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Standoff suspect sentenced to 4 to 12 months in jail

TOWANDA — The Pennsylvania Attorney General recently wrapped up a pair of cases in Bradford County, including one involving an Athens Township man who holed himself up in his parent’s home and engaged in a 25-hour standoff with police last August.

William Paul Hudock, 20, pleaded guilty to three misdemeanors — possession of a firearm prohibited, unsworn falsification to authorities and possession of an offensive weapon — on March 7 before Judge Evan Williams III at the Bradford County Courthouse.

Hudock was sentenced on May 15 to an aggregate 4 to 12 months in jail, plus 18 months probation, a $400 fine, 40 hours of community service and mental health evaluation.

The standoff began after police were notified that Hudock had purchased a firearm — namely an Anderson AR-15 — on Aug. 3, even though an evaluation at Guthrie Robert Packer Hospital determined that Hudock was “severely mentally disabled and in need of treatment,” which would legally prevent him from owning a gun.

Hudock had been evaluated five days before purchasing the firearm from Elite Arms of Towanda, where he completed an ATF form and answered “no” on two questions — “Are you an unlawful user of, addicted to, marijuana or any depressant, stimulant, narcotic drug or any other controlled substance?” and “Have you ever been adjudicated as a mental defective, or have every been committed to a mental institution?”

Police then tried to serve a mental health warrant on Hudock after they learned that he had made statements about killing a security guard along with purchasing the firearm and several thousand rounds of ammunition.

Hudock had refused to exit the premises and told police through phone conversations that “he had the AR-15 by his side to protect himself.”

The Pennsylvania State Police S.E.R.T. (Special Emergency Response Team) squad eventually responded to the scene and forced Hudock from the home using flash bangs and tear gas.

Another case that was recently wrapped up by the Attorney General’s office involved 37-year-old Michael Agnellino, who pled guilty to simple assault, a second-degree misdemeanor and terroristic threats, a first-degree misdemeanor on March 4.

On May 15, the Barton resident was sentenced to an aggregate of seven years probation, 100 hours of community service, and for drug and alcohol and mental health evaluations.

Police explained that Agnellino broke into the residence of an ex-girlfriend in October of last year where he allegedly destroyed several items and then left before the arrival of officers.

Officers were again dispatched to the residence after receiving a report that Agnellino had broken in and assaulted the victim, police said.

At this time, officers were able to take Agnellino into custody as he was still in the home, police said.

When taking Agnellino into custody, Agnellino cursed at the officers and later became disorderly while in the holding cell at the Sayre Police Department building, police said.

Agnellino also allegedly threatened the officers, stated that if they “didn’t have (their) badges on, then (they) would be done” and “if (they) went up to his neighborhood, then (they) would be dead,” police said.

editor / Pat McDonald/Morning Times  

The Sayre Elks Lodge No. 1148 held its annual Flag Day Ritual at Howard Elmer Park on Friday night. A small crowd joined the Sayre and Towanda Elks lodges along with the Valley Color Guard as the ceremony went through the history of the United States flag. The event also featured a speech from Staff Sgt. Chris Seeley of the United States Air Force.

Johnny Williams/Morning Times  

State Rep. Tina Pickett on Friday teamed up with Mark Sandroni to put up flags on the state Route 199 bridge in Athens Borough in honor of Flag Day.

Making kids feel safer: Waverly school officials outline plan to help students

WAVERLY — Taking action following a recent student survey, Waverly Schools Superintendent Eric Knolles and Director of Curriculum and Instruction Liz McIntosh outlined steps that district staff plans to take to alleviate concerns brought by students.

According to the survey, approximately 35 percent of the students at the district do not feel safe at school, said Knolles.

“This survey dives deep and asks direct questions,” he explained. “This isn’t ‘safe’ in the sense that the kids feel like they’re going to get punched or that there’s going to be intruder. It’s not that kind of ‘safe.’

“This is more verbal or emotional,” Knolles continued. “Kids feel unsafe in that they think they’ll get made fun of for getting a question wrong, or teased or laughed at.”

Knolles said if students do not feel safe, it can affect them negatively in many aspects such as absenteeism, which is a chronic problem at the district that was also highlighted in the plan.

“Our goal is to decrease our rate of chronic absenteeism, which is the amount of students who miss 20 days or more in a school year, from 24 percent to 18 percent by next year,” McIntosh said. “Because, obviously, kids can’t perform well if they’re not in school.”

Officials stated that the district will try to accomplish those goals by increasing communication with parents and offering adult “mentors” to students.

“Every kid should have an adult in the school that they trust and can go to if they have a problem,” Knolles said. “Because it doesn’t matter as much that the kids are actually physically safe if they don’t feel safe at school. They’re not going to come to school if they don’t feel safe.

“I know some people were a little shocked when they saw how our kids felt, but that’s the reality of the situation. They kept it real with us,” the superintendent continued. “It all comes back around to them, and we have a lot of work to do.”

Hyland, residents talk about New York legalizing marijuana at Chemung meeting

CHEMUNG — Chemung County Legislator Brian Hyland stopped by the Chemung Town Board meeting on Wednesday night and spoke with the board and residents about the possible legalization of marijuana — and the impacts it could have on the county.

Hyland said he expects the state to legalize recreational marijuana within the next year and Chemung County will soon have a major decision to make on the issue.

“I’d like some input on this. As you know, the state is considering legalizing marijuana. That’s at the state level and there’s nothing the county can do about that. But the county does have the option to opt out of the agricultural aspect, growing marijuana, distribution and sale of it,” Hyland told the residents and board members on Wednesday.

“That’s something the county can control. Should we (opt out), then we don’t get any sales tax revenue that would be derived from the sale of marijuana. It’s going to come before the legislature and we’re going to have to make that decision at some point.”

One resident wanted to know the details on how much the county would actually receive from the sales tax.

“If the state decides to implement that, and yeah sales revenue is going to be generated from it, but what percentage of it is going to go to the county because to me there are going to be administrative costs associated with that,” the resident stated. “I don’t know if there’s going to be extra policing or what. The burden of policing and making sure everything is on the up and up, if it all falls back on the county, but you don’t reap any of the benefits from it ... it would be nice to know what’s in it for us.”

Unfortunately, according to Hyland, he and the rest of the county legislators are still in the dark on most of the specifics.

“I haven’t gotten the definitive answer on what the amount flowing back to the counties will be. I’ve heard everything from 50 percent to two percent,” Hyland told the resident.

If Chemung County decides to opt out of the production, distribution and sale of marijuana, that doesn’t mean the county will have no adverse effects from the state legalizing the drug.

“If Chemung County opts to opt out of those three elements, Broome County might not, Tompkins County might not, so they’ll profit from it and get the sales tax from it and we’ll have to deal with the issues,” Hyland said during the meeting.

Hyland said he would love to have more information before he and the legislature make up their mind on opting in or out of legalized marijuana.

“This is all, unfortunately, it’s loosely defined and we’re in a position where we have to make a decision before we know what we’re really dealing with,” Hyland said.

The longtime legislator has been spending his time going around his district to listen to the concerns of the residents on the issue.

“I’m listening to all my constituents. I want to see what their feelings are. Right now, the people I have spoke with are overwhelmingly opposed, but again I have only spoken at venues (like) town meetings, so I have to get out to more social events and talk to individuals, talk to the younger people and get their take on it,” Hyland said.