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Athens Township residents voice concerns over speeding on Clinton Street

ATHENS TOWNSHIP — A pair of Clinton Street residents attended Wednesday’s meeting of the Athens Township Supervisors to voice concerns over cars speeding on the road that runs from Elmira Street to Pennsylvania Avenue.

“It’s getting to be summer time, the kids are out of school and there’s more traffic around and we’d like to know when we’re going to see more police presence or any police presence on Clinton Street,” one resident said. “It’s really turning into a race way. The speed limit is 25 and very few people go 25 ... what do we do about the speeding? We need to address the speeding.”

The resident said she would invite Athens Township Police Chief Roger Clink to sit in her driveway to watch the cars speed up and down the road.

“Something has to be done. There’s no reason to put our money up to buy speed limit signs when they’re totally ignored,” the resident stated.

Athens Township Supervisor Chairwoman Kirstie Lake said she would speak with Clink about the issue.

Another issue brought up by residents at Wednesday’s meeting was the deteriorating roads out by Round Top Park.

“The road conditions are very poor ... we need some help up there. We’re dodging potholes, no matter what way (I go) — if I come from Mile Lane or if I come off of Round Top Road it’s bad,” a resident said.

Supervisor Sue Seck said the township is aware of the issue and looking into possible solutions.

“I was actually up there with one of our petroleum companies last week trying to get a game plan together ... we are looking at it, especially that area to try to do something,” Seck told the resident.

Johnny Williams/Morning times  

Peter Bertch, dressed in surgeon’s attire, stands next to his display during the Lynch-Bustin Elementary School Career Fair on Wednesday. Bertch was joined by approximately 90 other third-graders for the event, which invited families and friends to see the aspiring doctors, teachers, soldiers, veterinarians, police officers and more. According to teacher Claudia Chacona, the fair capped off the students’ efforts in researching what they wanted to be when they grew up.

Waverly officials looking for Barton to fix section of West Pine Street

WAVERLY — Village trustees are renewing calls for Town of Barton board members to look at what trustees call the “deteriorating and potentially unsafe condition” of a section of West Pine Street.

This week, trustees approved a letter signed by the mayor to be sent to Barton Town Supervisor Leon “Dick” Cary citing the village board’s concern with a portion of the roadway, which belongs to the Town of Barton, located above the upper section of Waverly Glen Park.

“The Village of Waverly remains concerned about the stability and safety of this section of West Pine Street, and requests that the Town of Barton perform a detailed safety and structural assessment of this section of road and provide the results of this assessment to the village,” the letter states. “The village is requesting a response from the town within 30 days of the date of this letter (May 28).”

The letter notes that village officials brought their concerns regarding West Pine Street to the town last year, but “the response at that time was that the town did not have any concerns about the conditions or safety of this portion of the roadway.”

Trustees also noted in the letter that the roadway will likely soon see increased traffic due to the renovations planned for the glen.

“The Village of Waverly is investing approximately $650,000 to refurbish and upgrade the Waverly Glen Park,” the letter said. “In the event of a collapse of this portion of roadway, the potential for damage to the park is high and would place the public at serious risk of harm.”

Attempts to reach Cary for comment were unsuccessful Wednesday.

Jen Rodriguez/Morning Times  

Eric Keir was awarded a plaque in recognition for his 30 years of service to the Borough of Sayre. Keir was a patrol officer in the borough for 27 years and has spent that last three years as the borough’s administrative coordinator. Keir is the second-longest current employee of the borough.

Waverly gets final approval for parking under Howard St. overpass

WAVERLY — Waverly Mayor Patrick Ayres announced this week that the village recently obtained the final approval needed from the New York State Department of Transportation to make parking improvements beneath the Howard Street overpass on Broad Street.

Parking has been a routine topic of discussion for the board of trustees for months as members looked for ways to improve parking accommodations for businesses and their customers, as well as community members.

And after mulling areas that included parking space behind the businesses on the south side of Broad Street, the prominent idea always circled back to the overpass.

While parking was always allowed beneath Howard Street, it has not been improved upon or prominently advertised as a parking area.

Subsequently, Ayres proposed that Trustee Charlie Havens work with the street department to look at exactly what improvements should be made to the area to encourage parking.

“Now, we need to make a plan to make it nice over there,” Ayres said. “Maybe adding more lighting, increasing signage — whatever it may be — and coming up with a cost estimate for that.”

In addition to assessing the parking areas in the downtown portion of the village, the municipality is also looking to perform an internal assessment of its own facilities, such as village hall, the Department of Public Works building and other structures.

“We probably have something like $20 million invested into our buildings here, but what do they need, if anything?” Ayres asked.

The mayor explained that the assessment would inspect the physical nature of the village’s facilities to ensure safety and security.

“Do certain buildings need more cameras? Do others need more lights? I honestly don’t know,” he said. “But that’s what I want to find out through these series of assessments.”

Ayres assigned Trustee Steve Burlingame — citing his experience as a Sayre Borough police officer — to work with Waverly Police Chief Dan Gelatt to perform the assessments.

Burlingame said he hoped to have the work completed by the end of June.

Mueller declares his Russia report did not exonerate Trump

WASHINGTON (AP) — Special counsel Robert Mueller said Wednesday that charging President Donald Trump with a crime was “not an option” because of federal rules, but he used his first public remarks on the Russia investigation to emphasize that he did not exonerate the president.

“If we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so,” Mueller declared.

The special counsel’s remarks stood as a pointed rebuttal to Trump’s repeated claims that he was cleared and that the two-year inquiry was merely a “witch hunt.” They also marked a counter to criticism, including by Attorney General William Barr, that Mueller should have reached a determination on whether the president illegally tried to obstruct the probe by taking actions such as firing his FBI director.

Mueller made clear that his team never considered indicting Trump because the Justice Department prohibits the prosecution of a sitting president.

“Charging the president with a crime was therefore not an option we could consider,” Mueller said. He said he believed such an action would be unconstitutional.

Mueller did not use the word ‘impeachment,” but said it was the job of Congress — not the criminal justice system — to hold the president accountable for any wrongdoing.

The special counsel’s statement largely echoed the central points of his 448-page report, which was released last month with some redactions. But his remarks, just under 10 minutes long and delivered from a Justice Department podium, were extraordinary given that he had never before discussed or characterized his findings and had stayed mute during two years of feverish public speculation.

Mueller, a former FBI director, said Wednesday that his work was complete and he was resigning to return to private life.

His remarks underscored the unsettled resolution, and revelations of behind-the-scenes discontent, that accompanied the end of his investigation. His refusal to reach a conclusion on criminal obstruction opened the door for Barr to clear the president, who in turn has cited the attorney general’s finding as proof of his innocence.

Trump, given notice Tuesday evening that Mueller would speak the next morning, watched on television. For weeks, he had been nervous about the possibility about the special counsel testifying before Congress, worried about the visual power of such a public appearance.

Shortly after Mueller concluded, the president who has repeatedly and falsely claimed that the report cleared him of obstruction of justice, tweeted a subdued yet still somewhat inaccurate reaction: “Nothing changes from the Mueller Report. There was insufficient evidence and therefore, in our Country, a person is innocent. The case is closed! Thank you”

While claiming victory, the tone of the president’s tweet was a far cry from the refrain of “total exoneration” that has dominated his declarations.

Mueller has privately vented to Barr about the attorney general’s handling of the report, while Barr has publicly said he was taken aback by the special counsel’s decision to neither exonerate nor incriminate the president.

Under pressure to testify before Congress, Mueller did not rule it out. But he seemed to warn lawmakers that they would not be pulling more detail out of him. His report is his testimony, he said.

“So beyond what I have said here today and what is contained in our written work,” Mueller said, “I do not believe it is appropriate for me to speak further about the investigation or to comment on the actions of the Justice Department or Congress.”

Mueller’s comments, one month after the public release of his report on Russian efforts to help Trump defeat Democrat Hillary Clinton, appeared intended to both justify the legitimacy of his investigation against complaints by the president and to explain his decision to not reach a conclusion on whether Trump had obstructed justice in the probe.

He described wide-ranging and criminal Russian efforts to interfere in the election, including by hacking and spreading disinformation — interference that Trump has said Putin rejected to his face in an “extremely strong and powerful” denial.

And Mueller called the question of later obstruction by Trump and his campaign a matter of “paramount importance.”

Mueller said the absence of a conclusion on obstruction should not be mistaken for exoneration.

A Justice Department legal opinion “says the Constitution requires a process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse a sitting president of wrongdoing,” Mueller said. That would shift the next move, if any, to Congress, and the Democratic chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, which would investigate further or begin any impeachment effort, commented quickly.

New York Rep. Jerrold Nadler said it falls to Congress to respond to the “crimes, lies and other wrongdoing of President Trump — and we will do so.” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has so far discouraged members of her caucus from demanding impeachment, believing it would only help Trump win re-election and arguing that Democrats need to follow a methodical, step by step approach to investigating the president. But she hasn’t ruled it out.

On the Republican side, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said that Mueller “has decided to move on and let the report speak for itself. Congress should follow his lead.”

Trump has blocked House committees’ subpoenas and other efforts to dig into the Trump-Russia issue, insisting Mueller’s report has settled everything.

The report found no criminal conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia to tip the outcome of the 2016 presidential election in Trump’s favor. But it also did not reach a conclusion on whether the president had obstructed justice.

Barr has said he was surprised Mueller did not reach a conclusion on obstruction, though Mueller in his report and again in his statement Wednesday said he had no choice. Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein decided on their own that the evidence was not sufficient to support a criminal charge.

Barr, who is currently in Alaska for work and was briefed ahead of time on Mueller’s statement, has said he asked Mueller during a March conversation if he would have recommended charging Trump “but for” the Office of Legal Counsel opinion, and that Mueller said “no.”

“Under longstanding department policy, a president cannot be charged with a federal crime while he is in office,” Mueller said. “That is unconstitutional. Even if the charge is kept under seal and hidden from public view that, too, is prohibited.”

Mueller, for his part, earlier complained privately to Barr that he believed a four-page letter from the attorney general summarizing the report’s main conclusions did not adequately represent his findings. Barr has said he considered Mueller’s criticism to be a bit “snitty.”