Dec. 27—Editor’s note: A few weeks ago, the Tribune provided readers with what we believe are the most important Crawford County-area stories of the year. We then asked our readers to rank the stories from No. 1 (most important) to No. 12 (least important).
Today, we present story Nos. 12-10. Up next are Nos. 9-8 on Tuesday, followed by 7-6 on Wednesday, 5-4 on Thursday, 3-2 on Friday, and the top story Saturday.
No. 12: Medical marijuana dispensary
Crawford County’s first medical marijuana dispensary opened March 31 in the Park Avenue Plaza in Vernon Township.
First announced in January, RISE Dispensaries opened in what was the former Key Bank office at the shopping center.
The former bank building let RISE offer its first-ever “roll-thru” service for Pennsylvania medical cannabis cardholders to make reservations in advance and pick up via a drive-thru-style window.
RISE Dispensaries are owned by Green Thumb Industries Inc., a leading national cannabis consumer packaged goods company based in Chicago, Illinois.
Established in 2014, Green Thumb Industries has 16 manufacturing facilities, 66 open retail locations and operates in 14 states — California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Virginia.
Green Thumb entered the Pennsylvania market in 2017. In the state, RISE has a manufacturing facility in Danville and a total of 16 dispensaries with locations in Meadville, Hermitage, New Castle and two locations in Erie among them.
No. 11: Harbor Freight docks
A long-time department store building at the Park Avenue Plaza has a new tenant.
California-based Harbor Freight Tools has moved into the former Peebles department store location at the Vernon Township shopping center and opened Wednesday.
Harbor Freight banners went up on the building in September along with the company’s website listing Meadville as a future location after a lease agreement was finalized.
The store is Harbor Freight’s first in Crawford County and 50th in Pennsylvania.
Harbor Freight sells more than 7,000 products, ranging from power tools and power generators to automobile repair equipment. It plans to hire between 25 to 30 workers for the new store.
The once-Peebles store has seen a wide amount of change in recent years. It was converted in February 2020 to a Gordman’s — another department store run by Peebles’ owners Stage Stores Inc. However, Stage Stores filed for bankruptcy shortly thereafter in May 2020, a victim of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Earlier this year, Meadville Medical Center leased the building, utilizing it from March through the end of June as a clinic for COVID-19 vaccines.
No. 10: Capitol riot charges
At least two area residents — a man from Crawford County and a woman from Mercer County — are facing federal charges for their alleged involvement in the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol riot.
Jeremy J. Vorous of Venango is charged by the FBI with knowingly entering or remaining in a restricted building or grounds without lawful authority; violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol Grounds; and obstruction of any official proceeding.
Vorous, 34, remains free on $10,000 unsecured bond with multiple conditions awaiting a status hearing in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., in March.
Rachel Powell of Sandy Lake in Mercer County, known as the “Bull Horn Lady” after videos surfaced of her at the Capitol riot, also has been charged.
Powell, 41, is accused by the FBI of using a pipe to batter and break a window in the Capitol, according to the criminal complaint against her. Powell also used a bullhorn to give detailed instructions about the Capitol’s layout, telling the crowd “they should ‘coordinate together if you are going to take this building,'” according to the complaint.
Powell is charged with obstruction of an official proceeding and aiding and abetting; destruction of government property; entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds with a deadly or dangerous weapon; disorderly and destructive behavior in a restricted building or grounds with a deadly or dangerous weapon; engaging in physical violence in a restricted building or grounds with a deadly or dangerous weapon; disorderly conduct in a capitol building; and acts of physical violence in the capitol buildings or grounds.
She is free on person recognizance bond awaiting a Jan. 7 status hearing in U.S. District Court in Washington.
Keith Gushard can be reached at (814) 724-6370 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.