Thursday May 28, 2020

Rep. Clint Owlett’s (R-Tioga/Bradford/Potter) legislation to help expand broadband access across rural Pennsylvania has been approved by the House Consumer Affairs Committee and now goes to the full House for consideration.

“There is no question our rural residents are at an economic and educational disadvantage due to the lack of accessible high-speed internet access, and that’s never been more obvious than over the last few weeks as our schools and businesses were forced to shut down,” Owlett said. “At the state level, there’s been more talk than actual progress on the issue of broadband expansion over the last few years. Fortunately, some of our local utilities are ready, willing and able to bridge the gap. We just need to help facilitate those efforts.”

House Bill 2438 would allow rural electric cooperatives to use their existing infrastructure to deploy fiber lines for broadband service following the footsteps of Tri-County Rural Electric Co-op here in the Black Forest Broadcasting Service Area.

“Just like electric cooperatives blazed the trail for bringing electric service to our most remote areas of the state, they are in a position to do the same for high-speed internet access,” Owlett said. “In my area, Tri-County Rural Electric has embarked on such a project with great results. I hope my bill will help other cooperatives do the same.”

In addition to Owlett’s bill, the committee also approved House Bill 2348, which would create the Unserved High-Speed Broadband Funding Program to create a grant program to help further deploy rural broadband. Owlett is a co-sponsor of the bill.

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) has announced that expiration dates for driver licenses, identification cards, and learner’s permits, will be extended for Pennsylvania residents in response to statewide COVID-19 mitigation efforts.

Effective May 27, 2020, expiration dates for driver licenses, photo ID cards and learner’s permits scheduled to expire from March 16, 2020 through June 30, 2020, have been extended until June 30, 2020. These extensions are in addition to those announced on April 30, which extended products with expiration dates up to May 31 to June 30.

A camera card is considered a driver’s license, so it is covered by the same terms and conditions extending other driver’s license products. Camera cards with expiration dates within this timeframe are also extended through June 30, 2020.

Additionally, limited services are available at some Driver License and Photo License Centers. For a list of open driver license and photo license centers and the services provided, as well as their hours of operation, please visit www.dmv.pa.gov.

Customers may continue to complete various transactions and access multiple resources online at www.dmv.pa.gov. Driver and vehicle online services are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week and include driver’s license, photo ID and vehicle registration renewals; driver-history services; changes of address; driver license and vehicle registration restoration letters; ability to pay driver license or vehicle insurance restoration fee; and driver license and photo ID duplicates. There are no additional fees for using online services.

PennDOT will continue to evaluate these processes and will communicate any changes with the public.

More COVID-19 information is available at www.health.pa.gov. For more information, visit www.dmv.pa.gov or www.PennDOT.gov.

The Pennsylvania Department of Health today confirmed as of 12:00 a.m., May 27, that there are 780 additional positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 69,417. All 67 counties in Pennsylvania have cases of COVID-19. The number here in the Black Forest Broadcasting Service Area held steady; 16 in Tioga County, 12 in McKean, 6 in Elk, 4 in Potter and 2 in Cameron County. Across the state border, Cattaraugus has inched up to 82 while Allegany County still has 44.

There are 5,265 total deaths in Pennsylvania  attributed to COVID-19, an increase of 113 new deaths. County-specific information and a statewide map are on the department’s website.

There are 576 patients who have a positive serology test and either COVID-19 symptoms or a high-risk exposure, which are considered probable cases and not confirmed cases. There are 349,990 patients who have tested negative to date. Nearly 1% are ages 0-4;

Most of the patients hospitalized are ages 65 or older, and most of the deaths have occurred in patients 65 or older. In nursing and personal care homes, there are 14,990 resident cases of COVID-19, and 2,528 cases among employees, for a total of 17,518 at 596 distinct facilities in 44 counties.(None here in the Black Forest Broadcasting Service Area. Out of the total deaths, 3,469 (66.8%)  have occurred in residents from nursing or personal care facilities.

Approximately 5,216 of the total cases are in health care workers.

A Republican state lawmaker, Rep. Andrew Lewis (R-Dauphin) reveals he has recovered from the virus.

“Throughout this pandemic, our health officials have reminded us that it is likely many of us will contract COVID-19 and suffer mild, flu-like symptoms. On Monday, May 18, I was tested for COVID-19 and on Wednesday, May 20, I was notified that my test came back positive.

“I immediately began self-isolation protocol and contacted the House of Representatives, and our caucus Human Resources department. My last day in the Capitol was Thursday, May 14.

“We worked together and followed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s workplace exposure guidelines to determine exactly who I may have been in contact with, and who I may have possibly exposed to the virus.

“I can confirm every member or staff member who met the criteria for exposure was immediately contacted and required to self-isolate for 14 days from their date of possible exposure.

“Out of respect for my family, and those who I may have exposed, I chose to keep my positive case private. Now that I have fully recovered and completed the quarantine as required by the Department of Health, I feel now is the appropriate time to share this information with the public and my constituents and I look forward to being a resource in sharing my experiences with COVID-19 and helping our community navigate this crisis together.

“I feel very fortunate to report I suffered only mild symptoms, a fever that lasted roughly 24 hours, and a brief cough. I feel completely fine and I look forward to fully resuming my duties to the people of the 105th district.”

Mansfield based State Police have arrested a 44 year old Wellsboro  man for physical harassment following a fight with his father  on Brouton Hollow Road in Delmar  Township on the evening of May 16. Police did not release the suspect’s name but say that he went to the home of his 71 year old father  to confront him  over Facebook Messenger and upon arrival, kicked in the rear door causing $150 in damage. The  argument continued inside residence and then the son  allegedly pushed his father one time before leaving  the house. He’s now facing charges in District Court.

Three people are being charged following a melee occurring Sunday night at Valley View Estates in Charleston. Mansfield state police report  that they were called to that location for a report of domestic violence with injuries. Upon arriving at the scene, they discovered that three men had gotten  into a verbal argument which turned physical with all three punching each other. At some point one of the suspects grabbed a pair of scissors and injured one of the others by cutting the victim’s left hand. The fight  continued with one suspect striking the right hand of another with a small sledge hammer.Further in investigation found  one of them was  illegally growing marijuana at the residence.  Two of the suspects, 54 year old Steven Reed of Wellsboro and 24 year oldJoey Tanalewsi also of Wellsboro  were arraigned in front of a district justice and were released on  their own recognizance. James  Thomas of Newark, DE was  committed to the Tioga  county jail in lieu $15,000 bail on harassment and drug charges.

A Barker , New York tractor trailer operator  escaped injury in a one vehicle mishap occurring early Friday morning on Route 15 in Bloss Township, Tioga County.  State please say Andrew Schaffer was traveling through a construction zone where the left lane was closed  with a temporary metal traffic barrier. As he was negotiating his Freightliner on the left curve, the rig struck the metal barrier on the left side of the road traveled about 180 yards stopping  against the metal barrier.

A  Gaines  driver and his passenger escaped injury in  a vehicle fire  occurring Saturday night on Route 660 in Richmond Township.  Troopers explained   that Dustin Price was going east when he heard a loud grinding noise from the transmission area of his 2005 Chrysler Pacifica. The SUV began to smoke and then caught fire Price and his passenger Darren Butler of Wellsboro were able to safely exit the burning vehicle before it was consumed in flames.

A Lewisburg woman escaped injury in a car/ deer encounter occurring on Route 15 in Liberty Township, Tioga County Sunday morning.  Raeona  Bell was going north on Route 15 in the right hand lane when the white tail came onto the road in front of her Nissan Rogue. Bell  was unable to avoid contact but was able to drive the SUV to a safe area. She and her passenger Glen Bell also of Lewisburg  were using seatbelts.

State police  Lewis Run have arrested a 26 year old Smethport  woman for physical harassment for an incident allegedly taking place Monday at around 3am on South Marvin Street  in that town. Police say when they arrived they found that the woman had struck a 29 year old Smethport  man in the face twice with a closed fist during an argument.  She is now facing charges in District Court.

A theft occurring on Artline Road in Eldred Township McKean County is also under investigation by troopers at Lewis Run.  Thieves stole a blue ocean kayak with a black nylon seat and grey paddle belonging to a 54 year old Eldred man sometime this past weekend while the kayak was located on

A 54 year old Bradford man has been arrested for DUI. Police say that when they pulled his Dodge Ram pickup over for a traffic violation on Minard Run Road,  they determined he was driving the pickup under the influence of alcohol and charges are pending.

A 19 year old Kersey Pennsylvania driver escaped injury in  a one vehicle crash occurring Sunday night on Twin Lakes Road in Jones Township, Elk County, Zachary Kinser was going west near the intersection of the Dahoga Road  when he failed to negotiate a left curve in the highway. His Chevy Impala continued westbound i striking Responding troopers determined that the driver was in possession of a junior driver’s license and was operating  his vehicle under the influence of alcohol. Police claim that the front seat passenger also provided a junior driver’s license and  was determined to be under the influence of alcohol, The passenger’s name was not released by police.