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Saturday, March 5, 2011

Flood, Winter Storm Watches

A Winter Storm Watch has been added to the flood watch.

The flood watch is still in effect until 10 o’clock tonight but, the National Weather Service says the heavy rain will change to a period of mixed precipitation early Sunday morning, then will change to heavy snow from late Sunday morning into Sunday night.

6 to 12 inches of snow is possible between 7 a.m. Sunday and late Sunday night.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Phillies Rally to Beat Pirates

The Philadelphia Phillies rallied for a 7-4 victory today in Grapefruit League play.

The Pirates had taken a 4-3 lead in the sixth as Neil Walker scored on Garrett Jones' groundout and Andy Marte's second RBI, a double.

The Phillies rallied for three runs in the seventh and added an insurance run in the eighth.

Lyle Overbay had an RBI single for the Pirates in the first inning and Marte added an RBI single in the fourth.

The Pirates will play the Phillies again Saturday in Clearwater at 1:05 p.m.

Photo of Lyle Overbay by Dave Arrigo, and provided by the Pittsburgh Pirates

SBU Honored by Arbor Day Foundation

St. Bonaventure University has earned Tree Campus USA recognition for 2010, capping a year-long effort to demonstrate its commitment to promoting healthy management of its campus forests and engaging the campus community in that effort.

Launched in 2008 by the nonprofit Arbor Day Foundation, Tree Campus USA recognizes colleges and universities that annually meet program standards aimed at creating a more environmentally friendly and aesthetically pleasing campus, and instilling pride in the campus community.

“By encouraging its students to plant trees and participate in service that will help the environment, St. Bonaventure is making a positive impact on its community that will last for decades,” said John Rosenow, chief executive and founder of the Arbor Day Foundation.

The designation means St. Bonaventure meets Tree Campus USA’s five core standards of tree care and community engagement: establishing a campus tree advisory committee; evidence of a campus tree-care plan; dedicated annual expenditures on a tree-care plan; involvement in an Arbor Day observance; and the institution of a service-learning project that engages the student body.

It was a student who set the Tree Campus USA wheels in motion at St. Bonaventure. David Sine was a senior business administration student and vice president of student government last year when he started looking into the program.

“I’m a member of the Arbor Day Foundation and a big fan of the social and economic benefits that result from environmental stewardship,” said Sine, a graduate MBA student at St. Bonaventure this year.

“I was looking at some of the schools in the Tree Campus USA program and got to thinking that we have acres and acres of beautiful trees at St. Bonaventure, and that they make the campus what it is. It also seemed that the university was already doing a lot of what the Tree Campus USA program calls for, that it is part of our Franciscan tradition, so I thought we should formalize it and get the recognition.”

University administrators agreed that it was a good fit, said Rob Hurlburt, associate director of facilities for maintenance at St. Bonaventure.

“We were very receptive to the idea,” said Hurlburt. “The program’s emphasis on caring for trees and the environment, and the service learning component really fit nicely with initiatives of the university’s Sustainability Commission.” A commission member, Hurlburt spearheaded the Tree Campus USA application effort, coordinating the year-long documentation process leading up to submission of the application in December.

He worked closely with another Sustainability Commission member, Philip Winger, associate vice president for facilities at St. Bonaventure. Winger said the university has long practiced a “close-to-nature” landscape philosophy integrated with the university’s Franciscan heritage. St. Francis, the patron saint of ecology, saw himself as a caretaker of the environment, not as a master over it.

“The appearance of our campus landscape is no accident,” said Winger. “Over the years a groundskeeping tradition has evolved that favors a seamless transition from the hills, through the natural woods along the Allegheny River, to park trees and lawns, and on to the built environment of our campus. A dedicated staff of six groundskeepers serves as the stewards of this tradition.”

As a Tree Campus USA university, St. Bonaventure will receive recognition and promotional materials from the Arbor Day Foundation. The university is among only about 100 campuses to have received the designation since the program began in 2008.

“To be included in that relatively small number is noteworthy,” said Hurlburt. “We plan to keep the Tree Campus Advisory Committee together and to submit the recertification application annually in an effort to try to keep this going for years to come.”

Tree Campus USA, modeled after the Arbor Day Foundation’s successful Tree City USA program, is supported by a generous grant from Toyota.

Pictured, St. Bonaventure’s Br. Kevin Kriso, O.F.M., blesses a tree during an Arbor Day tree-planting on campus last year, part of a year-long process that earned the university Tree Campus USA recognition.

Six Players Chosen for Big 30 Game

Six players have been chosen for the 38th annual “Big 30 Don Raabe Charities Classic football game that is scheduled for Saturday, August 6, 2011 at Parkway Field in Bradford.

You can also hear the game on 1490 WESB, 100.1 The HERO and at

The first 37 games have produced nearly 1.4 million dollars which have been given to numerous charities and personal causes throughout the Twin Tiers.

The players chosen are:

John Mistretta
Running Back
Southwestern Central School
Height: 5’ 7” Weight: 185 lbs.

John was named First Team All League and First Team All State for the 2010 Season and was named Co-M.V.P. in the sectional championship game, as well as, Offensive M.V.P. in the 2008 State Championship Game. Southwestern won two State titles during John’s playing career and he lists those as his greatest thrills on the gridiron. His future plan is to continue his education at a four year college and become a physical education teacher. John is a fan of the Oakland Raiders and lists his favorite player as Ray Rice of the Baltimore Ravens. He is excited at being invited to play in the Big 30 Classic, “…to showcase his talent and hopefully be invited to play at a good school where I can improve my skills”.

Jordan Spehar
Offensive Guard/Middle linebacker
Portville Central School
Height: 6’ 2” Weight: 215 lbs.

Jordan has been a member of the National Honor Society for 2010 and 2011. He was named to the Olean Times Herald Big 30 All Star team in 2009 and was the 2009 Section 6, Class D East Defensive Player of The Year. He was a Section 6, Class D First Team All Star in 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010 an Named to the Second Team All State in 2010. Jordan plans to study Physical Therapy at Daemen University. His hobbies are hunting, fishing, trapping and spending time with his family. His best football memories are playing side by side with his older brother Jeremy. The Pittsburgh Steelers are his favorite team and Ray Lewis of The Baltimore Ravens is his favorite player. Jordan says that he set as a goal playing in the Raabe Classic back when he was playing Pee Wee Football. Even then he felt what an honor it was to wear the blue jersey of the New York All Stars.

Dylan Anna
Offensive Guard/Defensive Tackle
Pioneer Central School
Height: 6’1: Weight: 240

During his high school football career Dylan has won the team’s “Trench Trophy” for outstanding line play, the Pioneer Team M.V.P., second team All Western New York and first team All State. He was named to the Olean Times Herald Big 30 Team in 2010. He plans to be a pre-dental major at a four year collage and play football. He feels very strongly that he wants to make his parents and family proud of his accomplishments. Dylan is a Buffalo Bills fan and lists Troy Polamalu as his favorite player. His biggest thrill on the field comes with blind-siding a quarterback on a third down play. Winning the “Trench Trophy” was his proudest achievement. His Hobbies include motocross, trapshooting, coon hunting and snowmobiling. He is excited for the opportunity to play in the Raabe Classic to have one more game with his teammates and a chance to beat Pennsylvania.

Aaron Niemeyer
Offensive Tackle/Nose Guard
Youngsville High School
Height 6’4” Weight 260 lbs.

Aaron received the United States Achievement Academy National Athletic Award and Who’s Who in Leadership and Service Award. He also received Youngsville’s Iron Eagle Award for weightlifting and the Chester C. Award for wrestling. Aaron missed his last two regular season games and is really hoping to make up for them with this opportunity, a chance to “…get down and dirty with some top notch athletes!” Highlights of his high school games were getting that key block that springs your running back for the game winning score and sacking the quarterback on third down. Aaron’s hobbies are football, wrestling, cooking, riding wheelers and hanging with friends. He is a fan of the Colts an Peyton Manning. He will attend I.U.P. and study Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management

Andrew Morrison
Tight End/Linebacker
Warren Area High School
Height: 6’2” Weight 200 lbs.

Andrew will study sports medicine at Mercyhurst College and play football for the Lakers. He earned a football and an Eagan Academic Scholarship to Mercyhurst. He is a member of the National Honor Society, an academic letter winner and a recipient of the Golden Dragon Academic Award. A four year letter winner in football and one of Warren’s co-captains he was the Region 6 first team tight end. Andrew was Warren’s defensive M.V.P., a recipient of the team “Hit-Man Award” and the “Iron Man Award” for 2 years. In baseball he was named Region 6 First Team designated hitter and was a three year letter winner. His most thrilling memories involved scoring four touchdowns in this year’s Homecoming Game and making the playoffs this year. A fan of the Steelers and Lamar Woodley he enjoys hanging with friends and his girl friend and playing any kind of pick-up sports.

Kyle Schneider
Full Back/Linebacker
St Marys Area High School
Height 6’0” Weight 200 lbs.

Kyle was a KSAC All Star and received the Dr. Black Memorial Award as the teams’2010 Most Valuable Defensive Player. When asked why he wants to play in the Don Raabe Big 30 Classic he said, “It’s an honor to be invited and a privilege to play in the Big 30 Game. His greatest thrill in football is intercepting a pass and taking it back for a touchdown. Kyle enjoys hunting, fishing and riding dirt bikes. At this time he is undecided regarding plans after graduation.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Thompson Votes to Halt 1099
Small Business Reporting Requirement

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Representative Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson, R-Howard an original cosponsor of H.R. 4, a measure repealing the authority of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to require that businesses report every expense they incur over $600, voted in favor of the bill earlier today.

Passage of H.R. 4, which gained unanimous support from House Republicans and 76 Democrats, comes as federal courts continue to challenge the new law, with most recently a U.S. District Court ruling the health care law unconstitutional. Thompson issued the following statement after final passage:

“Many of my initial concerns are now becoming a reality as this law has caused great uncertainty for businesses.

The 1099 requirement would be death by a 1000 paper cuts for Pennsylvania’s small businesses. Any typical small business in a given year may have hundreds of vendors and be faced with thousands of transactions, and these burdensome regulations hamper job growth and undermine our path to economic recovery. I’ve championed repeal of the 1099 requirement since its enactment, and passage of H.R. 4 is a critical step in providing relief to small businesses in the 5th District and boosting economic recovery, job retention, and creation in Pennsylvania and across the country.”

An outspoken Member of Congress regarding the importance of the 1099 repeal, Thompson during the 111th Congress co-sponsored H.R. 5141, to repeal the 1099 portion of the health care bill, and also joined with colleagues on the House Small Business Committee in sending a letter to Douglas Shulman, Commissioner of the IRS, expressing opposition to the mandate.

As a member of House Education & Workforce Committee, a key committee of jurisdiction regarding federal health care policy, and Co-Chairman of the Congressional Health Care Caucus, Thompson continues to work in the House to advance commonsense health care reforms that reduce cost, promote choice, and improve the quality of health care delivery to more Americans.

PA Wilds Offers Grants to Help
Businesses with New Signage

A popular mini-grant program that helps businesses in the Pennsylvania Wilds region pay for new business signage has re-opened and is accepting applications through April 15.

The PA Wilds Business Signage Grants are designed to encourage businesses in the Pennsylvania Wilds to improve their prospects – and the look and feel of their communities – by utilizing the Pennsylvania Wilds Design Guide in the creation and construction of new signage.

The Design Guide is a voluntary planning document that highlights how communities in the region can protect or enhance their rural character as they grow – whether that growth is due to tourism, drilling or other industries. It promotes such things as using natural materials or themes the region is known for – wood, stone, water, wildlife – in construction, design or landscaping.

“The region’s rural and historic character and strong sense of place is part of what makes the Pennsylvania Wilds attractive to visitors and residents, so it is important for us to be good stewards of these characteristics as we grow,” said PA Wilds Planning Team Chair Matt Quesenberry, of Elk County. “Part of our job as the Planning Team is to give our communities tools to accomplish this. That’s what we’re trying to do with the Design Guide and our related grant programs.”

The Design Guide and Business Signage Grants are part of a larger Design Assistance Program that this year also includes design grants and community signage grants. The Planning Team hopes to roll out those two grant programs in coming months.

Last year’s Design Assistance Program led to the creation of 27 new business signs and community welcome signs around the region. It leveraged nearly $30,000 in private investment, and helped businesses improve their bottom lines.

“The Design Assistance Program not only helps our businesses and communities be more viable, it also helps us brand the region, raise awareness about the Pennsylvania Wilds Initiative, and gives us an opportunity to talk with our communities about why good design and planning are critical to our region’s long-term economic success,” Quesenberry said. “It works on a lot of levels.”

The Business Signage Grants are made possible by funding from the PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’ Growing Greener Program and administrative support by Lumber Heritage Region. Up to $1,500 is available for each Business Signage Grant; a dollar-for-dollar match is required. The deadline for applications is April 15, 2011. The process is competitive.

Guidelines and applications are available under “Hot Topics” on the homepage of the PA Wilds Resource Center at A free copy of the Design Guide can also be downloaded or ordered from the site; just go to the “About PA Wilds” tab.

Russian National Ballet Returns to
Bradford with 'Romeo and Juliet'

The Russian National Ballet Theatre will return to Bradford with a performance of “Romeo and Juliet” on Tuesday, March 15, at the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford.

The renowned ballet troupe, which presented a sold-out show at the campus in 2009, will perform its rendition of William Shakespeare’s classic love story starting at 7:30 p.m. in Bromeley Family Theater in Blaisdell Hall. Cost is $28 to $32 for the public, and $12 to $14 for students. The performance is part of the university’s Prism series.

Nearly 30 dancers will perform in the full-length, two-scene “Romeo and Juliet” with music by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. Marius Petipa designed the original choreography.

Before “Romeo and Juliet” is staged, the Russian National Ballet Theatre will perform “Chopiniana,” a short set of dances put to music composed by Frédéric François Chopin, followed by an intermission.

“Russian National Ballet production of ‘The Sleeping Beauty’ was a sold-out show, which told us that we had an underserved dance audience in the region around Bradford,” said Randy Mayes, director of arts programming at Pitt-Bradford. “The master class and workshop for experienced dance students was fantastic, and the audience was enthusiastic after the performance. By any way measurable, it was a huge success.”

Mayes expects the March 15 show to be sold out as well.

The Washington Post hailed the Russian National Ballet as “a cut above many of its rivals.”

Founded in the late 1980s in Moscow during the transitional time of Perestroika as the Soviet National Ballet, the Russian National Ballet Theatre was formed by dancers from Russia's top choreographic schools, including Moscow and St. Petersburg. Many dancers emerged from top-rate ballet companies and academies of Russia and companies of Riga, Kiev and Warsaw.

Since January, the Russian National Ballet has been on a four-month coast-to-coast tour of the United States.

“Russian National Ballet is probably a larger company than most people realize,” Mayes said. “If Russian National Ballet relocated to the United States, they would be the third largest company in North America, just behind the New York City Ballet and American Ballet Theatre. We are very fortunate to have them come here.”

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

Tickets are available by leaving a message at the Box Office at (814) 362-5113.

NFL Lockout Deadline Hours Away

UPDATE: The players' union and the NFL have agreed to a 24-hour extension in labor talks.

Pirates Beat Blue Jays in Florida

The Pirates beat the Toronto Blue Jays 4-1 today in Grapefruit League play.

Pitcher Charlie Morton gave up two hits, an earned run, struck out two batters and didn't walk any in three innings. Brad Lincoln worked the fourth, fifth and sixth innings and retired the side in order all three times. He had one strikeout.

Tyler Yates and Jeff Locke each worked an inning without giving up a hit.

The Pirates are at home in Bradenton, Fla., at 1:05 p.m. tomorrow against the Philadelphia Phillies.

Pictured, Jason Jaramillo, who hit two doubles today.
Photo by Dave Arrigo and provided by the Pittsburgh Pirates

Mistrial Declared in Orie Corruption Case

A judge has declared a mistrial in the public corruption case against state Senator Jane Orie and her sister after he agreed with prosecutors who argued documents entered into evidence by the defense were doctored.

Allegheny County Judge Jeffrey Manning declared the mistrial after a prosecution witness testified that documents bearing the signature of a key prosecution witness had been cut and pasted from another document.

Orie and her sister, Janine, are charged with using the senator's staff to perform illegal campaign and fundraising work for the senator and a third sister, Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin.

Melvin has not been charged.

Casey Encouraged by Drop in
PA's Unemployment Rate

WASHINGTON, DC— U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), Chairman of the Joint Economic Committee (JEC), released the following statement in response to new employment figures released today by Pennsylvania’s Department of Labor and Industry, which showed a significant drop in the unemployment rate:

“The drop in the unemployment rate for Pennsylvania, from 8.5 percent in December 2010 to 8.2 percent in January 2011, is a positive sign that the Pennsylvania economy continues on the path to recovery. The manufacturing sector, a bright spot in our recovery, added 4,100 jobs – the single largest increase since June 2000. We are seeing an increase of jobs in the Construction, Education & Health Services and Mining & Logging sectors that point to companies hiring new employees.

“Tomorrow, national employment figures for February 2011 will be released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and I hope the economic indicators continue to point toward an economic recovery across the nation.

“However, over 523,000 Pennsylvanians remain unemployed and we must continue implementing policies that will boost employment and prepare workers for jobs in emerging sectors. We must continue to focus on policies that spur investment in education and infrastructure that will create jobs and keep America competitive in the global economy.

“As Chairman of the JEC, I look forward to hearing from business leaders and other experts who can help identify policies and practices that will generate additional private sector jobs, strengthen the manufacturing sector and support Pennsylvania’s economic recovery.”

Sen. Young: NY Bike License Plan Pulled

ALBANY – After increasing pressure from lawmakers, families, bicycle shop owners and bike enthusiasts from across the state, two proposals from the New York City-controlled Assembly that would require bicycles in the state to be licensed were withdrawn today, according to Senator Catharine Young (R,I,C – Olean)

The two proposals, introduced by Assemblyman Michael DenDekker of Queens, would have required all bicycles to be inspected and registered. Riders would have been required to pay a one-time cost of $25 for a license plate for their personal bikes, with a $5 renewal fee each year. Those who ride commercial bikes would pay $50, and also would have to buy insurance.

“These type of ideas are emblematic of Albany at its worst. If downstate legislators can tax something, they will try to do it. There is no more room to impose any additional costs on the already overburdened taxpayers of this state. I am glad the people have spoken out about this ridiculous measure. We need tax relief, not more crazy taxes,” said Senator Young.

Under the proposals, all bikes also would have to pass a safety inspection -- including lamp and equipment requirements -- to get the license. Additionally, anyone under 18 would have to have a special mark on their plate.

Senator Young said the bills (A5429 & A5430) were pulled due to the public outrage from bicycle enthusiasts and others who called it unnecessary and intrusive government regulation.

Seri Johnson from Hollyloft Ski & Bike in Jamestown, NY said: “Bicycling is a healthy, low cost activity we should never make anyone shy away from participating in, simply because of costs/taxes. New York really has to change the attitude of "what else can we tax to bring in more money," to "How can we do more to entice people to come spend their money happily, eagerly, and willingly in New York State?" Instead of added taxes on bicycles, let’s make new measures to create more bike paths for safer riding that will invite more tourism and create more small business opportunities right here in the region.”

Peter Stull, owner of the Bicycle Man in Alfred Station, NY said: "Requiring bicycle licenses will hurt tourism. Rides like the Bon Ton Roulet; Erie Canal Bike Tour and Bike NY that draw thousands of out of state riders will suffer if riders have to get a NY bike license."

"How will a customer test ride a bicycle before purchase? Will the bike shop have to license every bike in their inventory? We have a lot of out of state customers come to buy bicycles. Will they have to buy a NY license with their bike? If a bike rented to tourists is considered a "commercial" bike the insurance requirement may be the end of many rental businesses, further hurting tourism," he added.

David Simpson, treasurer of the Olean Cycle Club, said: “The average person in our club owns around four bikes, so you are talking another $100 just to register these bikes. We are trying to get people to ride, but this would go against all our efforts. Don’t our leaders in Albany have more pressing problems to deal with then imposing another burdensome cost on a simple and healthy activity? It would probably cost more to enforce then it is worth to the state in the first place.”

“Registering bicycles is not the key to our state’s fiscal problems, it is only another slap in the face to our taxpayers. These kinds of crazy ideas need to be stopped in their tracks. We need to be doing positive things in Albany right now that ease the cost of living and that help our struggling families out. Assemblyman DenDekker and his downstate counterparts in the Assembly need to get with the program and focus on the right priorities,” said Senator Young.

Wagner: Use Tobacco Settlement Money to
Fund adultBasic Health Insurance

HARRISBURG – Auditor General Jack Wagner today recommended that Gov. Corbett and the General Assembly use incoming tobacco settlement dollars as intended to provide adultBasic health insurance to Pennsylvanians who don’t qualify for Medicaid. He said that $1.34 billion in tobacco settlement funds have already been quietly diverted from the uses originally intended by the Tobacco Settlement Act of 2001.

More than 40,000 Pennsylvanians lost the state-subsidized health coverage Feb. 28 when the state shuttered the program for enrollees who couldn’t afford private health insurance but earned too much to qualify for Medicaid. An additional 500,000 Pennsylvanians were on a waiting list for the program when it was shut down.

In a special report issued at a press conference today, Wagner noted that the $1.34 billion in diverted funds represents 30 percent of the Tobacco Settlement Fund payments received since 1999. The diversions, which include $432 million to the general fund for unspecified purposes, siphoned money not only from health initiatives like adultBasic and tobacco cessation activities but also from a separate endowment account intended to benefit future Pennsylvanians.

The Tobacco Settlement Act, passed by the General Assembly in 2001, specifically mandated how the state should use the annual tobacco company payments. But according to Wagner’s special report, the mandates were quietly overridden, thus allowing the decimation of adultBasic, the Health Endowment Account, and the tobacco use prevention and cessation program. The endowment account will be empty by June 1, and the tobacco prevention/cessation program was drained to the point that it received an “F” grade from the American Lung Association.

Wagner said that Gov. Corbett and the General Assembly should use incoming tobacco settlement payments for adultBasic until 2014 when federal health care reform kicks in. He also said the state should actively search for additional public and private funds if more are needed.

“The mishandling of tobacco settlement funds is yet another example of how the state’s dysfunctional budgetary process is negatively impacting the lives of Pennsylvanians,” Wagner said. “With the commonwealth still mired in its greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression, now is not the time to reduce or eliminate health coverage for hard-working Pennsylvanians – or for reducing funds to prevent smoking and to help those who want to quit.”

Wagner noted that more than 20,000 Pennsylvanians die each year from smoking-related illnesses, and that residents of the commonwealth spend more than $5 billion a year treating smoking-related illnesses. He also pointed out that, according to the American Lung Association, 18.4 percent of Pennsylvania’s high school seniors are smokers – not far below the adult smoking rate of 20 percent.

Yet, Pennsylvania ranks only 30th in the nation in funding programs to prevent youth smoking and to help smokers quit. According to Wagner’s special report, funding for tobacco prevention and cessation declined from $50.5 million in 2002-03 to $14.7 million in 2010-11.

“This is an ominous trend line for the health of future Pennsylvanians,” Wagner said. “We can do better for our children – and we should.”

Pennsylvania was one of 46 states that settled litigation in 1998 with five major tobacco companies to recover medical expenses for Medicaid enrollees with tobacco-related illnesses. Under the Master Settlement Agreement, the tobacco companies agreed to pay the states beginning in 2000 and each year thereafter.

Wagner said that in 2000, then-Gov. Tom Ridge issued Pennsylvania’s Health Investment Plan, which proposed several health initiatives to be funded by the tobacco settlement money. The Tobacco Settlement Act followed, outlining the principles in the Health Investment Plan, which included making Pennsylvanians healthier. Wagner voted for the law as a state senator.

The Tobacco Settlement Act mandated that annual tobacco settlement payments be used according to these percentages: 8 percent deposited to an endowment account for the future, 30 percent for adultBasic and Medicaid for workers with disabilities, 18 percent for health research, 13 percent for home- and community-based services for the elderly, 12 percent for tobacco prevention and cessation programs, 10 percent to reimburse hospitals for uncompensated care, 8 percent to expand the PACENET prescription drug program, and 1 percent for cancer research.

Wagner said that the programs were funded as mandated until 2005 when Pennsylvania started its “redirections” that year and every year thereafter.

When the funding for tobacco cessation programs was at its intended level, the state paid for year-round programs to educate the public, including children, on the dangers of smoking, and to promote a quit-smoking hotline. The quit-smoking hotline used to get most calls from television advertising, but the reduced funding now allows only one statewide media effort each year.

Funding for adultBasic plummeted over the past seven years, going from $112 million in fiscal year 2003-04 to just $21.7 million this fiscal year. Enrollment declined from a high of 54,000 to just over 40,000 on Feb. 28, 2011, the day the program ended. About 63 percent of the enrollees who lost coverage this week were women, many of whom were employed by jobs that had no health benefits, Wagner said.

Former Gov. Rendell induced four of the state’s private insurers – Capital Blue Cross, Highmark, Independence Blue Cross and Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania – to make annual contributions to adultBasic as a substitute for the state’s funding, but their voluntary contributions ended this week without a back-up plan by the state to replace them.

In total, $1.34 billion in tobacco settlement dollars was redirected from its original purpose, Wagner said. His auditors found that $432.4 million was redirected to the state’s General Fund for unspecified purposes, $121 million was used to fulfill a General Fund obligation to the Public School Employees’ Retirement System, and $795.3 million was used to fund Medicaid long-term care for seniors and persons with disabilities.

Wagner expressed concern that the Health Endowment Account, which was created to set aside funds for future use or to pay for emergency health care needs, will end this fiscal year with a zero balance. In fiscal year 2007-08, the account contained $658 million.

“It is unconscionable that this account, designed to provide funding for health-related programs if and when the annual settlement payments decreased or stopped, has essentially been raided to cover General Fund budget shortfalls,” Wagner said.

Wagner’s special report made two recommendations for the remaining $5.4 billion in tobacco settlement payments the state is projected to receive over the next 15 years, including:

In the near term, Gov. Corbett and the General Assembly should use incoming tobacco settlement funds to pay for adultBasic, to bridge the gap until health insurance becomes widely available under national health-care reform beginning Jan. 1, 2014.

Gov. Corbett and the General Assembly should hold immediate public hearings throughout the commonwealth to discuss the long-term use of incoming tobacco settlement dollars to determine if the money should be used according to the original intentions, including funding critically important tobacco prevention and cessation programs, or if new priorities should be established.

Wedding Belles Contest Underway

WESB and 100.1 The HERO's annual Wedding Belles contest got underway Wednesday with a reception held at the Masonic Center on South Avenue.

For more information about the contest, and the brides and grooms, go here.

Over the last two years, the contest has helped pump more than $2 million into the local economy. We have no doubt this year's group of brides will go over the $1 million mark, too.

Tops Market in Bradford provided cupcakes, sandwiches and other snacks.

Brides-to-be chat with Deb from The Paper Factory.

Photographer Shawn Murray chats with bride-to-be Amy Perry.

A bride and groom look to see what Custom Creations has to offer.

Snipes' Lawyers File with Supreme Court

Lawyers for Wesley Snipes have filed a petition asking the US Supreme Court to examine claims he was wrongly tried, and that prosecutors should have met a higher standard of proof.

In December Snipes began serving a three-year sentence at FCI-McKean for failure to file income tax returns.

Snipes was convicted in 2008 on three misdemeanor counts of willful failure to file income tax returns. Several last minute appeals were denied.

Photo from Wikipedia

Arrest Made for 2006 Potter County Fire

A Harrison Valley man is facing charges in connection to a fire that happened in 2006.

Police say their investigation led to the arrest of 26-year-old Peter Zehr on charges of arson, burglary, conspiracy to commit arson, criminal mischief, criminal trespassing and theft.

He was arraigned and is free on $50,000 bail. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Monday in front of District Judge Delores Bristol.

Brian Farleigh of Hazelton owned the Harrison Valley cabin that was burned to the ground on June 20, 2006. Police said an ATV was used to break into the cabin and garage.

State Police fire marshal Cpl. Nicholas Loffredo says the case remains open and further arrests are possible. Anyone with information on the case is asked to call state police at Montoursville.

Fatal Crash in Cattaraugus County

A Great Valley man is dead after an accident Wednesday afternoon on Chapel Hill Road in the Town of Allegany.

Sheriff’s deputies say 63-year-old James Dornan of Irish Hill Road suffered severe head trauma when his car went out of control near Pumpkin Hollow Road, hit a guardrail, crossed the road, went into a ditch and turned over.

He died at Olean General Hospital. Deputies say he was not wearing a seatbelt.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Interesting Code Enforcement Story
From York, Pa.

The York City Council Tuesday, by a vote of 5-0, approved a new ordinance prohibiting furniture specifically designed for indoor use from being placed outside. The ordinance is intended to combat rodent infestation and is identical to one adopted by Lancaster City, said York City Fire Chief and acting code enforcement officer Steven Buffington.

Read the full story at York

PUC Reviewing New Area Code Info

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission is reviewing last week’s announcement that the 814 area code will not run out of numbers as soon as originally predicted.

The North American Numbering Plan Administration has pushed back the expected exhaust date for the 814 area code by two years – from 2013 to 2015.

The PUC says it will plan formal action at an upcoming regularly scheduled meeting. The next two meetings are scheduled for March 17 and 31.

The original plan was to assign the 582 area code to McKean, Elk, Jefferson, Erie and parts of several other counties.

After receiving more than 40 petitions against the plan, the commission decided to reconsider, and to gather more public input.

SCOTUS Rules in Favor of Kansas Church

Washington (CNN) -- A Kansas church known for its angry, anti-gay protests at funerals of U.S. troops won an appeal Wednesday at the Supreme Court in a case testing the competing constitutional rights of free speech and privacy.

Read the full story at

U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) today released the following statement in response to today’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the Snyder v. Phelps case:

“I am disappointed that the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled against the right of families of fallen troops to commemorate and grieve peacefully and privately,” said Senator Casey. “I supported the case filed by Albert Snyder through an amicus brief filed with the U.S. Supreme Court. In light of this ruling, I hope that protesters would change their minds and respect the brave men and women who sacrifice their lives to protect our freedom.”

Last year, Senator Casey signed on to an amicus brief filed to support the Supreme Court case to protect the right of families to not have military funeral services disrupted by protests. The Snyder v. Phelps case was filed by the father of Marine Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder after his funeral was protested in 2006. Albert Snyder is a resident of York, Pa.

Members of the church protested at the memorial service for Bradford native Master Sergeant Thomas Maholic, who died in Afghanistan in June of 2006, when he was fatally struck by enemy small arms fire during a cordon and search mission.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Busy Tuesday, So Far, for City Police

March came in like lion for Bradford City Police. Officers investigated a burglary on Congress Street, a suspicious package on Chestnut Street and a motor vehicle accident in Union Square, according to the complaint report and request sheet.

Officers were also called to reports of a theft from a vehicle on Davis Street, a theft on Bushnell Street, a parking complaint on Summer Street and a vehicle complaint at Cornen Street and Bagley Alley.

They also got reports of harassment and disorderly conduct on Main Street and … snow in the road on Amm Street.

Senator Casey: Protect CDBG Program

WASHINGTON, DC— U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) today joined John A. Garner, Jr., Executive Director of the Pennsylvania League of Cities and Municipalities, to call to protect the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program. Funding from the CDBG program is used for many things in Pennsylvania, including promoting economic development, community revitalization and job creation. Senator Casey and Garner expressed their concerns in a letter to the Chair and Ranking Member of each the Senate Committee on Appropriations and the Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development and Related Agencies.

“We write today to express our grave concerns about proposals to reduce funding for the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program in both fiscal 2011 and fiscal 2012,” Senator Casey and John Garner wrote in the letter. “This program has been instrumental in helping local communities in Pennsylvania promote economic development and job creation. The proposed funding reductions would unnecessarily curtail these efforts at a time when such economic activity is most needed.”

The letter continued, “Cuts to this program right now could have a devastating effect in cities throughout Pennsylvania and across the country. In Pennsylvania, 47 communities received funding directly from the federal government and countless others receive funding through the CDBG allocation made available to the state government. Small and large communities that receive CDBG funding throughout the state would be disproportionally impacted by the cuts as this funding constitutes a significant portion of their economic and community development budgets.”

The House-passed funding bill for the remainder of the fiscal year would cut funding for CDBG by 60%, which could mean that Pennsylvania communities could lose $149.4m this year if proposed cuts were to occur. Additional cuts have been proposed for the program in fiscal 2012.

In Pennsylvania, York and Lancaster are using a portion of their CDBG funding to reduce blight and revitalize their historic downtowns. In the Lehigh Valley, the cities of Allentown, Bethlehem and Easton use these funds to encourage private sector investment in many of the projects ongoing in these communities. Scranton, Wilkes-Barre, Williamsport and Hazleton use this funding to revitalize their urban cores and make much needed road improvements. In other parts of the state, communities like Altoona, Johnstown, State College, Erie, Sharon and others, have used these funds to bolster existing housing stock, reconstruct streets and improve water infrastructure. Among other activities, Philadelphia is using a portion of its CDBG funding to stem the foreclosure crisis while Pittsburgh uses some of its allocation to transform neighborhoods by promoting homeownership and affordable housing.

Toomey Act Gets Support, But is Tabled

Today, the Senate voted on the Full Faith and Credit Act, introduced as an amendment to the Patent Reform Act by Senators Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and David Vitter (R-La.). The vote to table the amendment was 52-47.

The Full Faith and Credit Act would ensure that the U.S. government would not default on its debt under any circumstances. The legislation would allow Congress to engage in a level-headed debate about the best way to cut spending and institute structural spending reforms as part of the larger discussion surrounding raising the debt ceiling.

Taking the possibility of default off the table will also protect the millions of Americans who hold U.S. securities as part of their 401(k) plans, pension plans, and retirement savings and keep consumer and small business borrowing costs at stable levels. In addition, the amendment would prioritize Social Security payments to help ensure American seniors are protected in case the debt ceiling is not immediately raised.

“I am encouraged by the significant support the Full Faith and Credit Act has received from my colleagues,” Sen. Toomey said. “The fact is we have a burden of debt that is costing us jobs and economic growth in this country today. We don’t have the luxury of simply kicking the can down the road and continuing with borrowing and spending as usual. The Full Faith and Credit Act allows us to have a serious debate about how to put our country on a sound fiscal trajectory without risking default or putting Social Security payments at risk. I am disappointed that my colleagues across the aisle are putting politics ahead of our country’s fiscal health and our senior citizens.

“We’re working to clear the way for a serious debate about unsustainable federal spending as Congress considers raising the debt limit,” Sen. Vitter said. “The Full Faith and Credit Act would defuse the administration’s sky-is-falling rhetoric by spelling out the Treasury secretary’s responsibility to prioritize debt payments if Congress doesn’t raise the debt ceiling. This is absolutely a pressing issue that we need to address immediately, and I’m disappointed that more of our colleagues did not recognize this.”

Casella Aquires McKean County Landfill

Casella Waste Systems of Vermont has acquired the landfill in McKean County for half a million dollars in cash, and the assumption of certain contractual obligations.

The company estimates the net present value of assumed contractual obligations and closure and post closure liabilities at about $4.2 million. The deal was finalized on Thursday, and was announced today.

Casella chairman and CEO John Casella says acquiring the landfill out of bankruptcy proceedings adds a great strategic asset in the company’s western region, and allows Casella to minimize transportation costs and maximize permit utilization.

Award-Winning Trio Simple Gifts at SBU

Three women plus 12 instruments equals one good time when the trio Simple Gifts takes the stage at 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 11, in the sixth concert of the Friends of Good Music season at St. Bonaventure University’s Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts.

Drawing on an impressive variety of ethnic folk styles, this award-winning trio plays everything from lively Irish jigs and down-home American reels to hard-driving Klezmer frailachs and haunting Gypsy melodies, spicing the mix with the distinctive rhythms of Balkan dance music, the lush sounds of Scandinavian twin fiddling, and original compositions written in a traditional style.

Combining tradition with innovation, Simple Gifts creates some of the finest arrangements in folk music today: swing fiddle creeps into a Romanian dance, spoons show up in an Irish reel, and the concertina ventures far beyond styles considered traditional for that instrument.

Based in the hills of Pennsylvania, the trio – Linda Littleton, Rachel Hall and Karen Hirshorn – play an amazing array of instruments, switching with ease among two violins, concertina, mandolin, banjolin, recorders, bowed psaltery, hammered dulcimer, baritone fiddle, guitar, piano, and percussion.

Simple Gifts is frequently complimented on their stage presence, which is warm, personal, and accented with humor. The musicians deliver their music with rare intensity and contagious enthusiasm. It’s obvious that Simple Gifts loves the music they play and knows how to share their excitement with the audience.

“Their program feels like a world tour of music,” said Ludwig Brunner, program director at the Quick Center. “Their performances are full of infectious enthusiasm and tremendous energy. These women will raise the roof of the Quick Center on their return visit.”

This performance is supported in part by the New York State Council on the Arts and is partially supported by a grant from Pennsylvania Performing Arts on Tour.

Tickets are $20 at full cost, $16 for St. Bonaventure staff and senior citizens, and $5 for students. For tickets and information, call the Quick Center box office at (716) 375-2494.

For each Friends of Good Music performance, the Quick Center will open its galleries one hour before the performance and keep them open throughout the intermission. Regular gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and noon to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Museum admission is free and open to the public year round. For more information, visit

Sen. Toomey's Maiden Speech

Pirates Beat Yankees 2-0

The Pittsburgh Pirates beat the New York Yankees 2-0 this afternoon in Grapefruit League play in Bradenton, Florida.

Pirates pitching gave up just four hits. Former first round pick Daniel Moskos worked a hitless ninth for the Pirates.

It was a Yankees traveling squad that did not include Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez or Mark Teixeira.

The Pirates play again Wednesday at McKechnie Field when the Minnesota Twins visit at 1:05 p.m. Right-handed pitcher Ross Ohlendorf is scheduled to make his first spring training start.

Pictured, Pirates pitcher James McDonald gets his first start of the spring. He went the standard (for early spring training) two innings and gave up two hits.
Photo by Dave Arrigo and provided by the Pittsburgh Pirates

U.S. Air Force Band of Liberty's
New England Winds to Perform at SBU

The U.S. Air Force Band of Liberty’s New England Winds will perform at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 8, at St. Bonaventure University’s Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts. Presented by the Quick Center and the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps at St. Bonaventure, the concert is free and open to the public.

The New England Winds have been recognized by audiences throughout the northeastern United States for their passionate and refined performances. Concert goers have been treated to a challenging repertoire with music from the Baroque era to newly commissioned works.

Whether performing at small stage recitals or the International Double Reed Convention, the quintet creates an intimate musical setting through its versatility, its compelling and expressive music-making, and its ability to interact with listeners. Every member of the quintet is a dedicated chamber player with years of study on his or her instrument.

This outstanding musical group is on tour from Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass. The program features something for all musical tastes including popular songs, Broadway and patriotic tunes, jazz and folk music, as well as pieces from the traditional woodwind quintet repertoire.

As professional military musicians, The United States Air Force Band of Liberty is dedicated to using the power of music to inspire Air Force members and the nation they serve, producing innovative musical programs and products, and communicating Air Force excellence throughout New England and around the globe.

Free tickets may be obtained by calling The Quick Center box office at (716) 375-2494 or at the door. Doors will open at 7 p.m.

Man Charged in Illegal Dumping Case
Related to Natural Gas Drilling

HARRISBURG - A Venango County man is facing illegal dumping charges following an investigation into the disposal of gas well production brine into abandoned wells.

Acting Attorney General Bill Ryan identified the defendant as William Henderson, 53, 16899 Jerusalem Corners Road, Pleasantville, Venango County. Henderson is the owner of Titusville Oil & Gas, Inc.

Ryan said that Titusville Oil & Gas conducts various oil and gas exploration activities in Allegheny Township, Venango County and owns a tank battery located on the Seaton JDB Lease along State Route 36.

According to the criminal complaint, in September 2010 Henderson placed a discharge pipe from the Seaton JDB Lease to an adjacent abandoned oil well owned by a competitor.

The charges state that the pipe Henderson ran to the abandoned well ruptured and caused a significant amount of production brine to discharge onto the ground. Brine is gas well production water.

Investigators later discovered another discharge pipe connected to two storage tanks on the adjacent property, leading to a pit and another abandoned well. Production brine was allegedly discharged at both locations and caused the ground to be stained and vegetation to be killed.

Ryan said that Henderson did not have a permit from the Department of Environmental Protection for production brine disposal at either site.

Henderson is charged with two counts of unlawful conduct under Pennsylvania's Oil and Gas Act and Solid Waste Management Act.

The case will be prosecuted in Venango County by Deputy Attorney General Amy Carnicella of the Attorney General's Environmental Crimes Section.

Saporito Completes USN Basic Training

Navy Seaman Recruit Mark A. Saporito, son of Diane P. Saporito of Warren, Pa. and Mark A. Saporito, Sr of Bradford, Pa., recently completed U.S. Navy basic training at Recruit Training Command, Great Lakes, Ill.

During the eight-week program, Saporito 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.

Saporito is a 2010 graduate of Bradford Area High School of Bradford, Pa.

Castille Provides Update on Reforms
Resulting from 'Kids for Cash' Scandal

HARRISBURG — Pennsylvania Supreme Court Chief Justice Ronald D. Castille today released a progress report on changes the courts are in the process of making in response to the juvenile justice scandal in Luzerne County.

Most of the changes stem from recommendations of the Interbranch Commission on Juvenile Justice that was created by the courts, in conjunction with the executive and legislative branches, in August 2009 to investigate the scandal and develop recommendations for reform.

"I believe it is important for the people of Pennsylvania to know that Pennsylvania’s Unified Judicial System and the Supreme Court have not let the Commission’s report simply gather dust on a shelf," Chief Justice Castille said. "The Judiciary is committed to improving the juvenile justice system so that the problems that were highlighted by the tragedy in Luzerne County are never repeated there or in any other county.

The Chief Justice said that over the past nine months since the Commission issued its report, the Supreme Court, its various committees and the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts (AOPC) are in the process of implementing scores of recommendations including rules changes addressing:

 The rights of victims in juvenile cases – changes will allow victims to be more involved in the judicial process including making sure they are given more notice of upcoming hearings and being given the opportunity to testify.

 The authority, duties and training of juvenile probation officers – authority and duties are now delineated in the rules.

 The placement of juvenile offenders – judges will now be required to state, on the record, findings of fact and conclusions of law when placing a juvenile out of home and requiring the least restrictive placement that is consistent with the protection of the public and best suited to the juvenile’s treatment, supervision, rehabilitation and welfare.

 The presumption of indigence for juveniles – the determination of indigence will now be based on the juvenile’s income alone.

 The use of restraints on a juvenile during a court proceeding – the new rules will limit the use of restraints except in certain circumstances to prevent harm, disruptive behavior or flight.

Other changes include:

 Allowing a juvenile to admit to the commission of the charges leveled against him or her.

 Creating specific questions the juvenile must answer before a court can accept a guilty plea.

 Giving juveniles the ability to waive counsel, in some ways similar to the same right as adults.

 Creating rules to ―fast track‖ appeals of trial court decisions that transfer or deny transfer of juvenile matters to adult court or vice-versa.

 Requiring any judge who is the target of investigation by law enforcement to notify the Supreme Court of that investigation within five days.

The status of each recommendation is included in the report. The courts will issue further progress reports in the coming months.

"Ironically, Pennsylvania’s juvenile justice system has long been considered one of the best in the nation," Chief Justice Castille said. "There are many individuals in the system who are dedicated to the welfare of juveniles who become involved in the justice system. Unfortunately, two judges in Luzerne County, by their criminal conduct, have caused unimaginable taint to those good people and to Pennsylvania’s juvenile justice system as a whole."

The Judiciary has taken the Commission’s recommendations seriously. We are committed to continue to improve the juvenile justice system in every feasible way. Our work will continue.

The Chief Justice’s progress report can be found by clicking here. (PDF)

Explosion Investigation Continues

An investigation is continuing into the cause of an explosion that destroyed a Bradford Township home Monday morning.

Thomas Federspiel was outside the home at 10 Helen Lane when the explosion happened at 7:20 a.m. Monday.

The explosion caused part of the home to collapse and ignited a fire inside, causing an estimated $250,000 in damage, according to a fax sent to WESB and The HERO by state police fire marshal Greg Agosti.

Federspiel was able to rescue his two dogs from the home before Bradford Township firefighters arrived. He was treated at the scene for a minor injury.

National Fuel Gas assisted Agosti and the fire department with the investigation. The natural-gas distribution system, along with local gas distribution facilities were examined and tested and found to be safe.

The Pennsylvania Public Utilities Commission, the state Department of Environmental Protection and the McKean County Emergency Management Agency also assisted.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Variety of Disturbances Keep Police Busy

Disturbances and parking complaints kept Bradford City Police busy over the weekend.

They were called to disturbances on Foreman and Mechanic streets and Marion Avenue. They were also called to a neighbor dispute on Summer Street, and reports of disorderly conduct on West Washington Street and harassment on Melvin Avenue.

Officers were notified about a utility pole fire on Poplin Avenue, a hit and run on Mechanic Street and parking problems on Williams, Park, Amm and Pike streets and on Chautauqua Place.

They also got calls about criminal mischief on Main Street, an unwanted person on State Street, a suspicious vehicle on Cole Avenue and an animal complaint on Euclid Avenue, according to the complaint report and request sheet.