Mayor Proposes Controversial Budget

Today Kittatinny, Pennsylvania mayor Gustavus G. Patykewicz proposed eliminating a police shift from 4 a.m. until noon, rising taxes and having residents pay for trash pickup as key points in the 2016 budget.
Patykewicz said, “I come to you with a heavy heart. These are not actions I take lightly. We are having a fiscal crisis in the city of Kittatinny and we must respond to it”

This year’s budget has a deficit of over $99,000. This largely stems from the closure of a blast furnace last summer at the Susquehanna Steel Corp. The closure decreased the industrial tax base by $103.8 million for the year 2016 causing the deficit. The proposed cuts have already started to raise controversy among the city officials.
The most controversial cutback is the idea of eliminating the police shift from 4 a.m. until noon. This means that there would be no Kittatinny police officers on duty during this time and the city would on a contract basis send emergency calls to the county sheriff’s office.

Police Chief Roman Hruska said, “I cannot stand idly by and watch a city of this size be deprived of regular police protection for a third of each day.” He also said “I think it is a hare-brained idea… and I don’t know what the mayor was thinking or smoking when he came up with this.”

Also two police officers are slated to be laid off and Hruska hopes to be able to save their jobs. He said that it is not a wise thing to do to cut officers at this time. It costs roughly $70,000 to employ each officer so that amount of money would have to be found in order to keep the usual police protection.

One proposed way to save the officers jobs and retain full police presence is to raise taxes higher that what Patykewicz initially proposed. The initial proposal was to raise taxes from 4 mills to 4.3 mills. What this means is at last year’s tax rate a house that was worth $100,000 the owner would pay $400 in property taxes. At the new tax rate the owner would pay $30 more. However, to solve the police problem, Patykewicz and Denelda Penoyer the president of the city council proposed raising taxes to a rate of 5 mills. This means a house that was worth $100,000 the owner would now pay $500 in property taxes.

Rising taxes to a rate of 5 mills would allow for the police to avoid the cutbacks and the normal police protection would stay. However, the main concern is that with many people still out of work that some simply may not be able to afford the increase.

Another cut that is being made is to the garbage collection. According to the mayor citizens are not likely to notice a difference in trash collection. Tioga Sanitation Co. will still pick up trash once a week; however, residents will be charged roughly $30 per month on their water bill. This would save the city almost $187,000 a year.

The proposed budget calls for a salary freeze of all city personnel. However, in order to help with the budget deficit all of the city officials we spoke with said that they would all be willing to take a salary cut if they could get all of the officials on board. Similarly Martha Mittengrabben the president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 644 and Bjarne Westhoff the president of the Pennsylvania Police Association Local 34 both said that they would ask their members to think about reopening their contracts in order to avoid the layoffs of two police officers and two other city employees.
Both Patykewicz and Penoyer invite citizens to contact them with any budget concerns they may have.

“My door is always open,” said Patykewicz.

The city council will be holding public hearings about the budget starting this week. A schedule will be released soon and there will be hearings on various days and times so that everyone can have their voice heard.

-Joe Kubicki

How Lauren Pfiefer came to be a top Warhawk Volleyball Player

If it’s volleyball season at the Kris Russell Volleyball Arena on the UW Whitewater campus, it’s likely you will hear the PA announcer booming, “Starting for the Warhawks is a six foot, junior, outside hitter from Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin… Lauren Pfeifer.”
But that announcement almost didn’t materialize. In fact, Pfiefer was almost a Blue Devil.
Pfeifer, a top college volleyball player, started playing sports when she was in fifth grade. In seventh grade, her mom signed her up for club volleyball, which is like a travel league. Pfeifer recalls objecting to playing club volleyball initially because her mom just signed her up without asking her. But after a little while Pfeifer says, she fell in love with it and her mom was forgiven.
Throughout high school Pfeifer was a three sport athlete playing volleyball, softball and basketball. Not only did she play them, she played them well. Towards the end of high school she had several college basketball recruits vying for her. Pfeifer turned them all down because conditioning was not her favorite thing and college basketball required a lot of it.
There were many times Pfeifer said she wanted to give up sports. Her mom kept pushing her and would always say that “one day it will all be worth it.”
When Pfeifer decided to pursue a volleyball career, instead of basketball, finding a place to play was not easy. She recalls sending out game film, inviting coaches to come watch her play, and even creating a Recruit Me page online. Eventually, offers came and Pfeifer says she looked at schools with winning records.
She settled for and signed with UW Stout to be a Blue Devil, turning down an offer from UW Whitewater. Thanks to a persistent coach at Whitewater, though, that decision didn’t stick.
With the help of one of Pfeifer’s high school coaches, Whitewater convinced Pfiefer to take another look at the campus. Growing up in Fort Atkinson, Pfeifer was familiar with the campus and city of Whitewater. But what changed her mind was a volleyball match between UW Stout and UW Whitewater. Whitewater won decisively and from there Pfeifer says, “Something just clicked” and she decided to come to play for the Warhawks.
Pfeifer has had great success as a Warhawk student athlete. She most recently was voted third team All American for the 2015 season as well as first Team All-Conference, and first Team All-Region. When she called her mom to tell her the good news and her mom asked “if it was all worth it.” Pfeifer agreed that it was all worth it.
She has also been very successful off the court.
Pfeifer is majoring in corporate health communication with the goal of helping people stay physically fit. She also is vice president of the Student Athletic Advisory Committee and the Warhawks’ Leadership Academy. Both groups help student athlete’s transition to Whitewater as well as assist with academics, community service and areas such as personal health.
Fittingly, the women on the volleyball team refer to Pfeifer as “mom” because she mediates people’s personal problems, helps with player’s academics, as well as strives to be a good role model. Pfeifer said, “I enjoy being the mediator and hearing both sides of the story and to help come to a consensus.” She does this to help relieve tension among the team which ultimately helps its success on the court.
Pfeifer has had challenges herself. The latest is a labrum tear in her hip. The labrum is a piece of cartilage around the hip joint. According to the Mayo Clinic “The labrum acts like a rubber seal or gasket to help hold the ball at the top of your thighbone securely within your hip socket.” The tear has been causing her pain all season and was discovered recently and may require surgery.
Still, Pfeifer who helps everyone else and is more worried about letting the team down by not being able to be there for offseason practices, than she is about her hip.
She says having a strong support system of her own has been the key to her positive attitude and success on and off the court. Team Pfeifer consists of fellow volleyball players and roommates Stacy Hasler and Tessa Weber, as well as her boyfriend, and, of course, her mom.
With offseason healing and a winning attitude, Pfeifer looks forward to once again hearing that welcoming announcement, “Starting for the Warhawks is a six foot, junior, outside hitter from Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin… Lauren Pfeifer.”

-Joe K