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Saturday, July 5, 2008

New Oil, Gas Legislation

New legislation establishing spacing requirements for natural gas wells and a streamlined permitting process will help rejuvenate the natural gas and oil industry and lead to economic revitalization across the Southern Tier, predicted State Sen. Cathy Young, who supports the legislation.

“From Chautauqua to Delaware County, more natural gas will be recovered, potentially triggering a billion-dollar investment in the upstate economy,” said Young, describing the Marcellus Shale gas deposits currently being developed from West Virginia to the Catskills.

She said New York’s natural gas market value is $500 million a year, with an estimated $64 million in royalty returns for landowners. An additional $20 million in state and local tax revenues could be generated.

Warren Man Accused of Sex Assault

A Warren man is in jail after being accused of sexually assaulting a 14-year-old girl. Police say 24-year-old Cory Friedman was drinking alcohol with a 14-year-old girl in his home about 1 a.m. on June 28. At some point, the two entered Friedman's bedroom where they engaged in sexual intercourse, according to police. Friedman is charged with statutory sexual assault, indecent sexual assault, corruption of minors and furnishing alcohol to minors.

Rendell Expected to Sign
Great Lakes Compact Bill

As soon as Governor Ed Rendell signs the bill, Pennsylvania will become the last of eight Great Lakes states to adopt a compact to protect and manage water in the lakes.

The Great Lakes Compact still requires approval from Congress and the president to become law. In Canada, Ontario and Quebec also have adopted laws nearly identical to the compact.

The compact would prohibit piping or shipping Great Lakes water outside the system's drainage basin. The states would also be required to adopt plans to improve water quality, protect ecosystems and ensure that using the water doesn't threaten the water supply.

Lakes Erie, Huron, Michigan, Ontario and Superior provide one-fifth of the world's fresh-water supply.

Armstrong on Necessity of Borrowing

Across Pennsylvania, thousands of projects need to be done. Some for economic reasons. Some for environmental reasons. Some to meet community development hopes. Others to address public safety.

With the national economy slumping, and with state revenues tightening, there is simply no way to carry out these responsibilities on a pay-as-we-go basis.

We have a borrowing package that contains four major pieces: bridges; water, sewer, and dams; community redevelopment; and energy development. The money is aimed at core responsibilities of state government. Given the fiscally conservative approach to recent budgets, debt is not taken on casually. There are sound reasons for borrowing now.

No one disputes that Pennsylvania has a boatload of bridges, or that many of them are in bad shape. Funny thing about bridges – they refuse to get better if you neglect them. Repairs on hundreds of bridges are riding on the borrowing we are set to authorize.

The sewer upgrades must happen. To address orders to deal with combined system overflows. To comply with Chesapeake Bay cleanup mandates. There is no getting around the work. Without state money to defray the cost, a smaller group of ratepayers will get socked with the full load.

Deferring dam projects means risking disaster. Deferring industrial projects on brownfields means kissing opportunity and jobs goodbye. Deferring on energy projects means that new products, better fuel efficiency, and consumer cost savings will take place elsewhere.

Whatever does not get done now, will cost much more later. Interest costs will be going up. Construction material costs are climbing at rates far above any cost-of-living measure. So it is not going to be cheaper to do any of these things next year or the year after that.

In doing the balance sheet, we must count the community costs imposed by inaction. When bridges are shut down, or low load limits are posted, the detours cost motorists and shippers more money. And it is worse in times of rising fuel prices. So going cold turkey on debt is not cost-free.

The amount to be borrowed is reasonable and responsible. Pennsylvania's debt service is nowhere near the crippling levels of the 1970s. And on the plus side, the construction activity financed, the materials and supplies bought, and the wages paid, will soften the economic slump starting to hit our state hard.

Senator Gib Armstrong
Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee

Lawmakers Approve Expanded KOZs

Legislation sponsored by Sen. John Pippy (R-37) to expand programs that use tax abatements to attract employers to Pennsylvania communities has been approved by the General Assembly and sent to the governor to be signed into law.

Senate Bill 1412 amends the Keystone Opportunity Zone, Keystone Opportunity Expansion Zone and Keystone Opportunity Improvement Zone Act to create 15 more KOEZ sites. It also extends the duration of the designation for seven to 10 years, depending on the project.

“The extension will provide an incentive to attract businesses to locate on previously unoccupied parcels and to provide a meaningful period of tax exemption,” said Pippy, who chairs the Senate Urban Affairs and Housing Committee and worked with the state Department of Community and Economic Development to develop the legislation.

The bill also addresses zones where an endangered species or other environmental concern is discovered that would prohibit development. The measure would allow DCED to replace such sites with nearby parcels to allow development to go forward.

The bill also prohibits a person receiving tax exemptions from knowingly allowing illegal aliens to work in the zone.

The Keystone Opportunity Zone, Keystone Opportunity Expansion Zone and Keystone Opportunity Improvement Zone Act was originally enacted in 1998.

Senate Republican Communications

PA's New Energy Measures

Details of the alternative energy, fuels and conservation measures approved Friday by state lawmakers.

SPENDING:

• $285 million in grants and loans to help businesses and local governments develop, make and use alternative energies and fuels and energy-efficient systems.

• $100 million in loans, grants or rebates to help homeowners and small business owners buy and install solar panels.

• $25 million in grants to owners of smaller coal-fired power plants to help buy equipment to meet stricter pollution standards.

• $40 million over four years to help lower income residents pay their heating bills.

• $25 million in loans and grants to makers of wind power and geothermal heat equipment.

• $25 million in loans and grants to individuals and small businesses to create high-performance energy efficient homes and buildings.

• $92.5 million in loans, grants or rebates over eight years to homeowners and small business owners for energy conservation and efficiency projects.

• $50 million in tax credits over eight years to businesses to develop, make and use alternative energies and fuels.

• $5 million in loans to low-income homeowners for energy-efficiency improvements.

• $5.3 million to producers of biodiesel as a 75-cent per-gallon subsidy for each gallon sold.


FUELS MANDATE:

• A gallon of diesel sold in Pennsylvania must contain: 2 percent biodiesel if in-state biodiesel production reaches 40 million gallons a year; 5 percent if in-state production reaches 100 million gallons a year; 10 percent if in-state production reaches 200 million gallons a year; 20 percent if in-state production reaches 400 million gallons a year.

• A gallon of gas sold in Pennsylvania must contain 10 percent cellulosic ethanol if in-state production of cellulosic ethanol reaches 350 million gallons a year. Corn-based ethanol is excluded.

Source: Senate Republican Communications

Details on State Budget

Details of the 2008-09 state budget signed by Governor Ed Rendell on Friday.

BUDGET

• Nearly $28.3 billion for fiscal year 2008-09, which started Tuesday.

• $1 billion increase (4 percent) over last year's approved spending; $72.4 million less than Rendell's original proposal.

• Does not require any broad-based tax or fee increases; does not dip into state's budget reserve (The Rainy Day Fund).

• Uses more than $500 million in one-time sources to prop up flagging revenue.

SPENDING

• $274 million increase (5.5 percent) for public schools; each district gets at least 3 percent more; Bradford Area School District gets 6 percent

• $65 million increase (40 percent) for charter schools.

• $633 million increase (6.6 percent) for the Department of Public Welfare, including health care for the poor, families with children and services for the mentally retarded and disabled.

• Nearly $50 million increase (5 percent) for debt payments.

• $90.6 million cut (20 percent) in state contribution to school employee pension fund.

• $45 million cut (50 percent) in program to buy laptop computers for high school classrooms.

BORROWING

• $800 million, repaid from slot-machine gambling revenues, for dams and water and sewer systems over two years.

• $500 million, repaid from electric utility gross receipts tax revenue, for alternative energy projects over two years.

• $800 million, repaid from general tax revenues, for civic redevelopment projects over four years.

• $350 million, repaid from motorist fees and taxes, to fix about 400 of the state's most dangerous bridges.

• $15 million, repaid from motorist fees and taxes, to improve airports and railways.

• $400 million, repaid from general tax revenues, to improve water and sewer systems (must be approved by voters).

Sources: Governor's Office, Senate Republicans, House Democrats

Lawmaker: Turnpike Lease is Dead

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — The chairman of the state House Transportation Committee said Friday that Gov. Ed Rendell's plan to lease the Pennsylvania Turnpike — in what would be the nation's largest infrastructure deal — is essentially dead.

Rep. Joseph Markosek, D-Allegheny, said legislation that would authorize the proposed $12.8 billion lease will not get a vote in the committee he heads or on the House floor.

Markosek said there is very little support for the deal in the House and he believes it is time to focus on other aspects of state transportation policy.

For the fully story, go to pennlive.com

Lovin' the News

My job is so cool. For as long as I can remember, I've enjoyed telling people about the news. My first vivid memory of this is when I found out Lyndon Johnson wasn't running for re-election. This was back when there was a Buffalo Evening News and it was delivered to our door. Anyway, I remember getting the paper, reading the story and running to the kitchen where my Mom was cooking dinner to tell her that President Johnson wasn't running. I was 7.

40 years later (yeah, I'm admitting it) my actual job is what I've wanted to do, and have been doing, since I was a kid -- gathering news and telling people about it.

On Friday after I finished talking to Scott Hamilton about the "Capitol Fourth" on PBS, I started thinking about all the people I've interviewed this year for The LiveLine and Weekend Wrap, who have also been on the "Today" show and "Good Morning America" and "The Late Show" and "Oprah" and ... Well, you get the idea. I realized -- again -- how cool my job is. (This list doesn't include local/state people.)

Mark Mathis, producer of "Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed;"
Alexandra Stoddard, author and TV personality
John Grisham, author
Lauren Belfer, author
Mary Steenbergen, actress
Senator Arlen Specter
Congressman John Peterson
Debbie Macomber, author
Nancy Amanda Redd, author and former Miss Virginia
David Poyer, author
Lisa Oz. (I actually got to talk to Dr. Oz, but he was on his way to a conference so he couldn't do the interview. Lisa was great, though.)
Wiley "The Salad Man" Mullins
Scott Hamilton, Olympic gold medalist

I wasn't going to mention the state people, but I will mention a couple after all. Besides Joe Scarnati and Marty Causer, who are frequent guests (not frequent enough!), I also interviewed Attorney General Tom Corbett and Department of Community and Economic Development Secretary Dennis Yablonsky.

If I started talking about all the local people I've interviewed, and why that's so much fun, I'd be writing until Monday (when my LiveLine guest will be author of "Practically Posh," Robyn Moreno. So, thanks to all the newsmakers who make my job fun.

Actually, it wasn't right after I talked to Scott Hamilton that was thinking about this. I was channel surfing yesterday afternoon and saw Mike Cejka -- talk to him all the time; Mike Randall -- left a comment on the blog; Joe Scarnati; Chris Hansen -- interviewed him, and had my picture taken with him; Crystal Gayle -- interviewed her; Neil Cavuto -- went to college with him. That was just kind of neat.

Snuck it Through?

I just read a comment on another site that said PA state legislators "snuck (the budget) through" on the 4th of July. Excuse me, but I had heard all week long that they were going to work through the 4th of July if they had to in order to get the budget done. Even if I hadn't heard that from people I know, it was in all the newspapers I read (on the Internet), as well as radio and television Web sites, and PCN and RadioPA on the air. (I'm sure I'm not the only person who ran the RadioPA story and newscast). So, "snuck it through?" I hardly think so.

Am I totally happy with the budget? Nope. But I have to agree with Marty Causer that it was a "reasonable compromise."

Friday, July 4, 2008

Rendell Signs Budget

Governor Ed Rendell has signed a state budget that boosts education spending and borrows for energy, infrastructure and economic development projects.

"We did an awful lot in this session, an awful lot that will improve the lives of ordinary Pennsylvanians," Rendell said at an early evening bill signing ceremony Friday in the Capitol.

The nearly $28.3 billion in spending represents an increase of about $1 billion over the just-ended fiscal year, with more than 90 percent of that increase going to education and social services.

Public schools will get an unprecedented $274 million increase, or 5.5 percent, for operations and instruction. An additional $65 million, up 40 percent, will go to charter schools.

But even with the extra money for schools, Senator Joe Scarnati said, "There are no new taxes and there are no increases in taxes. It continues a major phase out in cuts in the job creation taxes – almost a quarter billion dollars in tax cuts for our job creators."

"We have limited the growth in spending," Scarnati added, "and that's extremely important because as we continue through this declining revenue period that the whole nation is in we have to make sure that when we get to next July we're not in a position where we have to raise taxes and we find lack of revenue for essential state programs."

Rendell called it "a very good budget, a great budget indeed. I'm pleased to sign it."

Causer Supports 2008-09 Budget as Reasonable Compromise

The Bradford Area School District will see a 6 percent increase in its Basic Education Funding Subsidy for 2008-09 from the state, while other districts in the area will receive three percent.

These figures were provided Friday by State Representative Marty Causer after the Legislature passed the state budget.

School District Basic Education Funding Subsidy for 2008-09 Percentage Increase over 2007-08 Funding:
Austin Area: $1.16 million, 3 percent
Bradford Area: $12.25 million, 6 percent
Cameron County: $5.17 million, 3 percent
Coudersport Area: $4.03 million, 3 percent
Galeton Area: $2.02 million, 3 percent
Keystone Central: $19 million, 3 percent
Northern Potter: $4.12 million, 3 percent
Oswayo Valley: $3.46 million, 3 percent
Otto-Eldred: $5.38 million, 3 percent
Port Allegany: $6.93 million, 3 percent
Smethport Area: $6.16 million, 3 percent

Causer voted in favor of the $28.26 billion plan that represents a 3.98 percent increase in spending over last year's budget but falls below the anticipated 4.4 percent rate of inflation for the 2008-09 fiscal year.

"House and Senate Republicans were able to work together to negotiate a plan that spends more than $100 million less than what the governor and House Democrats were pushing," Causer said. "Just as importantly, this budget includes no new taxes or fees, and we were able to stop the administration from raiding the Rainy Day Fund to pay for the governor's pet projects.

"Given the state of the national economy, and a recent downturn in state revenue collections, I believe it was vital to protect the Rainy Day fund in case we need it in the future," he added.

The Rainy Day Fund is a sort of savings account designed to help balance the budget in the event of a drastic downturn in the economy. Given that the state ended the 2007-08 fiscal year with a $167 million surplus, Causer said any use of the existing Rainy Day Fund balance would have been irresponsible.

In addition to getting the governor to agree to leave the Rainy Day Fund alone, lawmakers also successfully worked with the administration to make across-the-board cuts of 1.3 percent of all non-mandated budget line items. That cut more than $500 million from the original budget proposal. Some of that money was then shifted to items that had been zero-funded by the governor, including the popular and very effective Science in Motion program.

"I am very pleased that we were not only able to restore funding to Science in Motion but also to increase its funding to $2.7 million, an increase of $162,000 over last year," Causer said. "This will go a long way toward ensuring students in our rural school districts get the very best science education opportunities."

Another positive in this year's budget was a change in the education funding proposal originally offered by Gov. Ed Rendell. Instead of sending a lot of money to the Philadelphia School District and giving many rural schools just 1.5 percent more than they got last year, the budget passed today ensures every district gets at least a 3 percent increase in basic education funding. That allowed an increase in funding to more than half (238) of the state's 501 school districts.

"I felt strongly that the governor's plan failed to provide a fair level of support to many of our rural schools," Causer said. "I believe we still need to do more to ensure our rural students continue to get the educational opportunities they need and deserve, but this year's change was a step in the right direction."

State Representative Kathy Rapp said the 3 percent increase is "at least a better increase than the (1.5 percent) the rural districts were getting" when the budget process started.

"I'm very pleased to have that victory," she said.

Causer also noted that while the governor's original budget proposal called for nearly $4.4 billion in borrowing, Republicans negotiated that down to $2.9 billion and targeted the funding toward infrastructure improvement efforts, such as roads, bridges, water and sewer projects that are important to enhancing the state's economic competitiveness.

Former Sen Jesse Helms is Dead

Former U.S. Sen. Jesse Helms, a North Carolina Republican who became an icon to conservatives, died today at the age of 86, a senior congressional source told CNN. The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, announced on its Web site that he died at 1:18 a.m. after having been ill in recent years.

DA Pavlock Hopes Arrests
'Put a Dent in the Drug Trade'

By ANNE HOLLIDAY
WESB/WBRR News Director


McKean County District attorney John Pavlock says he hopes the arrests of 14 people this week on drug charges sends a message.

"I hope it puts a dent in the drug trade," Pavlock told WESB/WBRR on Thursday afternoon. "Of course I know it's not going to stop the drug trade. I wish it would, but I'm not that naïve."

"But it should make people out there who are selling drugs and peddling the stuff nervous that we are doing what we can, that there's cooperation here to address the problem and that resulted in the activity that occurred (Thursday)," Pavlock said.

Pavlock said the arrests of three people Tuesday and 11 people Thursday were the result of a months-long investigation by a number of officers in the McKean County Drug Task Force.

Pavlock said the county administers the program "but individual officers work overtime on it – officers from departments all throughout the county and they really worked hard involving these cases."

He said the arrests involved surveillance, purchases of illegal narcotics and pulling a lot of information together.

Pavlock added that he greatly appreciates the cooperation and assistance they received from the Bradford City Police Department, including the Street Crimes Unit and the Emergency Response Team "that those guys pulled together."

He said the Emergency Response Team is "trained to deal with these situations where they're going into a potential dangerous situation involving guns and drugs and the drug trade, and they did an excellent job."

Some of the 14 people were picked up for allegedly selling crack cocaine. Others allegedly sold marijuana and different kinds of prescription pills. Their preliminary hearings are scheduled for later this month. Arrest warrants have been issued for four more people.

PA's Landmark Autism Legislation

Senator Jane Orie (R-Allegheny) hailed passage of landmark and national model legislation that would require Pennsylvania insurance companies, for the first time, to cover treatment for a wide spectrum of autism disorders. House Bill 1150 passed the Senate by a vote of 49 to 1. The Governor has indicated his support and intention to sign this legislation into law. It will be one of the strongest insurance mandates for autism yet achieved in the nation.

Orie said the legislation provides $36,000 a year for Applied Behavior Analysis and other medically necessary treatments up to age 21, with no lifetime cap. It also creates an expedited appeals procedure for denied claims for autism services, as a safeguard to ensure the law is followed.

"Autism is one of the most serious developmental disorders in the country today and is more prevalent than pediatric AIDS, diabetes, and cancer combined. According to recent studies, there is a 1 in 150 occurrence of autism in children and that number is steadily growing each year," Orie said. "Because of these high numbers and of the importance of early diagnosis, it is essential that something be done to help families deal with the high costs of treatments."

House Bill 1150 amends the PA Insurance Company Law to reach out and help families by providing insurance for autism spectrum disorders. Insurance companies would be required to cover diagnosis, treatments and other quality health care procedures.

"This bill will end discrimination for individuals with autism, and provides them the same medical necessity standards provided to those with cancer, diabetes, and other illnesses," Orie said. "Individuals with autism deserve the same quality of care that all those with chronic and severe health conditions receive."

"Today we voted for the second time in just the past few days on this legislation, and with the technical amendment adopted in the House, which Senator Don White and I supported, Pennsylvania will become the eighth state in the nation to provide for this important coverage."

Orie commended Senator Don White and Senator Michael Stack, Chairmen of the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee, House Speaker Denny O'Brien (prime sponsor of House Bill 1150), and autism advocacy groups, including Autism Speaks, for their efforts to pass the legislation – saying Pennsylvania will be a national leader in the fight to help those with autism and this is a tremendous milestone.

Larry 'Bozo' Harmon is Dead

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Larry Harmon, who turned the character Bozo the Clown into a show-business staple that delighted children for more than a half-century, died Thursday of congestive heart failure. He was 83. His publicist, Jerry Digney, told The Associated Press that Harmon died at his home. Although not the original Bozo, Harmon portrayed the popular clown in countless appearances and, as an entrepreneur, he licensed the character to others, particularly dozens of television stations around the country. The stations in turn hired actors to be their local Bozos. The business — combining animation, licensing of the character, and personal ppearances — made millions, as Harmon trained more than 200 Bozos over the years to represent him in local markets.

Happy Birthday Bob!



Happy Birthday to Bradford City Councilman Bob Onuffer!
(For those of you who don't know, he's on the left ... and this is the only picture I have of him.)

AG: Avoid Fuel-Related Scams

HARRISBURG — Attorney General Tom Corbett is urging consumers to avoid gasoline or fuel economy scams, identify bargains, report problems and take steps to maximize the fuel efficiency of their vehicles.

“With gas and diesel fuel prices at record highs, it is more important than ever for consumers to shop wisely, conserve whenever possible and report fuel-related problems or scams as soon as they appear,” Corbett said.

Corbett warned consumers to be wary of fuel efficiency scams, disguised as gas-savings devices or fuel additives.

“There is no magic way to instantly boost your vehicle's fuel efficiency, so be careful before you spend money on additives, devices or other products that promise dramatically better gas mileage,” Corbett said. “These gimmicks or gadgets may give you little or no return on your investment, and may also damage your car or void your warranty.”

Corbett added that there are free and easy ways that every driver can increase their mileage, like making sure your tires are properly inflated, changing oil and filters when recommended, avoiding quick starts and stops and not letting your engine idle for long periods of time. According to fuel economy experts, driving sensibly can increase your fuel economy up to 33-percent, depending on the vehicle you drive and the type of driving you do.

Corbett encouraged consumers to comparison shop for gasoline, whose price can vary widely depending on what part of the state you’re in, or where you happen to be traveling. Additionally, consumers should check to see if the station is offering a discount for cash purchases or other price reductions, such as a reward or customer loyalty program.

“A few minutes checking prices or researching discount programs can save you a substantial amount at the pump,” Corbett said.

Additionally, Corbett said that consumers should be watchful during their purchase – verifying that the price they are being charged matches the price that is shown on the service station’s sign, as well as the price displayed on the pump.

“Stations cannot lure consumers in with one price, only to charge a higher price at the pump,” Corbett said. “If a gas station is charging a different price for cash or credit purchases, they need to clearly post those prices so that consumers understand exactly what they’ll be paying before they start pumping gas.”

Finally, Corbett urged consumers to be watchful for sudden performance problems with their vehicles – especially problems that happen immediately after buying fuel.

“Over the past several weeks we have received reports from drivers having potential problems with contaminated gasoline,” Corbett said. “Particles or sediment in fuel may lower your fuel efficiency or cause other engine problems, like stalling or failure to start.”

Corbett said that although problems related to contaminated fuel are still relatively rare, it is important for consumers to have a dealership or repair shop immediately investigate any fuel-related problem, thoroughly document the situation and save samples for possible testing.

Corbett noted that additional information about fuel economy, including fuel mileage information for various new and used vehicles along with tips for improving fuel mileage are available at: http://www.fueleconomy.gov/. (This website is operated by the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency)

Information about the testing of various “fuel saving” devices is available from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (http://www.epa.gov/oms/consumer/reports.htm) and the Federal Trade Commission (http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/autos/aut10.shtm).

Corbett said that consumers with questions or concerns about gas pricing, gasoline-related scams or other consumer issues can contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Hotline at 1-800-441-2555, or visit the Attorney General’s website to submit an online consumer complaint, at www.attorneygeneral.gov.(Highlight the “Complaints” button on the front page of the website and select “Consumer Complaints” from the drop-down menu).

Newborn Screening Bill Approved

The state Senate on Thursday approved legislation that would expand Pennsylvania’s Newborn Screening and Follow-up Program to include 29 “core” genetic conditions that are serious but treatable if caught early, according to Sen. Jane Orie (R-Allegheny). Orie, who sponsored a Senate version of House Bill 883, said the measure is crucial to saving lives and helping children who are born with life-threatening genetic conditions and their families.

“Each and every baby born in our state deserves the opportunity for a healthy start,” Orie said. “Newborn screening is a vital public health tool that provides early identification and treatment for infants affected by certain metabolic, hormonal, genetic or functional disorders. It’s time for Pennsylvania to act on behalf of our smallest and youngest citizens and their families by supporting this bill.”

Last month, the senator joined former Buffalo Bills quarterback Jim Kelly at a press conference to urge members of the legislature to approve this important legislation. Kelly and his wife Jill founded Hunter’s Hope Foundation, in honor of his son, to increase awareness about newborn diseases and to support funding for research on treatments and cures.

Thanks in part to that foundation, newborn screening legislation was signed into law by President Bush on April 24, 2007. The bill created national standards by expanding screenings of newborn babies and authorizing a grant program to expand funding to state and local health agencies.

“Currently, Pennsylvania only provides for services, referrals, and confirmatory testing for only a fraction of the metabolic conditions as well as hearing,” Orie said. “Expanding the follow-up services will help to save lives and reduce long-term medical costs.”

NBA Coming Back to Buffalo?

The NBA could be coming back to Buffalo – at least for a few games. Senator Chuck Schumer and Buffalo News publisher Stanford Lipsey are in talks with the owners of the Toronto Raptors about playing some games in Buffalo. Schumer says the Raptors and the NBA seem to like the idea. Schumer calls it a reciprocal relationship, since the Bills will play some games in Toronto. Schumer says it's too late for games in Buffalo this NBA season, but is looking for a game next year. The Buffalo Braves played in the NBA from 1970 through 1978 before moving to San Diego. During their time in Buffalo, the Braves played several regular season games at Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto.

Man Sentenced on Drug Charges

A Jamestown man has been sentenced to four years and nine months in federal prison for arranging for the distribution of crack cocaine. 22-year-old Rocco Beardsley used a telephone to contact Adrian W. Yarborough to obtain and distribute quantities of crack cocaine that Yarborough obtained in Buffalo, authorities said. Yarborough, whose group purchased cocaine in Buffalo and ran several crack houses in Jamestown, was sentenced in the spring to 15 years in prison.
10 other co-conspirators have also pleaded guilty.

Space Station

News 4 Meteorologist Mike Cejka tells us that if we're up early Saturday morning -- 4:57 a.m. -- we'll be able to see the International Space Station in the sky.

Before the Rains Came


Before it started raining on Friday, we got a picture of crews continuing work on the Bradford Streetscape project at the intersection of Davis and Boylston streets. In my opinion, it's looking great down there so far. I'm excited to see the finished product.

Hearing in Jordan/Micelli Case

Profanity laced voice mails full of threats against former NBA superstar Michael Jordan and his attorney were used as evidence in a hearing Thursday. Jordan's attorney says the voice mails were left by Lisa Micelli of Meadville, who claims Jordan is the father of her child. But two paternity tests have proven otherwise. The court ordered Micelli to leave Jordan and his associates alone. Now, Jordan is claiming Micelli is in contempt of court because of the voice mails left for his lawyer. After several hours of legal arguments and listening to voice mails, the hearing was continued until later this month.

Senecas Can Keep Building Casino

A New York state Supreme Court judge says the Seneca Nation of Indians can keep building a casino in Buffalo's Cobblestone District. A lawsuit filed by casino opponents was dismissed Thursday. The opponents took issue with the environmental studies that were done on the land, and the way the Senecas acquired the land to build the casino on. A group of Buffalo residents sued the City of Buffalo to try to stop the casino from being built. A temporary casino is open now and construction on the full casino should be finished sometime in 2010.

Boating Act Causing Controversy

The proposed federal Clean Boating Act of 2008 is creating controversy in the boating community, because of the cost of a permit boaters would have to buy, and a fine of $32,500 violators would have to pay. EPA officials deny that a fine was ever part of the plan, and say that while they have no intention of charging a fee for the permits, each state may choose to tack on fees. According to the EPA, the original reason for the regulations were to avoid the spreading of an invasive species that can travel in the ballast water of large ships into U.S. waters. Now the EPA will have to develop permits that effect not only foreign ships, but U.S. ships and recreational boats. The EPA estimates that the proposed permits may affect 8,000 foreign vessels, 91,000 domestic vessels and 13 million recreational boats.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Drug Sweep in Bradford

Six people have been arraigned so far today following a drug sweep in Bradford by the Bradford City Police Emergency Response Team and McKean County Drug Task Force.
Among the people arraigned are 42-year-old Thomas Barnes of East Main Street who is accused of selling dihydrocodeinone pills to a confidential informant on May 16 and June 13; 32-year-old Mitchell Gross of Rockland Avenue who is accused of selling Ridalin pills to a confidential informant on May 9; 19-year-old Shandon Langianese of Constitution Avenue who is accused of selling marijuana to a confidential informant on June 9; 24-year-old Richard Griesbuam and 21-year-old David McGarry of Jackson Avenue who are accused of selling marijuana to a confidential informant on March 25; and 30-year-old Harley Sellers of Chautauqua Place who is accused of selling dihydrocodeinone pills to a confidential informant on March 19 and crack cocaine on January 18.

Also arrested Thursday were 19-year-old Jacquelyn Horton of Kiwanis Court, 67-year-old Russell Passauer Jr. of East Main Street, 36-year-old Jeffrey Bartholomew of Kiwanis Court; 32-year-old Rico Bizzak of Kane and J ulie Bizzak of Kane.

Warrants have also been issued for four more people.

Man Charged in Road Rage Incident

A Mahaffey man charged for an alleged incident of road rage waived his right to a preliminary hearing Wednesday. 47-year-old Harold Keener Jr. is accused of firing a gun at a vehicle that passed him on Route 219 on Christmas Eve of last year. Keener then allegedly followed the vehicle until it reached its destination. He allegedly pulled in beside the car, got out and pointed the gun at one of the passengers. At first Keener denied any knowledge of the incident, but later recalled that a boy in the car threw something at him as the car passed. He's free on bail on the condition that he have no contact with the victims and that he leaves his gun home.

Bonnies' A-10 Schedule Released

ST. BONAVENTURE, N.Y. — Four teams that made postseason appearances a year ago, including two NCAA Tournament participants, highlight St. Bonaventure’s Atlantic10 Conference opponents that will visit Bob Lanier Court at the Reilly Center, announced by the league office on Wednesday.

The conference also unveiled each team’s new travel partners. The Bonnies will play a home-and-home contest with Duquesne, Fordham and Saint Joseph’s.

“The A-10 is such a strong conference that any team that you play, whether it’s home or away, is going to be a battle,” Schmidt said. “It’s exciting for our fans to be able to see us compete against quality teams and cheer our guys on.”

Headlining that quartet of 2008 postseason teams entering Bob Lanier Court will be Elite Eight participant and A-10 Regular Season Champ Xavier. The Musketeers finished No. 12 in the final Associated Press Poll after accumulating a program record 30 wins. Schmidt was an assistant coach at Xavier for seven seasons under the late Skip Prosser.

Joining the Xavier on the Brown and White’s home slate is fellow NCAA Tournament participant and A-10 Tournament runner-up Saint Joseph’s, Charlotte (NIT), Massachusetts (NIT), Duquesne, Fordham, La Salle and Saint Louis. The Hawks at-large bid in 2008, was their first NCAA Tournament appearance since their magical Elite Eight run in 2004. It will be Charlotte’s third visit to St. Bonaventure since joining the conference in 2005, while the Minutemen will visit for the first time since 2006. Massachusetts will be led by first year head coach Derek Kellogg, who returns to his alma mater after helping Memphis advance to the National Championship game this past season as an assistant.

The road slate will prove just as daunting for the Brown and White as they return the visit to Saint Joseph’s, while also facing fellow Philly school and NCAA Tournament participant Temple. The Owls captured the A-10 Tournament crown after finish second in regular season play.

The Bonnies will also visit NIT participants Dayton and Rhode Island while traveling to Duquesne, Fordham, George Washington and Richmond.

Dates and times for the 16 conference contests, along with the non-conference portion of the schedule, will be released at a later date.

Atlantic 10 Opponents:

Home: Charlotte, Duquesne, Fordham, La Salle, Massachusetts, Saint Joseph’s, Saint Louis and Xavier

Road: Dayton, Duquesne, Fordham, George Washington, Rhode Island, Richmond, Saint Joseph’s and Temple

'Let Freedom Ring' Day

State Senator Connie Williams of Montgomery County has sponsored a Senate Resolution observing July 4th as Let Freedom Ring Day.

Here are her Senate Floor remarks on the resolution:

The history of our nation is one of hard work, versatility and tenacity. Over the years, the people of the United States have come together under the one great symbol of our freedom and independence – the United States flag.

Since 2001, July 4th has taken on even greater meaning in the hearts and minds of Americans and of Pennsylvanians, as we send our prayers and well wishes to those who are defending and protecting our country on foreign soil.

On July 4th, 2008, Pennsylvanians can do something, which on its own appears seemingly insignificant, but in concert will become a symphony – ring a bell.

Today, I ask you to support a resolution to observe July 4, 2008, as the 40th anniversary of “Let Freedom Ring Day” in Pennsylvania, and to encourage every Pennsylvanian to participate in the National Bell Ringing Ceremony that will occur that day.

Bell ringing announced our Declaration of Independence in 1776 in Philadelphia at the Liberty Bell. Congress established the national bell ringing ceremony in 1963 to remind Americans of the bravery, courage, commitment and wisdom of the men and women who fought to create and preserve this nation. The Pennsylvania Society Sons of the Revolution now sponsors the “Let Freedom Ring” National Bell Ringing Ceremony each year on July 4th.

All Pennsylvanians are encouraged to participate by ringing a bell 13 times at 2 p.m. on July 4th to observe the meaning and spirit of Independence Day.

Those who participate will not be alone, in fact bells this year will be rung at thousands of locations around the country, including Independence Hall in Philadelphia, where eight children who are direct descendants of the Signer will gently tap the Liberty Bell 13 times to honor the sacrifices of the Patriots that secured our freedom.

In all, 800 satellite ceremonies, thousands of bell sites and more than 10,000 individuals will be involved in this year's 40th anniversary. At the Betsy Ross House, 13 children will be sworn in as new citizens, and then, together with children from the Children of the American Revolution, will ring a bell. The bell will ring at the USS Arizona Memorial, on the USS Missouri and at the Alamo in San Antonio.

In the Philadelphia area, bells will be rung at Christ Church, and St. Peters. Bells will be rung at churches, synagogues, government buildings and carillons across the Commonwealth and around the country.

We fought long and hard to establish independence, and we must continue our vigilance to ensure those freedoms continue. To observe the meaning and spirit of Independence Day, I encourage every Pennsylvanian to ring a bell 13 times at 2 p.m. on July 4th, and I ask for your support of the resolution declaring July 4th as “Let Freedom Ring” Day in Pennsylvania.

Man Indicted for Homicide

A Rochester-area man has been indicted on a charge of criminally negligent homicide in connection with a hunting accident in December. 39-year-old John Gisel is accused of causing the death of 30-year-old Brandon Haugh of Geneseo while hunting in Almond. Gisel was hunting with four other people when t hey fired on what they thought was a deer. One of the rounds hit Haugh in the neck, killing him instantly. Gisel's next court date hasn't been scheduled yet.

Second Arrest in Scrap Metal Theft

A second person has been arrested in connection with an attempted theft at Seal's Service Station in Eldred. 41-year-old Karen Lee Perry of Hinsdale, along with 22-year-old Rachael Mehmel of Olean, and another person, allegedly stole scrap metal from the business and rammed the truck of owner Gene Seal when he attempted to stop them. Mehmel was allegedly driving the truck, and was arrested by Olean police last month. She's charged with aggravated assault, robbery, theft and related offenses.

UPDATE - Drug Bust in Olean

Six people have been arrested in Olean following a drug sweep this morning in that city. The Olean residents arrested for selling crack cocaine are 46-year-old David "Poochie" Maull; 52-year-old David Foster; 26-year-old Samantha Wright; 19-year-old Thomas Washington; and 45-year-old Willester York. 20-0year-old Steffenie Raecher of Lackawanna was also arrested for possession and sale of crack cocaine. Another person, Billy Coleman, who is currently in the Oneida Correctional Facility, was also charged.

Next Week's PennDOT Road Work

PENNDOT ELK / MCKEAN County has announced work for the week of July 07, 2008 through July 11, 2008.

Maintenance work planned by McKean County employees includes:

Ø REPAIR DRAINAGE – SR 6, Port Allegany to Smethport

Ø CRAFCOING – SR 59, Tack Inn to Bingham Road

Ø SHOULDER CUTTING – SR 646, Ormsby to Cyclone – SR 3001, Bridge Road

Ø BRIDGE REPAIRS – SR 46, Norwich Area – SR 155, South of Port Allegany

Ø CRACK SEALING – SR 6, Port Allegany to Potter County Line

Ø CUT BRUSH – SR 6, Warren County line to Kane

Ø SIGN REPAIRS – Various Routes, County wide

Ø INSTALL CROSSPIPES – SR 6, Port Allegany to Smethport

Ø REPAIR GUIDE RAILS – Various Routes, County Wide

Maintenance work planned by Elk County employees includes:

Ø BASE REPAIRS / PATCHING – SR 120, Bucktail

Ø SHOULDER CUTTING – SR 2005, Coal Hollow – SR 2003, Toby

Ø PATCHING – SR 948, Highland

Ø BRIDGE REPAIR – SR 3002 – Laurel Mill

Ø BOX CULVERT REPAIRS – SR 1003, Washington Street, St. Marys


CONSTRUCTION ACTIVITIES PLANNED INCLUDE THE FOLLOWING:

SR 0006 Allegany River Bridge, Port Allegany (July 06, 2008 – July 12, 2008) – Glenn O. Hawbaker Inc. The contractor plans to place embankment over the rock toes on the Smethport side. Prime plans to form and pour the abutment wall on abutment #1 of the Railroad Bridge. Prime also plans to form and pour the footer for the Pier #1 on the River Bridge. Prime will be placing R-6 rock in pier #2 and abutment #1 of the River Bridge and around the two abutments of the Railroad Bridge.
Prime plans to continue excavation and possibly begin construction for the Reinforced Soil Slope Walls on the Smethport side of the river. Penelec completed the relocation of the poles and wires, cleanup almost complete.


Elk County Paving , with HRI will continue scratching on Washington Street in St. Marys the week os July 7, 2008.
McKean County paving will Edge repairs on SR 321 on Wednesday, July 2, 2008, Edge SR 646 on Thursday, July 3, 2008. They will alos widen SR 46 on Monday July 7, 2008.


All work weather permitting.
Motorists can visit the PENNDOT website at www.dot.state.pa.us and by clicking on the Statewide Construction Map for updates concerning ongoing projects.

Citizens who want to report road concerns can call PENNDOT Maintenance at 1-800-FIX-ROAD (1-800-349-7623).

Message from a Listener/Reader

It is great to hear that the drug problems (DEALERS) in this area are being dealt with. Hats off to all the law enforcement officers who put their lives on the line to get these dirt bags off the streets. When they go to trial lets hear "NO DEAL" from the DA.Give them the max. and let it be a lesson to others who will try to take their places.

Bart G.

Checking Bats for Rabies

Chautauqua County residents are being asked to catch and keep any bats that may get into their homes this summer. Following an incident in Fredonia last week, the county's director of environmental services says the bats need to be tested for rabies. In last week's incident, a bat got into a home where children live. A parent caught the bat and released it. Because they don't know if the bat had rabies or if the children were bitten, the children are now getting a series of rabies shots.

Marcia Mitchell to Remain Jailed

The former Bradford woman accused of trying to suffocate her infant daughter with a pillow will remain in jail without bail pending grand jury action. 27-year-old Marcia Mitchell of Batavia was charged with attempted murder after employees at Buffalo Women and Children's Hospital say they saw her trying to suffocate her 7-month-old daughter on May 30. Court-ordered psychological exams found Mitchell fit to stand trial. Her lawyer says he's not sure yet if she will testify in front of the grand jury. Mitchell’s children are living with foster families under court supervision.

Questions for Senator Scarnati

Senator Joe Scarnati will be back on The LiveLine in a few days. If there's anything you'd like to me to ask him, leave a comment here and I'll ask him on the show.

Mom Calls Cops on Son with Guns

A 16-year-old Conneaut Lake boy has been arrested after his mother discovered guns hidden in his bedroom. The boy was taken into custody about 12:45 this morning after his mother found two rifles and a handgun in his bedroom. The mother also discovered that her son had five partial bottles of liquor.

In Case You Missed It ...

07/01/08 - BWA Drinking Water Report Released
The Bradford Water Authority has released its Annual Drinking Water Quality Report, and said they received no violations for water quality and did not exceed any maximum contaminant levels. The report covers the period from January 1 to December 31 of 2007. The water authority did receive a "failure to monitor" violation, but that was the result of miscommunication with the testing lab. Two of the 20 monthly required samples for coliform bacteria were not analyzed. All other sampling requirements for 2007 were in compliance.

07/02/08 - Bars Cited for Underage Drinking
A Bradford bar and a Warren County bar have been cited for selling alcohol to minors. The Lighter Side on Mechanic Street is accused of selling to a 19-year-old male on April 30. The Columbus Inn in Columbus is accused of selling to a 19-year-old male on May 10. The charges will be brought before an administrative law judge.

07/02/08 - Copper, More Stolen from PetroNorth
Someone stole more than $1,500 worth of items from PetroNorth on Chapel Fork Road in Corydon Township. The items stolen include copper tubing, brass valves, brass well lines, aluminum pipe wrenches, oil jack motor belts and an electric motor. The burglar broke a pad lock off a shed door at the end of last week to get in and steal the items.

07/02/08 - Man Hurt When Car Crashes Into Stream
A Bradford man was hurt when his car crashed into a stream Tuesday night. Police say a car driven by 25-year-old John Foerstner II went out of control at the Rutherford Run Road Bridge and crashed into the stream. He was taken by police car to Bradford Regional Medical Center for treatment of his injuries.

Retiree Wins $3 Million

A retired contractor from Chautauqua County won $3 million – the top prize in the New York Lottery's "Money, Money, Money" instant game. Gail McChesney of Cassadaga bought the $10 ticket at a gas station in Cassadaga on June 10. McChesney will take the money in 20 annual payments of $150,000. He says he'll pay off bills and buy a new car but, other than that, his life won't change.

Dominion Resources Finds Buyer

Dominion Resources has found another buyer for its West Virginia and Pennsylvania natural gas distribution companies. Richmond-based Dominion says private investor Babcock & Brown Infrastructure Fund North America has agreed to buy Dominion Peoples and Dominion Hope for $910 million. The deal announced Wednesday is expected to close in 2009. There's no word yet on what the sale means for the gas and storage salt manufacturing facility planned for Tioga County. The project is expected to create 300 new jobs by next year.

Erin Howard Back in Erie

The woman charged with manslaughter following an accident that killed her six-year-old son is back in Erie County Jail. Corry resident Erin Howard was granted a furlough to attend her son's funeral in Ohio. But instead of heading back to Erie afterward, she went to a bar. Police took her back to Erie yesterday. She was arraigned on a felony escape charge and ordered held at the Erie County Prison on $250,000 bond. That's in addition to the $75,000 on the manslaughter charge. Howard is accused of driving drunk when her car crashed into a creek and killed her son, Sam Carpenter.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Dr. Tronetti Named to CCMH Board

The Charles Cole Memorial Hospital board of directors has announced the appointment of Jason Tronetti, D.O., to fill the unexpired term of Alfredo Llinas, M.D. The hospital board of directors consists of 12 members elected to three-year terms. The board normally has four physician members with the balance being community leaders from the region. In addition to Dr. Tronetti, board members include Charles Updegraff (president), Dr. Syed Bhat, Dr. Michael Callahan, Ron Caskey, the Rev. Randall Headley, Robert Martin, Jr., Paul Pritchard (treasurer), Robert Smith (secretary), Russell Streich, Dr. Howard Miller, and Susan Kefover. Dr. Tronetti, board certified in family medicine, practices at the Port Allegany Community Health Center. He graduated from the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine and completed his residency at Geisinger Family Medicine in Danville where he also served as chief resident. The Governance Institute, an organization whose stated purpose is to improve the effectiveness of hospitals and healthcare systems by continually strengthening their boards of directors, describes the role of a hospital board to set overall direction and strategy by determining policy, making decisions, and overseeing organizational performance.

BRMC, Kane, CCMH in Line
to Get Federal Funds

Bradford Regional Medical Center, Kane Community Hospital and Charles Cole Memorial Hospital will be receiving $100,000 each if the federal Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations bill is approved and signed by the President.

BRMC's money would be for advanced diagnostic testing equipment for cardiology and other conditions.

Kane's money would go toward developing a women's diagnostic breast cancer center, including buying a new mammography unit and breast biopsy table.

Coudersport's money would go toward rural training assistance, including Rural Emergency Medicine and ALS Transports.

It Went Down!


Honestly, I never thought I'd write "gas prices went down." But they did. Earlier this week, the price was $4.15 at the same convenience store. Look HERE if you missed it.

Drug Bust in Bradford

Three women have been arrested on drug charges after a search of a Chautauqua Place home by the Bradford City Street Crimes Unit, Bradford City Police Emergency Response Team and McKean County Drug Task Force.

On Tuesday, members of the task force and street crimes unit conducted a controlled substance purchase of marijuana and cocaine from Tyanna Hamilton at 17 Chautauqua Place.

After the purchase, they got a search warrant for the home and found large amounts of marijuana and cocaine as well as about $1,700 in cash.

Hamilton was charged with delivery and possession of cocaine and marijuana and sent to McKean County Jail on $50,000 cash bail.

Natasha Skaggs was also charged with delivery and possession and sent to jail on $20,000 bail. Annice Gilbert was charged with conspiracy to posses with intent to deliver and sent to jail on $45, 000 bail.

Children and Youth Services was also contacted and helped officers remove and place a young girl who was inside the home.

Pair Accused of Stealing Safe

Two people are facing felony charges after allegedly stealing a safe from the Chautauqua Institution. Investigators say 43-year-old Ricky A. Zentz and 28-year-old Brooke Blanchard obtained a set of keys to the St. Elmo Hotel and the Season Ticket Restaurant on the grounds of the Chautauqua Institution. They allegedly broke into the hotel and made their way into the restaurant where they found a safe. Police say they took the safe to Jamestown where they opened it and stole $1,000 that was inside. Both Zentz and Blanchard are charged with burglary and grand larceny. Zentz is in Chautauqua County Jail. A warrant has been issued for Blanchard's arrest.

Man Accused of Raping Child

A Bradford man is in jail after being arraigned on rape charges. 26-year-old Michael Fanning is accused of assaulting a young child between April of 2007 and last month in Lewis Run. Fanning is charged with rape of a child, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, aggravated indecent assault and related offenses. His bail is set at 250 thousand dollars.

Journey Across the Nation

I've been remiss in not pointing you in the direction of Bruce Trowbridge's Blog. He's a Potter County resident and student at St. Bonaventure University who has been running and biking across the country since June 1 in an attempt to raise $1 million for the people of Mali, West Africa, to build wells that will provide clean drinking water.

You can also find Bruce's blog postings at Solomon's Words.

Not Gophers! Golfers!

St. Marys Police are investigating the theft of several lawn ornaments overnight from homes on Glen Hazel and Taft roads. Among the items taken were plastic ducks, swans, wooden sheep, a wooden raccoon and life-size wooden golfers. (Yes, opposite from "Caddyshack," where it's "Not golfers! Gophers!")

Note: I'm not taking the thefts lightly, but I thought of "Caddyshack" and couldn't resist.

Man Buys Car, Finds Drugs

State police say an Erie man who bought a car at an auction in Butler got more than he bargained for. The man found a baggy containing $400 worth of crack cocaine under the driver’s side carpet. State Trooper James Kloss says it's the first case of its kind he's seen in 17 years. He added that it's very unusual for someone to leave such a large amount of drugs behind. Police didn't identify the man who bought the car, but said he called them after he found the baggy when he pulled up the carpet after it got wet.

DEC Looking for 3 Missing Bears

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation is looking for 3 missing black bears in Allegany County. The D-E-C is looking for these three particular bears because they were fitted with electronic radio collars, which stopped transmitting last fall. Darren Schrader of the DEC says the collars help researchers figure out where the bears live and how far from home they roam. The bears are three of about 50 bears the DEC has tagged since 1994. Schrader says although the bears' collars are not transmitting, that does not mean they aren't alive. He says there's probably a problem with the units.

In Case You Missed It ...

06/30/08 - Public Not Happy with ANF Cutback Plans
Campers and site management companies are not happy with the plans to make cutbacks in the Allegheny National Forest's recreation areas. At an open house at the Bradford Ranger District office on Saturday, some site managers said they couldn't believe the forest service would rather close 30 facilities rather than bring them up to code. The ANF is looking interested private companies that would be willing to take on the cost of the repairs and maintenance needed to keep up with standards and to attract campers. The public has 30 days to comment and suggest alternative solutions before the plans will be finalized, and implemented over the next five years.

06/29/08 - Governor Paterson Returns to Work
New York Governor David Paterson has returned to work today (Sunday) after undergoing more cataract surgery on Saturday. Paterson's spokeswoman said the surgery at Mount Sinai Medical Center in Manhattan lasted about two hours, and went well. The cataract was discovered when he had a laser procedure performed on his left eye on May 20th to relieve searing pain from acute glaucoma.

High Heel-a-Thon Coming Up!

New BRMC Hospice Coordinator

By George Nianiatus, senior writer
Communications Department


Educating the public throughout McKean County about hospice care services for patients with life-limiting illnesses and their families will be among the primary goals of newly appointed hospice coordinator Martha Dibble, RN-C. Hospice care is provided by Bradford Regional Medical Center’s McKean County VNA & Hospice, located at 20 School St., Bradford. Even if death is near, there’s something to be said for quality of life. Hospice care can provide in-home services which can mean so much for individuals with life-limiting illnesses and their families, says Mrs. Dibble.

“I want to educate the public and healthcare professionals on how hospice focuses on quality of life and families,” says Mrs. Dibble. “I feel drawn to hospice and the incredible service it can provide to patients with life-limiting illnesses and their families,” she adds.

The new hospice coordinator has been working in the health field for more than 30 years with the past decade at VNA & Hospice, the home health department of BRMC.

“Martha comes to this role with 10 years of experience in home health, hospice and Project CARE elder outreach services,” explains Kathy Pascarella, director of VNA & Hospice. While at VNA & Hospice, Mrs. Dibble served as Project CARE nurse from
2002-08 and as a home health nurse from 1998 to 2001. Project CARE will continue to operate through VNA, officials say.

“We look forward to sharing Martha’s enthusiasm in her new role and BRMC/VNA’s mission of ‘Caring for Our Community Through the Journey of Life,’” notes Mrs. Pascarella.

Considered to be the model for quality, compassionate care for people facing a life-limiting illness or injury, hospice and palliative care involve a team-oriented approach to expert medical care, pain management, and emotional and spiritual support tailored to the patient’s needs and wishes, explains Mrs. Dibble. Hospice focuses on caring for, not curing, patients while in the familiar surroundings of their home.

Linda Wankel, VNA’s director of nursing, says Mrs. Dibble’s past accomplishments have shown she’s the right position to lead the hospice program.

“She took a dream, Project CARE, and turned it into a sustaining program,” Mrs. Wankel says. Project CARE identifies elderly who may be in need of services but might be overlooked by traditional referral sources.

“It’s because of her success in Project CARE that VNA & Hospice believes Martha is someone who can grow the hospice program through her energy, initiative, knowledge and a strong caring of others,” Mrs. Wankel says.

“We provided care to approximately 50 hospice patients in 2007 but our goal is to serve a larger number of people,” Mrs. Wankel says. Typically, a family member serves as the primary caregiver and, when appropriate, helps make the decision to get hospice care for the terminally ill individual. Hospice referrals can be made to VNA & Hospice either by patients, their family members or physicians, Mrs. Wankel notes.

Hospice costs are covered by Medicare, Medicaid and most third-party insurance companies, Mrs. Wankel says. Contributions and memorials can help pay for care for those without insurance. Hospice care is available to all who are eligible fegardless of ability to pay.

VNA & Hospice also provides related medical supplies and equipment that are needed.
Hospice care has a comprehensive approach for patients with life-limiting illnesses and their families. The hospice team develops a plan of care to meet each patient’s
individual needs for pain management and symptom control, VNA & Hospice officials say. The team includes the patient’s personal physician, a hospice physician or medical director, nurses, home health aides, social workers, clergy, trained volunteers, and speech, physical and occupational therapists, if needed.

To ensure all needs are met, a regular review of hospice cases is held. If a patient needs additional assistance with pain management, Mrs. Wankel says, VNA & Hospice staff can consult with hospice medical directors David Godfrey, M.D., and Paul Kirsch, M.D., or a clinical pharmacy consultant group specializing in hospice, palliative care and geriatrics.

For more information about hospice, call VNA & Hospice at 362-7466 or visit BRMC’s website at www.brmc.com.

Farmer Suing Warren County

A Russell-area farmer who was supposed to get a few acres of the former Warren State Hospital property is suing Warren County and the developer of Warren Commons. Scott Wenzel leased and farmed part of the 67 acres of state hospital land which Warren County acquired from the state in 2004 for economic development. The county sold the property to Echo Warren Associates, which has developed a commercial complex on the North Warren land. Wenzel's civil lawsuit centers on a right-of-way agreement across the property and royalties to an oil well on the parcel.

Kartesz Sentencing Moved

A federal judge has postponed sentencing for former Bradford landlord Frank Kartesz II, who pleaded guilty in March as part of a widespread mortgage-fraud scam in Erie. The sentencing date has been moved from July 23 to August 1 because the prosecutor was unavailable on the original date. Kartesz was part of a scheme in which he and others bought run-down houses and sold them at artificially inflated prices. Most of the buyers had low incomes and knew little about buying homes. The government claims the victims had losses exceeding $1 million. Kartesz faces up to 35 years in prison, but will likely receive a lesser sentence under federal guidelines, in large part because of his guilty plea. Five people, including Kartesz, have been charged in the case.

Man Indicted for Attempted Murder

A Cattaraugus County Grand Jury has indicted a man for attempted murder and assault. 48-year-old Cyrus Reed, who has no permanent address, is charged in connection with an incident on February 14 in Olean behind Bradner Stadium. The indictment says Reed "attempted to cause the death of Ernest Braxton by means of a deadly weapon and caused serious physical injury" to him. Reed allegedly stabbed Braxton, who was able to get away. His neighbors called police, who followed footprints in the snow and found Reed in a nearby parking lot. An arraignment is scheduled for July 14.

Man Jailed on Child Porn Charges

A Ceres, New York, man will spend 27 years in prison on child pornography charges. 34-year-old Jeffrey Sikes sent two movie files over the Internet -- one of a female between the ages of 8 and 12 and an adult male; the other of a female between the ages of 6 and 10 and an adult male. Sikes thought he was sending the videos to a person who belonged to a pedophilia newsgroup, but the person was actually an undercover law enforcement officer. Police later found about 350 images and 150 videos of child porn on Sikes' computer. Some of the children were as young as 4.

Scam in Potter & Tioga Counties

Someone is running a telephone Medicare scam in Potter and Tioga counties. State Representatives Marty Causer and Matt Baker say all Medicare beneficiaries and caregivers should be aware of phone calls from people who claim to be Social Security employees, who say they need a new Social Security or Medicaid card. The callers then ask for personal and bank account information. Causer and Baker say Medicare and Social Security will never call on the phone or come to your home to solicit information. They are also reminding people to never give out personal information to someone who calls or shows up at your door.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Brookville Boy Missing

A 16-year-old Brookville boy has been reported missing. The father of Dylan JUle Marche says Dylan was last seen June 18 at his Bogey Run Road home. He said he was camping with friends in the Brookville area. Dylan is 5'11'', 140 pounds with hazel eyes and short brown hair. Anyone with pertinent information is asked to contact state police at 814-776-6136.

Grave Digger at The Glen

The world renowned Grave Digger Monster Truck and driver Randy Brown will be at the Brad Penn display area during the Camping World Grand Prix at The Glen this weekend in Watkins Glen. Brown is a authorized distributor of Brad Penn and says he knows first hand the quality of their racing oil and lubricants. He adds that the partnership between Brad Penn and the Grave Digger Monster Truck has been great. Richard Glady, director of branded lubricants sales and marketing for Brad Penn says Brown has been a tremendous spokesman for Penn Grade 1 Racing Oils, and the company is honored to have him as part of the team.

Scam Being Run in Catt. County

The Cattaraugus County Sheriff's Office is alerting people about a scam being run in the area. They say an ad in a local newspaper tells people to call a printed phone number if they need help with bills, or have bad credit. When people call, the person on the other end of the phone tells them where to send money so they can send you loan money. When people call back, the number is no longer in service. Sheriff Dennis John says "If something seems to good to be true, it probably is."

Hillary Clinton in WNY Wednesday

Senator Hillary Clinton will be in Buffalo tomorrow. Her frequent appearances around the state were curtailed when she ran for the Democratic presidential nomination. Since attending the State Fair in Syracuse last summer, her only public appearance in upstate New York was at Gov. David Paterson's inauguration in March. Clinton's stop in Buffalo will include an appearance at the ceremonial opening of the Erie Canal Harbor and a tour of Artspace. Earlier in the day, she'll be in Syracuse talking about alternative energy and in the Finger Lakes region to talk with farmers whose crops were hurt by a recent hailstorm.

Eagles, Eagles Everywhere

Doug Gross, Pennsylvania Game Commission ornithologist, said the stories and reports he receives about eagle's nests never ceases to amaze him. Yet, his most memorable experience was when he and his wife participated in a large group canoe trip a few years ago.

"I had suspected there could be an undiscovered eagle nest on a particular stretch of a local river based on reports of eagles being seen in the area, as well as my own observations," Gross said. "As we traveled down the river from one town to another, I told the tour guides that I had two islands and some isolated riverbanks in mind for the search, and would appreciate any hints or tips they could offer without alerting the 80 other canoes along for the trip.

"One of the tour leaders spotted something big in a tree on a large island. We quietly followed, and as I turned our canoe toward the target, I saw a stick nest the size of a Volkswagen in a large sycamore tree. I whispered, 'That's an eagle nest, let's get out of here.' We slipped off with the memory of that location. A friend returned later and took a picture of a young eaglet out of the nest nearby and the mystery of a missing nest was found with none of the other 80 boats knowing what was found on the trip."

Gross also noted that many other Game Commission employees share his enthusiasm for bald eagles, including Brenda Peebles, who coordinates bald eagle nest monitoring in the agency's Northwest Region. However, both Gross and Peebles rely on volunteers and Game Commission field personnel for the leads they need to investigate new eagle nests.

"A Game Commission Wildlife Conservation Officer in western Pennsylvania was so excited about the eagles fledging their young from a nest in his district that he called me at home after hours," Gross said. "He had to tell somebody that the eagles were successful and, since the Region Office was closed that night, he decided to call me."

In late June, Tioga County WCO Robert F. Minnich reported the number of bald eagle nests in his district has grown since he arrived in the district in 1999.

"I started with one nest and now am monitoring three nests in the area," WCO Minnich said. "This year the third nest was found and is being monitored. Two nests have been successful and the third was abandoned when a March ice storm brought branches down on the nest and incubating eagle. The eagles have remained in the area, but not incubating. The other two nests both have had two young hatch."

In late June, Juniata County WCO Daniel Clark confirmed the location of one pair of nesting bald eagles within the county and is watching a possible second site.

"This has been made possible through assistance and involvement of local bird watchers within the county," WCO Clark said. "I've been seeing mature bald eagles flying the Juniata River between Mifflintown and the Lewistown narrows. No nesting sites for these birds have been located."

In June, Philadelphia/Delaware County WCO Jerry Czech has been monitoring two bald eagle nests with the help of a Deputy WCO and some volunteer birders.

"The Philadelphia Eagles start football training camp soon, and so too are the eaglets in these nests," WCO Czech said. "They are stretching their wings and jumping up on the edge of the nest, training for their first flights. Looks like the three eaglets will be ready to fledge and look for their own nesting sites soon."

Cameron County WCO Wayne Hunt, in May, sighted a pair of mature bald eagles in a Sycamore tree along the Driftwood Branch of the Sinnemahoning Creek. "The presence of these national birds could very well mean another nesting pair in the county," he said.

In May, Westmoreland County WCO Seth Mesoras reported that bald eagles previously seen nesting near Beaver Run Reservoir appear to have abandoned their nest. "I have observed both nests several times and have not noticed any eagle activity," he said. "Residents of northern Westmoreland County continue to report sightings, which mean that eagles still are in the area somewhere."

In May, Chester County WCO Keith Mullin reports that the bald eagle nest in his district partially collapsed last year after several severe thunderstorms, and it was not known if the birds would return to the nest or build a new nest at another location. "I'm happy to report that not only have the adult eagles returned, but they have one eaglet," he said. "Also, I can report a hatch at another nest, but cannot confirm the number of chicks there, although I believe there are two."

In May, Potter/Tioga Counties LMGS Denise H. Mitcheltree observed two mature bald eagles as they perched in trees near the Long Toe Road in Potter County. "Even from a distance, the size of these birds was quite impressive as the sun glinted off of their white feathered heads," she said.

Elk County WCO Dick Bodenhorn reports that once again this year there are at least two active eagle nests, with young eaglets, along the Clarion River in Elk County. "It is suspected there are other active nests that haven't been found yet," he said. "Anyone finding an eagle's nest is encouraged to call and report the location."

In early May, Bucks County WCO John Papson reports that the eagles have again successfully hatched two eaglets.

Unfortunately, not every sighting report is a positive one. In some cases, Gross said that the Game Commission receives reports of injured or dead bald eagles.

In May, Mercer County WCO Donald G. Chaybin received a report from kayakers who found a mature bald eagle carcass floating in Lake Wilhelm. "It was caught up in some limbs and appeared to have been there awhile," he said. "They freed it from the snag, but were unable to recover the rank carcass and upon returning home contacted the Northwest Region Office. The following morning, I spent several hours canoeing that area of the lake on SGL 270, but was unsuccessful in locating the eagle. Unfortunately, we will never know the cause of death of this bird. There was an active eagle's nest within a half mile of the area where they reported discovering the dead eagle."

In June, Snyder County WCO Harold J. Malehorn said that a severely injured, immature bald eagle was found and it had to be euthanized. "A local resident found the injured eagle along the side of Spruce Hollow Road in Franklin Township," he said. "The leg was broken and had nearly fallen off. After consulting with Dr. Walter Cottrell, Game Commission wildlife veterinarian, it was decided that the most humane course of action was to euthanize it. A necropsy was conducted, but the cause of the injury was inconclusive."

Nick Antolik, of Girard, Erie County, discovered a dead eagle along the banks of the creek, and contacted the Game Commission.

"I crossed the creek to see if I could determine what caused this bird's demise," Antolik said. "I decided to bring him back across the creek and secure him high up a beech tree, so he would not be further disturbed or removed by scavengers. As I did this, immature eagles watched the whole time.

"After speaking with the Game Commission, I was asked to bring the bird out, which I willingly did, and delivered it to Edinboro Outdoors, where it was picked up and sent down state for a necropsy."

In Mercer County, as Deputy WCO John McCurdy visited the Conneaut Lake Fire Hall, he looked out the large windows overlooking Conneaut Lake and saw a bald eagle dive toward the water and it grabbed a large fish. After catching the fish, the eagle turned and headed south toward power lines. The eagle's wing's spanned between two electrical lines and it was electrocuted and immediately spiraled into the marsh right next to Route 322. "As soon as I saw this, I went down and retrieved the eagle and brought it back to the PA Game Commission Northwest Region Office," he said.

In each of these cases, eagles carcasses that were recovered were shipped by the Game Commission to the National Eagle Repository at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services' Rocky Mountain Arsenal northeast of Denver, Colorado.

"It is illegal for any individual to possess a bald or golden eagle, including its parts, such as feathers or talons," said Rich Palmer, director of the Game Commission's Bureau of Wildlife Protection. "But the Repository provides a central location for distributing bald and golden eagles that are found dead, and their parts, to qualified Native Americans for use in religious Native American ceremonies.

"The distribution of bald and golden eagles, and their parts to Native Americans is authorized by the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act."

Wellsboro Sailor Injured

A Wellsboro native is in critical condition after being shot in Afghanistan. 36-year old Anthony Shattuck took a bullet to the chest. Shattuck is in critical condition in a drug-induced coma at a hospital in Germany, but is responding to voices. Shattuck is expected to be transported by plane to Bethesda, Maryland, today. Shattuck serves in the US Navy.

'Hunter's Hope' Sympoisum

World-renowned doctors, scientists and researchers will attend the 11th annual Hunter’s Hope Family and Medical Symposium being held July 9-13 in Ellicottville. The symposium will also welcome families from around the world affected by Krabbe’s disease and other leukodystrophies who are coming to Western New York to get the latest medical information on the conditions. Hunter’s Hope was established in 1997 by former Buffalo Bills quarterback Jim Kelly and his wife, Jill, after their son, Hunter, was diagnosed with Krabbe leukodystrophy.

Hearing in Train Derailment Case

A McKean County judge will hold a hearing July 11 to determine whether to throw out some evidence against a railroad engineer whose train derailed and polluted part of Sinnemahoning-Portage Creek. The attorney for 46-year-old Michael Seifert, of West Seneca, N.Y., says investigators illegally obtained his employment records from Norfolk Southern offices. The attorney says state investigators also obtained private medical information about Seifert without a search warrant or his permission. He was driving a train that jumped the tracks in June 2006 near Gardeau. About 42,000 gallons of sodium hydroxide spilled into the stream, killing thousands of fish. Prosecutors say Seifert was under the influence of drugs and may have fallen asleep as the train began to speed down a steep grade.

Man Jailed After Shooting

A Clarendon man is in jail after allegedly firing a gun at a woman during a domestic argument. Police say 34-year-old John Wolfe fired six shots at the 39-year-old woman as they argued at his home about 3:30 a.m. Monday. They didn't say whether the woman was hit by any of the shots, but did say she ran from the house. Wolfe drove after her. The woman got a ride on Route 6, and Wolfe allegedly tried running the vehicle off the road. Wolfe was charged with aggravated assault, reckless endangerment, drunken driving, and driving a vehicle without a valid inspection sticker.

Names Released in Kane Stabbing

Three people were taken to the hospital after the stabbing early Saturday morning on Dawson Street in Kane. Kane Police say Daniel Austin, Kevin Kopkowski and Mike Jamerson, all of Kane, were involved in an altercation, which began as threats. The altercation became physical and someone used a pocketknife. Austin and Kopkowski were taken to an Erie hospital. Jamerson was taken to a local hospital, where he was treated and released.

Car Collides with Truck Carrying Caustic Soda on Route 219

A truck carrying caustic soda collided with a car early this morning closing Route 219 from Browntown Road to Warren Road. Bradford Township Volunteer Fire Department Chief Dan Burkhouse says the accident happened at just after 12:30 south of Custer City, and north of Browntown Road. The driver of the car had to be extricated by the fire department, but the truck driver got out on his own. They were both taken by ambulance to BRMC, but Burkhouse doesn't know the extent of their injuries. Burkhouse says none of the caustic soda spilled but precautions are being taken. The trucking company brought its own HAZMAT team to make sure there isn't any environmental damage. DEP is also on the scene. Tracy Carl of the McKean County 911 Center says residents in the area were evacuated as a precautionary measure while the caustic soda is being moved to another truck, and the first truck is being put upright. He said a small about of diesel fuel did spill. PennDOT expects Route 219 from Browntown Road to Warren Road to be closed until 2 o'clock this afternoon. A detour is in place with southbound traffic following Route 59 to Route 770 West and back to Route 219. Northbound traffic will follow Route 770 East to Route 59, then back to Route 219.

Head Cheerleader & Homecoming Queen

Just a shout-out to Donna Gaertner Hollenbeck and Kathy Costello Bridge. They'll know why.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Investor Buying Graham Packaging's Parent Compnay

An investment fund led by Texas Rangers owner Thomas Hicks has agreed to buy Graham Packaging Holdings Co. and take the maker of plastic juice and beer bottles public for $700 million. The fund would also assume $2.29 billion in debt and other costs. The Hicks fund said Monday it expected a final deal in the next few days, and the transaction is expected to close later this year if shareholders approve it. The company will be renamed Graham Packaging Co. and apply for listing on the New York Stock Exchange. The Bradford plant is one of 83 in North American, Europe and South America.

Gov. Nominates 5 for Judge Spots

Gov. Ed Rendell has nominated five people to fill vacancies on county courts around the state. They are Joseph Williams of Allegheny County, Maureen Beirne of Bradford County, Wallace Bateman of Bucks County, Joseph Musto of Luzerne County and Andrew Cantor of Montgomery County. The nominees are subject to confirmation by the state Senate.

From the Defense Department

The Department of Defense announced today additional major units scheduled to deploy in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The announcement involves four brigades and two regimental combat teams consisting of approximately 33,000 personnel.

The deployment window for these units will be in the early months of 2009, and all will conduct the full spectrum of operations.

This announcement reflects the continued commitment of the United States to the security of the Iraqi people, and provides replacement forces required to maintain the current level of effort in Iraq. Subsequent deployment orders will be issued based on force level decisions made in the future.

Specific units receiving deployment orders include:

Regimental Combat Team 8, Camp Lejeune, N.C.

Regimental Combat Team 6, Camp Lejeune, N.C.

1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas

2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas

3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, Fort Drum, N.Y.

56th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 28th Infantry Division, Pennsylvania National Guard.

Above Average -- Again



Yes, we're above average again. After a couple of weeks at $4.09, when the national average went to $4.09, our average price went up, too.

Scarnati Pleased With Budget

Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati (R-Jefferson) said today he is optimistic and confident in the passage of the 2008-2009 final state budget. After many days and weeks of intense negotiation, legislative leaders and the Governor believe they have reached an agreement in principle.

“While we do continue to meet on many specifics, a deal is in place that contains a budget with no tax increases, no new taxes, and no excessive spending,” Scarnati stated. “Our objectives were met and I now believe that Pennsylvania will have a budget that recognizes the fiscal realities of working families and job creators.”

Scarnati did mention that negotiations throughout were open, up front, and all parties involved worked diligently to find common ground on issues such as spending, energy, and economic stimulus.

“With the current economic downturn, I firmly believe that we needed to put forth a budget that creates more stability for our citizens and our businesses,” Scarnati added. “With a fiscally prudent budget that does not take more money out of the pockets of Pennsylvanians already struggling with skyrocketing gas and food prices, we are moving in a direction of making the Commonwealth more competitive, more stable.”

Scarnati also pointed out that there are about $235 million in tax cuts for job creators to assist them in improving the job climate in Pennsylvania. In addition, to the tax cuts, Scarnati was satisfied that all parties acknowledged the need to address the road and bridge problem currently facing the Commonwealth.

“The citizens of Pennsylvania expect the legislature and the Governor to provide a budget the meets their needs without excessive spending and unnecessary borrowing. This budget meets that criteria,” Scarnati said.

Obviously, there are details that still need to be worked out, but a deal is in place and I am confident that members of our caucus will see the merit in this fiscally responsible budget,” Scarnati concluded.

Man Charged After Homemade Cannon Explodes, Injures 2 People

An Austin man is facing charges after his homemade cannon exploded during a neighborhood get-together. Police say George Herzog's cannon malfunctioned and sent shrapnel flying for about 100 feet in all directions. One victim was hurt when the shrapnel hit her stomach; another was hurt when the shrapnel hit her leg. The shrapnel also damaged two trailers, and the back window of Herzog's van. Herzog has been charged with simple assault, reckless endangerment and related offenses.

Rescue at Zoar Valley

Nine people and 2 dogs that were stranded overnight inside the Zoar Valley Gorge have been rescued. The hikers were on a ledge approximately 60 feet from the bottom of the gorge, and were there overnight, until a helicopter team was able to lift them to safety at around 7 o'clock this morning. The group of hikers was stranded Sunday evening, when rising waters cut off their access to a trail across the creek and to safety. Late Sunday, workers were able to drop supplies to them by helicopter, and a medical crew was on scene through the night.

Guardsmen Die in Afghanistan

Two National Guardsmen assigned to the squadron in Jamestown have died in Afghanistan. 51-year-old 1st Sergeant Joseph McKay and 38-year-old Specialist Mark Palmateer and one other soldier died from wounds suffered when their convoy encountered I-E-Ds, small arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades. Palmateer is originally from Poughkeepsie, New York. McKay is originally from Brooklyn.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Soldier Discharged for 'Telling'

A Chautauqua County native has been discharged from the Army because he told. Six months after Sgt. Darren Manzella, went on “60 Minutes” to say that he’s gay, the Army discharged him under its “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. Manzella, who grew up in Portland, New York, and served as a medic in the army was let go for “homosexual admission” effective June 10. Manzella is now working for a group that fights the policy that has resulted in the dismissal of at least 12,000 gay service members since 1994. He says his sexual orientation didn't make a difference when he treated injuries and saved lives in the streets of Baghdad. It shouldn't be a factor in allowing him to continue to serve.