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THE WEEK IN REVIEW

on March 09, 2014 12:59 AM

Here is a look at the top stories of local interest published in The Indiana Gazette during the week of March 2-8:

SUNDAY, MARCH 2

Community leaders dedicated Indiana Borough’s new pedestrian plaza Saturday afternoon on North Seventh Street during an event that drew dozens of people. The plaza, called IRMC Park, is among the noticeable improvements made as part of the borough’s ongoing downtown revitalization project.

Through the project, officials are sprucing up Philadelphia Street with new sidewalks, crosswalks and streetlights, better storm drains and improved landscaping. The hope is that improvements will encourage business development and, in turn, lure more people to town. The park is named after Indiana Regional Medical Center, which supported the project by acquiring the plaza’s naming rights.

MONDAY, MARCH 3

A state police fire marshal has been called to investigate a fire that destroyed a Pine Township home on Sunday afternoon. The fire at 2169 Springfield Road was reported around 12:21 p.m., and firefighters’ efforts were hindered by a lack of water and icy road conditions, according to Pine Township Volunteer Fire Company Chief Keith Muir.

He said the fire had a head start — the home already was engulfed in flames when firefighters arrived. Firefighters from the Clymer, Vintondale, Nanty Glo, Nicktown, Coral-Graceton, Cherryhill Township and Brush Valley departments also responded.

TUESDAY, MARCH 4

Fire ripped through two rented houses in Indiana’s Third Ward during frigid conditions early Tuesday, leaving seven tenants homeless and prompting a large-scale response from volunteer firefighters. The residents and firefighters escaped serious injury

The fire was discovered at 2:57 a.m. at 506 S. Seventh St., and flames had jumped to the adjacent house at 504 S. Seventh, on the corner of Grant Street, just before the first Indiana fire officials arrived. Both properties were gutted. Investigators continue searching for the cause and point of origin of the fire.

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 5

Fourteen people addressed Indiana Borough council Tuesday, urging approval of a request to move the Indiana County Farmers’ Market on Wednesdays from its current location — along South Eighth Street and the parking lot at the northeast corner of Eighth and Church streets — to the new IRMC Park along North Seventh Street.

Speaking against the request, Richard Wolfe, owner of Robinson-Lytle Inc. funeral home along North Seventh Street, told council he is not opposed to the farmers’ market but believes he should be able to operate his business without inference. The request has been referred to the Indiana Borough staff, which is gathering additional information for council. The request will next be discussed at the Community Development Committee meeting March 17, and likely will come up for a council vote April 8.

THURSDAY, MARCH 6

B. Edward Smith, president of the Blairsville-Saltsburg school board, has resigned, citing medical and family issues. The board voted 6-1 to accept his resignation. Board members Beverly Caranese, Tim Canzano, Linda Brown, Holly Gibson, Mary Whitfield and George Rowley voted yes. Holly Hall voted no. Rick Harper was absent, as was Smith.

Before the board voted on Smith’s resignation, Hall called for an executive session to address rumors circulating in the community about the circumstances surrounding the action. The private session lasted about 30 minutes, after which the board accepted his resignation but did not discuss what happened behind closed doors.

FRIDAY, MARCH 7

An Indiana County man, jailed since early December on charges that he shot his girlfriend in her home in Derry Township, has now been charged with homicide in her death. Arthur Whitfield, 51, of Josephine, stands accused in the death of Holly George, also known as Holly Embry, who was shot Dec. 1 and died Dec. 19 at UPMC Presbyterian Hospital in Pittsburgh.

State police at Greensburg on Wednesday filed the charge, a general count of criminal homicide, along with one count of burglary and two firearm violations. A preliminary hearing is set for March 20 in Bradenville District Court. Whitfield earlier was held for trial on aggravated assault and related counts, based on a criminal complaint filed immediately after the shooting and while George was being treated for her wounds.

SATURDAY, MARCH 8

An Armstrong County farmer suffered burns to his hands and arms while freeing livestock from a barn that caught fire late Friday morning in Wayne Township. According to Dayton District Volunteer Fire Department Chief Ken Greenawalt, the farmer, Denny Stockdale, was able to save the livestock in the barn, but the barn was destroyed.

Greenawalt said the fire at Stockdale’s beef farm in Wayne Township, which might have started on a skid steer loader, was reported around 11:30 a.m. and spread quickly. Firefighters, including those from Plumville, Rural Valley, Distant and Hawthorn, remained at the scene throughout the afternoon. Firefighters were able to save an attached pole barn, Greenawalt said.

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