Sunday, May 17, 2015

On School-District Budgets

Connellsville School District may or may not have a $6 million budget deficit, which the former business manager may or may not have warned of in January. It's hard to say because the current powers that be say the numbers aren't accurate, but I doubt that.
The letter, dated Jan. 9, states that a “very preliminary review” of the budget reveals that the district will need to cut expenditures by approximately $5.9 million.
The district also imposed a hiring freeze.
“There’s not much you can do when you’re in the middle of the school year,” [board President] Detwiler said.
True enough, but another option, of course, would be to increase revenue by increasing taxes. Now, as a taxpayer (albeit not a Connellsville one), I know I speak for everyone when I say it's a plan I personally don't like. However, sometimes, it's a necessary one, as is the case in so many of our school districts. You can only cut costs so much--and this even applies to day-to-day life as individuals. You can't cut out necessities. Something is always going to cost money.
“It is not easy to find $6 million in cost savings when you consider, in context, the magnitude of this number, as it represents almost 10 percent of our entire annual budget,” Kisiel said on Wednesday.
Kisiel is a district resident and CPA, so he knows his shit. But according to the new business manager...
"It’s still up in the air, and it’s not $6 million."
And a tax increase would only raise about $360,000. I'm sure any little bit helps, but $360,000 is a far cry from the alleged $6 million needed. And even then, the school board would still have to approve a tax increase. And no matter how much it may be needed or how much a district might be in the hole, school boards (understandably) don't like tax increases...especially if they're going after re-elecetion. But the way I see it, a district's got to do what a district's go to do if it needs money. Again, cost-cutting will only get you so far.

The school board will meet to discuss the budget on May 26 at 7 p.m. A preliminary budget must be passed by May 31.

Godspeed, Connellsville business manager and school board.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Local historic farmhouse destroyed by vandals, probably

Give it up for the youth of Fayettenam!
A fire likely started by vandals gutted a nearly 200-year-old mansion in Fayette County that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The destroyed property was the Levi Springer House, built in 1817 as an inn for travelers along 40, which was ultimately rerouted. The historical society hoped it could've been renovated one day, although the cost to do so likely exceeded its value, and it's been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1982. The vandalism occurred early Tuesday morning.
“If you would have seen this place before, it was beautiful,” said Roger Victor, a former deputy coroner who for decades has kept tabs on the house while tending to a nearby county cemetery. “Somebody needs to be held accountable for this.” 
Absolutely. It's a shame that a historic mansion like this has been destroyed, seemingly because of some kids having fun. Fun doesn't have to be immature, irresponsible, and inconsiderate, kids!
Pointing to empty beer cans and aerosol canisters outside the smoldering building, Victor said the blaze likely was started by vandals. He said the secluded building, which is at the end of a dirt road outside Uniontown and not visible from nearby Route 40, has been a popular party spot for young adults for years.
I didn't realize partying in abandoned mansions was a thing people did around here, but I guess it's not surprising. I mean, I know it can be hard to find fun stuff to do when you're young and bored in the Nam, but it can be done without setting shit on fire. I speak from experience.

Commissioner Zapotosky, for all his flaws, had some harsher words:
“It was done by stupid individuals who should do more productive things in life than set buildings on fire,” Zapotosky said. “Somebody was there who shouldn't have been there, and this home, built in the 1800s, is no longer part of our rich history in Fayette County.”    
A fire marshal is investigating.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Men film erratic driver

UPDATE: After a commenter asked what happened to this driver, I did some Googling super legit research and found out. Turns out she actually fell asleep at the wheel after working the midnight shift, although as far as I'm concerned, that only explains some of her erratic driving, although I guess the rest could be attributed to inattentiveness as a result of said sleeping. Please, guys, if you're too exhausted to drive, call someone to give you a ride (like the FACT bus!), get some caffeine in you, or just don't leave where you are if you can help it. If you find yourself falling asleep at the wheel, in addition to the aforementioned suggestions, pull over. It's not worth risking your own or others' lives. Police actually say it's just as bad as drunk driving. The driver will be charged with minor violations.

This is one where you've got to watch the video to really grasp how terrible this driving is.
Two Fayette County men recording a bad driver in front of them are thankful they're not hurt after that driver caused a crash that involved their truck.
I've definitely seen some terrible, dangerous driving both in and out of the Nam, but this has got to be one of the scariest examples I've seen--the driver is weaving between lanes, often crossing over into the opposite lane and coming pretty close to causing an accident...until finally, she did, and the men filming her were involved.

The men suspect she may have been texting, given that she had her phone in her hand afterward, but there's been no official confirmation of this and an investigation is ongoing. It's a real possibility--and remember, texting and driving is incredibly dangerous, as this video proves if that's what was going on--especially considering the way the driver at times seems inattentive...and you think close calls would scare her enough to stop distracted driving. But given that the move which caused the accident in the end was cutting off another driver, I have a feeling we've got a double-whammy of not just distracted diving but reckless, careless driving, too. Look, I know people are impatient. I've had my fair share of angry beeping and shouting because I won't pull out right in front of people and risk an accident, and if you're one of those angry, impatient people, let this be a lesson to you--this is the cost of saving yourself a few seconds.

Now, some commenters have suggested that the men should've called the police. Honestly, of all the times I've seen horrible drivers in action, I never thought of doing that, and don't think I'm in the minority here. The only time it's ever crossed my mind was when it looked like a motorcyclist a few cars ahead of me was standing up on her bike, and that was only because as a kid, my parents called the cops on people pulling similar stunt driving down 119...and then circled around to delight in seeing them pulled over. But after watching this video, especially with a case this impressively bad, maybe we all should consider notifying police. Granted, making the distinction between bad and dangerous driving could get dicey, but I'm sure other motorists, as well as the police, would prefer keeping an eye on the driver rather than showing up to an accident scene later.

One final note on texting and driving, other than don't do it, you dumbasses--if you just can't bear to wait until you're stopped to send that message and you have an iPhone, Siri can do it for you. I'm sure we all know this, but in case you don't, it's very simple. Just hold in your home button until it beeps, tell Siri to text whoever it is you want to text, clearly dictate your text to Siri, ask her to read it to you when you're done and she asks if you'd like to send it, then tell her to send it.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Is Mike Wood Toyota ripping people off?

I've been suspicious about my dealings with Mike Wood Toyota ever since the ownership changed to Mike Wood--not only was most of the previous staff gone (I've learned since some were fired and others left willingly), but suddenly, my car couldn't pass inspection without hundreds of dollars of repairs put into it, not to mention that they replaced my windshield wipers only for the wipers to lose a chunk of rubber while I was driving down the highway. At subsequent visits to Mike Wood Toyota for other repairs, they've been asked to fix the faulty wipers--which are under warranty--and have failed to do so twice, and I unfortunately haven't noticed until I've driven away and been too far gone to turn back around and have them fixed.

My mom was suspicious, too, but on the other hand would say things like, "But it's never broken down and you've never had any other problems with it," and this is a hand-me-down that went from my grandma to my dad to me that now has 120,000+ miles on it. So my mom had a point, though we remained skeptical. But then came my brother's car.

My brother still lives at home--sort of. He's currently away at basic training, but my parents took his car--also a hand-me-down that passed from my mom to my dad to him with even more miles on it than my Corolla--for an inspection. Not only did an employee tell my dad that he could not ethically do what Mike Wood wanted him to, but he was also told that without $2,500 worth of repairs, including power steering fluid, power steering column, brakes, and more, the car wouldn't pass inspection. So they decided to get a second opinion from a family friend. That verdict? That the only repair it actually needed were the brakes, which could be done for 100 bucks. While I admire Mike Wood's employee for being unwilling to comply with his wishes over ethical concerns, I wonder how much worse it could've been considering they wouldn't let the car pass inspection without my parents dishing out 2,500 unnecessary bucks.

Needless to say, we won't be taking our cars back to Mike Wood Toyota.

But by the sounds of it, we're not the only ones. I've heard stories of things like people being told their air filters need replaced long before they should, even in the dustiest conditions, and other people being told fluid is leaking, despite none of the telltale signs of a fluid leak.

In fact, some of Toyota's previous loyal customers have jumped ship for Uniontown Honda, where previous Toyota salespeople moved.

All in all, it sounds like Mike Wood Toyota is charging for unnecessary repairs and lying to loyal customers to keep them away from trusted salespeople who have since taken their talents elsewhere.

While most reviews for the dealership itself are positive, Mike Wood Toyota does have some one- and two-star reviews, though very few elaborate on the customers' grievances.

This also isn't the first Fayette County car business to be accused of ripping off customers--we heard about it being done at Mr. Tire just under two years ago.

So, what are your experiences with Mike Wood Toyota, or even with Mr. Tire?

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Music from Fayettenam: Violet Rose

Connellsville native Cait Cuneo has a new musical project going on called Violet Rose, and she's released her first single, "Working Hard."

It's a pretty cool song, and I'm especially a fan of the percussion in it. Check it out below!

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Walk for Fayette Friends of Animals!

Spring is here! It may not feel like it all the time, but yesterday was the first official day of spring and Vinny's opened, so it must be true.

For me, this means two things: starting back up my walking routine and raising money for Fayette Friends of Animals while doing it. Yep, you can help the county's only no-kill animal shelter simply by walking.

With a simple app, you can raise money for Fayette Friends of Animals for every mile you walk. Just download the app WalkForADog and select "Pennsylvania" then search for "Fayette Friends of Animals" to select it as your shelter. Then start walking! I'm not sure how much money the shelter will earn, but it is based on mileage. Just open the app when you're walking and it'll track it for you.

If you're looking to get more active this spring, walking is a simple way to do it--my boyfriend and I walk a few miles every weekend on trails on in parks, depending on where we are. I recommend hiking up through Ohiopyle.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Shameless self-promotion

I'm plugging away at other writing ventures outside of the Nam, and the most recent fruit of my labors can be enjoyed now courtesy of Neutrons Protons. While it technically takes place in the Nam and features some residence, it's an essay that's not really about the Nam and is much more personal instead. Enjoy.

And remember, I'm also writing regularly elsewhere on the internet--for you Harry Potter fans, check out my work on Examiner. Music lovers, you'll want my AXS work.