Here is a look at the top stories of local interest published in The Indiana Gazette during the week of Sept. 15-21.
SUNDAY, SEPT. 15
The Penns Manor Area School District is getting closer to having natural gas service. And while the district is not as close as officials had initially hoped to be at this time, they now have an idea when construction will begin. Superintendent Thomas Kakabar gave an update at last week’s school board meeting on the progress of the project that will bring gas heat to the school district’s buildings.
At a March meeting, he had reported that the project would be delayed by probably one year. He reported Thursday that construction would likely start in the spring with anticipation of having gas heat in time for next school year. The project, which officials expect to cost more than $300,000, stands to save the district up to $175,000 per year over the costs of oil heat.
MONDAY, SEPT. 16
Larry W. Garner, a municipal planner and dedicated civil servant who left an indelible mark on Indiana County’s largest municipality, died Saturday in Colorado after losing his battle with cancer. He was 66.
Garner spent 41 years working for municipal governments, both in Indiana County and elsewhere, but he probably will be best remembered for his time as White Township manager, a position he had held from October 1987 until his retirement in January 2013.
TUESDAY, SEPT. 17
Gerald Read, 58, of Alexandria, Va., a man with ties to the local community, died along with 11 others Monday in a shooting rampage at the Washington Navy Yard. Read, an information assurance specialist with the Navy Sea Systems Command, was from Clearfield and graduated from Indiana University of Pennsylvania in 1977 with a bachelor’s degree in criminology. He also was a cadet in the university’s ROTC program and received a commission in the U.S. Army that year.
The gunman, Aaron Alexis, a 34-year-old information technology employee at a defense-related computer company, died in a shootout with police.
WEDNESDAY, SEPT. 18
Blairsville council has given its consent to a deal in which a developer looking to return a supermarket to the borough’s downtown would receive a 10-year reprieve on local and state taxes through an economic development program.
Council approved the deal, with conditions, during a meeting Tuesday. Directors in the Blairsville-Saltsburg School District approved the idea Wednesday night. If the Indiana County commissioners give their blessing, too, the former BiLo supermarket along Market Street would be designated as a Keystone Opportunity Expansion Zone, qualifying it for a state income tax and local property tax abatement for up to 10 years.
THURSDAY, SEPT. 19
A Blairsville-Saltsburg school director has filed an ethics complaint against her own board over its procedures. At a meeting Wednesday, Director Holly Hall, reading from prepared comments, told the board she has asked the Pennsylvania Ethics Commission to assess the board’s practices from “an unbiased, objective point of view.”
In her statement to the board, Hall accused the district’s administration of being hostile toward those who question matters and objected to the way deliberations are carried out. She declined to detail what she said in the complaint. Superintendent Tammy Whitfield declined to comment on the issue.
FRIDAY, SEPT. 20
The Homer-Center School District board of directors has given the go-ahead for a security-enhancement project that will add electronic locks to the elementary and senior high school entrances and a video surveillance system to the campus. The improvements will cost an estimated $217,200. Project architect Greer Hayden, of the HHSDR engineering firm of Sharon, said the work would be done between Jan. 6 and Feb. 28.
SATURDAY, SEPT. 21
A ground-breaking ceremony was held Friday for the construction of a Miracle League Baseball Field at the YMCA of Indiana. The field will be a baseball diamond constructed specifically for children with special needs. On hand were Michael Sherry, founder of Cranberry Township’s field; Jerry Gillette, co-chairman of the local league’s committee; David Frick, county commissioner; Eric Neal, CEO of the Y; Frank Coonelly, president of the Pittsburgh Pirates; Nancy Sherry-Helsel, committee co-chairwoman; Terry Johnson, from the office of architect Tom Harley; state Rep. Dave Reed; state Sen. Don White; and committee member John Morganti.