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M AI NLI NE

Noel hired as Portage Area Elementary School principal

newspapers

Vol. 115 No. 23

USPS 439-000

By Ron Portash

of Mainline Newspapers

At a special meeting of the Portage Area School Board held May 29, Pete Noel was hired as the elementary school principal to replace former principal Christian Serenko. Noel, the longtime special education supervisor for the school district, will assume the position July 1. The motion to hire Noel was unanimous. In other administrative matters, the school district eliminated the position of dean of students at the elementary school. Jennifer Pisarski was moved into the newly created

Portage, Pa.

position of assistant principal. The motion was approved 7-1, with one abstention. Jeremy Burkett, who was the dean of students at the high school and athletic director, was moved to the position of assistant principal at the high school. Ralph Cecere will continue as high school principal. The motion was approved in a 7-2 vote. Superintendent Eric Zelanko recommended and the board agreed to approve an early collective bargaining agreement with the Portage Area Education Association (PAEA), which represents the school district’s faculty. Zelanko thanked

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the PAEA and the school board for working together to balance the needs of students and community. Christa Miko was hired by a unanimous vote as a new elementary school teacher. Miko served the district several times as a substitute teacher. The school board also approved advertising for several other open positions including special education coordinator, reading specialist, secondary English teacher and a secondary special education teacher. Earlier, when the meeting opened, wrestling coach Ted Castile addressed the board

SEE PRINCIPAL, PAGE 3A

Strawberry smiles

Paisley Moore (front) and Kim Houtz enjoy some strawberry shortcake at the Salix Log Cabin Community strawberry festival June 2. Photo by Ron Portash.

FH Senior Center celebrates improvements By Ron Portash

of Mainline Newspapers

Ready to graduate

Haydon Riggle (left), Shane Hemminger and Harley Plummer share some jokes and laughs with high school principal Ralph Cecere before the graduation ceremonies at Portage Area High School June 4. Photo by Ron Portash.

Destruction of history, memories, and a loss of opportunity

Church building demolitions raise ire among congregants

By Ron Portash

of Mainline Newspapers

With the complete demolition of St. Brigid’s School in Lilly and the same process about to happen at the former Sacred Heart Church building in Portage, the two communities will lose some of their history. “Many memories were made in those buildings, friendships forever, weddings, classmates, inspirational teachers,” said one former Sacred Heart parishioner, “The physical symbol of those memories is disappear-

ing.” St. Brigid’s Parish was established in 1882 to serve a number of local Irish Catholic immigrant families. St. Brigid’s School was constructed by parish members in 1901 to allow the religious sisters to continue to teach the children of the parish. St. Brigid’s School, like the buildings at Sacred Heart Parish in Portage, have been vacant for several years, and the local parish is responsible for the cost of utilities and insurance. Similar to the situation in Portage, St. Brigid’s Parish was combined with Our Lady of Mount Carmel Roman Catholic Church in Lilly to become Our Lady of the Alleghenies Parish. Mass locations were split between the two locations for a period of time. In Portage, Sacred Heart

Parish was combined with Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish in the late 1990s and St. John’s Parish in the 2000s. Several years later, the church was again combined with St. Joseph’s Parish to form Holy Family Parish. All activities at Sacred Heart and Assumption parishes ended soon after, and the buildings were put up for sale. According to community members, a formal study was conducted on St. Brigid’s School in 2015-16, costing the parish $4,000. The results reported that the overall building was sound and in good condition. The parish council began discussions to accept an offer for the building shortly afterwards, however, talks of selling the building were silenced by

SEE LOSS, PAGE 3A

The Cambria County Commissioners held a ribbon cutting at the Forest Hills Senior Center in South Fork June 4. The commissioners, in conjunction with the Area Agency on Aging, pursued a grant to reconstruct the retaining wall of the parking lot, repave the lot and replace some electronic equipment used by the seniors. The center held an open house to celebrate the exterior improvements and the replacement of some outdated electron-

ic equipment inside. “The parking lot and wall were neglected for a long time, but now it has been fixed and it is a significant upgrade to the Forest Hills Senior Center,” said commissioner B.J. Smith. The grant helped to purchase a new computer and printer for the center. The grant also provided funding for an air-powered bingo machine to replace an old manual machine that had to be cranked by hand. Area Agency on Aging administrator M. Veil Griffith said she

SEE CENTER, PAGE 6A

Route 53 in Lilly to close for three months

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) announced that prime contractor Mosites Construction Company, of Pittsburgh, will begin work on the Route 53 Lilly Culvert Rehabilitation project in Lilly Borough. Work on this project consists of the rehabilitation of the existing stone arch culvert that carries Route 53 over Bear Rock Run in Lilly Borough. Work also includes the removal and replacement of the existing retaining wall along Washington Street, which intersects with Route 53. The project also includes waterline relocation, roadway work, signing and pavement marking upgrades, drainage and sidewalk ADA ramps. Work on this project will require a 15 mile detour to be placed beginning Wednesday, June 5, and will be in place until approximately Aug. 22. Once the detour is lifted, work will continue under daylight traffic control as needed. The 15 mile signed detour will utilize Route 53, Route 22 and Route 164. Work on this portion of the $3.4 million project is expected to be completed by October 2019. This project cost also includes the Route 53 Cassandra Culvert Rehabilitation that will take place in 2020.

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