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Saturday, August 16, 2008

Flag Controversy is Over

Warren's flag controversy is over. During the last two weeks, the city had received complaints about the condition of the flags, so crews took them down. When Frank Grimmer, the volunteer who put them up last month, said he was going to replace them, City Manager Jim Nelles said he would have Grimmer arrested for defiant trespass. Instead, on Friday, Grimmer was given an agreement from Nelles and Mayor Mark Phillips that permits him to "install American flags and poles on certain utility poles located along Pennsylvania Avenue, upon which pole brackets have previously been attached." In the agreement, the city reserves the right to inspect the flags and poles to be used. Also, Grimmer is given 24 hours from notice by the city to "remove, replace or repair any flag that, in the city's opinion, is too damaged or worn to display."

Dream Season Ends

The Bradford Legion Baseball team's dream season is over. They lost Saturday afternoon 14-0 to De Pere, Wisconsin. Brandon Slater, Ryan LaBrozzi and Cory Viola shared pitching duties. LaBrozzi got the loss.

The season may be over, but I think we can all agree that it was awesome while it lasted. Thanks for the great ride, guys! We're proud of you!

Festa Finale

Pictured Saturday night at Festa Italiana are the Music Makers Big Band, festival-goers getting one last pastry fix and the fireworks finale from Mount Raub. Below, is a video of the firworks grand finale.

Congratulations to the festa committee for another outstanding event!

Summer Survivor '08

John McGriff, the winner of Summer Survivor 2008, gets ready to ride his brand new Polaris Trail Blazer 330 (generously donated by Charlie's Cycle Center) out of the pavilion at Mystic Water Resort Saturday afternoon.

Below, Bradley Osbourne, Amanda Hewitt, Rick Irwin and John Kelly compete in the John Williams European Pastry Shop "Donut Purge" (They had to see how many donuts they could eat in 3 minutes.) as Katie Hallock, Kim Hallock and Scott Douglas watch.

This is the kayak race that determined the winner. McGriff, Kelly and Zack Ruth gathered the most points during the rest of the competition, which put them in the kayak race and gave them a chance to win the 4-wheeler.

We have many more pictures to share ... stay tuned!

Friday at the Festa

The Mountain Laurel Harmonizers and the Flames gymnastics team provided some of the entertainment Friday night at Festa Italiana on Festival Way.

This train ride is of the attractions aimed at the younger set at Festa Italiana. There's also a bouncy house and giant slide.

Festa continues today and includes a fireworks show from Mount Raub.

I talked to Stan Pecora Friday night, and he said he wished he mentioned one other thing in his remarks during the opening ceremony. He says everyone should be proud of his/her heritage and the Irish, German, Swedish and other immigrants are also an important part of Bradford's history.

#2 - We ALL Win ...

when someone who needs a hot meal gets one.

During the United Way of the Bradford Area annual appeal, I'll be reminding the community every day about a way "We ALL Win" when a United Way agency is funded through your donations.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Arrest for Mausoleum Break-In

A Potter County man has been arrested for breaking into a mausoleum in Whites Corner Cemetery in Harrison Township. 25-year-old Adam Johnson of North Bingham is accused of breaking into the Kibbe Family Mausoleum between May 26 and July 13. Earlier today, police charged him with burglary, theft, institutional vandalism, desecration of venerated objects and abuse of a corpse. Johnson is in Potter County Jail in lieu of $100,000 bail.

Walter Elected Aktion President

The Aktion Club of Bradford elected its first slate of officers at its organizational meeting Monday evening at the Bradford Area Public Library. Mike Walter was elected president of the new organization, a service club for adults living with disabilities.

The club is being jointly sponsored by the Kiwanis Club of Bradford, Bradford Area High School Key Club and Evergreen Elm Inc. with financial support from Dallas-Morris Drilling Inc. and American Refining Group.

Other officers are Chelsea Albright, vice president; Rose Marie Colella, secretary; and Renee Chittester, treasurer. Tracy Carson and Jeff Vanscoter were elected to two-year terms on the board of directors. Tom Miller and Sheridan Phillips were elected to one-year terms on the board of directors.

The club will begin planning its charter celebration.

For more information, contact Kiwanian Paula Vecellio at Evergreen Elm.

I Suppose I Can't Ignore This ...

Two Georgia men say a hairy corpse they claim to have stumbled upon in the state's northern woods is Bigfoot. Matt Whitton and Rick Dyer say DNA evidence will prove once and for all that the frozen creature is Bigfoot. They plan to present DNA test results and photographs during a news conference today in California. One Bigfoot researcher says a picture of the corpse (which is crammed in a freezer)looks like a "costume." He says the DNA test probably won't prove anything. A U.S. Fish and Wildlife Reserve spokesman says officers also aren't taking the claim seriously and won't investigate Bigfoot because it's not a federal priority.

So, I'm wondering what happened to Bigfoot between the time he ... it ... whatever ... was in Elk County less than a year ago and the time these guys found the corpse.

'Wear Your Heritage With Pride'

Stan Pecora was the master of ceremonies during Thursday night's opening ceremony for the annual Festa Italiana. Below, are the remarks he delivered about being Italian, and Italian-Americans.

"In the past, I've spoken about our parents, our grandparents, our great-grandparents and their forbearers. I've talked about their courage to come here to this country – their hard work, their perseverance – to secure for us a much better life than they had.

I think we can all agree that things are good for us because of their hard work and their effort and their courage.

But while we have been well assimilated into American society – we must remember that we are Italian Americans. We are the beneficiaries of a great culture. We are gathered here in the greatest country on earth. Thank goodness that our forbearers chose to come to the United States -- the best choice they could have made.

In the Italian immigration that took place between 1880 and 1920 over 11 million left Italy -- approximately 25 percent of the entire population of a country. Five to 6 million came to the United States. The rest went to South America and other countries.

Fortunately for us, our forebearers came here. And what better place is there on earth than this country?

At times we all grouse about it, we complain about many things – taxes, etc. – but is there some other country we'd rather live in? When somebody tells me that, I have an answer. I ask you – do not forget your heritage. Please, study it, learn more about it, help your children and grandchildren to appreciate it. Pass on the stories that you've heard since your childhood and are still passed around. Don't let them disappear. The only way we can continue this is in that manner. We, ourselves, have to continue to live it. Do not let what your forbearers brought to America be lost in time, because that can happen.

This festival does a lot in that regard. The food, the various things that are brought here to this festival, remind us, and help us to better appreciate what we have and what was given to us.

Continue to honor your heritage. You owe to that your forbearers. You owe it to those immigrants who came here and suffered through what they suffered through. They earned our respect. They deserve to be honored forever into the future. Do not ever forget them. Wear your heritage with pride. Be loyal Americans and proud Italian-Americans."

Second Bike Given Away

ELLICOTT, NY - Situated along a busy stretch of Fairmount Avenue stands a business that has been providing bicycle expertise for the past 30 years. Established in 1978, Hollyloft Ski and Bike is a highly specialized and unique shopping experience in Chautauqua County.

Hollyloft was also gracious enough to donate a bicycle for this year's Bike Raffle at the Chautauqua County Fair. The winner of the bike was Baylee Gloss of Forestville, who came to Hollyloft on Tuesday with her mom Danielle to pick up her prize.

Chautauqua County Executive Gregory J. Edwards and Hollyloft owner Les Johnson gave the bike, and a new pink helmet to Baylee, and Les provided her with instructions in safe riding techniques before she pedaled off.

Edwards chose Tuesday evening as the time to present Baylee with the bike, because it is also the night that members of Team Hollyloft gather for their weekly ride. As many as 80 folks come out for the Tuesday night ride each week.

Team Hollyloft is a collection of riders, from weekend warriors to semi-pro cyclists, who compete in races and take part in weekly group rides. The group has been growing rapidly over the past 8 seasons, and Edwards wanted Baylee to have the chance to see what they do.

"These bicyclists come out every week to ride as a group, some from as far away as Ellicottville and Erie, PA, to ride the many miles of roadways in Chautauqua County," Edwards proclaimed. "I wanted Baylee to have the chance to meet some of these bicyclists, and encourage her to ride, since riding is away of life for many Chautauqua County residents, and also a great way to get exercise.

Baylee Gloss and Trevor Cole from Silver Creek were the winners of the Youth Bureau's 2008 Bike Raffle at the Chautauqua County Fair.

(Photo Courtesy of Joel Keefer)

Wrestling Champion in the Studio

Frank Williams and Mark Havers get ready for Friday's Sports Forum on 1490 WESB. Mark is a sophomore at Bradford Area High School. Last year he was the District 9 and Regional champion. His dream is to be the first state wrestling champion from Bradford. He credits his father with his success and says "I wouldn't be where I am today without my dad." He adds that he can always hear his father screaming over everyone else in the crowd at his matches. Mark is also on the Owls football team.

Flag Furor in Warren

Another flag controversy is brewing in the region – this time in Warren. Warren resident Frank Grimmer and four other volunteers put flags on utility poles prior to the city's Fourth of July celebration. But within the last couple of weeks the city received numerous complaints about the poor condition of the flags. City Manager Jim Nelles had the flags taken down because he didn't want people thinking the desecrated flags belonged to the city. Grimmer says he's going to put more flags up, but Nelles says he hasn't gone to through the proper channels and will have Grimmer arrested for defiant trespass. The utility poles are owned by Penelec and used by the city with the utility company's permission. The city has told Grimmer he has to write a letter asking if he can put the flags up, but Grimmer says he plans to write a letter asking why he has to write a letter. He plans on replacing the flags tonight.

Stabbing Over Panhandling

Pittsburgh police say one homeless man was stabbed by another after they argued over who was the better panhandler. Police haven't identified the victim, who was treated at a Pittsburgh hospital for minor wounds. Forty-six-year-old Larry Milburn remains in custody on aggravated assault and other charges. The men started arguing Thursday afternoon in an area where homeless people are known to encamp. Police say Milburn cut the other man in the neck using kitchen shears. Police say the men were arguing about which of them was the best panhandler on the city's North Side, a neighborhood that houses the city's pro sports stadiums.

#1 - We ALL Win ...

when a Special Olympics athlete wins a medal.

During the United Way of the Bradford Area annual appeal, I'll be reminding the community every day about a way "We ALL Win" when a United Way agency is funded through your donations.

From the 'Duh' File:

Go HERE to read about the alleged robber who locked his keys inside his getaway vehicle.

Legion Team Keeps Winning!

Thanks to Steve Krajewski for sending this photo of the team everyone is talking about -- the Bradford American Legion Baseball team. Bradford will play Michigan Post 165 at 8 o’clock tonight. Post 757 will play Minnesota Post 509 at 1 p.m. today. You can follow the games real time on the web at select the Great Lakes Region 5 Games and look for the Bradford game.

Pictured are:

Front Row: Kevin Pautler, Karl McCracken
Middle Row: Coach Ben McCracken, Brandon Slater, Mike Pascarella, Chris Krajewski, Lou Jones, Josh Lightner, Cory Viola
Back Row: Coach Brian Fox, Greg Donovan, Nick Foster, Ryan LaBrozzi, Pat Pascarella, Rich Obermeyer, Coach Justin Jones.

Class Reunion

Just saying "hello" to the BCCHS Class of '78. Have fun at the reunion!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

First Day of the Festa

The people in the photo on the left are standing in line to buy food tickets, so they can start enjoying the pasta e fagioli, eggplant sandwiches, rigatoni, Italian wedding soup and other festa favorites the people in the lower photo are enjoying. Other food available at the festa includes sausage sandwiches, meatball sandwiches and pizza, as well as a variety of pastries. The food booths open at 11 a.m. Friday.
Stan Pecora (in the green jacket), Father Leo Gallina, pastor of St. Bernard Church, and Francis "Tubby" Colella watch the Boy Scout raise the flag during the festa's opening ceremony. Pecora has been the master of ceremonies for years at the opening ceremony. Father Gallina offered the opening prayer and benediction.

Francis "Tubby" Colella sings the Italian national anthem -- Il Canto degli Italiani (The Song of the Italians) -- during the opening ceremony, as the keyboard player of the band Ledgens, Father Gallina and Stan Pecora look on. The anthem is best known among Italians as Inno di Mameli (Mameli's Hymn) and often referred to as Fratelli d'Italia (Brothers of Italy).

Elmer and Ann DeLucia were among the hundreds of people who attended the opening night of the 2008 Festa Italiana. Ann reminded us on Wednesday's LiveLine that there's no "W" in the Italian alphabet, so those light and cripsy (and delectable) pastries can't be called "wands." These days, a lot of people call them "ribbons." I still call them "Curly Qs" like my Grandma did.

Theresa Cummins (right)enjoys some silly moments at the festa with the adorable Ambuskes. (I knew she could smile!)

Electric Deregulation:
The Real Energy Crisis

By Senator Lisa M. Boscola

America's energy crisis is real. As real as the pain you feel paying four dollars for a gallon of gasoline - and the pinch you feel at the grocery store when you're paying twice as much for bread and milk. It's a struggle today to fill up your gas tank and your grocery cart at the same time.

I'm proud the legislature recently agreed with Governor Rendell to plant the seeds of solar, wind and renewable sources of energy today that will yield a bountiful energy harvest for future generations. Our children and our grandchildren will be far less dependent on foreign oil and will reap the long-term benefits of far more sustainable energy resources.

But even this wise investment of nearly one billion dollars in alternative, "green energy" initiatives cannot put off, postpone or prevent the "real" energy crisis we face in 2010. In less than 18 months, rate caps that date back to 1996 will finally expire for the five largest energy companies that serve you and I and 85 percent of Pennsylvania's electric customers.
Electric deregulation was a bold attempt to turn an old statewide monopoly of public utility companies into a brand new, competitive marketplace. Congress and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) paved the way for 20 states, including Pennsylvania, to deregulate their energy industries. Trucking and airline companies had already taken off the chains of government control. Deregulation was just the antidote for "big government" and poisonous, bureaucratic red tape. After all, competition is the American way. Just get government "off our backs" and let us decide for ourselves.

But deregulation didn't live up to its promises of real competition, more choices, and cheaper electricity. Not in Maryland, Connecticut, Kansas, Texas, Ohio, Virginia, Illinois or in any other deregulated state in the country. Once rate caps expired, electric customers in each of those states saw their monthly bills increase by as much as 85 percent. That's not just "my opinion," that's what actually happened. The facts.

There's a big difference between "need and greed." Any company that made a 51-percent profit last year is not being "forced" to either raise the price of its product by 50 percent or else go bankrupt. Power companies are making record profits, higher than at any other time in company history for some of them - even while they kept their rates capped. They also ran to the bank with $12 billion from Pennsylvania ratepayers to erase their public debt ("stranded costs") and become more profitable. So far, consumers have received nothing in return except empty promises and endless excuses. In 1996, deregulation promised consumers more choices, more competition and lower monthly electric bills. But in 2010 all we will see are record rate increases and record corporate profits.

How will your family budget cover your electric bill when it goes up from $250 a month to $400 a month? How will small businesses afford to stay in business when the cost of just "turning on the lights" becomes twice as expensive? And how many industrial plants will close and good jobs disappear when higher energy costs put them in the red?

As if that's not bad enough, don't forget about the "ripple effect." The same reason higher gasoline prices led to higher grocery bills. Your local school district will have to raise property taxes to be able to keep copiers working, computers running and the lights on in every classroom. Hospitals will be forced to raise the price of providing medical care. Even closer to home, your local borough or municipality will be forced to raise taxes just to keep the streetlights on and to provide the daily services you rely on.

Free-market champions and defenders of deregulation want you to believe that "competition" is good even if it costs you an extra $200 a month on your electric bill. Companies are even running television commercials (that we're paying for) to convince us how hard they're working to save us money on our electric bill.

As State Senator, I still believe we can fix what went wrong with deregulation if we have the political will to do the right thing. In the face of this energy crisis, we must work together and make sensible decisions that will have good consequences for you and for our Commonwealth as a whole. The stakes are too high to sit back and do nothing. Above all, we must be guided by the principles of fairness. Power companies deserve to make a fair and reasonable profit - and electric customers deserve fair and reasonable rates. There are no simple answers or off-the-shelf solutions. But the legislature can take steps to help keep the price of electricity affordable and avoid the economic train wreck that lies ahead:

First, the Pennsylvania legislature must act before rate caps begin coming off in 2010. That's an important lesson we can learn from observing what happened when legislatures in our neighboring states failed to see a crisis coming until it was "too late." Lawmakers in Maryland and Texas are still trying to deal with the consequences of deregulation years later. Trying to clean up the mess after power companies are allowed to double their rates and triple their profits is like waiting until after a hurricane rips through your house to put plywood over your windows. If we cannot enact meaningful legislation by the end of next year, we must extend the current rate caps to prevent homeowners (especially those on fixed incomes), small businesses and industrial customers from being thrown to the wolves and at the mercy of so-called "market" pricing.

Second, provide real incentives for out-of-state "merchant generators" to compete for electric customers on the basis of price and innovative services. Today there is no "competitive market" in Pennsylvania. Just sitting back and waiting for "real" competition to magically appear is a foolproof recipe for making sure that it will never materialize. There are basic, fundamental conditions that must exist first. As long as incumbent power companies can continue to manipulate energy "auctions" and take advantage of PJM's arbitrary pricing scheme, they will continue to inflate wholesale electric prices and "legally" steal billions of dollars from their customers.

Third, return excess company profits to customers as a "deregulation dividend." Lawmakers in Illinois required power companies to return $1 billion to their customers when rate caps expired there - which the companies did. When power companies can afford to do that (without going bankrupt), it makes you wonder whether they really "needed" to increase rates so much in the first place.

Finally, soften the blow of higher electric rates by gradually phasing them in over five years. At a time when our economy is suffering through a recession and working families are struggling to pay higher gasoline and grocery bills (and still make their monthly mortgage payment), no one can honestly expect consumers to simply "tighten their belts" and be able to pay an extra $200 on top of their monthly electric bill. This also applies to commercial and industrial customers that are trying to stay afloat during this economic downturn.

To be sure, there is much more we can - and should - do to fundamentally address the long-term problems posed by electric deregulation. But our first priority should be to protect ratepayers from the "real" energy crisis that faces us in 2010.

Young Will Oppose Local Cuts


In an effort to block sharp reductions to local government assistance, State Senator Catharine Young, (R,I,C-Olean) has said she will oppose $250 million in local cuts proposed last week by the Governor which would force local governments to raise property taxes to make up for the lost revenue from Albany.

The proposed local assistance cuts come on the heels of the Senate’s passage of the Governor’s legislation to enact a school property tax cap to provide relief from the crushing burden of property taxes Upstate and in the New York City suburbs. Rising property taxes continue to be the number one issue from Western New York to the tip of Long Island, and cutting local aid would hinder efforts to reduce property taxes.

However, Senator Young reaffirmed her commitment to partnering with Governor Paterson in the coming days and weeks to reduce spending and find real solutions to the fiscal problems created by the national economic slowdown.

“I will continue to work with the Governor to address the economic challenges facing the state, but not in a way that is harmful to the cities, towns and villages I represent who are already doing more with less. If the State takes away promised local aid, many local governments will be forced to raise their taxes to fill the gap. At a time when we are focused on providing real property tax relief to overburdened homeowners, that would send the wrong message,” Senator Young said.

The Senate Majority has been at the forefront of efforts to protect local aid, most recently in the 2008-09 State Budget, when the conference beat back a proposal by former Governor Eliot Spitzer to shift 2 percent of public assistance costs from the State to the counties. At the insistence of the Senate, the final Budget did not include the state-to-county cost shifts, which were strongly opposed by local county leaders across New York.

In addition, the Senate Majority has been instrumental in increasing funding for the Aid and Incentives to Municipalities (AIM) program. As a result of the 2008-09 Budget, municipalities outside of New York City will receive $767 million in total AIM funding, a $67.5 million (9.7 percent) increase from 2007-08. Buffalo (+10.8 percent); Rochester (+17.4 percent);Syracuse (+10.8 percent); Albany (+13.3 percent); Binghamton (+10.8 percent), and many other municipalities received significant AIM increases.

The 2008-09 State Budget provides $246 million in AIM aid to New York City, up from the $164 million in AIM funding proposed by former Governor Spitzer, which was half of New York City’s previously scheduled $328 million payment for 2008-09. The full AIM payment of $328 million will be restored in the 2009-10 fiscal year.

The Relevance of Oil History

Guests from 8 counties in Pennsylvania, Ohio and New York listened and participated in an interesting panel discussion presented by the Oil Region Alliance of Business, Industry and Tourism and Oil 150 entitled "The Relevance of Petroleum History in the Modern World", Tuesday evening, on the University of Pittsburgh, Titusville Campus.

Randy Seitz, President of the ORA, who coordinated the event, said "This is the first of a series of educational opportunities. We encourage you to demonstrate your support and help spread the word across the country about this important anniversary."

State Representative Scott Hutchinson, Chairman of the Joint Legislative Air and Water Pollution Control and Conservation Committee said "This anniversary celebrates the important and ground breaking events that happened here in the Oil Creek Valley. We are pleased to sponsor events and activities to help promote Oil 150 in the oil region and nationally."

The panel consisted of well- known local and regional historians and individuals with diverse interests in the modern petroleum and natural gas industries.

The wide- ranging discussion also included information and views from a geological perspective by John Harper, of the Bureau of Topographic and Geologic Survey who said "He who ignores history is destined to repeat it. Knowledge of past practices is very important when you are out trying to produce something that is so important. We do not want to repeat past mistakes."

Dr. William Brice, author of a soon- to- be published biography of Edwin Drake, provided several insights into his views on the historical perspective "People often ask why we study history … except for the wheel and gunpowder, I was unable to think of any other industry that has changed the world to the extent which oil has."

The entire discussion was taped by Armstrong Cable and will be available to subscribers with Video on Demand service in the near future.

The Joint Legislative Air and Water Pollution Control and Conservation Committee of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives was the sponsor of this event in conjunction with "Oil150".

Minister Sentenced for ID Theft

A Baptist minister in Williamsport has been sentenced to one year in jail for stealing the identities of his church members. Forty-four-year-old Raymond Clayton Sr. was also ordered to pay more than $28,000 in restitution. Clayton is the former pastor of Grace Fellowship Church near Mount Carmel, which has since disbanded. Federal prosecutors say Clayton used parishioners' personal information to obtain credit cards between November 2006 and April 2007. In March, he pleaded guilty to access device fraud.

Seneca Nation Urging Veto

Seneca Nation representatives are urging Governor David A. Paterson to veto legislation aimed at ending tax-free cigarette sales by Indian retailers. Richard Nephew, chairman of the Seneca Nation Council met with Paterson's representatives for more than two hours today. Legislators are trying again to collect the taxes because of the state's financial crisis. But Nephew says Paterson's approval of the bill would be detrimental to the Western New York economy. He says the Senecas are not part of the problem, but are actually part of the solution because of all the money they bring in. Nephew says he received no indication from the governor's staff about Paterson's intentions for the measure.

Reality Check:
Pennsylvanians Cut Back on Driving

State College, PA – In yet another display of their grossly misguided and ludicrous attempt to exaggerate the numbers and sell the tolling of I-80 as a viable solution to the transportation funding crisis in the Commonwealth, the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission continues to predict a 2.5 percent increase in traffic on I-80 – despite the fact that every study under the sun points in the opposite direction.

“In their most recent application to the Federal Highway Administration, the Turnpike Commission predicts a 2.5 percent increase in traffic annually if tolls are permitted on I-80 – yet, as the Pittsburgh Post Gazette points out today, Pennsylvanians are driving less – 241 million miles less in the month of June alone. Adjustments to the tolling model would only be remedied by increasing tolls or drastically altering their plans for road and bridge projects. Given the Turnpike Commission’s track record, and if I were a betting man, I’d put my money on higher tolls,” said U.S. Rep. John E. Peterson, R-Pleasantville, the leading force behind keeping I-80 toll free.

“How can the PTC predict future traffic flow when they have not even done an economic impact or diversion study? More importantly, when the national and local trends point to less driving, do they think this excludes Interstate 80? With the cost of gasoline hovering around $4.00 per gallon, this trend will undoubtedly continue.”

Peterson is referring to a report issued by the U.S. Department of Transportation, which states the motoring public has cut back on vehicle miles traveled by 30 billion miles in the first half of 2008 when compared to the first half of 2007. The trend includes Pennsylvania as the Post Gazette story noted today.

“This illustrates one of the many flaws contained in the Turnpike Commission’s I-80 tolling application. The stakes are too high and the economy is too fragile for this poorly conceived plan to go through. In my remaining months in office, I will continue to fight to keep I-80 a freeway,” concluded Peterson.

Rendell Reveals Recipe

Governor Rendell says other towns make three big mistakes and cannot replicate a real Philly cheesesteak.

To find out what those mistakes are, and the tricks to making a real Philly cheesesteak go to KYW NewsRadio.

United Way Appeal Starts Friday

Committed, passionate and optimistic. Those are the rallying words being emphasized by the United Way of the Bradford Area’s Board of Directors, the leaders of the organization’s 2008 annual appeal.

The fundraising drive begins today and will continue over the next four months, with the goal of raising $375,000 to benefit local agencies and programs.

“The monetary goal is one that is attainable,” says Board Vice President John Peterson, “however, it will require a total commitment of everyone: the Executive Director, the Assistant Director, all board members and the entire community.”

The 15-member chair team will front the collaborative effort with the expectations that the needs of the local agencies are programs are met.

“This was the right opportunity to put these individuals at the helm,” said Assistant Director Mandi Wilton Davis. “We’re confident in their abilities, as they are ours, and we’re looking forward to the success to come.”

The 2008 local campaign theme is “We ALL Win,” which Davis says was also a perfect fit.

“With this theme, we’re again able to showcase the impact that is being made on our local community via the funded agencies and programs, as well as emphasize the notion that good things come when we all work together.”

“We as board members see the results first hand in our community, now we have the chance to make it happen,” says Mary Ann Quinn.

The local staff and volunteers will spend the next few months soliciting the community for its continued support, especially via the workplace campaign presentations.

“The payroll deduction option is specific to the United Way,” explains Executive Director Kristen Luther, “and we find that it is truly a driving force behind the success of the fundraising efforts.”

The close of the appeal will be December 15, but work continues for a couple of months after to ensure that all avenues have been met and all pledges are accounted for.

“The support of the local community is needed now more than ever,” says Board Treasurer Vonda Reese. “We, as board members, pledge to be proper stewards of your donation dollars and feel by living the ‘united’ way, we can all truly win.”

Aside from the task of meeting the established monetary goal, UWBA personnel are in the midst of finalizing plans for the upcoming kick-off event, the Pig Roast/Clam Bake, which is scheduled for September 4th at the West Branch Community Center. Reservations are currently being taken on the United Way of the Bradford Area’s website.

Returning after a successful first year will be the soup lunch, and new to this year’s special events efforts will be the sale of the first United Way cookbook, as well as Christmas cards, with more information to come soon.

For a complete list of agencies and programs currently benefiting from United Way funding, visit the website at

“For me personally, I think of this honor of chairing this year’s campaign as a way to say ‘thank you’ to our community and its efforts,” says Reese. “Now we’re again inviting you to join our collaborative efforts in making this year’s campaign a success!”

For more information on the United Way of the Bradford Area, contact the office or visit the website.

(In the photo, courtesy of the United Way, Bob Marasco, UWBA Board President and John Peterson, UWBA Vice President prepare the goal thermometers for the start of the 2008 campaign, which officially gets underway Friday, August 15th. The 2008 campaign is being led by the UWBA Board of Directors.)

Postmaster Facing Prison Time

The former Lakewood, New York, postmaster faces 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for embezzling $100,000 from the post office. 46-year-old Julie Cashmore pleaded guilty to a charge of theft of government property. Cashmore stole Postal Service money orders and proceeds from stamps totaling $100,000 between October 2006 and January 2008, according to the U. S. Attorney's office. Cashmore is scheduled for sentencing on December 17.

Witness: I thought I was going to die

Attempted homicide charges against a Warren man accused of seriously njuring a bartender at the Eagles Club have been bound to court. 27-year-old Jason Lee Wilson was charged July 16 after assaulting Joanna White. During a preliminary hearing White testified that when Wilson was choking her he told her to stop fighting and he wouldn't kill her. She said she thought she was going to die. White suffered a broken eye socket, which required surgery. A bone below her eye was crushed and another bone had to be implanted. She also sustained injuries to her windpipe, face and back, and hair was literally pulled out of her head. Wilson is in Warren County Jail in lieu of $100,000 bail.

Senator's Wife Charged with Theft

The wife of Democrat state Senator Gerald LaValle is charged with stealing thousands of dollars from a nonprofit she headed, inflating her salary and denying employees pension benefits. Pennsylvania Attorney General Tom Corbett says 68-year-old Darla LaValle, of Rochester, stole the money while heading the Voluntary Action Center in Beaver County from 1987 until March 2007. Seventy-five-year-old Sen. LaValle announced he was retiring when his term ends at the end of this year. Darla LaValle has already repaid $47,000 the agency's board says she shouldn't have received.

For more on this story, go to the attorney general's web site.

UPB's Blackmore Passes Away

The University of Pittsburgh at Bradford has learned of the death of David Blackmore last night. Blackmore, who was Associate Professor Emeritus of Business Management, taught at Pitt-Bradford from 1976 until his retirement in 2004. He had been in failing health and for the last several months had been hospitalized in Pittsburgh. In April, Pitt-Bradford renamed one of its top awards in honor of Blackmore. The inaugural David L. Blackmore Award for Excellence in Business was given to Ashtin M. Moyer, a senior business management major from Lewis Run, at the university’s Honors Convocation Thursday, April 10, 2008.

“The criteria for selecting the student to receive this award are leadership in and out of the classroom and academic excellence,” said Lizbeth Matz, chairwoman of the division of management and education and an associate professor of business management. “These are qualities that Dave worked to instill in our students.”

Blackmore was the first professor of business at Pitt-Bradford and was instrumental in developing the philosophy and curriculum that are still at the core of the university’s business management program.
“It was Dave’s leadership and vision that made the business program the success that it is today,” Matz said. “He understood that a good business management program needs to be rooted in the liberal arts. He was also a wonderful role model and mentor to the students.”

During his 26-year career at Pitt-Bradford, Blackmore served as president of the Faculty Senate as well as the chairman of the business management department. In 2000, he was the recipient of the Pitt-Bradford Alumni Association Teaching Excellence Award. In 2003, alumni and friends established the David L. Blackmore Scholarship Fund to provide scholarships to promising and deserving students who are majoring in business management.

Man Jailed for Tattooing Teen

A Ripley man has been charged with endangering the welfare of a child for allegedly giving a 15-year-old girl a tattoo. Chautauqua County Sheriff's Deputies say 22-year-old Ian Trimbath tattooed the teen on June 27. He's doesn't have a license and is not certified to tattoo in New York State. Police received a complaint from the county Department of Environmental Health and the girl's mother. Trimbath is in jail in lieu of $2,000 bond.

'Diploma Mill' Investigation Starts

HARRISBURG — Attorney General Tom Corbett today announced that the Office of Attorney General is currently reviewing information related to more than 135 Pennsylvania residents recently identified as part of a federal investigation into an Internet scheme to sell thousands of bogus high school and university degrees.

“Using falsified credentials to obtain state certification for various jobs jeopardizes the health and safety of Pennsylvania residents,” Corbett said. “The Office of Attorney General will work with other state agencies to determine if any of the individuals named in this investigation have used fraudulent degrees improperly.”

Corbett noted that the federal investigation focused on a degree-selling business based in Spokane, Washington, often known as Saint Regis University. As part of that investigation, federal prosecutors developed information about more than 9,000 “students” who may have purchased degrees from Saint Regis University or other fictitious institutions.

“At least 135 people used Pennsylvania addresses to obtain their degrees from Saint Regis University or other fictitious schools,” Corbett said. “We are reviewing information about those degree purchases and will contact other state agencies if it appears that questionable degrees have been used inappropriately.”

Corbett said the list of university degrees allegedly purchased by Pennsylvania residents as part of this scheme include Early Childhood Education, Elementary Education, Guidance & Counseling, Psychology, Criminal Justice, Law Enforcement, Addiction Therapy & Treatment, Occupational Health & Safety, Medical Technology, Electrical Engineering and numerous other professions. The degrees include high school diplomas, college bachelors and masters degrees, along with several doctorate degrees.

Corbett explained that the Attorney General’s Office has a history of aggressively investigating degree falsification cases, including the closure of an Erie-based “diploma mill,” know as the “University of Berkley” in 2005, along with the criminal prosecution of individuals accused of falsifying official state certifications.

"Fraudulent degrees destroy the credibility of educational institutions that offer Pennsylvanians legitimate classroom or online instruction to help improve their knowledge and skills,” Corbett said. "Bogus ‘diploma mills’ also enable unscrupulous individuals to use these degrees to misrepresent their educational background, enhance their credibility and falsely enhance their employment or promotion opportunities."

Higher Potato Chip Prices

Troyer Farms says the nationwide potato shortage is affecting their business. The Waterford-based potato chip and snack food company says flooding in the Midwest destroyed many potato crops, which means fewer supplies and higher prices for potato chips. Too much rain in the spring also had a negative impact on local potato production.

Grape Discovery Center Gets Money

The proposed Grape Discovery Center in the Westfield area will get more than $1 million from the State of New York. The Grape Discovery Center will be modeled after the Cranberry Discovery Center in Wisconsin and will feature educational and interactive exhibits about Chautauqua County’s grape and wine industry. It will feature a gift shop, snack bar, wine-tasting center and vineyard tours. The Chautauqua Lake Erie Wine Trail features 21 wineries, and is the largest grape growing region east of the Rockies. Visits to the region bring in sales of about $17 million a year.

Lisa Miceli Going to Jail

The Meadville woman who claims Michael Jordan is the father of her son has been sentenced to a week in jail for not complying with a court order. 35-year-old Lisa Miceli had been ordered to not contact the former NBA star, his family or his representatives. Miceli also had to write a letter promising she would comply. Miceli says she couldn't comply because she believes her son is being cheated out of child support. Jordan sued Miceli earlier this year to enforce a 2005 agreement that required her to stop contacting him after two DNA tests showed he wasn't the boy's father. Jordan's attorneys say Miceli continues to violate the deal, which Miceli says she was forced to sign.

Crayola May Use Solar Power

EASTON, Pa. (AP) — Color this idea with the green crayon. Crayola is looking at using sun power to generate electricity for its eastern Pennsylvania plant.

Spokesman Eric Zebley says Crayola is studying the possibility of installing solar panels on a 16-acre site near its plant at Easton, 50 miles north of Philadelphia.

Zebley says such an array could generate three megawatts of electricity for the crayon company.

Company officials plan a presentation at Thursday night's Forks Township Planning Commission meeting on what the site might look like.

Supervisors Chairman David Howell says it would be a first for the township. He says the site is in an area that allows electrical generation, though the comprehensive plan doesn't specifically deal with solar power.

Professor Moons Students, Faculty

HAYS, Kan. (AP) — A YouTube video of a Kansas professor mooning a room full of students and faculty during a debate has led to two university investigations.

The video shows Fort Hays State University debate coach William Shanahan in a profane, in-your-face argument with his counterpart from the University of Pittsburgh, Shanara Reid-Brinkley. The exchange took place in March at a competitive debate at Emory University in Atlanta.

The video shows Shanahan bending over and pulling down his khaki shorts, exposing his underwear. The tape was posted on YouTube Aug. 2 and had over 88,000 views by Thursday.

Fort Hays academic officer Larry Gould said Reid-Brinkley accused the Fort Hays team of dropping her as a judge because she is black. Gould said the school is also investigating the "racial element" to the episode.


Thursday at the Festa

4 p.m. -- Some food booths open.

7 p.m. -- Opening ceremony with Stan Pecora as master of ceremonies; Tubby Colella singing the National Anthem; Boy Scots and Girls Scouts raising the flag; opening prayer by Father Leo Gallina.

6 to 10 p.m. -- The band Ledgens performs (taking a break between 7 and 8 p.m.)

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Judge to Rule on
Mass Muderder's Mental State

Lawyers for mass murderer George Banks are asking a judge – again – to spare his life. Banks killed 13 people, including five of his own children, in a 1982 shooting rampage in Wilkes-Barre. A hearing scheduled to begin Thursday will determine whether Banks is too mentally ill to be executed. The hearing will be held at the southeastern Pennsylvania prison where Banks has sat on death row for the past 25 years. A Luzerne County judge ruled in February 2006 that Banks couldn't be put to death because he's delusional, psychotic and had no capacity to assist in his own defense. But the state Supreme Court overturned the ruling and ordered a second competency hearing for Banks

Casino Money Sent to Albany

The Seneca Nation has sent the state of New York a check for $57.3 million from slot machine revenues. Seneca President Mo John says revenue generated at the casinos has supported several important projects throughout Western New York and will continue to have a positive economic impact. The Seneca Allegany Casino payment totaled more than $16 million that will be split between the city of Salamanca, Cattaraugus County and the Salamanca City Central School District.

Funeral Director Pleads Guilty

A Philadelphia funeral director who authorities say conspired to illegally harvest body parts from corpses pleaded guilty today to 248 felonies. 38-year-old James McCafferty, and others, were accused by a grand jury of letting a group of "cutters" hack up bodies — without the families' knowledge or permission — for $1,000 per corpse. The parts, often diseased, were then sold to hospitals. McCaffery may be asked to testify against his co-defendants as part of the plea agreement.

Court: Rendell Furloughs are OK

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — A state judge has upheld Gov. Ed Rendell's authority to furlough most state employees when a state budget is not passed on time.

Commonwealth Court Judge Mary Hannah Leavitt rejected arguments by three state-employee unions that mass furloughs could be averted during a budget impasse by continuing to pay state employees with unappropriated money in the state treasury.

Leavitt said that's barred by the state constitution and that the governor's options are limited to furloughing employees or requiring them to work without pay until a budget is passed.

David Fillman, director of the Council 13 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, says an appeal is likely.

Gas Prices Still Going Down

Although gas prices in Bradford are still above the national average, they are going down. The national average price is $3.78.

Allegheny Forest Trail

Finishing touches are being put on an application that would designate 86 miles of road through the Allegheny National Forest as the Allegheny Forest Trail. McKean County planning director Debbie Lunden will be submitting the formal application on behalf of McKean and Warren counties. If PennDOT approves the Scenic Byway designation the next step will be to seek national recognition of the Allegheny Forest Trail. Designation by PennDOT would open up new funding opportunities for improvements to hiking trail heads, parking areas, bike lanes, overlooks, restrooms and other facilities. The Allegheny Forest Trail follows Route 59 from the Glade Bridge in Warren to Smethport, and Route 321 from Kane to Willow Bay and Longhouse Scenic Drive.

Festa Food!

Frank Williams tries to decide what tasty treats from the Festa Italiana committee to try first. Every year, they're nice enough to give us free samples -- then we go down and buy more! The festival gets under way at 4 p.m. Thursday. Frank will be broadcasting live from 4 to 6 p.m. Friday.

Erin Hannon Hospitalized

Former Bradford Area High School track star, and current University of Nebraska student, Erin Hannon was in a motor vehicle accident Sunday night in Colorado, and is currently in a rehabilitation area of Northern Colorado Medical Center. She was transferred to that area from ICU on Tuesday. Jeremy Foote, Track and Field Media Relations Director
at the university, says it's the university's policy to not answer specific questions about surgeries. Last week, Erin was named to the United States Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association All-Academic Team.

Cards can be sent to:
Erin Hannon
Room 477
Northern Colorado Medical Center
1900 16th Street
Greeley, CO, 80631

FBI Looking Into Robberies

The FBI is now involved in the search for the person police believe robbed several banks and other businesses over the past few weeks. The latest robbery was at the Clearfield Bank and Trust in Curwensville on Monday. Police now believe the same man could also be responsible for other robberies in Blair, Indiana and Jefferson counties. This picture is from a surveillance camera at the Curwensville bank.
Police said the man is white, in his mid-30s, about 5 feet 8 inches tall, with dark brown hair and glasses. In every robbery he wore either a hat or hooded sweatshirt, police said. They also said he used a gun in the crimes.

Cigarette Butt Burns Vehicle

A Warren man accidentally torched his own SUV Tuesday when a flicked cigarette butt returned to him through an open rear window. Police says 52-year-old Stuart Beck threw a burning cigarette butt out of his driver's side window. The cigarette blew back into Beck's vehicle through an open rear window, landed on the back seat and started a fire. Stuart stopped his SUV and got out, but was unable to put out the flames. Police say fire consumed the vehicle. The remaining flames were put out by Tidioute volunteer firefighters shortly after the fire was reported, about 2:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Wallet Turns Up 44 Years Later

WARREN, Ohio (AP) -- The demolition of a northeast Ohio school has unearthed a personal time capsule: a wallet stolen from a student in 1964. Kareen Theresa Reese says she's "flabbergasted" that it turned up. She remembers feeling annoyed when her red cowhide wallet was taken from her purse at Warren G. Harding High School in Warren. Her temporary drivers permit was inside, so she had to go through the trouble of getting another. The wallet still held the original when it was found last week, along with tickets to a school play, an excuse note for gym class, photos and a half stick of gum. The worker who discovered it inside a girls' restroom wall also found another wallet — from 2007. He says a hole in the wall made it convenient for dumping stolen wallets.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Getting Ready for the Festa

Volunteers are putting up booths for the annual Festa Italiana, which starts Thursday evening in Bradford. The festa -- on Festival Way -- will be in full swing Friday and Saturday, and features Italian food, entertainment and games. Ann DeLucia will be on the LiveLine Wednesday to tell us all about the festa (and we hope she'll bring us food like she usually does!)

Bradford City Council Meets - August 12

Sun shines on The Corner Bar at 42 Mechanic Street Tuesday evening. During Tuesday's Bradford City Council meeting, Mayor Tom Riel told owner Diane Thompson "a lot of people have commented on how nice it is to come around that corner" since she started the façade improvements.

WESB/WBRR News Director

Both pools at Callahan Park got attention during Tuesday's Bradford City Council.

Vince Pascarella, coach of the Barcroft Swim Team, presented council with the plaque the team earned for finishing in first place.

The team also had an undefeated season for the first time in several years.

City Parks Director Chip Comilla told council Pascarella has done "a fantastic job with the kids."

Comilla also thanked Pascarella and all the volunteers and parents who made the recent swim championships at Barcroft Pool successful.

"All the other communities liked it," he said, "and they were very impressed with the professionalism of the guards, the swim team coaches and all the parents that helped out."

As for the other pool, council approved a proposal from E & M Engineers to provide engineering and construction inspection services for the water spray park for no more than $10,000.

The city has secured grant money from the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources for the project.

Also Tuesday night, council passed on final reading changes to the city plumbing ordinance.

At an earlier meeting, they explained that people can get plumbing licenses from municipalities that are not strict about granting them, then come here and do sub-standard work.

In a related matter, council appointed Mark Grassi as deputy plumbing inspector for the city.

Council also approved $10,000 worth of façade improvement grants to Diane Thompson, owner of The Corner Bar, for painting, vinyl siding, and repairing of the peaks and cornices of the building.

Mayor Tom Riel as well as several members of the public who were at the meeting remarked to Thompson on how nice the building looks now.

Dolan is New Main Street Manager

Anita Dolan is Bradford's new Main Street Manager. OECD Executive Director Sara Andrews said they interviewed "a number of excellent candidates" before offering the job to Dolan. Dolan says she's looking forward to working with the downtown merchants, providing leadership and resources, and helping the community to grow. Dolan had previously worked at the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford. She replaces Diane DeWalt, who resigned earlier this year.

Fabian to Receive 'Harvey Award'

Singing idol and actor Fabian will be honored by the museum dedicated to actor Jimmy Stewart. Sixty-five-year-old Fabian will receive the Harvey Award on Oct. 24 from the James M. Stewart Museum Foundation. The museum is in Stewart's hometown, Indiana, Pa. Fabian was a pop singing star who appeared in more than 30 films, including two with Stewart, "Dear Bridgette" and "Mr. Hobbs Takes A Vacation." Past Harvey Award winners include June Allyson, Janet Leigh, Shirley Jones, Ernest Borgnine and impressionist Rich Little. The foundation's award is named for the 1950 film in which Stewart befriends an invisible rabbit.

Lawsuits Regarding 'Do Not Call'

Harrisburg - Attorney General Tom Corbett announced that consumer protection lawsuits have been filed against two business owners and their companies, who are accused of violating Pennsylvania's "Do Not Call" law and other consumer protection statutes. The companies, based in Baltimore, Maryland, and State College, Pennsylvania, are accused of using illegal telephone solicitations to aggressively market mortgage products to consumers - including what Corbett alleges is the largest-ever systematic effort to violate the Do Not Call program since it was created in 2002.

Corbett said the civil lawsuits were filed by the Attorney General's Bureau of Consumer Protection against the following businesses and individuals:
- Charles A. Ruppersberger IV, 100 Harborview Drive, Baltimore, doing business as Direct Leadsource, also of Baltimore.
- Justin Harford, 1192 Westerly Parkway, State College, Centre County, doing business as Golden Apple Mortgage, Foote's, Inc. and New Equity LLC, all of State College.

"As the economy and housing markets change in Pennsylvania and around the country, some mortgage companies are using aggressive new tactics to solicit customers." Corbett said. "Today's consumer protection lawsuits are an important step to protect consumers from illegal conduct and send a clear message that lending companies must obey the law."

Corbett said the Attorney General's Bureau of Consumer Protection received complaints from consumers in Adams, Allegheny, Beaver, Berks, Blair, Bucks, Cambria, Carbon, Chester, Clearfield, Cumberland, Dauphin, Delaware, Erie, Fayette, Jefferson, Juniata, Lackawanna, Lancaster, Lehigh, Luzerne, Lycoming, Mercer, Mifflin, Montgomery, Northampton, Philadelphia, Pike, Schuylkill, Susquehanna, Union, Venango, Warren, Westmoreland, Wyoming, and York.

Corbett said that call records obtained by the Attorney General's Office indicate that Direct Leadsource placed approximately 97,000 calls to consumers in the "610" area code; 81,000 calls to the "724" area code; 77,000 calls to the "215" area code; 71,000 calls to the "717" area code; 65,000 calls to the "570" area code; 57,500 calls to the" 412" area code; 57,000 calls to the "814" area; 1,900 calls to the "484" area code and 650 calls to the "267" area code.

For more on this story, go to the attorney general's web site.

PB&J Sandwiches OK in Warren

Warren County school students will be able to eat peanut butter sandwiches after all. The school board had considered eliminating peanuts, and peanut butter, from the school menus because some students have peanut allergies. Superintendent Robert Terrill said public outcry made it impossible to make the change. Instead, the school district will have peanut-free tables in the cafeterias; initiate a program to educate parents and students about peanut allergies; and make sure school principals and school nurses know what to do if a student with a peanut allergy is exposed to peanuts.

Peterson: Don't Blame Washington

From The Philadelphia Inquirer:

By U.S. Rep. John E. Peterson
Fifth District in Pennsylvania

Gov. Rendell recently called for an increase in federal infrastructure funding, intimating that Washington isn't doing enough to fund the repair of our roads and bridges.

However, Washington returns $1.15 for every dollar Pennsylvania pays into the Federal Highway Trust Fund; a deal most states would love to have.

Washington isn't to blame for the sorry state of affairs of Pennsylvania's roads and bridges. The state legislature and the governor are.

Lawmakers in Harrisburg have been pillaging roads and bridges money to pay for debts incurred by mass transit and other programs, which should be paid from fees and general revenues.

Since 2003, $412 million in federal money for repair and maintenance of our state's roads and bridges has been diverted by the governor to fund mass transit in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.

The state legislature has also had its hand in the roads and bridges cookie jar. For years, Harrisburg has raided the motor license fund, transferring more than $1 billion to the state police, Department of Weights and Measures, and tourism programs over two years. This money is supposed to be spent on roads and bridges.

How do the governor and the state legislature pay for their billion-dollar plunder of the roads and bridges account? By the passage of Act 44, which calls for tolling I-80. Perhaps by fate, Act 44 was the same bill number that brought us the notorious 2006 state pay raise.

Fortunately, since the taxpayers of the United States and I-80 users have already paid for the interstate, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) must determine if the tolling request meets established criteria. One of which is that the money collected must be used for I-80, not mass transit programs.

Fortunately for the economic future of Pennsylvania, the low hanging fruit of rural I-80 looks like it is the "forbidden fruit" and out of reach of Act 44.

The I-80 tolling plan submitted last October to DOT by the anointed manager - the patronage polluted Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission - was returned to the commission in December for being grossly inadequate.

After seven months, and millions spent on public-relations firms and lobbyists, the commission finally resubmitted the application. If the commission answered the DOT's questions truthfully, odds are against its approval. A big if when it comes to the commission.

To his credit, Rendell, as an alternative to Act 44, has proposed that the turnpike be leased and the money be used to pay for the state's transportation needs.

The lease would bring in $12 billion debt free, versus $21 billion in debt (bonds, plus interest) for the Act 44, I-80 plan. A no-brainer, except it would result in the demise of the turnpike commission and control by the leadership in Harrisburg of thousands of political-patronage jobs.

The governor has also recently sent a letter of support to the DOT for the resubmitted I-80 application. Being on both sides of the issue, this will allow Rendell to declare victory no matter the outcome.

A recent Forbes Magazine ranking of "The Best States to Do Business In" listed Pennsylvania 41st out of 50.

With major policy decisions being made in Harrisburg without any economic analyses or public input, such as tolling I-80, we expect a Forbes rating of number 50 in the not too distant future.

Let's hope that Washington forces our elected leaders in Harrisburg to finally choose good policy over parochial politics by rejecting the Act 44 scheme of tolling I-80.

Regola Drops Out of Race

A state senator from western Pennsylvania whose gun was used by a teenage neighbor in an apparent suicide has abandoned his campaign for a second term.

Sen. Robert Regola submitted paperwork Monday to the Department of State notifying them of his decision to remove his name from the general election ballot, officials said.

Sen. Joseph Scarnati, chairman of the state's Senate Republican Campaign Committee, said Regola sought his opinion last week and he told Regola that it would be best for his family to withdraw. Regola took the weekend to discuss it with his wife, Scarnati said.

"It's a tough, tough media issue with what's gone on, and the trial was certainly going to be part of the race and the family's had enough of it," Scarnati said.

Scarnati, R-Jefferson, insisted that the decision had nothing to do with polling data, but acknowledged that any Republican campaign faces tough odds in predominantly Democratic Westmoreland County.

For the full story, go to

Judge Rejects 'Shopaholic' Defense

PITTSBURGH (AP) — A federal judge in Pittsburgh isn't buying the defense of a woman who claims a shopaholic disorder caused her to steal nearly $758,000 from the Westinghouse subsidiary where she used to work.

As a result, Mary Beth Klorczyk of North Huntingdon Township, has been sentenced to 33 months in prison.

Authorities say Klorczyk stole the money from WesDyne International by using a company American Express card to pay for vacations, home improvements, jewelry, a Mercedes Benz and other items. They say she covered up the thefts by creating 1,700 bogus expense invoices.

Klorczyk's attorney says she couldn't help herself. But Judge Donetta Ambrose agreed with prosecutors who noted Klorczyk managed to control her spending on her personal credit cards, but not the company card.

3 Charged in PA Dogfighting Ring

BROWNSVILLE, Pa. (AP) — One man is in custody and police are searching for two more on felony charges that they organized dog fights in rural southwestern Pennsylvania.

State police and Fayette County humane officials say the men have been organizing dog fights at homes in Brownsville and Luzerne Township, about 30 miles south of Pittsburgh. Police say they found two scarred pit pulls, a bloodstained fighting ring and video of a dog fight while searching for drugs in a home.

Thirty-one-year-old James Holcomb Jr., of Brownsville, is in the county jail. Police are still searching for 39-year-old Mark Johnson of Luzerne and 30-year-old Perry Wells of Lorraine, Ohio.

8-Year-Old Left at Side of Road

A New Hampshire man has been charged with endangering the welfare of child after allegedly leaving his 8-year-old son along the side of the road. Chautauqua County Sheriff's Deputies say a passerby on Route 60 in Charlotte stopped to check on the welfare of the child, and learned the child couldn't say where he lived or where his family was. While deputies were talking with the boy, a motorcycle drove by and the operator was not wearing a helmet. When deputies stopped the bike, the boy said the driver was his father. 39-year-old Seth Prescott was then charged with endangering the welfare of a child and numerous traffic violations.

Young to Receive 'Industry Award'

WESTFIELD, NY — Senator Catharine Young will be presented the coveted “Industry Award” of the New York Wine & Grape Foundation (NYWGF) on August 13 in Westfield, home of National Grape Cooperative in New York State’s largest grape growing region. The Industry Award is presented to an individual who has made major contributions in advancing the interests of the New York grape and wine industry.

“We are delighted to present this award to Senator Young to recognize all that she had done for our industry statewide,” said Jim Trezise, NYWGF President. “It is symbolic that we wanted to present this award at our annual Unity Banquet in late March, but Senator Young stayed in Albany to conclude budget negotiations on behalf of New York agriculture.”

As Chair of the Agriculture Committee, Senator Young has played a vital leadership role in advancing the interests of the grape and wine industry as well as other agricultural sectors. Her support of the New York Wine & Grape Foundation’s promotion and research programs have benefited grape growers, grape juice producers and wineries in all regions of the State. Among many programs are:

~~ A major promotion of the health benefits of Concord grape juice

~~ “Regional Branding” programs for the industry in various areas of the state

~~ A major promotion program focusing on New York City

~~ A “New York Wine Month” promotion throughout the State

~~ A “Total Quality Focus & Sustainability” research program

Senator Young also secured funding for a new Cornell Lake Erie Viticultural Research Laboratory which is scheduled to open in 2009.

“Above and beyond her support of specific programs, Senator Young has provided vital leadership in Albany,” said Pete Saltonstall, NYWGF Chairman and co-owner of King Ferry Winery in the Finger Lakes. “She created the Legislative Wine & Grape Caucus comprised of Senators and Assembly members with an interest in our industry, even including people from New York City. We appreciate all that she has done.”

The award will be presented at about 9:30 at National Grape Cooperative as part of an Open Forum with the NYWGF Board of Directors and regional industry members.

Cops: Groom Too Close to Bride

A New York state man has been arrested for getting too close to his bride on their wedding day. Police say Timothy Cole quarreled with a wedding guest at a party Friday after wedding his ex-wife in Batavia. Officers knew the 45-year-old Cole from previous arrests and realized his bride had an order of protection against him. Cole was charged with first-degree criminal contempt, a felony, and ordered jailed without bail. The Daily News in Batavia says Cole was convicted of criminal contempt on July 1. The Genesee County public defender's office says Cole hasn't been assigned an attorney.


Monday, August 11, 2008

Updates on Energy Fund Available

Homeowners, businesses and local governments looking for new ways to conserve energy and reduce their energy costs can now register online for updates on the state's new $650 million Alternative Energy Investment Fund, according to State Senator Joe Scarnati (R-Jefferson).

Scarnati, who strongly supported Special Session Act 1 of 2008 creating the fund, said a number of rebates and other financial incentives are included in the new $650 million program, and he wants consumers to take advantage of them.

“This program can help residents and companies save money, and conserve energy at the same time,” Scarnati said. “Consumers are looking for ways to cut their energy costs, and this fund can help them take advantage of new, more cost-effective energy sources.”

Scarnati said the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) will provide email updates on the different programs, including how to apply for funding.

To register, go to and click on the "Fueling Energy Savings" icon, then click on the green envelope icon on the left-hand side of the page.

The fund will provide $500 million in grants and loans to implement alternative and renewable energy sources, construct green buildings, help low-income consumers, and promote cleaner energy generators. In addition, $150 million will support energy-efficiency projects, such as home weatherization.

“I urge folks to sign up for these updates, and look for new ways to cut their energy bills and make their homes and businesses more energy efficient,” Scarnati said. “With the rising cost of energy, this is an important way to save money.”

Smith Will Take Signs Down

Mike Smith is taking his flags down, but not because he was found guilty of violating the city's sign ordinance. He says he's taking them down because of complaints from customers and employees of Murphy's Auto Repair, which is behind Smith's business. They are the people who filed the complaint with the city about the flags being a hazard when they pulled out from the driveways into East Main Street. District Judge Dominic Cercone said he's had plenty of time to read the ordinance since the citation was issues. Smith was fined $50 and has 30 days to appeal Cercone's decision, and he hasn't decided yet if he'll do that. During this afternoon's hearing, Smith admitted that the flags that were flying when he was cited on July 18, were not the American flags that have been up since then.

DAs Office Gets Grant Money to Help Stem Underage Drinking

The McKean County District Attorney's Office has received $11,500 from the state to address and help stem underage drinking. The money will be used to train local police regarding source investigations, which focus on discovering and fully prosecuting people and businesses that provide alcohol to underage people. Part of the grant will also be used to encourage and help pay for increased patrols on target weekends such as prom and graduation. District Attorney John Pavlock says there have been several case in McKean County over the past couple of years that involved underage drinking and severe injury and/or loss of life. He says he's hopeful that the training, increased police presence and public awareness of the problem will help prevent these types of tragedies in the future.

Wellsville Man Back in Court Friday

The 76-year-old Wellsville man who was arrested on federal firearms charges last week is due back in court on Friday. Robert Merrick was arrested Wednesday on a federal charge of dealing in firearms without a license after Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agents served a warrant at his property. Merrick could face five years in federal prison and up to $250,000 in fines.

Man Accused of Shooting Mother

An Altoona man is accused of fatally shooting his mother in the head while arguing with her husband. Thirty-three-year-old Antinino Brancato Jr. is charged with homicide, attempted homicide and related charges in the death of 51-year-old Kathy Miller. Police say Brancato was inside the house arguing with Ron Miller, who was standing outside on the porch, when Brancato got a gun and threatened to shoot Miller, but instead the gun discharged and struck his mother. Miller disputes the police account. He says he and Brancato had been out drinking and continued to argue when they came home. He says he went to calm down and go buy cigarettes and when he was walking back to the house, he heard a pop.

A New Voice on the Radio

We have a new female voice on the radio this week -- News 4 Meteorologist Lindsay Schwarzwaelder is filling in for the vacationing Mike Cejka for a few days. It's nice to hear another female voice besides mine every now and then.

Bicentennial Wagon Train

Scott Douglas took these photos of the Bicentennial Wagon Train as it passed by his family's farm.

The wagon train will be trekking through the county until August 22.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Legion Team Falls to Boyertown

Boyertown defeated Bradford 16-0 in seven innings at Bear Stadium to win its third straight Pennsylvania State Legion Tournament title Saturday. Bradford has, however, won a berth in the national regionals, which start Thursday.