2008-02-09 / Community Life

Area news briefs

Letters From Home

ST. MARYS - The region's "Letters From Home" program has touched thousands of lives.

Recently, members of Alphia Battery 5-25 in Rustimayah, Iraq, sent a photo and card to thank the group for its Christmas mailing to the base.

"Every package received makes us feel that much closer to home," one of the soldiers wrote. "It brings smiles to our faces and reminds us that there are folks back home who care and have us in their hearts."

Next shipment is set for April 20. Boxes will be filled on that day at the Sacred Heart Activity Center in St. Marys starting at 12:30 pm Volunteers are welcome.

Anyone interested in helping Letters From Home should call Christine Jovenitti at 965- 5118.

Prison warden resigns

SMETHPORT - McKean County Prison Warden Tim Woodruff has resigned and his interim successor is Deputy Warden Debbie Morlock.

Woodruff has been on notice that the new board of county commissioners wants to restore the warden duties to the county sheriff. He said the county would be "better served to get somebody in there who has the support of the prison board."

That board is comprised of the three commissioners, district attorney, judge, sheriff and controller.

Woodruff was hired by the prison board in 2006, succeeding warden Dennis Luther, under whom he had served as deputy.

Long prison term

ERIE - A former Port Allegany resident, Matthew L. Erway, 44, was sentenced to an eight-year prison term for sexual exploitation of children in a case dating back to November 2003.

Erway, 44, was convicted in U.S. District Court, Erie, of possessing hundreds of computer images and movies depicting minors engaging in sexually explicit conduct. He was on probation for sexually assaulting a 10-year-old boy at the time of his arrest.

ITEC may reopen

RIDGWAY -- Discussions continue with the Precision Manufacturing Institute as a potential operator of the idle Industrial Technical Education Center in Ridgway.

The building is owned by Northcentral Pa. Regional Planning and Development Commission. PMI seeks to operate worker training programs targeted toward area businesses.

Charter school closer

MT. JEWETT -- Mt. Jewett Charter School Coalition plans to open its new school in August, according to coalition president Skye Ognen.

An application has been submitted to the Pa. Dept. of Education for approval of the school.

The school would include classes for first through fifthgrade students, as well as kindergarten classes. It would be open to students from the Kane Area School District as well as neighboring districts such as Smethport, Bradford and Johnsonburg.

The coalition has asked the Kane Area School District for permission to operate in the former Mt. Jewett Elementary School, which was closed at the end of the previous school year.

Arson conviction

RIDGWAY - A Kersey man faces a likely prison sentence following his arson conviction last week in Elk County Court.

A jury found Gerald E. Mc- Cracken guilty of three counts of arson, reckless endangerment and related charges. He was accused of setting an April 2007 fire in at least four locations of a Kersey home owned by his uncle, Donald Mc- Cracken. Two young children were among the occupants that escaped the blaze.

Testifying on his own behalf, the defendant denied setting the fire. However, jurors also heard from a fire marshal and an independent fire investigator who testified that there were multiple points of origin, all set by the same person.

Evidence presented by the prosecution also pointed to the use of an accelerant to spread the fire.

Jurors deliberated for one hour and 40 minutes before convicting McCracken on all counts. Judge Richard Masson will decide the defendant's fate following a pre-sentence investigation.

New VP at Zippo

BRADFORD -- Mark Paup has been named vice president for sales and marketing at Zippo Manufacturing in Bradford.

He was formerly director of global marketing and will now be charged with sophisticated marketing activities promoting Zippo products in 150 countries. Since joining Zippo in 1 9 9 4 , Paup has also served as domestic wholes ale sales manager, European

sales manager, manager. and licensing manager.

Fiber optic 'ring'

SMETHPORT -- McKean County Industrial Development Authority (IDA) has agreed to provide financial backing for the modern fiber-optic telecommunications system being built to bring high-speed data service to much of McKean County and parts of neighboring counties.

This "fiber ring" would be built by the Coudersport-based Zito Media to service Port Allegany, Eldred, Smethport, Bradford, Lewis Run, Mount Jewett and Kane, as well as to points in between, including Bradford Regional Airport. The network will initially serve hospitals, educational facilities and government offices, as well as commercial enterprises. Estimated construction cost is $1.1 million. The IDA is being asked to finance the system through a low-interest loan.

'Treasure Lake Borough?'

DuBOIS - Treasure Lake, the planned residential development north of DuBois, is exploring becoming a borough.

It's currently a part of Sandy Township, but Treasure Lake residents maintain their own water, sewer and security, in addition to their own roads, while paying township taxes for little in services. An application for incorporation of a borough starts with a citizens' petition to the court of common pleas.

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