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Lifeguarding: In demand, saving lives and leading the future

Lifeguarding trains young men and women to not only save lives but to become leaders, Jackie Morrison of the Clearfield Community Pool says.

Men and women who are trained to save swimmers from drowning receive advanced trained in the latest rescue and first aid techniques — but they also have to be responsible, mature, dependable and good leaders, Morrison said.

“They are the future leaders of the community,” Morrison said.

“It’s a lot of fun,” said Taylor Luzier, 16, of Curwensville, who is a lifeguard at the Community Pool.

Lifeguards Leif Hoffman and Nick Unch, both 16 and of Clearfield, said they enjoy being lifeguards, making sure people are safe, and spending time at the pool.

Morrison said there is a lot of camaraderie among lifeguards and many at the pool become lifelong friends.

Lifeguarding is a profitable job because they are in such high demand, Morrison said. And although the Community Pool is seasonal, lifeguards can work year-round at indoor pools.

“You will get a job,” Morrison said. “I get requests all the time from organizations and businesses looking for lifeguards.”

Many people who get their start as a lifeguard at the Clearfield Community Pool go on to work as lifeguards when they go to college or at the beach — but working at the shore takes additional certifications, Morrison said.

She said employers like hiring lifeguards because they know they are dependable, professional and responsible.

And because lifeguards are considered professional rescuers, they receive advanced CPR and first aid training, and many lifeguards go on to work in the medical field.

She said rescues don’t always occur in the water — some are on land so they learn many facets of first aid because people can have heart attacks, epileptic seizures, etc. on land.

“Lifeguards have some high level skills,” Morrison said.

For example, Morrison said her first rescue as a 15-year-old lifeguard was administering the Heimlich Maneuver on a child who was choking on some popcorn.

But not all lifeguards go into the medical fields, Community Pool Manager Tristen Buck of Clearfield said. He is a self proclaimed “pool rat.” As a child he was often at the pool and gravitated to become a lifeguard. As a lifeguard he dealt often with children, and he decided to go to college and become a teacher. He is now entering his senior year in college.

Morrison said Clearfield Community Pool is a great place for new lifeguards to start their career because it is a multi-guard facility.

“Someone always has their back and they are never alone,” Morrison said.

She said the biggest hurdle to becoming a lifeguard is the physical requirements. For example, to take the certification class, one has to be able to swim 300 yards freestyle or breast stroke, tread water for two minutes using just their legs, and be able to surface dive, retrieve a brick 10 feet under water and bring it up to the surface.

Once those tests are done they can be admitted to the course. They also have to be 15-years-old by the time they complete the course and there are fees associated with getting certified, but once certified, lifeguards can make that money back quickly, Morrison said. The fees vary depend on who is giving the course, Morrison said.

The class to be certified is about 27 hours long, which is a mix of classroom and pool work. But she said many certification classes now have the classroom work via the internet so they can focus on the pool work. Currently, certification courses have about seven hours of internet classes and about 19 or 20 hours of pool training.

The American Red Cross has a listing of lifeguard certification classes in the region, many of which are in State College. The Clearfield YMCA will have them from time to time. Morrison said the community pool and some other pools in the area hold a certification class in April in DuBois, those interested in taking that course should contact her at the Clearfield Area Jr./Sr. High School.

She said there is a fee but all the instructors are volunteers and all the fee money goes toward purchasing equipment for the course.

Because of the physical requirements and the importance of being a strong swimmer, most lifeguards are on the swim team or are active in other sports, but not all, Morrison said. And new lifeguards tend to be young because of the physical requirements and they have to maintain that level of physical fitness when they are a lifeguard.

But fitness isn’t everything. Lifeguards have to know how to deal with people and be confident leaders.

Luzier said dealing and watching over children is not the most difficult aspect of the job, it’s dealing with adults.

Morrison said, some adults have difficulty taking orders from people much younger than themselves. And she said the children usually idolize the lifeguards and look up to them as role models and will listen to them.

Buck said it is important that lifeguards are respectful and confident leaders and know how to deal with people. Morrison said this is beneficial in any job or profession

These days of COVID-19 has made lifeguarding a little more difficult, for the Community Pool is putting more chlorine in the water than usual to lessen the risk of infection and the lifeguards make sure people don’t congregate in large groups. But Buck said the pool is pretty safe because they are outside in the warm weather in a chlorinated pool.


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'Cruise the Past' and 'Oldies Concert' planned in Clearfield

‘Cruise the Past’ for one night only on Friday, Aug. 21 from 5 to 9 p.m.

Cars, trucks, minivans, and classics are invited to Cruise the Past in downtown Clearfield. Musician Heather Woodel-Olson will be featured at the Corner Concert Series in Lower Witmer Park at 7 p.m.

This event is being held in conjunction with Passport Radio 98.5/900, the Clearfield Revitalization Corp. and the Clearfield Volunteer Fire Department. Firefighters will be holding a Boot Drive during the cruise.

During this event and cruise, attendees are expected to follow the CDC guidelines and practice social distancing.

On Saturday, Aug. 22 starting at 6:30 p.m., a summer concert will feature Jack Woodford (aka Captain Jack) and Charles Schenck will entertain at the Lower Witmer Park in downtown Clearfield .

“The ‘Oldies Concert’ will take you back to the ‘good ‘ol days’ of rock ‘n roll, where you’ll remember and sing along to your favorite songs that are still as popular today as they were in the 60’s and 70’s,” said CRC Main Street Manager Loretta Wagner.

“Bring chairs for the whole family to sit and enjoy the sounds of the Oldies tribute. Prepare to have fun and enjoy a night out in Lower Witmer Park in downtown Clearfield.”

Admission is free and the practice of CDC social distancing is expected.


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20 megawatt solar farm proposed near Kylertown

KYLERTOWN — If all goes according to plan, Cooper Township will have a solar farm in the near future at a projected price tag of $17 million to $22 million to construct.

Cooper Township Supervisors on Monday heard from Brian Segarra of Glidepath Ventures and Dan Long of ARM Group Inc. about a 20 megawatt solar farm that would be installed in the Grassflat/Drifting area just off of state Route 53 on both sides of Basin Run Road.

Long said the project would be built on approximately 120 acres of property owned by Alan Larson, who would be leasing the property.

Solar farms are large scale solar installations where solar panels, or other means of collecting solar energy, like concentrating solar systems are used to harvest the sun’s power.

“It’s a preliminary design,” Long said. “The goal so far has been avoiding any environmental features. This is the first preliminary design that we wanted to get in front of (the township) and answer any questions.”

“Our roles here are to make sure everyone is comfortable with the project,” Segarra said. “But we are in the design phase here and we do have that optionality as far as tweaking the design and making it something that everyone in the local community (would approve of).”

Chairman Wayne Josephson asked if there would be any other benefits from the solar farm to the township, besides improving the tax base. Segarra said it would also employ local workers, while stating later they could look into what else they could provide the community should the solar farm be constructed.

Josephson also asked how much it would cost to install, which Segarra estimated between $17 million and $22 million.

“But please take that as a rough estimate at this stage,” Segarra said.

The current plan is to have a 25-year lease on the deal, with two 10-year extension options. Once the project is done, there would be a plan to remove all of the panels.

Supervisor Charlie Saggese asked if there were any other solar farms in the area. Segarra said Penn State University has a similar project that they’re looking to do there. However, the Cooper Township location would be built “more remotely” where the PSU project actually has rooftop options.

Supervisor Randy Killion asked who would actually own the solar farm since the land is being leased. Segarra said right now, “the project is being shopped around.”

All of the supervisors said they would be interested to hear further information on the project, as well as how other solar farms have worked out. Segarra said they would be more than welcome to return with further information.

A resident then asked how the solar farm was picked for Cooper Township. Larson said he has received letters from companies looking to put a solar farm on his property, and he was eventually contacted by someone at Glidepath Ventures.

“They’re very selective as to what they’re looking for,” Larson said in regards to specific sites, to which Segarra confirmed.

Long said to move further, the project would have to be reviewed by Clearfield County. They would then have to obtain a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit and make sure there are no environmental/water quality issues. Should all steps move forward, Segarra said it would take about five to eight months to construct the facility.


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Commissioners launch COVID-19 emergency funds grant program

Clearfield County Commissioners on Tuesday announced the web portal for small businesses and non-profits to apply for COVID-19 emergency funds would be up and running today.

“We promised we would do our best to get this up and running as quickly as possible,” Commissioner Tony Scotto said.

Small businesses with less than 100 employees and non-profits are eligible to apply for grant funding to make up for lost profits incurred due to the COVID-19 emergency from March through July, according to Commissioner Dave Glass.

Because they are grant funds, the money does not have to be paid back, Commissioner Scotto said.

There is one portal for small businesses and one portal for non-profits, Glass said. The portals are linked on the Clearfield County website at clearfieldco.org and the Clearly Ahead Development website at www.clearlyahead.com.

The deadline for applications is Aug. 17. The reason it isn’t longer is because the county has to spend the grant funds by the end of the year, Glass said. The county received a total of $7.1 million in federal CARES grant funds.

Glass said they haven’t set a hard number on how much will be allocated to the grant program because they want to see how much demand there is.

“We are prepared to take care of the businesses who need help,” Glass said. “We strongly encourage those businesses to apply.”

The maximum a business can apply for is based on its revenue, Glass said. For example for businessss with an annual gross revenue of up to $50,000 are eligible for a maximum of $5,000 in grant funds, and a business with an annual gross revenue of more than $850,000 is eligible for up to $50,000 in grant funds. He said there is a table on the application detailing how much grant funds a business is eligible to receive.

Glass said the business just has to show that it lost those funds due to the COVID-19 emergency.

The commissioners will be deciding who receives the grants and how much — but Clearly Ahead is assisting the commissioners process the applications for small business grants. Clearfield County Community Development Specialist Lisa Kovalick will be assisting with the grants from non-profit organizations, Commissioner John Sobel said

Those businesses and organizations who have not received Paycheck Protection Program Funds are put at the top of the list, Glass said. Those who have received PPP funds are still eligible for funding, but those businesses that didn’t get PPP money will be given priority, Glass said.

Glass recommended that everyone who applies for a grant to have their accountant look over the numbers to make sure they are correct.

“It’s worth a few bucks to get a $5,000 or $10,000 grant,” Glass said.

He asked applicants to not call Clearly Ahead or the commissioners with accounting questions.

Glass said once the application is completed, a confirmation email with a copy of the applicant’s answers will be sent to the applicant’s email, and if they don’t get the confirmation email, they probably made an error somewhere in the application.

Applications are encrypted to ensure applicants that the information will be safe, Scotto said.

Commissioner John Sobel said this is the worst recession for small businesses he has ever experienced and urged small businesses and non-profits to apply for grant funds to help them survive until next year.

“They directly impact our quality of life. Our small businesses give us goods and services, not-for-profits drive our communities culturally, educationally and spiritually,” Sobel said. “We want these organizations around.”