2008-01-19 / News

News briefs from arond the area

Lt. Col. Berrettini Lt. Col. Berrettini School nurse dies

PORT ALLEGANY - The McKean County man who was seriously injured in a roadside bomb attack while serving as an Army National Guardsman in Afghanistan died last Friday at Brooke Army Medical Center, Texas.

Lt. Col. Richard J. Berrettini, 52, of Eldred, was on military leave from his position as school nurse in the Port Allegany School District. He was scheduled to complete a year-long deployment to Afghanistan at the end of the month.

Berrettini was serving as a nurse practitioner, having volunteered to go to Afghanistan. His unit was assigned to Khowst Province, Afghanistan.

He was a former active duty sailor and joined the Pa. National Guard in 1984. Survivors include his wife, Jane; mother, Doris; brother, Nello; and two sons Vincent, 26, and Christopher, 22. Vincent is a U.S. Air Force Academy graduate and an Air Force pilot. Christopher is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy.

Berrettini was severely injured Jan. 2 in eastern Afghanistan when his Humvee struck an improvised explosive device. He suffered severe burns to his upper body and internal injuries.

He had worked with Afghan students, both as part of his assignment and in a personal gesture to help the underprivileged and build a positive image of Americans.

A National Guard soldier from South Carolina and an Afghan interpreter also were killed in the bombing, and a Maryland National Guard soldier was injured and remains hospitalized.

Thirty Pa. National Guard soldiers have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2002.

School faces choices

ST. MARYS - St. Marys Area School District has to decide which improvement projects to pursue this year. Spending is limited by Act 1, under which the district cannot raise property taxes above an index without voter approval. School board members say they need to replace the high school roof and repave the high school and middle school parking lots. Several borrowing options are being explored.

Drug arrests

BRADFORD - Police have broken up a ring of crack cocaine and prescription painkiller traffickers in the City of Bradford.

Working with the McKean County Drug Task Force and the Sheriff 's Department, Bradford City Police arrested Rose Howard, 25; Donald Bickford Jr., 26, and Natasha Skaggs, 18, all of Bradford; and Harry Heinaman, 33, of Brockton, N.Y.

According to court records, Bickford was in possession of and delivered fentanyl and lidocaine, both pain medications. He was charged with two counts each of delivery and possession.

Heinaman allegedly possessed, delivered and conspired to deliver crack cocaine. He is charged with two counts of conspiracy and one each of delivery and possession.

Howard reportedly possessed and delivered marijuana. Skaggs is accused of possessing and delivering crack cocaine. Mayor Tom Riel said city police plan to set up a confidential tip line for anyone who wants to report drug crimes.

Apartment house opens

ST. MARYS - The City of St. Marys has a new home for senior citizens. Ribbon-cutting was held last week at Marien Stadt Place, featuring 20 onebedroom units and four twobedroom units.

A community room at the home is the new site of St. Marys Senior Center, serving about 100 members with lunches and numerous programs and services.

Adjacent property will be used for a new three-level, 625- space parking garage which includes an Area Transportation Authority Intermodal Center. Plans also call for 19 commercial spaces and another two dozen apartments.

Celebrity waiter dinner

RIDGWAY - Elk and Cameron County Chapter of the American Red Cross is preparing for its third annual "Fork It Over" Celebrity Waiter Dinner. It's set for Saturday, Feb. 16, at the Royal Inn in Ridgway.

Waiters will once again collect tips from their table of six guests, which can include family, friends or co-workers. In order to earn tips, waiters may accept personal challenges including telling jokes, singing or performing wacky stunts. A dance is also being incorporated into this year's event.

The dinner will begin at 6 pm. The event typically wraps up around 11:30. Proceeds will support local emergency services in Cameron and Elk counties.

Anyone interested in participating or sponsoring a table should contact the Red Cross at 834-2915.

'High School Musical'

BRADFORD - Students from nine area high schools are rehearsing for the Bradford Little Theater's production of Disney's "High School Musical."

The stage version of the popular Disney Channel movie will premiere on the Bradford High School Auditorium stage with a matinee on Saturday, Jan. 26, at 2 pm. A second performance will follow on the same day at 7:30 pm, followed by a matinee on Sunday, Jan. 27, at 2 pm. Ticket information is available at 362-2942.

Charged with arson

WEEDVILLE - A Weedville man has been charged with arson in connection with a home fire last week.

Ridgway-based state police said Christopher Thomas, 35, a former tenant in the home, has been charged with arson, criminal mischief, reckless endangerment and disorderly conduct.

He is being held in the Elk County Jail in lieu of bail. The fire broke out Thursday night at an Elm Street home in Weedville, owned by Robert P. Scott of Penfield. Damage was set at $30,000.

'Greener' funds alloted

RIDGWAY - Thousands of dollars in state funds have been approved for Elk County through the Growing Greener initiative.

Among the projects approved for funding are $99,000 for Jones Township to renovate a building and create a library; $100,000 for a wetlands outdoor classroom sponsored by the Elk County Conservation District; $50,000 for drainage improvements in Fox Township; and separate $100,000 allotments for improvements at the St. Marys City water treatment plant, upgrade of the Big Mill Creek Dam in Ridgway and streetlights and sidewalks in Johnsonburg.

St. Marys Shade Tree Commission received $10,000 for the addition of trees and plants to the city's parks. Ridgway-Elk County Chamber of Commerce was awarded $12,000 for beautification of the Welcome Center. Marienstadt Corporation of St. Marys received $50,000 to renovate the old Choice building to house the new St. Marys Welcome Center.

Wal-Mart coming

DUBOIS - Commonwealth Court has issued a ruling that paves the way for Wal-Mart to build a "supercenter" in Sandy Township, near the City of DuBois.

While the property is located in a Keystone Opportunity Zone and could qualify for an exemption from real estate taxes, Wal-Mart has agreed to pay taxes to the county, township and school district.

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