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Former West Branch school employee pleads guilty for sex with student

A former West Branch School District assistant technology coordinator — who was accused of having sex with a 14-year-old female student — pleaded guilty before the start of his trial Monday morning before Judge Paul Cherry.

Michael William Narehood, 23, of Karthaus, was charged with two counts of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse-victim less than 16-years old, a felony of the first degree; statutory sexual assault 8-11 years older and aggravated indecent assault, both of which are felonies of the second degree; sexual contact with student and corruption of minors, both are felonies of the third degree and indecent assault-victim less than 16 years old, a misdemeanor of the second degree.

It is an open plea, meaning the commonwealth and the defense could not come to an agreement on a minimum sentence, leaving it up to Cherry.

According to the affidavit of probable cause, on May 10, the victim went into Narehood’s office after school was over and Narehood began kissing the victim and engaged in sexual acts with her.

State police interviewed Narehood on May 12 and he admitted to the crimes.

Sentencing usually occurs within 60 days.

Witherite promoted to Curwensville Police Department's corporal

CURWENSVILLE — Curwensville Borough Council approved a promotion in the police department at Monday’s combined committees’ and business meeting.

With a unanimous vote, council authorized elevating Officer-in-Charge Joe Witherite to Corporal.

Police and Code Committee Chairman Dave Donahue made the motion to advance Witherite.

“The committee wants to promote Joe to the position of Corporal since he is in charge we would like him to move up, (The title) coincides with what he is already doing,” Donahue said.

His promotion is effective immediately. Witherite will receive a 30 cents per hour increase in his salary. His salary is $21.75 per hour following his completion of his first year as a full-time employee in April.

Witherite has been serving as the department’s officer-in-charge since Aug. 6 when council held a special meeting and authorized the upgrade from patrolman to officer-in-charge.

At that special meeting in August, council listed Witherite’s duties under the advanced position. Those include uniform crime reporting, creating officers’ work schedules with Mayor John Adams, responding to police department email and correspondence in regards to laboratory testing as well as other agencies and authoring and approving any news releases or reports issued by the department.

Witherite was promoted to from part-time to a full-time officer in April 2018. He has been employed as a patrolman by Curwensville Borough at various times over the years. He was one of the part-time officers furloughed several years ago because of the borough’s budget constraints, but his position was returned following council’s adoption of the 2018 spending plan.

CASD finances better than expected

Clearfield Area School District ended the 2018-19 school year better off financially than anticipated, Business Administrator Sam Maney said at last night’s school board meeting.

According to Maney, the district ended the school year with a $21,829 deficit; the district originally anticipated ending the school year with a $3.9 million deficit.

Maney attributed the difference in higher than expected local tax revenue, and revenue from the state and federal government as well as lower than expected expenditures for personnel, out of district tuition, supplies and utilities.

According to Maney, local tax revenue was $482,793 higher than anticipated, miscellaneous revenue, including interest income, federal grants and returns from the district’s Wealth Management Account were $968,422 higher than expected.

Revenues from state sources was $263,548 higher than anticipated and federal subsidies were $176,050 higher than anticipated.

In total, revenues were $1,541,379 better than expected.

As for expenses, personnel costs were $628,544 lower than expected, professional services were $250,048 lower than expected, purchased services were $139,742 lower than expected, and transportation was $49,305 lower than expected.

The district’s tuition expense to the Clearfield County Career and Technology Center was also $249,050 lower than anticipated.

Other purchased services including insurance, cellular phone/fiber internet and travel, was $234,803 lower than expected, utilities were $106,237 lower than expected, supplies were $71,176 lower than expected, equipment was $44,541 lower than expected.

In total expenses were $2,303,769 lower than expected, Maney said.

The district has a fund balance, or reserves of $14,067,332. However, about $8,742,674 is unassigned fund balance, the rest has been earmarked to pay for increases in retirement fund costs, debt service payments, cyber tuition increases, health insurance costs and real estate tax appeals, Maney said.

Clearfield Elementary hosts 'Perfection on Wheels' assembly

On Monday, Oct. 28, Clearfield Area Elementary School and its guidance counselor Shayne McCusker hosted “Perfection on Wheels,” a BMX Bike Stunt Show Assembly for all grades.

Two performances were held for the students in conjunction with October’s Bullying Prevention Month, as well as Red Ribbon Week & Drug Free Awareness. The performers did many outstanding stunts, some even including a few members of CAE’s teaching staff and school Principal Ken Veihdeffer.

This high-impact assembly stressed some important messages which included a good education for your future, manners, making the right choices, positive decision making and behavior, kindness toward others, as well as bicycle safety.

Two killed, two injured in early morning fire

An adult female and a 7-year-old girl were killed in an early morning fire in Clearfield, Lawrence Township yesterday.

Mary Erickson, 51, of Clearfield, was identified by state police as the adult victim. Authorities have not yet released the name of the 7-year-old victim.

The cause of their deaths are pending autopsies, according to the office of Clearfield County Coroner Kim Shaffer Snyder.

A 6-year-old female and Harry Erickson Jr., 30, were also injured and were flown by medical helicopter to Pittsburgh for treatment. Harry Erickson Jr. reportedly jumped from a window to escape the burning home.

The 6-year-old female was flown to Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh for treatment and Harry Erickson was flown to Mercy Hospital in Pittsburgh. Authorities did not release the medical condition of the surviving victims.

Harry Erickson Sr., 57, of Clearfield, also lived at the residence but he was at work at the time of the fire, according to state police fire marshal Cpl. Greg Agosti.

The fire was at a single-story residence at 127 Jury St., Clearfield. Fire crews responded at 2:20 a.m. and were on scene until 7 a.m. Fire crews were recalled to the scene at about 10 a.m. for a rekindle.

The state police fire marshal and the Lawrence Township Police Department investigated the fire and determined the fire was accidental — as it was caused by an overloaded electrical circuit. Property damage is estimated at $150,000. The victims did not have insurance.

The home also did not have smoke alarms and Agosti said he is confident this outcome would have been different if smoke alarms were in the home.

Numerous fire companies responded to the scene including Lawrence Township Fire Company No. 1, Hyde Fire Company, Glen Richey Fire Department, Curwensville Fire Department and Clearfield and Curwensville EMS.

Clearfield Area School District Superintendent Terry Struble told The Progress he cannot confirm or deny whether or not the two juvenile victims were students in the school district.

“Our thoughts and prayers are focused on the families who have been affected by this tragedy and our school community,“ Clearfield Area Elementary School Principal Ken Veihdeffer said.

Struble also asked the community to keep the first responders in their thoughts and prayers because these tragedies take a toll on them too.