Fast Eddie's Fudge Factory: Get Real

Why did Gov. Ed Rendell trash a more extensive, less positive state audit of Medicaid error rates? Because it doesn't suit his political purposes as well as a less extensive, more positive federal audit that does.

Mr. Rendell says elected officials of both parties should stop using the state Department of Public Welfare, which administers federal Medicaid funding, as a "whipping boy" because a new federal audit found a 4-percent error rate in Pennsylvania's handling of Medicaid cases.

But the feds' audit covered just 500 cases. One released last month by state Auditor General Jack Wagner -- which covered 13,789 cases -- told a far different story: a whopping 15.5-percent error rate.

Rendell says the state audit is "out of line and out of whack." And it is -- with his priorities. But it's perfectly in line with taxpayers' priorities. Mr. Wagner says correcting a 10-percent error rate could save $436 million that could help close Pennsylvania's $4 billion budget gap.Republican Gov.-elect Tom Corbett will consider Wagner's Medicaid audit as he targets all sorts of Harrisburg waste, fraud and abuse.

And expect savings to be found that Rendell -- a truth-fudging tax-and-spend Democrat to the end -- never did during his eight years as governor.


DRO Bids Tabled For Week                                By Martha Knight

SMETHPORT—Bids totaled more than $1million when McKean County Commissioners opened interior work quotations Tuesday morning, relating to the new Domestic Relations facility.

Apparent low bidders were Carl E. Swanson and Sons, Bradford, general contractor, $295,975; Mazza mechanical Services, Olean, N.Y., mechanical, $207,000; Dasco Plumbing, Shippenville, plumbing, $$94,200; and NW Service Co., Warren, electrical, $479,000.

Some of the project components were said to have been bid in a higher range than originally estimated, but commissioners said the overall total seemed to meet expectations.

The commissioners tabled a decision to award contracts to the low bidders on the Domestic Relations “interior fit-out” work at the new Domestic Relations building. The shell has been erected on county-owned land near the jail.

A decision on those contracts is expected to come at the commissioners’ meeting on January 4, 2011. Meanwhile the bids will be studied in detail, for compliance with specifications.

In the regular meeting that followed the bid opening, commissioners authorized contracts and letters of agreement with the following service providers for the Department of Human Services:

Beacon Light Behavioral Health, JS Transport Services, Mars Home for Youth, and foster parents Gary and Susan Tessmer and DeWayne and Elva Werts.

A schedule of commissioners’ meetings for 2011 was adopted. It calls for meetings to be held at 10 a.m. in second and fourth Tuesdays, in the Commissioners’ Meeting Room in the Court House, except for meetings that will be held on January 4, April 5, July 19, October 4 and November 15 and 29.

Also adopted were the rules and regulations governing commissioners’ meetings, which are similar to those that have been in use right along.

Formal approval was given to salaries and wages for bargaining and non-bargaining employees who are not elected officials. All are receiving three percent increases. Those amounts were calculated into the 2011 general budget.

The county budget itself and the tax levy supporting it were given formal approval as well. There were no changes from the proposed budget that had been set earlier. Millage is unchanged, at 8.25, and the per capita tax continues to be $5 per adult county resident.

A previous decision by the commissioners was enacted in the form of a note resolution, which authorizes the borrowing of up to $3.5 million, as may be needed for cash flow, from PNC Bank’s Erie office, at a rate of 1.82 percent interest.

A Tax and Revenue Anticipation Note is used most years. Whatever amount is borrowed in the course of the TRAN is to be repaid on or before December 31, 2011.

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) will be provided with the entire county tax parcel geographical information system (GIS) data layer. Commissioner chairman Joe DeMott observed that this is in keeping with a policy recently adopted by the commissioners.

Cleaning contracts were renewed, for the Children and Youth Services Building, the 911/Emergency Management Agency Building and the Old County Home county offices. The “newer” building costs are pegged to $25 per day, and the other areas are to cost $10 a day for each area.

A new contract with waged employees of the McKean County Jail was ratified. The AFSCME unit had voted its approval Monday.

The four-year agreement calls for three percent increases in wages for 2011 and 2012, and 3.5 percent in 2013 and 2014. The shift differential is increased from 50 cents to 60 cents per hour.

Also, the longevity wage increments of $110 per increment year (after the first five years of employment) will continue through 25 years henceforth, rather than 20. The records clerk position was upgraded 60 cents an hour.

An invoice from Bradford City for $16,834 was approved. It represents payment for completion of its 2010 project funded under the Liquid Fuels program.

Under the Commissioners’ Comments item on the agenda, DeMott and fellow commissioners Judy Church and Al Pingie said they wish county residents a happy new year.

Under general public comments, Bruce Stone of Port Allegany and a reporter asked about the Area Transportation Authority (ATA) service. DeMott noted that he has been in contact with the director concerning the services the six-county agency provides within McKean County.



Penn State Coach Joe Paterno Sees No Reason To Leave Coaching After The Outback Bowl

TAMPA, Fla. -- Joe Paterno and his family maintain Saturday's Outback Bowl contest with Florida is merely the next game in the 84-year-old Penn State coach's legendary career.

A very popular Internet-driven rumor, however, maintains it is Paterno's last game for health reasons.

Paterno's status for 2011 is the hot topic down here and all throughout the Nittany Lion nation.

The Penn State coach, whose current contract expires at the end of the 2011 season, battled an intestinal bug throughout last spring and summer and was slowed by a cold during the final month of the Lions' 7-5 regular season.

But if there is a plan in place for Paterno to step down shortly after the Outback Bowl, neither Joe, nor his wife Sue, nor daughter Mary Katherine Hort is aware of it.

"I don't know when I'm gonna get out,'' Paterno said Tuesday afternoon during a joint news conference with Florida's 46-year-old head coach, Urban Meyer. It will be Meyer's last game at Florida, by the way.

"People think I'm going to quit this year or next year, I haven't even thought of it,'' continued Paterno, who, by the way, also said he would return for 2011 a few days before PSU's 28-22 loss to Michigan State in the Nov. 27 regular-season finale.

"I honest to goodness have not thought of it.''

But the rumor will not go away. Philadelphia Daily News sports columnist Bill Conlin, one of the most respected writers in the business and a man who used to cover PSU and Paterno, told Paterno he did a Google search of "Joe Paterno latest rumors".

Conlin said it produced 393,000 responses. Conlin asked Paterno about the effect of social networking on a person's privacy. In this case, a famous person's privacy.

"I just don't particularly like the idea of people having that much access to anything they want to put on there [the internet],'' Paterno said.

A couple of PSU media members discussed the Joe Paterno retirement rumor with Paterno's wife, Sue, and daughter, Mary Katherine Hort, during a public appearance Monday in Tampa.

Sue Paterno said she field a call at the Paterno home in State College wondering about Joe Paterno's condition considering he was in the hospital.

One problem -- Joe wasn't in the hospital.

"I told people when they called last week, I said, 'He's fine, he's in Florida,' '' Sue Paterno told, a well-known Penn State Internet site.

They said, 'No, he's not, he's in the hospital.' I said, 'No, he's in Florida … you don't know what you're talking about.' I knew they were calling me a liar. But I knew where he was.''

"It's not his planned last game,'' Hort said.

"We got a big problem in State College last week,'' Joe Paterno said.

"Somebody said I was down at the Hershey [Medical Center]. … Geez, I was home chewing out somebody for being late for a [team] meeting. It's ridiculous. I don't know when I'll get out of it. And I haven't even thought about it.''

Major college football's all-time wins leader -- 401 and counting -- said his high comfort level at Penn State is a major reason why he has continued to lead the Penn State program. Lions defensive coordinator Tom Bradley was a finalist for the Temple head job that recently went to Florida assistant Steve Addazio. But Bradley, a PSU grad who has served under Paterno for 32 years, is staying, and so is everyone else on Paterno's staff.

"I haven't even thought of [leaving],'' Joe Paterno said Tuesday.

"The situation around me is very stable. The athletic director [Tim Curley] was a kid that I recruited as a walk-on, the coaches have been with [me], I haven't had a lot of guys leave. Our president [Graham Spanier] has been with us now maybe 14-15 years.

"We have a lot of fun together. I don't see any reason to get out of it yet.''

New Owners - Jamie Evens, Josh McNeil and Kerry Hawver are the new owners of the Seneca Inn located on Route 6, just outside of Port Allegany.  The trio promise the same great pizza and burgers along with a new menu.  The Seneca Inn will be open seven days a week at 3:30 p.m.  The family-friendly business is available for parties of all kinds including bachelor, bachelorette, graduation and birthdays.  Take outs are available. On New Year's Eve, the Seneca Inn will feature DJ Kerry.  No reservations are needed.  A grand opening is being planned for January 15, 2011.  To place an order, book a party or for further information, call the Seneca Inn at 642-7679.  Pam Fischer Photo/Story


Collecting For PACS - Santa and Mrs. Claus made a stop at Citizens and Northern Bank last week to wish the employees and customers a Merry Christmas.  Children were invited to visit with Santa who thanked everyone for their donations to PACS (Port Allegany Community Services).  Pictured with the jolly couple are Nancy Hardes, Penny Barr and Peggy Majot.  Pam Fischer Photo/Story


November Unsung Heroes - Sunday School student, Jena Young (middle) is pictured with November UNSUNG HEROES Bryanna Evens and Marianna Seefeldt.  Pam Fischer Photo/Story



Head Start Visitor - Lilly Babcock welcomed a special visitor at the Northern Tier Community Action Corp Port Allegany Center when her great-grandma Nancy Burrows came to visit.  Mrs. Burrows shared lunch with Lilly who was the star of the week.   Pam Fischer Photo/Story


Seniors Celebrate - Felicia Culver, Anna Mae Commino (seated) and Jackie Songer are pictured with Santa Claus during the Senior Center's annual Christmas dinner and party. The group presented center director, Angie Culver, with Christmas gift and their appreciation for her work throughout the year.  Pam Fischer Photo/Story



Kindergarten Tea - PAES Kindergarten students performed several holiday songs for their parents Tuesday afternoon at the school.  It was a busy day for the students who had an early morning visit from Santa Claus.  More photos from this event will appear on this week's picture page.  Pam Fischer Photo/Story



Pillowcases For Head Start Kids - The Sartwell Creek Care and Share Quilters presented students at the Northern Tier Community Action Corp. Port Allegany Head Start Center with custom designed pillowcases.  The students, pictured with their teacher Cathy Nelson, are showing off their new pillowcases.   Pam Fischer Photo/Story


Unsung Heroes - Susan Roboski  is pictured with Unsung Hero recipients, Joel and Dorothy Anderson. Also named as December Unsung Heroes were Mike Fischer, Sr., and his three daughters - Cathleen Bosworth, Alexis Reed and Kacie Fischer.  To nominate an Unsung Hero in your life, contact UMC Sunday School Superintendent, Pam Fischer.

The December 2010 UNSUNG HEROES were recognized during the morning worship service at the Port Allegany United Methodist Church.  Reader and Adult Sunday School Teacher, Susan Roboski made the presentation reading the following,

"As we name our December 2010 UNSUNG HEROES, we honor some of our own…

The first couple was to be honored earlier this year, but instead they were out of the country.  The wife is very active in the church serving in many positions over the years.  She is also an active member of the community and currently serves on the Library Board.  She and her husband were involved in the recent Moments to Remember program which raised money for the library.  The husband plays guitar with a couple different groups who have volunteered to play at Concerts on the Square and other community events.  He has shared his musical talents in this church.  Our first recipients for December are Joel and Dotty Anderson.

It has become a tradition to select a family of UNSUNG HEROES in the month of December.  The Stehle family was named in 2008 and the Kysors were our 2009 family. 

What is unique in this year's selection is that the mother and son of the family have already been recognized as UNSUNG HEROES.  The father was actually nominated months ago after making one of his almost-weekly deliveries to his Sunday-school teacher wife.  She mentioned to her class how he was always helping out in some way or another but never got any credit for doing so.  The kids then suggested that maybe he should be recognized as an UNSUNG HERO. 

While he didn't personally volunteer, for more than 30 years he has given countless hours for organizations and activities including Liberty Majorettes, Girl Scouts, PTO/Elementary Boosters,  Chamber of Commerce activities, Tiny Tot Contests, Glass Festivals, PAES Fundraisers, Music Boosters and more.  At church he has done more than his share of painting Sunday school rooms, mopping floors, hanging bulletin boards and moving furniture between rooms.  He cooks and delivers turkeys for the Thanksgiving Feasts and for the past several years he and Mr. Barnard have delivered hundreds of gifts to Adopt-A-Family recipients.  

He has helped to raise thousands of dollars for charities like Make-a-Wish, Christmas House, and Kids with Cancer through his love of motorcycle riding.  

Like their father, the daughters of the family also spent countless hours helping with the activities of their mother.  They all served as assistant teachers and/or nursery volunteers for Community-wide Vacation Bible School for several years.    

The eldest of the three girls proved to be very good with children while still in elementary school when her sister arrived.  She was a good big sister and mother's helper.  A  couple of years later, when the youngest member of the family came home from the NICU and weighing a whopping 4 pounds, 10 ounces, she handled her sister with ease while most adults were afraid to even hold the tiny baby.  

She began her own family at an early age and once again proved her ease at caring for children.  As a young wife whose husband was serving with the U. S. Army in Operation Desert Storm and later attended college out of town and worked on the road, she handled responsibilities that went far beyond her years.  

Currently, she is co-owner of a child care facility and has been known to go above and beyond the call of duty, having kept one of the children overnight when the parents were in desperate need of a sitter or keeping the center open after hours so a parent could attend a school meeting.  

Her sister and co-owner of the center, has also been known to go above and beyond her duties at work.  She grew up in this church, attending Sunday School and Youth Group.  She was a Peer Helper during her high school years and gave many hours of work through that group.

As an adult, she traveled from Bradford to Port Allegany each week to teach the Pre-school/Kindergarten class at this church.  For many years, she has helped organize and wrap gifts for the Adopt-a-Family and help shop for the gifts not taken by members of the congregation.   

She graduated from college while carrying her first child, started a new business while carrying the second and moved into a new home while carrying her third, all the time working one and sometimes two jobs.  

The youngest of the three girls also proved to have a knack with children.  She became an aunt at the age of 3 and would feed her nephew and help to change and care for him as much as the adults would allow.  When she was old enough to do so, she and her sister would volunteer their babysitting services caring for their nephews during summer vacation so their mother could work without the burden of child care costs.  She babysat on a regular basis for many families and often cared for these children on her own time to give their mothers a break.

Like her sister, she was a member of the PAHS Peer Helpers and also taught Sunday School at UMC for four years while attending college.

As an adult, she works for a school district running a day care center and teaching/mentoring the mothers of the center's children.  She often volunteers her time caring for children when their parents are in need of a break or need child care so they can go to work.

She has had more than her share of medical issues and earlier this year suffered a loss that no parent should have to deal with, yet, she did it all with remarkable dignity and grace.

Our Unsung Heroes for December 2010 are Mike Fischer, Sr., Cathleen Bosworth, Alexis Reed and Kacie Fischer."  Pam Fischer Photos/Story


Santa Stops At PAES - Santa Claus made a surprise stop at Port Allegany Elementary School Tuesday morning.  His visit delighted Kindergarten students who received special candy canes that were reported to be made by elves in the North North Pole.   Each student had a chance to sit on Santa's lap and give them their wish list in person.  Pam Fischer Photo/Story


Friendship Tea At Smethport Head Start - Parents and grandparents were invited to a Friendship Tea at the Northern Tier Community Action Head Start, Smethport Center.  The visitors enjoyed beverages and cookies and of course, friendship!  In the second photo, children are shown giving presents they choose for a friend while learning to be patient to say thank you.  Pictured with the children is Dawn McNeil.   Pam Fischer Photo/Story

Tree-mendous Love - Led by the Church Janitor and the Kid, played by Kyle Hunt and Frances Kujawski, Tree-mendous Love...from the Manger to the Cross was presented December 20 at Church of Gabriel The Archangel.  While telling the story, the tree was decorated by students from Pre-school to Senior High. Refreshments were served following the performance.  More photos from this event will appear on this week's picture page.  Pam Fischer Photo/Story


New Pitt Football Coach Released From Jail, Fired


The University of Pittsburgh fired its new football coach late today, shortly after he was released from jail in Indiana after being charged with domestic battery.

Pitt Chancellor Mark Nordenberg released the following statement this evening regarding Mike Haywood, who was named the new football coach last month:

"After careful consideration of recent events, the University of Pittsburgh has dismissed Michael Haywood as its head football coach, effective immediately. He was advised of that action this afternoon.

"To be clear, the University's decision is not tied to any expectation with respect to the terms on which the legal proceeding now pending in Indiana might ultimately be concluded. Instead, it reflects a strong belief that moving forward with Mr. Haywood as our head coach is not possible under the existing circumstances.

"This is a matter of real regret for the many people at Pitt who had looked forward to working with him. However, head coaches are among the University's most visible representatives and are expected to maintain high standards of personal conduct and to avoid situations that might reflect negatively on the University.

"We will immediately re-open our search for a head football coach, expanding the process to include a larger pool of candidates. Our goal is to move swiftly, but prudently, to find the right person to successfully lead the Pitt football program for what we hope will be an extended period of time."

Pitt spokesman E.J. Borghetti later released another statement, this one affirming the university's support for Athletic Director Steve Pederson, who hired Mr. Haywood:

"Mr. Pederson has played a key role in elevating Pitt's athletics programs, remains an important member of the University's senior leadership team and continues to enjoy the full support of the Chancellor."

Mr. Haywood was released from St. Joseph County Jail at 3:06 p.m. today after posting $1,000 bond, according to a jail official.

Mr. Haywood was arrested Friday afternoon and charged with domestic battery. St. Joseph County police were called to Mr. Haywood's home on Hawthorne Meadow Drive in South Bend, and a woman with whom Mr. Haywood has a child told officers that Mr. Haywood "held her in a choke hold" and pushed her.

Mr. Haywood originally was not going to be released until after his arraignment Monday at 1:30 p.m., a jail official said this morning. However, that changed when the St. Joseph County prosecutor increased the charge from a misdemeanor to a felony, according to the jail, allowing Mr. Haywood to be released earlier.

Under Indiana state law, domestic battery is a Class A misdemeanor, which carries a penalty of up to one year in jail and a maximum $5,000 fine. If the alleged battery occurred in the physical presence of a child who is younger than 16, it can be charged as a Class D felony.

According to the jail, the St. Joseph County prosecutor increased the charge to a felony because the alleged battery took place in the presence of Mr. Haywood's 21-month-old son. A Class D felony conviction could mean a jail term between six months and three years, with an advisory sentence of 1 1/2 years, and a maximum $10,000 fine.

When the alleged battery was classified as a misdemeanor, according to a jail official, Mr. Haywood's bond could not be posted until a no-contact order was filed and he was arraigned. When the prosecutor's office increased the charge to a felony, it issued an arrest warrant, which, according to the jail, established a bond and court date and allowed Mr. Haywood's bond to be posted.

Mr. Haywood will still appear in court for arraignment Monday at 1:30 p.m., the jail confirmed.

Contacted in Houston, Texas, where she resides, Mr. Haywood's mother said the family did not wish to make a statement because they had not spoken to him.