Brown Marmorated Stink Bug Threatens Biological Mite Control in Pennsylvania Apple Orchards

UNIVERSITY PARK, PA, March 10, 2011 /24-7PressRelease/ -- A Penn State biological control program that saves apple growers over $1 million in insecticide use each year is being threatened by the expected increase in pesticide use due to a new invasive pest, the brown marmorated stink bug.

Tree fruit is a $70 million a year industry in Pennsylvania, with the majority of the fruit being grown in the southern part of the state. With the help of the Pennsylvania State University Fruit Research and Extension Center, family-owned Lerew Farms, Inc. became one of the first growers in the state to move away from broad-spectrum insecticides and transition to more pest selective and environmentally safer insecticides in the mid-1990s using integrated pest management

Pennsylvania's Integrated Pest Management Program has resulted in apple growers using fewer and safer pesticides. IPM promotes the use of safer and more environmentally compatible pest control practices.

At Lerew Farms, which has about 1,000 acres of fresh market apples and processing tart cherries, Penn State tree fruit entomologist Dr. David Biddinger discovered increasing numbers and diversity of beneficial insects in orchards. These beneficial insects significantly reduce outbreaks of secondary pests, such as mites, aphids and leafminers. According to Biddinger, most striking was the lack of outbreaks by the European red mite, a major target of pesticides in the past. "Most growers were averaging about $150 to $200 per acre in insecticide and miticide costs with about one third being spent just to control mites."

In addition, Dr. Biddinger discovered a new mite predator, Typhlodromus pyri, never before seen in Pennsylvania orchards. Effective biological mite control programs in apple using T. pyri existed in parts of New York, New England and Washington, but never in the Mid-Atlantic States despite several intensive surveys. "It was generally thought that T. pyri is a cool region predator that could not adapt to a warmer climate, but an intensive survey of other Pennsylvania fruit farms found it to be present at lower levels on a number of other farms that were using mostly selective insecticides," Biddinger said.

IPM creates an orchard environment where natural enemies of pests can survive. Unlike other mite predators, T. pyri spends its entire life on the tree so that a toxic insecticide application anytime during the season would wipe out the population. "Because T. pyri never leave the tree, it is a more effective mite predator," Biddinger explains."In addition, T. pyri has the unique ability to feed pollen and fungal spores at times when the pest mite prey were very low. Other mite predators can't do this and only move back into the orchard when pest mite populations are high and already causing significant damage."

Once T. pyri was discovered at the Lerew orchard, researchers transferred branch clippings to other orchards in the spring and fall. "Using Lerew's and the Penn State research orchards as two T. pyri 'seed sites', we quickly established the predator in the majority of Pennsylvania's 22,000 acres of apples," said Biddinger. It is estimated that this conservation biological control program is seasonally reducing miticide use in Pennsylvania apple orchards by almost a ton and saves growers over $1 million a year. Not only was controlling mites with miticides expensive for growers, but also it was non-sustainable since the pest mites developed resistance to all new products within three to five years.

The project was facilitated by financial incentives provided to the growers through USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) conservation programs and through conservation guidelines provided by Penn State. T. pyri from the original Lerew Farms site have now been spread and established in Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia through similar USDA-NRCS conservation programs.

Unfortunately, the entire tree fruit IPM system is being threatened by a new pest. In 2010, brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB) moved into the mid-Atlantic fruit-growing region and did extensive damage to apple and peach crops. Some growers lost 40 percent or more of their crop. Researchers know very little about managing BSMB since this insect is a recent arrival from China and has just begun to severely affect agriculture. According to Biddinger, fruit growers are faced with a terrible choice: extensively and frequently spraying with broad spectrum insecticides to ensure control of BSMB, or not extensively spraying to preserve the IPM system, but risking yield losses and lower profits from BSMB damage. "In either case the cost of production will rise or the supply of apples will decline maybe resulting in higher prices for the consumer."

Research programs investigating safer and cheaper ways to control BSMB are starting, but scientists have much to learn. "In the meantime, fruit growers will do the best they can to manage pests in a safe way, while hopefully not going out of business," says Biddinger.

Current PSU recommendations for establishing and conserving biological mite control with T. pyri are annually updated at: ... mites/view and a more complete report on the discovery and development of T. pyri in Pennsylvania can be found at: For more information on tree fruit IPM, contact Dr. David Biddinger at (717) 677-6116 or by e-mail at


Casey Statement on Gas Pipeline Safety After Meeting with UGI

WASHINGTON, DC—U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) today released the following statement after meeting with UGI Utilities President and CEO John Walsh to discuss pipeline safety in the wake of the pipeline explosion last month in Allentown:

“Today, I continued to impress upon UGI the need to conduct a thorough investigation of the tragedy in Allentown and to keep the public informed of the investigation.  I also pressed UGI on taking every practicable step to prevent another tragedy from happening.  Both the private sector and the public sector need to direct greater resources towards accelerating the replacement of aging pipelines.  We can replace pipelines, but we cannot replace lives.  Federal and state agencies as well as public utilities also need to perform ongoing, comprehensive inspections and provide information to consumers about pipeline safety. 

“I will continue to push for an increased focus on pipeline safety by federal and state authorities and companies.  And I will closely monitor the progress of UGI’s investigation and its actions to correct problems with gas pipelines.

“If anyone has questions about gas pipes in their area, I encourage them to visit UGI’s disaster response Web site at”


Casey Column: House Should Pass No Budget, No Pay Bill

WASHINGTON, DC— U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), Chairman of the Joint Economic Committee, and Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) wrote a column that was published in today’s Politico that urged House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) to quickly pass a version of their Senate-passed bill that would prevent Congress and the President from being paid in the event of a government shutdown. The full text of the column is below:

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), in a recent speech in Nashville, Tenn., said it was our “moral responsibility” to avoid a government shutdown.

We couldn’t agree more. So we are now urging him to take a critical step to help take the threat of a government shutdown off the table.

The Senate last week unanimously passed our legislation that would prevent lawmakers and the president from being paid during a government shutdown. A similar bill has been introduced in the House by Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA).

Now is the time for the speaker to show that he means what he says by bringing this important bill up for a vote in the House.

While we may not agree on everything in this budget, lawmakers from both parties should agree on this: If we cannot fulfill our most basic responsibility to keep the government operating, we should not receive a paycheck.

It’s a little-known fact that members of Congress and the president are not treated the same as millions of other federal employees — because we’re paid through mandatory spending, rather than annual appropriations. In the event of a government shutdown, we would be among the few to continue receiving paychecks.

It’s unfair that members of Congress or the president would be paid while millions of other workers who serve the American people would see their paychecks cut off and have to struggle to pay their bills.

Our bill could fix this inequity. It would also go a step further, saying that lawmakers and the president should not be paid retroactively after a shutdown. The message could not be clearer: No budget, no pay.

Boehner supported this same legislation back in 1995, telling a CNN interviewer, “I’d be happy to sign onto that bill right now.” The Boxer-Durbin bill passed the Senate, but was blocked by the House.

The American people have a right to expect that Congress will do its work. That means making sure that essential services are not interrupted because of partisan politics.

Social Security checks should not be delayed. Veterans’ benefits should not be disrupted. Passports should continue to be issued. Superfund sites should be cleaned. Oil wells should be inspected. Export licenses should be granted. All this would be threatened in a shutdown.

A government shutdown would be a disaster for our nation and our economy. We must end the threat once and for all — and begin work on a responsible budget that will reduce the deficit without putting our economic recovery at risk. Failing to do so would be an abdication of our most fundamental responsibility.

That’s why, in a bipartisan spirit, all Democrats and Republicans joined together to pass our bill in the Senate. Now it is time for Boehner to put this “no budget, no pay” bill on the House floor for a vote without delay.

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) is the chairwoman of the Environment and Public Works Committee and chairwoman of the Select Committee on Ethics. Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) is the chairman of the Joint Economic Committee.


Mandated Change In Light Bulbs To Occur At Year's End

University Park, Pa. -- Get ready for some mandated changes in lighting, warns an energy expert in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences.

Effective Jan. 1, 2012, it will be a federal offense for any company, organization or individual in the United States to manufacture or import 100-watt incandescent light bulbs for general-use lighting. Dennis Buffington, professor of agricultural engineering, said California already has banned the 100-watt incandescent bulbs starting this year. The reason for the ban is the availability of other lighting alternatives today that are considerably more energy-efficient than the incandescent bulbs.

"You can continue using your 100-watt incandescent bulbs next year, and you can replace those bulbs with other 100-watt incandescents that you may have in inventory," Buffington said. "But you will be unable to purchase the bulbs after Jan. 1, 2012. In fact, you may not be able to find them in stores during the last few months of 2011."

Smaller sizes of incandescent bulbs for general use will be banned at later dates. Effective Jan. 1, 2013, 75-watt incandescent bulbs will face a similar ban; the 60-watt and 40-watt incandescents will be banned effective Jan.1, 2014.

"Specialty incandescent bulbs will not be subject to these bans," Buffington said. "Specialty bulbs include three-way bulbs, appliance lights, 'bug lights,' colored bulbs, vibration-service and rough-service bulbs, and bulbs used for marine and mining applications."

When searching for an alternative to incandescent bulbs, Buffington advised, evaluate the lights on the basis of lighting efficiency, expressed as lumens per watt. The wattage rating of a bulb merely indicates the wattage of electricity required for input to the bulb. The light output is measured in lumens. Thus, lighting efficiency is expressed as lumens per watt.

"The compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) produces about four times the amount of light that an incandescent bulb produces on a per-watt basis," Buffington explained. "An additional benefit is that the CFL has a life span of about 10,000 hours versus 1,000 hours for a typical incandescent. A disadvantage of the CFL is that the bulb contains both mercury and lead -- potentially hazardous heavy metals."

Although CFL bulbs contain significantly less mercury and lead than they did a decade ago, the bulbs still must be handled in a responsible manner for disposal, Buffington cautioned. Most "big box" home improvement stores now have drop-off sites for proper disposal of the burned-out CFL bulbs, he pointed out.

CFLs now are available in many different sizes, shapes and colors of light (soft white, cool white, warm glow, etc.). The typical CFL sold today is a coiled tube, although some are available with an outer glass shell that hides the coil. The bulbs with the covered coils look like incandescents but with the efficiency and long life of CFLs.

"CFLs that can be used with dimmer switches now are available," Buffington said. "Be careful though. Only the CFLs that are labeled as dimmable on the packaging will function properly when used with a dimmer switch.

"LED (light-emitting diode) bulbs are even more efficient than the CFL, and the life of an LED is longer than the CFL," he said. "LEDs are free of both mercury and lead. But I do not recommend LEDs today simply because they still are too expensive, although the prices have dropped in recent years. I anticipate significant reductions in the price of LEDs within the next five years or so, and then they may be feasible lighting alternatives."


Causer Says Corbett Budget Marks Needed Step Toward Fiscal Responsibility


Rep. Martin Causer (R-Turtlepoint) said the 2011-12 state budget proposal presented by Gov. Tom Corbett on Tuesday is a difficult but important first step toward adopting a fiscally responsible spending plan.


“For the first time in eight years, we will finally cut spending,” said Causer, a member of the House Appropriations Committee. “State government has been living beyond its means for far too long; that will finally come to an end this year.


“There is no question that some of the cuts the governor is proposing are painful, and as a member of the House Appropriations Committee, I will be taking a very careful look at those cuts and their potential impact on our communities and our citizens,” he continued. “In the end, we have no choice but to cut spending. It’s what the people want, and it’s up to us as lawmakers to make the tough decisions we need to achieve that goal.”


Corbett’s $27.3 billion budget proposal represents a spending reduction of 3.1 percent, or $866.3 million, when compared to the current year’s budget.


Over the next three weeks, Causer and members of the House Appropriations Committee will question administration officials representing all state departments and agencies about their budget needs in an effort to identify additional cuts or funding needs. Based on the information gathered, a budget bill will be introduced into the state House for debate.


A budget must be passed by the end of the fiscal year, June 30. After eight straight years of late budgets during the Rendell administration, Causer said he and legislative leaders are committed to getting the job done on time.

“From day one, my priorities have been to pass an on-time, fiscally responsible budget with no new or increased taxes,” Causer said. “We will examine the governor’s proposal in detail over the coming weeks and months to develop the best possible blue print for the Commonwealth’s future.”


Borough Council Gets Earful Of Snow

by Martha Knight

The Port Allegany Borough Council meeting was lively and well attended, Monday night, as borough residents, business persons and employees were on hand to weigh in on snow removal and related issues.

Lucas Johnson led off the discussion by describing how lack of access for fire fighters and equipment had hampered control of an Arnold Avenue fire, and resulted in damage to his garage, located near the structure where the main blaze was located.

Sue Barnett, who operates the Northern Tier Children’s Home thrift shop in the south block of the Main Street business district, described her frustration during the height of the snow accumulation from the resent storm. She said customers were unable to reach the NTCH store, and she had to close it for the day.

PennDOT plows Main Street, which coincides with Route 6 and State Route 155 in the borough. Barnett said she had called PennDOT officials and Assemblyman Marty Causer’s office.  She saw borough snowplows traveling Main Street but had been told the local crew was not assigned to plow that street or the area in front of her store.

Barnett said she realizes that PennDOT is responsible for the street, but believes the borough could deal with the snow during crisis snowfalls.  “If you want to keep business in town,” Barnett said, the borough must make sure the streets and sidewalks are passable.  They could help out along Main Street “as a courtesy,” she suggested.  She said the owners of NTCH will close the store if she has more days when it cannot do business.  She has two employees in the shop.  There are residential tenants on the second floor.

Later borough manager Richard Kallenborn said that he had spoken with PennDOT officials who outrank those who had spoken with Barnett, and contrary to what they had told her, the PennDOT crews will plow in the business section even before finishing the rest of Route 6 in the area.  He said it would be a matter of notifying those in charge.

Keith Fortner, CEO of First National Bank of Port Allegany, confirmed that changes in traffic patterns are a factor in worsening snow control.  He said persons coming into the community from out of town have commented that the street situation seems worse than in some nearby communities.

Fortner suggested that it might be necessary to allocate more funds for snow and ice control.

Council member Dave Fair commented on the number of hill streets and wondered whether they were plowed as promptly as the level streets, drawing a query from one of the borough crew members present, “Where would you like us to start?”, which rankled Fair.

The crew members said the borough has only one truck capable of plowing the hill streets.

The responsibility for owners or tenants to clear snow from the public sidewalks along their properties was mentioned, with regard to enforcement of the local ordinance, and the lack of compliance along the south block of the business section.  Most storefronts in that block are vacant.

Mayor Don Carley said he agrees that the snow removal situation is a valid concern.  Code enforcement officer Dan Dzubak said he has issued warnings but has not given citations and does not know whether the district magistrate would fine people for such violations.

One crew member, mentioning his own many years of service, said the current borough manager is the best manager he has served, because of his knowledge concerning the borough infrastructure and willingness to work with the crew members. Other employees present said they agree.

Present for the meeting was Claudia Camanite, WalkWorks project coordinator, who described her grant funded program.  She distributed maps of the route she said would be used for a health benefitting walking program, and secured agreement by the council to erect flags making the ends of trails.

The University of Pittsburgh Center for Rural Health Practice is in charge of the WalkWorks program, Camanite explained, in a presentation to the council.

Council adopted a resolution approving the disposal of certain municipal records.  Fortner noted that the bank has scheduled a visit by a shredding service mobile unit in April and offered to have it handle the borough’s document disposal at that time.

Another offer by Fortner was to allow borough officials to use the bank’s website to post public service announcements.  He said borough office personnel could be shown how to handle uploads in short order.


Liberty Twp Supers Put “Or Else” In Sewer Bill Collection

by Martha Knight


LIBERTY VILLA — Where sewer customers are not also water customers, it can be difficult to shut off service for nonpayment of sewer bills.


That has been the situation in Liberty Township, where there are numerous sewer customers who are not water customers, and a small number of them have fallen behind with sewer bill payment.


Sewer hookups in those parts of the township served by the sewer lines were installed without inspection ports and shutoff valves. This has left the township without the enforcement measures used in Port Allegany Borough, for instance, where water-sewer charges are collected together, and nonpayment can be dealt with by shutting off water service.


Having voted earlier to use a sewer shutoff measure as a last resort, to collect overdue sewer bills, Liberty Township supervisors agreed Tuesday night to have plumbing-heating-electrical contractor Tim “Phe” Baxter perform the service interruptions as necessary.


Baxter will do the necessary digging, will breach and plug the sewer connector at the proper area, and will install an inspection and valve arrangement to enable restoration of service. The customer will be responsible for the costs.


Customers in danger of having a physical shut-off performed at their sewer hook-ups will not be taken by surprise, because all of them will have been warned well in advance.


Supervisors Chuck Safford and Fred Ernst III said that, all told, there are thousands of dollars worth of overdue sewer bills on the books, although only a few customers are involved. Some of those are paying on their arrears, though. Good faith efforts will keep the backhoe away, supervisors said.


A few residents in attendance spoke about the conditions of their roads. One called for ditches to be cleared along open Brook Road, and said he has had to repair his driveway repeatedly because of poor ditch maintenance.


Safford, presiding in the absence of chairman Gary Turner, said that the supervisors have adopted a plan concerning road maintenance, listing and prioritizing all sections of the highway system and scheduling work accordingly.


Ernst, who also works on the road crew, noted that there are many reports of potholes, and he expects that there will be others. The severe winter has taken a toll, supervisors observed.


A request by Chuck Boller for snow plowing service at his home in the township, located just past the end of a Port Allegany Borough street, was denied. Safford said that the residence in question has a private drive that was plowed by Port Allegany Borough crews, in the past, perhaps because snowplows were turned around there. Apparently that is not being done now; but the township cannot plow one private drive and refuse to plow others, supervisors said. Boller was not present.


There was a discussion of meeting minute guidelines, and public access to the tape recordings made by Secretary Cindy Speeth. The upshot was that the tapes are for the secretary’s use, to assist her in preparing accurate minutes; that minutes are the official record of the meetings; and that they do not need to be detailed to the point of including full dialog or lengthy quotes, so long as they include all business conducted and mention major topics of discussion.


It was agreed that road bonding  by Dawson Geophysical Co. will include a provision for extra maintenance, to cover the expected necessity for virtual replacement of road bed and surface, after the company’s use.



Commissioners Approve Jail Capacity Increase

by Martha Knight

SMETHPORT—The McKean County Board of Commissioners covered a full agenda Tuesday morning, with chairman Joe DeMott and commissioner Judy Church handling all the business with unanimous votes, in the absence of commissioner Al Pingie.

One significant decision came at the end of the meeting, being added virtually on the fly to allow for rapid implementation. With the McKean County Jail ready to put its new, detached work release facility into service, freeing up considerable space in the main jail, the commissioners decided to change the approach they had earlier approved for reconfiguring that space.

The new plan is to utilize the former work release cell area in such as way as to create the maximum number of additional cells. Earlier the plan had been to create some new “regular” cells, and two “high security cells” which would have been self-contained and required much more floor space each.

The revised plan will add a net of 20 to the capacity of the main jail. Commissioners said gaining inmate capacity is a greater need than the need for specialized high security cells. So long as so many McKean County prisoners have to be farmed out to facilities in nearby counties, the per-diem charges to the county and transportation and labor costs for getting them back and forth for hearings and trials are a considerable financial and operational burden to the county and its correctional system.

DeMott said the additional cells will save the county about $387,000 a year in “board” costs alone, not counting transportation.

DeMott said the new work release building has its occupancy permit and can go into use any time.

In another addition to the prepared agenda, the commissioners approved a right-of-way grant allowing National Fuel Gas to erect the necessary installation on county-owned land at the site of the new Domestic Relations building near the jail. The installation is needed for gas service to the DomRel facility.

The commissioners agreed to enter into an agreement with the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency in connection with a $1,360,000 grant for providing training manuals for conducting hazardous materials planning and training.

Also approved was a maintenance agreement with Karpinski’s Office Systems (KOS) of Coudersport, covering fax machines in the prothonotary’s office, at an annual cost of $334.80.

Another maintenance agreement approved was with Cleveland Brothers Equipment Company, Inc., covering the generators at the 911 Center and at Prospect, Hedgehog and Gibbs Hill tower sites.

The Borough of Kane’s Local Economic Revitalization Tax Assistance (LERTA) program was approved for renewal, by the adoption of an enabling resolution.

The commissioners agreed to pay Eldred Township $6,854 for their completed liquid fuels fund supported project. They also approved a 2011 county aid allocation of $1,325 to Corydon Township for road base materials for Wolf Run Road, and an allocation of $7,812 to Kane Borough for a paving project.

In two real estate tax exemptions, the commissioners recognized the new status of 1,457.5 acres in Norwich Township and 4,045 acres in Sergeant Township, which had been privately owned but which have been sold to the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR).

The county received $50,000 in cash to compensate for current tax revenue, and henceforth there will be payments in lieu of taxes to the taxing authorities involved.

The wooded tracts are expected to be timbered under approved programs, and to be utilized to some extent for recreational purposes.

William Gibble, of 211 Main Street, Bradford, was given a 2011 LERTA exemption for the former Hotel Bradford building where the ground floor is being renovated.

Jill Martin Rend of Butler County Community College (BC3 @ Upper Allegheny) gave a presentation concerning the online and face-to-face degree programs being initiated, and their availability to adults and in-school students in McKean County.


Marcellus Shale: Boom Or Doom? NY Times, Coalition, Agencies and Politicians Differ
by Martha Knight

Weeks ago an Associated Press (AP) story provoked the Marcellus Shale Coalition’s ire.  It peppered media and e-mail recipients of its newsletter with strongly worded messages taking issue with the AP story.

Now it’s the N.Y. Times, where a series by Ian Urbina has begun running.  Urbina’s first piece asserts, among other things, that water used in hydrofracking is being inadequately treated before discharge into waterways, and can contaminate drinking water. Regulation and monitoring are dangerously lax, according to the first article in the series.

Predictably, the Coalition is waxing indignant.  Other readers are weighing in, too.  Senator Bob Casey (D, Pennsylvania) is expressing alarm about radiation and other contamination reaching the public and calling for Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) action and legislation to deal with the threat.

Penn State experts are among those utilized by the Coalition in its support of an industry-friendly stance by state and local government and regulatory agencies at all levels. But the local face of Penn State U seen in its Extension and Agriculture services has worn a worried look, and its public education efforts have advocated protection of the aquifer from unintended consequences of exploration and drilling.

Urbina’s inaugural piece in the series mentions activities in numerous locations, but focuses on Pennsylvania enough to have the Coalition thoroughly aroused.

“The risks are particularly severe in Pennsylvania, which has seen a sharp increase in drilling, with roughly 71,000 active gas wells, up from about 36,000 in 2000. The level of radioactivity in the wastewater has sometimes been hundreds or even thousands of times the maximum allowed by the federal standard for drinking water. While people clearly do not drink drilling wastewater, the reason to use the drinking-water standard for comparison is that there is no comprehensive federal standard for what constitutes safe levels of radioactivity in drilling wastewater,” wrote Urbina.

The head of the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources until recently, John H. Quigley, is quoted as decrying the lack of an adequate plan for dealing with radioactive waste and harmful chemicals brought to the surface in Marcellus shale drilling operations. But a Department of Environmental Protection former chief, John Hanger, has supported the Coalition’s debunking efforts.

Urbina states that shale drilling is bringing and will bring greater dangers to environment and health than have been understood, or prepared for, or dealt with in laws and regulations. Unless that situation changes, the Times article emphasizes, drinking water contamination is the likely outcome, and it can be expected to be harmful to our health.

The Times story says it relies on a number of studies, including some that have not been made public. The studies indicate that checks of drinking water supplies and also of wastewater treatment plant output are too infrequent to protect the public, and that treatment methods now in use are not designed, or able, to remove all the classes of contaminants present in shale drilling waste water.

The story depicts EPA as being lax concerning radioactivity levels in drinking water, and failing to require safeguards some studies show to be needed.

And if the risk radioactive contaminants in drinking water are not dangerous as such, to users, the introduction to those contaminants to the food chain is of real significance, the Times story says, and the harmful effect will be cumulative.

In this area, the fact that horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing of gas-bearing shale add up to a whole new way to get at natural gas is widely understood. Everyone has heard of “the Marcellus shale” and that a gas drilling and producing boom is anticipated. The probable effects on the economy and roads have been discussed.

Locals tend to welcome the idea of jobs, and upticks in business and housing demand, and economic development opportunities.  At the same time, there is concern about damage to rural roads, bridges and culverts, soon to be trafficked by heavy trucks and machinery rural roads were not designed to carry.

There have been concerns about streams, on the part of such groups as the Upper Allegheny Watershed Association and Trout Unlimited, which have been organizing volunteer monitoring teams.

Those concerns are closer to the ones raised in the Times article. They are about water.  After all, the hydro in hydrofracking as about water.  The significant difference in this kind of drilling, from the technology used in previous natural gas drilling many area residents are familiar with, is the use of water, injected at high pressure, carrying chemicals and sand with it, breaking up tiny pockets and releasing precious methane.

It isn’t just sand pumpings in pits that present a disposal problem.  It is millions of gallons of water, regurgitated, recovered, from those far deeper wells, in shale drilling.  Where will it go?

The water is reused, sometimes many times, as the Coalition likes to emphasize. Reuse for more fracking doesn’t require much but careful storage, reinjection and re-recovery. Recycling means that less water has to be withdrawn from regular water supplies, including area streams.  Otherwise, the demand might outstrip what local streams can provide, and lower water levels enough to degrade stream quality and stress associated animal and plant life.

And recycling means less “used” frack water will have to be discharged.  If it can be cleaned acceptably, just as other waste water must be (think sewage treatment plants), disposal will be through a treatment plant and out the other side.

Or maybe disposal will be into a well drilled specifically for that purpose, the Times story suggests. But ask Penn State Water Quality specialist Jim Clark, a well-known figure and apostle of aquifer protection, and he will say that isn’t a good option. Previous drilling activity already has resulted in creation of much underground storage of drilling “brine.” Clark says the state is “Swiss cheese” as it is, due to past gas drilling activities.

Various sources agree that extensive use of underground repositories for used fracking water would have to be so far down, and in such impermeable formations, that it would be impractical to rely heavily on that method.

The demand for water at well sites has been seen as a possible “boon from the boom” for some municipalities. Companies are gearing up to supply water for fracking, and they would be willing to buy effluent from sewage treatment plants. Port Allegany Borough has cooperated with one such company by providing for an alternate discharge from the treatment plant, to storage tanks erected by the company on its land near the plant.

The water would be purchased from the borough and transported in tanker trucks to drilling sites. The borough would receive revenue, the water would be recycled. “It’s a win-win,” said borough manager Richard Kallenborn in describing the plan to the borough council.

At the time, there was no concern that recovered frack water could be untreatable by the plant, or harmful to the river or a threat to water supply safety even after conventional treatment. Stricter regulations or enforcement, and the addition of testing procedures to measure contaminants not being tested for now, could alter that win-win equation.

Paul McCurdy, environmental specialist for Ridgway Borough’s sewage treatment operation, told the Times the Ridgway plant is taking in around 20,000 gallons of drilling waste a day. Currently treatment plants are not required to test for radioactive waste, and not equipped to remove it if it is present.

For that matter, DEP isn’t equipped to deal with the volume or the changing profile of waste, an unnamed agency inspector is quoted as admitting. Legislation now being considered would require treatment plants to begin testing for radioactivity in wastewater.

In fact, Governor Tom Corbett has said regulation of the gas industry (under the administration of his predecessor, Governor Ed Rendell) has been too aggressive.

“I will direct the Department of Environmental Protection to serve as a partner with Pennsylvania businesses, communities and local governments,” Corbett says on his website.

Shortly after the Times article appeared, the Coalition fired back: “While raising some valid questions about water monitoring, this article – seven months in the making – lacks context, offers misleading comparisons and in some cases put forth information that is not supported by the facts.” There followed a list of what the rebuttal called “NY Times Myths,” with “additional information” that would “[paint] an entirely different picture…”

The Times statement that Pennsylvania is the only state that allows drillers to discharge much of their waste through sewage treatment plants into rivers is followed by a Coalition statement that the vast majority of produced water is reused in drilling operations.

Quoting a source as saying an average of 90 percent of the water that returns to the surface in a drilling operation is reused, the Coalition does not explain how that bears on the discharge of drilling water into rivers, through treatment plants, after reuse.

The Coalition states that the goal is 100 percent reuse “so we don’t have to discharge.”

The DEP performed nearly 5,000 inspections of Marcellus Shale drilling sites last year, about twice as many as in the previous year, the Coalition says.

The Coalition quarrels with the Times for having said in another recent article that the drilling method under discussion is not called hydraulic fracturing, and is not new, whereas the Urbina article states that “high-volume horizontal hydraulic fracturing, or hydrofracking” is a “relatively new drilling method.”

In the Coalition’s release, the Times statement that 3,300 permits were issued in 2010 was criticized for not having been followed with the “proper context” that “less than half that number of wells were actually drilled.”

The Times story’s statement that there has been a steep increase in drilling, with 71,000 active gas wells, up from 36,000 in 2000, is juxtaposed by the Coalition with the information that only 2,498 of those wells are horizontal Marcellus wells.

Also, the Coalition complains that Urbina quoted, but did not interview, Hanger, according to a statement on Hanger’s blog.

Senator Casey’s reaction to the widely discussed Times piece included letters to acting DEP secretary Michael Krancer and EPA administrator Lisa P. Jackson.

“No threat to Pennsylvania drinking water should be taken lightly; especially one involving radioactive material,” Casey said. “Alarming information has been raised that must be fully investigated. I am calling on the DEP and the EPA to increase inspections of Pennsylvania drinking water resources for radioactive material and to account for why sufficient inspections haven’t taken place.”

Casey said he thinks gas drilling can be a job creation engine and provide an economic boost to the state. “But we must get this right,” he notes. “It must be done in a way that protects the health and safety of Pennsylvanians and workers, doesn’t disproportionately burden local governments, doesn’t leave our roads in ruins and that creates jobs for Pennsylvanians, not for people from other states.”

Casey is sponsoring the “FRAC” Act, short for Fracturing Responsibility and Awareness of Chemicals, and on-the-job training act to provide grants for training local Marcellus Shale-related jobs, and the FASTER Act, short for Faster Action Safety Team Emergency Response to deal with safety concerns and emergency response at well sites.

While natural gas-related industries are experiencing resurgence, the controversies surrounding Marcellus harvesting activities have triggered expectations in at least one profession: law. It may be a sign of “the times” that the Allegheny County Bar Association’s Environmental and Energy Law Section has announced an upcoming continuing legal education (CLE) program titled “Marcellus Shale 101.”

Dave Sewak, a field organizer for the Seneca Chapter of Trout Unlimited specializing in Marcellus Shale matters, will present “Marcellus Play in PA” at the Vo-Tech (Seneca Highlands Career and Technology Center) at 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 23.

The 30-minute presentation will cover hydrofracking, environmental concerns, and TU’s activities relating to it.


Commissioners Learn Of Courses - McKean County Commissioners Judy Church, left, and Joe DeMott, right, were interested in the new educational opportunities being offered to McKean Countians through Butler County Community College and Jeff Tech, including a number of courses via Internet. Jill Martin Rend, center, made a presentation about the courses at the commissioners' meeting Tuesday morning.  Martha Knight Photo/Story

Not Too Late For Girl Scout Cookies - Several local Girl Scout troops have ordered extra cases of cookies to sell to those who either missed out on the door-to-door sale or those who are ready for more of the tasty treats.  Troop 22117 is pictured at their cookie booth sale held Friday night at the Moose Family Center.  Daisy Scouts Makayla Alcorn, Maycie Howard, Autumn Heap, Gillian Treat and Audrea Gimino are pictured with leader Latisha Hallock.  The Girl Scouts will hold their Powder Puff Derby Saturday, March 12 at the Port Allegany Elementary School.  Pam Fischer Photo/Story


WalkWorks - Thinking of starting a walking routine?  Your timing couldn't be better!  The University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health has teamed up with the Pennsylvania Department of Health on an important project called WalkWorks.

It's goals are:

WalkWorks is mapping and marking the trails, letting you know where they are and getting groups together in you community to get out and get walking.

Sign up and get or stay healthy and fit and shed a few pounds just in time for summer.

If you would like to participate either as a group leader or just to go out and have fun with peers Please contact:  Claudia Caminite, Coordinator, WalkWorks, (814) 362-5044.


Housing Authority Bans Smoking

by Martha Knight

SMETHPORT—Tenants in 216 public housing units operated by the McKean County Housing Authority (MCHA), and 102 more owned by the non-profit affiliate A Partnership In Housing, should be breathing easier since March 1.

That’s when a new policy became effective, making all those apartments smoke-free, according to Dusti Dennis, executive director of the MCHA.

The new policy had been under consideration for some time, in keeping with a 2009 recommendation from the U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Department.

Last December the MCHA board of directors voted to make all its properties smoke-free as of March 1, 2011. This followed a period when MCHA tenants had been given a copy of the proposed policy and invited to comment in writing.  In the comment period most residents who responded expressed approval of the change. A survey found that come 27 percent of the residents were smokers.

Reasons HUD has given for recommending that local housing agencies implement no-smoking rules include fire safety, second-hand smoke migrating to other residents’ air space, and cleaning costs after smoker move-outs as much as double those for non-smokers.

Dennis noted that many tenants in multifamily buildings and elderly housing complexes have respiratory disorders and other health challenges, and some families include young children, with all of those situations representing a need to avoid exposure to tobacco smoke.

Some residents will find it hard to stop smoking, Dennis concedes. MCHA anticipated that, and has worked with the Bradford Regional Medical Center to assist residents in learning about the smoking cessation services offered at the hospital. Dennis hopes some residents will decide to quit smoking, thus benefiting themselves, in addition to the air quality and health benefits that will result throughout the public housing and housing partnership buildings.

Not included in the smoke-free policy are the 240 participants who receive housing subsidies through the Section 8 program. The units they live in are privately owned, and the landlords establish their own policies concerning smoking.

More information is available by calling Dennis at 887-5563.


Gator Basketball Banquet - Kody Taylor, Seth Lowery and Chad Barnard pose for the R-A camera during the 2011 Annual Basketball Banquet held Saturday night at the Port Allegany Elementary School.  These three seniors were honored guests at the banquet along with the senior Lady Gators including statistician Ashley Bernardi, Renee Edgell, Kyley Mickle, Cora Bova and Bryanna Evens;  and Cheerleaders Breanna Foster, Amber Fischer and Caryne Healy.  Also pictured is Varsity Head Coach Bob Raudenbush with senior manager Adrian Schroll.  MC for the evening was Joy Barnard.  More photos from this event will appear on this week's picture page.  Pam Fischer Photos/Story


Junior High Basketball - Jordan Seefeldt is pictured bringing the ball down the court during Friday's basketball competition with Otto-Eldred.  The Junior High Basketball season is underway now through March 31.  Coaching the Gators are Jeff Stuckey and Randy Garzel.  Coaches for the JH Lady Gators are Mike Nasto, Jeff Schultz and Tony Edgell.  Pam Fischer Photo/Story



Volunteer Hours - The Sig Anderson Training Award was presented to Lucas Johnson for having the highest number of formal training hours of any member of the Star Hose Fire Co. #1.  Presentation of the Award was made at the 2011 Banquet by current Fire Chief Fred Roys.  Lieutenant Johnson was also recognized with four of his fellow firefighters with a Unit Citation.  More photos from the Star Hose Co. #1 Banquet can be found on this week's picture page.  Pam Fischer Photo/Story


After The Feast - Four siblings admire the "Cooking Up a Storm for Scleroderma" cookbook, after the benefit dinner party their family and friends put on Saturday night. The crew had cooked and decorated for hours, turning the Free Methodist Fellowship Wing into a tropical paradise. Shown from left are Tony, Courtney, Alesha and Autumn Shatley. Courtney is battling scleroderma, rare in a teenager.  Martha Knight Photo/Story


Recognized - A Unit Citation was presented to (pictured left to right) Lieutenant Lucas Johnson, Captain Alex Johnson, Firefighter Robert Roys, Firefighter Robert Roys and Firefighter Wayne Stambaugh (not pictured) for their actions at an October 2010 fire in which they located and removed an occupant from a fire building.  The presentation was made at the  Star Hose Co. #1 annual banquet which was the first formal event for the fire company in 2011, the year in which the fire department celebrates their 125th Anniversary.  More photos from this event appear on this week's picture page.

STAR HOSE BANQUET - Star Hose Co. #1, Port Allegany Fire Department held their annual Firemen's Banquet on Saturday, March 6.  The banquet was the first formal event for the fire company in 2011, the year in which the fire department celebrates their 125th Anniversary.

The program for the evening was provided by McKean county District Attorney Raymond Learn.  Mr. Learn spoke about some of the high profile arson cases that have occurred in the county over the past several years.

Following the program, awards were presented to the following:  Service Awards went to Dave Lacher, 1 year; Dawn Spencer, 20 years; Brian Evens, Kevin Ernst, Dan Roys, Dave Hobbs, 25 years; Robert Hartle, 30 years; Rod Johnson, 35 years; and Charles Guncheon and Lee Stahlman with 45 years.  The Past Chief award was presented to Kevin Ernst for his service as Chief of Department for eight of the past nine years.

The Sig Anderson Training Award was presented to Lucas Johnson for having the highest number of formal training hours of any member.

A Unit Citation was presented to Captain Alex Johnson, Lieutenant Lucas Johnson, Firefighter Nathan Kio, Firefighter Robert Roys, and Firefighter Wayne Stambaugh for their actions at an October 2010 fire in which they located and removed an occupant from the fire building.

Invited guests in attendance included McKean County Commissioners Al Pinge, Judy Church and Joe DeMott; Annin Township Supervisors Dave McFall and John Barr; Fire Chiefs Roy Burt from Smethport, John Ratzel from Eldred Township, Kevin Cummings from Eldred Boro and Ray Kulp and Brad Tucker from Roulette. Pam Fischer Photo/Story


Another Souper Bowl Story - Emi Tanaka and Mary Rosenswie are pictured as they serve soup at a luncheon held for the congregation on Super Bowl Sunday.  Also pictured are some of the members of that congregation in their favorite team gear holding the $207 they collected for the local food bank, PACS.  They are Dennis Williams, Earleen Postlewaite, Tim Fitzpatrick, Bob Christensen, Emi Tanaka, Taro Tanaka, Mary Rosenswie, Emily Johns, Ursula Rosenswie and Ellen Johns.  The church also collected food items to go with their monetary donation.  Pam Fischer Photo/Story


Showcase This Weekend - Seniors Tyler Smith, Julia Collver and Colleen Hardes are pictured during Monday night's rehearsal for Showcase 2011.  Showcase is presented by the Port Allegany School District Music Department.  Admission price is $3 with tickets available at the Port Allegany School District Office and at the door on the night of the performance.  Pam Fischer Photo/Story



Soup Supper Before Showcase - The Port Allegany Music Boosters are sponsoring another "Souper Supper" Saturday, March 12 from 5:00 - 7:00 p.m. prior to the Saturday performance of Showcase 2011.  The meal consists of soup/chili, bread, crackers, beverage and dessert.  Cost is $4 per person.  Pam Fischer Photo/Story



Lenten Services Luncheon - The Lenten Luncheons, sponsored by the Port Allegany Ministerium, began Wednesday March 9 at the First Presbyterian Church located on Church Street (behind the former Arby's building).  The first speaker was Rev. Laverne Howard of the Sartwell Creek Church.  Week two speaker is Rev. John Lapp from the Two Mile Mennonite Church; Week three speaker will be Rev. Daniel Fuller from the Free Methodist Church and the last speaker in March will be Rev. J. T. Madison from the Covenant Church.  Services begin at 12:05.  A light lunch is served following the service.  All are welcome and encouraged to attend.


Borough Back Bench - Attending the Borough Council meeting were a number of people who provide services to the community, from fire fighters to code enforcement to borough crew workers.  Martha Knight Photo/Story



Rotary Roundup - The Port Allegany Rotary Club met February 24.  Christa Schott was the program chair for the day.  Guest speaker was District Justice Ray Learn who spoke about an informative/prevention program for students in grades 6, 7 and 8 and tells of all the dangers of being involved in illegal activities.  The program was titled, 2 Smart 4 Trouble.  Club Assembly was held at the March 3 meeting.  Photo Submitted



Girl Scout Sunday - Girl Scouts and leaders were recognized during the morning worship service at the Port Allegany United Methodist Church as March 6 was Girl Scout Sunday.  Pictured are Laura Decker with her daughter (front) Jocelyn, Brandy Lathrop, Julie Lathrop and Shirley Bigley.  Pam Fischer Photo/Story



Latest Cat's Meow Piece - Several groups of Red Hatters had a fund raiser two years ago and donated the proceeds to the Building Fund to be used to sponsor Cat's Meow pieces.  The latest in the series, the Grand Theater, was one of these pieces.  The groups have also sponsored the Sartwell House and the Train Depot.  Representing the Red Hat groups are (front row) Edna Taylor, Gloria McDowell; (back) Debbie Shaffer, Carolyn Witter and Mary Ellen Lewis.  Proceeds from the Cat's Meow Series go to the Building Fund for the new library.  Pam Fischer Photo/Story


2011 Chili Cook-off - Pictured are the 2001 winners of the Veteran's Memorial Incorporated Chili Cook-off held Saturday, March 5th.  Left to right:  First Place Winner George Baker, Second Place Winner Rich Poniktera and Third Place Winner Karen Homell.  Photo Submitted



Dougherty-Marth Engagement - Howard and Luann Dougherty of Lemoyne are pleased to announce the engagement of their daughter, Erin Lynn to Robert Marth III, the son of Robert, Jr. and Debbie Marth of Jacksonville, FL.

Miss Dougherty  graduated from Millersville University with dual degrees in Elementary Education and Special Education.  She obtained her Master's degree in Educational Leadership from Wilkes University and is employed as an Emotional Support teacher at the E. T. Richardson Middle School in the Springfield School District in Springfield. She is a resident of Aston.  She is the granddaughter of the late Louis and Marjorie Zlobec of Port Allegany.

Also an Aston resident, Mr. Marth graduated from Penn State University College of Engineering with a degree in Computer Engineering.  He obtained his master's degree in Applied Statistics from Villanova University and he is the manager of Integrated Distribution Systems in the reimbursement analyst department of Independence Blue Cross in Philadelphia.

A July 16, 2011 wedding is being planned.