Five Tioga County Students Compete for 2016 Laurel Queen Crown

Five Tioga County high school students are among the 28 Pennsylvania students competing for the 2016 Laurel Queen crown.

The Laurel Queen will be crowned during the 75th annual Pennsylvania State Laurel Festival. The festival takes place from Saturday, June 11th to Sunday, June 19th.

Anya Nance from Richmond Township is representing North Penn-Mansfield Junior-Senior High School. Nance was on high honor roll for all four years of high school. She was also a member of the North Penn-Mansfield Student Council or four years. She was in band and was the president of chorus during her senior year. She was the secretary of the  North Penn-Mansfield High School Chapter of the Future Business Leaders of America during her senior year. She was on the North Penn-Mansfield Chapter of the National Honor Society for three years and was the historian. She also represented North Penn-Mansfield Junior-Senior High School as a Youth Leader of Tomorrow candidate. She was picked to compete as an alto in the Pennsylvania Music Educators Association District No. 8 Chorus during her junior year. She was named to the PMEA All-State Vocal Jazz Ensemble in her junior and senior year. Nance was on the track team during her freshman and sophomore year. During her freshman year, she was a cheerleader for the boys’ basketball team. During her sophomore year, she was on the Mansfield Tigers Girls Volleyball Team. During her junior year, she was a member of the Ski Club. She sings in the Holy Child Catholic Church Choir. She volunteered with the Tioga County Special Olympics for four years. She held two Community Blood Bank blood drives at North Penn-Mansfield Junior-Senior High School for her senior project. Nance is planning to attend Bloomsburg University starting in the fall.

Britta Berguson from Blossburg is representing North Penn-Liberty Junior-Senior High School. She was on the honor roll during all four year of high school. She was also the Class of 2016 secretary. During 10th grade, she was a National Honor Society inductee. During her senior year, she was the National Honor Society secretary. She was on the girls’ varsity volleyball team and the and basketball team for four years. During her junior and senior year, she was on the softball team. She was on the track and field team during 9th and 10th grade. She received a s the Northern Tier League athlete of the year nomination. She was also a WETM-TV athlete of the week. She is also a Tioga County Sports Hall of Fame inductee. She represented North Penn-Liberty Junior-Senior High School as a Youth Leader of Tomorrow. She was a Flaming Foliage queen candidate during her senior year. She was a member of Peer Helpers for two years. During her junior and senior year, she was a member of the Key Club. She volunteered for the Special Olympics for four years. Berguson is planning to attend Keuka College in the fall.

Samantha Bailey from Wellsboro is representing Wellsboro Area High School. She was on the distinguished honor roll during all four years of high school. She was a member of the cross-country team, band, and jazz band for four years. She was the cross-country team captain during her senior year, and she won a coach’s award during her junior year. She was in the advanced students Enrichment program and was a part of the spring musical for all four years of high school. She was on the track team for three years. She won the cross-country specailty fall all-star award. She was a National Honor Society member for two years. She was a member of the women’s choral ensemble during her junior and senior year. She was a member of Students Against Destructive Decisions during her sophomore and junior year. She was a Connectors Plus student mentoring program member during her senior year. She was a member of the Dickens Choir and the Long Distance Running Club during her senior year as well. During her freshman, sophomore, and junior years, she was a Student of the Month. As a junior, she was a Young Chemist of the Month. As a senior, she was a Social Scientist of the Month. She was also a Wellsboro Business and Professional Women’s Club Girl of the Month during her senior year. She is the Hare Raisers 4-H Club vice president. She volunteers for Special Olympics and Goodies For Our Troops. She plans to attend Elizabethtown College starting in the fall.

Sarah Bates from Osceola is representing Williamson High School. She was on the honor roll during all four years of high school. During her senior year, she was the president of the National Honor Society. She was also the Class of 2016 secretary and the salutatorian. She received the 2016 President’s Award for Educational Excellence. She was the Future Business Leaders of America co-treasurer. She earned 16 college credits while attending Williamson High School. She was on the student council for four years. During her junior year, she was the treasurer of student council. During her senior year, she was the president of student council. She was the 2016 Williamson High School PIAA District IV Outstanding Female Athlete. She was also the Female Nominee for Williamson for the 2016 Northern Tier League Athletic Directors Athlete of the Year. She represented Williamson High School for the 2016 Tioga County Sports Hall of Fame. She was on the varsity volleyball team for four years. During her senior year, she was the captain of the volleyball team. She also played for the Elkland Girls Softball Association. She volunteered for Special Olympics for four years. She is a Community Blood Bank distinguished donor. She plans to attend Shippensburg University beginning in the fall.

Lauren Johnson from Knoxville is representing Cowanesque Valley Junior-Senior High School. From 9th through 11th grade, she was on the honor roll. In 12th grade, she was on the high honor roll. She was a member of student council. She played tennis during all four years of high school. She was the secretary for the Class of 2016 during her sophomore year. During her junior and senior years, she was the co-historian. During her sophomore, junior, and senior years, she was a member of chorus and the Drama Club. During her junior and senior year, she was a member of the National Honor Society. During her junior year, she was on the prom committee. During her senior year, she was a member of the Outdoors Club. During her sophomore and junior years, she won an outstanding student athlete award. She is a Relay for Life, Special Olympics, and Vacation Bible School volunteer. She plans to attend Messiah College beginning in the fall.


PA Route 6 Alliance Recommends Tioga County’s Pine Creek Rail Trail For Cyclists

By User:Ruhrfisch (photo taken and cropped by self) [GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
Pine Creek Rail Trail. Photo by User:Ruhrfisch (photo taken and cropped by self) [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Tioga County’s Pine Creek Rail Trail is one of six bike trails the PA Route 6 Alliance recommended for cyclists after PA Route 6 was designated as a touring bicycle route by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT).

Known as Bike Route Y, PA Route 6 has many hills, beautiful landscapes, and equally stunning towns. Terri Dennison,the PA Route 6 Alliance Executive Director who made the six bike trail recommendations, said the following about Route 6, “The trip across Route 6 will only improve in the next few years… We are excited about the potential. By making the ride safer, connecting with other bike trails and offering more access points, this plan will open up more opportunities for our small businesses and towns.” The improvements Dennison is talking about include a future Master Bicycle Plan on Route 6 that PennDOT is planning.

The six bike trails recommended by Dennison all connect to Route 6. The bike trails were recommended because of the Corridor’s heritage and history that can be discovered while traveling on the bike trails.

The first bike trail Dennison recommends is Ernst Bike Trail in Crawford County. The bike trail used to be part of the Meadville-Linesville Railroad. There are five miles of paved trails that stretch from Park Avenue Plaza to Route 19. Ice Age glaciation imprints can be seen, as can French Creek Valley, which is Pennsylvania’s most biologically varied body of water.

The second bike trail recommended by Dennison is Corry Junction Greenway Trail in Erie County. This 7.5 mile interstate trail goes all the way to New York. The trail goes through Brokenstraw Valley. The Climax locomotive and rail cars were invented and manufactured in Corry. The logging industry used the locomotive and rail cars from 1888 to the 1920’s. Cyclists might need to dismount on some areas of the trails due to inclines and some of the crossings not meeting the grade of the road.

The third bike trail Dennison recommends is Crook Farm Trail in McKean County. This 3 mile look trail is on crushed limestone. The grade of the trail is near level. There is off-road parking on Bolivar Drive between Route 219 and Tuna Creek. Located on the trail’s north end, the Crook Farm Historic Site includes a 19th century restored farm house, a tool house, a train depot, outbuildings, and a one-room schoolhouse,

The fourth bike trail recommended by Dennison is Tioga County’s own Pine Creek Rail Trail. The Pine Creek Trail, located in Pike Creek Gorge, stretches 62 mies. This bike trail goes through the Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania. Being mostly flat, the trail starts at Wellsboro Junction and goes to Jersey Shore, PA. The trail runs through the State Forest lands of Tioga and Tiadaghton. The trail goes through Pine Creek for 55 miles. Several waterfalls can be seen from the Pine Creek Trail.

The fifth bike trail Dennison recommends is Delaware and Hudson Trail in Lackawanna County. The trail is made of cinder, hard-packed dirt, and original ballast. A mountain bike is recommended for this trail. Cyclists may need to walk their bikes on the sections that have steep inclines and big chunks of ballast. The Lackawanna River runs parallel to the trail for a few miles. There are trees on either side of the trail in some areas.

The final bike trail recommended by Dennison is the McDade Recreational Trail in Pike County. This bike trail runs throughout the majority of the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. The northern most access of the trail is Milford’s Milford Beach. The river, streams, forests, farm fields, and striking landscapes can all be seen on this bike trail. The difficulty of the trail ranges from simple to arduous. The trailheads are  separated from between a half mile to five miles. Most of the trailheads go along the free bus route for the trail. The bus route is in operation during the weekends in the summer.

Mountain biking is allowed on the forest roads that are a part of the Allegheny National Forest, as well as state forests along Route 6. If you would like more information about bike trails in Pennsylvania, you can visit the PA Route 6 website at or the Explore PA Trails website at

Wellsboro School Board Eliminates Four Jobs

Wellsboro HornetsOn Tuesday, June 7th, the Wellsboro Area School District school board decided to cut four jobs in order to avoid raising taxes and balance the 2016-2017 budget.

The following three positions are scheduled to be eliminated on July 1st: the full-time special education secretary, the full-time head custodian, and the part-time custodian. The elimination of the full-time special education secretary will save $39,000, while the elimination of the two custodian positions will save $56,718. The board members are scheduled to take action on the elimination of the positions at the board meeting next Tuesday.

Head custodian Ralph Toph will still be employed full-time because of his seniority. However, there will be a reduction in his salary. Full-time custodian Janet Hale will have part-time employment and she will not be on salary or have benefits. Part-time custodian Richard Ralph will be furloughed and will not have employment or salary. By July 1st, the full-time special education secretary position will be vacated due to retirement. The responsibilities of the special education secretary might go to other people on the secretarial staff. The elimination of these four positions should save $205,058.

Although the full-time Wellsboro High School assistant principal position was not a part of the June 14th agenda, the salary and benefits for the position were removed from the 2016-2017 budget. The salary for this position is $109,340. As of December 24th, 2015, when Rob Kreger became principal, the position has stayed open. David Krick retired on December 23rd, 2015.

At the May 19th budget and finance committee meeting, board members discussed the possible elimination of the full-time federal programs coordinator/director of curriculum and instruction position in order to keep the high school assistant principal position. The full-time federal programs coordinator/director of curriculum and instruction position is held by Pat Hewitt, who is also the acting Superintendent. During the work session on June 7th, Board President Matt Feil said the responsibilities could go to the high school assistant principal position. It is not known if Hewitt would then become the assistant principal.

The 2016-2017 expenditure projection is $25,262,680, while the income is $24,727,592. The district has a projected shortfall of $535,088. The district will use $423,870 from the retirement reserves. Unassigned fund balances will be used for the rest of the $111,218 shorfall. According to business manager Bonnie Thompson, there is $107,000 estimated in surplus funds from the 2015-2016 school year. However, Thompson noted there were more bills that had yet to come in. According to Thompson, there is a $1,086,231 projected budget shortfall for the 2017-2018 school year. For the 2018-2019 school year there is a projected budget shortfall of $1,632,394. For the 2019-2020 school year, there is a projected budget shortfall of $2,195,308. For the 2020-2021 school year, there is a projected budget shortfall of $2,741,450. Thompson advised against not raising taxes due to increases in contracts.

At this time, a property tax increase is not expected for the 2016-2017 budget. Property owners in Tioga County will have a millage increase of 0.032. That will bring the millage to 17.8440 from 17.8120, or 0.18% increase in taxes. For instance, a property assessed at $100,000 would see a $3.20 increase. Property owners in Lycoming County will have a millage decrease of 0.227. That will bring the millage to 13.7570 from 13.9840, or a 1.65% decrease. For instance, a property assessed at $100,000 would see a $22.70 decrease.

The following people attended the work session on Tuesday evening: Feil, Duane Cotner, John Hoover, and Tim McCratic (he attended via speaker phone). The following people were absent: Sue Judlin, Chris Gastrock, Stewart Burrous, Denise Sherman, and Wayne Hackett. The meeting was held at the Large Group Instruction room in the high school.


First Citizens Community Bank Holding Company Announces Cash, Stock Dividend for Shareholders

First Citizens Community Bank logoFirst Citizens Community Bank’s bank holding company, the Board of Directors of Citizens Financial Services, Inc. (CZFS), announced that there is a cash and stock dividend for CZFS shareholders.

According to CZFS, the cash dividend is $.415 per share, while the stock dividend is 1%. Both are payable on Thursday, June 30th, 2016, to shareholders of record on Thursday, June 23rd, 2016. Last year, the regular cash dividend was $.405. There was a 2.5% increase for this quarterly cash dividend.

CEO and President Randall E. Black issued the following statement regarding the cash and stock dividend, “As we focus on growing our Company and expanding our services in our Southcentral market, our financial performance remains strong. This strength and commitment to providing a solid return to our shareholders will continue to drive our efforts as a strong, independent community bank.”

Citizens Financial Services, Inc., a $1.2 billion bank holding company, conducts business via First Citizens Community Bank. There are 25 First Citizens Community Bank operated offices throughout Pennsylvania and New York.

The OTC Pink Market lists Citizens Financial Services, Inc. common stock. It is traded under the CZFS symbol.

Elkland High School Graduate Qualifies for 2016 U.S. Open Golf Championship

US Open 2016 logoAn Elkland High School graduate and Osceola native has qualified for the U.S. Open.

T.J. Howe qualified for the U.S. Open golf championship which takes place from Monday, June 13th to Sunday, June 19th at Oakmont Country Club in Oakmont, PA. It is Howe’s first time qualifying for the U.S. Open. He shot a seven-under par 137 which earned him second place at the Vancouver, Washington located Royal Oaks Country Club. His U.S. open local qualifier win was at the Dallas, PA located Huntsville Golf Club on May 19th.  Howe will be competing against 54 other golfers at the 116th U.S. Open.

Howe graduated from Elkland High School in 2006. In 2004, he was the District 4 golf champion. In 2005, he placed second. Furthermore, he was a PIAA golf champion. He held a league scoring average of 69.7. He attended Penn State and graduated in 2010. He played golf at Penn State from 2007-2011. He was a Golf Coaches Association of America All-American in 2010. He was also a three-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree and a three-time GCAA All-Region selection.

This summer, Howe will play on the Mackenzie Tour-PGA Tour Canada. Last year, he played in the PGA Tour’s Wells Fargo Championship. He has qualified for numerous PGA Tour events. In the past two years, he was an eGolf Tour top money winner. He currently resides in Charlotte, NC.

Wellsboro’s Pine Creek Bar-B-Que Co Wins First Place for Pork in Conquer the Grill BBQ Competition

Photo by Josh Hatcher Media
Photo by Josh Hatcher Media

Wellsboro won the #1 spot for pork and ranked #7 overall in the Conquer the Grill BBQ Competition which was held from Friday, June 3rd to Saturday, June 4th, at the Potter County Courthouse Square in Coudersport.

Wellsboro’s Pine Creek Bar-B-Que Co, being represented by Gary Phelps, ranked first in the pork category. Pine Creek Bar-B-Que Co also won seventh place in the overall competition. Four Coudersport BBQ establishments ranked in the overall competition as well. Mort’s Meat Mafia, being represented by Jeff Heasley, won 5th place. Potter County Smoke Eaters, being represented by Tadd Ostroski, took home 9th place. Brothers in Smoke, being represented by Larry Lauber, took home 12th place. E & D Pork Pullers, being represented by Eric Boucher, took home 17th place. In addition, Port Allegany’s Mobile Fresca, being represented by Casey Henning, took home 16th place. Behind BBQ, being represented by Kim Perry, won first place. Behind BBQ is located in Spencerport, NY. You can view the full results for all categories here:

A total of eighteen teams competed from Pennsylvania, New York, and Maryland. The Conquer the Grill BBQ Competition was held along with the God’s Country Marathon. It was the first Conquer the Grill BBQ Competition in the area. The Kansas City Barbeque Society (KCBS) sanctioned the event, and the Hotel Crittenden and Shell sponsored it. The Potter County Visitors Association benefited from the event.

The KCBS rules were used to judge the teams. KCBS judges, along with amateur judges, judged the teams. There were four categories: pork, chicken, pork ribs, and brisket. Those who ranked in the top five for each category took home prizes. First place got $200, second place got $150, third place got $100, fourth place got $75, and fifth place got $50. Governor Tom Wolf declared the event a state championship. Behind BBQ is eligible to be a part of the American Royal World Series of Barbecue® as well as the Jack Daniels World Championship Invitational Barbecue.

The next Conquer the Grill BBQ Competition is being held on June 2-3, 2017.

Laurel Pet Parade is June 12

Children 12 and under are invited to enter their pets or decorated bicycles or battery-operated three or four wheelers in the 2016 Laurel Festival Pet Parade. Groups are welcome to participate, too.

The pet parade will be Sunday, June 12 at 1:30 p.m. The Wellsboro Pet Complex on Route 6 in Charleston Township sponsors it.

The parade will form at Packer Park on Queen Street and travel up Main Street to The Green in Wellsboro.

Judging in several categories will begin at 12:30 p.m. at Packer Park prior to the parade. Participants are asked to be there no later than 12:25 p.m. on June 12.

All dogs, 3 months of age and older, must be vaccinated and licensed. Bring water for pets and keep them in the shade.

Special awards sponsored by Dr. Leonard Kreger and his Veterinary Hospital Reptile and Bird Clinic will be presented. Everyone entering the pet parade will receive ribbons.

To register, return completed applications by 4 p.m. Thursday, June 9 to the Wellsboro Area Chamber of Commerce office. For information or an application, contact the chamber by stopping in at 114 Main Street, Wellsboro, calling 570-724-1926, or emailing

Senator Gene Yaw to Hold Telephone Town Hall Discussion About Opioid Addiction June 13

13412973_1065897653501804_5276507098264104434_nPennsylvania Senator Gene Yaw (R-23)  announced that there will be a town hall discussion via telephone regarding opioid and heroin addiction in Pennsylvania on Monday, June 13th, 2016.

Residents of Lycoming, Bradford, Union, Susquehanna, and Sullivan counties, and any other Pennsylvania resident, is invited to the special town hall discussion. The one hour telephone discussion will be held from 6:30 p.m. until 7:30 p.m. Those who attend the discussion will have the opportunity to ask questions. You may sign up for the telephone discussion at The call in number for the discussion is (877) 229-8493, and the PIN is 111880.

Director of the Center for Rural Pennsylvania Barry Denk and Center for Rural Pennsylvania Board Member and Professor of Nursing at Clarion University Dr. Nancy Falvo will be guests at the discussion. There will be a live audio stream that people on computers, tablets, and smartphones can listen to as well as ask Yaw questions. Right before the event begins, there will be a link to the event at

The 10th public hearing about the opioid and heroin problem in Pennsylvania was held on Thursday, June 2nd, by the Center for Rural Pennsylvania. The Center for Rural Pennsylvania is a bicameral and bipartisan legislative research agency, and it is a part of the General Assembly. The hearings started in 2014. Yaw was the chairman of the hearings. Two reports were produced in 2014 and 2015 as a result of the hearings. The reports outline legislative recommendations and include testimony. A third report is expected to be released in 2016.

Baker Announces PA 2015 Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program Deadline Extension

matt bakerOn Monday, June 6th, 2016, Representative Matt Baker (R-Tioga/Bradford/Potter) announced that the deadline to apply for Pennsylvania’s 2015 Property Tax/Rent Rebate program has been extended from June 30th to December 31st.

Those who are eligible for the 2015 Property Tax/Rent Rebate program could get a maximum rebate of $650. The rebate is based upon the amount of property taxes or rent that was paid in 2015. Eligible participants are 65 years of age or older, widows or widowers who are 50 years of age or older, and people with disabilities who are 18 years of age or older. The income eligibility limits include the following, which excludes fifty percent of Supplemental Security Income, Social Security, and Railroad Retirement Tier 1 benefits: $0-$8000 with a maximum rebate of $650 for homeowners and renters; $8,001-$15,000 with a maximum rebate of $500 for homeowners and renters; $15,000 to $18,000 with a maximum rebate of $300 for homeowners only; and $18,000 to $35,000 with a maximum rebate of $250 for homeowners only.

Rep. Baker wants to remind residents that they do not have to pay a private entity to help them fill out the forms. Residents may obtain copies of the forms, and get help filling them out, at Rep. Baker’s office free of charge. Applicants should come prepared with rental, property tax, and income information.

If you would like more information about the 2015 Property Tax/Rent Rebate program, or you need help filling out the forms, you may call Rep. Baker’s Wellsboro office at (570) 724-1390 or his Troy office at (570) 297-3045. You can also visit If you have already applied for a rebate, you can check the status of your claim at, or you can call 1-888-PATAXES.

The Pennsylvania Lottery supports the Property Tax/Rent Rebate program. The program started in 1971. Since then, about $6 billion has been administered to applicants that qualify for the program.

Southern Tioga School Board to Vote on 2016-2017 Budget June 9

Southern Tioga School District logoOn Thursday, June 9th, the Southern Tioga School District school board will vote on a budget for the 2016-2017 school year.

The $29.8 million budget includes a 3.1 percent tax increase for Tioga County property owners, as well as a 2.75 tax increase for Lycoming County property owners that live within the Southern Tioga School District. On Monday, May 9th, the school board voted 6-3 on the proposed final budget. Director John Ritter, who has spoken against a real estate tax increase, along with Ivan Erway and Michele McDermott, voted against the budget due to the real estate tax increase. President Stephen Guillaume along with Directors John Martin, James Kreger, Julie Miller, Sandra Olson, and Sean Bartlett voted for the budget. The 3.1 percent tax increase is the maximum amount that is allowed under Act 1.

There is still a projected deficit of $571,000 with the real estate tax increase. Ritter proposed keeping the tax increase at 1.55 percent. The deficit would be increased by around $150,000 with that tax rate.

The increase in salaries and benefits will be approximately $72,000. Business manager Kathy Ciaciulli said that the increase is because of a board approved part-time paraprofessional position being created as well as more game managers. Ciaciulli also said that the board expects to spend around $4 million more by the end of the year. She also explained that there was a revenue decrease of $37,000. However, local revenues increased by $28,000 because of delinquent taxes being collected.

Tioga County’s millage rate will increase to 16.51 mills. In Lycoming County, the millage rate will increase to 16.06 mills.

The school board also talked about demolishing the old North Penn High School building. District Superintendent Sam Rotella recommended demolishing it over closing it, selling it, or renting it. He recommended hiring McClure to carry out the project. Kreger agreed with Rotella on hiring McClure for the project while Martin did not. Ritter recommended bidding out the project. Guiliaume did not want to bid out the project because someone would have to be hired in order to supervise the demolition. The school board will decide the fate of the old North Penn High School building at its meeting on Thursday, June 9th.