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County Courthouse and Annex buildings close Friday after positive COVID-19 test

The Clearfield County Courthouse and Annex buildings closed at noon on Friday as Commissioners John Sobel and Tony Scotto confirmed someone tested positive for COVID-19.

A press release was issued by the commissioners Friday morning that stated it was closing for “COVID-19 precautionary measures.”

In an interview with Sobel and Scotto, the duo stated someone who “works in the courthouse and other county governmental offices has tested positive.”

Sobel — who also stated they cannot legally give the name of the employee — said they found out about the positive test Friday morning and the decision was made to close the buildings at noon.

“Folks were very cooperative and it’s been going very smoothly,” Sobel said.

Due to the closure, Sobel and Scotto said a deep cleaning would be done of the buildings and they would be closed for the rest of Friday.

“It will reopen Monday at the normal time,” Sobel said.

Later Friday afternoon, the commissioners gave another press release with further information.

“The state Department of Health has contacted that individual and will be conducting contact tracing,” the release stated. “Anyone who is judged to have been in close contact with this individual during the past week will be contacted by the Department of Health and advised to quarantine.”

The release also states if you were in the Courthouse or Annex within the past week, the commissioners and DOH recommend getting a COVID-19 test only if you experience relevant symptoms — fever, cough, loss of taste/smell and/or unusual fatigue.

“The commissioners also wish to remind everyone to wear a mask when in public spaces — especially indoors,” the release said. “Masks are the first, best line of defense against virus spread.”

Mo Valley 'prom' held tonight

HOUTZDALE — Several local businesses have and parents have come together to hold a “prom” for Moshannon Valley High School students today.

The prom is being held at outside of The Eureka in Houtzdale. A portion of Hannah Street was closed for the event and tents will be set up and there will be a DJ and a full meal for the participants, according to Josh Berndt, owner of The Eureka.

“It’s a community get together for Moshannon Valley kids,” Berndt said.

He said it is only open to Moshannon Valley students and the event is not associated with the Moshannon Valley School District.

“The businesses got together and made sure the kids still had a prom,” Berndt said.

Berndt said he announced that he was willing to host the event and several businesses chipped in financially and parents joined in to make the prom happen.

All the tickets to the prom sold out on Monday. For the meals, prom-goers will go inside to get their food and eat outside, Berndt said.

Berndt said his building is large enough to host the event with the COVID-19 restrictions.

The prom starts at 6 p.m. and it is expected 75-80 people will attend.

AP wire
Pennsylvania to cover cost of stamps for ballots in election

HARRISBURG (AP) — Pennsylvania will foot the cost of postage for voters to mail in ballots in November’s general election, officials said Friday, a move that Gov. Tom Wolf has made a priority as the coronavirus pandemic unexpectedly fueled high interest in voting by mail under a new state law.

The administration plans to use money from federal emergency coronavirus aid to foot the bill, which could run to several million dollars to cover 55 cents for millions of ballots.

Wolf’s top elections official, Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar, said paying for the postage is a way to make voting more accessible, safer and easier during the pandemic.

Under the plan, voters who apply for and receive a mail-in or absentee ballot in the mail will also get a postage-paid ballot-return envelope.

Each county will have options on how to carry that out, whether using stamps, a metered machine or a business-reply mail account linked to the state’s, Boockvar said.

The step by Wolf, a Democrat, comes as his administration and lawmakers discuss legislation to help counties deal with the expected avalanche of mailed-in ballots in a premier presidential battleground state.

It also comes as the push to expand voting by mail ahead of the November presidential election has become increasingly partisan.

President Donald Trump has made clear he believes widespread mail-in voting would benefit Democrats. He has alleged — without citing evidence — that it will lead to massive fraud, and the Republican National Committee has budgeted $20 million to fight Democratic lawsuits in at least 18 states aimed at expanding voting by mail.

Seventeen states cover postage for mail-in ballots, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, including in states under Republican governors such as Arizona, Maryland and Missouri and under Democratic governors, including California, Minnesota and Virginia.

Covering ballot postage is also the subject of a push in statehouses and courts in several other states with Republican governors, including Ohio, Florida and Georgia.

In Pennsylvania, both the Republican and Democratic parties urged voters to cast ballots by mail in the June 2 primary election.

More than 1.4 million Pennsylvanians voted by mail in the primary, or about half, smashing a state record made possible by a sweeping new election law Wolf signed last fall.

In the 2016 presidential election, 6.1 million voters cast ballots, as Trump’s narrow victory in Pennsylvania helped pave his path to the White House.

But while Democrats have tried to expand access to voting by mail, Republicans have struggled with what to tell their voters. Some have pushed for it, while Trump and his allies at the Republican National Committee have tried to limit the expansion of remote voting.

Rep. Kevin Boyle, D-Philadelphia, who chairs the state House committee that handles election issues, said it will help voters get their ballots in more quickly and help avoid problems in the June 2 primary when thousands of mailed-in ballots arrived after polls closed.

“It will quicken the turnaround time and make it easier for voters to participate in this election in November,” Boyle said.

Supreme Court secrecy breach sheds light on internal dynamics

Clearfield County Fair Queen Rebecca Liddle looks back on reign

When Rebecca Liddle accepted her crown as the 2019 Clearfield County Fair Queen, she was anticipating a busy year in service to the fair.

Liddle, a student at Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, where she studies speech and language pathology, told The Progress, she decided to compete in 2017, “I was friends with the 2016 Queen Rachel Duke and seeing her as queen really showed me how important the role is for the community. I’ve always loved the Clearfield County Fair and community service, so I decided to run for Queen, even though I had little experience in agriculture. I was chosen as the first runner-up for two years prior to being chosen as queen.”

Liddle said she was very excited to take on the role as the fair’s ambassador. “I have loved every aspect of my reign. I enjoyed going out in the community and seeing all of the active members participating in activities they loved. That made my trips all the more special. Some of the highlights for me were in September, I attended a suicide prevention walk in DuBois. This is a cause that is very near and dear to my heart, so much that I created my own shirts to sell and have my own team to participate in the walk. My shirts ended up raising approximately $1,000 for local charities. A close second for me was definitely the Clearfield County Conservation District’s Conservation Celebration at Curwensville Lake Recreation Area. I got to hold all sorts of super cool animals like baby pigs, caterpillars, scorpions and a tarantula. The event was definitely outside of my comfort zone but was fun.”

While Liddle was attending local events on behalf of the fair, she was also preparing to compete in the Pennsylvania Fair Queen Contest in January. The contest is held annually at the joint convention of the Pennsylvania Association of County Fairs and the Pennsylvania State Showmen’s Association.

“I was very nervous to go in the first place and compete against 60 girls, but it felt more like a party than a contest,” Liddle said. “While I was there, I ended up becoming really good friends with nearly all the girls in the state. They voted me Miss Congeniality, which was such an honor. I got to experience many new things, meet many people, and gain many new connections across the state.”

The COVID-19 pandemic altered her reign, halting her appearances and in-person fundraising efforts for Clearfield County Queens for a Cause that supports Children’s Miracle Network and other local charities, Liddle said. “COVID hurt my reign quite a bit. After the state competition, I had no other events until mid-June. That was very sad for me being as I had many fun events planned for the community as well as looking forward to attending many events that the fair queen normally attends. My biggest heartbreak was that I was unable to ride in my hometown parade, DuBois Community Days, as queen. That was a moment I was really looking forward to, but it hasn’t stopped me from trying to be the best queen I can be for the community. I was able to hold online events and do a lot more with virtual ambassadorship than a queen is normally able to do. The Osceola Mills July 4 parade was the only parade I was in in 2020, but the residents and visitors definitely made me feel special.”

“I’m so honored people have actively been reaching out to me and searching for ways for me to get involved before my reign is through. It’s nice to have a community that has your back just as much as you have theirs,” she added.

Although she understood the Clearfield County Fair Board’s decision to cancel the 160th edition of the fair, she reported feeling sad.

“When I heard the news that the fair had been canceled, I was devastated,” Liddle said. “Not for myself. I was devastated for the 4- and FFA members who had been working tirelessly on their animals projects. I was devastated for the food vendors who will suffer a loss to their small business. I was devastated for the performers who were unable to blow us away with their talents. I was devastated for the community to lose an event that brings us together in a way that no other event can.”

Liddle reported she was delighted the fair board opted to proceed with the 2020 queen contest. “When I was told the board and the committee were going to continue with the fair queen contest, I was worried that there would be no interested girls. I am proud to say that there are five wonderful young women who are running for the 2020 title. This group of girls is very special- they know coming into this year that it will be different from previous years. They know they will be missing some of the queen’s favorite events. However, they saw a need in the community. Now more than ever we need strong, young females to represent Clearfield County. Any of these young women have the potential to make this year so much more than anyone could have predicted. These young women have all have worked just as hard as any queen, and will continue to represent the Clearfield County Fair in the highest capacity.”

Liddle plans to participate in the Livestock Sale on Aug. 8 in the livestock arena at the Clearfield Driving Park. “I am raising a lamb I named Basil. Each year the fair queen is donated a lamb from the former state Secretary of Agriculture Sam Hayes. The queen, raises and shows that lamb at the Clearfield County Fair and then the lamb is sold at the livestock auction the Saturday of the fair. Proceeds from the sale are divided between the Children’s Miracle Network and the 4H/FFA Scholarship.”

Liddle’s lamb, Basil, has become a local celebrity. She said, “I walk Basil twice every day in the area of Christ the King Manor retirement home. The residents there often sit by their windows and wait for Basil to come by, or they sit out on the patio and wait for her. She’s really brought a lot of smiles to them. It’s been especially nice because although the residents aren’t able to have visitors because of the pandemic, they have something to look forward to. I’m so grateful for the lamb program because it really allows the queen to connect to her fair. She actively gets to participate in the showing and selling of a livestock animal.”