Another year is slowly coming to a close. Is it a time to reflect.....ponder the future? Time to make resolutions or find absolution? I try to not read too much into it. I think you serve humanity better if you strive to be a better person each day.
It would be nice for a 30 hour day to leave time for more activity other than the daily grind. I did accomplish one small goal. With the advent of indoor softball, I got to umpire all 12 months of the year north of the Mason-Dixon line. Not a great feat but it kept me in the game for 12 months.
It was great to mark the 125th anniversary of Transfiguration Church in Shamokin and learn more about my family's heritage.
My 11 and 9 year old sons captured Little League championships in their respective divisions. The championships were nice, but is was nice to see them show leadership in times of adversity and cheer each other.
I had a great time with the cub scouts at Camp K. in Union County.
Little things that don't mean much, but offer a little more upon reflection. Lift our glass to the little things.
Thursday, December 30, 2010
Another year is slowly coming to a close. Is it a time to reflect.....ponder the future? Time to make resolutions or find absolution? I try to not read too much into it. I think you serve humanity better if you strive to be a better person each day.
Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Let the fireworks begin. All three commissioners seats will be up for reelection in 2011. Let this serve notice as the first shots fired during the election season. All three can claim they didn't raise taxes until after November.
While Clausi goes on about a rant and rave about the union contracts, the big bite is the 25% increase in health care premiums. Does walking into a doctor's office cost 25% more on January 1st?
While Clausi threw Masser under the bus just after the November election, Vinni is longing for the days that Masser was a county commissioner taken from the News-Item.
While it is possible to re-open the budget in the new year and consider layoffs and spending cuts, Clausi is convinced it will never happen since he is the minority opinion despite being in the majority party. It requires a majority vote to do this.
He promised Sawicki and Phillips to remind them of their votes when they are struggling to stay within the budget.
"I miss Commissioner Masser today," said Clausi as the budget discussion ended, referring to former Commissioner Kurt Masser who resigned in November after he won the legislative seat in the 107th district.
Tuesday, December 28, 2010
Just a short drive from the Coal Region is Eagles Mere in Sullivan County, PA. You could still get a glimpse of this area's past on a visit there in any season.
The town just landed on a preservationist website for endangered places.
Now you will be able to leave a place of the future where a town had it's head handed to it by an industry, look at the past, and go back to the future.
Monday, December 27, 2010
Northumberland County commissioners plan to adopt a $69.4 million dollar budget with no tax increase at their meeting today. Commissioner Vinni Clausi calls the budget "phony" and plans to vote note.
Once again Clausi doesn't hesitate to throw a commissioner under the bus, hop in, and run over him:
Clausi added, "In my opinion, Mr. Sawicki doesn't care about the taxpayers because next year is an election year for the commissioners and he doesn't want to offend anyone by making cuts. He's agreed to give more money to the unions, while I've fought against union raises. I promise the people of Northumberland County that we will face a $3 million deficit in 2012 because Mr. Sawicki won't sacrifice and do what's right this year."
This big stat caught my eye. 80k has been budgeted for attorney fees. Last year is was great to be a member of the bar and work for Northumberland County. In 2010, attorneys netted over 500K. There is an ongoing case against two fired sheriff's deputies in 2011.
In other news, rumor on the street according to the Daily-Item print edition is that Gene Welsh of Coal Township and current commissioner of Coal is pondering a run at a county commissioner opening. Welsh has until April 18th to get on a primary ballot. An interesting Democratic would pit Welsh, Clausi and Frank Sawicki on one ticket. Welsh also serves on an advisory board to bring the Northumberland County OHV Park to fruition. Welsh does have a past business relationship with Clausi.
Let the fireworks begin.
Friday, December 24, 2010
It seems every Christmas bring about some sort of "tragedy." Although this was not the Bumphus' bloodhounds stealing the holiday turkey, nonetheless, our gingerbread house had to be condemned.
Inspectors arrived on the scene and could not determine if shoddy construction or inferior materials were the cause of the accident.
Just two years ago after high winds on Christmas Eve in 2008, the jolly old elf crashed into my tree row.
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.Away to the window I flew like a flash,Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.
Posted by Coal Region Voice at 7:09 AM
Thursday, December 23, 2010
Once again this Christmas classic will air on TBS for 24 hours beginning at 8 pm on Christmas Eve. Jean Sheppard's childhood adaptation of a boy who just wants a Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas is a must see for any generation.
Although no exact year is given for the movie, it falls somewhere between post-Depression Era and pre-World War II. Roughly around the time my of my father's childhood.
I love when Randy is bundled up and cannot move. Who remembers that when they were a kid. Father paints profanity like Picasso and the parents are bewildered where the son "gets it from."
Remember how houses were wired when the Christmas light go out? Stringing up the lights was major undertaking.
Once again, enjoy this timeless classic.
Speaking of classics, BILL 95FM will broadcast an evening with Tom Kutza the legendary "Morning Mayor" on the mighty WISL 1480AM/95.3 FM. The broadcast will run from 7 pm to 12 am on Christmas Eve.
December 23rd marks the celebration of Festivus. Author Daniel O'Keefe invented Festivus and it was brought to popular culture by his son Daniel, who was a writer for the Seinfeld TV show in the episode called the The Stike.
Although the original Festivus took place in February 1966, as a celebration of the elder O'Keefe's first date with his future wife, Deborah, it is now celebrated on December 23. The strange irony is that I was born in February of 1966. There must have been a month of celebrations.
Common practices to the holiday include the airing of grievances and the feats of strength. The head of the household usually challenges someone to a wrestling match in the feats of strength.
In the Polish-Ukrainian culture, airing of the grievance is usually made made about a family member not in attendance who dissed the Christmas celebration. Feats of strength were usually celebrated as an endurance contest of drinking F & S or Old Reading Beer, along with few select whiskeys and gorging yourself in a colossal ham sandwich or two.
As for today, let's have a Festivus for the rest of us.
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
As people from Shamokin came home from work on December 21st, 1992 or waking up on the 22nd to their morning news, they found out one of their native daughters was murdered in Lancaster County. Christy was working as an elementary school teacher in the Hempfield School District at the time.
Here is the article as it appeared in 1992 in the Lancaster New Era:
by John M. Hoober III and Janet Kelley
Rohrerstown teacher slain in suburb home
Christy Mirack was strangled in E. Lampeter
A Hempfield School District elementary teacher was found strangled to death this morning in her East Lampeter Township townhouse apartment, police officials said.
Christy Mirack, who is in her mid-20s, was murdered between 6 and 8 a.m. in here home at 2071 William Penn Way in the Greenfield Estates complex, police and county coroner Dr. Barry Walp said.
No arrests had been made as of 1 o’clock.
A representative of the school district, concerned because Mirack did not show up for work, discovered the body when he went to the apartment shortly after 9 a.m.
Authorities this morning confirmed the death as a homicide, but withheld releasing the victim’s identity until shortly before 1, when police were able to reach next of kin.
Walp said the cause of death appeared to be strangulation. He pronounced Mirack dead at 9:55 a.m., about a half-hour after police and emergency personnel learned of the death from the employer.
The coroner said an autopsy would be conducted Tuesday.
Neighbors said Miss Mirack shared a three-bedroom apartment with at least one other woman.
Walp said Mirack is an elementary school teacher in the Hempfield School District and school officials confirmed that a teacher by the name of Christy Mirack was employed at Rohrerstown Elementary School.
Neighors said the victim had lived in the apartment complex for about four years.
The school district employe who found the body arrived at the apartment at 9 a.m. The employe, identified as a man, found the door was ajar, neighbors said. Mirack’s body was in the living room. The man raced outside, ran to a neighbor and dialed 911.
East Lampeter police, Lancaster state police, an ambulance from Community Hospital of Lancaster and Walp were at the scene late this morning.
Most were summoned shortly before 9:30 a.m., county dispatchers said.
"We got a call today about a woman who did not show up for work," said East Lampeter Township police Sgt. Ronald Savage. "When we checked her apartment, we found she was dead. We are listing it as a suspicious death. It is definitely suspicious."
At 11 a.m., about 90 minutes after the initial call, an estimated 12 police officers were at the scene, talking to neighbors and processing the scene.
District Attorney Joseph C. Madenspacher and First Assistant District Attorney John A. Keneff also arrived.
Neighbors said they believed Mirack and at least one other woman lived in the two-story, three-bedroom townhouse "for almost three or four years."
"They seemed to be very professional and very hard workers. They would come home in professional clothes and go out in waitress uniforms," one neighbor said.
The initial call was for a "unconscious person" at the address, dispatchers said.
Lancaster County Control received the call at 9:22 a.m.
Today’s incident took place almost exactly a year after 16-year-old Laurie Show was stabbed to death in her home at the Oaks condominium complex, also located in East Lampeter Township.
Miss Show died Dec. 20. Two teen-age girls and their male accomplice were later tried and convicted of participating in the crime.
One of the young women who share the townhouse drove up to the home shortly before noon.
(Staff writers Cindy Stauffer and Joe Byrne also contributed to this report).
Click here for the website for more info.
Monday, December 20, 2010
In the mid to late 1990's when I started do part-time sports at the old WISL 1480 AM and 95.3 FM, there were two men deejaying at the station. The legendary "Morning Mayor" of Shamokin Tom Kutza and his sidekick John Berry were still piloting the airwaves at the airwaves.
I had the pleasure of meeting John a few times and wished me well in my endeavors at the station and always good luck. John, however, was battling cancer that proved to be terminal. I knew of John's wife Carol and his two older sons Mike and Brian. I also found out there was a third son named John who was around 12 when a fundraiser was held for his father at the Mother Cabrini Youth Center.
Early this past Friday morning, John was fatally injured in a car accident while on his way to work. He was 25.
Also involved in the accident was Margaret Barbarito who is a teacher in the Southern Columbia school district. Barbarito was treated and released.
John was young and just graduated from Bloomburg University. Ms. Barbarito was still influencing young lives as a teacher. I remember years ago running into Brian Berry. Brian was so proud his younger brother was on his way to study at Bloomsburg. You don't hear many brothers speak of sibling pride these days.
We try to find purpose, we try to find meaning. A wife loses her husband to cancer and son to a car accident, while siblings lose a brother. Their neighbors lose a brother and a friend.
This Christmas season cherish the time with your friends and family. When all is said and done, they are all we have.
Last week healthcare nonprofit provider Geisinger and healthcare insurer Highmark did their best to scare the living crap out of their customers. There has been an ongoing dispute of reimbursement rates between the two.
Your doctor is at Geisinger, but your insurance company won't cover it. Imagine the parents who had children with chronic conditions.
An editorial by the Daily-Item summed it up best. When two corporations battle, the customer is the loser.
Friday, December 17, 2010
Yes, we are not in Hershey yet, but here is my wrap of the local high school football season. First of all, congratulations to the Lewisburg Green Dragons. Although they didn't make it to the finals, they capped off their best record in school history with a 14-1 record. I had them on top of my Heartland Fab Five poll from wire-to-wire. Only a few years ago, winning a game was a big prize.
Coach Tilford, I hope, receives Coach of the Year honors. I do not get a vote.
Also, shout outs to (and not in any order) Shikellamy, Selinsgrove, Shamokin, Mount Carmel, Southern Area and Bloomsburg. A guts award goes out to Lourdes Regional who battled numbers problems all year.
From the things to get off my chest file
Every championship brings up the debate of private vs. public schools in the PIAA playoffs from football to basketball to even cross country. The Daily-Item offered this editorial about school choice. School choice should always come from academics and have nothing to do with athletics.
In the case of my local area school districts, Shikellamy, Mount Carmel, Line Mountain, Shamokin, and Southern Area (note: I live within 15 minutes of any one of these borders), what would the dramatic shift of students from one school to another year after year. Budget-wise, how can you plan?
The last high school football game in PA will end on December 18th. Most winter sports seasons will be twenty percent finished!!! This little ditty from Rod Frisco caught my eye. The PIAA wants to start the high school football season on August 6th in 2012. The 16 game season is just too long. The season should be backed to 14 games max with 2 more classes added.
So someone who want to play football and maintain a summer job will miss out on most of August. Would he be shun by employers. Tack some snow days on the front end of summer and now your looking at a one-month earning season.
If the PIAA and local districts had to market themselves they would starve to death. The issue first reared it's ugly head with the Danville-Lewisburg game a few weeks ago. I would guess 1000 casual fans were scared away by the lack of seats and bathrooms for the games. That is $6000 in ticket sales.
First, a move with guts to move championship games to Saturday. A and AAA could be played as a double header at Bucknell, Selinsgrove, and or Shamokin. AA could be the following Saturday. Northern Tier, when you start winning playoff games and could host more than 1000 fans, you will be considered.
Why does a number one seed in basketball have to play at a neutral site in District IV???
Going forward, the PIAA has a problem. Whether private schools win or not, they often go deep into the playoffs. I was at the Lewisburg-West Catholic game. The Burrs had about 250 people on their side. According to the Daily-Item, stated attendance was 1400+. Visually, attendance on the Lewisburg side alone looked to be over 2500 if not more?
Unless the PIAA is making more money on TV and corporate sponsorship, fans are not going to the games in December. For Pennsylvania football, that is shame.
If you happen to be heading to the games and not worried about winter weather and freezing, here are my picks:
Clairton over Riverside
South Fayette over West Catholic
ACC over McDevitt
North Allegheney over Lasalle College.
Thursday, December 16, 2010
Cabot Oil and Gas Corporation agreed to pay 4.1 million to 19 homes affected by methane contamination. Most homes will receive twice their home value and no less than 50 thousand. Cabot also agreed to install whole-house mitigation systems.
The original proposal was for Pennvest to build an 11.8 million dollar pipeline to link to the PA American Water Company. Pennvest was going to go after Cabot for the money through the court system.
From the article:
Mr. Hanger said it became clear the waterline would not be built after Republicans won control of both the governorship and the General Assembly during the November elections.Many Dimock residents in favor of the gas industry claim the homes were contaminated for longer than 10 years.
"Cabot's opposition was the opposition of elected members of the General Assembly, whom we respect. Two sit on the Pennvest board and voted against the waterline," he said, naming state Sen. Donald White, R-41, Indiana, and state Rep. Dick Hess, R-78, Bedford.
"It is quite likely that their views will in fact be in the majority come January at Pennvest," he said."
It does look like the investment of the gas industry to elected officials has paid immediate dividends.
The settlement between Cabot and DEP does not preclude residents from continuing with a lawsuit many families filed against Cabot alleging damage to their health and property because of the company's operations.
Translation, Cabot will tie that up in court for years.
Saturday, December 11, 2010
The Lewisburg Green Dragon football team will battle West Catholic at 1 pm this afternoon at Hersheypark Stadium. Many thought the Green Dragons season will be over after week 13, but it is now week 15 and Lewisburg will still be taking the field.
Although the history of Lewisburg and Mount Carmel's football programs could not be any different, the Green Dragons are playing in a similar type game in the eastern final like Mount Carmel did in 1996. Most of the state did not give Mount Carmel a chance in 1996, nor or they giving Lewisburg a chance today.
The 1996 matchup featured the PIAA's defending "AA" champs in Bishop McDevitt (they will be making their first appearance in the final next Friday since 1995) against the 1994 PIAA champion Mount Carmel at Kemp Memorial Stadium. When the dust settled, Mount Carmel was headed to Altoona with a 18-7 over the Crusaders.
A few plays from that game still standout today. Mount Carmel had a first down near midfield. The Red Tornadoes lined up Brett Veach in the slot and ran him on an out and up. Mount Carmel quarterback Vic Kornaski hit Veach in stride to give the Big Red and early lead. It was the first time Mount Carmel ran the play all season and it was week 14.
Kornaski added a quarterback sneak for a touchdown, the Joe Costello came up with a goal-line stop on 4th down in the second half and Matt Montgomery had a big interception for the defense.
What does all this have to with Lewisburg.
Like in 1996, Lewisburg faces a tough private school from an urban area. West Catholic like McDevitt is a quad-A team in AA clothing. Both teams had speed. Lewisburg like that MCA team from 1996, has many players that could step up at any given time. Mount Carmel was led by Veach and Costello, but there was a great supporting cast with Vic Kornaski, Dave Evans, the Sinkovich brothers and Jason Malakoski to name a few.
The Green Dragons feature Merle Moscarello and Nate Browm, but there is a great supporting cast like Robby Gaines, Ryan Lopes, Nick Kiflio, Cam Cassels, Jared Laino and Nick Cozza. Anyone of the cast could make a big play at any time. This team is built for a four quarters of smash mouth and not to win the game in the first quarter but wear you down after 4.
Lewisburg also adds a new wrinkle to their offense each week, while making adjustments to their defense scheme. Last week, the Green Dragons hit a "hook and ladder" play for the first time all season.
This afternoon the big adjustment will be to the speed of West Catholic. This can be neutralized by hard and clean hits early in the game and each man winning their individual assignments.
Don't get caught in the talk about recruiting and things of the nature. Harold Raker points out from his column on Friday, that the PIAA is worried about a legal challenge which translates into litigation and money before it worries about fairness in the system.
West Catholic should be a heavy favorite today. However, take Lewisburg lightly at your own peril.
Thursday, December 9, 2010
Anyone remember the old tourism saying of years gone by?
According to the Newsweek article, state lands in PA could go from 25 active wells to 10,000.
Corbett to DCNR.......FU.
Once again the industry seeks the public's money for infastructure.
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
This week was an interesting week in Washington DC if you are following the President and Congress and their showdown on taxes. At the end of last week, President Barack Obama proposed a two-year freeze on the salaries of federal workers. This would have had dramatic savings of 10 billion dollars in the first year.
A deal was struck by the White House and the GOP extending the Bush era tax cuts for two more years. Cribbing from Yonk:
The overall cost in lost revenue to the government is at least $450 billion in 2011 (or a tad higher than the yearly cost of the 2009 stimulus) and could climb as high as $600 billion depending on how much the economy grows over the next two years.Dr. Robert Reich has this to say:
It will cost $900 billion over the next two years — larger than the bailout of Wall Street, GM, and Chrysler put together, larger than the stimulus package, larger than anything that’s come out of Washington in years.
It makes a mockery of deficit reduction. Worse, the lion’s share of that $900 billion will go to the very rich. Families with incomes of over $1 million will reap an average of about $70,000, while middle-class families earning $50,000 a year will get an average of around $1,500. In addition, the deal just about eviscerates the estate tax — yanking the exemption up to $5 million per person and a maximum rate of 35 percent.
Who got shafted???? Individuals making under 20K and families making under 40K will actually see a tax increase.
By the middle of the week, General David Petreaus was saying our commitment in Afghanistan could last into 2014. The going rate to fight the war over there is about 2 billion per week.
Lastly, a bill to give Social Security recipients a one-time check of $250 was defeated. The goodness there are reps to stand up for our grandchildren like this one:
Rep. Sam Johnson of Texas, the top Republican on that subcommittee, acknowledged that disappointment but noted the big increase seniors received in 2009 and the fact that a COLA increase means there will be no rise in Medicare Part B costs for doctors' visits. "Increasing our nation's crushing deficit on the backs of our children by an additional $14 billion is wrong," he said.The Scorecard looks like this:
Federal Workers - 10 Billion - No
The Elderly - 14 Billion - No
Lifestyles of the Rich and Shameless - 450 Billion - a resounding yes
The War Machine (For Afghanistan) - 2 Billion x 52 weeks x 3 years = 312 billion (very conservative and doesn't count Iraq.)
When either party talks about deficit reduction, they are both full of shit.
In closing, when I hear one more politician talk about donating a salary to charity, please pass the barf bag. First, you have to accept the salary. Next, you have to donate it. Last, you get to write it off on your taxes!!!!!
Posted by Coal Region Voice at 7:57 PM
December 8th, 1980 shots rang out in front of the Dakota Hotel in Manhattan and John Lennon was pronounced dead after being taken to Roosevelt Hospital in New York shortly after 11 pm.
I bought my first Beatle album at St. Stan's Block Party on Vine and Chestnut Streets in Shamokin. It was the Magical Mystery Tour for 50 cents, but missing it's 23-page color photo album. I may have been in the 3rd or 4th grade.
On that day in 1980, I was 14 years old and walked home from Lourdes Regional High School on brisk December night in anticipation of watching the Monday Night Football match up between New England and Miami.
Late in the football game, Howard Cosell interrupted with a bulletin that Lennon was shot and killed in front of his apartment building in New York City. The world would come to know Mark David Chapman a few days later. Lennon had just released his Double Fantasy album and his song Starting Over was being played on the radio.
It is hard to imagine what direction Lennon would have taken in the past 30 years. What would he have done when he met Bono from U2? Lance Armstrong? Would he have made a statement at Live-Aid???? Musically, you just have to marvel at the accomplishments before the age of 30 with the Beatles. In all, a man who pissed off Richard Nixon can't be all that bad.
Years later while cleaning out a closet, I found the "45" of Starting Over with the sleeve and all. It was probably the last "45" I ever purchased.
There are places I remember
All my life though some have changed
Some forever not for better
Some have gone and some remain
All these places had their moments
With lovers and friends I still can recall
Some are dead and some are living
In my life I've loved them all
"The days of our lives, for all of us, are numbered. We know that."
"You all know that I have been sustained throughout my life by three saving graces - my family, my friends, and a faith in the power of resilience and hope." "These graces have carried me through difficult times and they have brought more joy to the good times than I ever could have imagined."
"...there are certainly times when we aren't able to muster as much strength and patience as we would like," she added. "It's called being human. But I have found that in the simple act of living with hope, and in the daily effort to have a positive impact in the world, the days I do have are made all the more meaningful and precious. And for that I am grateful. It isn't possible to put into words the love and gratitude I feel to everyone who has and continues to support and inspire me every day. To you I simply say: you know."
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
Today commemorates the 69th anniversary of the attack by the Japanese of the US Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Over 2400 military personnel lost their lives in the early morning surprise attack.
The United States keeping out of aggressions in the Pacific and Europe for years, declared war on Japan and Germany declared war on the US. World War II would continue until Germany's surrender on May 8th, 1945 and Japan's surrender on September 2nd, 1945.
Sunday, December 5, 2010
This past weekend the New York Yankees committed over 80 million dollars to Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter for the next 3 years.
Jason Werth will be making the train ride from Philly to DC for the next 7 seasons for 126 million dollars. Merry Christmas Jason.
Hope all you Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankee fans enjoy the the view. After all, we will be paying for the upgrades.
Meanwhile, the NFLPA tells it's players to start saving their money.