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Morrisdale man homeless after fire destroys home

MORRISDALE — One man is homeless after a fire destroyed his Morris Township home on Tuesday evening.

Joseph Hoover of the 900-block of Wallaceton Road was at home when the fire broke out at 7:21 p.m. The double-wide mobile home and its contents are deemed a total loss, according to Ridgway-based state police Fire Marshal Trooper Thompson.

Thompson investigated the origin of the blaze and ruled the fire as accidental. The residence and contents were not insured.

Firefighters rescued one dog from the blaze.

About 50 firefighters were on scene for about two hours, according to Morris Township Vol. Fire Dept. Deputy Chief Chad Baughman.

Baughman said the water source was secured from a hydrant and 900 feet of 5-inch supply line was laid to the attack engine. No one was injured.

Assisting Morris Township and Fire Police on scene were Chester Hill Vol. Fire Co. and Fire Police, Wallaceton Vol. Fire Co., Winburne Vol. Fire Co., Grassflat Vol. Fire Co., Lawrence Township Vol. Fire Co. Station 5 and Philipsburg Vol. Fire Co. Houtzdale Vol. Fire Co. responded for RIT; Moshannon Valley EMS also responded to the scene.


Local
Clearfield, neighboring counties report 19 new COVID-19 cases

Several counties in the region reported additional positive COVID-19 cases as the state number also continues to increase.

Clearfield and Jefferson counties each reported three new cases, Elk reported four cases, Cambria reported six new cases, Centre County reported two new cases and Blair reported one new case.

The total number of positive cases in Clearfield County is 82.

Cases in neighboring counties are listed below:

  • Blair –90 cases with 1 death
  • Cambria –110 cases with 3 deaths
  • Centre –232 cases with 8 deaths
  • Clearfield –82 cases with 0 deaths
  • Elk –28 cases with 0 deaths
  • Jefferson –33 cases with 1 death

The Pennsylvania Department of Health today confirmed Wednesday that there are 849 additional positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 92,148. All 67 counties in Pennsylvania have cases of COVID-19.

The number of new cases in Allegheny County increased by 230 cases overnight. Philadelphia County increased by 90 cases overnight.

The number of tests administered since July 1 is 118,128 with 5,542 positive test results.

There are 6,812 total deaths attributed to COVID-19, an increase of 25 new deaths reported.

“As the entire state is now in the green phase, we must remain committed to protecting against COVID-19 by wearing a mask, practicing social distancing and avoiding large gatherings,” Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said. “Pennsylvania has been a model for the country on how to reopen effectively using a careful, measured approach. However, the virus has not gone away and we are seeing cases rise, especially in Southwest Pennsylvania.”

Mask-wearing is required in all businesses and whenever leaving home. Consistent mask-wearing is critical to preventing the spread of COVID-19.

There are 635 patients who have a positive serology test and either COVID-19 symptoms or a high-risk exposure, which are considered probable cases and not confirmed cases. There are 774,378 patients who have tested negative to date.

Most of the patients hospitalized are ages 65 or older, and most of the deaths have occurred in patients 65 or older.

The department is seeing significant increases in the number of COVID-19 cases among younger age groups, particularly 19 to 24-year-olds. An alert was sent to healthcare providers over the weekend about the changing COVID-19 case demographics, as there are more cases in younger age groups than in those 50-64 and 65+. The following regions have seen significant increases among 19 to 24-year-olds in each month from April to July:

  • SW – Approximately 5 percent of cases in April to over 28 percent of cases so far in July;
  • SE – Nearly 5 percent of cases in April to over 16 percent of cases so far in July;
  • NE – Nearly 6 percent of cases in April to over 16 percent of cases so far in July;
  • NW – Nearly 7 percent of cases in April to over 13 percent of cases so far in July; and
  • SC – Approximately 7 percent of cases in April to nearly 13 percent of cases so far in July.

In nursing and personal care homes, there are 18,060 resident cases of COVID-19, and 3,380 cases among employees, for a total of 21,440 at 727 distinct facilities in 55 counties. Out of our total deaths, 4,663 have occurred in residents from nursing or personal care facilities.

Approximately 6,903 of total cases are in health care workers.


Local
agate
Clearfield County COVID-19 cases

HARRISBURG — The number of COVID-19 cases can be found by zip code on the state Department of Health website.

The number of positive cases as of Wednesday by area within Clearfield County are listed below. Numbers that are listed as "redacted" mean there was at least one to four cases; a specific number less than five is not provided.

CLEARFIELD COUNTY

Total Cases:;82

Confirmed:;63

Probable:;19

Negative:;2,687

Area;Confirmed Cases;Probable Cases

Clearfield;6;0

Coalport;Redacted;0

Curwensville;Redacted;0

DuBoi;31 confirmed;10

Houtzdale;7;Redacted

Irvona;Redacted;0

Karthaus;Redacted;0

Morrisdale;Redacted;Redacted

Osceola Mills;Redacted;0

Penfield;0;Redacted

Philipsburg;Redacted;0

Pottersdale;Redacted;0

West Decatur;Redacted;0

Westover/Cherry Tree;Redacted;0

Source;Pennsylvania Department of Health


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Local
Lawrence Twp. Act 13 funds decline by $54,000

Lawrence Township’s Act 13 revenues are $54,596 lower than what was budgeted, reported Supervisor Jeremy Ruffner at Tuesday night’s supervisors meeting.

Act 13 provides local municipalities with funds from the state’s tax on Marcellus Shale natural gas well drilling activities in the area.

During its peak, the township received almost $1 million annually from Act 13 funds, which it used to pave roads, hire police officers, purchase fire equipment, etc.

“We actually paid off three fire trucks the first year we got it,” Supervisor Randy Powell said.

Act 13 was passed in 2012.

This year, the township received $295,403 in Act 13 revenues. The township was expecting to receive about $350,000 in Act 13 money this year.

“We are going to have to tighten our belts,” Supervisor Brian Collins said.

The township was informed that its Act 13 funds will likely be cut in half next year if things don’t improve, Ruffner said.

In a phone interview with The Progress yesterday, Shaffner said the township will probably have to sit down and find ways to save money this year, because with the COVID-19 pandemic, other sources of revenue could be down as well such as wage tax revenue and police department revenue.

She said this year, the township budgeted $244,102 in Act 13 funds to pay for two full-time and two part time police officers. The township also used roughly $200,000 in Act 13 funds for paving and used about $95,000 from previous year’s Act 13 funds that the township had saved.

At the end of this year, Shaffner said the township will have about $200,000 remaining in Act 13 savings.

The township has a total of 10 full-time police officers and three part-time, but one of the full-time officers is a school resource officer and is paid for by the school district, Shaffner said.

Statewide, Act 13 revenues declined $53.6 million — or 21 percent — according to the Pennsylvania Independent Fiscal Office. Most of the decline, $49.9 million, was due to declining natural gas prices, according to the IFO.


News
DCNR secretary visits Philipsburg business to tout outdoor recreation opportunities

PHILIPSBURG — State Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn and officials from additional state organizations visited a Philipsburg business Wednesday to highlight heightened interest in outdoor recreation in the time of COVID-19 pandemic.

The group met at Organic Climbing — a company that manufactures outdoor gear including bouldering crash pads, backpacks, clothing and tote bags for rock climbers.

“There has been a surge in outdoor recreation. It has always been big in Pennsylvania — fifth in the nation, but with COVID-19 people are rediscovering it and really embracing it,” Dunn said, adding, “People have been turning to the outdoors in record numbers for their mental and physical health.”

“Outdoor recreation is an enormous industry in Pennsylvania, in many ways because the wealth of public lands and waters and love for the outdoors has created a great environment for outdoor recreation businesses,” Dunn added. In the commonwealth, outdoor recreation creates $29.1 billion annually in consumer spending and sustains a quarter of a million direct jobs in Pennsylvania.

Organic Climbing Chief Executive Officer Josh Helke said his business has been supporting the recreation industry for 10 years.

“Since locating in Pennsylvania in 2010, we have been able to grow our business from eight to 21 employees and draw on a well-trained workforce from the textile trades,” he said. “We appreciate the ability to be so close to an abundance of great natural places and opportunities to enjoy the outdoors.”

Helke said because of the additional interest in outdoor pursuits, a spin-off company, Nittany Mountain Works, that makes biking accessories, was formed.

Both Organic Climbing and Nittany Mountain Works were recent recipients of the Outdoor Recreation Company. They received $5,000 from Dominion Energy and the Pennsylvania Environmental Council for enterprise-wide business practices that promote sustainable manufacturing, renewable energy and reducing environmental impact.

They were chosen because both businesses demonstrate environmentally-friendly business practices, including running its factory using 100 percent solar power. Both are also leaders in the state and nationally for sustainable manufacturing that is helping bring jobs to a rural community in decline and exemplifies that renewable energy is feasible, affordable, and efficient.

Helke said, “I always thought we’d be more of a local brand but now many of our sales are international. It’s really cool to think those things that are sold come out of Philipsburg,” he said.

Dunn reported, during the time of the pandemic, there has also been a renewed interest in visiting state parks. She said during the month of May, attendance was up 40 percent from May 2019 records.

She noted the scenic beauty in and around Philipsburg and said she believes the pandemic has opened residents’ eyes to what is available locally. Reports from local trail systems around the state indicate their usage has gone up 40 to 200 percent this year. The Pennsylvania Environmental Council has published research stating use of 67 of the state’s trail systems were up significantly in April and May.

“Trail managers across the state, that we work with, are very excited to see increased numbers, especially the diverse nature of first-time users,” PEC Program Director Frank Maguire said. “We really look forward to converting all those new smiling faces into stewards of the public lands.”

Bicycle popularity has also grown.

“Demand for outdoor sports equipment, especially bikes and kayaks has been surging,” said Chuck Kurtz, a partner in Freeze Thaw Cycles and Tussey Mountain Outfitters. He said bicycle and boat sales are both up dramatically over previous years.