On the eve of a presentation regarding Indiana University of Pennsylvania’s consideration of a school of osteopathic medicine, the university is announcing a major gift toward that plan.
Richard D. Caruso, a 1983 accounting graduate of IUP from Meadow Lands, Washington County, is making a $1 million gift to his alma mater in honor of his 101-year-old mother.
Caruso was among outstanding IUP alumni honored at a recent campus event. The gift was announced as university President Dr. Michael A. Driscoll planned to make a presentation Tuesday night for Indiana Borough Council.
That presentation is scheduled at 6 p.m., prior to the 7 p.m. monthly voting meeting of borough council.
Caruso, originally from Kane, McKean County, and now living in Meadow Lands, Washington County, spoke at the alumni event to the struggle that his mother faced in getting in-person care from a physician during a recent hospitalization.
“I had no appreciation for the fact that hospitalization in a small community hospital in Pennsylvania meant dealing with a doctor located in Pittsburgh via telemedicine,” Caruso said. “Although the on-site nursing staff was helpful, the lack of an on-site doctor made the overall health care experience terrible and in need of significant overhaul. I couldn’t believe what I was witnessing.”
Meanwhile, Caruso learned from Driscoll and IUP Vice President for University Advancement Khatmeh Osseiran-Hanna of the university’s desire to start a school of osteopathic medicine.
“Initially I was skeptical, but what I saw my mother experience should not be acceptable to anyone in this room,” Caruso said during an event where he was honored among a list of distinguished IUP alumni.
“The shortage of doctors in the state is troubling, the shortage of community doctors is totally unacceptable,” Caruso went on. “There is a lot of work to be done by IUP to establish the school of osteopathic medicine, and it will require a significant amount of financial support, and much of this support will have to come from private donors and supporters.”
The university said Caruso has been a long-time IUP philanthropic supporter and active volunteer, and a member of the board of directors of the Foundation for IUP since 2007, serving as president of that board from 2015 to 2019.
During that four-year tenure, Caruso helped spearhead IUP’s $245 million Residential Revival that led to the replacement of the university’s student housing with modern suites.
Additions to that scholarship fund were part of IUP’s Imagine Unlimited comprehensive fundraising campaign’s “rally gifts,” which helped the campaign to end $6.4 million over its $75 million goal and six months ahead of schedule.
Imagine Unlimited exceeded all previous fundraising campaigns staged by the university by more than $35 million and included the university’s largest one-time gifts in its history, $23 million from alumni John J. and Char Kopchick; it was the largest comprehensive campaign in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education.
IUP’s Council of Trustees endorsed the university’s exploration of the possibility of creating an osteopathic school of medicine at its December meeting.
At the trustees’ March meeting, Driscoll said, “That’s a huge undertaking that will require a lot of heavy lifting. We are moving ahead with the exploration of the creation of this school. Although this is in the infancy stage, we are optimistic about our plan and our prospects.”
At that same March meeting, Osseiran-Hanna reported that efforts to advance that idea are gaining momentum.
In a hearing lasting just over an hour and featuring questions and comments from several area residents, Indiana Area School District officials and consultants detailed plans for a $23.47 million plan to overhaul the Eisenhower school building in Indiana Borough.
That breaks down to $11.14 million for new additions and $12.33 million for other project costs, district Solicitor Ronald Repak said.
It was a hearing required by the Pennsylvania School Code, specifically in state Act 34, Indiana Area School Board President Walter A. Schroth said, “whenever a substantial amount of work is being done on a school district building ... to ensure that the public has a full knowledge and understanding about what the school district is about to do.”
There was at least one comment in support of the project, from Krista Sevajian, a former vice principal at Indiana Area Junior High School whose auditorium was opened for Monday’s hearing, attended by some 20 district residents.
The questions included those raised by retired ARIN Intermediate Unit 28 Executive Director Jim Wagner, who wondered about how much instructional space would be included in a building that would be doubled in size to 60,000 square feet.
Anthony Shinsky, project architect from Buchart Horn Architects in York, said that included 27,850 square feet of additions and 33,150 square feet of renovations. He said the project could go out for bids before Labor Day, with construction to begin later this year.
“The school district has indicated that the building should accommodate up to 500 students, with a maximum student count of 30 students per classroom,” IASD Superintendent Michael J. Vuckovich said. “In addition, specialty educational learning spaces for Life Skills and Autistic support are needed for about 40 students.”
Wagner also asked if the Pennsylvania Department of Education had approved the classroom space set aside for autistic purposes.
District Director of Special Education Justin Zahorchak said plans have been sent to PDE, but it would have to inspect the site before giving that approval.
Vuckovich, the outgoing Indiana Area superintendent, recalled that Eisenhower was built in 1955, with its last renovation occurring in 1963.
The present plans for renovation were set in motion by the April 2021 fire there.
As Schroth said, “that was truly a game changer.”
However, the board president said, the planning for Eisenhower and other district buildings are a direct result of a process that began in the 2014-15 school year, to reduce the number of student catchment areas in the district from four to two.
That led to the district changing its grade configuration, from four K-6 buildings down to two K-3 buildings (East Pike, Ben Franklin) and two each housing intermediate grades 4-5 (Horace Mann and Eisenhower).
The district plans to close Horace Mann after the renovation work is completed on Eisenhower, but, Schroth said, “no decision has been made pertaining to, or impacting any future uses of the Horace Mann building other than combining both fourth and fifth grades under one room at Eisenhower.”
Jamie Doyle, managing director of district financial advisor PFM Financial Advisors LLC, talked about funding sources — and one source that is not available, state reimbursement under the PlanCon program, due to a moratorium that is now in place on a program established under the state’s Act 70 of 2019.
The Pennsylvania Department of Education has said it is not accepting such applications during the 2023-24 school year.
Doyle said her company has analyzed four alternative methods of financing the work on Eisenhower, which includes cash or a short-term loan; a general obligation bond issue; a local authority issue; and financing through the State Public School Building Authority.
“For discussion purposes only,” Doyle said the district could utilize three recent series of general obligation bonds, a 2016 issue that could provide $4 million or 0.07 mills, a 2022 issue that could provide $9.555 million or 0.21 mills, and a 2023 issue that could provide $8.9 million or 0.24 mills.
On another financial front, Repak said the insurance claim stemming from the April 2021 fire is still being litigated.
GLASSER, Terry L., 70, Marion Center
MASON, Terry Lee, 68, Indiana
SHANKLE, Gerald Clair Sr., 86, Indiana
“People have criticized me for seeming to step out of my professional role to become undignifiedly political. I’d say it was belated realization that day care, good schools, health insurance and nuclear disarmament are even more important aspects of pediatrics than measles vaccine or vitamin D.” - Benjamin Spock, American pediatrician (born on this date 1903-1998)
Center Township supervisors unanimously approved donating $15,000 toward Citizens’ Ambulance Service during a regular supervisors meeting Monday.
Center’s $15,000 donation was the first donation Citizens’ received for its “May Money-Match” challenge, in which an anonymous donor has agreed to match every donation Citizens’ receives, dollar-for-dollar, up to $75,000 through the month of May.
With the “May Money-Match” challenge, as Citizens’ board community chair Sandi Gillette called it, Center Township’s $15,000 donation was doubled to $30,000. Township chairperson Matthew Housholder said $15,000 was a small price to pay compared to the cost Center would incur if Citizens’ stopped providing services.
“What Citizens’ does for (Center Township) now costs $87,000 (annually),” Housholder said. “We haven’t been (donating) to Citizens’ (annually), but Citizens’ said they were in trouble, so we can either pay them that or buy our own ambulance (service), and we can’t afford to buy our own ambulance (service).”
Citizens’ is currently operating with a $1.3 million deficit for 2023, according to Gillette. Citizens’ has been picking up the tab for local ambulance services for years, but with their money reserves dwindling, Citizens’ has turned to municipalities to provide their fair share.
Municipalities are required to provide an ambulance service by law, according to township vice chairperson James Gatskie. If Citizens’ stopped providing services, opening a new ambulance service for Center Township would cost millions and increase taxes significantly, Gatskie said.
As such, township supervisors believed it was prudent to donate to Citizens’, Gatskie and Housholder said.
In other news Monday, township supervisors unanimously passed a number of motions and made a number of announcements, including:
• Supervisors approved a resolution to revise the official sewage facilities plan for the Luciusboro and Cherry Run sewer plans.
“They’re going to extend the sewer lining (beginning in August),” Gatskie said, “and we have to make a resolution since they’re in the township.”
• Supervisors accepted bids by Davis Transport, of Blairsville; Midland Asphalt Materials Inc., of Bloomsburg; and Lindy Paving, of Homer City.
• Supervisors opened bids for pipe and catch basins and received bids from Core & Main, of Penfield; Pleasant Unity Supply, of Greensburg; and LB Water, of Ebensburg.
• Supervisors opened bids for diesel fuel and received bids from Accent Fuels, of Homer City; Townsend Gas and Oil, of Homer City; and Indiana Fuel and Oil, of Indiana.
• Supervisors accepted the resignation of Jim Cutshall as auditor due to him moving out of the area.
• Burning is allowed; however, leaves are not permitted to be burnt within the ordinance. Burn days are Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 5 to 9 p.m.
• 2023 Evergreen Landfill permits/coupons are available in the Center Township office with a valid form of ID to prove residency. Fees at the landfill are approximately one-third of normal cost of one load per year. No cash is accepted at the landfill. The landfill has a building near the scale area for public drop off for recyclables (aluminum and bi-metal cans, cardboard, plastic #1 and #2).
• Supervisors asked for residents to support Citizens’ Ambulance Service through donations or memberships. Senior household memberships are $65 per year, and regular household memberships are $75 per year. Donations are tax deductible. Citizen’s Ambulance is recognized as a 501©(3) charitable nonprofit organization by the IRS.