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'Search for Peace'

BELLS LANDING — The music from the pageant that has become a treasured Christmas season fixture is returning.

A choral presentation of the music from “The Search for Peace” will be presented Friday, Dec. 6 and Saturday, Dec. 7 at the Bells Landing Baptist Church. Performances are Friday, Dec. 6 at 8 p.m. and Saturday, Dec. 7, at 4:30 and 8 p.m.

There is no cost to attend but a free will offering will be taken at each performance. The church seats 160 people and has limited parking. Organizers are requesting those attending the show use a carpool.

Tickets can be reserved for any of the three productions at blbc.ticketleap.com or by calling 277-6783. Any tickets that have not been reserved in advance will be offered at the door.

Director Mark Barrett of Bells Landing said he would not hear of the pageant, written by the late Laura Wright, being delayed another year.

It was decided last year by those who had prepared for and presented the pageant for many years at Curwensville United Methodist Church that the popular Christmas play was going on hiatus. This would provide time to find a director and some new volunteers to assist with preparations for the project that featured more than 100 actors, singers and musicians.

The pageant has a nearly 60-year history of being presented at the Curwensville location, with the first production held in 1960.

Barrett told The Progress it would have taken a great deal of time and effort to direct the pageant — a non-traditional telling of the birth of Jesus Christ — as it had been in the past. He said he could not commit to directing the pageant, but agreed to oversee three shows featuring music and narration from the show along with a slideshow of photographs from former performances.

“The pictures will help carry the performances,” Barrett said, adding there will not be costumes or drama.

“I wanted to carry on the music in some way. This is still Laura’s program and the music and narration has not changed from the pageant to the performances. These choral performances offer those whose Christmas tradition The Search for Peace had become, an opportunity to still hear the music they enjoy so much,” he explained.

Many local singers who performed in the pageant over the years are returning to be part of the concerts. Lauren Holland of Curwensville will narrate. Sue Johnson is the pianist and Barrett, the organist. There will be solos by Dave Barrett, Jim Sopic and Jim Strickland.

Barrett said he and others are hopeful the full pageant can be revived for 2020.


Progress_news
Bigler Township receives $46K grant for police department

MADERA — The state Department of Community and Economic Development Secretary Dennis Davin announced Monday that Bigler Township was approved to receive $46,031 through the Municipal Assistance Program.

MAP funds are available to assist local governments with planning for zoning, coordinating emergency services, and creating comprehensive plans.

Bigler Township Regional Police Department is planning to use the funds to expand its police department and purchase additional equipment as its coverage area increases to neighboring municipalities and it becomes a regional department.

Supervisor R. Philbert Myers said in a telephone interview on Monday that he had not yet heard that the township was approved for the funds.

“I know we applied, but I didn’t get the word yet,” Myers said. “I’m glad to hear it.”

Myers said when the township applied, the purpose was to recoup some of the startup costs. The department cost the township around $100,000 to get off the ground.

“We were allowed to apply for 50 percent of the money it took to start up, so this is a reimbursement,” Myers said of the grant award. It took $100,000 to start up, so we got pretty close (to half).”

Myers said once the department reaches the one-year anniversary mark, the township will re-evaluate its financial status.

“In April we will review everything, and at that point, we will likely proceed with an another cruiser and a part-time officer,” Myers said. “I do know that we are going to get some more equipment. We still have some equipment to purchase and we can use this grant money to purchase those items.”

The township’s department, which employs one full time officer, provides part-time police coverage to Bigler Township citizens and nearby Ramey Borough. The department began on April 1.

“The first step in ensuring the continued growth and success of a community is developing a comprehensive plan that addresses and anticipates both established and emerging needs,” said Sec. Davin. “This critical funding will help Pennsylvania’s municipalities create and implement the plans that will allow them to be more effective today and more prepared for tomorrow.”

DCED recently approved nearly $475,000 in funding for 12 municipal projects throughout the state. Funding from MAP helps local governments plan for and efficiently implement municipal projects available in three groups of activities: shared services, community planning, and floodplain management.


jcorcino / Jeff Corcino  

WINTER WALK IN THE PARK

Noah-Leigh Thomas, 9, Lydia Thomas, 11, and their dog Diego, all of Clearfield took advantage of the mild temperatures yesterday afternoon to enjoy some time in Upper Witmer Park. Diego is a recent adoption from the Clearfield County SPCA.


dbyers / Dianne Byers 

Cooking with Dianne

COOKING WITH DIANNE


News
Rockton man accused of assaulting woman

DuBOIS — A 32-year-old Rockton man faces a felony charge and other related charges for an alleged assault which occurred Nov. 12 at a DuBois residence, according to a criminal complaint filed at the office of District Judge Patrick Ford, DuBois.

On Nov.18, DuBois City Police charged Mitchell David Kohler, Rockton Mountain Highway, Rockton, with a felony count of aggravated assault, misdemeanor counts of simple assault, recklessly endangering another person, making terroristic threats with the intent to terrorize another, resisting arrest and a summary count of harassment.

According to an affidavit of probable cause, police were called to a residence on Chestnut Avenue in response to a report of a trespasser. A woman had called to report that Kohler was allegedly giving another woman a “rough time” at that address and that they wanted him removed from the residence.

Upon arrival, officers tried to make contact with the occupants. After several attempts to make contact by knocking at the door, police made contact with Kohler via the caller’s cell phone.

The affidavit said Kohler opened the front door and allowed the police inside. Once inside, the police made contact with a woman who was laying in a fetal position on a love seat in the living room. Other officers spoke with Kohler nearby in the kitchen.

The woman initially told officers she had fallen, the affidavit said. Once Kohler was taken to another part of the house, she told officers Kohler had struck her in the back and that she was having difficulty breathing.

Due to the apparent significance of the injury, risk of additional injuries to the woman, and the volatile nature of the injuries that were presented, police determined that Kohler should be arrested immediately, the affidavit said. Police approached Kohler with handcuffs, and ordered him to turn around and place his hands behind his back. Kohler reportedly did not comply and raised his hands to his sides slightly and responded, “Why?” in an aggressive tone. At that point, an officer reportedly forced Kohler to the ground. Kohler reportedly struggled with officers attempting to place him in handcuffs. Other officers assisted and Kohler was subdued.

The woman was transported to Penn Highlands DuBois, where it was discovered that she had suffered a fractured rib or ribs and a collapsed lung, the affidavit said. The woman reportedly provided a recorded statement that she had been in an argument with Kohler and that he had pulled her off of the couch and hit her in the back with his fist. She was having difficulty breathing and was screaming in pain, the affidavit said.

The affidavit said Kohler allegedly denied her access to medical assistance and covered her mouth with his hands, telling her that she was attracting attention and to be quiet. Kohler reportedly told his mother that she was not injured and he picked her up and forced her onto the couch.

The woman also reported that at some point that day, Kohler was allegedly opening and closing his pocket knife and said to her, “I should have put this through your temple,” the affidavit said.

His preliminary hearing is scheduled for Dec. 13 at Ford’s office.


Crime
Clearfield couple facing more than 2,000 child porn charges

Jackson Curtis Martin III, 44, of Clearfield, and Amanda Nichelle Downs, 28, of Clearfield are accused of raping and molesting a young girl and taking photographs and videos of the crimes.

Clearfield Borough Police Department has charged Martin and Downs with rape of a child, statutory sexual assault, aggravated indecent assault of a child and numerous counts associated with child pornography.

Martin is charged with a total of 1,867 felony counts and Downs is charged with a total of 171 felony counts for a total of 2,038 charges combined.

According to the affidavits of probable cause, on Jan. 8 Clearfield Borough Police Department was contacted by the State Police regarding a tip it had received on the Cyber Tipline for Missing and Exploited Children. The tip came from Facebook.

The referral detailed photographs sent from Downs’ Facebook account to Martin’s Facebook account on Nov. 18, 2018. Martin then sent the photograph to a Facebook account belonging to Shelly Ricketts, also of Clearfield.

Clearfield Borough Police interviewed Ricketts on Jan. 8. Ricketts said she has a sexual relationship with Martin and he would send her messages about sleeping with minors. She said she sent the pictures because Martin wouldn’t stop bothering her. She also said Martin would ask her to find a minor for him to have sex with.

On Jan. 8 at 6:30 p.m. Clearfield Borough Police served a search warrant at an apartment at 506 Zimmerman Ave. Police knocked on the door but there was no answer, so police opened the locked door without damaging the lock.

Inside, police found Martin lying on the couch. The apartment was in poor condition, with garbage and rotting food lying about. Also inside were numerous sexual-related items, drug paraphernalia and a firearm.

Police seized numerous items from the apartment including the firearm, drug paraphernalia, electronic devices and several sexual-related items.

Police interviewed Downs at the police station on Jan. 9. She said she and Martin engage in sexual role play and live together in the apartment. She said they have access to each other’s devices.

Martin was interviewed at the police station on Jan. 11. He denied any of his electronic devices contained illegal material, and said if there were, the blame belonged to Ricketts. He also said he and Downs have access to each other’s devices.

Thursday, Clearfield Borough police received the report of the forensic examination conducted by the state police Criminal Investigation Computer Crime Unit of Martin’s electronic devices. On his cell phone investigators found a video of Martin raping and molesting a female toddler as well as ten photographs.

On his electronic tablet investigators found 430 images and a video of Martin molesting a juvenile female. On a Samsung cell phone investigators found 1,100 images of Martin molesting a young girl. There are also explicit text messages between Downs and Martin discussing the images and videos.

Police believe Downs is related to the female victim and Downs is present in several of the images.

Martin also posted on the Internet that he had sex with a nine-year-old girl and a seven-year-old girl.

Both Martin and Downs are being held in the Clearfield County Jail without bail. Preliminary hearings are scheduled Dec. 4 at Centralized Court held at the jail.


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