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Rose's Hilltop Diner— Serving for three generations

WEEDVILLE — For Paige Hedburg, the diner life was inevitable.

Her grandmother Rose Hedburg started Rose’s Hilltop Diner decades ago and when health problems arose, Paige’s mother Belinda took the lead.

Cresting its 25 year anniversary, Paige says that since she was three years old she remembers being in the diner and wanting to be a part of it.

“I think that if my grandmother would sit here today, she would be surprised by the amount of traffic,” Paige said as she sat in a booth during the lull between lunch and dinner Wednesday. “It’s (traffic is) pretty steady.”

Paige remembers following her grandmother around the diner since she was in grade school. To quell her insatiable interest in the business, her grandmother taught her how to bake pies and cook certain dishes.

Paige says her mother prods that the passion for the business skipped generations, as her daughter would set out an alarm clock on school days so she would be ready to follow her mom to work.

Paige adds that in high school she wanted to drop out to take over the business and ultimately ended up doing some portions of her schooling online so she could work full-time.

In high school she would work weekends and now, at 28 years old, she is full-time and partners with her mother to help keep up with the demands of the business.

“I thought my grandma was very passionate about cooking and she had a strong belief in hospitality,” said Paige, who added, “She made me very proud of what we’re doing.”

To this day, as her grandmother insisted, every server writes a personalized “thank you” on the back of every check. Additionally, the diner makes homemade desserts, soups, burgers, spaghetti sauce, meatballs, and specials — as Rose intended.

Of the business, Paige said the hardest part is catering to the needs of customers. However, she quickly turns the conversation to say that the most rewarding part is making an atmosphere that is unique that people can’t find anywhere else.

Of the future, Paige says “it’s still being written.”

Since the business has started, Paige’s grandmother has passed and now it is her mother and her making it work.

“I do it a lot for the legacy of my grandmother, but I also do it a lot for my mom,” Paige said. “I try to take a lot of the load off of her, but still, I doubt I would be able to do it alone.”

Photo by Chris Wechtenhiser 

Penn State DuBois' Caleb Bennett (7) smiles as he waits for the onrush of teammates onto the field following the Nittany Lions' 7-6 win against Cleary University Wednesday in the winners' bracket finals at the Small College World Series. Bennett, who had a complete-game win on Monday, pitched the seventh inning Wednesday to get the save and propel DuBois into today's national championship game.

A SIMPLE NEED: Knights donate 323 pairs of new underwear to DASD students

DuBOIS — One of the most commonly requested items by nurses for students in the DuBois Area School District is new underwear.

As surprising as this may be to people in the community, Assistant Superintendent Wendy Benton said underwear is “simply a necessity.”

At last week’s board work session, Benton recognized John and Barbara Archer from the Knights of Columbus for recently donating 323 pairs of new underwear for district students, as well as socks, hats, scarves, sweatpants, sweatshirts and hoodies.

The Archers contacted Benton in the fall and asked if the students needed anything.

“I reached out to nurses and the principals and they came up with a list of some items that we really needed for our kids,” Benton said.

The Archers recently surprised Benton with the donation.

“When John and Barbara arrived at the district office, I felt thankful for the generous donations, excited for our students and relieved that we could provide for them,” Benton said.

Most of the schools in the district have clothing closets available to students.

“The clothing closets are accessible anytime there is a need and are also opened during lunch periods from time to time so that students can shop — for free of course,” Benton said. “Our community has been most generous at providing donations of gently used clothing but rarely do we receive donations of new underwear.”

However, accidents happen and when they do, students typically seek out the school nurse for assistance.

“Having new underwear in a variety of sizes available in the privacy of the nurse’s office is just another way to show how much we care about our students,” Benton said. “Sometimes it’s easy to lose perspective, but it’s important to keep in mind: Some parents cannot leave work to bring a change of clothing to their child at school. Some families lack a form of transportation to get to their child’s school. Some families struggle financially to provide the basic needs for their children.”

“We often talk about DASD being a family — an extended family with thousands of family members,” Benton said. “When we are made aware of a need, we do everything that we can to meet the needs of our extended family.”

For example, when the district learned that some students were concerned about where their next meal would come from on the weekends, a few schools started food pantries — DuBois Area Middle School Chomp Out Hunger and “Backpack Blessings.”

Teachers and staff meet before school Friday mornings to fill backpacks of food for the students to take home for the weekend.

“When the community learned how many students started the school year without a backpack and school supplies, the community donated more than 200 backpacks with school supplies,” Benton said. “When Wasson Elementary realized how many students did not have sneakers for physical education class, they started a ‘shoe share’ program where clean socks are provided and students can borrow a pair of shoes for physical education class.”

Benton said there are countless acts of kindness within the district’s extended family on a daily basis.

“It’s one of the best things about our community. We pride ourselves in taking care of each other. When our students receive a donation, we remind them just how much the community cares about them,” she said.

“It was just so nice of them to do that for us, we are so very grateful for their donations,” Benton said. “If you know anyone in the Knights of Columbus, please thank them for their generosity.”

Local businesses power through prom season

DuBOIS — Local and family-owned businesses in the DuBois area started preparing for area proms months ago, bringing in extra staff and merchandise to make it through the season smoothly.

Joe’s Tux Shop Owner Laurie Fitzer said they bring back many seasonal employees and family members for extra help during this time of year, when the most tuxedos need to be pressed and prepped for prom goers.

Some employees are working 12 hours a day to ensure tuxedos are ready in the short turnaround time, which is typically three to four days after they are returned, Fitzer said. For example, about 600 tuxedos went out last week, and 300 are needed this week.

Many employees return just to help with the chaotic business of prom time, volunteering to do things like assist customers, measure, press tuxedos or shine shoes.

“It really takes everybody working together,” Fitzer said. “Our employees have done a terrific job.”

Not all tuxedos go to local customers, considering that Joe’s wholesales to other men’s stores in places like Butler, Bradford and Altoona, Fitzer said. About 280 are reserved for local high schoolers in DuBois, Brookville and Ridgeway this coming weekend — whereas last week, which was DuBois Central Catholic’s prom — required about 650. Brockway Area High School and Jeff Tech held their proms the week prior, calling for about 730 tuxedos, creating a very busy week at Joe’s.

Joe’s Tux Shop is family-owned business that was started in the 1950s by Fitzer’s father, she said. It was moved from Sykesville to DuBois in 1986 and taken over by her in 1998.

Being a local business that has been passed down helps Joe’s to feel like a family-oriented environment, where friends help friends in order to get by and give the best service, Fitzer said.

“Everyone is more than willing to work and help out,” she said. “It’s definitely a family. A lot of people bring in family members if we need them.”

Another local business sees the peaks of prom season, preparing as early as December by bringing in extra gowns, said Nicole’s Niche Co-owner Cindy Powers, who co-owns the store in downtown DuBois with her daughter, Nicole.

The number of girls who come in shopping for prom gowns varies year to year, Powers said. April is usually the most popular month to try on, but this year it was March. Some high school girls will start looking soon after Christmas.

The gowns come in from different sources, and are offered at discounted prices, Powers said. Different bridal and prom gowns can be found at all price points and sizes. Girls can also bring their gowns in to consign within the shop – as long as they aren’t more than three years old — and those dresses can be passed on to other local shoppers.

Customers come in from a variety of nearby areas, including Punxsutawney, Clearfield, St. Marys, Brookville, Brockway and beyond, Powers said.

“Some years we are busier than others, and different years girls are looking for different things,” she said. “It just depends on who is looking for what.”

It’s always nice to support area business owners, and it’s fun for local moms and daughters to come and shop at a place owned by a mother-daughter duo, Powers said.

“Its always better economy-wise to support your locals,” she said. “Because we get these from different bridal companies, they don’t have to travel (to find them), and can try on at their leisure. Shopping local is better for the whole community.”

In a small town, you are also able to see different generations of families come in each year, watching them and their siblings find dresses, Powers said.

Joe’s Tux Shop and Nicole’s Niche can both be found on Facebook.

Group to hold tractor events over holiday weekend

SYKESVILLE — Each year on Memorial Day weekend, a group of tractor enthusiasts get together at the Sykesville Fairgrounds to show off their machinery and offer activities to the public.

The Past to Present Machinery Association will hold its annual show and fundraiser May 25, 26 and 27, offering food, tractor and toy displays and equipment demonstrations.

The organization is in its 14th year with about 230 members total, said member Dave Moore. Anyone who has a love of tractors or farm machinery is welcome to join in the fun, he said.

The consignment auction, which is held Saturday at 9 a.m., is PPMA’s only fundraiser throughout the year, Moore said. People are encouraged to bring auction items to the fairgrounds on Friday — anything from trailers, wagons, hay bailers, hand tools, etc., where the group will be setting up for the following day.

There also will be a “Pedal Tractor Pull” for youngsters ages 3-10 on Saturday at 2 p.m., followed by tractor square dances and music by Spruce Creek.

Group members are collectors of all kinds of tractors, dating back to even the 1920s, Moore said. Some members have as many as 45 antique tractors.

Attending the weekend’s events is not only an enjoyable family activity for a holiday weekend, but can also be educational as attendees view and learn more about antique machinery, Moore said. Many of the tractors are 40, 50 or 60 years old.

Each year, the PPMA features a different brand of tractor at the annual show, Moore said. This year’s theme is Ford. Last year, about 35 Olivers were on display.

“A lot of us grew up with these tractors when we were kids,” Moore said. “It’s how we learned to drive.”

Sunday’s activities will include a worship service, tractor games, a tractor parade, and antique, garden and pedal tractor pulls. A “Parade off the Hill” will start at 4 p.m.

The PPMA also participates in “plow days” and annual tractor rides as well as parades.

For more information, visit the Past to Present Machinery Association Facebook page, or call Fred Reed (814)-590-6551, Dean Reed, (814)-661-2651 or Larry Shepler, (814)-541-4360.