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Beyond the walls: Loss of SCI Cresson impacts community newspapers

Vol. 115 No. 3

USPS 326-480

Cresson, Pa.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Since 1898

Newsstand Price 75¢

36 Pages

Fear, uncertainty predominant among residents following announcement 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

Police join Facebook to reach community

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.

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 weekend, whether on-therecord or privately, expressed similar fears and concerns, often seeing Cresson’s future as little more than a “ghost town.” “The only thing you can compare it to is when the mines closed,” Jack Barlick of Lilly SEE SCI CRESSON, PAGE 4A

By Justin Eger

of Mainline Newspapers

While there are still some folks resistant to the idea of social media uniting us all with pictures of grumpy cats and awkward humans (myself included), there are many who have embraced the offerings of Facebook, Twitter, and their ilk. Naturally, as our culture becomes more accepting of such media and its ability to connect us all, more and more organizations will take to the Internet and use social media sites to reach an audience. Such is certainly the case with several local police departments, which have come together to set up a Facebook page in the hopes of reaching more members of the public. “We’re trying to get the community involved and get them informed about what is going on in the area,” said Officer Vince Finochio of the Cresson Township Police Department. Finochio, along with officers from three other local departments, set up the Cresson Area Police Departments page on Facebook just a few weeks ago with the intent to encourage public participation. Along with Cresson Township, the Gallitzin SEE FACEBOOK, PAGE 4A

Teacher Appreciation

Before Thursday night’s basketball game between Penn Cambria and Central Cambria on Jan. 10, the student athletes from Penn Cambria recognized the teachers who have made the greatest impression on them throughout their time at PC. The teacher appreciation night, a first for the basketball team, was arranged with the help of the Penn Cambria Basketball Boosters. Photo by Justin Eger.

County: Closing will bring economic challenges

Commissioners react to state’s decision on SCI Cresson By Ian Wissinger

of Mainline Newspapers

Reacting to the recent and sudden news that Pennsylvania would be shutting down two state corrections institutions – one in the Mainline area – in favor of opening another in Centre County, Cambria County President Commissioner Douglas Lengenfelder offered a sentiment that was shared by many of his constituents: “It was not expected.” On Tuesday, Jan. 8, State Representative

John Wozniak of the 35th District contacted the local media with an announcement – handed down by one of Governor Tom Corbett’s staffers – that the Commonwealth would move to close SCI Cresson and SCI Greensburg by mid-year. Meanwhile, a recently completed, state-of-the-art facility in Benner Township (Centre County) will begin operations, taking on some of the 1,200 inmates currently housed in Cresson. Other offenders will be transported to a state prison in Indiana County.

The news stunned not only Cresson-area residents, but SCI Cresson employees themselves, many of whom learned of the facility’s closing either through the six o’clock news or word-of-mouth from their own inmates. An official statement was released by Department of Corrections Secretary John Wetzel the following morning, championing the move as a means to save $23 million in taxpayer dollars. Of the 500 individuals employed at SCI

Authority settles on fees for Blueberry customers By Justin Eger

of Mainline Newspapers

After agreeing last month to allow Blueberry Road customers the option of making payments on their fees related to connecting to the new waterline, the Lilly Water Authority came to a much different conclusion during its Jan. 2 evening meeting. However, the

change resulted in some added benefit for the new customers along Blueberry Road, relieving them of half of what they had been expecting to pay. Discussion of Blueberry Road began early in the meeting, as Washington Township Supervisors Scott Guzic and Ray Guzic, Jr. met with board members on behalf of the Blueberry

customers, who reside in Washington Township but will be served by Lilly. During this discussion, the supervisors referenced their talks last month, and how the authority had seemed insistent on the $2,000 connection fee for the Blueberry customers. However, the supervisors were now able to reference a schedule of fees established in previous

SEE CHALLENGES, PAGE 5A

years by the authority and its predecessors, a schedule which offered a different option for the existing circumstances. Under this schedule, anyone connecting to a developer’s system needs to pay only $1,000 for water capacity, rather than the $2,000 for both capacity and collection, as the developer is taking

SEE FEES, PAGE 4A


Mainliner 1-17-2013