McKean County News

News from McKean County.

In Venango Co Trial, McKean Co Man Sentenced for Homicide by Vehicle

A McKean County  truck driver who prosecutors say hit and killed


another McKean County man and fled the scene is headed to prison.

40-year-old Paul Dismas Morrisroe, of  Lewis Run, according to online court records, was sentenced Wednesday in McKean County Court to 7 ½ to 15 years behind bars, with credit for time served, in the June 2, 2015 crash that killed 20-year-old Dakota Heinaman in front of the driveway of his home.

Prosecutors say Morrisroe was under the influence of marijuana and alcohol when he hit Heinaman. Heinaman's grandmother says Morrisroe drove away after the crash, traveling 15 miles on the rim of his truck.

A jury on January 30, after a trial that began January 18th,  convicted Morrisroe of three felonies:  Homicide by vehicle while DUI; Accidents involving death or personal injury; and homicide by vehicle.  He was also convicted of five misdemeanors:  DUI Controlled Substance First Offense; DUI Controlled Substance Metabolite First Offense; Accident Involving Damage to an Attended Vehicle or property; DUI: Controlled Substance - Combination First Offense; and DUI: General Impairment/Incapable of Driving Safely - First Offense.  In addition Morrisroe was convicted of 7 summary traffic violations.  He was found not guilty of speeding and passing on the left unsafely. 


Morrisroe's attorney, Robert D. Kinnear, of Warren, says they plan to appeal.


Fire Marshal Probes McKean Eatery Blaze

A McKean County restaurant is closed following a Thursday night fire.  The Pennsylvania State Police Fire Marshal out of the Kane state police station and personnel from the Smethport Fire Department are investigating the origin and cause of a fire that damaged the Raught's Country Kitchen (formerly Myra's) at 7076 State Route 46 in Keating Township.  Authorities say employees discovered smoke in the structure shortly after closing last Thursday night about 8:15 pm.  A fire was discovered in a back room near the heating system.  The fire originated under a gas boiler.  Radiant heat from the boiler ignited dust and wood flooring material below the heating unit.  Two juveniles were treated and released for smoke inhalation they incurred while attempting to extinguish the fire.  Damage is estimated at $30,000.  The fire marshal says the restaurant remains closed pending repairs.  


McKean County Home Destroyed by Fire, No Injuries

Seven residents of a Smethport,  McKean County home destroyed by fire are without a home.  The three adults and four children were asleep when the fire started shortly after 1:30 a.m. Wednesday (January 4) in the home which is located at 726 Pierce Brook Road in Keating Township.  An investigation into the cause and origin of the blaze by the Pennsylvania State Police Fire Marshal from the Ridgway station and personnel from the Smethport Fire Department shows the cause of the fire to be accidental in nature and related to a clothes drier malfunction.  Authorities say the home is a total loss.  The damage is estimated at $200,000.  All seven of the people in the house at the time of the fire were able to escape through a window.  

The owner of the home is identified as Deanna L. Fitzsimmons of Smethport.  In addition to Fitzsimmons two other adults were in the house at the time of the fire:  Tieler R. Raymo, 24 and Destinie Crowe, 22.  Four children were in the house as well:  a 14 year old girl, a 12 year old boy, a four year old boy and a ten month old girl.  

Typically in the case of a home destroyed by fire, the American Red Cross steps in to provide three days of emergency shelter, food and clothing.  At that point other agencies, such as the Salvation Army may step in to aid in providing shelter and basic necessities.  


Kinzua bridge park visitor center, office to be dedicated

(AP) — A dedication ceremony is scheduled next week for the new Kinzua Bridge State Park visitor center and park office.

State conservation department officials say the ceremony will be held Sept. 15 at the park in McKean County.

The 301-foot tall structure near Mount Jewett was once the tallest and largest railroad bridge in the world, until a tornado ripped 11 of its 20 support towers from their bases on July 21, 2003.

A glass-bottomed deck and walkway have since been built atop six of the remaining support towers.


The 2,053-foot long viaduct was first built of iron in 1882, rebuilt of steel in 1900 for bigger trains, and used by freight trains until 1959. It utilized a series of arches carrying the railroad over the wide valley.


McKean County Ex-fire chief hit by tanker truck, killed

The McKean County community of Cyclone is mourning the loss of a former fire chief  and a forty year firefighting veteran.  Authorities report 60 year old Don Ishman dead, the result of  being struck by a tanker truck backing in to a fire station.  The Kane state police report Ishman was killed in the accident at the Hilltop Volunteer Fire Department in Cyclone, a few miles south of the New York border.  Police say Ishman, the fire company's former chief, was helping out on a public service detail and trying to guide the driver of the tanker truck, who was backing into the station.  The McKean County coroner's office pronounced Ishman dead at the scene.  Over his forty years with the Hilltop VFD, Ishman had served in several leadership capacities.  


Unoccupied Bradford Home Torched, PSP, BPD,BFD Investigate

The Pennsylvania State Police Fire Marshal out of Ridgway and the Bradford city Police and Fire Departments are investigating the cause and origin of a fire that destroyed an unoccupied two story wood frame residential dwelling at 104 Maplewood Avenue in the City of Bradford., McKean County.  There were no injuries and the authorities report a damage estimate is not available.  It is reported the building was posted do not rent or occupy by the Bradford City Code Enforcement office as the structure was in poor condition prior to the fire.  The cause of the fire was the result of arson.  The investigation is continuing.  Anyone with any information is asked to contact the Bradford City Police Department or the Pennsylvania State Police Fire Marshal at 814-776-6136.  


Pittsburgh Corning closing Port Allegany block glass plant

(AP) — Pittsburgh Corning Corp. is closing its 79-year-old glass block plant in north-central Pennsylvania, idling 75 workers.

The Bradford Era reports the plant in Port Alleghany will close at the end of October. The company announced the move Tuesday and notified its employees a short time before issuing the press release.

The company is closing the plant because it's getting out of the glass block business. The company says demand for glass block is down because of the nation's weak housing market.


John Caverno, the company global vice president of human resources, says the glass block business has been losing money for eight years, and has never recovered from the crash of the housing market. Foreign imports were also hurting business.


ARG Refinery Sets Turnaround Period

One of the sure signs of spring is the maintenance shutdown or turnaround operations at the American Refining Group refinery operations in Bradford.  According to a report by WESB radio, the refinery will go offline on Friday so processing units may be repaired, refurbished and cleaned.  It’s a methodical process involving all two hundred of the refinery’s employees and 100 contractors.  It is reported bulk loading of gasoline and diesel fuel will continue to be carried out as will lubricant blending and packaging operations to prevent customer service interruptions.  Several capital projects are planned for the shutdown period including a new cooling tower for crude unit distillation column.  


4 Escape Bradford House Fire, 5th Unknown

In McKean County, the Bradford Township Volunteer Fire Department and the Pennsylvania State Police Fire Marshal are probing a house fire along Interstate Parkway in Bradford Township that broke out shortly after 11 pm last night.  Authorities say the home owner; 59 year old Teri Cannon saw flames at the back of the house at 10 minutes after 11.  She was able to three other person out of the house, including two young children, and call 911.  The fate of a fourth person, Jesse Cannon-Butler, 29, is not made clear in the police news release.  The three who escaped are listed as 28 year old Greg Butler, and two young boys ages 7 and 2. 

Authorities report the investigation shows the origin and cause of the fire was from discarded smoking materials making the fire accidental in nature.  The damage to the home is listed at approximately $140,000.


There were no injuries reported and Cannon did have insurance, but no rental insurance.  


Causer: Wolf’s Latest Veto Threatens Conventional Oil, Gas Industry

Wolf’s Latest Veto Threatens Conventional Oil, Gas Industry




By Rep. Martin Causer (R-Turtlepoint) 

Just when you thought Gov. Tom Wolf had put his veto pen away and was done creating crises for the people of Pennsylvania, he chose to veto another bill integral to the state budget process last week. 
The governor’s rejection of the state’s Fiscal Code bill has wide-ranging implications, but one of the most concerning and potentially devastating to our region is the impact it has on conventional oil and gas producers who are essentially fighting for their lives in the face of new, excessive and extremely costly regulations developed by the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). 
Had the governor signed the Fiscal Code into law, it would have invalidated these potentially devastating regulations and required DEP and its Environmental Quality Board to start over again. In his veto message, he complained the measure would create a “significant obstacle” for DEP, but that obstacle could have been easily avoided if his administration had simply followed the law. 
Nearly two years ago, Causer say he worked with other lawmakers to pass legislation requiring DEP to develop two separate sets of regulations for the oil and gas industry – one for the large-scale, unconventional drilling being done in the Marcellus Shale region and the second for the smaller, shallow conventional well operators. There are very distinct differences in these types of operations, and forcing conventional operators to follow the same regulations as unconventional operators is both unreasonable and unnecessary. It is also unaffordable and could cost thousands of people across north central Pennsylvania their livelihood. 
Unbelievably, Causer writes, DEP thumbed its nose at the law, simply changed the name of the regulations and kept pushing them forward. When the regulations came before the Environmental Quality Board for approval in early February, the board didn’t even cast two separate votes. This is, in effect, one set of regulations, and that flies in the face of both the intent and the letter of the law. 
And DEP didn’t stop there. Officials have also played fast and loose with the rules for making regulations, failing to provide adequate data and information about the implications of the new rules on the conventional industry in a timely manner. They’re quick to defend the “openness” of the process, claiming to have collected more than 30,000 public comments on the regulations.  Cause asks how many of those comments have they ACTUALLY considered, seeing as how the comments from conventional producers and lawmakers have been virtually ignored? And of the 30,000 public comments received, how many of those people even know what a conventional well is? Does Gov. Wolf even know? 
On April 21, these regulations will come before the Independent Regulatory Review Commission for a final review. IRRC is charged with making certain that the agency proposing the regulations has the statutory authority to do so and to determine whether the regulation is consistent with legislative intent. IRRC then considers other criteria, such as economic impact, public health and safety, reasonableness, impact on small businesses and clarity. It is my hope IRRC will reject the regulations, not only because of DEP’s failure to follow the proper process but also because of the irreparable harm these regulations, in their current form, would cause for our conventional oil and gas operators. 
Many of the conventional oil and gas operations in our area are small, family-owned businesses that have been operating safely here for generations. These men and women are dedicated to our communities and are good stewards of the environment. They have worked hard to make a living for themselves. Their employees rely on these jobs to support their families, as do employees in related industries, such as the refinery. 
Each and every one of these people deserve better. They deserve a governor who takes the time to understand their industry and respects them enough to work with them rather than against them. 
The Pennsylvania Independent Petroleum Producers (PIPP) has gone so far as to file a lawsuit in an attempt to stop the regulations from going into effect and running them out of business. It’s a sad day when anybody has to hire lawyers and file suit to try to get their governor and his administration to listen to them. 

The oil and gas industry is a cornerstone of our region’s economy. The loss of this industry and the thousands of jobs it supports would be devastating to all of us, not only here in north central Pennsylvania but for the people across the state who rely on the energy and related products produced here. 
Causer says he will continue to fight for the region’s energy producers and all of rural Pennsylvania. 

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