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The leaves are changing throughout Progressland — painting the landscape in red, yellow, orange and green. Pictured is a view of the Market Street Bridge in Clearfield near the Joseph and Elizabeth Shaw Public Library.

FALL FOLIAGE ALONG THE RIVER


News
VCC and Clearfield County Fair Board to partner on chainsaw carving event

Building off a successful, well-attended inaugural event in June, Visit Clearfield County in partnership with the Clearfield County Fair Board plans to host a chainsaw carving festival in 2021.

At Wednesday’s Clearfield County Recreation and Tourism Authority meeting, Director Josiah Jones reported a four-day event will be held the week of May 23 at the Clearfield Driving Park. A food truck court and craft fair will be held Thursday and Friday and chainsaw carving will take place Saturday and Sunday.

Jones told the board he had spoken with several of the chainsaw carvers who participated in VCC’s carvers experience in June about hosting another event next year. “The carvers said that weekend is open and there are no other local chainsaw carving festivals. I spoke with fair board about partnering. The fair board approved the event and we are going to work on it together.”

VCC hosted a two-day event in June with four carvers demonstrating their crafts and several food trucks provided refreshments. Proceeds from an auction, held the close of the event, benefited the Clearfield County Charitable Foundation

Jones said, prior to the launch of the event in June, he was unsure why there are no organized chainsaw carving festivals in Clearfield County since the concept is such a good fit for the county’s demographic.


Politics
AP
Trump on defense, courting voters in two must-win states

FORT MYERS, Fla. (AP) — Backed into a corner and facing financial strains, President Donald Trump went after his opponent’s family and defended his own struggle to contain the pandemic on Friday as he fought to energize his sagging reelection bid in the nation’s Sunbelt. With Election Day looming, Democrat Joe Biden pushed to keep voters focused on health care in the Midwest.

Trump was campaigning in Florida and Georgia, neighboring states he carried four years ago and must win again to extend his presidency. His decision to devote Friday evening’s prime-time slot to Georgia in particular highlighted the serious nature of his challenge in the 2020 contest’s closing days: Far from his original plan to expand into Democratic-leaning states, he is laboring to stave off a defeat of major proportions.

No Republican presidential candidate has lost Georgia since George H.W. Bush in 1992. And earlier this week, Trump had to court voters in Iowa, a state he carried by almost 10 points four years ago.

In Florida on Friday, the president derided the Bidens as “an organized crime family,” renewing his daily claims about the candidate’s son, Hunter, and his business dealings in Ukraine and China.

More to the point for Trump’s Florida audience, he spoke directly to seniors who have increasingly soured on his handling of the pandemic.

“I am moving heaven and earth to safeguard our seniors from the China virus,” Trump said, using his usual blame-shifting term to describe the coronavirus. He also offered an optimistic assessment of the pandemic, even as a surge of new infections spread across America.

“We are prevailing,” the president said, promising to deliver the first doses of a vaccine to seniors when it’s ready.

Despite the tough talk, Trump’s actions on the ground in Florida underscored the conflicting messages his administration has sent throughout the pandemic. All of the president’s security personnel and support staff were wearing face masks when Air Force One touched down, but Trump and Florida’s Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis were bare faced.

Crowds gathered at the president’s subsequent events, many without masks as well.

It was just the opposite as Biden opened his Michigan swing at a suburban Detroit community center. In keeping with his usual protocols, Biden and all of the participants wore masks throughout the event, except when they were speaking, and a small crowd of dozens of reporters and supporters watched from folding chairs separated by circles to ensure social distancing.

“He’s living in a dream world,” Biden said of Trump’s rosy predictions of the pandemic. The former vice president then turned to the Trump administration’s court fight to overturn the “Obamacare” health coverage law — including its protection for people with pre-existing conditions — without having a replacement plan.

“Mishandling the pandemic isn’t enough for Trump,” Biden charged. “On top of that he’s still trying to take away your health care.”

Meanwhile, the president’s campaign released new numbers suggesting he’s likely the first incumbent president to face a financial disadvantage in the modern era.

Trump’s campaign, along with the Republican National Committee and associated groups, raised $247.8 million in September, well short of the $383 million raised by Biden and the Democratic National Committee. To open October, the Trump effort officially had $251.4 million in the bank, according to a campaign spokesman, compared to $432 million for Biden.

The president was seeking momentum on the campaign trail a day after he and Biden squared off in dueling televised town halls that showcased striking differences in temperament, views on racial justice and approaches to the pandemic.

On NBC, Trump was defensive about his administration’s handling of the coronavirus, which has claimed more than 217,000 lives in the United States, and evasive when pressed about whether he took a required COVID-19 test before his first debate with Biden. Angry and combative, Trump refused to denounce the QAnon conspiracy group — and only testily did so regarding white supremacists.

The Republican president also appeared to acknowledge revelations from a recent New York Times report that he was in debt and left open the possibility that some of it was owed to a foreign bank. But he insisted that he didn’t owe any money to Russia or any “sinister people” and suggested that $400 million in debt was a “very, very small percentage” compared to his overall assets.

Speaking in Florida on Friday, Trump sarcastically called the NBC event “a nice pleasurable evening” and jabbed moderator Savannah Guthrie for “going totally crazy.”

On ABC, Biden suggested he would offer clarity on his position on expanding the Supreme Court if Trump’s nominee to the bench is seated before Election Day. And as he did Friday in Michigan, he denounced the White House’s handling of the virus, declaring that Trump’s administration was at fault for closing a pandemic response office established by the Obama administration in which he served.

“It’s getting worse, as predicted,” Biden said in Michigan of the rising coronavirus numbers. “The president knew and lied about knowing.”

Ahead of Biden’s Michigan appearance, his campaign confirmed that both Biden and his running mate, California Sen. Kamala Harris, had tested negative for the coronavirus.

While decidedly on the defensive on the ground in key states, Trump released a scathing new ad on Friday attacking Biden’s record on race. Specifically, the ad seizes on Biden’s support for a criminal justice law that disproportionately punished people of color.

“He insulted us, jailed us, we must not elect him president,” the narrator declares.

It’s unclear whether the attack ad will break through the saturated airwaves. Biden and his allies are outspending Trump and his allies on paid advertising more than 2 to 1 through Election Day, according to the advertising tracking firm Kantar/CMAG.


News
Visit Clearfield County ready to launch hamburger trail

Visit Clearfield County is preparing to roll out its Lumber Jack hamburger trail. Building off the success of its wine tasting trail that launched July 1, VCC wanted to offer families an opportunity for a similar experience.

The hamburger trail planned by VCC’s Assistant Director Sue Swales-Vitullo, will open Nov. 1. Swales-Vitullo said the trail will showcase the area’s unique and varied businesses, timber and agricultural heritage and related tourist attractions such as the West Branch of the Susquehanna River.

“We have had such a great response to the wine tasting trail and we wanted to have something that anyone could do. We are encouraging everyone who wants to participate to log onto Visit Clearfield County’s Facebook where there are live videos with each of the participants talking about their restaurants and their burgers,” she said. Some of the participating restaurants have special Lumber Jack burgers, Swales-Vitullo said.

There is no time limit to complete the trail. Passports are available at VCC’s office, 208 Plaza Dr., or any of the participating restaurants.

Participants include: Applewood BBQ & Grill, Penfield; Buster’s Sports Bar, Clearfield; Denny’s Beer Barrel Pub, Clearfield; DuBois Diner, DuBois; Fun Central, Clearfield; Gio’s BBQ, Woodland; Houtzdale’s The Remedy, Houtzdale; Legend’s Sports Bar, Clearfield; Over The Mountain, Rockton; Tannery Bar & Grill, DuBois; Toasted Monkey, Hyde, The After Dark, Clearfield and We Are Inn, Philipsburg.

There is no charge to participate in the tasting trail and those who get 11 of the 13 spaces on the corresponding passport marked can send it in or drop it off to VCC’s office at 208 Plaza Dr., Clearfield. They will receive a free t-shirt. Swales-Vitullo said participants must only eat at 11 of the 13 participating restaurants because two of them require diners to be age 21 or older.

Recently local chainsaw Carver Knotty Ray of Bigler created a wooden lumberjack statute to serve as the mascot for both the hamburger and the wine tasting trail. It has received a home outside of VCC’s office and those taking up either challenge are invited to showcase the experience that includes taking a photograph with the mascot.


News
Curwensville board approves borrowing for debt refinancing and upgrade to Evanko Stadium

CURWENSVILLE — Curwensville Area School Board approved financing a series of bonds taken out in 2016 and securing a loan to finance renovations at the field house and building of a new restroom at Coach Andy Evanko Stadium.

Because the interest is much lower, the school district will receive a substantial savings by refinancing debt associated with a 2016 bond series that provided the school district with funds for a renovation project.

PFM Financial Advisors LLC Managing Director Jamie Doyle told directors at Thursday’s meeting, she recommended a loan package from Trust Bank headquartered in South Carolina. The bank submitted a loan package with a fixed interest rate of 1.7 percent both to pay off the bond series and to borrow money to pay for the improvements at the stadium.

Doyle said, “Long-term interest rates are hovering at near all-time lows. I am very pleased because the rate is only .25 percent higher than what we received for the bond refinancing earlier this year. That is better than our prediction.”

With the new loan, the total net savings to the school district will be $142,412 over the length of the loan that will be paid off Sept. 30, 2031. The district will see a $29,000 reduction in the amount of its repayment on the loan in the current year and the bulk of the savings, $109,000, in the 2021-22 school year.

“The district will receive a couple of hundred dollars savings in the remaining years of the loan,” Doyle said.

The district will close on the loan on Dec. 2. Directors approved a resolution authorizing the incurring off non-electorial debt to refund the 2015 general obligation bonds. The resolution would establish the maximum principal amount, interest rate, maximum final maturity and minimum net savings.

Also included in the motion was borrowing $800,000 for the upgrade to the field house and the new restroom project at Evanko Stadium.

Not all directors supported the action. Gary Witherow voted no. He inquired about the total cost for the loan for the stadium work.

“It’s going to cost the district more than $150,000 to borrow $800,000 over the life of the loan,” he stated, adding, “The cost is now closer to $1 million.”

Superintendent Ron Matchock said the district had intended to withdraw money from its capital reserve to pay for the cost of the stadium upgrade.

“Then COVID-19 hit and these low interest rates,” Matchock said. He said the district examined its recent rates for investments and most were above 2 percent. While that rate has decreased somewhat, Business Manager Paul Carr told the board, he hopes within five years those rates for investments would be back at more than 2 percent for each.

The district hopes its rate of return will be be higher because of borrowing funds at the low rate and investing money it would have spent from the capital reserve at a higher rate.

“We may make more by borrowing,” Matchock said, adding, “We lean slightly towards the likelihood that we will make money.”