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Saturday, May 24, 2008

Gardening with Native Shrubs
4th in a Series by the ANF

I stared across the farm’s hillside. I could see to the aspen on the back side of the eighty acres from this slight rise. The aspen leaves were bright yellow in the fall. Abandoned pastureland, formerly white pine, hemlock, and black spruce trees over a perched water table, had been logged, grazed heavily, and then abandoned. We had purchased the farm to make a place for retirement and wildlife.

An initial survey of the plants on the farm had identified some ‘things to do’. The hillsides were gullied from erosion. Buckthorn (Rhamas sp.) shrubs were gaining a foothold, and would soon overtake all moist soil places. In the farm’s history, some well-meaning (but unknowing) soul had planted autumn olive, multi-flora rose, and Tartarian honeysuckle shrubs. Our vision of creating a haven for wildlife was going to take hard work, some herbicide, and planting the best native shrubs for wildlife. Our work was cut out for us.

Autumn and Russian olive (Elaegnus sp.) shrubs were widely introduced across the United States after the Dust Bowl of the 1930s. Autumn olive roots were able to hold onto the soil and the plants could even be started on bare mineral soils. Again, in the 1950s and 1960s, public agencies encouraged farmers to plant autumn olive as a windbreak, hiding cover for wildlife, and food. Now we know through research that autumn olive becomes ‘too much’ of a windbreak because it prevents native plants from growing, thus depriving small animals of their natural habitat. Now we know that autumn olive berries do not provide the same high energy nutrients as native shrubs. Birds need these nutrients for fall migration flights and winter food supplies. Similarly, do NOT plant multi-flora rose or any of the exotic bush honeysuckles.

What to use instead? Plant gray dogwood, arrowwood, or winterberry shrubs. Gray dogwood is particularly important because birds flock to its nutritious berries, and the understory of gray dogwood shrubs provide excellent nesting habitat for woodcock, now a species of interest in Pennsylvania because of its decline in population. Arrowwood also provides berries for birds in the fall. Arrowwood was so named because the Indians made arrows from the stems.

Japanese barberry (Berberis sp.) has been widely planted because of its red fall foliage and fruits that hang on the stems long into winter. Birds and small mammals easily spread barberry seeds into new areas. Barberry thrives in shady areas and can become so dense in stature as to shade out plants in its understory.

What to use instead? Fortunately, some wonderful native substitute shrubs can be planted. Highbush blueberry, northern bayberry, elderberry, and spicebush all produce a nutritious fruit (berry or drupe). The shrubs can be ordered from most plant and tree nurseries. Early settlers used the fruits of bayberry, also called candleberry, to make candles because of the waxy coating over the fruit. Blueberries and elderberries make jellies. Spicebush delivers an aromatic fragrance when the leaves are crushed. The flowers of the spicebush are important for swallowtail butterflies, particularly for the spicebush swallowtail. We have much to learn about how all the pieces of nature are connected.

Privets, tall hedge (buckthorn) and burning bush are favorites of homeowners to establish borders or edges to lawns. But, as we’ve learned with many other non-native shrubs that once these tenacious shrubs escape they disrupt natural habitats. Burning bush and buckthorn spread by producing hundreds of seedlings below the parent plant or by being distributed by birds or small animals. Buckthorn is especially egregious as it is difficult to eradicate in moist soils and it endangers fall migrations of birds that eat its fruit. The berry of buckthorn does not contain the necessary fats for long-distance migration and the berry also acts as a dessicator to the birds, making them stop more frequently for water and rest. Unfortunately, many nurseries sell privets, buckthorn and burning bush to homeowners that do not realize the detrimental effects to wildlife.

What to use instead? Here again, nature offers many wonderful substitutes, such as red or black chokeberries, shining sumac, or viburnums, such as mapleleaf or nannyberry. The leaves of black chokeberry turn a brilliant red in the fall. Nannyberry, also called wild raisin, produces a berry-like fruit (called a drupe) in the fall that birds relish. All of these plants can be purchased as seedlings from nurseries or by ordering through mail order nurseries.


We owe it to ourselves, society, and wildlife to conserve natural habitats wherever possible. Wildlife can benefit from backyard habitats. The National Wildlife Federation offers information for landowners at nwf.org/backyard. Think of the benefits to wildlife when a homeowner on a ½ acre lot makes a better place for wildlife, which is adjacent to the next homeowner’s lot, which is next to another homeowner’s lot. A community of homeowners can create a maze of habitats that wildlife will use. Do your part; plant some native shrubs in your backyard.

Irving Man Dies;
Passenger Pinned Under Car

An Irving man is dead and his passenger is hospitalized following an accident early Saturday morning at routes 5 and 20. Chautauqua County Sheriff's deputies say a car driven by 28-year-old Thomas O'Connell Jr. went out of control, left the road, hit and severed a utility pole, then rolled several times before hitting a tree. Both O'Connell and his passenger, 22-year-old Jason P. Sanford were ejected from the vehicle. O'Connell was found dead, next to his car. Sanford was pinned under the car.
Sanford is being treated at ECMC.

Man Dies in House Fire

A 59-year-old Forestville man died Friday afternoon in a fire at his home. Firefighters found Michael Domenico in a bedroom as they battled the blaze. The house was fully engulfed in flames when they arrived at just before 5 p.m. Chautauqua County officials say the cause of the fire hasn't been determined yet and an autopsy is being performed to determine how Domenico died.

A Beautiful Day -- Town-Wide

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These people look over items for sale at Grace Lutheran Church Saturday morning. The yard sales at the church were a few of dozens held Saturday as part of the annual Bradford Area Town-Wide Yard Sales. It was a perfect day, weather-wise, for bargain hunting, and News 4 Meteorologist Mike Cejka says after a chilly start to Sunday, we'll enjoy sunshine and a high around 76.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Primanti vs. Kowalski

It might be one of Pittsburgh's famous Primanti Bros. sandwiches for Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm. Or it might be a platter of Detroit-made Kowalski sausages for Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell. The outcome depends on the winner of the NHL Stanley Cup finals between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Detroit Red Wings. The seven-game series opens Saturday night in Detroit. If the Penguins lose, Rendell must have a meal of Kowalski sausages, Faygo Rock and Rye pop and Michigan cherries while wearing a Red Wings jersey. If the Red Wings lose, Granholm must don a Penguins jersey, and down hot dogs from the Original Hot Dog Shop and a Primanti Bros. sandwich, as well as Eat'n Park cookies.

The Weekend Wrap
The Fight Back Express

My guest on The Weekend Wrap is Hillary Clarke, director of advocacy for the Cancer Action Network. She'll be talking about the Fight Back Express bus tour and its stop in Buffalo on Sunday. The Fight Back Express is working to make cancer a national priority by educating the public, lawmakers, candidates and the media about the importance of the government's role in defeating cancer. The Fight Back Express will be at Delaware Park from 4 to 5 p.m. Sunday. The easiest way to get to the bus is by way of the Jewett Parkway entrance. You can hear The Weekend Wrap at 9:15 a.m. Saturday on 1490 WESB and 6 a.m. Saturday on 100.1 The HERO. For more information about the Cancer Action Network, visit ACSCAN.

Gas Exploration Task Force Formed

A new panel has been formed to keep an eye on booming natural gas exploration in Lycoming County. County commissioners and Williamsport-Lycoming County Chamber of Commerce have named the Community Gas Exploration Task Force. The mission is to identify key issues, research facts and propose public policy on gas exploration.
Commissioner Rebecca Burke says that should include preserving natural resources, without hindering gas companies from operating. She says the commissioners hope positive working relationships can mean big benefits for the local economy. The move comes after area cooperative extension staff members spent several days studying the effects of gas exploration in the Barnett Shale region of northern Texas. The formation is similar to the Marcellus Shale, which lies under some areas of Pennsylvania, including most of Lycoming County.

Olean Alderman Pleads Innocent

An Olean City Alderman has pleaded innocent to a petit larceny charge. 22-year-old Andrew Searles is accused of taking a pre-paid gas card from Mastel Ford while he worked there. Searles no longer works for Mastel. Searles says he has no reason to resign from Common Council and declined to comment further. Both Mayor David Carucci and Common Council President Richard Smith have also declined to comment, other than to say they will wait for the issue to work itself out in court. Searles is free on his own recognizance.

Man Pleads Guilty in Connection
with Fatal Accident

A Bradford man has pleaded guilty in connection with an accident that killed his passenger last year in Belfast, New York. 36-year-old Joseph Arnett has been sentenced to five years' probation. On June 24 he was driving on Route 305 when he did not stop at the stop sign at the bottom of a hill. The vehicle went across Route 19, hit an embankment and went airborne, flipping over near the old River Valley Farms. 23-year-old Devon Brunell of Cuba, New York, was pronounced dead at the scene.

UPB's Source Wins Award

The University of Pittsburgh at Bradford’s student newspaper, The Source, has received a second-place award in the American Scholastic Press Association’s annual newspaper competition. The award was based on issues from the Fall 2007 semester, during which time Ed Nolter, a senior public relations major from Bradford, served as editor; Anna Chiodo, a senior public relations major from Bradford, was managing editor; and Alex Davis, a freshman public relations major from Emporium, was assistant managing editor. Tim Ziaukas, associate professor of public relations, is the paper’s adviser.

Paterson Home After Surgery

New York Governor David Paterson is out of the hospital after having a second eye surgery performed. The laser surgery was performed as a precautionary measure, and is the same procedure he had on Tuesday in his other eye. Paterson went to the hospital early Tuesday morning complaining of severe eye pain. The governor was diagnosed on that day with acute glaucoma, and the procedure was performed. Paterson is expected to recover at home with his family over the Memorial Day weekend, and is likely go back to work next week.

Casey Honors Jimmy Stewart

On Saturday, the town where Jimmy Stewart grew up having a wonderful life -- Indiana, Pa. -- will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birth of its favorite son. The centennial festival day for Stewart will be held inside the Jimmy Stewart Museum and outside at the museum plaza at 835 Philadelphia Street on Saturday. There will be bands, an Air Force flyover, movie viewings, presentations, dedications and awards during the all-day program.

Earlier this week, US Senator Bob Casey talked about Stewart on the Senate floor.

Casey Supports Great Lakes Cleanup

US Senator Bob Casey is support the Great Lakes Legacy Act of 2008, which is aimed at cleaning up contaminated areas of the Great Lakes within 10 years.
Among other things, the bill would allow additional funding to protect and restore targeted areas in the Great Lakes like Presque Isle. “Lake Erie is an integral part of Northwestern Pennsylvania’s landscape and we must do everything we can to keep it safe and beautiful,” Casey said “This legislation will provide for funding to sustain this picturesque lake for generations to come.” The Great Lakes Legacy Act of 2008 would authorize $150 million annually to clean up what have been identified as “Areas of Concern” in the Great Lakes.

Emerald Ash Borer Survey to Start

Bright purple boxes will be hanging from ash trees as Pennsylvania officials begin a survey after Memorial Day to assess the spread of the ash borer. Agriculture Secretary Dennis Wolff says the invasive beetle was discovered in Butler and Allegheny counties western Pennsylvania last summer. Quarantines were imposed on the movement of ash nursery stocks, green lumber and firewood in those counties and neighboring Beaver and Lawrence counties. Wolff says 10,000 three-sided traps will be hung in trees in 35 counties this summer to see whether the bettle has spread to new areas. The emerald ash borer is a wood-boring beetle native to China and eastern Asia. It has killed more than 30 million ash trees in Michigan since 2002 and millions more in Ohio and Indiana.

You can read our previous posts on the emerald ash borer HERE

Knox Soldier to Receive Medal of Honor

The White House says a Pennsylvania soldier who jumped on top of a grenade in Iraq and saved the life of his comrades will posthumously receive the Medal of Honor. The honor will be given to Pfc. Ross McGinnis, of Knox on June 2. Military officials have said McGinnis was perched in the gunner's hatch of a Humvee when a grenade sailed past him and into the truck where four other soldiers sat. He shouted a warning to the others, then jumped on the grenade. It blew up and killed him. The 19-year-old McGinnis was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, in Schweinfurt, Germany. He died on Dec. 4, 2006. Congressman John Peterson issued the following statement:

“It is with deep gratitude, and sorrow, that I recognize the selfless act Ross McGinnis performed on December 4, 2006. This young man, just 19 years old, was a soldier’s soldier, who enlisted in the Army to fight for causes larger than any individual: freedom and liberty. Ross gave his life to save the lives of his fellow soldiers – an act nothing short of heroic. This courageous act not only defined Spc. McGinnis as a soldier, but it is also a testament to his rural Pennsylvania upbringing, where love for country runs deep.

“Born and raised in the small Clarion County town of Knox, Ross was a high-spirited son, brother, and a friend to many. He had a contagious sense of humor and a trademark smile that lit up every room he entered. Spc. McGinnis is now etched into American history where he will always be remembered for his strong sense of duty to serve his country and his unmatched selflessness.

“I look forward to welcoming the McGinnis family to Washington on June 2 for a White House ceremony where President Bush will award Ross the nation’s highest military honor, the Congressional Medal of Honor.”

Zippo Sponsoring Kyle Busch Car

D’Hondt Motorsports, LLC (DMS) announced today that Zippo Manufacturing Company, promoting their line of hot new Zippo BLU lighters, will be the primary sponsor for Kyle Busch in the #92 Toyota Camry in the “Zippo 200” August 9th at Watkins Glen International.

“We are proud to have Zippo sponsor D’Hondt Motorsports (DMS) and Kyle Busch at Watkins Glen” said team owner Eddie D’Hondt. “This new partnership is a good opportunity for us all and allows us room to grow. Zippo has supported racing at some level for a long time and we look forward to a very successful weekend.”

Zippo founder, George G. Blaisdell, began attending events at Watkins Glen in the 1950’s. In 1993, they became the title sponsor for the Grand Prix race there. In NASCAR, they sponsored Jimmy Spencer in the 1990’s and introduced a line of collectible driver lighters. They have been the Nationwide Series event title sponsor at Watkins Glen for four years.

“We are excited to not only be the race title sponsor but to also partner with an up and coming organization like D’Hondt Motorsports. We are anxious to see our name back on a car and entered in a NASCAR Nationwide Series race. We feel confident that with Kyle Busch behind the wheel, it will be a winning combination for all involved,” said Mark Paup, Zippo VP Sales/Marketing.

National River Cleanup


National River Cleanup is a year-long event. This year’s event officially kicks-off May 31-June 8. Millions of tons of trash end up in our nation’s rivers and streams every year. American Rivers is a proud sponsor of National River Cleanup and invites you to launch a river cleanup in your backyard.

More than 600,000 volunteers have participated in thousands of National River Cleanups since inception in 1991. More than 1,000 tons of litter and debris have been removed from over 100,000 miles of waterways. In 2007, the National River Cleanup removed 600 tons of trash from 7,500 miles of streams; the 95,000 volunteers filled 100,980 garbage bags!

How do you get started on your own National River Cleanup day? American Rivers has an “Organize a Cleanup” button at their http://www.americanrivers.org/ website. American Rivers provides everything you need to know to start your own event, and register your event so other people can find your event. You can also find river cleanups near your location if you would rather participate in an already organized event than organize your own river cleanup event.

One National River Cleanup event already registered for this locale is the Clarion River Annual Litter Cleanup on August 23. The river will be sweeped for trash from Wilcox down to Cook Forest State Park.

It costs nothing other than your time to become involved in a National River Cleanup day. Trash bags are furnished by American Rivers through donations they receive during the year. River cleanups can be messy and require hard work. Wear old clothes, work boots, and work gloves. Pants and shirts should be long-sleeved. Wear a hat, bring water, a snack, and the attitude to have some fun!

Walker Claims Election Tampering

Former GOP Congressional candidate Derek Walker says he's planning to file federal election tampering charges against a political rival and law enforcement officials.
Five days before the April 22 primary, charges of stalking and burglary, among others, were filed against Walker in connection with an incident involving his former girlfriend. Earlier this week, Walker pleaded guilty to 4 misdemeanor charges; the felony charges were all dropped. Walker says the charges brought against him were part of a political conspiracy, and he has the evidence to prove it. He says Clearfield County District Attorney Bill Shaw, Clearfield Police Chief James Schilling and Matt Shaner, another of the 8 Republicans running for the 5th District Congressional seat, smeared his name and tampered with a federal election. He claims the three worked together to bring the charges to light. Walker says he pleaded guilty to the misdemeanors, because it was best for everyone involved. He admits to being guilty of an immature moment. Walker says these charges should be officially filed sometime in the next few weeks.

Top 10 Free U.S. Attractions

You may have heard Scott and me talking about this on The Morning Buzz. In case you want to see the entire list of the Top 10 Free US Attractions, here it is:

Top 10 Free US Attractions

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Marcellus Shale Explained

By ANNE HOLLIDAY
WESB/WBRR News Director


The Marcellus Shale rock formation hasn’t had much of an impact in McKean County yet, but experts expect that to change.

During a statewide television call-in show – Pennsylvania's Gas Rush – a panel answered questions about gas and oil drilling in general, and Marcellus Shale in particular.

Marcellus Shale is a layer of black shale 6,500 to 7,000 feet underground. It covers about 34 million acres in parts of Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio and New York.

With new drilling techniques, it may be possible to produce 50 trillion cubic feet of natural gas from the Marcellus Shale formation. That's about how much natural gas the United States uses in two years.

The Allegheny National Forest is rich in Marcellus Shale. But Ron Giiius of the Department of Environmental Protection said at this point there's no interest in drilling for Marcellus Shale in the forest, but there's no telling what the future holds.

"Right now," Gilius said, "primary interest is in Lycoming, Susquehanna, Wayne and Tioga (counties) and the upper northeast corner.

As for private landowners, attorney Lester Greevy Jr. of Williamsport said attention to details is important when negotiating a contract with a gas drilling company.

He said landowners will be given a standard lease that favors the industry. The way to change that, he said, is by putting addendum in the contract.

Among the addendum could be the company's right to put pipelines on your property or using your property for storage.

He also talked about an option to extend, explaining that a lease typically lasts for five years with an option on the part of the gas company to extend for another five years.

"If you look at what prices were five years ago," Greevy said, "and what prices are now, and you imagine what price may be five years from now – you certainly would not want that option."

Another part of the contract should include how you can use your land.

"It should be tailored for your use of the land," Greevy said.


He said it's important that landowners use an attorney who is well-versed in oil and gas rights.

Another important aspect of land ownership is knowing how much land you actually own.

"When you're getting paid 2,500 bucks an acre," Greevy said, "you might wanna go out and make sure all your acres are counted."

The phone lines were full during the entire hour-long program, which did not surprise Gilius. He said DEP currently spends most of its time answering telephone calls about Marcellus Shale.

Penn State Cooperative Extension is holding a series of informational meetings on Marcellus across the state, but none have been scheduled yet in this region.

Robbers With Sweet Teeth?

Pittsburgh police are looking for two men who robbed a candy store of $125 and a $40 box of fine chocolate truffles. Police say the two men acted as if they had guns when they entered the Betsy Ann Chocolates shop downtown just before 4 p.m. Thursday.
Police say the men never showed guns to the only employee on duty. There were no customers in the store at the time and nobody was hurt. Police say the robbers also asked the clerk for his wallet, but gave it back when they saw it contained no money.

Almost There

Looks as if 7 percent of the respondents to our web poll are going to be wrong -- unless something drastic happens in the next couple of days. By the way, that 7 percent said gas prices would never reach $4 a gallon.

Parade Practice

These students from Floyd C. Fretz Middle School spent part of their Thursday afternoon getting ready for Monday's Memorial Day parade. The parade steps off at 10:17 a.m. on Main Street, and will be followed by a ceremony in Veterans Square. Scott Douglas and I will be broadcasting live from the parade. Frank Williams will be driving the Twin Tiers Action Van in the parade. (We're leaving Jeff Wemmell in the studio to do all the real work.)

Scarnati's Transportation Plan

By ANNE HOLLIDAY
WESB/WBRR News Director


State Senator Joe Scarnati has introduced a new transportation funding plan that would eliminate the possibility of imposing tolls on Interstate 80 or leasing the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

"While Act 44 did provide a much needed boost to our transportation funding crisis in the Commonwealth, the citizens of this district (25th) demanded that we do better," Scarnati said.

He adds that while many lawmakers – both state and federal – said they were against the tolls, they didn't offer alternatives.

"It's time for these legislators to be for something," he said.

Among the elements of Scarnati's plan are evaluating the operating expenses of the turnpike through an independent auditor, and using the proceeds from any cost-saving recommendations to supplement statewide transportation funding; changing the way the state police is funded; and enacting legislation authorizing the Commonwealth to enter into public-private partnerships.

Elements of the plan

Scarnati said it was important to have valuable dialogue with the constituents concerned with Act 44 and believes this led to further examination of the existing proposal.

"I have stated time and time again, that I did not support tolling I-80, but realized that Pennsylvania was faced with a transportation funding crisis," Scarnati stated. "After tremendous input from various individuals and groups, I realized that we needed an improved plan that will meet the demands of our motoring public without placing any area at an economic disadvantage. I believe my plan will do just that."

Earlier this week, Governor Ed Rendell announced a $12.8 billion bid from a private consortium to lease the turnpike for 75 years. Scarnati says a company from Spain has the majority interest. They are coupled with an Austrailian company, a Canadian pension fund and CitiGroup from New York.
"From the beginning I had concerns about (foreign involvement)," he said. "In 75 years, how do we know who's going to own that company that's in Spain?"

"I'm convinced the more we look at the turnpike plan, the less support it's going to have," said.

He added that the turnpike plan is getting a cold reception in Harrisburg, in part because of the involvement of foreign companies.

But, he said, he's willing to take a look at it and put it through the public process although he has "great consternation" about what's in the plan. Both plans, he said, need to be looked at soon. He said his plan is currently being circulated for co-sponsorship, will be written into legislation and be referred to committee. He said he will also be working with transporation committee chairman Senator Roger Madigan in order to set up public hearings.

"If we're going to fund transportation, it's going to be done through some tough choices, and the tough choices don't have to include gas tax nor selling the turnpike nor tolling Interstate 80," he said.

"Clearly, this transportation plan requires the General Assembly and the Governor to make tough budgetary decisions," Scarnati added. "However, I am confident that my colleagues will see the merit in this fiscally prudent transportation funding plan."
He said his plan "brings some fiscal sanity back to how we pay for transportation now and in the future."

Students Can Serve on Board of Ed.

Pennsylvania's high school and college students now have an opportunity to serve on the State Board of Education. The board voted unanimously Thursday to include current students or recent graduates as members for the first time in its 45-year history. Under changes to the board's bylaws, its chairman appoints four students to one-year terms: one member and one member-elect each representing high school and college students. The board plans to have the student representatives in place during the 2008-09 school year or sooner, if possible. None of the students would have voting privileges, but board chairman Karl Girton said their input on education policy and regulatory decisions would be valuable to the board.

Drug Dealers' Possessions Seized

Blair County authorities are taking over the possessions of a former part-time park ranger who pleaded guilty to dealing drugs. Authorities say 63-year-old William Ickes' Roaring Spring home, motorcycle, guns and money were forfeited to the district attorney. Ickes was accused of selling methamphetamine at his home and while on duty at Blue Knob State Park. Prosecutors say they seized large amounts of methamphetamine and marijuana, as well as 16 guns and more than $1,600 from Ickes' home. The house and a motorcycle will be sold and the guns will be destroyed.
Ickes is serving a four-to-eight-year prison term after pleading guilty in August to prohibited offensive weapons and delivery of a controlled substance.

Gilchriese Waives Hearing

The man who held up traffic on the Niagara section of the 190 thruway last week has waived his preliminary hearing in Buffalo City Court, and has offered an apology to the public. James Gilchriese is facing several charges including possession of a weapon with the intent to use it, drunk driving and unlawful imprisonment. A little more than a week ago, Gilchriese threatened to kill himself with a gun and jeopardized the safety of hundreds of people on the 190. After a nearly three-hour stand-off, State Police and the SWAT team took him down. A motorist originally noticed Gilchriese and a woman in a heated argument on the I-190, and alerted authorities. Since then, he's undergone a psychiatric evaluation. The case now heads to a grand jury.

Landfills Lose Appeal

A dozen Pennsylvania landfills have lost an appeals court decision in their effort to recover $4.6 million in disputed tipping fees. Commonwealth Court says the Department of Environmental Protection doesn't have to repay the companies for the overpaid solid-waste tipping fees. The Greentree Landfill in Elk County is one of the plaintiffs in the case. A previous decision meant landfills could stop paying the $4-a-ton fee on sand and other materials used to cover up landfill deposits at the end of each day. But they've been battling with the DEP over how much in refunds they should get for fees they already paid. A lawyer for one of the landfills says no decision's been made about whether to appeal to the state Supreme Court.

Man Convicted of Selling Lynx

A man has been convicted of stealing an exotic cat from a Columbia County dealer.
29-year-old William Bobbett of Wilkes-Barre was charged with robbery and other offenses in last year's gunpoint theft of an endangered Canadian lynx.
Breeder Ronald Derr says that after he refused to sell the pregnant 3-year-old lynx to Bobbett, Bobbett returned with two friends and forced him to load up the cat at gunpoint.

Paterson Scheduled for More Surgery

New York Governor David Paterson is scheduled to have a second routine eye operation Friday, two days after he was hospitalized for acute glaucoma. His office says the governor is resting at home today after conducting some state business Wednesday.
He is expected to return to a full schedule after Memorial Day. Paterson went to a Manhattan hospital Tuesday after suffering from excruciating pain due to his glaucoma.

Arrests Made for Illegal Cigarette Possession

Six people have been arrested in three separate cases for possession of more than 300 cartons of illegal cigarettes they bought on the Seneca Indian reservations in Salamanca and Irving. None of the people are arrested are local. Two are from Rhode Island; two from New Jersey; and two from southwestern Pennsylvania. Authorities say all six were allegedly attempting to evade and defeat tax. They were also charged with possession of unstamped cigarettes. No one can possess large quantities of unstamped cigarettes unless authorized by New York State. The arrests are part of ongoing attempts by the tax department to cut down on the resale of illegal cigarettes.

Rendell Announces Bridge Program

The governor has released a list of 1,145 bridges – 16 of them in McKean County – that would see repairs over the next three years -- if lawmakers approve his plan. “This list represents my response to a seemingly invisible — but very real — threat to our safety, ease of travel and to the economy of Pennsylvania,” Governor Rendell said. “We must make these repairs or we will irresponsibly leave to our children crumbling bridges and roads. Right now, interest rates are extremely low and, as a result, it is an opportune time for the commonwealth to embark on these necessary repairs and ensure that we leave well maintained bridges to the next generation. “This list includes bridges in every county. Rural, urban and suburban residents will benefit from my proposal to accelerate the repair of these bridges."
His plan calls for $200 million in borrowing for each of the next ten years. A spokesman for Senate majority leader Dominic Pileggi says they aren't rejecting the plan, but are concerned as to how the motor license fund can sustain the debt.

McKean County Bridges on the List

Baker Proposes EMS Changes

Senator Lisa Baker was at the state Capitol Thursday to honor Pennsylvania’s emergency medical services personnel and to introduce legislation to update the Commonwealth’s Emergency Medical Services Act. “The existing law has not been revised since 1985, but advancements in medicine and technology over the last 20 years have been tremendous,” said Baker. “Current regulations do not match today’s needs. We need bring our EMS system into the 21st century.” Baker’s bill would reduce duplication of service and create a more coordinated and adaptive system by giving EMS personnel the tools they need to continue to provide quality medical care to those in need. The measure would also implement the EMS Scope of Practice used by the National Association of State EMS Officials. “In Pennsylvania, more than 54,000 EMS workers respond to nearly 1.8 million emergency calls annually,” she said. “We are thankful for their commitment, dedication and devotion to saving lives. The event was organized in conjunction with the Department of Health to observe Pennsylvania’s Emergency Medical Services Recognition Week (May 18-24, 2008). State Representative Marty Causer has introduced legislation to create a state EMS Director.

Scarnati Unveils Transportation Plan

State Senator Joe Scarnati has introduced a new transportation funding plan that would eliminate the possibility of imposing tolls on Interstate 80 or leasing the Pennsylvania Turnpike. Among the elements of Scarnati's plan are evaluating the operating expenses of the turnpike through an independent auditor, and using the proceeds from any cost-saving recommendations to supplement statewide transportation funding; changing the way the state police is funded; and enacting legislation authorizing the Commonwealth to enter into public-private partnerships. Scarnati says the plan "requires the general assembly and the governor to make tough budgetary decisions," but he's confident that his colleagues will "see the merit in this fiscally prudent transportation funding plan."

We'll have much more on this story later this afternoon.

DVDs for Vets

DVDS4Vets is asking listeners (and blog readers) to donate new or used DVDs for the benefit of military veterans who otherwise cannot easily obtain them on their own.

Started in 2006, DVDs4Vets has been arranging for the donation of DVDs for soldiers returning with Traumatic Brain Injuries or TBI as well as other serious battle wounds. With limited entertainment, vets in rehab can use what many of us take for granted every day.

DVDs4Vets does not solicit or receive financial assistance nor are they politically affiliated. Their primary goal is to show gratitude to those men and woman who have proudly served our Country with honor.

For donations of 10 or more DVDs, all donors will be included on the DVDs4Vets Honor Roll.

To donate new or used DVDs or to learn more about this worthy cause, please go to DVDs 4 Vets.

Pack Hot Dogs, Not Firewoood

The campfire – what would summer time and camping be like without the crackling of a campfire? Many of us have pleasant memories of roasting marshmallows, watching the flames dance, or cooking fish over hot coals. But, with camping season, employees of the Allegheny National Forest (NF) have a new, dangerous concern: the camper who brings a load of firewood from home. Dangerous insects are hitchhiking rides to new areas when firewood is moved by campers. You can help protect the forest by not moving firewood.

All the following insects are dangerous because they are non-native insects and our native trees do not have any natural defenses against them. Non-native means that this insect came from outside this part of the United States or another country. The four most dangerous insects are:

· The Emerald Ash Borer kills ash trees.




· The Sirex Woodwasp kills pine trees.




· The Asian Longhorned Beetle kills maple trees, but also kills birches, poplars, willows, elms and horsechestnut.




· The Hemlock Woolly Adelgid kills hemlock trees.


Forest employees are particularly concerned now that a dangerous beetle has been discovered north of Pittsburgh and in eastern Ohio. The states of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and southern Michigan have quarantines on the movement of firewood outside of those states. A quarantine means it is illegal

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Pennsylvania's Gas Rush

A reminder from Jim Clark of the Penn State Cooperative Extension, McKean County:

The live, state-wide call-in television broadcast and webcast "Profits and Pitfalls of Natural Gas Leasing for Landowners" is tomorrow from 7 to 8 p.m. In Bradford, you can see the show on channels 3 (WPSU) and 9 (PCN). You can also see it via the Internet at Pennsylvania's Gas Rush.

The show will center on natural gas exploration and drilling (and the implications of the Marcellus Shale rock formation); lease negotiations and addenda; and financial, environmental and infrastructure impacts.

Another PA Soldier Killed in Afghanistan

Jeff DePrimo, the Pennsylvania soldier killed in Afghanistan was from Pittston, PA, hometown of Port Allegany School Nurse Lt. Col. Richard Berrettini, who died in January after his vehicle was hit by a explosive device in Afghanistan.

More from Solomon's Words.

Board May Allow Student Members

The state Board of Education has moved a step closer to including student members for the first time in its 45-year history. A board committee voted unanimously Wednesday to recommend the addition of two student representatives_ either current students or recent high-school or college graduates — to the 22-member board under revisions to its bylaws. The full board is expected to consider the proposal Thursday. The board has spent several months studying the idea with assistance from the National Association of State Boards of Education, which is encouraging more states to open their education boards' membership to students. The proposal calls for the board to have the student representatives in place during the 2008-09 school year or sooner, if possible.

Man Pleads Guilty to Injuring Teen

The man who seriously injured a Salamanca girl during a hit and run accident has pleaded guilty. Albert Covell of Randolph is charged with assault in connection with the April 5 accident in Salamanca. Covell hit Ceanna Maybee with his vehicle while she was walking along RC Hoag Drive. He left the scene. Authorities later learned that Covell had been drinking. He's scheduled for sentencing on July 21. Ceanna is continuing to recover from the serious injuries she suffered.

Republicans Offer Solutions to Energy Crisis

Congressman John E. Peterson, R-Pa., along with the Republican Conference, unveiled a solutions based approach to solving our nation’s energy crisis, at a press conference on the steps of the U.S. Capitol this morning. Peterson, who has been sounding the alarm on a looming energy crisis for over six years, issued the following statement:

“With the price at the pump reaching a new record high daily, and the cost of natural gas soaring, Americans are sick and tired of this do-nothing Congress. From rural America to the big cities, Americans are struggling to cope with the rising cost of energy. Americans deserve a solutions based approach – not the finger pointing Democrats are accustomed to – to help alleviate the burden on senior citizens, the working poor, small business, and middle-class America. House Republicans have waited 18 months for Speaker Pelosi to bring energy production legislation to the floor; yet, all we get is tax and blame legislation.

“The solutions based approach Republicans rolled out today hits all aspects of the energy spectrum: increased domestic production of oil and natural gas, clean coal and advanced nuclear technology, increased efficiency and conservation, expanded investment in renewables, and cutting the bureaucratic red tape in Washington to allow refining and infrastructure expansion to occur. Folks, as simple and realistic as this proposal sounds, there is extreme opposition from Speaker Pelosi to even debate these issues in committee or on the House floor.

“The American people should know that extreme environmentalists are holding the energy resources of this country hostage. These unfounded fears and the influence of a small minority continue to force the price of energy to record highs. The aforementioned approach, proposed by the House Republicans, invites all Americans, Republican, Democrat and Independents, to join us in urging the Democratic Leadership in both the House and Senate to bring energy production legislation to the floor for debate.

“In my nearly four decades in public service, I am hard pressed to find an elected official or private citizen that that wants to harm the environment. I am confident, that with current technology, the will of the American people, and a solutions based approach, America can overcome any crisis, including the one we currently face, and increase domestic production of energy in an environmentally friendly manor.”

Walker Pleads Guilty to Misdemeanors

The former congressional candidate charged with stalking his ex-girlfriend has pleaded guilty to three misdemeanors and has been sentenced to a year of probation. 32-year-old Derek Walker of Clearfield pleaded to disorderly conduct, invasion of privacy, harassment and defiant trespass. As part of the plea agreement, felony counts of burglary and criminal trespass were dropped. Besides probation, Walker must also pay a 400-dollar fine and have no contact with his former girlfriend or her family. The charges were brought against Walker five days before the April 22 primary in which he was vying against eight other candidates to become the Republican nominee to the seat now held by Congressman John Peterson, who is retiring at the end of the year. Glenn Thompson of Centre County won the nomination and is running against Democrat Mark McCracken of Clearfield County.

Gardening with Native Flowers
3rd in a Series By the ANF

The deep blue flowers stood out along U.S. 6. I stopped to admire the beauty of the blue vervain; graceful and not garish. As I continued into Clarendon I recognized the bright pink flowers of purple loosestrife. Just outside of Sheffield I couldn’t help but notice the wetland on the south side of the highway had become overrun with purple loosestrife… The good, the bad, and the ugly.

Many people develop flower gardens in their yards, but few ‘plan’ their gardens to use native plants. Some of the most devastating plants were introduced to an area because of their beauty, or a specific use. It was only after the introduced plant had spread so aggressively to outcompete native plants that society realized our loss. Here’s some tips so you, too, can enjoy gardening with native plants and protect your backyard environment. This week we will concentrate on flowers and next week’s article will concentrate on shrubs.

Japanese knotweed (Fallopia japonica) was first planted as an ornamental plant (because of its white spike flowers), and used for erosion control and landscape screening. Unfortunately, knotweed thrives in wet areas or water sources. It then spreads quickly to form a dense thicket over native plants, blocks out sunlight, robs nutrients from the soil, and changes the wetland/solid land boundaries (called riparian areas). Riparian areas are vital habitats for wildlife. Japanese knotweed has a ‘one-two punch’ by replacing native plants and riparian areas for wildlife.


What to use instead? Gardeners can plant silky dogwood, sweet pepperbush, or Virginia sweetspire. The pepperbush and sweetspire even have white spike flowers. The silky dogwood produces a berry in the fall much loved by birds. All three of these plants can be purchased through nursery catalogs. Make certain you do not purchase a non-native variety of these plants.

Purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria) was first planted in the United States for ornamental and medicinal uses. Purple loosestrife thrives in wetlands, and can easily choke native cattails, reeds, and rushes from their habitat. By doing so, animals that use wetlands no longer have a place to live. The native plants have spaces between plants where animals can move and find food to eat. The purple loosestrife offers only a dense mat that animals cannot use. Purple loosestrife is on the Pennsylvania Noxious Weed List making it illegal to sell, transport, plant, or reproduce.

What to use instead? Use blue vervain, Joe Pye weed, or obedient plant. The obedient plant, also called false dragonhead, has pink flowers on a spike similar to purple loosestrife. Nursery catalogs or herbal catalogs are places to look to purchase these native flowers.

Chinese silver grass (Miscanthus sp.) is a showy grass planted by gardeners for its brilliant seed heads. The 4-6 foot green stems topped by silvery seed heads stand out in front yards. Chinese silver grass easily spreads into any freshly disturbed areas by wind dispersal of seeds or root mats, called rhizomes. Unknown by many landowners, Chinese silver grass is highly flammable and can be a fire hazard. Homeowners should take care NOT to plant invasive ornamental grasses.

What to use instead? Fortunately, many native grasses are available from companies supplying pheasant and quail habitat seed mixes. Look for grass seeds such as big bluestem (turkey foot), switchgrass, Indian grass, eastern gamma grass, and little bluestem. Not only do these native grasses have unique flowers, but the ‘bunchiness’ of these grasses provide winter cover for small animals, and the seeds provide food.

Daylily (Hemeracalus sp.) produces a bright orange flower Europeans planted across the United States in the 1800s. Daylilies have a tendency to escape from landscaped yards and takeover meadows, woods openings and the edges of forests. I’ve often admired the beauty of daylilies, but never realized the consequences to our native plants.

What to use instead? The dramatic ox-eye sunflower, Turk’s cap lily, wood lily, and Canada lily can all be purchased from nursery catalogs and used to landscape your yard. The wood lily and Canada lily are especially striking with their orange flowers.

English ivy, periwinkle and winter creeper (creeping euonymus) are often planted as ground covers in landscaped yards. These plants readily disperse to disturbed areas and spread. The ivy and winter creeper can climb trees and become dense enough to kill the tree.

What to use instead? Nurseries, or seed and garden catalogs offer native substitutes such as creeping phlox, the uniquely-flowered partridgeberry, the beautiful foam flower, wild ginger, and Virginia creeper. Plant native!

Grant Funds Voucher Program



SACKS Resale Shop Manager Penny Woodmansee (left) and Audrey Gilligan, assistant manager, display a sample clothing voucher. Through a new grant from the United Way of Bradford, vouchers have been given to three local organizations for use in the Bradford store at 26 Pine St. that’s operated by Bradford Hospital Auxiliary.
(Photo Courtesy of BRMC)


A $500 grant from the United Way of the Bradford Area will enable Bradford Hospital Auxiliary’s SACKS Resale Shop to provide clothing vouchers to three local organizations seeking to help needy individuals.

“We will be able to give clothing vouchers in equal amounts to the YWCA of Bradford, Catholic Charities and the American Red Cross. These local organizations will then give the vouchers to people with clothing needs,” says Virginia Digel-Neel, the Auxiliary’s executive director.

The clothing vouchers will be given to individuals deemed eligible by the YWCA, Catholic Charities or the Red Cross, Mrs. Digel-Neel says. Qualifying individuals given vouchers will then be able to go to SACKS at 26 Pine St. in Bradford to select clothing. The resale shop is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday. SACKS carries a variety of nearly new or gently used clothing, books and housewares. Proceeds from the Auxiliary’s resale shop, which has
been operating for more than 25 years, benefit Bradford Regional Medical Center.

“We’re happy this voucher grant allows us to address a real need in the community,” Mrs. Digel-Neel says, noting it’s a program that could be re-funded quarterly. The Auxiliary was approached about six weeks ago to apply for a $500 grant through the United Way’s Community Innovations funding program, Mrs. Digel-Neel explains. “The clothing voucher program was established following conversation with local agencies regarding the increasing need for clothing in the community,” says Mandi Wilton Davis, the United Way’s assistant director. “Through that conversation, it was determined that the United Way of Bradford’s Community Innovations grant application process would be an ideal starting point,” she notes.

It was recommended the Auxiliary apply the first time for a $500 grant, which is not the maximum amount that can be given, Mrs. Davis adds. “If this voucher program is successful, the Auxiliary can reapply for up to $1,500 every quarter,” Mrs. Davis notes. The remaining grant application deadlines are July 1 and Oct. 1 of this year.
The Community Innovations program was established in 2003 with the redesign of the United Way’s allocation process, Mrs. Davis explains. Funds are provided to programs with the potential to impact the local community in a beneficial way. “Because of the great need for clothing, I believe the Auxiliary won’t hesitate to reapply for the maximum $1,500 grant amount each quarter,” Mrs. Digel-Neel states.

The 75-year-old Auxiliary, with over 200 volunteers, has expanded in scope to raise awareness and funds to provide volunteer services and support for BRMC’s services, programs, equipment, construction and community programs. As evidence of its work, the Auxiliary donated more than $67,000 to the hospital last year. The Auxiliary also has pledged $300,000 toward BRMC’s “Building the Future” capital campaign. This campaign, now in its third year through the Bradford Hospital Foundation, has raised over $4.6 million toward its $6 million goal.

Zebra Mussel Alert

The spreading of unwelcome invaders to this part of Pennsylvania threatens a ‘way of life’. We all enjoy fishing, swimming, and camping in the summer. But are we aware of how invaders, such as zebra mussels, have changed the place we live?

Zebra mussels have ecological effects. In our natural world, everything is connected to everything else. When one aspect of an ecosystem is affected, it creates a domino effect resulting in unforeseen changes. Zebra mussels have changed Lake Erie, the only Great Lake shoreline within Pennsylvania. Zebra mussels filter so much ‘feed’ (phytoplankton, or tiny plants) out of the water that little is left for other native mussels or small fishes to eat. This is called a disruption to the food chain for native fish. Phytoplankton are food for small fish which, in turn, become food for the larger fish caught in recreational or commercial fisheries. Fishing suffers when zebra mussels disrupt the food chain.

Zebra mussels multiply rapidly and are able to float downstream to invade new areas. Although only a thumb-nail size mussel, they live in colonies so large they can bury working machinery (such as for dams) by clustering around the machinery. The machinery then becomes difficult to operate. Municipal water treatment plants, industrial plants, and power plants lose significant pumping capabilities and occasionally suffer shutdowns. Water users spend millions of dollars a year on zebra mussel control.

Fisherman may have to clean their props when their boats have been sitting in a lake for several days because the mussels colonize that quickly. This colonization can affect the performance of the engine and actually jam steering equipment in a large boat. Swimmers have discovered that the sharp-edged shells of zebra mussels can be a hazard to unprotected feet.

Zebra mussels are a difficult problem, but the solution to help prevent spread is simple. The following actions by boaters and anglers will stop aquatic hitchhikers, such as the zebra mussel:
· Remove any visible mud, plants, fish, or animals before transporting equipment;
· Eliminate water from equipment before transporting;
· Clean and dry anything that came in contact with water (boats, trailers, clothing, dogs, etc.);
· Never release plants, fish, or animals into a body of water unless they came from that water.

4,000 Gallons of Spilled Milk

A tank truck has overturned in Adams County, spilling more than 4,000 gallons of milk. The accident happened shortly before 4:30 a.m. Wednesday on Carlisle Pike in Reading Township. It's unknown if the driver and passenger in the truck were hurt. Emergency crews expect the road to be closed until noon.

Too bad this accident (Oreo Cookies Snarl Traffic) didn't happen closer to the other one.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

“I*MA*GREEN*NATION” Contest



12 students from Washington West Elementary School in Olean traveled to Albany to attend the “I*MA*GREEN*NATION” Celebration awards, an annual event that encourages students to share their knowledge, understanding and ideas about important environmental challenges facing their community. The students won first place in the Science & Technology Division for their project which included audio visual as well as an informative posterboard.

The event, which recognizes students in grades one through eight who participated in the 17th annual competition, was held at the state Capitol on Tuesday, May 20, 2008. The winners received award medals, viewed submissions by their fellow students from around the state, and had the opportunity to tour the seat of state government.

“I*MA*GREEN*NATION” offers students a fun and unique educational opportunity to share their thoughts about current environmental challenges, as well as learn from classmates and others across the state about their ideas and experiences," said Senator Cathy Young, who is pictured with the students. The statewide competition pitted students from elementary and middle schools for presentation of ideas and solutions to the problems of solid waste reduction and encouragement for recycling. Entries were judged for imagination, subject matter and creativity.

The winners included: Emily Allen, Noah Patrick, Tyler Richmond, Jorden Barr, Geoffrey Broadbent, Jake Cihak, Sierra Donovan, Lexi Everetts, Maija Klute, Julie Mulryan, Alexis Sova, Brooke Swetland as winners of First Place in the Science & Technology Division. Their teacher is Mrs. Cari Matejka.

(Photo Courtesy of Senator Young's Office/Matt Roberts)

Option House Cited for Serving Minors

The Option House has been cited for serving alcohol to minors on December 7 and December 30 of last year, as well as other occasions during the past year. The state police Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement says the current citation involves selling alcohol to two female minors and two male minors. They were 19 and 20 years old at the time. Although not specifically mentioned in the police report, one incident happened on the day Nikole Smock backed her SUV over 20-year-old Alissa Cameron in a nearby parking lot. Cameron died several days later at Hamot Medical Center. The case against the Option House, which has since been sold, will now go before an administrative law judge.

Specter Comments on Kennedy

Senator Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) today spoke on the floor of the U.S. Senate in regards to the news that Senator Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) has a malignant brain tumor.

A transcript of Specter’s floor statement follows:

“Just before entering the chamber, I heard the devastating news about Senator Kennedy’s diagnosis with a malignant brain tumor. I’ve been there.

“A few years back, I was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor and given three to six weeks to live. I note in the press release that it says, ‘how well patients fare depends on what specific tumor type is determined by further testing.’ The diagnosis for me for a malignant brain tumor turned out to be incorrect.

“I note that Senator Kennedy will be receiving chemotherapy and radiation. I know something about chemotherapy myself. I’m in the middle of it right now for Hodgkin’s.

“Senator Kennedy is a real fighter – we all know that – and I am betting on Senator Kennedy. He’s been such a champion on so many causes: civil rights, health education, labor reform, and the Judiciary where he served as Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee with great distinction.

“It would be my hope that with what has happened today it would provide some motivation for both parties to find a bipartisan way to cross the aisle and to stop the bickering which has characterized the confirmation process for so many years.

“Senator Kennedy has been an example, a shining example, as how he’s crossed the aisle and sponsored so many legislative enactments. I’ve had the opportunity to cosponsor the Kennedy-Specter Bill, for example, on hate crimes, and the civil rights bill.

“I’ve said all I have to say about the current matter. I spoke at length yesterday and again today on Judge Agee. No doubt he’s well qualified, and the other two nominees as well. When we cite the statistics, you can cite them both ways, you can cite them in both directions. When you talk about fault, it’s equal blame, it’s both sides. The conduct of both parties in this chamber has been disgraceful in the last 20 years. Both sides. First one side, and then the other and each time it exacerbates.

“I worked very closely with Senator Leahy over the years and it is my hope – and we have had some real bipartisan agreements - my hope that he and I can get together again and find a way to solve this partisan morass, to establish a timetable once a nomination comes in, so many days later there’s a hearing, so many days later it comes out of Committee, so many days later it comes to the floor. And in the middle of this battle over this so-called deal, which I’ve spoken on at length, in the news of what’s happened with Senator Kennedy, perhaps it will give us some motivation to follow Senator Kennedy’s lead.

“I yield the floor.”

Thanks ...

... to everyone who called and e-mailed to find out why we weren't on the air. It sure is nice to know that we're missed.

For those who didn't hear, we had a transmitter problem that kept us from broadcasting from Sunday evening until just after 2 o'clock this afternoon.

Coudersport Firefighter Laid to Rest

Solomon's Words has a tribute to firefighter Bruce Setzer, who died unexpectedly Thursday at the age of 46.

UPDATE: Paterson Has Glaucoma

New York Governor David Paterson has been diagnosed with acute glaucoma in his left eye and is undergoing an outpatient laser procedure. Paterson’s office said in a statement that the procedure “will not have any long-term impact on the governor’s overall health.” It says Paterson will remain conscious during the procedure. But “in an abundance of caution, the Senate majority leader and the Assembly speaker were advised.” Paterson admitted himself to Manhattan’s Mount Sinai Medical Center earlier today after experiencing “migraine-like symptoms.”

Cops: Woman Threw Son Onto RR Tracks

A Berks County woman is charged with throwing her 4-year-old son onto railroad tracks and then jumping into the Schuylkill River. The crew of a Norfolk Southern freight train spotted the pair about 4 o'clock Monday afternoon. The woman was rescued by firefighters using a boat. Police charged 27-year-old Christy Petitjean with endangering the welfare of a child, reckless endangerment of a child, public intoxication and delaying railroad operations. Police say she remains in Reading Hospital with injuries she sustained during the incident. Her son, who had been wearing only socks, was treated and released to family members.

Scarnati Has Concerns Over Turnpike Bid

By ANNE HOLLIDAY
WESB/WBRR News Director


Leasing the Pennsylvania Turnpike is far from a done deal.

Senate President Pro Tem Joe Scarnati says a lot of work still needs to be done. "I still have a lot of concern over leasing – I like to say selling – this turnpike to a foreign investor," Scarnati says. "As time goes on, this 700-page document needs to be reviewed and we need to do our due diligence. I am going to push for Senate hearings and be able to take a look at this and give it a fair airing. But the bottom line is we have a transportation crisis and it's time we have numbers that add up and a plan that works for everyone in Pennsylvania."

On Monday, Governor Ed Rendell announced that a team led by CitiGroup and a company from Spain submitted a 12 point 8 billion bid to lease the turnpike for 75 years. The money would go toward maintaining and repairing the state's roads and bridges.

As for how the plan to lease the turnpike will go over in the Legislature, Scarnati says he thinks there's enough support from the people opposed to putting tolls on Interstate 80 to take a look at the turnpike plan.

But, he says, the Legislature can't move toward a plan that doesn't work – "a plan that does not find the dollars to fix these ailing bridges that we have across the Commonwealth."

Scarnati adds, "Time will tell what kind of political support it gets, but certainly we have to do our due diligence in looking at the plan."

The General Assembly is in recess for the Memorial Day holiday. They return to Harrisburg June 2 with this, and other high-profile issues, on their plates.

The budget deadline is six weeks away, and House Democrats have yet to introduce any related legislation.

Other issues include the Clean Indoor Air Act, which is stalled in a conference committee, gun control legislation and the governor's healthcare and energy proposals.

PGC Seizes Bear Cub from Home

Pennsylvania Game Commission officers have seized a black bear cub from a Pittsburgh-area home. Officials say they found the bear cub at a home in Jefferson hills last week after receiving a tip that the owner was keeping the animal as a pet. The owner says he bought the animal about two months ago in Ohio and planned to raise it for a short while before selling it. He says the animal is harmless and that it follows him wherever he goes. The Game Commission says the owner did not have the required permit for the animal. A Game Commission official says the bear cub can't be released back into the wild.

Senate GOP Unveils Stimulus Package

The Senate Republican Caucus today unveiled a sweeping stimulus package that would provide nearly $96 million in tax relief in the upcoming fiscal year for lower-income working Pennsylvanians, small businesses looking to expand, as well as major employers and job creators.

The four-bill Senate Republican Tax Stimulus Package was presented today during a press conference in the State Capitol Media Center hosted by Senator Pat Browne (R-16 and Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee), which has oversight powers over state tax matters.

"The package we are unveiling today is the result of intensive study and review of a number of proposals with the goal of finding the optimum combination to provide tax relief where it is most needed and best be able to stimulate Pennsylvania's economy," Senator Browne said. "I plan to bring these proposals to the Finance Committee as soon as possible, since these measures must be included as part of the General Assembly's consideration of Pennsylvania's 2008-09 budget."

Senate Bill 1385, sponsored by Senator Jake Corman (R-34), would expand the cap on the Net Operating Loss provision of the Corporate Net Income Tax to $5 million or 20 percent of taxable income. The NOL cap is currently set at $3 million or 12.5 percent of taxable income. If enacted, the effective date of the increase would be January 1, 2009.

Senate Bill 1386, sponsored by Senator Bob Regola (R-39), would increase the eligibility limits for special tax forgiveness for low-income Pennsylvanians. The bill would increase claimant income eligibility limits by a total of $2,000 over three years and the dependent allowance by $500 over the same period.

Senate Bill 1387, sponsored by Senator Pat Vance (R-31), would double the amount that small businesses may deduct as Section 179 expenses on their income tax filings. Section 179 of the federal Internal Revenue Code provides for the deduction of all or part of the costs of machinery and equipment used for business purposes.

Senate Bill 1388, sponsored by Senator John Eichelberger (R-30), would amend Pennsylvania's Corporate Net Income Tax to expand the sales factor to 85 percent. Most corporations that conduct business in more than one state are required to use a three-factor apportionment in order to apportion their business income among the states where they have activity.

Doctors: Kennedy Has Brain Tumor

(CNN) -- U.S. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy has a malignant brain tumor, doctors treating him at Massachusetts General Hospital said Tuesday. Kennedy was hospitalized Saturday morning after suffering a seizure at his family's compound at Hyannis Port, Massachusetts. "Preliminary results from a biopsy of the brain identified the cause of the seizure as a malignant glioma in the left parietal lobe," according to a statement from the doctors treating the senator. "The usual course of treatment includes combinations of various forms of radiation and chemotherapy," they said.

NASCAR's Oldest Driver Dies

NASCAR’s oldest driver Lloyd Moore of Frewsburg died Sunday. He was 95. Moore was a farmer, mechanic, bus driver, and for 17 years he ran the school bus garage for the Frewsburg Central Schools. And for a little more than six years, he raced stock cars through the sand on Daytona Beach and on dirt tracks against stock car legends like Lee Petty, Buck Baker and Fireball Roberts. Moore was part of the 1949 Strictly Stocks season, which was the first year of what is now known as the NASCAR Sprint Cup

Miller Named to Hall of Fame

The former voice of the Buffalo Bills is about to receive some big honors. Legendary play-by play announcer and Channel 4 Sports veteran Van Miller has been named to the New York State Broadcasters Association 2008 Hall of Fame. Miller started his broadcasting career with the Bills back in 1960, and he held that position for 37 years. We bet it'll be "fandemonium" at the ceremony.

Former Niagara U. Hoops Player
Charged with Attempted Murder

20-year-old Rydell Brooks was arrested along with his cousin, following a police chase in Akron, Ohio. Investigators say Brooks and another man fired at officers during a foot chase. In 2006, Brooks played for the Niagara University Purple Eagles. He helped the team win a MAAC championship and advance to the NCAA Tournament. Following the 2006 season, Brooks left the school and transferred to Akron where he became a walk-on player for the Zips. According to family members, he left Niagara to be closer to his grandmother, who raised him, and his young son. Following his arrest, Brooks was jailed and remains there in lieu of $1,000,000 bond.

State Employee Found Dead in Lake

LITITZ, Pa. (AP) — Officials say a riding lawnmower apparently slid into Speedwell Forge Lake in Lancaster County and flipped over, killing a state Fish and Boat Commission employee. Bricklerville Fire Chief Sid Adams says two fishermen in a boat found the mower in the lake in Elizabeth Township about 6 p.m. Monday, with the man's body pinned beneath it. Lancaster County Coroner Dr. Stephen Diamantoni pronounced the man dead at the scene. The man's name wasn't immediately released. Diamantoni says an autopsy is planned Tuesday to determine the cause of death.

Naked Pilot Arrested

An airline pilot found hiding behind a shed wearing only flip-flops and a wristwatch in a nighttime romp in the woods with a flight attendant has been arrested. 24-year-old Jeffrey Paul Bradford and 24-year-old and Adrianna Grace Connor, both employees of Pinnacle Airlines Inc., were at a diner on the outskirts of Harrisburg on Sunday night before they apparently decided to walk into the woods, police said. The two somehow became separated, and people who live in the neighborhood called police around 9:30 p.m., saying they had seen a naked man and an intoxicated woman.
A helicopter with heat-seeking equipment was called in, and Bradford was discovered hiding behind a shed shortly before midnight. Bradford, of Pittsburgh, was charged with indecent exposure, public drunkenness and other offenses. Connor, of Belleville, Mich., was charged with theft from a motor vehicle, public drunkenness and other offenses; police said she took a flashlight from a neighbor's vehicle.
A spokesman for the Memphis, Tenn., airline said the two were suspended while the company investigates.

Explosion Investigation Continues

The investigation is continuing into a gas explosion and fire at a seasonal house in Bemus Point Monday morning. Bemus Point firefighters were called to the scene at about 10 a.m. after several residents heard the blast. No one was inside the building. A highway worker and a passerby suffered minor injuries. Investigators say National Fuel and a Town of Ellery Road crew were working on the street when the explosion happened, but they're not sure if that's what triggered the blast.

Dog Bites Man Threatening Owner with Sword

A Jamestown man who was allegedly using a Samurai sword to threaten his girlfriend jumped out of a second floor window when the woman's dog attacked him. Police say Nicholas Clark punched his girlfriend in the head several times and put the sword to her throat before her pit bull bit him several times. He jumped out the window wearing only blue jeans and socks. The Jamestown Police K-9 Unit found him lying between several mattresses on a neighbor's back porch. Clark has been charged with assault, menacing and criminal possession of a weapon.

Governor Paterson Hospitalized

New York Governor David Paterson has been taken to a Manhattan hospital after experiencing migraine-like symptoms. Paterson's office said in a statement that he asked to be brought to The Mount Sinai Medical Center for an evaluation. The office says all preliminary tests were normal and that Paterson was resting comfortably. He is still awaiting further tests. Last July, when he was lieutenant governor, Paterson fainted on an airplane in Buffalo, and was later given a clean bill of health after a heart test at Erie County Medical Center. In April 2006, when he was state Senate Minority Leader, Paterson was hospitalized for almost 12 hours after complaining of chest pains. The tests came back normal. The legally blind Paterson is known as an athlete who plays basketball recreationally and ran the New York City marathon.

From One of My Favorite TV Shows ...

WKRP in Cincinnati

We hope to be back on by this afternoon.

Oreo Cookies Snarl Traffic

MORRIS, Ill. (AP) -- Got milk?
Police say a trailer loaded with 14 tons of double-stuffed Oreos has overturned, spilling the cookies still in their plastic sleeves into the median and roadway.
Illinois State Police Sgt. Brian Mahoney says the truck's driver was traveling from Chicago to Morris on Interstate 80 around 4 a.m. Monday when he fell asleep at the wheel and slammed into the median. "The boxes came out of the trailer and boxes were ripped open," he said. The crash about 50 miles southwest of Chicago remains under investigation. Mahoney says no charges have been filed but both lanes of traffic remain closed while authorities remove the cookies.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Peterson on Turnpike Bid

Following Governor Rendell’s announcement of the winning bid to manage the Pennsylvania Turnpike, Congressman John E. Peterson, R-Pleasantville, issued the following statement:

“Today’s announcement by Governor Rendell is nothing short of a win-win for all of Pennsylvania. Under the proposed turnpike lease agreement, the Commonwealth stands to receive an upfront payment of $12.8 billion – more than double that of the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission’s $5.3 billion bid – while maintaining control over future toll rates, road maintenance and safety. Pennsylvanians can rest easy, that under this agreement future toll rates on the Pennsylvania Turnpike will be controlled under strict guidelines and will not increase exponentially as some may lead you to believe.

“Additionally, under this proposal, an estimated $1.1 billion annually in debt free funding – $150 million more than Act 44 – will be expended to address the aging infrastructure of the Commonwealth and to stabilize mass transit needs for the foreseeable future. Folks, this is real money – not interest laden bonds – and will not jeopardize the long-term viability of the motor license fund.

“I urge the legislative leadership in Harrisburg to quickly review this plan and to act in the best interest of the Commonwealth by supporting the Governor’s proposal. Furthermore, it is time to repeal Act 44 and remove the Closed for Business signs on the Commonwealth. While Pennsylvania was once known as the Keystone State because of its resources and strategic location, Act 44 has all but eliminated future investment. I look forward to the day when Act 44 is repealed, so Pennsylvania can Re-Open for Business and private investment will again flourish.

Cattaraugus County Court Proceedings

A Gowanda man has pleaded guilty in connection with an accident that killed a Salamanca teenager last year. Frederick Freeman is charged with leaving the scene of a personal injury accident. On June 13, in the Town of New Albion, Freeman attempted to pass another vehicle and ended up causing the accident that killed 16-year-old Ellie Pierce. Freeman will be sentenced August 18.

Also Monday in Cattaraugus County court, a Salamanca man who took police on a high-speed chase in March has pleaded guilty. Darryl Shongo took police on the chase starting at around 2:30 a.m. March 18. It continued over 11 streets in Salamanca, and ended in the Masonic Park. Police say Shongo drove in excess of 80 miles per hour and rammed 2 marked police vehicles. He's scheduled for sentencing on July 21.

A Franklinville man has pleaded guilty to rape. Jordan Young had sex with someone without that person's consent between January 23 and 24 of last year in Franklinville. Young will be sentenced on July 21.

A Salamanca man will spend the next 1 and a half to 4 and a half years in prison on a robbery conviction. David Wolfe Jr., along with John Oyler and Jeffrey Dulanski forced an Ontario man into his car on March 15 of last year in Ellicottville, then stole his ring and necklace. Oyler and Dulanski have already been sentenced and are serving time.

Fatal Fire in Friendship, NY

A Friendship, New York, woman is dead and her husband is hospitalized following a house fire on Saturday. 84-year-old Marie Grimes died as a result of the fire. An autopsy is being performed by the Monroe County Medical Examiner's Office. Her 78-year-old husband Marvin is hospitalized, but no report is available on his condition.
Firefighters were called to the house twice early Saturday morning – at 3:36 and again at 5:08 a.m., when the house was fully engulfed in flames. Lab tests are being conducted to determine the cause of the fire.

Rendell Announces Turnpike Bid

A Spanish company and a unit of Citigroup have teamed up to submit the largest bid for the right to lease the Pennsylvania Turnpike for 75 years. The bid is $12.8 billion — $700 million more than their nearest competitor. Governor Ed Rendell said he was "strongly in favor of it," but the Legislature must approve any deal.
He predicted the deal would generate an average of $1.1 billion a year for roads, bridges and mass transit in the first 10 years. If the deal goes through, the state would almost certainly abandon plans to introduce tolls to Interstate 80.

Guy Maybee Pleads Innocent

The Salamanca man charged with murder in the death of his three-year-old daughter has pleaded not guilty. Guy Maybee and his girlfriend, Stephanie Pierce, are accused of causing the death of Ianna Maybee between March 20 and 21. An autopsy performed on March 22 determined that Ianna died of internal injuries, and officials classified her death as a homicide. Maybee and Pierce were indicted by a grand jury on Thursday. Maybee is in Cattaraugus County Jail on 300 thousand dollars bail. Pierce is free after posting 10 thousand dollars bail. Her arraignment is scheduled for May 27. Maybee's next court date is July 28.

Bill Would Create EMS Commissioner

State Representative Marty Causer has introduced legislation to create the Office of the State Director of Emergency Medical Services within the Department of Health.
"We have a police commissioner in Pennsylvania. We have a fire commissioner, but there is no EMS commissioner," Causer says. "I think this is an important piece of legislation to enhance our emergency medical services. Causer has been an EMS volunteer for many years and says the system is good, but could be better. "An elevated EMS office will allow us to give more attention to EMS issues and better coordinate EMS services across the Commonwealth," he says. The bill has 49 co-sponsors and was referred to the House Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee for consideration

Explosion in Chautauqua County

A house has exploded in Bemus Point, but only one injury has been reported. The two-story house was used as a summer residence and was unoccupied at the time of the explosion. A town highway crew was doing excavation work near the house and officials think they may have hit a gas line. One of the highway workers suffered minor burns to his face and was taken to WCA Hospital in Jamestown for treatment.
The explosion and resulting fire destroyed the home. Some residents may have their gas shut off for a time while the investigation and repairs are underway.

Rhodes Expected to Plead Guilty

The former Mercyhurst College student accused of killing her newborn daughter in August is expected to enter a guilty plea Friday in Erie County Court. 19-year-old Terri Rhodes was charged with homicide after the death of the baby on August 12.
She gave birth to a 6-pound baby girl in the bathroom of her apartment. The baby died of suffocation 10 minutes after she was born. Rhodes is free on bond and has been awaiting further court proceedings in her home in Commerce, Michigan.

Scarnati Questions Education Funding

Governor Ed Rendell's budget proposal calls for a 291 million dollar boost to basic education aid. It's the largest one-year increase in more than 20 years, but most of the money will to school districts with high property tax rates. State Senator Joe Scarnati says he won't settle for the smaller increases for the districts he represents. He says the formula used by the governor isn't fair because it penalizes rural school districts like Bradford for not raising taxes.

Judge Denies Iverson's Appeal

After much debate, the penalty issued to Christian Iverson for killing his wife stands. Iverson, 54, entered a guilty plea to third-degree murder for shooting to death his wife, Patricia, at their Youngsville home on Feb. 20, 2007. In February of this year, Warren County Judge William F. Morgan sentenced Iverson to 20 to 40 years in prison. Iverson's attorney was before Morgan on Friday arguing that the penalty was equivalent to a life sentence and that sentence should be lessened because the murder was the end result of a tumultuous relationship and a heated act of passion.
Ultimately, the appeal for a shorter sentence was denied by Judge Morgan.

Update on Hunter Winship

It takes a long time to count a million paper airplanes -- and Hunter Winship's family is still counting. Since January, the family has been collecting paper airplanes from all over the world in an effort to get Hunter into the Guiness Book of World Records for the most paper airplanes ever received. His family started the project to keep Hunter's mind of his treatments for a rare form of cancer. They were hoping to have all the planes counted, and have the record included in the Guiness Book, before Hunter's 6th birthday next month. But they've counted about 600,000 so far and still have hundreds of thousands more to count.

Happy Anniversary!

Happy 60th anniversary to our friends at WIVB-TV, Channel 4 in Buffalo. (They're just one year younger than WESB), in case you're wondering.) Channel 4's Web site has a nice story and video about their history. You can find it HERE.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

LiveLine - May 19 - Redesigning 50

When you reach middle age, what does it take to turn back the hands of time and regain the youthful vitality of your younger years? Top nutritionist and health authority Oz Garcia offers definitive guidance in his information-packed "Redesigning 50." You'll discover what Oz calls "the New 50": a fitter, healthier, better-looking middle age than you ever imagined possible. Oz explains how to take advantage of the finest that science and artistry can offer—without going under the knife. Drawing on the foremost expert opinions in health and beauty, Oz offers the latest information about diet and nutrition, exercise, skin and body care, hormones, stress reduction, dental and cosmetic treatments, and the new nutraceuticals—giving readers the tools to look younger and feel better than they have in years.