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email: M A I NLI NE newspapers Portage Area High School investigates bomb threat Vol. 109 No. 3 USPS 439-000 Portage, Pa. Thursday, January 17, 2013 Since 1904 Newsstand Price 75¢ (814) 472-4110 36 Pages Superintendent pleased with district response By Sarah Wolford of Mainline Newspapers Last Thursday, a bomb threat was reported to the administration at Portage Area High School, prompting the immediate evacuation of the building. A bomb squad later cleared the building of any threat. The situation was a testament to the preparedness of the district, and Portage Area School District Superintendent Rich Bernazzoli said the incident was handled swiftly and according to pre-established protocol by district officials. The threat was first reported Jan. 10, between 11-11:30 a.m. Bernazzoli said a student who found the threat in the boys’ bathroom in the north wing of the school reported it to Portage Area High School assistant principal Deb Meckey. “Mrs. Meckey then started the normal protocol for evacuation,” Forest Hills School Board discusses security updates By Sean Wechtenhiser for Mainline Newspapers At the Jan. 9 meeting, members of the Forest Hills School Board and the administration discussed recent security updates in response to the tragic events at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT. Superintendent Edwin Bowser and members of the administration discussed updates that have been made in all three buildings. SEE INVESTIGATES, PAGE 4A Assistant elementary principal Lucas Jacobs spoke to the board about recent changes to afternoon parent pickup procedures in the loop behind the elementary school. Jacobs informed the board that parents will not be permitted to enter the building to pick up students. Parents who pick up their children after school on the loop road will now need to come to the office before pickup and get a card from the SEE SECURITY, PAGE 6A Snowshoeing Forest Hills Elementary School students Tyler Miller, Donovan Faith, and Luke Docherty spend some time in the great outdoors during gym class on Friday, Jan. 11, by snowshoeing. The activity is new for Forest Hills Elementary students and is part of an initiative to teach students how to be active outdoors all year round. Photo by Sarah Wolford. Portage Borough comes to agreement with Amfire on intersection project Mining co. agrees to their share in rehab of Main St., Dulancey Ave. By Sarah Wolford of Mainline Newspapers The great outdoors Livia Hamanava and Caitlyn Homza take a walk in the woods behind Forest Hills Elementary School while showshoeing with their gym class last Friday. Photo by Sarah Wolford. Portage Borough manager Bob Koban informed borough council during its January meeting that Amfire Mining Company had committed in writing to their share of the proposed project to rehabilitate the intersection at Main Street and Dulancey Avenue. Koban said he received word of Amfire’s commitment just one day after the passing of Portage Planning Commission chairman Dick Rice. “It’s a shame he didn’t get to see it happen,” said Koban. “He deserves a lot of credit for getting this project to come to fruition.” The news was a welcome announcement for council, who just two months ago were afraid the plan would be indefinitely stalled. At the November council meeting, Koban had told council that although no formal rejection had been received from Amfire regarding the project, it seemed as though the company would not provide any monetary assistance. With Amfire officially on board as of the start of 2013, the bor- Beyond the walls: Loss of SCI Cresson impacts community SEE PROJECT, PAGE 5A Fear, uncertainty predominant among residents By Justin Eger of Mainline Newspapers While it’s been little over a week since the state’s Department of Corrections announced that SCI Cresson would be closed by the end of June, its inmates transferred to a new facility near State College and its employees scattered throughout the state prison system, there are still a lot of concerns being expressed around Cresson Mountain and its neighboring communities. The initial shock of the announcement has given way to fear and even anger for many, as the region’s biggest job provider is set to take its money elsewhere, and to a community that already has plenty of job providers, including another state prison. “It is hard to quantify the effect on our community of the SCI Cresson closure, but it will be substantial. So much of our infrastructure is intertwined with the employees and needs of SCI, and it leaves an enormous vacuum when the largest ‘player’ in a small market is yanked away, even if many of the employees continue to be employed at another far off location,” said Cresson Township Supervisor Gary Bradley. “Our area had finally begun to adjust to the collapse of the railroad, steel, and coal industries — this will take us back to square one.” The comparison to the loss of those previous industries was not a statement unique to Bradley. Indeed, many people that this writer spoke with over the weekSEE IMPACT, PAGE 7A The State Correctional Institution at Cresson will be closed by June 30, as related in an announcement issued by the Department of Corrections last week. Photo by Justin Eger.

Portage Dispatch

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