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Jefferson County Fair opens today

BROOKVILLE — A new Jefferson County Fair queen, junior queen and princess will be crowned this afternoon when 24 girls compete for the titles on opening day of the 2019 Jefferson County Fair in Brookville.

Opening ceremonies will begin at 1:30 p.m. on the community stage. The Rev. Christopher McCloskey, pastor of Brockway Presbyterian Church, will give the devotional. Special music will be sung by the Village Voices of Brockway.

Prior to the opening ceremonies, the new Parker Prayer Place will be dedicated in memory of E. M. “Jack” Parker, a long-time friend of the fair.

The first event in front of the grandstand will be the garden tractor pull, beginning at noon today. Youngsters and the young-at-heart will be competing for prizes. Horse pulls will be held later in the afternoon, beginning with the mini-horsepulls at 4 p.m.

A wide variety of activities have been planned for the week. Fair authority member Toni Facchine said, “We are so excited about our grandstand events, entertainment and the many animals that will be on the ground.”

Grandstand events include truck and tractor pulls by Full Pull Productions on Monday and Tuesday nights, ATV races by Legends Powersports on Wednesday, a mud bog on Thursday, the Rawhide Rodeo on Friday and JM Motorsport’s figure 8 racing and demolition derby on Saturday.

Each day at the fair will feature different performers on the community stage, with entertainment to include Bingo games, square dancing and rock bands. The annual fiddler’s contest will be held Saturday afternoon, and rounding out the programs will be music and karaoke by Dazzle U.

The annual senior citizens picnic will be held Thursday, with entertainment by the Village Voices of Brockway following the lunch.

Throughout the day Thursday the Farm Bureau will be collecting non-perishable items for the local food bank.

The barns will be full of animals, including horses, beef and dairy, swine and poultry.

Several new contests will be featured in the general exhibits buildings, along with traditional entries. Baking contests will be judged Monday and Tuesday.

“All departments are ready to move forward,” Authority president Wayne Jackson said.

Admission to this year’s fair will be $9 per person, and includes all exhibits, grandstand and community stage shows, the carnival by Bartlebaugh Amusements, and parking.

Wednesday will be Sarvey Family Day at the fair, when admission will be $5 per person.

Gates will open at 2 p.m. Monday through Friday and 11 a.m. Saturday. The carnival will open at 5 p.m. each day, with earlier openings at 4 p.m. Wednesday and 1 p.m. Saturday.

Clearfield's Harley looks back on 15-year career at Jimmy Stewart Museum

CLEARFIELD — Clearfield resident Timothy Harley recently wrapped a 15-year career as executive director of the Jimmy Stewart Museum.

The museum, located in Indiana Borough, highlights Stewart’s radio, television and film career along with his military service and the early years of life in the town located in Indiana County. It is located at 835 Philadelphia St., Indiana.

Harley said in 2001, while he was serving as the executive director of the Irish American Museum in Albany, N.Y., his father experienced health problems and he decided to return to Clearfield to help care for him. “I wanted to come back and spend time with my Dad and my family,” he said.

After working for several years as a substitute instructor for the Clearfield Area School District and the DuBois Business College, he saw an advertisement for the museum’s director position and decided to apply. “Although I thought I was needed at home and was coming home to stay, my father had a wonderful recovery and I was looking for something to fill more of my time.”

He was hired and began working there in June of 2004. Harley said, at first, his acceptance of the position came with reservations since his duties differed from earlier positions he held at various museums at locations throughout New York.

“My concern was being the director of a personality-based museum when my love is historic architecture. While I love and collected old movies, a museum dedicated to a star baffled me,” he explained. That attitude was quickly reversed once he became immersed in his job and saw how Stewart was revered even by those who are too young to have known him personally.

“It was very interesting and amazing thing in how people had a way of disassociating Mr. Jimmy Stewart and the actor. In most of his movies, he played an admirable person and that was reflected in the life he lived. The measure of weight he had on people’s lives overwhelmed me,” Harley said.

He said the museum then and today continues to be the largest-drawing single site tourist attraction however when he became executive director, the museum’s attendance was starting to experience a downturn as Stewart’s fanbase grew older, affecting its bottom line.

Harley said, as the museum’s overseer, it was vital to the site’s future existence, to find way to sustain funding and find opportunities to make the museum’s story more accessible.

He said while some of the museum’s board of directors were reluctant at first to announce financial difficulties, they soon were agreeable. Harley said the first break was securing an interview about the museum and the hardships it was facing with MSNBC. The story appeared on both the Today Show and the Nightly News. “That started a flood of donations and got the ball rolling,” he explained.

Other interviews with prominent publications were also helpful in allowing the museum to be maintained for future generations. “We put the museum on track so that it can continue,” Harley explained.

Harley said, also during his tenure, he was able to create a new display of existing items along with acquiring new photographs and memorabilia from his career.

He said Stewart had a long and successful career starting supporting movie roles and quickly becoming the lead during the 1950s in films such as “Harvey” and “Bell, Book and Candle” and “The Man Who Knew Too Much.”

Stewart’s final film role was to provide the voice of Wylie Burp in the 1991 animated movie “American Tail: Fievel Goes West.”

He said the museum is a “must see” for any Jimmy Stewart fan and for anyone who wants to be immersed in the life and career of one of the commonwealth’s notable residents. “I encourage anyone who is interested in Mr. Stewart to do. It’s an easy day trip from here.”

Harley said one of his favorite things to do while he was the museum’s executive director was to leaf through the attraction’s guest books. “The comments were so moving like “bucket list.” Stewart’s fans left such beautiful sincere feelings.”

Harley said he had been contemplating his retirement for several years before he actually tendered his resignation. The decision to withdraw from the position was difficult. “I loved my wonderful work family and I had a very supportive board but in time I came to the decision that it was time to retire. It was important to the museum’s continuation that it have a new vision and I trusted the board to find someone who could sustain this wonderful community asset.”

Harley said, approximately two months into his retirement, he has been enjoying spending time with his family. He said he has two siblings who reside in Clearfield along with a niece and her family. He also has a sister that lives in Hershey.

He has also been spending time on another of his interests –painting. He has been painting images of downtown Clearfield using watercolors and acrylics.

'Trust' and 'integrity' are important goals for Sandy Twp. police chief

DuBOIS — Newly appointed Sandy Township Police Chief Kris Kruzelak promises to provide quality leadership in the community and within the police department.

“I want the public to have trust in the Sandy Township Police and know that they will be getting the best service possible with the highest level of integrity,” Kruzelak said. “I want to ensure that every officer of the department and every resident of Sandy Township get home safe every night.”

Kruzelak, who had been serving as officer-in-charge since the retirement of Chief Don Routch on Aug. 9, 2018, was hired by the supervisors on June 17. He officially took over the leadership role on July 1 after having spent the last 24 years working with the police department.

A native of DuBois, Kruzelak, 47, grew up just outside of Reynoldsville and attended DuBois Area Middle and High School, graduating in 1990. In 1996, he bought his first house in Sandy Township and has lived in the township ever since.

The desire to pursue public service started at a young age for Kruzelak.

“My mother was an ER nurse for many years in DuBois,” he said. “Listening to her many stories of helping people and the odd situations that she encountered intrigued me. This is where I probably inherited the trait of helping people.”

While he was in high school, the popularity of COPS, a documentary television series that follows police officers, constables and sheriff’s deputies during patrols and other police activities, also caught his attention.

“I could see what police officers do on a day-to-day basis and how that every shift brings something new and exciting,” Kruzelak said.

And after sitting at the kitchen table and listening to stories from his uncle, a Pennsylvania State Police trooper, Kruzelak said he was then hooked on becoming a police officer.

Following his high school graduation, Kruzelak attended Penn State DuBois for one year before moving on to Harrisburg Area Community College for its Police Science program. Immediately after graduating from the Indiana University of Pennsylvania Municipal Police Academy, Kruzelak was hired by Sandy Township in 1995. He had also worked for a couple of years as a part-time police officer in Brookville in the late 1990s.

In 2001, Kruzelak was promoted to sergeant but what he considers his biggest achievement is being appointed the accreditation manager for the township police department in 2011.

“Accomplishing the work of achieving accreditation is something that only 10 percent of the 1,200 police departments in the state of Pennsylvania can say they obtained,” he said.

The Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police Association introduced the Pennsylvania Law Enforcement Accreditation Program to the Commonwealth in July 2001. Since then, more than 300 agencies have enrolled and 117 agencies currently have attained accredited status. The township was first accredited in 2013 and then the PLEAC unanimously voted to re-accredit the Sandy Township Police Department in 2016. The department completed its re-accreditation process for 2019 earlier this month.

The past nine months of being in charge of the police department, with the support of all of the officers, enforced Kruzelak’s desire to become chief.

“Every officer wants to work hard throughout their career to achieve rank,” Kruzelak said. “After Chief (Bill) Beers retired in the early 2000s, Sgt. (Rod) Fairman and I were put in charge of the department for a couple of years as sergeants-in-charge. I took care of the administrative side of things back then and enjoyed the work.”

Major concerns to be addressed

When asked what major concerns will be addressed by the township police department, Kruzelak cited the illegal drug activity.

“The drug problem in the DuBois area, along with all of Clearfield County, has increased significantly,” he said. “Methamphetamine and heroin are affecting the whole community. Our officers are dealing with both on a daily basis and seeing a lot of calls stemming from those addictions.”

Kruzelak said mental health issues have also increased, causing more officers’ time being consumed by seeing that these people get the help they need.

“I want the community to be involved and invested with what is happening in Sandy Township by having open communication with their police department,” Kruzelak said. “This starts by not being afraid to call the police if something doesn’t seem or look right. Our officers are here 24/7 to answer calls for service.”

Kruzelak said staffing of the police department is always a hurdle and making sure they have the resources and manpower to get the job done.

“Sgt. Fairman being assigned as our department detective has given us the opportunity for him to specialize in child abuse investigations and dedicate his time to ensure that these sensitive cases are handled properly and in a timely matter,” Kruzelak said.

Build community relationship

When it comes to building a relationship with the community, Kruzelak said the most important tie to the community is making sure schools and children are safe while at school.

“Building the relationship with the kids and parents just by them seeing us at and in the schools builds the public trust that we are doing our best to protect them,” he said. “I want the community to know the extra work that our officers are required to perform for the accreditation program is to ensure that we are being held accountable and transparent for following the high standards that have been set by the Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police. These standards, along with our policies, are continually being updated to follow all the Pennsylvania legal mandates and best practices in law enforcement.”

Kruzelak said he is an avid supporter/fan of all DuBois Beaver athletic programs, mainly the football and wrestling programs.

“My father and I haven’t missed a home football game in over 10 years,” he said. “Having volunteered coaching in the DuBois Little League program for 15 years and DuBois football programs has given me the opportunity to meet many good kids and parents that I will cherish forever. Some of my best memories are from being involved in Beaver football and wrestling and the relationships with my coaches. Pete Morelli and Mike Johnson, my wrestling coaches, taught me the value of effort and hard work to achieve success.”

Best part of working in township

Kruzelak said what he likes most about working in the township and DuBois area is that he knows a majority of the people on a personal level.

“Being in a small community, I have built many professional relationships that have lead into personal relationships,” he said. “These relationships make it easier for the community to be more open with their concerns.”

Kruzelak said working with the township’s new manager, Shawn Arbaugh, has been great.

“He (Arbaugh) believes in the team aspect to get the job done,” Kruzelak said. “His progressive thinking and passion to better build the township has been inspiring. His work ethic to get the many tasks that he has going on and his commitment into the police department’s needs proves his dedication to hard work.”

The new police chief also said that the officers who serve the township make it easy to come to work every day.

“Having the team effort of the officers within the department gives me confidence that Sandy Township residents are in good hands,” Kruzelak said.

Templeton farm a source of homemade soap made from homegrown ingredients

TEMPLETON — A Templeton-area couple is living the sustainable agriculture lifestyle on about 60 acres of land. Kate and Jim Gurnsey hold regular jobs in the outside world during the day, returning to their little slice of Eden in the evenings to tend their garden and farm animals.

“We produce about 70 percent of what we use and consume,” Kate Gurnsey said. “We are part of the sustainable lifestyle that is becoming popular in the area. Along with farming, we also forage wild foods and go hunting on our land.”

“We lived near Butler before we found this place and moved here. It takes five more minutes to get home at night than before, but we get to come home to this,” she said, waving her hand to include a well-stocked farmyard.

A fixture at seasonal farmers’ markets and summer festivals, the Gurnseys sell a variety of soaps made mostly from ingredients produced on their land in the Armstrong County village.

“We raise a heritage breed of pig, the Guinea hog,” Gurnsey said. “We only raise a few for pork, and so the amount of lard we get from them is limited. It is a high-quality fat perfect for soap-making.”

The black Guinea hog was popular in America until about 1800 and was in danger of become extinct like its relative, the red Guinea. Small and docile, the breed is regaining favor among some farmers. Good at foraging for some of its food, it is economical to raise.

Strutting among the various chickens, goats and geese on the Gurnsey property is a handsome turkey named Elvis. Sporting a reddish-blonde set of feathers, a blue head and a vivid red wattle, he also is a heritage breed. Gurnsey identified him as an Auburn, another farm animal that is very rare.

A mixed flock of heritage goats munched quietly on its daily grain ration in a nearby enclosure not far from a beehive.

“We get a fair amount of milk from our does, but the demand for goat’s milk soap outstrips our supply. As a result, we also buy some from other suppliers locally,” Gurnsey said.

The Gurnseys keep a few breeds, among them the Boer goat, originally from South Africa but found around the world. The Boer is known for the quantity and quality of its meat, and the other breeds in the farmyard are relied on for their butterfat-rich milk, the key to making soap.

Gurnsey also grows a wide range of herbs that she dries and uses to decorate her handmade soaps.

“Sometime in the future, I would like to expand, learn to distill my own oils and use them in my soaps. I would also like to branch out into making healing salves,” she said.

The Gurnseys’ kitchen garden just outside their kitchen door supplies them with greens, garlic and Egyptian onions. The latter is a perennial, bearing small bulbs on its stalks. Gurnsey said that they are excellent for pickling.

The farmstead is a work in progress as the Gurnseys expand what they produce. Making money is not the sole objective, though.

“Mostly, we want to raise what we need, trading some of our products with others for things that we do not grow or make ourselves,” she said.