Saturday, July 29, 2006

Common Misunderstandings About Disaster Assistance

The disaster recovery process is difficult to understand at times. With many different programs, agencies and organizations involved, residents may be misled by rumors they hear about how to get help.

It begins with the application process. Homeowners and renters can still apply by calling the toll-free FEMA hotline, at 800-621-FEMA from 8am to 8pm, 7 days a week until further notice. The Disaster Recovery Center is still in operation at the South Vo-Tech in MarLin, six days a week.

One of the major misconceptions is about disaster assistance loans. All disaster assistance applicants who receive an SBA loan application packet must fill it out and return it, no matter what you believe your financial status to be. This program is the primary source of federal assistance for long-term recovery for homeowners, renters and businesses of any size. Also, by not completing the loan application, you may disqualify yourself for other needs assistance programs.

Finally, the goal of federal and state disaster assistance programs is to help people to be able to return to a safe and inhabitable home.

If you have any questions, please call 800-621-FEMA, or visit the disaster recovery center.

Schuylkill County Fair Kicks Off Tomorrow

It's time for the 23rd edition of the Schuylkill County Fair!

The fair kicks off with a full week of entertainment, amusements, food and fun for the entire family.

Sunday, the day begins with the open Horse Show and the Open Dairy Goat Show at 9 a.m. Exhibit buildings will be opened at 5 p.m. Senior citizens can get in for only $5.

On the M&T Bank stage, it's the music of the Shoreliners at 4:30 p.m., and at 7 & 9 p.m., the New Dawn Singers will perform.

Bring the whole family for all of the fun at the Schuylkill County Fair, Sunday through Saturday. The fairgrounds are located on Route 895 in Summit Station.

Madison Scouts coming to our area

One of the nation's premier Drum and Bugle Corps will visit our area this week.

The Madison Scouts Drum & Bugle Corps will make a stop in Schuylkill County will arrive Wednesday, August 2nd and offer a free public performance at the Blue Mountain High School August 4th at 7:30pm.

The 200-members of the Scouts will be treated to a home-cooked meal served by the Jerusalem Lutheran Church in Schuylkill Haven on Friday.

Donations to help defray the cost of providing hospitality are welcomed. If you would like to make a contribution, please forward it to Madison D&B Event Fund c/o Leesport Bank, P.O. Box 608, Schuylkill Haven, PA 17972.

PPL Doing Work

There will be some traffic restrictions on Market Street, between Centre and Second Streets in downtown Pottsville Friday and Saturday while PPL Electric Utilities crews replace some underground transformers.

Work will begin at 7am Friday, and should be completed by 8pm Saturday. PPL appreciates your patience while the work is being completed.

Any questions, please call 800-342-5775.

State News, Saturday July 29, 2006

Here is the latest Pennsylvania news from The Associated Press

BUTLER, Pa. (AP) - The family of a pregnant woman killed in a
car crash last year received a two-point-seven (m) million dollar
settlement from a convicted drunk driver who was acquitted of
causing the accident. Lawyers for 52-year-old Bruce Stanko of
Hampton, say the settlement was made about five months after the
January 2005 accident, when it was believed that Stanko had caused
the accident.

JENNERSTOWN, Pa. (AP) - Two counselors at a Christian summer
camp were arrested for playing sexually explicit games with young
boys at a cabin. Authorities say 18-year-old Eric James Rumbaugh of
Pompton Plains, New Jersey, and 19-year-old Simeon Harrar of Due
West, South Carolina, were charged yesterday with child
endangerment, indecent exposure and corruption of minors.

PITTSBURGH (AP) - An Allegheny County court official has warned
of an identity theft scam in which the perpetrators pose as court
employees and request confidential information over the phone.
District Court Administrator Raymond L. Billotte says the scammers
tell people they have missed jury duty and that an arrest warrant
has been issued or inquire about their availability for jury duty.
Then the callers ask for confidential information such as a date of
birth, a social security number and perhaps credit card or bank
account information.

ERIE, Pa. (AP) - A dead crow found in Erie has tested positive
for West Nile virus. It was the first positive test for the
mosquito-borne virus in Erie County and the ninth in the state this
year. Doug Range, an Erie County Department of Health official,
says the bird was discovered July 12th. The virus, which can cause
potentially fatal brain swelling in people, arrived in the region
in 2001.

National News, Saturday July 29, 2006

TYRE, Lebanon (AP) - Israeli planes have been pounding targets
in Lebanon. They've flown 120 missions over a 36-hour period, as
Hezbollah guerrillas escalated their attacks on Israel. Secretary
of State Rice is heading to the region again to see if she can help
broker stability.

SEATTLE (AP) - A suspect is in custody in Seattle in connection
with the killing of one woman and the wounding of five others at a
Jewish organization yesterday. Workers at the center say the man
claimed to be a Muslim angry with Israel.

CAPITOL HILL (AP) - Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid vows that
Democrats will kill a hybrid bill passed by House lawmakers
overnight. They approved an increase in the minimum wage -- but
Democrats are fuming that Republicans paired it with a cut in
inheritance taxes on multi-(m) million dollar estates.

FRESNO, Calif. (AP) - Forecasters predict temperatures in
California will return to normal this weekend after a deadly
two-week hot spell. The heat is blamed for as many as 141 deaths,
most of them elderly people.

BOSTON (AP) - Officials at a Big Dig construction company are
questioning the authenticity of a worker's 1999 warning about the
Interstate 90 connector tunnel. They say they can't locate the memo
the man says he wrote to his bosses. He says it warned that ceiling
panels could collapse. A woman was killed when panels fell earlier
this month.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Oversized loads moving today

July 27th, 2006

Schuylkill Products Incorporated in Cressona will be moving oversized loads today.

At 7 and 9am this morning, 2 oversized beams will leave the company on the Gordon Nagle Trail. Traffic delays can be expected at the intersection of Route 901 and 183, and again at Route 183 and 61. Those loads will be traveling south on Route 61 to Interstate 78 to I-81 South. Their final destination is a construction project in Juniata County.

Additional loads will be transported on Friday and Monday.

Splash party incident nets two arrests

July 27th, 2006

Pottsville police report that an incident at Tuesday night's splash party at JFK Pool resulted in two arrests.

According to the Pottsville Republican, police were called to a disturbance at the pool, where a group of teens who had been banned from the splash party were hanging around. City police tried to break up the gathering, but they wouldn't leave, and became verbally abusive to officers. While trying to question the kids, two of them fled on foot.

They were apprehended and returned to the custody of their parents. The pair will be cited for disorderly conduct.

County Commissioners meet

July 27th, 2006
By: Les Blankenhorn

The Schuylkill County Commissioners approved an agreement with the IU #29 and the Vo-Tech School at MarLin for a practical nursing program during Wednesday's meeting.

The program will use the Rest Haven facility at no cost to the county.

The Commissioners also awarded a contract for the Port Carbon Senior Center project. Smith & Smith General Contractors of Pottsville was the projects low bidder in the amount of $22,600.

Seiders Printing of Pottsville was awarded a contract to reproduce copies of the County's Comprehensive Open Space and Greenway plan on a low bid of $8,800.

Permission was granted to apply for two household and small business hazardous waste collection program grants for the 2006 annual fall cleanup. The first grant for scrap tires and electronics will be for approximately $15,000. The second is for around $10,000 to pay for part or all of the remaining cost for the scrap electronics portion of the event. A 50% match has been budgeted for the program.

The annual cleanup is scheduled for the last two weeks of September.

Theft of pole in South Manheim Township

July 27th, 2006

A South Manheim Township man is charged with theft and related charges for stealing from his neighbor and PPL.

According to State Police, 41-year old Ronald Weiss of Auburn, allegedly cut down a utility pole back in June.
He also allegedly pulled the water line and pump out of a well on the property owned by Doug Naftzinger.

The transformer from the pole, the chain saw used to cut the pole down, and cable cutters that were used to strip the copper wire out of the transformer were found in Weiss's garage.

Weiss was taken into custody yesterday after police found him hiding in his attic.

He is housed in the Schuylkill County prison on $25-thousand-dollars bail.

Police believe he sold the copper taken from the transformer at an unknown recycling center.

FEMA and PEMA warn of scams

July 27, 2006

State and federal disaster recovery officials are advising residents affected by the June flood to be aware of scams.

FEMA and PEMA officials say that callers claiming to be from their agencies may try to solicit personal information from flood victims. In some cases, callers have asked the disaster victim to supply bank account information and authorize electronic withdrawals from their account. In return, the caller promises the victim a grant from the state to cover personal property losses due to the disaster.

Agency officials say that there is never a processing fee to register for assistance. Anyone receiving these calls should hang up and report them to the State Attorney General's office at 800-441-2555.

The only way to register with FEMA is through the toll free hotline, at 800-621-FEMA, which is available from 8am to 8pm, seven days a week.

State News-Thursday

ALLENTOWN, Pa. (AP) - Luzerne County prosecutors say a judge's clerk provided "strategic advice" to the defense during a previous high-profile murder trial. Now they're demanding a differnent judge for another murder trial with the same defendant, 32-year-old Hugo Selenski. He's the a charismatic former bank robber on whose property authorities found at least five sets of human remains. He was acquitted in his first trial. Prosecutors not only make an accusation against the clerk, but also accuse Judge Peter Paul Olszewski Junior himself of bias. They note that Olszewski had dismissed an escape charge against Selenski and say he told a reporter that Selenski is"extremely intelligent." Selenski's lawyer notes that Olszewski ruled in the prosecution's favor for the admission of skeletal remains into evidence in the first trial.

WASHINGTON (AP) - Congress voted Wednesday to spend up to six million dollars to ensure that the Americans fleeing Lebanon have transportation, medical care and lodging. The Health and Human Services Department expects to reach the program's one million dollar spending limit this week. The bill went to President Bush after the House and Senate each passed it by voice vote. The program allows the government to provide temporary assistance to citizens and their families when they arrive in the United States after fleeing a country due to destitution, illness,invasion, war or other crises. Repatriation centers have opened at airports in Baltimore and Philadelphia airports to assist the eight-thousand to 15-thousand Americans returning from Lebanon.

National and International Headlines-Thursday

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - Police in Baghdad say a pair of mortar rounds followed minutes later by a car bomb have killed a total of 24 people and wounded 46. The explosions occurred at mid-morning in a religiously mixed neighborhood controlled by a major Shiite party.

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) - Officials say more than one American civilian was aboard a helicopter that crashed in eastern Afghanistan, killing all 16 people on board. A coalition spokesman says 12 bodies have been recovered so far.

JERUSALEM (AP) - An Israeli Cabinet minister says he believes his country has the green light to use "tremendous firepower" to push Hezbollah out of southern Lebanon. Most European leaders want a cease-fire now. But Washington is willing to give the Israelis more time to attack Hezbollah.

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - California is cooling off a bit, though temperatures remain in triple digits. The number of deaths believed linked to the weather has reached 83. Power use has blown out thousands of transformers. Farmers say the heat is killing their animals and scorching their crops.

LAKE MORENA, Calif. (AP) - Nature is assisting firefighters in Southern California. Easing temperatures and calmer winds are helping efforts to douse a wildfire burning between rural communities in east San Diego County.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Two Auburn women involved in crash

Two Auburn women were involved in a crash in Wayne Township early Monday.

The accident happened at the entrance to Lake Wynonah around 5:30am, where Denise Rieck was attempting to turn onto Route 183, when she struck the driver's side of a car driven by Rosaline Frantz.

State police say that Rieck was under the influence of alcohol. Following the crash, she was taken for blood alcohol testing at Pottsville Hospital. Charges will be filed pending the result of those tests.

Criminal mischief in Pine Grove Township

State police are looking for the culprit who damaged a vehicle in Pine Grove Township over the weekend.

Troopers say that a vehicle owned by Sheila Donofrio was parked on Rock Road Saturday night, and had all of the windows of her Ford Bronco smashed, along with other damage.

Police continue to look for the individuals who damaged the vehicle.

Oversized loads moving at Schuylkill Products

Schuylkill Products Incorporated in Cressona will be moving oversized loads over the next several days.

At 7 and 9am Thursday, oversized beams will leave the company on the Gordon Nagle Trail. Traffic delays can be expected at the intersection of Route 901 and 183, and again at Route 183 and 61. Those loads will be traveling south on Route 61 to Interstate 78 to I-81 South. Their final destination is a construction project in Juniata County.

Additional loads will be transported on Friday and Monday.

State police raid illegal poker tournament

State police liquor control enforcement officials raided an illegal poker tournament in Schuylkill Haven Tuesday.

Agents from the bureau, and Schuylkill Haven State Police busted up an illegal poker tournament at the Liberty Fire Company in Schuylkill Haven.

Agents raided the game for illegal sales of alcohol without a license and gambling.

Liberty Fire company officials state that the game was a private event, and in no way sponsored or sanctioned by them. They also report that the organizers of the event told the fire company that the tournament was legal.

Over $2-thousand-dollars in cash, a sizeable quantity of beer and gambling paraphernalia were seized in the raid. The organizers of the event were not identified by authorities. Criminal charges are pending.

Cumbola man slightly injured in two-vehicle crash

A Cumbola man was slightly injured in a two vehicle crash in Berks County Tuesday morning.

Hamburg State Police say that 21-year-old Maurizio Cardamuro was westbound on Interstate 78 in Bethel Township when he apparently fell asleep at the wheel. After losing control, he struck the rear of a tractor trailer driven by Serafim Madeira of Danbury, Connecticut.

After hitting the trailer, Cardamuro's car struck a concrete barrier and stopped.

Cardamuro had minor injuries, while Madeira was not hurt. Cardamuro's vehicle was severely damaged. He will be cited for careless driving.

State News-Wednesday

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Republican Lynn Swann is promising top reserve an additional two thousand Pennsylvania farms in his first term as governor. But his campaign is acknowledging today that Swann hasn't determined how he'll raise the hundreds of millions of dollars the plan may require. The state Bureau of Farmland Preservation says purchasing a conservation easement for the average farm costs around 250-thousand dollars. Bureau director Sandy Robison says that using that figure, Swann would need 125 (m) million dollars a year, This year, the state and counties are putting up nearly 150 (m) million to preserve about 67-thousand acres on more than 500 farms. Since Democrat Ed Rendell took office in 2003, more than 800 farms covering more than 81-thousand acres have been protected through the purchases of easements by the state, county and local governments.

PITTSBURGH (AP) - The chief executive of Pittsburgh's H.J. Heinz Company says demands by a group led by billionaire investor Nelson Peltz are -- quote -- unrealistic. The executive, William R. Johnson, made that assessment in anexclusive interview with The Associated Press. Peltz and his New York-based Trian Group, which own five-and-a-half percent of Heinz, have nominated five people to the company's 12-member board and are soliciting shareholder support to implement an aggressive growth plan. Heinz has urged shareholders to reject the nominees and endorse a slate of directors the company has picked. For weeks, the two sides have jousted over the company's performance and management. Peltz has criticized Johnson for failing to improve shareholder value. Heinz officials have been warning that Peltz's plans would cripple the company. The proxy vote is set for August 16th.

WASHINGTON (AP) - House Republicans have backed off from a bill that would prohibit states from taxing mail order houses and other companies that do business in their states without local employees or offices. The measure has run into stiff opposition from governors and state legislatures. The Congressional Budget Office estimates ten states, including Pennsylvania, would bear 70 percent of the costs. G-O-P in Washington leaders couldn't gather enough votes to pass the bill. Businesses are pressing for the measure, saying they need the federal government to intervene in what is a confusing array of state laws that could subject them to taxation. But some House members are afraid the bill could drain millions of dollars from their states.

National and International News-Wednesday

ROME (AP) - The U-S is standing firm, when it comes to Lebanese peace efforts. After a conference in Rome today, attended by U-N Secretary-General Kofi Annan and diplomats from Europe and the Arab world, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice again insisted a cease-fire can't simply lead to a return to political uncertainty and instability in Lebanon.

BEIRUT, Lebanon (AP) - The heaviest fighting of Israel's two-week offensive in Lebanon is talking place today as Hezbollah fighters try to stop Israeli forces from capturing the town of Bint Jbai. Arab T-V reports more than a dozen Israelisoldiers have been killed, but Israel isn't confirming that.

BOSTON (AP) - Warnings reportedly came far in advance of the Big Dig highway tunnel collapse that killed a motorist this month. The Boston Globe reports today an on-site safety manager told his superiors in 1999 that the structure wouldn't hold the "test of time." He said the ceiling panels might fall because the bolts wouldn't support them.

SEYMOUR, Ind. (AP) - The 17-year-old boy who police say has confessed to a series of highway shootings in Indiana that left one man dead and another hurt is expected in court today. Zachariah Blanton was arrested yesterday. Police say he's been cooperative and remorseful. The motive for the weekend shootings isn't known.

NEW YORK (AP) - Everyone in New York has their lights back on.Con Edison says the last of the tens of thousands of people in Queens who were affected by a ten-day blackout have had their electricity restored this morning. In St. Louis, meanwhile, utility crews expect to restore power to some 100-thousand homes and businesses today.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Seat belt usage on the rise

Seat belt use in Pennsylvania has reached a record-high of 86 percent – the highest rate since the state began tracking seat belt usage in 1988.

Governor Ed Rendell made the announcement yesterday.

Rendell thanked state and local law enforcement and other highway safety partners for their assistance in promoting seat belt use. These educational and enforcement efforts resulted in the record level of seat belt compliance in 2006, which reflected nearly a three-percentage-point jump from the 83.3 percent level reported in 2005.

PennDOT estimates with every percentage point increase in seat belt usage, eight to 12 lives will be saved. In 2005, 578 unbuckled fatalities occurred on the state’s highways.

Traffic stop nets drugs

A routine traffic stop in Pottsville resulted in a drug arrest Sunday night.

Pottsville police stopped a Chevy Blazer driven by Michael Linkchorst of Shenandoah for traffic and equipment violations.

During the stop, the officer noticed that Trola Moore, the Third, a passenger in the car, had several empty ziplock bags in his possession, plus several bags containing crack cocaine.

Moore was arraigned on felony criminal attempt, possession with intent to deliver, possession of cocaine and drug paraphernalia. He was jailed after being unable to post bail.

McAdoo woman under arrest after traffic stop

A McAdoo woman is under arrest after a traffic stop uncovered a cache' of drugs.

43-year-old Barbara Jean Sammond was arrested during a traffic stop in Kline Township, according to the Pottsville Republican.

Sammond was stopped on Route 309 on Sunday evening, because police believed that she didn't have a valid driver's license. They discovered 53-packets of heroin and three bags of marijuana in the car. Police believe that Sammond bought the drugs in neighboring New Jersey.

Sammond was accompanied by an adult and two juveniles when stopped. In addition to the drug charges, she was charged with endangering the welfare of children, and driving with a suspended license. After arraignment, she was taken to Schuylkill County Prison. Police say that additional charges may be filed.

Fuel spill on Route 309

A fuel spill from a ruptured fuel tank forced the closure of Route 309 on the Mile Hill yesterday.

Schuylkill County EMA officials told WPPA/T-102 News that a dump truck was attempting to turn at the bottom of Mile Hill, when a piece of concrete on the median ruptured the tank, covering the road with fuel.

The roadway was closed for several hours while the mess was cleaned up.

FEMA gives tips to homeowners

Individuals in the process of repairing their flood-damaged homes and businesses can get additional help from Federal Emergency Management Agency mitigation experts at their local hardware store.

People will have the opportunity to talk to hazard mitigation experts and learn what steps they can take to prevent future damage from flooding. Mitigation projects can include elevating a hot-water heater or furnace, anchoring a fuel tank, doing landscape stabilization, and installing an interior or exterior foundation drainage system.

The mitigation outreach effort, in partnership with the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA), will be available at Lowe's at Fairlane Village, now until Sunday, July 30th, from 8am to 7pm.

Homeowners, renters, contractors and business owners affected by the recent storms and flooding can learn about mitigation measures from staff at the FEMA table.

State News-Tuesday, July 25th

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Senate today is expected approve a bill that punishes anyone who helps a girl cross state lines to obtain an abortion without notifying her parents. The House passed the measure last year. Opponents say the bill cuts off an escape route for pregnant teens with abusive parents and punishes those who might try to help the youngsters. Marcia Caroll of Lancaster told a House panel last year that her pregnant 14-year-old daughter had decided to keep and raise her baby. But the boyfriend's parents drove her to a New Jersey abortion clinic to get around Pennsylvania's parental notification law. They then refused to take her home until she ended her pregnancy. The mother told lawmakers that a national parental notification law could have stopped it. California Democrat Dianne Feinstein says she'll introduce an amendment to protect confidants from prosecution. Polls suggest widespread public backing for the bill. Nearly three-quarters of respondents say a parent has the right to give consent before a child under 18 has an abortion. There are no reliable figures on how many girls try to cross state lines to end pregnancies to circumvent parental notification and consent laws back home.

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Bob Casey says the federal government ought to pursue a higher minimum wage, more accessible health care and a balanced federal budget. In a speech today to the Pennsylvania Press Club, the Democratic challenger to U-S Senator Rick Santorum accused the senator of blocking those goals. Santorum's spokeswoman calls the speech "empty rhetoric" and says Casey distorted the senator's record by saying he voted 13 times against raising the minimum wage. She says Santorum favored aversion that would have increased the minimum wage while providing tax breaks to help small businesses. Santorum has trailed Casey in the polls by double-digit margins for months. But Santorum had raised more than 20 (m) million dollars through June, nearly twice as much as Casey.

National and International News-Tuesday, July 25th

RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) - Rome is the next stop for Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, as she continues efforts to bring peace to the Mideast. She left for Italy after meeting in the West Bank with the Palestinian president. Rice says the U-S wants an urgent end to the violence, and also a new way of doing things in the region, so that problems are solved without war.

NABATIYEH, Lebanon (AP) - The violence continues on both sides of the border, with a Hezbollah rocket killing a girl in Israel, and six people dying in an Israeli air attack on southern Lebanon. Israel's prime minister says his country remains determined to defeat the militants, even if it means a "long struggle."

BEIRUT, Lebanon (AP) - The first shipment of what U-S officials say will be 30 (m) million dollars worth of aid is now in Lebanon.Food, blankets and medicine were aboard the American military choppers. A Greek ship also arrived with 80 tons of humanitarian supplies.

WHITE HOUSE (AP) - President Bush says the U-S will be better able to deal with violence in Baghdad, as it moves U-S military police and other forces to the capital. Speaking at the White House after a meeting with Iraq's prime minister, Bush said improved military conditions outside Baghdad will allow that transfer to take place.

WASHINGTON (AP) - Federal investigators believe a tour boat that capsized in New York state last fall was overcrowded. Twenty elderly tourists died on Lake George. The boat had 48 people and was cleared to carry 50. But that was based on weight limits set four decades ago, when the average American weighed 25 pounds less.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Equipment stolen from tree farm in West Brunswick Township

Schuylkill Haven State Police are continuing their investigation into thefts of farm equipment from a tree farm in West Brunswick Township.

Around 7pm Thursday, troopers say that someone stole the vehicles from American Green, on a tree farm near Drehersville Road. The tractors, with attached sprayers, are worth about $17-thousand-dollars total.

Information is still being gathered about the theft. If you have information, please call State Police at 593-2000.

Car and bike collide in Pottsville Sunday night

Pottsville police are investigating a bicycle and car accident Sunday night.

Police say that a 16-year-old was traveling west on East Arch Street when he failed to yield to a red light. The bike hit a car driven by James Hanley Jr. of Barnesville, who was northbound on Route 61.

There were no injuries reported, but the investigation is continuing.

Blythe Township fire ruled accidental

A trailer fire in Blythe Township Friday afternoon was caused by a lit cigarette thrown into a garbage bag.

The fire took the life of 71-year-old Thomas McElvaney. Firefighters responded to the trailer on Silver Creek Road just after noontime. The fire was discovered by his wife, Arva. When firefighters arrived, the home was filled with smoke. Thomas McElvaney was pronounced dead at the scene.

A State Police fire marshal from Reading ruled the fire accidental. He apparently died from smoke inhalation.

Firefighters from Kaska, Cumbola, Port Carbon and New Philadelphia assisted at the scene.

Two suffer minor injuries in crash early Saturday

Two people suffered minor injuries in a crash early Saturday morning.

32-year-old Robert Wagner of Orwigsburg was driving on New Philadelphia Road, near Route 443 around 3am at an unsafe speed. He lost control of his pickup truck, struck a garage, traveled over 60 feet then struck a bridge.

Wagner was taken to Pottsville Hospital for treatment. His passenger, 46-year-old Christine Veen, was transported to Good Sam hospital for treatment.

Two arrested in separate drunk driving incidents Sunday

Two northern Schuylkill County men were arrested in separate drunk driving incidents Sunday.

36-year-old John Petrylak of Shenandoah was stopped by State police for an equipment violation in the borough. He was apparently under the influence of alcohol, and given a breathalyzer test, which he failed. He faces DUI charges.

An Ashland man, who was stopped for vehicle violations in Butler Township, will be charged for drunk driving. 33-year-old James Lyden appeared to be intoxicated when stopped on by state police on Lavelle Road early Sunday. Following a breath test, Lyden was found to be over the legal limit. Charges will be filed in the case in District Court.

Mahanoy City man flees police

A Mahanoy City man was arrested after attempting to flee from police.

State police observed 26-year-old Cyril Stofanik Jr. driving at a high rate of speed on State Route 339, between Brandonville and Mahanoy City Sunday.

When troopers tried to stop him, Stofanik fled. With the assistance of Mahanoy City police, he was stopped in Mahanoy City, near the Kaier’s Brewery without incident.

Stofanik's car had a stolen license plate on it, he was also driving under a suspended license, and his inspection sticker was expired.

Charges will be filed against Stofanik later.

State News-Monday, July 24, 2006

LATROBE, Pa. (AP) - Union workers at Latrobe Brewing Company have voted overwhelmingly to accept a contract with a Wisconsin company that's negotiating to buy the brewery. Latrobe Brewing's Rolling Rock brand, but not the brewery, has been sold to Anheuser-Busch. That means a new owner is needed to keep the brewery open. A union business agent says members voted 113-to-nine Sunday to accept a two-year contract with the City Brewing Company of La Crosse, Wisconsin. The union leader says concessions were made, but there wasn't much choice. Belgium-based InBev S-A, the world's largest brewer by volume, sold the Rolling Rock brand to Anheuser-Busch for 82 (m) million dollars in May. Production of Rolling Rock and Rock Green Light beers is being moved to New Jersey next month.

As Floyd Landis crossed the Tour de France finish line, his devout Mennonite parents were riding their own bicycles home from church. Paul and Arlene Landis were so confident their son would win the cycling's greatest race they didn't have to choose between going to church and watching it on T-V at a neighbor's house. Arlene Landis says church is very important to them -- and they knew their son isn't one to take second place. The couple and their neighbors in the tiny Lancaster County hamlet of Farmersville have been celebrating after Floyd Landis' unlikely victory. But at church, the congregation seems ambivalent. A pastor says recognition of individual accomplishment is frowned on in Mennonite faith.

National and International News-Monday, July 24, 2006

SIDON, Lebanon (AP) - A senior commander says Israel's ground operation in Lebanon will continue for several more days. Israeli troops are fighting Hezbollah forces around a major southern town today. The military says it has captured two Hezbollah guerrillas.

WHITE HOUSE (AP) - White House officials say President Bush remains opposed to an immediate cease-fire to stop the violence inthe Middle East despite pleas from Saudi Arabia to stop the bloodshed. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice arrives in Israel this morning to try and broker some kind of agreement.

SEYMOUR, Ind. (AP) - Police in Indiana have put out a national alert after a series of sniper attacks. One person was killed and another wounded yesterday when their trucks were fired on along Interstate 65. Another attack took place about 100 miles away but no one was hurt. For now, police consider the shootings to be linked.

AVALON, Calif. (AP) - It could be another day of scorching temperatures in California, as firefighters continue to battle a series of wildfires. One fire east of San Diego covers about nine square miles and has prompted voluntary evacuations.

KANEOHE, Hawaii (AP) - Don't be surprised if the next time your teen is searching MySpace-dot-com they find a Marine online. The Corps has begun using the popular social networking site as a recruiting tool. So far, over 12-thousand Web surfers have signed on as friends of the Corps.

Friday, July 21, 2006

National and International News-Friday

JERUSALEM (AP) - Hezbollah rockets aimed at Israel today struck a United Nations observation post in Lebanon instead. No word on casualties. Israeli warplanes have kept up their attacks amid signs that a major ground operation is coming.

LINTHICUM, Md. (AP) - A middle-of-the-night homecoming for the second batch of Americans to return home from Lebanon. About 240 people were on the plane that landed in Maryland early today. Those on the first flight yesterday said they had been terrified during the Israeli attacks.

BOSTON (AP) - A steady, driving rain is falling on coastal Massachusetts, courtesy of Tropical Storm Beryl. The storm made landfall on Nantucket early today. The National Hurricane Center is advising folks to play it safe and not go out to watch the wind andwaves.

WASHINGTON (AP) - President Bush says he looks forward to signing an extension of the 1965 Voting Rights Act now that Congress has approved it. The act opened voting booths to blacks by ending poll taxes, literacy tests and other obstacles that kept them from voting.

GRANTS PASS, Ore. (AP) - Three people have pleaded guilty in Oregon to participating in an ecoterrorism spree across the Northwest. They've agreed to help in the investigation of a seriesof fire bombings at ranger stations, wild horse corrals, a ski resort and lumber mill offices.

State News-Friday

ALLENTOWN, Pa. (AP) - A Northeast Pennsylvania city's plans to crack down on illegal immigrants may run into a brick wall. Congressional researchers question whether Hazleton's new law would survive a court challenge. The nonpartisan Congressional Research Service says the federal government has sole jurisdiction over immigration matters. Hazleton last week approved one of the toughest measures of its kind in the United States. The law imposes one-thousand-dollar fines on landlords who rent to illegal immigrants and denies business permits to companies that give them jobs.

WASHINGTON (AP) - Senator Rick Santorum blames Islamic fascism rooted in Iran for much of the world's conflict but says he opposes military action against the country. Instead, the Pennsylvania Republican is pushing legislation to punish countries that aid Iran's nuclear program, and to encourage pro-democracy groups in Iran. The senator, speaking in Washington yesterday, said Iran is at the center of the problem because it created Hezbollah and is the driving force behind Hamas. Santorum is in the midst of a tough re-election fight against state Treasurer Bob Casey.

Pine Grove Township man arrested on drug charges

A Pine Grove Township man was arrested on drug charges Wednesday.

Investigators from the Schuylkill County DA's Drug Enforcement Unit executed a search warrant on the home of 37-year-old Michael Bebelheimer on Sweet Arrow Lake Road. The search uncovered live and harvested marijuana plants.

Bebelheimer was arraigned on charges of possession with intent to manufacture or deliver, and possession of controlled substances.

He was arraigned at the office of District Judge Carol Pankake, and was released after posting $10-thousand-dollars unsecured bail.

To report drug activity in Schuylkill County, call 385-0211, or 800-414-1406.

Two hurt in Mahanoy Township crash

Two people were injured following a crash in Mahanoy Township yesterday.

Frackville state police say that a 16-year-old boy from Mahanoy City, riding a dirt bike, crossed into the path of a car driven by 40-year-old Tina Schoeneberger of Conyngham. She was going north on Route 54, near End Road.

Both were hurt, and were taken to St. Catherine's Hospital in Ashland for treatment.

Troopers say that the boy was not wearing a helmet.

Haven boy hurt after bike and car collision

A Schuylkill Haven boy was hurt following a bicycle accident in the borough yesterday.

Six-year-old Mitchell Brennaman was crossing Main Street just after 3pm when he collided with a car operated by Diane Lawrence of Wyomissing.

Brennaman had to be medivac'd to Lehigh Valley Hospital for treatment of his injuries. He is in satisfactory condition this morning.

Boroughs and municipalities begin public assistance process

The first step in the process to help communities rebuild their infrastructure after the flood has begun.

A briefing was held yesterday afternoon at Schuylkill Haven High School for boroughs, municipalities and other organizations to provide information about the help available to them, following Tuesday's public declaration from the President of the United States.

Representatives from FEMA and PEMA conducted the briefing for about 80 persons. John Matz, Operations and Training Officer for Schuylkill County's EMA said that about 60 different entities have already submitted information about infrastructure damage to FEMA already.

Individual meetings begin today at the county office of public safety, with representatives from state and federal agencies to help expedite the process so money can begin flowing, and repair and replacement work to get underway.

Communities can still apply for public assistance by contacting Schuylkill County EMA.

75 percent of the funding comes from the federal government, with the remaining portion to be covered by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Meeting with FEMA set for today

Now that FEMA has declared Schuylkill County eligible for public assistance to fix infrastructure damaged by the flood, its time to get down to business. There will be an applicants briefing today at 1PM for all Schuylkill County municipalities, authorities, fire and EMS stations and other non-profit organizations at the Schuylkill Haven High School Auditorium on Main Street. According to John Matz of the Schuylkill County Emergency Management Agency, this meeting will begin the process so expenses that resulted from the flooding of late June can be recovered and infrastructure can be returned to full capability. Matz said that individual meetings with representatives from FEMA will follow in the coming days and weeks.

Defrocked priest pleads guilty in internet sex sting

A defrocked Roman Catholic priest, who previously served at several churches in Schuylkill County, admitted to charges that he tried to have sex with someone he thought was a 14-year-old boy. Seventy-two-year-old Thomas Bender, of Macungie, Pennsylvania, pleaded guilty to felony charges of attempting to disseminate indecent material to a minor and misdemeanor sex charges in Nassau County, New York. Prosecutors say Bender was involved in online chats with someone he believed was a 14-year-old boy from Long Island, but who was in fact, a detective. Bender was arrested in March of this year after he tried to meet the boy for sex. Bender was sentenced to 7 years probation in 1988 for molesting a teenage boy during the 80's. He had served at several parishes in the county, as well as at Nativity BVM in Pottsville and Marian Catholic High School in Hometown. He will be sentenced August 14th.

Host fees continue to be waived for landfills accepting flood debris

By: Les Blankenhorn

The Schuylkill County Commissioners have extended the waiver of its host fees associated with landfill waste from the recent flood. County Commissioner Chairman Frank Staudenmeier said Port Carbon, Schuylkill Haven and Gilberton asked for the extension but any municipality needing the extra time will be granted the fee waiver. The County had joined the DEP in waving the fees which total $9.25 per ton from July 6th to July 20th. DEP normally charges a $2.00 recycling fee and a $4.25 environmental stewardship fee per ton. The County tipping fee is normally $3.00 per ton. 49 of the County's 67 municipalities were impacted by flood waters.

Wal-Mart Distribution Center opens for business

By:Les Blankenhorn

The Schuylkill County Wal-Mart Distribution Center celebrated its grand opening Wednesday. The 1-Million Square Foot, $70-Million Dollar facility is located in the High Ridge Business Park. Assistant Manager Phillip McIlrath said the facility recently began receiving product, and shipments to Wal-Mart stores starts next month. McIlrath said Wal-Mart received over 8,000 applications for employment at the facility where the starting wage is $13.00 per hour.
State Senator Jim Rhoades said the Distribution Center will be an asset to the County and the enthusiasm of the employees is evident by their response during the grand opening. During the ceremony, Wal-Mart handed out $30,000 in community grants to school districts and community organizations in the county. The new Distribution Center is operating on only one shift at the present time but a company spokesman said by next spring the facility will be a 24-7 operation. When fully stocked, the facility will contain about $76-Million Dollars worth of inventory.

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Pennsylvania News-Thursday

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - It's taking a long time to restore power in many Philadelphia suburbs following storms that knocked down treelimbs and power lines. Peco Energy has already restored power to nearly half the 365-thousand customers who were left without electric service Tuesday night. But despite working around the clock in 16-hour shifts, many thousands of people still face hot days without air conditioning or refrigeration while crews work to restore power. Peco has set up some distribution points where people can obtain dry ice to help preserve food as the outages drag on.

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - A hearing is scheduled today on the attorney general's request for a court order putting a prosthetic eye maker out of business. The attorney general is suing the Philadelphia man, Francis Connelly Junior. The lawsuit says Connelly took money for prosthetic eyes that were never delivered, fit improperly or were so poorly made they embarrassed the customer. Today's hearing is about whether a court will order Connelly to stop doing business while the lawsuit is in progress. The lawsuit says Connelly does business in offices in Philadelphia, Carlisle, Lancaster, Scranton, Williamsport and Wilkes-Barre, as well as in New Jersey and New York.

STROUDSBURG, Pa. (AP) - A 13-year-old boy who admitted setting a fire that killed his 11-year-old cousin is being sent to secure treatment center after walking away from a youth center. Monroe County Judge Jon Mark ruled yesterday that Djinn Buckingham should be sent to the Cornell Abraxas Youth Center in South Mountain, near Gettysburg. He set the December ninth fire that killed Sierra Carranza at their Polk Township home. Buckingham was initially sent to the Laurel Youth Center inTioga County for an evaluation. Unlike that facility, Cornell Abraxas is a secure center. The boy's mother says her son left Laurel Youth because he was worried about her.

National and International News-Thursday

JERUSALEM (AP) - Three Israeli soldiers have been wounded in two separate clashes with Hezbollah guerrillas in southern Lebanon. Noword on any Hezbollah casualties. Meantime, Israel is warning civilians in Gaza to get rid of weapons caches or their homes willbe attacked.

BEIRUT, Lebanon (AP) - The United States plans to pick up the pace of evacuating Americans from Lebanon. The U-S ambassador saysup to two-thousand people will leave a day, by sea and helicopter.The first Americans to return to the U-S are due in Baltimore next hour.

WASHINGTON (AP) - After five years of turning down invitations to address the N-double-A-C-P, President Bush has finally said yes.The White House says Bush will speak to the nation's oldest civil rights group today to show his commitment to civil rights.

KIRKLAND, Wash. (AP) - Police in the Seattle suburb of Kirkland say they don't have a motive yet for the killings of a woman, her two young sons and her sister. A neighbor has been arrested. The woman's husband is a soldier serving in Iraq.

ST. LOUIS (AP) - Hundreds of thousands of customers in the St.Louis area are without power after a storm packing 80 mile-an-hour winds blew through last night. The airport lost part of its roof while windows were blown out at Busch Stadium before the start of a St. Louis Cardinals baseball game.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

National and International Headlines

BEIRUT, Lebanon (AP) - Americans today are boarding a cruise ship that will take them out of war-torn Lebanon. Women said tearful goodbyes to relatives, then clutched their children as they boarded. The U-S ambassador says more than one-thousand Americansare expected to leave Lebanon today.

UNDATED (AP) - On two fronts today, Israeli warplanes and tanks are on the move. Targets in southern Lebanon and Beirut were hit,with more civilian deaths. In Gaza, six Palestinian militants were killed. Both campaigns are aimed at winning the release of captured Israeli soldiers.

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) - Severe thunderstorms have brought an end to the heat wave that has gripped the Northeast. It's going to be cooler and drier after five days of hot and muggy weather. Whether you traveled by air, rail or foot, it was slow going because of the heat.

PANANDARAN, Indonesia (AP) - The search for survivors from atsunami in Indonesia only yields more victims. The death toll is now at least 531 from Monday's tsunami, with more than 270 missing. Amateur video shows water bearing down on the beach in Java as children played in the surf.

YUCCA VALLEY, Calif. (AP) - Firefighters have contained a nearly100 square-mile blaze in Southern California, but now there are fears of mudslides. There's a 40 percent chance of thunderstorms today. Nearly two weeks of fire have left nonporous ash that could turn into mudslides with enough rain.

State News

Record set again for electricity use

ALLENTOWN, Pa. (AP) - For the second day in a row, P-P-L Electric Utilities customers set a record for electricity use. Between 3 and 4 p-m Tuesday, customers used an estimated seven-thousand-299 megawatt-hours of electricity, breaking by nine megawatt hours the record (7,290 megawatt hours) set on Monday. The previous record was set a year ago this month.

Gore appears in Philadelphia to promote book

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Al Gore says global warming is the greatest crisis our civilization has ever faced. The former vice president spoke last night in Philadelphia, where he's promoting his book on climate change.
But Gore says there's an upside as well. Gore says once the climate problem is solved, those who worked
together to solve it will have the moral authority to take on other problems. He says they'll be able to work on things like revitalizing democracy and curing AIDS. Gore compares it to the aftermath of World War Two, when those
who defeated fascism went on to rebuild Europe with the Marshall Plan -- leading to a prosperous world in the coming years.

Minersville receives grant for new community pool

Minersville borough is in line to receive grant money to build a new community pool. According to borough officials, they were notified that a grant applied for in 2005 was approved for $400-thousand-dollars to construct a new pool. The grant comes from the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. The borough had awarded a construction bid in May to Heim Contracting in St. Clair to build the new pool. The price tag is just over $1.5 million dollars.

Pottsville man waives preliminary hearing

A Pottsville man who allegedly stabbed a man in Schuylkill Haven will have his case heard in county court. Robert Leymeister was arrested by Schuylkill Haven police on charges of attempted criminal homicide, aggravated assault and other offenses in the stabbing of Edward Bassininsky at the home of his girlfriend in June. According to the Pottsville Republican, Leymeister's attorney asked District Judge James Ferrier to waive his right to a preliminary hearing, binding the case to Schuylkill County Court. On June 11th, Leymeister reportedly stabbed Bassininsky in the face and abdomen, then hid in a playground near the crime scene at a apartment complex on The Island in Schuylkill Haven. Leymeister was returned to Schuylkill County Prison, where he has been since his arrest.

Schuylkill County receives FEMA public declaration

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced that it is expanding assistance to sixteen Pennsylvania counties, including Schuylkill, to repair or replace public facilities damaged by the recent storms and flooding. Congressman Tim Holden told WPPA/T-102 News that the declaration news is a positive to the county, following the damage of last month's flooding. FEMA said affected local governments in Schuylkill, and other counties are eligible to apply for federal funds to pay 75 percent of the approved cost for debris removal, emergency services related to the disaster, and repairing or replacing damaged public facilities, such as roads, buildings and utilities. Governor Ed Rendell said that the Commonwealth has committed to provide the entire 25 percent of the required state/local share of public assistance funding. Procedures for requesting the assistance will be explained at a series of applicant briefings for local officials at a location to be announced shortly by state and federal disaster officials.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Across the nation and around the world...

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - The death toll is now 53, with another 105 people hurt, in a suicide car bombing across from a major Shiiteshrine in the Iraqi city of Kufa. Officials say the bomber targeted day laborers who had gathered across from the shrine.

UNDATED (AP) - As Israel continues to rain missiles on Lebanon,Iran has a sober warning for the Jewish state. Iran's parliamentary speaker says no part of Israel is safe from guerrilla attacks. Iran is a sponsor of Hezbollah, which is Israel's target in the conflict. Israel says the guerrillas have to be disarmed.

PANGANDARAN, Indonesia (AP) - The death toll from yesterday's tsunami in Indonesia is now at least 327 and is expected to rise. Soldiers are digging through flattened homes, searching for more victims. Also searching are the parents of missing children.

CAPITOL HILL (AP) - Debate resumes in the Senate this morning ona stem-cell research bill that President Bush has promised to veto.The bill would expand federal funding of research using embryos that would otherwise be discarded. Republican Sam Brownback says it's immoral to destroy what he refers to as "the youngest of human lives" for research.

State News-Tuesday

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Several Vietnam War veterans who sued over adocumentary about John Kerry's anti-war activities have droppedtheir libel suits against a Harrisburg-area filmmaker. That leavesjust one lawsuit pending over the 2004 film "Stolen Honor: WoundsThat Never Heal." Filmmaker Carlton Sherwood says the lawsuits were filed by Kerryoperatives to try to block the film's release in the final weeks ofthe presidential race. The 42-minute film charges that Kerry's actions as an anti-waractivist after his tour in Vietnam harmed American prisoners ofwar. Sherwood continues to press his defamation suit against Kerryand a campaign aide. It charges they conspired to block the film'srelease by labeling him a "disgraced journalist" and "Bushhack."

TWA Flight 800 victims remembered

MONTOURSVILLE, Pa. (AP) - Relatives of the 21 people from Montoursville who were killed ten years ago Monday in the explosion of T-W-A Flight 800 lit candles in their memory last night. All 230 aboard were killed, including 16 Montoursville Area High School French Club students and five adult chaperones on a trip to Paris. Many attendees exchanged hugs as they entered a memorial garden next to the school. The victims' names are etched in stone below a statue of an angel that is the centerpiece of the small park. John Dorin, mayor of Montoursville for 24 years, says families of victims wanted to keep the service low key.

Tape can be used in Shields case

A videotape of female athletes made by an accused teacher can be used as evidence at trial, according to a ruling by a Schuylkill County Court judge.

61-year-old Daniel Shields, the former track coach at Nativity BVM, is accused of secretly videotaping members of the girls track team in the school's locker room during 2004 and 2005.

Shields attorney Emmanuel Dimitriou, petitioned Schuylkill County Court to challenge the use of the videotape, which was stolen from the Shields home by two Nativity students. The attorney said that the tape should be excluded because it was illegally obtained by police.

According to the Pottsville Republican and Herald, during testimony, the two young men stated that they, and other students and parents, viewed the tape before turning it over to police. Police then went to the school, with search warrants, and uncovered additional evidence implicating Shields to the crimes.

Judge John Domalakes ruled that since the police did not have anything to do with the unlawful search of the home, authorities were in lawful possession of the tape because it was brought to police by the two who took it.

FEMA assistance continues for flood victims

The cost of damage to personal property continues to rise following June's flooding in our area.

Nearly 700 people have qualified for financial assistance thus far from FEMA, and that number is expected to climb as more claims are processed. To date, the programs have dispersed $1-million-591-thousand-dollars.

According to FEMA officials, over twelve-hundred homeowners and renters applied for assistance. Grants, and loan programs are available to get people back into their homes safely.

The Disaster Recovery Center in MarLin continues to aid residents who were impacted by the flood. If anyone has not yet applied, they should call the FEMA hotline at 800-621-3362, from 8am to 8pm, 7 days a week. The center is open from 10am to 7pm, weekdays, and 10am to 5pm on Saturday. STS continues to provide free transportation to the center, through their fixed-route and shared-ride programs.

Auburn fire causes $1 million in damage, displaces 8

Yesterday’s fire in Auburn caused more than one million dollars in damage, and displaced 8 people.

The inferno was fully involved when firefighters responded to the call after 2:30am Monday. The blaze apparently started at the former Auburn Shoe and Auburn Knitting Mill on Bear Creek Street. Those properties are owned by Terry Shaner of Orwigsburg.

Fire quickly spread to the neighboring apartment building at 427 Bear Creek Street, owned by Bruce Dietrich. The four-unit building was home to eight people.

Firefighters from Schuylkill, and neighboring Berks and Lebanon counties needed several hours to bring the blaze under control. They had to also deal with natural gas lines that ran between the structures, feeding the fire. Reports indicate that the lines had to be shut off by digging up the street.

State police and local investigators continue to sift through the debris to determine a cause. Thankfully, no one was injured.