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Venango County News

FPD Partners Up for Click It or Ticket

The City of Franklin Police say they will be partnering to participate in a national "Click It or Ticket" Seat Belt Enforcement initiative from May 15, through June 4, 2017.

The effort will focus largely on nighttime enforcement between 9 pm and 4 a.m. using Traffic Enforcement Zones and Roving Patrols.  Police will also use Traffic Enforcement Zones combining stationary enforcement and checkpoints along roadways with high numbers of unbuckled crashes.  Citations will be issued to motorists who are found unbuckled or transporting unrestrained children. 

Citing PennDOT data, the police say there were over thirteen thousand unrestrained crashes resulting in over 400 fatalities in 2015. 

Drivers should know Pennsylvania's primary seat-belt law requires drivers and passengers under the age of 18 to buckle up, and children under the age of four must be properly restrained in an approved child safety seat. 

Children ages four to eight must be restrained in an appropriate booster seat.  A new law, effective in August 2016 requires a child under the age of two be securely fastened in a rear facing child passenger restraint system, which is to be used until the child outgrows the maximum weight and limits designated by the manufacturer.  Additionally, children ages 8 to 18 must be wearing a seat belt when riding anywhere in the vehicle. 

Also, drivers and front seat passengers 18 years old or older are required to buckle up.  If motorists are stopped for a traffaic violation and are not wearing their seat belt, they can receive a second ticket and second fine.

The effort which includes 315 Pennsylvania municipal agencies supplements the national "Click it or Ticket" Mobilization which runs through June 4.  As part of the initiative, Penn DOT distributes federal enforcement funding from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. 

 

For more information on seat belt safety, visit www.penndot.gov/safety.

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Former Crawford County jail warden charged with soliciting 17-year-old for sex

Wednesday we reported to you Former Crawford County Correctional Facility Warden Timothy Lee Lewis, 54, of Meadville, recently released ahead of schedule from Erie County Jail with medical issues from jail time on conviction of the theft of over a hundred and twenty thousand dollars from the Meadville Moose Lodge is facing charges of corruption of minors.   Attorney General Josh Shapiro is out with a statement on the filing of criminal charges Lewis for soliciting sex from a 17-year-old boy.  

The charges against Timothy Lee Lewis, 54, are the result of an investigation by the Pennsylvania State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation. The Office of Attorney General’s Criminal Prosecutions Section is prosecuting the case.

Lewis is accused of communicating with the victim through Facebook.  On multiple occasions, he asked the victim to meet him at different locations for sex.

Lewis is accused of offering the victim a $500 cash gift as an inducement. One source, U.S. News and World Report, reports on occasion Lewis offered the victim $1000.   BCI says all of this happened between November 2013 and December 2014 at locations in Venango and Crawford Counties including the Moose Lodge 2505 in East Fairfield Township, Crawford  County.  BCI reports the victim never accepted Lewis' alleged propositions and that Lewis allegedly exposed himself to the boy. 

 “Adults who prey on our youth for their own gratification will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” Attorney General Shapiro said. “Whoever the perpetrator is, no one is above the law.”

Lewis is charged with misdemeanor charges of corruption of minors, indecent assault, promoting prostitution and open lewdness.  The charges were filed Tuesday with Magisterial District Court Judge Matthew T. Kirtland in Franklin.  Lewis was charged by way of a summons. 

Online court records do not list an attorney for Lewis.

The Office of Attorney General prosecuted Lewis and his wife last year for stealing approximately $129,000 from Moose Lodge No while he and his wife served in administrative roles at the lodge. The money was stolen during a time when the couple incurred significant gambling losses.

Lewis pleaded guilty to a second-degree felony charge of theft by unlawful taking in a plea deal. He was sentenced to nine to 23 months in prison. He is currently on parole for that offense having been released early from incarceration at the Erie County Jail for blood pressure related issues earlier this year. 

Attorney General Shapiro has nothing but praise for the Pennsylvania State Police for its work that led to the latest charges filed against Lewis. “The Pennsylvania State Police did exemplary work,” Attorney General Shapiro said. “Whether it’s cooperating on breaking up a heroin ring, uncovering a consumer scam, or investigating a child predator, cooperation with local, state and federal law enforcement is essential to our work. It helps makes Pennsylvanians safer.”

 

A preliminary hearing for Lewis is set for June 7 at 1:30 in Judge Kirtland's Franklin office.  

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City Council Gives in to Atheists, Removing 'God' from Local Park

An atheist's group is the victor in a controversy in Oil City over removing a bench in Justus Park bearing the word "God".  "Men who aren't governed by God, will be governed by tyrants." That's the quote on a park bench at the heart of the controversy.

It was erected through the efforts of a local Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) chapter. Up until now, the bench has sat in the quiet riverside park in Oil City.

The quote was originally a statement made by the founder of Pennsylvania, William Penn.  

But the American Atheists (AA) argue the bench is a violation of the United States Constitution.  

In a letter, they claim it, "contains an overtly religious message which endorses one particular religious viewpoint: Christianity."

Multiple news outlets, some national, report  Oil City City Council finally succumbed to the atheists' demands, and unanimously voted to remove the bench. 

While many in Oil City want to contend for the bench, their city council is less enthusiastic about a legal battle even though a save the bench campaign raised over $17,000 to assist with possible legal fees.  And the Liberty Counsel is offering free legal assistance if the case advance to court.   

City Manager of Oil City, Mark Shroyer is reported confirming while litigation is very likely at this point, such actions to save the bench may not be worthwhile, a view apparently shared by city attorney Robert Varsek. 

 

The VFW will with the approval of the city remove the bench from Justus Park and reinstall it on its on property for all to view.  

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Closure Scheduled for Sugarcreek Truss Bridge in Venango County

Oil City, PA – The Sugarcreek Truss Bridge on Sugarcreek Drive (Route 4010) over Sugar Creek in Venango County is scheduled to close for two weeks beginning on Monday, May 15, 2017, weather permitting.

 The two-week closure is required for final paving work and the application of a waterproofing epoxy sealant.

 The bridge is located on Sugarcreek Drive in Sugarcreek Borough, about three-quarters of a mile west of the intersection with Route 322, and about a half mile east of the intersection with Buttermilk Hill Road.

 A detour will be required for the work. The posted detour will use Route 322 and Sugarcreek Drive.

 The 126-foot-long steel truss bridge – designated as a historic structure – underwent rehabilitation work last year.

 Work on the 97-year-old truss bridge involved disassembling the structure, sandblasting and galvanizing the parts, and reassembling the bridge. Work also included reconstruction and resurfacing of the roadway approaches, a new concrete bridge approach slab and updated guiderail.

 The contractor is Allison Park Contractors, Inc. of Gibsonia, PA.

 For more information on projects occurring or being bid this year, those made possible by or accelerated by the state transportation funding plan (Act 89), or those on the department’s Four and Twelve Year Plans, visit www.projects.penndot.gov.

 Motorists can check conditions on major roadways by visiting www.511PA.com. 511PA, which is free and available 24 hours a day, provides traffic delay warnings, weather forecasts, traffic speed information and access to more than 825 traffic cameras.

 511PA is also available through a smartphone application for iPhone and Android devices, by calling 5-1-1, or by following regional Twitter alerts accessible on the 511PA website. 

 

Follow local PennDOT information on Twitter at www.twitter.com/511PAErie.

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Seneca Woman Charged With Child Endangerment

A 28 year old Venango County woman is charged in Magisterial District Court with Endangering the Welfare of a Child.  The Franklin State Troopers report they responded along with members of the Seneca Volunteer Fire Department and Community Ambulance Service on Tuesday to a residence at 435 Meadow Road for an unresponsive female laying in her yard.  Ashleigh Reiser was transported to the UPMC NW Regional Medical Center in Seneca for treatment of a drug overdose.  Police say a five year old girl, Reiser's daughter, was also found at the residence without any supervision.  On-line court records are not immediately available.  

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Friends of Drake Well, Inc. to Host MEET-U in 5 and ½

On Saturday, May 20, Friends of Drake Well, Inc.’s

innovative educational outreach program, MEET-U

(Mobile Energy Education Training Unit), will host the 5th

Annual MEET-U in 5 and ½ fundraiser at Drake Well

Museum and Park.  This event is a unique trail race that

starts and finishes at Drake Well Museum and Park and

utilizes the Gerard Hiking Trail in Oil Creek State Park. 

Registration and packet pick-up begins at 7:00 a.m. 

Walk-in registrants are welcome.  The ½ marathon

starts at 8:00 a.m. and the 5 mile run starts at 8:30

a.m.  

Registration is $40.00 for the 5 mile run and $50.00 for the ½ marathon.  Registration includes a goody bag and free post-race refreshments.  Those who would like to receive a free technical t-shirt with their registration must sign up by May 5.  Participants must be 13 years of age to enter the 5 mile run and 18 years of age to participate in the ½ marathon. 

All finishers will receive an award.  Age group winners, based on 10 year increments, and overall winners will receive unique artisan awards related to the history of Pennsylvania’s Oil Region. 

All proceeds from the MEET-U in 5 & ½ trail race will benefit the MEET-U educational outreach program.     

Developed in 2009 as an educational partnership between Friends of Drake Well, Inc. and Drake Well Museum and Park, the MEET-U program features a 44’ exhibit trailer that travels throughout Pennsylvania, Ohio, New York and West Virginia, spreading awareness of energy creation, development and utilization.  The goal of this outreach program is to educate school children and the public on the historic and modern uses of energy in an effort to improve the future of energy consumption.  To date, over 150,000 people have visited the educational exhibits in the MEET-U trailer at schools, fairs, and other community events. 

Located off Route 8 south of Titusville, Drake Well Museum and Park is open year round.  Spring/Summer 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 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® (www.PATrailsofHistory.com). 

For more information about MEET-U in 5 and ½ or other museum programs, call (814) 827-2797, visit www.drakewell.org or find us on Facebook at Drake Well Museum.

 

 

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What do you do with two wheel barrow loads of "acquired" PennDOT chipping stone?

What do you do with two wheel barrow loads of "acquired" PennDOT chipping stone?  Well after being caught red handed, the chipping stone is returned to the pile from whence it originated.  The Franklin state police say the incident occurred when Randy Alan Carlson stopped at a highway crossover between the north and southbound lanes of State  Route 8 in Sandy Creek Township, Venango County shortly before 7 pm Sunday night.  Police say Carlson acquired the chipping gravel from a PennDOT pile, placing the two loads in the bed of his truck.  Misdemeanor 3 Theft By Unlawful Taking-Movable Property filed in District Court.  

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O.C. Driver OK After Tree Falls Across Road

This would definitely put a dent in your day.  An Oil City man is unhurt after large tree fell Sunday night about 10 pm across Rockland Cranberry Road in Rockland Township as he was traveling north.  The Franklin state police say Michael Koman,  67, was traveling downhill when a large tree fell blocking both lanes.  Koman tried to miss the tree by steering to the left side of the roadway.  His small car sustained disabling damage to the right front and was towed from the scene by Venango Towing.  

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Nominations Welcomed for Annual Greenways Awards

The public is invited to nominate individuals, groups, companies, or organizations for the Annual Greenways Awards which are presented by the Council on Greenways and Trails (CGT) serving Venango, Clarion, and Crawford Counties in western Pennsylvania.  

            In recognition of the Allegheny River having been named by the Commonwealth as “Pa. River of the Year for 2017,” this year’s award recipients, ceremony location, and spots where the resulting serviceberry trees are planted are all being focused on the Allegheny River in Clarion and Venango Counties. The awards ceremony will be held on Thursday, June 1, at 4 p.m. at the Franklin Trailhead along U. S. Route 322 just east of Franklin on the east bank of the Allegheny River. 

            Nominations are due by May 12.  Nomination forms are available via the CGT website (www.nwpagreenways.org) or by contacting Mrs. Marilyn Black, CGT Treasurer, at (814) 677-3152, Ext. 105; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .  A nominator is asked to describe the merits of the potential award recipient, the person’s or project’s relationship to the Allegheny River, related documentation, and other supporting material of the nominator’s choice. 

            The “James E. Holden Greenways Volunteer of the Year” award goes to a nominee which provided significant uncompensated hours and expertise to assist the CGT and/or its member organizations during the prior five years.  The “Thomas Allen Greenways Partner of the Year” award is presented to the nominee which donated supported, resources, items, and/or expertise to assist the CGT and/or its member organizations during the prior five years.  “Greenways Neighbor of the Year” is a person, group, business, or entity situated next to the trails along the Allegheny River; this award recognizes event-specific or ongoing involvement and assistance by adjacent property owners during the prior five years. 

 

            The public is also invited to attend the free awards ceremony, at which Mrs. Carolee Michener of Franklin will give a talk entitled “How the Allegheny River Shaped Human History.”    RSVP’s are desired as refreshments will be served.

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UPDATE: Fatal Cornplanter Crash Car had Passengers

There is an update on the Thursday morning motor vehicle crash in Cornplanter Township, Venango County which claimed the life of a Rouseville teenager. We reported information Friday from a Franklin State Police News Release stating there had been four people in the car involved in the crash.  The troopers report through further investigation they discovered one additional passenger who left the scene prior to police arrival.  The name of that individual has not been released.  It is not known at this time if this fifth person was also a student at Oil City High School as were the other four. 

Additionally, the initial news release  listed the crash scene as Union Street.  However the actual location was Cornplanter Hill Road just north of Union Street. 

16 year old Gregory Moyer, of Rouseville was seated behind the driver of a small car,  18 year old Austin Clever, also  of Rouseville.  It is reported Clever lost control and the car went off the roadway into a ditch.  The car crashed into a limb protruding over the ditch crushing the roof causing fatal injury to Moyer. 

 

Funeral services will be held Monday May 8th at 11am at Morrison Funeral Home with The Rev. Elizabeth Yale officiating. 

There will be a private graveside committal at Heckathorn Cemetery.

A reception at The Knights of Columbus, 111 Petroleum Street in Oil City, which will be available starting at 12pm. 

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