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Athens man pleads guilty to eluding police in high-speed chase

TOWANDA BOROUGH — An Athens man plead guilty in Bradford County Court for charges relating to an high-speed chase that looped around the New York and Pennsylvania border that occurred on Feb. 6.

On Monday, 28-year-old Maxwell Harvey-Sampson plead guilty to one count of fleeing and eluding a police officer that was graded as a misdemeanor of the second degree.

The judge addressed Harvey-Sampson’s mental health and made sure that he knew what he was doing before making his plea and he indicated that he knew, according to Bradford County Assistant District Attorney James Nasatka.

The charges stem from an incident in Owego when Harvey-Sampson almost hit a police car head-on near the intersection of Temple Street on North Avenue.

Owego police said that they pulled his car over, but he took off and was speeding up to 100 MPH, which led to a pursuit from police in Owego, Waverly, Sayre, the New York State Police and the Pennsylvania State Police.

He ran through over 20 stop signs and multiple solid red traffic lights during the pursuit and he nearly rammed into a car on West Lockhart Street in Sayre Borough, according to the police report.

The pursuit went through Athens Borough, Sayre Borough, Athens Township and down North Main Street through Athens Borough a second time at about 80 MPH in a 35 MPH zone, said police.

He proceeded to cross the border into New York and as he turned left onto a street in Waverly, he rammed into a police car and caused both vehicles to go into a snowbank.

Police said that he locked his car doors, refused to exit and was forcibly removed from the car and he continued to resist arrest, which led to him being tasered by an Owego police officer.

He appeared to be in an “altered state of mind” and due to being tasered and having an “altered level of consciousness” he was brought to the emergency room at Guthrie Robert Packer Hospital, according to authorities.

The next steps will be the probation department will contact Harvey-Sampson and prepare a pre-sentence investigation report and then he will appear fro sentencing at a later date, said Nasatka.

Reporter Samantha Latos contributed to this story.

Sayre Fire Chief: Stay vigilant while cooking during Thanksgiving

As people across the country are getting ready to host their first Thanksgiving dinner after the COVID pandemic kept so many people home, local fire departments are also gearing up for one of the busiest days of the year.

From 2017-2019 there was an average of 2,300 residential building fires on Thanksgiving Day that cost not only millions of dollars in damage but lives as well.

“Make sure that you give yourself enough time to prepare it so you can cook everything at the appropriate temperatures. Don’t leave cooking food unattended, keep an eye on it,” said Chief Robert Repasky of the Sayre Fire Department.

With so many people in the kitchen on Thanksgiving it is no surprise that more cooking fires are reported on the annual holiday than any other day of the year. Along with more people cooking on Thanksgiving, Repasky said that many of them are also new cooks who rarely if ever cook anything else the rest of the year.

“You get more people cooking for the first time so sometimes that runs into issues … You need to pay attention. Don’t leave stuff on the stove unattended. There is a lot of stuff that goes along with the turkey, be patient and cook it right. Follow the directions, especially when it comes to the temperatures,” Repasky said.

According to the statistics compiled by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, cooking fires represent roughly 51 percent of all residential building fires — on Thanksgiving that number jumps to 74 percent.

Locally, however, Repasky said that things in recent years have not gotten too out of control.

“People have actually been pretty good the last couple years … I do hope (the good luck) keeps going, we want to enjoy our Thanksgiving dinner as well,” Repasky said of his fellow firefighters.

As a result of the surplus of fires on Thanksgiving, FEMA estimated that between 2017-2019 there was $26 million in property loss, 25 injuries and five deaths per year. The most dangerous time of the day runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., which corresponds to when many people are cooking.

While stovetop cooking was attributed with starting the preponderance of cooking fires on Thanksgiving in years past, turkey fryers are also of great concern. Recommendations from firefighting organizations across the country recommend that turkey fryers only be used outside and far away from any building or structure.

It is also key when using a turkey fryer to never insert a frozen bird and to only fry a completely thawed turkey. Along with the grease presenting a tangible threat of fire, even outside, caution should also be taken to prevent serious bodily injury due caused by the hot grease touching exposed skin. Therefore an abundance of caution is recommended and to slowly lower the bird into the fryer and to never drop it in.

“You can’t say it enough, if deep frying don’t drop (a frozen turkey) into a pot of boiling oil, thaw it out first. And make sure you are outside and away from anything,” Repasky said.

Other recommendations for staying safe during Thanksgiving include making sure that you have working smoke detectors and to make the kitchen a pet and child free zone.

It is also recommended to use timers to ensure food isn’t left cooking for too long, and to follow recipes appropriately and not to overstuff pots or the oven.

“Stay vigilant,” Repasky said.

Tioga High School Partners with Catholic Charities

Tioga Central High School announced a partnership with Catholic Charities that will provide special education students a chance to participate in a work-study program during the district’s board of education meeting last week.

Students will be able to work at a variety of places, including Diane’s Boutique and the Nichols Life Skills Cafe and Community Kitchen.

Some students will also serve as greeters at Catholic Charities, or work with TCSD’s maintenance crews.

“They learn a lot of life skills and work skills,” special education teacher Bill Stevens said. “The goal that we have is that students will prepare for competitive employment in the workforce in an environment that is safe and collaborative.”

The collaboration provides students with an opportunity they might not otherwise receive.

“It’s all stuff that can go toward real life that we cannot do in school,” Stevens said.

Students will work for two hours a day, two days per week and will “obtain work-based individualized coaching, instruction and feedback.”

The program got underway on Nov. 16, and will run through the end of the school year.

A presentation on agricultural education was also given during last week’s meeting.

Elementary students are now learning about agriculture as a part of regular instruction, with the agriculture department seeing students in kindergarten through fourth grade twice every six-day cycle.

The expanded agriculture education makes Tioga unique, as it is the only program in New York with an ag program for kindergarten through 12th grade.

“It’s an opportunity to build the future of our program and the future of FFA,” said Alexis Davis, Tioga’s agriculture instructor and FFA advisor. “They’re understanding what agriculture is and some basic life skills. They’re very excited to participate in FFA in the future.”

Currently, 146 students are enrolled in an agriculture class at the middle and high school levels.

Elementary students are currently raising baby trout and learning about their life cycle.

The eggs arrived on Oct. 4 and have since hatched. The trout will be released in Pike’s Creek in the spring.

Davis plans to submit a proposal to present the model at the national Ag in the Classroom Conference in June.

In other business, Superintendent Josh Roe said that Friday, Dec. 3 will be a remote learning day should the Tioga football team make it to the state championship, citing its importance to the school community.

If the team does not make the title game, it will be a regular school day.

The Tigers play in the NYSPHSAA Class D semifinal on Friday afternoon against Oakfied-Alabama/Elba.

Tickets must be purchased online at No tickets will be sold at the gate.