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YEAR IN REVIEW: JANUARY - APRIL

December 29, 2010

Stephen Tobolowsky, who played Ned Ryerson in the 1993 film "Groundhog Day," was a special guest of the Inner Circle during Groundhog Day 2010. (File photo by Tom Chapin)

JANUARY
• In a poll conducted by The Punxsutawney Spirit, readers chose the terrorist attacks of 2001 as the top event of the last decade.

Locally, readers cited the closure of Mahoning Hardware, the opening of Wal-Mart and the Quecreek Mine rescue as the top local events over the past decade.

• Jan. 3, William Paul Anthony, son of C.J. Adams and Craig Anthony, was born at Punxsutawney Area Hospital, the first baby of 2010.

• Jan. 4, Punxsutawney Borough Council members again elected Susan Glessner as president.

• Jan. 4, William “John” Muir was sworn in as the mayor of Worthville, succeeding the late Forest Maurer, who died Dec. 11, 2009, and had served as mayor for almost 60 years.

• Jan. 5, state Sen. Joe Scarnati, of Brockway, was again elected Senate president pro tem.

• Jan. 7, Gov. Ed Rendell signed a bill legalizing poker and blackjack at slots casinos in Pennsylvania.

He described the bill as “laden with WAMs (walking-around-money) and pork.”

• Jan. 12, the state Department of Tourism announced that not only would Punxsutawney Phil make his annual prognostication before his thousands of fans Feb. 2, but he would also send it via text message.

• Jan. 12, the strongest earthquake in 200 years rocked Haiti, with thousands of casualties.

• Jan. 13, Trooper Paul Richey, of PSP-Franklin, was ambushed by a suicidal man who had also killed his wife and then himself in their home near Franklin.

• “Look out for that first step; it’s a doozy.” Jan. 15, the Groundhog Club Inner Circle announced that it would have a special guest at the annual banquet and Groundhog Day: Stephen Tobolowsky, who played insurance agent Ned Ryerson in the 1993 film, “Groundhog Day.”

• Just in time for Groundhog Day, the Punxsutawney Weather Discovery Center unveiled a new exhibit, the Weather Wizard/Seasonal Smart Lab.

• Jan. 18, appeal hearings for convicted murderer Robert Rega began in Brookville.

Rega eventually told Judge John Foradora that he’d rather not sit in on the hearing that was supposed to save him from the death penalty.

• Jan. 21, Ruth MacKenzie, who, along with husband Harry, owned and operated Ruth & Harry’s Restaurant downtown for decades, died at age 94.

• Jan. 22, Alexis Bianco was named the PAHS 2010 Winter Queen, and Joelle Hoffman was named the Winter Princess.

• Jan. 24, the Punxsutawney Weather Discovery Center announced the two newest members of the Meteorologist Hall of Fame: WJAC-TV Chief Meteorologist Jim Burton and Paul Knight, a Penn State climatologist.

• Jan. 25, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) wrote to Groundhog Club Inner Circle President Bill Deeley, asking that Punxsutawney Phil be replaced by an animatronic groundhog for the 2010 festivities.

No dice.

“I made the comment that he (Phil) is treated better than the average child in Pennsylvania, and I stand by that,” Deeley said. “PETA does not know us after Groundhog Day, nor do they care to know us after Groundhog Day.”

• Jan. 27, Owens-Illinois announced that it would close its Clarion plant in July, leaving 400 people without jobs.

• Jan. 29, Chase Tibbs and Lindsey Bryant were named the 2010 PAHS Groundhog Day King and Queen.

• Jan. 30, Punxsutawney Area School Board President Gary Conrad confirmed that he had received a letter of resignation with intent to retire from long-time Superintendent Dr. J. Thomas Frantz.

After the board approved his request Feb. 8, Frantz said that after about 37 years in teaching and administration, “It’s time for Tom.”

FEBRUARY

• Feb. 1, a broken water pipe damaged the first floor and the district attorney’s office at the Jefferson County Courthouse.

• Feb. 1, during the annual Groundhog Day banquet, Bob “Oral” Roberts and Lisa Walker were named the 2009 Man and Woman of the Year.

• Feb. 2, with guest Stephen Tobolowsky and thousands others looking on, Punxsutawney Phil made his 124th-annual prognostication, seeing his shadow and thus predicting another six weeks of winter.

• Feb. 5, the Groundhog Club announced it had filed a cease-and-desist order against TruTV.com for its new show “NFL Full Contact.” In the commercial promoting the show, men dressed as Inner Circle members pull a pint-sized Troy Polamalu from a stump, where Troy predicts “six more weeks of football.”

• Feb. 8, John Murtha, the Pennsylvania Democrat who served his district around Johnstown since 1974, died at age 77.

• Feb. 18, members of PRIDE expressed concerns to Punxsy Borough Council about the immense piles of snow throughout downtown, creating hazardous conditions for pedestrians and motorists alike.

• The 2010 Winter Olympics began in Vancouver, Canada, but were immediately marred by the death of a 21-year-old Georgian athlete killed after losing control of his sled on a luge training run.

• Feb. 19, following the infidelity scandal that plagued him and his family since November 2009, pro golfer Tiger Woods held a press conference to admit that he had been unfaithful to his wife, saying that he believed that because of his success, normal patterns of behavior did not apply to him.

• By Feb. 26, 31 inches of snow had fallen on Punxsy. That was compared to 11 inches the year before.

• Feb. 28, with a game-winning goal by the Pittsburgh Penguins’ Sidney Crosby, Canada defeated the U.S. hockey team 3-2 to win Olympic gold.

MARCH
• March 5, police in Milledgeville, Ga., announced an investigation into an alleged incident of sexual assault involving Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, which came a few months after a woman sued him over similar allegations stemming from a 2008 incident at a Lake Tahoe hotel.

• The Punxsutawney Area School Board approved hiring the Pennsylvania School Boards Association to seek a successor for departing Superintendent Dr. J. Thomas Frantz.

• March 9, the Punxsy chapter of Daughters of the American Revolution named Karly Shaffer as the recipient of its Good Citizen Award.

• March 15, the state Attorney General’s Office said it had closed its investigation into the death of Stephen Obbish, who died in the back of a Punxsy Borough Police cruiser in August 2009, and that it would file no charges against the arresting officer, Brian Andrekovich.

Two days later, Andrekovich — through his attorney, Ralph Montana — revealed that he would seek to get his job back after council fired him in November 2009.

• March 21, with a 219-212 vote, Congress approved President Barack Obama’s health care plan.

• During the annual Peepers Banquet March 21 in Big Run, Bob Schaffer was named the recipient of the Robert L. “BoBo” Davis Citizen of the Year Award.

• March 22, former House Democratic Whip Mike Veon, of Beaver, was found guilty of 14 counts related to using taxpayer-paid bonuses to reward state workers for campaign efforts, illegal campaign fund-raising and other offenses.

• Early March 24, a quickly-spreading fire destroyed Pro Hardware in Glen Campbell and damaged the fire hall located next door.

• March 25, instead of honoring one physician for Doctors’ Day, Punxsutawney Area Hospital saluted its entire medical staff.

• March 25, in honoring a Right to Know request filed by The Punxsutawney Spirit, Punxsy Borough Council revealed several reasons why it fired Officer Brian Andrekovich following the death of Stephen Obbish in the back of a police cruiser in August 2009 while in Andrekovich’s custody.

In its reasoning, council said Andrekovich failed to seek medical attention for the intoxicated man, dragged him along the floor at the Goodwill Store and left him in the vehicle in the sally port at the police station to “sober up.”

• March 29, at least 30 people were killed and 60 injured in twin suicide bombings in a Moscow subway.
• The Jefferson County Jail Board celebrated its status as a homicide-free facility for the first time since April 1998. That meant that the jail was not holding a person charged in a homicide-related incident.

• March 29, as part of its 125th anniversary celebration, Ss. Cosmas & Damian Roman Catholic Church welcomed more than 120 members of the clergy for the Erie Diocese Chrism Mass.

• March 30, Brookville Borough Police filed charges against Brookville Junior-Senior High School teacher Karin D. Hetrick for allegedly sexually assaulting a juvenile over the course of two to three months.

APRIL
• April 1, the Pennsylvania Associated Press Managing Editors cited Spirit sports writers Frank Foreman and Dan Walk in its annual writing and photo contest.

For newspapers with circulations under 15,000, Foreman took first place in the Sports Deadline Reporting category for his coverage of the Punxsy Chucks’ victory over Clearfield for the District IX Class AAA Championship in November 2009.

In the Spot News Reporting category, Walk took second place for “Remembering ‘A Great Person,’” his piece about former Punxsy boys’ basketball and Dream Team coach Chuck Daly, who passed away in May 2009.

• April 6, seven coal miners were killed and 19 missing following an explosion at the Upper Big Branch Mine in Montcoal, W.Va.

• No means no.

April 6 — for the third time — the Federal Highway Administration rejected a proposal from Pennsylvania to toll Interstate 80.

• During the 31st-annual event, the Run/Walk for Someone Special raised $40,668 for the JCARC and Camp Friendship.

• After his ouster from “The Tonight Show,” Conan O’Brien announced that his next late-night show would premiere on TBS in November.

• Despite facing sexual assault charges stemming from a March incident involving a 20-year-old college woman, Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger would not face criminal charges after the district attorney said Monday that after exhaustive interviews and inconclusive medical exams, the student’s accusations could not be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. The DA also said the young accuser no longer wanted him to prosecute.

• April 14, Jefferson County Coroner Bernard Snyder said an autopsy conducted in Erie found that the shooting deaths of Victoria Lynn Shugar, 61, and James Wayne Shugar, also 61, whose bodies were found April 12 in their Snyder Township home, were classified as homicide.

• April 15, three PAMS students faced charges of criminal solicitation to commit aggravated assault after police said they discovered evidence that led them to believe the students were preparing to “commit a public disturbance.”

• Air travel in Europe was halted following the explosion of a volcano in Iceland that spewed thick drifts of ash into the atmosphere, threatening the safety of air travel.

• April 20, the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig explosion killed 11 men working on the platform and injured 17 others. The explosion caused the leak of 205.8 million gallons of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico, the largest accidental marine oil spill in the history of the petroleum industry.

• April 21, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell suspended Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger for the first six games of the 2010 season in a case involving a 20-year-old college student who accused him of sexually assaulting her in a Milledgeville, Ga., nightclub in March. It was later reduced to four games.

• The Punxsutawney Area Community Center named long-time volunteer Rob McCoy as its new director.

• Indiana County Coroner Michael Baker reported that Kirsten Tolley, seven, and her sister Katrina, six, died of asphyxia due to smoke inhalation during a fire at a Blairsville home April 25.

• April 27, as part of its 125th anniversary celebration, Ss. Cosmas & Damian Roman Catholic Church and several celebrants returned the remains of Msgr. Herman Clement Wienker, the church’s founding priest, to Punxsutawney for interment in Calvary Cemetery.

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