It didn’t take long for the news to circle the field.
Mark Hess, a teacher at Indiana Area Junior High School, had passed away.
Indiana was playing host to Franklin Regional in a battle of undefeated football teams that could determine the eventual section champs.
As word about the teacher made the rounds, the game atmosphere of excited anticipation turned sullen.
Some sobbed quietly and tears flowed freely.
Hess was a favorite with the students and left a mark as the swimming coach at the school, where his teams were ranked as the best in the WPIAL.
In May he was elected to the Indiana County Sports Hall of Fame as he had compiled a record of 546 wins and 131 losses in his 29 years of coaching the sport. He has coached numerous state qualifiers and state medalists and one state champion.
One of his greatest success stories is Rachel Zilinskas, daughter of the head football coach at Indiana, Mark Zilinskas.
An Olympic hopeful, Rachel is a freshman at the University of Georgia.
Just 57, Hess leaves a coaching, and teaching, legacy at Indiana that will difficult to duplicate.
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Just in case you don’t remember, there once were two drive-in theaters in the Indiana area. And that was a long time ago.
The 422 Drive-In — I think that was the name — was on East Pike where the White Township Recreation Complex is now. It has been gone for a long time.
Now the area is in jeopardy of losing the other drive-in, Palace Gardens, along Indian Springs Road in White Township.
It seems like it wasn’t too long ago when, as teens, we attempted to sneak into the drive-ins, even going so far as to hide in the trunk of the vehicle.
On occasion we took lawn chairs and sat outside with the speakers turned on full blast, which drew some comments from those in surrounding vehicles.
Although it has been a long time since I have been to a drive-in, it would be a great loss to this area to lose one of America’s great institutions.
Blame it on technology, as the owners of Palace Gardens, Clarine Beatty and Mike Hudzick, estimated that it would cost in the neighborhood of $100,000 to upgrade the projection room and install a new digital projector and required electrical upgrades.
Drive-in fans can help with this financial dilemma by casting a vote at the American Honda Motor Co. online voting site, www.projectdrivein.com.
You may vote twice a day and Honda will donate a digital projector to each of the five drive-ins that receive the most votes by Monday morning.
Hurry and get your vote in, and if you voted today, cast another ballot early tomorrow. Everyone should get an opportunity to enjoy a drive-in theater experience during their lifetime.
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In case you missed it, Big League Haircuts and I Do Therapy are teaming up to honor first responders on Wednesday — Sept. 11.
Free haircuts and a chair massage will be offered to any police, fire and emergency medical personnel at Big League Haircuts, 475 S. Ben Franklin Road, from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., and I Do Therapy in-chair massages from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.