'Fracking' Has a Friend in Pennsylvania

Beneath the Eastern U.S. is enough natural gas to power the coast, perhaps for 50 years. But the cache is cordoned off because of concerns about “fracking,” the method of harvesting gas by blasting the shale with a mix of water, sand, and chemicals. The EPA is investigating if the method affects reservoirs, while landowners, spurred by flammable tap water and allegations of poisoned animals, have launched lawsuits. But fracking may be poised for a comeback—at least politically.

With the House in Republican hands, fracking is likely to survive efforts to regulate it under the Safe Drinking Water Act. But more significantly, this foe of environmentalists now has a friend in gas-rich Pennsylvania. Governor-elect Tom Corbett will soon reopen state land to new drilling, his spokesperson tells NEWSWEEK. That would clear the way for as many as 10,000 wells (up from the 25 active today) and, according to a recent study, create tens of thousands of new jobs and hundreds of millions in state- and local-tax revenue. The industry funded that research. But the prospect is tempting others: New York Governor-elect Andrew Cuomo is also open to lifting his state’s moratorium, says a spokesperson.

Source:  Newsweek

Auditor Gives School Finances Top Grade            By Martha Knight

David DiTanna, CPA, of Buffamente Whipple Buttafaro (Olean, N.Y.) had high praise for the financial management of Port Allegany School District, when he presented the annual audit report to the school board Monday night.

Adjectives DiTanna used included fantastic and excellent. Business manager Judy Bodamer and superintendent Tony Flint were mentioned as providing superior management, and praised for maintaining consistency in operations.

General “unqualified opinions” declared in the report represent the highest possible scores, DiTanna said.

One deficiency he noted had to do with purchase order handling during part of the period covered by the 2009-10 fiscal year, which ended June 30. He expressed approval of the current system Bodamer described to him and the board.

Another deficiency related to tracking federal ARRA (“stimulus”) funds, and  proof of compliance with the relevant program guidelines.

The district’s beginnings in preparing for coming financial stressors, such as increased health coverage and retirement costs, are wise steps, DiTanna said, and should be continued.

Aside from the two deficiencies, DiTanna gave the district management team a high score and encouraged continuation of the good work.

The audit presentation was moved to the top of the agenda so DiTanna could start his drive back to Olean. Then the board conducted its annual reorganization.

Board member Dave Mensch presided while Melynda Budd was re-elected board president. Daniel F. Kysor was re-elected vice-president. Both elections were unanimous, with no other nominations made.

Bodamer deferred committee appointments until the January meeting.

Bodamer was appointed primary voting delegate and borough manager Richard Kallenborn was appointed first alternate voting delegate to the county Tax Collection committee.

In personnel matters the board accepted the resignation of Sharon Daniels as English department head, effective November 8. Board member Gary A. Hardes asked whether Daniels was under contract as department head, and Flint replied that she was, but could resign from the supervisory position. Hardes voted No on the acceptance motion.

Adam Greenman and Kysor were approved as volunteer wrestling coaches for the 2010 season.

Carey Boyer and Cheryl Brown’s compensation for services to the dramatic and music departments was set at $350 each.

Danielle Dodge was added to the list of substitute teachers.

The board approved a revised Safety Policy. Bodamer, who chairs the relevant committee, said that the group meets monthly and is active in following up on incidents and pursuing additional measures to enhance safety.

The board adopted the required measure it has used each year, to declare that it will not increase taxes more than 2.1 percent for the 2011-12 fiscal year. This permits the board and administration to follow the regular timetable for budget preparation and adoption, with final action in June.

The schedule of 2011 meetings adopted by the board calls for regular meetings to be held at 7:30 P.m. in the elementary school large group instruction room {“Blue Room”) on second Mondays, and committee-of-the-whole meetings to be held at the same time and place on fourth Mondays. Both kinds are open to the public, by law, as are meetings of other committees.

Exceptions are that there are no board meetings scheduled for July, and in December there will be one meeting, on December 5.

Because the board will not meet again until January 10, 2011, the board voted to authorize the administration to prepare and pay the bill list which would otherwise be presented for action at the December 13 meeting.

Hardes told the board there had been an open house at the Seneca Highlands Area Vocational-Technical School recently, attended by 400 people. He said there are continued discussions of changing the school’s name to Career Center, but in his opinion, “a rose is a rose is a rose.”

Student Vocal Ensemble To Perform Today

BRADFORD, PA – The University of Pittsburgh at Bradford’s new student vocal ensemble will make its debut during a holiday concert Thursday, Dec. 9, at the campus.

The free Noon Tunes program will take place at 11:30 a.m. in the KOA Speer Electronics Lobby in Blaisdell Hall, as part of the university’s Spectrum Series. Students will perform a program that includes “Let it Snow!,” “Christmas Time is Here,” “Seasons of Love,” “The Most Wonderful Time of Year” and other holiday favorites.

There will also be solo performances: Brianna Pollock, a broadcast communications major of Doylestown, will sing "How Lovely are the Feet” (from Messiah) and Daniel Robinson, a pre-nursing major from Gifford, will sing “The Christmas Song.” A brief carol sing-along will round out the concert.

Other students in the choir include Jeremy Freer, a broadcast communications major from Cyclone; Karli Lawson, a biology major, and Katlyn Lawson, an elementary education major, both from Trevose; Kayla Neal, a public relations major from St. Marys; Colin Sullivan, a broadcast communications major from Olean, N.Y.; and Maria Tucker, a broadcast communications major from Philadelphia.

Pennsylvania General Assembly's Final Session Under Rendell Produces Fewest New Laws In A Generation

Gov. Ed Rendell certainly isn’t suffering from writer’s cramp.
Rendell hasn’t been signing nearly as many laws in the past two years as he had previously.
By any measure, the General Assembly’s final legislative session under Rendell produced little in substance or volume.
In terms of the number of new laws, it was the Legislature’s least productive session in a generation.
Outside of the approval of table games at casinos and some alterations to public pension systems, few can cite other significant new laws.
Few think of the last legislative session as one where taxpayers got their money’s worth from lawmakers.
“If it were a matter of pay for performance, they would owe us,” said Tim Potts, co-founder of Democracy Rising PA, a government reform advocacy group.
Lawmakers approved 226 new laws in the final two years — the lowest number in at least 12 legislative sessions.
Nearly three dozen new laws were ceremonial road and bridge namings or land transfers. One in five of the new laws were budget-related.
In the final legislative session of former Govs. Tom Ridge/Mark Schweiker administration, 433 new laws were enacted in 2000 and 2001.
And the total number of laws signed by Rendell during his eight years in office falls well below the administrations of Ridge and former Gov. Robert Casey.

More rancor than money

To be sure, Rendell and lawmakers faced the worst economy since the 1930s.
“To the extent that anything anybody wants to do requires money, which is most things, there was not a lot of available money,” said Gary Tuma, a spokesman for Rendell. “That depressed the agenda.”
That was not the case for Congress, though.
The current congressional session is said to have been the most productive session in nearly half a century, despite the partisan bickering and a difficult economy.
The Democratic-controlled Congress and President Obama approved laws to reform health care and bail out banks, the auto industry and state and local governments.
But Democrats paid a price for that productivity in last month’s elections. They lost control of the U.S. House of Representatives.
In Harrisburg, one reason for this session’s lackluster results may be because there was no full-blown post-election session in November, as has been the case with past sessions.
The only action that both chambers took after last month’s election was to override Rendell’s veto on a multi-faceted education bill.
In the past, these lame-duck sessions produced a flurry of substantive legislation that sometimes touched on controversial issues, such as pay raises.
However, government reform groups frowned on lame-duck sessions. Critics complained outgoing lawmakers could not be held accountable for their votes. This reaction led the state Senate to scuttle this legislative period in this session.
Ridge enjoyed an advantage Rendell surely envied. Ridge’s fellow Republicans controlled the House and Senate. But Rendell had to deal with a politically divided Legislature throughout his entire administration.
Republicans have held the Senate throughout the Democratic governor’s eight years. Democrats have held the majority in the state House for the last four years, but the GOP controlled the chamber in Rendell’s first four years.
In the final months of the Ridge-Schweiker administration, Republicans may have had extra incentive to pass legislation, since they faced the possibility of a Democratic administration, Tuma said.
“That may have resulted in a push for them ... to get more done,” Tuma said.

Some suggest the fewer new laws that go on the books, the better.
“If we could just get it down to zero, we’d be in good shape,” quipped David Patti, president & CEO of the Pennsylvania Business Council in Harrisburg.
But he and others note that numbers don’t tell the story of whether the session was a productive one.
It is whether the laws that were enacted moved Pennsylvania forward in any measurable way.
Using that yardstick, veteran lobbyists and longtime Capitol observers, for the most part, say the session was one of missed opportunities.
Bi-partisan conversations were held on the state’s need to replace the dollars lost from the federal rejection of tolling Interstate 80 to fix its roads and bridges and fund mass transit, but no plan resulted.
Lots of debate occurred over issues associated with the state’s burgeoning natural gas industry but no law resulted. Lawmakers at one point agreed in principle on placing a tax on natural gas drilling, but Democrats and Republicans clashed over the size of the tax. In the end, lawmakers couldn’t agree to impose a tax.
Many voiced concern about the anticipated $4 billion to $5 billion budgetary hole the state faces next year from the loss of federal stimulus funds and other big bills coming due.
Rendell proposed lowering the state’s sales tax from 6 percent to 4 percent and taxing more items to help address the state’s financial challenges, Tuma said. Along with that, he called for taxing cigars and smokeless tobacco and some business tax changes to generate more revenue. But Senate Republicans stood firmly against those ideas.
“There was a great reluctance to enact any legislation that had a fiscal impact,” said Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi.
“Some people, and I’ll start with the governor in that class, argued for more spending and more taxes. ... In hindsight, very clearly we were correct and if we had followed the governor’s lead in the last two budgets, we would be facing an even more difficult budget deficit in the coming year.”
Tuma maintains the Rendell proposed taxes would have put the state in better shape to deal with next year’s fiscal challenges. “Nevertheless we are in much better shape than a lot of states,” he said.
To those outside the Capitol, the political posturing and bickering looked bad, said Potts of Democracy Rising.
“From the ordinary citizen’s perspective, what they saw when they looked at the Legislature was the inability to confront problems facing the commonwealth ... and found nothing but legislative paralysis,” Potts said.
Patti was among the few that took an optimistic view on the Legislature’s productivity over the last two years.
Some business tax changes made in last year’s budget positions the state to be better off than others when the economy recovers, Patti said. And this year’s creation of an office to provide independent budget guidance to lawmakers could prove to be worth its weight in gold in future years.
The transportation funding debate, although falling short of producing a plan to address this issue, helped to tee it up for action in the next session, he said.
The pension reforms may not have been as comprehensive as some had hoped; the changes delay retirements and reduce benefits for newly hired workers but don’t affect current employees. Still, the legislation did provide immediate much-needed budgetary relief to state and local governments in their annual pension funding obligations.
“Delay is not always the worst thing,” Patti said. “Sometimes nothing is better than bad policy and sometimes, incremental and small steps are necessary to get to the big picture.”

Democrats were divided
Some observers blamed the lack of productivity on a fractured House Democratic caucus.
Critics said inexperienced Democratic leaders found it difficult to unite rank-and-file lawmakers, while bumping heads with a solidified Senate Republican front.
Pileggi cited the legal troubles related to the Attorney General’s investigation of corruption in the Capitol, which dogged a member of the House Democratic leadership.
Of the dozen individuals interviewed for this story, only former House Majority Leader Todd Eachus used the word “successful” in describing the just-completed session.
In a Nov. 30 letter Eachus sent out to “friends and colleagues,” he describes the last legislative session as “one of the most productive and successful in recent memory.”
“I think it was incredibly successful even in the two budgets we did. Democrats stuck to our values. We fought for seniors, children, veterans and education,” said Eachus.
Eachus was voted out of office last month, ending the Luzerne County Democrat’s 14-year legislative career.
Holding firm to their positions on preserving program funding for those segments of society was no easy task. He viewed the extension of unemployment compensation as a noteworthy accomplishment.
“We had to bring, as we did on most things, Senate Republicans kicking and screaming on the extension of benefits but we did it,” Eachus said.
But the House Democratic leadership put their caucus members in strangely difficult positions.

Because of the political repercussions with voters, tax votes are often only cast when they are assured of becoming law.
Yet the House Democratic leaders had their members cast votes to tax cigars and smokeless tobacco and natural gas drilling, knowing full well the GOP-controlled Senate had no interest in passing them.
“It was that type of bravado I thought was stupid,” said the lobbyist, who asked not to be identified.
Franklin & Marshall political scientist G. Terry Madonna noted those tough votes contributed to the tension within a caucus that was already fractured over fiscal and environmental policy differences that some had with caucus leaders or Rendell.
Rendell’s reluctance to accept his lame-duck status may have contributed to the drop in new laws, Madonna said.
“This is usually a time when the governor defers to lawmakers because all along it’s been about his agenda. Now it’s the Legislature’s turn,” Madonna said. “But Rendell continued to push a big-change agenda.”

Carvers' Association Offers Toy For The Holidays

The Allegheny Mountain Carvers' Association is offering for sale a toy Holgate Log Truck. This toy is an original design by one of our Allegheny Mountain Carvers Club members.  Holgate Toy Company (yes, THE Holgate company that is known for Mr. Rogers Neighborhood fame) has produced a dated, limited edition only for our club. The cost of this truck is $14.00 with the proceeds benefiting the annual Woodworking Wonders Carvers Festival that is held the third Saturday in June. The truck is solid maple wood with a clear finish and five wheels painted black. There are two removable "people" and three wood logs that are tied to the truck. The imprint on one side of the truck is the club name and the other side is the festival name. The front of the truck has the Holgate stamp as proof of it's authenticity.  Please call (814) 642-7533 for your orders. Shipping and handling is an additional $5 for up to three trucks. These are a limited edition collector's item: when they are gone they are gone forever. You can only get this special Holgate toy only through the carver's club in Port Allegany, PA. This Holgate Log Truck is available for the Christmas holidays. Don't miss this opportunity to fill a stocking with this special one-of-a-kind gift.

Gift Keeps On Giving - Rene Beltran, left, plant manager for Saint-Gobain Containers (Verallia) encourages Port Allegany United Fund president Keith Delacour by presenting the company's contribution of $8,730 toward the current UF campaign's goal of $29,000. Many plant employees also make personal contributions. Delacour said the company support is a shot in the arm to the United Fund, which needs all the help the community can give, to meet its goal by December 31. About 20 local agencies and programs, and the hundreds of people they serve, are counting on the United Fund.  Martha Knight Photo/Story

University Offers A Healthy Way To Kick Off 2011

BRADFORD, PA – Those wishing to kick off the New Year with a healthier lifestyle can attend three different exercise classes at the Seneca Building in downtown Bradford.

The University of Pittsburgh at Bradford Continuing Education and Regional Development will sponsor Overall Body Boot Camp, Total Body Toning, and Turbo Kick, each running for two sessions.

Overall Body Boot Camp will be held 5:30-6:30 p.m. Tuesdays Jan. 4-Feb. 22, and March 1-April 19, in the fifth-floor ballroom. Cost is $23 for a single session or $40 for both.

Instructor Denise Watson will show students how to shed weight quickly and build endurance. Hailed as intense, the workshop will include nonstop intervals of boot camp, plyometric drills and resistance training. Participants should bring an exercise mat and dumbbells; other equipment will be supplied.

Total Body Toning is set for 5-5:45 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays, Jan. 5-March 2, and March 7-April 27, in the fifth-floor ballroom. Each session is $35, and it is $65 for both.

Instructor Rhonda Race will detail how to pinpoint body problem areas, increase metabolism and cut inches. Students should bring 3-5 pound dumbbells and mats.

Turbo Kick will meet 6-7 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays, Jan. 5-March 2, and March 7-April 27, in the fifth-floor ballroom. Cost is $45 for one session and $85 for both.

Race will teach how students can tone their muscles and lose weight while jamming to upbeat music. This class will include kickboxing, dancing, plyometrics, martial arts, toning and stretching moves. Students should bring exercise mats.

For more information or to register, call Continuing Education at (814) 362-5078 or e-mail contined@pitt.edu.

Players, Performers to merge

PORT ALLEGANY—The Port Performers and the Potter Players will hold a joint meeting at 3 p.m. Sunday, December 12, in the Gethsemane Lutheran social hall on Arnold Avenue.

People interested in becoming involved in the combined group’s dramatic and musical productions are encouraged to attend the meeting.

Volunteers are needed for all aspects of production, from acting, singing and dancing to makeup, costuming, lighting, set construction and publicity.

The Potter Players have presented numerous theatrical and musical shows in recent years. The Port Performers’ initial production was “Moments to Remember,” a musical revue featuring music of the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. It was sponsored by the Port Allegany High School class of 1960, in late September, timed to coincide with Alumni Weekend.

The two groups plan to reorganize into one unit and produce shows to be performed in both Potter and McKean counties.

Holiday Band Concert - Members of the Elementary Band are pictured during a rehearsal held Tuesday morning at the Port Allegany High School.   The Port Allegany School District Concert Bands will present a Holiday Concert Thursday, December 9 at the school.   The program, featuring students in grade 5 - 12,  will begin at 7:30 p.m.  and is under the direction of Brad Stewart.  Tickets will be available at the door.  Pam Fischer Photo/Story

Wintersongs Coming - The Port Allegany School District Music Department will present Wintersongs featuring the choirs of the Port Allegany School District on December 17 and 18 at 7:30 p.m. in the Port Allegany high School Auditorium.  Tickets with a General Admission charge of $2 may be purchased through the PASD office and at the door on the night of the performance.

Collecting For PACS - Citizens and Northern Bank is collecting the following items for PACS (Port Allegany Community Services): Soup, crackers, macaroni and cheese, and boxed dinners.  There are 106 families being served this year.  Items will be collected up to December 21.  Santa and Mrs. Clause will be here from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.


Change Their Christmas - Port Allegany Cub Scouts spent Saturday morning collecting change for PACS (Port Allegany Community Services) in an effort to "Change Their Christmas" and by "their" they mean those in need in the Port Allegany community.  Several of those participating posed for the R-A camera following their collection.  They are: Ryan Bowser, Dakota Sherwood, Eli Undercofler, Kobie Slaugenhaupt, Alec Kiser and Blake Taylor. Pam Fischer Photo/Story


Checking It Twice - Making a list...checking it twice...Kobie Slaugenhaupt is pictured going over his Christmas Wish list with the Jolly Old Elf himself during Santa's Secret Shop.  Santa's Shop, sponsored by the Elementary Boosters, was held Saturday morning at the school.  Santa's visit was arranged by Joyce Stehle and Jefferson Stehle.  More photos of this event will appear on this week's picture page.   Pam Fischer Photo/Story


Hunting Buddies Successful - Hunting buddies Dave Frontino and Chris Fabish both shot eight-point bucks on Friday.  Fabish was the first to be successful getting his buck in the morning and Frontino got his later in the day.  Photo submitted



Hanging Of The Greens - Bruce Stone and Marge Hults are pictured as they work on the poinsettia tree at the Port Allegany United Methodist Church located on North Main Street.  On Sunday, the church held their annual "Hanging of the Greens" or Family Festival.  After Sunday school and morning worship, the congregation shared a meal and began decorating the church, inside and out.  Students will present their Christmas Program December 12 during the morning worship service.  Pam Fischer Photo/Story


Girl Scouts Get In The Spirit - Local Girl Scouts were busy Sunday afternoon as they decorated the gazebo located on the Town Square.  They also went caroling around town and at Page Place and Medburry Manor.   At the end of the afternoon, the girls and their leaders warmed up with a little hot chocolate at the Moose Family Center.  Pam Fischer Photo/Story


Raffle Winner Chosen - Women's Club President Debbie Johnson is pictured as she draws the winner for the club's Holiday Raffle Food Basket.  The winner was, for the second year in a row, Jean Lance.  Also pictured is PAWC Treasurer, Barb Bockoras.  Pam Fischer Photo/Story


Joan Carol Hosmer, loving wife, mother, and grandmother, 74, passed away Monday (December 6, 2010), at home surrounded by her loving family.  A full obituary can be found on the Port Obituaries page.

Charlotte E. Seefeldt, 86, of, Port Allegany, died Sunday (December 5, 2010) in the Sweden Valley Manor, Coudersport.  A full obituary can be found on the Port Obituaries page.

Allene M. Mowery, 95, of Route 155N, passed away peacefully Friday (Dec. 3, 2010) with her family by her side, in Sena Kean Manor, Smethport.  A full obituary can be found on the Port Obituaries page.