West Hills 1st Graders Show New Found Patriotism

About 170 first graders from West Hills Primary School in East Franklin Township prepared for the Memorial Day holiday by memorizing American facts, poems and songs. They performed those for parents and guests Thursday.

by Jonathan Weaver

More than 150 West Hills Primary first-graders were proud to share their knowledge of America’s symbols and sing patriotic songs to parents during their annual Memorial Day program Thursday.

Under the direction of K-3 General Music Teacher Charlene Krecota, about 170 students from eight different classes

“Each class picked a topic about the United States, a symbol such as the Statue of Liberty, the flag or the bald eagle and learned a poem and facts to share with the audience,” Krecota said.

Students began practicing at the end of April – both in their regular classrooms and once per week in music classes.

“(For) some of them, I knew memorizing was a challenge, but they pulled it all together in the end,” Krecota said. “This year, they did very well. It’s amazing for seven year olds to get up there – some of them love to perform.

“I like it for the fact that they get that sense of accomplishment and they have pride in what they’ve done. They recognize that they did a good job and they have pride in that.”

Students performed twice for parents – in the early-morning and afternoon.

“I love doing the program with them and hopefully instilling in them a pride in their country – it’s important to get them young so hopefully they carry that in their adult life,” Krecota said. “I love to hear my second-or-third graders when they come back – when they hear these songs, they remember it and sing it.

“So, now it’s going to be something they carry with them for the rest of their life.”

First-grade Teacher Alysha Gallagher taught for two years at Elderton Elementary before transferring to West Hills Primary this year.

She confirmed students took pride in learning about their family’s military history while learning about the symbols and the State flower, bird and flag.

The class also did activities during Veterans Day this past Fall.

“They brought in things to send packages over, and when they got letters back, it really connected for them. You might think that they’re six and they don’t understand but they really do,” Gallagher said. “And they brought in pictures of their family that served in the military – I was surprised how much they knew.”

Both of Gallagher’s grandfathers served in the U.S. Army and Air Force after World War II, respectively.

U.S Air Force veteran Bill Skinner, of East Franklin Township, was stationed in Japan, and has attended school Veterans Day programs.

Gallagher’s class reiterated facts about the American flag. To ease their nerves, she grouped them with two or three other students.

“They all got to speak, but they felt better with their friends nearby,” Gallagher said. “They did well – I was so proud of them (Thursday).”

Robert Bowser, of Kittanning, attended the afternoon program to watch six-year-old grandson Cayden.

The past-Sons of the Union Veterans of the Civil War Camp 43 Commander, Bowser had three great-great-great grandfathers that fought in the Civil War – including U.S. 103rd Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry Henry Wyant, who was captured and died in Andersonville Prison in Georgia.

Several of Bowser’s uncles also served in the U.S. Navy since, and he plans to honor his family Monday.

“I have several that were in the Civil War. We’ll go and place flowers,” Bowser said.

He was accompanied to the patriotic program by step-daughter, Allison Mechling, and step-son, Jared.

Bowser’s granddaughter, Chloe, also performed in the patriotic program two years ago when she was in first grade.

Both Chloe and Cayden would walk with Bowser while he was camp commander, and will attend Kittanning’s Memorial Day parade Monday morning.

Krecota also is tied with the Sarah A. Crawford Camp ladies auxiliary.


Supervisors Begin Brainstorming CDBG Uses

East Franklin Township supervisors Dan Goldinger, Barry Peters and David Stewart listen to Planning and Development Project Manager Sally Conklin during last night’s CDBG public hearing.

by Jonathan Weaver

East Franklin Township supervisors held their first public hearing before last night’s public meeting to discuss ways to utilize their Community Development Block Grant annual allocation.

County Planning and Development’s Project Manager Sally Conklin said the entitlement community will receive a total of more than $83,500 in state Department of Community and Economic Development funds to use toward projects such as sanitary sewer facilities, recreation or streets and roads.

Township supervisors will be able to budget about $68,500 to allow for the county’s administration fee. The state application deadline is November 18.

In 2015, East Franklin Township supervisors allocated their $82,310 for housing rehabilitation, but supervisors hope to reallocate that money toward the township sewage treatment plant emergency notification system.

The last completed project – in 2014 – provided lateral connection taps for two dozen low-to-moderate income households. Four households were found to be ineligible for assistance, and one is waiting to be connected so that is why that project is not complete.

“We’ve been in contact with the contractor trying to get him back out there,” Conklin said.

Supervisor Chair Barry Peters clarified that funding can be allocated toward local volunteer firefighters, and Conklin said funds have been used in the past in other municipalities for breathing apparatus.

Supervisors did consider fixing some roads – including Furnace Run, Rolling Hills and Lemmon Hollow – , but Conklin will check if roads can be tar and chipped rather than paved.

Other projects in the township’s three-year plan include helping more Furnace Run or Walkchalk residents with sewage lateral fees, more recreation improvements or the sewage treatment plant warning system.

A pair of other township residents did not have any other suggestions.
Conklin said one of the hurdles toward projects, however, is Township residents’ responding to income surveys for a particular area. Residents in a specific village or on a road proposed for repair must meet low-to-moderate income requirements.

“Sometimes, you find out (the area) doesn’t meet income eligibility or you can’t get people to respond – so it makes it very difficult to proceed,” Conklin said.

She also reminded supervisors that projects resulting in residential displacement must include relocation assistance and those units must be replaced within three years and of sufficient size to house at least the same number of occupants.

Before meeting entitlement status in 2012, East Franklin Township received more than $2.75 million through several competitive CDBG grants to provide water and sewage systems.

Conklin anticipated a second public hearing before the August public meeting.