Friday, May 20, 2011

Post Election Wrap, the "Team" is Gone.

A field of 13 candidates got whittled down to 6 for November as 4 candidates received double nominations in the race for the Shamokin Area School Board.  Bernie Sosnoski, Robert C. Getchey, Ron McElwee and Charles Shuey were nominated on both ballots.  Jeff Kashner and incumbent Mark Anonia will square off in November.  They will join incumbents Tracey Witmer, LaRue Beck, Ed Griffiths, and Brian Persing when the board reorganizes after the fall election.

Incumbents Todd Hockenbrock, Charles Carpenter, Barry Rebuck and Daniel Venn who ran as the "The Team" in 2007 were ousted.  

The new board will have most of 2012 to prepare for what could be a 4.3 million dollar shortfall. Shamokin Area is fine for 2011-12.

As much as people want change at the SASD, things stayed boring for now in Northumberland County with incumbents Vinny Clausi, Frank Sawicki (D-I)) and Merle Phillips (R-I) joined by newcomer Rick Shoch (R) for the 3-member board.

Some of the issues facing Northumberland County are funding an OHV Park near Shamokin and ongoing employee lawsuits.

Some winners on Tuesday were Tracey Witmer and Myron Turlis.  Witmer led the charge to oust "The Team"  on election day.  Turlis, the mayor of Kulpmont, had a great showing finishing just behind Sawicki.

Olive Branch?

The ink has not been dry on the results and the first shots were fired at the Shamokin Area School Board meeting on Thursday.   In some business:

Pre-K was dropped. 

It is a sad day," commented Shamokin Area Superintendent James Zack after the board voted to eliminate the K-4 program that affects more than 100 students. "This isn't something we recommended or want to do, but we really have no choice. It hurts to cut K-4. It's not an easy decision, but we had to move in this direction."

Zack, who noted the district is facing a potential $4.3 million deficit in the near future, said a proposal was made to Shamokin Area Education Association to increase class size at the elementary school in an effort to retain the K-4 program, but he said the teachers' union did not accept the offer.

The superintendent, who did not blame the union for the board's decision to eliminate the K-4 program, said the four teachers currently involved in the program will be reassigned within the elementary school. He noted five elementary school teachers are retiring at the end of the school year. "The only good thing about this is that the K-4 teachers won't lose their jobs," Zack said. "We will have enough money in the budget to cover their salaries."

In a strange irony, the measure passed on a 6-2 vote with Witmer siding with "The Team."

Later in the meeting, the first shots were fired between Charles Shuey, Director Griffiths and Superintendent James Zack.

At the beginning of the meeting, Charles Shuey, who earned the Democratic and Republican nominations for a seat on Shamokin Area School Board in Tuesday's primary election, asked Zack why he didn't attend a recent meeting in Harrisburg with state Sen. John Gordner to discuss proposed drastic cuts in education in the state budget.

Shuey said Zack was one of two superintendents in the Central Susquehanna Intermediate Unit who did not attend the session.

Zack told Shuey he had a conflict with another meeting that day and was working in the district. "I didn't think that was a priority since I have met with state legislators Kurt Masser and Lynda Culver in the past to discuss the proposed cuts," Zack said. "I thought my time was better spent working in the school district. I was here at work doing my job."

Griffiths criticized Shuey, who has lodged numerous complaints at school board meetings in recent years, for "attacking" Zack for doing his job.

"Why is Mr. Gordner so concerned about our superintendent not being present at a meeting?" Griffiths asked. "He hasn't brought much industry to our area over the years."

Griffiths' response prompted Shuey to reply, "Maybe that's why the election went the way it did." Shuey's comment was in reference to the four incumbents (Venn, Hockenbrock, Rebuck and Carpenter) known as "The Team" being defeated in the election.

Griffiths then said, "You got your shot in, now sit down."

With a project 4.3 million dollar shortfall for 2012-13, and the "spineless one" still being in office,  the new board should not waste time on the following:

-Running the superintendent out of town.

-Firing the football coach.

-micromanaging day-to-day operations.

-reignite old political battles.

These have all been "oldies, but goodies" but the clock is ticking.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Be a Citizen, Please Vote Tomorrow

Pennsylvania will be holding primary elections tomorrow in the Commonwealth.  Although state and national offices are few if any, local elections are an inferno of activity.

In Northumberland County, 11 candidates have stepped up to the plate to run for the office of commissioner.  Many local school boards are having elections.  These elections will be important as the winners will eventually captain local government ships through some stormy weather.

If you agree with the status quo or not, be a citizen.  Learn about a candidate and their vision.  Go to a poll and make a choice.  On Tuesday, be an American.

I would like to wish good luck to all the candidates that have come forward.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Raising a Glass to the Cerise and White Football Team.

Early this week, Lourdes Regional entered into a co-op agreement with Mount Carmel for football and baseball ended nearly 50 years of Lourdes Regional football. Although, not unexpected it is a little bit of a shock.  The Red Raiders finally got caught up in a numbers crunch where fielding a team became a safety issue. 

Shutting down the football team and co-oping with MCA is a wise decision.   When I entered the halls of Lourdes Regional in the fall of 1980, 550 students were in grades 9 through 12.  Now a high school class averages from 20 to 30.  It's not that students deserted Lourdes Regional.  Working families fled the area that feeds the high school.

Over the years, Lourdes Regional did have some success on the field in different decades.  The 1972 team was undefeated in the old Central Penn Catholic League which featured team like Bishop McDevitt, Lancaster Catholic and Trinity.  The 1974 team went 10-0-2 and tied West Scranton for the Eastern Conference Class A crown.  The '74 team was part of local "golden age" where Mount Carmel were champs in '73, then Lourdes in '74 followed by Shamokin's magical '75 team.

The 1983 team went 9-1 and was narrowly edged out for a EC division crown by Southern Columbia who went to win the first of many EC, District and State titles.

Although most of the Red Raiders glory years were absent of playoff games and wins but some of the highlights include:

1974 - 12-12 tie with Mount Carmel
1974 - 14-14 tie with West Scranton for a share of EC big school title.
1974 -  26-19 win over Shamokin in first game between the schools.
1983 -  20-8 win over Shamokin for first win against the Indians since 1974.
1984 -  20-14 win over Shamokin on the "Reiprish to Olear to Witt" hook-and-ladder in the final minute.

Some of the top players for the Red Raiders over the years include Rich Reiprish who went on to earn a Super Bowl ring with the New Orleans Saints.  Ron Gryzbowski who starred at North Carolina and had a try out with the Dallas Cowboys. Dennis Zmudzin who was a star at Penn State.  Dr. Martin DeFrancesco who went on to Brown University. Finally, Judge Tom Vanaskie who starred at Lycoming College.

Leo Mulhall was the first head coach at Lourdes Regional.  Michael "Gish" Klembara had two different stints and still remains the face of the program.  Bob Oravitz, Ron Gryzbowski, Bob Chesney, Ken Shedleski, and Corey Houser round out the group of head coaches.  I may be missing a name or two from the 60's.

I played for both Gryzbowski and Chesney.  Both were men of great integrity.  Many things that I learned from them and their coaching staffs, I apply in my daily life.  I can honestly say, without them, graduating college would not have been possible.

If this is the final whistle for the football team, it will not be measured by wins and losses or trophies in the case.  It will be measured on the character of men it produced and how they affected and helped the lives of others.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Cancer Revisited

A few years ago when I started this blog, many articles were geared toward the fight against cancer and advocating for colon cancer screening.  I have been cancer free for about 8 years now and some of my individual issues have been on the back burner.

Well the "beast" has returned to my family once again.  My first cousin, Lynn, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in the summer of 2008.  Since that time she has been the recipient of multiple chemo treatments, hospitalizations and surgery.   We have reconnected since my father's death in 2001 her mother's in 2003 and both of our cancer diagnoses.

Although I finished my treatment in 2003 and have been cancer-free and Lynn continues her fight to this hour, I still consider both of us to be survivors.  How have I come to this conclusion?  You have the point you feel a pain of have something going on physically that you never experienced before.  You go to your doctor.  They run tests.  You may see a specialist or have a biopsy....more test.  Then the day comes when your sitting in an office somewhere and a doctor tells you the words you know that are coming, "you have cancer."

Being a survivor has nothing to do on whether you live or ever become disease free. Being a survivor is about not letting the disease rule you life and to continue to live your life on your terms.

Cancer really does hit women harder than men especially in ovarian and breast cancer.  The treatments can be brutal.  Weight gain, weight loss and hair loss are part of the norm.  The "loss" of  physical appearance can be emotionally draining for some if not most.  The silver lining to this is you could can focus on the heart and soul which now shines brighter than ever.

While laying in my hospital bed in '02, it was time for the "Jimmy V Classic" on ESPN.  They replayed his speech at the ESPY's that night and for some strange reason I knew I would be ok.

Here is the last part of that great speech:

Cancer can take away all my physical abilities. It cannot touch my mind, it cannot touch my heart and it cannot touch my soul. And those three things are going to carry on forever.  

For anyone taking part in Relay for Life this season, think of those words above.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Saying Goodbye to the Par-3

Around the rumor mill, the Par-3 neighborhood bar in Coal Township is changing ownership this weekend.  This leaves Nolter's Cafe as the longest owned neighborhood tavern in Coal Township under one family. 

If John Patrick had his way, this was the final song on the jukebox:

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Last Word

On the mark!!!


Presidential Bumps

Reposted from Andrew Sullivan's The Dish.

I trust polling and political science ... up to a point. But seriously, the idea that this event does not transform the arc of the Obama presidency is to miss the moment.

Obama avoided a plunge into the second Great Depression. He saved the auto industry. His bank bailout may make a profit. He has withdrawn most troops from Iraq. He has ended the ban on openly gay servicemembers. He has appointed two women to the Supreme Court. He muscled universal healthcare through the Congress into law. He ended torture as the law of the land.

Abroad, since his Cairo speech, democratic revolution after revolution has occurred. From Tehran to Tunisia to Egypt, Bahrain, Syria and Yemen, the march of freedom George W Bush imagined has actually swept the region under his successor. Where Obama has failed - Israel/Palestine - he may still prevail.

But the capture and killing of bin Laden eclipses these. It does two things instantly: it tells us that an American named Barack Hussein Obama ordered the operation that killed Osama bin Laden. A man who symbolizes an integrative, tolerant, multicultural future defeated the symbol of a twisted, dark, fundamentalist past. A man who represents the human continuum of the developing and developed worlds defeated a man who seeks only one world and Shariah rule over all of it. And it also tells those who have been bombarded with lies and rumors and disgusting smears that this president, whatever they have been told, is no weakling, no terror-lover, no alien. He is as American as every new passport holder and every ancient Southern or Yankee family.

He found and killed the man Red and Blue America equally wanted found and captured or killed. And in that specific fact, a certain narrative - the narrative the degenerate right has been trying to fix to him for years - must now die. And it must die in the heart of the red states as well as in the mind of the blue ones.
Far from being somehow un-American, this president is only conceivable in America. Which makes this moment so rich with meaning and justice and, yes, hope.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Why We Golf? Hopefully You Will Understand!!!

Over the last quarter century I have been ribbed why does one actually golf??  Mark Twain once said, "It is a good walk wasted."

I could list a few of my reasons in no particular order:

  1. I'm in touch with nature.
  2. It is relaxing.
  3. I clear my mind.
  4. I don't need a another player.
  5. You could play in the rain, (except lately of course)
  6. Still get to play and wear nice clothes.
  7. You can still play while smoking a cigar.
  8. You can play while drinking.
  9. You can play while eating.
  10. It gets you out of the house.

This past weekend was an interesting 72 hours where we saw British Royalty get married and the killing of the world's most wanted terrorist.

I am simply amazed at the timeline of our President this past weekend. On Friday at 8:20 am, President Obama gave the order for the mission.  He flew to Alabama to comfort tornado victims.  He flew back to the White House Correspondents dinner and took down Donald Trump.  Then Sunday is awesome.

On Sunday, Obama went to play golf in the morning at Andrews Air Force Base. He played 9 holes in chilly, rainy weather and spent a little time on the driving range, as well. Meanwhile, the principals were assembling in the situation room at the White House. They were there from 1:00 PM and stayed put for the rest of the day.

At 2:00, Obama met with the principals back at the White House. At 3:32 he went to the situation room for another briefing. At 3:50 he was told that bin Laden was "tentatively identified." At 7:01 Obama was told there was a "high probability" the high value target at the compound was bin Laden. At 8:30 Obama got the final briefing.

So just before the biggest counter terrorism strike to date,  President Obama was working on his golf game even at the range!!!!!  The next time anyone wants to nag a guy loading the clubs in the back of the car please think of this and what it has done for the country and the world.

On a serious note, there is a why to everything.  This mission was top secret. It had to stay that way.  Nothing could raise eyebrows.

Obama did not carry the assault rifle.  But as Commander-in-Chief, as assembled his team including keeping the previous Secretary of Defense in Robert Gates.  He followed the directive of two former Presidents and he called both before he briefed the nations.  By the way, he was not holding up military pay.  Read your civics, Congress pays the bills.

This wasn't President Obama win.  It was a winner for the Presidency of the United States. It was a win for military he commands (read your Constitution) and finally, it was a win for "We the People."

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Osama Bin Laden is Dead!!!!!

ABC News has reported that US forces have killed Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan.  The US has been looking, hunting and searching for Bin Laden since September 11, 2001 and finally the effort has paid off.

For nearly a decade, many US troops have hunted for the face of terrorism and have met with mixed results along the way.  Many of our troops and their families have sacrificed and paid the ultimate the price for our freedom here and abroad. 

Today, we may have killed the face of terrorism.  Have we stopped the movement?  Only time will tell.  That is not the reason to celebrate.

Let us lift our glass to celebrate and remember the efforts of our troops for the past decade both home and abroad.  May we remember their effort and never forget their sacrifice.

Peace out!!!!