Voters want lawmakers to take heed on safety. By John L. Micek and Josh Drobnyk Of The Morning Call March 27, 2009 Pennsylvania voters overwhelmingly support a ban on using hand-held cell phones while driving, a new poll shows. It's a move the state Legislature has resisted for years.By 85 percent to 13 percent, voters in the Quinnipiac University survey back a proposal that would make the practice illegal.Support was widespread among all voters, regardless of their political affiliation. Cell-phone users -- four out of five of the respondents -- were equally supportive.The survey comes as advocates for a ban say chances are improving that the Legislature will soon act, arguing that attitudes in Harrisburg have finally caught up to public opinion. Still, proposals to ban hand-held cell-phone use by drivers have been floating around the Capitol for a decade.
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Starting July 1, homeowners will be able to do a little more research on home improvement contractors before signing a contract. The state Attorney General's office on Monday began a new registration process for contractors as part of a new law aimed at protecting consumers. Greg Miller of Henry's Floor Covering in Greencastle said from what he has heard, the new registration system seems like a good idea. "I think it's going to keep those that are good, quality contractors with work and it'll be done correctly. It will weed out the ones that don't want to play by the rules, and traditionally that's where consumers end up on the short end of the stick," Miller said.
By Rob Hopkins on March 29, 2009 8:33 AM If you want power and fame, run for governor. But if you want wealth, be a professor, a bean counter or a turnpike czar. At least 96 state employees are paid more than Gov. Ed Rendell, whose salary is $174,435. All together, at least 656 have salaries in excess of $150,000. At least 3,836 are paid more than $100,000 a year. That's a big bill footed by taxpayers, and government watchdog groups say high salaries should be scrutinized carefully. The state employees' bosses, of course, say they earn every penny.
We enjoy displaying the artwork of Mr. Nelson Haus, and appreciate that he is willing to share it with us. The blog format does not allow us to display the art in its original glory , and the results are poor. I will continue to post them here, but have decided to also add them to their own dedicated page at www.cameroncountypa.net . Look under the "site features" tab for "Artwork of Nelson Haus". Each week we will feature a couple of different submissions in full format, so that the readers can appreciate them in their original fine format.
"About my high school sex education - there was none," said Anthony Distler, 21, a student at Mt. Aloysius College in Cresson. "The old "If you have sex you will die" teachings taught me nothing. If high schools want to drop the number of teenage pregnancies and STDs, they need to start getting real about it."Distler, who is originally from Kersey and graduated from Elk County Catholic High School in St. Marys, is not alone in his disapproval for the amount of information he was given about sex. "I honestly don't even remember having sex ed. in high school," said Betsy Cheatle, 21, who is originally from St. Marys. "Sex is something that many teenagers take too lightly. When you're a teenager, or any age for that matter, contracting a STD is the least of your worries when you're in the heat of the moment, but the fact is that STDs are serious and people need to be properly informed."
The Department of Health said the pregnancy rate among adolescents aged 15 to 17 per 1,000 females yield the following results in 2001 to 2005 in the area: 29.7 in Cameron County; 16.3 in Clearfield County; 10.6 in Elk County; 13.8 in Jefferson County; 14.1 in Clarion County; and 19.3 in Armstrong County.
The Sinnemahoning Portage Creek is located in McKean and Cameron County and is regionally famous for its excellent trout and smallmouth bass fishing. My family has a cabin in the nearby area and my father lived in the area for his entire childhood. So needless to say this accident really hit me hard. On June 30, 2006 in a tributary of the Sinnemahoning Portage Creek a train derailed releasing 45,000 gallons of liquid sodium hydroxide (NaOH). This highly alkali chemical turned the streams pH from around 7 to 14 causing a devastating aquatic kill which in all reality sterilized the stream of all life. The damaged continued to spread as the contaminated water flowed into Driftwood Branch of Sinnemahoning Creek. In an assessment of the damage from the Sinnemahoning-Portage Creek and Driftwood Branch from the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, a total of 517,041 fish (everything from minnow to trout) were killed. Another unfortunate loss was the discovery of 36 dead Hellbenders a unique salamander that can grow to lengths up to 29 inches. The railroad company responsible for the spill paid $7,350,000 to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
http://www.fishandboat.com/water/streams/sinnemahoning/norfolk_report.pdf The Good News: Despite this fact, life rebounded from this catastrophe. On May 12, 2007 I checked the Sinnemahoning Portage Creek for macro invertebrates and was surprised to see the amount of life. Furthermore I managed to hook a native brook trout which gives evidence that fish moved from the small, unharmed tributaries like Four-mile Run and Cowley Run. I also noticed hundreds of Smallmouth Bass fingerlings which I assumed were stocked by the PA Fish & Boat Commission. Sources: http://www.sizerville.com/Train_wreck/Documents/pon_07-19-2006.pdf http://www.fishandboat.com/newsreleases/2007/norfolk.htm http://www.fishandboat.com/water/streams/sinnemahoning/norfolk_report.pdf
Tourism officials tout the draw of PA WildsThursday, March 26, 2009By Wendy B. Lynn Staff Writer--The Progress NewsDUBOIS - Tourism officials, county commissioners and representatives of various state departments gathered yesterday at the DuBois Country Club for the second annual progress report and update on the Pennsylvania Wilds Initiative. Among the speakers were Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Michael DiBeradinis, Deputy Secretary of Tourism Mickey Rowley and PA Wilds Tourism Marketing Corp. Chairman Jason Fink.The event was also held to showcase what is going on in various areas of the 12-county region. The PA Wilds is the largest block of land between New York City and Chicago open for public enjoyment and boasts 29 state parks, eight state forest districts, the Allegheny National Forest, the largest elk herd in the northeast and the darkest skies in the east at Cherry Springs State Park. Locally, the PA Wilds includes Clearfield, Elk and Jefferson counties.One big announcement was the introduction of the new PA Wilds Ombudswoman, Tataboli- ne "Ta" Brant, a Warren County native who will be helping small businesses and entrepreneurs to develop services encouraging the growth of tourism in the region. More...
Wednesday, March 25, 2009 Savvy Readers in Emporium, PA On Tuesday, March 24, 2009, I met with 14 savvy readers at the Barbara Moscato Brown Memorial Library in Emporium, PA, for two hours of discussion. All had read the book, and as a group, appreciated the attention to language, the rendering of landscapes, and the interpretation of regional heritage. One participant remarked that every word was important, and we spent some time citing examples. The attention to language in Heartwood isn’t for everyone, but this group by and large saw it as complementary to the overall aesthetic. A particularly touching comment was: “I find myself smiling as I think back on the book, even days afterward.” Another: "It's so nice to have a book that stands out from the popular material, and makes you think."
County Jobless Rate Highest Since 1982 Still ranked 66th out of 67 counties in January By Jean Snyder STAFF WRITER Fulton County's number of unemployed soared to its highest rate since April 1982 in January with an unemployment rate of 11.5 percent. According to preliminary figures released by the Department of Labor and Industry this week, unemployment was up by 1 percent over December's rate, a figure which keeps the county again in the next-to-highest unemployment position in the state. January's rate is up 1 percent over December's rate of 10.5 percent. January's statistics mark the highest rate for Fulton County in 27 years when the April 1982 rate was 27.2 percent, according to Pa. Dept. of Labor and Industry analyst Justin Fleming. Although it may be hard to believe or to remember, Fulton County's unemployment rates stayed in the 20-25 percent for most of 1982 and 1983. The seasonally adjusted data for Fulton County for January 2009 showed unemployment at 900, with a total labor force of 7,800 for the county. By comparison, the January 2008 unemployment rate for Fulton was only 6.5 percent. Fulton County has the second highest unemployment rate in the state for January and is tied with Elk County for the position. Preliminary data often differs from the final rate because, according to an L & I spokesperson, "there can be an upward or downward revision for the final rate because as more data is collected, rates are subject to change. Border counties can be particularly affected since there may be a delay in getting claims data from surrounding states." Generally, when there is a revision, it is an upward revision. The recent increases in unemployment statistics for the county reflect continued layoffs at JLG, and it is also likely that future layoffs in county industries will impact unemployment further. Fulton County's current unemployment rates are markedly higher than both the state and national rates. Pennsylvania's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate rose by sixtenths of a percentage point in January to 7.0 percent. The United States' rate rose fourtenths of a point in January to 7.6 percent. Since January 2008, Pennsylvania's rate was up 2.3 percentage points, while the U.S. rate was up 2.7 percentage points. Rankings for Fulton's neighboring counties include Franklin at number 16 with an unemployment rate of 6.8, up from a rate of 6.0 percent in December and a ranking of number 11. Bedford's ranking went from number 62 in December with an unemployment rate of 9.4 percent to number 63 in January with a 10.2 rate. Huntingdon County's rate went from 8.9 percent in December (and ranked 58) to 10 percent in January, and ranked 62. In January, Centre and Chester counties were tied for the lowest unemployment rates in the state with 5.3 percent. Cameron County again posted the state's highest unemployment rate in January at 14.9 percent, up from 13.6 percent in December. Pennsylvania's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate rose by six-tenths of a percentage point in January to 7.0 percent. The United States' rate rose four-tenths of a point in January to 7.6 percent. Since January 2008, Pennsylvania's rate was up 2.3 percentage points, while the U.S. rate was up 2.7 percentage points. Pennsylvania's seasonally adjusted total nonfarm jobs count fell by 3,500 in January to 5,745,700. The mild January drop can be attributed to the higher job losses that occurred in November and December of 2008 combined with less hiring in retail trade and educational services. With fewer jobs in those sectors, the seasonal layoffs normally experienced in January were lower than in past years. Manufacturing and construction accounted for most of January's decline with 5,100 and 2,800 jobs lost, respectively. Since January 2003, employers in the state have added 120,000 new jobs.
Posted: 1:55 pm EDT March 25, 2009Updated: 9:05 pm EDT March 25, 2009 GIBSON TOWNSHIP, Pa. -- A large brush fire in Cameron County may have been caused by a passing train, officials said. The fire started around 4 p.m. Tuesday along Route 120 in Gibson Township. Officials said the cause is still under investigation, but said it may have started when the train used its brakes and created a spark....more from WJAC-TV with VIDEO
By ERIC BONTRAGER, Greenwire Published: March 24, 2009 Two House Republicans today will push to add an amendment to the public lands omnibus that would codify the right to carry concealed weapons in national parks, less than a week after a federal judge blocked a similar proposal. ...read MORE
Rendell details furlough plan as union talks continue by CHARLES THOMPSON, Of The Patriot-News Thursday March 19, 2009, 4:06 PM
JOE HERMITT, The Patriot-News/2009 Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell delivered his budget address to a joint session of the House and Senate. Seated in back are House Speaker Keith McCall, D, Carbon, and Lt Governor Joe Scarnati, R, Jefferson. Leaders of major state government workers' unions were told today they need to come up with about $89 million in savings to help balance the state budget over the next 15 months. And if the unions don't reach agreement on how to do that by the end of the month, Gov. Ed Rendell will make it happen through a mandatory two days of unpaid leave per month for non-essential employees starting in April and running through June 2010.
Union leaders did not immediately accept that plan, and said publicly they still hope to achieve a resolution that will not require the layoff of any state employees.
"Our goal is to come up with an $85 million package of savings," said David Fillman, executive director of Council 13 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the biggest state workers' union.
"We're looking at every avenue possible, and we're hoping we can accomplish that before the end of the month."
While "Spendell" creates jobs for his political friends, and spends money on promoting the tourism values of Philadelphia, the little guys take it on the chin again.
guest editorial by former Emporium resident Maj. Darryl W. Lyon This week will recognize the sixth year of Operation Iraqi Freedom. In the coming months, the United States will draw down forces from Iraq and increase our presence in Afghanistan. This operational shift in strategy is significant, though not the only means to win the war against extremist fundamentalism. In addition to this shift, we should consider developing a liberal, monitored and fully funded immigration policy for Iraqi immigrants. Such a broad policy will help us win the war against extremist fundamentalism. In November 2006, I witnessed an amazing thing. As an Infantry company commander, I visited our company’s Military Transition Team and their counterparts in An Numaniyah, Iraq. This joint force was in the final stages of validating an Iraqi Motorized Transportation Regiment to conduct independent operations. .....read MORE
JERSEY SHORE, Lycoming County – Pennsylvania Game Commission officials today announced that 12 individuals recently were found guilty or pled guilty to illegally killing or possessing eight deer in Elk County. The charges were heard by District Judge George A. King, of Johnsonburg, Elk County. On Dec. 9, the investigation began when Elk County Wildlife Conservation Officer (WCO) Richard Bodenhorn encountered two hunters from New England hiding in the woods with two untagged antlerless deer. The hunters also did not have valid antlerless license for these deer. An investigation led to a camp in Hallton, Elk County, where 10 other hunters were discovered with three more illegal deer at the camp, and, ultimately, three additional illegal deer in a walk-in cooler in Ridgway. Evidence and admissions indicate that all of the deer had been killed in Elk County in Wildlife Management Unit (WMU) 2F, by various members of the hunting party while none of them had valid antlerless deer licenses for that WMU. Two of the dead deer were adult bucks with the antlers broken off.Philip R. Poirier II, of East Corinth, Vermont, and Shaun J. O’Keefe, of Lyme, New Hampshire, were both found guilty of three counts and ordered to pay fines and cost of $1,272. Philip R. Poirier Sr. and David A. Boyce, both of Wells River, Vermont, and David A. Poisson, of Claremont, New Hampshire, were each found guilty of two counts and ordered to pay fines and cost of $962. Five other men were all found guilty of one count and ordered to pay fines and costs of $452. These men are: Richard H. Johnson, of Ridgway, Pennsylvania; Mark I. Smith, of White River Junction, Vermont; Andrew C. Carter, of West Lebanon, New Hampshire; Michael P. Friend, of Claremont, New Hampshire; and Zachary R. Kosakowski, of South Ryegate, Vermont.One man, David H. Chase of Claremont, New Hampshire, previously pled guilty to one count and paid a fine and costs of $352. A 16-year-old juvenile, of East Corinth, Vermont, was found not guilty in the court proceedings. Each of those convicted, or having pled guilty, also face revocation of their Pennsylvania hunting and trapping privileges.WCO Bodenhorn was assisted by Cameron County WCO Wayne Hunt, Jefferson County WCO Roger Hartless, Clarion/Jefferson Counties Land Management Group Supervisor George Miller, and Elk County Deputy WCOs Ron Beeler and Andy Brigger.
RICHLAND TOWNSHIP, Pa. -- Bargaining is under way in a number of school districts across the Alleghenies, but there's also some legislation in the pipeline that would prohibit teacher strikes no matter what happens during negotiations between school boards and teacher unions. On Friday, a teachers' union representative said if the legislation passes it would not only affect teachers, but the quality of education for local students. .....read more
Small business owners and others interested in taking full advantage of the Pennsylvania Wilds marketing initiative now have a handy resource on the internet at http://www.pawildsresources.org/. According to Ta Brant, small business ombudsman for the Pennsylvania Wilds, the site includes: free online classifieds for tourism-related businesses and groups; a database of available loans, grants and technical assistance programs for tourism businesses; information on the Wilds design guide, Artisan Trail, logo use and more; maps; examples of ads that have run to promote the PA Wilds; success stories; frequently asked questions and other contributions from around the region. Pennsylvania Wilds is a state-supported tourist marketing campaign serving Potter, Cameron, McKean, Tioga, Elk, Clarion, Clearfield, Clinton, Forest, Jefferson, Lycoming and Warren counties. Brant is available at 814-757-9190 or firstname.lastname@example.org
-- --Announces $1.1 Million in Grants to Communities in 21 Counties -- Last update: 2:27 p.m. EDT March 12, 2009 HARRISBURG, Pa., March 12, 2009 /PRNewswire-USNewswire via COMTEX/ -- Communities in 21 counties will benefit from new state investments announced today by Governor Edward G. Rendell that will help to ensure vital flood protection measures are in peak working order and protecting local residents. The Governor said the state was directing $1.1 million in flood protection grants to assist with maintenance and improve operations at 28 locally-operated flood protection projects.
WASHINGTON (Dow Jones)--New York City on Monday failed before the U.S. Supreme Court to revive a lawsuit it filed against the gun industry. New York sued several gun manufacturers in 2000, arguing the companies violated a state public nuisance law with their marketing and distribution of the firearms products they sell. Among the companies sued were Beretta USA Corp., Smith & Wesson Holding Corp. (SWHC), Colt's Manufacturing Co. LLC, Sturm, Ruger & Co. (RGR) and Glock GmbH
We enjoy your works of art, and appreciate that you share them with us here. Soon I will be displaying them in a different manner on the site, so that they can be seen in the exquisite detail that they were intended to be seen. Thanks again.
HERSHEY: (Mar. 6, 2009) - Fifty members of the State Police were promoted to the rank of corporal during ceremonies held today at Founders Hall of Milton Hershey School, Commissioner Frank E. Pawlowski announced. Following are the newly promoted corporals, their previous assignments, new assignments and their year of enlistment:
Kellis B. Martz of Emporium, Cameron County; Troop F, Emporium; Troop C, Kane; 1995
Robert F. Thomas of Morrisdale, Clearfield County; Troop G, Philipsburg; Troop F, Emporium; 1994;
A former civil engineer with the state is facing criminal charges after a company received a no-bid emergency contract for repairs to the Kinzua Bridge. Attorney General Tom Corbett says 61-year-old James Eppely of Halifax was the manager for the project to repair the bridge – before it was damaged by a tornado in 2003 – and awarded a contract to a company that provided Eppley and his wife with an all-expenses-paid trip to London, England, worth nearly $5,000. He didn't report the trip to the state or his superviors at DCNR. Eppley is charged with a felony count of conflict of interest, tampering with public records and unsworn falsification. He's scheduled for a preliminary hearing Monday in Harrisburg. For more on this story, visit the 1490 NewsBlog
RIDGWAY, Pa. - Growing up in a small town in Elk County, Chris Squires could rely on this truth: He would always be able to land a job in one of the dozens of thriving manufacturing plants in the region. But the nation's sharp economic downturn has shaken that once-ironclad conviction. Those jobs are quickly disappearing in his hometown, where most of the factories produce parts for the hard-hit auto industry - and his was among them. "I always thought that if you had a factory job, you were set," said Squires, 35, who nine months ago lost his job as a laborer at a plant that works with powdered metals. "But anymore, it's sink or swim." And not just for Squires. Elk County has the distinction of having lost the highest percentage of jobs in Pennsylvania in the second half of 2008, according to the state Department of Labor and Industry. The sparsely populated county at the foot of the National Allegheny Forest in northern Pennsylvania has become ground zero for the state's growing problem of rising unemployment. The county lost 500 jobs between last May and November, accounting for a startling 36 percent increase in the number of unemployed residents. Its 7.7 percent unemployment rate is higher than the state and national rates. Neighboring Cameron County lost the second-highest percentage of jobs in that same time period. Philadelphia ranked 48th out of 67 counties. The dire statistics surprise even Elk County residents, who have long prided themselves on an entrepreneurial spirit that helped build a homegrown powdered-metal manufacturing base during the last century. Today there are about 50 plants, ranging from national corporations to family-owned businesses. "It's like a sickness," said Matt Quesenberry, director of the county Planning Department. "You used to hear about unemployment, but it was always somewhere else. Suddenly, it's happening to your neighbors, your friends, your family." Yet it is no mystery why it is happening in Elk County. The biggest industry here is manufacturing - and it is king, employing roughly 40 percent of the county's population of 35,000, according to county officials. And of those in manufacturing, the majority work for powdered-metals plants or related businesses. The area's powdered-metal plants use heat and pressure to turn finely powdered metal into solid parts, such as connecting rods and transmission gears, primarily for the automotive industry. And there lies the problem: The fortunes of the powdered-metal industry rise and fall with the health of the auto industry, which has experienced record drops in sales. "Think about it," said Jason Gabler, an industry representative on the region's planning and development commission. "Every American car has about 40 to 50 pounds of powdered-metal parts. If the auto industry is not doing well, we aren't doing well." In Elk County, the vast majority of powdered-metal plants produce parts for the auto industry, said Jim Aiello, vice-president of St. Marys Pressed Metals Inc., a small powdered-metals plant in Ridgway. Many of the larger companies, which have had the bulk of layoffs, declined to be interviewed. One, Metaldyne Corp., has laid off 163 employees since August, but planned to rehire 10 people this week, the company said. Metaldyne is hardly the only one suffering. County residents say many plants are collapsing shifts and reducing hours, leading to a large-scale shedding of employees. Aiello's business, founded by his father in the late 1960s, has fared relatively well - there have been no layoffs. But that is because it supplies parts to medical-equipment manufacturers, air-conditioning companies, and commercial laundries, among others. Still, like almost everyone in town, Aiello can name a half-dozen people who have lost their jobs. And the unemployed are having a hard time reentering the workforce, because they've done only factory work for most of their lives and job opportunities outside powdered metals are scarce in the county. "To find something else around here, it's tough," said Elk County resident Bernie Greenawalt, 43, who was laid off from his die-setter job at a powdered-metals plant two weeks ago. Like many other plant workers, Greenawalt made a decent wage: $18 an hour, plus occasional overtime. And he wants back in. "My kids ask me all the time: 'Dad, what are you going to do?' There's not much I can do," said Greenawalt, who is collecting state unemployment benefits and has only three weeks of health insurance left. "I'd love to get back into powdered metals - you know, work for a small, locally owned plant." Powdered metals isn't the only game in town. There are other employers in the region, including logging, health care, and some retail. But it is the dominant industry. The concentration of people employed in powdered metals in Elk and its surrounding counties is 600 times greater than the concentration anywhere else in the United States, according to Rose Baker and David Passmore, professors of workforce, education and development at Pennsylvania State University who are studying how competitive that industry is in Elk County. And the powdered-metals industry has a long, proud history in the county, which was named after the elk that used to roam there in large numbers. In the early 1900s, entrepreneurial Elk County residents began using powdered carbon to make graphite brushes for electrical motors. That technology soon developed to include the use of powdered metals. The industry began to thrive as World War II approached, with local companies using powdered metals to make self-lubricating metal bearings. "There was so much business out there, you couldn't keep up with it," said Norbert Arnold, 88, a retired Elk County chemist and metallurgist, adding that many companies produced parts for aircraft. After the war, powdered-metal workers began leaving the larger companies and launching smaller ones of their own. That is why, today, there are so many powdered-metal plants in the county. "There was - and is - a real cluster of energetic and industrious people here," said Elk County Commissioner Daniel R. Freeburg. "To this day, someone will be working in a plant and they'll have a better idea of how to do something, so they'll leave and start something of their own. There's a whole tradition of that in Elk County." Squires, the former powdered-metals plant laborer who was laid off, has had enough of tradition. When he lost his job last May, after years of working in powdered metals, he was initially scared about being able to find work. But as the reality sank in, he began to see it as an opportunity to change his life. He and his girlfriend moved to Exton, where he is pursuing a nursing degree. They had a baby boy, Keegan, last week. "I'm done with factory life," said Squires. "There's no stability there anymore. I'm better off doing something completely different with my life."
Six health clinics in Pennsylvania will receive more than $6.7 million in grant money from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the White House announced Monday. According to a statement from the White House, the money will go toward helping people in need, many without health insurance, obtain access to health care services. The funds will create 295 jobs, the White House said. "We have acted quickly to put Recovery Act dollars to good use in communities across America," President Barack Obama said in a statement. "The construction and expansion of health centers will help create thousands of new jobs and provide critical assistance to Americans who have lost their job and their health care. Health centers, primary care and prevention are at the heart of my plan for an affordable, accessible health care system." The clinics included are Community Health Clinic in New Kensington, North Side Christian Services in Pittsburgh's North Side neighborhood, Community Medical Services in New Kensington, Chespenn Health Services in Chester, Covenant House in Philadelphia and Keystone Rural Health Consortia in Emporium. The grants, which are administered by the Department of Health and Human Services, are part of $155 million to be given to 126 health centers across the country.
My name is Randy Frey. I live in a beautiful little town called Emporium, in northcentral Pennsylvania. I have a large family, and I like it that way. I am currently a member of the Emporium Borough Council, publisher of www.cameroncountypa.net, and active in local political and social events. I am an avid amatuer photographer,and I enjoy hunting, fishing, motorcycles,and spending time with my family