….Jury finds McKean County man guilty of homicide by vehicle and other crimes….Ridgway man scammed out of $6600…Middlebury Center motorcyclist seriously hurt in collision with SUV…..DEP issues Drought Watch for 36 counties…..

McKean County

On August 31, 2022, following an 8 day jury trial in McKean County, Daniel Walter Oaks, II, was convicted of Homicide by Vehicle, Involuntary Manslaughter and three counts of Aggravated Assault by Vehicle. The charges were the result of a motor vehicle crash that occurred in Duke Center, McKean County, on September 8, 2018.  OAKS was the driver of a Subaru WRX that collided with a Dodge Ram that had been parked in a yard on Main Street.  A passenger in the OAKS vehicle, Alyssa Hawk, died as a result of the crash and three men, who had been standing in the yard where the vehicle collided with the Dodge truck, suffered serious injuries.Following the crash, neighbors in the area of the crash provided aid to the injured.Numerous firemen, paramedics, EMTs, and police officers from other areas responded to assist. Officer Eric Neiswonger and Pennsylvania State Police Accident Reconstructionist Corporal David Kostok investigated the crash.   McKean County District Attorney Stephanie L. Vettenburg-Shaffer and 1st Assistant District Attorney Michael Alfieri prosecuted the case.  Sentencing has been scheduled for October 13, 2022 at 1pm.

Elk County

State police at Ridgway are investigating a theft by deception victimizing a 67 year old Ridgway man on August 4. The victim was told by a caller that he was the winner of a sweepstakes and needed to pay taxes to receive the winnings. The victim was subsequently scammed out of $6,600.

Cameron County

Troopers at Emporium are looking for a litterbug who deposited a bag of garbage on the Rich Valley Road in Shippen Township between August 4 and 23.

Tioga County

Both Mansfield residents involved in an altercation Tuesday afternoon in Rutland Township are being charged with physical harassment. Troopers allege a 45 year old man and a 35 year old woman shoved each other during an argument on Tickner Lane.

A Middlebury Center motorcyclist was taken to Robert Packer Hospital in Sayre for treatment of injuries he suffered in a collision Saturday afternoon in Knoxville. State police report Alexander Hanes of Sabinsville was following a Harley Davidson Nightster at an unsafe speed and ran into the back of the bike when Connor Owlett of Middlebury Center turned into a private drive. The SUV pushed the motorcycle about 30 yards before it dropped onto its side with Owlett still aboard.   Owlett  suffered several broken bones and was flown by Guthrie Air to Robert Packer Hospital in  Sayre. Hanes refused treatment but a passenger in  his Mitsubishi Outlander was taken to Soldiers and Sailors Hospital for treatment. Hanes was charged with speeding.

A 19 year old Covington driver has been cited for speeding after a one-vehicle crash in Tioga Township Tuesday afternoon. According to Mansfield state police, Samson Ruth lost control of  his southbound Nissan Versa when he braked to avoid a deer. The car hydroplaned due to rain, and scraped  a concrete barrier in the middle of Route 15 before stopping. Ruth was using a seatbelt and was not hurt.

A 55 year old Mansfield driver is facing DUI charges after being stopped on the Kellytown Road in Richmond Township during the early morning hours of August 6. Troopers failed to release the suspect’s name, but claim he was driving his 2018 Ford F250 Supercab under the influence of alcohol.

DUI charges are also being filed against a 43 year old Mansfield man by state police. Troopers say they were called to a location on Route 660 in Covington Township on a report of a suspicious vehicle on the night of August 17. When they interviewed the driver, whose name they withheld, they determined he had been driving his 2002 Ford under the influence of alcohol.

An attempted burglary  on Alder  Run Road in Jackson Township Sunday night was investigated by troopers at Mansfield. A 31 year old Millerton man told police he saw on his trail camera that his garage door was open and the ceiling light was flickering.

A criminal mischief in Elkland is being investigated by state police at Mansfield. Vandals chipped the front hood on a 2011 Honda owned by Tyler Heffner of Elkland while it was parked on Cemetery Road

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) announced Wednesday the Commonwealth Drought Task Force has declared a drought watch for 36 counties and asks for voluntary water conservation in those counties.

The following counties are on drought watch: Berks, Bucks, Bradford, Cameron, Carbon, Centre, Clearfield, Clinton, Columbia, Dauphin, Delaware, Juniata, Lackawanna, Lebanon, Lehigh, Luzerne, Lycoming, McKean, Mifflin, Monroe, Montgomery, Montour, Northampton, Northumberland, Perry, Philadelphia, Pike, Potter, Schuylkill, Snyder, Sullivan, Susquehanna, Tioga, Union, Wayne, and Wyoming. For a map of drought declarations that’s updated daily, see the DEP drought web page.

Residents on drought watch are asked to reduce their individual water use by 5 to 10%, or a reduction of three to six gallons of water per day.

DEP is notifying all water suppliers in these counties of the need to monitor their supplies and be prepared by updating their drought contingency plans as necessary. Varying localized conditions may lead water suppliers or municipalities to ask residents for more stringent conservation actions.

At this time, two public water suppliers are requiring residents to reduce their water use: Galeton Borough Water Authority in Potter County and Waterville Water Association in Lycoming County.

Six suppliers are asking residents to voluntarily reduce their water use:

  • BCI Municipal Authority, Clearfield County

  • Driftwood Boro, Cameron County

  • Jersey Shore Area Joint Water Authority, Lycoming County

  • Lock Haven, Clinton County

  • Palmerton Municipal Water Authority, Carbon County

  • Pennsylvania American Water Company – Bangor District, Carbon County

Ways to Conserve Water at Home

There are many ways to conserve water at home, including:

  • Run water only when necessary. Don’t let the faucet run while brushing your teeth or shaving. Shorten the time you let the water run to warm up before showering.

  • Run the dishwasher and washing machine less often, and only with full loads.

  • Water your garden in the cooler evening or morning hours, and direct the water to the ground at the base of the plant, so you don’t waste water through evaporation.

  • Water your lawn only if necessary. Apply no more than 1 inch of water per week (use an empty can to determine how long it takes to water 1 inch). Avoid watering on windy and hot days. This pattern will encourage healthier, deeper grass roots. Over-watering is wasteful, encourages fungal growth and disease, and results in shallow, compacted root systems that are more susceptible to drought.

  • When mowing your lawn, set the blades to 2-3 inches high. Longer grass shades the soil, improving moisture retention. It also grows thicker and develops a deeper root system, so it can better survive drought.

  • Check for and repair household leaks. For example, a leaking toilet can waste up to 200 gallons of water daily.

  • Sweep your sidewalk, deck, or driveway instead of hosing it off.

  • Replace older appliances with high-efficiency, front-loading models that use about 30 percent less water and 40-50 percent less energy.

  • Install low-flow plumbing fixtures and aerators on faucets.

  • Set up a rain barrel to be ready to repurpose rain when it does fall. For information, see this Penn State Extension guide.

Find more tips at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

How DEP Determines Drought Conditions

To determine drought conditions, DEP assesses information on public water supply levels and data on four indicators: precipitation, surface water (stream and river) flow, groundwater level, and soil moisture. Declarations aren’t based on one indicator alone, such as precipitation.

The DEP Drought Coordinator monitors the indicators in close partnership with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), which maintains gauges in streams and wells in many locations across Pennsylvania.

There are normal ranges for all four indicators. DEP makes drought status recommendations after assessing departures from these ranges for all indicators for periods of 3-12 months. For a map that’s updated daily to show the status of all four indicators for each county, see the USGS Pennsylvania drought condition monitoring website.

DEP shares these data and its recommendations with the state and federal agencies and other organizations that make up the Commonwealth Drought Task Force. Drought watch and warning declarations are determined by DEP, with the concurrence of the task force.

Drought emergency declarations follow the same process, with final approval by the governor.  No county is in drought warning or emergency status at this time.

For more information on how DEP monitors conditions and makes drought status declarations, see the drought management fact sheet.

The next Commonwealth Drought Task Force meeting will be on Tuesday, September 13, 2022, at 1:00 PM.