The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

December 4, 2012

In Brief | Brockway English teacher honored as state’s best


Associated Press

HERSHEY — An 11th-grade English teacher from Jefferson County is the state’s 2013 Teacher of the Year.

Ryan Devlin of Brockway Area Junior-Senior High School was presented the award Tuesday by state Education Secretary Ron Tomalis in a ceremony to recognize excellence in education.

Devlin, 27, said in a brief acceptance speech that teachers must continually adapt to change, but the goal of producing well-educated, motivated students remains constant.

“We want to create students that are as innovative as Steve Jobs, as determined as Michael Jordan, as brave as Rosa Parks, as creative as Walt Whitman, as efficient as Henry Ford, as passionate as Oprah Winfrey and as kind as Mister Rogers,” he said.

He said helping students discover and pursue “their passion” in life is the most important role a teacher can have.

Pitt trustees give top administrators raises

PITTSBURGH – University of Pittsburgh trustees on Tuesday approved raises for seven top administrators that range from 3.3 percent to 15 percent for the coming year.

Chancellor Mark Nordenberg’s salary will increase 3.3 percent, to $580,000. He didn’t accept a raise last year.

Amy Marsh, the chief investment officer, got a 15 percent raise, bringing her salary to $405,000.

Provost Patricia Beeson got a 10 percent raise, bringing her salary to $374,000, while general counsel Jerome Cochran, chief financial officer Arthur Ramicone, and trustees secretary Jean Ferketish all received 3.8 percent raises. Their salaries now range from $493,000 to $216,000.

Arthur Levine, dean of the School of Medicine, got a 3.3 percent raise, bringing his salary to $787,500.

Death phase delayed for man in hitchhiker case

UNIONTOWN – A sentencing hearing for a death row inmate convicted of killing a hitchhiker for $13 in gas money nearly three decades ago has been delayed.

The Herald-Standard of Uniontown reported Tuesday that jury selection will begin in October for 56-year-old Scott Wayne Blystone of Fairchance, Fayette County. He was convicted in the 1983 murder of Dalton Charles Smithburger Jr., a mentally disabled man.

A federal appeals court in January upheld a lower court decision that Blystone’s attorney should have called mental health specialists as witnesses, who might have convinced jurors to sentence him to life.

The new jury will decide only whether Blystone remains on death row or gets life in prison without parole.

Court nixes lawsuit against alleged victim

UNIONTOWN – A federal appeals court has refused to consider reviving a lawsuit filed by a Fayette County man acquitted of charges he raped a woman in 2007.

Stanley Ohler Sr., 38, of Connellsville, sued in 2010, claiming state police in Uniontown, county prosecutors and his alleged victim made up allegations that he repeatedly raped the woman in her home. Ohler was acquitted in July 2008 after calling witnesses who said the woman made up the allegations.

The Herald-Standard of Uniontown reported a lower federal judge rejected Ohler’s claims of a conspiracy to frame him, and the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has now refused to consider his appeal.

Ohler is serving six to 12 years in state prison for an unrelated sexual assault involving a 14-year-old girl in 2002.

Vatican upholds closing of church site

DONORA – The Vatican has upheld a decision by Pittsburgh Bishop David Zubik to close a 107-year-old church over the objections of parishioners who appealed, citing its historic ties to the Slavic immigrants who built it.

The Pittsburgh diocese closed St. Dominic Church in Donora, Washington County, last year, saying it was too costly to maintain or repair and that Our Lady of the Valley Parish – which used the building as one of two worship sites – wouldn’t be harmed by the move.

Six parishioners appealed, but the diocese said the Vatican found “no canonical basis in law or in fact” to keep the church open.

Jesus figurine returned, but replacement is swiped

CHAMBERSBURG – A baby Jesus figure taken from a Franklin County church’s Nativity scene last year was found cradled in the arms of a nearby statue just hours before the replacement statue was swiped.

The vintage figurine was taken last year from outside Chambersburg’s Central Presbyterian Church. It was found Sunday in the arms of a bronze Civil War soldier statue across the town square.

A local business had replaced the Jesus statue when the Nativity scene was set up a couple of weeks ago. The Chambersburg Public Opinion reported that replacement statue was stolen sometime after services on Sunday.

School defends monument to Ten Commandments

CONNELLSVILLE – A Fayette County school district is defending a Ten Commandments monument on school grounds by arguing that it’s not promoting any one religion and was the gift of a secular fraternal organization.

Attorneys for the Connellsville Area School District have covered the monument in plywood until a federal lawsuit filed by a Wisconsin-based atheist group, the Freedom From Religion Foundation, is resolved.

School attorneys said in a document seeking to have the federal lawsuit dismissed that the monument was one of hundreds donated to schools by local chapters of the Fraternal Order of Eagles in the late 1950s.

Deep blue creek blamed on printing ink

CONNELLSVILLE – Ink that had been improperly disposed of is to blame for turning a southwestern Pennsylvania creek a deep blue color in November, state officials said.

The state Department of Environmental Protection said investigators followed a trail of ink on the highway from a house on the creek in Connellsville Township, Fayette County, to an envelope printing plant.

Officials said the plant had contracted with the homeowner to dispose of the ink. Some ink escaped and turned the creek an unnaturally blue hue.