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M AI NLI NE newspapers

Action tabled on liquor license transfer, again Vol. 115 No. 37

USPS 439-000

Portage, Pa.

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Since 1904

Newsstand Price 75¢

(814) 472-4110

28 Pages

By Ron Portash

of Mainline Newspapers

At the Sept. 3 Portage Borough Council meting, the matter of granting or denying the transfer of a liquor license from a location in Portage Township into the borough was tabled without discussion. The borough received notification from Sheetz that the business is purchasing the restaurant liquor license from the former Wild Cherry Inn in Portage Township. The official notification on July 23 triggered a 45-day time limit for the borough to take action. According to the Pennsylvania Liquor Law, this notification requires that the borough hold a public hearing because there are already two restaurant liquor licenses in the borough. The state requires a hearing when a threshold of more than one license per 3,000 in population is met. The borough held a public meeting Aug. 19 that was lightly attended, mainly by representatives of local businesses that sell alcohol. Several of these representatives spoke at the Aug. 19 meeting about the adverse effects of Sheetz selling liquor would have on their businesses. At the Sept. 3 meeting, only Sean Tarachko, of Portage Beverage, SEE LICENSE, PAGE 2A

Bonfire

Kylee Chappell, Brianna Conrad and Carmella Zunich enjoy time with friends before the Portage Area High School bonfire Aug. 28. Photo by Ron Portash.

Forest Hills makes changes to Reading Counts program

By Sean Wechtenhiser for Mainline Newspapers

Labor Day fun

Haley Giffin, Taryn Varner, Bethany and Moriah Conant have fun at the Forest Hills Labor Day Festival Sept. 2. Photo by Ron Portash.

Hearing held on the possibility of more passenger trains in area

By Ron Portash

of Mainline Newspapers

On Wednesday, Aug. 28, The Pennsylvania House Transportation Committee held a hearing on railroad issues at the Altoona Railroaders Memorial Museum. The museum’s auditorium was packed with local officials from Cambria and Blair counties, railroad advocates for both freight and passenger service, the media and private individuals who share an interest in railroads. The hearing was set up by state representative Louis Schmitt of the 79th district, which includes Blair County. Schmitt is the chairman of the railroad subcommittee of the

full House Transportation Committee, and 10 of the 25 members of the House Transportation committee attended the hearing. Public input or comments were not permitted, and testimony from the “witnesses” was submitted in writing prior to the hearing and attached to the agenda. The witnesses then read their testimony or summarized their written testimony to the committee. The first to present testimony was Jennie Granger, PennDOT deputy secretary from multimodal transportation. The first point she brought up was the feasibility study for passenger rail service from Altoona to Pittsburgh, completed in September 2018. The railroad tracks from Harrisburg to the Ohio line are owned by Norfolk Southern railroad, and any Amtrak service along the AltoonaPittsburgh corridor is over Norfolk Southern rails. Currently, only one train runs east and west each day from

Pittsburgh to Harrisburg, and scheduling requires two days to travel from Altoona or Johnstown to Pittsburgh and back. The westbound train has an evening schedule, and the eastbound train has an early morning schedule. Granger presented what could be interpreted as a negative result of the study. Basing their study on peer commuter and intercity rail lines, the startup requirement would be three to six trains in the morning and peak afternoon hours. Currently, the Harrisburg to Philadelphia passenger rail service runs 14 trains each way on a one- hour schedule between trains. This allows workers to commute approximately 100 miles in less than 2 hours. Any passenger train scheduling between Harrisburg and Pittsburgh is dependent on Norfolk Southern. Although federal law requires freight railroads give priority to passenger

SEE TRAINS, PAGE 4A

At the beginning of every school year, students learn about changes to school rules, policies, procedures and staff. Often, the students do not like the changes they learn about, however, Forest Hills students learned about a change they did like, as the Forest Hills School Board approved a change to the Reading Counts program at their Aug. 8 meeting. Reading Counts is a reading program through Scholastic. Students must read books and take a test on the books that they read. Every book has a set point value based on the reading level of the book, and other factors as well. Some school districts make Reading Counts a percentage of

Mustang supporters

their nine weeks English grade. At Forest Hills, Reading Counts is a separate grade, which counts as a graduation requirement. It is worth .25 credits each year, adding up to a full 1 credit toward graduation over their four years of high school. Students are required to read a set number of points to get a passing grade in Reading Counts. Prior to the Aug. 8 meeting, students were required to earn 240 points each year to earn an A in Reading Counts. The rest of the grading scale was: 200 points to earn a B, 160 points to earn a C and 120 points to earn a D. Students had to earn at least 120 points to earn a passing grade. Students who attended the Greater Johnstown

SEE READING, PAGE 3A

Ella and Carter Fuzie and Emily and Joey McKrush attend the bonfire at the Portage Area football field to support the Mustang football team Aug. 28. Photo by Ron Portash.

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