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Saturday, September 21, 2013

Investigation into Friday Fire Continues

The investigation continues into the Friday night fire that left five young Bradford children and a woman homeless.

State Police fire marshal Greg Agosti says the blaze started on the cook top of the kitchen stove, but they are still investigating the cause, as well the welfare of the children, ages 1 through 7.

The fire at 7 South Center Street was reported by a neighbor at just before 8 p.m. Another neighbor saw smoke, went inside the apartment and found an unattended 4-year-old girl sleeping on the living room couch. The little girl was rescued and was not hurt. 32-year-old Susan Hassek, who lived in the apartment, was not home at the time.

Damage is estimated at $92,000. Hassek did not have renter’s insurance. The apartment is owned by the Bradford City Housing Authority.

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

Law Professor to Speak at St. Bonaventure
About Religious Displays in Public Spaces

Paul Finkelman, Distinguished Professor of Law and Public Policy and Senior Fellow in the Government Law Center at the Albany Law School, will visit St. Bonaventure next week as the Lenna Visiting Professor.

Finkelman will speak at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 25, in the Walsh Center Auditorium on “The Ten Commandments on the Courthouse Lawn: Why People of Faith Should Oppose Religious Monuments on Public Space.” The talk will count as a senior forum plenary but is also open to the public.

A specialist in race and law, American legal history, and constitutional law, Finkelman has had more than 150 scholarly articles and more than 30 books published. Other pieces have appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today and The Huffington Post. He is an expert in constitutional history, freedom of religion, the law of slavery, civil liberties and the American Civil War.

Finkelman also served as the chief expert witness in the Alabama Ten Commandments monument case in 2003, and the U.S. Supreme Court cited his scholarship on religious monuments in public spaces. He also appeared on television when C-SPAN recorded Finkelman’s two-hour class on the Dred Scott case, which aired nationally and is now a part of C-Span’s series on American History.

Dr. Karen Robbins, assistant professor of history, nominated Finkelman for the visiting professorship.

“In today’s world, students can readily see the potentially explosive role of religion when connected to politics. A quick look at the Middle East reveals that,” she said. “But, less well known, our own history also illustrates what can happen when politics and religion are connected.”

Robbins said St. Bonaventure students of all majors would benefit from listening to Finkelman’s talk.

“We are very fortunate to have a nationally renowned legal historian visiting us as a Lenna Professor and that one of his areas of expertise is religion and the law,” she said. “The Supreme Court takes his scholarship on this seriously, and has cited him. If that body listens to him, we should too.”

The Lenna Endowed Visiting Professorship, established in 1990, is funded through gifts from the late Betty S. Lenna Fairbank and Reginald A. Lenna of Jamestown. It is designed to bring scholars of stature in their field to St. Bonaventure University and Jamestown Community College for public lectures.

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Unique production of 'Our Town'
Coming to Pitt-Bradford

A unique production of the classic play “Our Town” will be presented by Little Green Pig Theater next week at the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford.

Thornton Wilder’s popular Pulitzer-prize winning drama will take the stage at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 28 in the Bromeley Family Theater in Blaisdell Hall.

The Five Points Star arts blog called the Little Green Pig production “a fresh, innovative, heart-squeezing new production.”

Performed with an all African-American cast, director Jay O’Berski told the Chapel Hill (N.C.) News that the Durham, N.C., theater group follows Wilder’s story line.

“It’s a place where birth, weddings and death are unencumbered by the sensationalistic elements that normally accompany black stories in modern media. It’s a look at what was and what is, through the lens of America’s most produced, iconic play.”

Five Points said the cast, which must play multiple roles, is “uniformly strong,” and particularly praised J. Alphonse Nicholson as teenager George Gibbs and Aurelia Belfield as protagonist Emily Webb.

Dr. Kevin Ewert, professor of theater at Pitt-Bradford, said, “In 2006, Little Green Pig did Checkhov’s ‘The Cherry Orchard’ with an all-black cast. It was extraordinary. It was like watching a new play that also happened to be this great classic, where the quiet museum reverence was traded in for something with a lot more life in it. ‘Our Town’ is being similarly reinvented.”

Little Green Pig is a nonprofit theater company with a model that is experimental but accessible, strange and dreamlike, but familiar and immediate.

Tickets are $6 for the public and $2 for all students and may be purchased through the Bromeley box office by calling (814)362-5113.

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

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

Salamanca Man Dies in Crash

A Salamanca man is dead following a one-vehicle crash Friday late Friday afternoon on Old Route 17.

Sheriff’s deputies say 32-year-Joseph Carboni was traveling west when the vehicle left the road and hit a tree.

Carboni was pronounced dead at the scene.

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Friday, September 20, 2013

Burglar Takes Bag of Money

A bag of money was taken off a shelf during a burglary at a Kersey home earlier this week.

Police say the burglar went to the home of 60-year-old Gerald Swanson on Main Street in Kersey sometime between 7 o’clock Tuesday evening and 4:30 Wednesday afternoon, took the money and left.

They didn’t say how much money was in the bag.

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

Update, Revisions on Smethport Situation

A former teacher at Smethport Area Junior-Senior High posted on Facebook Thursday night and early Friday morning that he was going to kill himself, which led district officials to have “safety concerns” and call for a police presence at the schools.

Former physics teacher Christopher Swanson was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound on the campus of Mercyhurst University at about 7:15 this morning. The Erie County coroner says he died sometime between 2 and 4 a.m. His last Facebook post was at about 3 a.m.

Swanson had been fired near the end of the last school year for allegedly having an inappropriate relationship with a student.

Police and school district officials say they took precautionary measures and had a police presence at the schools this morning, but believe there was no cause for alarm.

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

Florida Fugitive Nabbed on I-86

A Florida man wanted on a kidnapping charge was picked up late last night on I-86 in Cuba.

State police stopped 44-year-old Cesar Figueroa of Tampa for a vehicle and traffic violation and soon learned he was wanted for kidnapping, aggravated battery and grand theft in Hillsborough County, Florida.

Figueroa was arrested as a fugitive from justice and taken to Allegany County Jail to await extradition.

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

Presenting ...

the renovated Callahan Park ice rink.

Bradford Area Chamber of Commerce photo

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

Bruce Eymer

Bruce D. Eymer, 82, of 245 Minard Run Road, Bradford, passed away on Wednesday, September 18, 2013.

Born May 21, 1931, in Lewis Run, he was the son of the late Cyril and Marion (Stevens) Eymer.

On June 19, 1954 in the First Baptist Church he married Constance (Howe) Eymer who survives.

Mr. Eymer was a 1950 graduate of Bradford High School. In 1954 he received his Bachelor's Degree from Lock Haven State College and in 1964 his Master's Degree from St. Bonaventure University. He had been employed by the Bradford Area School District from 1953 to 1991, where he taught history, but spent the majority of his career as a high school guidance counselor.

He served in the United States Army from 1955 to 1957 and was stationed in Frankfurt, Germany for most of his military career.

He was an active member of the First Baptist Church, where over the years, he served as a deacon, longtime Sunday School Teacher, and on the Board of Trustees. He was a founding member of the Learned Friends of Education.

Mr. Eymer loved the outdoors. He enjoyed hunting, fishing, cutting firewood, tending to his gardens, berry patches and the Christmas tree farm. He and his wife Connie introduced the family to camping. They made several summer jaunts, including a cross-country trek in the late 1960's. Upon retirement, the couple traveled the world. Mr. Eymer was a "people person," who loved Bradford and reached out to help anyone that might need a hand. In his own words he was a "good cheap carpenter and a pretty decent painter".

Surviving in addition to his wife of 59 years, are two daughters, Jane (Christopher) Noel, of Greeley, CO, and Martha (Duane) Waldron, of Livonia, NY, one son, Douglas (Selene Carlo) Eymer, of Cohasset, MA, seven grandchildren, Foster Eymer, Taggart Eymer, Hunter Noel, Addison Noel, Paige Waldron, Collin Waldron and Seth Waldron.

Family will be receiving friends on Monday from 3 to 5pm and 7 to 9pm at the Hollenbeck-Cahill Funeral Homes, Inc. 33 South Ave. and again on Tuesday from 10:00 to 11:00am at the First Baptist Church, where funeral services will be held at 11:00am with Pastor Jeremy Childs, officiating. Burial will be in McKean Memorial Park.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the First Baptist Church, Christian Education Program, 71 Congress Street, Bradford, PA 16701.

Online condolences may be made at

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

L. Dale Neil

L. Dale Neil, 81, of 576 Bolivar Drive, passed away Thursday, September 19, 2013 at The Pavilion at BRMC.

Born October 12, 1931 in Bradford, he was a son of the late Charles H. and Margaret (McCartney) Neil.

On March 5, 1955 in the First Presbyterian Church in Bradford, he married Harriett B. Sheldon, who survives.

Mr. Neil was a 1951 graduate of Bradford High School. On December 2, 1952 in Buffalo, NY, he entered the United States Army. He served at Seoul, Mil Post 8096TH AU during the Korean War and was awarded the National Defense Service Medal, Korean Service Medal with one Bronze Service Star, United Nations Service Medal. Presidential Unit Citation, and the Combat Infantryman Badge. He was honorably discharged at Fort George G. Mead in Maryland on September 16, 1954. After returning from military service, he worked for Zippo Manufacturing and retired as a superintendent of the Congress Street plant after 43 years of service.

He was an inventor and handyman and could fix all kinds of things. He was a member of the American Legion Post #108 and the Ridge Runners.

In addition to his wife of 58 years, he is survived by three daughters, Brenda N. Kinney of Wyoming, PA, Lisa N. (Frank, Jr.) LaValle, of Pittsburgh, and Lori Dayle (David, Jr.) Bennett, of Schertz, TX; six grandchildren, Jessica Kinney, Casey LaValle, Stefani Austin, Chelsea LaValle, Jeffrey Kinney and Emily Bennett and several nieces. In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by two brothers, Donald Neil and Jack Neil.

Friends are invited to call from 10-11 AM, Monday, September 23, 2013 in the Hollenbeck-Cahill Funeral Homes, Inc., South Avenue where funeral services will be held at 11 AM with Rev. David Bunnell, pastor of the Hill Memorial United Methodist Church, officiating. Committal services and burial will follow in Willow Dale Cemetery with full military honors accorded by American Legion Post #108.

Memorial contributions, if desired, can be made to the Disabled American Veterans or to the charity of the donor's choice.

Online condolences may be made at

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

Rep. Thompson: Companies like Zippo
Give 'American Made' a Great Name

Or you can read Thompson's floor remarks:

"Mr. Speaker, the importance of manufacturing to our nation cannot be overstated. Creating products domestically supports local economies and creates family sustaining jobs.

But so many domestic companies also serve as a source of pride for towns, cities, and regions of the country.

The Zippo Manufacturing Company and their iconic lighter are headquartered and manufactured in Pennsylvania’s 5th Congressional District, which I have the honor of representing. It is McKean County’s largest employer, with 900 hard working men and women in a city of 8000.

Zippo has been making lighters since 1895, and today, 160 countries around the world buy Zippo products.

Zippo is part of Bradford's community identity. Part of this identity comes from the fact that American companies were once renowned for building things to last. Zippo backs its lighters with a “forever guarantee."

Parade Magazine, a national publication, made note of this fact in a recent article titled “Putting America Back to Work: 5 Ways 'Made in the USA' Is Staging a Comeback.”

Its companies like Zippo that give "American Made" a great name; that keep the world buying US-made products; and ultimately keep jobs in America and expands the American workforce.

The key to our economic recovery is tapping into these gems, utilizing domestic energy, technology and a home grown workforce to revitalize American manufacturing."

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Candice Mellott

Candice Ann Mellott was called to rest in Monongahela, PA on September 19, 2013, due to natural causes.

She was born on July 6, 1956, the daughter of the late Roy and Janice Eckstine Hamilton.

She spent her adult life working as a Certified Nursing Assistant. She loved her family dearly and cherished her grandchildren. She was always looking out for others before herself. In her spare time she enjoyed collecting anything to do with pigs.

She is survived by two sons, Christopher McKenny, Portland, OR, Joseph Martin, Camp Hill, PA, three daughters, Leia McKenny, Ft. Hood, TX, Darlanna Martin, Danielle (Chad) Baker, both of Bradford, seven granddaughters and seven grandsons.

In addition to her parents she was also preceded in death by one son, Daniel J. Martin, Jr.

At the family’s request there will be no visitation. Private memorial services will be held at the convenience of the family.

Funeral arrangements are entrusted to the care of the Mascho Funeral Home, Inc.

Online Condolences can be expressed at

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

Gabler to Lead Delegation to Japan

DUBOIS - State Rep. Matt Gabler (R-Clearfield/Elk) has accepted a request to lead a delegation of U.S. military veterans on an international exchange trip to Japan later this month. He was selected to serve as delegation escort by the American Council of Young Political Leaders (ACYPL), an organization based in Washington, D.C., that works in cooperation with the United States Department of State.

“It is an honor to be chosen to lead a delegation of distinguished military veterans representing the United States overseas,” Gabler said. “I look forward to the lessons I will learn from this experience that can help me better serve my constituents in Elk and Clearfield counties. With our local economy’s strong manufacturing sector, a better understanding of the people we are trading with on the world stage will be exceptionally valuable.”

ACYPL is a nonpartisan, non-governmental organization which is internationally recognized as the pre-eminent catalyst for introducing rising political and policy professionals to international affairs and to each other. Their mission is to promote mutual understanding, respect and friendship and cultivate long- lasting relationships among next generation leaders.

Gabler, an alumnus of ACYPL’s 2012 delegation to Israel and Palestine, was selected as the escort for the Japan Veterans Delegation because of his honorable military service as a captain in the Pennsylvania Army National Guard, his experience with ACYPL, and his standing as a successful young political leader. As delegation escort, Gabler will serve as the official liaison between ACYPL, U.S. partners, and the host nation partners in Japan.

The delegation, comprised of military veterans from across the United States, will travel to Japan from Sept. 26 through Oct. 11 under ACYPL sponsorship at no cost to Pennsylvania taxpayers. They will meet with local and national political, civil and economic leaders in Japan to develop international understanding and partnerships.

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

Christopher Swanson

Christopher R. Swanson, 41, of Morrisdale died Friday, Sept. 20, 2013 in Erie. Born Dec. 30, 1971 in Philipsburg, he was the son of Peter Swanson Sr. of Woodland and Helen Kyler Swanson of Morrisdale.

Mr. Swanson was a 1990 graduate of the West Branch High School and was valedictorian. He was also a graduate of Penn State University. Mr. Swanson was a former teacher at the Smethport High School, where he taught physics.

He’s survived by his brother, Bradley I. Swanson of Morrisdale and a half-brother, Peter Swanson Jr. of Clearfield.

He was preceded in death by his maternal grandparents, Ivan Sr. and Lois Kyler and his paternal grandparents, Elizabeth and Martin Swanson.

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Wednesday at the Palestine United Methodist Church, Morrisdale, with the Pastor Tina Hawkins officiating. There will be no public visitation.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Strange & Weaver Funeral Service, c/o Christopher Swanson account, 171 Deer Creek Rd., P.O. Box 238, Morrisdale, PA 16858.

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Speed Display Sign in Farmers Valley

A speed display sign has been placed on Route 46 in Farmers Valley in an effort to curb speeding and other aggressive driving behavior.

The radar-controlled sign facing northbound traffic. PennDOT’s aim by placing the sign is to raise awareness of the 40 mph speed limit in the area.

PennDOT says speeding and other aggressive driving behavior is among the leading causes of crashes and fatalities in Pennsylvania. Other aggressive driving behavior includes running stop signs or red lights, passing illegally and tailgating. The agency says aggressive driving was listed as a crash cause in more than 48 percent of McKean County crashes in 2012.

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Flying High with Control Chief

To celebrate the sale of its 10,000th system Control Chief Corporation released 53 balloons into the air this afternoon -- one for each employee, plus a board member.

Each balloon has an employee's number attached and the person who finds the balloon that travels the farthest gets $100, and so does the employee.

You can see more pictures of the balloon release on our Facebook page,

WESB photo

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

Hose, Nozzle Stolen from Potter Co. Business

A $9,000 piece of equipment has been stolen from a Potter County business.

Police say a 52-year-old man, who they did not name, stole a silver hose and nozzle used to pump liquid natural gas.

He allegedly stole it from Hoopes Turf Farming in Ulysses Township between September 6 and 8.

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

Catt County Men Facing Fight Charges

An alleged assault over the weekend has led to charges against a Salamanca man.

Sheriff’s deputies say Dane Ellis was involved in a fight with another man Sunday night in the Town of Great Valley.

Ellis is charged with assault and has been scheduled to appear in Great Valley Court. Rene Leblanc of Great Valley is facing a menacing charge for being involved in a fight with another man Sunday night in Great Valley and is also scheduled to appear in Town Court.

Deputies did not say if the men were in the fight with each other.

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

Police Looking for Meth Lab Suspect

Police in Jamestown are looking for the man they believe was running a meth lab in the city.

A warrant has been issued for 38-year-old Phillip Reichardt after an investigation at 19 Crossman Street uncovered what appeared to be a working meth lab.

The state police Contaminated Crime Scene Emergency Response Team and Jamestown Fire Department were on the scene well into the night securing the location.

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

Former Smethport Teacher Commits Suicide
After Reportedly Making Threats Against District

UPDATE: The Facebook threats Swanson made were not actually against the school district. He had threatened to kill himself. But, I assume, because he had been fired from the school district, officials had what they said were "safety concerns." His last Facebook post was at about 3 a.m. ~~ Anne

A former teacher at Smethport Area Junior-Senior High School caused safety concerns within the school district, but those concerns were alleviated well before students arrived at the schools this morning.

Smethport Borough Police say they were contacted by Mercyhurst Police after the body of Chris Swanson was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound on the Mercyhurst University campus early this morning. The Erie County Coroner says Swanson killed himself between 2 and 4 a.m.

Police say they did take precautionary measures, although they believed there was no cause for alarm in Smethport.

School superintendent Charles Leasure tells us they did decide to have a police presence at the schools this morning because they take all threats seriously, but the schools were never on lockdown.

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

'Safety Concern' in Smethport Resolved

Smethport schools are not on lockdown and everything is “back to normal” after officials became aware of a rumor about a former teacher, according to district superintendent Charles Leasure.

He tells WESB that they heard a rumor about a former teacher making threats which was, of course, a “safety concern.” Because of that they decided to have a police presence at the school this morning. But, he said, the situation has been resolved.

He stressed that the schools were never on lockdown, but they do take all threats against the school district seriously.

Leasure said the homecoming parade and game will be going on as scheduled.

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

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Bruce Eymer Funeral Information

Bruce D. Eymer, 82, of 245 Minard Run Road, passed away Wednesday, September 18, 2013.

Funeral Arrangements are incomplete, and will be announced with a full obituary by the Hollenbeck-Cahill Funeral Homes, Inc.

Online condolences can be expressed at

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

Limited Seats Remain for
Pitt-Bradford 50th Anniversary Gala

A limited number of seats remain for the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford’s 50th Anniversary Fundraising Gala Oct. 4.

Proceeds from the evening, which will feature dinner, entertainment and a silent auction, will benefit the Marilyn Horne Archive Collection Project.

The gala, which is expected to sell out, will be hosted by the Office of the President and co-hosted by the Pitt-Bradford Advisory Board and the Pitt-Bradford Alumni Association Board at the university. Seats are $125 and may be purchased by calling the Office of Institutional Advancement at Pitt-Bradford at 814-362-5091.

“Undertaking a project of this magnitude is quite a challenge for our campus and our relatively sparsely populated region,” said Dr. Livingston Alexander, Pitt-Bradford president. “However, what has seemingly occurred throughout our campus’s history has occurred once again: Bradford and surrounding communities have rallied to support the effort to establish a Marilyn Horne Exhibit Center with ticket purchases, generous sponsorships and exquisite auction items.”

Jill Ballard, executive director of Institutional Advancement and managing director of the Bradford Educational Foundation, said, “We are grateful for the amazing response that we’ve received from our community, alumni, faculty and staff for this event. People want to help celebrate our proud history, but, most importantly, are keenly interested in learning more about our vibrant future.”

Opera legend and Bradford native Marilyn Horne has made a commitment to the university to donate her personal archives and those of her former foundation. Horne is expected to be a special guest for the evening and speak about the archive.

Also during the event, Albert Filoni, president of MacLachlan, Cornelius and Filoni Architects Inc. of Pittsburgh, will unveil preliminary renderings of the display space for the planned downtown Marilyn Horne Exhibit Center.

Following dinner and presentations, there will be two brief recitals featuring soprano Stephanie Welge of Ellicottville, N.Y., and New York City bass DeAndre Simmons in Blaisdell Hall. Manu Gajanan will also entertain on piano during the dessert reception, and Shawn Murray Photography will host a 1963 photo booth.

Items available for bid during the auction include miniature versions of the university’s new bronze panther statue by Bradford native and Western artist David Hodges; an overnight stay at Keswick Hall at Monticello, Va., and a two-night stay and four rounds of golf at the Omni Bedford Springs Resort.

Co-sponsor of the event is Saber Healthcare Group. Other sponsors are Minard Run Oil Co., American Refining Group, Northwest Savings Bank, Zippo Manufacturing Co., Kessel Construction Inc., Metz Culinary Management, Carl E. Swanson & Sons Inc., Dr. Kimberly S. Young and Mr. James E. O’Mara ’96, Bradford Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine Group, Dr. Luis and Andrea Gonzalez and Joseph M. Marasco, attorney.

Photo of Marilyn Horne by Alan Hancock

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

Judith Songer

Judith L. Songer, 76, of 21 Abbott Road, passed away Tuesday, September 17, 2013 at Bradford Regional Medical Center.

Born July 16, 1937 in Bradford, she was a daughter of the late Forest R. and Edith (Peterson) Franks Sr.

On November 19, 1960 in Our Mother of Perpetual Help Church in Lewis Run, she married George L. Songer who survives.

She was a 1955 graduate of Bradford High School and also graduated from Millard Filmore Nursing School in Buffalo, NY as a Registered Nurse.

She was a member of First Presbyterian Church and the Current Events Club. She enjoyed spending time with her family, especially her grandchildren. She also enjoyed spending time with her friends in Bradford and also The Villages Florida, where she enjoyed spending her winters.

She began her employment with Bradford Hospital in 1959 as a Registered Nurse. She then raised her family, and then returned to nursing and retired from Bradford Regional Medical Center.

In addition to her husband, she is survived by two daughters, Julia A. Songer of Frisco TX, and Tamara (Greg) Garrison, of Oklahoma City, OK. a son, George L. Songer of Arlington, VA, two grandsons, Nicholas Royer of Orlando, FL and Elias Royer of State College and one cousin, Betty Stone, of Bradford. In addition to her parents, she was preceded in death by a brother, Forest Franks, Jr.

Friends are invited to call from 3-5 & 7-9 PM Friday September 20, 2013 in the Hollenbeck-Cahill Funeral Homes, Inc., East Main St. and again from 9-10 AM on Saturday, September 21, 2013 in the First Presbyterian Church where funeral services will be held at 10 AM with Rev. Katherine Randall, Co-pastor, officiating. Committal services and mausoleum entombment will follow in St. Bernard Cemetery.

Memorial contributions, if desired, can be made to the charity of the donor's choice.

On line condolences may be made at

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

Resolution Calls on Attorney General to Investigate Opiates

HARRISBURG – In helping to prevent even more loved ones from becoming victims of the statewide epidemic of prescription drug addictions and overdoses, Rep. Gene DiGirolamo (R-Bucks), chairman of the House Human Services Committee and a leading advocate for drug and alcohol addiction treatment, called on the state attorney general today to investigate and address the proliferation of prescription opioids in Pennsylvania. “Across the country and the Commonwealth and right in our very own communities, people are dying from prescription drug overdoses,” said DiGirolamo, who was joined by a number of treatment experts, loved ones of overdose victims and advocates. “We do not have to look far to see the escalating numbers of people dying from overdoses of pain killers and other opioids. Sadly, more and more of us are being touched by this epidemic.”

More Americans now die from painkillers than from heroin and cocaine combined, and since 2008, prescription drug-induced deaths have outstripped those from automobile accidents, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC

“Even more tragic is the startling fact that the manufacturers of these prescriptions are profiting from this epidemic, and until those who produce these drugs and profit from their use are held accountable, there is no incentive for these companies to be socially responsible and bring an end to these senseless and tragic overdoses,” DiGirolamo said.

In his fight to address the epidemic, DiGirolamo has authored a House resolution calling on the Office of Attorney General to investigate the financial impact of this proliferation, which includes the costs to the emergency health care, criminal justice, law enforcement and addiction treatment systems.

DiGirolamo is also asking the Office of Attorney General to develop a plan to recover damages to the Commonwealth from drug manufacturers and distributors and to establish the Pennsylvania Opioid Recovery Fund to fund treatment of addiction to prescription and other drugs.

Opioid analgesics are involved in more drug poisoning deaths than any other drug. In fact, prescription opioid overdose deaths have nearly quadrupled between 1999 and 2007, with the distribution of prescription opioids increasing 627 percent in a 30-year time span.

In addition, admissions to addiction treatment for prescription drug pain relievers, including prescription opioids increased 430 percent from 1999 to 2009, with chronic, non-medical use of prescription opioids increasing 75 percent over the past decade.

DiGirolamo addressed the personal and emotional cost of opioid prescription drug overdoses and deaths and the destruction of families. “Our prisons are overcrowded with inmates with addiction-related offenses and our cities and neighborhoods are under siege by drug-fueled crimes,” he said.

DiGirolamo’s legislation requests that the Office of Attorney General investigate and address this epidemic by:

•Reviewing and using tools that are available to monitor, evaluate and audit the movement, prescription, sale, purchase, administration and effects of prescription opioids as they pass through online pharmacies and through all aspects of public and private supply chains and all phases of the product lifecycle.

•Reviewing incentives, financial and otherwise, that apply to participants and decision makers in public and private supply chains and health care financing systems.

•Reviewing prescribing, pricing and reporting practices, and differences among and between various public and private supply chains and health care financing systems.

•Reviewing compliance with all existing laws, regulations, orders, agreements and other legal requirements.

•Investigating and pursuing recovery of the costs of this proliferation to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and its citizens.

•Establishing the Pennsylvania Opioid Recovery Fund to fund treatment of addiction to prescription and other drugs.

The resolution is expected to be introduced in the near future.

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

Halliburton Pleads Guilty to Destruction of Evidence in Deepwater Horizon Disaster


Halliburton Energy Services Inc. (Halliburton) pleaded guilty today to destroying evidence pertaining to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster and was sentenced to the statutory maximum fine, the Justice Department announced.

In addition, a criminal information was filed today charging a former Halliburton manager, Anthony Badalamenti, 61, of Katy, Texas, with one count of destruction of evidence.

“These announcements mark the latest steps forward in the Justice Department’s efforts to achieve justice on behalf of all those affected by the Deepwater Horizon explosion, oil spill, and environmental disaster,” said Attorney General Eric Holder. “Halliburton and one of its managers have now been held criminally accountable for their misconduct, underscoring our continued commitment to ensuring that the victims of this tragedy obtain justice, and to safeguarding the integrity of relevant evidence. I am grateful to all of the Justice Department leaders, federal investigative agency partners, and state and local allies whose tireless work made this outcome possible – and whose daily efforts will help to prevent such incidents from happening in the future.”

“Halliburton destroyed evidence during the investigation of the largest environmental disaster in U.S. history, and now both the company and the Halliburton manager who ordered the destruction are being held to account,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Criminal Division. “I am grateful for the tenacious work of the Deepwater Horizon Task Force prosecutors and investigators who have worked tirelessly on this and other Deepwater Horizon matters to ensure that justice is brought to the people of the Gulf Coast and to the families of the eleven men who perished on April 20, 2010.”

Halliburton’s guilty plea was accepted, and its sentence was imposed, by U.S. District Judge Jane Triche Milazzo of the Eastern District of Louisiana. During the guilty plea and sentencing proceeding today, Judge Milazzo found, among other things, that the sentence appropriately reflects Halliburton’s offense conduct. Judge Milazzo also noted that the statutory maximum fine and three year probationary period provide just punishment and appropriate deterrence, and noted Halliburton's self-reporting of the misconduct, substantial and valuable cooperation in the government's investigation, and substantial efforts to recover the deleted data.

According to court documents, on April 20, 2010, while stationed at the Macondo well site in the Gulf of Mexico, the Deepwater Horizon rig experienced an uncontrolled blowout and related explosions and fire, which resulted in the deaths of 11 rig workers and the largest oil spill in U.S. history. Following the blowout, Halliburton conducted its own review of various technical aspects of the well’s design and construction. On or about May 3, 2010, Halliburton established an internal working group to examine the Macondo well blowout, including whether the number of centralizers used on the final production casing could have contributed to the blowout. A production casing is a long, heavy metal pipe set across the area of the oil and natural gas reservoir. Centralizers are metal devices that protrude from various intervals of the casing strings of a well, which can help keep the casing centered in the wellbore away from the surrounding walls as it is lowered and placed in the well. Centralization can be significant to the quality of subsequent cementing around the bottom of the casing. Prior to the blowout, Halliburton had recommended to BP the use of 21 centralizers in the Macondo well. BP opted to use six centralizers instead.

As detailed variously in the charging instruments filed against Halliburton and against Badalamenti, during the relevant time period Badalamenti was Halliburton’s cementing technology director. In May 2010, in connection with Halliburton’s internal post-incident examination of the Macondo well, Badalamenti directed a senior program manager for Halliburton’s Cement Product Line (Program Manager) to run two computer simulations of the Macondo well final cementing job using Halliburton’s Displace 3D simulation program. Displace 3D was a next-generation simulation program that was being developed to model fluid interfaces and their movement through the wellbore and annulus of a well. The modeling sought to compare the 21 centralizers Halliburton had recommended to BP versus the six centralizers BP ultimately used. As detailed in the charging documents, the simulations indicated to those present that there was little difference between using six and 21 centralizers on the Macondo well. Badalamenti directed Program Manager to destroy these results, and Program Manager did so.

In or about June 2010, similar evidence was also destroyed in a later incident. Badalamenti asked another, more experienced, employee (“Employee 1”) to run simulations again comparing six versus 21 centralizers. Employee 1 reached the same conclusion. Badalamenti then directed Employee 1 to “get rid of” the simulations, and, after a period of delay, Employee 1 deleted them from his computer.

Efforts to forensically recover the original destroyed Displace 3D computer simulations during ensuing civil litigation and federal criminal investigation by the Deepwater Horizon Task Force were unsuccessful.

Halliburton’s guilty plea and sentence, and the criminal charge announced today against Badalamenti, are part of the ongoing criminal investigation by the Deepwater Horizon Task Force into matters related to the April 2010 Gulf oil spill. The Deepwater Horizon Task Force, based in New Orleans, is supervised by Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman and led by John D. Buretta, who serves as the director of the task force. The task force includes prosecutors from the Criminal Division and the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the Department of Justice; the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Louisiana and other U.S. Attorney’s Offices; and investigating agents from: the FBI; Department of the Interior, Office of Inspector General; Environmental Protection Agency, Criminal Investigation Division; Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Inspector General; National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Office of Law Enforcement; U.S. Coast Guard; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; and the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality.

The case is being prosecuted by Deepwater Horizon Task Force Director Buretta, Deputy Director William Pericak, and Task Force prosecutors Richard R. Pickens II, Scott M. Cullen, Colin Black and Rohan Virginkar.

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Rig Carrying Propane Tanks Crashes

Part of the New York State Thruway in Chautauqua County was shut down for a couple of hours overnight when a tractor-trailer carrying propane tanks crashed.

The accident happened at about 11 p.m. in the Town of Portland as the truck was heading west. It went off the side of the road, down a steep embankment and rolled over. Interstate 90 westbound was closed between Dunkirk and Westfield while emergency crews determined if the propane cylinders were stable. After the county HazMat Team determined that no propane had leaked, the lane was re-opened at about 1:30 a.m.

The driver, 57-year-old Richard Kingsley of Silver Creek, was taken by Starflight to UPMC Hamot in Erie, where he is in fair condition.

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Bradford Man Charged with Rape

A young Bradford man is accused of forcing one teenager to have sex with him, and having a sexual relationship with another.

Police say18-year-old Kristopher Roberts forced a 15-year-old girl to have sexual contact with him between July 30 and August 6. A 13-year-old girl says she and Roberts had a sexual relationship at her home between August 1 and 10. Police say he knew the girl’s age.

Roberts is charged with rape, sexual assault, aggravated indecent assault, statutory sexual assault and related offenses. He’s in Warren County Jail on $25,000 bail.

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Alleged Pharmacy Robber Behind Bars

The men police believe are responsible for the robbery of Buchanan Brother’s Pharmacy in Eldred on Friday are behind bars.

They say Chase Lotter of Eldred went into the pharmacy claiming to have a gun and demanding prescription pain killers. He got 151 Oxycontin pills valued at $1,100 and left the pharmacy. Police were able to target him as a suspect by using cell phone records. He is jailed on $150,000 bail.

His alleged accomplice, Adam Bachman of Smethport, is jailed on $50,000 on conspiracy charges.

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