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Saturday, June 11, 2011

What's Up at the City Fire Station?

The ladder on Tower One for agility testing for prospective firefighters.

Some of the Derby Drivers ...

More from Derby Day ...

Probably the only thing faster than the cars was this chipmunk who got off the track just in time.

It's Derby Day in Bradford

These two racers zip down Dorothy Lane during the annual Bradford Mastercraft All-American Soap Box Derby. Below, Stefan Arlington talks with derby organizer Steve Feldman during 100.1 The HERO's live broadcast from the event.

Juveniles Keep Bradford Police Busy

Juveniles kept Bradford City Police busy late Friday and early Saturday. Officers got calls about kids loitering on Main Street and causing a disturbance on Bushnell Street. They also got complaints about juveniles on Barbour Street and another group on Main Street, according to the complaint report and request sheet.

Police looked into reports of criminal mischief on South Avenue and Pike Street, a traffic problem on Davis Street, a fight on Main Street and noise on Edna Avenue. They also got reports of a public drunk at Elm and High streets and an animal complaint at a Mechanic Street establishment.

Fatal Crash on Route 219 in Elk County

A Brockport man is dead following an accident last night on Route 219 in Horton Township in Elk County.

State police say 57-year-old Clarence Russell was apparently speeding at about 10:15 p.m. when his pickup truck went off the road and hit a guiderail. The truck then went back onto the road, traveled across both lanes, went off the road again, hit another guiderail and rolled over.

Russell was taken by ambulance to Elk Regional Health Center, where he was pronounced dead about an hour after the accident.

Woman Fights with 'Other Woman'

An East Otto, New York, woman is facing charges after getting into a fight with her husband’s girlfriend.

Sheriff’s deputies say 50-year-old Rebecca Anderson got into the fight with the other woman at around 12:10 a.m. Friday. She was charged with harassment and released on her own recognizance.

About 10 minutes before that incident, sheriff’s deputies were just down the road at the home of 28-year-old Regis Lilly, who allegedly got into fight with a neighbor.

Lilly was charged with assault and sent to jail on $500 bail.

Anderson and Lilly are both due back in court on June 27.

Young Presents Overdue Military Awards

By Dan Toomey
Director of Communications

OLEAN – Decades after serving aboard the USS Oriskany in the Vietnam War, U.S. Navy veteran Gary Clark of West Almond finally was awarded two service medals honoring the former Petty Officer 3rd Class for his years of wartime service.

Over 45 years later, Petty Officer Clark received the thanks he deserved when Senator Catharine Young (R,I,C –Olean) personally pinned the Vietnam Service Medal with one bronze campaign star and the Navy Unit Commendation onto his chest as part of a special ceremony Friday at the Crossroads Conference Center in Belmont.

“America’s brave veterans have made unparalleled sacrifices for our country and it was my great honor to present these long overdue awards to Petty Officer Clark. He earned these medals and should have gotten them long ago. I am just glad that his family was finally able to see him get the recognition he deserved,” said Senator Young.

Senator Young said the delay resulted from an omission on Petty Officer Clark’s discharge papers and separation documents where the Navy mistakenly omitted some of his sea service time, making it appear as if Petty Officer Clark never served in Vietnam.

In September 2009, Petty Officer Clark came to Senator Young’s office seeking help to correct his service record in order for him to become eligible for tax credits that are available to veterans. Her office was able to get the records fixed and, in the process, was able to secure the
long overdue service awards.

“Errors on discharge papers and other military records can often result in the delay or denial of service medals. It is more common than one might think, especially for our Vietnam Veterans,” said Senator Young.

“All of our veterans needs to be thanked for their service, and it is gratifying to get this done for Petty Officer Clark after all these years,” she added.

Petty Officer Clark said, “I would like to thank Senator Young and everyone of her staff who made my past service a priority. I am truly happy to be able to share this day with my family, my wife, Carroll, and mother-in law, Joan Youngdale, my brother and sister-in-law, Glenn and Cindy Moore, and my sister and brother-in-law, Joanne and Terry Carpenter.

For a long time after my return from Vietnam I became bitter about my service, especially given the fact that it was an unpopular war. Since that time however, I am glad to see that people realize how important it is to support our troops. I am glad that in our area of New York State we have a State Senator who truly works hard for all of her constituents.”

Petty Officer Clark enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1962 at the age 18 and received his basic training at the Great Lakes Naval Training Center in Illinois. He achieved the rank of E-4 while serving as an aviation electrician with Attack Squadron 163 the “Saints.”

During the Vietnam War, he was deployed to the Tonkin Gulf from April to September 1966 and served on the aircraft carrier USS Oriskany. His responsibilities included assisting with the maintenance of fighter planes during combat operations. Petty Officer Clark was one of the crewman that personally maintained Senator John McCain’s A-4 Skyhawk.

Before the Vietnam War had started, Petty Officer Clark served on the USS Lexington that was deployed to the Gulf of Mexico during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Petty Officer Clark was discharged honorably in September of 1966 after serving his full time in the Navy.

Curt Crandall, Chairman of the Allegany County Board of Legislators, who took part in the ceremony said, “Awards and recognition for one’s service to their country is one way to show our grateful appreciation. I want to thank the Senator for her involvement in seeing that Mr. Clark got this deserving award. Most of all, I want to be sure Gary Clark knows that Allegany county is grateful of his years of dedication and service.”

Mike Hennessy, Director of the Allegany County Veterans Service Agency, said, “It is gratifying to know that even after 40 years, the United States military understands the importance of recognizing all deserving veterans with their awards and commendations.”

The Vietnam Service Medal was created in 1965 by order of President Lyndon B. Johnson. The medal is issued to recognize military service during the Vietnam War and is authorized to service members in every branch of the U.S. Armed Forces provided they meet certain qualification criteria.

The Navy Unit Commendation is awarded by the Secretary of the Navy to any ship, aircraft, detachment, or other unit of the U.S. Navy or Marine Corps which since December, 6 1941 has distinguished itself in action against the enemy with outstanding heroism. It is also awarded for non-combat service, in support of military operations, which was outstanding when compared to other units or organizations performing similar service.

Pictured, Senator Catharine Young personally pins the Vietnam Service Medal with one bronze campaign star and the Navy Unit Commendation onto Petty Officer Clark’s chest as part of a special ceremony Friday in Belmont.
Photo courtesy of Young's office

Friday, June 10, 2011

Five Years Ago Today:
'Bucky' Shoots First of Three Troopers

WESB/WBRR News Director

It was 5 years ago today that the hunt for Ralph “Bucky” Phillips went into high gear when he shot the first of three state troopers during the largest manhunt in New York state history.

Phillips escaped from the Erie County Correctional Facility in Alden on April 2, 2006, and was being sought by police for not only the escape but for the burglary of an Ellington, New York, gun store, where 41 guns were taken.

Some of those guns were eventually recovered at the Ludlow home of Todd Nelson. Nelson was charged with hindering the apprehension of Phillips and harboring a fugitive and was sentenced to 6 to 12 months in prison.

But it was on June 10, 2006, that the search effort heated up. It was that day that Phillips shot and wounded state trooper Sean Brown during a traffic stop near Elmira, New York.

Phillips was on the run for three more months throughout Western New York and McKean and Warren counties. The then-fugitive was helped by numerous people besides Nelson, and also broke into unoccupied hunting cabins in New York and Pennsylvania. He stole about 15 vehicles, including a pickup truck from Limestone, New York, and a car from Sheffield.

The elusive Phillips prompted police to set up roadblocks and checkpoints along several roads in the region, including Route 219 just north of Limestone.

Phillips was spotted in Warren County in the early morning hours of September 8, 2006, after stealing another car. Phillips crashed the car at the intersection of Hatch Run and Scandia roads, then fled on foot, stole another vehicle about 20 minutes later and was spotted by state troopers in Carroll, New York, a few hours later. He got out of the car and disappeared into the woods.

At around 9 a.m. a New York State Police K-9 handler spotted Phillips and fired multiple rounds at him. Command posts were then set up at the Russell Fire Department and in Carroll, New York, and the day-long hunt near the border of Chautauqua and Warren counties involving dozens of police agencies and hundreds of law enforcement officers began.*

At dusk Warren County Sheriff’s Deputy John Zingone spotted Phillips and called for backup. Shortly after that a police helicopter flew directly over Phillips, who came out of the woods with his hands in the air.

The surrender, however, came a week after he shot state troopers Joseph Longobardo and Donald Baker Jr. who were staking out Phillilps’ ex-girlfriend’s house in Pomfret, New York. Longobardo died several days later at what was then Hamot Medical Center in Erie.

Brown and Baker are still working as state troopers.

Phillips is serving a sentence of life plus 40 years at the Clinton County Correctional Facilty in Dannemora, New York.

Earlier this year, Phillips withdrew his civil lawsuit against Chautauqua County Sheriff Joseph Gerace and Chemung County Sheriff Chris Moss, who he claimed had violated his civil rights when in was jailed in Mayville and Elmira.

* WESB/WBRR was the only McKean County media outlet on the scene in Carroll, New York, and received an award for their coverage.

Whitcomb: Man Posing as Cop Tries to
Abduct Woman in Cattaraugus County

Sheriff’s deputies are investigating an attempted kidnapping by a man posing as a police officer.

Cattaraugus County Sheriff Timothy Whitcomb says that at around 4 o’clock Thursday afternoon a woman was driving on Route 394 in the Town of Coldspring when the man pulled her over and ordered her to get out of her car. When she refused, he grabbed her wrist and tried to force her to get out of the car. She fought him off and he fled the scene.

Whitcomb says the man was driving a large, dark-colored sedan with a flashing blue emergency light in the windshield. The car did not have any police markings on it. The man is white, in his 40s and about 5-feet, 10-inches tall with a medium build and blue/green eyes. He was wearing a light blue uniform-type shirt, dark-colored uniform-type pants and a gray Stetson hat.

Whitcomb asks that anyone with information about the man or the vehicle contact the sheriff’s office. He also urges people to use caution and common sense when being pulled over by an unmarked police vehicle.

Salamanca Drug Lab Dismantled

Federal agents helped Salamanca Police and sheriff’s deputies uncover and dismantle a drug lab in Salamanca Thursday morning.

Police got a tip about a possible drug lab on Kent Boulevard and called the federal Drug Enforcement Agency, and the Southern Tier Regional Drug Force for help.

They found a small box lab created to manufacture the drug Dimethyltryptamine, also known as DMT. It is a Schedule 1 powerful hallucinogenic controlled substance, according to sheriff’s deputies.

The lab was dismantled and all hazardous materials were disposed of. Verification testing is ongoing by the State Police crime lab, and charges are pending.

Deputies say no additional information will be released until they receive the test results.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Lives of Identical Twin Friars Celebrated at
St. Bonaventure University Services

By Tom Missel
Director of Media Relations/Marketing

Two men who lived their lives in simple, dedicated service to others were laid to rest Thursday on a hill overlooking the place they spent 40 years of their lives.

The lives of identical twins Adrian and Julian Riester, brothers in the Franciscan Order of Friars Minor who died at the age of 92 on June 1, were celebrated Thursday at a prayer service at St. Bonaventure University and at a hilltop burial service at St. Bonaventure Cemetery across the street.

In his homily, Fr. Peter Schneible, O.F.M., described what it was like living with the twins in an apartment complex in the St. Bonaventure Friary for more than 20 years.

“Living with Adrian and Julian was like living with church mice. Often, I had no idea whether they were up there (upstairs), they were so quiet,” Fr. Peter said.

The twins’ quiet demeanor is now known worldwide as millions around the globe have read stories about their simple lives. More than 50,000 people shared the story on their Facebook pages from just the Yahoo!News posting of The Associated Press story. An estimated 8-10 million people viewed the story on Yahoo! alone.

The story was picked up by thousands of news organizations around the world, some as far away as New Zealand, Vietnam and Fiji. A crew from Brazil’s Globo TV covered today’s services.

“It always seemed this life was easy for them. They were made for this life,” Fr. Peter said. “They were spiritual and simple friars, receptive to what God wanted.”

The friars spent their last 35 years at St. Bonaventure working at the Friary in quiet, behind-the-scenes lives as carpenters, gardeners and chauffeurs for anyone who might need a ride to campus.

On several occasions, Br. Adrian and Br. Julian met Fr. Peter at the Buffalo airport or train station to drive him back to campus. Regardless of the time of day or the weather, the friars would be waiting when Fr. Peter arrived.

The Very Rev. John O’Connor, provincial minister of Holy Name Province, read an article several years ago about an actor who was not known because of his leading roles, but because he was indispensible as a supporting actor.

“They were extraordinary in their supporting roles as friars of the Order of Friars Minor,” Fr. John said.

“Andy Warhol has been credited with saying that every human being deserves 15 minutes of fame. And, yes, the coincidence of their birth and death on the same day almost seems supernatural,” Fr. John said.

“But what really made millions of people read and care about their story was for a few days they had a chance to read about the good side of humanity,” said Fr. John.

The Riester brothers were born in Buffalo as Jerome (Julian) and Irving (Adrian) just seconds apart on March 27, 1919. After joining the Franciscans during the 1940s, they were eventually assigned to work at Christ the King Seminary at St. Bonaventure from 1951-56.

They were assigned to different parishes for the next 17 years, but were eventually reunited at St. Bonaventure from 1973-2008, when they retired to the friary in St. Petersburg, Fla. They died of heart disease June 1 at St. Anthony Hospital.

A funeral Mass for the Riesters was said Monday in St. Petersburg. After the Mass, their bodies were flown to Buffalo and transported to Allegany for Thursday’s services.

Pictured, Family members release doves after the burial service Thursday at St. Bonaventure Cemetery. From left are great-niece Lauren Roberts, niece Barbara Roberts, nephew Robert McCue, and Daniel McCue Sr., brother-in-law of the Riester twins.

Photo courtesy of St. Bonaventure University

Several Thefts, MVAs in Bradford

Bradford City Police on Thursday investigated thefts on Barbour and Park streets and on North Kendall Avenue, and motor vehicle accident on North Bennett Street and North Kendall, according to the complaint report and request sheet.

Officers got reports of loitering and prowling on School Street, harassment on Main Street, criminal mischief on Park Street and a disturbance on West Corydon Street.

Police also got calls about juveniles on Congress Street and Belleview Avenue, an unwanted person on Osborne Place and “pest control” on Jackson Avenue.

Man Who Killed PennDOT Worker While
DUI Sentenced to 4 to 10 Years in Prison

The man who was under the influence of drugs when he hit and killed a PennDOT worker in October has been sentenced to 4 to 10 years in prison, according to McKean County District Attorney Ray Learn.

42-year-old Donald Blocher of Salamanca, New York, was charged in the death of Jack Griffin. The accident happened in a work zone on Olean Road in Foster Township. PennDOT worker James Burrows was also severely injured in the crash.

Blocher was on his way home from an appointment at BRMC at the time of the crash and was under the influence of eight drugs, including valium, muscle relaxants and marijuana.

Alleged Child Predator Picked Up

A man accused of trying to lure a child at an elementary school last June and of approaching another young girl late last month has been picked up at a homeless shelter in Cleveland, Ohio.

40-year-old David Lopus of Ashville, New York, was taken into custody as a fugitive from justice on Thursday. He remains in custody in Cleveland, awaiting extradition to Warren County.

Lopus is accused of trying to make contact with an 11-year-old at the Sugar Grove Elementary School last June. When he attempted to lure the girl into a nearby portable toilet, she ran for help.

Then on May 24 at the Sunset Trailer Park in Conewango Township Lopus allegedly approached another young girl.

Teens Killed in Elk County ATV Crash

UPDATE: The boys have been identified as Steven Glatt of St. Marys and Allen Gursky of Weedville.

Two 16-year-old Elk County boys are dead following an ATV crash last night on Mount Zion Road in Jay Township.

Police did not release the boys’ names but say one is from St. Marys and the other from Weedville.

Police say the ATV was on the gravel-improved dirt road at 9:45 p.m. when it went out of control, left the road and hit several trees. Both boys were thrown from the vehicle and also hit the trees.

They say it appears the ATV was traveling too fast for conditions and neither of the boys was wearing any type of safety equipment.

I-86 Lanes Re-Opened

The New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) today announced that Interstate 86 was re-opened to traffic at 1:30 p.m. between Exit 20 (Casino) and Exit 18 (NY Route 280, Allegany State Park, Quaker Run Area) in the towns of Red House and Cold Spring, Cattaraugus County and the Seneca Nation. Today’s re-opening is the result of NYSDOT accelerating the construction of a single, westbound, temporary lane to allow for continuous travel on westbound Interstate 86 while repairs continue on a slope failure that occurred on May 31, 2011.

Both eastbound and westbound traffic on Interstate 86 are reduced to a single lane of traffic between Exit 20 and Exit 18. The eastbound lane will remain closed to provide a safe separation for eastbound and westbound traffic until the final repair to Interstate 86 westbound is completed.

Motorists are reminded that fines are doubled for speeding in a work zone. In accordance with the Work Zone safety Act of 2005, convictions of two or more speeding violations in a work zone could result in the suspension of an individual’s driver license.

For real-time travel information, call 511 or visit Find NYSDOT on the web at

Motorcycle Hits Deer on Route 417

An Allegany man escaped serious injury when his motorcycle hit a deer early Monday morning on Route 417.

Sheriff’s deputies say 59-year-old Douglas Chapin was on 417 in the Town of Great Valley at about 4:30 a.m. when a deer ran into the road. Chapin was thrown from the bike but deputies say he was walking around when they got there.

He was taken to Olean General Hospital for observation and was ticketed for not driving at a reasonable speed.

Woman Charged with Welfare Fraud

An Olean woman is accused of getting more than $4,000 in public assistance that she was not entitled to.

Sheriff’s deputies say 38-year-old Tina Bell did not report her job and wages on her applications to the county social services department from October of 2007 to October of 2008. She allegedly received $4,080 in cash assistance and food stamps.

Bell is charged with welfare fraud, grand larceny and offering a false instrument for filing.

Teenager Accused of Stealing Car

A Findley Lake teenager is accused of stealing a car and then driving another teen to Corry, PA.

Chautauqua County Sheriff’s deputies say 17-year-old Taylor Treacle took the car from a garage on Route 426 then drove the 14-year-old to Corry. Deputies saw the car in Sherman, New York.

Treacle was charged with burglary, unauthorized use of a motor vehicle and endangering the welfare of a child, and was sent to jail on $500 bail.

Court Issues Restraining Order Against
NY Tax Collection on Cigrette Sales

Less than 24 hours after a judge ruled that New York can start collecting taxes on Native American cigarette sales, another court granted a restraining order that will block the tax collection.

The Appellate Division of State Supreme Court has granted the Seneca Nation a temporary restraining order until June 20.

Seneca President Robert Odawi Porter issued a similar statement to the one he issued on Wednesday, and said there will be no change in the nation’s stand that it will never be a tax collector for New York State.

April's Sunshine Report

Megan Minich is New United Way Director

Megan R. Minich has been named Executive Director for the United Way of the Bradford Area, according to John Peterson, president of the United Way board of directors.

The announcement was made on Wednesday June 8, 2011.

“The Personnel Committee, as well the members of the Executive Board, have spent the past several weeks in performing a search, conducting interviews, and ultimately arriving at this decision regarding the new Executive Director. Megan’s job performance in her previous role as Community Relations and Marketing Specialist has been outstanding, and she has fully lived up to the Board of Director’s expectations in her performance of duties and responsibilities that accompanied that position,” states Peterson. “The Board has full confidence in Megan’s ability to lead the United Way of the Bradford Area, hopefully for many years to come.”

The United Way of the Bradford Area is a non-profit organization with the mission of raising and distributing funds for the purpose of community building and enhancing the quality of life in the greater Bradford area.

“I am honored to serve the United Way and the Bradford community in this capacity,” says Minich. “Being involved with the United Way over the past year has been a life changing experience for me. The United Way organization and its supporters have shown me how important this organization is to our community.”

In April 2011, Kelly Z. Case resigned her position as Executive Director. Case had been in the position since May 2009. Minich will take over the responsibilities immediately.

“I am excited to be a part of the next chapter of the United Way of the Bradford Area with Megan Minich as the Executive Director,” states Sam Johnson, Secretary of the Board of Directors and Head of Personnel Committee. “She has proven herself as a very professional and competent individual who fully supports the mission of the United Way.”

At United Way Red Feather awards dinner Minich announced that the United Way of Bradford Area will embrace the LIVE UNITED brand that United Way Worldwide introduced in 2009. “I am excited to lead the United Way in this new direction and will do my best to weave the LIVE UNITED brand into every aspect of our annual campaign and special events,” says Minich. “Our United Way has become the best organization to match the community needs and has the resources to advance the common good- one life at a time, LIVING UNITED.”

Prior to beginning her employment with the United Way, Minich worked previously as the director of sales and marketing at Microtech Small Arms Research. She earned a bachelor of science in Entrepreneurship from University of Pittsburgh and a masters of arts in Integrated Marketing Communications from St. Bonaventure University.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Senate Passes Bill to Ban Texting,
Cell Phone Use While Driving

HARRISBURG - The Senate today passed legislation sponsored by Senator Tommy Tomlinson (R-Bucks) and supported by Senator John Rafferty, Chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee that would prohibit the use of handheld cell phones and texting while driving and set new guidelines for junior drivers.

Tomlinson said Senate Bill 314 would impose a ban on handheld cell phones for all drivers, regardless of age. Hands-free cell phone use would still be permitted by drivers who do not have a learners permit or junior driver's license. The bill would make it a primary offense for all drivers to text, email, browse the internet and instant message. SB 314 would make it a secondary offense to use a cell phone while driving – meaning the driver would have to first be pulled over for a primary offense.

The only exceptions would include:

~~Drivers contacting 511 service, 911 or wireless E-911.

~~When a vehicle is stopped due to traffic obstruction and the vehicle is in park or neutral.

~~Operators of emergency vehicles, coroners, or volunteer emergency responders while engaged in their official duties.

~~Amateur radio operators.

"I would like to thank Senator Rafferty for his work on this important issue and for moving this bill forward in the process. Texting while driving is distracting, dangerous and sometimes deadly." Tomlinson said.

"Distracted driving is a major cause of accidents, especially among young people." Tomlinson said. "When people are behind the wheel they should be concentrating on the road and other drivers, not texting or talking on cell phones."

Tomlinson said 20 percent of injury crashes in 2009 involved reports of distracted driving. The age group with the greatest proportion of distracted drivers was the under-20 age group – 16 percent of all drivers younger than 20 involved in fatal crashes were reported to have been distracted while driving.

The legislation would also prohibit a junior driver, during their first six months of driving, from transporting more than one passenger under the age of 18 who is not a family member unless accompanied by a parent or legal guardian. After six months a junior driver would be allowed to transport three passengers under the age of 18 who are not members of the driver's immediate family.

"Car accidents are the leading cause of death for teenagers, and distractions and inexperience both play a role," Sen. Rafferty said. "These new guidelines would help to keep young drivers and their passengers safe."

Under the legislation, failure to wear a seat belt would also be a primary offense for drivers 8-18 years of age.

Senate Bill 314 now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.

Porter: Seneca Nation Will Appeal

Seneca President Robert Odawi Porter says the Nation will file papers with the Appellate Division of the State Supreme Court in regard to today's court decision allowing the state to collect taxes on cigarettes sold by Indian retailers to non-Indians.

In a news release, Porter says, no matter what the court decides, the Seneca Nation will never collect taxes for New York State.

The Senecas say immunity from taxes by a centuries-old federal treaty is the law of the land.

Court Rules Against Seneca Nation

The New York State Supreme Court has ruled against the Seneca Nation of Indians, which means the state can start collecting taxes on cigarette sales to non-Indians.

A lower court ruled last month that the state could start the collection, but the next day another court put an injunction in place barring the collection.

Neither the state nor the nation has made a comment yet.