Kittanning Trout Derby Continuing in Cloudy Weather

Families from across the tri-state region will pick a spot to fish in along Cowanshannock Creek this weekend during the third-annual Kittanning Trout Derby. Proceeds help benefit Kittanning Hose Company No. 1 fire department. (submitted photo)

by Jonathan Weaver

It doesn’t matter if the sun is shining or rain is falling because hundreds of trout will still be dumped in Cowanshannock Creek this afternoon for the third-annual Kittanning Trout Derby.

Sponsored by Kittanning Hose Company No. 1 fire department, the Saturday and Sunday event along Troy Hill Road in Rayburn Township (Ingram Ball Field) attracted about 500 fishermen last year, and that amount of competition is expected to continue this weekend after organizers have been contacted from outdoorsman in other states such as New York, Delaware and Ohio.

Fire Chief Gene Stephens said Kittanning is home to the only fishing derby in this part of Pennsylvania, and that more than 500 tagged fish will be put in the water for fishers to try and catch. By hooking the correct fish, fishers could win cash prizes, a television and a rifle.

“Last year, we (tagged) 625 – we’ll be pushing it,” Chief Stephens said. “Money is coming in from everywhere – businesses, people themselves, clubs, restaurants…a lot of sponsorships from around the area.

“From $20 up to $1,500 (per fish).”

Registration begins at 3PM at Ingrams Ball Field in Rayburn Township, but is also available Saturday or Sunday. Adults are $20 each and youth 15 years of age and younger are $15.

“The more people that come, the bigger and better it is. Word of mouth the past couple years about this has just gone everywhere,” Chief Stephens said. “Everybody the past two years I’ve talked to said they’d be back and bring more friends with them.”

Bait will be for sale upon registration. Profits will be split with Goodman’s Bait in Bethel Township.

Usually 65 to 80 percent of the tagged fish are caught, depending on the weather. Sponsorship money left over from fish not caught goes directly to the fire department.

Chief Stephens said “everybody benefits” from this weekend’s event.

“Every event we do for a fundraiser brings people into the area,” Chief Stephens said. “They buy supplies and stuff, stay in hotels, restaurants get business because they eat at night…that’s what really makes you proud.

“We get a lot of good sponsorships from a lot of good people. We don’t just sit back and ask for a flat donation.”

For an additional $10, fishers can take part in a fishing contest. The fisher who catches the biggest tagged trout will win 60 percent of the cash.

Chief Stephens said some of the application fee benefits the local fire department as well.

“$5 goes toward the fire hall (and) $5 goes into the pot,” Chief Stephens said.

Via benefit proceeds, the volunteer fire company was able to purchase eight complete sets of turnout gear – from boots to helmets – when added to State aid grants.

Free camping will be available for fishers all weekend along Iron Bridge Road.

Bench Racers Convenience Store/Gas Station along Route 28/66 in Rayburn will be one of those stores that benefits.

Co-Owner Marc Perella, of Ford City, predicts the gas station/convenience store will be busy as soon as today.

“(The trout derby) helps us a lot – and we donate $200 toward the derby,” Mark said. “We stay pretty steady. We keep a lot of fresh food in stock. (This morning), we start making a lot of food.

“Everybody is required to work – they’re not allowed to ask off for this.”

When creeks are not as crowded, Mark also likes to take his two children – six year old Landyn and 13-year-old Ariana – fishing.

Open an hour earlier tomorrow – 5AM.

Marc’s wife, Sunny, said free samples will also be given out from 11AM-1PM this weekend during the Tribute to Kiddyland Flea Market.

“It’ll be a crazy weekend, but it should be good,” Sunny said.

She said the past two weekends have been similarly hectic.
Food will also be for sale at the Ingram Ball Field pavilion to raise money for the Armstrong River Hawk Wrestling team.

Booster President Samantha Wonderling said food and refreshments will be available in the morning and afternoon.

Money raised will help student wrestlers attend Bruno Iorfido Wrestling Camp June 13-17 at Port Allegheny High School (McKean County)

Fishing begins at 6AM tomorrow.

All fish and money have to be collected by 5PM Sunday.


Lenape Tech Praises Staff During Budget Meeting

Lenape Tech Executive Secretary Diana Heuser (standing) assists Office Staffer Mary Heckman (right) in combing through accounting information at last night’s budget work session. Administrator Dawn Kocher-Taylor led the presentation.

by David Croyle

Few staff members were present for last night’s budget meeting at Lenape Technical School, but that didn’t stop Administrator Dawn Kocher-Taylor from lavishing praise upon all of them.

Kocher-Taylor unveiled the 2016-17 budget to members of the Joint Operating Committee. It showed the school has been fiscally responsible and plans to continue its conservative course.

The entire budget for next year is calculated at $8.58 million – that’s only a one percent increase from this school year.

Kocher-Taylor said with state funding being held up for most of the school year, staff members reached into their own pockets to pay for some items. One staffer found textbooks on Amazon for $5 instead of the school paying the full-price fee of $105.

“We have developed a culture that you buy what you need,” Kocher-Taylor told JOC members. “So teachers shop around for sales and only get what they need when they need it. They are better consumers. That has worked out well.”

Student enrollment, currently at 535 students, is expected to increase another 50 students next year. Applications to attend Lenape closed on April 15.

Staff salaries, which represent the largest portion of the budget, were sliced 1.4% for next year – mainly due to some retirements, not filling positions, and redistributing duties involved with other positions.

Healthcare benefits rose $170,000 for the next year. Kocher-Taylor said they calculated the increase based on the current number of participants. It does not include some staff that elect to not use Lenape’s health coverage because another spouse has family coverage where they work. She said that if the household situation changes – as has happened due to layoffs in the gas and oil industry over the past year where workers have been furloughed – that number could go up. Any increase would have to be taken from a $50,000 contingency fund.

Kocher-Taylor said a decrease in purchases of 5% will save the school around $14,000 next year. Even with decrease in purchasing supplies, she said it would not affect instruction of students.

Another 5.5% which is approximately $34,000, was saved in the areas of maintenance, central supplies, academic (people, personnel, guidance) and other services.

Last month, the Committee accepted a $75,000 grant that required a $50,000 match which was reserved in the new budget.

Equipment purchases was decreased by almost 8%. Kocher-Taylor cautioned the Committee of the need to allocate funds to upgrade a mini-van that is used to transport students to the Health Center, HAVIN, and other places for community service projects. This year, Lenape upgraded a pickup truck that is used to haul supplies.

Lenape Tech Superintendent of Record Chris DeVivo looks over next year’s budget for Lenape Tech at last night’s meeting.

“Everything else is very close to what we feel the spending is going to be,” Kocher-Taylor said. “We really try to budget as close as we can.”

The sending districts had some good news as well. District contributions are actually less than they were last year. Because of additional 10th grade students, reimbursement went up about $150,000. District contribution is down $8,900 from last year.

“Our state reimbursement is about the same, but higher than it was a few years ago. We will pursue whatever grants we can get. And we will get revenue from the retirement system because it was well funded,” she said.

Kocher-Taylor pointed out that the Adult Education Center also contributes to the overall budget.

She highlighted areas where Lenape is ‘very conscientious’ in generating revenue within the educational programs. Cosmetology and the restaurant have both deposited over $20,000 this year from sales made in their shops. They also generate revenue from building and selling a home each year. The Law Enforcement program also charges to do fingerprinting that meets the required standards.

“We have asked teachers to consider ways that they can help defray cost of their budget,” she said.

The budget is only preliminary at this point. Copies will go to Armstrong, Leechburg, Apollo-Ridge, and Freeport business managers before being released to all 36 school board members. Final adoption will be in June.