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‘Good to be back home:' Athens grad returns to Valley as veterinarian

ATHENS — After traveling as far as Central America in her journey to become a veterinarian, a 2011 Athens High School graduate has returned to where it all began.

Abby Davenport recently fulfilled her dream of becoming a veterinarian, and all she had to do was hop across the Susquehanna River to the Athens Animal Hospital on Riverside Drive.

“It’s good to be back home,” she said. “It doesn’t really feel real yet. I usually came home during the summer when I was in college anyway and then go back to Ithaca.”

After graduating from Athens High, Davenport joined Cornell College for Veterinary Medicine, where she joined the FARVets program, which is a non-profit organization that provides spay and neutering operations, and other medical services, to other countries.

That experience led her to a seven-day trip in Belize, where she volunteered to help the Hopkins-Belize Humane Society.

Back home, Davenport interned at the Athens Animal Hospital as a vet tech, which helped her become more comfortable and have experience at the facility before officially joining on as a veterinarian.

“It helps that I kind of already knew everyone here from my time as a vet tech,” Davenport said. “I got the hands-on experience I needed, and they kept me on their radar when I went back to school.”

While Davenport called joining the Athens Animal Hospital a “right place at the right time” situation, she said she always knew she wanted to become a veterinarian.

“I’ve always loved animals,” she said. “And I always liked science in school, so it was a pretty good fit. I love the compassion for animals and getting to work with animals every day.”

Davenport noted that being a veterinarian in her hometown made the job even more special, as she often already knows the people and animals that walk through the door.

“I loved being able to come back here,” she said. “It’s more comfortable. I don’t have to learn a whole new area. I already have great relationships here because of so many people that I’ve already known for years. It’s important to have those relationships in this job, because people often see their pets as members of the family, and having that trust is big so people know that you’re doing the right thing.”

editor / Pat McDonald/Morning Times  

The Sayre Public Library held a special presentation called “An Introduction to the Mueller Report” on Tuesday evening. Local resident David Fortune presented an overview of the information in the document that Special Counsel Robert Mueller put together on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Copies of the complete Mueller Report were made available to the public following the presentation.

Pennsylvania's own insurance exchange coming next year

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Pennsylvania is moving to replace the federally operated with its own website to sell Affordable Care Act-compliant policies in a bid to get more people into it and lower their costs.

Gov. Tom Wolf signed legislation Tuesday after it passed the Legislature unanimously last week. The administration unveiled the legislation in June after lining up support from a wide range of business and consumer advocacy groups, as well as leadership in the Republican-controlled Legislature.

Pennsylvania let the federal government know of its intent and is preparing to submit its plans, called a “blueprint,” in the coming weeks.

Wolf’s administration expects to take over some of the marketing and outreach efforts for next year before it unveils its new website next year for enrollment for the 2021 insurance year.

It says it expects it can lower premiums by 5% to 10% for the 400,000 people who buy policies in the marketplace. Wolf’s insurance commissioner, Jessica Altman, said the savings can especially help the roughly 80,000 people who buy policies through, but whose incomes are too high to qualify for a federal tax subsidy.

A state that runs its own exchange gives it more control over it, health care policy analysts say. For example, a state that operates its own exchange can keep automatic re-enrollment, even if the Trump administration ends it in policies, thus making it more cumbersome for someone to maintain their policy from year-to-year.

In the meantime, the Trump administration has cut back on the marketing budget and funding for navigators, potentially depressing enrollment.

Pennsylvania, however, will take over that role and do it better, Altman said.

“There’s a lot of things that we can do when we have the data and we know about the people who are using this market to do it better,” she said.

It will have information about who is or isn’t enrolling and why, and be able to work with consumer advocacy groups to improve outreach “to make that marketing about Pennsylvania, make it Pennsylvania-grown, Pennsylvania-specific, and that’s going to make a difference,” Altman said.

To lower premiums, Wolf’s administration plans to use the savings from taking over the exchange, as well as extra federal reinsurance dollars that states can draw down. The money would reimburse insurers for certain high-cost claims.

Currently, the federal government takes 3.5% of the premium paid on plans sold through the exchange, or an estimated $94 million this year.

The state can operate the exchange for $30 million to $35 million, Wolf’s administration says.

After it qualifies for federal reinsurance funds, the state’s share would be about 20% to one-quarter of the reinsurance program cost, according to Wolf administration estimates.

Ulster home a total loss after Sunday fire

ULSTER TOWNSHIP — A fire that broke out on Sunday afternoon has damaged an Ulster home to the point where it’s considered a total loss.

The blaze started on the second floor and broke through the attic and roof of the home on Songbird Lane in Ulster Township.

The fire broke out around 2:30 p.m. Sunday, according to Ulster Fire Chief Josh Gardner. The rocky road traverses a steep hill and has numerous sharp turns and narrow passages that could only hold one vehicle at a time, presenting issues for responding fire crews.

When first on scene, the firefighters could not immediately reach the blaze due to the scene not being secure. Pennsylvania State Police were called to arrive and secure the location and did shortly after. A resident of the adjacent home said that there was live ammunition in the home that was reached by the blaze, setting it off.

It took fire crews an hour to put out the blaze, according to Gardner. A fire marshal is currently investigating the cause of the fire and had not made the findings public as of Tuesday evening.

The resident of the adjacent home said on Monday that the burned home was not insured.

The home is adjacent to another, larger home but luckily the flames did not jump to any other structures.

No firefighters were injured in the battle, but one resident of the home was treated for minor burns according to Gardner.

Ulster Township, North Towanda Township, Smithfield, Ulster EMS, Athens Township Fire, Memorial EMS, and Athens Borough fire crews were each called to the scene. Athens Borough was diverted during the call to a situation at the Towanda bridge, then transitioned to standby for the fire. Waverly fire crews were also on standby.

Staging Woodstock 50 a challenge, says upstate NY official

VERNON, N.Y. (AP) — A key local official says hosting the Woodstock 50 anniversary festival on short notice “could pose a significant challenge.”

A mass gathering permit application for the Vernon Downs harness track and casino in central New York was recently filed after operators of the original festival site pulled out last month.

Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente released a statement Tuesday noting the challenge of preparing for the health and safety of residents and concert goers with the event just over a month away.

The Woodstock festival has faced a series of setbacks, including the losses of a financial partner, a production company and original site, Watkins Glen International.

Vernon Downs has said they can host up to 65,000 people, far fewer than the 150,000 planned for Watkins Glen.

DPost / Morning Times Sports Department 

Sayre tops Susquehanna County in District 15 Elimination Bracket game

Waverly officials encourage businesses to utilize free paint program

WAVERLY — During a recent meeting of the Waverly Board of Trustees, village officials encouraged local businesses to take advantage of a free commercial paint program provided by Team Tioga of the Tioga County Industrial Development Agency.

“The purpose of the Team Tioga, 2019 Commercial Exterior Free Paint Program is to assist with the improvement of the overall appearance of commercial facades located within the downtown central business districts of Tioga County,” officials stated. “This program is being offered in partnership with Ahwaga Paints in Owego and Tom’s Hardware in Waverly.”

According to county officials, those businesses have agreed to sell the allotted gallons of exterior paint to approved applicants of the program at the base cost for each gallon. Team Tioga will then reimburse property owners once their project is completed and the proper documentation is supplied.

“These generous partnerships will allow funding to reach more applicants throughout the villages of Tioga County,” officials said.

Only the cost of paint, which is limited up to $1,000, is eligible for the reimbursement, officials noted. All painting of the visible facades, such as the front, rear and sides of a building, are eligible. No allowances are given for the cost of labor or any additional paint supplies — only the cost of the paint, itself.

Any projects located outside of the downtown areas of the villages of Waverly, Candor, Owego, Newark Valley, Nichols, and Spencer, or the towns of Barton, Tioga Center, Apalachin, Berkshire and Richford, will not be eligible.

Officials detailed the process as follows:

  • Applicant completes the one-page application. Applications will be reviewed and approved on a first come, first serve basis. The paint color, type and number of gallons/cost needed for the project must be determined. Paint must be purchased from the participating vendors, and colors must be chosen from a “historic color” palette and should complement the age and style of the structure.
  • A copy of the deed/proof of ownership and before photos of the building project must be provided.
  • Once the application review is complete and approved by Team Tioga, a voucher for the paint will be issued to the property owner for use with the vendors to purchase the paint and begin the project.
  • Upon verification of the completed project, an executed certification form indicating the amount of paint used, proof of paid invoices for the purchase of the paint that indicate the address of the project and property owner, and after completed photos of the project are provided, reimbursement will be made by Team Tioga.

For more information or applications, contact the county IDA at or (607) 687-8259.