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Saturday, June 21, 2008

More From the Derby ...

Seen above are a couple more races in the preliminary heats of the Mastercraft All-American Soap Box Derby on North Center Street.

Earlier, Frank Williams met up with Mayor Tom Riel and Police Chief Mike Close. Here, he's with Bradford City Fire Chief Boo Coder. (Gosh, Frank knows everybody!)
This man was a spectator Saturday, but back in '69 he was a racer and still has the hat -- which he's wearing.
"Jazzy" Jeff called the races during the preliminary heats ... then Frank Williams took over.

Should we call him "The Voice of the Derby" now, too?

Purple Boxes -- One More Time

If you haven't seen any of those "purple boxes" so many people are still curious about, there's one hanging in Callahan Park. Once again, they're emerald ash borer traps put up to see if the destructive beetle has made its way to this part of the state yet. City Parks Director Chip Comilla points out the sign tied to the tree explaining that the Department of Agriculture is doing "insect monitoring."

Randall Goes 'Buggy for Books'

That other meteorologist in Buffalo named Mike -- Mike Randall -- helped the Bradford Area Public Library kick off its summer reading program -- Buggy for Books -- on Saturday morning. Randall entertained a roomful of youngsters with magic and other antics -- with some educational stuff tossed in there, too. ;)

Fatal Crash Near Port Allegany

A Morrisdale man died in a motorcycle crash at just after 2 o'clock this morning on Route 155, five miles south of Port Allegany. State police say 34-year-old Jerry Williamson was traveling at a high rate of speed, failed to negotiate a curve in the road and hit a guide rail. Williamson was pronounced dead at the scene by McKean County Coroner Mike Cahill. Police say Williamson was not wearing a helmet.

All-American Soap Box Derby

These two drivers race in a trial run during the All-American Soap Box Derby on North Center Street.

Here are two more drivers in their trial runs Saturday morning.

Derby organizer Steve Feldman chats with one of the many spectators at the event, while Bradford City Police Chief Mike Close and Mayor Tom Riel chat with Mike Walter, Frank Williams and another spectator.

State Representative Martin Causer:
Governor's Education Funding Plan Unfair, Unaffordable

Of the billions of dollars spent in the annual state budget, no investment is more important than the one we make in our children. That’s why I am deeply concerned about the governor’s education funding proposal.

It’s a six-year, $2.6 billion proposal with no clear source of funding to pay for it. That is simply irresponsible given the economic challenges we face as individuals and as a Commonwealth. One little-known fact of the governor’s plan is that he expects the state’s school districts to ante up an additional $2 billion in order to meet an alleged $4.6 billion funding gap in basic education funding. How many taxpayers can afford higher state AND school taxes right now? Yes, we have a responsibility to adequately fund our schools, but we also have a responsibility to adopt a balanced budget that does not place an undue burden on our citizens.

Few would argue the need to revamp our school funding formula in Pennsylvania. In fact, the General Assembly commissioned a costing-out study to help us develop that new formula. The governor says his plan represents a new formula, but all it really does is hand out most of the money ($4.9 billion of the total $5.2 billion) according to the old formula and then drive most of the new, additional money to urban districts, including his beloved Philadelphia School District.

Under the governor’s proposal, Philadelphia – which received nearly $900 million in the 2007-08 state budget – is pegged to receive an additional $85 million in funding next year, an increase of nearly 10 percent. And by the end of his six-year plan, the district will receive an additional $638 million, or 72 percent more. To help put that in perspective, the 11 school districts in my legislative district collectively received $67 million in state funding in 2007-08. Also telling is that, over the six years of the governor’s plan, the Philadelphia School District is slated to receive nearly one-quarter of the projected new money, yet it educates – or at least attempts to educate – just 11 percent of the state’s students.

Rural and even some suburban school districts don’t fare nearly as well under the governor’s plan. Yes, Philadelphia has more students and faces many unique challenges, but rural schools like ours do have substantial costs in the areas of health benefits, energy costs (for transportation and for heat), and food costs. The governor’s alleged “formula” takes none of this into consideration.

While the Bradford Area School District fares well under the plan, with a 6 percent funding increase this year and 47 percent more by 2014, many other districts in our area will get the statewide minimum 1.5 percent increase in funding this year. Faring worst in the six-year program is the Galeton Area School District, which is slated to receive just 2 percent more funding by 2014 than it has today. That equates to just $39,000 more over six years; rising energy costs alone will far exceed that amount.

I want the Bradford Area School District to have the resources it needs to educate its students, but I want the same for the rest of the kids in our area and across the state. We need a new formula to fund our schools, but it must be fair and it must be affordable for the taxpayers of Pennsylvania.

'It Takes Hope to Heal'

The American Cancer Society's Relay for life started at 3 p.m. Friday at Callahan Park. During the opening ceremony, event chair and cancer survivor Dorie Meabon said "Your involvement contributes to empowering people to fight back against cancer. A cancer survivor's recovery involves much more than medical treatment. It takes hope to heal. By participating in the American Cancer Society Relay for Life those touched by cancer can feel empowered to fight back against this disease."

The Relay continues until 3 p.m. today and includes a variety of musical entertainment until noon and a final lap at 1:30 p.m.

As of 10 p.m. Friday, the relay had taken in more than $70,000.

Balloons are released during opening cermonies of the American Cancer Society's 14th Annual Relay for Life in Bradford. The purple is for "Celebrate," the the blue is for "Remember," and the red is for "Fight Back."

Don Fredeen, President and General Manager of WESB/WBRR, along with Marie Costello of the ACS, display the Business of the Year Award the cancer society presented to the radio stations.

Marie also chatted with Frank Williams during 100.1 The HERO's live broadcast from the relay.

Luminaria "in honor of" and "in memory of" people who have battled cancer line the sidewalks at Callahan Park. The luminaria lighting ceremony took place right after the survivor ceremony. You can see the survivors take their victory lap here:

Friday, June 20, 2008

Rendell Nominates Judge Cleland

McKean County President Judge John Cleland has been nominated by Governor Ed Rendell to fill a vacant position on state Superior Court. He joins three other people in the second group Rendell has sent to the Senate for confirmation this year. The Republican-controlled chamber rejected an earlier group he nominated to succeed four judges who left before their terms were complete. If confirmed Cleland and Robert A. Freedberg, the president judge of Northampton County, would fill the vacancies created by the election of two former judges on Superior Court — Seamus McCaffery and Debra Todd — to the Supreme Court in November.

Mental Health Exam Ordered for
Jailed Former Bradford Woman

The Batavia mother who tried to suffocate her child appeared in Buffalo City Court this afternoon where the judge ordered a full forensic mental health exam. The judge also ordered that former Bradford resident Marcia Mitchell be held without bail. Police say Mitchell tried to suffocate her child with a pillow at Buffalo's Women and Children's Hospital. Security cameras at the hospital captured the whole incident. The baby's father said the 7-month-old was being treated for a seizure.
Mitchell is scheduled to appear in court again later this month.

All-Star On the Air

Newly graduated Bradford High Baseball player Ryan LaBrozzi talks with Frank Williams on WESB's Sports Forum about his appearance in this weekend's Altoona Curve All-Star Game at Blair County Ballpark. Also playing in the game will be John Bizzak and Michael Punk of Kane and Jerico Weitzel of Ridgway.

Road Improvements at SBU

Work to improve University roads and add a campus loop to the Allegheny River Valley Trail is expected to begin in 2009, University officials said Thursday.

The approximately $2.5 million project is possible thanks to federal funding in the 2005 Transportation Bill. Standard processes to ensure that the project’s federal funds are administered and spent properly at the local level are nearly complete. The money will be disbursed by the New York State Department of Transportation.

The focus for the rest of 2008 is on project design, environmental review and public comment, “tasks that will take all of this summer and fall,” said Phil Winger, associate vice president for facilities at St. Bonaventure.

One of the project highlights is creating a loop of the recreation trail on campus, from the existing section of the recreation trail near the main campus entrance on Route 417 to the portion of the trail by the river behind Francis Hall. The exact route has yet to be determined, Winger said.

“The new trail will provide the public with a short-loop variant of the river trail,” Winger said. “And it provides St. Bonaventure with a new pedestrian/bike connection from the townhouses to the main campus.”

Plans also call for:
· a new home near Doyle Hall for the University’s Office of Safety and Security; a portion of the new building will include restroom facilities for recreation trail users.
· the straightening of Clare Road, which runs through the woods between Francis Hall on the east side of campus to the five-way intersection just east of Doyle Hall.
· reworking of the parking and five-way intersection near Doyle Hall.
· a new access road near the center of campus at the Reilly Center.
· additional parking for trail users.
· repaving and road restoration at various locations around campus.

“We hope the project is finished by the end of 2009, but given the potential for weather and other unforeseen delays, we certainly can’t promise that,” Winger said.

Steve Lohle has Died

Regular listeners to WESB will know the name -- and voice -- of Steve Lohle, a regular contributor to RadioPA. We got word today that Lohle has passed away. Here is the obituary from Lohle's home station, KQV in Pittsburgh.

Steve Lohle

July 6, 1949 - June 20, 2008

The KQV family is in mourning over the loss of an afternoon anchor, someone many identified as the voice of the station. Steve Lohle died of an apparent heart attack early Friday morning at his home in Beaver County. He was 58.

He holds a degree in speech communications. Steve first became interested in broadcasting at North Hills High School when he did the P.A. announcements.

Steve's first job in broadcasting was with WQRC-FM in Hyannis, Massachusetts where he covered the Chappaquiddick incident involving Senator Ted Kennedy and his landslide reelection after it. He also served as program director at WHVY-FM and WMAS-AM in Springfield, Massachusetts.

Steve began his long career in the KQV newsroom in October of 1974, one-year before the station became all-news. Lohle worked as both anchor and reporter. For the past several years his distinctive voice was heard during afternoon newscasts along with co-anchor Joe Fenn. Prior to moving to afternoons, he was morning co-anchor with PJ Maloney.

In his spare time, Steve enjoyed golf, reading, and physical fitness. He was also a baseball umpire for the PIAA and the legion league.

Outside the station, Steve was a devoted family man who was close to his 10-year-old son Collin. He's also survived by his wife Barbara, his father Edward, brother Tim, and sister Dolores. His mother Catherine died just one-month ago.

Funeral arrangements are incomplete.

McCracken, Thompson in Debate

By Mike Joseph-

UNIVERSITY PARK — Democrat Mark McCracken and Republican Glenn Thompson disagreed more than they agreed Tuesday, laying groundwork for a 5th Congressional District race that may increasingly reflect the nationwide presidential contest.

Read the complete story in the Centre Daily Times.

Injured Soldier Focuses on Future

Sgt. James T. Hackemer lost more than most could ever imagine in March when a roadside bomb exploded beside his heavily armored vehicle headed into Baghdad.

The 26-year-old Collins soldier, formerly from Gowanda, no longer has legs, struggles to express his thoughts and only recently learned how to eat again.

But Hackemer is defying the odds in a recovery he hopes will see him taking his first steps on artificial limbs by the fall.

Read the complete story in The Buffalo News.

We're Back! Finally!

The Weekend Wrap

I'll be speaking with Lisa Oz, wife of Dr. Mehment Oz, author of "YOU, The Owner's Manual," and the "YOU" series. We'll be talking mostly about the new audiobook "YOU Breathing Easy," and you can find more information about that HERE.

I'll also be speaking with Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development Secretary Dennis Yablonsky about "Rebuilding PA" and more.

You can hear The Weekend Wrap at 6 a.m. Saturday on 100.1 The HERO and at 9:15 a.m. Saturday and Sunday on 1490 WESB. Remember, The Weekend Wrap also includes State Representative Marty Causer's Legislative Report every week.

Hope, Light and Everyday Miracles

"Each miracle starts with one feeling. That feeling is hope."

Paula Fritz Eddy, executive director of the McKean County Unit of the American Cancer Society, made that statement as part of her opening remarks at this year's American Cancer Society Relay for Life Relay for Life. While many people may have been concentrating on money as hope during her remarks -- after all, the Relay for Life is the Cancer Society's primary fund raiser during the year -- others probably had other thoughts in mind.

I know I did.

In April 1996 my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. I knew the diagnosis was a possibility as I fidgeted in a waiting room at Bradford Regional Medical Center while she was having what would end up being a lumpectomy. But hey, I'd written a few stories about breast cancer and pretty much knew all there was to know about it. Right? Wrong. One thing I didn't know was how hard it hits you when the doctor says "it's cancer" and he's talking about your mom.

Another thing I didn't know was how to let my mom know there was hope. Sure I knew all the facts and figures and could spit 'em out to anyone who asked. But how do you talk percentages to your mom when she's about to be operated on to see if the cancer spread?

You don't. You just sit there and hope. And one of the things you hope for is a way to give her hope for the future. The shock of my mom's diagnosis still hadn't worn off by the time last year's Relay for Life rolled around. She was still pretty numb. I was still pretty clueless about how to help her. We were both pretty scared.

Then we took a drive up to Parkway Field just to check things out at the relay. Around the track, we couldn't help but notice, were about 800 luminaria -- candles nestled in paper bags each bearing the name of someone who has fought with cancer. We walked around looking at the names, more than a little surprised at how many we recognized.

Although we read the names of many people who didn't make it, just seeing and reading the names of people who did make it did something for my mom I probably could never have done. The luminaria gave her hope. They put names on the statistics. During this year's Relay for Life luminaria ceremony, my mom was one of about three dozen cancer survivors who walked a lap around the field in the light of only the 1,200 luminaria circling the track.

Getting to that point wasn't easy. It took a lot of work, a lot of courage and a lot of hope. Eddy said something else very important during this year's relay: Every dollar raised by the cancer society raises hope. Perhaps equally as important, if not more so, is that every candle lighted for a survivor raises hope for someone who doesn't know where else to find it.

(first published on June 26,1997)

This year's Relay starts at 3 p.m. today at Callahan Park. Be there, OK?

Thursday, June 19, 2008

'Mission Lemonade' to Raise Money
for Open Arms' Africa Trip

A few weeks ago, a handful of Sunday School kids put their faith in action, and that action is motivating others at Open Arms Community Church in Bradford to do the same.

"Before church, they were selling rocks for a dollar," said Josh Hatcher, Outreach Coordinator at Open Arms. He said the kids had handwritten a little sign that said, "Rocks 4 Sale to help the Africa 'Mishuns' (Missions) Trip."

Open Arms has been planning a trip to the city of Conakry in Guinea, Africa in the Spring of 2009 to do humanitarian work.

After church, while the some of the adults were in a leadership meeting, the kids took their passion to the streets, putting together a makeshift lemonade stand and attempting to hawk their wares to passing cars.

Children's Ministry Coordinator Michelle Mahaney said, "I was really moved by what those kids did! They had that burning desire in their hearts; they were on a mission! They wanted to help and they did it the only way the knew. They had one hour to work with, and it got me thinking about how much they did in one hour."

Mahaney was inspired to launch what she calls "Mission Lemonade." She will work with all the kids from the Open Arms Children's Ministry to put up a lemonade stand at the church this weekend. All of the money raised will go to fund the upcoming missions trip.

"It's really the idea of a handful of elementary aged kids. I just want all of the kids to see that they can help make a difference. I want them to have a sense of accomplishment. If it works out well, we may sell lemonade once a month," said Mahaney.

Hatcher said that the church's trip to Guinea will be to help out a church and school comprised largely of refugees from Sierra Leone. "These are the refugees that you see in the movie 'Blood Diamond'. Guinea is one of the poorest countries in the world. We've been in a close relationship with this church and school for about a year now, and we're excited about meeting our friends there face to face."

The "Mission Lemonade" stand will be open this Saturday, from 5:30 to 7:00 PM and Sunday form 10:30 to 12:00 PM in front of Open Arms Community Church on East Main Street.

Pushing for Newborn Screenings

WESB/WBRR News Director

When his son was diagnosed with Krabbe Disease, Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly could have wallowed in self-pity and focused on dreams that would never come true.

Instead, with encouragement from his wife Jill, he started a foundation and mounted a campaign to make sure other families don't have to go through what his did.

When Hunter Kelly was born on February 14, 1997 – his famous dad's 37th birthday – the just retired NFL quarterback thought about all the things father and son would be doing together as the little boy grew up.

It wasn't long before the Kellys realized Hunter "was having a lot of difficulties," he said during a news conference in Harrisburg earlier this month.

"I could tell you all the problems he had but there would be a lot of tears shed," Kelly said, "because they'd be coming from me."

Hunter was four months old before he was diagnosed and, by that time, it was too late for doctors to do anything for him.

Hunter died in August of 2005.

When the Kellys learned of Hunter's diagnosis, Jim Kelly says he "wasn't very happy. I blamed everybody else. I was mad."

But Jill – who he called "the Mother of the Year every day of her life" – launched the idea for what would eventually become the Hunter's Hope Foundation.

"My wife told me – 'Jim, if there was ever a time for you to use your name, it's now. Let's not hide behind this."

"That's exactly what we did," Kelly said.

Hunter's Hope was started to increase public awareness of Krabbe Disease and other leukodystrophies, as well as to increase the likelihood of early detection and treatment.

When Hunter was born, New York only did 11 tests on newborns. Now they do 45.

The Foundation’s goal is to fund research efforts to identify new treatments, therapies and a cure for Krabbe Disease. To date, through the Foundation over $14 million has been awarded to leukodystrophy and other neurological disease related research.

Kelly was in Harrisburg to push for passage of The Newborn Child Testing Act, sponsored by State Representative George Kenney.

During the news conference, State Senator Jane Orie said, "Each and every baby born in Pennsylvania deserves a chance for a healthy start."

She added that Pennsylvania ranks "dismally" when it comes to newborn screenings and, as Governor Ed Rendell pushes his healthcare proposlas, there's no better bill to support than House Bill 883.

James Dennis, state director of the March of Dimes, which has partnered with Hunter's Hope, said "Newborn screening is vital."

"It is our goal to assure that every newborn in Pennsylvania has access to life-saving screening as early as possible," Dennis said.

Kelly said it would be easy for him to focus only on Krabbe Disease, but he "saw all these other kids suffering because they were born in the wrong state."

"We are going to save the lives of thousands and thousands and thousands of kids," Kelly said. "There are too many kids going undiagnosed and dying because they were born in the wrong state."

"We're not going to let that happen, especially right here in the state I grew up in," said Kelly, a native of East Brady.

Kelly says he will be making his way across the country to encourage all states to increase the number of newborn tests they require.

"I understand that I am the voice of all those parents out there that can't have their voice heard," he said. "I'm not stopping 'til it's done."

Before ending his remarks, Kelly thanked his "little buddy upstairs."

The Newborn Child Testing Act (House Bill 883) has passed the House unanimously and is currently in the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Orie said she hopes the bill passes the senate and makes it to the governor's office before the end of the month.

You can help the bill along by writing to:

Senator Joe Scarnati
Senate Box 292
Main Capitol
Harrisburg, PA 17120

Unstamped Cigarettes Confiscated

Five men from out of the area have been arrested in two separate cases for possessing about 15,000 cartons of illegal cigarettes in Chautauqua County. All face felony charges of possession of unstamped cigarettes, and attempt to evade the cigarette law. Three of the men are from Michigan; the other two are from Kentucky. In the first case, a Kentucky truck driver was stopped on Interstate-86 in the town of Ellery when authorities found 8,000 cartons of unstamped cigarettes that were on their way to a nearby Indian reservation. In the second case, a van and a pickup truck were stopped on I-86 in the town of Ellicott. The vehicles were hauling nearly 7,000 cartons of cigarettes, purchased from a nearby Indian reservation.

Man Accused of Brutal Attack

An Allegany man is accused of kicking a woman in the head until she was unconscious. Police say 40-year-old Paul Ertell pushed his way through the front door of an Olean woman's home, then hit her in the head several times, knocking her to the ground. He then allegedly kicked her repeatedly until she lost consciousness – all with her three children watching. Ertell is charged with burglary, assault and endangering the welfare of a child.

Rape Reported in Olean

An Olean man is facing rape charges after an alleged attack Wednesday evening in an Olean woman's home. The victim told police that she and 21-year-old George Portlow have known each other for years, but when he visited her last night he made sexual advances toward her. When she resisted, he allegedly put her in a choke hold, grabbed her hair and raped her.

10-Year-Old Erie Girl Gets
Probation for Playground Attack

A 10-year-old Erie girl who broke a classmate's hip in a playground attack will remain on home-electronic monitoring for 30 days and on probation for an indefinite period. The girl, who isn't being identified because of her age, was also ordered Thursday to do 50 hours of community service for breaking 10-year-old Rikki Triana's hip on April 3. In May, an 11-year-old girl accused of throwing a cup of water on Rikki just before the assault was sentenced to community service and probation.

ATA Getting Hybrid Vehicle

Pennsylvania will be buying 14 hybrid public transportation vehicles, including one for the local Area Transportation Authority.

Governor Ed Rendell made the announcement Thursday -- “Dump the Pump Day," which is supposed to remind consumers to be responsible and make informed transportation decisions as a means to declare their own energy independence.

"If the General Assembly acts now, that’s exactly what my Energy Independence Strategy will start to do for Pennsylvania families and businesses — allow them to take control of their energy use," Rendell said.

Rendell unveiled the Energy Independence Strategy in February 2007 that would save Pennsylvania families and businesses $10 billion over the next decade. The plan, pending in the state Senate, would leverage $850 million in new investments to attract $3.5 billion in alternative and renewable energy products and reduce Pennsylvania’s dependence on foreign oil.

To help expand public transit’s use of cleaner, more efficient vehicles, Governor Rendell announced the investment of $2 million to help fund the purchase of 14 hybrid transit vehicles that will be used in rural and small urban areas. Ten hybrid para-transit buses will expand Rabbittransit’s shared-ride program in York County. Four other regions will each receive one standard size hybrid bus: the Area Transportation Authority of North Central Pennsylvania, the Berks Area Reading Transportation Authority, the Luzerne County Transportation Authority and the Westmoreland County Transit Authority.

The Area Transportation Authority of North Central Pennsylvania serves McKean, Cameron, Clearfield, Elk, Jefferson, and Potter counties.

The buses will be delivered in 2009.

Groups Want 'Buffers 100'

Environmental Groups are asking the state to adopt a new policy for development projects in Pennsylvania. The initiative is called "Buffers 100," and it would institute a 100-foot buffer zone between new development and natural waterways. The concept is to protect the waters from damaging pollution and other hazards, while also saving the development from damaging floods that can occur when waterways are interfered with or even redirected. Environmental groups and some state lawmakers are asking the state Department of Environmental Protection to adopt the policy.

Radio Reporter Resigns

PITTSBURGH (AP) -- A Pittsburgh radio reporter has resigned after he was caught with a loaded handgun in his briefcase as he entered a courthouse to cover a trial. KDKA Radio says 53-year-old Rob Milford resigned by mutual agreement with the station.
Milford was charged Monday with possession of a firearm in a court facility and carrying a firearm without a license. Authorities say Milford said he didn't realize the .38-caliber was in his briefcase. He said it belongs to his girlfriend. Milford worked at the station since 2006. He also worked at Fox News Radio and CBS Radio covering everything from hurricanes to the Iraq war.

Friends of Rimrock to Meet for
Picnic, Hike, Geocache Event

WARREN, Pa., (June 19, 2008) – Friends of Rimrock will host a picnic, hike and geocache event on Sunday, June 22 at Rimrock Scenic Overlook and Picnic Area, 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. Friends of Rimrock will be joined by the Allegheny Outdoor Adventure Group, the Allegheny Defense Project, the Tionesta Snowmobile Club and other groups. The public is cordially invited to participate.

Friends of Rimrock is a local group of concerned individuals devoted to protecting the Rimrock Scenic Overlook for future generations. John Stoneman, spokesperson for the group and organizer of the event, stated that though they meet at Rimrock every Sunday, “this event will be bigger than our regular Sunday meet-ups.”

Besides an all-day fun picnic, the group plans a hike through the rock area to see all the main attractions as well as a visit to a geocache, perhaps placing one or two new ones. Rappelling lines may be set up for those interested. Stoneman encourages all who play a musical instrument to bring it for impromptu jam sessions.

In addition to the outdoor activities, educational materials about the impending oil well drilling at Rimrock will be available. Individuals opposed to the drilling of the Rimrock Scenic Overlook and Picnic Area will have the opportunity to sign a petition. “The petitions will be sent to our elected officials and personnel at the Allegheny National Forest, who we hope will understand the public does not want Rimrock drilled for oil and gas,” Stoneman explained.

Participants should bring their lunch and (non-alcoholic) drinks, a dish to pass if you wish, and folding chairs. Due to the large number of people expected to attend the event, Stoneman asks that anyone who has a folding table to please consider bringing it.

The Rimrock Scenic Overlook and Picnic Area is located off of Route 59, between Warren and Bradford, Pa. Those who want to attend the event should meet in the second parking lot at 11 a.m.

Settlement with Royal Dutch Shell

Attorney General Tom Corbett has announced a $120 million settlement of a U.S. class action lawsuit against Royal Dutch Shell, which was accused of overstating oil and natural gas reserves and artificially inflating stock prices over a five year period, from April 1999 to March 2004.

Corbett said the lead plaintiffs in the lawsuit are the Pennsylvania State Employees’ Retirement Board and the Public School Employees’ Retirement Board. The lawsuit was brought on behalf of all U.S. investors who suffered losses as the result of these alleged actions by Shell.

“Over the past several years we have taken aggressive legal action against companies accused of misrepresenting profits and other key financial information that misled investors and we will continue to defend the rights of Pennsylvania taxpayers and consumers in these cases,” Corbett said. “We will not allow Pennsylvania investors and retirees to be put at risk in order to falsely inflate corporate profits and stock prices.

The settlement covers all investors who purchased Shell shares on U.S. markets between April 1999 and March 2004, along with any American citizen or entity that purchased Shell shares on non-U.S. markets during that same period.

“When companies mislead investors and artificially inflate stock values, they put short-term corporate interests ahead of long-term security for investors and consumers.” Corbett said. “Like most investors, Pennsylvania’s state retirement systems invest in stocks to earn money for future expenses, and they depend on accurate information from the companies they invest in.”

Corbett said the final distribution of funds will be determined by the total number of investors who submit claims. It is expected that the Pennsylvania State Employees’ Retirement Fund and the Public School Employees’ Retirement Fund will recover approximately $6.5 million as the result of this settlement. The money will be returned directly to the retirement funds.

“Since 2005, the Attorney General’s office has returned or saved nearly $500-million for Pennsylvania consumers, taxpayers and state agencies,” Corbett said. “Yesterday’s $120-million agreement with Shell is another step toward leveling the playing field for all consumers and investors.”

The settlement has been approved by the Pennsylvania State Employees’ Retirement Board, the Public School Employees’ Retirement Board and the Office of Attorney General. It was filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court, in New Jersey.

Frank & the White Powder -- Part II

Today on The Morning Buzz ...

Dan Desrochers of the Community Blood Bank talks with Scott Douglas on The Morning Buzz about the critical blood shortage in the region. You can give blood today at Union Square from 3:30 to 7:30 p.m. Frank Williams will be there, too, giving you a chance to win tickets to the upcoming Huey Lewis and the News concert in Salamanca or to Waldameer Park. Tasta Pizza will also be providing food!

White Powder Donuts ...

Frank Williams enjoys a white powder donut from John Williams European Pastry Shop ... and, just like Scott said, gets half the powder on the floor.

Date for Soccerthon Changed

The Soccerthon scheduled for June 28 in Bradford is being moved to August. Organizer Dennis Swineford says he'll let us know when the plans are finalized. The Bradford Rotary Club is sponsoring the event, with proceeds going to Nothing But Nets, which provides mosquito bed nets to families around the world.

Man Dies in Motorcycle Crash

A Bradford man died in a motorcycle accident Tuesday night on the southbound lane of I-79. State Police say 54-year-old Wilhelm Potkovick was killed in the crash. Police report that Potkovick was driving 25 mph over the speed limit when he went off the road and hit the guard rail.

Bill Aims to Enhance Oversight
of Natural Gas Drilling

Director of Operations, Senator Catharine M. Young

ALBANY, NY – A wave of economic revitalization will boost communities across New York’s Southern Tier, thanks to legislation passed by Senator Catharine Young that will help reinvigorate the natural gas and oil industry.

“From Chautauqua to Delaware County, more natural gas will be recovered, potentially triggering a billion dollar investment in the upstate economy,” Senator Young said.

“The market value for natural gas produced in New York State is $500 million annually and it is estimated that landowners receive $64 million in royalties and up to $20 million in state and local tax revenues are generated,” Senator Young continued. “It’s possible that the natural gas market value will double due to large recoveries of natural gas from the Southern Tier and New York State.

The legislation establishes statewide spacing requirements, and streamlines the permitting process, to better protect the environment and landowners. Communities will realize more tax revenues, easing pressure on property taxpayers, and more energy will be produced to help consumers” Senator Young said. “It’s a huge win for everyone,” she added.

Horizontal wells currently are allowed in the state, but were bogged down in the permitting process. Under the bill, as recommended by the Department of Environmental Conservation, (DEC), the process will be standardized and streamlined, while establishing strict requirements to protect the environment. The legislation does not give new or additional drilling authority to the industry.

“Horizontal drilling recovers more natural gas and oil, which is key since there have been major energy finds, such as from Marcellus shale.

Recent technological advances have allowed access to indigenous gas resources in the shallow Marcellus shale that is prevalent throughout the Southern Tier and into the western Catskill region

The entire Marcellus shale formation, from the West Virginia to New York’s Catskills, is estimated to contain 168 to 516 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. Ten to 20 percent of this natural resource lies within NY’s borders.

Bad Tomatoes Affect Warren Co.

The Pennsylvania Department of Health says four people were sickened in late May by salmonella-tainted tomatoes in Warren, Bucks, Butler and Lancaster counties. A spokeswoman says officials believe two of those cases involved exposure outside Pennsylvania. The federal government's count of those sickened by the outbreak is now 383. That's 106 more than were reported earlier this week. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Wednesday that most of those people got sick weeks ago but just hadn't been counted yet.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Officers File Suit Against DA

Two Clearfield police officers say they were wrongly accused of lying about an alleged encounter with a knife-wielding man because the district attorney held a political grudge, and have filed a federal lawsuit against Clearfield County District Attorney William Shaw Jr. State police charged officers Brian Dixon and Gregory Neeper in February with several misdemeanors in connection with their actions during a domestic dispute call. A district judge later dismissed the case against the officers at a preliminary hearing. The officers say Shaw prosecuted them because they supported a political opponent during his re-election campaign last year. They say their free speech rights were violated.

Luke Russert

Maria Shriver on Tim Russert

Remembering Tim Russert

Peterson on 'Happening Now'

Rep. John Peterson (R-PA) discusses the Democrats' decision to ‘postpone’ a hearing where his much-anticipated offshore energy proposal was to be considered. Watch the video HERE.

Rocky Horror Picture Show Festival

As part of the Buffalo Homecoming Weekend Celebration of June 26-29, 2008, the Arts Council in Buffalo and Erie County takes you on a nostalgic adventure to the outrageous and fantastic operatic world of the Rocky Horror Picture Show with three separate showings.

This homage to horror, science fiction and fantasy films will begin with a VIP Time Warp Dance Party to be held at the Arts Council Passage Way Gallery, 3rd floor Market Arcade Building, 617 Main St. at 9 pm on Friday, June 27, 2008. To bring back the glittering and delicious fun of it all, local members of the dance and theatre community will portray Rocky characters and be on hand to teach the ever timeless “Time Warp Dance”, with costume accessories available to all patrons at the Party. The party then moves to the Market Arcade Film and Arts Center at 639 Main St. where a viewing of the movie will follow at 11:30pm. A Rocky Horror Accessories Pack will also be provided that contains rice, toast, paper towel, newspaper, rubber glove, party whistle, playing card, and a glow stick, helping to make the audience participation a completely exuberant theatrical event. Ticket price for this event is $20, with proceeds benefiting the Technical Assistance Programs of the Arts Council.

A Pre-Film Discussion and showing will be held on Saturday, June 28 at 10 am at the Market Arcade Film and Arts Center at 639 Main St. Noted local film historians Bruce Jackson and Dianne Christian will present the history of the Rocky Horror Show and its development into cult status. Tickets for this event are $10 in advance and $12 on the day of the show.

On Saturday, June 28, at 10 pm the celebration continues with The Time Warp Dance Event. Before the movie begins, instructors dressed as Rocky Horror Picture Show Characters will lead the audience in learning the Time Warp Dance. Sensational costumes have been created by the international designer Bret Runyon, Music Director and costume designer for DC Theatrics. Movie goers will become the chorus of Transylvanians with Rocky, Dr. Frank-N-Furter, Brad, Janet, Magenta, and all the rest of the Rocky happy camper characters performing live character animation. The “Rocky Horror Accessories Packet” containing rice, toast, paper towel, newspaper, rubber glove, playing cards, party whistle and glow stick will again be available for purchase at the Arts Council as well as the Market Arcade Theatre. (Water, however, will not be allowed at any of these performances.) The cost of the packet is $1.25, while tickets for this performance are $10 in advance and $12 at performance time.

Tickets for all events may be purchased in person or by phone at the Arts Council offices at 700 Main St., (716)856-7520, or the Market Arcade Film and Arts Center, 639 Main St., (716) 855-3022.

Option House Facing More Charges

The former owners of the Option House are facing more charges related to underage drinking. The state police Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement says that on September 16, November 24 and December 2 and 23 of last year, as well as many other occasions, the bar sold alcohol to 4 20 year olds and allowed them to frequent the premises. Last month, similar charges were filed against The Option House. One of the other incidents happened on the day 19-year-old 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.

Allaire Stepping Down as Principal

Father Barry Allaire is stepping down as principal of Archbishop Walsh High School in Olean. Allaire will, however, stay on in the newly created position of dean of religious affairs. A replacement at the principal position hasn't been chosen yet.

Tops Promoting Local Produce

Williamsville, NY – Produce managers from Tops Friendly Markets’ 71 stores rolled up their sleeves today and hit the field to learn first-hand about the locally grown produce that is sold in all Tops stores. At the same time, the managers took part in a photo shoot that will be the basis of an in-store campaign to promote local produce and local growers.

“Our customers want to be confident that their produce is fresh and locally grown,” said Tops Friendly Markets President and CEO Frank Curci. “With Tops once again under local ownership and management, it is more important than ever for us to build the relationship between Tops and our local growing partners. That’s what our homegrown campaign is all about.”

The homegrown campaign, which will be launched this summer, has a central theme of informing Tops’ customers where the produce they purchase comes from. The campaign will include in-store signage that shows where the local produce comes from and tells who the local growers are. Tops is working with local marketing firm The SKM Group to develop the homegrown campaign and in-store signage.

Produce managers from each Tops store, including 38 in the Buffalo-Niagara region, toured Eden Valley Growers today, one of the Buffalo areas largest growers’ consortiums, along with their conglomerates, Amos Zittel & Sons, Salzman Farms and Agle Farms, all of whom supply the local produce sold in Tops stores.

“The produce managers had the opportunity to experience the quality and selection of fresh produce such as corn, peppers, lettuce, and apples that we ship to stores on a daily basis,” said Rick Wright, produce and floral marketing manager at Tops. “The growers that we worked with today represent those farms that supply all Tops stores with fresh-from-the-field, homegrown produce.

“When our produce managers are able to see, smell and touch the products first-hand while that produce is still on the vine, tree, or plant, they are better educated about the product and better equipped to explain the benefits of homegrown produce to their customers and associates,” Wright added.

Toddlers Test Positive for Pot

Four Warren residents have been charged after their toddlers tested positive for having marijuana in their systems. Police say 27-year-old Daniel Johnson and 21-year-old Joshua Kent were smoking in close proximity to their children, who are 2 and 3 years old. Johnson and Kent were charged with endangering the welfare of children. 23-year-old Kristin Devlin and 20-year-old Mandy Jurkowski were also charged for knowingly allowing their children to be exposed to the drug.

Funding for Alfred State College

Director of Operations, Senator Catharine M. Young

ALFRED, NY – State Senator Catharine Young (R,I,C – Olean) announced a $150,000 a state grant to address a shortage in skilled, college level graduates in our area by funding the building of the Alfred State College Construction Industry Workforce Development Facility Project. The grant will help develop additional training facilities at Alfred State for both union and non-union skilled trades’ employees in the region.

This facility expands the ability of Alfred State College to serve the community and region by graduating more students in high-demand, high-paying construction trades jobs in carpentry, masonry and air conditioning and heating technology.

“Improving access to high quality education is key to revitalizing the upstate economy, and growing more jobs,” said Senator Young. “This investment enhances Alfred State’s programs that provide needed, high-paying construction trades to will benefit our entire region. Our workforce is seeking the security and stability that a career can provide, not just a job that pays the bills. Alfred State is the source in which students can take the step towards a rewarding, stable career in
construction trades.”

Alfred State College also will be able to attract additional disadvantaged youth from rural and city backgrounds to careers in construction through enhanced and larger facilities. It will expose these students to the newest, most up-to-date construction materials, construction methods, tools, labor-saving devices, energy–saving appliances and construction techniques.

“We need to create an education system that gives New York’s next generation the tools they need to compete in a 21st Century economy,” Senator Young said. “These students need and deserve the best education, the best teachers, and access to the best technology. This investment will ensure that Alfred State’s graduates are prepared to meet the challenges of a global marketplace and provide a decent quality of life for their families.”

The facility will also allow Alfred State to expand its efforts to the “train the trainer” site for high schools and vocational high school faculty in the region.

The project has been embraced by the Associated General Contractors of America, General Building Contractors, Home Builder’s Association, the New York Construction Materials Association and various regional Building Exchanges. It is supported by both union and non-union organizations including the Empire State Regional Council of Carpenters, the New York State Laborers’ International Union North of North America and the New York State chapter of the Associated Builders and Contractors.

“This new initiative will allow us to increase economic development opportunities through job creation in Western New York,” Dr. John Anderson, President of Alfred State College. The need for construction workers is well documented, with nearly one million new construction jobs projected by 2012, an increase of 15 percent. The construction industry is one of the top 10 largest sources of job growth in the United States. We thank all of our supporters for their belief in the value that Alfred State College has for the region.”

“Reaching the goal of $1 million will allow the construction to start in June 2008. It has been a real pleasure working with government, alumni and businesses that support Alfred State College and the vision of a new Construction Workforce Development Center in Wellsville,” said Craig Clark, Executive Director of the Wellsville Campus and Dean of Applied Technology" This is how government, business and education need to lead in developing the workforce of tomorrow."

A groundbreaking was held at 5 Brooklyn Avenue in Wellsville on Wednesday.

Mural Dedication at Pitt-Bradford

The University of Pittsburgh at Bradford dedicated a new mural in Blaisdell Hall Wednesday morning. The work was designed and painted by a summer term mural class taught by Kong Ho, associate professor of art and a well-known muralist. Here A.J. Laganosky, right, a senior interdisciplinary arts major from Carlisle, Pa., and Dr. ‘BioDun Ogundayo, associate professor of French and comparative literature discuss the imagery in the mural, which depicts each of the fine arts taught in Blaisdell Hall. Laganosky was one of 10 students who worked on the mural under Ho’s guidance.
(Photo Courtesy of Pitt-Bradford)

Punxy Man Facing Federal Charges

A Punxsutawney man has been indicted by a federal grand jury in Pittsburgh on charges that he violated federal firearms laws. The two-count indictment says that 33-year-old John Thomas Shenk falsely stated that he was the true buyer of a .40 caliber rifle and a 9mm rifle from a Clearfield store, when he was actually buying the guns for a drug dealer who had been convicted in federal court. If convicted, Shenk faces a maximum of 20 years in prison, a fine of 500 thousand dollars, or both.

Game Commission Hosts 'E-Bird'

HARRISBURG -The Pennsylvania Game Commission has become the first state wildlife agency to host and manage an "eBird" website. The eBird network is dedicated to helping birders throughout North America and the world record their bird observations and improve our understanding of seasonal bird activities and movements.

"Pennsylvania eBird" is a customized satellite website in the international eBird network that shares news about birds, birding, and conservation with birders and serves as a common database for their bird records. eBird is the premier birding database. It is a real-time, online checklist program that has revolutionized how the birding community reports and accesses information about birds.

Launched by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society, eBird has generated tremendous participation, both nationally and internationally, since its inception in 2002. The Game Commission is partnering with the Pennsylvania Society for Ornithology and Audubon Pennsylvania to provide Pennsylvania eBird. The stories featured on PA eBird are designed to appeal to casual and avid birders, and reflect the interests of partnering organizations.

"Birding draws hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians outdoors annually to experience the thrill of migration and the challenge of identifying wild birds through song and appearance," explained Doug Gross, Game Commission ornithologist. "Every sighting, whether in the backyard of a Philadelphia suburb or deep in the Allegheny National Forest, has value to us and helps develop a more complete picture of the world of wild birds. The geographical module of eBird helps us to construct interactive bird checklists for individual locations including State Game Lands, parks and preserves. It really connects birds to the places upon which they depend.

"When you see and identify a bird, whether you're a novice or veteran birder, you're holding a piece to a puzzle. Sharing your information helps us put this puzzle together, and that is the essence of eBird, birders sharing and working together for the betterment of wild birds, their conservation, and their management."

Pennsylvania eBird has two very distinct responsibilities: to inform and to collect data. The website will always feature a selection of articles on wild birds, ranging from the latest bird news and natural history to field research and conservation issues. In addition, it will serve birders interested in participating in ongoing efforts to collect field observations that will be used in a database that we expect will quickly become a vital source of bird information that will improve with each passing year and as more birders join the eBird team.

"We're hoping that Pennsylvania eBird becomes a destination that all of our birders eventually gravitate toward," emphasized Gross. "Right now, a few thousand Pennsylvania birders are participating in eBird. We already are one of the leading states in participation. As significant - and wonderful - as that is, it really is a drop in the bucket when you consider what Pennsylvania could be doing. This is our chance, and I'm encouraging Pennsylvania birders to rise to the challenge."

Participants who submit wild bird observations to eBird do so by forwarding a checklist that will help wildlife managers at the Game Commission and elsewhere identify where a certain species lives, how abundant it is, and whether its numbers are changing over time.

Aside from data-collection, though, Pennsylvania eBird offers the opportunity to engage the birdwatching community more directly than ever before and teach the new birders about the art and science of bird identification, behavior-watching, and population monitoring.

"We are linking recreational birding with conservation and management issues," noted Gross. "Familiarity with any species and its habitat is essential to ensure its well-being and protection. eBird will help us augment that awareness and improve wild bird management in Pennsylvania and North America. We will learn what forests are best for wood thrushes, which wetlands support the most bitterns, and where shorebirds are most likely to stop over in migration.

"The data Pennsylvania eBird will gather also dovetails nicely with the state's Wildlife Action Plan, adopted in 2006. The plan expands and strengthens the state's management of fish and wildlife resources, particularly species of greatest conservation need. It requires managers to place greater emphasis on monitoring species to ensure they get management assistance before they require emergency room attention."

You can find Pennsylvania eBird HERE.

Charges Pending in Airport Crash

Charges could be filed by Friday against 20-year-old Casey Comes of Cuba, and one or all of his three passengers, who were in his vehicle. Sunday when he drove it at a high speed off the east end of the Cattaraugus- Olean Airport runway, overturning it at the bottom of a 100-foot embankment. The Cattaraugus County Sheriff's Office says the district attorney wants statements from all four of them before deciding what charges to filed. The passengers were 19-year-old Jodi L. Bobseine; 19-year-old Ryan M. Cook; and 18-year-old Brandon J. Reilly, all of Cuba. All four were taken by ambulance to Olean General Hospital after the crash, and one of the group was later transported to Erie County Medical Center, Buffalo, with more serious injuries and remains hospitalized there.

George Sample Jr. Has Died

Longtime journalist and newspaper owner George R. Sample Jr. has died. He was 84. Sample's son, George Sample III, says his father died today of cardiac arrest at Corry Memorial Hospital. Sample worked as a reporter and editor at newspapers including the Chicago Sun-Times and Jerusalem Post and was founder of the Sample News Group. The group run by his family owned small newspapers in several states, including the Corry Journal where he was publisher for more than 50 years. Corry Journal General Manager Bob Williams called Sample an icon and a champion of the common man.

National Pollinator Week

Warren, Pa. – The Pollinator Partnership is proud to announce that June 22-28, 2008 will celebrate the 2nd Annual National Pollinator Week. The first National Pollinator Week 2007 was officially declared by the U.S. Senate and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Pollinators, such as insects, birds, and bats, are important because they help grow the food society needs to survive.

Did you know?
· Animal pollinators (insects, birds, and bats) are needed for the reproduction of 90% of flowering plants and one third of human food crops.
· Worldwide, approximately 1,000 plants grown for food, beverages, fibers, spices, and medicines need to be pollinated by animals in order to produce the goods society uses.
· In the United States, pollination by honeybees and other insects produces $40 billion dollars worth of products annually.
· The decline in the health and number of pollinators pose a significant threat to global food webs, human health and plant diversity world wide.

What are Pollinators?
Pollinators are responsible for assisting over 80% of the world's flowering plants. Without them humans and wildlife wouldn't have much to eat or look at! Animals that assist plants in their reproduction as pollinators include bats, butterflies, moths, flies, birds, beetles, ants, and bees.

What is pollination?
Pollination is the act of transferring pollen grains from the male anther of a flower to the female stigma. The goal of every living organism, including plants, is to create offspring for the next generation. One of the ways that plants can produce offspring is by making seeds. Seeds contain the genetic information to produce a new plant. Flowers are the tools that plants use to make their seeds.

Why do pollinators visit flowers?
Insect and other animal pollinators obtain food in the form of energy-rich nectar and/or protein-rich pollen from the flowers they visit. In return, the flowers receive the services of pollinators carrying pollen from one flower to another flower.

What’s Happening to our Pollinators?
Today, possible declines in the health and population of pollinators pose a significant threat to biodiversity, to global food webs, and to human health. Factors which could contribute to declines include: improper use of pesticides and herbicides; habitat fragmentation, loss, and degradation causing a reduction of food sources and sites for mating, nesting, roosting, and migration; aggressive competition from non-native species; diseases, predators, and parasites; climate change; and lack of floral diversity.

What can I do to Help?
Many people enjoy gardening and with minor changes to our practices, pollinators can be given a helping hand. Pollinators need different kinds of flowers because they have different kinds of mouth parts; some short and some long. Providing an array of native flowers ensures that there will be nectar for a variety of our pollinating friends. In addition, limiting the use of insecticides and herbicides can provide a safer landscape for pollinators to forage in, and plants for their young to live on. Providing items such as bee-blocks, homes for our native bees which provide breeding and rearing spaces, are also another important piece to the pollinator puzzle.

Find out more at:

North American Pollinator Protection Campaign
Working to protect the pollinators of the North American continent

USDA Forest Service Celebrating Wildflowers - Pollinators

Purple Boxes Hanging in Trees

It seems a lot of people are still curious about those purple boxes hanging from trees in the region. For those of you who don't know, they are Emerald Ash Borer traps. The state Department of Agriculture put them up to see if the destructive beetle has made it to this part of the state yet.

For more information, you can check out our previous posts on the topic HERE.

Car/Train Crash in Dunkirk

A Dunkirk man is at ECMC after a train hit his car Tuesday night at the Berry Road crossing. Chautauqua County Sheriff's Deputies say Nathan Lamattina's car was at the crossing when a CSX train hit it. The car was pushed into a ditch a short distance from the crossing. Lamattina was flown to ECMC for treatment of non-life threatening injuries. The investigation is continuing.

Pirates Sign Pitt-Bradford's Foster

The Pittsburgh Pirates have signed Pitt-Bradford’s Zach Foster. Foster went 3-1 on the mound in his junior year with a 5.40 ERA this past spring. Zach was chosen in the 49th round of the Major League Baseball Draft on June 6. Foster is the first player in the 12-year history of the Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference to be drafted into the majors.

Howard Charged with Manslaughter

A Corry woman has been charged with involuntary manslaughter in connection with an accident that killed her 6-year-old son. Authorities say 26-year-old Erin Howard's son, Sam Carpenter, was not wearing a seat belt when the car slammed into a creek bank outside Corry Saturday. He died from multiple blunt force injuries. State police on Tuesday charged Howard with involuntary manslaughter, drunken driving, child endangerment and other crimes. Howard was in Erie County Prison in lieu of $75,000 bail.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Ducks!

Admit it. You thought Scott and Frank were kidding about seeing the ducks in the morning, didn't you? Well, here are four of them in the Fretz athletic field ...

... and two more across the street at the Ecumenical Home.

Rendell's Energy-Saving Plans

Governor Ed Rendell today announced a number of initiatives the commonwealth will immediately make to reduce energy use, stimulate the renewable energy sector and cut costs.

“Rising energy prices affect every customer, including state government,” Governor Rendell said. “We need to make immediate, sweeping adjustments to the way state government operates to counter escalating gas prices and rising energy prices.

“The steps I am announcing today will reduce our environmental impact by using less energy, and helping to grow our renewable energy sector by purchasing more clean, renewable energy,” he said.

“I want all residents to have the tools they need to combat rising energy costs,” Governor Rendell said. “That’s why I have been encouraging the General Assembly for 18 months to pass the Energy Independence Strategy to protect consumers from the financial hardships of higher energy costs.”

An extensive energy reduction and conservation initiative in state office buildings that Governor Rendell called for in 2004 has reduced energy consumption by 10 percent annually.

“My goal is to have the commonwealth reduce its energy consumption by an additional 10 percent by the end of 2010,” Governor Rendell said. “Cutting energy consumption by 20 percent in just eight years is a very ambitious goal, but one that we can achieve by implementing these initiatives.”

ANF: Fishing Line Hazard
to Eagle, Osprey

Warren, Pa. – The Allegheny National Forest is home to the Bald Eagle, the nation’s symbol, and osprey, the raptor with the breathtaking dives to the water’s surface. At least four bald eagle nests are known to occur along the side hills on the Pennsylvania side of the Allegheny Reservoir and three nests have been identified along the Allegheny River; two nests are along Tionesta Creek. The shorelines along these waterways are vital food foraging areas for the eagles.

Fishing line, discarded along the shoreline of Allegheny National Forest waterways, is a potential hazard to foraging bald eagles and osprey.

“Bald Eagles and osprey can be easily injured by getting their feet entangled in discarded fishing line along the Allegheny Reservoir or Allegheny River,” said forest wildlife biologist Brad Nelson. “When their feet become entangled, they struggle to fly, become stressed and exhausted, and die” added Nelson.

Anglers can help ensure bald eagle safety by not discarding unwanted fishing line or lures on the shoreline. Anglers can take an additional step and pick up line and lures left behind by anglers using the area before them. Anglers are urged to dispose of unwanted line and lures in proper receptacles to not only keep the shores and waterways safe, but clean as well.

“Areas heavily fished by people are also attractive to the eagles for foraging,” said Nelson. “Frequently, eagles search for live fish in the same waters that anglers find productive,” added Nelson. Eagles and a variety of other shore birds also scavenge for dead fish along the shoreline. Popular fishing areas are often heavily littered with discarded line which can jeopardize the safety of these birds.

The bald eagle is a large bird that can reach a height of approximately three feet with a wing span of up to eight feet. Eagles live almost exclusively around lakes, rivers, or seashores making their nests in large trees, cliffs or rock outcrops in remote areas along the shoreline. Eagles partner with their mate for life and often use the same nest structure year after year. The number of eagles’ nests in northwestern Pennsylvania has expanded in recent years; Pennsylvania has 130 bald eagle nests. The bald eagle was recently removed from the federal threatened species list because the eagle population has increased.

Since the summer of 2000, Boy Scouts and other volunteers have been working with the Bradford Ranger District to clean up discarded fishing materials on the shoreline of heavily used fishing areas of the Allegheny Reservoir and Allegheny River. Individuals interested in volunteering for shoreline clean-up can contact the Bradford District office (814-362-4613) for further information.

Michael Jordan's Lawyer Says
Miceli Violated Court Order

An attorney representing former basketball star Michael Jordan has filed a petition in Crawford County court asking that Lisa Miceli of Meadville be found in contempt of a June 12 order that permanently barred her from having further contact with Jordan and a list of people close to him.

Jordan's lawyer says Miceli violated the order by sending Jordan six voice mail messages and one e-mail message on Friday that contained profane, racist and violent statements.

The permanent injunction was the result of a civil suit Jordan filed against Miceli in January.

Miceli claims Jordan is the father of her son and has repeatedly challenged the validity of paternity tests.

Scarnati Supports Tax Package

Senator Joe Scarnati (R-Jefferson) this week voted for a four-bill stimulus package that would offer almost $96 million in tax relief in the upcoming fiscal year for lower-income working Pennsylvanians, small businesses looking to expand and other job creators.

"The package approved by the Senate today is intended to make our economy more competitive and help low-income working Pennsylvanians who are struggling," Scarnati said. “It makes commonsense reforms to our tax laws that will help to encourage job expansion and retention.”

Among the measures approved are:

Senate Bill 1385 -- 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. The NOL expansion is projected to save Pennsylvania employers $21.5 million in Fiscal Year 2008-09, $68.4 million in Fiscal Year 2009-10, and $78.2 million in Fiscal Year 2010-11.

"Increasing the NOL cap would encourage businesses to expand their operation and create more jobs,” Scarnati said.

Senate Bill 1386 -- 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.

Currently, a family of four with a combined income of less than $32,000 pays no state income tax. Under SB 1386, families earning $37,000 or less would be exempt. That increase is projected to provide $74.6 million annually in savings to low-income working Pennsylvanians.

Scarnati noted that there has not been an increase in the base amount since 1998 and the dependent allowance has not been increased since 2003, the same year that Governor Rendell imposed his 10 percent personal income tax increase,

"With the skyrocketing cost of gas, and higher food and energy prices, low-income families are having a tough time making ends meet,” Scarnati said. “This bill would provide tax relief and help them keep more of their hard-earned dollars.”

Senate Bill 1387 -- 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 1387 would increase the maximum annual deduction to $50,000, which is projected to provide $6.6 million in savings to Pennsylvania's small businesses.

“This will provide a tax deduction to those small businesses that are purchasing equipment and machinery or looking to upgrade their facilities,” Scarnati said.

Senate Bill 1388, -- would amend Pennsylvania's Corporate Net Income Tax to expand the sales factor to 85 percent.

Scarnati explained that increasing the weight of the sales factor would help Pennsylvania companies that are based here, make their products in the state and employ state residents, as opposed to those companies that just sell their products here.

The bills now go to the House for consideration.

Pizza Delivery Driver Finds Unresponsive Couple

A couple found unresponsive in an Indiana County hotel room by a pizza delivery driver face charges relating to drug possession. The driver was attempting to make a delivery to a room Friday night when he found 23-year-old Steven Meholick of Reynoldsville and 23-year-old Kathleen Brown of Marienville unresponsive on their beds. Police and emergency medical personnel discovered drugs inside the room, and said Meholick and Brown were both under the influence of drugs. They are free on $5,000 bond each.

Man Indicted on Porn Charges

A Warren man has been indicted on two federal charges that he had child pornography on his computer from August 2007 to March of this year. 36-year-old Philip Regner Jr. is prohibited from having access to a computer or the Internet while he awaits prosecution. He is free on $5,000 unsecured bond.

DA: Mom Was DUI in Accident That Killed Her 6-Year-Old Son

Authorities say a Corry woman was driving drunk in an accident that killed her 6-year-old son on Saturday.

Erie County District Attorney Brad Foulk says state police are continuing to gather evidence and are considering filing charges against 26-year-old Erin Howard.

Howard's son, Sam Carpenter, was riding in the back seat of his mother's car at the time and was not wearing a seat belt.

He died of multiple blunt-force injuries when Howard's car left Stewart Road, near her house, and crashed into a creek bank.

Howard has been at Hamot Medical Center since Saturday, and is now listed in fair condition.

Benefit Dinner for
Fred Haskins & Ronda Skoken

A benefit dinner for Fred Haskins and Ronda Skoken -- kidney transplant pair - will be held Thursday, June 26, from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Otto Township Fire Hall.

Ronda will be flying to Tampa, Florida, to give her kidney so Fred can receive a kidney from a matching donor. These procedures will require a great deal of travel and expense.

Next Thursday's dinner includes roast beef, cole slaw, mashed potatoes with gravy, rolls and strawberry shortcake. Everyone is welcome. Donations will be accepted. Door prizes will be awarded.

The organizers "thank you in advance for your contributions in this amazing endeavor."

Fans Want Russert on Bills'
'Wall of Fame'

Buffalo, NY (WBEN) - A Buffalo Bills fan is pushing the team to honor Tim Russert by placing Russert's name on the Wall of Fame inside Ralph Wilson Stadium and the team has started to discuss the possibility in a very early, preliminary and informal way

"It is something we have even talked about inside the Bills after learning of his death," says Bills VP Scott Berchtold. "...basically it's just been hallway conversations, but I'm sure it will come up again."

Dan McCormick, a Niagara University grad, launched the online petition drive and as of this post he had more than 600 signatures on the site.

For the full story, go

To read and/or sign the petition, go HERE/

Police Search for Suspects

Chautauqua County Sheriff Deputies have released sketches of two murder suspects. The victim was 33 year old Quincy Turner of Jamestown who was shot to death in a parking lot in the Town of Ellicott on May 30. The two murder suspects are both described as Hispanic. One suspect is between 35-45 years of age, 5 feet 5 to 5 feet 7, 140-160 pounds, with brown eyes and dark greying hair. The second suspect is described as about 6 feet tall, 200 pounds, a large build with dark hair and dark eyes. Individuals Nos. 1 and 2 are thought to be directly involved in the Quincy Turner shooting. Individual No. 3 is wanted for questioning.

Monday, June 16, 2008

NY Plan to Eliminate Property Tax

The New York State Senate will act on major property tax relief legislation (S8522) that would result in the complete elimination of school property taxes in school districts that vote to phase them out over five years, with revenue replaced by additional State funding.

The plan, known as New York STOP TAXING OUR PROPERTY (NY-STOP), would reduce school property taxes by 20 percent a year until they are eliminated after five years, rather than simply capping property tax increases, as the Suozzi Commission has proposed.

The STOP TAXING OUR PROPERTY plan would: give school district voters the authority to eliminate residential property taxes over five years, with revenue replaced by additional State funding; and allow localities the option to put a local tax cap in place. Most importantly, STOP TAXING OUR PROPERTY would reduce taxes 20 percent a year rather than limit the year-to-year property tax increase to 4 percent.

Meanwhile, as part of STOP TAXING OUR PROPERTY, local school districts would also have the option to authorize a local property tax cap if district residents voted to do so through a petition and voting process, allowing localities to have the flexibility they need to address unique district-by-district challenges.

The plan would be paid for through existing revenue in the State Budget, just as the State satisfied the Campaign for Fiscal Equity (CFE) lawsuit and provided additional funding for New York and other high-needs school districts throughout the State. In addition, passage of NY-STOP would signal that the Legislature and Governor are committed to providing property tax relief to homeowners who are challenged by high property taxes, high gas prices, and the high costs of basic grocery staples like
bread, milk and eggs.

(Thanks to Matt Roberts for working late!)

Rendell Drank Obama Kool-Aid

PHILADELPHIA - One of the most ardent supporters of Hillary Clinton’s bid for the Democratic presidential nomination has disclosed the secret behind his now public support of Barack Obama: he drank the Kool-Aid.

Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, who often accused reporters of having “drunk the Obama Kool-Aid” during the nominating process, said he now has had some of the sweet drink himself.

At a fund-raising event on Friday, just a week after Clinton pulled out of the Democratic race, Rendell said that Obama supporters had brought him a big carton of Kool-Aid and told him to “drink up” when Obama became the nominee.

“I gave Senator Clinton $1,500 in the primary so I thought just for old-time sake I’d give Senator Obama $1,499,” Rendell said, sparking scattered boos from the crowd.

Rendell calmed them by saying “that was before I drank the Kool-Aid.” He said he has a check for $2,300 to give to the Obama campaign.

From Reuters

Tax Cuts Pass Senate

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Pennsylvania state senators approved a $240 million tax-cutting package as negotiators prepare to hash out a budget for the next fiscal year.

The four bills that passed Monday are a Republican plan to deliver relief to businesses and low-income taxpayers and to jump-start a sluggish economy.

But Democrats argued against the bills, saying now isn't the time to cut taxes, when the state is scrounging for money for existing programs.

Democratic Gov. Ed Rendell has proposed a $28 billion-plus budget for the budget year that begins July 1.

One of the Senate bills would lift the forgiveness limit on the state's personal income tax for the state's lowest-income workers.

Another would raise the cap on the losses that a business could carry forward to offset taxes on future profits.

Furlough Battle in the House

Republicans in the state House failed in efforts to force to a head the issue of potential furloughs of about 25,000 state employees. The GOP caucus fell one vote shy as they worked to advance legislation that would declare the entire state work force critical and therefore immune to being furloughed if the state has not enacted a new budget by the time the fiscal year ends June 30.

"All we're trying to do is to avoid laying off 25,000 workers and taking away their ability to feed their families," said Rep. John M. Perzel, R-Philadelphia. Republican leaders cried foul when they realized Democrats moved the bill — which had been amended to allow workers to be paid out of the Rainy Day Fund — off the floor.

"We should not worry about furloughs today — we should solve the budget problem today or tomorrow or the next day and then there will not be any furloughs," said Majority Leader Bill DeWeese, D-Greene. (Senate Bill 1122)

KDKA Radio Reporter Charged
with Taking Gun to Court

A Pittsburgh radio reporter is charged with trying to take a gun into the Allegheny County Courthouse. Rob Milford was arrested today after authorities at a courthouse screening station found a loaded handgun in his briefcase. Officials with KDKA say Milford is a general assignment reporter who was at the courthouse to cover a trial. He has worked at the station since 2006. This is the second time in a week that someone has been charged with bringing a gun to the courthouse. A witness on Thursday showed up at the courthouse with a gun in her purse.

Teen Sniffs Stolen Solvent

A Johnsonburg teenager is accused of stealing a chemical solvent from the St. Marys Wal-Mart this morning, then going into the parking lot and sniffing the solvent. Police say the 16-year-old boy was overcome by the chemical and blacked out, injuring the back of his head. He was taken to Elk Regional Health Center for treatment. Police say charges are pending.

Pierce Pleads Not Guilty

Stephanie Pierce has pleaded not guilty to murder and homicide charges in connection with the death of 3-year-old Ianna Maybee. An indictment against Pierce charges that between March 20 and 21 in Salamanca, she and Guy Maybee caused the death of Ianna Maybee. The matter has been adjourned for motions. Pierce is free on bail. Maybee has also pleaded not guilty and is in Cattaraugus County Jail on 300 thousand dollars bail.

Alumni Group Creates New Award

The University of Pittsburgh at Bradford has created a new award to recognize alumni for outstanding professional achievement and/or exemplary service to the community.

Nominations are currently being accepted for the first Pitt-Bradford Alumni Association Alumni Award of Distinction.

“This new award is a way for us to honor our alumni who are doing great things outside of their service to the university,” said Lindsay Hilton Retchless ’98, director of alumni relations. “There are so many deserving candidates who have made significant advancements in their careers and contributed their time and talents to their communities.”

The award will be presented during commencement exercises next April by Dr. Livingston Alexander, university president, and Stacey Sorokes Wallace ’00, who will become president of the PBAA in October.

“The fact that we will present this award during commencement is very important,” said Tim Fannin ’78, current president of the PBAA. “To our current graduates, it will highlight the achievements of their predecessors.”

The award is open to anyone who attended Pitt-Bradford, including those who went onto graduate from other institutions.

Candidates will be evaluated based on their outstanding level of professional achievement and their service to the community. Nominations will be reviewed by the awards committee of the alumni association’s board of directors, which will make its recommendations to the alumni board and its executive committee.

Nomination forms are available on Pitt-Bradford’s Web site at or from Retchless at or 814-362-5273.

The idea for creating the award came in 2006, when the alumni association discussed the possibility of establishing the award to honor distinguished graduates.

This isn’t the first award that the PBAA presents to a graduate. For the past several years, the alumni association has annually presented the Distinguished Volunteer Award to an alumnus or alumna who has enriched the university and the alumni association through volunteer efforts.

Former Officer Suing Borough

An ex-police officer in Renovo says he was fired unjustly after making two separate drunken driving arrests, one involving the son of a borough councilman. Adam Leiter says in a federal lawsuit that Councilman Richard Thompson pressured him to drop the charge against his son following the arrest in October 2006. Leiter says then-police Chief G. Jeffrey Bealer later directed a hospital to discard a blood sample from the younger Thompson, who was never charged. Leiter alleges he was fired a month later after another drunken driving arrest, this time the son of a borough employee. Leiter is suing borough council members and Bealer for unspecified damages. Thompson declined to comment. Bealer left the department in February and could not be reached for comment.

PGC Looks Forward to Court Ruling

HARRISBURG - Pennsylvania Game Commission Executive Director Carl G. Roe today welcomed the opportunity for the agency to present its case to Commonwealth Court to resolve, once and for all, the scientific foundation of its deer management program.

"We recognize that the Commonwealth's deer management program is viewed differently by many people, and there are those who do not support some of the current outcomes," Roe said. "However, as the Game Commission manages all wild birds and mammals and their habitats for current and future generations, we must do what is right for all based on the best science available.

"We look forward to a speedy trial with few continuances, and the opportunity to have our many expert witnesses expound on the scientific basis and soundness of our management plan. Likewise, as part of the process, those who filed this lawsuit will have to validate their claims by presenting their scientific evidence and expert witnesses."

Roe noted that the only troubling part of the process is the expected costs that will be incurred by the agency and, in turn, license buyers.

"At a time when the Game Commission hasn't received a license fee increase since 1999, and given the rising costs we are faced with to continue to fulfill our wildlife management mission, the agency can ill-afford travel costs and reimbursement fees to the state Office of Attorney General to litigate this case, which could be considerable by the end of the process," Roe said. "Additionally, we will be forced to redirect staff time and attention away from important research and projects to prepare for court proceedings and to provide testimony.

"However, at the end of the trial, we are confident that this debate over the scientific validity will be resolved once and for all."

Company Encouraged by
Marcellus Shale Tests

HOUSTON, June 16 (Reuters) - Rex Energy Corp (REXX.O: Quote, Profile, Research) on Monday said it was encouraged by initial production tests of a second well in the Marcellus shale in western Pennsylvania.

Rex also said its leasing efforts in the Marcellus showed positive results. As of June 16, Rex said its prospective acreage in the areas had grown to about 57,000 net acres.

"With the addition of approximately 10,000 acres since May 2008, we are getting closer to reaching our previously announced goal of expanding our Marcellus Shale prospective acreage to between 60,000 and 80,000 net acres by the end of 2008," Benjamin Hulburt, Rex Energy's chief executive officer, said.

A number of exploration and production companies are focusing efforts on developing "unconventional" fields in North America where oil and natural gas are locked in substances like shale.

The fields were once considered too costly to develop, but recent advances in technology and sky-high energy prices have changed the economics of drilling and heated up competition for acreage.

Shares of Rex rose nearly 3 percent, or 76 cents, to $28.10 on Nasdaq.

(Reporting by Anna Driver in Houston; editing by Jim Marshall)

Casey Urges Gas Price Investigation

WASHINGTON, DC– At a time when Pennsylvanians are faced with skyrocketing gas prices, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) today sent a letter to William Kovacic, Chairman of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) regarding the potential of price gouging and price manipulation.

“I hope that you and I can work together to give the FTC the tools it needs to investigate and help prosecute companies that are adopting questionable business strategies,” Senator Casey wrote. “The Unites States Congress and the FTC have an obligation to provide consumers with the assurance that whatever price they are paying at the pump, they can be certain they aren't being taken for a ride.”

In the letter, Senator Casey strongly urged the FTC to continue to audit and monitor activity on all aspects of the oil and gas market. Senator Casey also expressed his concerns that the ambiguity of the meaning of price gouging along with a very strict definition for what constitutes collusion on the market may be tying the hands of the FTC to investigate and correct unfair business practices that may further drive up the cost to Pennsylvanians.

Full text of the letter is below:

Dear Chairman Kovacic:

As gasoline, diesel, and home heating fuel prices continue to rise, Pennsylvanians are increasingly concerned that questionable business practices may be contributing to the price we are paying at the pump. I understand that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) completed a report which examined potential gasoline price gouging in 2006, as mandated by Congress. I further understand that the FTC found no evidence of price gouging or collusion in the market. In reviewing the FTC's study, however, it seemed that there were some price manipulations that occurred in 2005 and could be continuing today.

For example, the section of the FTC report on gas prices post-Hurricane Katrina found that, even with local and regional market differences taken into account, eight of the 30 oil refiners audited increased their prices at least five cents more than the national average. These same firms also reported increased profits, which logically means that the increased prices were not necessary to cover bottom line costs. The FTC accepted the refiners' reasoning that they were responding to "imprecise and changing perceptions of market conditions." While the FTC might not consider this "price gouging" per se, any attempt by oil producers, refiners, and retailers to manipulate prices for extra profit is a serious problem.

My reasons for writing to you are two-fold. First, I strongly urge the FTC to continue to audit and monitor activity on all aspects of the oil and gas market and to demand complete and thoughtful answers from companies whose stories just don't make sense. Second, I am deeply concerned that the ambiguity of the meaning of price gouging along with a very strict definition for what constitutes collusion on the market may be tying the hands of the FTC to investigate and correct unfair business practices that may further drive up the cost to Pennsylvanians. In an effort to provide the FTC with the tools it needs to protect consumers, the 2007 energy bill also required the FTC to create regulations concerning market manipulation. I would appreciate an update on the status of FTC’s process for creating and implementing this new regulation.

I hope that you and I can work together to give the FTC the tools it needs to investigate and help prosecute companies that are adopting questionable business strategies. The Unites States Congress and the FTC have an obligation to provide consumers with the assurance that whatever price they are paying at the pump, they can be certain they aren't being taken for a ride.


Robert P. Casey, Jr.
United States Senator