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Saturday, June 20, 2009

Cross-Dressing for Cancer

The Miss Relay contestants get ready to strut their stuff for a very enthusiastic crowd.

"Sandy" passes out kisses to Kiwanis Kutie Fred Pysher, Master of Ceremonies Jerry Johnson Jr. and cancer survivor Tony Danias during the Miss Relay Contest at the 15th Annual Bradford Relay for Life.

Donnie "Donatella" Johnson -- the blushing bride from The Pitt Crew -- won the contest, taking in more than $300. All together, these fun-loving, and courageous, guys raised nearly $1,900.

Kudos to my buddy Mike Walter, who was supposed to be in the contest but couldn't be because his mother passed away on Wednesday and he was at the funeral home. But, he tells me he went to the relay and walked two laps in honor of his mom, Jo Ann. That should tell you how much the relay means to people.

Remember, Fight Back, Celebrate

Patti Neidich talks about caregivers as her sisters Joette Johnson and Robin Pavone, along with a tentful of cancer survivors, family and friends look on.

Dozens of cancer survivors take a victory lap during the relay at the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford.

Family & Friends

Fran Stewart of the cancer society and Robin Pavone, a team captain, share a light moment. (Might I add that Robin's team was selling some very tasty rigatoni & meatballs.)

Friday, June 19, 2009

Fed Money for Grape Industry?

Senator Catharine Young (R,C,I – Olean) today sent a letter to Governor David Paterson urging him to request a Federal disaster declaration for areas affected by an unseasonal frost that severely damaged vineyard crops in the Lake Erie Region. Sen. Young said the estimated crop loss to grape growers in Chautauqua and Cattaraugus counties ranges from 25 to 35 percent.

“This is a devastating blow to an industry that relies so heavily on Mother’ Nature’s cooperation,” said Senator Young. “The economic impact of this disaster extends well beyond the direct impact to farmers. Tourism, suppliers and local communities will feel the hit as well. The grape and wine industry has been a growing and powerful economic engine in this region and I urge Governor Paterson to call for this needed relief.”

On the morning of May 18, 2009, temperatures in the Lake Erie Region dropped to between 25 degrees F and 29 degrees F affecting vineyards ranging from Erie County, PA all the way to Niagara County, NY.

“It was unexpected and all farmers could do was hold their breath in the hopes everything would turn out ok. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen and crops were destroyed. Now farmers are looking for any help they can get to recover from this tremendous blow.” said Sen. Young.

New York is the third largest wine producer in the United States and attracts over 4 million tourists annually. The total economic benefit to the state last year from New York grapes, grape juice and wine was $3.4 billion.

Senator Young will be touring a local farm in her district on Saturday to assess the damage. The Fisk Farm in Dunkirk had damage done to 65 acres out of the 150 the farm owns and maintains.

Funds for Communication System

U.S. Representative Glenn `GT’ Thompson, R-Howard, today announced he requested the $500,000 for the Clarion Northwest Central Regional Interoperability Strategic Telecommunications Plan that has been included in a House funding bill. The Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations measure for fiscal year 2010, which passed the House of Representatives last night, included the project.

“I’m very gratified to have the support of the House for an important new communication system in my district,” said Thompson. “The funds are provided under the Department of Justice Community Oriented Policing Services, COPS. This program helps law enforcement agencies across the country meet a range of community policing challenges. Having spent years as a volunteer emergency medical technician, I can attest first-hand to the importance of adequate communications systems for first responders.”

The $500,000 will create a joint communication system, located in Clarion, which will promote seamless interoperability among counties, hospitals, schools, regional, state and federal agencies including: the Pennsylvania State Police, National Guard and Department of Transportation as well as the Federal Department of Homeland Security, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Federal Emergency Management Agency. Radio communications, along with broadband and internet connectivity, are vital elements to link the region’s telecommunications needs and allow the counties to continue to provide direct services and mutual aid. The project will serve Cameron, Clarion, Clearfield, Elk, Jefferson, and McKean counties.

Clarion County Commissioner Donna Hartle said, “This grant announcement is a start of interoperability efforts for the six-county region. The effort by Congressman Thompson clearly gives the six-county region a viable start in providing necessary and critical infrastructure that will be of benefit to so many people. We cannot thank the Congressman enough for understanding our needs in this 6-county region.”

While House passage of the measure is an extremely positive sign, the funding must still be approved in the Senate version of the Commerce, Justice Science bill, and the measure must be signed into law by the President.

3 More Alleged Predators Arrested

HARRISBURG - Attorney General Tom Corbett announced that over the past week agents from the Child Predator Unit have made arrests in Northumberland, Berks and Montgomery counties involving men accused of using the Internet to sexually proposition what they believed were 13 or 14-year old girls.

Corbett said that two of the suspects are accused of sending nude or sexually graphic webcam videos to what they believed were children, while another allegedly traveled from Maryland to Pennsylvania in order to have sex with a teenage girl. In all three cases, the men were actually communicating with undercover agents from the Child Predator Unit, who were using the online profiles of children.

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

Former WGR-TV Sportscaster Dies

Former WGR-TV sportscaster Gary Papa died today after a battle with prostate cancer. He was 54.

For more on this story, go to the Philadelphia Inquirer or CBS 3.

Note: Papa worked at the station in the 1970s before it became WGRZ-TV.

Commonwealth Foundation:
Gov. to Suspend Laws of Economics

Commonwealth Foundation President and CEO Matthew J. Brouillette issued the following statement in response to Gov. Rendell’s critique of the Commonwealth Foundation’s economical modeling projections that Pennsylvania would have nearly 24,000 fewer jobs as a result of his proposed 16 percent hike in the state personal income tax:

“Gov. Rendell’s critique of the Commonwealth Foundation’s projections of job losses under his proposed tax increase as ‘ludicrous’ is historically and economically ignorant.

The Governor’s campaign to raise taxes on working Pennsylvanians and small businesses ignores the basic laws of economics. By denying that citizens and businesses would respond to higher taxes, the Governor ignores the fact that people will have less money to spend, and small business owners will have fewer resources to invest in their enterprises.

What is truly ludicrous is that Gov. Rendell ignores the historical evidence that individuals and businesses respond to higher taxes by relocating to states or countries with lower tax rates. This is why Pennsylvania has been one of the largest out-migration states in the nation.

Gov. Rendell’s claim that Pennsylvania has the 2nd lowest income tax rate also distorts the facts in pursuit of his political agenda. Nine states have no income tax, or tax only dividends and interest. Most states have lower starting personal income tax rates, standard deductions, and additional tax credits or deductions. Thus, Pennsylvania ranks much higher in state income tax revenue collected per capita—28th highest, to be exact.

The Governor also conveniently ignores that Pennsylvania has local income taxes which are among the highest in the nation. In terms of state and local income taxes per person, Pennsylvania already ranks 16th highest. Most importantly, when the overall tax burden is considered—including income, corporate, sales and property taxes—Pennsylvania has the 11th highest state and local tax burden in the nation. That makes us already uncompetitive relative to other states, which is why we rank 34th in the nation in job growth under Gov. Rendell’s tenure. Raising or creating new taxes will only make things worse for Pennsylvania.”


Costello Bridge Work Starts

Preliminary work has begun on a bridge project along Route 872 in the village of Costello, Potter County. Start-up activity included clearing and grubbing.

Crews will now work to build a temporary roadway and bridge, before demolishing the current bridge. The temporary bridge will be controlled by a temporary signal, with traffic taking turns crossing the bridge.

Once the temporary bridge is in place and the old bridge demolished, crews will begin work to build a new, two-span, 125-foot spread concrete box beam bridge. The bridge will span Sinnemahoning Creek and should be complete in spring of 2010.

Bob Cummins Construction Company of Bradford is the contractor on this $1.95 million project. All work on the job is weather dependent.

Relay Underway

The GP team puts the finishing touches on its "Yankee Doodle Dandy" tent for the 15th Annual Bradford Relay for Life at the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford. This year's theme is Relay on Broadway and among the other shows represented are "Into the Woods," "Wicked," "The Lion King" and "Annie."

If you haven't made dinner plans yet, here's an idea: The Relay for Life Food Court. Whether you're thinking about dinner (chicken barbecue) or something lighter (hot dogs) or just a snack (soft pretzels) or even something sweet (cinnamon rolls) -- there's something there for you. And all proceeds benefit the relay!

These giant bags will be part of ceremonies this evening at the relay. The opening ceremony starts at 6; the survivor ceremony, 7; luminara, 9. And the Miss Relay pageant will be held after the survivor ceremony. You don't want to miss that!

Oil/Gas Driller's Skull Crushed

An Ohio man is dead after his head got caught in drilling equipment while working in a field in Crawford County.

37-year-old Kenneth Georg II of Brinkhaven was working with a crew drilling exploratory holes for gas and oil wells when his head got caught between a control box and the drilling rig.

Crawford County Coroner Patrick McHenry says Georg's skull was crushed and his neck was broken.

State Police and OSHA are investigating the accident.

NY Senators Come to Agreement --
About Getting Paid

New York State Senators have come to an agreement – about their paychecks.

The Senate President Pro Tempore normally signs the senators' paychecks but, since they can't decide who is officially the president pro tem, they've reached a power sharing agreement that includes only the signing of paychecks.

Governor David Paterson released a statement saying that if senate leadership can agree on a way to keep getting paid, they can reach an agreement to get back to work for the people of New York.

There has been no legislative session since June 8 – the day Republicans staged a coup that shifted power. Monday is the last scheduled legislative session.

Causer's Coudersport Office Moving

COUDERSPORT - Rep. Martin Causer (R-Turtlepoint) is moving his local office to 107 South Main Street, Room 1, effective Wednesday, July 1. The office will be closed on Tuesday, June 30, during the move.

"The Main Street location is more visible and easily accessible to the public," Causer said. "The office is the community's direct link to state government, and I want to make sure people who need assistance with any state-related matters can easily find the office and take advantage of the services offered."

Those services include driver license and vehicle registration applications; higher education assistance grant information; help in filling out applications for various state programs, such as the senior citizen Property Tax/Rent Rebate and PACE prescription drug assistance programs; and more.

The contact information for the Coudersport office will remain the same. The telephone number is 814-274-9769 and the fax number is 814-274-8159. The office is open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

People in need of assistance while the office is closed June 30 may call the Bradford office at 814-362-4400.

BLT Holds Annual Meeting

Dick Marcott was re-elected president and Kathy Bryant was named to the board during the annual meeting of Bradford Little Theatre board of directors on Wednesday at the group's Main Street office.

Re-elected to the board for two-year terms were Charles Church, Anne Holliday and Nanci Garris. Also elected to a two-year term was past president Diane Kerner Arnett.

In the one-year officer posts, Cindy Matteson was named secretary, succeeding Garris. Holliday and Marcia Morrison were re-elected vice president and treasurer, respectively.

Continuing on the board is Cindy Graham. Pam Gaffney stepped down at the end of her term.

One Book Bradford:
Becky: The Life and Loves of
Becky Thatcher

If you ever wondered what happened to Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn and Becky Thatcher long after Mark Twain put his pen down, the next installment of One Book Bradford is for you.

The One Book Bradford committee has picked “Becky: The Life and Loves of Becky Thatcher,” written by Lenore Hart, as this year’s installment of the annual project.

The book is written from Becky’s point of view and clarifies some things Twain left out of his stories. It also reveals what happens to the beloved characters once they became adults.

One of the book’s draws is a strong female title character, something Hart set out to create.

Hart was in the fifth grade when she first checked out “Tom Sawyer.” While she enjoyed the story, she was disappointed in the lack of storyline for the female character.

“She was weepy and romantic and very silly, I thought. No real girls I knew acted that way.”

But it wasn’t until a question was asked by her husband after a brief stay in Hannibal, Missouri, that Hart brought herself to tell Becky’s story. He asked "If you wrote a novel about a grown-up character from Tom Sawyer, which one would it be?"

Her answer, of course, was Becky.

“And when we got home, I began working on it. Little did I know it would take four years, the longest of my novels to date,” Hart said.

What happened during that time was a lot of research and rereading of Twain’s works and biographies.

“Twain is an American icon. I knew some people would be outraged that I even dared . . . but that's a writer's job, isn't it? To dare. To imagine things anew,” Hart said.

And reworking someone else’s work isn’t exactly a new concept, she said, citing works by Shakespeare and Dickens.

“… these realizations made me brave,” she said. “Twain is larger than life, a legend beloved by everyone. Though I was not setting out to best him - a writer I respect and admire - or to mock him, or to "get even." I only wanted to give a fair share of life to a young female character for whom he, as a Victorian man of those rather stuffy and sentimental times, probably could not fully imagine any sort of compelling reality.”

Had Twain been alive and writing now, Hart believes he would write Becky’s character differently.

“He'd be living, after all, in a new millennium,” she said.

And while it would appear following in Twain’s footsteps would be difficult, the Publisher's Weekly review said, "Mark Twain is a hard act to follow, but Hart does her heroine justice."

Hart hopes the readers take away a multitude of things after reading the book, one of which is going back to read “Tom Sawyer” or other books by Twain – some for the first time.

“Nearly everyone knows who Tom Sawyer is, but a surprising number of the people who say they do know have never actually read Twain's novel,” Hart said. “I'd also like them to take away the idea that people in the 19th century were both more like us than we'd ever imagine, and not like us at all in some ways.”

“A novelist who takes a contemporary person with contemporary views and reactions and dresses them up in old-fashioned clothes and calls it ‘historical fiction’ is telling a lie. A person who lived back in the mid-19th century, even a rather enlightened one, would not think about life exactly as we do. They would have certain preconceptions about classes of people, and more obvious racial biases, and firm notions about the roles of the two sexes, and very different manners and ideas about how things should always be - in fact, they'd think and say and do things that we would now find appalling.

“… I want readers to know these long-dead women were once just as real as we are now. They had similar concerns, and loves, and hates, and often had to rise to a challenge far beyond what they had ever expected to face in life. Just as we sometimes must do, now, in our times.”

Hart said she was overjoyed when she was told her book was pegged for One Book Bradford.

“Actually, I would say gleeful,” Hart said. “Because really, how could an author ever make everyone read her book all at once? The answer is, she can't. The best to hope for, normally, is to see someone with your novel in hand at the airport, or maybe to appear at a bookstore and sign copies, or perhaps attend a book club meeting, where everybody at least says they have read it.

“But now my novel will be read simultaneously by a whole town and possibly points beyond, all at once. Wow. The only way to top that now is to get a national holiday named after me.”

One Book Bradford is an initiative led by the Friends of the Bradford Area Public Library, the Friends of the Hanley Library and members of 11 local book groups.

The committee members read a multitude of books before deciding which one will be the focus of the Bradford community and provide life-long learning opportunities for those who participate.

The One Book Bradford committee is planning a series of events to complement the themes of the book. Those events will be announced at a later date.

“I really like the adventure. I like it a lot,” said One Book Bradford Chairwoman Pat Shinaberger. “This is a woman who was forced to be on her own several times.”

Shinaberger explained that the three carryover characters are like kids in our own neighborhood and this book gives the reader an opportunity to learn what they did when they became adults.

It also shows that people have many layers in their lives.

“We last knew Becky as a child. Now, she’s a mother,” Shinaberger said. “People have varied lives we don’t know about until we ask the questions.”

Hart's previous novels include “Waterwoman,” a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Authors award winner; “Ordinary Springs;” and “Black River.” Her other book-length works are “T. Rex at Swan Lake” (a picture book with Lisa Carrier), and “The Treasure of Savage Island,” a historical novel for young adults.

Hart has also published short fiction, nonfiction, reviews, and poetry in the U.S., Canada, and Norway. She’s received awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, The Virginia Commission for the Arts, The Virginia Center for the Creative Arts at Mount San Angelo, and The Florida Fine Arts Council, and was given the Distinguished Alumni Award by Old Dominion University in 2006. Her work has been featured on Voice of America Radio, in Poets and Writers Magazine, and on the syndicated PBS series “Writer To Writer.”

Her next novel, “Nevermore” - a ghost story and literary romance – is set in 19th century Baltimore, Philadelphia, and New York City. Edgar Allan Poe married his young cousin Virginia Clemm when he was 27 and she not yet 14. In “Nevermore” Virginia is the narrator who reveals what the 12 years spent as Poe's wife were like, and why she's come back at the hour of his death. Hart teaches in the MA/MFA Creative Writing program at Wilkes University in northeast Pennsylvania. She lives on the Eastern Shore of Virginia with her husband, novelist and Bradford native David Poyer, and their daughter Naia.

Scenes from the Fight Back Parade

Miss Relay for Life

Here are some of the contestants for the Miss Relay contest. If you didn't get a chance to vote them yesterday, you can vote today at Pitt-Bradford during the 15th Bradford Relay for Life.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Galeton Woman Picked Up in NY

A Galeton woman who had a warrant out for her arrest was picked up in Steuben County, New York, while police were serving a warrant to another person.

Laura Cardy was being interviewed in connection with a burglary investigation when troopers determined she was wanted in Pennsylvania. They didn't give details about her alleged crime.

They did say she resisted arrest. She's being held in the Steuben County Jail on numerous charges and is awaiting extradition to Pennsylvania.

Senate Standoff Continues

The standoff in the New York State Senate continues.

Today Senator Jeff Klein, the deputy majority leader, said the Republican coalition has ignored the Democrats' proposal for a solution.

The Democrats want to replace President Pro Tempore Senator Pedro Espada, who they say in not interested in putting partisanship aside.

Earlier this week, a state Supreme Court judge said he wouldn't make a decision in the matter because he didn't think it was proper for the judiciary branch to interfere with the inner workings of the legislative branch.

The current Legislative session is scheduled to end on Monday.

Emerald Ash Borer in Catt County

The emerald ash borer has been found in Cattaraugus County.

The destructive beetle that infests and kills North American ash tree species has been found Randolph.

The infestation was first reported on June 15 after US Department of Agriculture employees recognized damage on trees just off Exit 16 of Interstate 86.

About 30 trees have been affected.

The purple boxes people see hanging from trees in the region are emerald ash borer traps.

Two Charged in Warren Death

Two people have been charged with killing a Warren man earlier this year.

46-year-old Daniel Winwood was found dead in a home on West Fifth Street on March 2. Police say he died of a drug overdose.

42-year-old Randall Zaner and 25-year-old Jennifer Babic, both of Warren, have been charged with preparing and administering a pain medication that resulted in Winwood's death.

Police say the two tried to cover up the crime by destroying evidence and providing false information to police.

Zaner and Babic were captured in Painesville, Ohio, and are awaiting extradition to Warren.

They were both charged with drug delivery resulting in death.

Save Our State Park

Allegheny National Forest Vacation Bureau Executive Director Linda Devlin was my guest on Thursday's LiveLine:

Governor Ed Rendell: (717) 787-2500

DCNR Acting Secretary John Quigley: (717) 772-9084

That Crazy Bird

This is the bird you've been hearing about on the air. Yeah, the one who's, uh, making a mess of our vehicles. I hope he realizes soon that the bird he's playing hide-n-seek with in the mirrors and windows is himself.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Flood Control Authority Awarded

The Bradford Regional Flood Control Authority has received an award from teh US Army Corps of Engineers for "Outstanding Flood Reduction Project." The award is in recognition of the authority's commitment and dedication to the community's flood protection program in 2008, and the effort and pride taken in the operation and maintenance of the Bradford Flood Reduction Project.

Pictured are, from left, Chuck Benninger and Don Fredeen of the flood control authority, Rick Oleniacz of the Corps of Engineers, and authority chairman Bruce Foote.

Rep. Causer: Rendell is Wrong

HARRISBURG - Gov. Ed Rendell is wrong to ask Pennsylvanians to pay more in state income taxes to fund his proposed budget of more than $29 billion, Rep. Martin Causer (R-Turtlepoint) said today.

"Pennsylvanians everywhere are cutting their family budgets to make ends meet - the last thing state government should be doing is making it tougher for them," Causer said. "Increasing taxes by $1.5 billion will do nothing to help the economy recover. In fact, it will have the opposite effect, leaving Pennsylvania families with less money to spend and many small businesses, which are also subject to the tax, with fewer resources to pay their employees and expand their operations."

Causer noted that rather than cutting the state budget, Rendell is actually proposing to increase spending by at least $700 million over the current year.

"Only this governor would propose a significant increase in spending in the face of a $3.2 billion deficit," he said. "It completely defies logic."

The lawmaker also questioned the governor's claim that the income tax hike - from 3.07 percent to 3.57 percent, an increase of 16 percent - will be temporary, citing the "Johnstown Flood Tax" that was imposed in 1936 as a temporary tax to help the City of Johnstown recover from flood damage.

"More than seven decades later, Pennsylvanians who buy liquor are still paying the tax," Causer said. "I'll believe 'temporary' when I see it."

A state budget is supposed to be adopted by June 30, but that's never happened during the Rendell administration.

Man Sentenced for Bank Robberies

A Jamestown man will spend the next 10 years in jail for a string of bank robberies in 2007.

31-year-old Rashawn Smith admitted to robbing banks in Jamestown, Pittsburgh and Erie between April and July of that year. He carried a knife during one of the robberies and a pellet gun during another.

He took a total of nearly $40,000 in the seven robberies.

Rendell Orders Cabinet to Cut Another $500 Million

HARRISBURG – Responding to a deepening budget crisis and a constitutional requirement to balance a $3.2 billion revenue shortfall, Governor Edward G. Rendell today convened a rare emergency cabinet meeting and gave each cabinet member specific targets for cutting an additional $500 million from next year’s state budget.

Governor Rendell said he recognizes his proposal for $2 billion in spending cuts is severe and will undoubtedly raise objections from those who will be impacted. But unlike the Republican plan to reduce the budget by $1.7 billion, the Governor’s $2 billion in spending reductions are spread carefully across the board to avoid the deep and extreme cuts to education and economic development initiatives.

“While I agree that we must make dramatic cuts to balance our budget, I am taking a vastly different approach. The Senate Republican plan is full of harsh and debilitating cuts to education and economic development initiatives that will cause local property taxes to soar and cost the state thousands of more jobs,” Governor Rendell said.

“Balancing the budget by forcing local communities to raise property taxes is the cowards’ approach. I was not elected to make politically convenient decisions that would put concerns about the next election ahead of the needs of the next generation,” added Governor Rendell.

He also pointed out that the $27.3 billion budget plan passed by Senate Republicans in early May is already a billion dollars out of balance because revenues have continued to decline while the national recession persists. Thus, their budget, as is, would not be a workable alternative unless they raise more money in taxes.

The Governor instructed his cabinet secretaries to adopt his suggested reductions or come back quickly with other ideas that meet his targets for each agency. He acknowledged that this is a difficult task, and additional reductions will require surgical-like precision.

The Governor first sliced $500 million from the current fiscal year’s budget in late 2008. He proposed another $1 billion in spending reductions during his February budget address. The $500 million in reductions he identified today brings his total cuts to $2 billion.

Governor Rendell expects to meet with legislative leaders in the very near future to discuss his final list of spending reductions to balance the budget for the 2009-10 fiscal year that begins July 1.

Our Heartfelt Condolences ...

go to Mike and Tim Walter on the passing of their mother.

KEEP Screening at Pitt-Bradford

During Tuesday’s Kidney Early Evaluation Program (K.E.E.P.)screening at the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford, Mary Dynda (left)of Bradford has her blood sugar checked by Belinda Plowman, RN, of DaVita Inc. of Bradford. Ninety-seven individuals pre-registered for the free K.E.E.P. screening intended to test those with suspected kidney disease or high-risk factors. The K.E.E.P. screenings were conducted by the National Kidney Foundation, the Center for Diabetes and Nutrition Education at Bradford Regional Medical Center (BRMC), DaVita Inc., the McKean County Diabetes Task Force, the Pennsylvania Health Department,and Beacon Light Behavioral Health Systems. The event was sponsored by the McKean County Diabetes Task Force, which is comprised of BRMC’s Center for Diabetes, Pennsylvania Health Department, Beacon Light Behavioral Systems, Community Nurses Inc., and the McKean County Collaborative Board.
(Photo courtesy of BRMC)

Scarnati: No Tax Increase

WARREN--Governor Ed Rendell’s proposal to hike the state’s personal income tax by almost 17 percent is the worst thing to do for Pennsylvania at the worst time according to Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati who said such a move would be job-crushing and fiscally irresponsible.

“At a time when we are facing an economic crisis not seen since the Great Depression, the last thing we can afford to do is raise taxes on working people and job creators who are already struggling to make ends meet,” Scarnati said. “There is no support in the Republican Senate for this type of broad-based tax increase, and it will certainly not sit well with Pennsylvania families who have to make tough financial choices right now and control their own spending.”

The governor has proposed hiking the Personal Income Tax to 3.57 percent from the current 3.07 percent for three years to raise approximately $1.5 billion per year in new revenue. This increase is approximately 17 %. He also proposed stopping the phase-out of the Capitol Stock and Franchise Tax, which would be another burden to job creators and, quite frankly, workers looking to find family-sustaining jobs.

Scarnati also noted that the Senate passed its own proposed budget in early May, one that includes no new taxes and is fiscally prudent. Since then, the Administration has repeatedly used scare tactics to drum up opposition to Senate Bill 850.

“Now, with the clock ticking, the governor is asking us to support a fiscally irresponsible tax increase that could cripple our economy and prevent us from recovering from this economic downturn,” Scarnati said. “Increased taxes will only ensure a prolonged recession and will only ensure that working families and businesses will not be able to invest in their communities.”

“I certainly look forward to seeing a vote in the House on the Governor’s newly proposed budget,” Scarnati concluded. “The Senate has passed a budget and it failed in the House. Therefore, I anxiously await a vote in the House on a tax increase, balanced budget. At that point we can begin sincere negotiations.”

Pictured, Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati (R-Jefferson), Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi (R-Delaware) and Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Jake Corman (R-Centre) express their strong opposition to Gov. Ed Rendell’s call for a 16 percent increase in the state’s personal income tax.
(Photo provided by Senate Republican Communications)

Crash Victims Identified

Police have released the names of the people seriously injured in an accident around 8 o'clock last night on West Corydon Street.

Kurt Toothman was flown to ECMC in Buffalo. Erica Pascarella, Tyler Lucco and Rebekah Combs were all flown to Hamot Medical Center in Erie.

Bradford Township police say the accident happened when the vehicle Toothman was driving went out of control, left the road and hit a wooden fence and posts. The vehicle continued sideways and hit a utility trailer parked in the yard just west of 1052 West Corydon, then continued across the driveway and hit an SUV. The impact knocked the SUV into the yard, where it rolled onto its roof. Police say their investigation is continuing.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

City Looking at Revenue Shortfall

WESB/WBRR News Director

The City of Bradford is looking at a budget deficit that could be as much as half a million dollars.

During a mid-year budget review city council work session Tuesday, department heads learned that timber revenues could be anywhere from $300,000 to $500,000 less than projections.

"There's a huge dark cloud on the horizon," said City Clerk John Peterson, "and that dark cloud, unfortunately, is the timber revenue."

"It's one thing to be hopeful, but it's another thing to be realistic," said Mayor Tom Riel. "Chances are extremely great that we're going to be short hundreds of thousands of dollars."

"The timber has been, pretty much, dead in the water all year," he said. "It doesn't seem feasible that it could rebound enough by the end of the year to make up for the shortfall that we're going to experience."

Add to the decrease in timber revenue increased health insurance costs and a decrease in wage tax revenues.

Riel said that, while city employees have been finding ways to cut back, they have to do more.

He said they have to treat everything from lights to air conditioning to city vehicles "as if they were paying the bill for it."

"The taxpayers can't afford it right now, especially with the crunch they're in where 800 people locally are out of a job and hundreds of people have taken a cut in pay," he said. "It's bad."

He added that, with all the cutting each department did last year, this year will be even harder.

Riel did say no one on council is looking to a tax increase to fill the budget gap.

City controller Ron Orris told council they can't wait until the end of the year to see how the situation plays out.

"You need to come up with a percentage to cut the budgets right now," he said. "You can not spend the rest of the year with this budget. You need to cut it. You need to cut it now."

"It could be an F5 tornado or it just be a mild thunderstorm with a little bit of lightning," said Councilman Bob Onuffer, who is in charge of accounts and finances for the city. Either way, he said, they have to prepare.

Crash Victim ID'd

Authorities have released the name of the Jamestown man who died in a one-vehicle accident last night.

53-year-old Steven Thayer was driving south on Route 60 in the Town of Pomfret when his pickup truck veered into the northbound lane, where it hit a driveway drainage pipe, flipped and then rolled over three times.

Thayer was taken to Brooks Memorial Hospital in Dunkirk, where he was pronounced dead a short time later.

Committee Approves Parks Bills

Harrisburg – The Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, chaired by Sen. Mary Jo White (R-21), unanimously approved legislation today that would ensure funding for services at state parks is not reduced as a result of budget constraints.

The measures would permit the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources to utilize funding from the Environmental Stewardship/Growing Greener Fund (Senate Bill 962) and Key '93 realty transfer tax revenue (Senate Bill 963) for the operation and maintenance of Pennsylvania's 117state parks.

"The money in the Key '93 and Environmental Stewardship funds belongs to the taxpayers," White said. "Over the past several weeks, citizens have expressed their strong support in ensuring that services at state parks are not reduced. While this legislation does not require any transfer of funding to state parks, it gives the Governor and the Secretary of DCNR added flexibility to ensure that our state park system remains open to visitors."

White also noted that non-profit and local government organizations which typically receive funding from these programs continue to benefit from the $625 million Growing Greener Bond approved by voters and the General Assembly in 2005.

The committee unanimously approved two additional bills today:

Senate Bill 235 authorizes the state Department of Environmental Protection to implement flood protection measures using nonstructural alternatives including acquisition of land and structures; demolition, removal, relocation, elevation and floodproofing of structures; and floodplain clearance and restoration. (Senator Wozniak)

Senate Bill 880 authorizes the Secretary of Environmental Protection to enter into redevelopment agreements with developers who remediate brownfield sites. Developers may be eligible to receive a reimbursement of up to 75 percent of the remediation costs. (Senator Wonderling)

Guilty Plea to Jamestown Murder

A Buffalo man has pleaded guilty to killing a Jamestown woman and has been sentenced to 17 years to life in prison.

29-year-old David Clemons killed 24-year-old Dana Cowart on September 27 of last year.

Her body was found two days later in a vacant apartment that had been damaged by a fire.

Life in Prison for Yeager, Altman

Susan Yeager and Cory Altman will spend the rest of their lives in prison for killing Yeager's estranged husband late last year.

Warren County Judge William Morgan sentenced the brother and sister today to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Altman shot Shawn Yeager in the back on the porch of Yeager's home in December, but Susan Yeager hatched the plot because she said she wasn't able to spend as much time as she wanted with her sons.

Her sons found their dead father when they got home from school.

Ex-Principal Guilty on Porn Charges

A former Olean elementary school principal has been convicted on child pornography charges in Florida.

62-year-old John Stelmack was principal at East View Elementary for about three years before leaving to take a job in the Buffalo area.

According to court records in Polk County, Florida, Stelmack was suspended as principal of an elementary school there while authorities investigated reports that he had inappropriate contact with students.

During the investigation, authorities found pornographic images of children in a briefcase in a locked closet in Stelmack's office.

He's scheduled for sentencing on July 10.

Missing Woman Last Seen in DuBois

Vermont police say a 21-year-old woman who was last seen in DuBois may be the victim of foul play.

Amanda Gale checked into a DuBois motel on Friday and was last heard from on Saturday. Police say they found blood in Gale's motel room.

They say she has a criminal record that includes drugs and theft.

Gale is described as 5-feet 4-inches tall and 125 pounds. She has brown eyes and brown hair cut above the shoulder with blonde highlights.

Rendell Proposes PIT Increase

He's been tiptoeing around the issue for weeks, but today Governor Ed Rendell has officially proposed a temporary increase in the state's personal income tax.

He says the tax increase would bring in $1.5 billion a year for the next three years, and is one of the steps necessary to close a $3.2 billion revenue shortfall.

Rendell says he's also still in favor of new taxes on tobacco and natural gas extraction.

Most Republicans in the state Legislature say they prefer more budget cuts to a tax increase.

Jamestown Man Dies in Crash

A 53-year-old Jamestown man is dead after his pickup truck rolled multiple times last night on Route 60.

Sheriff's deputies say the truck was traveling south on Route 60 in the Town of Pomfret when it veered into the northbound lane and hit a driveway drainage pipe. The truck flipped once then rolled three times.

The man was taken to Brooks Memorial Hospital in Dunkirk, where he was pronounced dead a short time later. His name is being withheld until his family is notified.

Monday, June 15, 2009

West Nile Spraying on Thursday

Eldred and Keating townships, along with Eldred Borough, will be sprayed to prevent West Nile virus on Thursday, weather permitting.

Samples taken by local officials and DEP in these areas have shown adult mosquito populations that can carry the West Nile virus.

DEP says the treatments will be administered with truck- and ATV-mounted equipment to spray ultra low volume applications in residential and recreational areas.

Certain mosquito species carry the West Nile virus, which, when transmitted to people, can cause West Nile encephalitis, an infection that can result in an inflammation of the brain.

'Suspicious' Fire on Main Street

Police are investigating a suspicious fire that damaged three vehicles this morning in a Main Street parking lot.

City firefighters responded to a parking area near Allegany Arsenal at 181 Main Street at about 4 a.m. They say one vehicle caught on fire and it spread to the other two vehicles.

Firefighters were on the scene for about an hour.

Senecas Want In on Lawsuit

The Seneca Nation of Indians wants to be added as a defendant in a lawsuit that's seeking to shut down its Buffalo casino.

Because of its sovereign status, the nation is not currently named in the suit filed by Citizens Against Casino Gambling in Erie County, but Seneca leaders say they should be allowed to intervene to safeguard their interests.

They filed the motion today in US District Court in Buffalo.

The Senecas operate a temporary casino on the Buffalo site and plan to build a larger permanent facility when the economy turns around.

Yeager, Altman to be Sentenced

The sister and brother accused of killing a Warren County man in December will be sentenced tomorrow.

Susan Yeager and Cory Altman were convicted of first-degree murder last month for the death of Shawn Yeager.

Altman shot Yeager on the back porch of his home. His sons found him when they got home from school.

Susan Yeager, Shawn Yeager's estranged wife, arranged the murder because she said she wasn't getting enough time with the boys.

Charter School Hearing Tomorrow

The state Charter Appeals Board is expected to hear the appeal of the Mount Jewett Charter School Coalition tomorrow.

After the hearing, the board has up to 60 days to decide whether to accept the charter school application.

The coalition has been working toward opening a charter school since the Kane Area School Board decided to close the Mount Jewett Elementary School at the end of the 2007 school year.

The school board has denied the application twice.

NY Senator Switching Back

One of the New York State Senate Democrats who sided with Republicans last week to switch power to the GOP is going back to his caucus. That would tie the Democrats and the group that overthrew them at 31.

Senator Hiram Monserrate says he'll return to the Democratic caucus, if they replace Senator Malcolm Smith as majority leader.

A week ago Monserrate and Democratic Senator Pedro Espada joined 30 Republicans to try to replace the Democratic leadership they said was ineffective.

A State Supreme Court judge says if the senate can't elect a leader by 3 o'clock this afternoon, he'll make a ruling in the matter.