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M AI NLI NE newspapers

Portage Boro Council in no-win situation with old Starlight Hotel Vol. 115 No. 10

USPS 439-000

By Ron Portash

of Mainline Newspapers

The specter of the deteriorating Starlight Hotel reared it’s ugly head at the Portage Borough Council meeting March 4. New and more frequent complaints about the building have been reaching the borough officials about shingles blowing off, rain spouts peeling off the building and walls becoming even more out of plumb. In September 2017 the borough began proceedings against Arthur and Bernice Gaunt to declare the building at 828 N. Railroad Ave. a dangerous structure. The borough engineer inspected the exterior of the building and found numerous problems, including a loose front porch and walls that were not plumb. The findings were sent to the Gaunts Nov. 30,

Portage, Pa.

2017, with instructions to fix or demolish the building within 30 days. The first hearing before borough council was held Feb. 5, 2018. At the hearing, the council determined it to be a hazardous structure, and was ordered to be vacated. In addition, since the building was 50 percent damaged, decayed or deteriorated from its original value or structure, it should be demolished. The Gaunts were given until April 17 to vacate the property, because of the winter weather. In July 2018, Portage Borough filed a lawsuit in the Cambria County Court of Common Pleas against Arthur and Bernice Gaunt to enforce the violations of the hazardous structure ordinance and the council’s order to demolish the structure. The borough requested the court to impose a fine of $100 per day.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

The borough requested the fine be dated from the time council issued their demolition order Feb. 5, 2018. A hearing was held in front of Judge David Tulowitzki Nov. 27, 2018, at the Cambria County Courthouse. Judge Tulowitzki found the Gaunts in violation of the borough ordinance. The penalty was delayed by the judge in order to work out a payment plan between the Gaunts and the borough and for the Gaunts to turn the property over to the borough. Nothing has resulted from Judge Tulowitzki’s delay, other than the building starting to more rapidly decay. Research by the borough’s solicitor shows that there are one or more liens on the property. If the borough were to accept ownership on the property, the borough would be liable for the

County receives grant to help addicted expectant mothers

By Ron Portash

of Mainline Newspapers

A major step in the opioid addiction battle was announced at the Cambria County Commissioners meeting Feb, 28. As a routine personnel matter, the commissioners moved Fred Oliveros from case management

supervisor to administrator of the county’s drug and alcohol program. At that time, the commissioners and Oliveros announced that the Cambria County Drug and Alcohol Program was awarded the first of two grants for $1.3 million from the federal government administered by the Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs to battle opioid addiction. The grant will fund a resource center for pregnant women addicted to opioids. President commissioner Tom Chernisky said that this was one of the programs discussed, during the commissioners visit with White House officials back in July 2017.

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The resource center will be run through DLP Conemaugh Memorial Medical Center. The grant will provide for a program coordinator and three maternal addiction navigators, who will create comprehensive recovery plans for the mother before and after the birth of the baby. Pregnant women addicted to opioids present unique medical, physical and psychological problems. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), substance abuse while pregnant may result in miscarriage, stillbirth, infant withdrawal syndrome, birth defects, premature birth, low birth weights and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). A SEE MOTHERS, PAGE 5A

Colton Hodgkins does not like the interruption while playing with some toys before the special Dr. Seuss party held at the Portage Public Library March 2. Photo by Ron Portash.

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Read Across America

Cambria County commissioner Tom Chernisky visited the Portage Public Library Saturday, March 2, for a special story hour. Chernisky is continuing his annual tradition of reading a book to children at schools and libraries across the county for Read Across America Week, celebrating Dr. Seuss. Wearing the hat from Dr. Seuss’s “Cat in the Hat,” Chernisky entertained a room of nearly 70 children with a story from Dr. Seuss. Photo by Ron Portash.

Routes explored for proposed Mainline Canal Trail

By Ron Portash

of Mainline Newspapers

The second of a series of meetings for local municipal representatives for the Mainline Trail Feasibility Study, phase one, was held March 1. This study is to extend the trail system from the Path of the Flood trailhead in Ehrenfeld to Portage. Representatives in attendance from the non-profit Allegheny Ridge Corporation, Laird Landscape Architecture and Land Planning, the Cambria County Conservation and Recreation Authority, the National Park Service, the Portage Historical Society, Portage Borough and Portage Township were present for this second of three steering committee meetings. The Mainline Trail will be part of the Main Line Greenway Trail and part of the soon-to-be established September 11th National Memorial Trail. The Main Line Greenway Trail is an effort to preserve the heritage of the places and people who opened the frontier beyond the Allegheny Mountains and made Pennsylvania a unique key in the expansion of the nation. The 320-mile corridor from Harrisburg to Pittsburgh follows the path of the

Pennsylvania Main Line Canal. The canal was started in 1823, and at the time, it was considered one of the greatest engineering feats in the burgeoning United States. The canal replaced the inadequate Native American trails and primitive Conestoga wagon roads that could not keep up with the demand for moving goods westward from Philadelphia, New York and Baltimore. The Main Line Canal was comprised of a series of canals, towpaths, dams, aqueducts and the famous Allegheny Portage Railroad inclines. The canal competed against the newly constructed Erie Canal in New York to move goods and people to the western frontier and bring goods and people back to the East Coast. The canal stimulated the early growth of the iron, coal and timber industries in Western Pennsylvania and drew the population westward along its route to populate small communities like Portage, Wilmore and Cresson. The September 11th Memorial Trail is being designed as a national trail in tribute to all those who perished in America’s single worst terrorist attack. The trail


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