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St. Marys streets, business owners experience flooding Tuesday

ST. MARYS — Tuesday’s heavy rains and scattered thunderstorms brought flooding to St. Marys streets and caused some businesses to temporarily close.

Elk County was one of several surrounding areas under a flash flood watch until mid-afternoon Tuesday.

City of St. Marys Police Department Chief Tom Nicklas said just before 7 a.m. Tuesday, the Crystal Fire Department was busy pumping flooded basements for residents and businesses.

“Several roadways were covered with water, including Brusselles, Theresia and Vine streets,” he said.

The Best Western Plus Executive Inn on Earth Road had several inches of water on its first floor, Nicklas said, and was also assisted by local firemen.

“Affected areas appear to be cleaning up now,” Nicklas said around 9:30 a.m. Tuesday. “There does not appear, at this point, to be any long-term impact.”

Cooper’s Diner on South Michael Road temporarily closed around 7:30 a.m. Tuesday due to flooding in the parking lot and the diner itself, said Owner Karli Carnovali. The diner opened again around 9 a.m.

Nearby areas, including Emporium, also experienced heavy flooding, according to the Emporium Volunteer Police Department.

Heavy flooding was also reported at the St. Marys Softball Field and around Cameron Hill in the St. Marys area.

Boston Crusaders stop in DuBois to practice before their first show in Detroit

Residents in the City of DuBois may have heard the sound of beating drums and harmonic pitches of brass instruments filling the air Tuesday and Wednesday while the Boston Crusaders Drum & Bugle Corps practiced at E.J. Mansell Stadium and behind DuBois Area High School.

The Boston Crusaders, founded in 1940 and the third-oldest junior drum and bugle corps in the nation, kicked off the first two days of the Drum Corps International’s 2019 Summer Tour in DuBois.

“They came in from Vermont after driving all night,” said DuBois Area High School Band Director Melinda Swauger. “This is the first stop on their tour.”

The 160-member corps, composed entirely of brass players, percussionists and color guard members under the age of 22, travels more than 10,000 miles each summer, performing in more than 40 competitions and exhibitions before a combined audience of more than 300,000 fans.

One of Swauger’s former percussion instructors is a tour director for the Boston Crusaders, based in Boston, and contacted her earlier this year to ask if the group could use the school district’s facilities Tuesday and Wednesday for rehearsing. They are expected to depart tonight (Wednesday) for the Drum Corps International Tour Premiere at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan.

The ensemble, also including about 45 staff members, brought their sleeping bags and pillows to sleep on the gym floor.

“They practice for 10 to 12 hours a day,” said Swauger. Crusader participants audition for a spot and then pay tuition of about $2,800 to $3,500 to perform throughout the country. Most participants are college students.

“It’s an awesome opportunity for people to see some of the elite musicians in the marching arts activity,” said Swauger. “It’s a great opportunity for our students who are involved in the band to observe and learn from them as well as their staff. They are excited. They have been following them on social media and Googling their performances.”

Swauger expected the community to be able to hear them for miles when each group practiced together from 7-10 p.m. Tuesday at the stadium.

“They should come and check it out and see what our kids aspire to do,” said Swauger.

Jessica / Submitted 


DuBois City firefighters compete in the Battle of the Barrel competition at Showers Field Tuesday. The event continues today with Sink the Tub at the Tannery Dam on First Street at 6:30 p.m.

Community remembers Brittany Baird, supports Haven House

PENFIELD — Family, friends and local supporters gathered and rode to remember a DuBois native in Penfield Saturday.

The annual Brittany Baird Memorial Dice Run was held at the Penfield Firemen’s Club on Bennetts Valley Highway, welcoming close to 200 people. Area bikers enjoyed a 125-mile ride through Clearfield, Elk and Cameron counties.

Brittany Baird, a DuBois Area High School graduate, was 25 years old when she died in a canoeing accident on the Clarion River in May 2014.

Her father and Treasure Lake resident Lon Baird said this is the dice run’s fifth year. Proceeds have always been donated to the Haven House Shelter on West DuBois Avenue. Saturday’s run raised around $15,000 that will help homeless people in the area get back on their feet.

Brittany had her master’s degree in social work, Lon said. His wife, Marcy Baird, is employed at New Story School in DuBois.

“When we lost Brittany, I wanted to do something in her name, and give it to a charity,” he said. “I didn’t know much about Haven House, but we know a lot about it now.”

The Baird family has become one of the homeless shelter’s biggest supporters over the years.

The run welcomes a different number of people each year, Lon said, but there are a few supporters who never miss the chance to remember Brittany. One year, more than 300 people gathered to support the cause.

Lon and most of his friends are motorcycle riders, so the event is an enjoyable day for all of them. A large party is held after the ride, offering music, food and several donated raffle prizes.

The run has truly become a community, effort, Lon said, with an estimated 50 sponsors donating items or helping in some way. The Penfield Firemen’s Club donates the dinner.

“Six months in advance, people start asking me about this,” Lon said. “A lot of people who come have been there every year.”

For three years, Nichole’s Niche of downtown DuBois also hosted a prom-gown giveaway in Baird’s memory, Lon said.

“We lived our whole lives here in DuBois, and we have so many supportive friends and family members,” Lon said. “That’s why this is so successful. It’s unbelievable the love people show us. They just come out and want to give, and that makes us feel so good.”