M AI NLI NE newspapers
Vol. 154 No. 12
Northern Cambria, Pa.
Thursday, March 19, 2020
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Newsstand Price 75¢
Senior centers remain open, for now
By Ron Portash
of Mainline Newspapers
The Cambria County senior centers will only be open for meal pickup between the hours of 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. effective Wednesday, March 18. Seniors are asked to call their local center the day before and order the meal, and instructions about having someone meet you at the door will be given. All other senior center activities are canceled until further notice. According to M. Veil Griffith, executive director of Cambria County Area Agency on Aging (AAA), this includes scheduled trips and activities and the tax preparation sessions. Home delivered meals will be delivered as usual. Senior citizens are the most susceptible population to a life-threatening infection from COVID19. Seniors are also in the most need of services such as the senior meal offered at the nine senior activity centers around the county. On Sunday, March 15, Robert Torres, Secretary of the Department of Aging, let the decision to close to each county due to the rising spread of the COVID-19 virus, unless directed by the governor’s office.
“We have been in regular communications with the Area Agencies on Aging relating to the operation of their affiliated senior community centers, and we will continue to engage with them to meet their informational needs, receive input and offer guidance,” stated Torres. By Monday afternoon, Gov. Tom Wolf requested all non-essential businesses close and restaurants limit services to take-out and delivery. Torres is encouraging the county’s AAA to recommend participants to enroll in the OPTIONS Program, formerly known as the PA Older American Act services. In some areas of the state, there are waiting lists to enroll in the OPTIONS Program. The OPTIONS Program provides numerous services, including in-home meal delivery services, personal care and assistance and much more. The program does have income guidelines. Services are free to those under 133 percent of the federal poverty level, and there is a scaled copay for services on income between 133 and 300 percent of federal poverty levels. Restaurants in at least 10 states have been closed or are limiting services to take-out and SEE OPEN, PAGE 6A
Gayl Clark and Lori Bouch eye up some handmade crafts during the Hastings craft show held Saturday, March 9. Photo by Austin Feathers.
School districts unsure of future after mandated closures
By Allie Byers
of Mainline Newspapers
Last Friday, Gov. Tom Wolf mandated that all K-12 Pennsylvania schools will close for 10 business days, beginning March 16, due to COVID-19 also known as the coronavirus. According to a March 13 press release, Wolf’s top priority as governor is to ensure the health and safety of the students and school communities. The press release stated that “no school district will be penalized if it fails to meet the 180 day or school hours requirements.” Penn Cambria superintendent Bill Marshall stated that there is a misinterpretation of Wolf’s press release in regard to the 180-day requirement. He explained that schools will be required to make up the days up to the June 30 deadline. If a school district does not meet the days and hours requirements after June 30, there will be no penalty. Blacklick Valley School District in Nanty Glo is facing the same conundrum. “This is unprecedented,” said Blacklick Valley superintendent Bill Kanich. The Pennsylvania Department
of Education (PDE) has released information to guide districts through this trying time. According to their March 14 press release, the districts will be responsible for deciding which staff members are necessary. The PDE stated that examples of necessary staff are school administration, food preparation and distribution, information technology and those who have to continue daily school operations. Marshall explained that the beginning of this week, three days were dedicated to the janitorial staff who “sanitized everything.” Kanich also stated that both school buildings are being santized and will be ready when the students return. “At this time, we will follow our standard snow day procedures on these days and all offices will remain open,” said Marshall in a press release March 13. “We currently expect to make these days up through additions to our school calendar pending other guidance from the state.” One major concern that school districts have is students’ access to the meals that the schools normally provide to them. According to PDE, the commonwealth has sought and received approval from the Federal government to allow schools the option to distribute meals at no cost while schools are closed. Each individual school district that wants to take part in the meal distribution must apply to PDE; SEE FUTURE, PAGE 4A
Phillip, Megan and Mason Sharrow walk around and look at all the craft tables during the Hastings craft show held Saturday, March 9. Photo by Austin Feathers.
Area gears up for 2020 census
By Kristin Baudoux
of Mainline Newspapers
Don’t get counted out
The 2020 Census is now underway. The census, performed every 10 years, was instituted into the United States Constitution by the founding fathers to have an official count of all persons living within the country, and the first U.S. census was conducted in 1790. To reinforce the importance of the census, the Carrolltown Borough Council, along with Cambria Heights School
District, held an informative session with Rick Buck, a partnership specialist with the U.S. Census Bureau, March 13. Buck serves a six-county area, which includes Cambria County. Besides getting an accurate account of all persons living in the country, the census plays a vital role in determining the number of representatives each state has in the U.S. House of Representatives, as well as how the lines for each congressional district are drawn. Currently, Pennsylvania has 18 congressional districts, down
from 19 districts in 2010 and 21 in 2000. Making sure every person is counted guarantees that Pennsylvania has the correct number of congress members representing its citizens. “When people don’t get counted, they don’t draw the lines correctly,” Buck said at the event. Besides determining the number of congressional seats, the census also determines how $675 billion in funding for schools, emergency services, infrastructure, family services SEE CENSUS, PAGE 6A