Here is a look at the top stories of local interest published in The Indiana Gazette during the week of Nov. 10-16:
SUNDAY, NOV. 10
IUP professor Mark Staszkiewicz delivered the keynote speech during the NAACP Indiana County branch’s 27th annual Freedom Fund banquet on Saturday. Staszkiewicz said the civil rights movement will be challenged as its mission evolves from simply working to ensure equal legal footing for minorities.
Also during the dinner, the Indiana branch presented its annual awards to several people. The Bill Shane Diversity Award was presented to Bill Herring, president of the Indiana Players community theater group and a director of its recent production of “A Raisin in the Sun.” The Bill Shane Student Diversity Award was given to Terrance Hudson, president of the IUP Graduate Student Assembly. Susan Heberer, the Chevy Chase Community Center’s youth summer program coordinator, won the Community Service Award.
MONDAY, NOV. 11
Nearly 1,000 military vets have now registered for Indiana County’s photo identification and veterans discount program, and the number of businesses offering savings to the card-carrying veterans also continues to grow. Brenda Stormer, the county’s veterans’ affairs director, said 984 military vets have now signed up under the program launched in the spring of 2012, and 78 businesses are now helping vets save money on purchases.
The Indiana County commissioners, the county’s Veterans Affairs Office, the county’s Recorder of Deeds office and the Indiana County Chamber of Commerce created the program to bring recognition to more military veterans and to expand the number of businesses willing to offer discounts to vets to show appreciation for their service to America. Merchants and business owners who want to join those offering discounts may contact Stormer at (724) 465-3815.
TUESDAY, NOV. 12
Those behind the Treasures for Children program have one goal in mind: to make sure all children in Indiana County have presents at Christmastime. Administered by The Salvation Army in conjunction with The Indiana Gazette, the holiday tradition provides for families in need through the generosity of those who donate gifts for children whose families face financial hardship.
Wish list tags have gone out and Treasures for Children Christmas trees went up at more than 40 participating locations. Individuals can select a child’s wish list from a tree, buy gifts for that child and drop them off, unwrapped, at any tree location or at The Salvation Army headquarters on Water Street. Donors are welcome to include wrapping material. The collection period lasts through Dec. 9.
For those who wish to participate but don’t have the time to shop, The Salvation Army will accept monetary donations. Checks can be made out to The Salvation Army Treasures for Children and sent to 635 Water St., Indiana, PA 15701. Families who need assistance this holiday season and want to benefit from the program should call The Salvation Army at (724) 465-2530 as soon as possible.
WEDNESDAY, NOV. 13
Determined that no community member go without, The Salvation Army of Indiana County opened its 2013 Red Kettle campaign with the annual kickoff breakfast and auction Wednesday attended by about 400 people at the Indiana Country Club in White Township.
The Salvation Army is hoping to at least match last year’s campaign total of $114,100, if not outdo it. The money raised through the kettle campaign provides the bulk of organization’s outreach budget, which funds programs that offer after-school tutoring, new shoes and winter wear for school-aged children, groceries, assistance with utilities, and holiday presents.
THURSDAY, NOV. 14
A judge has dismissed some of the charges against a teacher accused of having sex with a student, but ordered him to stand trial on the remainder of the 13 counts he faced. So the case against Saltsburg technology education teacher Todd D. McCullough, 28, of Apollo, will proceed to the Indiana County Court of Common Pleas. McCullough, through his attorney, Duke George, of New Kensington, maintains his innocence. The student, a girl who was a 16-year-old sophomore at Saltsburgh Middle/High School at the time, testified before District Judge Jennifer Rega at a preliminary hearing on Wednesday about several alleged incidents of a sexual nature involving the suspect.
Rega dismissed four counts against McCullough: rape, aggravated indecent assault, indecent assault and involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, the key element of which was that McCullough had, either through threat or physical force, compelled the girl to have sex with him. He faces counts of sexual assault, institutional sexual assault, aggravated indecent assault, indecent exposure and corruption of minors, among others.
FRIDAY, NOV. 15
A retired Indiana University of Pennsylvania percussion professor Thursday joined the ranks of some world-class drummers including Gene Krupa, Tito Puente, Buddy Rich, Lionel Hampton and Ringo Starr, as well as renowned cymbals and drum accessories manufacturers Avedis, Armand and Robert Zildjian.
Dr. Gary Olmstead, an IUP professor emeritus, was elected to the Percussive Arts Society Hall of Fame. The induction ceremony took place at the annual PAS International Convention at the Indianapolis Convention Center, Indianapolis. Olmstead joined a select group of only 111 percussionists chosen to receive the honor since its inception in 1972.
SATURDAY, NOV. 16
After 36 years of caring for thousands of children, Dr. Shafic Twal is hanging up his white coat and stethoscope. Friends will congratulate him on his retirement during an open house today from 2 to 5 p.m. at the Rustic Lodge in White Township. His final days of seeing patients will be the week before Christmas.
Twal, 70, was born in Jordan and in 1962 came to the State University of New York at Buffalo to study under a Rotarian International scholarship. During his three-year residency in pediatrics at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C., he met Alia al-Hussein, queen consort of Jordan. When Twal returned to Jordan, the royal family’s obstetrician recommended him as a pediatrician, and from 1975 to 1977 he was the pediatrician for three of King Hussein’s children. Twal and his wife, Marie, who later became a professor of nursing at IUP, have two children, a son, Riad, and a daughter, Sumaya.