Wednesday March 13, 2019

Black Forest Express


Tuesday’s high, 43; Overnight low, 15







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Obituaries: Robert “Smitty” “The Deacon” Smith, Coudersport and Walter “Walt” Miller, Shinglehouse

 Region’s unemployment picture has improved….Bendigo Road in Elk County has been re-opened after slide repairs are made….Fire which destroyed a Ridgway home ruled arson….and another car/deer collision investigated by state police….

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The unemployment picture improved between December and January all across the region according to figures just released by the state Department of Labor and Industry. The jobless rate here in Potter County dropped from 5.7 to 5.3%; Mckean saw a decrease from 4.9 to 4.3%; Elk County realized a decline from 3.9% to 3.4% and Tioga’s went down f rom 5.3% to 4.8%. Cameron County unemployment  rate held steady at 4.5%. The department revised its figures for Elk County. Previously it had reported a jobless rate of 4.0%. Forest County had the worst figure in Pennsylvania at 5.6%^ but that was an improvement over the previous month. Adams County had the best rate goi9ng from 3.2 to 2.8%. Pennsylvania’s rate during the period was 4.1% while the national figure was an even 4%.

PennDot announces  that Bendigo Road (Route 1004) in Elk County re-opened Tuuesday afternoon  with a reduced speed limit through the work zone. The re-opening is about a week ahead of the announced work schedule.

PennDOT authorized emergency work late last month for slide repairs. Crews have been working to excavate the slide area and stabilize it with rockfill material. The work was funded and completed through a partnership with Bencor Global Incorporated (East Branch Dam contractor) and Seneca Resources. Without this partnership, repairs to Bendigo Road would have been delayed until the summer.

Two-lane traffic has been  restored, with a reduced speed limit of 10 miles per hour through the work zone, which is located south of Bendigo State park. The speed restriction is in place to encourage drivers to slow down and use caution through the area. Drivers will also encounter rough roadway and loose gravel. Cautionary signing regarding these conditions is in place along Bendigo Road.

The official detour that has been in place was  lifted.Crews will return later this spring to perform roadway paving with hot material. PennDOT will issue a project update prior to the start of that work since paving may require a short-term closure of the road.  H R I, Inc. of State College has been the contractor for this emergency job.

The state police fire marshal says a blaze which destroyed a two store home on Front Street in Ridgway Monday afternoon was caused by arson. The blaze originated on the first floor of Zachary Hoyt’s house. No one was home when flames were discovered at 4:00 pm. The uninsured loss is estimated to be $100,000. Elk County has experienced numerous arsons over the past several years. Some of the criminals have been prosecuted.

Another area motorist had too close an encounter with a whitetail. According to Emporium based state police Alayna Genevro of Emporium was making a left hand curve while going east on Route 120 Tuesday afternoon. When a deer went into her lane of travel. Genevro was not hurt. The car stopped straddling the center line. The eastbound  lane was closed to traffic for about 40 minutes.


Robert L. (Smitty) Smith, 81, a lifelong Coudersport resident and an active, visible supporter of the community, died Saturday, March 9, 2019, at Sweden Valley Manor after a long illness.He touched countless lives through the decades as a business operator, Rotarian, singer and theatrical performer, radio announcer, music lover and a dedicated supporter of Coudersport High School sports.Smitty was born Jan. 20, 1938, in Coudersport, the son of Carl and Rose Spong Tower Smith. He was a graduate of Coudersport High School, where he was a member of the band.He had several odd jobs after graduation before he was hired as an announcer at Radio Station WFRM in Coudersport. There, popular radio personality Ed Easton took Smitty under his wing. His weekly Sunday on-air shift earned him the nickname, “The Deacon.”An avid collector of 45-rpm rock ‘n roll records, he began to offer his services as a deejay for “record hops” in town. Eventually, he followed his love of contemporary music into the business world by opening his own store, “Smitty’s Record Cellar,” at a former barber shop in the basement of the Hotel Crittenden.He would relocate his business to three other storefronts, expanding his product line and evolving it to a video rental operation.When he wasn’t tending to his store, Smitty could be found playing community basketball or softball; bowling at George Olin’s bowling alley on North Main Street and, later, at Old Hickory Lanes down the street; playing golf in Coudersport and Emporium; performing in local musicals; singing with the barbershoppers, community chorus and church choir; and serving the community as one of the longest-tenured members of the Coudersport Rotary Club.No retrospective of Smitty’s life would be complete without mentioning his rabid allegiance to his favorite professional sports teams – the Boston Celtics, Green Bay Packers, and especially the Philadelphia Phillies. He often referred to the Phillies’ rise to the World Series championship in 1980 was one of the highlights of his life.He was also a fan of college basketball, with an affinity for the Duke University Blue Devils. Smitty will always be remembered as one of the most loyal followers of the high school football and basketball teams. In recognition of that, the Coudersport Rotary Club has decided to name one of its annual outstanding athlete awards as a memorial to Smitty.He was an active member of the First United Presbyterian Church in Coudersport, where he sang in the choir and served for several years on the church’s governing council.When he was diagnosed with leukemia in 2017, Smitty approached the treatment regimen with faith in God and a frequent expression of thanksgiving for a fulfilling life. He reaffirmed his faith over the final weeks of his life, which ended just hours after the Coudersport High School boys’ basketball team stopped to see him on its way to a state playoff game that evening in St. Marys.He was predeceased by his parents; a sister, Shirley Smith Wesley, and brother-in-law, David Wesley; and a nephew, Carter Lamoreaux.Survivors include two nephews, Robert Wesley and wife Lynn, of New Orleans, La., and David Wesley of Whitefish, Mont.; a niece, Karen Baker and husband Dave of Whitefish, Mont; great-nieces Kelsey Baker, Megan Baker and Ava Lamoreaux; and a great-nephew, Blake Lamoreaux.A memorial service will be held at 2 pm Sunday, March 17, at the First United Presbyterian Church at Fourth and Main Streets in Coudersport, with Co-Pastors Donald R. Caskey and Warren B Cederholm Jr. officiating. Burial will be in Eulalia Cemetery.Memorials may be made to the Coudersport Sports Boosters or Coudersport Music Boosters, both at 698 Dwight Street; or the First United Presbyterian Church, 402 North Main Street, all at Coudersport PA 16915.Thomas E. Fickinger Funeral Home of Coudersport is in charge of arrangements.


Walter C. “Walt” Miller, Jr., 90, of Shinglehouse, formerly of Bedminster, passed away in his home surrounded by his loving family on Sunday, March 10, 2019, after a long illness.Born on November 28, 1928 in Philadelphia, he was a son of Walter C. Sr. and Esther Miller.  On March 16, 1973 in Doylestown, he married June A. Leaverton, who survives.Walter graduated from high school in Bucks County.  He was employed by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation for over 35 years, retiring as a foreman in 1982.  While working at PennDOT and living in Bedminster, Walt ran his own dairy farm and crop farm.  He and his wife, June, moved to Shinglehouse in 1981.Walt was a member of the First Baptist Church in Shinglehouse, where he had served as a trustee.  He was a member of Prosperity Lodge #567 F. & A.M. in Riegelsville where he was a past master.  He transferred his membership to Sharon Lodge #598 F. & A.M. in Shinglehouse where he served as treasurer for many years.  He also was in charge of the Masonic fish fries in Shinglehouse for 30 years.  He was a member of the Coudersport Consistory.Walt was an avid hunter and fisherman.  He loved to garden and can the vegetables he grew.  He was a faithful man who loved the Lord.  He had a great sense of humor.  Walt’s greatest love was his family.Surviving in addition to his wife are eight children, Walter Miller of Upper Black Eddy, John (Angie) Miller of Ottsville, Kathleen (John) Lapsley of Florida, June Ann (Don) Rapsinski of Quakertown, Robert Kniese of Shinglehouse, Thomas (Chris) Miller of Murphy, NC, and David (Debbie) Miller and Dennis Miller, both of Florida; a daughter-in-law, Gaye Miller of Ferndale; sixteen grandchildren; ten great-grandchildren; a sister, Miriam Gruver of Pipersville; and numerous nieces and nephews.In addition to his parents, Walt was predeceased by two sons, Edward Miller and Jeffrey Miller.Family and friends may call from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. on Saturday, March 16, 2019, at the First Baptist Church, Academy Street, Shinglehouse, where funeral services will follow at 11 a.m. with the Rev. Russell J. Horning, pastor, officiating.  Burial will be in Maple Grove Cemetery, Shinglehouse.Members of Sharon Lodge #598 F. & A.M. will conduct a Masonic service at 10:45 a.m. on Saturday in the church.In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Cole Memorial Home Health and Hospice, 102-108 South Main Street, Coudersport, PA 16915.Walt’s family has entrusted his care to Kevin J. Dusenbury, funeral director/owner of the Virgil L. Howard Funeral Home, Shinglehouse.To express condolences, share a fond memory, or view a video tribute of Walt, please visit