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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Reason for the Season

Nativity scenes, Pentacles, Mennorahs. They're all fine with me because they are all the "reason for the season," depending on which religion you practice.

I have no problem whatsoever with a pentacle being placed next to a Nativity scene on the municipal building lawn in Olean. Further, I have no problem with any religious symbol being placed on government property. People who bring up the Constitution as a reason for not placing religious symbols on government property need to read the First Amendment agan.

Here it is: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Actually, since it says Congress shall make no law prohibiting the free exercise of religion, we should be able to put religious symbols anywhere we want -- including on the municipal builidng lawn.

At any rate, I hope the person who ran over the pentacle does not consider himself a Christian, because that was a very un-Christian thing to do.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Weather

We live in the Twin Tiers. It snows. We drive in it every year. So why do people forget how to drive when it snows? It's really not that difficult. It just takes common sense.

Now that I've gotten that out of my system, I have a few other weather-related issues I'd like to write about. I've always been interested in weather and, if I wasn't math-illiterate, I might have decided to be a "weather girl." Anyway, thanks to Mike Cejka, I'm learning even more about weather. On Tuesday, both Mike and McKean County's Emergency Management Director Steve Nelson told me why it's so hard to predict weather in this area, especially McKean County. We're right on the edge of the Doppler Radar for State College, Buffal and Cleveland. In a nutshell, that means the information for this area isn't as accurate as it is for areas that are closer to the radar centers. Steve Nelson told me that's why we don't get warnings for severe thunderstorms until they're practically on top of us. That's also why you'll hear Mike say he's been checking the computer models and they tell him different things. He's got to put all of that together and come up with a forecast for us. And, I'd say, he does a darn good job!

If you're fascinated by weather, a cool new place to visit on the web is the WIVB Weather Team's Buffalo Weather Blog. They're also asking for pictures of weather events in the area. And so are we! If you have a photo or video you'd like to share with us, e-mail it to photos@hero1490.com.

In the meantime, follow traffic laws, use common sense and drive safely!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

City Taxes

I'm torn on this issue. No, I don't want to pay higher taxes -- even if it's only $2 a month. But I do understand sometimes taxes do have to be raised. In this case, the director of accounts and finances explained that, among other things, higher insurance costs necessitated the minimal increase. As the mayor said, she's putting more than that into her gas tank right now.

On the other hand, the mayor-elect says he believes "fat" could have been trimmed from the budget and ordinances could be enforced more fairly to generate more revenue. One example he gave was the refuse ordinance. He says while a homeowner pays $18 a month, an apartment building with about 100 units pays only $60-$70 a month. I must agree, that's hardly fair.

What's really disturbing about the entire issue, though, is the number of people who are complaining about the tax increase. Where were they during the public budget hearings? Were they at city hall to offer input? And where were they last night during the first reading of the budget? I would have rather been home watching the Charlie Brown Christmas special, too, but I was at city hall, then back at the station so people who couldn't be bothered with the meeting would be able to complain about it as soon as I got it on the Web site. (That comment is not meant for people who could not make it to the meeting because of a legitimate reason.)

I guess complaining about taxes is like complaining about elected officials -- If you don't vote, don't complain. So, if you didn't attend the budget hearings, don't complain.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Getting Into the Christmas Spirit?

From the state police:

An East Smethport teenager walked by the property of 75-year-old Neomi Magee on Route 6 Sunday night and slashed a blow-up Santa air globe with a pocket knife. The air globe is valued at $80. 19-year-old Jeremiah Smith would have been charged with criminal mischief, but Magee declined to press charges.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

I'm Thankful For ...

... having a job I love, working with people who make my job even more fun, and being appreciated at work enough to be Employee of the Month 6 times in 2 years; the Bonnies' winning record, even though it's only been 5 games; Mike Cejka, especially when he calls from home to update me on changing weather conditions; Joe Scarnati, for telling me I'm his favorite reporter, even if it's not true; my friends and family; and Spidey-Turkeys.

spideyturkey.JPG

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Open Letter to Retailers

Dear Retailer Who is Upset About October Sales Being Down:

I went into your store to shop for Thanksgiving items. I couldn't find any. Actually, it wasn't all that easy to find Halloween items -- even in the second week of October. When more than 50 percent of your store is filled up with Christmas-related items on October 15, can you really expect to have decent sales?

I realize that the Christmas shopping season is the best time of year for you guys, but that doesn't mean it's a good idea to extend it for another month. Many of us would still like to wait until after Thanksgiving to start our serious Christmas shopping. I think your lackluster October sales are evidence of that.

So, my advice is: Sell your "normal" items, and maybe throw in some Thanksgiving items, and I bet your sales will be just fine next year.

Sincerely,
A Shopper Who Doesn't Want to See Christmas Stuff in October


PS: Next year I'm starting the "Bring Thanksgiving Back" campaign. Stay tuned -- and be thinking of ideas. I'm open to just about anything, and I can use your help.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

OP-ED

The Truth About Transportation

The collapse of a heavily traveled bridge outside of Minneapolis, Minnesota in August opened eyes everywhere and focused our attention on the safety of our nation’s infrastructure. States all over the country are grappling with this reality and struggling to find solutions. In fact, so dire our crisis, Pennsylvania is at risk of going beyond having some of the worst roads and bridges in the nation, to a real tragedy like the one in Minnesota.

One of the main causes of the transportation funding crisis facing us today can be traced back to the passage of the last federal transportation plan, supported by Congressman John Peterson. Unfortunately, under the law, Pennsylvania received the lowest increase in transportation funding of any state in the country. One question that comes to mind is why Congress would underfund Pennsylvania’s transportation network when all freight and passenger traffic going from east to west or north to south goes through the Keystone State. This federal transportation plan failed Pennsylvanians and Congressman Peterson failed our motoring public and job creators. This clearly, and once again, exhibits his lack of clout in Washington.

Alternatives to fund our transportation crisis have been difficult. Proposals by the Governor to sell the Pennsylvania Turnpike to a foreign company were met with great opposition by the General Assembly. We may get a few billion dollars upfront from a foreign country, but it will be drop in the bucket compared to well over a hundred billion dollars we send t this foreign company over the lifespan of the contract. Maybe Congress does not mind sending our money and jobs overseas, but I will not allow them to send Pennsylvanians’ hard earned tax dollars over there.

Another proposal being floated by some was the idea of increasing the state gas tax in order to provide additional transportation funding. This was a concept that had been embraced by the state legislature of the past. In fact, Congressman Peterson voted in favor of raising the gas tax three separate times during his tenure in the Legislature; increases that cost Pennsylvanians 14 cents per gallon more at the pump. If Congressman Peterson had it his way, history shows he would vote to add 25 cents more per gallon to the current excessive price of gas.

An alternative to those ideas, which would generate the necessary transportation funding for our Commonwealth, is tolling I-80. The genesis for tolling I-80 was in 1998 when the United States Congress passed legislation co-sponsored by Congressman Peterson which allowed for the tolling of interstate highways. In fact, the conference committee’s report on the legislation specifically cited I-80 as an ideal candidate for tolling. The legislature decided that, while not ideal, this idea was the best of those presented to this point and we could not afford to wait any longer to act.

This issue is not about Congressman Peterson or myself and he should refrain from criticism and begin a resume of solutions. In fact, I would welcome dialogue with Congressman Peterson to discuss his alternatives, which he has never requested in the past.

As I have stated before, I oppose tolling I-80, and I would be open to realistic alternatives, but doing nothing is no longer an option. The other options of selling a state highway to a foreign company so they can profit on tolls paid by Pennsylvania motorists or increasing the gas tax $.25 per gallon were far less desirable. Listen, I don’t want to see what happened in Minnesota happen in Pennsylvania, but the reality is that we have far worse roads and bridges and are faced with a crisis. I hope and pray everyday that we are not faced with a similar tragedy, and I am working hard to see that it will not happen.

~~Senator Joe Scarnati

NaNoWriMo

nano_participant_icon_small.gif


Is anyone doing this? Let me know and, if there's enough interest, I'll do a story about it -- possibly even a LiveLine or Weekend Wrap. If you're doing it email me at 1490news@gmail.com

Happy noveling!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Baby Bigfoot

OK. I wasn't going to write about this but I suppose I have no choice now. Ever since Scott started talking about it on his show last Tuesday, the story has taken on a life of its own. If you do a Google News search for "Bigfoot," you'll see that story about the creature has gone international. It was even the top story on Countdown with Keith Olbermann last night.

It's a bear with mange. Granted, it's a really bad case of mange, but that's what I think. Why? No, not just because that's what the PA Game Commission says. I'll admit I'm not an expert on bears, but I do know that mother bears protect their cubs -- fiercely. If some "creature" was that close to those cubs, where the heck was the mother bear? Wouldn't she have been in one of the pictures? So, that's why I think the poor sickly looking creature is a bear -- the mother of the cubs in the picture.

On a side note: In college, I was nuts about a guy whose nickname was Sasquatch. He wore size 15 shoes, which is not why I had a crush on him. I don't remember exactly why I first started liking him, but I do remember he was a really good kisser.
/nostalgic interlude

Back to Bigfoot: With hunting seasons in full swing in this area, I hope we don't get an influx of people searching for Bigfoot. While it would be good for the economy, I'm not so sure how safe all those people in the woods would be.

I'm sure we'll be hearing more about this story in the next few weeks. *sigh*

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Climate Change

It's not very often that I agree with Bill O'Reilly, but I do agree with him (in part) on this issue. He says that while he doesn't agree with everything Al Gore says about climate change, he is glad that Gore is bringing issues to the forefront and, therefore, at least making people think about making the planet cleaner.

Personally, I think there's nothing to debate about global warming. It's happening, whether people want to believe it or not. The real debate is on what we can do to relieve it. Cleaner vehicles, cleaner factories, cleaner everything. Good starts.

As with every issue, though, it's important to get as many facts as you can before making a decision. Tonight, you can get Al Gore's side at the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford. Dr. Maiken Winter, a trainee of Gore's Climate Project is speaking tonight at Pitt-Bradford. She'll discuss what causes global warming and what evidence exists to indicate that it's happening; the effect warming has on global climate, ocean currents, the environment, its wildlife and people; and what people can do to combat climate change. She'll use an altered version of Gore's slide show that was used to produce "An Inconvenient Truth."

So, if you care about the debate on global warming, here's your chance to get involved.

Coming soon: My thoughts on illegal aliens.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Out With the Old; In With the New

Thanks to Mazza Inc. and Kessel Construction we have a new heating/air conditioning system. Work like this fascinates me, so I thought I'd capture it in pictures.

Taking the old AC out:


acold2.JPG

Putting the new AC in:








Update: 3:44 p.m. - The heating part of the new system works really, really well (she says, wiping sweat from her forehead).

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

It Ain't Over 'Til It's Over

By the middle of the 4th quarter of last night's Bills game, I had a post written for this blog. The title was "Nothing is a Sure Thing." At that time, it was supposed to mean that whether you're playing football, auditioning for a play, applying for a job – or just about anything else you might do – you can't predict the outcome.

The Cowboys came in to the game undefeated and, well, the Bills are the Bills. They're the Bills of this decade, not the early '90s. I mean, really, did anyone but the most die-hard Bills fans think they could pull it off?

But, when Jabari Greer ripped the ball from Terrell Owens, saving the two-point conversion that would have tied the game, all the die-hard Bills fans were looking pretty darn smart. We'll, I'm sure you all know what happened from there. I'm not going to rehash it yet again.

So, while I went into the game saying "nothing is a sure thing," meaning I thought the Bills could win, I came out saying, well, "nothing is a sure thing," meaning "don’t count your chickens before they're hatched."

(OK. So I'm full of clich├ęs today. I stayed up for the whole game and had to be here at 5 a.m., so I hope you can forgive me.)

Since I'm using sports as a metaphor for life, I probably should be using a piece of Yogi Berra's wisdom – "It ain't over 'til it's over." I know you don't need me to tell you any of this, but I think it's a good idea to remind people every now and then.

I think it's pretty good advice coming from a radio station news director whose high school guidance counselor told her she didn't have what it took to go into journalism, let alone broadcast journalism.

It ain't over 'til it's over, Sister.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Select a Candidate 2008

"The Boss" passed this quiz on to me:

Select a Candidate 2008

All you do is answer 11 questions to find out which candidates are most aligned with your views and opinions. After you take the quiz, feel free to post your results -- and your thoughts on your results -- right here. I won't tell you (yet) with whom I'm most aligned, but I will tell you I had never even considered voting for that person.

Friday Afternoon News

One good thing about not having this blog on the same server as our main Web site is that when WESB.com is down, we can still post here. So bookmark this site! Here's the news:

Former Student Arrested at Bradford High

A former Bradford Area High School student has been arrested following a fight with a student this morning at the school.

Jammie Timblin is accused of trespassing in the school and arguing with the 17-year-old student about a girl.

The 17-year-old injured Timblin during the fight. Assistant Principal Dave Ray broke up the fight and took Timblin to his office, where the school nurse treated him for his injuries.

Bradford City Police Officer Dave Feely, who is the school resource officer, found that Timblin had a pocketknife.

Timblin is charged with criminal trespass, disorderly conduct and possession of a weapon on school property.

Anti-Assessment Group Files Lawsuit

A group who says Portville's 2007 property assessment was wrong and unfair has filed a lawsuit to have the assessment overturned.

Citizens for Fair Taxes filed the suit in Cattaraugus County Court. It includes the names of 135 property owners who oppose the assessment, which was certified in July.

The group hopes to force the town to discard the assessment and have a new one done.

Salamanca Police Dog Missing

The search is on for a missing police dog in Salamanca.

Pixie, a black lab, has been missing since Tuesday. Her owners say that when they left for the Buffalo Airport that day, they think she scaled a six-foot fence to chase after them.

Kit and Amy Bromley believe Pixie was doing was she trained to do – track scents – and she was trying to track them.

They believe she could be anywhere between Salamanca and Buffalo.

Anyone who spots Pixie, or has any information on her whereabouts is asked to contact the local police department or SPCA.

Open Records Law

Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi (R-9) was interviewed recently by the Pennsylvania Newspaper Association (PNA) about Senate Bill 1, his legislation to strengthen Pennsylvania's Open Records Law.

Sen. Pileggi has said that SB 1 is his top legislative priority this fall, calling a stronger Open Records Law "the cornerstone of reform." Since introducing the bill, he has announced his support for changing the presumption in the current law so that all government records are presumed to be open unless they fall under a specific exception established in law.

The PNA interview with Sen. Pileggi covers a variety of topics, including why Open Records is a priority, whether there is enough momentum to get a bill signed into law, how exceptions will be determined, and many more. In total, the interview runs about 22 minutes long.

More information about Senate Bill 1 and other state issues is available at Senator Pileggi's web site.








Letter to the Editor

State Children's Health Insurance Program

Dear Editor:

I am writing in response to your coverage of the President's veto of
important children's health legislation. It is unacceptable that 9 million
children in our country do not have health coverage. Covering kids is a
smart investment - it saves money and helps kids do better in school. I
applaud Congress for their vote last week to cover 3.8 million uninsured
children, however I am extremely disappointed in the president's decision
to veto the bill. This bill would enable millions of American children who
would otherwise be uninsured to get the coverage they need for a healthy
start in life. The State Children's Health Insurance Program is a
bipartisan plan to renew and strengthen children's health coverage, and I
am discouraged that the president is not making the health of our nation's
children a principal concern.

The State Children's Health Insurance Program has been a real bipartisan
success story-- it has helped cut the number of uninsured children by 1/3
over the past 10 years. Our members of Congress will have another chance to vote on the needs of our kids in a veto-override vote set to take place he week of October 16. I hope they will make the well-being of children their top priority, and improve children's health by supporting this historic bipartisan agreement. Families here locally are watching these actions in Washington, and we should remember which politicians stood with our children to move forward with health coverage.

Sincerely,
Richard O. Stevenson
Hinsdale, NY

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Operation Legion

This message is from Dawn McGriff, whose son is a soldier serving in Afghanistan:

"My one wish for this Holiday season is to see that every soldier in the Legion Troop receives an air mattress and pillow in time for Christmas. With your help and support, we can make this wish come true. "

To see how to help Dawn, and Operation Legion, visit their web site.



The living quarters of the 1st Battalion (Airborne) 503rd Infantry



This is how they get water



Operation Legion

What's Wrong with DEP?

Since Monday, I've been trying to figure out exactly what I wanted to write about the Department of Environmental Protection. For people who don't know, they're holding up at least two major projects here in McKean County. The two that got me thinking even more about this on Monday are the Foster Township sewer line extension and the Lafferty Hollow Industrial Park.

During Monday's Foster Township Supervisors meeting, the board said different branches of the DEP are at odds with each other. For instance, once branch says the township must extend the sewer lines. Another branch won't give them approval on where to put the lines.

I'm not surprised that a government agency is being that ridiculous, but before I wrote anything, I wanted to find out if other municipalities in the state are having similar problems.

I got my answer while talking to Joe Scarnati Wednesday night. He said, "One thing about DEP is that they're equally abusive everywhere around the state."

He also told me DEP is the number one issue people want to talk about when he travels throughout his district. And remember, folks, that's one big district.

Now let's move on to Wednesday. The House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee held a hearing concerning the governor's energy plan. Marty Causer asked DEP Secretary Kathleen McGinty for her support in allowing oil and gas drilling on state-owned lands.

He told me today that she wouldn't give him a definitive answer on that, but he'll keep pushing her. As Marty said, you can't just look at biofuels and other types of alternative energy. You have to consider other untapped resources – like those sitting under state-owned land.

Joe Scarnati will be on the LiveLine later this month. Usually I don't tell him what we're going to talk about, but I gave him a heads-up this time. My first question will be "What the heck is wrong with DEP?" He says he's looking forward to answering that question – and he's also looking forward to introducing his legislation that will "take on" DEP.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Press Release:

Peterson: No Senate Recess Without Passing Veterans Funding Bill

Today, Congressman John E. Peterson, R-Pleasantville, issued the following statement after signing a letter to Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, urging him to make a veterans funding bill a top priority so Congress can send the President a bill before October 12, 2007.
“The Democrats’ string of broken promises to the American people, and our veterans, continues. There’s a time for politics and there’s a time for accomplishing the people’s work. But when it comes to funding our veterans, politics must be checked at the door. Unfortunately, Washington Democrats, led by Harry Reid, are trying to ‘leverage’ this critical veterans funding bill against the President for political gain. They have even called Republican efforts to pass the bill ‘cute diversions.’ No obligation, as a Congress, should be second to funding our veterans.
“Every American can be proud of the sacrifices our service members have made on behalf of each and every one of us while defending our precious gift of liberty. Across the world, as young and developing democracies mature, we can all be thankful for the freedoms we enjoy at home. Our American heroes of last generation are now joined by heroes from a new generation, who answered our nation’s call in Desert Storm, Operation Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. We owe them the funding that they’ve rightfully earned.
“Washington Democrats may have outdone themselves this time, reducing our brave and honorable veterans to political bargaining chips. Congress must act to uphold the promises that we’ve made to our servicemen and women. For that, I urge Senator Reid to move forward in the appropriations process and bring the veterans funding bill to a conference committee and not to recess the Senate before this is accomplished.”
The House version passed 409-2 in mid-June. The Senate passed their version 92-1 in early September.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Get That Man a Dictionary

No new taxes. What is about that phrase that Governor Ed Rendell doesn't understand?

He wants to impose a "modest charge" on electric bills to start an Energy Independence Fund – an $850 million pot of money that would be used as incentives for businesses and consumers to use alternative energy sources.

First, what's the difference between a "tax" and a "charge?" No difference. And with rate caps coming off in a couple of years, do we really need another tax – Sorry – "charge" – added to our electric bills? I know that when the caps came off in the Pittsburgh area and in Maryland the result wasn't nearly as catastrophic as people had predicted, but are we willing to take that chance again?

Second, I'm all for alternative energy but let's be realistic here.

How many people in the northern part of the state are going to be able to benefit from solar energy? I'm sure Mike Cejka would tell you we have many more cloudy days than sunny days in this part of the state.

Maybe someone should remind the governor that Pennsylvania is one of the most coal-rich states in the country. Perhaps, given that fact, we should be investing in clean-coal technology before spending millions of dollars on developing new sources of energy.

And what's one of Pennsylvania's most abundant natural resources? Wood. Why not further invest in developing energy from wood chips and other "waste" products from the timber and farming industries?

The governor is also talking about rebates for people who buy new, energy-efficient appliances. Go spend $3,000 on a new refrigerator, washing machine, dryer and air conditioner and you'll get $300 back from the state. Gee thanks, Ed.

I have to agree with Senator Mary Jo White of Venango County who said she's all for alternative and renewable energy sources – and for Pennsylvania trying to be energy independent – but not at the expense of the already overtaxed residents of the Commonwealth.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

We're Here!

What's a local news outlet without local editorials? A news outlet that isn't giving the public everything it should. Now we're giving you editorials and a chance to comment on them. We hope they give you something to think about and help to keep you informed. Just another reason we are "The News Leader of the Twin Tiers."



Launch date: October 1, 2007