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Jury finds aide guilty of indecent assault, corruption of minors

Edna Spencer, 60, of Clearfield was found guilty of corruption of minors and indecent assault by a jury of seven women and five men yesterday at a trial held at Clearfield County Courthouse before Judge Paul Cherry.

According to Clearfield County District Attorney William A. Shaw Jr., Spencer’s sentence will be up to Judge Cherry; but theoretically, Spencer could be looking at no jail time to a maximum of six months to 10 years in jail.

Shaw also said Spencer must undergo a Megan’s Law Assessment to determine how long her registration requirements will be.

Sentencing usually occurs within 60 days.

Spencer, who was employed by the Clearfield Area School District and was assisting one of the district’s students at Clearfield County Career & Technology Center was convicted of inappropriately touching a 17-year-old student on her bare sides and commenting and making sexual comments while the girl was dressing in the locker room, according to testimony at trial.

The victim and her friend testified they were in the locker room when the incident occurred and a third student testified she entered soon afterward when the other two told her what happened. The three then reported it to then school Principal Fred Redden.

Spencer admitted to police that she touched the girl and made the comments, but said it wasn’t done in malice and was only complimenting her in a motherly way.

The day started with a Lawrence Township Police officer continuing his testimony; however Shaw and Spencer’s attorney, Chris Mohney of DuBois and Beau Grove of Ridgway, argued over how the video of Spencer’s interview with the officer on April 2, 2019 would again be shown to the jury.

Shaw asked to show portions of the video to the jury, but Mohney objected to showing anything except the entire video. The court adjourned for about an hour for the lawyers to argue in chambers, and once they reconvened, Cherry ruled in Shaw’s favor and allowed him to play portions of the video.

Shaw played portions of the video showing the hand motions Spencer made, mimicking how she touched the girl.

During cross examination by Mohney, Mohney asked the police officer if he remembered telling Spencer during the interview that he had statements from all of the other girls in the class, saying she had made them feel uncomfortable and if this statement was true. The officer said he remembered making such statements and said he was using deception and said he is legally allowed to do so.

The defense called the teacher of the culinary arts program and several students to the stand, who all said they never saw Spencer act or say anything inappropriate. They also had several colleagues and associates of Spencer’s as character witnesses who said Spencer had a reputation of being law abiding.

During closing arguments Shaw said for the charge of indecent assault, it is up to the jury to decide if the touching of the student’s sides constitutes an intimate part and Shaw argued that touching her sides and making those comments constitutes an indecent assault. He argued that Spencer is guilty of corruption of minors because the victim will be affected for the rest of her life because of what Spencer did.

And in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky case, everyone now knows these kinds of behaviors are inappropriate.

“You don’t touch kids,” Shaw said.

In his closing arguments, Mohney said it doesn’t make sense that Spencer would assault a girl in the locker room when other people were present, and said the police jumped to conclusions and were “cherry-picking” the evidence to justify its conclusion.

Coalport denies MinitMart's request to acquire liquor license

COALPORT — Coalport Borough Council unanimously denied a petition from Nittany Oil Co. that would have allowed the Coalport MinitMart to acquire a license to sell liquor at its store.

About 10 residents and business owners attended the public hearing that was held prior to Monday’s regular meeting. Council voted against the company’s request.

Attorney Mark Kozar of Flaherty & O’Hara Professional Corporation, Pittsburgh, and Operations Manager Emerson Reym attended the meeting to discuss the store’s plans to expand and remodel the facility to add restaurant seating for 30 customers, making it eligible to acquire a liquor license.

In a letter to council, Kozar wrote, “In order to open and operate its restaurant in Coalport, MinitMart must secure a liquor license. No Coalport license was available for sale so MinitMart has entered into an agreement to purchase a liquor license currently located in Lawrence Township. MinitMart plans on moving this license from outside of Coalport into Coalport with the approval of the borough, pursuant to the inter-municipal transfer provisions of the Liquor Code.”

Reym said the MinitMart has been a member of the Coalport community for years and has been a good neighbor. He said if Nittany could acquire the license, it would build an addition to house restaurant seating and a beer cave that would be open from 7 a.m. to 1:45 a.m. daily. The addition would be built behind the existing structure, allowing the existing store to remain open during construction.

Several council members said their desire to support Coalport businesses and organizations that are already serving liquor was the reason they voted no.

“I don’t want to see local businesses hurt,” said Councilman Kevin Swauger.

Others pointed to alcohol as creating health and addiction issues for residents. Councilman Rev. Gerald Spaid said.

“I’m a no vote. I don’t want to be an enabler. As a chaplain, I deal with the raw problems alcohol causes,” Spaid said.

Councilman Jack Rupp said he is concerned about the potential for alcohol at the MinitMart to fuel vandalism and crime.

“This worries me. Who will police this? It takes time for the state police to come here.”

Councilman Calvin Glass said although he did not support the company’s request to acquire a liquor license, but he is grateful for the store and the convenience it offers residents.

“People are glad to stop there at 5 a.m. to get gas and get coffee. They wouldn’t have anywhere to do this if it wasn’t for the MinitMart.”

Most of the 10 residents attending the meeting spoke in opposition to Nittany Oil Co. being able to secure the liquor license. Several had different reasons about why they believed council should oppose the request. They pointed out because the store is open 24 hours, it is often the early morning hangout spot for a group of young adults.

“There’s already lots of trouble at the MinitMart now — you want to add alcohol? Residents of this town won’t be able to sleep at all,” said Resident Pam Rutter.

Some pointed out the close proximity of both the Coalport United Methodist Church and the Assembly of God Church to the store. A member of the Glendale Assembly of God Church said he did not approve of any alcohol being sold in the borough.

“We don’t need it around our children,” he explained.

Harry and Christine Semelsberger, representing Cossick’s Central Hotel, told council the family-owned business has been in existence for 100 years and during those years, it has supported the community by donating to school and borough organizations and by hiring residents who pay borough taxes and patronize other community businesses.

The Semelsbergers reported the hotel, because of the local economy and more stringent state regulations, is finding it increasingly difficult to remain viable.

“The likelihood of this going in could put us under. It’s not fair,” Harry Semelsberger said. “We built it and they are coming to take it over,” Christine Semelsberger explained.

Kozar told council he is unsure what the company would choose to do about council’s denial of its request.

“Typically what happens is these things go to the Court of Common Pleas,” he said.

Bigler Twp. leaders win battle over polling site

After granting an extension earlier this summer to allow Bigler Township time to complete work needed to comply with inclusive voting standards for polling places, the Clearfield County Election Board denied a petition requesting the township’s polls be moved from the municipal building to Madera Vol. Fire Co.’s social hall.

At Tuesday’s special meeting of the board, Clearfield County Director of Elections Dawn Graham reported the election board visited the Bigler Township polling place at the end of August.

“In regards to accessibility, everything has been brought up to standards,” Graham said. She noted two van accessible parking spaces for disabled voters have been installed on either side of the non-slip asphalt path, with a suitable grade leading to the double-door entrance to the building.

She said her only concern is lighting in the building’s hall that must be updated. Township officials told her the township has applied for a grant to improve the lighting, but would be upgrading it regardless of whether the grant is received.

Graham also noted she considers the general parking at the building “a bit treacherous,” but said that is her personal opinion.

Commissioner Mark McCracken, who is a member of the election board, said. “The inspection found the township really stepped up and took care of a number of issues. There were a lot of improvements,” McCracken stated.

Supervisor R. Philbert Myers told the board that township residents have been voting at the location since 1972.

“We’ve voted there every year since then,” Myers explained.

Bigler Township Solicitor Ron Repak told the board there was a petition with a 100 signatures from township residents requesting the polling site not be relocated.

“It’s been there for 48 years without complaint or injury. Bigler Township has expended tremendous resources to make the updates. I believe the polling place is compliant with the Department of Justice and we want the location to remain at Bigler Township,” Repak said.

Board Alternate Allen Bietz made the motion to deny the petition to move the polling place from the municipal building to the firehall. It was seconded by board Alternate Bob Baronak. All three board members — McCracken, Bietz and Baronak — voted in favor of the action.

Bietz and Baronak are currently serving on the board because Commissioners John Sobel and Tony Scotto are currently recused from the board because they are seeking re-election to the positions.

McCracken said, “We do appreciate the work the township did to come into compliance. We appreciate them stepping up and the time and investment they have put into this.”

Dean Rick Roush with Lisa Kovalick receiving her RULE certificate.

Dean Rick Roush with Lisa Kovalick receiving her RULE certificate.

Softball tourney nets $3,700 for Taylor "T-Harp" Harpster scholarship

PHILIPSBURG — The inaugural Taylor Harpster Memorial Softball Tournament raised more than $3,700 for a memorial scholarship named for the former softball standout at Philipsburg-Osceola High School.

Taylor “T-Harp” Harpster was 27 years old when she died as the result of a car crash on U.S. Route 322 in Philipsburg in December 2018.

The Hurricanes Blue and Midstate Madness 14-U girls’ softball teams co-hosted the event held on Aug. 3 and 4 at the Philipsburg Power House Fields.

The other teams participating were Juniata Jaguars, West Branch Blaze, and the State College Spikes.

The Jaguars and Madness battled for the tournament championship in “a great game that went into extra innings”.

The Jaguars won the game to become the inaugural T-Harp Memorial Tournament Champions leaving Midstate Madness with second place while the Spikes were third.

All proceeds from the tournament were donated to the Taylor Harpster “T-Harp” Memorial Scholarship Fund, which included team fees, tournament T-shirt sales, and concession stand sales.

A home run derby open to everyone was also held with a $5 entry. In addition to earning nearly $200, it proved entertaining for the fans and the players.

Many parents from the Hurricanes and Madness teams helped with the event along with several Philipsburg-Osceola students who stepped up to run the concession stand and prepare the fields between games. They earned service hours for their efforts.

Plans are already underway for next year’s tournament and the teams are working to bring back the Philipsburg-Osceola Softball Alumni Tournament to be included to honor Taylor and other softball alumni who have passed before their time and raise more funds for the T-Harp Scholarship.

The Taylor Harpster “T-HARP” Memorial Scholarship Fund was established earlier this year with the Clearfield County Charitable Foundation.

Donations for this fund or any of the CCCF’s funds can be made on their website, via Paypal. Checks can also be sent to the fund at PO Box 1442, Clearfield, PA 16830.

Teaser for 9-11-19

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