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COVID-19 survivor Virginia Howard celebrated her 94th birthday Tuesday at her family’s homestead in Blairsville, where she returned over the weekend after being discharged from Indian Haven after her diagnosis and battle with the virus. Ann Howard, her daughter-in-law, wrote messages on a dry erase board as people started arriving for a parade for her birthday. About 17 cars of people came through as Jody Cunkelman, of Blairsville, gathered church members to bring birthday wishes. Her son, Jeffrey Howard, is reflected in the window. Jeffrey said they are thankful for the community’s prayers for his mother.

Indiana County Chamber of Commerce President Mark Hilliard has announced that a twice-weekly news bulletin, Indiana County Road to Recovery, is being sent out every Tuesday and Friday.

Included are resources for businesses related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

These include financial opportunities such as information related to loans and grants as well as information to keep businesses and employees safe, like where to find masks, sanitizer and cleaning services. There are also dates of upcoming events throughout Indiana County, both in person and virtual. Indiana Regional Medical Center will provide safety tips and health-related information, as well as a word from local and state leaders related to the recovery efforts.

The bulletin will highlight different community heroes who are going above and beyond to help residents stay healthy. The chamber also will begin its Social Distance Dining Club, which will focus on a different local restaurant in each bulletin, along with a menu and contact information.

Plans are continuing to be made on ways that the chamber can assist local businesses get back to normal.

The bulletin is being put together with the input of the county commissioners and state leaders.

Hilliard also reminded Indiana County business owners who have not yet done so to complete an eight-question survey to help the chamber determine how best to help area businesses during the recovery from the virus outbreak. The survey can be found at www.surveymonkey.com/r/YTGNS9D.

This information will help the chamber to build and carry out the recovery plans.


Indiana University of Pennsylvania’s postponed spring commencement ceremonies have been rescheduled for Sept. 12 and 13.

In late March, President Michael Driscoll announced the postponement of the May ceremonies to promote safety during the coronavirus pandemic. At that time, the university conducted a poll of May and August graduates and their families to see if they would prefer to have a ceremony in September or to join in the regular commencement ceremonies in December. The respondents indicated a clear preference for a September ceremony.

IUP plans to hold all the ceremonies on Sept. 12, including two undergraduate ceremonies, divided by colleges, at 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. and a ceremony for graduate students at 5 p.m. If the ceremonies need to be further divided to limit the number of attendees and allow for social distancing, additional ceremonies will be scheduled for Sept. 13.

No college or departmental ceremonies or other recognition events that typically coincide with the spring commencement ceremonies will take place that weekend. The commencement committee expects to release a finalized schedule of events in about two weeks.

Should restrictions on these types of in-person events still be in place in September, the university will further postpone the ceremonies until December.


Armstrong Indiana Clarion Drug & Alcohol Commission is sponsoring a free online showing of the movie “Screenagers: Growing Up in a Digital Age.” The movie will be available online between May 4 and 18 for anyone to access.

The movie is about how technology time impacts kids’ development, internet and gaming addiction, and offers solutions on how adults can empower their kids to best navigate the digital world to find balance.

To register for the movie, visit: https://www.bigmarker.com/screenagers-starhouse/SCREENAGERS-STREAM-AICDAC . A trailer for the film can be found at www.screenagersmovie.com/trailer.


The Salvation Army Indiana service center will conduct the third of four weekly food distributions today at 2 p.m. in the lower parking lot of the Kovalchick Convention and Athletic Complex along Wayne Avenue on the edge of the Indiana University of Pennsylvania campus.

The center’s commander, Capt. Denise Martin, said each package to be handed out will contain barbecue items as well as Meals Ready to Eat or MREs.

The plan is to hand out meals for 250 families.

Another food distribution is planned for next week in the KCAC’s lower lot.


Legislation sponsored by Rep. Cris Dush, R-Brookville, to potentially provide up to $40 million in financial assistance to Pennsylvania’s dedicated fire and emergency medical service companies was unanimously approved by the Pennsylvania House on Tuesday.

“Fire departments across the commonwealth have already lost the opportunity to obtain their largest source of revenue through their annual fundraisers.” said Dush. “Many have also had their annual grants held up due to Governor Tom Wolf’s decision to deem the State Fire Commissioner’s Office non-essential and sent them home without all of the approved grants being dispersed. Without these finances many volunteer fire companies are on the verge of having to close their doors.”

House Bill 2413 would allow for a one-time transfer of unused funds from the Office of the State Fire Commissioner to aid the response of emergency responders to the COVID-19 pandemic and their daily operational needs.