Sending a clear message

STATE COLLEGE – Images of Joe Paterno will look down on Penn State fans this weekend as they travel along U.S. 322 to the Nittany Lions’ first home football game of the season.

A group of local Paterno supporters, led by Brian Hassinger, of Lewistown, and Kim Intorre, of State College, have created a digital billboard display in honor of Paterno and his family. The billboard will run this and every home game weekend of the season from 12:01 a.m. Friday morning to midnight on Sunday.

“I think Joe Paterno was wronged in this whole ordeal,” Hassinger said, referring to the child sex abuse scandal involving former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky that eventually cost Paterno his job. “We want Joe to be honored like he should be. The billboard is for him and his family.”

The billboard idea came about after members of the “Penn State – Put the JoePa statue back where it belongs” Facebook group saw the Joe Paterno billboard along U.S. 322 near Thompsontown. Members began offering donations to anyone looking to put up a more localized billboard, Hassinger said.

Over the next two weeks, Intoree collected $1,600 in donations out of the $2,100 needed for a full season billboard rental while Hassinger designed all the billboard images.

The photos used were donated by photographers Bill Ennis and Pat Little. Each weekend the billboard will display a different set of images, Intoree said.

“When it’s for Joe Paterno, I go big,” Intoree said. “This is to honor Joe for the person he was and to help his family, as well as the Penn State community, heal. The billboard speaks volumes.”

The billboard is located adjacent to the Harley-Davidson location in Potter Township.