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Residents urged to spot invasive species

The spotted lanternfly has not yet infested Huntingdon County, but the state Department of Agriculture continues to monitor the invasive species across the state, offering advice on identification, prevention and elimination.

When asked about the rising concern of spotted lanternflies in Huntingdon County, state Department of Agriculture press secretary Shannon Powers said there is a need for concern from the community.

“It is absolutely an immediate concern,” Powers said. “They are threatening products (such as hardwood, hops, grapes and other tree fruits) at a time of tremendous growth.”

Powers asserted that online resources made available at pa.gov are instrumental in providing information to combat the insect.

“We recommend people use the online reporting tools to confirm their sighting is accurate and report it,” she said.

Several resources on pa.gov outline the life stages of the spotted lanternfly.

The insects begin as egg masses resembling small patches of mud placed on trees, rocks and any outdoor manmade objects. But once hatched, they go through five developmental stages, each with distinct physical characteristics.

The details of these stages can be seen in the “spotted lanternfly questions” pdf found by searching “lanternfly” on pa.gov, and sighting report page on agriculture.pa.gov.

Additionally, Powers said cars traveling to and from quarantined areas should be carefully examined by their owners to prevent infestation.

“Lanternflies can travel large distances by attaching themselves to automobiles,” she said. “Take caution if you choose to travel into any quarantined county.”

Quarantined counties include: Berks, Bucks, Carbon, Chester, Dauphin, Delaware, Lancaster, Lebanon, Lehigh, Monroe, Montgomery, Northampton, Philadelphia and Schuylkill.

Powers also recommended any identified Spotted lanternflies be eliminated.

“If (a spotted lanternfly) is identified,” she said, “make sure to squash it, too.”

The online document “Guidelines of the Control of Spotted Lanternflies,” also found on pa.gov, states that one of the most effective elimination methods is to scrape away egg masses before they hatch. This can be done using any hard or rigid tool.

As it is unknown if eggs scraped onto the ground can survive, the document recommends egg masses be scraped into a container of rubbing alcohol or hand sanitizer.

Anyone who believes they have identified spotted lanternflies or egg masses are encouraged to call 1-888-422-3359 or visit agriculture.pa.gov to report the sighting.

Voter deadline set for Monday

For those who waited until the last minute to register to vote, there’s still time, as the last day to register to vote is Monday, Oct. 7.

Tammy Thompson, county elections coordinator, said there’s been a steady stream of people who have registered to vote, but she noted there are two ways people can do it, including getting a form at her office or by registering online through the state Department of State website.

“If they’re mailing an application, it has to be postmarked by Oct. 7,” said Thompson. “But, if anyone registers after Oct. 7, that voter registration won’t be processed until after the election.”

So, if folks want to register online Oct. 7, as long as they do it on that date, they will be registered to vote in the upcoming municipal election Tuesday, Nov. 5.

Thompson also wanted to remind people there are other deadlines coming up ahead of the November election.

“The last day to apply for an absentee ballot would be Tuesday, Oct. 29,” she said, adding that those who want to apply for an absentee ballot can either apply in her office or online through the state Department of State website.

“I know that through the website, they time stamp those not just with the date, but he actual time and date the application was processed,” said Thompson.

The last day for an absentee ballot to be received at the election office, located on the second floor of the Bailey Building, is Friday, Nov. 1.

“If anyone is completing an absentee ballot, that’s the most important thing to remember,” she said. “If we receive them after that date, we can’t accept them.”

Since applying for an absentee ballot only became available as of Sept. 16, Thompson said she’s seen a few online applications, but most people still stop by the office to pick up and fill out applications for them.

Before Election Day, Thompson encourages those who are voting for the first time, or have just move to different precincts, to check to see where they’re voting precinct is.

“They can always call here and check,” she said. “When people move, generally, PennDOT will ask them to update when they change their address, but if they don’t, they can do it through our office to make sure they’re registered to vote with their proper precinct.”

Also, those who are voting for the first time, or voting in a new precinct for the first time, need to make sure they have proper ID to vote on Election Day.

“That’s required if voting for the first time or in a new precinct,” said Thompson.

For any more questions about voter registration or election-related information, contact Thompson at 643-3091.

Recreational marijuana bill proposed

This past Monday, state Rep. David Delloso proposed a bill that would legalize the sale of marijuana in the state’s liquor stores.

The bill would amend a bill from 1951 for the vending of alcohol to include the sale of cannabis.

State Sen. Judy Ward, a Republican representing the 30th Senatorial District in Pennsylvania, is not in favor of the bill.

“I’d be a strong, hard no on legalization,” said Ward. “Obviously, I have people on both sides of the issue, but I’d say the majority of my constituents don’t want legalization.”

The bill was proposed in the wake of Gov. Tom Wolf coming out in support of the legalization of marijuana, citing a significant increase in tax revenue for the Commonwealth, after a report from the Lt. Governor John Fetterman was released following a tour of the state in which the evidence suggests that a majority of Pennsylvanians would approve the legalization of cannabis for adult use.

“It would not be a good thing for Pennsylvania. We already have an opioid problem we’re trying to combat, and you’re going to legalize marijuana? I’m really troubled that the lieutenant governor and the governor would want to legalize recreational marijuana,” said Ward.

The bill would require people to be 21 years or older and show legal proof of their age to purchase, and driving under the influence of cannabis would be illegal.

“I know the lieutenant governor and the governor have looked at this as a revenue making aspect, but what you do not see is the cost that would have as far as our judicial services and broken families and things of that nature,” said state Rep. Rich Irvin.

While Irvin believes the recreational use of marijuana would have a negative impact on the state, he does see the value in the medical use of marijuana.

“I really do not believe it would be good for the Commonwealth. Over the last four or five years that I’ve been in office, we’ve legalized medical marijuana and industrial hemp. A lot of people gave me pushback for supporting the medical marijuana bill, but people I talked to started to realized that it truly helps people who are in severe pain.

The bill seems unlikely to pass, as the of support in legislature for the bill comes primarily from members of the Democratic Party, while the majority of Pennsylvania legislators are Republicans.

Eleven states have legalized the recreational use of marijuana to date: Alaska, California, Colorado, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont and Washington, as well as the District of Columbia.

Nathan can be reached at nwoods@huntingdondalynews.com.

Kylie Hawn / Photo by REBECCA BERDAR  

Brentley Leonard teamed up with the Mount Union Art Guild to paint pumpkins for Halloween during the final First Friday ArtsFest of the season. Brentley was joined at the painting station by little sister Kalli and grandmother Tammy Jury, plus brother Brayden. First Friday ArtsFest, coordinated by Open Heart of Mount Union and held downtown Mount Union, will resume its monthly schedule in May.

Archery season underway

Hundreds of hunters across Huntingdon County will already be out in the woods, bow in hand, early this morning.

Pennsylvania’s archery season for deer begins today, Oct. 5, and will end on Saturday, Nov. 16.

Al Zellner, a conservation administration supervisor for the state Game Commission’s south central region office, said the recent warm weather isn’t going to negatively impact hunting.

“Rut isn’t affected by heat like some people think. It’s not the cold, but it’s the lack of light that affects rutting,” he said. “This past month has been pretty bright and sunny. But, it has been pretty dry lately, so water is going to be an issue. If you can locate a water source, that will be a good place to ambush a deer though.”

This year’s acorn mast hasn’t been out of the ordinary, and prospects look good for hunters.

“Actually, in some areas, it was slight; it’s pretty steady and normal this year. A lot of the acorns are down this year, so the deer are out of the fields and in the woods. Where you have acorns you’ll have deer there,” said Zellner. “We’ve gotten some calls from folks who have seen some good bucks.”

Hunters are permitted one antlered deer per hunting license, and one antlerless deer per antlerless license.

R&J Outdoors in Mill Creek has been seeing more business in recent weeks, as one would expect, repairing and selling bows.

“Compared to last year it’s been busier,” said Rudy Swarey, the owner of R&J Outdoors.

He said many of the hunters coming into his store seem to prefer bow hunting season because “it’s a little more of a challenge”.

Dylan Fultz, from Mill Creek, stopped into R&J Outdoors Friday to tune up his bow and said he does prefer the extra skill needed during archery season.

“Absolutely,” he said. “Guns make it a lot easier to kill a deer.”

Fultz said he was excited for the season to start.

“There’s something about sitting outside in the fall weather.”

To date, hunting in Pennsylvania on Sundays is restricted solely to foxes, coyotes and crows.

Nathan can be reached at nwoods@huntingdondalynews.com.