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Flue fire damages Rush Township home

PHILIPSBURG — A Rush Township residence was damaged by a flue fire with extension into the wall of the home early Sunday morning.

Emergency responders were called to the Cory Miller residence on the 2600-block of Black Moshannon Road in Philipsburg, Rush Township.

Firefighters from Philipsburg Vol. Fire Co. and Fire Police, Chester Hill Hose Co., Morris Township Vol. Fire Co., Winburne Vol. Fire Co., Columbia Fire Co. of Osceola Mills, Houtzdle Vol. Fire Co. and Mountain Top Vol. Fire Co. of Sandy Ridge were on scene for two hours, according to Philipsburg Fire Chief Jeff Harris.

Moshannon Valley EMS was also on scene, and there were no injuries. About 30 firefighters fought the blaze that was caused by a cracked flue stemming from a fireplace. The home sustained smoke, fire and water damage, Harris said. A damage estimate was not available. The property was insured.


Details of new contract with CCCTC Education Association released

Clearfield County Career and Technology Center’s Joint Operating Committee has released details of the the contract approved at a special meeting of the committee Wednesday. The pact between the committee and CCCTC’s Education Association and Education Support Professionals, is retroactive to July 1 and continues through June 30, 2024.

The support staff were newly organized and added to the existing teacher’s bargaining unit in June 2018. The focus of the negotiations was to incorporate current working conditions and benefits for the support staff into the existing teachers’ agreement.

As a result, the collaboration between the school’s administration and the CCCTCEA also provided an opportunity to extend the current teacher agreement an additional three years. Their agreement was set to expire in 2021.

Both sides agree the new contract provides a fair compromise by both parties and provides the career center, its teachers and support staff the ability to plan for the future and ensures students receive a quality education.

Highlights of the agreement address current working conditions and benefits for all support staff in contract language, including: establishing wage schedules for support staff which run similarly with the sending school districts; wage increases for professional staff for years 2021-2024 that remain the same as the existing increases in the preceding agreement and language changes to reflect current healthcare benefits and carriers.

CCCTC’s Superintendent of Record Terry Struble reported under the new pact, student aides would receive a 35 cent per hour increase and custodial and clerical staff, a 45 cent per hour increase for each year of the contract. Instructors are scheduled to receive a flat increase of $1,500 per year. The revisions to the healthcare terms in the contract reflect program changes for members as a result of changes in coverage and rate adjustment.

CCCTC Executive Director Fred Redden said there are 21 instructors and 11 members of the support staff covered by the contract.


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Tanner's Hardware opens in Houtzdale

HOUTZDALE — Tanner’s Hardware held its grand opening for a new store in Houtzdale on Saturday.

Tanner’s Hardware is a family-owned hardware store that has been operating in Bellwood, Blair County since 2012, and has now opened a second store in Houtzdale according to owner Doug Snyder of Bellwood.

The new store is located at 813 Centennial St. in Houtzdale — about 23 miles from the Bellwood location. The store will employ three people. Snyder said the Houtzdale store will be similar to its store in Bellwood.

He said the Houtzdale store is larger than the typical small hardware store and will offer a wide variety of name brand products such as hardware, tools, air conditioners, windows, screens, and doors as well as sporting goods, rifles, ammunition and archery equipment. The new store will have 7,000 square feet of space.

Snyder said he had been looking to open a second store for some time and is excited it has finally opened.

“It’s been a long time in coming,” Snyder said. “I’m really excited and the community has been supportive.”

Snyder said he picked Houtzdale because there are no other hardware stores in the area. He added that he has been impressed with the community and has been drawn to it since attending Houtzdale Days.

“I really like it here and they do a lot of nice things,” Snyder said.

The store will be be open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., and is closed on Sundays.


News
Two seek Clearfield County Coroner post

CUTLER

Two candidates are contending for the position of Clearfield County Coroner. Republican Kim Shaffer-Shaffer Snyder of Sandy Township and Democrat Olivia A. Cutler of Clearfield are vying for the four-year position.

Shaffer-Snyder was appointed to the post by the Clearfield County Commissioners in January 2018 to fulfill the unexpired term of former coroner Mike Morris, who was elected as a magisterial district judge.

The coroner, which is an elected position, is responsible for investigations of deaths to determine cause and manner of death occurring within Clearfield County, as required by law. This year the position has an annual salary of $45,339.30.

Both Shaffer-Snyder and Cutler provided information on their qualifications and why they want to serve.

Shaffer-Snyder: “The coroner is a 24-7, 365 days per year job. The coroner’s office investigates hundreds of deaths each year. I have been part of the (coroner’s) office for 25 years. I have the qualifications, experience and dedication to serve residents of Clearfield County and continue the long tradition of professionalism, existing in the office for decades.

“I have worked in the Clearfield County Coroner’s office since 1994, both as a deputy and the coroner. I would use my experience and familiarity with the region, emergency responders, law enforcement and court system to continue to serve the residents.

“I am a life-long resident of Clearfield County, a graduate of Penn State University with a degree in business administration. I completed the state’s coroner education course in 2013 and take every opportunity to learn. My goal is to continually learn and to lead by example.

“I have many years of experience working with the Clearfield County Court system. Prior to being appointed coroner in 2018, I spent 24 years in the district court at DuBois.

“The coroner’s office has responded to 188 cases since I was appointed. The office is a busy one and we must continue to strive for improvement and efficiency. My vision for the office is to provide timely, professional service to Clearfield County residents, while maintaining respect, dignity and compassion for the deceased and their families. I am a good steward of the taxpayer’s resources without loosing sight of the facts I work for and serve the people of Clearfield County.

“As coroner, I am involved with the Clearfield-Jefferson Drug and Alcohol Commission and I am in contact with the Clearfield-Jefferson Suicide Prevention Team. I believe my experience and dedication to the position, county and its residents makes me the best candidate for the job.”

Cutler: “Currently the coroner’s office is a reactive position. When a death occurs in Clearfield County, the coroner will react by investigation. As the next coroner I intend to transform the position into a proactive office where the coroner and deputies participate in community education and death prevention.

“The office is about serving families at one of the hardest times of their lives and at times serving justice to protect the community. I am aware I am a young candidate, but I am qualified and dedicated to serving the county.

“My qualifications for coroner are substantial and essential. I graduated from State University of New York in 2018 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in anthropology accompanied by a focus in bio-medical anthropology and community health. On top of this I have community health experience which focuses on the physical and mental well-being of people in a region.

“I have recently completed the practical nursing program at the Clearfield County Career and Technology Center. I attained my nursing license in July within weeks of graduating from CCCTC. I am currently certified in HIV/AIDS peer counseling and at-home infectious disease self-testing. When performing the coroner’s main duties and implementing my plan on education, the knowledge I gained studying topics such as human osteology, U.S. politics, drug studies, philosophy of human nature, and human disease will benefit me. I believe being coroner is an opportunity to use all of the knowledge I’ve acquired throughout my education and transform it to fit the coroner’s position.

“If the coroner’s job encompasses death, then it should also encompass death prevention. I am dedicated to being the next coroner because I believe there should be more involvement in the county while completing current duties more efficiently with compassion and integrity. As coroner I will be heavily involved with education in communities, revolving around topics such as suicide prevention, drug use intervention and prevention, and fall risks in our senior community.

“The coroner’s election goes beyond who has experience and is most qualified. The issue is what voters want for the county, whether they want the coroner to take a more proactive role and make changes benefiting communities. I am committed to bringing these changes to our coroner’s office in regards to death prevention. Suicide is preventable. Overdoses are preventable. Accidental deaths are preventable. Therefore it’s time we demand more participation in education throughout the county. In turn taking measures to prevent death lowers costs for the coroner’s office and overall costs to the county.

“I vow to be a highly visible, approachable, and compassionate coroner Clearfield County deserves.”


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Commissioner candidates address jail overcrowding

Four candidates are seeking three available Clearfield County Commissioner posts in tomorrow’s municipal election. Incumbents John Sobel and Tony Scott are campaigning together on the Republican ticket, while newcomers Lisa Kovalick and Dave Glass are running on the Democratic ticket.

In today’s edition of The Progress, all four candidates were asked to weigh in on the overcrowding crisis at the Clearfield County Jail.

What should the county commissioners do about overcrowding at the Clearfield County Jail?

Scotto: Jail overcrowding is a serious problem for Clearfield County that is greatly affecting our finances. Unfortunately, some of the things that can be done to reduce jail population are completely out of our hands. In this overpopulation crisis, I would advocate for alternatives to incarceration for non-violent offenders.

Such as home detention with leg bands, coupled with intensive supervision by a probation officer.

We currently have an embedded drug and alcohol counselor at the jail. This counselor would identify possible candidates for drug treatment, to rehab inmates. Treatment and diagnosing the underlying problems that an addict has will offer better chances of non-relapsing. This should help in reducing numbers, since many of the inmates are in for some sort of drug related crime.

Improving our work release program would certainly help. This would reduce overcrowding during the day, while inmates are out working. We have similar inmates as Jefferson County, and they have a very successful work release program. In addition, this would improve the inmates’ esteem and bring stability to them once they return into society.

Recently it has been announced that there will be a drug court in Clearfield County. We just have to be patient, and see if it will bring down the numbers after it is implemented.

Overcrowding is not just a financial burden but also a safety concern for both inmates and corrections officers. To alleviate this, we will continue to send population overflow to Jefferson County.

While we do not know the future of inmate population, I am hoping for lower numbers than we currently have. Eventually, some of these repeat offenders will earn state time. If numbers remain high, we would have to look into possibly putting a modular unit to house additional inmates.

Kovalick: There is more than one method to reduce the population at the jail. I believe implementing new court programs would help tremendously. Drug Court, Mental Health Court and Veterans Court, are all evidence-based practices that have been practiced in counties across the state of Pennsylvania since 1989. Outcomes vary by county, with the most prominent outcome being a reduction in recidivism.

I will seek to implement the practices mentioned above and have a feasibility study on the jail that includes the infrastructure, facility, operations and procedures. Because of the financial situation our county is in, I would make sure that every conceivable method of reducing the population of the jail is explored, and implement what is achievable.

It is not responsible for any elected official to dictate to another. However, it is prudent for the health and wellbeing of our county, that we respect one another and come together to address the challenges we face at the jail and in our corrections system. I know we can conquer this challenge efficiently and effectively if we all work together.

I am a practical hard-working person and as your commissioner I am ready to be a change agent, accepting and overcoming these troublesome challenges of Clearfield County. #fortheloveofcleafieldcounty

Glass: Addressing the issues at the county jail has been a centerpiece of my campaign. The first step should be a feasibility study, to gather data and put options on the table. Right now, no one in the county has enough data to make an informed decision on the best option for the jail –and as far as I can tell, no one is making any effort to gather the data. Let’s make a concerted effort to address the problem, step by step, and let the facts lead us to the best decision. We cannot continue to ignore these problems. As commissioner, I would attack these- and other problems- head on.

Sobel: We, as commissioners and as commissioner representatives on the Clearfield County Prison Board, can develop and support several methodologies to address the overcrowding at the Clearfield County Jail.

First of all, alternatives to incarceration can be used for disposition of cases involving nonviolent offenders with little or no prior record. Examples of this type would be the expanded use of home detention with leg band monitoring and intensive supervision by a probation officer with frequent reporting by an offender to the same.

Clearfield County had an intensive supervision program at one time but eliminated it prior to my taking office.

We also have a high number of pretrial detainees in the Jail. The use of the above techniques could possibly be used in some instances to address the same.

A strong work release program at the Jail would help. Although incarcerated, participating individuals would still be out of the Jail during large parts of the day. Not only would it relieve some of the stress of overcrowding, it would also enhance the self esteem and self confidence of the participants on their road to re- entry into society.

The recent announcement of a drug court program coming to the County also should cause us to pause and observe the impact that the same has on the incarceration numbers. The County has lagged behind other parts of Pennsylvania when it has come to creating this type of disposition. I am curious to see how the inmate numbers go down in the next couple of years following its implementation.

Finally, we should continue to house inmates in Jefferson County for the time being. Clearfield County successfully negotiated a rate from Jefferson County that saves at least $20 per inmate in incarceration costs. The same results in significant savings to the taxpayers of the County that are critical during this time of huge cost overruns at the County Jail. That is our job as Commissioners after all.