Category: Local News

Community Event Donates Thousands to Animal Shelter

Orphans of the Storm volunteers (L-R) Diana Goslin of Chicora, Brenda Frerotte of Ford City, Ruth Curry (with mascot Sunny), Lori Frantz of Worthington (with mascot, Stormy) and Jennifer Hrabovsky of Ford City present a $6,307 check to animal shelter Assistant Manager BethAnn Galbraith last night before the committee celebrated its success. (Committee members missing from photo include: Larry and Sue Rocco, George Dilick, Tammy Rusnica, Barbara Crawford, Linda Walker, Ed Kiebler and David Hrabovsky.

By Jonathan Weaver

Only a week after its second event, organizers for a benefit to assist a local animal shelter are stunned at the results achieved two weeks ago.

During the 2nd annual “Riders for the Storm” to benefit the Orphans of the Storm no-kill animal shelter in Rayburn Township, Coordinator Ruth Curry – who started volunteering at the shelter in Rayburn Township walking dogs – said more than 300 people packed the Pattonville VFW in Ford City and gave heartfelt contributions.

“It was a huge event – we made over $6,300,” Curry said. “And actually donations are still coming in.

Fun was had by all.”

The event October 11 was in memory of former Armstrong Beer Distributor Owner “Freddie” Watson – who died a year ago. Watson adopted an Orphans of the Storm dog, “Jess.”

“He did a lot for Orphans, so we thought it was fitting that we did something in memory of him,” Curry said.

Money raised will be divided between three different funds at the animal shelter: the general fund, the Hope Fund (to pay for surgeries to injured or sick animals) and the Building Fund (to pay for a new shelter).

Even though she could not attend that weekend, Assistant Manager BethAnn Galbraith was very gracious for the donation and hugged committee members.

She said donations are needed for all aspects of the animal shelter.

“I think both things are needed,” Galbraith said. “We need a new building badly, but we also have to have that money for sick and injured animals. In the last two weeks, we have a cat with a broken leg, a dog in-need of knee replacement in November, a kitten that somebody burned, another with a broken leg that needs its leg amputated…there are always some that are above-and-beyond the normal realm of medical needs.”

Starting at 1PM at the VFW in Ford City, 10 bands plays an hour each and participants enjoyed raffles, a children’s carnival (with games such as pumpkin tic-tac-toe and bottle ring toss) and on-scene food vendors until 11PM.

Curry thanked the VFW for allowing the event at its location.

“We basically had no expenses this year because of them,” Curry said.

Sweatshirt and T-shirts from ‘Riders for the Storm’ are still available for purchase. This holiday season, committee members are also coordinating with the Mechling-Shakely Veterans Center in Cowansville, where all shirts will be donated to homeless veterans with proceeds going to the animals.

Brenda Frerotte of Ford City met Curry while walking dogs at least six years ago. She has fostered two dogs and three cats – and helps stray animals that come to her doorstep.

Curry also annually organizes the Bark for Life fundraiser event in Rural Valley- which is already scheduled for May 2 at Shannock Valley Community Park.

Last year’s event raised nearly $4,000 according to online totals.

Another opportunity to raise even more money for the animal shelter is just beginning.

From today through November 19, daily votes on the national non-profit Pets Add Life Facebook page could help the no-kill animal shelter win cash prizes – including the grand prize of $25,000. The organization with the most votes in the “Shelter Showdown” wins.

The competition is open to any of the more than 14,000 animal shelters and organizations that utilize the online database PetFinder. Each user can vote once per 24 hours through Noon November 19.

Last year’s grand prize winner – which received more than 35,000 votes – was Blind Cat Rescue and Sanctuary in North Carolina. More than 1,900 shelters participated nationwide

“We are so thrilled to bring the Shelter Showdown contest back, and ultimately help more pets find loving homes,” said Bob Vetere, President and CEO of the American Pet Products Association in a news release. “It was rewarding to give away $25,000 to deserving shelters last year, and we couldn’t be happier to provide even more this year. I strongly encourage communities to rally, vote and help spread the word!”

Galbraith is also excited for the grant opportunity.

A grant received early this year currently helps pet owners have their animals spayed or neutered.

Veterans Comfortable with Local Primary Care

The meeting was held in Snyder Library within the Ford City Armory along Valley View Drive.

by Jonathan Weaver

More than a half-dozen veterans met with VA Butler Healthcare officials at the Pennsylvania National Guard Armory in Manor Township Tuesday night to discuss current healthcare options.

And conversations were positive, according to Community Based Outpatient Clinic Manager Tim Florian – who oversees the government contracts in Armstrong and four other VA Butler Healthcare locations: in Cranberry Township, Clarion County (on the border of Parker), Lawrence County (New Castle) and Mercer County (Hermitage).

ACMH Hospital in East Franklin Township currently operates the Armstrong clinic from the second floor of Klingensmith Healthcare in downtown Ford City, and has done so the past five years.

But, Florian – a Marine Corps veteran who served 10 years as a supply officer during Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm who also utilizes veterans affairs services in Pittsburgh – explained the five-year contract expired at the end of September, but has been extended until March 2015.

“ACMH can still win it if they want to continue to do business with the government. They can submit a proposal, as can other organizations,” Florian said. “The reason we met here tonight was so that I can explain to veterans that contracting process and hear from veterans being currently served with their feedback.”

Contracts have also expired in Cranberry and Clarion County. A town hall meeting was held in Clarion last week and a meeting will take place in Cranberry Township tonight – which could prompt a regional provider as well as to encourage competition.

“The government has a desire for one firm to run all three clinics because we feel that that gives us the ability to gain on some economy of effort (efficiently) so that doctors can go between sites,” Florian said.

Florian anticipated all incumbent contractors bid on a new contract – including ACMH.

“I have not heard anything that gives me the indication that any of them no longer want to do business with the VA,” Florian said. “(And) all indications from veterans were that they were very happy with the staff and professionalism.”

VA Butler Acting Chief of Staff Dr. Michael Kruczek was a former CBOC medical director in Pittsburgh. He meets with providers to review 28 quality metrics for clinical care on a regular basis

“This is a very important piece of VA Butler Healthcare,” Dr. Kruczek said. “I think there can be more veterans served in this area, and that’s the purpose of the new contract: to provide additional services for our veterans in Armstrong County.

“The question was asked, ‘Are there going to be more services?’ and (the answer) is ‘Yes’ – whether that’s an exercise program, a dietary program, more tele-health care, a social worker or a pharmacist. Those are good services for our veterans to have here in Armstrong County.”

Armstrong County Veterans Affairs Director Chuck Righi attended the meeting so that he could “stay in the loop” and answer questions from his office in Kittanning.

“The future is bright for the new (services company),” Righi said. “I hope the expansion of it is a success after the bids are final and the new contract is awarded.”

VA Butler services about 1,500 veterans – of which have served from World War II through Afghanistan and Iraq – in Armstrong County.