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Friday, November 30, 2012

Sentencing Day

Former State Senator Bob Bellow will be sentenced today in federal court.

At one time, Bob Mellow was one of the most powerful people in Pennsylvania, and one of the most arrogant.  He stole your money by having public employees do partisan political work-- even as the attorney general was investigating the practice.  Bob Mellow had no fear.

I smell a little fear now.  The feds want Mellow sentenced to two years in prison.  Mellow's lawyers counter that he has a long history of public service.  There are health issues, and they claim probation is appropriate here.

I can see it coming.  Mellow will say he's sorry.  Stolen money, the stuff that could be proven, will be repaid.  Defense lawyers will hit the health issue hard, and will claim Bob has already suffered enough by the loss of his stature in the community.

The judge will nod, and Mellow will be sentenced at the low end of the scale.  He'll get his probation.

If you really look at it, Mellow was pretty good at tossing around your money.   Supporters will point to all the good he did while serving as Lackawanna County's state senator.  I will submit that we paid for that.  How much came out of his pocket?

A fellow blogger, NCFE, blames some of this on a lazy electorate.  He makes a very strong point.  We kept sending Bob back to Harrisburg year after year.  While there, all he did was raise his pay,  increase his pension and grab as much power as possible.

What's done is done.  You can't turn back the clock, but I hope we can all be a lot smarter next time.

I'll pass along a thought or two after the sentence is handed down.

>>>UPDATE:    I have to admit I'm shocked.  If you or I stole $80,000 there would be no doubt we would go to prison, but rich man's justice is a different game.

Mellow's lawyers threw everything against the wall, hoping something would stick:  bad health, he was Mr. Charity, dependent daughter, etc.  The judge saw right through it.  Mellow is wealthy and could afford to give.  Public service was part of his job as a state senator.

I wonder what went through Mellow's mind when he heard the judge say a downward adjustment in the sentence range wouldn't happen.  All that power, all that arrogance... was it worth it?

It wasn't so much what Bob Mellow did, but rather how he did it.  He had his senate staffers do partisan political work, even while the practice was being investigated.  Brazen.  It was no secret.  Radio talk show host Steve Corbett even caught staffers in the act when it came to tickets for Mellow's yearly Montage Mountain party.

He was corrupt.  He stole your money.  He got caught.

You have to wonder what the amount would be if every case or incident came to light.  I'm betting $ 80,000 would be low.  Defense lawyers call this a "stumble."  I shudder to think at what a "fall" entails.

Did Bob Mellow do some good things?  No doubt.  However, it would take a lot of wonderful acts to overcome the way he betrayed the public trust, almost laughing at the people who sent him back to Harrisburg time and again.

I'm wondering how his lawyers calculated that $ 2.4 billion Bob Mellow economic impact.

THE SENTENCE:  16 months in prison, 3 years probation, $40,000 fine.

As always, if the former state senator would like to tell me his side of the story, I'll grab a camera.  Any time, any place.  I'm not hard to find.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Thursday Scrapple

One of my best friends is a Dallas fan, but I really enjoy watching the Cowboys lose, and I won't root for the Eagles as long as Michael Vick is in uniform.  Yes, it's bad karma.  My team, the Steelers, are limping through a bad season.

The producers of "The Price is Right" got whacked with a huge penalty for discriminating against a pregnant model.  It brought a huge smile to my face.

Black Thursday/Friday was an embarrassment this year, and I shudder to think about next year's escalation.

"Scrubs" and "Entourage" reruns never get old for me.

I love history, but I can't see myself going to the Lincoln movie.

Bethlehem Police report more than twenty storm sewer grates have been stolen in recent weeks.  Society is a mess.

The USAToday.com redesign still doesn't work for me.  It's a mess.

I'm knee deep in Christmas catalogs.

Tuesday, we had our first snow since March.  I didn't miss it.

For some bizarre reason, I watched the Golf Channel's coverage of the banning of the belly putter.  The seriousness of the discussion made me laugh.

I didn't won Powerball.  But then again, I didn't play.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Update

Most of the recent local minor league baseball talk has been about the name and the logo-- you know the one.  It's the name that has no recent relevance to our area, and the logo, with the hedge hog looking thing about to get whacked by a train.

The Moosic stadium is quietly making progress.  The top deck was lopped off while the teams was on the road this past season.

This is as high as it gets.  The lower bowl remains.  There will be a plaza ringing the outfield.

Opening day is about four months away.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Price is Right


There's an old saying about "knowing the price of everything, but the value of nothing."

Today's case in point is Wilkes-Barre, but it can apply to several places here in our area.

In years past, we were told Wilkes-Barre was offering free parking at downtown noon til 8 PM, during the Christmas shopping season because it's good for business and good for shoppers.

Now, we're told the program is being killed because people stay at the meters too long, and it's not good for shoppers and business.

Well, which one is it?  Wilkes-Barre is in the middle of a financial mess, and even though city officials say that has nothing to do with it, you have to raise a skeptical eyebrow.

If that isn't enough, parking meter rates are going up, to $1 an hour.

Offering free or inexpensive parking makes good business sense.  It's like the supermarket offering cheap soda.  It's a loss leader.  While you're in the market buying your drinks, you know you're going to pick up a bag of Frito's, and the market makes its money back.  Apparently, that concept stops at Wilkes-Barre.

There aren't a lot of stores downtown, and the city has an image problem.  Don't do something to keep shoppers away.

The city needs to update, and do it quickly.  Most decent sized cities have those stations where you can buy a parking pass for a couple hours and slap it on your dashboard.  You don't have to drive in to the city with a pocket full of change.

The solutions are so close, and right there.  It's a shame no one has the vision to see them.



Monday, November 26, 2012

I Don't Get It

I consider myself exceptionally fortunate in that there is nothing I need nor want badly enough to stand, or sleep, outside in the cold for days.

Above and below are Thanksgiving morning shots from outside Best Buy in Wilkes-Barre Township.  I saw the video on TV, and I had to see it for myself.

The people here are waiting in line to get the first crack at cheap electronics on Black Friday, which, unfortunately and sadly has become Black Thanksgiving.

I'm not that stupid and insensitive.  I know there are people who really need to save some money, and that's why they're in line.  If I had a loved one, especially a child, who really needed a special Christmas gift, you know I'd be out here in the cold.

Looking at this from a distance, I have problems understanding it.  It's a holiday.  Spend it with family and friends, in someplace warm, with a bathroom and a kitchen.  A cheap TV can wait.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Bad Photography Sunday: Morning Bridge

I've often said that people really don't fully appreciate the month of November.  Yes, it can be cold, grey, and windy.  The trees are void of leaves.

On the other hand, we do get some crisp mornings with blue skies and brilliant sunshine.  Things pop against the bleak mountains.  Here's an example-- the Water Street Bridge, also known as the Firefighters Memorial Bridge, between Pittston and West Pittston.

I took this shot just after sunrise on Thanksgiving morning.  Because Thanksgiving is on a Thursday, one of my days off, it's the one holiday I'm just about guaranteed to have free.  As has been my habit in recent years, I've been taking my camera and wandering about before an early dinner.

The river is low.  The water is still, and there's a nice reflection on the right side of the photo.  This photo was taken from the eastern side.

It was a great way to spend a morning.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Bad Photography Saturday: WVNR

Around the station, we call it the WVNR-- the Wyoming Valley Newsroom.

You can find it in the Bicentennial Building on Wilkes-Barre's Public Square.

I was pleased to see we joined the others on the block and added a little holiday decoration to the front window.

Strange to say, I still haven't been inside.  It's one of the quirks of working for a large organization.  I don't stray too far from home, but I really would like to see it one of these days.

Before I go today, a few words on the passing of Larry Hagman.  "Dallas" wasn't my thing, but "I Dream of Jeannie" was.  I'm sure some episodes will pop up on cable in the days to come, and I'm also sure there are many floating around the internet.  Hagman was really good at physical comedy.  He made it look easy and that's the true mark of talent.  He was under rated.

Larry Hagman was 81.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Mr. Food

I loved Mr. Food.

As you might have read by now, the TV chef passed away this week at the age of 81.  Pancreatic cancer.

Mr. Food never offered the healthiest fare, but it was quick, easy, and inexpensive.  Anyone could do it, and that's something a lot of TV chefs need to remember.  We all don't have a lot of preparation time and exotic ingredients hanging around the kitchen.  Mr. Food, Art Ginsburg, was a very likable character.  He was also smart.  According to the Associated Press, Mr. Food topped out at 168 stations.  It was around 125 at the time of his passing.  He prepared good, simple food and he did it fast.  There's an Art to that, pardon the pun.  He had an elementary approach, and that's not a bad thing.  I've seen basic concepts mucked up by so many people over the years.

Let me tell you a little story about Mr. Food and northeastern and central Pennsylvania.  I spent much of the 90's at WYOU, when it was located in downtown Scranton.  In an effort to show we were a regional broadcaster, we had viewers send their Mr. Food recipe requests (remember, this was pre-internet) to our tiny newsroom in downtown Wilkes-Barre.  If a Scranton based reporter, like me, was passing through, it was our job to bring the sack of mail north to Scranton.  It was no big deal.  Most days, there was a fair amount of mail.  Mr. Food was a popular fixture in our noon newscast.  But, if Mr. Food made a sticky, ooey, gooey dessert, the number of recipe requests skyrocketed.  People in our area love their sugar, and butter, and cream, and chocolate!

Even though it hasn't said WYOU on one of my paychecks since 1998, Mr. Food is still part of my life.  There was a day, several years ago, after I started at WNEP, when I was producing the noon newscast, and nothing was happening.  Zero.  It might have been the slowest news day in history.  I joked that I was going to lead the broadcast with Mr. Food.  I still make the reference on occasion.  When I'm reporting, and if my story is not at the top, I complain that I'm running "after Mr. Food."  On normal days, Mr. Food was usually at the tail end of the broadcast.  Okay, I guess you have to be in a newsroom to fully understand.  Jon Meyer always laughed, and that was all the encouragement I needed.

Mr. Food helped a lot of people in the kitchen over the years, and he did more in his 90 seconds than a lot of people do in an hour.

Ooh!  It was so good!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving

This is the time of year when a lot of people lecture you and preach to you, whether you like it or not, so I'll try to avoid that here.

All I ask is that you remember what the day is all about.

If you need help, there are places where you can turn.

I appreciate the viewers of our weekend morning broadcasts, your daily visits here, and all the Twitter followers.  Thank you.

And, Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

This Might Be Worth Something After All

I was minding my own business, in the middle of the night, at my desk, producing Newswatch 16 Sunday Morning, when an unusual Tweet passed before my eyes.

Someone Tweeted the Times~Tribune to say they found a lost, blind, black pug.  She was safe and warm, and she was going to be turned over to an animal shelter in the morning.  I took notice because it was close to my house.

Fast forward to about 10:30 AM Sunday.  I was returning home, after walking my own dog when a woman in a small black car pulled up.  She asked if I had seen a wandering black pug.  I asked if the dog was blind.  She replied that it was.  I told the woman I saw a Tweet that the dog was found.  She's okay and is being turned over to an animal shelter.

It looked like the owner was shedding tears of joy, as she sped away, hopefully, to find her dog.

I don't know if they were reunited, but I suspect the story has a happy ending.

I'm still not a social media guy.  There isn't a Facebook page attached to my name.  In spite of having an account for several months, I'm not sold on Twitter.

Still, for one brief shining moment, Twitter was actually valuable.  It might have a future in my world after all.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Business Tuesday

It's likely bankrupt and liquidating Hostess will sell off its brands and recipes, including Twinkies.  Still, the disappearing company makes me sad.  I was never a big Twinkie guy, but I did indulge in its other products on rare occasion.  Hostess says it was done in by the failure to reach a contract agreement with one of its unions.  I'm reminded of something a concert promoter once told me.  It was after the Riverside School District imposed an amusement tax at Lackawanna County Stadium.  The promoter said he was willing to give the school district a taste, but he couldn't make a profit if Riverside took everything it wanted.  The quote was "They could have a little bit of something, or a lot of nothing." Riverside chose a lot of nothing, and so did the Hostess union.  18,500 people lose their jobs.  No one wins.

JCPenney just had a horrible quarter, and the news came out just after I had a bad experience at the store.  My favorite dress shirts disappeared, so I had to order them from the catalog.  I decided to save $10 by having them delivered to the store rather than my home.  JCP has closed its catalog desk, so the employee at the register you select has to schlep back to the stock room to retrieve your order.  It leaves a back up at the registers, which always seem to be understaffed.  I e-mailed the company.  The response?  They're always looking at staffing levels.  Translation?  Too bad.  Next time, I'll avoid the aggravation and get the stuff delivered to the house.  The old system appeared to work well, and I don't know why they changed.  Oh wait, I figured it out.  Save labor costs.

Sears/Kmart just reported a bad quarter as well.  Both chains are striving to achieve relevance.  I still visit both, on occasion.  On fact, I needed a few things on my way to lunch with a friend, and I breezed through KMart.  It was a surprise.  KMart is not known for its speedy service.

Boscov's is getting out of the major appliance business.  Stiff competition from on line retailers and big box stores is given as the reason.  Boscov's was one of the last true "department" stores, and it's the end of an era.

I'm good for an anti Black Friday rant every year.  I'll give you the short version.  Black Friday now starts on Thursday, Thanksgiving, and that's just wrong.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Flags

There is a bizarre and illogical school of thought around here that monuments have to be huge and ornate to be impressive.  Case in point, that monstrous sea of granite on Courthouse Square in Scranton.  At one time, there was a plan to build a massive 9/11 monument in Wilkes-Barre's Kirby Park.  It would have been one of the largest on the east coast.  I won't argue the need for a 9/11 memorial.  I will submit that size doesn't matter.  Heart does.

I found a lot of heart on Veterans Day at Marywood University in Scranton.  Full disclosure:  I'm a graduate, but regular blog readers will note I've taken my shots at the old green and white over the years.

A student group organized what you see above, 6600 flags-- one flag in the Memorial Commons for every service man and woman killed in fighting since 9/11/01.  My first reaction when hearing about the Veterans Day display was shock.  Marywood administration always avoided things political and potentially controversial.  One of the organizers told me getting this done was actually rather easy, and she was surprised as well.
It is all so simple, yet so powerful.  I've seen similar displays before, at Kirby Park and at the Oblates of St. Joseph in Laflin.  The impact has not lessened.

I spoke with a student who is also a military wife Monday morning, for a Newswatch 16 at Noon story.  She said we all know each flag stands for someone who didn't come home, but each flag also represents a family that suffered a loss.  Those families are proud of their sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, dads and moms, but that pain will never go away.

I'm sure we'll see more displays like this in the years to come.  If one comes to your area, make sure you stop by to see it.  It is something you cannot and should not forget.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Bad Photography Sunday: The Casey

The picture isn't the prettiest, but today, we have more of a concept blog.

The first section of the Lackawanna Valley Industrial Highway, Route 6, the Casey Highway, opened 16 years ago.  It was the eastern end-- from Meredith Street to Carbondale.

I was working down the street at the time, and if memory serves, the ribbon was cut just before Thanksgiving.  Former Governor Casey was there for the ribbon cutting.  He'd been out of office for two years, but he was the one who pushed through the money for the project.

A lot of people questioned the need for the highway.  Time has shown it's a valuable asset.  It's opened up development on the eastern side of the valley, and it's taken some of the traffic away from an overused Business Route 6 on the other side of the valley.

I will never forget an interview I did that morning.  I won't name the public official, now long gone from office.  It was typical of the myopia we frequently see in this area.  This "visionary" was there for the ribbon cutting, but he was actually against the highway.  He feared businesses would suffer because there was now a way to bypass his town.  I nearly dropped the microphone.

We chatted after the interview was over, and I pointed out what happened after the North Cross Valley Expressway was completed in the Wilkes-Barre area.  Kidder Street businesses and those around the Wyoming Valley Mall actually did better AFTER the bypass.  Thru traffic quickly got to its destination, and those who wanted to hit the shopping district were happier because there was less congestion around the stores.  You could get in and out of a parking lot without taking your life in your hands.

I've been in the town bypassed by the Casey dozens of times.  It doesn't appear to be suffering.  I will never cease to be amazed at how some people wind up in public office.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Bad Photography Saturday: The Valley

November can be a grey and cold month, so we have an attempt at a little color.

This is the view from the scenic overlook along the Casey Highway near Carbondale.  This is the view looking off to the northeast.

Even though the sky was a threatening grey, you can still see some color on the mountain.  Take a look at the treeless green patch in the center.  That's a re-claimed strip mine, an example of your tax dollars doing something good.

Friday, November 16, 2012

8

This blog is eight years old today.  That's nearly a decade of banality.

I usually give the story of the blog's origin on anniversary day, but we'll give that a break this year for a word or two about writing.

I write this blog the way I talk.  Yes, I know it's far from perfect English.  There are sentence fragments and things dangling all over the place.  So be it.  It is what it is.   At least, the punctuation is solid.

I'm sure my high school senior year English teacher, the great Stanley Evans, God rest his soul, would cringe at some of what appears here.  On the other hand, he might smile because it expresses thoughts and feelings, and he liked that.

Moving on to my freshman college year, I had an English professor who was a stickler for perfect usage and construction, and I learned a lot from her.  There was a down side.  I saw it in myself and fellow students.  Writing suffered because you were so afraid to make a mistake.  Our projects were dull and boring, and there's nothing worse than that.  No one wanted to take a chance and do something outside the circle of safety.

There are several contributing factors to, for a lack of a better word, my "style."  Another high school teacher enjoyed my essays because they were to the point.  He always said I was one of the few people who could express two thoughts in one sentence.

More than three decades of broadcast news writing has left me with a spartan, word economical style burned in to my brain.  There are times I wish I was more lyrical and literary.  However, I am what I am.   Keep it tight.  Keep it simple.  Sorry about the fragments.

We had a horrible computer system at one of my old stations, but there was one thing about it that I really liked.  The news director had a message pop up on the screen any time you signed on.  It said "tight writing = top casts."  I've never forgotten that.  I wish every broadcaster was fortunate enough to read that every morning.

A former radio co-worker, the great Ray Magwire comes to mind from time to time.  He always said "don't clutter a story with facts."  We're broadcasters.  We write for the ear.  We get one shot for you to understand it.  It's not a newspaper.  You can't re-read the paragraph.  Too many facts impede the message, and I was very lucky to be exposed to Ray's work during my time at WARM.

Blog hits took a nice jump this year.  I think there are several reasons behind that.  People have finally learned where to find it on WNEP.com.  Plus, the blog received a little publicity on the social web sites of others, including nepablogs.org.  I thank them for the mentions, and I thank you for reading.

Also, special thanks to Mark Sowers, who helped start this little adventure, a long time ago.  A silly little effort to get more original material on WNEP.com has lasted eight years.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Ugh!

When faced with a choice, our local AAA baseball entity will invariably make the wrong one.

Since Mandalay came in, the team has been a public relations, un-fan friendly nightmare, and the trend continues with the selection of the team's new name.

The Yankees had to go.  No one really argued with that.  It wasn't "ours."  It was a symbol of horrible attendance, a lack of promotions at the stadium in Moosic and general cluelessness.

Several new names were under consideration.  The "winner" (word used loosely) was at the middle of my pack.  "RailRiders" allegedly pays tribute to Scranton's trolley past.

Real trolleys don't run here any more.  They haven't been around for decades.  There's one that makes short trips from Scranton to Moosic, but it's just for show.  There's a trolley museum in Scranton, which is fairly interesting.  However, I've never seem more than four people in there at once.  Connecting "Scranton" to "trolley" is a stretch, at best.  This isn't San Francisco.  Why not highlight something we have now?  Yes, I favored "Black Diamond Bears" even though there's a coal reference.

The gold, navy and maroon colors are okay, albeit a bit dark.

And then, there's the mascot-- a porcupine, an animal we see mostly as road kill.  In the RailRiders' logo, the spikey critter is on the tracks, so if he dodges the cars, he'll likely be flattened by the trolley.

When I think "trolley," that thing Mr. Rogers used to play with comes to mind.  RailRiders is not a strong name.  It's not tough.  The critter looks menacing and possibly rabid, if you can figure out what it is.  What does a porcupine have to do with a trolley, other than showing up in the team's survey?

Management promises the new stadium will be ready for opening day in April.  Novelty means really good attendance for the first year.  "RailRiders" will make drawing fans to Moosic a struggle in subsequent years.

At least, the new name doesn't have anything to do with coal mining.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Once a Year

In an odd way, I look forward to it every year.  Let me back up a moment.

My yearly car inspection is due in November, and I had my appointment at my car dealer yesterday.  I made that appointment last week.  Yesterday was the day I took off in exchange for pulling an extra day of hurricane duty a couple weeks ago.

The car passed a way too expensive inspection.  Thank you, governors Ridge, Rendell, and Corbett.

As is my habit, I drop off the car at the dealer in the morning.  A shuttle service provided by the dealer takes me home.  The dealer calls when the car is done and, even though the dealer offers a ride back downtown, I take a COLTS bus to pick up my car.

Today's blog is about the bus ride.  I've written about MBWA again recently.-- management by walking around.   More experiences make you a better reporter, and I enjoy taking mass transit once in a while.

Other than the fare increasing 25 cents, it was your standard and dependable COLTS bus ride. The bus was clean and warm.  The ride was smooth, and I always marvel at how the bus driver can fit the bus through the tiniest of spaces around Regional Hospital and Moses Taylor Hospital in Scranton.  $ 1.50 is a bargain.

The bus was eight minutes late at my stop.  It's not that big of a deal.  It was chilly, but the sun was out, and we all remember what happened to the last guy who made public transportation run on time.

The bus was crowded, and what does that tell us?  There are many options.  Let's discuss.  Mass transit is popular because it's a cheap and dependable way to get around?  Mass transit is a good alternative because of the high price of gasoline?   The economy is bad and people can't afford cars?  The economy is improving, and more people need to get to more places?

I didn't see any suits and ties on the bus, so you know in what direction I'm heading.

Even if you ride the bus only once a year, as I do, you can see it's importance to so many people.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Piling On

I can't resist a few more thoughts on last week's election...

Walmart founder Sam Walton had a concept.  It was called MBWA, or management by walking around.  He wanted his managers out on the floor, not in an office.  They were supposed to see how the store really operated and talk with customers.  Walton did not want his managers sitting in an office.

Here's my point.  I love being out, and listening to what people have to say.  Let's take you back to the morning after the election.  I was in a mini mart along North Main Avenue in Scranton.  I won't mention the name.  The neighborhood was neither rich, nor poor.  Maybe lower middle class.  I was shocked by the conversation two employees had-- in front of me, a customer.  One said "The welfare rats will be happy because Obama won."  The other nodded her head in agreement.

So, as the shock wore off and I thought about it for a while, I realized that was the essence of the election-- a choice between a guy perceived (note italics) as doing too much for the poor versus a guy perceived (more italics) as doing too much for the rich.

The whole episode made me sad. 

Four years ago, Katie Couric was the anchor of the CBS Evening News and she presided over the network's election coverage.  Couric had the Cronkite chair, one of the most prestigious positions in all of broadcasting.  Last week, her job was to monitor Twitter for ABC News.  I will say no more on that.

Talk of who will seek the 2016 Republican and Democratic presidential nominations bores me.

However, I was interested in the speculation centering on Hurricane Sandy's impact on the presidential outcome.  Yes, the hurricane helped Obama look "presidential."  It kept Romney off the stage for three days.  Personally, I feel voters had their minds made up before Sandy hit.

FOX News had a great map the other day.  It showed Obama blue versus Romney red on a county by county basis, not state by state.  There is much more red than blue, and it's not even close.  As I said last week in this space, Obama won the cities.  He won the population centers, where it really counts.

Someone who should really know says the Obama people simply outworked the Romney people.  The Obama team had their strategy mapped out to the street and neighborhood level.  They knew how many votes they had to get from the tiniest of areas.  Clearly, it worked.

Romney's body wasn't cold yet, and Florida Senator Marcio Rubio was visiting Iowa.  Sometimes, that blind ambition can bite you in the behind.  At least, wait until after the inauguration.

I talked with a lot of people, formally and informally, on duty and off duty, Tuesday.  I will never ask for whom they voted, but I will ask what issues brought them to the polls.  Everyone said "the economy."  We all know the economy is in terrible shape, and I thought the number of people saying "the economy" spelled doom for Obama.  I began to entertain thoughts of an upset.  As we all know, it didn't happen.  It could be "the economy" is the new stock answer when a reporter asks you a question.

Monday, November 12, 2012

SA

On this Veterans Day, a few words on a different army-- The Salvation Army.

I've noted my fondness for the organization here in the past.  It goes back a long way.  My mom always made sure I had some change or a buck to drop into the red kettles as we Christmas shopped.  Tradition.  We always remembered there were people in need.

The Salvation Army came to mind again during the recent hurricane.  The organization fed thousands up and down the Atlantic coast and throughout the mid Atlantic.

What impresses me the most is the Salvation Army did it quietly and competently.  There was no handing out with one hand, and asking for more with the other.  They treat everyone with dignity and respect.

We're all lucky the Salvation Army is around.

The organization is religion based, and I think that keeps it from getting the massive and widespread support that others enjoy.  Let me tell you something.  I've dealt with the Salvation Army, personally and professionally, for a very long time.  It doesn't jam religion in your face.

If you have a few dollars to spare this holiday season, I hope you'll remember the Salvation Army.

And, thank a veteran today.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Ryan's Recovery II

I remember being blown away when I visited my first Home & Backyard Expo as a WNEP employee.  WNEP has quite the ability to draw a crowd.

You also always answer the call.  In a time when we're all suffering from "charity fatigue" because so many deserving organizations are asking for help, you still manage to come through big on donations.  The economy is weak.  Unemployment is high.  It doesn't make a difference.  You give.

It takes a lot to get me out of the house on a Sunday afternoon.  I work all night and I'm usually exhausted.  Ryan's Recovery intrigued me, so I dragged my tired butt over to Allied Services to watch the donations to Hurricane Sandy victims come in.

As I said yesterday, I didn't expect much.  Ryan's Recovery was slammed together at the last minute, when the New York City Marathon was canceled.  Car after car showed up to unload stuff, and it was amazing.  The time between cancellation late Friday afternoon and the beginning of the drive, Sunday at noon,  was barely over forty hours.

I like to think our weekend morning broadcasts, with its loyal viewers, are partially responsible.  We gave the drive a lot of publicity, and those who tune in weekend mornings are fine individuals, who respond when asked.

Above is just a small portion of your donations.

Thanks!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Ryan's Recovery I

I didn't expect much, and I was wrong.

When the New York City Marathon was cancelled, we thought Ryan Leckey's fund raiser for Allied Services went down the tubes with it.  Ryan, WNEP photographer Corey Burns and some others shifted gears and helped organize a donation drive for Hurricane Sandy victims.

There was only a day and a half's notice, and that led me to believe there wouldn't be much of a result.  I'm thrilled to say that I was incorrect.  They collected a lot of stuff.  Congratulations to Team Leckey and thank you for your generosity.

More on Ryan's Recovery tomorrow.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Again!

As has been my habit during the seemingly never ending Penn State sexual abuse scandal, I've sat on developments for a few days.  It gives me time to think and to choose my words carefully.

November 1, former PSU president Graham Spanier was charged with lying to a grand jury.  The charges stem from the attempt to cover up Jerry Sandusky's sex crimes.  Former PSU officials Tim Curley and Gary Schultz were hit with additional charges for their roles in the conspiracy.

There were no surprises here.  Those in the loop have been saying for a long time that these charges were coming.  The anticipation doesn't make the case less sad, and less disgusting.

It was also disappointing, and here's why.  Attorney General Linda Kelly, at a news conference announcing the charges, was asked about the role Joe Paterno played in this whole mess.  This was her response:  "Mr. Paterno is deceased...I'm not going to speculate or comment on Mr. Paterno's relationship to this investigation."

Really?

Joe Paterno was a state employee who made millions.  He was the face of Penn State, and as it turned out, he was the real boss in Happy Valley.  While he is not here to defend himself, we deserve to know what he did do, what he didn't do, and why.  There is no need for AG Kelly to, using her word, "speculate."  You investigated.  It should all be there in black and white.

Kelly needs to know she has a responsibility to the people of the state.  A complete, open, and honest investigation helps everyone move on from this horrible episode.

Our attorney general spoke of what she called the "conspiracy of silence."  Guess who's part of the conspiracy, now.

Where's the courage?


Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Shelter

I might step on some toes today.  So be it.  Some things need to be said.

I'm normally off on Wednesdays, but I was called in to help with Sandy coverage.  I didn't mind.  "Big stories" is one of the reasons you get in to the business.  I'll take an extra day off next week to help recharge the battery.  Compared to the suffering of storm victims, working an extra day is no big deal.

As I noted here last week, news is a collaboration.  Producer Thomas, anchors Tom and Mindi, and I sat down to decide where I should be for Newswatch 16 This Morning on WNEP and WNEP2.  The answer was clear.  Monroe County got hit hard.  There was a co-called "mega shelter" set up at East Stroudsburg University.  It was inside the Koehler Field House.  Apologies for the mispronunciation Wednesday.  It's really pronounced "Keeler" but an ESU employee says everyone says it differently.  We want to be correct.

Anyway, the shelter was set up by the American Red Cross and the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency.  There were media rules:  no camera in the sleeping area, no one inside goes on TV without their permission.  I was okay with that.  The sleeping area is the equivalent of a bedroom.  I don't want a camera in my bedroom, and storm victims already had enough misery in their lives.

We had a few people willing to share their stories, and I thanked them.  I've always been amazed when people who have a lot on their plates are willing to talk.

Here's where the problems are.

I'll back up a day.  Stroudsburg has one AM and one FM station with offices downtown.  Both were off the air last Tuesday.  An emergency services worker made it a point to seek me out to complain about the lack of information available to the public via home town radio.  Not everyone can afford a smart phone or laptop.  Radios are inexpensive, and can be a marvelous resource.

Government ineptitude never ceases to amaze me.  I approached a PEMA worker for some information.  In response, I was given a phone number in Harrisburg to call.  No.  I don't want that.  Tell me what's going on HERE and NOW.  HERE and NOW is the story-- not in some warm and cushy government office, miles away, staffed by the political "in" crowd..  Always remember, public relations people are not in the "giving" information business.  Their job is to "control" information.  Big difference.

The Red Cross people, as always, were very nice.  We were offered hot drinks, which I politely declined.  I'm a diet soda guy-- even when it's cold and wet outside.

I received some basic info from the Red Cross, but not really enough.  It's a difficult situation.  The Red Cross relies on donations, so you should see where your money goes.  You should learn how that money is being used.  Showing an efficient and well run shelter might even spur more donations, and the Red Cross always needs money.  The lack of cooperation surprised, and disappointed me.  It was out of character and I hope it's not a sign of things to come.  Another WNEP crew, at another shelter, related a similar experience.

Once again, you learn so much by just walking around.  I had a few minutes to explore the campus while photographer Mark was editing our noon story.  The stalls in the men's room at ESU's University Center were filthy.  Keep in mind, this bathroom was far away from the overworked facilities at the Koehler Field House shelter.   Students deserve more for their big tuition.  Students also need to be considerate when using the facilities.

I had a nice little talk with a professor. The topic was the ongoing and contentious contract negotiations with the state.  This is a developing story, and keep an eye on this one.

It was interesting to see how the business and education at ESU continued-- even with the shelter on campus, even with employees running in to the gym to shower because they had no electricity at home.  It was almost like the field house and shelter were on a different planet.  Just steps away from the shelter, life went on.

I was impressed by the overnight and early morning ESU security force.  They kept an eye on the students, the shelter, and even us.  The officers were friendly and were the best public relations ambassadors I encountered Wednesday.  Everyone felt safe, and that's huge when you're out of your home and in strange surroundings.  These people can't be thanked enough.
We satellited a story for our noon broadcast, handed off the story to Raegan Medgie and photographer Dan Turansky, and headed home.

Our van is a magnet for people who want to talk.  It's like a live version of Talkback.  Several people walked up to say every power line should be underground and every tree near every power line should be cut down.  Are you kidding me?  Cost prohibitive, and there wouldn't be any trees left.

One visitor to the van broke my heart.  Just before I went on at noon, she told me that her power company warned the outage would last another week.  The woman was nearly in tears.  Think no electricity is no big deal?  Try it for a while.

As I've noted here in police and court cases, there is no such thing as a perfect investigation.  There's also no such thing as a perfect response to a disaster.  A lot of things before, during, and after Sandy were done extremely well.  BUT, there is a lot of room for improvement and just plain common sense.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

After Vote 2012

Some thoughts on the just completed election...

Turnout was heavy, as it usually is in presidential election years.  It's unfortunate that every election can't be like this.

Republicans should have learned a lesson.  Let's go back to the primaries.  The seeds for this defeat were planted two years ago.  Was there any candidate in that group that could have unified the Republicans and appealed to independents and minorities?  Nope.  That bunch was far too right for most of America.  A horrible economy made the presidential race yesterday a lot closer than it should have been.

Having said that, there are more red states than blue.  It looks like the Democrats' strategy of concentrating on California, New York, the mid Atlantic and the Great Lakes states works rather nicely.  Are we really one nation?  It doesn't look that way.

Romney had some good ideas, and a lot of people liked him.  The popular vote was close.  However, Obama ran a smarter campaign.  I wonder how many Romney votes were simply anti-Obama votes.

It was long felt that Ohio was the key.  Ohioans chose the guy, rightly or wrongly, who is given credit for saving the auto industry.  The opponent was the former head of a venture capital company.  Very effective commercials painted Romney as a super wealthy guy who closed companies and fired workers.  Is anyone surprised Obama took Ohio?  That "I don't care about 47 per cent of the population" commercial was devastating.  I just read where Romney got fewer Ohio votes than McCain and Bush.  When the history of this campaign is written, there will be chapters dedicated to the Ohio blunders.

Getting back to the Republicans' choice of a nominee...  Howard Fineman of The Daily Beast nailed it on Tony Kornheiser's radio show Wednesday morning.  He said a lot of our economic problems were blamed on an unregulated Wall Street running wild.  The Republicans went and nominated a venture capitalist, who made his money wheeling and dealing.

Is Pennsylvania blue or red?  Obama won Pennsylvania's 20 electoral votes by winning only 12 of the state's 67 counties.  In our area, Obama won only Lackawanna, Luzerne, and Monroe.  That's one county less than he won four years ago.  Obama wins big in the cities.  Republicans have to stop being the party of rich white guys.  Whatever happened to the Republican's "big tent?"  The Democrats have to win the hearts and minds of those outside the cities.

And here's something to think about.  Bill Clinton disgraced the presidency in unprecedented ways.  Yet, Clinton is the Democrats' rock star, and one of the few politicians who can draw a crowd.  Republicans have George Bush, who remains radioactive and current candidates want nothing to do with him.

We learned of a new state edict yesterday-- no cameras in polling places.  We found the rule to be unevenly applied.  Once again, Pennsylvania takes a step backward.  Polling places are open to the public.  Television stations (and cameras) are allowed the same rights as the public.  The media should have no more rights than the public, but no less, either.  As I've said before, bad things happen when they are shielded from the light of the media, and that includes our print and internet friends.  A judge of election told me people are frightened and intimidated by cameras.  Let me tell you something.  In ten years of radio and twenty years of television, no voter every said word one to me about being photographed.  People are proud they exercise their privilege and vote.  It's just sad.  I sat in the newsroom and watched video feeds from other states.  Yes, they were allowed to take pictures of people voting.   A FREE press is vital to a functioning democracy, except in Pennsylvania, home of the LIBERTY Bell.

During our conversation yesterday, I got a feeling Sen. Bob Casey was very worried about his reelection.  Above, Casey greeting supporters, and vice versa, on his way to vote in a church at Harrison and Myrtle in Scranton.  Conventional wisdom was that Casey would come out of the night with a narrow win.  Wrong!  Casey's margin was a lot higher than most people expected.  Opponent Tom Smith is a disciple of the Tea party, and that's worked for a lot of candidates in this country.  However, being on the far right scares a lot of voters-- especially in an elderly Pennsylvania, where Medicare and Social Security will always be major issues.

Pennsylvania Democrats, look at your future:  Attorney General candidate Kathleen Kane and Treasurer Rob McCord both walked away with impressive wins.  These two have to be looked at as rising stars in the party.  We will hear from them again.  Both also look to be a problem for Governor Corbett, during the final two years of his first term.

Hazleton area representative Tara Toohill defeated her opponent by a 2 to 1 margin.  The issue in this race-- pictures that apparently show a much younger Toohill at a pizza and pot party, where she's friendly with another woman.  Backfired?  I think so.  Everyone who watched that commercial thought it was a cheap shot because we all did foolish things when we were young.  The thing that bugged me was a Toohill junket to Israel, which really looked like a waste of money.  Toohill was even photographed on the back of a camel.  If the opposition featured that, the race might have been much different.  Voters can forgive a youthful indiscretion.  They don't like when you waste their money.

Easy congressional wins for Marino and Barletta yesterday.  Their re-drawn districts favor Republicans.  It appears Marino and Barletta can have the jobs as long as they like, barring any extremely stupid activity.

The same can be said for new 17th district Democratic congressman Matt Cartwright.  It was a big one last night.  His base is the Scranton area, and there are a lot of Democratic votes there.  His future looks bright, even though he's a member of the house's minority party.

One other note:  I had to turn off the TV and the radio-- before and after the polls closed.  I'm amazed at the uninformed drivel that passes for "expert commentary" these days.  TV networks filled their sets with too many people, all trying to talk at the same time.  Radio is cementing itself as the taker of the third tier, surpassed by the internet and podcasts.  Thank heaven Al Gore invented the internet.

I'll see you for Vote '13.


Tuesday, November 6, 2012

It's Here!

Well, the day has arrived.  It's election day.

The end to the commercials and the speeches is only hours away.

To say the least, it's been a fascinating time.  Few gave Mitt Romney a chance a couple months ago.  Now, many believe he will be the next president of the United States.  Barack Obama will try not to join the ranks of George H.W. Bush and Jimmy Carter-- recent presidents who failed to win reelection.

I remember driving to work on election morning four years ago.  John McCain looked like a long shot, and people were already thinking about what an Obama administration would mean.  You could smell change in the air.  As always, I'll let you decide if the smell was sweet, or if it was an obnoxious stench.

The presidential race has become exceptionally interesting in the last few days.  It's tightened up considerably.  Many "experts" feel Pennsylvania will come down to the Philadelphia area.  A light turnout hurts Obama.  Romney is said to be doing well in the suburbs.  As I pointed out today on Newswatch 16 This Morning, there were more Pennsylvania red counties than blue four years ago.  Obama's strength is in the big cities.  He fails elsewhere.

After the primary, who would have thought Tom Smith had a realistic shot at being elected senator?  Again, polls here show a tight race.  Incumbent Bob Casey seeks a second term.

It looks to be my standard election day-- preview the big races in our morning broadcasts, chase some voters and candidates after that, look at turnout, prepare a story for our noon broadcast, vote, and go home.

I'll try to catch a nap this afternoon so I can stay up to watch TV coverage of the results.

Don't forget to tune in to ABC, WNEP, WNEP2 and WNEP.com for the latest.  There are a lot of people working hard to make sure you get the numbers as quickly and accurately as possible.

I'll try to update the blog and my Twitter page (@AndyPalumbo1228) as the day rolls along.

Please, vote today, and I hope your candidates win.

Remember, the next campaign begins tomorrow morning.

>>>3:30 AM UPDATE:  Our first update of the day...  The astronauts had their traditional steak and eggs breakfast before a launch.  While I have no election day morning breakfast tradition, I did stop in a fast food restaurant for a spicy chicken sandwich.  It was underwhelming.

I feel compelled to address a story I did yesterday.  It involved high school students reacting to the election, and Bill Clinton starring at a campaign rally at their school.  Some students didn't know.  Others didn't care.  Many were in both camps.  That's just sad.  Okay.  It's permissible to not have an interest in politics, but this is also stuff you have to be learning in the classroom.  Someone's dropping the ball-- big time.

>>>10:30 AM UPDATE:  Live all morning on Harrison and Myrtle in Scranton, where Sen. Casey votes.  Busy.  Other Newswatch 16 reporters and producers say it was heavy where they voted this morning, and that's always nice to see.  Many voters I spoke with today say the economy is the major issue.  I wonder what that means for the incumbent.  Sen. Casey was very reserved and cautious today.  It seemed like he was expecting a squeaker.

>>>1:20 PM UPDATE:   Live at noon at a polling place on North Keyser Avenue in Scranton...  it was busy all morning, until we turned on our camera!  The ballot is short, so voters get it done fast.  Like the other places, it was busy here.  I wrapped up the noon broadcast, then pointed the car north.  I stopped to vote before going home.  I was voter 194, and that's a lot for my little ward in my little town.  Big voter turnouts warm my heart.

>>>6:30 PM UPDATE:  We were inundated by e-mails alleging voting irregularities today.  It's frightening.  I'm having a Vote 2000 flash back.  I joked with the morning crew today that we might not have a winner by the time they're on the air at 5 AM Wednesday.  It might turn out to be true.  I was in a few poling places today, and everything appeared to be going smoothly, but it's a different story when the counting begins.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Blast from the Past

One way to prepare for a current election is to look at election days and nights of the past.  It also coincides with one of my guilty pleasures.  You Tube is filled with clips from network election coverage, going back to 1968.  It's great fun for an election and broadcast history geek like me.

Some things jumped out at me from peering at a computer screen for hours on end.

Walter Cronkite was great, and he sure talked a lot.  CBS had a fantastic stable of correspondents, who got some face time on election nights, but for the most part, it was "all Walter, all the time."

If you watch the coverage from the night of the 1972 Nixon landslide, you can see none of the network people, notoriously liberal, liked Nixon.  It was a struggle to keep coverage engaging when the outcome was so certain and so fast.

ABC's 1976 election night coverage featured three anchors-- Howard K. Smith, Harry Reasoner, and Barbara Walters.  You've never seen three people with less chemistry on a set at the same time.  All three were knowledgeable and good broadcasters.  Together, it just didn't work.  They looked like they didn't want to be there, even though it was one of the most interesting races of recent years.

NBC's John Chancellor was one our era's most underrated anchors.  He was smooth and he knew his stuff, without constantly referring to his notes.  He was one of those "the story is the star" guys, and we really need more of those today.

David Brinkley, first of NBC, then ABC, was always a joy.  He had the smarts and the charm to make it fun.

Graphics were primitive, but you saw what you needed to know and the screen was gloriously uncluttered.

There wasn't much commentary.  There was a lot of analysis by journalists, and I prefer that to the biased and bile flooded talk we see and hear today.  MSNBC gave up on objective anchors handling its coverage a long time ago.  It's unwatchable.  You can't be a "yodler." as Tony Kornheiser says, and an anchor.  FOX News Channel has allegedly objective anchors at the desk, but everyone sees through that scam.

1980 was another broadcasting challenge, brought about by another landslide, with Ronald Reagan at the top.  That election was different.  While 1972's Nixon landslide inaugurated what was supposed to be four more years of the same, Reagan's 1980 win signaled real change in this country.  I'll let you decide if the change was for the better.  That shift to the right and the failure if an incumbent president to win reelection kept the night interesting, even though it was over by 8:15 PM.

A 1972 Nixon aside-- It's amazing how a man could win the presidency by one of the largest margins in history, and then lose it all two years later-- highest peak to lowest valley in just months.

Jumping ahead to 2000, it was a night where broadcasters were not at their best.  We all learned valuable lessons that night.  Being first is good.  Being correct is better.

When you're watching TV tomorrow night, good luck at cutting through the broadcasting clutter, and may the best candidates win.  You're watching history.

I'll post some Ryan's Recovery pictures this weekend, but there's one I couldn't resist putting here a little early..
Your generosity blew me away.  I'll share some thoughts in a few days

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Bad Photography Sunday: Statues

I like statues.  They talk to me.  The sculptor wants to say something.  The people who authorized them, and placed them have a message as well.

A couple have been added at Marywood since my departure a long time ago.  Saint Casimir is above.

Below is a little history of the Memorial Commons-- where the Motherhouse was destroyed in a spectacular February 1971 fire.
The statues here have a purpose and are appropriate for the setting-- unlike the recent additions to Courthouse Square in Scranton where the statues were used for needless decoration.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Bad Photography Saturday: Marywood Fall

I wanted some pretty fall pictures, even though it was a grey day.  When you think "trees" and "nice setting," Marywood University always come to mind.  Yes, this is my alma mater.

What you see above is the famous Liberal Arts Building rotunda, partially hidden by trees just past their peak.

The shot is marred by cars lining the street, and Marywood should have a better parking plan.

Below is a shot looking down at the Memorial Commons, toward Adams Avenue.
One thing during my recent Marywood visit really surprised me.  I was there around 2 PM on a Friday afternoon.  It's not reflected here, but the campus was bustling.  Back in my day, there were a few Friday morning classes, and the campus was generally cleared out by noon.  Things certainly have changed.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Sandy

Okay.  You knew it was coming, and here is the first of a couple days of thoughts on Hurricane Sandy.

Hurricanes give you plenty of notice that they're on the way.  We all realized, days ago, that our area was in big trouble, though not as bad as the coast.

I did the typical pre-storm prep at home-- made sure flashlights and batteries were handy.  The car was filled with gas.  I also got ready for work-- rain coats, extra snacks in my bag,  charged digital cameras, charged cell phones, etc...  I didn't understand the rush for water at the supermarket.  I've seen flooding take out water mains, but that doesn't happen often.  I'm on a municipal water supply.  It still works if the power goes out.  I have a gas stove.  Boiling water was an option of the water company's chlorinators failed.

As I was getting dressed at 1 AM Tuesday, my lights flickered as the wind gusted.  I thought, "This is it."  It wasn't.  The electricity, at least where I live, stayed on.

My first stop was a mini mart.  I grabbed a couple cups of yogurt and a pre made egg salad sandwich that was likely assembled when Harry Truman was in the White House.  I wolfed them down and pointed my car toward Interstate 81.  The drive, in spite of the high wind, was surprisingly easy.

News is a collaboration, so when I got to work, potential assignments were discussed with Thomas the producer, and anchors Tom and Mindi.  There was also input from meteorologists Michelle and Joe.  We decided Monroe County was the place to be.  It was closest to Sandy's center, and even in the early stages of the storm, we were getting reports of massive power outages.

Photographer Mark and I loaded up one of our two satellite trucks and left Moosic.  The van was getting knocked around in the wind.  It got really bad in the higher elevations-- from Tobyhanna to Tannersville.  The interstates were littered with branches and other debris, but were passable.  It was eerie.  The roads were empty.  Even tractor trailer drivers parked their rigs.  As I noted on our morning broadcasts, you know when it's bad when the trucks are idle.

The eeriness continued as we got off Interstate 80 and turned on to Main Street in Stroudsburg.  Total darkness.  No traffic.  The only noise was the howling wind and the rush of McMichael Creek.  Despite the heavy rain, it was nowhere close to flooding.

We picked a location near our Pocono Newsroom, put up the satellite dish, and we were off and running for the next several hours.  Below is the view after the sun came up.
After our last live hit on WNEP2, we set off in search of a story for our noon broadcast.  I'm a firm believer that you get your best stories when you don't have a road map in mind.  Photographer Mark and I just grabbed a camera and a microphone, and started walking around downtown Stroudsburg to see what was going on.

We learned about a restaurant owner, with a single generator, trying to keep freezers and refrigerators filled with food up and running.  He's a nice guy.  He allowed some of his competition to store food in his shop.  We met a hotel general manager, in the middle of trying to turn around a long neglected facility, having to turn away guests because he had no electricity.  There was one lamp in the lobby, powered by a pick up truck parked outside.  We also met a cab driver-- with few fares.  The ones he did have were a challenge because of the debris on the road.

Below is a very quiet downtown Stroudsburg.
Adverse conditions bring out the best in people.  A woman passing by offered to walk several blocks to get coffee for Mark and I.  We declined the generous offer.  I couldn't ask someone to do that, even if I drank coffee.

I learned a lesson in "bands of a hurricane" Tuesday morning.  There were times the rain would stop and the wind disappeared.  Five minutes later, it was the total opposite.  You knew the storm was moving out when time between the bands increased.

We finished our noon broadcast, dropped the dish, and headed home.  The wind had died down.  The return trip was much easier.  Traffic picked up, and things looked almost normal.

We got back to the office.  I briefed producers and assignment editors as to what I learned, and I went home, a 12 hour day coming to an end.

When I got a couple miles from home, traffic lights were out and police were directing traffic at busy intersections.  I feared power went out at home during my absence.  I was relieved to learn my little town weathered the storm OK.

I have election thoughts scheduled here for Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday.  Look for another storm story on Thursday.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

About the Cover

I'm 0 for 2 on trips to Bellefonte in Centre County this year-- two trips there and zero sunshine both times.

Luckily, the Centre County Courthouse is a beautiful building, even on a cloudy day.

A discussion of the events that brought me here has been featured on previous blogs.  There's no need to go over it again.  Above is a shot of the media crush from October 9.

According to the Bellefonte Historical and Cultural Association web site the courthouse was first constructed in 1805 and 1806, with a wing added in 1811.  The Grecian column porch was built in 1835.  With the exception of this porch, the entire building was replaced in 1854 and 1855.  The rear section was added in 1909 through 1911, and the new east wing was built in 1963-1964. 

You may ask, "Why is there a fish weathervane at the tip of the cupola?"  According to the book "County Courthouses of Pennsylvania," A second Bellefonte resevoir was built around 1870 in an effort to increase water pressure.  It was up high-- around courthouse level.  Plus, trout fishing was extremely popular in the area at the time.  That's why we see the fish, high atop High Street.

To say the least, it's a gem.

You might be wondering why there haven't been any Sandy blogs this week.  Rest assured.  One is coming tomorrow, and another after next week's election.  Some people will not be happy.  Stay tuned.