Happy Halloween!

Article posted on October 31, 2010

I attended an “Election Day” church service this morning at Faith Baptist Church in Altoona. In the 18th and 19th centuries American preachers held election day services either on election day or the Sunday before. Most if not all elected officials attended as did the public. The message was not about who to vote for, but the responsibilities of both the public and the electorate to insure the success of our country by following God’s instruction. The tradition of these sermons was forgotten over the years and the effects of this missing message is reflected in our society today. Maybe things can turn around, maybe. Tonight is another big sports night. Last night I flipped between the Penn State game and the World Series, tonight the Steelers play during game four. My thumb will be worn out. Happy Halloween!

-John

Is the Christmas shopping getting insanely early?

Article posted on October 30, 2010

Charlotte and I were in the Hollidaysburg Halloween Parade tonight. In preparation for the parade, we set out to purchase decorations for the truck. It took us stops at 3 stores before we could find them. I know that Halloween is tomorrow and we’re a little late in the season, but still, it’s not Halloween yet. If I shopped on Tuesday, I could understand. The stores were full of Christmas stuff, artificial trees, lights, even a pig Santa. Is it just me, or is the Christmas shopping getting insanely early?

-John

Lillie’s really missed our quality time together

Article posted on October 29, 2010

I met with the Huntingdon Bedford Fulton Area Agency on Aging’s Advisory Council this morning in Hopewell. We had a town hall style question and answer format and covered a lot of ground. From budget issues to Marcellus shale to taxes and lottery funds, there were no shortage of questions. I left there to get to the Bedford County Technical Center for a luncheon with PA Ag Secretary Russ Reading. The event was sponsored by the Chamber’s Agribusiness group and was sold out. I got a little paperwork done after that and am ready for an evening at home. Lillie’s really missed our quality time together lately.

-John

Electric Rate Caps are Main Concern at Blair County LEAD

Article posted on October 29, 2010

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Electric Rate Caps are Main Concern at Blair County LEAD

Duncansville, PA (10.29.2010) – Preparing for the upcoming removal of electric generation rate caps was a major topic of discussion at Wednesday’s Blair County Local Economic Activity Discussion (LEAD) held at the Foot of Ten Elementary School in Duncansville. A representative of First Energy explained that consumers will be paying market pricing for the generation portion of their electric bills beginning January 1, 2011 and should begin shopping for an electric generation supplier. Anyone who does not choose a supplier will be provided a default service plan through Penelec. Consumers are encouraging to check www.papowerswitch.com for a list of suppliers and prices to compare.

In addition, Senator Eichelberger updated the group on recent legislation he sponsored that will impact Pennsylvania’s local governments. He updated the group on the Joint State Government Commission’s Unfunded Mandate Task Force that was formed to conduct a comprehensive study of the number and types of mandates placed upon Pennsylvania’s local governments by the Commonwealth. He also reviewed two bills signed into law by the Governor this week. The first combines several current assessment laws into a single statute, removes outdated language, and codifies recent case law. The second amends the Municipal Consolidation or Merger Act to revise procedures dealing with the consolidation or merger or municipalities.

LEADs are a unique opportunity for local leaders involved in community and economic development to share information and work collaboratively on important issues facing the county. The attached list includes the organizations that participated in Wednesday night’s Blair County LEAD.

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They were bright and courteous kids

Article posted on October 28, 2010

I attended an early morning meeting about the new federal healthcare law. I’ve been to three meetings of this type over the past few months involving someone well versed on the issue and a group of employers, including non-profit agencies. The current escalating insurance costs are predicted to get worse as is the service from the healthcare providers. How anyone thought that this was a good idea is baffling to me. This afternoon, I spoke to about 80 ninth graders at Tussey Mountain High. We reviewed the legislative process and discussed a bill of mine concerning bottle deposits. They studied the bill in their environmental sciences class. We had a good discussion followed by some group photos. They were bright and courteous kids.

-John

It was an interesting experience

Article posted on October 27, 2010

I spent this morning talking with folks from the gas drilling industry and visiting a new well in Bedford County. I learned a lot about the drilling operation. After reading pages and pages of reports, articles and other information, talking to DEP staff and gas company personnel, it was good to go to a drill site and see things for myself. The site was smaller than I thought it would be, less than five acres. The area will eventually be replanted with almost nothing exposed. Security was tight and there appeared to be more than adequate safety measures in place. I had two staff members with me and we asked plenty of questions over the 2 1/2 hour period. There was no hesitation on the part of the gas company to answer any question. They gave us a lot of additional material to review. It was an interesting experience.

-John

It’s nothing new

Article posted on October 26, 2010

I was in the Cove this morning at a school event and tonight at the Chamber’s Farm City Dinner. Often, I end up going to the same area in a short period of time. It’s not planned that way, it just happens. I have been attending the Farm City annual dinner for years. Tonight’s was the best attended I’ve seen. The speaker was Deputy Ag Secretary Mike Pechart. He gave a general review of the department, nothing new. Speaking of nothing new, the Governor announced today or yesterday that he still wants to work on the Marcellus Shale severance tax and expects the Senate to come back after the election to vote on it. The Senate leadership said eight months ago that we are not holding a lame duck session. It’s nothing new.

-John

The historical society has done a tremendous job

Article posted on October 25, 2010

This morning I visited with folks from the Broad Top Area Coal Miners Historical Society and Friends of the East Broad Top. We toured their track reclamation project, building remodeling in two structures, and the museum, all in Robertsdale. I learned not only about the railroad that transported the coal and the operation of mining, I learned about the character and work ethic of the people who toiled in and around the mining industry. These were men who laid in wet holes, far underground, swinging picks to loosen coal above their heads. They then filled railroad cars with their coal which was weighed to determine that man’s pay. Mules went into the mines with the men in the early years pulling the cars behind them. Later cables did the trick and then electric engines. It was dangerous, dirty work. The historical society has done a tremendous job to date and has a lot more planned. I was impressed.

-John

You have to wonder why they used this approach

Article posted on October 24, 2010

I think it’s pretty safe to say that the Senate won’t be going back into session this year, except for the ceremonial day in November. The House hasn’t come back, nor have they scheduled time to come back and with the election just 9 days away, I don’t see it happening. In spite of the facts surrounding scheduling, The Philadelphia Inquire blames the lack of a new special gas drilling tax on campaign contributions to the President Pro Tem of the Senate. They never mentioned the fact that the House is charged with writing the bill and hasn’t convened for weeks. This opinion piece contributes unfairly to the mistrust of government by many citizens. There are plenty of issues the capital press should go after and doesn’t. You have to wonder why they used this approach with the severance tax.

-John

Best wishes to Elyse and Adam

Article posted on October 23, 2010

I walked in Penn State Altoona’s Homecoming Parade this morning in Juniata. We were off to a late start due to a flat tire on one of the floats. That was the first time I’ve seen or heard of that happening. The daughter of my secretary in my insurance office got married this afternoon. Charlotte and I were at the wedding and the reception. Best wishes to Elyse and Adam as they start their life together.

-John