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Friday, September 18, 2009

Friends Talk About Megan Konopka

BRADFORD, Pa. - One of Megan Konopka’s weak points was that she trusted people too much, said friends who knew the young woman who was murdered last weekend in Bradford.

Read Kate Day Sager's story HERE.

Rendell, Leaders Announce Budget

WESB/WBRR News Director

Governor Ed Rendell and legislative leaders have agreed on a nearly $28 billion spending plan that would raise cigarette taxes and extend the state's sales tax to concert and theater tickets.

The plan would also take money from the state's rainy day fund and the account that helps doctors pay for malpractice insurance, as well as legalize table games at casinos.

"We are all very pleased, extremely pleased, to bring something to the table that has taken a lot of time (and) we wish we would have been able to do sooner," said Lt. Governor Joe Scarnati. "But it has met the priorities and the goals of those of us here. Although there are compromises made, none of us compromised our principles."

Pennsylvania's fiscal year started on July 1, and the state is the last in the country to agree to a budget plan.

The plan still requires legislative approval, and Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi said the bills will start to move in the House and Senate next week. Without a rule suspension, it takes a new bill three days to move.

Pileggi said it's more likely that all the budget-related bills will be passed the week after next.

Rendell said they wouldn't be releasing details of the plan to the media until rank-and-file lawmakers get a chance to review them.

"The first obligation is not to have the members read it in the newspapers," Rendell said, "because you may be shocked to hear that the newspapers are not always entirely accurate … and we want to make sure the members get the numbers."

Rendell said they want to begin work as soon as possible, but Rosh Hashanah started at sundown and many staff members and legislators observe the holiday. He said they will start working out the details of the spending plan in earnest on Sunday.

"We're going to try to minimize the length of time the best we can," Scarnati said. He added that although Senator Bob Mellow was not at the news conference, the minority leader made "some real differences," and was "instrumental in bringing things together."

When asked how Judge Marjorie Rendell – a supporter of the arts – will feel about the tax on concert and theater tickets, the governor said he believes she would say education is the number one priority.

“This agreement does not include the massive personal income tax increase that the governor proposed, but it does invest in education and recognizes the fiscal realities that we face," Scarnati said in a news release.

“We fought for taxpayers and working families who told us that they didn’t want higher taxes and spending,” Scarnati said in the release. “This budget is balanced, it is fiscally responsible, and it meets the needs of the citizens of this Commonwealth.”

The end result is good for Pennsylvania, Rendell said.

(Photo of Scarnati, House Majority Leader Todd Eachus and Rendell courtesy of Carol Maravic Milligan)

Breaking News:
We Have a State Budget

Governor Ed Rendell and legislatiave leaders are holding a news conference right now announcing an end to the 80-day-long budget impasse. We'll have more information shortly.

PA Jobless Rate Rises Again

Pennsylvania's jobless rate rose again last month, but there are still signs of improvement.

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate rose one-tenth of a point to 8.6 percent, as the state lost 8,800 non-farm jobs in August. Although the job loss was higher than July, it's still below the numbers the state was seeing earlier this year.

The national rate in August was 9.7 percent.

US Bureau of Labor Statistics

Pumpkinville Opens Saturday!

Getting Closer to a State Budget

Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati, (center), Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi (right), and Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Jake Corman today provided an update on negotiations to reach a state budget agreement. Pileggi says, with a $28.9 billion proposal on the table, they're only $1 million to $2 million apart. The parties are meeting at the governor's mansion tonight.

Love Them? Buckle Them!

Trooper Ron Milliard of the Pennsylvania State Police installs a new car seat during the car seat check held in Smethport on Friday, one of the many checks held statewide in recognition of Child Passenger Safety Week, September 12-18. Four Troopers that are certified technicians from the Kane Barracks checked 17 seats during the 6 hour event. Seven child seats that were found to be old, worn, or recalled were able to be replaced with seats provided by Safe Kids McKean County through grant funding provided by Safe Kids Pennsylvania and the PA Department of Health. Members of Safe Kids McKean also handed out child safety materials and items. For more information on child passenger seat safety or other child safety issues visit Safe Kids McKean’s website at
(Photo courtesy of Safe Kids McKean)

Charles Cole Surgeon Promotes
Advanced Orthopedic Surgery

Dr. Bradley Giannotti, orthopedic surgeon at Charles Cole Memorial Hospital’s Champion Orthopedics and Sports Medicine, spoke to a group of Army surgeons in Texas recently to promote more advanced surgical care for patients with shoulder injuries.

Dr. Giannotti educated the group on a new repair technique that can be done arthroscopically. Traditional surgery requires a two or three inch incision in the shoulder. Arthroscopic surgery uses a smaller incision and, while easier on the patient, was more difficult for surgeons in the past. Dr. Giannotti wanted to find a way to do the surgery in a way that would allow patients to heal faster while providing a secure fixation. After brainstorming some design samples and working with a group of bioengineers, Dr. Giannotti and two others co-founded the company, Kfx Medical, to stand for knotless fixation. Based in California, the product has been used in over 1,500 patients since FDA approval three years ago. In fact, Dr. Giannotti said the product is one of the strongest repairs available and uses the first patented crossed suture.

Surgeons in the United States perform over 400,000 rotator cuff repairs each year to repair damaged tendons in the shoulder, Dr. Giannotti said. With a more active population and the growing number of older Americans, that number could very well increase.

Dr. Giannotti has taught orthopedists across the country how to use the device and has also hosted visiting surgeons at Charles Cole. “Our goal has been to provide a tool for surgeons that makes the process faster and easier, while giving patients superior fixation of their rotator cuff tear without a bigger open procedure and so far I think we have accomplished that,” he said.

The company is preparing to launch a similar system which recently completed testing at the University of Toledo. Dr. Giannotti visited the university’s engineering department to test a new anchor for bicep tenodesis, a procedure for repairing a torn or diseased bicep where it originates at the shoulder. The knotless system would make surgery less invasive, requiring less rehab, he said.

The company looked at patients based on a common scoring system called the UCLA shoulder score (Dr. Giannotti’s alma mater) with excellent results. The earliest patients are about two and a half years out, he said.

“Any patient with a rotator cuff tear is a potential candidate as we have had collegiate athletes as well as middle aged and the elderly as patients,” he said. Dr. Giannotti wrote a scientific article for Techniques in Orthopaedics which will show the initial results of the product and will be published next year.

Dr. Giannotti has been a member of CCMH’s medical staff for over 12 years. He is an American College of Surgeons and American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons fellow and is an associate master instructor for the Arthroscopy Association of North America. He also serves on Kfx Medical’s scientific advisory board. In addition to his orthopedic practice in Coudersport and Olean, NY, he also serves as a team physician for several area high school sports teams as well as St. Bonaventure University and the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford.

(Photos courtesy of CCMH)

Watson Completes Basic Training

Navy Seaman Recruit Trevor L. Watson, son of Leah A. Frederick of Rixford, Pa. and Daniel F. Watson of Smethport, Pa., recently completed U.S. Navy basic training at Recruit Training Command, Great Lakes, Ill.

During the eight-week program, Watson completed a variety of training which included classroom study and practical instruction on naval customs, first aid, firefighting, water safety and survival, and shipboard and aircraft safety. An emphasis was also placed on physical fitness. The capstone event of boot camp is "Battle Stations". This exercise gives recruits the skills and confidence they need to succeed in the fleet. "Battle Stations" is designed to galvanize the basic warrior attributes of sacrifice, dedication, teamwork and endurance in each recruit through the practical application of basic Navy skills and the core values of Honor, Courage and Commitment. Its distinctly ''Navy''flavor was designed to take into account what it means to be a Sailor.

Watson is a 2009 graduate of Smethport Area High School of Smethport, Pa.

UPB Hosting 'Green' Workshop

Conservation Consultants and the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford are hosting a workshop next month to teach contractors, entrepreneurs and career changing professionals solar energy economics and installation.

Recent developments in local energy markets, landmark state energy legislation and a more favorable national climate toward green business and job growth finds western Pennsylvania poised to undergo a tremendous growth spurt in the clean energy and conservation sectors in general and an emerging solar energy market in particular. In light of this movement Conservation Consultants has decided to host Solar-PV training workshops made possible by a grant from the Penelec Sustainable Energy Fund of the Community Foundation for the Alleghenies and the Pennsylvania Green Business Initiative of the Community Foundation for the Alleghenies.

The workshop will be held from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.October 5-9 at Saint Bernard Parish Center in Bradford, PA. Representatives from Solar Energy International of Colorado will teach the course.

The training course is designed for contractors, electricians, sales reps, entrepreneurs and career-changing professionals new to solar business. The course teaches the NABCEP Photovoltaic Entry Level Certificate of Knowledge, enabling students to qualify to take the NABCEP Certificate of Knowledge test. The courses’ training will include a combination of topics including: system components, site analysis, PV module criteria, mounting solutions, safety, and commissioning. Participants will learn the fundamentals of sizing a residential battery less grid-tied system, wire sizing, overcurrent protection, and grounding.

The North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) approved the Solar-PV installer training course, which includes 30+ hours of professional training presented in five days from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (with one hour lunch) each day. Space is limited so act fast!

To find out more, contact Mike Hackett of University of Pittsburgh at Bradford at (814) 362-0254 or Ann Gerace of Conservation Consultants, Inc. at (412) 431-4449 ext 200. Or, visit for online registration. Tuition is $1,000. Those who choose to pay in full will receive a 10% discount, interest free loan plans are also available as well as a 15% discount for companies who register 5 or more.

Smethport CBA Held

Over 150 individuals participated in the Smethport Comprehensive Blood Analysis on September 12 which was sponsored by the Smethport Rotary Club and Charles Cole Memorial Hospital. Screenings included testing for coronary heart disease, kidney disease, anemia, diabetes, liver disease, bone disease and respiratory disease along with optional prostate and thyroid testing. A portion of the event’s proceeds go to the Rotary to benefit their events, scholarships, and rotary involvement in the community. Blood draws were done by Carol Cole, CCMH laboratory; Tammy Peterson and Valerie Tinder, occupational health; Melanie Bishop, Port Allegany Community Health Center; and Sara Collins, Bowman Health Center. The next CBA will be held in partnership with the Oswayo Valley Memorial Library from 7 to 10 a.m., Saturday, November 7 at the Oswayo Valley Elementary School in Shinglehouse. CBA events are held to provide commonly ordered blood screenings at a greatly reduced cost to patients and the communities. For more information on upcoming CBA dates, call 814/274-5550.

(Photo courtesy of Charles Cole Memorial Hospital)

Swine Flu Confirmed at UPB

The University of Pittsburgh at Bradford has had its first confirmed case of H1N1—or swine flu – a student who has since recovered and is back on campus.

Health officials on campus received the confirmed diagnosis late Thursday afternoon.

The student became ill in the early morning hours of Sept. 10. Campus Police drove him to the emergency room at Bradford Regional Medical Center, where he was tested. He returned to campus in the afternoon, and his father came to take him home later that day.

As a precaution, Bonnie McMillen, director of Health Services on campus, called the sick student’s roommate, suggesting he go home right away. The roommate agreed since he lives close by. Also, additional precautions were taken, including cleaning and disinfecting the entire apartment that evening.

The student was able to return to campus on Monday, Sept. 14, after being free of a fever for at least 24 hours, as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control. McMillen said she had called him on Friday, the day after he went home, “and he was feeling better already. I told him not to return until he was fever free and felt better.”

As of Friday morning, McMillen said she has received no word that any of the students in the apartment are ill.

At Pitt-Bradford, any student who contracts H1N1 is asked to self-isolate, a recommendation by the CDC, which is what happened in this first case.

“Getting this student home quickly and disinfecting the apartment, contributed much, I am sure, to containing this first case,” said Dr. K. James Evans, vice president and dean of student affairs.

As of Friday, that was the lone case of H1N1 on campus, though other students have complained of feeling sick.

“We are seeing quite a few students with upper-respiratory complaints,” McMillen said, “as is usual for this time of year. But we’ve seen no further flu cases.”

Health officials and administrators on campus have been on alert since the first H1N1 outbreak in the spring and spent the last few months developing ways to help prevent the spread of the illness.

In addition to sending informational letters to students and their parents, along with faculty and staff, Pitt-Bradford officials have been educating its students and employees in a variety of ways. Resident assistants in the residence halls have given cleaning demonstrations to the students living in their areas, and laminated cards with tips for staying healthy during influenza season have been distributed throughout campus.

In addition, extra precautions are being taken in the area of cleaning and sanitizing. The university’s cleaning contractor is sanitizing high-contact surface areas such as handrails, door knobs, door plates and bathroom sinks, and liquid hand sanitizer stations have been placed throughout the university. In addition, dining services is sanitizing tables, counters and chairs after each meal, and hand sanitizing wipes will be placed in the computer labs.

The university also held two clinics during the week to vaccinate students, faculty and staff against the seasonal flu. As vaccine for the virus becomes available, the university will hold another clinic to vaccinate against H1N1.

If a student contracts H1N1 and is isolated, student health services will be able to have sick trays delivered to them in their residence halls.

The university also has a pandemic plan to guide the campus through an outbreak of H1N1 or other diseases.

Megan Konopka Remembered

In North Huntingdon, people who knew Konopka remembered her as a nice person who enjoyed working with animals.

For the rest of the story, go to the Pittsburgh Tribue-Review

ZZ Top in Salamanca

Thursday, September 17, 2009

BACC 17th Annual Public Auction

The Bradford Area Chamber of Commerce announces their 17th annual public auction. The event is crafted following the objectives of the chamber. Through donations and sponsorship, area businesses, retailers, professionals, and organizations have an opportunity to acquaint the public with their products and services, advancing the economic welfare of the area. As the Chamber’s primary fundraiser, monies raised allow the Chamber to create a broad understanding and appreciation of the great opportunities in the Bradford area and to promote the advantages and assets of our region.

Sponsors have the opportunity to get their name on several different advertising and marketing pieces for the Annual Auction. Donors will have their name located on the package plus the program. This is a great way for the area businesses to be recognized of their support to the Bradford Area Chamber of Commerce and the community. We greatly appreciate all the area businesses that donate to our Annual Auction and hope you will be the next to lend support.

To make donation or for more information, contact the Bradford Area Chamber of Commerce by phone at 814-368-7115 or email

The Happy Hatter

Linda Lamborn poses in a "rounder" or "saucer" hat Thursday afternoon at Chapel Ridge. Her presentation on hats was one of the activities planned for Assisted Living Week.

Murder Convictions Upheld

A Warren County judge has denied motions by convicted murderers Cory Altman and Susan Yeager to overturn their convictions.

They were convicted in connection with the death of Yeager's estranged husband Shawn Yeager late last year.

Their post-conviction relief motions argued that there wasn't enough evidence to convict them.

Altman is accused of actually shooting Shawn Yeager. Susan Yeager was the mastermind behind the plot.

BRMC Unveils Outpatient Suite

Robert W. Tahara, M.D., director of Bradford Regional Medical Center’s Peripheral Interventions Program and also Allegheny Vein & Vascular, speaks Wednesday to more than 140 people who were the Outpatient Services Center lobby. His presentation was part of an open house for Allegheny Vein & Vascular’s new outpatient suite on the third floor.
(Photo courtesy of BRMC)

By George Nianiatus, senior writer
Communications Department

The growing problem of vein and vascular disease can be treated far more quickly with less invasive procedures at Bradford Regional Medical Center (BRMC), which has just unveiled a state-of-the-art outpatient suite featuring spa-like comforts and conveniences.

The community got a first-hand look with tours of Allegheny Vein & Vascular’s new outpatient suite on the third floor of the Outpatient Services Center. The event included leg screenings and also a presentation on “Varicose Veins and Treatment” by Robert W. Tahara, M.D., director of BRMC’s Peripheral Interventions Program and also Allegheny Vein & Vascular which is the hospital’s newest Center of Excellence.

The advanced non-surgical vein procedures being performed at BRMC are likely to increase because of the enhanced efficiencies from the new outpatient suite, Dr. Tahara said.

This outpatient suite gives BRMC a facility that now matches the nationally recognized vein procedures already being delivered, hospital officials have stated.

“Generally, the advanced procedures we do are not available in rural areas such as this,” Dr. Tahara said.

“Vein disease can bring a host of potentially serious problems,” Dr. Tahara said, noting individuals should seek treatment from a vascular surgeon with a full range of endovascular skills.

“You want someone who can treat the entire spectrum of the disease,” he added.

Before, traditional vein disease therapy was extremely invasive and painful. It required large, open incisions and had a prolonged recovery time. Often, it takes time to treat and is frustrating for both the patient and the physician.

“But with improved procedures that are quicker, safer and less invasive, vein procedures have become far more commonplace,” Dr. Tahara said.

Over the last several years, Dr. Tahara has become the regional leader and is evolving a national reputation as an instructor in what’s called the VNUS Closure procedure.

The VNUS Closure procedure is a minimally invasive treatment alternative with less pain and less bruising when compared to traditional vein stripping surgery and laser treatment.

With the VNUS Closure, Dr. Tahara said he can close the diseased veins by inserting a catheter through a 2-millimeter incision and heating the vein wall by using temperature-controlled energy. After the vein is sealed shut, the blood then naturally reroutes to healthy veins.

There are millions of patients that need this problem treated. “Venous reflux disease is two times more prevalent than coronary heart disease and five times more frequent than peripheral arterial disease,” said Dr. Tahara.

Venous reflux disease, also known as venous insufficiency, is a medical condition affecting the circulation of blood in the lower extremities. The tiny valves that normally force blood back up towards the heart no longer function, causing blood to pool up in the legs, and the veins of the legs become distended.

Venous reflux disease commonly produces varicose veins, the abnormally swollen and discolored superficial leg veins that affect millions of Americans. Varicose veins can range from small, thin purple lines just under the skin, known as spider veins, to thick, bulging veins that can protrude well beyond the skin surface. In any form, varicose veins serve as indicators of venous reflux, a progressive disease that can cause significant circulatory problems as it worsens, Dr. Tahara said.

Of the estimated 25 million people with symptomatic superficial venous reflux, only 1.7 million seek treatment annually while more than 23 million to untreated, Dr. Tahara said.

Venous reflux is a serious and progressive disease that can bring increased pain and reduced quality of life.

Of those with venous reflux: 20 million have varicose veins; between 2 million and 6 million have leg swelling or skin damage; and an estimated 500,000 have skin ulcers.

By gender, women are consistently more prone to venous reflux. Between the age of 20 and 29: females, 8 percent; and males, 1 percent. Between the age of 40 and 49: females, 41 percent; and males, 24 percent. Between the age of 60 and 69: females, 72 percent; and males, 43 percent.

“Risk factors include gender, age, heredity, pregnancy, standing occupations, obesity, prior injury or surgery; and sedentary lifestyles,” Dr. Tahara said.
Symptoms of possible vein and vascular disease include leg pain or aching, fatigue or heaviness, itching or swelling.

“If you have these symptoms, you need to have a comprehensive exam,” Dr. Tahara said.

Adjacent to Allegheny Vein & Vascular, the outpatient suite was developed as a one-of-a-kind site in the region to more effectively provide non-surgical vein and vascular treatments to patients in the most comfortable and convenient setting possible. The project cost is over $170,000 for construction and medical equipment.

With the opening of the outpatient suite that features three specially designed procedure rooms, patients will have a shorter wait time to schedule procedures.
Also, the total time a patient will be in the outpatient suite will be cut in half to 45 minutes from the time they walk in the door to when they leave after a procedure, Dr. Tahara said.

The outpatient suite also has been designed to have a tranquil, spa-like atmosphere with wooden features and several large windows to allow ambient light.

The suite consists of a waiting room, reception area, three spacious procedure rooms, four patient changing rooms, an equipment storage room, and a central charting and work area for staff.

The large exam rooms will provide Dr. Tahara, staff and patients with room to move freely during all procedures, BRMC officials said.

The amenities include comfortable finishes such as hardwood flooring, oak-finished chair rail and wainscot, solid-surface acrylic countertops and textured vinyl wall coverings are throughout the outpatient suite which has a color scheme of gentle earth tones.

The four spacious changing rooms offer ample room and a wooden closet in each which provides patients with robes bearing Allegheny Vein & Vascular’s logo.

Also, satellite radio is available for various listening options and the waiting room has a wall-mounted, flat-panel television.

“These carefully designed features are all meant to provide added spa-like comfort and convenience for our patients, and the very best procedure outcomes possible,” Dr. Tahara said.

This new outpatient suite is the first medical office space uniquely designed in the Outpatient Services Center since the 65,000-square-foot building opened in 2007.

The impetus behind the new outpatient suite was fueled from more vein procedures being performed locally and Dr. Tahara’s growing expertise. He was selected to the faculty for the national VNUS Total Vein Care Course, where he will instruct other physicians in the advanced vein care.

Additionally, his office has been chosen as a national on-site training center for the VNUS Closure procedure. BRMC is one of only 34 sites throughout the country to be an on-site training center for this procedure.

The surgeon also lectures and teaches extensively around the country.

Dr. Tahara has been averaging 50 to 75 VNUS closure procedures per month at BRMC. This is in the top 1 or 2 percent in the country for a single surgeon - no matter what the hospital size.

With the specially designed outpatient suite, Dr. Tahara said he expects to be performing even more VNUS Closure procedures each month for the region.
For more information about the outpatient suite or Allegheny Vein & Vascular, call Dr. Tahara’s office at 1-866-959-VEIN or 814-368-8490, or go online to or

Police Recover Knife They Believe Was Used in Bradford Homicide

Bradford City Police have found a knife that they believe was used in the homicide of 21-year-old Megan Knopoka Sunday night at the Riddell House in Bradford.

Police received assiatance from several people who offered mowing equipment and metal dectectors which aided in the recovery.

Police and the McKean County District Attorney's Office have expressed sincere thanks to all those who donated their time and effort to this cause. "These efforts are a prime example of the result of cooperation between law enforcement and the public," the news release said. "Such cooperation is deeply appreciated."

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

No Quorum for COG Meeting

For the second time this month, the Tuna Valley Council of Governments didn't have enough members at its meeting to conduct business.

Only Foster Township Supervisor Chris Wolcott and Bradford Mayor Tom Riel showed up for Wednesday night's meeting.

A meeting was also scheduled for September 2, but not enough voting members showed up for that meeting either.

They'll try again at 7 p.m. September 30 in City Council Chambers.

Besides the city and Foster Township, other representatives are from Bradford Township and the Bradford Area School District. Lewis Run officials have not appointed a member yet. Lafayette Township has opted out.

Bradford City Councilman Bob Onuffer, Foster Township Supervisor-elect Jim Connolly Jr. and Seaward Avenue resident Tom Perry also attended Wednesday's would-be meeting.

Earlier this month, and Wednesday, the Bradford Regional Master Plan was discussed.

Riel said "by no means is the master plan dead," but added that some aspects of the plan depend on grant money and the state budget impasse means there is no money.

Legislative leaders announced a budget agreement on Friday, but they're still hammering out the details. Governor Ed Rendell threatened to veto the plan and some rank-and-file legislators are not happy with it either.

Budget negotiators did meet inside the Capitol offices of Lt. Governor Joe Scarnati Wednesday. The meetings included House and Senate Democrats, Senate Republicans and some of Governor Ed Rendell's aides. House Republicans, who oppose the spending plan, did not attend.

Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi said some progress was made, but didn't say when a plan would be ready to present to the conference committee appointed to sign off on it before it can go to the Senate and House chambers.

Penn Traffic Still Losing Money

The company than owns BiLo and Quality markets is continuing to lose money.

The Syracuse-based supermarket chain says it lost $7 million in its second quarter, more than doubling the loss in the same period a year ago.

Sales fell nearly $20 million to $208.8 million.

Penn Traffic says same-store sales were off nearly 7 percent from a year ago.
Penn Traffic now operates 79 supermarkets in New York, Pennsylvania, Vermont and New Hampshire. A year ago, it had 86.

The company owns BiLo and Quality markets in St. Marys, Ridgway, Kane, Sheffield and Ellicottville, as well as other towns in the region.

There's no word on whether Penn Traffic plans to close any local stores.

Artwork on Display at Charles Cole

Jessie Vaughn of Ulysses has a variety of artwork on display at Charles Cole Memorial Hospital’s Irwin Medical Arts Center as part of the hospital’s Community Art Showcase.

Vaughn, a self-taught artist who began working with oils at the age of 14, works primarily with watercolors. Her realistic style typically centers on nature scenes. Included in her CCMH display are pieces that were painted at the hospital. “Christine’s Babies” was painted while her sister was a patient in the hospital’s intensive care unit and “Waiting” came about while visiting a friend at the hospital.

She has earned awards for her art and had a display at the Chautauqua Institute. Her work, which has been sold internationally, is currently on display at Frosty Hollow Bed & Breakfast in Coudersport. Vaughn teaches art classes for all ages at Frosty Hollow and Penn York Camp in Ulysses. She has also taught at an orphanage in Guatemala for the last several years.

Artists are featured for about six to eight weeks. The project has featured artists Karen Wolf of Sweden Township, Pat Bosworth of Port Allegany, Alyson Leach, Leslie Kelley, and Suzan Richar of Galeton, Naomi Keller, Heather Chilson, and Lindsey Francis of Coudersport, and Mercedes Schwartz of Smethport, according to chairperson Betty Wei.

“It’s a way for area residents to enjoy the talent and creativity of local artists and the hospital family is thrilled to make this opportunity possible,” she said.

For more information on the Community Art Showcase, contact Wei at 274-7910.

Haggie Arraigned, Sent to Jail

Murder suspect Thomas Haggie was arraigned this afternoon at District Judge Rich Luther's office.

Haggie was arrested in Elmira, New York, Monday night in connection with the Sunday night murder of 21-year-old Megan Konopka in a room at the Riddell House. Konopka was 8 ½ months pregnant.

Still wearing an orange jumpsuit from the Chemung County Jail, Haggie was arraigned on charges of criminal homicide, criminal homicide of an unborn child, conspiracy to commit homicide and conspiracy to commit homicide of an unborn child.

Haggie was taken to McKean County Jail in Smethport, where the other suspect, Greggory Theobald, has been since Monday morning.

Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur Services Scheduled for Bradford

High Holiday services for Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year) and Yom Kippur will be held at Temple Beth El at 144-146 Clarence Street, Bradford.

Services will be led by Rachel Grant Meyer, a rabbinical student at the Hebrew Union College Jewish Institute of Religion.

Services for Erev Rosh Hashanah will be held at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 18. Morning services will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 19, followed by taschlich at noon at Callahan Park in Bradford.

Yom Kippur will begin with Kol Nidre at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 27. Morning services will be held at 10 a.m. Monday, Sept. 28. Yizkor services will begin at 4 p.m. Sept. 28, followed by a break fast at 5:30 p.m.

Federal Grand Jury Indicts Ridgway Man on Child Pornography Charges

A Ridgway man has been indicted by a federal grand jury on child pornography charges.

52-year-old Robert Yonker is accused of receiving and attempting to receive, and possessing and attempting to possess computer images depicting minors engaging in sexually explicit conduct.

State police and the FBI conducted the investigation.

If convicted, Yonker faces a maximum of 30 years in prison, a fine of $500,000 or both.

Knife Attack Reported in Portville

Police in Portville are investigating a reported attack on woman last night near the Wilson Farms store on South Main Street.

A woman was reportedly attacked with a knife.

Police say they'll provide us with more information as soon as possible.

Road to Close for Filming Friday

The Route 120/155 intersection in Emporium will be closed Friday, September 18 from 9am to 3pm, as filming takes place for the movie "Unstoppable."

Motorists should choose alternate routes around this closure. Drivers can follow PennDOT’s official detour that uses Routes 155, 120, 555 and 255 or they can choose alternate roads they prefer. Emergency response vehicles will be allowed to travel through the intersection closure.

Drivers may also encounter intermittent traffic delays on Friday along Route 120 between East Allegheny Avenue and Britten Hill Road in Emporium. Closures and traffic delays will continue on area roads through October, as filming requires. PennDOT will issue travel advisories on those restrictions as necessary.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Casey, Schumer Call for Help

WASHINGTON, DC- The National Farmers Union and U.S. Senators Bob Casey (D-PA), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) today backed legislation to support dairy farmers.

The Senate in August passed an amendment to the Agriculture Appropriations bill to provide an extra $350 million for milk price supports and to increase government purchases of surplus dairy products.

Casey said, “Dairy farmers in Pennsylvania continue to be forced out of business by the dairy crisis,” said Senator Casey. “Providing assistance and support to Pennsylvania dairy farmers is essential to not only the livelihood of family farms, but also for the Pennsylvania economy and rural communities. Addressing this crisis will be a top priority of mine as Chairman of the Production, Income Protection and Price Support subcommittee.”

Sanders said “These are tough times but, working together with senators from different parts of the country, we have taken some important steps to begin to address the dairy crisis. We need to look at larger structural reforms to the arcane and complicated dairy pricing system, we need to look at supply management to end the boom and bust cycle of dairy prices, and we need to launch investigations into the manipulative and anti-competitive practices of companies like Dean Foods that control more and more of the market and are forcing down the price that farmers get paid for their milk.”

Leahy said, “We are going to work together to retain this important Senate funding in the appropriations bill as we move forward with the conference. Our dairy farmers cannot stay in business with the gap between the cost of production and the milk price continuing to grow to unprecedented levels. The best long-term solution is for farmers to get a fair price for their product from the market. I remain hopeful that dairy farmers across the country can come together and agree on a long-term solution that will help not only Vermont’s dairy farms, but also those in Wisconsin, California, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, and everywhere in between.”

Schumer said, “Rarely in history have dairy farmers been saddled with such low prices for such a long period of time. Prices will eventually rise again, but until they do -- and this crisis passes -- we must do everything possible to preserve our dairy industry. Not only are dairy farmers the backbone of New York’s rural economy, they provide the entire country a service by supplying wholesome, safe, domestically produced milk. Dairy farmers are as tough as it gets, but the situation is extreme and beyond their control. To allow an industry that is so important to our state and our country to collapse because of temporary and extreme market fluctuations is counterproductive in the long term as it will lead to market concentration, higher prices and potentially lower quality imports. We need action, and we need it now.”

Klobuchar said, “Minnesota’s farmers are at the heart of our agriculture industry. The dairy farmers I’ve met with around the state are bearing the brunt of market forces beyond their control. We must continue to fight for Minnesota’s farmers during these difficult times”

Shaheen said, “It is critical that we continue to find ways to help dairy farmers profit so that they can keep their farms. This amendment is our best opportunity to reach that goal and must be included in the conference report.”

Udall said, “Farmers in New Mexico, the west, and around the country are suffering right now from a widespread dairy crisis that is severely hurting our state and national economy. In Western states like New Mexico --which is the 7th largest dairy producer in the nation – our dairies and our farming families need additional help to simply stay alive and I am committed to finding them the long-term solutions we need to help this critical industry.”

Roger Johnson, president of the National Farmers Union, said “the effects of the ongoing dairy crisis are being felt across the country, leaving dairy producers both big and small struggling. We are in Washington to urge members to do all they can to provide relief.”

One Book Bradford:
Cruise on the Chautauqua Belle

The One Book Bradford committee will cruise into the new season with a special event next month.

That event is the Autumn Cruise on the Chautauqua (N.Y.) Belle which is set to take place at 3 p.m. Oct. 11. The cruise takes off from Mayville, N.Y.

The cruise, which starts at 3 p.m. and ends about 5 p.m., will harken back to the days of Mark Twain and riverboats. This year’s One Book Bradford selection is “Becky: The Life and Loves of Becky Thatcher” by Lenore Hart. Hart picks up where Twain left off and creates a grown-up Becky and follows her throughout adulthood.

But the cruise and autumnal scenery is just one of the facets of the day. Rick Richards, one of the One Book Bradford Committee members, will give a talk about the book and John Shinaberger of Bradford will speak about steamships. There will also be other activities appropriate for this time period.

This event is the perfect kick off for One Book Bradford activities, according to committee member Terry Sturm.

“It’s the era … it’s the flavor,” he said. “This helps capture the mood of the Twain era and puts us right there at that time.”

The tickets are $20 a piece and will go toward a visit by Hart to Bradford March 31. Tickets, which are limited, are available at the Bradford Area Public Library or from any One Book Bradford Committee member. They will be sold on a first come, first serve basis. More information on the cruise will be distributed at the library when the tickets are sold.

The cruise is one of four activitites planned by the One Book Bradford Committee.

Grand Derangement to Perform at UPB

Grand Dérangement, an award-winning Acadian musical group from Canada, will perform on Monday, Sept. 28, at the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford.

The musicians will take to the stage at 7:30 the Bromeley Family Theater of Blaisdell Hall, as part of the Prism Series, formerly the Season Subscription Series. Admission is $22 in advance and $26 at the door for the public and $9 in advance and $11 at the door for all students.

Taking its name from the exodus of Acadians from Canada in 1755, the Nova Scotia group sings English and French folk, Celtic, rock and Broadway songs. Grand Dérangement, which means “great disturbance,” also performs poetic songs, blended with insights of French, Acadian and Cajun culture.

“Acadian music is fun and an important part of the history of eastern Canada, and its impact spills over in the New England and mid-Atlantic region as well,” said Randy Mayes, director of arts programming at Pitt-Bradford. “Grand Dérangement has an excellent reputation and its unique mixture of French, English, traditional Acadian songs and upbeat modern music appeals to all generations. The group almost redefines the word ‘unique’ and definitely deserves a place on any program that seeks to present diverse performing arts experiences.”

Since emerging onto the stage in the 1990s, Grand Dérangement has released four albums, most recently two years ago. In 2004, the band won the theme song contest for the World Acadian Congress, a three-week cultural festival in Canada.

The band includes Daniel LeBlanc, fiddle and vocals; Briand Melanson, percussion and lead vocals; Jean-Pascal Comeau, bass guitar and vocals; Charles Robicheau, guitar; Suzanne Comeau, step dance; and Danielle LeBlanc, step dance.

“Every performance the crowd explodes into applause, and people surround them like rock stars, which is pretty unusual for an Acadian music group, but understandable when you see the concert,” Mayes said. “We try to book groups that cover each area of the performing arts disciplines.”

For ticket information, call the Bromeley Family Theater Box Office at (814) 362-5113. For more information, also visit

For disability-related needs, contact the Office of Disability Resources and Services at 814-362-7609 or

Possible New Site for MJ School

The Mount Jewett Charter School Coalition has a new potential site for its school.

Gary Geer has offered the coalition the use of his building at 8 West Main Street, according to coalition president Skye Ognen.

She says the Geer Contractors building has enough space so the building could be subdivided into seven classrooms. She says fundraisers will be held to help the coalition come up with money for the renovations.

The state Charter School Appeal Board denied the coalition's previous application, in part, because it would be location in the educational wing of St. Matthew's Lutheran Church and students would be exposed to religious symbols.

Crash Closes Route 62

A truck hauling a load of gravel to a construction site on Zoar Valley Road went out of control, flipped over and knocked out two utility poles earlier today.

Route 62 in the Town of Dayton was closed for several hours during the cleanup.

Authorities say the driver was not seriously hurt.

Catt County Investigation Involves Sexual Harassment Allegation

The special prosecutor named to look into the Cattaraugus County Sheriff's Department says part of the investigation will center on a sexual harassment allegation.

Wyoming County District Attorney Gerald Stout said rumors and allegations are circulating, and they need to be brought out and dealt with.

He didn't say the allegations involve Sheriff Dennis John, who died last month of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, but added it would be useless to pursue charges against John.

Thompson Thanks Stryker Brigade

More Details on Haggie Arrest

At about 7:30 Monday night the Elmira Police Department received information that a person wanted in relation to a homicide investigtion in Bradford was at the Elmira Bus Terminal.

Police responded to the bus terminal, but the suspect was not immediately located. Witnesses at the station were interviewed, and reported that a subject matching the description had just left the area on foot. Police found Thomas Haggie at Langdon Plaza.

He was taken into custody as a fugitive from justice and put in the Elmra City Jail. He's awaiting extradition to Bradford.

Thanks to Brian O'Neil, AM 1480, WLEA, Hornell

Marcellus Shale Series Planned

Penn State Cooperative Extension and the University of Pitt at Bradford Outreach Services are teaming up to offer a series of three educational seminars on Marcellus Shale at the University of Pitt at Bradford Campus in Bradford. The first session is entitled “Marcellus Shale Gas Wells: What You Need to Know About the Natural Gas Infrastructure, Development, and the Economics of it All” and will be taught by Penn State Extension Educator, Tom Murphy, who is based in Lycoming County and leads the Extension Marcellus Shale team for Penn State Extension. The first session is set for this Thursday, September 17, 2009, from 6 to 8 PM in the Webb/Bradford Forest Rehearsal Hall.

The second session is entitled “Natural Gas Wells and Drinking Water” and will be taught by local Extension Educator, Jim Clark, and Extension Water Specialist, Bryan Swistock, based at PSU. This session will be held Tuesday, October 6, 2009, from 6 to 8 PM in room 237 of Swartz Hall.

The third and final session is entitled “Marcellus Shale in Your Present and Future: Legal Issues for Landowners” and will be taught by Ross H. Pifer, J.D., Director of the Agricultural Law Resource and Reference Center at Penn State University. This session will be held Tuesday, November 3, 2009, from 6 to 8 PM also in room 237 Swartz Hall.

Dunkirk Gets 'Restore NY' Money

MAYVILLE, NY -- Chautauqua County Executive Gregory J. Edwards is thrilled with the recent news that $2.5 million in Restore NY funds have been awarded to the City of Dunkirk. The money will be used to "reinvigorate" Progress Park, stimulating redevelopment.

"This is great news coming from Governor David Paterson's office," Edwards said. "These funds will keep this project moving forward, leading to more jobs and development for the City of Dunkirk."

Edwards, the County of Chautauqua Industrial Development Agency and the City of Dunkirk Department of Development, in conjunction with the Krog Corporation and Cliffstar Corporation, worked together to secure the funds.

The Dunkirk project includes approximately 27 acres over three contiguous brownfield sites located along the eastern side of Roberts Road. The proposed development would include two structures that will encompass in excess of 200,000 square feet of new manufacturing and warehousing facilities.

This project will include the leveraging of federal funds to build Millennium Parkway, connecting the primary industrial corridor of the City of Dunkirk to the manufacturing center in the Town of Dunkirk.

"I am pleased that all of this hard work has produced such tremendous results," Edwards said. "I look forward to the day when we can break ground on this impressive project, and turn a current brownfield site into a prime redevelopment site."

The $2.5 million is part of $153.6 million in Restore NY funds recently released to communities across the State as part of the third round of the grant program.
The Restore NY funds will be distributed to 79 projects through the Restore NY Communities Initiative, which is administered by Empire State Development to revitalize urban areas, stabilize neighborhoods and invite renewed investment.

Restore NY grants are awarded to municipally sponsored projects to demolish, deconstruct, rehabilitate and/or reconstruct vacant, abandoned or condemned buildings.

Murder Suspects in Custody

Two Bradford men are in jail in connection to the murder of a pregnant woman Sunday night.

30-year-old Thomas Haggie of Bradford was arrested Monday night in Elmira, New York, after authorities received a tip from the San Bernadino, California, Sheriff's Department. 20-year-old Greggory Theobald was arrested Monday morning.

21 year-old Megan Konopka was found dead in a room at the Riddell House late Sunday night. Police believe Konopka was first strangled and later killed by a knife wound to her throat.

Both suspects are facing double homicide charges.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Patrick Swayze Dies

From CNN: Actor Patrick Swayze, star of "Dirty Dancing" and "Ghost," has died after a battle with cancer, his publicist tells KTLA.

Galeton Man to be Honored

Henry W. Lush of Galeton, Pa., will receive the prestigious NOAA National Weather Service Thomas Jefferson Award on Sept. 16, 2009, for his 40 years of outstanding service to the nation through the Cooperative Weather Observer Program. Lush is one of five 2009 recipients of the award, presented annually to long-serving volunteer citizen weather observers in the United States.

A ceremony honoring Lush will be held at 11:30 a.m., Sept. 16, at the National Weather Service Forecast Office in State College, Pa., at 328 Innovation Blvd. Suite 330.

“Henry is known as the local historian-scientist. He maintains a small museum in Galeton of historical treasures that span over 100 years, including his grandfather’s original weather records from 1931,” said Bruce Budd, meteorologist-in-charge at the National Weather Service office in State College. “Weather observing is a Lush family tradition that has continued for 79 years.”

The Thomas Jefferson Award, named for the nation’s third president, originated in 1959 when the National Weather Service began recognizing the important role of volunteer citizen weather observers in advancing weather and climate forecasting accuracy and NOAA’s understanding of the earth’s atmosphere. Jefferson, the statesman-scientist, recorded an almost unbroken series of weather observations from 1776 to 1816.

“Climate data is increasingly important to local communities, the nation and the world, and three attributes are most significant to its usefulness – the data should be accurate, consistent and have a long record,” said Paul Knight, Pennsylvania state climatologist. “Long, reliable weather records are increasingly difficult to maintain, making the efforts of people like Henry Lush and his family truly extraordinary.”

Lush said that when he decides to retire from his volunteer post as a Galeton weather observer, the family legacy will continue through his daughter, Alyson.

NOAA is recruiting more volunteer weather observers. The agency trains people and provides all necessary equipment. Find out more by visiting

NOAA understands and predicts changes in the Earth's environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and conserves and manages our coastal and marine resources. Visit

More Info on Bradford Homicide

From McKean County District Attorney Christa Schott:

In the evening hours of September 13, Bradford City Police were alerted to a possible homicide at the Riddell House. When police arrived to check on the occupants of a specified apartment, they discovered the apparent homicide of an unidentified pregnant woman. Although the female has since been identified, her name is not being released pending notification of her family.

Bradford City Police, state police and the McKean County District Attorney's Office began an investigation into the incident and worked throughout the night to conduct as thorough and detailed investigation as possible. The investigative efforts lead to two suspects, and criminal complaints have been filed against both of them in connection with the death of the woman and her unborn child.

Greggory Theobald was located in Bradford and is in custody. The other suspect, Thomas Haggie has not been located and a warrant has been issued for his arrest.

Haggie is 5 feet 5 inches tall, weights about 130 pounds, has brown hair and brown eyes. Anyone with information regarding this incident is asked to contact the Bradford City Police Department at 814-368-6133.

Brockway Teen Dies in Crash

A Brockway teenager is dead, and two people are seriously injured as a result of an accident on Route 219 about a mile south of Brockway Sunday afternoon.

Police say 18-year-old Shane Horner was pronounced dead at the scene. They say his car went off the road, then re-entered the road in the opposite lane of travel and into the path of a van driven by 72-year-old James Aldcroft of Ontario, Canada.

Aldcroft and his passenger, 66-year-old Patricia Aldcroft were taken by medical helicopter to Altoona Hospital for treatment of major injuries. No information is available on their conditions.

Homicide Suspect in Custody

A Bradford man is in McKean County Jail on homicide charges in connection to an incident Sunday night at the Riddell House.

20-year-old Gregory Alan Theobald is charged with criminal homicide, criminal homicide to an unborn child and conspiracy.

Theobald is being held without bail. He is scheduled for a preliminary hearing Friday.

The affidavit of probable cause, and the affidavit for the search warrant, have been sealed, according to the McKean County District Attorney's Office. The DA's office, however, expects to release some information soon.

Police are still looking for 29-year-old Thomas Haggie in connection to the crime.

Bolivar Drive to Close Next Week

Staring next Monday, Bolivar Drive will be closed so crews can paint both Route 219 bridges that span the road.

Traffic will be directed to follow the posted detours: Westbound traffic will travel to East Main Street to Kendall Avenue to Seaward Avenue and back to Bolivar Drive.

Eastbound traffic will travel to Seaward Avenue to Kendall Avenue to East Main Street and back to Bolivar Drive.

Painting is scheduled to run through October 6.

It's Child Passenger Safety Week

Smethport, PA – Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for children age 3 to 6 and 8 to 14. In 2007, 6,532 passenger vehicle occupants 14 and younger were involved in fatal crashes.

That’s why the State Police is partnering with Safe Kids McKean and urging all parents and caregivers to attend the Seat Check event on Friday September 18th., part of Child Passenger Safety Week (September 12-18). The State Police will have certified technicians available to provide on-site child safety seat inspections and education from 9am to 3pm at Bowman Medical Center on Marvin Street in Smethport.

“It’s the responsibility of every parent and caregiver out there to make sure their children are safely restrained – every trip, every time,” said Corporal Robert J. Clinger of the Pennsylvania State Police Kane Barracks. “We are urging everyone to get their child safety seats inspected. When it comes to the safety of a child, there is no room for mistakes.”

In 2007, among children under 5, an estimated 358 lives were saved from the use of child safety seats and booster seats. If all children under the age of 5 were restrained, an additional 71 children would have been saved.

For maximum child passenger safety, parents and caregivers should refer to the following 4 Steps for Kids guidelines for determining which restraint system is best suited to protect children based on age and size:
1. For the best possible protection keep infants in the back seat, in rear-facing child safety seats, as long as possible up to the height or weight limit of the particular seat. At a minimum, keep infants rear-facing until at least age 1 and at least 20 pounds.
2. When children outgrow their rear-facing seats (at least age 1 and at least 20 pounds) they should ride in forward-facing child safety seats, in the back seat, until they reach the upper weight or height limit of the particular seat (usually around age 4 and 40 pounds).
3. Once children outgrow their forward-facing seats (usually around age 4 and 40 pounds), they should ride in booster seats, in the back seat, until the vehicle seat belts fit properly. Seat belts fit properly when the lap belt lays across the upper thighs and the shoulder belt fits across the chest (usually at age 8 or when they are 4’9” tall).
4. When children outgrow their booster seats, (usually at age 8 or when they are 4’9” tall) they can use the adult seat belts in the back seat, if they fit properly (lap belt lays across the upper thighs and the shoulder belt fits across the chest).

Remember: All children younger than 13 should ride in the back seat.

Volunteers from the Safe Kids McKean Chapter will be on hand to hand out child passenger safety information and other safety materials and items.

For more information on Child Passenger Safety Week, a national effort to remind parents and caregivers of the lifesaving effect child safety seats have in protecting young children, please visit

Pictured, Charleigh Miller gets fitted for a new car seat by Safe Kids volunteer David Gomes, while her mom Kathleen looks on, at the CARE for Children offices.
(Photo courtesy of CARE for Children/Safe Kids McKean)

Search for Possible Suspect

Area police agencies are looking for Thomas Haggie in connection to a possible homicide Sunday night at the Riddell House.

Neither city nor state police have confirmed that a murder took place, but a CSI vehicle was parked outside the building earlier today. Sources did tell WESB and The HERO that they believed someone was murdered in an apartment at the Riddell House.

When police first started looking for Haggie, they believed he was in the Jamestown, NY, area. It's also possible he could be hitchhiking to Maryland.

Autumn Daze

Kaitlyn Hallock sings The National Anthem. (She'll be my guest on Wednesday's Live Line.)
Kylie Stiles poses for pictures after being crowned Lil Miss Street Dreams. Olivia "Barbie" Brown and Lil Miss Street Dreams 2008 Danielle Abbott look on.
The Beverly Hillbillies and friends entertained the crowd.

Area Soldiers Return Home

Members of the the 56th Stryker Brigade Charlie Company arrived home Sunday at the Pennsylvania Army National Guard Team Readiness Center at Bradford Regional Airport. The 60 members of Charlie Company spent eight months in Iraq. Motorcycle groups, including the Patriot Guard, the American Legion Riders and the Wanderers were among those who took part in the welcome home.