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Star-Courier The

M AI NLI NE newspapers

Chronic Wasting Disease has another possible cause

Vol. 123 No. 10

USPS 044-380

By Jack Thompson

of Mainline Newspapers

Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), sometimes known as "zombie deer disease," remains a hot button issue for hunters and politicians in Pennsylvania. Unfortunately, the disease is rapidly spreading through the United States and has even been found in cases abroad. Debate about how to deal with the disease continues to rage as the affliction seems to double in cases each year. Though first observed in the 1960s in Northern Colorado, the cause of CWD is yet to be confirmed. Initially, all evidence suggested that the cause was similar to other diseases that affect mammals, such as Mad Cow. A prion, or extreme-

Northern Cambria, Pa.

ly tiny protein that causes changes to the body's own proteins, has been found in the neural tissue of more than 90 percent of the infected deer tested. Initially that was seen as proof that the disease is caused by the prion. The build-up of this prion causes widespread neurodegeneration, which is ultimately irreversible and always fatal. The animals lose weight and take on a range of non-specific symptoms, making the disease difficult to evaluate in early stages. Problems in movement, a gaunt, zombie-like stare, listlessness, repetitive walking patterns and other signs of brain damage become prevalent. The Pennsylvania Game SEE CWD, PAGE 4A

Thursday, March 14, 2019

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Fourth grade basketball champions

Northern Cambria’s fourth grade basketball team finished their season undefeated and received a trophy for their efforts. Submitted photo.

Dispute over chickens in Susquehanna Township

By Jack Thompson

of Mainline Newspapers

A dispute between two residents over the burning of chicken feces in Susquehanna Township was brought to the board of supervisors at their regular meeting March 5. Chicken ownership is permissible in the area, but because of the close proximity of some of the homes, the animals can cause friction between neighbors. Resident Marybeth Katchmer sent a letter of concern to the board of supervisors this month over her discomfort in the situation, and gave a soft-spoken recount of the situation at the meeting. Her neighbor, Chad Stiffey, raises a few of the animals to compete in state farm shows and as a project with his young son. Katchmer alleges that Stiffey takes the feces from his chickens and burns it in a smoker-like device in his yard, which is very close to Katchmer’s home. Chicken feces is very high in ammonia and nitrogen compounds, which creates a significant and unpleasant smell upon incineration.

Ammonia compounds, often used in industrial and residential cleaners, are also harmful to inhale and can irritate existing pulmonary problems. “I can’t enjoy my yard anymore,” said Katchmer. “The smell is absolutely terrible. I have nothing against Chad, I think he’s a good guy, but this one issue is just too much to handle.” Katchmer’s sister, who owns the property, appeared in support and testified to how terrible the smell is. She also pointed out that Katchmer has asthma, making the situation even worse. The sisters noted that the elderly residents in the area were at risk from the gases produced, and that a stream is nearby. The stream is significant because runoff from the chicken coop could potentially be poisoning the water, particularly because the coop is built near a ditch that carries significant runoff. Stiffey argued that the people of the area should be proud to have his chickens because they are a rare breed that received minor placements at state farm shows. He also said the plow on the Pennsylvania state flag is symbolic of his

right to own the animals despite what effects they may have on neighbors. When pressed about why he needed to burn the feces instead of disposing of it through other, more conventional channels, he said that he uses the ash as fertilizer to grow better pumpkins. The supervisors noted that Stiffey is within his rights to own the chickens and the coop, but that the burning of feces is likely against township code and is questionable practice in any case. The significant smell and potential health risks associated with burning feces are likely to fall under producing noxious odors, which is not permitted. Katchmer was further annoyed that Stiffey allegedly lights the burner and leaves the area, letting the neighbors deal with the smell while he isn’t there himself. “This is no different than when I have to wake up and inhale the cancer from the wood burners people have around here,” Stiffey objected, though the board didn’t

Northern Cambria fireman arrives at ‘right place, right time’

By Jack Thompson

of Mainline Newspapers

Family time

Matt Winslow, Chloe Winslow and Sue Cence sit together at Northern Cambria Elementary School's pajama party March 8. Photo by Jack Thompson.

SEE CHICKENS, PAGE 11A

A Spangler Fire Company fireman managed to save lives March 5 by being in the “right place at the right time.” The fire, which broke out in a home near Freedom Chrysler Jeep Dodge in Northern Cambria, spread quickly while two residents were still in the home. One was upstairs and the other was in the shower, both unaware of the situation. Without intervention, the risk of at least one of them becoming incapacitated or losing their life was very high. Volunteer fireman Jim Gormish works as a driver at Freedom Chrysler, and was on his way to the lot when he noticed something amiss. He was first alerted to dark smoke near the home on Coal Lane, and soon smelled what he described as a “structure fire.” “It’s like a fireman’s sixth sense,” he commented. “After being in fires, you learn to be able to tell a normal wood fire from a structural fire by smell.” He made a U-turn and returned to the house, where he said he saw flames starting to curl out from under the roof. The official cause of the fire is still unknown, but it was clear the residents weren’t aware that their house was in flames.

Because he saw a car parked behind the house, he was fairly certain at least one resident was still inside. Gormish called into 911 by radio and immediately went into action. Beating on the door alerted one resident inside, and she came to the door just before Gormish kicked it down. She had been in the shower, shielded from the smell and heat, so she was unaware of what was happening. Gormish explained quickly that the house was on fire and she needed to get out. She exclaimed that her son was still upstairs before going to the neighbor’s house for safety. By this time, significant heat and carbon monoxide (CO) was building in the house, such that the plastic doors were beginning to melt and fail. Gormish, who sells fire supplies as a side job, happened to have a CO monitor on him that showed dangerous levels. The heat, smoke and CO meant getting upstairs to the trapped young man would be too dangerous. Gormish was concerned there would be a sudden “flashover,” which is when heat inside a building is high enough to suddenly catch entire rooms on fire at once. Gormish called up to the trapped resident and directed him to get to his room, close the SEE FIRE, PAGE 4A

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