I did what I thought I needed to do

Article posted on October 31, 2008

This morning I was part of an announcement at the Blair County Ballpark. The county received a $1.3 million grant for the reconstruction of the field surface including the drainage system. I have some philosophical issues with the award of the tax money but also understand the specific situation at this ball park. The county owns the park and leases it, through a fairly complicated arrangement to the baseball team, the Altoona Curve. The Curve’s 10 year lease has expired and the field’s surface has gone past its useful life. The County does not have the money to replace the field and the team says that it is not their responsibility. Unless someone steps up with the money to fix the field, this area could potentially loose our team and the county could be stuck with a facility that they certainly can’t afford to maintain. The Governor was willing to allocate a portion of the capital budget money under his authority for this purpose and I worked with him to do so. Some people are glad that the money came through and we can play baseball next spring, some are not happy about using tax money for this purpose. I understand and appreciate both sides of this discussion and did what I thought I needed to do under the circumstances to protect the county.

– John

There is always something with her

Article posted on October 31, 2008

I had a busy schedule today and then had to get ready for a news conference tomorrow. So things really got hectic. I ended the evening at a LEAD (Local Economic Activity Discussion) meeting tonight at the Southern Huntingdon High School. On the way home, Charlotte called and told me that Lillie had eaten a light bulb, again. We have hospitality candles in our front windows and on two occasions, she’s eaten a bulb. The vet said to give her Metamucil and canned dog food for a few days. She seems okay and probably won’t miss a beat. There is always something with her.

– John

That’s the way it goes

Article posted on October 29, 2008

I spoke to a large group of high school kids today at Bedford Area High School. I gave an overview of state government and the senate then open the floor for questions for about 11/2 hours. Aside from the obligatory question about how much money I make and some Presidential election questions, I got asked about taxes, issues for students, what committees I serve on, what I like and don’t like about my job, how much time I work each week, how my job affects my personal life, same sex marriage, the Turnpike lease proposal and many other things. The kids were bright and must have spent some time preparing for my visit, I enjoyed it. I got some office work done today and had another appointment in Bedford with a government agency. I hope to get home at a decent hour for dinner tonight since I don’t have any meeting or event. I am booked the next four evenings as I was last night, that’s the way it goes.

– John

Make cuts of wasteful programs

Article posted on October 28, 2008

I ran 8 miles again this morning and hit the office for an appointment. This afternoon I went to a birthday surprise for Mrs. Shirley Pecter at the Hollidaysburg Borough Building. She turned 88 and was lauded for all of the fine work she has done in this community for a long, long time. I got some more work done this afternoon and had a meeting tonight with a couple of staff members to go over a number of things. We are constantly trying to improve things and sometimes it is easier said than done. It is interesting to note that the Speaker of the House this week said that he thought that the legislature should start the budget process earlier in order to get things done before we get into a crises mode. I think that I have said that repeatedly for the past year and a half. The fact that we will have a revenue shortfall will assuredly produce some good changes to the budget. Starting early is one, making cuts of wasteful programs I hope is another.

– John

Getting organized for the week

Article posted on October 27, 2008

I got an 8 mile run in this morning and took care of reading through some things before heading to the office. I like to get organized on a Monday morning for the week, if I can, and today’s schedule gave me that opportunity. I got a number of letters and emails out today as well as the installation of a soap dispenser in the office bathroom so I felt like I accomplished something. I had a Habitat For Humanity board meeting tonight. I have served on this board for about 12 years. We are trying to finish the construction of three homes in the City of Altoona before the end of the year. It will be tough to get them all done. I’m getting a little extra work done this evening before going home to a crock pot pork roast. It’s the time of year when we break out the crock pot and tonight’s meal is a roast from the pig I bought at the Huntingdon County Fair. I’m sure that it will be good.

– John

I will miss him

Article posted on October 26, 2008

After church this morning I got some office work done then went to the dedication ceremony of the new Jr. High School building in Altoona. This building is pretty controversial since they closed two older buildings, Roosevelt and Keith, and decided to build one. There were a couple of hundred people there and the ceremony was nice. I got some more work done today at the office and spoke at a church service tonight in Newry, Blair County. The service was the first of nine that this Catholic church was having to pray for our nation at this time. I get to a fair number of churches and speak at many but rarely do I get an opportunity to speak to a Catholic congregation. I know the Monsignor at this church and he and his parishioners were very kind to me. There wasn’t much in the newspapers today aside from the Presidential race stories. There were a few articles about Jim Rhoades’ funeral and how many people came out to say good bye to this long time public servant. I will miss him.

– John

What a week

Article posted on October 25, 2008

What a week for me personally. Last Saturday we got word that Senator Jim Rhoades died. I learned shortly after that that my old scout master was killed in an accident while working. On Tuesday my Uncle Bob McNally died. His funeral was this morning so I had to cancel my plans to attend Jim Rhoades’ funeral to be with my family. I had a pretty full week with events, meetings and general work plus the traveling Charlotte and I did to Philadelphia and Washington already planned. You never know what will happen and the death of someone close to you puts the things you worry about every day into perspective.

– John

Technology is wonderful

Article posted on October 24, 2008

Charlotte and I made a trip to Washington today to see my son Johnny and his boss, we had a great time and will have a photo from our visit soon. We stopped in Hustontown, Fulton County at a dinner on the way home. The food and the company were second to none. When I’m away from the office I keep in touch by cell phone and my Blackberry, my staff can always get me. I get news updates throughout the day as well. Technology is wonderful and I don’t know how I could get things done without it.

– John

Philly is a long trip

Article posted on October 23, 2008

If you caught my blog post last evening, you know that Charlotte and I were in Philadelphia for a program where former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin and former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger spoke. We had front row seats, not more than 6 feet from Henry Kissinger. Kissinger was great. His intellect mixed with his humor make him a very unique and legendary person. I am glad that I got to see him in person while he is still making a few public appearances. I got a root canal done this morning and made it through a full day afterward. In this job, there’s not much time to sit around and lick your wounds. I got quite a few emails out today and met with staff on a number of items, did a radio show from my Hollidaysburg office and took part in a news conference in Huntingdon. I am heading out shortly to a banquet at the Smithfield Fire Hall in Huntingdon County. I hope that I get more sleep tonight than I did last night. Philly is a long trip, but it was worth it last night.

– John

Dr Henry Kissinger

Article posted on October 22, 2008

I am at The University of Pennsylvania tonight for a presentation on the issues of the world featuring former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin and the man I came to see, Dr. Henry Kissinger. Charlotte and I have front row seats. Other people will speak as well, including the Governor and former Secretary. of the Navy John Lehman.. The other big news of the day is that the truck got inspected this morning. Outside of a new tie rod, she was perfect. I’ll report tomorrow on tonight’s program, it is just about to start.

– John