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.
6-Arsons unsettling for Conneaut Lake area residents
A series of fires that occurred in the vicinity of Conneaut Lake Park during 2012 remains under active investigation by a Pennsylvania State Police fire marshal.
Although a suspect was arrested in June in connection with one of the fires, charges were dropped days before the trial was scheduled to begin in mid-November. A legal motion filed at the time by the Crawford County district attorney’s office noted that the case “lacks prosecutorial merit.”
More than half a dozen fires were under investigation at the time of the arrest; according to the fire marshal leading the investigation, “there have been other fires since then.” No other charges have been filed to date.
5-When will jobless rate show stronger improvements?
Crawford County’s unemployment rate hovered between 7 and 8 percent throughout 2012, raising and dipping only slightly from month to month, usually within tenths of a percentage.
For several years now, the jobless statistics have been high, taking a heavy toll on compensation programs and social-service distributions, as many people remain out of work or underemployed.
The Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry’s Bureau of Labor Statistics released Crawford County’s most recent numbers in October, estimating the seasonally adjusted rate at 6.9 percent, an improvement from the 7.7 percent in September.
In fall 2012, Crawford County saw fluctuations in the total number of jobs in the service and manufacturing sectors.
The majority of local employment fits into the manufacturing, health services trade and government sectors, according to state figures.
Unemployment rates for surrounding counties Erie, Venango, Warren and Mercer also fluctuated within tenths of a percentage throughout the year.
Still, Crawford County’s rates remain better than average compared to Pennsylvania’s overall unemployment rate. The Bureau of Labor Statistics released the state and national seasonally adjusted rates for November, approximated at 7.8 and 7.7 respectively.
4-Northstar the horse is badly burned, receives help
An unusual case of animal cruelty in Athens Township last summer drew national attention
Northstar, a 6-year-old paint horse owned by Jessie Woodworth of Centerville, was doused with a flammable liquid and then set on fire between 7 p.m. Aug. 25 and 6 p.m. Aug. 26 while in an Athens Township pasture, according to Pennsylvania State Police at Corry. The suspect in the case remains unknown.
Northstar continues to recover from sustaining burns on more than 70 percent of its body from the incident. The horse has had skin grafts to help heal its wounds and also has had stem cell therapy injections into its back to help stimulate new skin growth in the burn areas.
In November, horse enthusiasts held a rally and horse ride-in to raise money and awareness of animal cruelty.
Horse and animal enthusiasts rallied in hopes of drawing attention to what they see as a need to update Pennsylvania’s animal cruelty law to a felony level when the state’s new legislative session convenes in January. Currently, animal cruelty is only a misdemeanor offense in Pennsylvania.
n Tomorrow: Top stories 3 and 2.
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
See Monday’s Tribune for more.