The Dispatch

Page 1


M A I NLI NE newspapers

Vol. 118 No. 31

USPS 439-000

Portage, Pa.

Portage Area district admins update board on new school year Thursday, August 4, 2022

By Lauren Hagens

of Mainline Newspapers

Splashing in the Sun

DJ and Amarow Myers splashing at the Portage Pool during a fun summer day July 22. Photo by Lauren Hagens.

The Portage Area School District is preparing for the school year, and several updates were provided to the board at the district’s school board meeting July 20. New superintendent Todd Dishong said he is looking forward to starting his term. To prepare for the new year, he has met with staff and students’ families. Dishong also conducted a survey to gain more information about the families in the district and to see how he and the board could better support them. Dishong and several staff members also read the book “The Power of a Positive Team: Proven Principles and Practices that Make Great Teams Great” by Jon Gordon. He said that this book was about being positive while

of Mainline Newspapers

Snack break

Updates on blighted buildings in Portage Borough were discussed by the Portage Borough Council members at their July 10 meeting. The borough is working on getting the equipment needed for the property located at 616 Dulancey Drive. The borough purchased this property in November 2021, and the council is hoping to move along with its plans to demolish the building. Demolition is in progress at the property at 925 Main Street, but the engineer working on the project was injured and the project has been put on hold.

Letter over status of Portage Public Library spurs misunderstandings

By Lauren Hagens

of Mainline Newspapers

Over the past couple months, the Portage Public Library board of directors has seen a decline in the number of active board members and is currently seeking new board members to keep the library open. However, the Cambria County Library System Board of Directors recently sent a letter to the Portage Borough Council, the Portage Township Supervisors and the Cambria County Commissioners outlining the repercussions if the Portage Public Library board is unable to fill the vacancies. The Portage Borough council

members said at their meeting July 18 that they were unaware of how serious the library’s situation was. The council talked about inviting library board members to its August meeting to discuss the matter further. The letter that the borough council members received, dated June 22, stated that the Cambria County Library System Board felt the need “to make [the local leaders] aware of the grave situation at Portage Public Library… Without a functioning board, the library will be forced to close.” The main suggestion from the county board was to hold a meeting to show the public how there is a possibility of the library closing and to potentially sway residents to submit an application for the board. To ease some of the issue in finding board members, Ron Portash, acting Portage Library board president, said the library board has amended its bylaws

Since 1904

Newsstand Price 75¢

20 Pages

trying to a focus on communication. Dishong said that he was interested in refreshing the school district’s website to create easier access to the resources that users may need. He also wants to make safety improvements within the school. He said that safety should be the district’s concern, especially with the tragedies that continue to happen on the national level within schools. Along with physical improvements, he also wants to improve mental health resources for the students. Dishong said that he wants to work directly with students and continue to meet them to have a healthy community within the school district. Junior-senior high school principal, Ralph Cecere also gave a detailed report to the school board. The first subject he brought up was Keystone Exam

scores. Cecere said he just received the results from the Keystone Exams and is going to analyze the scores more thoroughly throughout the week. Moving on, Cecere said he attended a meeting with the county regarding the recent opioid settlement. During this meeting, principals from county school districts were asked what they could do with the money the county is receiving from the settlement. Cecere said mental health concerns were brought up during this meeting. He reported that the county is looking to hire about seven mental health professionals to work across 14 schools. Each professional will be assigned two school districts, and will be available to the districts free of charge. Moving on, principal Jennifer

The building at 909 Jefferson Ave. has been posted. The council also sent a 10-day notice to the owner of the building. The council plans to discuss how they should continue on proceeding with the state of the building at the next meeting. There were no updates for the properties located at 933 Sonman Ave. and 406 Caldwell Ave., however, the property at 933 Sonman Ave. was posted as a dangerous structure. Moving on, the council went into discussion about approving ordinance 2-2022. This ordinance will prohibit council members from serving on the Portage Sewer Authority and Portage

Water Authority boards. The ordinance passed with a 6-1 vote. The next thing that the council voted on was to appoint Scott Yetsko to the Portage Water Authority board for a term expiring Dec. 31, 2025. Mayor Robert Fox asked if the authority needed to meet a specific ratio of township to borough residents. Borough manager Bob Koban said the authority does not have a ratio requirement. After this short discussion, the council approved Yetsko unanimously. Lastly, the council approved a request from the Rotary Club of Portage to use a few streets for its 5K race on Aug. 13 at 8:30 a.m.

Portage Borough Council updated on blighted properties at meeting

By Lauren Hagens

Allison Neuner and Julia Shuniak take a break from playing at the Portage Pool to enjoy a snack on July 22. Photo by Lauren Hagens.

(814) 472-4110

to conform with the state’s bylaws regarding the number of members required. Previous bylaws stated that the Portage board needed seven to nine board members to operate, but by conforming to state bylaws, the library now needs only five to seven members. The board currently has four members and, according to Portash, is waiting on letters of interest from at least two people. Portash said that some of the problems that have caused board members to resign include health reasons, the amount of time needed to commit to the library and other community commitments. Portash said that the Portage board is aware of the lack of board members and was simply reaching out to ask Cambria County library director Ashley Flynn for advice and direction on what the board should do in the worst-case scenario. SEE LIBRARY, PAGE 2

Morning stroll


Mike Gallo enjoys a walk on the morning of July 23 in Crichton McCormick Park with his furry friend. Photo by Lauren Hagens.