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Saturday, June 29, 2013

Officials Tour Flooded Areas

video

Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati (R-Jefferson) and Speaker of the House Sam Smith (R-Jefferson, Indiana, Armstrong) joined Governor Tom Corbett in DuBois City and Jefferson and Clearfield Counties today to meet with local officials and emergency management personnel to assess local flood damage.

During a tour of the region, Senator Scarnati, Representative Smith and Governor Corbett were accompanied by Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) Director, Glenn Cannon, and Adjutant General, Wesley Craig. The group was able to view and evaluate areas affected by the severe thunderstorms and flooding which began impacting the region on Thursday.

Scarnati and Smith expressed their gratitude for the quick response and tireless efforts of emergency responders, water rescue crews, local police, municipal workers, local officials and area volunteers who have been working tirelessly to help victims recover from this disaster.

DuBois City has sustained the most significant amount of damage in the region. Surrounding areas in Jefferson and Clearfield Counties have also been brutally affected by the flooding.

“While speaking with area residents and touring the flooded areas, it was clear to see the severe impact this disaster has had on our community,” Scarnati said. “Our region has seen flooding before, but not to this magnitude and not in the recent past.”

Scarnati and Smith emphasized that with the ground saturated and more rain expected, flooding can occur faster. Area residents are urged to avoid driving or walking in standing water which can be hazardous to an individual’s health and safety.

“This is an incredibly difficult time for many families in our area,” Smith said. “I would encourage people with property damage to get cost assessments to the county Emergency Management Agency as soon as possible. With this information in hand, local officials are better able to access the sources of help that might be available.”

PEMA Director, Glenn Cannon, explained that certain benchmarks need to be reached in order for counties to receive federal assistance and that PEMA will be coordinating with local governments to determine the extent of flooding. Individuals whose homes or businesses have sustained damages and need help should contact county offices.

According to PEMA officials, the next three locations that will be assessed for damage are Reynoldsville, Punxsutawney, and Big Run in Jefferson County.

Smith said he was disappointed that circumstances prohibited the group from visiting some of the other effected communities in Jefferson County.

“This is a challenging time for our community, however, it is encouraging to see so many individuals working together to return things to normal as soon as possible,” Scarnati and Smith said. “We will continue to work with Governor Corbett and PEMA to determine ways to best assist local residents with clean up and recovery in the days and weeks ahead.”

Flood Clean-Up Kits for residents are available at the DuBois First United Methodist Church. Residents are encouraged to call for additional information and pickup hours, (814) 371-5150 or (814) 335-3230.

Kits are also available at the Reynoldsville Fire Hall and the Jefferson County Emergency Operations Center, phone 814-849-5052.

Congressman Glenn "GT" Thompson and State Rep. Matt Gabler will be touring the area today.

Video provided by Commonwealth Media Services

Friday, June 28, 2013

Gabler Issues Statement on Flooding

HARRISBURG – In response to the recent storms and flooding in DuBois and the surrounding area, state Rep. Matt Gabler (R-DuBois) is issuing the following statement:

“My thoughts and prayers are with the residents of DuBois and the surrounding area who continue to deal with widespread flooding from recent storms.

“I particularly want to thank Governor Tom Corbett for responding rapidly to our plight and moving quickly to personally inspect the damages. There is no substitute for boots on the ground, and I am extremely grateful for the rapidity with which he responded.

“I would also like to say how lucky I feel to share my district with the president pro tempore of the state Senate and to share a border with the speaker of the House. Few districts could expect to have the top three leaders of state government visit on such short notice.

“While it was necessary for them to return to budget negotiations in Harrisburg, Congressman Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson and I are planning a visit to DuBois Saturday to personally meet with people affected by the storms. I want to thank the congressman for responding to my request to join me in personally viewing the damages.

“Our visit will allow us to assess the damage and make a strong case for federal government assistance. We are working together on the details of our visit, and will send them out as soon as they are finalized.”

State Leaders Survey Storm Damage

By ANNE HOLLIDAY
WESB/WBRR News Director

The Pennsylvania National Guard's Black Hawk helicopter today took Governor Tom Corbett, House Speaker Sam Smith and Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati over areas damaged by Thursday’s flooding.

Those areas included Jefferson County, where Scarnati and Smith both live, as well as Clearfield and Clinton counties.

During a news conference in DuBois, one of the hardest hit places, Corbett said the three state leaders had a chance to see some of the damage close up.

“Obviously it doesn’t look the same after the fact, when the waters have receded,” Corbett said, adding that he and everyone else was watching the skies, hoping they didn’t see a repeat.

Rumbles of thunder could be heard during the news conference and a flood advisory is in effect for that area until 10:30 tonight.

Corbett said the state would do everything possible to help the areas get federal aid. Glenn Cannon, head of the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, said the first thing that has to be done is collecting damage reports to see if the region qualifies for federal aid.

Cannon, as well as Corbett, praised first responders – in particular the swift water rescue teams, some of whom came from other parts of the state – for their hard work and dedication.

“I’m amazed at what they’re able to do, Corbett said. "We would not be able to do anything the way we do it without the first responders, so thank you.”

“This storm really beat us up last night,” Cannon said. “Most of the state’s first responders were out. … I think it’s a real credit to our first responders that we’ve had only one fatality because there were numerous rescues. Rescues of folks off the top of cars and rescues of folks who were on the edge of stream banks that became raging rivers. Our swift water rescue teams did an outstanding job.”

The fatality was in Clinton County. An 86-year-old man was swept away by flood waters while trying to save his ATV.

Scarnati talked about how important DuBois is to the region.

"The city is really the epicenter for retail and business for this entire area, he said, adding that he realizes other areas need help, too, but "you’ve got the state PEMA director, the Speaker of the House, the president of the Senate and the governor here (in DuBois) to hear what your questions are and what we can help with.”

He also said Corbett did not hesitate when asked to survey the damage.

Smith mentioned State Rep. Matt Gabler, whose district includes DuBois.

“I’m sure he’d have liked to hitch a ride, too, but you can only haul so many people,” Smith said.

“I commend the governor for making this a priority for the people of this area,” Smith added. “We want everyone in the region to recognize that we’re concerned, and willing and ready to do whatever it is that we can possibly do.”

The news leader of the Twin Tiers ... since 1947

More Wild Weather on Friday

A line of severe thunderstorms raced through McKean County this afternoon, pounding Relay for Life participants at Pitt-Bradford with rain and wind, and temporarily flooding Congress Street in the city.

In Annin Township, the storms knocked down trees and power lines, closing Annin Creek Road.

In Chautauqua County, Pomfret, Brocton and Portland all saw flooding.

The American Red Cross set up a shelter at Brocton Central School to house residents of 45 evacuated homes.

The shelter was closed late this afternoon after the people were told they could return to their homes.

The National Weather Service has confirmed that an EF1 tornado touched down in Centre County on Thursday.

The tornado was at least 1½ miles long and 75 yards wide with winds reaching 100 mph.

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Jury: Keep Nushawn Locked Up

A jury has agreed with state that the so-called HIV Predator should remain locked up.

The jury in the civil confinement trial of 36-year-old Nushawn Williams found that he as a “mental abnormality” that would make him a threat to society if he is released from prison.

Williams finished serving a 12-year-old sentence three years for knowingly infecting 13 Chautauqua County residents with HIV, but the state kept him behind bars under its civil confinement law.

Another phase of the trial will determine how long Williams will stay in jail.

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Pitt's Nordenberg to Retire

University of Pittsburgh chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg has announced his retirement. During a university trustees meeting this morning Nordenberg said he plans to retire effective in August of 2014.

Nordenberg joined the faculty of the university’s School of Law in 1977. He served as Dean of the School of Law from 1985 to 1993, and was elevated to the special faculty rank of Distinguished Service Professor of Law in 1994. He served as Interim Provost in 1993-94 and chaired the search committee for the Senior Vice Chancellor for the Health Sciences in 1994-95. He was elected Interim Chancellor by the Board of Trustees in June of 1995 and, following a national search, was elected Chancellor in June of 1996.

Nordenberg’s successor will be chosen by way of a nationwide search.

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Flood Warning for Catt, Chautauqua Counties

The National Weather Service In Buffalo Has Issued a Flood Warning For Urban Areas and Small Streams In... Cattaraugus County In Western New York... This Includes The Cities Of...Salamanca...Olean... Chautauqua County In Western New York... This Includes The Cities Of...Dunkirk...Jamestown...Fredonia... Until 315 PM EDT

At 1112 AM EDT National Weather Service Doppler Radar Displayed Showers And Thunderstorms Over The Region...With Additional Heavy Showers And Thunderstorms Moving Across The Region Over The Next Several Hours. Some Areas Have Already Received Over An Inch Of Rainfall This Morning. Additional Rainfall Amounts Of Localized 1 To 3 Inches Are Possible In The Warned Area.

A Flood Warning Means That Flooding Is Imminent Or Has Been Reported. Stream Rises Will Be Slow And Flash Flooding Is Not Expected. However...All Interested Parties Should Take Necessary Precautions Immediately.

Most Flood Deaths Occur In Automobiles. Never Drive Your Vehicle Into Areas Where The Water Covers The Roadway. Flood Waters Are Usually Deeper Than They Appear. Just One Foot Of Flowing Water Is Powerful Enough To Sweep Vehicles Off The Road. When Encountering Flooded Roads Make The Smart Choice...Turn Around...Dont Drown.

Leete to Hear Paterno Family Case

Senior Judge John Leete of Potter County will preside over the suit against the NCAA filed by the family of the late Joe Paterno.

The lawsuit filed by the family, several Penn State trustees, former players and others argues that the NCAA bypassed its own rules in taking action against the university. The penalties include a four-year postseason ban and a $60 million fine.

The penalties were in response to the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse case. Sandusky is serving a 30- to 60-year state prison sentence after being convicted last summer of 45 counts of child sexual abuse. He denies the allegations and is pursuing appeals.

Leete was assigned after Centre County’s president judge requested that an out-of-county judge hear the case.

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Inmate Gets More Time Behind Bars

Two more months have been added to the sentence of an inmate at FCI-McKean who had cell phones and cigarettes with him in the facility.

26-year-old Leray Lanier was sentenced this week following his conviction for possession of contraband in prison.

He was found with the items in January.

The news leader of the Twin Tiers ... since 1947

Thursday, June 27, 2013

City of Bradford Police Log for 6/27l/13

City of Bradford Police on Thursday investigated three reports of sexual assault. They also investigated drug-related incidents on Barbour and Main streets and a theft on Thompson Avenue. Police received reports of disturbances on Lincoln Avenue as well as Park and West Corydon streets; disorderly conduct on Bushnell and High streets; and harassment on South Avenue and School Street. Officers were also called about a public drunk on East Corydon Street.

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Road Closure Update from PennDOT 7:36 P.M.

Clearfield – PennDOT reports that several roadways in District 2 are closed at this hour due to flooding.

Motorists should not attempt to drive through standing water on roadways. Water may be deeper than it appears.

The following state routes are closed due to flooding:

Clearfield County

Route 219 from the intersection with Route 322 near Salem to the intersection with Route 119 in West Liberty;
Route 255 (East DuBois Avenue) from the intersection with McCracken Run Road in DuBois City to Penfield. A local detour is in place;
Route 4003 (Mine Road) is closed between the intersection with Route 410 (Shamokin Trail) and the intersection with Route 4002 (Stanley Bottom Road) in Brady Township;
Route 3009 (McGees Mills Road) is closed between the intersection with Buhite Road and the intersection with Grant Road in Brady Township.
Route 4015 (Sher de Lin Road) is closed from Route 255 to Home Camp Road in Sandy Township.
Route 219 is closed from Route 830 in Sandy Township to the City of DuBois.
Route 153 is closed from Eddies Road to Melody Lane in Huston Township.
Route 255 is closed from Route 153 at Penfield to Tyler Road in Huston Township.

Elk County

Route 2001 (Keystone Road) from the Jefferson County line to Route 219 is now open.
Route 255 north is closed from Elm Road in Jay Township to Route 948 in Fox Township.
Route 255 south is closed at the Route 948 intersection in Fox Township.

Centre County

Route 26 is closed from Porter Road to Benner Pike in College Township.
Route 550 is closed from Upper Gyp Road to Raymonds Lane in Benner Township.
Route 26 is closed at Walnut Ridge Road in Marion Township.
Route 26 is closed at Jacksonville Road in Marion Township.
Route 3005 (Fox Hollow Road) is closed from Cricklewood Drive in Patton Township to Park Ave/Porter Road in College Township.
Route 445 is closed from the end of 445 to Hy Road in Walker Township.

Clinton County

Route 150 is closed from Water Street in Beech Creek to Laurel Run Road in Bald Eagle Township.

These routes will open when water recedes to allow for safe passage.

Conditions are changing rapidly, and motorists are advised that roads previously open could close at any time.

PennDOT reminds motorists that they can check travel conditions on more than 2,900 miles of roadway online at www.511PA.com or by calling 511 from any telephone.

The news leader of the Twin Tiers ... since 1947

PennDOT Lists Road Closures

Clearfield – PennDOT reports that several roadways in District 2 are closed at this hour due to flooding.

Motorists should not attempt to drive through standing water on roadways. Water may be deeper than it appears.

The following state routes are closed due to flooding:

Clearfield County

Route 219 from the intersection with Route 322 near Salem to the intersection with Route 119 in West Liberty;
Route 255 (East DuBois Avenue) from the intersection with McCracken Run Road in DuBois City to Penfield. A local detour is in place;
Route 4003 (Mine Road) is closed between the intersection with Route 410 (Shamokin Trail) and the intersection with Route 4002 (Stanley Bottom Road) in Brady Township;
Route 3009 (McGees Mills Road) is closed between the intersection with Buhite Road and the intersection with Grant Road in Brady Township.
Route 4015 (Sher de Lin Road) from Route 255 to Home Camp Road in Sandy Township.
Route 219 from Route 830 in Sandy Township to the City of DuBois.

Elk County

Route 2001 (Keystone Road) from the Jefferson County line to Route 219.

Centre County

Route 26 from Porter Road to Benner Pike in College Township.
SR 550 from Upper Gyp Road to Raymonds Lane in Benner Township.

These routes will open when water recedes to allow for safe passage.

There is also a lane restriction on Interstate 80 westbound in Jefferson County that is creating congestion near Exit 97 (DuBois/Brockway).

Conditions are changing rapidly, and motorists are advised that roads previously open could close at any time.

PennDOT reminds motorists that they can check travel conditions on more than 2,900 miles of roadway online at www.511PA.com or by calling 511 from any telephone.

The news leader of the Twin Tiers ... since 1947

Flooding in DuBois

Flooding in DuBois this afternoon prompted emergency management officials to close all roads into the city. Jefferson County Commissioners have issued a disaster declaration. Many roads there and in Clearfield County are flooded, and some have been washed out by flood waters.

For more pictures, and video, go to our Facebook page: http://facebook.com/1490wesb

Photo courtesy of Jim Armstrong

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Roads into DuBois Closed

From https://alert.pa.gov/

Due to severe flooding all roadways into the city of Dubois are CLOSED.

All motorists should avoid the city of Dubois at this time.

The news leader of the Twin Tiers ... since 1947

City of Bradford Police Log for 6/26/13

City of Bradford Police on Wednesday investigated an incident of possible child abuse on Jackson Avenue, and a theft on Rochester Street. They also received complaints about harassment on Chautauqua Place and Jerome Avenue; disturbances on Kiwanis Court, Main Street and South Kendall Avenue; and an animal on Congress Street.

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Flash Flood Watch in Effect

A flash flood watch is in effect for the entire region until 2 o’clock Friday morning.

This includes McKean, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Warren, Potter, Elk, Cameron, Jefferson, Tioga and Allegany counties.

The National Weather Service says heavy downpours will produce rainfall rates exceeding 2 to 3 inches an hour. Widespread storm totals of 1 to 2 inches are expected, with 3 inches possible where slow moving storms drop higher amounts. Flooding of low-lying and poor drainage areas is likely, and rapid rises on streams is possible.

Once again, a flash flood watch is in effect until 2 o’clock Friday morning for the entire region.

The flood watch for Cattaraugus and Chautauqua counties remains in effect until 2 o’clock tomorrow afternoon.

The news leader of the Twin Tiers ... since 1947

Woman Facing Drug Charges

A Delevan, New York, woman is facing drug charges.

The Southern Tier Regional Drug Task Force says38-year-old Leanne Vickman indented to sell a controlled substance in Franklinville.

She is charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance.

The news leader of the Twin Tiers ... since 1947

Man Shows Gun During Fight

A fight involving a shotgun landed a Chautauqua County man in jail.

21-year-old Ian Ward of Silver Creek was in a fight with family members at about 2 o’clock Wednesday morning and displayed a 12-guage shotgun. Sheriff’s deputies say he still had the gun when they found him hiding in the attic of the house.

Ward is charged with two counts of menacing.

The news leader of the Twin Tiers ... since 1947

Purely Public Charity Bill Gets House Approval

HARRISBURG – The House of Representatives this week approved Senate Bill 4, legislation sponsored by Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati (R-25) and Senator Mike Brubaker (R-36) that would clarify the authority and criteria for charitable institutions in the Commonwealth.

Senate Bill 4 amends the Pennsylvania Constitution to clearly define a Purely Public Charity and ensure these organizations, such as hospitals, are eligible for an exemption from paying property taxes.

“The Senate took the first step of passing this important measure in March, and I commend the House for furthering the effort by advancing this legislation,” Scarnati said. “It is vital that we make sure that essential charitable organizations within our local communities are able to continue to receive the status of public charities.”

“I applaud my colleagues in the House for recognizing the need and urgency for this legislation. Senate Bill 4 simply allows the citizens, through their elected officials, to decide the criteria for purely public charity status and gives them the ability to modify those standards as they see fit,” Brubaker said.

The need for this legislation comes as a result of a Pennsylvania Supreme Court case (Mesivtah v. Pike County Board of Assessment Appeals) in 2012 which ruled a charitable organization must first satisfy a set of criteria outlined in the court’s opinion in order to qualify for tax exempt status. In this decision, the court marginalized a separate test for tax exempt status established by the Legislature under Act 55 of 1997.

Due to the Supreme Court decision, a number of charities have seen their property tax exemptions revoked by local taxing bodies. According to Scarnati and Brubaker, many other non-profits statewide may be impacted as some local governments plan county-wide reviews, resulting in widespread uncertainty and costly litigation as the criteria for purely public charity status is, again, left to the courts.

Scarnati explained, “Since the Supreme Court ruling, tax exempt statuses for organizations in my Senatorial District and across the state such as Warren Hospital and Warren County YMCA, Habitat for Humanity and other non-profit organizations have already been revoked.”

“Our non-profits and taxing authorities deserve a clear set of standards with which to base their charitable status decisions,” Brubaker continued. “That’s why this legislation is necessary --- to avoid costly litigation which every taxpaying citizen in the Commonwealth funds in one way or another, and most importantly, to allow the people of Pennsylvania to ultimately decide who sets the standards for purely public charities.”

Because Senate Bill 4 requires amending the Pennsylvania Constitution, the measure must receive approval by the General Assembly in two consecutive legislative sessions followed by the voters’ approval in a referendum.

The news leader of the Twin Tiers ... since 1947

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

City of Bradford Police Log for 6/25/13

City of Bradford Police on Tuesday investigated a motor vehicle accident on McClellan Street, as well as disturbances on Pike, Main and East Main streets. Officers got calls about disorderly conduct on Summer Street, Walker Avenue and Pike Street, and harassment on Clarence Street and Chautauqua Place. Police also received complaints about animals from Calvin Court and West Corydon Street.
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Casinos Offering Fireworks Displays

SALAMANCA, N.Y. – Seneca Casinos will host some of the most extravagant fireworks displays in Western New York to celebrate the upcoming Independence Day holiday. Each of the two Seneca Casino resort hotels, in Niagara Falls and Salamanca, will host these exciting and memorable events, which are free and open to the public.

The first display takes place Wednesday, July 3, outside Seneca Allegany Casino & Hotel in Salamanca, and begins at approximately 9:30 p.m. near the outdoor parking lot. A rain date is slated for Thursday, July 4.

A second fabulous fireworks display takes place Friday, July 5, outside Seneca Niagara Casino & Hotel in Niagara Falls, and begins at approximately 9:40 p.m. near the 6th St. outdoor parking lot. A rain date is slated for Saturday, July 6.

Both displays will last approximately 20 minutes. The public is welcome to bring lawn chairs and blankets, and also is encouraged to allow ample time for nearby parking.

In addition, three exciting events will be taking place during the first week in July. First, in both Salamanca and Niagara Falls, both casinos will be part of the national Multimedia Games TournEvent® of Champions™ Slot Tournament. More than $25,000 in Free Slot Play and cash will be up for grabs throughout the month, with a grand-prize trip to Las Vegas to represent Seneca Casinos in the national tournament.

Second, on Wednesday, July 3, at Seneca Allegany Casino & Hotel in Salamanca, the $10,000 Star Spangled Hot Seat will take place from 10 a.m. through 7 p.m. Every hour, one lucky guest using a free Seneca Player’s Club card while playing slot machines will win $1,000 in Free Slot Play.

Finally, on Saturday, July 6, at the 2,400-seat Seneca Niagara Events Center in Niagara Falls, comedian Drew Carey will perform an evening of adult comedy. Carey gained popularity with the shows “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” and “The Drew Carey Show,” and now serves as the host of the famed game show, “The Price Is Right.” Tickets for the 8 p.m. show start at $45 USD and are on sale now at Seneca Casino box offices, Ticketmaster.com, all Ticketmaster locations, or by phone at 800-745-3000. The show is restricted to audience members ages 16 and older.

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Causer, State House Honor
Pitt-Bradford's 50th Anniversary

HARRISBURG – In preparation for its 50th anniversary celebration this fall, the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford was recognized by the state House of Representatives today, said Rep. Martin Causer (R-Turtlepoint).

“From day one, the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford has been a cornerstone of our community,” Causer said. “What started as a two-year college, whose students would then move on to Pitt’s main campus, is now a well-respected academic institution in its own right, offering two- and four-year degrees in more than 40 majors.

“I am proud to represent the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford and even prouder to be an alumnus of this outstanding institution,” he added.

The House on Wednesday unanimously approved House Resolution 372, which commemorates the 50th anniversary of the university’s establishment. The school opened its doors on Sept. 3, 1963, with an initial enrollment of 130 students. Today’s enrollment exceeds 1,600 students. The university generates more than $67 million worth of economic activity and supports an estimated 740 full-time equivalent jobs in the region.

The University of Pittsburgh at Bradford also has been recognized for its quality education on numerous occasions. Just this year, U.S. News and World Report named it one of the best regional colleges in the North. And, for the ninth year in a row, The Princeton Review recognized it as one of the best colleges in the Northeast.

“The University of Pittsburgh at Bradford offers truly outstanding educational opportunities to students from across the northern tier, the northeastern United States and even other countries,” Causer said.

The university is planning a 50th anniversary celebration this fall. 100.1 The Hero's Anne Holliday will be broadcasting live from campus on Sept. 3 during the university's Founder's Day celebration.

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Casey on SCOTUS DOMA Ruling

Washington DC- Today U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) released the following statement on the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act:

“The Supreme Court made the right decision in striking down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) this morning.

As a U.S. Senator representing Pennsylvania, I have read many letters written to me by LGBT Pennsylvanians and their families who want nothing more than equal rights under the law. These letters included deeply personal statements from people across our Commonwealth and had a substantial impact on my decision to support marriage equality.

I believe the Supreme Court’s ruling on DOMA was a critical step in strengthening equal rights for all.”

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PA Senate Democrats Call for
Quickening the Pace of Reform at PSU

Harrisburg – June 26, 2013 – Senate Democrats today called for a more rapid pace of reform of the governing structure at Penn State and said that the General Assembly has a role to play in ensuring that appropriate changes are made quickly.

At a Capitol news conference, Sens. John Yudichak (D-Luzerne), Andy Dinniman (D-Chester) and Rob Teplitz (D-Dauphin) called on legislative Republicans and the university to work with them to make significant changes.

The lawmakers said that they are calling for hearings to be held over the summer leading to speedy consideration of comprehensive reform legislation in the fall. The Democrats focused on three specific areas as it related to Penn State: Right-to-Know, ethics and board composition.

Yudichak, who has been a longtime advocate of board reforms but a critic of the pace and depth of the modifications made thus far by the Penn State board, said that it is important for taxpayers to understand that Penn State is accountable and that the General Assembly can force systemic changes in the university’s governing structure.

“The Governor and the General Assembly need to address Board of Governance issues at Penn State that may have contributed to and compounded a scandal that has to date cost the University $46 million and counting,” Yudichak said. “Penn State students, faculty and alumni deserve better than lukewarm attempts to restore full confidence in the Board of Trustees; and the taxpayers of Pennsylvania deserve nothing less than a full commitment to accountability and transparency of its public universities.”

The governor’s proposed budget for this year includes a $272 million appropriation for Penn State.

According to state Sen. Andy Dinniman (D-Chester) Penn State’s Board of Trustees has enacted mild reforms but more needs to be done. He also said that changes must be made statutorily and not simply as part of the board’s by-laws. He said that two State Government Committee meetings have been held but no action has been taken on ethics changes or composition of the board.

“We need to quicken the pace of reform and make sure that there is board accountability to not only the university but also to all taxpayers who back Penn State with their tax dollars,” Dinniman said. “There is no plan to halt the appropriation for Penn State this year based on the issues that we are raising, but we are concerned that the board in their deliberations has been resistant to putting Penn State under Right to Know and state ethics legislation.”

“As an alumnus I am very proud of Penn State and want to ensure that it maintains it world-class status,” he added.

Dinniman has introduced reform measures that would address accountability and governance issues. His SB 408 would expand the Ethics Act to cover board members of state-related universities. Another bill that Dinniman authored, SB 410, would make specific changes to Penn State’s governance structure including reducing the board’s size, implementing term limits for board members and limiting the university president’s role among other things.

Teplitz, who formerly served as chief counsel and policy director to Auditor General Jack Wagner, helped prepare a comprehensive report on the governing structure at Penn State. The report included specific reforms. Despite the thoroughness of the report and the detail about the issues involving the Penn State board, few of the recommendations have been implemented, Teplitz said.

“This is not an attempt to force actions now by holding up Penn State’s non-preferred funding this year, but we want to make sure that our Senate Republican colleagues and university officials are involved in substantive discussions of board reforms over the summer,” Teplitz said.

The lawmakers acknowledged that the board has acted on some reforms but the changes adopted thus far are haphazard and do not create the kind of open and transparent governing structure that the university or taxpayers deserve.

The lawmakers also indicated that they support SB 457 which applies the state Right-to-Know act to state-related institutions.

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Pitt-Bradford Adds Six School Districts to
College in the High School program

The University of Pittsburgh at Bradford will expand its College in the High School program, which allows high school students to take college courses in their own schools, to six more school districts this fall.

The additional school districts are Brookville Area School District in Jefferson County, Forest Area School District in Forest County, Kane and Port Allegany area school districts in McKean County, Oil City Area School District in Venango County and Warren County School District in Warren County, which includes four high schools.

“The College in the High School program offered by Pitt-Bradford is an extraordinary opportunity for students,” said Sandra Craft, superintendent of Brookville Area School District. “Students can enroll in a college class taught by a familiar teacher in the environment of their school at an affordable cost.”

The new districts join 12 others representing 430 students enrolled in first-year college courses at their high school taught by their own teachers. Teachers must hold a master’s degree, undergo training from Pitt-Bradford and follow a Pitt-Bradford syllabus. The content of a normal college semester is taught over the course of a full school year.

Courses offered range from math and composition to petroleum technology, biology, chemistry, geography, Spanish, environmental science, political science and more, depending on the abilities and interests of the faculty in each school district. The 2013-14 school year could see more than 600 students enrolled.

“The schools are very interested in it,” said Dr. Stephen Robar, associate dean of academic affairs who oversees the program for Pitt-Bradford. Robar said support for the program is strong not only among high school faculty, but also among Pitt-Bradford faculty, which is key since each teacher has a liaison at the college whom he or she can call for support.

Robar said that before he approached new schools for the program, he spoke with the faculty about expanding it and found them interested in supporting the program.

The high school teachers visit campus once over the summer to meet their Pitt-Bradford support faculty. Robar said that the Pitt-Bradford faculty look forward to this event because they also learn from this meeting about how the high school students are being taught.

Pitt-Bradford began the College in the High School program in 2005-06 with 43 students, and it has grown significantly in part due to funds made available through the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development Educational Improvement Tax Credit.

Through the tax credit, businesses may redirect up to $300,000 of their PA tax liability to an approved Educational Improvement Organization such as Pitt-Bradford. Because new companies chose to participate in the EITC program and support Pitt-Bradford last year, the program has been able to expand to more school districts.

The tax credits also benefit Pitt-Bradford’s Bridges program, which allows high school students to take regular college courses on campus for a fraction of the cost of regular tuition.

“This is a win-win-win situation for families, for high schools and for the region,” Robar said.

For more information on whether a business may qualify for the Educational Improvement Tax Credit Program, contact Rick Esch, vice president of business affairs at Pitt-Bradford, at (814)362-0992 or esch@pitt.edu. This year’s deadline for application is July 1.

Pictured, a College in the High School calculus class at Bradford Area High School.

The news leader of the Twin Tiers ... since 1947

Teachers Union: On Pension Legislation
Ideology Doesn't Trump Math

HARRISBURG (June 26, 2013) – Independent experts advise that pension bills under consideration in both the House and Senate will cost taxpayers an additional $40 billion, the president of Pennsylvania’s largest school employee union said today.

Mike Crossey, president of the Pennsylvania State Education Association, pointed out that the Public Employee Retirement Commission (PERC) advised yesterday that House Bills 1352 and 1353 will cost at least an additional $37 billion. Actuaries for the Public School Employees’ Retirement System (PSERS) and the State Employees’ Retirement System (SERS) reported that elements of Gov. Tom Corbett’s pension plan, which are contained in Senate Bill 922, carry a $42 billion price tag.

House Bills 1352 and 1353 were reported from the House State Government Committee yesterday. The Senate could begin consideration of Senate Bill 922 as early as today.

“There is no reason for any lawmaker to vote yes on these bills, but there are 40 billion reasons to vote no,” Crossey said. “In addition to raising costs for taxpayers, these bills would weaken the retirement security of 800,000 middle-class Pennsylvanians – people who teach our children, keep our streets safe, and care for our elderly and people with disabilities.”

Crossey added that the findings of the Public Employee Retirement Commission (PERC) validate similar studies which found Gov. Tom Corbett’s proposal to close the current public pension systems would dramatically increase the cost to taxpayers.

“Gov. Corbett should listen to the experts who are hired to be independent, impartial and mathematically certain,” Crossey said. “The governor’s numbers don’t add up. They never have, and now we have even more evidence to prove it.”

Cheiron, a McLean, Va.-based actuarial firm, did a review of House Bills 1352 and 1353 for PERC. The review confirmed that “any anticipated cost savings (from these bills) may be offset by the closing of these two Systems.” The review projected a $33.7 billion increase in costs for the Public School Employees’ Retirement System (PSERS), and $3.2 billion for the State Employees’ Retirement System (SERS).

The Cheiron analysis confirmed the validity of conclusions of the previous actuarial study Bucks Consulting conducted for PSERS and one performed by the Hay Group for SERS. It is also consistent with the results of 12 other studies in other states that have examined the financial impact of implementing a defined contribution system.

Much of this increased cost stems from projections about the impact of closing PSERS and SERS to new employees, an approach at the heart of both the House and Senate bills and fundamental to Gov. Corbett’s own plan.

“All three actuarial studies of the Pennsylvania pension systems concluded that the additional cost of closing the defined benefit plans would mean billions more on the taxpayers’ tab,” Crossey said. “The only actuarial firm that agrees with the governor is the firm his administration hired.”

Crossey noted that the firm hired by the governor has on two other occasions – an actuarial note of a 2010 Senate bill and in a 2013 study in Florida – acknowledged that the method all the other actuarial firms used to determine the costs of closing the defined benefit fund is sound practice.

Cheiron in its June 24 letter to PERC made pointed criticisms of the methodology employed by Milliman, the actuary hired by Gov. Corbett.

“What Milliman fails to represent in their argument is that when there is negative cash flow the actual return is biased downward because in down markets there are more funds leaving the Systems than coming in,” the Cheiron letter states.

A Baltimore City Circuit Court judge in 2010 ordered Milliman to pay $39 million to the Maryland state pension system for allegedly miscalculating the amount of contributions the state should have paid into the fund. Milliman was also cited for errors in its work for retirement systems in Ohio and Florida, Crossey noted.

The PERC memo attached to the actuarial note on the two House bills cited negative cash flow in a closed defined benefit plan and lower investment returns as factors contributing to the increased costs.

“Legislators need to understand that these bills aren’t a solution; they create a new revenue problem,” Crossey said. “Nothing that costs the taxpayers another $40 billion with no return on investment should be considered reform. This new pension plan is a bad deal for taxpayers, and lawmakers should reject it.”

Crossey is a special education teacher in the Keystone Oaks School District. An affiliate of the National Education Association, PSEA represents more than 183,000 future, active and retired teachers and school employees, and health care workers in Pennsylvania.

The news leader of the Twin Tiers ... since 1947

Speed Display Sign on Olean Road

Motorists in Foster Township will be reminded to obey the posted speed limit as they travel on Route 646 (Olean Road) in Derrick City.

PennDOT recently placed a radar-controlled speed display sign in this area to aid in curbing a common type of aggressive driving.

The speed display sign uses radar to determine the speeds of oncoming traffic in the southbound lane. Vehicle speeds are then posted on the lighted section of the sign. The posted speed limit in this area of Route 646 is 45 miles per hour.

The speed display sign will remain on location for up to three weeks.

Speeding and other aggressive driving behaviors are among the leading causes of crashes and fatalities in Pennsylvania. Other aggressive driving behaviors include running stop signs or red lights, passing illegally and tailgating.

Aggressive driving behaviors were listed as a crash cause in more than 48 percent of McKean County crashes in 2012.

The news leader of the Twin Tiers ... since 1947

Restraining Order Against Cigarette Sellers

Several Cattaraugus County companies have been ordered by a federal judge to stop shipping or receiving unstamped cigarettes.

The judge’s order follows Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane’s announcement last week that her office is suing Phillip Jimerson, Heidi Jimerson, Wendy Boon and William Achord for selling contraband cigarettes through online businesses set up to avoid paying state cigarette taxes.

They had been selling the cigarettes through Allegany Sales and Marketing, Cloud and Company, Native Blends.net and several other companies.

The Temporary Restraining Order will remain in effect until trial.

The news leader of the Twin Tiers ... since 1947

Camera Stolen from Well Site

Someone stole a trail camera from a well site in Cameron County earlier this month.

Police say on the morning of June 12 someone gained access to Well Site C9 on May Hollow Road in Shippen Township.

The site is owned by Endeavour Operating Corporation of Denver, Colorado.

The news leader of the Twin Tiers ... since 1947

Blight Fight Continues in City

The fight against blight in the City of Bradford continues as three more unsightly and unsafe buildings are slated for demolition.

Bradford City Council on Tuesday accepted quotes from Tom Vickery for the demolition of 177 Williams St., 13 East Main St., and 26 East Ave., for $5,454, $2,454 and $5,454 respectively.

To hear more from last night's city council meeting go here.

The news leader of the Twin Tiers ... since 1947

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Two Dead in Clearfield County Crash

Two people are dead and two children are hospitalized following a crash at 12:45 Monday afternoon on Route 322 in Clearfield County.

62-year-old Joyce Morse of DuBois and 35-year-old Jeffrey Hoffman of Dauphin were both pronounced dead at the scene. The children in Morse’s car were flown to Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh.

Police say Hoffman was traveling west when, for an unknown reason, his car went into the eastbound lane and hit Morse’s car head-on.

Police are continuing their investigation.

The news leader of the Twin Tiers ... since 1947