Indiana, PA - Indiana County


on May 18, 2014 3:00 AM

Here is a look at the top stories of local interest published in The Indiana Gazette during the week of May 11-17:


The public was being advised that the diagonal pedestrian crossings at Indiana’s landmark Philadelphia and Seventh streets will cease beginning May 17. The intersection was the only signal-protected one in Indiana where vehicle traffic stopped in all four directions simultaneously to allow pedestrians to cross, even diagonally through the middle of the intersection.

But last week Philly and Seventh became like every other intersection in Indiana. Pedestrians now have to cross the streets only perpendicularly. And they’ll have to be alert for vehicles making turns while they’re in the crosswalks. A benefit of the change will be more time for vehicles to travel through the intersection during each cycle of the traffic signal, and a more efficient flow of traffic all along the Philadelphia Street corridor.


One of the few contested local races in the May 20 primary election pits three Jefferson County men against each other for the Republican nomination for the 66th District House seat that has been held nearly 28 years by Rep. Sam Smith, R-Punxsutawney. Smith decided in February not to seek re-election to a 15th term.

Harry Bodenhorn, Paul Corbin and Cris Dush announced their candidacies before or shortly after Smith decided to retire.

Two other men will join the race in the fall. Robert Toby Santik, of Punxsutawney, is unopposed in the primary for the Democratic nomination for representative in the 66th District. Phil Mennitti, of Gaskill Township, Jefferson County, had announced in February his intention to seek the Republican nomination in the 66th, but he did not secure enough signatures on nominating petitions to get his name on the spring ballot. He said he plans to run as an independent in November.


The Indiana Area School District board of directors on Monday approved a tentative budget for 2014-15 that calls for increasing the property tax by about 2οΎ½ percent, matching the local economic index figure set by the state Department of Education. A boost of 2.63 mills — from 105.59 to 108.22 mills — would add about $56 to the tax bill for a property of average assessed value in the district.

Business Manager Jared Cronauer said the budget lists $50.6 million of expenses including increases of more than $1 million in the district’s contribution to the retirement fund, $750,000 in health insurance and $335,000 in transportation costs. The district will pay $600,000 less in salaries, Cronauer said, because several retiring teachers won’t be replaced and because of a lower starting pay rate in a teachers’ contract that takes effect at the end of June.


High-ranking state officials visited Indiana County Tuesday to pledge more than $12 million for airport and road and bridge improvements. Participants at a pair of ceremonies said cooperative teamwork — from the Corbett administration down through state legislators, to county commissioners and authority members — was instrumental in securing the state aid. And the investment in infrastructure, they said, will pay dividends in economic development.

Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. Jim Cawley said $1.2 million will be forwarded from the state’s multi-modal transportation fund to the Indiana County Airport Authority to complete the nearly $20 million runway expansion project at the airport.


An Indiana woman is being held on charges that she tried to kill a man early this morning at the Brown Hotel. According to borough police, Alison Hope Rifendifer, 31, grabbed a 6-inch hunting knife and stabbed Matthew Kynoch, 33, in his neck during an argument at the hotel.

Police said the incident occurred around 2:40 a.m. when Kynoch entered his apartment at the hotel and found Rifendifer inside with his roommate. Kynoch remains hospitalized for treatment, according to reports. Rifendifer was charged with attempted homicide, two counts of aggravated assault, recklessly endangering another person, simple assault and harassment.


The Homer-Center school board approved a tentative 2014-15 budget that calls for raising the tax 2 mills, from 125.6 to 127.6 mills. That would mean about $24 more for the average property in the district, well below the $82 hike in the “worst-case scenario” the board talked about in February.

The budget lists $15.7 million in expenses but only $15.1 million in revenue, meaning the district will draw more than $500,000 from the fund balance to make ends meet.


The second annual Ride & Dine for Shelter will be held June 1, rain or shine, with all proceeds benefiting Family Promise, a ministry that provides shelter and other services to homeless families. Admission is $25 for adults and $15 for children 12 and under. Dinner for children under 6 is free. The registration fee covers a four-course meal, T-shirt, live music and eligibility for a number of prize drawings.

The event will start and finish at Faith Lutheran Church, New Florence. Registration forms are available online at The form can be printed and mailed in or completed online. Call (724) 464-5220 for more information.

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