• Community Improvment Awards Presented

    Community Improvement Awards Presented

    Last evening during the Huntingdon County Planning Commission meeting, the 2019 Community Improvement Awards were presented in the categories of Community Spirit, Preservation, and Special Merit. These awards would not be possible without the support of our sponsor, Kish Bank. Awards were presented for projects completed in 2019.

    Community Spirit includes the recognition of individuals and organizations that have made a significant contribution to Huntingdon County in the field of community development. This 2019 Community Improvement Award recipient has enhanced the quality of life for many in the community.

    In 2018 the Huntingdon County Library began developing programs and outreach services to become more involved in the community and to fulfill the Library’s mission. Efforts include visits to the Shirley Home and Westminster Woods, Sensory Story Time, Library-by-Mail, a “Maker Space”, a monthly all-ages art club, STEM activities, a teen and young adult program, book clubs, yoga and jewelry-making classes, and crafting events. The Library has also transformed a small outdoor space into a reading and storytelling garden that has allowed for other outdoor programs, including a garden tea party and ice cream making.

    Sensory Story Time was developed after health and service meetings revealed a local need for social outlets for families of children on the autism spectrum.

    Library-by-Mail was created to mail books on a monthly basis, free of charge, to County residents who cannot visit the library due to physical limitations or a lack of transportation; and “Maker Space,” combined with new discovery kits helps children creatively learn about science and the arts. In 2019, the teen and young adult program successfully created and published the first county-wide teen literary magazine in the Huntingdon area.

    These increased programs and outreach efforts have led to tremendous growth in program attendance and print material circulation. The award brochure, that you should each have, shows the growth statistics, as well as, photos from some of the programs.Claire Williams and Shelley Merrell accepted the award on behalf of the Library.

    Our second award was the Preservation Award and it was presented for the property at 211 5th Street, Huntingdon. Preservation includes the restoration, preservation and/or rehabilitation of buildings of all types to retain historic character. There are photos of this beautifully restored property in your brochures.

    Work on this building included the total renovation of three floors. The first floor is used as retail space while the second and third floors contain a three bedroom apartment. The store and apartment each utilize high efficiency gas forced air furnaces and central air units, and all appliances are Energy Star rated.

    The hardwood floors on the second floor were sanded and refinished and carpeting was installed in the third floor sleeping area. In the retail space, the ceiling was covered with metal panels to bring back the retro look.

    The renovation also included installation of fire rated drywall in the ceilings and hall corridors on the second and third floors and in the ceilings of the first floor. When the plywood window coverings were removed from both the inside and outside of the transom windows located above the second floor windows, stained glass windows with the Star of David and the address number 211 were revealed!

    The owner focused on the metal and artistic aspects of the building’s exterior in an effort to bring the extensive detail back to life and the painter took pride in his artistic workmanship.
    Property owner, Ronald Kyper was unable to join to accept the award. While Ron is thankful for the award, he stated that those that did the work on the property are more deserving of the recognition than he is.

    This year we received several outstanding award nominations, making it difficult to choose just one Special Merit Award recipient. Special Merit Awards may be made for projects, persons or groups that demonstrate outstanding achievement on their own merits.

    Our first Special Merit Award recipient was the Bricktown Museum in Mount Union.  After the Bricktown Model Railroaders Association purchased the property at 300 West Small Street in October 2017, they began an effort to turn the former warehouse into a state-of -the-art museum dedicated to the rich railroading and industrial history of the Mount Union area. In November 2019, they upgraded the entry stairs and added a concrete ramp to meet building code and ADA requirements, allowing disabled visitors to easily access the museum. The goal of the Association is to improve the property by exceeding construction codes and completing projects in a sustainable manner.

    Prior to the site being occupied by the historic Bricktown Museum, from the late 1800s to 1916 it was home to the former Dufresne Chair Factory, the Beaver Wholesale Grocery Warehouse from 1916 to 1933 and then the Shapiro Warehouse from the 1930s to 1980s.


    George Sarra, Curator of the Bricktown Museum and Secretary of the  Bricktown Model Railroaders Association accepted the award. He attended the ceremony with his wife. Greta.

    Our second Special Merit Award was presented to Diversity Huntingdon. Formed by Pat Hunter and Anthony Bullett in March 2018, Diversity Huntingdon—Everyone is Welcome Here! collaborated with a number of organizations, including the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission, the Governor’s Council on LGBTQ Affairs, Trans Advocacy Pennsylvania, the Huntingdon Borough Administrative Committee, the Huntingdon Borough Community Development Committee, and the Huntingdon Borough Council to develop an inclusive anti-discrimination ordinance.

    On December 17, 2019 Huntingdon Borough Council adopted an ordinance that applies to all groups not currently covered under the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act, not just those who are LGBTQ+.

    Passage of this anti-discrimination ordinance made Huntingdon Borough the first rural municipality to pass such an ordinance and resulted in the Borough becoming one of only 58 municipalities throughout Pennsylvania that provides protections for classes of people beyond those covered by the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act.

    Since the Borough has garnered positive publicity statewide, it is anticipated that passage of this ordinance will help retain residents and be a marketing tool to attract businesses, tourists, and new residents. Anthony Bullet and Jean Collins accepted the award.