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Adult Counseling Option Established in Kittanning

Family Services Senior Manager of Outpatient Services Kelley Austin, Therapist Jaime Harmon and Program Manager Amy Bologna welcomed community leaders and potential new clients into their South Water Street office Friday.

by Jonathan Weaver

Drug and alcohol counseling has been offered at Family Services of Western Pennsylvania along South Water Street in Kittanning for a few months, but more-and-more residents are seeking help.

Friday, officials celebrated with an open house of the facility (in a suite next to the Pennsylvania CareerLink), which spurred a potentially-larger caseload.

Senior Manager of Outpatient Services Dr. Kelley Austin oversees all outpatient programming at the Kittanning, New Kensington and Tarentum locations. She said since the location opened October 26, officials have overcome licensing and insurance obstacles.

“We’ve been expanding for a long time. The idea to come into Armstrong has really been on our radar for the past year-and-a-half to two years,” Austin said.

Family Services was selected through a Request for Proposals process and approved by Armstrong-Indiana-Clarion Drug and Alcohol Commission last year.

Austin – who is in the Kittanning location up to three days per week – said the location is also looking to hire another therapist and implement a new service program based on the community need.

“We would like to continue to help meet any unmet needs of the county,” Austin said. “We are working with the Mental Health Administration and starting a justice-related services program to help meet reentry needs for people who have conditions. Hopefully within the next few months we can move forward with that programming and offer those services as well.”

Patients can both be referred by public agencies or patients can walk into the office themselves.

Manager Amy Bologna is also in the Kittanning location up to twice per week.

Bologna started in her current role last month after training with Austin.

“This is a really needed service in this area, so I was really excited to be a part of that,” Bologna said. “We’ve gotten a ton of referrals from probation, local case managers and we have gotten really-positive feedback – they think we’re doing a great job so far.

“Just in the short time we’ve been here, I think we’ve made some positive changes.”

She agreed the justice-related service program is also a needed community support.

Full-time Therapist Jaime Harmon has worked in similar roles in Kittanning and Indiana. She has already crafted a good working relationship with case managers.

Armstrong-Indiana-Clarion Drug and Alcohol Commission Executive Director Kami Anderson, county commissioners and upper-level Family Services staff based in Harmarville or Tarentum attended Friday’s open house.


YMCA Hosts First River Hawks Swim Meet

Armstrong River Hawk Seniors Mya Gladysiewski, Savannah Mitchell and Jordan Bozzelli were honored after their exhibition swim meet Friday night at the Richard G. Snyder YMCA in Kittanning.

by Jonathan Weaver

Since November, Armstrong River Hawks swimmers have practiced their strokes in the Richard G. Snyder YMCA pool in Kittanning. But, they never competed there.

Until Friday – well, kind-of.

The first-year team made up of both Armstrong and West Shamokin high school students held their inaugural home meet last week – an exhibition against Freeport.

Competing against Class AAA swimmers has been a challenge by the numbers, Coaches Mary Ann Lundgren and Attie Abranovic said, but they still see the passion and excitement for the sport in the students’ eyes.

Especially considering half the athletes on the team are new swimmers.

“For half the team, this is their first time ever being in the water,” Coach Abranovic said. “I think it’s been just a breakthrough from Day One introducing the sport to these kids. They have really become attached and involved in the sport. As much as it’s a team sport, it’s also an individual sport.”

An example of one of those new swimmers was Senior Mya Gladysiewski, of Manorville.

The new athlete said she has gotten better since November with the instruction from both coaches.

“I’m really into exercising and I’ve always known that swimming is really good exercise, so I’ve always wanted to be a good swimmer. It’s definitely something good to be good at – I just figured ‘Why not? It’s my senior year. There’s really no reason not to,’” Gladysiewski said.

About half the athletes are expected to take part in offseason swimming at the YMCA.

Coach Lundgren – the former swimming coach at Kittanning Senior High – was impressed by all the athletes.

“Each race that they get in and drop time, they’re just so excited,” Coach Lundgren said. “And we’re happy for them because it shows that they are working hard.”

Senior Jordan Bozzelli, of Kittanning, swam for the Kittanning Wildcats and said the skill teaches athletes more than just how to swim.

“Swimming is not a normal sport – you’re in the pool with the other swimmers, but you’re racing the clock too to better your own times. I think that’s a good mindset to have because you’re always trying to better yourself as a person, to focus not so much on what everyone else is saying or what everyone else is doing,” Bozzelli said.

She credited Coach Lundgren for helping her learn that as she moves on to Penn Tech in Williamsport for Business Management and Marketing.

Freeport Coach Nikki Heasley was glad the Yellow Jackets made the trip.

“We were really excited to come swim in Kittanning during their first home swim meet,” Coach Heasley said. “We wanted to do this just to give the kids another opportunity to swim together, try to get some good times for WPIALs.”

WPIAL swimming championships will be held at the University of Pittsburgh Trees Pool Thursday, March 3 and Friday, March 4, and six Freeport swimmers have qualified.

A trio of River Hawks and seven Yellow Jackets were also honored during Senior Night recognition after the final race.

The three Freeport seniors will finish their season, and their competitive swimming careers, in less than a month.

Zoe Pawlak – a competitive swimmer since she was six years old – will trade in swimming for volleyball this fall when she enrolls at Loyola University Maryland, and Tyler Ben and Maggie Ehelt will attend Slippery Rock University and Penn State, respectively, but not compete in sports.