The city of Kittatinny, Pennsylvania prepares for budget cuts after Susquehanna Steel Corporation closes down a branch; laying off 600 workers. Mayor Gustavus G. Petykiewicz releases his proposed budget to the public for the first time during a news conference on October 4, 2016.
The mayor took questions on the proposed budget along with: Police Chief, Roman Hruska, President of City Council Denelda Penoyer, Martha Mittengrabben the president of AFSCME, and Bjarne Westhoff the president of Pennsylvania Police Association Local 34.
A few changes on the proposed budget make the citizens of Kittatinny uneasy for their future and the conference was designed to hear those concerns. “It is with a heavy heart that I propose this new budget for our beloved Kittatinny, said Petykiewicz. The proposed budget will raise the city tax rate from 4 mills to 4.3 mils because of the loss of $100 million taxable property.
The budget also proposes a reduction from 10 police officers to eight which has caused some friction between the mayor and the police chief. The mayor plans to raise fees on meter parking and parking permits around the city to make up for money lost. “Tickets are not meant to generate cash for the city and I do not agree with some of the proposed cuts and raises the mayor has put into his budget,” said Police Chief, Hruska.
Hruska has even offered to take a 10% pay cut along with the mayor if it will save jobs in the community. Kittatinny police officers are not the only ones who will be making cuts in their offices. Two AFSCME personnel; one from the city clerk’s office and one from the city engineer’s office, will not be offered a renewal contract in 2018.
“It is our job to protect the interest of our members and our city must sacrifice together in order to rebuild itself,” said Martha Mittengrabben. The closing of this branch has caused the city to make sacrifices and cuts where they feel losses can be made.
The proposed budget also takes away the tax levy that pays for garbage pickup and will now be added into each citizen’s water bill each month. “There will be people who will not be able to afford living here anymore and will move away because of the high costs,” said Denelda Penoyer, President of City Council.
The loss of 600 jobs in a city that depended on this corporation forces major changes and in many ways a brand new Kittatinny. It won’t be easy and the mayor has to get approval from the city council before this budget can be put through in January; but Kittatinny has to remake itself to become strong again.
The mayor encourages citizens to contact him with further concerns about the budget. Kittatinny has to make some cuts in order to survive, and must work as a community during this time of great loss.
October 18th, 2016
The leaves are changing, the air is crisp, and campus is swarming with families in royal purple. October is an eventful time for UW-Whitewater and Family Fest is a campus wide event that every Warhawk looks forward to. Family Fest brings together each Warhawk family for food, football, and lots of fun. This year Family Fest broke an all time record of 17,535 Warhawk families to cheer on our division III football team.
“Family Fest is a great experience if you are in a fraternity, but it also holds a lot of responsibility,” said Jake Mikolajczyk, president of Delta Chi Fraternity. Mikolajczyk is in charge of promoting Delta Chi and showing each parent what their son is a part of. As president it is his job to make sure his brothers are representing their fraternity well, and Family Fest is the best way for parents to feel involved with any student that is involved in an organization. Delta Chi set up for tailgating and welcomed Family Fest with open arms.
Sororities and fraternities aren’t the only ones that liked to get involved when Family Fest rolls around. UW-Whitewater has plenty of staff that like to show off their school spirit and encourage parents to partake in Family Fest activities. Todd Davis is an RA in Clem/Benson dormitory and Family Fest is a hectic day for any RA. “Family fest is a lot like running around like a chicken with its head cut off, but it is really fun organizing and meeting my residents parents,” said Davis. As an RA Family Fest is a little less about school spirit and a little more about making our school presentable. Davis was sad because he didn’t get to attend the game, but he could hear the crowd from the dorms. “It was amazing to see how many parents showed up for Family Fest and the excitement everyone had for the day’s activities,” said Davis. Our campus is truly blessed to have faculty that help organize any event; even in the smallest of ways.
As the day came to an end and Warhawk families left Perkins Stadium to get dinner or say their goodbyes; some students had to stay behind to clean up. This Family Fest had a record number of Warhawk families, and that can only mean twice the mess to clean up. The AMA organization had volunteers to clean up the parking lot where everyone had tailgated. This is a job for the brave and the hard working student, and Family Fest is viewed a little differently if you’re cleaning up the trash. “There were wrappers and cans all over the parking lot, but it was nice to hear all the Warhawk families cheering on our football team as they made their last comeback at the end,” said Kyle Kogler, member of AMA. Kogler wanted to join his friends at the game, but decided Family Fest could be a good way to earn volunteer hours for his degree. “I would have prefered being with my friends, but in some ways I still got to enjoy a small part of Family Fest,” said Kogler.
Each student has their own experience, but that is what makes Family Fest so exciting and brings our campus together as a community. A lot of work and preparation goes into Family Fest each year, and it only gets bigger and better each year.
Family Fest isn’t just for the parents, but it brings everyone together to be a part of the Warhawk family; even if for a day. Fall might be a time of books and classes, but it never hurts to show a little school spirit. Family Fest makes everyone want to bleed purple.
October 18th, 2016
His eyes were warm and he sat as straight as a board. His face was weathered with many years of laughter and wisdom. Daniel Gardner had seen things that still haunted his dreams, and would stay with him forever.
Gardner moved around a lot in his early childhood before his family finally settled in Lawrenceville, Illinois. His father flew for Delta Airlines and Gardner always knew that he wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps.
Gardner graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Platteville and began his career as a pilot. He worked his way up the ranks and soon was hired at Midwest Airlines.
Midwest Airlines eventually was bought out and laid off many pilots. Gardner was a captain for Midwest Airlines and was one of the last to be laid off in 2008. Aviation jobs were hard to come by and Gardner had a wife and three kids to provide for. He was willing to do anything to provide for his family, but never guessed his determination would take him overseas.
Gardner worked as a substitute teacher before he was approached by an aviation company that contracted pilots through the Army. “I was told my contract was top secret and the Army pays their pilots very well because of how risky the missions would be,” said Gardner.
Gardner signed a contract to fly with the Army on top secret missions. He would spend a total of nine months in Afghanistan, and had very little contact with the outside world.
“The first time I set foot on the dusty terrain a missile had just hit the outskirts of the airport and all hell was breaking loose,” said Gardner. He spoke about his experience with a lot of bravery and courage. Gardner took this job as a last resort, and it turned out to be one of the most thrilling times of his life.
“Each tour was different from the first, and I saw things that will always haunt me, but I never really remember being scared,” said Gardner. His missions were never the same and the Army men and women he worked with were constantly on the move.
The missions were not decided until the day or night the pilots were leaving in order to keep each contractor safe. Gardner was on his last tour in Afghanistan when a missile was launched into his camp and injured many of the military men and women based there.
In 2012 Gardner was offered another contracting job for double the money, but turned it down. After having a missile blow up in his camp, he decided that it was in his and his family’s best interest to end this chapter of his life.
“I look back now and realize how dangerous being in Afghanistan was, and I think I never really understood the hate that resides with the people there,” said Gardner. He never felt like a hero, but felt more like a guardian to the real heros; the military men and women.
Each day Gardner wakes up feeling blessed because he lives in a country that is free. Being in a place with so much fighting made him realize that we take the small things for granted. Gardner’s work in Afghanistan has come and gone, but it is a small adventure in his life that will live on forever.
September 27th, 2016
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September 14th, 2016