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Thursday, December 30, 2010

Passel of Pigs Perplex Police

A passel of pigs perplexed city police for a short time Thursday night.

Police got the call after Bradford resident Keith Hatch saw several swine crossing South Avenue near Maplewood at around 7:30 p.m.

Hatch tells WESB and The HERO that as he was driving on South Avenue he saw something in the road, but couldn’t tell what it was. He slowed down, and eventually stopped, and as his headlights shone on the figures, he saw that they were pigs.

Hatch says when he called the McKean County 911 Center he identified himself first so they didn’t think it was a prank call. Still, he says, they were incredulous when he said he saw pigs crossing the road. When police received the call, they were equally as skeptical. Their skepticism disappeared when they got to the scene and actually saw the pigs crossing the road, going the other way.

Hatch says police weren’t sure exactly what they should do about the wandering pigs, but did not like a suggestion -- not from Hatch -- that they get a rope and corral them.

Before 8:15 p.m., according to the McKean County 911 Center, the pigs “had been returned home,” although the dispatcher did not know where “home” was.

Be that as it may, don’t be expecting any “pig crossing” signs on South Avenue -- at least in the city. There’s an ordinance against raising farm animals within the city limits.

BTW -- Still on vacation -- be back Monday.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Coder, Corignani, 2 Others to Retire;
Taxes Hiked by About a Dollar a Week

WESB/WBRR News Director
(briefly back from vacation)

Bradford City Fire Chief Boo Coder, code enforcement officers and captains George Corignani and Merle Silvis, along with Captain Larry Visbisky are retiring from the fire department.

The announcement came during a city council meeting in which tempers flared between Mayor Tom Riel and Councilman Ross Neidich after they voted on an ordinance that raises the city’s millage rate and, therefore, property taxes.

Neidich voted against the ordinance and, when it was Riel’s turn to vote he said to Neidich, “I don’t know why you would vote ‘no’ to it when we’ve done everything we possibly could and there were no suggestions of yours that were... acted upon or denied and I don’t see the purpose of voting ‘no’ to it.”

“I’m not happy to vote ‘yes,’” Riel continued, “but I feel this council has worked, and done as much as they possibly could. I’m not happy about it. I want to reiterate that, but I’m going to vote ‘yes’ because there was nothing else presented by anybody on this council, including Councilman Neidich, to cut the millage rate down any lower.”

“I guess I would beg to differ,” Neidich said, “since four of my men handed in resignations today.”

“What else could we have done?” Riel asked. “Accepted the resignations from more of them? They were given a fruit basket to walk out the door.”

After the meeting, Riel explained that the “fruit basket” was an incentive package including medical benefits “for a period of time.”

“I guess we could have conceivably cut people from every department in the city again, but we didn’t,” Neidich said.

“We didn’t cut them,” Riel said. “They voluntarily went on their own free will and accord.”

“I know,” Neidich said, “but I said initially the only way you’re going to save money in a budget is by personnel. And the only other thing we could have done was to reduce staff from every department all across the city. We all agreed that we’re down to almost bare bones as it is. So, because we had four people that were somewhat close to retirement age, and they didn’t have to take what was offered – they could have all refused that – and we would have been even in worse shape.”

“Plus,” Neidich continued, “I feel it is my right to vote as I want to vote. You voted over the years for no tax increase …”

“And I explained why every time,” Riel said.

“I feel it is my right to vote that way,” Neidich said.

“I still don’t understand your explanation, but …” Riel said.

“I don’t have to give you an explanation,” Neidich said emphatically.

“I didn’t say that you did,” Riel said. “I’m just calling you out on it.”

“I’m just saying that I have a right to vote the way I want to vote,” Neidich said.

“It would be different if you proposed things that the rest of council wasn’t willing to listen to, and I think we were (willing),” Riel said.

Coder’s retirement is effective at the end of January and, after the meeting, Neidich said he hopes to have a new chief appointed by then.

As for the tax increase, Riel explained that, for a person who owns a $40,000 home – which is about average in Bradford – it means an increase of $55.20 a year.

He said 3.05 mils were shaved off the initial budget council started working with, meaning $476, 875 has cut out of this budget.

“It’s a tax increase, but it’s not nearly as bad as it could have been,” Riel said. “We’ve been in a situation for three years now where we’ve had to cut and cut and cut and now we’re down to the bone. There’s not much left to cut off.”

“If things don’t turn around … it’s going to be much more harsh next year,” he said, adding that they hope the consultants in the Early Intervention Program have some input and perhaps make some changes that will take effect this coming year.

Listen to the council meeting here.