Year in Review, October through December
• After nearly seven years of planning, the Area Transportation Authority broke ground and started its 140-day construction schedule. A ceremony was held to kick off construction of ATA’s Punxsutawney Transit Center.
• Fox’s Pizza Den’s “Pizza & Prevention” fund-raiser beat its previous year’s record with more than $31,000 raised for the Punxsutawney Fire Department.
With help from members of the fire department, Fox’s Pizza Den sold 3,444 Big Daddy Pizzas, a 12-percent increase from 3,072 pizzas in 2010.
• Gov. Tom Corbett released a plan that would allow the state’s counties to impose a fee on drilling that will help pay to regulate and fix environmental damage in communities where it is happening.
The fee could be as high as $160,000 per well, and it covers a 10-year period.
• The Occupy movement, which began in September on Wall Street, continued to spread around the United States and the world.
• Apple co-founder and former CEO, Steve Jobs, died at 56. Battling cancer since 2004, the inventor of the iPod and iPhone passed away despite receiving a liver transplant in 2009.
“Steve’s brilliance, passion and energy were the source of countless innovations that enrich and improve all of our lives. The world is immeasurably better because of Steve,” the company said in a brief statement about its former CEO.
• Local pumpkin farmers needed not fear in Punxsutawney. Hurricane Irene, which affected much of the east coast, had no effect on western Pennsylvania pumpkin farms. “We’re doing OK; we didn’t have Hurricane Irene floods our way. We received water at just the critical time, which helped the crop to grow,” said local pumpkin farmer Jeff Wright of Pine Valley Farms in Rochester Mills.
• Richard Galluzzi, director of curriculum and federal programs for the Punxsutawney Area School District, reported that students made adequate yearly progress (AYP) on the PSSA exams.
“This town needs to be proud of its teachers and its students,” he said. “They work hard and listen to the teachers.”
• The debt of the City of Harrisburg reached $458 million, and the capital was forced into filing for bankruptcy.
• During the late hours of the night, unknown actor(s) entered Punxsy Phil’s Family Restaurant and caused damage. This happened after a series of burglaries in October, at Neko’s Restaurant and Lounge, Cookies Caboose, Mary’s Place, Union Drilling and various locations in the East End.
• SS.C.D. School welcomed its new principal Jessica Newcome, who had been the school’s day care program director then pre-school director, as well as teaching computer classes to grades K-4. A graduate of Purchase Line Area High School, IUP and Ashford University’s online program, Newcome succeeded former principal Dawn Bressler.
• Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi was killed by revolutionary fighters
after begging for mercy in his hometown of Sirte, along the northern coast of Libya.
• A 7.2-magnitude earthquake shook eastern Turkey, collapsing buildings and killing 138 people.
• Former Punxsutawney Borough Police officer Brian Andrekovich filed a civil lawsuit against the borough pertaining to his firing stemming from the August 2009 death of Stephen Obbish, who died while under his custody.
“I think this is sad, what has happened to him,” Andrekovich’s attorney, Susan Mahood, said. “The charges were unfounded, and he did not violate any regulations.”
• The Spirit Publishing Company, which publishes the The Punxsutawney Spirit and Jefferson County Neighbors, was named the 2011 Business of the Year by the Punxsutawney Area Chamber of Commerce.
• Van Dyke & Company and the Mahoning Valley Ballet presented their production of “Dracula” at the Punxsutawney Area Community Center.
• Retired Penn State football defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky was arrested on seven counts of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, beginning a downward spiral that would shake the university to its core.
• Michael Jackson’s doctor, Dr. Conrad Murray, was convicted of involuntary manslaughter after supplying the pop star with drugs that led to his death in 2009.
• Republicans dominated local elections despite low turnout, with only 7,988 of the county’s 27,949 (29 percent) voters heading out to the polls.
County Commissioners Paul Corbin (R), James McIntyre (R) and Jeff Pisarcik (D), were re-elected, as were auditors Maxine Zimmerman (R), Roger Richards (R), and Brenda Scarantine (D).
Diane Maihle Kiehl (R) was re-elected as register-recorder, while Carl J. Gotwald Sr. (R/D) was reelected as sheriff.
Douglas Chambers was reelected as District Judge 54-3-01, Gregory Bazylak (R) was elected as District Judge 54-3-03, and Michele Lorenzo (R/D), Eric Story (R/D), and Robert ‘Toby’ Santik (I) were elected to Punxsy Borough Council.
Melissa Snyder (R/D) was elected to Punxsy School Board I, Jack White (R) was elected to Punxsy School Board VIII, and Penny Pifer (R/D) was elected to Punxsy School Board IX.
• In the aftermath of sex charges filed against Jerry Sandusky, Penn State head football voach Joe Paterno and university President Graham Spanier were fired by the board of trustees.
“This is a tragedy,” Paterno said about the incidents. “It is one of the great sorrows of my life. With the benefit of hindsight, I wish I had done more.”
• Brookville native Wyatt Long, 19, bagged a rare albino buck.
“I’ve been hunting for approximately 40 years, and I’ve only seen one (albino deer). Albino deer are extremely rare,” said Joe Kosack, wildlife conservation education specialist with the Pennsylvania State Game Commission.
• Punxsy native Braxton Amundson won $10,000 and $800 worth of women’s cosmetic products during his appearance on “The Price is Right.” After winning on the show, Amundson said his level of swag had “nearly tripled.”
• The Groundhog Club Inner Circle held a public awareness and input meeting to provide information about a $9,000 landscape design at Gobbler’s Knob. The club received grants from the PA Wilds Design Assistance Program, National Parks Serves Preserve America Fund and DCED Municipal Services Fund.
The renovations to the entrance of Gobbler’s Knob will be designed by Penn State landscape designer and instructor Mike Mohney. The new renovations should be in place by Groundhog Day 2013.
• PAHS welcomed 18 new members to the National Honor Society, making the total 34 members.
• Republican Herman Cain dropped out of the presidential race amidst numerous sexual harassment allegations.
• The Hotel Punxsutawney and Smuggler’s Inn were destroyed by a fast-moving fire in the early morning hours. Both establishments were owned by Ken and Toie Neal.
• Former Penn State football defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky pleaded not guilty and waived his preliminary hearing amidst 52 criminal accounts from a series of alleged sexual assaults and abuses to 10 boys dating back to the 1990s.
• The Make-A-Wish Foundation raised a record $79.447.86 for its “Light up a Child’s Life” campaign.
With help from WPXZ, the Pantall Hotel, SS.C.D., County Market, Ragley’s True Value, Fox’s Pizza Den and many generous members of the community, Make-a-Wish topped its 2010 total of $73,285.
• North Korean leader Kim Jong Il died of a sudden heart attack. He had been Supreme Leader of North Korea, succeeding his father, Kim Il-Sung, after his death in 1994. Il’s son Kim Jong Un has taken over as Supreme Leader of North Korea.
• After months of construction, Grace Place Apartments, located at the corner of Pine and North Gilpin, officially opened for tenants.
• House Republicans caved to President Barack Obama’s demands and approved a two-month extension to the implication of payroll tax cuts.
• After 12 years as a member of Punxsutawney Borough Council, President Susan Glessner resigned as president and as a member of council, effective immediately.
• Christmas Day, the NBA season finally started after an extended lockout.
• The Punxsutawney Area Community Center received a $15,000 grant from the Dominion Foundation. The grant will be used for upgrades to systems at the Jackson Theater.