CLARION - Clarion County's population decline reported in the 2020 census may change the county's status from a sixth-class county to a seventh-class county.

The county's population stood at 37,241 in the 2020 census, a decrease of about 2,000 from the 2010 population of about 39,000.

Clarion County Commissioner Ted Tharan said the county has been notified it could become a seventh-class county.

"I don't think there is any benefit to that," said Tharan. "Our solicitor will give us an opinion on that after Thanksgiving."

"We really have not been a sixth class county for quite a while," said commissioner Wayne Brosius. "We just never changed it."

The Pennsylvania County Code says a sixth-class county has a population of 45,000 to 90,000 and a seventh-class county has a population of 20,000 to 45,000.

The commissioners would decide the change in status.

Tharan questioned if every county resident was accounted for.

"Did they count the Amish?" he asked. "With the COVID did they knock on every door?"

Tharan said Clarion University students could have registered either as residents in Clarion or at their homes. When the census was taken many students were taking classes virtually and were not physically at the university.

"It is a tough problem," said Brosius. "We are constantly engaged in economic development. If we bring in good jobs we believe people will come here."

Brosius said the county is also involved with tourism.

"We feel that if we can get people to visit the area then they may consider moving here," he said. "We have a lot to offer. We have natural beauty and a good transportation network."

Community Development Block Grant allocations are linked to census numbers, and the county applied Tuesday for CDBG funds in the amount of $447,925.

Clarion Borough and Clarion Township are considered entitlement communities and receive CDBG funds directly. Population numbers determine entitlement communities.

The remaining CDBG funds are distributed among the county's other municipalities.

Trail grant application approved

The board of commissioners also approved a $1.5 million PennDOT Set-Aside Grant Application for Brady Tunnel Phase III.

It is an investment by the state the commissioners hope will have a healthy return for the county.

The Pittsburgh to Erie Trail passes through the Brady Tunnel. The trail is expected to benefit the region.

Chris Ziegler, executive Director of Armstrong Trails, said a similar trail, the Pittsburgh to Washington, D.C. trail had 1.5 million users in 2020, with 200,000 of them staying overnight on multi-day trips. She said trail users spend about $124 a day or about $56 million a year.

Tharan said the motels, restaurants, bed and breakfasts along the trail would benefit from the trail traffic.

"Someone could even start a shuttle service to the motels," he said. "This opens up a lot of opportunities."

The Pittsburgh to Erie trail is restricted to hikers and bikers. Low wattage E-Bikes are permitted but horses are not.

The application approved by the commissioners is pending a memorandum of understanding and legal review. There is no required match.

The grant would aid in the completion of the Brady Tunnel. The tunnel renovation project started in 2019 and is estimated to cost $7 million.

Ziegler expects the project to be fully funded by the middle of next year. She said construction finished the end of 2020 with the installation of a liner in parts of the tunnel.

"The DCNR application, a set-aside application and a multi-modal application would get the liner completed," she said.

Ziegler said no work was being done in the center of the tunnel because "we're not fixing something that doesn't need to be fixed."

She said the final phase would include asphalt, trail, and"moon" lighting. The trail also incorporates several historical features including a restored railroad turntable.

"We should have a very busy 2022 construction season and should be open at the end of 2022 or early 2023," she said.

SHIPPENVILLE - It's been a while since the Shippenville Borough Council has been able to address the town's streets but that might be coming to an end -- for certain streets anyway.

CLARION - During a recent Rotary meeting in Clarion, Tina Gibbs, Community Relations Coordinator for PennDOT District 10, addressed several questions regarding the planned replacement project of the Canoe Creek Bridge on Interstate 80 in Clarion County.

CLARION - The residents of Clarion County have an additional reason to be thankful, a tax cut. The Clarion County Board of Commissioners No. 24 rolled out their proposed 2022 budget with a one-half mill tax decrease.

SHIPPENVILLE - A possible increase in the borough real estate tax was discussed briefly at the Shippenville Borough Council meeting Nov. 10 but ultimately council approved for advertisement the borough's 2022 tentative budget without a tax hike.

HARRISBURG -- The effort to establish a new entrance to the Clarion Industries plant in Paint Township received a big boost last week when the Department of Community and Economic Development's Commonwealth Financing Agency's Multimodal Transportation Fund approved an $863,431 grant for the …

CLARION - PennDOT continues to plan for the replacement of the Canoe Creek Bridge along Interstate 80, but the department is also planning on other projects in Clarion County.

KNOX - "It's pretty clear what the message was," incoming Keystone School Board member Jason Say told that board at its Nov. 15 session. "I hope this school board heard it loud and clear."

PAINT TWP. - The University Korner convenience store chain, with nine stores in Western Pennsylvania, including five in Clarion County, is planning a new store along River Hill (U.S. Route 322) in Paint Township.

KOSSUTH - Ashland Township's troubled relationship with its 2014 International general-purpose truck is nearing an end.

KNOX - Keystone School Board member Trisha Dixon, defeated in a re-lection bid by write-in candidate Randall "Buck" Weaver, said Nov. 15 she hopes the community and the school district can recover from a divisive election.

CLARION - The Clarion County Office of Elections has finished tallying hundreds of write-in votes this week and the results show incumbents in three races being defeated by write-in candidates.

FRILLS CORNERS - Moving ahead with facilities upgrades, the North Clarion School District Nov. 8 unanimously approved to advertise for bids three renovation projects at both the high school building and the elementary school building.

CLARION - The Clarion County Board of Commissioners Nov. 9 approved a $2,000 payment to Scott and Pamela Price of Leeper for "mileage discrepancy for vehicles purchased at county auction."

CLARION - A 1 percent sales tax or possibly a per capita fee both are ideas that could be considered to fund ambulance services in Clarion County.

LEEPER - "It's an emergency it really is," said Farmington Township Supervisor Matt Sherbine earlier this month in describing the status of ambulance service in Clarion County.

KNOX - Knox Borough Council Nov. 1 gave its preliminary approval to a $1,091,179 general fund budget for 2022 and leaving taxes at their current levels. Final adoption of the spending plan is expected in December.

CLARION - When Knox-area resident Scott Bell asked the members of the Clarion County Board of Commissioners if they would support a memorial bench for the victims of Agent Orange he touched on a problem facing more than 400 county residents.

GPR Management Inc., of Strattanville, which owns and operates five area MacDonald’s restaurants, has sold the businesses to a Pittsburgh-based management company.

LEEPER - Farmington Township officials said they are very satisfied with tree-trimming work done along Aaron and Breezemont drives, but one resident is not so pleased with the work.

KNOX - The Knox Ambulance Service is moving. Or will be in the months to come as Knox Borough Council Nov. 1 agreed to sell the former Boy Scout meeting hall along Petrolia Street to the ambulance company for $1.

CLARION - The Clarion Mall area is gaining another major retailer as Harbor Freight Tools has confirmed to the CLARION NEWS it is locating its 51st Pennsylvania store in the former Peebles/Gordman's building in Monroe Township.

FRILLS CORNERS - North Clarion Elementary School Principal Keith Hastings believes students in that building need a place to keep their books and personal items.

MONROE TWP. - The new Penn Highlands Healthcare Medical Building in Clarion officially opened Oct. 25, and the $6.5 million facility near the Clarion Mall offers a wide range of services to area residents.

CLARION — With no contested races at the county level, the results of the 2021 general election weren’t in question on Tuesday as about 9,051 Clarion County residents went to the polls.

NEW BETHLEHEM - Banks are a place to keep your money safe but a closed bank can be a place to keep memories. That is what the Redbank Valley Historical Society is looking to do with the former Northwest Bank in New Bethlehem.

KNOX - Knox Borough Council's drive to upgrade the town's water system received another boost last week when the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority approved a $1.478 million grant and a $941,000 low-interest loan for the borough.

FOXBURG - Getting students to graduation is the ultimate goal for school districts and Allegheny-Clarion Valley High School Principal Dr. William Jordan last month informed the A-C Valley school board as to how the junior class was progressing toward earning their diplomas.

CLARION - In early 2022 budget planning, Clarion County is facing a $1.2 million shortfall but the board of commissioners does not see the need for a real estate tax increase in the upcoming year.

ELK TWP. - Do you know a senior citizen, college student, or single person that would like a hot meal? A family in need? A busy mom who just needs a break? Someone who has medical issues or recently had surgery?

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.