Black Forest Express

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Monday’s high, 33; Overnight low 29







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PennDot accepting comments on its public participation plan…Bills to help volunteer firefighters approved by Senate committee…..Drug sniffing dogs working nearby VA hospitals…..Mansfield state police looking for stolen ATV,,,.. 

Obituaries: Louise Chastain Lewis, Lancaster (Shinglehouse), Brian Smith, Austin (Willow Street, PA) James Earl Balling, Sr., Coudersport

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If you have ever though you would like to tell PennDot a thing or two. Here’s your chance.The department announces  that it is holding  a 45-day public comment period on proposed updates to its Statewide Public Participation Plan, concluding  on Wednesday, March 11. The plan outlines the public participation methods used when developing the Statewide Long Range Transportation Plan, the Twelve Year Program, the Statewide Transportation Improvement Program, and the Statewide Public Participation Plan, and explains how the public can get involved in its statewide transportation planning and programming processes. The Statewide Public Participation Plan is PennDOT’s documented public involvement process outlining opportunities for public participation in statewide transportation planning and programming. This plan is required as part of the Code of Federal Regulations (23 CFR 450.210).PennDOT encourages the public to review the draft plan in its entirety, and to provide comments. The draft document and the electronic comment form will be available at. Paper copies of the draft document and comment form will also be available at PennDOT District offices, Metropolitan and Rural Planning Organization offices, and at stakeholder locations throughout the state. A list of the viewing locations is available at the website noted above.

The Pennsylvania Senate Veterans Affairs & Emergency Preparedness Committee, has approved three measures aiding Fire & EMS services in Pennsylvania.

Senate Bill 932, sponsored by Senator Lisa Boscola (D-18), would permit “combination” fire companies, those with both volunteer and paid firefighters, to be eligible for Fire Relief Funding.

Senate Bill 987, sponsored by Senator Scott Hutchinson (R-21), would restructure the Office of State Fire Commissioner. Under this legislation, the Fire Commissioner would report directly to the Governor, instead of having to go through the Lt. Governor’s Office and thus would speed up responses to  the departments.

Senate Bill 996, sponsored by Senator Michele Brooks (R-50), would allow the Department of Health to grant waivers to EMS agencies for certain staffing issues.“Many rural Pennsylvania EMS providers are struggling to staff ambulances with drivers who are certified EMTs,” said Sen. Regan.  “Rather than these companies having to shut their doors, this legislation provides some flexibility to keep them running calls.”

Each of the bills now goes before the full Senate for further consideration.

Anyone who requires special assistance to participate, or has questions pertaining to the Public Comment Period or the Draft Updated Plan should contact the PennDOT Bureau of Equal Opportunity at (800) 468-4201 or online at

All comments received during the public comment period will be reviewed and evaluated by PennDOT. Changes to the draft plan will be determined as part of the evaluation process. All comments and questions received during the comment period will become a part of the update process documentation.

The  VA Finger Lakes Healthcare System Police Department (Bath and Canandaigua VA Medical Centers) have invested in and implemented a canine program for narcotics detection to keep patients and visitors safe.  Canines have been used by police in narcotics detection because not only is it a psychological deterrent a dog’s sense of smell can scan a room for illegal narcotics and drug paraphernalia quicker than the police can search a room for these items. The two Labrador retriever dogs Sampson (4 years old) at Canandaigua the VA and George (18 months old) at the Bath VA are narcotics detection certified, receive ongoing monthly training and annual certification and each have their own special vehicle for transportation. Sampson has responded to over 60 narcotics related police calls at VA medical centers State-wide and has had 14 finds for substance or drug paraphernalia.George who is just getting started has had three finds since joining VA.

State police at Mansfield are looking for an ATV from property at 2390 State Road in Farmington Township. Sometime between January 12 and 20, thieves made off with a 1997 Yamaha Warrior 350. The machine, owned by David Clark  of Middlebury Center had been recently painted blue and has black trim around the edges. The machine has new knobby tiresi and new aluminum wheels, The seat is covered with black duct tape and the drive chain is broken. It’s valued at $1200. Anyone with information is asked to call state police at 570.662 2151.


Louise E. Chastain Lewis, 87, of Lancaster, formerly of Shinglehouse, Pa., passed away on Friday, January 24, 2020, in Country Lane Gardens, Pleasantville, Ohio, after a lengthy illness.Born on Monday, August 8, 1932 in Olean, N.Y., she was a daughter of Floyd P. and Maude Eva Meacham Chastain. On August 27, 1955 in the Shinglehouse United Methodist Church, she married William A. “Bill” Lewis, Sr., who survives.Louise was a graduate of Shinglehouse High School, Class of 1951. She was a graduate of the former Bradford Hospital School of Nursing. She was a registered nurse, having worked in various hospitals as she traveled with her husband with his work. She retired as a nurse having ended her career in the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area.Louise was a member of the Shinglehouse United Methodist Church until moving after her marriage. She was a devout Christian and very active in the churches she belonged to throughout her life.Surviving besides her husband are three children, Deborah L. (Wilson “Bill”) Howell of Greer, South Carolina, Diane E. (Frank) Thielman of Pickerington, Ohio, and William A. (Glenda) Lewis, Jr. of Lancaster, Ohio; seven grandchildren, Michael Howell, Andrew (Hayden) Howell, Zachary Howell, Isaac (Katie) Thielman, Eric (Johneric Peralta) Thielman, Emma Lewis, and Tess Lewis; six great-grandchildren, Wyatt Howell, Corilyn Howell, Karli Thielman, Isaac Thielman, Charlie Howell, and Elizabeth Howell; and numerous nieces and nephews.In addition to her parents, Louise was predeceased by a sister, Patricia “Pat” Bell; and a brother, Floyd P. Chastain. There will be no public visitation. Burial will be held in the Maple Grove Cemetery, Shinglehouse, Pa., on Monday, January 27, 2020.A memorial service will be held in the Shinglehouse United Methodist Church on a date and time to be announced.Memorials in Louise’s name may be made to the Alzheimer’s Association, Central Ohio Chapter, PO Box 96011, Washington, DC 20090.Louise’s family has entrusted her care to Kevin J. Dusenbury, funeral director/owner of the Virgil L. Howard Funeral Home, Shinglehouse, Pa.To express condolences or share a fond memory of Louise, please visit or the funeral home Facebook page, Virgil L. Howard Funeral Home.

 Brian K. Smith, 63, of Austin, formerly of Willow Street, died Friday (Jan. 24, 2020)Friends may call from 11 a.m. to noon Saturday (Feb. 1, 2020) at Gold Church, 2402 State Route 49 W., Ulysses, with funeral services at noon.Arrangements are under the direction of Olney Funeral Home, Ulysses.

James Earl Balling, Sr. 80 of Coudersport, passed away Friday January 24, 2020 at Geisinger Medical Center in Danville, PA. He was born November 10, 1939 to Frederick and Bert (Eggert) Balling in Santa Fe, NM. At an early age he connected with the Christian Brothers and their emphasis on education had a lasting impact on James. He himself earned his master’s in history and dedicated himself to teaching, spending much of his career at PS69 Houghton Academy in Buffalo, New York teaching middle school history. He married Mary Ann Huggins, and they moved from the Buffalo area to Coudersport. James loved teaching and reading, and deeply enjoyed being outdoors and part of nature while taking walks.James is survived by his wife Mary Ann Balling of Coudersport,; one son: James E. Balling, Jr. (Lerryn) of Niceville, FL; two daughters: Darby Ann Sheridan of East Aurora, NY and Lisa Marie Brennan of Buffalo, NY; 10 grandchildren; one great-grandchild; and one brother: John Balling (Melinda) of Santa Fe, NM. He was preceded in death by his parents and two brothers: Jerry and Jeffrey Balling.Family will gather at their home Friday January 31 for a private tribute to James’s life. To share a memory or condolence visit