Here is a look at the top stories of local interest published in The Indiana Gazette during the week of March 24-30.
SUNDAY, MARCH 24
The Chevy Chase Community Action Council Inc. is starting a community garden near the community center as a way to encourage healthy eating, supply a food kitchen and teach children responsibility. The council also is looking for volunteers for a work day on Saturday to help prepare land donated by the estate of the late Ben Cunningham.
Executive Director Diane Reese-Walters said the idea grew out of the Friday lunch the community center provides. They recently added a dinner for families on Friday nights, a way to help feed children but also to explore healthy eating.
MONDAY, MARCH 25
Crews are set to take on roughly $19 million worth of new and continuing construction projects on Indiana County roads this spring and summer, according to PennDOT. As PennDOT continues focus on repairing or replacing bridges deemed structurally deficient, most of the money this construction season is being funneled to bridge-oriented projects. Among the largest of the scheduled projects by cost is the $2.9 million replacement of a bridge carrying Route 56 over Brush Creek in Brush Valley Township. The contract was let in December and is to be completed in October.
TUESDAY, MARCH 26
The former sheriff and district magistrate of a county in West Virginia’s northern panhandle has been chosen to lead Blairsville Borough’s police department. During a special meeting Monday, council hired Michael Allman, 58, of Brooke County, as chief, appointing him on a 5-0 vote. Councilwoman Mary Ugoletti was absent. His salary was set at $55,000.
He succeeds Chief Chris Thompson, who abruptly resigned in 2010 after spending about six months on the job. Since his departure, Officer Jill Gaston has been leading the department as officer in charge.
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 27
Ground was ceremonially broken Tuesday for IRMC Park, a plaza-like setting with trees and tables and benches planned along the first block of North Seventh Street. It is one of three key features included in Phase B2 of the Indiana Economic Development project, also referred to as Renaissance Indiana or Indiana’s streetscape enhancement project, getting under construction this week.
The other two major components will be a rebuilding of the crumbling Vinegar Hill steps, believed by some to be roughly a century old, and replacement of the leaning retaining wall along Water Street across from the parking garage. Renaissance Indiana is a collaboration between Downtown Indiana Inc., Indiana Borough, Indiana County and Indiana University of Pennsylvania. The project’s goal is to create an attractive, welcoming environment that supports economic development and improves the quality of life.
THURSDAY, MARCH 28
The Indiana County commissioners Wednesday approved business-benefiting changes to the fiber optic line being installed as part of the county’s new emergency and public safety radio system.
The changes with installer Salsgiver Inc., of Freeport, will extend the planned fiber optic line to the new Joseph Land Development/119 Business Park and to the new Windy Ridge Business & Technology Park near Routes 422 and 286 in White Township, and to the lot at the Windy Ridge park that will be occupied by its first tenant, Creps United Publications.
Another change will extend the fiber optic line about nine blocks in Blairsville from where the county’s line ends to the beginning of an existing fiber line, eliminating the need for expensive microwave equipment for the system in that area.
FRIDAY, MARCH 29
Plans to establish a microdistillery in Homer City have been put on hold after nearly an hour and a half of public commentary and questions during a planning commission hearing Thursday.
The Homer City Planning Commission tabled a recommendation to borough council on whether to amend the borough’s zoning ordinance to classify Disobedient Spirits, LLC, as a commercial use rather than industrial or manufacturing until further input from the community is obtained.
The reason for the meeting was to determine whether or not Disobedient Spirits, proposed by local residents Robert Sechrist and Robert Begg, is appropriately classified as manufacturing or if it should be permitted in the commercial zone, namely at 30 S. Main St., right next door to Homer City United Methodist Church, which houses Indiana Area Celebrate Recovery meetings every Thursday evening.
SATURDAY, MARCH 30
A Kittanning-based church has opened a satellite location on the fourth floor of the Indiana Theater building on Philadelphia Street.
Harvest Community Church is holding Sunday evening services and will eventually make the transition to Sunday morning services, said Scott Rising, an elder in the church and pastor of the Indiana campus.
The church began with Saturday morning Bible studies in February, but officially opened with the Sunday evening services at the start of March.
It begins with a 6:30 p.m. meet-and-greet period, and the service opens at 7 p.m. with “acoustic, contemporary” worship music followed by a sermon by lead Pastor Mike Greiner.