---- — Cheers: To Selinsgrove Area Middle School student Ashley Phillips, who Saturday competed in the Central Pennsylvania Spelling Bee in Harrisburg after qualifying for the event. The 13-year-old daughter of Karen Phillips, of Selinsgrove, correctly spelled "giraffe" and "Soviet" in the first two rounds. Ashley was one of 35 spellers from 10 counties to qualify for the bee, a prelude to the national Scripps-Howard Spelling Bee.
Cheers: To Dr. Patricia Kitchen, the first Montour County resident to receive the Distinguished Dairy Woman Award from the Pennsylvania Dairymen's Association. Kitchen, owner of Leighow Veterinary Hospital, near Danville, received the 2013 award in Lancaster. Kitchen has a multi-faceted interest in the Pennsylvania dairy foods industry and a strong interest in supporting Pennsylvania's dairy youth, according to the association. She also provides support to her husband, Randy, at their home, where they raise about 120 dairy heifers.
Cheers: To Blake Baylor, 15, who competed at championship levels in two sports in towns 90 miles apart within 18 hours over the weekend. The Lewisburg Area High sophomore swam Friday night in Bloomsburg in the District 4 championships, then ran in an 800-meter race Saturday at the Pennsylvania Track and Field Coaches Association State Indoor Track Championships in State College.
Cheers: To Valley residents, whose donations to The Needy Family Fund over the holidays resulted in the $123,400 check that was presented Tuesday to the Salvation Army's Maj. Robert Carney, of the Milton citadel, and Maj. Sharon Cupp, of the Sunbury citadel. The fund is sponsored by The Daily Item, Sunbury Broadcasting Corp. and Susquehanna Bank, with a generous donation at the end from the Degenstein Foundation of Sunbury.
Cheers: To the Danville High School Future Farmers of America, Alpha Phi Omega students from Susquehanna University and the Montour, Northumberland, Snyder and Union counties' Farm Bureaus, who with others worked to raise more than $21,000 in foodstuffs and cash last week that will allow the Ronald McDonald House in Danville to provide food to families who stay at the facility for a year.
Cheers: To the federal Economic Development Administration, which Wednesday provided a $15 million grant to Columbia County to help protect two major businesses, and nearly 1,000 jobs, from flooding. The grant, to Columbia County, will help build flood control systems, which will include flood walls, possibly moving utilities, moving a waterway, if necessary, and installing pumps. Speaking in Autoneum of North America at 480 W. Fifth St., Matt Erskine, U.S. deputy assistant secretary for economic development in the Economic Development Administration, said the flood control system will protect that company along with nearby Windsor Foods.
Cheers: To the Degenstein Foundation for giving Geisinger Health System $1 million to fund an independent and data-based study into the effects of Marcellus Shale drilling in Pennsylvania.