Roxy Bender writes to us-  I found this photo at my father’s home after he died. I have no idea who either of the men are in the photo. When I lived in Tioga I asked several people there and no one knew them either. Maybe the readers could help.

The two men, one is a State Trooper, appear with a mountain lion which was evidently killed by one of them.

We do not know what year the picture was taken or exactly where, but it was taken in Tioga County and involves a mountain lion, so it may be possible for readers who remember any such incidents to remember who might have been involved.

Peggy Lampman tells us- ”Makes me curious if this is the picture that goes with the story I heard long ago. I am sure others have heard it as well. About a farmer complaining about a mountain lion killing his calves and was told they don’t exist around here. When the farmer finally killed the large cat, he called the authorities to come out and see it. When they got to his farm they wanted to take the mountain lion.. The farmer told them, they couldn’t take something that doesn’t exist! LOL!

If you have any clues, send us your tips to editor@tiogafreedomist.com and we will share them with Roxy.

Let’s see if we cannot solve this little mystery…

who are these people

This bear was killed last year when it was hit by a vehicle on Rt 15 heading towards Blossburg.  Photo by Lonny Frost

This bear was killed last year when it was hit by a vehicle on Rt 15 heading towards Blossburg. Photo by Lonny Frost

Traffic Control Needed After Bear Is Hit

Article by Lonny Frost

A bear was struck and killed by a vehicle around 9:30 PM on April 23, 2014.   The accident occurred at 12029 Route 287,  near the Small Animal Hospital in Middlebury Township.

Neighbors in the area have reported seeing a bear in the area and along Catlin Hollow Road that looks to weigh around 300 lbs.  However, at this time, it is unknown if the bear hit was the one neighbors have told the Tioga Freedomist about.

Middlebury fire personnel reported the accident at 9:39 PM to the 911 dispatch center.  Middlebury Fire Department was then dispatched to assist with traffic control.  The responding crew  arrived on scene at 9:46 PM.

State police and Game Commission were both notified of the accident.

State police arrived on scene by 9:56 PM.

All units were cleared at 10:22 PM from the scene as the vehicle had been removed.

It was said the vehicle that struck the bear was towed away by Cooper’s Tow Service.  No human injuries were reported, the bear, however, was killed instantly.

Baker Says $9.3 Million Funding Grant for Canton Borough Will Lead to 221 New Jobs
HARRISBURG – State Rep. Matt Baker (R-Bradford/Tioga) today said a recent funding announcement of $9.3 million to renovate the Canton Borough Authority’s wastewater treatment plant will allow for the expansion of three business and the creation of 221 new jobs in the area.

“This funding is vital for so many reasons,” said Baker. “First, the current wastewater plant has reached the end of its life and can no longer keep up with current community demand. Second, by making sure this type of infrastructure is in proper working order and can service a higher volume of customers, we can expand our residential and business opportunities. Bradford County has been experiencing a welcome growth over the past several years, due to the beautiful area and increased job opportunities, and we need to make sure we have infrastructure in place to support this growth.”

The grant for the Canton Borough Authority is one of 13 projects awarded across the state through the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority (PENNVEST). The Canton Borough Authority will receive $4 million in the form of a grant and $5.3 million in the form of a 30-year loan with a 1 percent interest rate.

The project will include renovating the existing plant in order to bring its discharges into acceptable quality levels.

“Wastewater treatment is a complex and serious undertaking, and renovations and upgrades to a plant can be costly,” said Baker. “This combination grant and low-interest loan will enable the borough to make the necessary upgrades to meet demand and protect our environment.”

Baker also noted with the expansion of local businesses and increased job opportunities, the borough can expect to benefit from the investment of approximately $40 million in the area.

PHOTO- Wikipedia Coal Fired Plant in Nevada

PHOTO- Wikipedia Coal Fired Plant in Nevada

Blame and Impact? ANALYSIS BY BILL COLLIER- Thousands of Tioga County residents are getting massive utility bills, and while Penelec (First Energy) seems be the most commonly reported source of such bills, we have had reports from readers from all the other utility companies as well, although not everyone is experiencing the same swing in prices. The anger is palpable, especially as you talk to people who have received these bills.

(Note- this is an analysis article, its findings reflect the opinion of the author, your opinions or analysis are always welcome- Bill)

So what is the impact of these massive rate hikes on our local economy and who or what is to blame?

Such a massive, unexpected expense will hit consumers and small businesses hard=. It is not possible to quote any economic survey of our County, because none have been done on the heels of these rate hikes. However, any student of economics understands that if more money is demanded for utility bills less will be available for other consumption.

Our local economy is “reasonable” according to most measures (like average wage, unemployment, annual income, and the such), but, like the rest of the nation, it is not robust. (It does not feel “reasonable” to many of our readers who are enduring low wages of lack of employment options.) Our unemployment rate sits at 8.3%, while the national unemployment rate is 7.3%. Median Household Income was cited at around $42,000 during the last census report in 2012- http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/42/42117.html This is around $10,000 lower than for the rest of Pennsylvania and $11,000 below the US national average.

Economies that are not robust are incapable of absorbing massive and sudden cost increases in one sector, in our case the energy sector.

The impact for business is predictable- fewer consumer dollars will have a negative impact on overall sales. Business owners will need to focus on watching costs and focus more on competitive advertising to increase market share. In other words, with fewer consumer dollars, businesses will need to do more to get in front of potential customers.

Consumers will have to tighten their belts as well, at least until things either level out or action is taken by authorities to force the utilities to back off on these bills.

So much for the impact, which will be negative and which local businesses need to get out in front of now, but what about the cause, who or what is to blame?

Electricity generation, its supply, has decreased even as the rate of consumption continues to increase, and this is always a factor in price, but the price swing many are experiencing is out of all proportion to the reduction in supply, and so fingers are now being pointed at three culprits- the President’s global warming agenda, deregulation of the utilities which has led to “variable rates” which are the main justification for the price hikes, and, according the Pennsylvania Attorney General, Kathleen Kane, the deliberate actions of utility companies, which she characterizes as price gouging.

According to Trib Live, which reported back in February of 2014 about the Attorney General investigating hundreds of complaints. “Many of the complaints center around consumers who recently switched to variable-rate plans that fluctuate from month to month based on wholesale electricity prices, and the state agencies want to verify whether those adjustments were in line with what was advertised and with the law.”

Read more: http://triblive.com/business/headlines/5667185-74/consumers-office-advocate#ixzz2zid1adJj

More on that as we explore the “political” blame which some allege resides with the President and his policies. The energy industry, meanwhile, is citing statements by the President regarding his global warming agenda as proof that the contraction of electrical supply is deliberate. Here are some quotes often cited opponents of the President’s global warming agenda:

“So if somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant, they can. It’s just that it will bankrupt them because they are going to be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that’s being emitted.” —Barack Obama, 
San Francisco Chronicle interview, 
January 17, 2008

“Under my plan of a cap-and-trade system, electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket.” —Barack Obama, 
Same interview as above

“We’re going to have to cap the emission of greenhouse gasses. That means that power plants are going to have to adjust how they generate power … but a lot of us who can afford it are going to have to pay more per unit of electricity, and that means we’re going to have to change our light bulbs, we’re going to have to shut the lights off in our houses.” —Barack Obama, 
Iowa PBS interview, November 9, 2007

In fact, CBS News reported back in 2012 that First Energy was shutting down coal fired plants, the link below shows that the page has since been taken down.

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-505245_162-57388081/5-pa-coal-fired-power-plants-to-close/

GenOn Energy Inc. plans to close five of its older coal-fired power plants in Pennsylvania over the next four years.

“The company, based in Houston, said Wednesday that tough new environmental rules make it unprofitable to operate the plants, which generate a total of 3,140 megawatts of electricity. The plants are in Portland, Shawville, Titus, New Castle and Elrama. Two plants in Ohio and one in New Jersey will also be closed. The company said the timeframes are subject to further review based on market conditions. The Sierra Club said in a statement that closing the plants will prevent about 179 premature deaths, 300 heart attacks and 2,800 asthma attacks each year .“Above all, this is a win for public health and for families who have been breathing polluted air from these outdated plants,” said Bruce Nilles, Senior Director of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign.”

Reuters also reported the closures and added this snippet- “Since President Barack Obama took office in 2009, about 15,000 MW of coal-fired power plants have closed as low electricity and natural gas prices have made it uneconomical for generating companies to upgrade those facilities to keep up with the government’s stricter environmental rules.”

http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/07/09/utilities-firstenergy-pennsylvania-coal-idUSL4N0FF2HY20130709

A reduction in energy supply will result in increases in costs, and it is true that as a candidate the President did in fact predict that this kind of scenario would play itself out.  The Democratic Party in general is highly supportive of this agenda, including the candidates for Pennsylvania Governor, but it is not likely that they expect or would approve of such a dramatic price surge in order to achieve their environmental goals.

The desire to blame is fairly high and some believe that the Attorney General for our state, a Democrat, is investigating these price increases as fraud in order to distract people from the policies which they say are the real cause of the problem.

Opponents of the “green agenda” deny the potential role of companies trying to make an extra dollar, or the impact of deregulation which has allowed the variable rate plans to be pushed on to consumers, while advocates of the green agenda deny the role of green energy policies and the EPA’s regulations in the current energy price crisis which is impacting so many Tioga County residents.

In 1996 Pennsylvania removed rate caps on utility rates and over the years since then has rolled back regulations. As an aside, the charge to deregulate was led in Pennsylvania by no less a personage that Enron’s Ken Lay, who now sits in prison. In March the Morning Call’s Paul Carpenter, an opponent of deregulation, wrote about this subject. His article can be found here- http://articles.mcall.com/2014-03-01/news/mc-pc-electric-deregulation-disaster-20140301_1_deregulation-electric-bills-public-utility-commission

The end of price caps, however, took place during 2010-2011 and is largely an accomplished fact and so, while it is claimed by some that the removal of the price caps, and the creation of these variable rate plans, is at fault, critics say that if that was the case then these price hikes would have occurred well before now.

While the cold winter has been blamed for the spike in energy use, which has come even as electricity supply has decreased, in February of 2014 the Governor declared a state of emergency, which, according to Attorney General Kathleen Kane who cited this in her press release on the issue, “price gouging is illegal”. Her entire press release can be found here- http://www.attorneygeneral.gov/press.aspx?id=7535

One reader told us through Facebook- “Mine was extremely high as well. Usually no higher than $100. The last two bills have been almost $700!!!! I heat with wood & nothing’s changed since fall, just the fan on my wood stove. (I am) filing a complaint with (the) PUC.”

We have had over 100 submissions on this issue. Price swings have been dramatic; very few claimed that their rates had increased only slightly or not at all.

Our own office in Blossburg saw a rate increase from around $115 per month to over $330, and that without an increase in electricity use.

It is possible in assessing blame that we are experiencing a “perfect storm”- alleged greed on the part of some suppliers, deregulation and the variable rates coupled with a removal of rate caps, EPA and global warming or “green agenda” policies, and old man winter.

But for local residents who do not have a lot of financial wiggle room, whatever the cause, there is anger and frustration. No doubt our more conservative readers might be tempted to blame the President while our liberal readers might be tempted to blame deregulation and greed, but from our analysis we would say the root cause is not singular, it is all of these elements coming together at the same moment in time.

We will continue to follow this story and we welcome your feedback, insights, and opinion- email editor@tiogafreedomist.com.

Debra L. Lockett, Arrest Photo, PROVIDED

Debra L. Lockett, Arrest Photo, PROVIDED

Bill Collier- Preliminary Hearing Continued for Debra L. Lockett in the Liberty murder case. The hearing, scheduled for today, was continued until May 13, 2014 at 9 AM and will be heard before Magisterial District Judge Robert L. Repard.

Often litigants in a criminal case will seek a “continuance”, which essentially postpones a court event, such a preliminary hearing, in order to finish filing documents, or for discovery, and any number of other purposes.   Continuances are not granted just to delay proceeding, they are granted to avoid what might be “a miscarriage of justice”.

Our sources throughout this investigation have described the defendant as being well versed in how to use the system to her advantage. For this reason, investigators and prosecutors have exercised an abundance of caution in all proceedings.

While Lockett has many charges to face, the key charge is “criminal homicide”, which has yet to be defined. According to Pennsylvania law-  Criminal homicide shall be classified as murder, voluntary manslaughter, or involuntary manslaughter.

The severity of the charge could determine the length of a sentence if Lockett is found guilty, however if she is also convicted of the other charges against her, and if the sentence for those charges is made consecutive instead of concurrent, so that she serves one sentence and then the next, then she would not be likely to ever see the outside of a prison even if she was found guilty of a lesser charge. Ir is generally considered easier to prove a lesser charge, for instance involuntary manslaughter, than murder.

Understandably, family and friends of the victim, and the community at large, would want to see the highest possible charge. Oliver Litzelman, was murdered in his own during the commission of a crime which Lockett is accused of committing.

 

Breaking News

Article by Lonny Frost

Lawrenceville and Tioga Fire Departments were dispatched around 5:00 PM for a gas leak in Lawrence Township.

Tioga fire units were put on stand at their station in case they were needed, as Lawrenceville responded to a punctured gas line at 1736 Buckwheat Hollow Road.

This was not believed to be a serious problem, as this was called in to the gas company and they advised the individual to contact 911 dispatch center as an extra caution.  Gas company personnel was believed to have responded immediately to the area, however, Tioga Freedomist heard from a reader that they saw the gas company bring in equipment after 6:00 PM.

Tioga Fire Department had been recalled at 5:15 PM by Lawrenceville Fire Chief.

The last fire unit left the scene at 6:15 PM.  It is unknown how long the gas company crew was on scene making repairs.

Special thanks to our reader’s update.  Thanks also to Lawrenceville and Tioga for their quick response.

 

 

 

Long Road Resurfacing Project Slated For Rt 15 starting April 28 2014.  (File image)

Long Road Resurfacing Project Slated For Rt 15 starting April 28 2014. (File image)

Long Road Resurfacing Project for Rt 15 in Tioga County

Article by Lonny Frost

On April 21, 2014, PennDot confirmed that a resurfacing project along a 2.6-mile section of Route 15 in
Liberty Township, Tioga County, is set to begin on April 28, 2014.

Prime contractor Glenn O. Hawbaker, Inc. will resurface the four-lane highway from the Lycoming/Tioga county line to the Sebring Interchange.  Adittional work includes some minor drainage improvements, guiderail upgrades, and an epoxy overlay of the bridges over Route 414.

According to PennDot this work will be performed using single-lane closures in each direction.  This will slow down traffic during the resurfacing project.  Motorists are asked to reduce speed and use extra caution in work zones to prevent injury or deaths of road crew members this year.

The project is expected to cost around $1,885,338 and is scheduled to be completed by mid-July.

Fire Department Millerton pa fire dept

Millerton, Pa Fire Department Image

Wildfire Springs Up in Jackson Twp

Article by Lonny Frost

Millerton and Daggett fire departments were dispatched to a reported wildfire around 1:15 PM on April 21, 2014, in Jackson Township.

Millerton fire crews arrived at the area of Pony Hill Road & Jackson Center Road and confirmed a wild and brush fire.  At that time DCNR forestry Fire unit was dispatched around 1:30 PM.

Fire crews were able to quickly knock down the fire by 2:00 AM.  However, crews double checked the area and watered it down well.  Last fire crew was cleared from the scene by 2:21 PM.

Great job by Millerton and Daggett volunteers!

Middlebury Fire Department responds to accident on Route 287.  Photo by Middlebury Fire Department

Middlebury Fire Department responds to accident on Route 287. Photo by Middlebury Fire Department

Accident Sends 1 To Hospital

By Lonny Frost

On Monday, April 21, 2014, Middlebury fire and ambulance crews were dispatched to a motor vehicle accident.  The accident occurred just before 8:00 AM at 11196 Route 287 in Middlebury Township.

Personnel from Middlebury Fire Department arrived on scene within 3 minutes of being dispatched.

State police arrived on scene at 8:15 AM and began looking over the accident scene and talking to rescue workers.

Tioga Freedomist awaits word from State police about this accident, as little details are presently available.  However, the patient was transported to Wellsboro Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hospital at 8:13 AM.   The patient arrived at the emergency room by 8:25 AM.

The condition of the accident victim is unknown.

State police investigated the crash and left the scene at 8:48 AM.   Middlebury fire crew was cleared from the scene by 8:50 AM.

Please keep this individual in your prayers for a speedy recovery.

Special thanks to the volunteers form Middlebury Fire Department for another quick and effective response.

 

Man Murder in Ulysses.

Man Murder in Ulysses.

Ulysses Man Murdered Easter Morning

Story by Lonny Frost

According to State police in Coudersport, 37 year old, Anthony J. Palmieri, of Ulysses, was murdered early Easter morning at his residence.  Palmieri, was reportedly shot in his home located on Loucks Mills Road, between midnight and 4:00 AM on April 20, 2014.

State police reported that Palmieri died from the injuries he received in the shooting.  Thankfully the suspect was already in custody as of Sunday afternoon.

Court records show that Greg A. Riehl, 27, of Coudersport, has been charged with one count of first-degree murder; one-count of third-degree murder; and one count of recklessly endangering another person.

There are little details available about this murder at this time, as police continue to investigate this tragic holiday shooting.

It is also unknown at this time, if there were any witnesses or even if the two men knew each other.  These are some of the questions police hope to find answers about as the week progresses.

According to court documents, Greg A. Riehl was arraigned by Magisterial District Judge Kari A. McCleaft at 1:15 AM Monday morning and was placed in the Potter County Prison without bail.  However, it was reported to the Tioga Freedomist that the case has already been transferred over to Magisterial District Judge Delores Weiss.  Although staff could not confirm the transfer actually happened as there is nothing noted in the court docket.

Tioga Freedomist hopes to talk to Potter County DA Andy Watson and Coudersport police to see if they have released any other details about the case.

 

 

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