Wish us luck!

Article posted on April 30, 2016

imageJohnny flew in from Houston to see a couple of ball games with me this weekend. We are both big Pirates fans and try to get to a game or two every year. I haven’t seen him since Christmas, so I was really looking forward to our time together. We had a good day in the ‘Burgh, including my first Uber ride. I’m still not sure about this entire operation. When I asked our driver about how he handles his business, he said that “we don’t tell our insurance agents what we do.” The Buccos are on a five game winning streak and we are keeping our fingers crossed that we can sweep the Reds this weekend. We’re also concerned about the weather, which is iffy for tonight’s game. Wish us luck!

-John

She’ll be missed by all who knew her

Article posted on April 29, 2016

Many people knew Andrea from my insurance office who worked with me for 23 years and became a good friend to both me and Charlotte. She died on Monday after a brief illness and her funeral was this evening. It was a very nice, simple service. She left behind a daughter, a grandson, and numerous friends. She’ll be missed by all who knew her. Please keep her daughter and grandson in your prayers.

-John

I didn’t either

Article posted on April 28, 2016

I was at IUP this morning for Senator Don White’s student program. I participated in an Economic Development Committee meeting made up of about 15 kids. The bill we passed out of committee, provided for the privatization of the liquor stores. I was impressed with their general knowledge of the issues involved with this legislation; they had several amendments, but in the end, it passed through committee unanimously. Tonight, I attended the Tyrone Chamber’s 100th Anniversary Dinner. They had a great venue in the old armory building. The speaker was Cummins McNitt, who gave a history of Tyrone. Did you know that Tyrone was called Eagleville, Shorbsville, and Tyrone City before it was officially named Tyrone? I didn’t either.

-John

It was very well done, as I anticipated

Article posted on April 27, 2016

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I spent the morning with the PA Fish and Boat Commission stocking rainbow trout in the Claysburg area. I have been invited to help before, but it never worked out with my schedule. This was a particularly interesting stocking today, because it was during the fishing season. I showed up at the meeting place, along with about 25 or 30 other “volunteers.” I learned that some of them were anglers who wanted to follow us to where we stocked, so they could stay and fish before the fish dispersed. In fact, there were people waiting for us when we arrived at the usual spots and even people following the procession of vehicles with the Fish Commission truck. The stocking process was very interesting. We removed the trout from the tanks on the truck with a net and placed them in either buckets that were taken to the stream and released, or put them in floating barrels that were taken down the stream for small releases as the volunteers waded. Thanks to the crew of officer Craig Garman and Drew for teaching me the ropes. I had a meeting this afternoon at the Capitol and hurried back to meet Charlotte for M&T Bank’s reception and presentation of Altoona Community Theatre’s Shrek. It was very well done, as I anticipated.

-John

These people do it all

Article posted on April 26, 2016

I hope everyone got to the polls today and cast their votes. In Blair County we were supposed to have thunderstorms, but it turned out to be a pretty nice day, so there’s no excuse for not voting. The Senate office was closed for Election Day, so I got caught up on a few things and attended the Operation Our Town 10th Anniversary Celebration outside of Hollidaysburg. They’ve been recognized statewide for their efforts to stop illegal drug activity. From funding an Assistant District Attorney to prosecute drug offenders, to buying equipment for law enforcement, to providing money for treatment and prevention, and even sponsoring programs to keep kids off the street, these people do it all.

-John

We, as a society, treat it so casually

Article posted on April 25, 2016

I got the tailgate handle on the truck fixed this morning. It wouldn’t open and I assumed it was broken, actually, it somehow locked itself. This is a used tailgate and I don’t have a key for it. The garage took it apart and welded the mechanism so that it can’t lock again. This is what you go through with an old truck. I had appointments all morning and did scheduling and other things today. Everywhere I went, however, all I was asked about was tomorrow’s election, mostly about the Presidential race, but others, as well. I hope everyone gets out to vote tomorrow. We have that right in this country and it’s a shame we, as a society, treat it so casually.

-John

Sounding compassionate and actually helping are often two different things

Article posted on April 24, 2016

I saw a story today on a report the Independent Fiscal Office (IFO) did on increasing the minimum wage from $7.25 to the Governor’s proposed $10.15. It said that about one million employees would be affected directly, with about half of them being part time and many of them teenagers. It also explained that many other employees could be affected if they currently make a little more than $10.15 since they would expect a raise if the new employees start at $10.15. This pay increase above the minimum wage continues to go up the food chain as the employees above the next group to get a raise want one for the same reasons. The report also said that about 30,000 jobs would be lost because employers would need to find savings somewhere to pay the higher wages. Again, that figure seems a little low. In any event, there is no legitimate reason to have the government dictate what a private employer should pay his or her employees. The reality is that a forced wage increase hurts many of the people the advocates for these laws say they want to help. Sounding compassionate and actually helping people are often two different things.

-John

He will be viewed as irrelevant

Article posted on April 23, 2016

We learned this week that the Fiscal Code, which was passed a week and a half ago, was not acted upon by the Governor, like the General Appropriations bill. Therefore, after 10 days, it became law automatically. As I mentioned in an earlier blog post, this changes the formula for school funding, giving 428 districts more money than the formula the Governor used and has other benefits for the citizens of this state. Aside from the importance of this bill to the budget, the fact that the Governor took no action on it has been the subject of discussion by members of the General Assembly and others. I can’t remember a Governor, any Governor, who has not ultimately signed off on a budget. The record now shows that he never approved a budget. Some liken this power imbalance to lame duck status. If the coming budget is developed and passed around him, he will be viewed as irrelevant in the constitutionally required budget process.

-John

I’ll be at 500,000 miles on the truck before you can shake a stick!

Article posted on April 22, 2016

I spent the entire day in Franklin and Fulton counties. This morning I stopped to see all of the latest updates to the Tuscarora Wildlife Education Project on the grounds of James Buchanan High School. Sheila Snider and her team have done a tremendous job with the new building addition and managing the wildlife displays. I was very impressed. I left there to attend a groundbreaking for an $8.5 million investment at Whitetail Ski Resort. Don MacAskill and his crew do an outstanding job with the entire resort and continue to grow. This substantial expansion of the main lodge will include a full service restaurant, brick oven pizzeria and other amenities. I had a meeting in the afternoon in Mercersburg then put in some office time in McConnellsburg before finishing my day at a dinner in Hustontown. The way my schedule has gone lately, I’ll be at 500,000 miles on the truck before you can shake a stick!

-John

I should have headed that way to start with

Article posted on April 21, 2016

The Blair Chamber had Frank Coonelly, President of the Pittsburgh Pirates, as their breakfast speaker this morning. I’ve met Frank on several occasions and looked forward to his remarks. Unfortunately, I had to leave during his speech because of my schedule. It’s always interesting to hear about the business side of professional sports. I had a Hollidaysburg Veterans Home Advisory Board meeting today and drove to Harrisburg to participate on a panel at the conference for the PA Assoc. of County Administrators for Mental Health and Developmental Services. We fielded questions from the moderator and the audience about issues important to them and the folks they serve. Coming out of our capital city was a mess. Donald Trump had a rally at the Farm Show Building and traffic was a nightmare. After spending 20 minutes to get two blocks, I turned around and went the opposite direction to the Turnpike. I should have known better and headed that way to start with.

-John