at each one. They had some really good questions, and they seem very open to working with us,” Rooney said.

Gibson also updated them on the DCED 2020 Non-Entitlement Grant for the Corsica Water Street phase one project. The design is 90 percent complete and is on track for a spring construction time.

The project is contracted through the Jefferson County Commissioners, but the authority is working with them to make sure it meets their specifications

Brookville School Board discuss opening school for winter walkers, increasing sub rates

BROOKVILLE — The Brookville Area School District discussed the possibility of opening the high school back up to the public for walking during the winter months during its work session Monday evening.

“Indoor walking at the high school is a tradition here. It’s a simple little route, back and forth from the auditorium to the cafeteria. It’s a community service, giving folks a place to walk and we’d like to continue that tradition,” Superintendent Erich May said

He brought it to the board to see if anyone would object to sharing the building “in this way” in the times of COVID. He said it would be after school hours, and nothing would be different than what was done before except for COVID.

None of the board members objected to the idea, so it will be voted on during the voting meeting next Monday.

2022-23 Calendar

May also brought the school calendar for the 2022-23 school year before the board for consideration ahead of the voting meeting. He said the calendar is essentially the same as what is being followed for the current school year.

It includes a 10-day Christmas break, like the school had this year. It also includes President’s Day off “to break up February and March,” a four-day Easter break, and ending the school year before Memorial Day.

Board Member Erin Schiafone asked if the district participates in flexible instructional days as snow days. May said the school is participating in this program, which Schiafone said is an “excellent program.”

May said the school found there is support for having “a snow day” but not a bunch of them.

“If we have a school cancellation for ice, that’s no fun. Everyone might as well be on their Chromebooks and keep the class rolling, but there is a scenario where we get a playful foot of snow and know that it’s coming, and tell everyone “make sure you take your Chromebooks home tonight…” May said. “I’m in favor of potentially one snow-day, like potentially a roaming holiday, but I wouldn’t do more than one, we would go into using our remote capacity.”

The school board took the time to acknowledge the Monday meeting as the first one joined by the new Hickory Grove Principal Andy Collins.

“Andy Collins comes to us after 19 years teaching fourth grade at Juniata Elementary,” May said. “Couple weeks into the job and he’s tearing it up.”

Collins was unable to attend the first meeting after being hired, as he was out of town with family. He was given a welcome to the district by those in attendance.

Substitute Pay Rates

May also told the board he is intending to ask the board to approve increasing the substitute pay from $110 to $120 per day, “in keeping with other Jefferson County schools.” This will meet the DuBois and Brockway rates, but will still be $30 less than another neighboring district, according to May.

He is also planning to keep the incentive of $130 per day for those who teach 90 days or more in the district. There are rarely as many subs as there are vacancies in the district, according to May.

Financial Summary

Business Administrator Ellen Neyman provided a preliminary financial summary to the board for the 2020-21 school year. She said the audit process typically takes about six months, and is hoping to have the full audit information to share at the February meeting.

Neyman said the district was 95 percent accurate on the expense projects. She reviewed the 2020-21 budget revenues, and spoke about where the board was either over or under budget. The bottom line showed the revenue was about 4 percent over the original budget projections.