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M A I NLI NE newspapers

Cresson, Lilly fire departments announce corporate partnership Vol. 119 No. 10

USPS 326-480

Cresson, Pa.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Since 1898


Newsstand Price 75¢

(814) 472-4110

32 Pages

By Joshua Byers

of Mainline Newspapers

Eric Hott, a trustee of the Cresson Volunteer Fire Department, brought up the merger of the Cresson and Lilly fire departments at the Gallitzin Township supervisors’ March 1 meeting. “We’re working on a corporate partnership with Lilly,” Hott said. According to him, that partnership is on track to be finalized by the end of the year and the departments are inviting the elected officials of the municipalities they serve to a workshop in April to answer any questions. The jointure will “help keep costs down, reduce some current costs, reduce insurance ratings for the various municipalities, and further strengthen two already strong and stable departments,” Hott said. He added that the partnership will allow for maximization of resources for both fire departments, and he stressed the fact that it does not mean either company will be closing or taken over by the other. “We’re still going to operate as two separate entities,” Hott said. One way this partnership has already benefited both organizations is through the savings gained by filing a joint insurance policy. That endeavor saved Cresson around $5,000 and Lilly around $3,000.

Story time

St. Francis University athletes Sean Davis and Eric Bofenkamp read Dr. Seuss stories to Penn Cambria Primary students Kamaro Barney (left), Cayden Durkay, Alexis Biter (front), Mia Balzano, and Khaled Moustaffa to celebrate Read Across America Day. Photo by Joshua Byers.


Chernisky continues Read Across America tradition

By Joshua Byers

of Mainline Newspapers

Long before he was president commissioner of Cambria County, Tom Chernisky was a parent volunteering to read to his daughter Taylor’s class at Richland

Elementary School. That was more than 20 years ago, and even though his responsibilities have changed since then, Chernisky continues a tradition that started simply by celebrating the life of famed children’s author Dr. Seuss. “I look forward to doing it every year,” Chernisky said about Read Across America Day, which took place March 2 this year. The annual celebration is in honor of Seuss’ [Theodore Geisel] birthday and acts as a way to encourage young readers. Chernisky began participating just at Richland, and he also read when his younger daughter, Megan, was there. He eventually became a jury commissioner and continued to participate at the school, but when Sue Layton, who was with the local teachers’ union then, proposed the idea of branching out, Chernisky decided to go with it. His first year he attended Central Cambria and Cambria Heights schools to read to students. Soon after, he began to read at more schools. Chernisky said he now books the entire morning of Read Across America Day to travel throughout the region and read. But he doesn’t stop there. Because of the success of the endeavor, Chernisky started reading the day before the recognized holiday, then days before, and now he reads throughout the entire month. He even schedules readings throughout the year. Chernisky reads “I am Not Going to Get Up Today” by Seuss, and “Maxwell, the Raindrop Who Wouldn’t Fall” by local author Joseph Moore. He said he does this because both books promote a positive message. The Seuss book encourages children to start the day early and well so the rest of the day can be good, a message Chernisky endorses. He SEE TRADITION, PAGE 5A

Dr. Seuss Day

All Saints Catholic School student Emma Clapper (left), student teacher Chelsea Brady, and students Jove McIntosh, Leah Kirsch, Mary Mullen, and Tristan McConnell play a Dr. Seuss-inspired game of Jenga during Read Across America Day March 2. Photo by Joshua Byers.

Local first responders benefit from state grant program

By Joshua Byers

of Mainline Newspapers

Local fire companies and emergency medical services received a total of $340,000 this year as part of the Fire Company and Volunteer Ambulance Service Grant Program. “I’m so pleased to announce the award of these grants,” state representative Frank Burns said in a press release dated Feb. 14. “The funding is critical to enable our region’s firefighters and emergency rescue workers to continue their vital, life-saving work.” The grant program provides funds in amounts from $7,000 to upward of $38,000 for some departments. The money can then be used for repairs or

building renovations. It can also be used for staff training, certifications, and new equipment or to repay debt accrued through the purchase of equipment. This is how the Ashville Volunteer Fire Department is using the company’s $15,000. Fire chief Joe Racz said the department has been applying to the grant program every year since it became available, about 10 years, he said. “It’s a really good program that helps out quite a bit,” Racz said. He explained that the reason Ashville has been able to attain so much each year is because of the training the firefighters undergo. According to him, if a company has at least 10 volun-

teers with Firefighter 1 training, then that maximizes the funds. Ashville has 24 volunteers with that qualification and every year it has received money that is then used for debt service. He added that as long as Ashville Fire Department can get the grant, it will use the money to lower the debt. Currently, that debt is an engine payment. Cresson Volunteer Fire Department chief Shawn McGonigle said his company also uses the funds to pay off debt. For Cresson, which received $15,000, the money is also going to the department’s new engine. McGonigle said by using the


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