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Paul Watkins

Paul Watkins recently made what we at the Tioga Freedomist are calling the most creative announcement of a political candidacy in the history of, well, let’s go with the Universe (sorry Zaphod Beeblebrox, former President of the Galaxy in Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxies).

Here is the video interview we produced with Mr. Watkins at his home.  Bill Collier, the Editor of the Tioga Freedomist, conducted the interview.  Below the video, you will find the actual announcement Watkins made on his Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/PaulWatkinsForCommissioner).

If you are thinking of running for public office in Tioga County, or for re-election, and would like to be interviewed by our staff, please email the editor at editor@tiogafreedomist.com.

 

 

From Paul Watkins- https://www.facebook.com/PaulWatkinsForCommissioner

Once again fate found me on MSNBC being interviewed by Rachel Maddow. In case you missed the interview, here is an excerpt of the transcript:

Maddow: So you are adhering to your previous statement that the esoteric extracts from your online diatribes are not meant to offend the general populace? That belies esoteric thought!

Me: Huh?

David Corn: Have you no decency? At long last, sir, have you no decency?

Me: Seriously? Corn?

Maddow: I have no esoteric idea, sir, as to why you are even here!

Me: I wanted to say hello to Krystal Ball.

Maddow: Chris Matthews, would you like to participate in the debate regarding the esoteric thought process of Mr. Watkins?

Matthews: Yeah. What’s a guy like you doin’ on a show like this? You’re obviously a racist and a sexist. I don’t get it. This would never have happened between The Gipper and Tip O’Neill.

Me: I wanted to say hello to Krystal Ball. I have a couple of questions for her.

Maddow: This is simply too esoteric for public consumption. It’s preposterous. Whatever you wanted to discuss with Krystal you can discuss with me.

Me: Well, I’m running for Tioga County Commissioner next year, and I wanted to get her predictions.

Corn: Sexist!

Maddow: Esoteric racist!

Matthews: The Gipper would have never said something like that to Tip.

Me: Huh? Anyway. I’m here to let people know I am running for Tioga County Commissioner.

Maddow: Sir, this is a prime time, national audience. What makes you think we care what you do in a tiny, backwards county in Pennsylvania? It’s highly esoteric.

Me: I don’t think you do care. I’m probably the only Conservative who will come on your crappy show.

Corn: Sexist! Racist!

Me: I’m outta here.

TIOGA COUNTY

Paul Gordon Collier

We at The Tioga Freedomist have covered a lot of stories over the past year.  We have our favorites, like the potentially last homecoming game for North Penn or the 1890s weekend.  We decided to compile a top ten list of stories based on two criteria, the stories that generated the most interaction on our Facebook News Community (facebook.com/tiogacountynewspaper) and the most viewed pages on our website.

From these two criteria, we compiled the Top 10 Stories of 2013 for Tioga County PA.  Here is our review of those Top Ten Stories-

10.  Mansfield Night Football Game

This story captured national attention with ESPN 3 carrying the game live-

Sprint Football- Night Lights, ESPN, and Big Mounties Win

10 Mounties Night Football Game

121 years ago, the little town of Mansfield beat the world.  Their team, Mansfield State Normal, played the first night football game ever.  In 2013, the lights came back to Mansfield for their Sprint Football team, facing the Princeton Tigers.  The game was televised nationally on ESPN 3, It broke the school record for a sporting event attendance, with 6,233 fans.

read the full article- http://tiogafreedomist.com/sprint-football-night-lights-espn-and-big-mounties-win/

 

9.  Westfield Shooting

The tragic deaths of two Westfield residents in a shooting that still has the community looking for answers-

Two Die In Westfield Shooting

9 Wesfield Shooting

The two names of the deceased can now be released- Barry Mead, a 51 year old man from Westfield, shot and killed Vicki Copp, a 34 year old woman also from Westfield. Mead then, according to police reports, refuse to drop his weapon, a shotgun, and was fired upon by police, resulting in his death

read the full article- http://tiogafreedomist.com/two-die-in-westfield-shooting/

 

8.  Heroin Epidemic

So many of our readers have been touched directly or indirectly by the increasingly harmful Heroin epidemic still growing in the County-

Heroin and You- The Personal and Community Choice Solutions

8 Heroin

When is Wellsboro going to get the drugs under control? This is a growing problem and its killing our children our family members and our friends. Heroin seems to be the biggest along with pain pills. How many people have to die before something gets done? I understand the war on drugs is bigger than Wellsboro; but our town, our community needs to take a stand. A family and many friends are grieving tonight because of a drug overdose taking yet another life.

read the full article- http://tiogafreedomist.com/heroin-and-you-the-personal-and-community-choice-solutions/

 

7.  Natasha Eldridge

The tragic death of Natasha Eldridge was the story of loss and community support.  We highlight here both the loss AND the support-

Fatal Accident In Richmond Township

7 Natasha Eldridge

Richmond Township – The driver of a 2002 PT Cruiser was unable to negotiate a left turn in the road on Brooklyn Road, just a half a mile north of Spencer Road, in Richmond Township on the night of August 25th.

read the full article- http://tiogafreedomist.com/fatal-accident-in-richmond-township/

 

Benefit Dinner Delights Crowd and Helps Family

Mansfield Benefit for Natasha Eldridge’s Daughters is a Success.

By Lonny Frost
     Mansfield – On September 13th, family and friends came together to share memories, as they enjoyed a delicious spaghetti dinner benefit.  The money raised was for two young girls who lost their mother in a vehicle crash.
     Natasha Nicole Eldridge, sadly passed away on Sunday, August 25th, in a motor vehicle accident in Mansfield.  She had just left Walmart after finishing up her job minutes before. She was on her way home, when the accident occurred.

6.  Lycoming Mall Crash

A 90 year old man an a 23 year old woman lost their life November 23rd in a crash just outside the Lycoming Mall-

Crash Near Lycoming Mall Kills 2

6 Lycoming Mall Crash

Fairfield Township – A tragic crash kills two Friday afternoon in Lycoming County.  The crash shut down Lycoming Mall Drive as Penn Dot released a travel advisory about the road closure around 3pm on Nov. 22, 2013

read the full article- http://tiogafreedomist.com/crash-near-lycoming-mall-kills-2/

 

5.  Billie Joe Ribble

The unfolding saga of Billie Joe Ribble in March of this year kept our readers attention and also kept them sending us in news tip after news tip-

Burglary Suspect Kidnaps Wellsboro Mom, Daughter, Before Being Caught

5 Billie Joe Ribble

The basic outlines of the stunning escape, kidnapping of a local woman and her child, and recapture of a burglary suspect are starting to emerge more clearly.

On March 1, a Friday afternoon, we do not know exactly when, Billie Jo Ribble was arrested by State Police at the Walmart in Mansfield.

read the full article- http://tiogafreedomist.com/burglary-suspect-kidnaps-wellsboro-mom-daughter-before-being-caught/

 

4.  Election 2013

Election 2013 was a number of stories starting in the primary season in May and ending with the November 5 General Election.  Of all the stories covered in the election, the two that stood out were the results on Election night and what has become known as “the question”.

The latter story was by far the most popular of all of the stories of Election 2o13, so we will highlight that.  Erick Coolidge, one of the current County Commissioners asked Paul Watkins, the then candidate for Tioga County Sheriff a question during a Republican Primary event in which he also declared he would not fund or support the Sheriff’s offfice if Watkins won.  Here is the highlight from that story-

Eric Coolidge rose to question Paul Watkins next, offering what some in attendance termed a ‘political speech for Tom”.  The gist of the question was this- can Tioga County afford a Sheriff with no law enforcement experience and how will Paul Watkins balance the budget when he can look forward to getting no support from the county commissioners?

Here are first the highlights from the Coolidge question on the experience issue:

Tioga County PA Commissioner Challenges County Sheriff Candidate in GOP Forum

tioga county pa commissioner eric coolidge

“ I’m the one individual in the room who has served 18 years under 3 sheriffs.  Each one (unintelligible) for having law enforcement as a background.”

“To Tom’s credit (Commissioner Motions to incumbent Tioga County PA Sheriff, Tom Young)

 he has brought that message to us on multiple occasions.”

“And we are not prepared to put the county at risk under that particular circumstance. “

read the full article- http://tiogafreedomist.com/tioga-county-pa-commissioner-challenges-county-sheriff-candidate-in-gop-forum/

 

3.  Southern Tioga School Closing

For many of us, we would have ranked this story number one.  In terms of the impact on the community, this is easily the top story of the year.  But in terms of the top talked-about stories, the Liberty/Blossburg school closing is number three-

STUNNING- Closing High School In Blossburg and Liberty Elementary

3 school closing

The Board’s Decision to begin the process for closing BOTH North Penn High School and Liberty Elementary School, due to recalculations in the differences between spending and revenue (“differentials”) has stunned residents of Liberty and Blossburg. In simplicity, the District, at current levels, is “short” almost $2 MILLION per year. Debt service payments are at around $3 million per year.

read the full article- http://tiogafreedomist.com/southern-tioga-school-district-stunning-closing-high-school-in-blossburg-and-liberty-elentary/

 

2.  Mike Peditto Facebook Threats

The Mike Peditto Facebook threats understandably got the entire community’s attention.  Whatever the motivation, when you post threats to children and schools on your Facebook page, it is bound to capture the wrong attention.  In this case, it led to parents pulling their children out of schools, schools beefing up security and the arrest of Peditto-

Mike Peditto in Custody over Facebook Threats to Kindergartners

2 mike peditto

Here are some of the threats Peditto made online (from the state police report):

“I’m going to start ouut terrorizing the himan race on facebook.  If the humans continue to ignore me here on facebook I am going to have to fo on and terrorize other things.”  “look at the little collge girl (shoot her in the face).”  “some people deserve to die.” “I am going to shoot some people.”  “I bought a gun today at walmart.”  “the kindergarten class got shot the f$%k up,  a pledge of alllegiance.”

read the full article- http://tiogafreedomist.com/mike-peditto-in-custory-over-facebook-threats-to-kindergartners/

 

1.  Liberty Murder

The number one story led all stories easily both in terms of Facebook interaction and traffic to the site.  This story featured a number of articles and Facebook posts as the community learned of the terrible murder of one of their own and then dealt with the fear and uncertainty of having a killer on the loose-

Murder Shocks Liberty Community

1 liberty murder

Liberty Township – Pennsylvania State police responded to a call on Sunday, September 15 around 11 am to 7832 Route 414 in Liberty Township.  A family member found the elderly couple and immediately called for assistance.

Once on the scene, State police found the body of Oliver Litzelman, age 82 of Liberty, Pa.  Mr. Litzelman was assaulted prior to his death.  Litzelman died from injuries he received from a gun shot wound.  His wife, Edwina Litzelman, 81, of the same address was also assaulted.  She was found unconscious and bleeding from a stab wound.

read the full article- http://tiogafreedomist.com/murder-shocks-liberty-community/

 

 

 

Paul Gordon Collier (Video by Lonny Frost)

VIDEO BY LONNY FROST

Current Tioga County PA Commissioner, Eric Coolidge, who has been one of the three Commissioners since 1996, had some provocative and challenging statements to make to Tioga County PA Sheriff’s Candidate, Paul Watkins at a GOP-Sponsored “Meet the Candidates” event this past May 8th.

At the meeting, residents were offered a chance to question the candidates.  Some of those residents included two Sheriff’s Deputies, both currently serving under incumbent Tioga County PA Sheriff Tom Young, and one of the staff from Tom Young’s office.

All three of these current employees of the Tioga County Sheriff’s office had the same concern, Paul Watkins’ lack of experience in law enforcement.

Eric Coolidge rose to question Paul Watkins next, offering what some in attendance termed a ‘political speech for Tom”.  The gist of the question was this- can Tioga County afford a Sheriff with no law enforcement experience and how will Paul Watkins balance the budget when he can look forward to getting no support from the county commissioners?

Here are first the highlights from the Coolidge question on the experience issue:

I’m the one individual in the room who has served 18 years under 3 sheriffs.  Each one (unintelligible) for having law enforcement as a background.”

“To Tom’s credit (Commissioner Motions to incumbent Tioga County PA Sheriff, Tom Young)

 he has brought that message to us on multiple occasions.”

“And we are not prepared to put the county at risk under that particular circumstance. “

 

One of the most interesting moments of the Coolidge line of questioning came with this statement:

To Tom’s credit (Commissioner Motions to incumbent Tioga County PA Sheriff, Tom Young) he has brought that message to us on multiple occasions.

Is the sitting Tioga County PA Commissioner, Eric Coolidge, asserting that Tom Young has gone to the County Commissioners to get them to challenge Paul Watkins on his lack of a law enforcement background?

Bill Collier- Editor’s Note:

In 1944, the Tioga County PA Sheriff, Wayne Kelts, was elected the President of the PA Sheriff’s Association.  He accomplished this feat with no prior law enforcement background.

John (Jack) Wilcox went from prominent car dealership owner to Tioga County PA Sheriff for 16 years, from 1966 to 1980.  He accomplished this feat with no prior law enforcement background.

Recently elected Chester County PA Sheriff Carolyn B. Welsh currently manages over 100 Sheriff’s Deputies.  She does so with no prior law enforcement background.

It should also be noted that nowhere in the list of qualifications for Tioga County PA Sheriff does it list having prior law enforcement experience.

However, our readers have mixed convictions about this and during the Primary vote tomorrow we will see whether this is a decisive factor in the vote.

___________________________________________________

 

Here is the particular quote from Eric Coolidge on his commitment to not vote for a Paul Watkins Sheriff’s Budget, should the challenger defeat the incumbent, Tom Young, in the May 21st Primary:

 

“And I, for one, will not vote for this budget given some of the proposals that are coming.”

 

Bill Collier- Editor’s Note- a couple statistics on the Sheriff’s Budget that could be relevent to this conversation:

Tioga County PA Sheriff’s Budget Changes from 2010 to 2012

The Sheriff’s Office Spending Increased from $264,021 to $344,366- an increase of 30.4% in two years.

Revenues from the Sheriff’s Office Decreased from $103,209 to $50,000, a decrease of 51.56% in two years.

County Cost for the Sheriff’s Office increased from $160.811 to $294,366, an increase of 83.05% in two years.

However, out of a budget of nearly $20 million, only around $300,000 is budgeted for the Sheriff’s Department, a number man feel reflects a lack of focus on public safety in this county.
We do not know how or why the fees for the Sheriff’s Department went down and cannot say that it is the current Sheriff’s “fault” that this has occurred. Moreover, we have had numerous readers tell us that the upgrades to the Sheriff’s Department WERE badly needed.

That being said, the key area of controversy for the Coolidge remarks is that he had to have known that the financial liability to the County for the Sheriff’s Department had increased by over 80%, which seems to contradict his stated concerns. Mr Coolidge is certainly free to have his own views, and you, the reader, are entitled to know those views up front.

For the full County Budget- go here.

________________________________________________
Below is the full transcript from our video, which covers an excerpt from Tioga County PA Sheriff’s Candidate Paul Watkins’ opening statement and the full question time from Tioga County PA Sheriff, Eric Coolidge:

Paul Watkins: And as your Sheriff I will set about the work of building an auxiliary force to aid in the support of our local municipalities.

Commissioner Eric Coolidge:

Good evening. Mr. Watkins (unintelligible) good man (more unintelligible).

I’m the one individual in the room who has served 18 years under 3 sheriffs.  Each one (unintelligible) for having law enforcement as a background.

That constitutes the ability to apply the law direct to the personnel to whom they are responsible to and for the county at large. There is a reason the sheriffs do not have jurisdiction.

To Tom’s credit (Commissioner Motions to incumbent Tioga County PA Sheriff, Tom Young) he has brought that message to us on multiple occasions.

So respectfully it’s based on what we’re talking about right this minute. It’s when individuals are elected to positions without the understanding, the backdrop, and the benefit of understanding how to apply the law that the liability falls back upon the county.

And we are not prepared to put the county at risk under that particular circumstance.

When we don’t have the absolute basic understanding.

I’ve listened to some of the promotion of what you would like to achieve. We have brought a balanced budget for a number of years – I’m sorry for the longevity of this – but my point now, I’ll just do it very quickly.

My point is the (unintelligible) of commissioner has no line with no tax increase for several years. We intend to continue to do that. But they still have the role of the deputies to do the job. The sheriff needs to manage that.

And I, for one, will not vote for this budget given some of the proposals that are coming.

So, with not understanding the position, how do you propose a budget that you are promoting as developing as far as law enforcement helping the community now that you know some of the background?

Paul Watkins: I understand what you’re saying and I appreciate that. Uhm, the plan I have – and you can look it up – is volunteer and police services. It’s policevolunteers.org and it’s a volunteer program and that’s what I wanted to pursue. I don’t understand the intricacies of the budget, the courthouse, and how the process works. I only know that these are my ideas and I develop them as I go around and meet people around the county. And there’s a lot of people that support my thoughts and these ideas. And I’m presenting them in this forum and if you like them or don’t like it I get it.

________________________________________________

Go to our Facebook Page and let us know your take on this exchange.  Did Coolidge make good points here or do you disagree with his concerns and assertions?

 

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