Venango County News

Meadville Contractor Again Charged w/ Home Improvement Fraud

A Meadville contractor with a history of defrauding unsuspecting customers is again charged with violating the Home Improvement Consumer Protection Act after allegedly ripping off a 42 year old Cornplanter Township, Venango County woman between last October 12th and November 24th 2016.  The Franklin state police report  Chad Michael Eckenrode, 36 presented himself as a contractor otherwise known as Eckenrodes Handyman Service to Lisa Batchelder.  It is reported Batchelder gave Eckenrode $5,850.00 for the total job to be completed by Eckenrode.  After receiving the money, according to the state police, Eckenrode completed limited work and failed to finish the project.  Batchelder has since sued Eckenrode in Civil Court according to online court records.

An Emlenton couple lost $12,000 when Eckenrode pulled the same stunt between July 9th last year and Janury 30th this year.  He was charged with3 felonies in that case.  His case will proceed to trial. 

In August of 2015, we reported to you at  least one other similar incident.  At that time, the Meadville State Police were investigating an incident between July 27 and August 18th at 18902 Brake Shoe Road Woodcock Township, Crawford County.  The investigators reported Eckenrode  was contracted by a Meadville woman. for a construction job and was given a portion of money to buy materials.  The Eckenrode showed up only completing a small amount of the work.  Police say he took a substantial amount of remaining money and was never heard from seen again.


According to online court records Eckenrode was sentenced January 27 in the earlier case in Crawford County by President Judge Anthony Vardaro.  Eckenrode is serving 15 to 84 months for that incident.  He was also sentence to pay $5600 restitution in that case and $250 in yet another similar case.  At the time Judge Vardaro specified Eckenrode would be eligible for Recidivism Risk Reduction Incentive (Good Behavior) for 11.25 months.  


Franklin Man Charged in Frenchcreek Burglary, Assault

The investigation is ongoing into an incident Sunday morning between 1:55 am and 2:20 am.  The Franklin state police say an intoxicated Joseph M. Fisher, 26 of Franklin and two other s came to the Frenchcreek Township residence of Michael Rossman and Amanda Green, both 21.  Police say the intention of the three who came to the house was to continue a physical altercation from earlier.  Police say three damaged three of the victims' windows, a vehicle and entered the residence attempting to fight Rossman.  Police say Fisher is charged, having been arraigned before Magisterial District Judge Matthew T. Kirtland and is lodged in the Venango county jail unable to make $25,000 bail.  A Preliminary hearing is set for  April 5, 2017.  Fisher is not yet represented by an attorney.

Fisher is charged with the following:

Burglary - Overnight Accommodations; Person Present, Bodily Injury Crime , F2 Criminal Trespass-Break Into Structure , M2 Simple Assault , M2 Recklessly Endangering Another Person , M2 Criminal Mischief - Damage Property .


Canal Twp Traffic Stop Leads to Drug Citation

The Franklin State Police will be charging a Cochranton driver in a similar Drug Possession with Paraphernalia case.  The troopers report on Friday night shortly after 7 pm along U.S. Route 322 in Canal Township, Venango County, they pulled over a vehicle driven by Richard George Tafoya, 38, for a violation of the Pennsylvania vehicle code.  During the traffic stop, police conducted a search of the vehicle and a small amount of marijuana and paraphernalia were found.  


Drake Well Museum and Park to Host Petroleum Program Series

On Thursday, March 30, Drake Well Museum and Park and Friends of Drake Well, Inc. will host the fifth installment of the museum’s 2017 Petroleum Program Series.  This year’s six part series is scheduled for every Thursday evening in March and the first Thursday in April.  Presentations will begin at 6:30 p.m. with light refreshments served at 6:00 p.m.  Admission to each presentation is $5.00 for adults (12-64 years), $4.00 for seniors (65+ years) and Free for youth, veterans and Friends of Drake Well, Inc. members. 


This week’s Petroleum Program Series installment will feature a presentation by Major General John E. Stevens, USA, Ret., entitled “The United States Enters the Great War.”  The presentation will highlight the German actions that led the United States into the war, including a proposed military alliance between Germany and Mexico and Germany’s resumption of unrestricted submarine warfare in February 1917.  Mr. Stevens will also discuss the incredible logistics behind the dramatic mobilization necessary to engage and defeat German forces following the U.S. declaration of war in April 1917.

Mr. Stevens retired from the U.S. Army with the rank of Major General after 36 years commissioned service.  He is also an Emeritus Professor of Management at Pennsylvania’s Lehigh University.  Mr. Stevens currently serves as the President of the Friends of the Pennsylvania Military Museum Board of Directors.  

The 2017 Petroleum Program Series will wrap-up on April 6, with a presentation by Dr. William R. Brice, Emeritus, University of Pittsburgh, Johnstown, entitled “Abraham Gesner: A Pioneer of the Modern Petroleum Industry.”

The 2017 Petroleum Program Series is sponsored by Friends of Drake Well, Inc., American Legion Cleo J. Ross Post #368, VFW Bruce Shorts Post #5958 & the Petroleum History Institute.  

Located off Route 8 south of Titusville, Drake Well Museum and Park is open year round.  Spring hours are Tuesday through Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 5:00 p.m.  Drake Well Museum and Park is administered by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission in

partnership with Friends of Drake Well, Inc. and is part of the Pennsylvania Trails of History® (


Additional information about the 2017 Petroleum Program Series and other museum programs is available at, by calling (814) 827-2797, or find us on Facebook at Drake Well Museum and Park. 


Pgh. Man Allegedly Assaualted OCPD Officer

A 54 Year old Pittsburgh man is lodged in the Venango County Jail on $50,000 bond, awaiting a preliminary hearing, accused by the Oil City Police of Aggravated Assault and Resisting Arrest related to a late Sunday afternoon incident at East First and State Streets.  Police say they arrested Matthew Robert Henc for several other charges as well:  Simple Assault, Harassment, Possession of a Controlled Substance and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia and Public Intoxication. Patrolman Cory Ruditus reports he responded to a report of an incident involving a suspicious and possibly intoxicated person.  Officers found Henc under the influence of alcohol and a controlled substance, also having a an outstanding bench warrant. 

Patrolman Ruditus says Henc was taken into custody and transported to OCPD Headquarters where Henc engaged in a physical altercation with officer and struck one officer in head and face.  Police a search incident to Henc's arrest was carried out and he was found to be in possession of an unspecified amount of marijuana and then lodged in the Venango County Jail on the bench warrant. 


Henc was arraigned on Monday afternoon before Magisterial District Judge Matthew T. Kirtland and is scheduled for a preliminary hearing April 5th in Venango County Central Court.  Henc is represented by Venango County Public Defender Jerri Louise Bolten.  


Convicted Non-Violent Sex Offender Accused of Harassing Inmate

Rodney L. Parrish, Jr., a Venango County Jail inmate, is accused of Harassment by Physical Contact.  The Franklin City Police say Parrish, 36, approached another inmate from behind while in line for recreation and choked him, then attempted to kick him.  The incident lasted only a few seconds before being separated by Corrections Officers.  Police say Parrish was issued a citation for the incident which occurred Tuesday March 14th at about 6:30 pm . 

According to online court records, Parrish had recently reached a plea deal in Venango County Common Pleas Court on a Third Degree Felony Charge of Corruption of Minors.  The records indicate on Friday March 10th, Parrish had been sentenced by Venango County Common Pleas Judge Robert L. Boyer to 14 months to 7 years in prison with credit for 214 days already served.

(  Boyer also invoked the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act also known as  Title I of the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006, ordering Parrish classified for Megan's Law Registration.   Boyer also ruled Parrish not eligible for time off from his sentence for good behavior).



 On the 14th, the day of the alleged harassment incident Parrish had been notified he should not be sentenced as a sexually violent predator. On Thursday the 16th, commitment papers were sent to the Venango County Sheriff. 


Franklin PD: 2 Charged w/ Open Lewdness

Two people are facing charges in connection with a St. Patrick's Day incident in Franklin  in which the Franklin City police were called at about 3:15 pm  to the parking lot of the Franklin VFW on 9th Street.  Police say they found Carrie Sayers, 43, of Oil City and Eric Cavaliero of Cranberry Township engaging in sexual activities in a pickup truck within view of children.  Officers report when they arrived on scene they found the pair naked in the back seat of the truck.  Both were questioned at the scene and both are being charged with Indecent Exposure, Open Lewdness and Disorderly Conduct.  Online court records on Friday were not yet available indicating neither Sayers nor Cavaleiro were yet arraigned.  


Friends Of Drake Well, Inc. Participates In Week Of Giving

Titusville, PA—Friends of Drake Well, Inc. is pleased to announce participation in the first Week of Giving event hosted by Bridge Builders Community Foundations.  The Week of Giving event kicks off on Monday, March 20th at 8:00 AM and will run until 11:59 PM on Friday, March 24th.

This collective philanthropy event will be prorated through the foundation and will allow donors to give to numerous nonprofits throughout Clarion, Forest and Venango counties as well as the community of Punxsutawney.

Sheri Hamilton, Executive Director of Friends of Drake Well, Inc., says, "We have a goal of raising $5,000 and need all of our friends and supporters to donate to our organization during that week."

Friends of Drake Well, Inc. is the non-profit community membership association that supports Drake Well Museum and Park in its mission to educate the public about the oil and natural gas industries in Pennsylvania, their founding, development and growth into global enterprises.  The museum encourages visitors to explore its 240-acre site as well as the Pithole Boomtown and McClintock Well #1, discovering the relevance of petroleum in their lives through operating and interactive exhibits, public programs and unique industrial collections.

Approximately 10,000 school students are educated annually through the museum’s educational programs.  They learn about the historic and modern uses of oil and natural gas as well as about the creation, development and conservation of energy in the hope they will improve the future of energy consumption.

In recent years, Drake Well Museum and Park and Friends of Drake Well, Inc. have been particularly challenged by the financial uncertainty facing the oil and gas industry and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and Friends of Drake Well, Inc. hopes the Week of Giving will help raise awareness of those needs as well as connect the organization to new donors.


Trenton Moulin, Executive Director of Bridge Builders Community Foundations, says, "We know through our close work with the nonprofit community that there is a need to think bigger when it comes to philanthropy.  We needed to look at what the nonprofits needed to boost awareness and fundraising and what donors needed to make it easy to give."


Trump’s Budget Would Have Severe Consequences for Pennsylvania and its National Heritage Areas

The National Heritage Areas in Pennsylvania strongly oppose the Trump Administration’s Fiscal Year 2018 budget. Officials of the five Pennsylvania National Heritage Areas, including Oil Region National Heritage Area , Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor, Lackawanna Heritage Valley National Heritage Area, , and Schuylkill River National Heritage Area were critical of the administration’s proposal to eliminate funding the National Heritage Area Program. There are 49 National Heritage Areas in the United States, and the five in Pennsylvania are among the longest-tenured and are highly effective and successful in the communities where they work.

National Heritage Areas are places where historic, cultural, and natural resources combine to form cohesive, nationally important landscapes, and their funding comes from the National Park Service. NHAs are not federal entities, and are administered typically through a local non-profit or unit of local government. Unlike national parks, National Heritage Areas are large lived-in landscapes. The money coming from the federal budget goes into projects the NHAs oversees, like rails-to-trails, historic preservation, tourism, community revitalization, and heritage education. The National Heritage Areas in Pennsylvania work in older post-industrial communities assisting in heritage conservation and economic development efforts that have demonstrated success in creating jobs, rebuilding communities, and generating revenue for local governments.

In a series of U.S. Department of Interior Economic Impact studies conducted by the National Park Service since 2013, the five National Heritage Areas in Pennsylvania together have cumulatively accounted for $950,417,000 in total economic impact in the Commonwealth. Overall, they have created 11,077 jobs across the state and have generated more than $68,654,000 in tax revenue to local governments. The five NHAs were established in the 1990s or early 2000s and have a long-track record of success in the communities in which they work.

"The Pennsylvania NHAs historically have had support from our congressional delegation, and our two U.S. Senators, Casey and Toomey because of our work and impact the program has had across the Commonwealth. In addition, Congressman Charlie Dent co-chairs a National Heritage Areas Congressional Caucus that works to support all 49 NHAs,” said John Phillips spokesperson for the PA NHAs, and President and Chief Executive Officer of the Oil Region Alliance. “Recently, we met in Washington with our Members of Congress and Senators in anticipation of a budget proposal of this type. Our meetings were good, but we all recognize that we have a considerable amount of work to do in order to secure funding for the coming fiscal year."

Oil: Since its federal designation in 2004, Oil Region has accounted for $21.1 million in total annual economic impact, creating 313 jobs, and having generated $1.5 million in tax revenue yearly for the local governments in Crawford and Venango Counties. John Phillips, President and Chief Executive Officer at the Oil Region Alliance, said, “The federal appropriation is the foundation for leveraging other public and private financial resources to accomplish numerous positive projects each year.”


It is important to point out that the President's budget is only a proposal to Congress, and that final spending authority rests with the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate. "NHAs have often faced proposed reductions or eliminations of funding in previous presidential budgets,” said Phillips. “In the end, Congress has consistently restored funding to the entire program. This is important for Pennsylvania and the nation, and something we believe is already making America great."


OC Man Charged w/Assault, Harassment in Domestic

A fifty year old Oil City man charged with an incident of domestic violence is lodged in the Venango County Jail unable to post $75,000 monetary bond.  According to a news release from the Oil City Police Department, officers responded Monday night shortly before 10 pm to 112 West Third Street for a male vs. female  domestic situation.  The police say officers spoke to the female victim who state her husband, Brent Wayne Wise, head butted her and punched her in the head several times.  Wise is reported to have "...then heard (sic) (hurled) her down and threatened to "stick" her with a screw driver.  Wise also covered her mouth when she was screaming for help. 

Wise was arrested for simple assault and harassment and arraigned before Magisterial District Judge Patrick E. Lowrey at 11:30 pm. and remanded. 


Wise is charged with Misdemeanor 2 Simple Assault and Summary Harassment, Subject another to physical contact.  A preliminary hearing set for Wednesday March 29th, in Venango County Central Court..  Wise is not yet represented by an attorney.  

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