The Meadville Tribune continues its review of the top Crawford County news stories of 2012. It’s likely that all of the stories are familiar to Tribune readers, and more than 100 of you took part in helping to limit the list of headlines to just 15, then choose their order of importance to the community.
We started with the story rated number 15 on Friday, and will proceed through the list to number one, the story voted as most important of the year, in Tuesday’s Tribune.
3-Gas drilling comes to county
Natural gas drilling activity within the Utica Shale rock formation in Crawford County began this past summer with the drilling of an unconventional natural gas well near Cochranton and a second well this fall near Atlantic.
The Marcellus and Utica shale regions extend through New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia, Ohio and portions of Kentucky and Tennessee. They are important geologic formations because they hold large reserves of oil and natural gas.
Utica and Marcellus shale gas wells are considered unconventional since they are drilled both vertically then horizontally to get into the gas pockets. Natural gas from the Marcellus and Utica shales is valuable not only for the natural gas itself, but for conversion of liquids in the rock into other hydrocarbons used in plastics and other industries.
The Marcellus Shale is at a depth of about 5,000 feet while the Utica Shale is at a depth of about 7,000 to 8,000 feet. Crawford County has more of a prevalence of the Utica Shale formation.
Most of the natural gas well drilling activity in the Marcellus and Utica shales has been taking place either south or east of Crawford County — in southeast Ohio and southwest Pennsylvania, and in northeast Pennsylvania.
Range Resources of Fort Worth, Texas, commenced work on its Lippert Unit #1H Well off Pettis Road in East Fairfield Township, outside of Cochranton, in late June.
Range Resources was issued a permit for the well, the first Marcellus or Utica shale permit issued for Crawford County, by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Resources’ northwest regional office in Meadville on June 5.
On Nov. 20 the regional DEP office issued a permit to SWEPI LP for its Byler 2083 4HD Well off County Line Road in East Fallowfield Township, south of Atlantic. SWEPI LP is a limited partnership with Shell Energy Holdings its general partner.
But the Lippert and SWEPI wells aren’t the only potential Utica Shale wells in Crawford County.
Range Resources has plans for another potential Utica Shale well in Greenwood Township while Halcon Resources of Houston, Texas, has proposed one in North Shenango Township, but no additional permits have been approved by DEP as yet.
With an eye toward anticipated increased in natural gas drilling activity within the county, Crawford County commissioners this summer approved formation of an oil and gas task force.
The task force set up various subcommittees to meet on topics as environment, economic development, public safety, infrastructure and roads, and education and outreach.
Commissioners said they formed the task force to assess the influx of additional people and a potential economic boom if natural gas drilling takes off within the county.
“It impacts infrastructure like roads, planning, jobs, housing, social services and even jails,” Commissioner Jack Lynch, head of the task force, said at the time of its formation. “There’s nothing it doesn’t touch. Maybe it doesn’t touch every single individual, but ultimately it will (touch every aspect of life).”
2-Remains of Korean soldier Chester Williams returned, laid to rest
The family of Korean War veteran and Army Sgt. Chester L. Williams as well as local Prisoner of War/Missing in Action (POW/MIA) supporters received some closure when Williams’ remains arrived in Meadville in late September — more than 60 years since his passing.
A funeral with full military honors was observed at Robert W. Waid Funeral Home on Sept. 30 for the local war hero who went missing in action in North Korea on Dec. 6, 1950, and died of exposure in a prison camp later that month at the age of 32.
A police-escorted public motorcycle processional escorted Williams’ remains along Interstate 79 to the funeral home.
“It’s out of respect,” said Richard Rogers of the Guardian Vets Motorcycle Club.
Williams was buried in Greendale Cemetery, Meadville, assisted by an honor guard of pallbearers from the Veterans of the Vietnam War Post 52.
“We welcome this family who suffered for 62 years,” said Jerry Coward, vice commander of the Veterans of the Vietnam War Post 52, who spoke in Williams’ honor at the 15th annual Ride for Freedom memorial vigil on Sept. 22. “There’s no reason to not account for every man and woman who goes off to war.”
Among the family members in attendance were Williams’ nephew, Clifford, one of the only remaining relatives who knew him, and great-niece Melody Bush. The family was overwhelmed with the news of their ancestor coming home.
“The little ones have tears in their eyes,” said Bush. “They’re going to learn everything about him to keep his memory alive for generations.”
Williams, a Conneaut Lake native, was part of the 31st Regimental Combat Team known as Task Force Faith that was fighting in North Korea, according to Maj. Carie Parker, spokeswoman for the Department of Defense POW/MIA Personnel Office.
The unit was reportedly advancing along the eastern banks of the Chosin Reservoir in North Korea in late November 1950 when it came under attack.
Task Force Faith began a fighting withdrawal to positions near Hagaru-ri, south of the reservoir, but Williams went missing during the withdrawal. In 1953, returning Americans who had been held as prisoners of war reported Williams had been captured by Chinese forces and died as a result of exposure to the elements, Parker said.
Between 1991 and 1994, North Korea gave the U.S. 208 boxes believed to contain the remains of 200 to 400 U.S. service members. North Korean documents turned over with some of the boxes indicated that some of the human remains were recovered from the area where Williams was last scene, according to Parker.
In the identification of the remains, scientists from the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory reportedly used circumstantial evidence and forensic identification tools, such as radiograph, dental records and mitochondrial DNA, which matched Williams’ nephew and grand-nephew.
The Department of Defense POW/MIA Personnel Office stated that with modern technology, identifications continue to be made from remains previously turned over by North Korean officials.
TOP STORIES OF 2012
15 - Naming rights to Second District School
14 - Voter ID confusion reported
13 - Courthouse security revamped
12 - Work begins on county’s Talon site
11 - Texas Twins drug runners caught
10 - Meadville’s financial woes
9 - Meadville to get stormwater fee
8 - School budgets need
7 - ‘Year of homicides’ in county
6 - Conneaut Lake area arsons
5 - Jobless rate shows no improvement
4 - Northstar the horse burned, helped
3 - Gas drilling comes to county
2 - Korean soldier’s remains come home
See Tuesday’s Tribune for top story of 2012