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Derry Area High School graduation set for tonight

Derry Area High School will recognize its Class of 2021 this evening with an outdoor graduation ceremony, slated to begin at 7 p.m. at Derry Stadium. In the event of rain, graduation will be moved to Friday, June 4.

Eight members of the graduating class will offer speeches during this evening’s ceremony, including the valedictorian and salutatorian.

Valedictorian David McElfresh, son of Mike and Kim McElfresh of Latrobe (Derry Township), is the president of the graduating class, the president and founding member of the Science National Honor Society’s DAHS chapter, the president of the Spanish Honor Society, and the vice president of Mu Alpha Theta. In addition, he has participated in WIRC, the Chick-fil-A Leader Academy, the Mock Trial team, the Kennametal Young Engineers Program, and is a member of various honor societies.

McElfresh was a delegate to the 2019 Congress of Future Medical Leaders run by the National Academy of Future Physicians and Medical Scientists. That same summer, he was awarded the Laureate Certification in Advanced Science Research Writing.

He also attended the MIT Beaver Works Summer Institute, earning certificates in both the Serious Game Development with Artificial Intelligence and piPact (Bluetooth-based contact tracing) courses.

During his time as the first president of the Science National Honor Society, David played an integral role in hosting major speakers from the scientific community. He organized events with both Dr. Robert Seater from MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory and Dr. Susan Hockfield, the president emerita of MIT and a current member of Pfizer’s Board of Directors.

McElfresh’s future plans include attending Yale University with an intent to major in biomedical engineering. He plans on participating in the Engineers Without Borders program at Yale to help expand access to clean, sustainable water sources around the world.

Allison Johnston, the daughter of Loretta and Bill Johnston of Blairsville, is the 2021 salutatorian. While in school, she became vice president of the Spanish National Honor Society and was a member of Mu Alpha Theta, Science National Honor Society, Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD), National Business Honor Society and Interact Club. She received the Academic Excellence Award all four years of high school, as well as distinguished honors all four years and perfect attendance. She was the student of the quarter in math, science, and English.

She was able to watch an open heart surgery, attend a genetics conference and was recognized by the Congress of Future Medical Leaders.

In her spare time, Allison played tennis and diving for the school. She lettered two years in tennis and was the tennis team captain. As a diving team member for two years she lettered both years. She also volunteers in different aspects throughout her community.

Allison plans on attending Juniata College in the fall, pursuing a degree in neuroscience and becoming a patient advocate in her time there. She intends on continuing to medical school, where she hopes to help various communities including the one that raised and nurtured her.

The evening’s student speakers will also include:

Lauren Angus, the daughter of Wendy and Michael Angus of Derry. Her academic honors include receiving the Academic Excellence Award four consecutive years, graduating in the top 5% of her class, and consistently achieving distinguished or high honors. She was the class secretary for four years, a member of Interact, Chick-fil-A Leader Academy, Monogram Club, Mu Alpha Theta and Science National Honors Society.

In swimming, Angus earned a letter in all four seasons of high school. She received the High Point award on the girls team in her sophomore and junior year and the Outstanding Senior award this year. She was a WPIAL qualifier in the 50 freestyle, 200 medley relay, 200 free relay and 400 free relay her freshman year, placing eight in the 200 freestyle relay. During her sophomore year, she qualified in the 50 freestyle, 100 breaststroke, 200 medley relay and 200 free relay, and placed seventh in the 200 freestyle relay. Lauren qualified for the same events in her junior season. This year, her team qualified for the relays and she was a senior captain.

She was a varsity letterwinner in volleyball her junior and senior years. She was a captain her senior year, and made Third Team WPIAL All Section 5 AA.

Angus was a member of choir for four years of high school and ensemble in her sophomore, junior, and senior year. She participated in the All-Star Choir her sophomore and junior year. Lauren was cast in five high school musical productions through middle and high school.

Her future plans include attending Chatham University for psychology. She then plans to continue her education at Chatham with the Integrated Degree Program (IDP) for a master’s of counseling psychology. Lauren will also be continuing her athletic career on Chatham’s swim team.

Ryan Bushey, the son of Don and Debbie Bushey of Latrobe (Derry Township), made honor roll four years in a row and had perfect attendance. In school, Bushey has served as president of National Business Honor Society, a member of Interact Club (Bachelor Auction, Operation Santa Claus, You’ve Got a Friend Day, and Santa’s Workshop), Student Council, Chick-fil-A Leadership Academy, Monogram Club and helped distribute Rotary dictionaries. He attended PFEW his sophomore year.

Bushey was also a four-year letterwinner in golf, basketball and baseball.

During his four years in golf, he was team MVP, two-time captain, three-year all section team and holds the school record for most individual wins (41) and team wins. He was part of the three-section golf titles in the last four years.

During four years of basketball, he was named second team All-Section (2019), first team All-Section (2021) and was selected as a member of the 2021 Roundball Classic. Bushey was a member of the first basketball team in school history to win a playoff game. He also played AAU travel basketball.

During his three years of baseball (last year was canceled because of COVID-19), he was a part of this spring’s section champion team, the school’s first title since 1992.

Bushey’s future plans include attending Mt. Aloysius College to major in business administration/sports management. He will continue his athletic career on the baseball diamond for the Mounties.

Alison Cowan, the daughter of Adam and Mishele Cowan of Derry, is a four-year Academic Excellence Award winner, and in the top 5% of her class. She is a member of the Student Council, Science National Honors Society, French Honors Society, a member of Interact Club and Monogram Club.

She earned a letter all four years in diving, qualified for the WPIAL meet all four years and qualified for states two out of four years. She placed ninth at the state meet her sophomore year.

She was also part of Willow Tree Gymnastics competitive gymnastics team, and participated in gymnastics for 15 years. She has participated in gymnastics states since she was 8 years old, except for last year because of an injury. This year, she finished fourth all around and placed second on the uneven bars in her age division.

Cowan’s future plans include attending Chatham University and majoring in exercise science with an Integrated Degree Program in physical therapy. She will continue her athletic career as a member of Chatham’s diving team.

Anthony Lasser, son of Joseph and Carolyn Lasser, ranked among the top 5 percent of his class. He furthered his pathway of success at the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg, taking sociology and psychology, all while maintaining his distinguished honors stature.

Lasser is fond of the outdoors, and strives to conquer the elements it has to offer. He is an avid fisherman, skier and hunter, but also teaches others. Additionally, he has dedicated time to aid the inFirst Bank Veteran’s Marathon, as well as Relay for Life two years in a row.

He will be attending the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown in pursuit of a degree in mechanical engineering.

Alisha Mauro, daughter of Jeff and Deana Mauro of Latrobe, is a four-year academic excellence award winner while earning distinguished honors and graduating in the top 10% of her class. In school, she is vice president of her graduating class, and a member of the Interact Club, Mu Alpha Theta and Science National Honors Society. She attended PFEW between her sophomore and junior year.

Mauro was a member of the high school choir for four years and the high school ensemble for three years, while performing in the high school musicals for six years.

In January of her senior year, she was chosen as a student of the month for music from the Latrobe Business and Professional Women (BPW).

During her time in the performing arts, she had the opportunity of performing in the District 1 honors choir in October of her junior year. She also performed with the all-star choir her sophomore and junior years, and sang with the River City Brass Band her freshman and sophomore years.

After developing a recent love for forensic and investigative sciences, Mauro plans to attend West Virginia University to earn a bachelor’s degree in forensic science/forensic examination.

Alex Tomack, EWCTC’s top student, is a multifaceted student with interests spanning the natural sciences, materials science, musical performance and technology. Since prototyping a socialized medicine solution for the Governor’s Stem Challenge, Alex has developed a fascination with entrepreneurship. In the future, he hopes to establish companies in materials manufacturing, energy and technology.

Derry Area High School’s 2021 graduates include:

Christopher Adams, Destiny Allen, Lauren Angus, Kylie Barger, Carissa Bateman, Brent Baum, Janie Baum, Anthony Beeman, Dakota Beeman, Alexa Beighley, Madalynn Berger,

Alyssa Berkhimer, Jared Blystone, Abigail Bolen, Emily Bolish, Sophia Bowser, Jade Bryner, Christian Burdick, Ryan Bushey, Matthew Cochran, Michael Cochran, Austin Cole,

Chyanne Coleman, Gianna Copelli, Alison Cowan, Caleb Cowan, Caitlyn Crook, Tyler Cymmerman, Bella David, Dominick Dempsey, Nicholas Detore, Samantha Dettling, Claire Dillon

Nicholas Dishong, Rachel Dominelli, Pryce Donovan, Brandon Doyle, Aaliyah Duncan, Bradley Eaglehouse, Cheyanne Ellenberger, Kaylee Fallat, Lacy Fallat, Micah Fantaske, Julianne Fetter,

Hunter Fodor, Erica Furin, Reagan Gordon, Amari Graham, Dacoda Hafer, Nicholas Hafer, Faith Heckathorn, Colton Hirak, Chloe Homan, Grant Hudson, Darius Hudspath, Olivia Iscrupe,

Jaden Jackson, Alexis Jellison, Isaac Jewell, Allison Johnston, Samuel Jones, Michael Kelly Jr., Maleya Kelly, Logan Kennedy, Cameron Kniseley, Paul Koontz Jr., Reno Krehlik,

Abigail Kubiak, Makenzie Lagoda, Kylie LaMantia, Anthony Lasser, Kiley Latshaw, Cain Latta, Sarah Levendosky, James Long, Nikolas Macioce, Brandon Madatic, Noah Marinchak,

Natalia Marinchek, Alisha Mauro, Nicholas McCracken, Matthew McDowell, David McElfresh, Cody McNutt, Alanna Meloy, Xavier Merlin, MacKenzie Mileca, Lucas Mullen, Paige Murray,

Anna Oshie, Jessica Palko, Ayden Pape, Elijah Pennich, Leah Perry, Tara Perry, Joseph Progl, Cooper Pynos, Maxwell Pynos, Caitlyn Quidetto, Connor Quinlisk, Keith Rager, Nicholas Reeping,

Dominick Reffo, Abbigail Reitz, Joseph Rhea, Dakota Rhoades, Anastasia Ribblet, Krista Schall, Jessica Schissler, Tristan Seger, Jada Seice, Makenzy Semelsberger, Ashlan Shaulis, Ryan Shean,

Jacob Short, Michael Shumaker, Joseph Sims, Harry Sirianni, Serena Slusarcyk, Andrew Steffen, Emilee Steffey, Carissa Stipcak, Natalia Sturges, Nicholas Tabita, Skye Titel, Alexander Tomack,

Christopher Tout Jr., Gavin Tunstall, Joshua Ulery, Evan Upole, Emilia Vucina, Hunter Wack, Mitchell Wagner, Alyssa Walters, Elijah Ward, Isaiah Ward, Jesse Watt, Saveria Weimer, Janee Weyandt, Emma Wigand, Joshua Wyant, Savanna Zerfoss.

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Unity planners table action on 63-lot residential development

A 63-lot residential development consisting of duplex, triplex and fourplex units has been proposed to the Unity Township Planning Commission.

However, the planning commission on Tuesday voted 6-1 to table action granting preliminary approval for the subdivision to allow the developer time to address several items prior to approval. Harry Hosack cast the dissenting vote.

Jim Thomas Construction Co. is proposing to build roughly 115 residential units located on 35 acres off Frye Farm and Beatty County roads in a rural village (R-3) district.

Frye Farm Estates would be a 55 and older senior community, according to developer Jim Thomas. He anticipates units would cost between $250,000 and $300,000.

“It’s an exciting development,” said engineer Sean Fyock of Benchmark Engineering and Construction Co. Inc., which is representing the developer.

Planners tabled action Tuesday to allow the developer time to obtain Unity Township Municipal Authority (UTMA) and Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) approval of all sanitary sewer connections. The planning commission is also waiting on the developer to secure Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County (MAWC) approval of all public water connections.

Additionally, the developer must submit plans to the planning commission regarding homeowner’s association details.

The development would include four new roadways — utilizing Lois Lane as the main entryway. Planners and the developer discussed a potentially problematic angle/driveway access to the Sonrise Church property. Installing stop signs, or even a roundabout, were among considered options.

The developer has requested some relief from the township’s subdivision and land development ordinance (SALDO) regarding landscaping requirements. The 35-acre property is located on a hill, which Fyock said is “difficult planting in those areas.”

Planners tabled the action for 45 days or until the next planning commission meeting.

In other business, the planning commission approved preliminary and final site plans for BVM Real Estate to convert an existing barn at 456 Frye Farm Road into 3,191 square feet of office space.

The Bulletin previously reported that D-Bug Pest Control plans to take up office space, but those plans weren’t immediately clear at Tuesday’s meeting.

Kenneth Romano, owner of KLR Construction, LLC, is the developer for this project. BVM Real Estate was granted relief from the township’s transportation and corridor enhancement overlay district requirements regarding throat width and length, and other requirements, due to the property’s topography.

“It’s an existing area, and there’s just really no space in the front to accommodate that,” Romano said.

The property owner intends to keep the barn and machine shed in tact, as well as the silo to maintain the traditional farm-look.

The site plan also was allowed relief from the township’s landscaping requirements. However, landscaping is planned in front of the main barn along Frye Farm Road.

The other 3,900 square feet of existing buildings, including a silo, are not planned for development, Romano said. The planning commission required that the developer change the site plan’s language to refer to the other extant buildings as “unoccupied” rather than as “warehouse storage.”

Township engineer Gibson-Thomas Engineering Co. has not yet signed off on whether a stormwater management plan is required.

The final site plans were approved by a 6-1 vote. Frank Novotny cast the dissenting vote.

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Opening of Derry Community Pool delayed due to leak

The 2021 season opening of the Derry Community Pool will have to wait.

Because of an unspecified leak at the pool, Derry Borough Council at Tuesday’s work session decided to postpone the start of the new pool season for a minimum of two weeks in order to obtain more information about the issue. The pool season was slated to begin on Saturday, June 5.

“The pool is leaking up to 6 inches in one 24-hour period, and then it was shut off,” councilman Al Checca said. “It’s going somewhere and we can’t find it.”

Checca relayed to council that borough public works employees attempted nearly a dozen tests, including draining and plugging lines, and nothing was able to identify the origin of the leak.

Checca added that public works crew leader Adam Hebenthal was instructed to reach out to an area company, whose name was unavailable at press time, and the company said the earliest it could inspect the pool is July 1.

“We’re now looking for a second, third, fourth or fifth company that does this leak detection. We could be in big trouble this year for the pool,” Checca said. “... We looked at all the places we would normally have problems (at the pool), and there was nothing on the surface that was leaking. This is below ground.”

Councilman Chad Fabian, who was heavily involved in pool matters during his time as council president, said the current cracks at the pool aren’t nearly as serious as in past years and termed the leak issue as “something different.”

Borough officials are also unsure what end of the pool — deep or shallow — is leaking.

While a number of council members were in favor of delaying the pool’s opening, Fabian expressed concerns about lifeguards leaving for similar jobs at other area pools. Because of the delay, the pool has not yet purchased food for the concession stand, Checca noted.

“If we don’t open it Saturday, we might as well shut it down the rest of the season,” Fabian said.

Checca said council ultimately made the decision to delay the season opening out of an abundance of caution.

“What’s our degree of acceptable?” he said. “We know the water is going somewhere, but we have no clue where it’s going. ... It’s a bad situation.”

Checca plans to update to council on the matter at next week’s regular meeting.

Also discussed at Tuesday’s meeting:

  • Code enforcement officer Shannon Cypher-Hart reported 19 violation notices for May and four zoning permits during the month, according to the meeting agenda;
  • The Derry Borough Police Department’s K-9 unit still has T-shirts and sweatshirts for sale;
  • Checca said the pavilions at Derry Community Park were recently stained;
  • Flowers were recently added to boxes at Derry Community Pool;
  • Checca said borough officials will look into making upgrades at the little-used Third Ward park located near the pool. Fence, gazebo and equipment maintenance is needed, while he noted the playground equipment requires a new paint job;
  • Council was notified that the upstairs women’s bathroom in the borough municipal building needs to have a leak fixed and an aging sink replaced;
  • At a future voting meeting, council will look to advertise bids for this year’s paving project. Borough officials noted that Peoples Gas work within the municipality should be completed in one to two months.

Bill to honor late Rep. Mike Reese with road designation signed into law

Legislation to designate a Westmoreland County roadway to honor and remember the late Rep. Mike Reese has been signed into law by the governor, said Rep. Ryan Warner (R-Fayette/Westmoreland), prime sponsor of the bill.

“This is obviously bittersweet, as I am grateful for the opportunity to work with Mike’s constituents to deliver on their wishes to honor him, but at the same time it is another painful reminder that he is no longer with us,” Warner said. “I’d like to thank everyone who worked to advance this legislation so quickly, and I appreciate the governor promptly endorsing it.

“I will always remember Mike for his devotion to his wife, his children, his constituents and our Commonwealth,” Warner continued. “He was a great man and a great public servant taken from us far too soon, but who made an impact on so many lives during his short time on this earth. I will always feel blessed for having him as a friend.”

Act 19 of 2021 designates a portion of Route 981 from the intersection with Route 819 to the intersection with State Route 2021 in Mount Pleasant Township as the Honorable Mike Reese Memorial Highway. Reese was born March 7, 1978, in Mount Pleasant and served as state representative for the 59th Legislative District from 2009 to 2021 before his untimely death in January.

Ligonier Valley to celebrate graduates this evening

Ligonier Valley High School will honor its Class of 2021 during a graduation ceremony set for 6 p.m. today, June 2, at Weller Field. In the event of inclement weather, the ceremony will be held in the high school auditorium; a ticket will only be needed for the indoor ceremony.

Annabella Schueltz, Lindsay McClelland and Mason Seftas are class valedictorians, while class president Eva Shearer is salutatorian.

Annabella Schuelz, the daughter of Kelly Schueltz and Jason Foust of Ligonier Township, plans to attend Penn State University to major in biomedical engineering.

She is a three-time letterwinner in softball, earned two letters in soccer and is a member of the LV Engineering Team, Spanish National Honor Society, National Honor Society, Interact, Student Council, Class Committee and Valley Youth Network CHIL.

She has been named the Rotary Student of the Month, Bausch and Lomb Honorary Science Award, Society of Women Engineers Merit Award. Her scholarships include R.K. Mellon Family Scholarship of the Ligonier Valley Endowment, Gloria (Madorma) Quigley Memorial Scholarship, Sandra L. Neiderhiser Memorial Scholarship, Penn State White Trustee Scholarship and Penn State Provost Award.

Lindsay McClelland, the daughter of Harry and Michele McClelland of Ligonier, plans to attend Wake Forest University for computer science to potentially be a security software engineer.

She was a member of the National Honor Society, French National Honor Society, Interact Club, SADD, Future Business Leaders of America, Treasurer of the Class, and she works at Ligonier Creamery

She served on the National Honor Society and the French National Honor Society, and earned a Thoburn Foundation Scholarship.

Mason Seftas, the son of Paula and Jeff Seftas of Cook Township, plans to attend St. Vincent College to double major in mathematics and data science and play on its baseball team.

His school activities include the Air Force JROTC, Kitty Hawk Air Society, Future Business Leaders of America Vice-President, National Honor Society Vice-President, Spanish National Honor Society President, TEAMS Engineering, Baseball, Cross Country, Valley Youth Network, and Latrobe-Derry Area Teener League volunteer coaching.

He was a Pat Podlucky Memorial Scholar Athlete Award, and his scholarships include the Chancellor Scholarship, McConnaughey Scholarship, Westinghouse Family Scholarship, Ligonier Valley Endowment Scholarship, Rotary Club of Ligonier Scholarship Award, Nicholas Enos Memorial Scholarship, and Al Ludwig Memorial Fund Scholarship.

Eva Shearer, the daughter of Traci and Dwight Shearer of Ligonier Township, plans to attend Ohio State University’s honors program for biomedical engineering.

Her school activities include the Future Business Leaders of America — President, Swim Team 3 years, TEAMS Engineering Captain, Kitty Hawk — President, Cyber Patriot Captain, National Honor Society, Yearbook and Student Council (class president.)

Her awards include TEAMS National Conference Champions, Ligonier Valley High School Swim Team District Qualifier, Rotary Student of the Month, and Celebrate Freedom Foundation Award, and her scholarships include the R.K. Mellon Family Scholarship of the Ligonier Valley Endowment and Nick Neiderhiser Scholarship.

Ligonier Valley’s 2021 graduates include:

Matthew Dylan Alexander, Jared William Andrews, Brendan James Baird, MacKenzie Reece Baird, Nevaeh Marie Barnhart, Jacob Tanner Bleehash, Rebecca Naomi Blotzer, Dylan Scott Button, Aidan James Clark, Madison Nicole Clise, Julia Lee Collins,

Grace Montana Cunningham, Zachary William Custer, Ethen Charles Deemer, Elizabeth Jean Dickson, Adam Benjamin Droske, Colin Thomas Eslary, Zoe May Ferry, Mollie Elisee Fichet, Kyle James Fletcher, Collin Levi Fluke, Derek Daniel Fox,

Tristan Newbold Glenn, Logan Scott Glotfelty, Taylor John Greggerson, Mason Tamilyn Grimm, Marissa Marie Harkleroad, Gavin Paul Hartman, Francisco Magdaleno Hernandez, Mason David Herrholtz, Jennifer Anne Hiles, Todd Michael Hilsman, Nathanial Lee Hobaugh,

Jordan Elizabeth Hofecker, Tatum Paige Hoffman, Kailey Quinn Johnston, Ryan Michael Jones, Devin Abram Kauffman, Damian Michael Lee Kelley, Kaitlyn Marie Knopsnyder, Kennedy Paige Kokoski, Jesse Michael Kostley, Eden Christina Krouse, Desiree Lyn Linebarger,

Isabella Rae Lodovico, Michael Joseph Lovett, Joseph Alexander Lowry, Karly Jo Lupacchini, Bryton James Mack, Jonathon Clayton Manges, Savanah Michelle Martinez, Anna Margaret McCall, Lindsay Danielle McClelland, Paden Todd McIntosh, Alivia Mae Menzie, Alison Ann Mileca

Jonathan Donald Miller, Tristan Andrew Miller, Gracelyn Marie Mohnkern, Shane Garrett Murphy, Isaac Michael Neidbalson, Cameron Scott Nesmith, Blake Douglas Newhouse, Haylee June Oates, Christian David Oberley, Ava Marie Page, Tristin Caleb Peltz-Palko,

McKenna Elizabeth Peterman, Wade Allen Peters, Abigail Mary Piper, Chase Andrew Piper, Dylan Robert Piper, Gabriella Christine Piper, Jonathan Thomas Rankin, Travis Lee Rankin, Donovan Timothy Reim, Logan Thomas Riddell, Kurt Phillip Roadman, Alexander Morgan Rose

Haley Nichole Rummel, Matthew Lee Rummel, Phynn Eli Rundle, Annabella Marie Schueltz, Tyler Eugene Scritchfield, Grace Ann Sedewar, Mason James Seftas, Olivia Ellen Shafron, Eva Elizabeth Shearer, Morgan Elizabeth Shetler, Kalobe Adam Shipley, Aaron Lucas Smith,

Wesley Ryan Smykal, Sean David Solich, Sydney Lane Sowers, Audrianne Marie Speidel, Jennafer Megan Street, Zachary Evan Tenney, Lukas James Ulery, Owen Anthony Vadney, Bailey Rose Valentine, Isabella Zara Vargulish,

Lucas Robert Walker, Rhian Robert Ward, Ivan Dean Wieczorek, Matyson Marie Will, Morgan Jeanelle Wing, Carol Elizabeth Woods, Dakota Jordan Yates.