KEYSTONE CLIPS Sharon honors former longtime clerk

The municipal flag was flying at half-staff in front of the Sharon city building late last week to honor a former longtime city employee who died Tuesday.
Mayor David O. Ryan ordered the flag lowered in remembrance of Sherry L. Freund, 58, who retired from the city police department in 2001 with 29 years of service as a clerk. She and her husband, Edward, moved to Panama City, Fla., after retirement but had returned to Sharon recently.
She was buried Friday in Hillcrest Memorial Park.
Precipitation: The dry spell that has hit the Shenango Valley for more than a year showed no signs of abating during the first month of 2002.
The Shenango Valley Division of Consumers Pennsylvania Water Co., which keeps such statistics, reported that precipitation for the month of January was 1.88 inches. That's nearly a half-inch below normal for January.
The measurement includes both rainfall and snowfall converted to its liquid equivalent.
Precipitation during 2000 totaled 38.18 inches, down about 1.2 inches from the normal annual precipitation of 39.35 inches.
It was worse in 2001 when precipitation totaled 34.71 inches, more than 4 inches below normal.
Award: The Lawrence County Council of Governments is getting attention statewide.
The group has been selected for the 2002 Governor's Award for Excellence in Local Government and will receive a commendation from the governor in April.
The COG submitted an application to the state under the theme of intergovernmental cooperation and was selected as the best of that category over 50 others.
The COG formed in 1998 as a voluntary association; presently, 22 of the 27 townships and boroughs in Lawrence County have joined and share various services.
Loan program: Pennsylvania's nursing-loan forgiveness program has been extended until June 30.
The program, administered through the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency, will forgive up to 50 percent of a recent graduate's PHEAA-administered loan as long as the total does not exceed $50,000.
The program was enacted as part of the state's tobacco settlement fund.
Borrowers must agree to practice professional nursing in Pennsylvania for at least three consecutive years and must have graduated from an approved institution after July 1, 2001.
For more information, call PHEAA at (888) 877-1457.
Food distribution: The next surplus food distribution for Lawrence County residents will be March 22.
All New Castle residents who pick up at the armory will still use their pink cards. Those who have lost or discarded their pink cards must contact the county commissioner's office before Feb. 22 to receive a new card.
Township residents who missed the December distribution or any new recipients must call the commissioner's office at (724) 656-2167 by Feb. 22 to be qualified for the March distribution.
Grants: State Rep. Frank LaGrotta, a Democrat representing Beaver, Butler and Lawrence counties, said Butler and Lawrence counties are set to receive grants from the State Department of Environmental Science.
The grants are for a mosquito monitoring and virus surveillance program to determine if the West Nile virus is present in the area, and for teaching residents about the possible threat from the virus.
Under the program, Butler County will receive $50,443 and Lawrence County will get $63,120.
The West Nile virus is transmitted by infected mosquitoes and poses a threat to humans.
XCONTRIBUTORS: Harold Gwin, Vindicator Sharon Bureau, and Laure Cioffi, New Castle Bureau.

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