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Sayre ending summer with a bang

SAYRE — While few in the Valley are probably looking forward to the conclusion of another summer, Sayre Borough is looking to make sure it does not go out without one more big celebration.

Kicking off at 3:30 p.m. Saturday at Riverfront Park, the sixth annual End of Summer Celebration and Fireworks will look to draw families from all over the Valley and surrounding regions for one last bit of summer fun.

According to borough manager Dave Jarrett, this year’s event will feature nearly everything that the previous installments brought to the park, including lots of food, music and family-friendly fun.

“The Sayre Marching Band will kick things off at 3:30 p.m., and at 4:30 p.m., the Beatles-inspired band Dr. Robert will take the Foster Law Office Concert Stage for their performance,” Jarrett said. “At 6 p.m., the duo Smith and Baker will perform, and then at 7 p.m., the Memphis Mafia will play classic rock.”

The celebration, which last year drew thousands, will also include the return of some of the community’s favorite attractions and activities, including numerous local businesses, zoomobile, bounce-houses and, of course, a colorful fireworks display.

On an unfortunate note, Jarrett added that the tethered hot air balloon rides would not be returning to the festivities this year, as the owners of that business retired.

Nevertheless, the borough manager said the event is still growing, and this year’s celebration includes the addition of the Stop That Game Truck, a mobile entertainment center stocked with games for kids.

“We couldn’t do any of this without our sponsors, who continue to be very generous in helping us make sure this happens every year,” Jarrett said.

The event will also feature a “back to school” giveaway that includes 500 drawstring bags of school supplies being given away, and another giveaway that includes 50 backpacks.

Additionally, a dunk tank will be set up to raise money for the Sayre Marching Band. The newly-completed Diahoga Trail will also be available for walkers prior to the fireworks.

“There’s just so much going on,” Jarrett said. “There’s truly something for everyone — whether it’s games for the kids or someone being able to hear a song that reminds them of some good memory.”

Admission to event will be $5 per car and $2 per walk-in, with much of the proceeds going to help local organizations.

“Eighty percent of the car donations go towards our local fire and EMS departments,” he said. “Over the past five years, we’ve raised $15,600 for local community organizations through this event.

“I think once you really dissect all the connections this event has with different organizations and the community, there’s really not another one like it in the area,” Jarrett continued. “It touches so many different people, whether it’s helping our local businesses or giving kids the opportunity to see an animal or experience something they might not have ever experienced before, and it all helps a number of good causes.”

Jarrett added that the event has continually morphed over the past six years as organizers keep adding more and the community keeps growing the celebration.

“It’s just about giving the community a fun, family-friendly celebration that also helps our local businesses and community,” he said.

Jarrett noted that the borough is also still looking for volunteers and accepting donations to help with the event. More information can be found by contacting the borough office at 570-888-7730 or 570-888-7739.


AP
Trump insists US already has 'strong' gun background checks

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump insisted Tuesday that the U.S. already has “very, very strong background checks” for gun purchases in the latest sign that he is backing away from throwing his political support behind changes to the system that are opposed by the powerful gun lobby.

Speaking to reporters in the Oval Office, Trump also noted “a lot of the people that put me where I am are strong believers in the Second Amendment,” and suggested he worries about blurring the contrast between Republicans and Democrats on the issue.

“We have to be very careful about that,” he said.

A gradual rhetorical softening by Trump has taken place in the more than two weeks since gunmen opened fire in El Paso, Texas, then in Dayton, Ohio, leaving more than 30 people dead. Trump said in the tragedies’ wake that he was eager to implement “very meaningful background checks” and told reporters there was “tremendous support” for action.

“We don’t want people that are mentally ill, people that are sick — we don’t want them having guns,” he said.

But in the days since, Trump has changed his tone. He said Tuesday that, while the current system has “sort of missing areas and areas that don’t complete the whole circle,” it is overall “very, very strong” — even though federal law only requires background checks for guns sold through licensed firearm dealers.

And he said he worried about the potential risk of a “slippery slope,” where “all of a sudden everything gets taken away.” Just 11 days earlier Trump dismissed that very same “slippery slope” thinking, which he attributed to the National Rifle Association. “I don’t agree with that,” he said then.

The waffling drew anger from Democrats, including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, who said if Trump is serious about action he should call on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to put a House-passed background checks bill up for vote.

“These retreats are heartbreaking, particularly for the families of the victims of gun violence,” Schumer tweeted.

Republicans have refused to take up several Democratic-backed gun control bills that passed the House, and historically have opposed many efforts to strengthen the nation’s gun laws.

Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., who spoke with Trump last week, said the president expressed support then for working across the aisle “to come up with a background checks bill that can pass the Senate and save lives.” While he said he would wait to hear from Trump again directly, he compared the episode to Trump’s flip-flop on background checks following the Parkland, Florida, shooting after intervention from the NRA.

“It’s time for Republicans and President Trump to decide whose side they’re on,” Murphy said in a statement. “Are they going to stand with the 90% of Americans who want universal background checks, or are they going to once again kowtow to the desires of the gun lobby?”

Trump, who has reversed course on gun issues throughout his adult life, had insisted when pressed by skeptical reporters earlier this month that this time would be different because the composition of the House and Senate had changed.

But a senior White House official pushed back on the notion that Trump was backing away from support for legislative changes, noting that Trump has repeatedly voiced a desire to get something done.

The person, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations, said that the White House’s policy and legislative affairs teams have been discussing potential options, in addition to ongoing conversations with members of Congress led by Eric Ueland, the director of legislative affairs.

They also said “meaningful background checks” remain on the table, even after Trump spoke again by phone Tuesday with NRA chief executive Wayne LaPierre.

LaPierre tweeted the two had discussed “the best ways to prevent these types of tragedies,” and called Trump “a strong #2A President and supports our Right to Keep and Bear Arms!”

While two Democrats on the Hill described talks with the White House as largely stalled, others said White House officials have been engaged in continued conversations with Democratic and Republican lawmakers. That includes staff-level conversations with Murphy’s office since he spoke with Trump last Sunday, according to one Senate staffer.

“The White House has been very responsive to our office,” said Steve Kelly, a spokesman for Republican Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, who has long pushed a bipartisan expanded background check bill with Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia. “We’ve had ongoing conversations, at the staff level, with the White House regarding background checks both last week and this week.”

Republicans have been trying to build support for more modest measures, including so-called red-flag bills from Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., that would allow friends and family to petition authorities to keep guns away from some people. But those efforts are also running into trouble from conservatives, who worry about due process and infringing on gun owners’ rights.

Meanwhile, NRA spokeswoman Amy Hunter said the group “has always supported efforts to keep firearms out of the hands of criminals and the dangerously mentally ill” and “appreciates the president’s desire to find logical ways of accomplishing that goal.”

“However, even the most ardent anti-gun advocates would concede expanded background checks would not have stopped any of the recent high-profile shootings,” she said. “In order to reduce gun deaths, we must address the root causes of crime.”


editor / Photo Provided  

State Rep. Tina Pickett presented a citation from the Pennsylvania House of Representatives to Zachary Anderson of Athens on Sunday at the Sayre Christian Church. Anderson attained the rank of Eagle Scout on August 18, the highest advancement that can be reached by a Boy Scout. To fulfill the community service requirement, Anderson constructed an outdoor stage that is attached to the Sayre Christian Church’s annex building.


News
Woman jailed after fourth retail theft arrest

ATHENS TOWNSHIP — A 48-year-old Sayre woman is in Bradford County Jail in lieu of $25,000 bail after she was allegedly caught engaging in retail theft for the fourth time since 2003.

According to Athens Township Police, Tontalao Leawana Grover was charged with retail theft — a third-grade felony — and a summary charge of trespassing following her involvement in an incident that occurred at the Elmira Street Walmart at approximately 6 p.m. on Aug. 17.

Police said officers responded to the department store following a report of retail theft. Upon arriving at the scene, Walmart asset protection personnel advised officers that Grover had not paid for two pairs of jeans at the self-checkout station.

The store’s security camera footage also confirmed the store personnel member’s account, police said.

Police said the crime was charged as a felony because Grover had three documented previous retail thefts in 2003, 2006 and 2015. She had also previously trespassed at Walmart in 2014.

Grover is scheduled to appear before Magisterial District Court Judge Larry Hurley on Aug. 27 for a preliminary hearing.