KNOX - Opponents of the state Department of Health mandate requiring masks in public schools had nearly 90 minutes to make their case Sept. 20 in front of the Keystone School Board and in the end, the board delayed its decision on enforcing the mandate.

Keystone School Board President John Slagle called for tabling the decision until Sept. 27, saying he believes there will be "legislative action" by that time which will make any local board decisions "moot."

Slagle's call for tabling the action came after Keystone School District Acting Superintendent Michael McCormick gave his recommendation that the district enforce the mandate as stated by the Department of Health.

Approximately 110 people filled the elementary school cafeteria/gymnasium (two of those people wore face masks) with 10 people calling ahead to be placed on the meeting agenda to speak on the issue.

Each of those 10 people was afforded approximately five minutes to address the board with each of the speakers opposing the mask mandate and most stating their support for in-person instruction.

With the public comment portion of the work session over, McCormick began his regular work session report and acknowledged the masking issue has become "very divisive."

McCormick told the board members and the audience (as of Sept. 20) the district had 16 positive cases of COVID-19 among students, teachers and other employees.

Additionally, 183 people were quarantined from the school.

"Only 10 percent of our students are wearing masks," said McCormick.

McCormick, who also serves as elementary school principal, said the district's legal counsel had warned of a "list of consequences" the district could face if it does not enforce the masking mandate.

McCormick said legal counsel warned of possible financial penalties, loss of liability insurance coverage, revocation of certifications for administrators, federal civil rights violations and lawsuits against the district and individual board members and administrators.

McCormick said district attorneys advised him medical documentation must be on file for students seeking a medical exemption and the attorneys further advised the district that parents cannot simply "opt out" of the mask mandate.

"I have no choice but to recommend to enforce the mandate entirely, starting next week, Sept. 27," said McCormick.

McCormick said the parents of students who refused to wear a mask would be notified of their child's violation and if the parent did not convince the student to wear a mask, the student would be sent home.

"We might lose hundreds (of students) to cyber school," said McCormick. "But enforcement (of the mandate) is our only path forward."

McCormick's recommendation to the board touched off a 25-minute round of un-moderated public comment with several people standing to loudly oppose the recommendation and berate McCormick and the board for having "already made up their minds."

One woman asked McCormick if he would "go along" with a mandate requiring students to receive a COVID vaccine.

"I can't respond to something that hasn't happened," replied McCormick. "But I won't lie, some of the consequences (of violating the mask mandate) concern me."

The board proceeded its way through the work session agenda and quickly moved through the regular business meeting agenda and arrived at the heart of the meeting.

Board member Jim Beary motioned to approve "the approach of the Keystone School District toward the Pennsylvania Department of Health's Aug. 31 facial covering order" as a procedural move to bring the matter to a vote.

Slagle intervened and suggested tabling the vote for a week.

The audience called for the board to vote on the issue and some board members appeared to agree.

"The (state) legislature is back in session," said Slagle. "They will address this. By this time next week, it could be a moot point."

Slagle said "all" of the board members wanted to vote against the enforcement of the mandate but are "hamstrung."

My kid, my choice

The ten scheduled public comments came from Leigh Black, Dan Cosper, Ian Fulton, Sylvia Jones, Sarah Knepper, Amber Mohney, Missy Pore, Liza Say, Tom Spence and Don Gutonski.

Jason Say, who led a "My kid, my choice" rally on Labor Day in Knox and encouraged the 200 at that rally to join him at the Sept. 20 school board session did not attend the Monday night meeting as he was on a hunting trip in New Mexico.

Several of the speakers at the school board meeting echoed Say's call for parents to enroll their children in cyber school and force the school district into bankruptcy if the district enforces the mask mandate.

Spence told the board his research led him to believe the board members cannot be held liable for their decisions on the mask mandate.

Spence said the threats of loss of certifications are "nonsense."

Most of the speakers said they believe the school board members are in a "difficult" situation, but called on the board to support the group's "my kid, my choice" philosophy.

Several speakers said if the board members do not want to "face up" to Harrisburg mandates, they should resign from the board.

Editor's note: Although Keystone School Board President John Slagle indicated a vote on the mask mandate would be held Sept. 27, school officials indicated Tuesday that meeting might be held Sept. 28 to accommodate all school board members. Interested individuals should watch for an announcement.


CLARION - It's usually "caveat emptor" let the buyer beware when buying a used vehicle through an auction, and Scott and Pamela Price of Leeper agree with that adage, but the couple believes they got a raw deal when they bought seven vehicles through the recent Clarion County surplus sale.

CLARION TWP. - Hearts are in the right place in regard to the Clarion-Limestone School Board and what to do with the Betty Willison Scholarship account, but unfortunately for the board, the laws are quite stringent when it comes to how to invest the principle.

SLIGO - Pastor Brock Beveridge is quick to point out the large diorama of "The City of Jerusalem" isn't perfectly actuate, but it is pretty close. The scene includes the temple on the mount which was destroyed by the Romans.

CLARION - Students, faculty and staff at Keystone School District returned to classes Tuesday under direction to comply with a state Department of Health mandate requiring face masks in all district buildings.

MONROE TWP. - Putting life back into the Clarion Mall, "Family Farm & Home" opened its doors to the public Oct. 14, headed up by store manager Bobbi Wood, a Clarion-Limestone High School graduate and an eight-year Army veteran.

CLARION TWP. - "Seceder Cemetery" is a secluded garden of heroes. Lying among the trees are the graves of eight veterans of the Revolutionary War, several graves of Clarion County men who served in the War of 1812 and at least one veteran of the Civil War.

RIMERSBURG — A 71-year-old Rimersburg man faces numerous charges after police said they found 13 images of a 15-year-old girl in various stages of undress and to the point of nudity.

PORTER TWP. – Tpr. Katherine Berggren reports a 48-year-old New Bethlehem man faces numerous charges, including attempted homicide, after he allegedly fired a gun in the direction of a 45-year-old South Fork woman and an 11-year-old girl, also from South Fork.

KNOX - With a much smaller audience, the Keystone School Board Oct. 11 again outlined its stance on the state's mandatory masking rule and the district's intention to enforce the rule beginning Oct. 18.

CLARION - As it has for several years, Knox Borough Council Oct. 4 agreed to hold its 2022 real estate tax level at 10 mills, and will continue budget planning into November.

CLARION - Contract negotiations are nothing new between the Clarion Area School Board and the Clarion Education Association but the way the negotiations are being handled this year is a change.

CLARION - The "hustle and bustle" has returned to the Community Learning Workshop at 505 Main Street in Clarion as the center has re-opened its doors to face-to-face tutoring and programs, a change that could be vitally important as local schools are mired in face masking and vaccine debates.

MONROE TWP. - Penny Campbell, director of the Clarion County Housing Authority, recently outlined the plans of the newly-formatted Clarion County Redevelopment Authority during the Clarion County Association of Township Officials convention in Monroe Township.

CLARION — It was Farmers and Crafters Day on Friday at the Autumn Leaf Festival, and Clarion Chamber of Business and Industry leader Tracy Becker said the day went well.

CLARION — The 68th Clarion Autumn Leaf Festival ended like it began, under sunny skies. The tractor show brought dozens of antique tractors, “hit and miss” engines and lawn tractors to Clarion’s Main Street.

FOXBURG - For most students who want to participate in a sport their school district doesn't offer, a cooperative agreement can be the best solution but in the case of one Allegheny-Clarion Valley student, it's better if her home district stays neutral.

CLARION - "We are in a crisis," said Ed Goth of the Clarion County Emergency Medical Services Task Force during the recent convention of the Clarion County Association of Township Supervisors.

CLARION — The Clarion Free Library should be a warmer place this winter.Library director Ian Snyder said the new boiler has been mostly installed and will be turned on a week from today.Snyder said the boiler will be easier to operate and takes up a lot less space in the basement boiler room…

FRILLS CORNERS - Adding the extension to the Washington Township existing sewage system has been a long, arduous process over the past couple years but there may be light at the end of the proverbial tunnel soon.

CLARION - A recent tax assessment appeal for the Regency Commons low-income housing complex along South Fifth Avenue in Clarion could cost the borough, county and school district a combined total of nearly $88,000 in real estate tax revenue.

Union High School will dismiss students at 11 a.m. today due to "several positive cases of Covid which have resulted in quarantining of staff members necessary in performing key functions," according to Superintendent John Kimmel. The high school will be operating remotely Monday, Tuesday, a…

CLARION - The Clarion Borough Stormwater Authority will soon send out its fourth-quarter bills and at the same time, it will be sending delinquent account notices to those property-owners who have not yet paid the fee.

ELK TWP. - Elk Township supervisors discussed possible road projects for the 2022 construction season Sept. 13 but didn't commit to any of the work yet.

CLARION TWP. - At the Clarion-Limestone School Board's August meeting, the board was made aware of 51 missing Chromebooks and how it cost the district around $15,000 but at the board's meeting September session, C-L Principal Mel Aaron wanted to clarify some of those figures were exaggerated.

CLARION - The Clarion County Board of Commissioners, during its Sept. 28 meeting, opened sealed bids for cars, buses, real estate and miscellaneous items that total, unofficially, well over $300,000.

CLARION - Clarion County officials Sept. 16 learned the county was awarded $1,096,125 by the Appalachian Regional Commission to design, build, and launch fixed wireless broadband services to unserved andunderserved areas.

STRATTANVILLE - Pennsylvania-American Water Co. has expressed interest in purchasing a section of the Strattanville Municipal Authority's sewerage collection system.

FRILLS CORNERS - It seems being in a state of flux has been an unfortunate reality of the Lake Lucy Municipal Authority since its inception in 2014 and it doesn't seem to be settling down any time soon.

KOSSUTH - Ashland Township supervisors plan to bring the township's broken down 2014 International general-purpose truck back to the maintenance building but beyond that, the future of the truck is uncertain.

FOXBURG - A group of around 40 concerned parents showed up at the Sept. 20 Allegheny-Clarion Valley School Board meeting to voice their displeasure with the district's handling of the mask mandate handed down earlier this month by the Pennsylvania Department of Health but the overwhelming ma…

KNOX - Opponents of the state Department of Health mandate requiring masks in public schools had nearly 90 minutes to make their case Sept. 20 in front of the Keystone School Board and in the end, the board delayed its decision on enforcing the mandate.

ERIE - The attorney representing Keystone School District believes the Pennsylvania Secretary of Health's order mandating the use of face masks in school is "legal and binding."

CLARION TWP. - In its August work session/regular meeting, the Clarion-Limestone School Board accepted the first reading of a policy regarding the district's philosophy of education and its teaching of non-traditional subjects.

FRILLS CORNERS - The North Clarion School Board Sept. 13 heard strong opinions from parents regarding a state mandate requiring their children to wear masks at school.

PAINT TWP. - Paint Township supervisors Sept. 14 followed through on a pledge to support "specific projects" by the Shippenville/Elk Township Volunteer Fire Department.

LEEPER - Farmington Township will tap into its American Rescue Plan funding to clear sewerage sludge from its treatment plant and to repair various manholes in the sewerage collection system.

CLARION - Shade trees were again a topic of discussion at the Clarion Borough September council meeting and the matter will be forwarded to the borough storm water authority for its input.

CLARION - A "paddle share" service might be coming to Clarion as soon as next spring. Pending approval from the Clarion Borough Council, Tom Switzer hopes to start a kayak and paddleboard rental service at the Toby boat launch.

ELK TWP. - State police have filed a summary traffic violation charge against a 66-year-old Kossuth woman who was allegedly at the wheel of a vehicle that struck and killed an Amish man as he drove his buggy along U.S. Route 322 in Elk Township Jan. 14, 2020.

CLARION - Since the Pennsylvania Department of Health mandated K-12 students in schools across the commonwealth wear face coverings, there has been a lot of pushback from parents, including those at Clarion Area School District.

CLARION - "Anything can happen," said Tracy Becker, executive director at the Clarion Area Chamber of Business and Industry, and while "all systems are go" for the 2021 Autumn Leaf Festival, Becker isn't taking any chances.

Union High School and career center will be dismissing students at 9:30 a.m. due to a power outage at the school, according to district Superintendent John Kimmel. Phones at the school are also not working. Sligo Elementary School students will be dismissed at the normal time.