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Wildcat pride at Gold Out homecoming parade and rally

ATHENS — Athens homecoming fun had a lot of gold in the mix during their parade and first Wildcat Rally in the Valley event at the football field on Thursday.

The gold was dedicated to the battle against childhood cancer. Ariah Cook and Seeley Carlin, who are both battling cancer, were declared honorary junior homecoming queen and king. Cook and Carlin road in the parade together and out onto the football during the rally.

The pep rally was attended by all sports teams, classmates, high school staff, community members and State Rep. Tina Pickett (R-110).

There will be no admission for the homecoming game this year and donations will be taken for Cook and Carlin.

Athens School Board pursuing savings with bond refinancing

The Athens Area School District is moving forward with bond refinancing in hopes of taking advantage of an interest rates that have dipped near the 40-year low.

On Tuesday, the school board voted to move forward with in hopes of securing around $244,000 in savings over the remaining lives of two bond issues following presentations from financial advisor Audrey Bear of Piper Jaffray & Co. and bond counsel Dave Unkovic from McNees Wallace & Nurick.

Bear warned that the rates she was showing school board members Tuesday might not be the rates that will be available once their paperwork is filed, and noted that the savings she was presenting had already decreased compared to last week.

The Athens Area School District has typically utilized a threshold of 2% savings for refinancing. During Bear’s presentation, she indicated it was at 3.21%.

The resolution approved Tuesday gives the school district the option to refinance, but does not commit it to refinancing if the savings aren’t optimal, according to Bear.

“It gives us the opportunity to do the paperwork and be ready to move ahead, if you’re so inclined,” she said.

Troy: High Street parking prohibition overturned

TROY — Following heated conversation from both community members and board members during a Tuesday Troy Area School District Board of Education meeting, Troy Borough has announced that they will not be acting on a recent ordinance that prohibited parking on High Street.

Upon request in a former school board meeting, Troy Superintendent Dr. Amy Martell informed Troy school board members that Troy Borough had passed an ordinance prohibiting parking on the upper level of High Street.

This decision came after the borough asked district representatives to meet with them to discuss safety concerns at the intersection of King and High streets, especially during morning and afternoon student pick up and drop off periods.

With no parking on the upper level of High Street, district officials planned to allow only buses to travel in that lane before dropping students off near Troy Intermediate School while directing all other vehicles to utilize the lower portion of the road.

In doing this, administrators hoped to eliminate students from jumping down from the deteriorating stone lane dividing wall and crossing the lower lane to enter the high school, as well as create a safer traffic pattern at the intersection, according to Martell, who showed a recent video of a bus and car nearly colliding at the intersection close to a group of students waiting on the sidewalk.

Troy Board of Education member Bill Brasington opposed the High Street parking prohibition, stating that he did not believe it would make students any safer, that it would drive down property values of residents of High Street and that the borough “has an motive” behind prohibiting parking on the street, where multiple residents currently park, unrelated to student safety.

Brasington suggested that he feels directing buses to use the upper portion of High Street could lead to safety concerns if an evacuation is needed due to fire and that the safety concerns at the intersection can be solved with more police presence.

Brasington also suggested assigning detention to students whose parents use the upper part of High Street for drop offs, as it is against school policy, but Martell, as well as school board President Dan Martin stated that it is a “fine line” of whether they can punish students as the street is borough property.

“I don’t want to wait until someone’s injured,” Martell said. “I’m concerned about kids at the end of the day, the only thing I care about is kids’ safety.”

Board member Sheryl Angove suggested that a safety study should be completed on the intersection before decisions are made.

Darren Roy, another school board member, stated that the board should continue attempts to win grants that would fund the construction of a proposed enclosed walking bridge from the high school to the Memorial Auditorium, which would remove much foot traffic from the intersection.

Darin Rathbun of Hunt Engineering, who assisted the school in researching the enclosed bridge project, stated that the bridge is slated to cost an estimated $3 million and that while Troy was not awarded Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development grants in the past they can continue to reapply.

Rathbun recommended that reapplying and including videos like Martell had shown would give the project more exposure and could help the school obtain the money, as could writing to local legislators and sharing the need.

“I’m just trying to keep kids safe,” Martell reiterated.

Multiple High Street residents vocalized their disdain for the parking prohibition, including Dale Palmer who questioned where residents would park and stated that the ordinance would drive down property values.

High Street residents Brandon and Sheryl Page voice that they strongly support student safety but asked if residents would be permitted to park in school parking lots and explained that they and their neighbors have little or no parking other than the street.

“It is really going to upset our daily lives,” he said.

Brandon Page also stated that no letters were sent out to warn residents that prohibition of parking on High Street was being discussed and Sheryl pointed out that there is corrosion and large potholes on upper High Street and that she doubts parents will follow rules now if they have not in the past.

Martell stated that many problems being brought to the school board were not under their jurisdiction but instead Troy Borough’s.

Troy Borough Manager Dan Close released a public statement Wednesday morning that announced that Troy Borough will not be acting on the No Parking Ordinance and that the ordinance will not be on the agenda of the Sept. 26 Troy Borough Council meeting.

“Borough Council remains concerned with pedestrian and vehicle safety in the High Street and King Street intersection during school hours, but feels there should be more investigation,” he stated. “Please use extreme caution while walking or driving in that area while committees continue to work toward a resolution.”