2011 Year in Review, July though September
• Close enough — Gov. Tom Corbett signed a new state budget, reaching his goal of enacting a 2011-12 spending plan before the new fiscal year began — by 15 minutes. It was the first time a state budget had been passed on time in eight years, those eight during the administration of former Gov. Ed Rendell.
• With the help of Punxsy Phil, his co-handler John Griffiths and a fake front page, Jeff White proposed to his girlfriend, Sarah O’Donnell, both of Pittsburgh, in front of The Spirit’s “Phantastic Phil!” And she said yes.
• A jury in Orlando, Fla., found Casey Anthony not guilty of killing her two-year-old daughter Caylee, instead convicting her of only four misdemeanor counts of lying to investigators who were looking into the girl’s June 2008 disappearance.
• Former First Lady Betty Ford died at the Eisenhower Medical Center in Palm Springs, Calif. She was 93.
• Space shuttle Atlantis thundered into orbit on a cargo run that closed three decades of both triumph and tragedy for NASA. It was the 135th shuttle flight since the inaugural mission in 1981.
• The American Association for State and Local History (AASLH) announced that the Jefferson County Historical Society would be the recipient of an Award of Merit from the AASLH Leadership in History Awards for the exhibit, “Living on the Land.”
• Punxsutawney’s 10-& 11-year old baseball All-Stars won the District 10 title with a 12-2 win in four innings over St. Marys in Punxsutawney.
• Logan Taylor Snell, 19, Brookville, was crowned the Jefferson County Fair Queen.
• Construction and demolition occurred simultaneously as work on Grace Place, a 24-unit senior housing facility at the corner of Gilpin and Pine streets, continued.
• Indiana University of Pennsylvania named Terry Appolonia, dean of students and associate vice-president for student development at the university’s main campus, as the dean at IUP-Punxsutawney.
• The Penn State Cooperative Extension welcomed state Reps. Sam Smith and Dave Reed to the Jefferson County Fair, where they received an up-close and personal look into what the Jefferson County 4-H program is all about.
“I think that generally, a lot of people don’t think about where things come from,” Smith said. “They think that food comes from the grocery store, and they think that electricity comes from the wall socket, and they don’t give it a lot of thought. That’s what’s great about our county fair system that we have in Pennsylvania. This helps tie the two communities together, the agriculture and the town.”
• Space shuttle Atlantis landed in near darkness after one last visit to the International Space Station, completing the 135th and final shuttle flight. The spaceship and the two other surviving shuttles will become museum pieces.
• A homegrown terrorist set off an explosion that ripped open buildings in the heart of Norway’s government, then went to a summer camp dressed as a police officer and gunned down youths as they ran and even swam for their lives. The attacks killed at least 17 people in Norway’s worst episode of violence since World War II.
• The Christian Missionary Alliance Church hosted its first-ever Firefighter Appreciation Day.
• The PA Civil War Road Show brought Pennsylvania’s role in the war to the Jefferson County Fair via mobile museum.
• Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger wed his girlfriend, Ashley Harlan, in a small church in Ohio Township.
• British singer Amy Winehouse was found dead, apparently of alcohol poisoning, in her London apartment at the age of 27.
• Cpl. Charles E. Gross, Troop C fire marshal, said whoever started a fire that destroyed the home of James Stellabuto Sr., Caroline Street, Big Run, July 27 would be charged with arson and attempted homicide, since the owner was at home when the fire broke out.
• Ken and Debra Iwaniec presented eight personal breath test (PBT, or a portable breathalyzer) instruments to representatives from each police station – Punxsy, Clarion, DuBois/Falls Creek, Kane, Ridgway and Tionesta – in Troop C in honor of their son, Trooper Kenton Iwaniec, of Troop J Avondale.
Iwaniec’s personal vehicle was struck head-on by an intoxicated driver March 27, 2008, after he finished his shift, and he died two hours later in a Newark, Del., hospital. He had been with the troop for only three months.
• After three-and-a-half years of fighting drugs in the Punxsy area, the Punxsy Coalition Against Drugs — formerly the Mayor’s Drug Task Force — announced that it was formally disbanding.
Dave and Rita Klender live directly across from the Ss. Cosmas & Damian Roman Catholic Church rectory, where they could see the bright red 2011 Chevrolet Cruze RS LTZ. But in the end, as the winners of the grand prize in the SS.C.D. Lawn Festival’s annual drawing, they opted for the $15,000 cash prize.
• The Young Township Board of Supervisors unanimously hired Mary Ann Redding as the new township secretary/treasurer.
She succeeded Alexandra Lee Kent, who retired from the position due to health reasons May 11.
• Thanks to Facebook messages, Tweets and even personal appeals all directed toward Kadie’s idol, Taylor Swift, the 21-year-old country phenomenon made a personal phone call to four-year-old Kadie Stonebraker, who had been battling neuroblastoma since October 2008.
Two days later, Kadie died at her home surrounded by her family.
• In an the affidavit of probable cause filed by PSP Fire Marshal Cpl. Charles E. Gross, Anthony Overbeck, 18, a member of the Big Run Area Volunteer Fire Company, confessed to setting a fire June 19 at Big Run Carpet; two fires at a house owned by James L. Stellabuto, Caroline Street; a Feb. 18 fire at the former Little Canada Bar, Filtering Plant Road, Gaskill Township; a fire at an abandoned house April 24 on Hartzfeld Road, Gaskill Township; and an Aug. 9 fire along Pennsylvania Avenue.
Prior to Overbeck’s confessions, the Jefferson County Department of Emergency Services urged residents to continue supporting the Big Run department.
“We must continue to support the officers and members of the Big Run Fire Company as we always did,” said Tracy W. Zents, EMA director. “The arrest of a volunteer firefighter suspected of arson does not reflect the true reason why people volunteer to join the fire service ranks.”
• Tens of millions of people from Georgia to Canada were jolted by the strongest earthquake — a 5.8 — to strike the East Coast since World War II.
There were no known deaths or serious injuries, but cracks appeared in the National Cathedral, and three capstones broke off its tower. Windows shattered and grocery stores were wrecked in Virginia, where the quake was centered. The White House and Capitol were partly evacuated.
• The Lavelles wrapped up the 2011 season of Music in the Park in Barclay Square, a season that saw none of the seven acts chased indoors due to inclement weather.
• Hurricane Irene zeroed in for a catastrophic run up the Eastern Seaboard, as more than two million people were told to move to safer places, and New York City ordered the nation’s biggest subway system shutdown for the first time because of a natural disaster.
• VFW Post 9044 coordinated the Groundhog Fall 50K for the first time.
• After first being drafted June 1, 2007, by the Cincinnati Reds, the call came for Devin Mesoraco: He was called up from the AAA Louisville Bats and placed on the Reds’ 40-man roster.
• Brothers Gordon and Lyle Stuby did not paint the 13-by-25-foot painting of the U.S. flag on the side of their barn along Route 119, North Mahoning Township for the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks. But that didn’t mean that passersby didn’t give them approving honks from their vehicles.
“We’ve always thought it would be great to have an American flag on the barn,” Gordon said. “We’ve been thinking of that since Iran, Iraq.
“Everything just seemed to fall in place,” Lyle, of Schellsburg, Bedford County, said. “We’re glad it’s very timely.”
• A Reynoldsville woman faced two counts of attempted criminal homicide and other charges after she allegedly fired about six shots at her husband from a .22 caliber revolver behind the office of District Judge Douglas Chambers.
One of the shots struck her husband’s car, while another struck a private residence along Pleasant Alley, police said.
No one was injured.
• Undaunted by talk of a new terror threat, New Yorkers and Washingtonians wove among police armed with assault rifles and waited with varying degrees of patience at security checkpoints while intelligence officials scrambled to nail down information on a possible al-Qaida strike timed to coincide with the 10th anniversary of 9/11.
• SS.C.D., Dr. Michael Vancheri, attorney Nicholas Lorenzo and the Punxsy Rotary Club were the recipients for the Punxsutawney Area Historical & Genealogical Society’s 2011 Commendation Awards.
• On the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, both the 9/11 Memorial, in New York, and the Flight 93 National Memorial, in Shanksville, opened for the first time.
Ceremonies and tributes were held all over the local area.
• A government panel reported that BP carried the ultimate responsibility for the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history, which killed 11 rig workers, spewed 200 million gallons of crude oil from the bottom of the sea and greatly damaged the Gulf Coast’s livelihood and economy in the April 2010 explosion.
• The Punxsutawney Spirit formally announced its ongoing expansion project: Three new units for The Spirit’s press and the return of its job shop, a return to full local printing operations.
• Americans Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer, convicted as spies in Iran July 2009, boarded flights to return to the United States.
• Community Action Inc.’s Senior Corps-RSVP named Ted Thompson, of Brookville, as its Volunteer of the Year.
• Devin Mesoraco’s Punxsy fans decked themselves out in “Mez” — his nickname on the team — T-shirts and headed to PNC Park for Mesoraco’s first trip to Pittsburgh as a Major Leaguer against the Pirates.
• Gabrielle Vallese, 11, of Pittsburgh, took top honors in “Punxsy’s Got Talent” during The Spirit’s annual Appreciation Day.
• Punxsy golfers Ian Miller and Brandon Mancuso led the Chucks with 79s, and Micky DeChurch and Mike Blose each shot 87s to lead Punxsy to the District IX title in Bradford.
• The Punxsutawney Career Women’s Club named Colleen Means as its Career Woman of the Year.
• Signals for the Torrence Street traffic light project were officially activated.
• District Judge Douglas Chambers set bail at $2 million for Christopher L. Thornhill, 24, stemming from the Sept. 22 shooting near a residence along Cranberry Alley. Injured in the shooting were Richard White, 21, and Shane Glatt, 18, both of Punxsy.