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General election could feature contested races for commissioner, DA

TOWANDA — The 2019 general election in Bradford County could feature a pair of contested races as write-in results from the primary have given some candidates new life.

In the race for Bradford County District Attorney, Chad Salsman picked up the victory in the Republican primary with 3,546 or 52.14 percent of the vote. Al Ondrey finished with 3,245 votes or 47.71 percent.

However, Ondrey received the Democratic nomination with 356 write-in votes, compared to just 100 write-in votes collected by Salsman.

That could set up a showdown between Ondrey, the longtime assistant district attorney, and Salsman, who currently owns his own law practice, in the general election. The big question is whether Ondrey will decide to campaign in the fall as the Democratic nominee.

In the race for county commissioner, Democratic write-in candidate Robert L. Stevens received the most votes in the primary. He will join incumbent Republicans Doug McLinko and Daryl Miller as well as incumbent Democract Ed Bustin on the November ballot.

The Athens Area School District will see some new faces on the school board thanks to write-in votes.

Kevin Rude received both the Democratic and Republican nominations for the two-year term in region two. There was no candidate on the primary ballot.

In region one, incumbent Chuck Frisbie will be joined by write-in winner Brendon Hitchcock, who got the most votes in both the Democratic and Republican primary races.

In region three, Lisa Braund picked up the most write-in votes on both sides and will join incumbent Kathy Jo Minnick on the board.

Renee Smithkors, who is the director of the Bradford County Election Bureau, said all write-in winners will soon be notified by mail and asked if they want to accept the nomination.

editor / Staff Photo  

Waverly’s Collin Wright competes in the steeplechase at the Section IV State Qualifier on Thursday. Wright won the event and has qualified for next weekend’s state meet. He will be joined by seven teammates at Middletown High School.

Canadian man convicted in deadly 2017 crash gets state prison sentence

TOWANDA — A Canadian man convicted in March of two felony charges in a 2017 DUI crash that took the life of a New Albany man was sentenced in Bradford County Thursday to 22 to 109 months in a state prison, according to District Attorney Dan Barrett.

Peter Joseph Kocher, 64, of Guelph, Ontario, Canada, was found guilty following a three-day trial in March in Bradford County Court of Common Pleas of aggravated assault by a vehicle while driving under the influence, a felony of the second degree; aggravated assault by a vehicle, a felony of the third degree; recklessly endangering another person, which is a second-degree misdemeanor.

The crash, which took place on Dec. 1, 2017, at the intersection of U.S. Route 220 and South Main Street in Towanda Township, claimed the life of Charles Keeney, 55, of New Albany, who perished seven days after the crash due to complications from his injuries.

Blood alcohol testing of Kocher that occurred 90 minutes after the accident determined his BAC level to be 0.145 percent, said Barrett.

Kocher was on his way to New Philadelphia, Pa. — which is two hours south of Towanda — when the crash occurred, Barrett said. Containers of craft beer were also found in his vehicle, Barrett added.

Kocher has been in the Bradford County Jail since his conviction.

DPost / Morning Times Sports Department 

Tioga’s Kindra Wessels fields a pop fly from the circle during yesterday’s Section IV Class C softball semifinal game.

Accused child molester facing more charges

TOWANDA — A Monroeton man is facing more charges in connection with a Pennsylvania State Police case that alleges he sexually assaulted his 8-year-old daughter.

Daniel E. Harbst, 28, is now facing six counts of rape, a first-degree felony; six counts of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse with a child, a first-degree felony; six counts of corruption of minors, a third-degree felony; and six counts of indecent assault, a first-degree misdemeanor.

Harbst was arraigned by Magisterial District Justice Todd Carr on Thursday and released on $50,000 unsecured bond. He is scheduled to appear at a preliminary hearing on June 5.

Following a four-month long state police investigation, Harbst was originally charged on May 9 with one count of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse with a child, one count of aggravated indecent assault, one count of corruption of minors and indecent assault.

According to the state police, the victim was interviewed at the Bradford County Children’s Advocacy Center on Jan. 27 and told investigators what her father had allegedly done to her.

The victim gave “detailed accounts as to what occurred,” police said.

Harbst also told the victim “not to tell nobody,” the affidavit stated.

After the interview, a rape kit was performed on the victim and a search warrant was issued for Harbst’s residence and to obtain DNA from the suspect.

Harbst refused to speak with investigators when they collected his DNA on Jan. 27.

The evidence was submitted to the Wyoming Regional Laboratory on Jan. 28, police said.

On March 11, a forensic scientist completed her report and the results verified the victim’s account.

The state police’s Forensics DNA Division in Greensburg confirmed on April 30 that the DNA did in fact match Harbst.

State police nab two in narcotics investigation

ATHENS TOWNSHIP — Members of the Pennsylvania State Police Vice Narcotics Unit arrested a pair of individuals as part of an ongoing investigation involving the possession and distribution of heroin on Wednesday in Athens Township.

Wesley Blake “Bama” Welborn, 26, and his girlfriend, Sarah Maryott, 21, both of Monroeton, were arrested at Walmart in Athens Township.

Welborn was taken into custody for a previous narcotics investigation involving the sale of heroin, according to police.

Maryott was arrested after leaving Walmart for an outstanding Bradford County domestic relations bench warrant.

Following Maryott being taken into custody, she was found in possession of drug paraphernalia along with assorted items of stolen property from Walmart, police said.

The suspects were transported to state police headquarters and their vehicle was impounded pending the preparation of a search warrant.

Prior to being transported to the Bradford County Jail, police said Maryott admitted to having several swim suits in her bra area that she took from Walmart.

On Thursday, a search warrant was executed on Maryott’s vehicle and numerous items of drug paraphernalia, syringes and suspected black tar heroin were recovered, according to police. Additional criminal charges for narcotics violations and retail theft will be filed at a later date.

Welborn was sent to the Bradford County Jail in lieu of $125,000 bail.