RANTS  &  RAVES   2020
    Blog delivers much needed humor
    RAVES to the mysterious folks over at Fayettenam Times for the satire and that elusive laugh
    that nobody at this column thought was possible this otherwise somber April Fools Day.

    RAVES to them for the unexpected and much appreciated laugh today. Rants&Raves has taken
    issue in the past with any Nam references to Fay, but, nah, just this one time the much needed
    laugh today draws respectful RAVES and oodles upon oodles of sincere thanks. (1 Apr 20)

    https://myfayettenam.com/vicities-and-lohr-say-they-will-not-cancel-fayette-county-fair-because-
    of-covid-19-concerns/


    Believe! There's video!
    Westmoreland Pastor, wife, children, knocking
    on Bullskin doors during Covid-19 pandemic
    RANTS to the Ruffsdale area pastor of Mendon Baptist Church, Greg Leonard, who ignored the
    commonwealth's stay at home order for Westmoreland County yesterday, to venture 15 miles
    into Bullskin with his young daughter, wife and three sons to work, knocking on doors during the
    Corona Virus pandemic.

    Even bigger RANTS to the pastor working the township with his young daughter, for ignoring the
    caution of one Fay resident, a nurse, who answered the pounding on her door and relayed that
    she had contact with someone who tested positive and was waiting on her own test results.

    RANTS that Leonard and his sons vehemently argued for about 15 minutes what they felt was
    their twisted, inherent right to refuse 17 recorded directives to leave privately owned, posted
    property with no solicitation or trespassing allowed.

    Even without the pandemic and even without threatening to sue as they did because they were
    put off the privately owned property, their behavior still would have been ridiculously illegal.

    Add the pandemic and the nurse's ignored caution to the mix when the pastor and his little girl
    stood at her door and he announced he was not afraid of Covid-19, their behavior was just plain
    crazy. (1 Apr 20)

    More "Quotes Of The Day" on social distancing, the virus,
    business closures, and the run on toilet paper

    "We have lost more already than Italy or China."
    Dave, more than just a bit sad in the diner parking lot alone this morning on group chat, seeming to be
    dazed, thrown for a real loop, by the grim statistic that more have died in America in a few recent weeks
    than have died in Italy and China since the pandemic started.

    "I like the two physicians on the president's task force, but I love Dr. Oz chiming in. I trust the two
    but Dr. Oz made them more credible to me by speaking out that social distancing must continue
    and hospital supplies have to get where they're needed."
    Dave's wife, adding, by chat from home, her thumbs up to the popular television doctor known not to mince
    words, publicly spouting off about supplies and supporting city shut downs, given that New York and New
    Orleans' tragic crisis keeps escalating and experts are now warning of another mean, viral round to pass
    through in about a month

    "I would like to find a six-foot-wide blow up Sumo wrestler costume to wear next time shopping."
    Moi, from home, via chat to them and Pete, whining about some impatient men in their 50s-
    60s or impatient young moms with babies and toddlers in the cart not waiting to wait a few
    seconds to pass safely six-feet away in super market shopping aisles or turns

    "Some in those two groups -- some older males and young moms packing cart kids -- might need
    those Sumo costumes, too!"
    Pete




    Cruel Corona's wallop on The Courier
    RANTS for Cruel Corona's domino, walloping impact on us and our community employers and
    businesses.

    That said, RANTS that Corona seems to have brought one of Fay's two hard-copy, daily
    newspapers to change or close more than just its lobby or office to the public.



    RANTS that the Daily Courier will cease six-day hard-copy publication and six-day online
    publishing and opt for hard-copy publication only on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays and
    online reading only on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

    Additionally, the parent company owner of The Courier will stop publishing its Mount Pleasant
    and Scottdale papers entirely.

    Minus paid ads for closed restaurants, stores and non-essential businesses or specialty shops,
    minus sports news, minus school articles and school pictures, minus social group meeting and
    photos, it can't be easy to put a small daily paper on newsstands or outside front doors.



    Readers here know that anyone affiliated with Rants&Raves whines and sheds a tear when any
    daily newspaper goes out of business.  We didn't just take it hard when three of the four other
    papers this editor's work appeared in over the decades closed.

    Anyone who ever wrote for any paper for any length of time feels the pain when the presses stop
    anywhere.  

    No, no, we're not there yet with the Connellsville paper and so hope that the paper long outlives
    Corona.



    There needs to be a second paper in the county for many reasons, but, mainly, to report news
    without bias and force the other paper sometimes to cover news it would rather ignore or edit.

    This column can't always do that alone. (23 Mar 20)




    Hiring second shift at Berkley Surgical Supplies
    Neither a RANT nor a RAVE, but a note that the below mentioned Uniontown company that manufactures
    medical supplies put out an urgent need today through county development to hire additional staff for its
    Fairchance factory.

    Anyone needing a job is strongly urged to apply. Please see the following link for more information.

    https://www.facebook.com/274720199713266/posts/836165150235432/?
    sfnsn=mo&extid=8oDirfpAMt4IZfjD


    Can masks be made again in Fay?
    RAVES of hope that the Uniontown company that once manufactured surgical masks -- or the corporation
    or subsidiary of it still in town manufacturing other surgical supplies -- can reboot the old product production
    or point someone in the right direction to pursue the idea.

    RAVES of hope that Fay Penn beats a quick path over to Virginia Avenue to give away every free funding
    cent to make someone an offer he can't refuse. Rants&Raves reached out for comment to the company
    producing surgical equipment. More to come. (21 Mar 20)

    "Quote Of The Day" that must include an expletive
    "Holy Fuck, it's here!"
    Moi, reacting to the expected, but still painful to hear news, that Fayette County today has seen its first
    resident to test positive for Corona Virus

    To Spring 2020!
    RAVES to the wonderful diversion to the viral nightmare, with a blessing of a 73-degree, often sunny
    afternoon, this first full day of spring.


    "Quotes Of The Day" on social distancing, the virus, business
    closures, and the run on toilet paper

    "We're all O.K. at home so far and hope we all still stay that way."
    Pete, this morning, outside the diner, projecting his voice louder than usual, so that his regular coffee or
    lunch buds standing by or still in their vehicles, six feet apart from one another in the parking lot, could hear
    him

    "I was getting a little anxious, but I found toilet paper yesterday."
    Dave's wife, adding she's still out of hand sanitizer, but could mix and split home made, if she found
    someone with impossible to find or buy aloe vera oil, to mix with her rare find, rubbing alcohol, drawing a
    laugh from Dave listening from home on speaker phone, who estimated they drove 60 miles to find it

    "On Saturday, the shopping got easier by the third or fourth store just asking customers coming out if the
    store had meat, toilet paper and bleach products. If not, we didn't go in and just kept driving on."
    Dave, via his wife's cell speaker phone, sharing his secret to lower stress shopping and that it was nice to
    hear people in stores sharing with others which stores did have meat, anti-bacterial cleaning products,
    paper towels, etc.

    "We should be going. We have to keep ordering take out from these small restaurants as often as we can
    or buy giftcards for their businesses to help them stay in business. This is all so surreal!"
    Pete, trying not to tear up because he misses his daily hugs and interactions with his young grandchildren,
    then suggesting tomorrow that his group of diner pals count on skipping coffee due to rainy and windy
    weather predicted

    Defense says Kez stole less than $550K
    Neither a RANT nor a RAVE, but a note that things really can get weirder than we thought possible in the
    case of former funeral home owner Stephen Kezmarsky, recently sentenced to four to eight years in prison
    for the theft of $550K from sweet old people.

    This week's new twist to the district attorney's request for the judge to consider a longer sentence is that
    the defense now says Kezmarsky stole way less than that and wants restitution amounts lowered to reflect
    that unspecified difference. Read More.

    "Quote Of The Day" from Michael D. McCumber's faywest.
    com that should be of interest to investigators to disprove or confirm
    "The good judge will also be able to take into account that many of the people who said they
    prepaid for funeral services in fact only invested in the business of the funeral home and should
    lose their investment money as part of a failed business just like the good funeral director did."
    Anonymous, as posted two days ago, on web developer McCumber's online public
    communication board, faywest.com, supposing that some supposed crime victims were actually
    greedy investors from a failed business once known to do "record breaking business"

    Judge too busy till June to revisit Kez sentence?
    RANTS the earliest date that a Fay judge has to hear a motion on the sentencing of former funeral
    director Steven Kezmarsky is three months away, on June 11.

    The county DA, as we all know, disputes the four to eight year sentence that Judge Steve
    Leskenin handed down to Kezmarsky last month, and, additionally, is burned up that a check for
    $50K towards restitution bounced from a former funeral home investor/relative. Read More.

    2019 "Quote Of The Day" comes to haunt Fay DA office, given Geyer
    caught helping with kids' 2020 theatrical play** in Southmoreland  
    "He is under the court's jurisdiction and supervision for the next three years. We are satisfied
    with the way this case resolved."
    Melissa Dellarose, Fay assistant district attorney, as stated to heraldstandard.com* four
    months ago, in "Former Connellsville councilman receives probation in sexual assault case,"
    discussing the dropping of 11 counts of sexual assault and some corruption of minors
    charges from 2018, against former Connellsville councilman Brad Geyer, for shamefully
    plying a 14-year-old girl with liquor on multiple occasions and inappropriately touching the
    child sexually on multiple occasions;

    Dellarose, at the former councilman's sentencing last year, during which Geyer, essentially,
    was given probation and was not made to register on Megan's List



    * "Former Connellsville councilman receives probation in sexual assault case," heraldstandard.com
    ** "Norwin officials identify Connellsville man as musical volunteer with criminal record," Tribune
    Review
    https://triblive.com/local/westmoreland/norwin-officials-volunteer-who-didnt-have-clearances-
    worked-with-musical-students/

    PNA media newsletter mentions Vicites'
    Facebook blocking of Fay citizen  
    Neither a RANT nor a RAVE, but a note that the case of a Fay citizen reportedly blocked from
    County Commissioner Vince Vicites' social media page and lawyered up is included in the
    weekly newsletter of the Pennsylvania NewsMedia Association, sent throughout the state to
    media outlets, newspapers, and citizens involved in obtaining Right To Know documents from
    public funded offices or agencies.

    "The PNA Legal Update," the weekly newsletter, informed its subscribers in "Office of Open
    Records rules in favor of request seeking names of those blocked by Fayette commissioner" that
    the Herald Standard wrote an article about the Fay citizen who recently won a Right To Know
    appeal with the state Office of Open Records, to learn the names of all others Vicites blocked
    from that same social media account.

    The local case against the commissioner was one of four that the PNA newsletter featured in its
    "Legal Issues Around The Commonwealth" weekly run down. (1 Mar 20)


    Commissioners cry the blues in letter to ed
    RANTS that the Fayette County Commissioners, two months into a new annual budget and tax
    hike, are still trying to distance themselves from the county deficits and dismal financial status,
    crying the blues in a letter to the editor, "Tax hike was unavoidable," appearing on
    heraldstandard.com today.         

    They said nothing new in today's letter. We've heard it umpteen times.

    Maybe we'd respect them more if they admit the true deficit numbers were hidden from the
    public. The 2020 county budget did not include a several million dollar transfer from the general
    fund to the tax claim fund to pay off that debt.  

    Till we hear the whole story, RANTS that today's letter to the editor was mostly just more wasted
    newspaper copy space. (1 Mar 20)


    Four donate $160K to Kez crime
    victim restitution fund
    RAVES to the generosity -- and what appears to be a genuine compassion for former funeral
    director Stephen Kezmarsky -- of his family and friends that at least $160 of the $500K he swiped
    from elderly customers was put down at the courthouse, to allow some restitution to begin to
    victims. Read More.

    Courier propaganda
    RANTS of the disappointing kind, to the Courier, for shamefully allowing two Fay commissioners
    so much press to whine and wrongly blame Fay's 2016 debt for a 2020 tax increase.

    From 2019 primary election and campaign photos out there, we know that the Courier was around
    to hear incumbent candidates brag about Fay's financial stability under their leadership.

    Yet, the paper today gave both now re-elected and sitting commissioners a pass to blame 2016
    debt that caused a 2017 tax increase to be brought up again, these four years later, as the reason
    the commissioners raised taxes again in 2020.



    RANTS that the Courier opted to skip the truth and, instead, only feed the propaganda machine
    today to protect the "integrity" of two commissioners, who truly knew how financially strapped
    the county is  -- even when everyone's ignoring the $2-5 Million owed from the county's general
    fund to the county tax claim sale fund -- but still planned a $1.4 million commissioner office
    redecoration project as of late 2019.

    We expected better, and today's journalism did nothing to make the two officials accountable or
    better officials. (25 Feb 20)

    DA to appeal Kez case
    RAVES to the county district attorney for vowing to appeal the case of former funeral home
    operator Steven Kezmarsky in light of a weak sentence passed down today, of four to eight years
    in prison and 10 years of probation, for stealing over $500K from customers purchasing pre-paid
    funerals. Read More.

    Fay first responders are first rate
    Neither a RANT nor a RAVE, but a note of a big lump in the throat request for readers to be
    especially sensitive to the truly gut-wrenchingly awful day at work that first responders had here
    in the Connellsville area today.

    With tragic news of a young man everyone knew taking his own life and then the horrible head on
    collision a few miles away that took two lives on Route 201, today has been overwhelmingly
    rough for first responders.

    Three people shouldn't have died today but did.  


    Please, yes, say a prayer for those lost, their families and friends, but also include the men and
    women who arrived first on the nightmare scenes, to do whatever they could to try to save lives.

    When they can't help, that feeling of helplessness has to be most overwhelming. (28 JAN 20)



    Update on the missing, misspent $1-5 million Fay
    property tax claim funds
    RAVES that Uniontown resident and Laurel Highlands School Board Director Randy Raymond
    continues to pursue his push for full payment of $1-5 million owed for up to 10 years to school
    districts from the county property tax claim sales.

    Raymond began to request Right To Know documents about six months ago to obtain financial
    records of property tax claim sales, transfers of money and payments to school districts,
    creditors and municipalities once it became known that only about half of the $5+ Million taken in
    during property tax claim sales was properly transferred to the tax claim account.

    Fayette County commissioners misspent the remaining $1-2.5 funds for county general fund
    expenses and did not distribute any payments in 2018, in spite of putting $600,000 on a county
    budget into the tax claim fund.   

    Raymond told Rants&Raves on Saturday that his 12-hour workday during the busy holiday
    season slowed him down a bit, but that he's resuming the push for transparency and payments
    owed from the county property tax claim sales.

    "I’ve recruited some help this time," Raymond explained, adding that it has "been tough without
    having help."


    To date, neither the state attorney general nor state auditor general has intervened in the matter,
    in spite of getting a few signed complaints and requests for action.

    The debt owed to the county property tax claim sale fund was not addressed in any recent year
    county budgets, with the exception of the 2018 funding of $600,000 previously mentioned. All
    three current county commissioners signed off on the 2020 budget that did not address this huge,
    huge debt.


    County commissioners, as readers here know, have not issued any additional refunds since the
    single distribution of $300,000 in payments was made last year after the controversy surfaced in
    the media. Current commissioner Vince Vicites and the county solicitor told their pre-election
    audience last summer that the county had several years of payments "knocked out."  

    Again, however, no subsequent checks were inked and cut.

    "There’s got to be something done," Raymond concluded Saturday. We couldn't agree more!


    RAVES that Raymond got some help with his push for the misspent funds to be distributed to
    school districts and others owed for such a shamefully long time. Only the Laurel Highlands and
    Albert Gallatin districts have notified the county that legal action will follow if prompt payments
    are not made.

    RAVES of hope that the other districts in the county jump on the band wagon as well and hold the
    county leaders responsible for misspending the funds targeted for payments to school districts,
    municipalities and creditors. (28 JAN 20)

    The kids in the shiny red Honda
    RANTS, given the new law banning smoking and vaping of tobacco by those under 21, that there
    seems to be an increase in cars of teens parking on country roads, secluded private driveways
    and large parking lots where they think they can surely go unnoticed long enough to vape.

    RANTS, seeing how quickly in that couple minute park and vape session -- i.e., till an adult goes
    out and asks them to leave -- that the kids' car windows were covered inside from white vape
    film, even with some car windows partially or fully down.    

    It goes without saying, RAVES of hope that the kids are vaping nothing more the run of the mill,
    potentially harmful tobacco vaping products, and not black market street drug mixed oils, or
    whatever else goes in those vaping devices.  (23 JAN 20)


    Fay pays Z&A another $80K for audits
    RANTS that county commissioners are poised to spend about another $80K on audits to
    Zelenkofske & Axelrod, for 2019 audits for the magisterial judges and tax collectors and a 2018
    audit of the county prison's inmate fund.

    Fay's 2018 county audit released only in recent months, largely criticized the county controller
    and district attorney for poor management. The 2018 county audit pointed out stupidity at its
    finest example of not knowing which county contract is the current one and not following County
    Code which requires that current contracts be maintained on file with the controller.

    The 2018 county audit also was critical that audits of the county tax claim fund, district justice,
    row offices and tax collectors were not timely audited.   


    RAVES of hope this time around, though, that Fay doesn't pay for the audits a year or two before
    actually receiving the audit reports, as what inevitably happened with the long awaited 2018
    county audit that Z&A conducted. (15 JAN 20)

    Related Reading:
    http://julietoye.com/Audit_2018_Controller_District_Attorney_deficiencies.html
    https://www.fayettecountypa.org/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Agenda/_01162020-376


    Grand Jury to convene
    Neither a RANT nor a RAVE, but a note that the county district attorney wants to convene a Grand
    Jury to investigate criminal activity.

    Given the umpteen legitimate possibilities, and endless other topics which we may never have
    even considered to be issues, it's anyone's guess where he'll lead the investigation.

    We just hope that the effort makes Fay a better place, where new industry and business want to
    call home instead of avoid. (9 Jan 20)



    FBI: Uniontown second most dangerous PA city
    RANTS -- almost to the point of tears -- that the feds, in a recent FBI listing, officially cited
    Uniontown, Fay's county seat, as the state's second most dangerous city.  

    Only McKees Rocks, as per the feds' list, is worse off in first place, with rampant murders, cases
    of nonnegligent manslaughter, robbery, rape, aggravated assault, property crime, burglary,
    larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft, arson, etc.

    Not that McKees Rocks' crime stat numbers across the board were much higher than Uniontown's.

    McKees Rocks' numbers were lower in some categories, actually, but topped the Worst list due
    to having 3,000 less residents than Uniontown has, when crime statistics based on population
    percentages were calculated. The report, though just recently released, highlighted two-year-old
    data of criminal crimes brought through arrests and courts in 2018.


    Approximately 9,751 Pennsylvanians live in Uniontown, as per the feds, a city which saw a total
    of 136 violent crimes – 111 aggravated assaults, 22 robberies, two rapes, and one murder.
    Property crimes were significantly higher, coming in at 455, of which 369 were larceny/thefts.

    RANTS that the city, whose downtown streets were once this editor's comfortably safe 10-20 mile
    bike path at the crack of dawn, now made its way to the second worst city list in the state.

    RANTS that we're more likely to be a victim of crime here than we would in the big city of
    Philadephia. (9 Jan 20)  

    References:
    https://www.onlyinyourstate.com/pennsylvania/most-dangerous-cities-2020-pa/?
    fbclid=IwAR09IHIpldeR5IR93kcbnKTF-Zw9lgFuKatGENCQAEkVrBJxo-BhTx16cro
    https://ucr.fbi.gov/crime-in-the-u.s/2018/crime-in-the-u.s.-2018/tables/table-8/table-8-state-cuts/pennsylvania
    https://ucr.fbi.gov/crime-in-the-u.s/2018/crime-in-the-u.s.-2018/home



    Editor's Note: The below RAVE was written in the wee hours of New Years Day, carefully
    placed on hold till the strike of midnight as not to jinx the record as 2019 came to an end.

    Then, as the day started and shocked sources began relaying horribly tragic news, the
    below piece was quickly pulled out of respect for everyone whose hearts broke that day
    when Fay's first homicide of 2020 became known.

    Fay had no 2019 homicides
    RAVES reading heraldstandard.com's, "The news that impacted our communities in 2019," and
    learning the wonderful news that there were no homicides in Fayette County this past year.

    RAVES for no homicides, no false arrests for homicide in 2019, no 2019 homicide charges to be
    dropped for a lack of evidence months in the future... because in Fay there just were no 2019
    homicides, and we're tickled as pink for that. (1 JAN 20)

    WMBS radio news kicking newspaper butts
    RAVES to WMBS radio news for its live coverage of the heated Uniontown City Council meeting
    yesterday, during which the treasurer-elect, her lawyer and a bunch of angry townsfolk jammed
    the room, questioning why a councilman allegedly interfered with the treasurer-elect's process of
    getting bonded for her new position.

    The councilman, supposedly, made an inappropriate racial comment when he contacted a
    bonding company that then cancelled the newly issued bond in the elected woman's name.


    As a result of whatever their reason, council did not permit the treasurer-elect to be sworn into
    office, and, in her lawyer's opinion, violated law which  says that she should have been sworn
    into office and been given a required 14-day period to get bonded.

    RAVES to the radio coverage live stream of the meeting -- especially since some 24 or more
    hours later and the local newspaper right in Uniontown still has not written one word about the
    meeting or the court injunction that the treasurer-elect's lawyer is filing to have a judge override
    the city and install the treasurer-elect into office.

    RAVES to WMBS for making this council meeting video available online and for informing the
    public with a link for a first-hand look at what actually was said and happened. (7 Jan 20)




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