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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Fugitive Accused of Stealing Hundreds of
Thousands of Dollars Now in Jail in NC

The St. Marys man accused of defrauding people and businesses in Elk County out of hundreds of thousands of dollars has been picked up near Charlotte, North Carolina.

47-year-old Richard Danz was apprehended Wednesday by the Matthews, Police Department and is being held in North Carolina awaiting extradition to Pennsylvania.

Danz allegedly stole more than $561,000 from the Elk County Humane Society while he was the agency’s treasurer and accountant. He also allegedly deposited $9,000 into his own account instead of sending a check to a family, and deposited a $3,000 check from an insurance company into his own account instead of the repair shop that fixed his Mercedes Benz.

Danz is facing charges of theft by failure to required disposition of funds, theft of services, theft by unlawful taking and theft by deception.

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Author Molly Peacock to Visit Pitt-Bradford

Molly Peacock, author of the book “The Paper Garden: Mrs. Delany Begins Her Life’s Work at 72,” will visit Pitt-Bradford later this month as part of the 2012-2013 Spectrum series.

Peacock will speak at 7:30 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 27, in the Mukaiyama University Room in the Frame-Westerberg Commons. This event will be free and open to the public.

Formerly from Buffalo, N.Y., Peacock has published six titles of poetry and is also known for her original one-woman stage performance of “The Shimmering Verge,” a collection of monologues in poems, which she performed on tour from 2003-2007 in several cities, including New York City, Toronto and Chicago.

Dr. Nancy McCabe, director of the writing program at Pitt-Bradford, calls Peacock’s newest publication, “The Paper Garden,” “a hybrid of biography, memoir, history, and art criticism about Mary Delaney, who was known for her intricate, beautiful, botanically accurate paper collages of flowers. Mary Delaney was an innovative artist, and Molly’s book approaches her subject with a similar innovation”

McCabe said she hoped the ways Peacock challenges the boundaries between genres and forms as she reflects on the creative process and tells Delaney’s story would inspire the campus community.

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Senate Hearing Focuses on Stack’s Bill
Criminalizing Home Invasions

PHILADELPHIA — Home invasion impacts communities across Pennsylvania and state Sen. Mike Stack is working to curb the growth of violence with a new state law specifically targeting home invasion.

During a public hearing today in Philadelphia, the Senate Judiciary Committee addressed Stack’s legislation creating a specific criminal offense for a home invasion. The act would be defined as a person who knowingly enters another person’s home without permission and threatens or harms the person living in the home.

“A home invasion can be a homeowner’s worst nightmare and it can happen at any time.

It’s a crime that impacts communities all across Pennsylvania,” Stack said. “Home invasions have led to some horrific crimes, so if we can criminalize the act, we can place a fitting punishment on these particularly evil criminals and help our law enforcement do their job.”

Under Senate Bill 1002, a home invasion would be graded as a third-degree felony when it is committed without a weapon and would carry a mandatory minimum one-year prison sentence. It would be graded as a second-degree felony when it is committed with a dangerous weapon and would carry a mandatory three-year prison sentence. It would be graded as a first-degree felony when it is committed with a firearm and carry a mandatory minimum five-year prison sentence.

“The right to be safe in your own home is almost sacred, and when someone invades that peace a family’s way of life can be permanently damaged,” said state Sen. Larry Farnese (D-Phila.). “Today’s hearing is an important one. I congratulate Sen. Stack on his legislation because it will give the courts and law enforcement more tools to keep our homes and neighborhoods safe.”

The Philadelphia Police Department supports the bill, said Lt. Francis T. Healy, special counsel to the commissioner in the Philadelphia Police Commissioner’s Office.

“The invasion on one’s home, to attack, or rob the occupants is a crime onto itself and justifiably deserves a separate and specific crime classification with mandatory sentencing,” Healy said. “Many other states have already recognized the especially egregious nature of such crimes and have passed similar legislation.”

Michigan, Connecticut, Louisiana, Illinois, and Florida have home invasion statutes.

“A crime that attacks and destroys the sanctity and security of a person’s last refuge deserves to be addressed differently than a normal robbery or assault in public. For the survivors of a home invasion, the sense of safety and security that one deserves in their own home is forever lost,” Healey said. “Certain justice for those who choose to invade another’s home to threaten attack or rob is needed to protect others from being victims, but also to send a very clear and strong message to those that may even consider such a crime, a person’s home is sacred.”

Jodi Lobel, deputy for the Trial Division of the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office, said it is more difficult to prove home invasion because prosecutors must prove that the offender knew the home was occupied at the time the defendant entered the house.

She recommended increasing the penalties for crimes committed with firearms or for carrying illegal firearms, and closing the loophole that provides for a misdemeanor for those who are prohibited from carrying a firearm because of a prior juvenile adjudication of a serious crime — including burglary — but nevertheless decided to break the law again and carry a gun illegal.

“We should feel safe in our homes. We shouldn’t be afraid,” Lobel said. “When one house on a block is burglarized, the homes on the entire block tend to feel unsafe.”

Kevin R. Steele, Montgomery County first assistant district attorney, said strong laws to help combat gun violence would give prosecutors they need to disarm criminals.

“In some of our most heinous murder cases, guns were used as tools to aid the perpetrators during a home invasion in order to get compliance from the victims,” Steele said. “The combination of guns and home invasions is a deadly mix and a danger that may only get worse.”

The increased use of surveillance cameras in businesses and commercial spaces is prompting criminals to target the homes of business owners instead, and ethnic groups — particularly the Asian community — are being targeted by violent criminals, Steele said.

“The homes of business owners, as well as other hard-working citizens, more often lack such sophisticated security technology,” Steele said. “Our homes, by contrast, are now seen as easier targets for ruthless criminals.”

“I appreciate all the input from today’s hearing,” Stack said. “It will help in the efforts to craft a strong bill that punishes the ruthless thugs who terrorize homeowners.”

Provided by Stack's office

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River Otter Attacks Fisherman

FRANKLIN, Venango County – A Pennsylvania Game Commission Wildlife Conservation Officer (WCO) is investigating the case of a river otter attacking an angler around 2 p.m. on Sept. 11, at the junction of French Creek and the Allegheny River, just off Ninth Street, adjacent to the Riverfront Park in Franklin, Venango County.

Game Commission WCO Ronda Bimber is urging the public to notify her through the agency’s Northwest Region Office with any information about the situation. Calls can be placed to the Northwest Region office at 814-432-3187.

“This area is frequently used by the public, so we are encouraging park users to look out for any suspicious activity by river otters,” said WCO Bimber, who will be checking the area today. “At this point, it is not clear what initiated the attack.”

According to WCO Bimber, a 27-year-old Franklin man was wet wading and observed a river otter on the bike trail side of the river.

“The individual fishes the area often and said he didn’t find the presence of a river otter to be unusual,” WCO Bimber said. “He heard the otter enter the water and watched it swim at a diagonal to his position. The otter then turned and swam directly toward him. He made noise and slapped the water with his fishing rod unsuccessfully. The otter dove and proceeded to bite and scratch the victim.

“The angler sustained five bites to the leg and one on his big toe, along with numerous scratches to his legs. The incident ended when he was able to kick the otter in the head.”

Following the attack, the angler got out of the water to seek medical attention. As he left the water, he lost sight of the otter. He sought medical attention.

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Cuba Murder-Suicide Victims ID'd

Police have identified the people who died in Tuesday’s murder-suicide in Cuba, New York.

The Wellsville Daily Reporter newspaper says police identified them as 69-year-old Thomas Jerge and 61-year-old Susan Babcock.

Police Chief Dustin Burch told the newspaper Jerge shot Babcock in the back of the head, and they found her dead inside her vehicle when they responded to a call about a homicide at 3:45 p.m.

Burch also told the newspaper Jerge shot his dog to death before committing suicide. Police found the bodies of Jerge and the dog at Jerge’s camp.

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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Cost of Pine Street Bridge Project Reduced

WESB/WBRR News Director

In what Mayor Tom Riel called a rare occurrence, Bradford City Council was presented with a resolution for a change order to reduce the cost of a construction project.

OECD Executive Director Sara Andrews explained during Tuesday’s council meeting that they knew going into the Pine Street Pedestrian Bridge project that they could reduce costs and, with the help of contractor Bob Cummins, they were able to lower it by more than $17,000.

One of the biggest ways they reduced cost was getting boulders from the Bradford City Water Authority instead of going to Marienville to buy them and transport them. The water authority said the city could have boulders on their property, and would just have to pay the cost to transport them. That saved about $10,000, she said.

Cummins also suggested building the entrance steps on-site instead of having pre-fabricated steps brought in. They also scrapped the plan to have lights on the railings.

“We felt that was a cost we could do without,” she said.

Andrews added that they will be adding curbing, which was not in the original plan.
She said there will probably be another change order that could add some cost to the project, but they are still looking at ways to save.

In other matters council authorized an increase in the fee for renting the Callahan Ice Rink from $100 to $125 an hour.

Parks Director Chip Comilla said the fee keeps Bradford competitive with other area rinks, while keeping the cost much lower than rinks just outside of this area that going for $200 to $300 an hour.

On a related note, Councilman Brad Mangel commended Comilla and the parks department for the progress they’ve made in refurbishing Jack Burns Memorial Park on North Kendall Avenue.

Council also authorized Marvin Windows and Doors to use photography of Old City Hall in their marketing materials without charge and with a waiver for any claim for compensation.

Mayor Tom Riel asked if, in lieu of payment, the company would be putting “Bradford, Pa.” on those materials.

Andrews said she didn’t know but would check with OECD’s Debbie Huston, who negotiated the agreement. She said she thought that would be a great way to advertise the community.

“It would be better than being marketed as the second-worst weather town,” Riel said, referring to The Weather Channel’s contest in which Bradford came in second to Fargo, North Dakota, as the Toughest Weather City.

Also Tuesday, City Clerk John Peterson read a thank-you note from the family of Dave DeFrank, who was the city’s electrician until his death three weeks ago at the age of 53.

“We appreciate everything that you did for David,” wrote Gene and Helen DeFrank and family. “Our family was so touched that you closed City Hall to attend the funeral and that the flags were lowered. What a nice tribute.”

Council also observed a moment of silence in observance of 9/11.

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More Sewer Talk at Foster Township;
Police Department Now Has Tasers

WESB/WBRR News Director

Sewer issues once again dominated a Foster Township supervisors meeting, but they also discussed the township’s hiring practices, the Foster Brook intersection and new Tasers for the police department.

During Monday’s meeting, township engineer Harold Bloomgren said the layout of the sewer line extension project is being finalized, and once it’s complete they will address issues concerning streams and wetlands.

Bloomgren also explained the formula for PENNVEST funding, which is based on a points system. The more points a project has, the higher it moves on the priority list. He said one of the most important factors is whether a project would create or retain jobs.

Another concern is “wildcat” lines flowing into waterways.

An October 18 meeting has been scheduled for residents to get more information about the sewer line extension project.

Bloomgren said while engineers were out working in the Kendall Avenue corridor, the question people asked of them more than any other concerned getting water service at the same time they are hooked up to the sewer system.

Bloomgren said he spoke with Bradford Water Authority Executive Director Kim Benjamin about the possibility of part of the township hooking up to city system.

He said Benjamin is interested and told him the authority has “always contributed financially” when adding more customers.

Supervisors said they are concerned with the cost, but told Bloomgren to talk with Benjamin again.

Before Bloomgren spoke, Bolivar Drive resident Bill Hallock said he was concerned about how much inflow and infiltration is coming from each municipality, and suggested that flow meters be installed for each municipality using the sewer system.

Road superintendent Mike Fox said it’s not that cut and dried because there are so many inlets into the main line.

Hallock said he is also concerned that the Tuna Valley Council of Governments believes consolidation could be completed in three to four months.

Supervisor Dale Phillips said he can’t see that happening.

“I don’t believe they can’t get all the entities in a room to agree on what the value of the property – the sewer, the infrastructure – is worth, and all the loans that are out and all the pending 537 plans done in that amount of time,” Phillips said. “I would be shocked for that to be able to happen in that time frame.”

Supervisor John Sullivan said any conversation concerning regionalization of the sanitary authority needs to include the proposed expansion to the sewage treatment plant.

“We’re designing a great, big, giant sewer plant and a great big giant sewer plant that may be more expensive than we need to design and build and, at the end of the day, we may build a great, big, giant expensive sewer plant that doesn’t solve the problem of the I&I and the overflows so we’ll still be in violations with the DEP,” Sullivan said.

In other matters, several residents addressed the hiring of George Coriginani as code enforcement officer for the township. Corignani replaced Jim Robinson, who resigned.

While saying they have “nothing against George,” they were concerned that the township did not advertise the opening.

Wright Street resident Bob Baker added that he has shown interest in the past about the position, but didn’t know until after Corignani was hired that the position was open again.

South Kendall Avenue resident Barb Price said if the township is getting state and federal money they have to advertise for open positions.

“Your hiring practices better be looked into,” she said.

Also Monday, Police Chief Tom Munn said he and his officers have been trained to use Tasers, and are now carrying them.

Munn thanked George Hocker Jr, Dan Oaks, Brian Shoup, who “volunteered their bodies to be Tased” so the officers could practice using the stun guns. He noted that the Tasers deliver 50,000 volts for five seconds.

“They all say they respect it now,” Munn said of Hocker, Oaks and Shoup, and then added with a chuckle, “Only one of them said they would do it again.”

Munn also said since Seaward Avenue has been paved his department has received complaints about speeding on the road.

“The day after it was paved, we started getting complaints about speeding,” he said.

The speed limit is 25 mph until the sewage treatment plant and 35 mph after that, if driving toward New York. He also said the department is monitoring Bolivar Drive for speeders.

In other matters, the supervisors noted that Reid Petroleum, owners of the Crosby Marts, will be advertising for bids soon to add curbing around the Derrick Road entrance to their Foster Brook store. They hope to have the project finished before Thanksgiving.

Also, supervisor chairman Jim Connelly Jr. commended Fox for implementing the Agility Agreement with other municipalities. The agreement allows the sharing of equipment.

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Burglary at St. Marys School;
Criminal Mischief at Church

Police are investigating a burglary at Queen of the World Elementary School in St. Marys.

They say between Sunday and Monday someone forced his way into the school and removed items.

Police are also investigating an act of criminal mischief inside Queen of the World Church. They did not elaborate.

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Fallen Tree Causes Power Outage

Nearly three dozen Penelec customers were without power for almost four hours last night after a tree fell on Delaware Avenue, damaging a house and a car.

Penelec area manager John Shimko tells us the tree fell at just before 9:30 Monday night and broke a pole, damaging a cross arm, insulators and a primary line.

City employees were among those removing the tree. Power was restored to 32 customers on Delaware and Jackson avenues at 1:15 a.m.

There’s no word on what caused the tree to fall.

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Road Resurfacing Continues Thursday

Bradford’s road resurfacing project in the Forman and Pleasant street areas will begin at 7 o’clock Thursday morning, and continue through Tuesday, weather permitting.

Residents are asked to not park in those areas until the resurfacing is finished. Motorists should expect delays.

Flagmen will in the areas to direct traffic.

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Austin Man Jailed for Stealing ATVs

An Austin man is in jail for allegedly stealing two ATVs earlier this month.

19-year-old Skylar Shaffer is accused of breaking into Terry LeFever’s camp on September 2 and taking cigarettes, chewing tobacco and alcohol before driving away on the stolen ATV. Later that morning he allegedly broke into Donald Torrey’s barn and stole another ATV.

The ATVs were found in a wooded area in Austin and have been returned to their owners.

Shaffer is charged with two counts each of burglary, conspiracy to commit burglary, theft, criminal trespass and receiving stolen property, all felonies. He is also charged with a misdemeanour count of corruption of minors. He’s in Potter County Jail unable to post $25,000 bail.

Police say their investigation is continuing and more arrests are pending.

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Man Jailed for House Burglary

A Kennedy, New York, man is accused of breaking into a Town of Leon home and stealing property from inside.

Cattaraugus County Sheriff’s deputies arrested 19-year-old Ryan Paulisick Monday morning for the burglary on Ruckh Hill Road.

Paulisick is charged with burglary and grand larceny, and is jailed on $5,000 bail.

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Elderly Man Accused of Sexual Abuse

A 78-year-old Stockton, New York, man is accused of sexually abusing two 8-year-old girls earlier this summer.

Samuel Hoard was arrested today at his home and sent to jail in lieu of $15,000 cash bail.

Sheriff’s deputies say Hoard sexually abused the girls at night from July 30 through August 3.

The sheriff’s office, state police, the DA’s office, Child Protective Services conducted the investigation.

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Waide Nolf Pleads No Contest;
Sentenced to Life in Prison

Waide E. Nolf entered a plea of no contest today in McKean County Court and was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

From the DA's office:

Nolf pleaded no contest to one count of first degree murder in the death of Tonya Haight, 24, of Bradford and one count of Involuntary Manslaughter in the death of Haight’s three week-old infant daughter. By pleading no contest, Nolf agreed that the Commonwealth could prove the facts alleged if the case went to trial.

On March 19, 2010, the Defendant, Waide Eugene Nolf was residing at 56 Pleasant Street, City of Bradford, McKean County. Also residing in the residence was Tonya Haight, her husband John J. Haight Jr, their infant daughter Tamara Haight (DOB 02/25/2010), other children of Tonya Haight, another adult couple and their children. Sometime between 0300 hours and 0900 hours, Nolf was in the bathroom located on the first floor of the residence. Tonya Haight entered the bathroom while Nolf was in it, angering the Defendant. Tonya Haight then went into the living room. Nolf finished using the bathroom and walked into the living room. Nolf and Tonya Haight exchanged argumentative words and Nolf then told Haight that he was done in the bathroom. Haight then went into the bathroom, holding the infant Tamara Haight while Nolf was in the kitchen, immediately adjacent to the bathroom. Nolf then entered the bathroom and pushed Tonya Haight into the bathtub, forcing her face to the bottom of the tub. Nolf then turned the water on in the tub and it began to fill. Tonya was still holding Tamara and while being held in the tub was reaching back trying to grab Nolf. Nolf avoided her by standing off to the side where she could not reach. Tonya repeatedly asked Nolf why he was doing this to her when she was so good to him. Nolf held Tonya’s head underwater until she stopped moving. Tamara then floated away from Tonya’s arms and was also not moving. Nolf left the bathroom, checked to see if John J. Haight was still sleeping, and returned to his bedroom and went to sleep. Later that morning, Nolf woke John J. Haight telling him that he had found Tonya and Tamara dead in the bathtub. Another resident of the home called 911 and EMS was dispatched. Nolf provided police with three separate interviews. In the third interview, he admitted that he had initially lied to the police and that he had in fact killed Tonya but that he did not intend to kill Tamara, and did not realize that Tonya was still holding Tamara until he saw the baby floating. An autopsy was conducted by the Erie County, PA medical examiner, Dr. Eric Vey on both Tonya and Tamara Haight. The autopsy revealed that Tonya suffered a tear to the frenulum of her upper lip, consistent with trauma to her mouth, a loose tooth caused by trauma, contusions to the back of her head and neck consistent with a hand being used to hold her head down, and foam in her lungs. Dr. Vey ruled both victims died as a result of drowning.

Nolf was sentenced to a mandatory term of life in prison without parole in the killing of Tonya Haight and 18 months to 36 months of additional time for the killing of the infant, to run consecutive to the life sentence.

The case was investigated by Officer Chris Lucco the City of Bradford Police department with the Pennsylvania State Police and McKean County District Attorney’s Office assisting in the investigation. The case was prosecuted by McKean County District Attorney Raymond Learn.

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President Obama's 9/11 Message

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Monday, September 10, 2012

Corbett Ceremonially Signs
Regulatory Reform Act

PA Precision Cast Parts owner Andrew Miller (center) gives Governor Tom Corbett (right), and Rep. Tina Pickett (R-Bradford), a tour of the manufacturing facility, in Lebanon. The Governor was there to sign legislation that protecting small businesses from unnecessary red tape and costly mandates. PA Precision Cast Parts, Inc. is a recognized industry leader, employing over 175 Pennsylvanians and converting raw materials into quality cast components since 1983. To read the full text of the legislation, visit the General Assembly’s website at Corbett originally signed the bill on June 29.

Photo provided by Commonwealth Media Services

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Casey: Immediate Action Critical to
Preventing Asian Carp Invasion in PA

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) today released a letter urging the Administration to take swifter action to prevent Asian carp from overtaking Lake Erie and rivers in Southwestern Pennsylvania. Asian carp are dangerously close to entering the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers and their tributaries, and samples taken this summer from Lake Erie have tested positive for Asian carp environmental DNA.

“Preventing Asian carp from reaching Pennsylvania waters is a necessary and important step to protecting the fishing and boating industry, as well as the health of our rivers and lakes,” said Senator Casey. “The millions of people who fish and boat in Pennsylvania’s waters each year and depend on the industries for jobs and economic well-being deserve swift federal action to stop this invasive fish before it invades our waterways.”

In his letter to White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) Asian Carp Director John Goss, Senator Casey wrote that a decrease in native fish population would hurt the fishing and aquatic sports industries. He laid out the economic argument for protecting Pennsylvania’s waterways from the invasive fish, noting:

~~ The Lake Erie coastal region supports 1.2 million Pennsylvanian jobs

~~ Nearly 2 million people fish in Pennsylvania each year and contribute more than $ 1.6 billion to the state’s economy

~~ The Ohio, Allegheny and Monongahela rivers and their tributaries extend 30,000 miles, offering expansive fishing opportunities in western Pennsylvania

Senator Casey has been a leader in the effort to prevent Asian carp from reaching Lake Erie, recently pushing for a law to require the speedy creation of an action plan to block Asian carp from entering the Great Lakes through a number of rivers and tributaries.

Senator Casey has also pushed the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency to crack down on the smuggling of live Asian carp into Canada from the United States, a practice that could put the ecosystem of Lake Erie and the jobs and economic activity that depend on a healthy lake at risk.

Senator Casey’s letter to CEQ Asian Carp Director John Goss is below:

Dear Mr. Goss:

I am writing to urge the White House Council on Environmental Quality to more swiftly and effectively respond to the threat of Asian carp to western Pennsylvania. Asian carp are currently in the Ohio River near Kentucky and could soon enter the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers and their tributaries in western Pennsylvania. Additionally, samples taken from western Lake Erie this summer tested positive for the presence of Asian carp environmental DNA. We must work to prevent this invasive species from damaging these vital water resources that help to sustain Pennsylvania’s economy.

In recent years, the restored health of the Ohio, Allegheny and Monongahela rivers has supported the rise of fish populations. These three rivers and their tributaries extend 30,000 miles, offering expansive fishing opportunities in western Pennsylvania. The presence of the Asian carp in these waters would threaten Pennsylvania’s vibrant fishing industry. Furthermore, Lake Erie spurs the Commonwealth’s economy in countless ways. For example, the Lake Erie coastal region supports 1.2 million Pennsylvanian jobs. The nearly 2 million people who fish in Pennsylvania each year contribute more than $ 1.6 billion to the state’s economy. A decrease in the native fish population would hurt the fishing industry. We must strengthen the efforts to protect Pennsylvania’s water resources.

The presence of Asian carp in Pennsylvania’s waters would also discourage tourism, a vital component of the local economy. For instance, as a tributary of the Monongahela River, the Youghiogheny River is a popular spot for recreational activities such as boating and aquatic sports. We must work as hard as possible to prevent the Asian carp from causing irreparable damage.

While the government has taken action in the past to address the Asian carp threat, a stronger effort must be made to stop the potential adverse effects of Asian carp on the Ohio, Allegheny and Monongahela rivers and their tributaries, as well as in Lake Erie. We must ensure that this water system remains such a resource for future generations of Pennsylvanians.

I will remain committed to protecting Pennsylvania’s river system and Lake Erie from the significant threat posed by Asian carp. Immediate action is critical to preventing Asian carp from overtaking Pennsylvania’s water resources. The White House Council on Environmental Quality must strengthen its efforts to address the threat of the Asian carp.

Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter and I look forward to continue working with you.


Robert P. Casey Jr.
United States Senator

National Wildlife Federation photo

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'Suspicious' Package at Beaver Stadium

A suspicious package arrived at Beaver Stadium on Penn State’s University Park campus this afternoon, prompting police to stop all motor vehicle and pedestrian traffic in the area.

The order lasted less than 45 minutes, after police discovered that the parcel was "a legitimate package for delivery" and did not contain any hazardous materials, according to the unversity's website.

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Pitt, Pitt-Bradford Earn Praise in
Middle States Reaccreditation

Calling the University of Pittsburgh a “world class research university” with an “unwavering commitment to excellence” and referring to its administrators as an "extraordinarily talented and beloved leadership team,” a newly released Middle States Commission on Higher Education accreditation report praised the University’s institution-wide system of assessment and reaffirmed its accreditation for a 10-year period, without qualification, the maximum permissible time for an extension of accreditation.

The accreditation also covers the university’s four regional campuses, including Bradford, which received high marks from the Middle States evaluators.

“Accreditation review team members met with administrators, faculty, staff and students during their on-site visit to Pitt-Bradford last spring,” said Dr. Livingston Alexander, president of Pitt-Bradford. “Team members made special note of our planning and evaluation processes. In my view, this is a clear reflecation of the dedication and focus of our employees in making Pitt-Bradford one of the best colleges in the Northeast.”

Accreditation from third-party agencies like the Middle States Commission is considered the gold standard for educational institutions. Accrediting agencies examine and take into account quality and continuity of leadership, facilities, finances, student services, health and safety, staffing and long-range planning.

A team of evaluators from the Middle States Commission visited the University of Pittsburgh campuses in Pittsburgh, Bradford and Greensburg this spring.

“There exists a culture of planning and accountability,” the evaluators wrote of their visit to Pitt-Bradford. “Faculty members are readily engaged in student advisement and have a strong sense of community. They are positive with regard to the administration and the transparency of academic planning processes, and faculty morale is very positive.”

The report continued, “Students express a strong sense of community to the campus, feel that the campus culture is intimate and caring, and appreciate campus facilities and infrastructure. The Team was impressed with the extremely positive leadership and energy that seems to pervade the culture of these unique campuses.”

The evaluation team also highlighted a recurring cause for concern— steep reductions in state support. “The greatest challenge to the University of Pittsburgh— no matter how talented its leadership or how robust its system of assessment—is external. … In response to [recent cuts in state support], the University already has made operational efficiency a priority; and it has undertaken budget cuts, redesign of benefits, efficiencies, productivity increases, and the imposition of University-wide salary freezes. To the outside observer, these cuts were beyond bone to marrow.”

The report further discussed the possible consequences of such cuts, not only for the University, but for the regional economy. “We would be remiss if we did not note the following: that excellence, once lost, is difficult to regain; that excellence at even a great university is fragile and sometimes evaporates quickly; that, in the decades ahead, great cities and states will depend increasingly on the existence of great universities within them (the University today is a wonderful example of that synergy); and that reducing public support for the University of Pittsburgh and institutions like it is singularly shortsighted…”

The full report may be viewed online at

Police Looking for Man Accused of
Stealing Hundreds of Thousands of Dollars

Police are looking for a man they say defrauded families and businesses in St. Marys out of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

47-year-old Richard Danz allegedly stole more than $561,000 from the Elk County Humane Society while he was the agency’s treasurer and accountant.

While working as a financial advisor for a family, he allegedly deposited $9,000 into his own bank account instead of sending the checks to the family.

He also allegedly deposited a $3,000 check from an insurance company into his own bank account instead of an auto repair shop, which was supposed to get the money for fixing his Mercedes Benz.

A warrant has been issued for Danz’s arrest. Police believe he has left the area.

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Man Sentenced for Sex Abuse

An Olean man who had sex with a child younger than 11 has been sentenced to six years’ probation.

38-year-old Alex Belec had sex with the child back in 1997 in Olean.

He was convicted on a charge of second-degree sexual abuse.

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Man Charged with 9 Counts of Rape

A Rushford, New York, is facing more than half a dozen rape charges for allegedly have sex with a child younger than 17 back in February.

30-year-old Kenneth Cobin is accused of raping the child five times in Rushford and four times in Hume.

State Police and Allegany County Child Protective Services conducted the investigation.

Cobin is jailed on $20,000 cash bail.

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Celoron Man Dies in Crash

A Ceoeron man is dead after a crash on Route 60 in Gerry just north of Cassadaga Valley Central School.

Sheriff’s deputies say a vehicle driven by 87-year-old James Bush crossed the center line and hit a vehicle driven by 21-year-old Sarah Ficarro of Owego at around 3:30 Sunday afternoon.

An investigation determined that Bush suffered a medical emergency prior to the crash, which caused the car to cross the center line.

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since 1947

Dog Dies in Port Allegany Fire

Fire destroyed a two-story house in Port Allegany Saturday night, and killed the family dog.

No one was home when the fire was reported just before midnight at 402 East Arnold Avenue. The blaze started on the first floor of the house, and a state police fire marshal has ruled it electrical.

Damage is estimated at $150,000.

The house is owned by Wayne and Kathy Hommel.

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since 1947