J&J Auto Coudersport

J&J Auto Coudersport

J&J Auto Coudersport

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Stoltz Of St. Mary's

Coudersport Free Methodist Church

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Saturday, January 5, 2008

License Plate Stolen On Peet Brook

COUDERSPORT -- State police are seeking information about the theft of a license plate that took place between 8 a.m. Tuesday and 11 a.m. Friday along Peet Brook Road.

The plate bears Pennsylvania registration YSF2170 with disabled endorsements and belongs to John Lee Cook, 50, who lives along Peet Brook Road.

The theft took place along state Route 49, approximately five miles north of Allegany Township in Potter County, police said.

Anyone with information is asked to contact police at (814) 274-8690. Star Gazette

Six Shot In Williamsport Friday Night

Six people were shot late Friday night within a few city blocks in Williamsport, PA. Officials there did not expect one of the victims to live. There are no suspects.

Friday, January 4, 2008

PA State Websites Hacked By Chinese

WESB News: 01/04/08 - Hackers Hit PA Government Web Site

Hackers from China infiltrated Pennsylvania's state government Web site Friday, but officials say they haven't found evidence of any damage.

Four departments had security problems with their Web pages, leading to a decision to take nearly all of the state's Internet site down on Friday morning.

Office of Administration spokeswoman Mia DeVane says there's no reason to think anyone's personal data was compromised or any major damage took place.

The problems arose at pages for the labor and industry, education and military and veterans affairs departments, as well as the state lottery. By late afternoon, nearly all of the state's site was back online.

Police Reports Via WFRM News

State police are probing a case of identity theft victimizing an elderly Shinglehouse woman. Sometime in late November, thieves obtained the checking account number belonging to 89 year old Fae Beam and used it to order $99 worth of magazines from Budget Media.

Kane-based state police are asking area residents and camp owners who may have been victimized by a roofing contractor to contact them. Authorities say they are investigating Christopher Stratton, 33 operating as Roof Pro + Home Improvements for deceptive or fraudulent business practices. Anyone who feels they have been victimized by the suspect is asked to call the Kane Barracks at 778-5555,

Dow Down To 12,800.--Jobs/Recession Fears Blamed

DJIA12800.18 -256.54 (-1.96%)
NASDAQ2504.65 -98.03 (-3.77%)
NYSE9432.03 -223.97 (-2.32%)
S&P 5001411.63 -35.53 (-2.46%)

Fire Destroys 40 Buildings In Coudersport

Coudersport, PA Fire, Mar 1880

A special dispatch to the Bradford (Penn.) Era from Coudersport, Potter County, Penn., says:

"At 3 o'clock this afternoon a fire broke out in a rear room of the Stebbins Brothers' establishment, used for storing oil. The town is without water supply or fire apparatus, and nothing could be done to check the fire, which spread rapidly. By 5 o'clock every store, dwelling and place of business in town, with the exception of the Court-house, Baker's Hotel, Mann's insurance office, and the Journal printing office, was in ashes. About 40 buildings were destroyed, and the loss is estimated at $200,000, on which there is an insurance of $75,000. No lives are reported lost." A later dispatch from Coudersport confirms the report of the burning of all the business places, and reduces the number of dwellings destroyed. The latter were mostly isolated from the business centre.

The New York Times, New York, NY 19 May 1880 See this and other disaster stories on the web at GenDisasters.

Stocks Retreat On Recession Fears

DJIA12838.06 -218.66 (-1.67%)
NASDAQ2514.09 -88.59 (-3.40%)
NYSE9456.82 -199.18 (-2.06%)
S&P 5001417.45 -29.71 (-2.05%)

Startup Promises Free Wireless Web


By MICHAEL LIEDTKE
The Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO - A Silicon Valley startup is promising to blanket San Francisco with free wireless Internet service, reviving a crusade that crumbled last year after two much larger companies, EarthLink Inc. and Google Inc., scrapped their plans to build a high-speed network for Web surfing.

Meraki Networks Inc., whose financial backers include Google, hopes to complete the ambitious project within the next year by persuading thousands of San Francisco residents to set up free radio repeaters on their rooftops and in their homes. The 21-month-old company is to announce its plans Friday.

Since starting its tests about six months ago, Meraki has given away about 500 repeaters , enough to provide high-speed wireless, or Wi-Fi, access to about 40,000 people in San Francisco neighborhoods covering a roughly 2-square-mile area. Read the complete story in this AP article in the Philly Burbs.

Area Obituaries

PORT ALLEGANY — Richard D. Bosworth, 72, of Two Mile Road, died Friday (Jan. 4, 2008) in the Robert Packer Hospital, Sayre. Friends will be received from 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m. Sunday at the Switzer Funeral Home. Funeral arrangements are incomplete and will be announced with a complete obituary.

COUDERSPORT — Morris W. Oviatt, 77, of Coudersport, died Friday (Jan. 4, 2008) at Bradford Regional Medical Center. Arrangements are under the direction of the Fickinger Funeral Home.

DUKE CENTER — Jane M. Bennett, 56, of Kansas Branch Road died Wednesday (Jan. 2, 2007) in Bradford Regional Medical Center following an apparent heart attack. Funeral arrangements are under the direction of the Frame Funeral Home, Eldred.

EMPORIUM — Melissa R. Marshall, 38, of West Second Street died Tuesday (Jan. 1, 2008) in Elk Regional Health Center, St. Marys. Funeral arrangements are under the direction of the Coppersmith-Condon Funeral Home, Emporium.

EMPORIUM — Robert F. “Pap” Vogel, 74, of 3729 Rich Valley Road, died Thursday morning (Jan. 3, 2007) in Elk Haven Nursing Home, St. Marys. The Barnett Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.

GURNSEY, Harry C. (Chuck) 64, of Tioga, PA, formerly of Galeton, PA, passed away Thursday, January 3, 2008, at the Veterans Administration Medical Center, Bath, NY. Born in Troupsburg, NY March 22, 1943, he was the son of Harry O. and Margaret E. Daniels Gurnsey. He was retired from the Park Service at Lyman Run State Park and served in the US Army from 1963-1965. He was preceded in death by his wife, Lorraine Baker Gurnsey. He is survived by his sisters, Pearl I. Drake and Dawn Mertsock of Painted Post, Shirley A. (Gerald) O'Dell of Tioga, PA, and Judy S. Smith of Addison, NY; his brother, Gary L. Gurnsey of Ferndale, NY. It was Chuck's wishes there be no visitation or funeral. Burial will be in Potter Brook Cemetery. H.P. Smith & Son, Inc. Funeral Home of 1607 Main St., Woodhull, NY is assisting the family.

COUDERSPORT — Harold D. Swank, 88, of Austin, died Tuesday (Jan. 1, 2008) in Charles Cole Memorial Hospital, Coudersport. Arrangements are under the direction of the Fickinger Funeral Home.

SHINGLEHOUSE, Pa. - Louis D. "Louie" Antonioli, 72, a longtime resident of Shinglehouse, died Tuesday (Jan. 1, 2008) at the Bradford Regional Medical Center after a short illness.

COUDERSPORT — Blake W. T. Dunn, 10, of Coudersport, died Tuesday (Jan. 1, 2008) as a result of an accidental drowning in Coudersport. Arrangements are under the direction of the Fickinger Funeral Home of Coudersport.

NAPLES, Fla. -Valera Maxine Ziski Fessenden Weimer, 92, passed away peacefully on Friday (Dec. 28, 2007) in Naples, Fla. surrounded by family and after having received many visits and phone calls from friends and relatives. She had lived independently until suffering a severe stroke a few days earlier.

The first child of Carroll Bane and Emma Ziski Fessenden, Valera was born on July 21, 1915, in Roulette, Pa. After graduating from Roulette High School and Olean Business Institute, she worked at the North Penn Gas Company in Coudersport, Pa. until her marriage. On Feb. 2, 1938, she was united in holy matrimony at the Methodist Parsonage in Wellsville, N.Y. to Glade Weimer.
After raising her children, she began working for George B. Harris, Jr., attorney-at-law, in 1951 and was an excellent legal secretary until her retirement in 1980.
During her early adult life, she and her husband enjoyed playing bridge and traveling on family vacations extensively in the United States and Canada. She loved square dancing and was active doing so well into her 80’s. After retiring, Valera and Glade continued to travel, making several trips outside the United States. After her husband’s death in 2003, Val was inducted into the Bonita Springs Lions Club, where she epitomized the Lions’ motto, We Serve, by working one day a week at their thrift store, right up to her passing. She was a member of the United Methodist Church in Stannards, N.Y., where she played piano and organ at services for a number of years. Throughout her life, she regularly attended religious services wherever she was living.
Family and friends were important to her throughout her life and she kept in touch with many family members, and routinely attended family reunions.
In addition to her husband of 65 years, Valera was predeceased by her three brothers, Robert, Russell and Richard.
She is survived by her sister, Virginia Petrie, of Wellsville; her two sons, Philip (Diana) of Wellsville and Dennis (Kathleen) of Fort Myers Beach; four grandchildren, Dennis (Jennifer), William (Jennifer), Christopher and Heather; five great-grandchildren, Dallas, Adriyana, Morgan, Annika and Nathaniel; as well as several nieces and nephews; sister-in-law, Almira “Dolly” Fessenden of Boise, Idaho; and cousin, Joseph Owens, of New Jersey. In addition to her family, she will be missed by her many friends, but will always be remembered for her kind and gentle nature.
A memorial service will be held at a later date in the Wellsville area. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations in Valera’s memory be made to the Stannards Methodist Church or Hospice Center, or Lions Club in the donor's local area.

Berrettini Severely Injured In Afghanistan Explosion

WESB News: 01/04/08 - Port Allegany Soldier Injured in Afganistan

Richard Berrettini of Port Allegany has been severely injured in Afghanistan.

Berettini, an Army Reserve member, is the school nurse at Port Allegany Elementary School.

Reports say Berrettini was in a convoy that was hit by an explosion on Wednesday. He received a broken leg and burns over 35 percent of his body. Berrettini was flown to Ramstein Air Base in Germany.

He was called to active duty last February. A more complete article by Martha Knight appears in today's Bradford Era.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Fire Chief Dubots Issues Press Release On Drowning

Coudersport Volunteer Fire Chief Andy Dubots has issued an official press release regarding the search for 10 year old Blake Dunn who drowned Monday night in Othmer’s Pond off of Ross Street.

Chief Dubots told WFRM there was some confusion about who all was involved and he wanted to set the record straight.

In his release, the chief said the fire department was summoned shortly after midnight to help look for the boy who had last been seen shortly after 5:00 p.m.

He said rescuers located a snow shovel and garments believed to have belonged to the boy and that department personnel spotted the body just beneath the surface of the water in an area where the ice is thinnest due to a spring which feeds from the adjacent hillside.

Chief Dubots said rescuers got a boat to retrieve the body as the water temperatures prohibited them from entering the pond safely.

Potter County Coroner Kevin Dusenbury who was also on site, pronounced the youth dead at the scene and determined the death was due to drowning.

The chief said members of the Harrison Valley Fire Department Dive Team were standing by in the event that a boat rescue could not be completed.

Police Release Details In Potter County Burglaries

Star Gazette
COUDERSPORT – Four Potter County men have been arrested in connection with the burglaries of several seasonal camps and a scrap yard there last year and the theft of catalytic converters from vehicles in several Potter County townships.


A fifth man was arrested on related and unrelated charges.

State police at Coudersport charged:

  • Adam P. Johnson, 24, of Bingham Center Road, North Bingham, with five felony counts each of burglary and criminal trespass, one felony count of theft, five misdemeanor counts of theft, one misdemeanor count of criminal mischief, one summary count of criminal mischief and one summary count of criminal trespass.

  • Raymond C. Tomb, 23, of Hickox-Ulysses Road, Genesee, with three felony counts each of burglary and criminal trespass, two misdemeanor counts of theft, one misdemeanor count of criminal mischief and one summary count of theft.

  • Cory R. Hurd, 24, of Whitney Creek Road, Coudersport, with three felony counts each of burglary, theft and criminal trespass, one felony count of receiving stolen property, one misdemeanor count of receiving stolen property, two misdemeanor counts of theft, one misdemeanor count of criminal mischief, one summary count of criminal mischief and one summary count of criminal trespass.

  • Edward H. Sheehy, 29, of Whitney Creek Road., Coudersport, with one misdemeanor count each of theft and receiving stolen property.

  • Dustin Kio, 21, of 105 Wintergreen Road, Genesee, with a felony count of receiving stolen property and a misdemeanor count of DUI.

    The charges were filed in connection with burglaries of season camps in northcentral Potter County, including Genesee, Oswayo, Allegany and Hebron townships. The burglaries occurred between May 2007 and Oct. 4, 2007. The camps are owned by David K. Houk of Lancaster, S.C.; Martin H. Groff of Ocean City, Md.; Ronald Willoughby of Shinglehouse; Gerald C. Hart of Wellsville, N.Y.; Ed Easton of Coudersport and Samuel Hartlaub of Gettysburg and a scrap yard owned by Charles Prentice of Shinglehouse.

    Johnson, Hurd and Tomb became suspects in camp burglaries as the result of an investigation of the theft of catalytic converters in the Wellsville area, state police said. During that investigation, Lt. Matthew Heller of the Alfred University Police contacted a salvage dealer near Shinglehouse who said he often bought converters and copper tubing from Johnson.

    The converters are covered with valuable metallic coatings that salvage dealers remove and re-sell, police said.

    Johnson, Hurd and Tomb were arrested on October for the theft of converters from vehicles on the Alfred campus.

    As the investigation proceeded, police discovered that Johnson, Hurd and Tomb had broken into several camps and stolen copper, ripping it from walls and basement and selling it for scrap, police said.

    Troopers also said Johnson, Hurd and Sheehy had stolen catalytic converters from Prentice Scrap Yard in Genesee. Several firearms were stolen from the Hartlaub camp.

    Johnson and Tomb are currently in Allegany County Jail in connection with the converter thefts from Alfred. Pennsylvania State police faxed warrants there to serve as detainers.

    Troopers arrested Hurd on Dec. 21. He was arraigned by Shinglehouse Magisterial District Judge Barbara Easton, who sent him to the Potter County Jail when he failed to post $40,000 bail. Police arrested Sheehy on Dec. 26. Easton arraigned him and sent him to the jail when he failed to post $5,000 bail.

    During the investigation, Kio became a suspect in connection with the purchase of guns stolen from the Hartlaub camp, police said. On Dec. 23, Kio appeared at state police barracks at Denton Hill to claim a shotgun that had been used in a reckless endangerment incident. Police said the firearm was one of those stolen from the Hartlaub camp.

    While at the barracks, Kio displayed when police termed “suspicious behavior consistent with someone under the influence of drug(s).” Police arrested him for DUI and found several prescription medicines on him when he was searched.
    Police also charged him with receiving stolen property, and he was arraigned by Galeton Magisterial District Judge Delores Bristol, who released him on $5,000 unsecured bail. “Unsecured” means Kio did not have to post bail, but could be charged $5,000 if he fails to appear for court as scheduled.

    Police later served a search warrant at Kio’s home and confiscated drug paraphernalia, small amounts of marijuana and prescription drugs and several firearms that may be involved in other incidents currently under investigation by troopers at Denton Hill.

    Additional charges will be filed, police said.
  • PA Farm Show Starts Saturday

    Presenting the 2008 Farm Show - January 5-12
    frontpagephoto.jpg
    The face of Pennsylvania agriculture is changing, and the 2008 Farm Show is poised to showcase the ways our industry is adapting. This year's theme - Presenting Pennsylvania Agriculture, New Ideas for New Markets - sets the stage for sharing the exciting opportunities that lie ahead for all Pennsylvanians.
    One of the most celebrated agricultural events in the country, the Farm Show is set for Jan. 5-12. More than 400,000 people will visit the show to see nearly 8,000 animals, 10,000 competitive exhibits and 270 commercial exhibitors. In addition, exhibitors can hope to tap into more than $465,000 in prize money.
    New and returning events and exhibits promise to fit the interests of all visitors, including the PA Preferred Best Chef in Pennsylvania Contest and the ever-popular Sheep-to-Shawl contest. In addition, the latest in Pennsylvania's renewable energy efforts will be on display at the energy exhibit. Visitors can also sample some of the state's most delicious foods at the Farm Show!
    As always, our youth will take center stage when exhibiting their dairy and livestock animals, and by participating in contests and designing educational displays.
    Each year, the Farm Show expands its offerings to meet the changing times. Plans for the 2008 show are well underway to meet the expectations of each and every visitor. Mark your calendar!

    Potter County Soup Positive For Botulism/Woman Sickened

    BREAKING NEWS:
    WESB News: 01/03/08 - Botulism Found in Potter County Soup


    Soup from a Potter County restaurant has tested positive for botulism, and state health department officials say its other canned products should not be consumed because of possible contamination.

    Anyone with canned products from Schumacher's Inn in Austin should save the cans and contact the department.

    The state got involved after a 43-year-old woman — and chicken soup she bought from the restaurant — tested positive for botulism.

    Department spokeswoman Stacy Kreideman on Thursday declined to release the name and condition of the woman, who was transported to a hospital after eating some of the soup on Dec. 19, however, the Potter Leader Enterprise lists the name of the woman as Vera Valenti of Austin. They were unsuccessful in obtaining a report on her condition.

    The state Agriculture Department, which oversees food safety, quarantined the products and ordered the restaurant not to sell or give away the cans. It was unclear how many cans may be involved. The state said it did not want people to open or throw away the cans, so the food could be tested.

    PRESS RELEASE:
    January 3, 2008

    HEALTH DEPARTMENT WARNS CONSUMERS OF HOME-CANNED SOUP LINKED TO POTTER COUNTY RESTAURANT



    HARRISBURG – Consumers who purchased or were given “home-canned” soup or other canned products from the Schumacher’s Inn in Austin, Potter County, should not open the jars due to the risk of Botulism contamination, Health Secretary Dr. Calvin B. Johnson said today.
    Consumers who obtained canned products from the restaurant should immediately contact the Pennsylvania Department of Health, toll-free, at 877-PA-HEALTH.
    The state became involved after a 43-year-old Potter County woman, and some of the chicken soup she said she purchased from the restaurant, tested positive for botulism.

    The Department of Agriculture, which oversees food safety, has quarantined the product and ordered the restaurant not to sell or give away any canned product. Any soup or other products canned by this restaurant should be submitted to the state for testing.

    Foodborne botulism is a rare but very serious paralytic illness caused by consuming foods that contain botulinum toxin, a nerve toxin that is produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. It usually occurs after consuming items that were improperly canned, allowing the formation of botulinum toxin in the product. The toxin sometimes causes the lid of the can or jar to swell, but this is not always the case.
    Botulism, which thrives in oxygen-free environments, like those produced in canning, may have been introduced through improper canning techniques. Chicken soup is considered a potentially hazardous food when canned and should only be produced by commercially-licensed kitchens.
    In individuals, symptoms of botulism can include nausea, vomiting, and intestinal problems; followed by fatigue, blurred vision, difficulty swallowing and dry mouth. If untreated, the illness may progress from head to toe, with paralysis of the face, arms, breathing muscles, trunk and legs. Symptoms generally begin 18 to 36 hours after eating a contaminated food, but they can occur as early as 6 hours or as late as 10 days.
    For more information, visit www.health.state.pa.us.

    A restaurant inspection report on 5/18/07 indicated several violations and listed the Inn as out of compliance, however the Inn is currently listed as being in compliance on the Web Site.

    Police Reports Via WFRM News

    Chief Dubots said that shortly after returning to the fire hall from Othmer’s Pond, volunteers were summoned to a one-vehicle crash at the intersection of Route 6 and Vine Street.

    A pick up truck owned by John and Susan Hetrick of Coudersport had gone off of Route 6, while headed east, struck a snow bank and rolled onto the passenger side. However, no one was inside the truck when emergency services personnel arrived on the scene.

    Dubots said the truck was uprighted and after volunteers left the scene, the truck was driven from that location by an unknown person.

    Coudersport Borough police who investigated, told WFRM the truck was driven by 23 year old Zachary Hetrick who was apparently unhurt but is now facing charges.

    Christopher Wilkinson, 18, of Woodlawn Avenue Coudersport is being charged with underage possession of alcohol.

    State police say Wilkinson was a passenger in a vehicle which was pulled over early New Year’s Morning in the village of Roulette for summary traffic violations and when they interviewed the occupants, they allegedly found Wilkinson had consumed alcohol and is under the age of 21.

    Gerri Miller----You Were Missed!!

    One doesn't realize just what a great job WFRM News Director Gerri Miller does with area news until something happens and it's not there.

    Gerri faithfully maintains the WFRM Website supplying news and events from the entire area.

    Gerri was on vacation last week, and her replacements were not able to post to the website.

    Glad you're back Gerri. Potter County is a better place because of you!!

    Wellsboro Railroads Get New Life

    By George Osgood, Star Gazette Wellsboro Bureau

    WELLSBORO — The Wellsboro area’s freight and excursion railroads were reborn on Thursday, with the promise of increased activity, new jobs and even the possible expansion of the Tioga Central tourist train to Corning.


    “My aspiration is to make this succeed,’ said A.T. “Tom” Myles, president and chief executive officer of the Wellsboro and Corning Railroad. “That is the goal.”

    Myles is chief executive officer of Myles Group, which operates a fleet of more than 230 rail cars and ships 6,000 carloads of bulk products annually. On Jan. 1, Myles Group, based in Exton, Pa., just outside Philadelphia, took over ownership and operation of the Wellsboro and Corning Railroad, which provides freight service to the area, and Tioga Central Railroad, which provides tourist excursions from Wellsboro Junction.

    About 20 elected officials, community development workers, railroaders and others gathered in frigid weather Thursday morning at the Osram-Sylvania plant and watched Tom Myles break “an environmentally friendly” bottle of champagne on the front of a Wellsboro and Corning engine.

    “We intend to do a great job here,” he said. “I see good employment. I see good business coming. I see us succeeding. We have been approached by several (new) business customers recently.

    See the complete story with pictures by George Osgood in the Star Gazette.

    Potter/Cameron Counties Top Unemployment List

    The Potter County LMA had the highest unemployment rate in the region at 5.6 percent, followed by Cameron County at 5 percent.

    The November jobless rate for the DuBois MSA was 4.9 percent, the same as in October. The rate was 5.8 percent in November 2006.

    November's jobless rate in the St. Mary's MSA was 4.2 percent, down from 4.3 percent in October. The rate in November 2006 was 5.1 percent.

    Jefferson County's jobless rate was 4.3 percent in November, the same as in October. Last November, the rate was 4.8 percent.

    The State College MSA had the lowest unemployment rate for November at 3.1 percent.
    Pennsylvania's unemployment rate for November was 3.9 percent. The U.S. jobless rate stood at 4.5 percent.

    Police Solve Potter County Burglary Spree

    WESB News: 01/03/08 - Arrests Made for String of Burglaries

    Five people have been arrested in connection with burglaries at six camps throughout Potter County.

    24-year-old Adam Johnson of North Bingham is charged with 5 counts of burglary and related charges; 24-year-old Cory Hurd of Coudersport and 23-year-old Raymond Tomb of Genesee are each charged with three counts of burglary and related charges.

    Johnson and Tomb are in jail in Allegany County, New York, for allegedly stealing catalytic converters in the Wellsville area.

    29-year-old Edward Sheehy of Coudersport is also in Potter County Jail on charges of theft and receiving stolen property.

    In addition to a charge of receiving stolen property, 21-year-old Dustin Kio of Genesee was charged with several drug offenses. During a search warrant of his home, police found several firearms possibly involved in other incidents currently under investigation.

    This investigation is continuing and police expect to file more charges.

    Local Crude Fetching Highest Price Ever

    WESB News: 01/03/08 - ARG Paying Record-High Price for Oil

    While the price of light sweet crude oil has already hit 100 dollars a barrel, the price of Penn Grade crude is headed in that direction, too.

    American Refining Group has raised its price per barrel to 94-50. That's up 3 dollars and 50 cents from Wednesday, and is the highest price ever paid by A-R-G. The previous high price was 93-25 in the last week of November. A year ago, A-R-G was paying 58 dollars a barrel.

    A rise in oil prices, usually means a rise in gas prices. Thursday is no exception. The average price in Bradford has jumped 11 cents and is now 3-25 per gallon.

    Congressman John Peterson Not Running Again

    WESB News: 01/03/08 - Peterson Won't Seek Re-Election to House

    Congressman John Peterson has decided not to seek re-election to the U.S. House of Representatives.

    Peterson says he made the decision after a great deal of consideration and discussion with his family over the Christmas holiday. He says it was not an easy decision, but there is some comfort in knowing that his work in Washington on such issues as rural health, energy security and economic security for the region and State in preventing the tolling of I-80, are on the right track and continued public education and support will bring about the right solutions.

    The 69-year-old lawmaker spent seven years on the Pleasantville Borough Council and nearly 20 years in the Pennsylvania Legislature before his election to the House in 1996. Peterson handily won his congressional races with at least 60 percent of the vote.

    Go HERE to see Peterson's complete news release.


    Area Obituaries

    COUDERSPORT — Harold D. Swank, 88, of Austin, died Tuesday (Jan. 1, 2008) in Charles Cole Memorial Hospital, Coudersport. Arrangements are under the direction of the Fickinger Funeral Home.

    SHINGLEHOUSE, Pa. - Louis D. "Louie" Antonioli, 72, a longtime resident of Shinglehouse, died Tuesday (Jan. 1, 2008) at the Bradford Regional Medical Center after a short illness.

    COUDERSPORT — Blake W. T. Dunn, 10, of Coudersport, died Tuesday (Jan. 1, 2008) as a result of an accidental drowning in Coudersport. Arrangements are under the direction of the Fickinger Funeral Home of Coudersport.

    NAPLES, Fla. -Valera Maxine Ziski Fessenden Weimer, 92, passed away peacefully on Friday (Dec. 28, 2007) in Naples, Fla. surrounded by family and after having received many visits and phone calls from friends and relatives. She had lived independently until suffering a severe stroke a few days earlier.

    The first child of Carroll Bane and Emma Ziski Fessenden, Valera was born on July 21, 1915, in Roulette, Pa. After graduating from Roulette High School and Olean Business Institute, she worked at the North Penn Gas Company in Coudersport, Pa. until her marriage. On Feb. 2, 1938, she was united in holy matrimony at the Methodist Parsonage in Wellsville, N.Y. to Glade Weimer.
    After raising her children, she began working for George B. Harris, Jr., attorney-at-law, in 1951 and was an excellent legal secretary until her retirement in 1980.
    During her early adult life, she and her husband enjoyed playing bridge and traveling on family vacations extensively in the United States and Canada. She loved square dancing and was active doing so well into her 80’s. After retiring, Valera and Glade continued to travel, making several trips outside the United States. After her husband’s death in 2003, Val was inducted into the Bonita Springs Lions Club, where she epitomized the Lions’ motto, We Serve, by working one day a week at their thrift store, right up to her passing. She was a member of the United Methodist Church in Stannards, N.Y., where she played piano and organ at services for a number of years. Throughout her life, she regularly attended religious services wherever she was living.
    Family and friends were important to her throughout her life and she kept in touch with many family members, and routinely attended family reunions.
    In addition to her husband of 65 years, Valera was predeceased by her three brothers, Robert, Russell and Richard.
    She is survived by her sister, Virginia Petrie, of Wellsville; her two sons, Philip (Diana) of Wellsville and Dennis (Kathleen) of Fort Myers Beach; four grandchildren, Dennis (Jennifer), William (Jennifer), Christopher and Heather; five great-grandchildren, Dallas, Adriyana, Morgan, Annika and Nathaniel; as well as several nieces and nephews; sister-in-law, Almira “Dolly” Fessenden of Boise, Idaho; and cousin, Joseph Owens, of New Jersey. In addition to her family, she will be missed by her many friends, but will always be remembered for her kind and gentle nature.
    A memorial service will be held at a later date in the Wellsville area. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations in Valera’s memory be made to the Stannards Methodist Church or Hospice Center, or Lions Club in the donor's local area.

    ANDREWS SETTLEMENT, Pa. -Marjorie T. Burnett, 87, of Andrews Settlement died Saturday (Dec. 29, 2007) in her home.Born Oct. 8, 1920, in Titusville, N.Y., she was the daughter of Claude Turner and Ruth Scoville Turner Conable. On April 23, 1981, in Coudersport, she married Ernest R. Burnett, who predeceased her on Aug. 23, 2007.She owned and operated the Speedtown Laundry & Dry Cleaning Center in Wellsville, N.Y. for several years. She was a member of the Andrews Settlement Union Church.Surviving are two sons, Thomas (Jean) Frank of Platteville, Colo. and Richard (Brenda) Frank of Wilcox, Ariz,; four grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren. In addition to her husband, she was predeceased by a brother, Wayne C. Turner. Friends called Tuesday (Jan. 1, 2008) at the Olney Funeral Home & Cremation Service, Ulysses, where funeral services were held at 11 a.m. Wednesday. The Rev. Robert W. Terricciano Jr. officiated. Burial was in Genesee Cemetery.Memorials may be made to the Andrews Settlement Union Church, 2224 Peet Brook Road, Genesee, PA 16923.

    Natural Gas Goes Up Again

    WESB News: 01/02/08 - National Fuel Asks PUC for Rate Increase

    National Fuel Gas is projecting a 2 point 2 increase in gas bills starting in August. That means the bill of an average customer would increase from 125-50 per month to 128-23.

    Nancy Taylor of National Fuel says this is just a forecast for prices, and must be reviewed and approved by the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission before becoming effective.

    She adds that the forecast will be reviewed again in the coming months and may be adjusted to further reflect actual and more current market prices.

    Wednesday, January 2, 2008

    WFRM Website Back In Business

    WFRM's Gerri Miller was on vacation last week and although the news was written, no one knew how to post it to the website. She's back and you can catch up on the stories you missed by going to the archives.

    Market Reacts To Cold Weather In Florida

    DJIA13043.96 -220.86 (-1.67%)
    NASDAQ2609.63 -42.65 (-1.61%)
    NYSE9647.50 -92.82 (-0.95%)
    S&P 5001447.16 -21.20 (-1.44%)

    Body May Be Missing Sykesville Woman

    WESB News: 01/02/08 - Remains Could Be Joey Lynn Offutt

    State police are trying to determine if skeletal remains found in Somerset County last week are Joey Lynn Offutt, the 33-year-old Sykesville woman who's been missing for six months.

    Authorities say the body bears a resemblance to Offutt. She's been missing since July 12 after a fire destroyed her house a killed a baby believed to be her 6-week-old son. Her car, bearing a Virginia license plate, was discovered a few days later in State College.

    The remains are being studied by the Applied Forensic Sciences Department at Mercyhurst College in Erie. Authorities say early indications are that foul play was not involved in the death

    Florida Shivers Under Freeze Warning

    JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - All of Florida, from Miami to the Panhandle, was under a freeze warning Wednesday as 2008 started with a quick-moving cold snap expected to damage citrus and other crops, as temperatures should drop into the 20s and teens in parts of the state.

    Bradford Woman Still Critical--Needs Prayer

    WESB News: 01/02/08 - Cameron's Family Asking for Prayers

    A Bradford woman remains in critical condition with severe head injuries after being run over by an SUV early Sunday morning in the Northwest Savings Bank parking lot.

    20-year-old Alissa Cameron has been at Hamot Medical Center since Sunday.

    19-year-old Nikole Smock is accused of backing up over Cameron after an alleged incident at the Option House involving Smock's boyfriend. Smock's preliminary hearing is scheduled for January 16.

    Alissa's family and friends are asking people to go to St. Bernard's Church and say prayers for her.

    Market In The Red Today

    DJIA13094.36 -170.46 (-1.29%)
    NASDAQ2610.17 -42.11 (-1.59%)
    NYSE9659.17 -81.15 (-0.83%)
    S&P 5001450.21 -18.15 (-1.24%)

    Hatcher Arrested In Two Bank Robberies

    Hatcher identified in two bank heists

    Posted on: 12/31/07
    Written by: Ellen Leahy, Skaneateles Press/Marcellus Observer
    email: press-observer@cnylink.com


    Syracuse Police arrest suspect in two downtown bank robberies

    Syracuse police department has arrested, Ann M Hatcher, 48, of 1047 E. Fayette St., Syracuse, for a bank robbery that took place at the Chase Bank located at 100 West Fayette St.

    Area Obituaries

    SHINGLEHOUSE, Pa. - Louis D. "Louie" Antonioli, 72, a longtime resident of Shinglehouse, died Tuesday (Jan. 1, 2008) at the Bradford Regional Medical Center after a short illness.

    COUDERSPORT — Blake W. T. Dunn, 10, of Coudersport, died Tuesday (Jan. 1, 2008) as a result of an accidental drowning in Coudersport. Arrangements are under the direction of the Fickinger Funeral Home of Coudersport.

    Marjorie T. Burnett, 87,
    of Andrews Settlement, PA, died Saturday, December 29, 2007.Friends may call Tuesday, January 1, 2008 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Olney Funeral Home and Cremation Service, Ulysses, PA, where funeral services will be held on Wednesday at 11 a.m.

    EMPORIUM — Isaiah Michael Lucas, stillborn son of Norman and Christine Lanphere Lucas, Emporium, died Friday night (Dec. 28, 2007) at Charles Cole Memorial Hospital, Coudersport. The Barnett Funeral Home Inc. is in charge of arrangements.

    Tuesday, January 1, 2008

    Car Accident In Whitesville, NY

    Genesee ambulance has just been dispatched to an accident in front of the Whitesville, NY Fire Station.

    10 Year Old Drowns In Coudersport Pond

    By George Osgood-
    -Star Gazette

    COUDERSPORT – A 10-year-old Coudersport boy drowned in a private pond on New Year’s Eve, emergency workers said.


    Members of the Harrison Township Volunteer Fire Department Dive Team recovered the body of Blake W. Dunn of East Second Street at about 1:25 a.m. Tuesday from a pond at a private home along Ross Street, near Coudersport High School.

    “It’s just a terrible tragedy,” Potter County Coroner Kevin J. Dusenbury Sr. said. “It’s horrible. He was just a little 10-year-old boy. It’s so sad.”

    Dusenbury said the child was playing outside near his home, which is not far from the pond. He was last seen by his mother, Marie Diebel, at about 5:15 p.m., when he left to return an item to a neighbor, the coroner said. The boy’s father is Roy Dunn, Dusenbury said.

    “Blake was playing by himself,” Dusenbury said. “He did not return. His mother became concerned and searched for him briefly. Then she called the Coudersport Police Department, and they started a search some time after 5:15.

    “Apparently, Blake had been playing on the ice,” he said. “He was about 25 feet from shore when he broke through the ice and became submerged, resulting in his drowning.”

    Dusenbury described the pond as large, deep and spring-fed. He did not know how deep the water was where the boy broke through the ice.

    Police from Coudersport and Austin and volunteers from the Coudersport Fire Department responded to the call for help and searched for the boy.

    Emergency workers believe he fell through the ice shortly after 5 p.m.

    Scarnati Re-Elected President Pro Tem

    WESB News: 01/01/08 - Scarnati Re-Elected President Pro Tem

    As expected, Senator Joe Scarnati has been re-elected by his colleagues for another year as Senate president pro tem.

    Because Pennsylvania's constitution trumps any state holiday, the General Assembly convened Tuesday. Both the House and Senate were scheduled to in session because of a constitutional provision that requires the chambers to meet at noon on the first Tuesday of every year. No exception is provided for years when January 1 falls on that day.

    Car In River Upside Down Near Belfast

    CAN YOU FINISH THIS STORY FOR US?

    A cellphone call at 1:30 pm this New Year's Day,reporting car tracks in the snow, going off the road next to the Genesee River on the East River Road in the Town of Belfast in Allegany County, NY, resulted in rescue crews finding a car upside down in the river.

    Rescue units from Belfast, Angelica, and Cuba have responded with a boat. A wrecker has been requested to the scene.

    It is not known at this time if anyone was in the car or the river. If you know the outcome of this New Year's Day drama, please use the comment section below to fill the rest of us in on the story.

    Area Obituaries

    Marjorie T. Burnett, 87, of Andrews Settlement, PA, died Saturday, December 29, 2007.

    Friends may call Tuesday, January 1, 2008 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Olney Funeral Home and Cremation Service, Ulysses, PA, where funeral services will be held on Wednesday at 11 a.m.

    EMPORIUM — Isaiah Michael Lucas, stillborn son of Norman and Christine Lanphere Lucas, Emporium, died Friday night (Dec. 28, 2007) at Charles Cole Memorial Hospital, Coudersport. The Barnett Funeral Home Inc. is in charge of arrangements.

    Snow And Blowing Snow Advisory

    Statement as of 9:01 AM EST on January 01, 2008



    ... Snow and Blowing Snow Advisory now in effect until 7 am EST
    Wednesday...

    The Snow and Blowing Snow Advisory is now in effect until 7 am
    EST Wednesday.

    Snow showers and locally heavy snow squalls will develop today as
    colder air moves over the Great Lakes and down into the region.

    Snow showers... some heavy at times... will continue from late this
    morning into Wednesday... with blowing and drifting snow as west
    to northwest winds gust between 30 and 40 mph.

    By Wednesday... total snow accumulations should average 2 to
    4 inches... with some locally higher amounts possible where heavy
    squalls persist.

    A Snow and Blowing Snow Advisory means that visibilities will be
    limited due to a combination of falling and blowing snow. Use
    caution when traveling... especially in open areas.

    Monday, December 31, 2007

    Winter Storm Warning

    Statement as of 8:53 PM EST on December 31, 2007


    ... A fast moving storm will bring snow to ring in the New Year
    followed by windy and colder conditions with snow squalls and
    areas of lake effect snow into Wednesday...

    ... Winter Storm Warning in effect from 5 am Tuesday to 3 PM EST
    Wednesday...
    ... Winter Storm Watch no longer in effect...

    The National Weather Service in State College has issued a Winter
    Storm Warning... which is in effect from 5 am Tuesday to 3 PM EST
    Wednesday. The Winter Storm Watch is no longer in effect.

    Snow showers and locally heavy snow squalls will accompany a cold
    front as it arrives shortly before dawn Tuesday morning. South
    winds will increase to 2o to 30 mph... causing poor visibility with
    areas of blowing and drifting snow. 2 to 3 inches of accumulation
    is expected with this first round of snow.

    Snow showers... heavy at times... will continue from late Tuesday
    morning through Wednesday afternoon... with continued blowing and
    drifting snow as west to northwest winds gust between 30 and 40
    mph. Near whiteout conditions may occur at times with significant
    additional accumulation.

    By late Wednesday afternoon... total snow accumulations should
    range from 6 to 10 inches in many areas... with locally higher
    amounts in the favored lake effect snow belt of northwest Warren
    County... and on the ridges of Somerset County.

    2 Railroads Sold

    An Exton, Pa. company has acquired the Wellsboro & Corning Railroad, a 38-mile freight line, and the Tioga Central Railroad, which operates a scenic passenger train.

    The Myles Group said it acquired the Wellsboro & Corning Railroad from its owner, Richard D. Robey. It had been operated as a subsidiary of the North Shore Railroad, based in Northumberland, Pa.


    In a separate but related transaction, the Myles Group acquired Tioga Central Railroad, which operates a scenic train ride from Wellsboro Junction located off Route 287 just north of Wellsboro. From Star Gazette


    Principals in the new ownership group are A.T. Myles, president and chief executive officer; A.T. Myles IV, chief financial officer, and W.B. Myles, chief operating officer.

    Rep. Martin Causer Schedules Hours

    Here For You
    Satellite Office Hours in January
    Dear Friends,

    I hope you are enjoying a happy and healthy holiday season. In 2008, I will continue my efforts to make government more accessible to you by scheduling monthly outreach office hours in communities throughout the 67th Legislative District. Here is our January schedule:


    Thursday, Jan. 3:

    Emporium Borough Office – 9 a.m. to 10 a.m.

    Port Allegany Borough Office – 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

    Eldred Borough Office – 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.





    Monday, Jan. 7:

    Ulysses Borough Office – 9 a.m. to 10 a.m.

    Galeton Borough Office – 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

    WW2 Museum To Charge Admission

    WESB News: 12/31/07- Museum to Start Charging Admission

    Because of rising costs, the Eldred World War II Museum will begin charging admission for the first time, beginning with the New Year.

    Adults will be charged $5. There will be no charge for anyone 18 and younger.

    The current display — the End of the War — focuses on 1945, with pictures, newspapers, manuals, medals and other artifacts of the returning World War II soldier on display in the museum’s Blue Room.

    Woman Under Influence Crashes On West Bingham Road

    A Salamanca woman suffered major injuries Saturday night when her car rolled over twice during a one-car crash on West Bingham Road in Genesee Township, Potter County.

    Valerie S. Tucker, 40, was traveling north on West Bingham Road when she lost control of her vehicle and struck a berm, causing her car to roll over.

    Tucker was transported to Jones Memorial Hospital in Wellsville before being flown to Arnot Ogden Medical Center for treatment.

    Pennsylvania State Police allege that Tucker was driving under the influence of alcohol and a controlled substance at the time of the crash. Charges are pending.

    From Star Gazette

    Portville Woman Critically Injured In Peet Brook Crash

    A Portville woman was critically injured Saturday night in a head-on collision with another vehicle on Peet Brook Road in Allegany Township, Potter County.

    Susanne E. Isaman, 60, was traveling north on Peet Brook Road when her car and a vehicle heading south and driven by Emily M. Martin, 20, of Genesee, met at the crest of a blind spot hill top.

    Pennsylvania State Police say that Martin swerved to avoid a collision and struck Isaman's car head-on.

    Martin, who was wearing a seat belt, suffered minor injuries and was treated and released from Charles Cole Memorial Hospital in Coudersport. Isaman, who was not wearing a seat belt, was taken by ambulance to Charles Cole Memorial Hospital before being life-flighted to Geisinger Medical Center in Danville, Pa.

    Police cited Martin for a summary traffic violation. From star Gazette.

    Cops Chase Stolen Car 31 Miles In McKean County

    A Kentucky man was sent to McKean County Prison in Smethport after leading Bradford Township Police on a 31-mile high speed chase starting on Minard Run Road and ending in Kane Borough Saturday night.

    Francis E. Wilkins, 20, of Owensboro, Ky., was driving a truck involved in an accident at 7:09 p.m. Saturday on Minard Run Road when the truck was attempting to back into a driveway at 118 Minard Run Road, according to Bradford Township Police.

    Upon investigation, officers discovered that Wilkins’ truck was stolen from Florence, Ky. Wilkins was handcuffed and placed in the back of a Bradford Township Police patrol car where he escaped through a window, fled on foot and headed into the woods, police said.

    Information from Bradford Era--Click on Title to See the whole story in the ERA.

    State Farm Show: An ‘udderly’ fun time

    SUN-GAZETTE FILE PHOTO Abigail, above left, and Alexis McEwen, of Harrisburg, attempt to “milk” a plastic cow at the 90th annual Pennsylvania Farm Show in Harrisburg in this 2006 photo.
    December 30, 2007

    My idea of dying and going to Heaven would be to spend eternity at the Pennsylvania Farm Show food court.

    Fortunately, I shouldn’t have to wait until I leave the land of the living for that to happen. The farm show is set for Jan. 5 through Jan. 12 at the Farm Show Complex and Expo Center in Harrisburg.

    The food court, which is comprised of 11 Pennsylvania commodity groups such as the state Dairymen’s Association and state Livestock Association, offers visitors a snapshot of the diversity and quality of Pennsylvania food producers.

    A partial list of featured food items include ice cream, milk shakes, cheese sticks, deep-fried mushrooms, fruit and vegetable salads, barbecued beef and pork, burgers and hot dogs, lamb stew, baked potatoes, maple syrup products, blooming onions, chicken wings, apple dumplings, fresh-cut french fries, doughnuts and pastries, soups and chowders.

    Last year, the food court sold more than $1.

    Man Injured At Hawbaker Quarry

    PHILIP A.HOLMES/Sun-Gazette
    Volunteer firefighters prepare to load an injured man into a medical helicopter late Sunday morning at the Glenn O. Hawbaker Inc.’s quarry on Sulpher Springs Road in Armstrong Township. The victim, believed to be a Hawbaker employee in his 40s, apparently was injured when the tractor he was operating went over a steep embankment while he was logging about 400 yards from the quarry’s entrance, according to Barry Hohman, chief of Citizens Fire Co. in South Williamsport. Firefighters needed to use ropes and rigging gear in order to reach the man, whose identity was not released. It is believed the mishap occurred about 9:30 a.m., but it was another 45 minutes before another employee discovered it, Hohman said. The victim was flown to Geisinger Medical Center in Danville, for treatment of head and leg injuries. Efforts to reach a Hawbaker spokesman were unsuccessful. Firefighters from South Williamsport, DuBoistown, and Nisbet as well as a paramedic supervisor assisted at the scene.

    UPDATE: Steve Lorson, 48, of DuBoistown, remained in serious condition in Geisinger, a hospital spokesman said.

    Lorson was injured while operating his own farm tractor at the Glenn O. Hawbaker Inc. excavation site along Sulphur Springs Road about 9:30 a.m. Sunday, according to Herman Logue, vice president for construction at Hawbaker’s.

    “He was cutting firewood at the site for his own personal use,” Logue said of Lorson, who is employed by the company as a truck driver.

    “As he was dragging a log, the log snagged on a tree. The tree then hit him in the head, knocking him out. The tractor then went down a 100-foot embankment,” pinning Lorson underneath it until volunteer firefighters freed him, Logue said.

    Lorson’s brother was at the excavation site, and ran to get help after witnessing the mishap, Logue said he was told.




    Woman Critical After Being Run Over

    WESB News: 12/31/07 - Woman Backs Over Another in Parking Lot

    A Bradford woman is in critical condition after being run over by a vehicle Sunday morning in a bank parking lot.

    20-year-old Alissa Cameron was taken to Hamot Medical Center after an SUV driven by 19-year-old Nikole Smock backed over her.

    Smock is accused of leaving the scene after the incident. Smock was arraigned on several charges and was sent to McKean County Jail in lieu of 50 thousand dollars cash bail.

    Area Obituaries

    ANDREWS SETTLEMENT, Pa. - Marjorie T. Burnett, 87, of Andrews Settlement, Pa., died Saturday (Dec. 29, 2007) in her home.

    LITTLE GENESEE - Richard N. Ploetz,27, of 415 Sanford Hollow, Little Genesee, and 98 Kent Blvd., Salamanca, died Thursday (Dec. 28, 2007) in the Olean General Hospital emergency room.

    SHINGLEHOUSE, Pa. - Nancy R. Burnham, 63, of Shinglehouse, Pa., formerly of Crosby, Minn., died Monday (Dec. 24, 2007).

    Sunday, December 30, 2007

    PUC cracking down on 'Amish taxi' drivers
    Sunday, December 30, 2007
    Bonnie Huzinec, 56, is an outspoken neighbor of Amish families near Luthersburg, Pa., who provides transportation to the Amish families in her area.

    LUTHERSBURG, Pa. -- Bonnie Huzinec was stacking bags of groceries in her van when a cluster of bonnet-clad women approached and discreetly asked whether she was busy.

    Like Mrs. Huzinec, the Amish women had been shopping at the Sav-a-Lot store in Dubois, Clearfield County. Unlike her, their religious prohibitions against owning or operating vehicles had forced them to hire a driver for the 10-mile round trip to town and back to their tidy farms.

    But when the driver didn't show up for the return leg, the women asked Mrs. Huzinec if she'd take them home. So began her relationship with her Amish neighbors, who for five years now have sought her help and her white Chevy Blazer to get to weddings, funerals, midwives and destinations involving too many miles and congested highways to manage in horse-drawn buggies.

    "I go wherever they want me to go. They call me or knock on my door,'' said Mrs. Huzinec, 56, who grew up near this rural village, moved away as an adult and returned six years ago to settle in a white bungalow on a hillside tucked between Amish fields.

    "It's been a gift for me to be part of another culture. They're like family, and you take care of your family," she said.

    Mrs. Huzinec and others around Luthersburg estimate that she is one of as many as 300 "English,'' or non-Amish, people who serve as drivers for a thriving enclave of more than 350 Amish families spanning the boundaries of Clearfield, Jefferson and Indiana counties.

    A few drivers have paid for official certificates and commercial insurance required by state regulations. By far, most have not, operating instead within a jitney-style system in which they are compensated with cash, bartered goods or promised services.

    But complaints in recent months have prompted the state Public Utility Commission to crack down on unlicensed "Amish taxis'' operating here and elsewhere in the state.

    PUC stakeouts

    In November, PUC enforcement officers held a public meeting in Luthersburg to explain certification requirements and potential fines for violations to more than 200 people, many of them Amish -- a rare turnout for a non-Amish gathering.

    Officers have been staking out and confronting drivers who are believed to accept money for transporting Amish people. In the past year, the PUC also has issued 95 letters of warning in the three counties and is considering $1,000 fines for those who refuse to stop.

    The PUC also plans a similar campaign aimed at Amish residents and unlicensed drivers in Beaver, Butler, Lawrence and Mercer counties, spokeswoman Jennifer Kocher said.

    The stepped-up enforcement has been the talk of Luthersburg and surrounding communities, creating tension between people who supplement their incomes by driving Amish people and those who support state efforts to bring drivers into compliance.

    "Oh, it's crazy. It's very big out here,'' said Val Henry, 38, who, with her husband, Dan, runs a market and auto repair business in Luthersburg. She said 75 percent of her customers hire out as Amish taxis because they are laid off from other businesses, on disability or retired with tight incomes.

    "Some people, all they have to do is to drive,'' she said. "But some people really have a problem with it."

    Amish people summon non-Amish drivers in person or by telephone. Some have their own cell phones and some borrow them, Mrs. Henry said. Others walk to modest three-sided wooden shanties built along country roads to house telephones, then dial a number selected from lists tacked to the walls.

    Drivers are cagey about what and how they charge. But generally, compensation is pegged to time, gas prices and mileage. Meals and lodging are provided during overnight stays or longer trips to other states.

    "There are secrets," said Mrs. Huzinec, a feisty widow who lives with her mother and two youngest children. "But if I need work done around here, [Amish friends] do it.

    "I get gifts. My kids get gifts. It's bartering," she said. "What is the problem?"

    Mrs. Huzinec, other residents who wouldn't give their names, and even two Amish men who broke with tradition to speak briefly while walking on a snow-packed road outside Luthersburg, said they were particularly upset that PUC officers had confronted and warned drivers and Amish passengers in Dubois and Punxsutawney.

    That hasn't happened to her, Mrs. Huzinec said, but she said she knows drivers who "were scared to death" by those encounters. She contended that state enforcement officers have unfairly targeted her placid community to "profile" Amish passengers.

    She also complained that most drivers lack funds to comply with state requirements, and that some drivers who do meet the requirements charge exorbitant rates for short trips.

    "To me, it's extortion. Pennsylvania does not realize what the Amish do for this state," she said, ticking off farms, lumber businesses, food stores and other Amish businesses in her community. "A lot of people are very rude, very ignorant about the Amish."

    What the PUC wants

    But Ms. Kocher said the PUC requires anyone who transports others for compensation to obtain a certificate of public convenience, which costs $350 and is renewed each year. Drivers with certificates are monitored to ensure they and their vehicles adhere to rules covering rates and territories, meet safety standards and maintain commercial insurance, Ms. Kocher said.

    "It's different than something occasional, like taking a neighbor to a grocery store," she said. "We understand that people who are being looked at in one area think they are being picked on. But we are trying to protect the public interest and public safety."

    The commission issues certificates for two categories of for-compensation vehicles: metered taxis, which must meet more stringent regulations; and paratransit carriers, which include passenger cars to 15-passenger vans, Ms. Kocher said. Commercial insurance fees vary for paratransit vehicles but can cost up to $6,000 annually, she said.

    The paratransit category includes vehicles used to drive people "whose personal convictions prevent them from driving or operating a vehicle,'' including Amish people, Ms. Kocher said. Regulation is necessary to guarantee safety of drivers and paying passengers who, in the event of an accident, would not be covered by non-commercial insurance, she said.

    Only six drivers have obtained paratransit certificates from the PUC's district office in Altoona, Blair County, which covers Clearfield, Jefferson, Indiana and a dozen other counties in central Pennsylvania, Ms. Kocher said. Since the enforcement campaign began, 13 others have applied for certificates, she said.

    Ms. Kocher said nine enforcement officers work out of the Altoona district office and 40 officers work statewide, responding to "surges of activity." They investigate complaints from tipsters as well as drivers who comply with regulations but must compete with those who do not.

    "We're not targeting weddings or funerals or functions,'' she said. "We're targeting routine trips where people who are certificated and are following the rules are saying, 'Wait a minute here.' "

    Ms. Kocher said officers have authority to conduct stops and safety checks. But they generally wait outside a suspected destination and question drivers and passengers when they arrive or are about to leave, she said.

    Officers may be in uniform or in plainclothes, but will have identification. They will ask to see a suspected driver's state certificate and, if one is not produced, will question passengers about the circumstances of their trip, she said.

    Or, they may merely note the driver's license number and send a cease-and-desist letter later, Ms. Kocher said. Officers also may send letters to people whose telephone numbers have been posted inside publicly accessible Amish phone shanties, she said.

    The PUC pursued fines for paratransit violations against two drivers in the Altoona district and five others around the state in the past year, but Ms. Kocher could not say if those cases involved Amish passengers. By contrast, she said, the commission issued more than 450 warning letters in the past six months and 45 fines in the last two years against unlicensed jitneys, which the commission classifies as taxis rather than paratransit vehicles, in Pittsburgh. The PUC does not have jurisdiction over cab operations in Philadelphia. The commission issued 337 warning letters to unlicensed paratransit operators around the state in the last year.

    Mrs. Huzinec said she and other drivers recently contacted the American Civil Liberties Union about their contention that Amish drivers have been unfairly singled out for enforcement because their passengers are more easily identified.

    Witold Walczak, legal director for the ACLU of Pennsylvania, confirmed that his organization is looking at the issue. The ACLU recognizes the PUC's authority to regulate transportation for hire, but wants to determine if PUC officers first obtain evidence to justify stopping and questioning people suspected of "Driving while with Amish,'' Mr. Walczak said.

    "The fact that you've got an 'English' person giving rides to one or more Amish persons does not constitute probable cause that this is an illegal jitney service," he said. "If we acquired evidence that these stops are occurring routinely, we would strongly consider going into federal court. You wonder why is the government spending these kind of resources?''

    In the meantime, the threat of potential fines does not faze Mrs. Huzinec. She said her phone shanty and her Blazer will be remain available to Amish neighbors, who've invited her to weddings and funerals and have given her a treasured, painstakingly stitched blue-and-white Starburst quilt.

    "I told other drivers, 'If you turn your back on this, it's like how Hitler started.' A lot of them have quit, [saying] 'I can't afford a fine,' " she said. "But I'm not [quitting.] I'll do it for spite.''

    Cindi Lash can be reached at clash@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1973.
    First published on December 30, 2007 at 1:50 am

    Drunk Driving--Troopers Have Spies

    By James Jones

    Used to be if you stopped for a few drinks and managed to drive home without wrecking your car, you got away with driving drunk. There were only a few troopers to cover entire counties and chances are you could get home without being noticed.

    But that was before police enlisted thousands of volunteers to watch your driving.

    With the advent of cellular phones and working cell service on many of the highways in the area, there is hardly a day that goes by that area police are not alerted to at least one driver who is not driving properly and appears to be under the influence.

    Other drivers, recognizing that a driver may be impaired, call 911 or their local PSP barracks and give police a play by play report of where the drunk driver is located, what he is doing, and where he stops.

    Police cars are dispatched immediately, and if there is not a trooper in the area, a local police officer is sent to intercept.

    Once intercepted, the driver is subjected to field sobriety tests, possibly an intoxilizer test and maybe dragged off to the nearest hospital for a blood test. Pennsylvania law has reduced the amount of alcohol in the blood from .1 to .08 for legal intoxication.

    Penalties have become so severe that a person definitely can not afford a DUI conviction. License suspension, prohibitive car insurance rates, stiff fines, and possible some time in jail have made drinking and driving not compatible.

    And thats only if you don't have an accident. If you are drunk and have an accident, you could end up in jail for 7 years if someone is killed.

    Bottom line: If you plan on drinking this New Years, do it at home, or make sure you have a non-drinker to transport you.

    Best wishes for a safe and prosperous New Year.

    Storm To Bring Snow Sunday Night

    Statement as of 2:10 AM EST on December 30, 2007


    ... Fast moving storm to bring snow to northern Pennsylvania...

    ... Snow Advisory in effect from 7 PM this evening to 10 am EST
    Monday...

    The National Weather Service in State College has issued a Snow
    Advisory... which is in effect from 7 PM this evening to 10 am EST
    Monday.

    Light snow will move into the area from the south late this
    afternoon and early this evening... and continue through most of
    the night. The heaviest snow will most likely fall between 8 PM
    and 3 am. The snow should taper off around sunrise on Monday
    morning.

    Expect accumulations of generally 2 to 3 inches with 4 or 5
    inches possible on the hill tops.

    A Snow Advisory means that periods of snow will cause travel
    difficulties. Be prepared for snow covered roads and limited
    visibilities... and use caution while driving.