(Editor’s note: Each year, the editorial staff at The Spirit dives into the stacks from the past year’s papers to bring you a Year In Review, highlighting some of the biggest news stories to take place over the year. Today, The Spirit staff brings you the top news stories from the months of July, August and September.)
• The 46th Annual Groundhog Festival kicks off in Barclay Square.
• The Punxsutawney Area Community Center hosts its 17th annual 5K Run/Two-Mile Walk as part of the Groundhog Festival.
• A Fourth of July fireworks show in San Diego promised to be so spectacular that hotel rooms were sold out resulted in a boom — a giant one, that is, when a computer malfunction caused the entire Big Bay Boom show to go off all at once. Instead of lasting 20 minutes, the $380,000 show was over in about 20 seconds, leaving spectators confused and irritated.
• Punxsy’s 11- and 12-year-old softball All-Stars are the 2012 Little League Pennsylvania Sect. 1 Champions after defeating Corry 7-6 in Punxsutawney.
• A severe thunderstorm rolls through Henderson Township, Sykesville and the surrounding areas, downing trees and power lines and leaving 1,200 without power and damaging homes. The National Weather Service in Pittsburgh and the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency say the storm, which had straight-line winds sustained at 60 mph, was caused by heat and humidity.
• Academy Award winner Ernest Borgnine dies in Beverly Hills at age 95.
• Jefferson County’s bond rating is improved, allowing the commissioners to refinance two bond issues and save taxpayer money.
• A study released July 11 concludes that the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack was the most memorable television viewing moment in the past 50 years.
• The 2012 I-Medical Indiana County Youth Legion League team defeats the S.W. Jack Indiana Black Sox in Punxsutawney, capturing the league title.
• Lawmakers vent publicly after the discovery that the U.S. Olympic team would be wearing uniforms manufactured in China. “I am so upset,” Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., tells reporters at a Capitol Hill news conference. “I think the Olympic committee should be ashamed of themselves. I think they should be embarrassed. I think they should take all the uniforms, put them in a big pile and burn them and start all over again.”
• The Jefferson County Fair opens, bringing another week of food, events and exhibits to county residents.
• Brody Morgan and Chelsea Engeholm are named The Punxsutawney Spirit’s 2012 Spring Sports Outstanding Players.
• The community rallies together for another successful Relay for Life in Barclay Square. The theme, “Re-Lei for Life” was Hawaiian, and 27 registered teams raised $87,383 for the American Cancer Society.
• Jefferson County crowns its royalty: Jefferson County Fair Queen 2012 is Mariah Kay Lemelle; first runner-up, Elizabeth Erin McAndrew; second runner-up, Brandy Shreckengost. The Jefferson County Fair Junior Queen 2012 is Gretchen Irene Seigworth; first runner up, Abigale Mae Miller; second runner-up, Tiffany Swanson. The Jefferson County Fair Princess 2012 is April Nicole Hetrick; first runner-up, Rebecca Anne Pifer; second runner-up, Olivia Anne Pearson, The Jefferson County Fair Junior Princess 2012 is Courtney Marie Ortz; first runner-up, Macie Rae Barber; second runners-up, Elizabeth Dale Sikora and Claire Elizabeth Haines.
• State police announce that Punxsutawney native Bernard J. Petrovsky, of Indiana, has been assigned to serve as the commanding officer of Troop C, Punxsutawney.
• The state Department of Environmental Protection declares a drought watch in 15 western Pennsylvania counties, but Jefferson is not on the list.
• The Punxsy 10- & 11-year-old softball All-Stars become the Section 1 champions after their 9-7 victory over Corry.
• A 24-year-old man opens fire at a midnight screening of “The Dark Knight Rises” in Aurora, Colo., killing 12 and injuring over 59.
• The famed statue of Joe Paterno is removed from outside of Beaver Stadium in State College, Pa. The removal comes just hours before the NCAA announces it plans to impose “corrective and punitive” sanctions against Penn State in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse scandal. The next day, the NCAA fines Penn State $60 million. The Nittany Lions are also banned from postseason play for four years.
• Sherman Hemsley, best known for his role on the television series “The Jeffersons,” dies at home in El Paso, Texas, at age 74.
• The Punxsutawney Area School Board discusses closing schools, specifically Jenks Hills Elementary.
• A severe storm roars through Jefferson County, setting off a tornado warning for the northern part of the county, knocking out electricity and downing trees — and the bandstand canopy at Barclay Square.
• The Punxsutawney Spirit names sports reporter Zak Lantz as the new editor-in-chief. He succeeds former editor Tom Chapin. “As a Punxsy native, I grew up reading The Spirit, especially the sports pages, and I really do consider it quite an honor to be named editor,” Lantz says.
• The Groundhog Club announces that Katie Donald was recently named its new executive director.
• The Opening Ceremony of the 2012 Summer Olympics takes place in London. The show costs $42 million and features a tongue-in-cheek video of Queen Elizabeth II and James Bond, portrayed by actor Daniel Craig.
• The Spirit highlights a Pittsburgh Pirate fan’s dream come true with an article about Punxsy’s own Lesa Walker, who threw out the first pitch at PNC Park on July 23. “I didn’t tell anyone I was going to throw out the first pitch, because I was afraid I’d throw a dirt ball if they were all watching,” Walker says.
• Mengle Memorial Library in Brockway hosts an event explaining new methods of accessing genealogies and old newspapers, including digital copies of old editions of The Spirit.
• Changes are brewing on top of the hill, as the Groundhog Picnic gets a facelift. Members of Phil’s Inner Circle announce plans to change up Phil Phest by adding concerts and giving it more appeal for a wider range of people.
• Tara Covert of Big Run wins the SS.C.D. Lawn Festival’s annual drawing and elects to take the money — $18,000 — over the 2012 Chevrolet Equinox that served as the grand prize.
• A gunman kills six in an attack on a Sikh temple in Wisconsin before police fatally wound the shooter outside the temple.
• Hot Dog Days kicks off outside Fezell’s County Market in Punxsutawney, giving folks an opportunity to enjoy a few dogs for lunch and support their local library at the same time.
• The Punxsutawney Memorial Library Summer Reading Program concludes with an award event at Harmon Field and a swimming party at George C. Brown Community Pool. Top readers Emily and Nick Wisnesky, Julianna Shaffer, and Jordan Barenchik earn special honors.
• With the Sykesville Ag & Youth Fair underway, attendees enjoy the animals including a live merry-go-round and a petting zoo.
• Punxsy resident Richard Bianco is highlighted in The Spirit for his display commemorating the Korean War, which he offers to show members of the community.
• Mitt Romney’s newly named vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan hits the trail fast, but Romney makes it clear it’ll be his budget plan and not Ryan’s that is pushed in the campaign.
• In an especially busy weekend, fire fighters respond to three different calls, but the good news comes that there are no injuries in any of the calls.
• The Spirit highlights 13-year-old Lacy Jay Syler, who has local ties, after she performs at her family reunion over the weekend. Syler’s up-and-coming career in Nashville shows plenty of promise.
• Relay For Life announces at its annual wrap up event at the Punxsutawney Area Community center that it surpasses its goal of $86,000 by raising $118,831.11 in its campaign.
• Punxsutawney Borough Council recognizes borough police officer Ryan Miller and four retiring firefighters — William Phillips, Ray Tinker, William P. Wolfe and John Wolfe — for their service to the community.
• The Dayton Fair gets underway with the midway open and plenty of entertainment for all who attend.
• Members of the Punxsutawney Fire Department raise $3,696.45 for the Muscular Dystrophy Association in a boot drive held downtown.
• Verizon makes a $2,500 donation to the Punxsutawney Weather Discovery Center at the recommendation of State Representative Sam Smith.
• IUP-Punxsy celebrates its 50th anniversary by honoring four alumni leaders at a dinner held at the campus.
• Nine stations assist with a midday blaze in Sykesville after flames were discovered shortly after noon.
• The Punxsutawney Salvation Army is the recipient of a $4,459.78 donation from the offering collected at Church in the Park July 29 in Barclay square.
• The Moore Brothers Band wraps up the 2012 Music in the Park season with an evening concert held with beautiful weather in Barclay Square.
• The Corn Cob Club — Jefferson County’s oldest social organization — celebrates its 131st meeting at Judge Edwin Snyder’s homestead near Rochester Mills.
• Members of the SS.C.D. School get an early start, beginning their school year a day ahead of the rest of the district.
• The remainder of the district, including Punxsutawney Christian School, kicks off its school year with students heading back to the books.
• Indiana County District Attorney Pat Dougherty announces that his office plans to seek the death penalty in the triple homicide case resulting from a June 1 incident.
• The Spirit highlights local ham radio operator Jerry Bosak of DeLancey, who plans to offer an amateur radio class at the Big Run War Memorial to teach others the benefits of the long-established communication system.
• At a press conference, Tim Krise of Krise Transportation announces that he, in conjunction with the Punxsutawney Area Community Center, will be bringing The Oak Ridge Boys to town for a Nov. 17 concert.
• Eddie James ministers to a crowd in Barclay Square in an effort to reach out to those who are hurting.
• The Punxsy Chucks down the Brookville Raiders 26-23 to regain the coveted Route 36 Trophy that goes to the winner of the rivalry game each year.
• Tommy Troutman, 15, of Punxsutawney, is highlighted in The Spirit for his work as a volunteer for the
Punxsutawney Garden Club. Troutman, the club’s youngest member, puts in his time and sweat watering the plants downtown and keeping the area beautiful. “It’s good for Punxsutawney as a town and for the businesses,” Troutman said. “If the town looks great, it bursts with activity and population.”
• Juniors at PAHS receive their laptops through the 21st Century Learning Initiative.
• Trial dates are set for Judy L. Sprankle, who is accused of two counts of attempted criminal homicide for an incident that took place Sept. 8, 2011, outside District Judge Douglas Chambers’ office on Union Street in Punxsutawney.
• Daniel Billick, a young man with a caring plan, is highlighted in The Spirit after he spent the summer saving money to purchase a backpack and school supplies for a less fortunate student.
Now, Daniel has already turned a good deed into a plan to double the feat for next year.
• Punxsy Phil drinks his magic elixir at Phil Phest, granting him seven more years of life, according to legend.
• Punxsy bids farewell to the 403rd contiguous United States Replacement Company, which is inactivated at the Mar. Charles D. Stoops United States Army Reserve Center in Punxsutawney.
• The Fraternal Order of Eagles commemorates those who lost their lives on Sept. 11, 2001, on the 11th anniversary of the attacks.
• After a short hiatus, the wooden groundhog outside of Joe’s Drive-In returns to watch over town. The groundhog saved the day when it stopped an IAV Stryker that had lost its brakes running down Indiana Hill and overshot the emergency stopping area on April 12, but the groundhog needed replaced after the incident.
• Judy Sprankle is sentenced to 8 to 29 years in a state prison after pleading guilty to two counts of attempted criminal homicide in charges stemming from a Sept. 8, 2011, incident.
• IUP-Punxsy does its part to encourage voting in the upcoming election by holding a voting drive and registering students on the campus.
• Barclay Bed & Breakfast hosts the Punxsutawney Area Chamber of Commerce for a business networking event — a Chamber mixer — in celebration of its first anniversary.
• On an evening fit for a queen, PAHS hosts its homecoming football game, highlighted by a win over A-C Valley and the halftime
show of the crowning of Homecoming Queen.
Alexa Shaffer is crowned queen, and Sydney Weaver was named princess. Sydney Dubensky, Mary Sloniger, Caroline Dunkel and Chelsea Engeholm are also part of the court.
• The Big Run VFW Post 9044 and Ladies’ Auxiliary hosts an event at the Big Run War Memorial to honor National POW/MIA Recognition Day.
• State Police and members of PennDOT set up a station at Walmart to check child passenger seats for area parents to ensure their most prized possessions are protected on the roads.
• The Punxsutawney Historical & Genealogical Society’s annual banquet is highlighted in The Spirit, with special attention brought to both the guest speaker — IUP-Punxsy Dean Terry Appolonia — and the winners of the Awards of Commendation — Florence E. Lattimer Helwig and Tonia and Brandon Krug — for their efforts to preserve and restore history in Punxsutawney.
• Australian Tom Denniss stops in Punxsy for a brief
stay en route to a world record, as he aims to become the first person to run around the world and do so following the Guiness Book of World Record’s standards.
• The Fraternal Order of Eagles No. 1231 of Punxsutawney is named as
the sponsor of the 2012 Home for the Holidays Parade. In addition to financial support, the club will also aid with planning the event.
• The Spirit hosts its annual Appreciation Day at SS.C.D., including the talent show — won by Caleb Dinger for his singing and musical skills — and the pumpkin decorating contest.