Year in review: 2005
BLAIRSVILLE - For many in the world, the year 2005 began with devastation in South Asia, as millions were affected by the deadly tsunami.
Local natives were among those displaced by the later double-shot of hurricane damage along the Gulf Coast.
Much smaller waves of controversy continued to affect this area, as talks of consolidation between Blairsville and Saltsburg schools drew protest and United School Board opted to outsource the district's custodial jobs with a private contractor.
Meanwhile, IUP's new president made a commitment to cut down on drug and alcohol abuse on the Indiana campus.
Both the country and local communitie lost well-known and beloved residents. Johnny Carson, Richard Pryor, Pat Morita, Rosa Parks, Bob Denver, Peter Jennings, Luther Vandross and Anne Bancroft were all lost to the world. Locally, The Dispatch lost its long-time editor, John M. Jennings, to illness.
The following is a review of 2005--the good, the bad, and the ugly:
Jan. 7 - Plans move into motion to accept Dr. Tony Atwater as president of IUP...Burrell Township's three supervisors elect not to accept a one-percent pay hike--instead, they decide to pass it on to the township employees as a token of appreciation.
Jan. 14 - Blairsville Bobcat Adam Highberger threw for his 1,000th point on the basketball court.
Jan. 21 - Once again, talk of consolidating schools within the Blairsville-Saltsburg School District resurfaces, a debate that, one year later, is still causing waves between parents and district officials.
Jan. 28 - Talk show great Johnny Carson succumbs...Burrell Township supervisors edge closer to an agreement that would merge the Blairsville Municipal Authority and the Lower Indiana County Municipal Authority.
Feb. 4 - The Pennsylvania Transportation Commission approved a $1 million Home Town Streets grant for Blairsville's Market Street and parallel Campbell Street.
Feb. 11 - Blairsville serviceman David Peightal sustains injuries while serving in Iraq...United wrestler Chuck Boring wins his 100th bout on the mat in an undefeated season.
Feb. 18 - The Blairsville Bobcats saw its dream of an undefeated season take a dive after losing its final regular season game to Marion Center...Homer-Center teacher Nancy Skultety realizes her dreams of becoming a children's author as her book, From Here to There, hits book shelves.
Feb. 25 - Sanso's Italian Deli is heavily damaged by fire, and doesn't open its doors again until late 2005...Third year United Elementary School principal Rosanne Duda steps down.
March 4 - The Blairsville Bobcats clinch the District 6 title in a win over rivals Bishop Carroll, as they move on to the state championships, while three area hoopsters--Saltsburg's Joe Reed, Homer-Center's Josiah Lenzi, and United's Kurt McGinnis--all hurdles milestones in their high school careers. Reed and Lenzi surpassed 1,000 career points, while McGinnis eclipsed the rare 1,500 career points.
March 11 - Gov. Ed Rendell makes a stop in Blairsville to highlight the close to $1 million in funding earmarked for pedestrian and bike-friendly improvements along the town's Market and Campbell streets...Three area wrestlers--Blairsville's Matt Moore, Derry Area's Troy Dolan, and United's Chuck Boring--all wrestle their way to the state match in Hershey...The Bobcats continue their fight to become state champs after winning games against Clarion and Shanksville.
March 18 - The Bobcats end their season and their hopes of becoming state champs after a devastating--yet exciting--overtime loss to Kennedy Catholic...Latrobe Trinity Lutheran Church reaches its 140-year milestone...Derry Area's Troy Dolan takes home the gold from the state wrestling championship in Hershey.
March 25 - A police shooting directly outside of Indiana Area High School puts the school in lockdown mode. Joseph Stank pulled a realistic-looking weapon on police that turned out to be a pellet gun, and police opened fire, killing the man...A leaky roof at Saltsburg Elementary School adds fuel to the fire of the debate on school consolidation.
April 1 - Plans for Saltsburg's North Park move ahead as construction begins on the $200,000 upgrade to this historic district of the town...Bobcat Adam Highberger's hard work on the court pays off as he's selected to the Associated Press all-state Class A third team and the Tribune-Review all stars first team. Saltsburg hoopster Janelle Reed was also selected to the Associated Press all-star second team.
April 8 - Kay Arena and Driller's Restaurant and Bar becomes the first establishment in the area to combine dining and rodeo...The first secret conclave to choose a new pope since 1978 is held after the death of Pope John Paul II.
April 15 - United School District custodians fear for their jobs as their union contract nears expiration and the school board begins looking into an outside contractor for those services...New Derry taxidermist comes away from the state taxidermy competition with two first place prizes.
April 22 - Blairsville-Saltsburg School Board agrees to pay for a partial roof replacement at Saltsburg Elementary School, yet talks of consolidation persist...St. Vincent Basilica enters its 100th year in Latrobe.
April 29 - The Steelers finish up their picks from the 2005 draft, many of which, including tight end Heath Miller, go on to have stellar seasons...Finishing touches are put on the newest additions of the Homer-Center track--bleachers and a press box.
May 6 - Local war hero Jeremy Feldbusch takes his fight to Capitol Hill as he makes an appeal for a veterans' disability insurance program on behalf of the Wounded Warrior Project...IUP's Kappa Delta Rho fraternity is suspended after the heroin overdose death of one of its members...Veteran Derry athletic director Dave McNichol gets ready to retire.
May 13 - Candidates take their stances as the primary municipal elections begin...Marion Center takes the Heritage Conference baseball crown by winning against Homer-Center.
May 20 - Despite a crowd of parent and student protesters, the Blairsville-Saltsburg School Board voted to pursue a feasibility study on the busing of Saltsburg high school and middle school students to the existing Blairsville campus, and making Saltsburg high school building the building elementary school, closing that facility...Indiana's Jimmy Stewart Museum gets a facelift in time for the annual summer festival.
May 27 - Comedian Rich Little and classic movie host Nick Clooney visit Indiana to honor late friend Jimmy Stewart.
June 3 - New Alexandria Volunteer Fire Department marks its 75th year in the community.
June 10 - Area seniors don their caps and gowns as they undergo their high school commencements and venture out into the world...Derry Area graduate Chuck Arbore is chosen as The Dispatch Student of the Year...Construction begins on the $45 million railroad project in Clarksburg that will transport coal to the Keystone Power Plant. Trains are expected to begin rolling through town sometime in 2006.
June 17 - United's final budget rolls back a tax increase to property owners by 40 percent, while the school board also voted to outsource its custodial jobs.
June 24 - A $1.05 million sewage extension grant is approved for Shearwood Terrace in Burrell Township, boosting business growth...The Homer-Center Wildcats lost their chance to become state baseball champions with a loss to Christopher Dock.
Watch for more of the year that was next week.