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Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Several Issues Addressed During
Loud City Council Meeting

To hear a recording of the meeting, go to WESB.com/listen, click on the "local programs tab, and scroll to "Bradford City Council 4-14-15.

A group of rude and unruly people – some from the townships – disrupted Tuesday’s Bradford City Council meeting to the point where Mayor Tom Riel threatened to adjourn the meeting early.

While the eight or so were loud enough that council and the media had to ask them to quiet down, the rest of the standing-room-only crowd was polite and respectful.

The antics came about when council was asked about several issues including business privilege tax, a proposed storm water fee and the crime rate.

Mayoral candidate Paul Berg, who seemed to be making statement rather than asking a question, wanted to know why General Electric (parent company of Dresser’s) does not pay a business privilege tax.

Riel and City Solicitor Mark Hollenbeck tried to explain that the Interstate Commerce Clause precludes them from paying it. Riel also added that the companies that don't pay the business privilege tax contribute to the city in other ways, for example donating to projects like the Congress Street revitalization.

A claim that businesses are being driven out of Bradford was met from council with the fact that 14 new businesses opened in the downtown business district alone last year.

Berg also asked about the city’s crime rate supposedly doubling over the last few years, according to one website. Riel told him, “Those statistics are as skewed as your ideas are,” and then asked Police Chief Chris Lucco if he wanted to address that “nonsense.”

The short answer is, “Their numbers are inaccurate,” Lucco said.

For example, because the website classifies the crimes incorrectly, it says there were 90 murders, rapes, aggravated assaults and robberies in Bradford one year.

“There were not 90 of those,” Lucco said. “I’m positive of that.” You can find the actual statistics on our Facebook page, http://facebook.com/1490wesb. (Provided by City of Bradford Police.)

As for the storm water fee, Councilman Brad Mangel tried explaining the proposal but he was interrupted several times as well.

Riel explained that, under the proposal, the one-third of properties in the city that are tax-exempt would have to pay the fee just like everyone else. He said, for example, there are three properties that should pay $150 in property taxes. But one of them is tax-exempt so, when tax money is used for infrastructure improvement, the two, in effect, pay $75 while the third pays nothing. With the fee, all three would pay $50, theoretically lowering property taxes.

Council said nothing is set in stone and they are still looking into imposing the fee, and also suggested that people Google “Meadville stormwater management” to see how it works.

One of the well-mannered people at the meeting, Players Downtown owner Jim Pingie, was concerned about how the building collapse at 3-5 Main Street would affect his buildings on Mechanic Street.

Riel said the city is waiting to hear from its engineer Roy Pedersen, but the city is more than happy to work with him the best they can.

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Man Pleads to Attempted Rape

An Olean man who was charged with forcible rape after an investigation pleaded guilty to lesser charges Monday in Cattaraugus County Court.

38-year-old Timothy Faircloth pleaded guilty attempted rape and attempted criminal sex act. Faircloth lured women into his car by offering rides and attempted to rape them.

Faircloth is scheduled for sentencing on June 15.

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

Tax Fairness for Rural PA

By State Rep. Marty Causer

We call Potter County “God’s Country,” but in some ways, it may also be appropriate to call it “Government Country.”

Of the county’s nearly 692,000 acres, 291,128 – a whopping 42 percent – are owned by the state government and are therefore exempt from real estate taxes. That leaves other landowners in Potter County with larger and increasingly burdensome tax bills.

Potter County and its taxpayers aren’t alone in this challenge.

In Cameron County, well over half – an estimated 60 percent – of the county’s total acreage is owned by the state.

In Centre County, 35 percent of its land is owned by the state (and that doesn’t include Penn State University property, which is also tax exempt).

In Elk County, 30 percent of land is owned by the state, and in Tioga County, it’s nearly 25 percent.

In McKean County, just 6 percent of the acreage is owned by the Commonwealth, though the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy has been working to acquire more than 17,000 acres of land that it would then hand over to the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) to be added on to the Elk State Forest. That would nearly triple the amount of state forest land in the McKean County.

In these counties, and others across the Northern Tier, government ownership of vast amounts of land is shrinking the local tax base, leaving local governments and school districts with nowhere else to go but the pockets of private property owners when it comes time to balance their budgets.

Government has long recognized the financial burden tax-exempt land can place on counties, school districts and municipalities, and it has attempted to compensate for that through “payment in lieu of taxes” or PILT. However, the PILT rate, last increased in 2006, is not keeping pace with property values or costs.

To address this fairness issue, I have introduced legislation to increase the PILT on state-owned forest and game lands from $3.60 per acre to $6 per acre. As is the case now, PILT funds would be divided equally among the municipalities, school districts and counties in which the land is located. An increase in PILT funds is an important step in the effort to achieve tax fairness for property owners in the counties referenced above and across rural Pennsylvania.

I recently received notification from the folks managing the Allegheny National Forest about nearly $2 million in funds being returned from the federal government to Elk, Forest, McKean and Warren counties based on the sale of timber from the forest. Conversely, in Pennsylvania, any proceeds from the sale of timber, oil or natural gas harvested on state-owned lands go directly into the state’s general fund. Local governments do not see a dime of it.

To address this fairness issue, I have introduced another bill calling for 20 percent of total revenue collected from the sale of these natural resources on most state-owned lands to be deposited into a restricted fund for disbursement to local governments across the Commonwealth, proportionally based on the number of acres of state land in each municipality, school district and county.

House Bills 344 and 343 are awaiting consideration in the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee.

In the meantime, the Pennsylvania State Land Tax Fairness Coalition, led in part by Potter County Commissioner Paul Heimel and Austin Area School District Acting Superintendent Jerome Sasala, is hard at work educating state and local government leaders as well as taxpayers about the need for these changes in state law. The group has put together an informative website that includes maps and data that helps make the case for the legislation. Check it out at www.pastatelandtaxfairness.com.

Let’s work together to bring tax fairness to God’s Country and all of rural Pennsylvania.

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

Three Hurt in Ashford Crash

Three people were hurt in a two-vehicle crash Saturday afternoon on Route 219 in Ashford.

In a report released to WESB today, sheriff’s deputies say a pickup truck driven by 20-year-old Thomas Patterson of Cattaraugus was traveling south when he didn’t see that a car in front of him had slowed to make a left turn and he hit it. Both vehicles then crashed into a culvert.

The driver of the car, 59-year-old David Abbott and his wife, 55-year-old Lisa Abbott, of Victor, New York, were both taken to Bertrand-Chaffee Hospital in Springville for evaluation of neck and other injuries.

Patterson, whose head hit the windshield of his pickup, was also taken by ambulance to Bertrand-Chaffee. He was cited for following too closely.

Route 219 in that area was closed for about an hour while the scene was cleaned up.

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Sex Offender Sent to Prison

A Duke Center man who failed to register as a sex offender in Cattaraugus County will spend the next 1 to 3 years in state prison.

On December 12 38-year-old Walter Randall changed his address and did not notify the state sex offender registry within 10 days.

Back in 1995, in Olean, he sexually abused a 12-year-old girl.

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Ca$h Mob Bradford Hits Saturday

Everyone is invited to join Ca$h Mob Bradford as it makes its next “hit” this Saturday, April 18th at 1pm. Those interested in participating should bring at least $20 cash to spend and meet at the Fretz Middle School parking lot on St. Francis Drive, where the target business will be announced.

The Ca$h Mob Bradford program is organized by the Bradford Area Chamber of Commerce as a way to stimulate the economy and support locally owned businesses. Ca$h Mob Bradford will target a different BACC member business each month, with mobsters each spending $20 or more in cash at the target--which is not announced until the day of the event.

If the cash mob has at least 25 participants, then a $25 Bradford Gift Certificate will be awarded to one of the participants. Bring your friends and family – and your cash – and join the mob!

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Candidate Forums/Meet The Candidates at
Bradford Area Public Library

The American Association of University Women-Bradford branch will host an evening that will help voters decide who to choose in the May Primary Election.

A Meet the Candidates Night and Candidate Forum has been set for Wednesday, May 6, at the Bradford Area Public Library.

"We are planning an informal event where the candidates distribute information and speak to the voters on a one-on-one basis," said Sharie Radzavich, co-vice president of programs.

Two forums - featuring the McKean County Sheriff and Bradford City Mayor races - will also be held that evening in the Community Room.

The candidates that are included in the Meet the Candidates Night portion include McKean County Commissioner, McKean County District Attorney and McKean County Register of Wills & Clerk of Orphans' Courts.

The event is scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m.

The two candidates for sheriff are Hiel "Butch" Bartlett and Dan Woods. Both are seeking the Republican nod. Republican Paul Berg is challenging incumbent Tom Riel, also a Republican, for the mayor of Bradford.

Dr. Steve Robar of the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford will serve as moderator.

"We are very excited to host this event for McKean County voters," said Sandy Rhodes, co-vice president of programs. "We hosted a similar event a couple of years ago featuring the sheriff and Bradford City Council races and had a good turnout. We believe in the electoral process and feel it is important to help the voter decide who to vote for by presenting an objective program."

Both Radzavich and Rhodes noted how important it was to have Robar on tap to take the lead that evening.

"To be honest, we would not even consider having a forum if he was not available,• Rhodes said.

The event is free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be served.

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Meet the Candidates in Port Allegany

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Illuminations Arts Festival
Coming to Pitt-Bradford

Tickets are now available for “Illuminations – A Celebration of Families and the Arts” planned for May 16 at the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford.

The free day of arts activities and performances for families will focus on children age 6 months through 10 years of age. Tickets may be obtained on a first-come, first-served basis through the Bromeley Family Theater Box Office. The box office may be reached by calling 814-362-5113 or emailing Courtney Mealy at cmealy@pitt.edu.

The event will fill Blaisdell Hall with artists performing and conducting workshops. In addition to a young children’s performance of “Hatched” by the Treehouse Shakers and a concert by the Grammy Award-winning family musicians The Okee Dokee Brothers, Illuminations will feature local groups and hands-on activities.

The event is made possible by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts Challenge America Grant. You can learn more about the festival by listening to WESB's LiveLine on April 29.

“We are so excited to have received the NEA grant for this project that will give children and their families the opportunity to experience the arts together. It will be a day filled with art exploration, performances and fun,” said Patty Colosimo, coordinator of arts programming. Local groups helping fill the day with fun include Bradford Little Theatre, Studio B. Dance Academy, Windworks from Olean, N.Y., and local artists.

Bradford Little Theatre board members Nanci K. Garris and Beckie Confer will present two theater workshops. A preschool workshop will give young children an opportunity to present a simple play with a narrator. There will also be a session with puppets along with simple songs and finger plays.

Children elementary age and above will also have an opportunity to use puppets to create their own play. This age group will also explore stage directions, theater terms and who is necessary to produce a play. If time allows, both groups will have an opportunity to explore improvisation.

Studio B Dance Academy instructor Katie Neidich will teach a fun warm up and a short jazz dance combination to some of today’s popular hits. The combination will piece together movements from the warm up with new ones to create a short, fun dance.

Isaac Spaeth of Windworks in Olean will bring an instrument “petting zoo,” where children of all ages can learn about different musical instruments. Children can pick up the instruments and play them. They will also learn the names of each instrument, the type of sound that it makes, how to create that sound and its classification, such as a woodwind or brass instrument.

Ken Waldman, a former college professor with a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing, will lead children of different age levels in creating poetry and writing song lyrics to be accompanied by his fiddle. He has been a visiting writer at more than 80 colleges and universities, a visiting artist at more than 200 schools in 32 states and has led workshops from Alaska to Maine.

Four local artists will work with children in a variety of media.

Anna Lemnitzer, assistant professor of art, will lead participants in creating their own miniature koinobori, carp-shaped wind socks used in the celebration of Children’s Day in Japan.

Artist Anne Mormile will teach children to create their own fairy friends that can go live in their own back yards.

Laura Hickey will introduce science into the art-making process with a watercolor and oil marbling station where children can create colorful abstract paintings.

Floyd C. Fretz Middle School art teacher Janelle Turk will demonstrate the ancient art of printmaking and help students create their own image and transfer the image to a piece of art.

In the KOA Art Gallery, students from Bradford Area School District will display their artwork.

“Studies show that there is a correlation between the arts and academic achievement,” Colosimo said. “In young children it helps to develop motor skills, language development, and creativity that will grow to be very beneficial throughout their academic years. We wanted to have an event that would provide these benefits to local students while at the same time making it an enjoyable family experience.”

In addition to the NEA grant, matching funds are being provided by The Three Sisters Fund and the Bradford Kiwanis Club, which is also providing volunteers to work at the event. Other partners of the event include the Bradford Area School District. BAHS Art Club and Key Club students are also volunteering. Additional activities will include face painting, sidewalk art (weather permitting), healthy food vendors and arts-themed giveaways.

For disability needs related to the event, contact the Office of Disability Resources at (814)362-7609 or clh71@pitt.edu. To find out more about how NEA grants impact individuals and communities, visit www.arts.gov.

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

Poet to Give Reading
Friday at St. Bonaventure

ST. BONAVENTURE, N.Y. — Poet Willie Perdomo will read from his work at 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 17, at St. Bonaventure University’s CafĂ© La Verna.

The reading is free and open to the public.

Perdomo is the author of “The Essential Hits of Shorty Bon Bon,” finalist for the 2015 National Book Critics Circle Award in poetry; “Smoking Lovely,” winner of the PEN Beyond Margins Award; and “Where a Nickel Costs a Dime,” finalist for the Poetry Society of America Norma Farber First Book Award.

He has been a recipient of a Woolrich Fellowship in Creative Writing at Columbia University and a two-time New York Foundation for the Arts Poetry Fellow. His work has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, BOMB, Mandorla, and African Voices. He has written children’s books about Roberto Clemente and Langston Hughes.

Perdomo is a member of the VONA/Voices faculty and is an instructor in English at Phillips Exeter Academy.

The reading is made possible through funding from the Visiting Scholars Committee, the School of Arts and Sciences, and the Student Government Association of St. Bonaventure University.

Kinzua Dam Report

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ARG Oil Prices

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Pfeiffer Nature Center Program to
Focus on Photography

PORTVILLE, N.Y. - A program sponsored by the Pfeiffer Nature Center will bring everything into focus - camera wise that is.

Professional photographer Tom Martin will facilitate "Picture This" from 6:30 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, April 23, at the Portville Free Library.

"Picture This" will take participants on a fascinating journey into nature photography.

"Tom believes there are two sides to good photography, the technical side and the seeing side, said Chris Walden, executive director of the Nature Center. "Using diagrams and lots of images, Tom will address knowing your camera, exposing properly, finding the right light, composing for impact, using depth of field, equipment and filters."

Participants will learn by doing and will leave with tips and suggestions to take home and try on their own to bring their pictures to life.

"The Pfeiffer Nature center is truly where science, art and nature come together," Walden said. "And this workshop is a perfect example of that."

The program is $10 per participant.

To have a critique of some of your images, e-mail them to tom@tommartinstudio.com by Monday, April 20, and they may be shared during the presentation.

Space is limited; reservations must be made by 4 p.m. Monday, April 20, by calling the Pfeiffer Nature Center's administrative office at (716) 933- 0187 or going online at www.pfeiffernaturecenter.org.

The Pfeiffer Nature Center is situated on two separate tracks of land close to the nearby centers of Portville & Olean.

The Nature Center has a land mass of more than 500 acres. The Outdoor Learning Laboratory, Living Museum of the old growth forest and Historic Pfeiffer-Wheeler Log Cabin are located on the Lillibridge Preserve at 1974 Lillibridge Road.

At Yubadam Road is the larger Esheleman Preserve. Both preserves are carry in/carry out facilities.

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