Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Local News-Tuesday, Oct. 31st

All they wanted was answers why their homes smell like a sewer. A group of nearly three dozen Pottsville city residents asked that question, and many others at last night's meeting with city officials and representatives from the Greater Pottsville Sewer Authority to discuss the problem of stifling odors coming into their homes. During the hour long meeting, the frustrations of residents living on Mahantongo Street, Oak Road and Howard Avenue was clear…they can't live with the situation the way it is, and they want answers as to how to fix it and who's responsible. To date, about 3 dozen complaints were received by the city and the sewer authority. Several issues were presented to sewer authority officials by angry residents…did the authority know that there could be sewer gas problems as a result of the project? Officials confirmed that a letter was received from Mazucca Enterprises, one of the contractors on the project, that odor problems may result after the new system went on-line, but residents of Pottsville were not notified of them. Secondly, why were some residents given suggestions to make changes to their systems while the construction project was underway? Many of the affected residents have to dig up their properties to make changes now, incurring significant expense, while others were reportedly told to make changes to their systems while streets and properties were dug up. Mayor John Reiley moderated the meeting, and pledged that the city and the Sewer Authority would develop a plan immediately to find a solution to the problem.

No one has to live like this…That was one of the comments offered by residents who are experiencing sewer gas problems in their homes in a section of Pottsville. The nearly three dozen homeowners filled city council chambers last night to voice their concerns to a panel of city officials and sewer authority management. The $43-million-dollar upgrade project was mandated by state officials to separate storm water runoff from sewage. Thirty-six complaints have been investigated to date about the problem. Mayor John Reiley conducted the meeting, which at times became very contentious. City Code Enforcement Officer Donald Chescavage presented several solutions that residents could implement to seal floor drains and fixtures to eliminate the smell, but conceded that there is no "single" fix that works for every homeowner. Residents shared stories about the smell that makes their homes almost inhabitable, and are concerned about potential health risks that exist because of the problem. Mayor Reiley and members of the panel held a closed-door meeting after the public session to formulate a game plan to assist residents.

A Barnesville man is charged with possessing child pornography. According to the Pottsville Republican, a year-long investigation netted the arrest of 49-year-old Robert Boczkowski by federal authorities. Boczkowski allegedly subscribed to an on-line website which offered child porn. The nationwide investigation has resulted in arrests of people in 22 states. He was arraigned on charges of receiving and possessing child pornography in US District Court. The case is expected to go to trial in the near future. If found guilty, Boczkowski could have a 5-year mandatory prison sentence imposed upon him, but it could be as long as 20 years.

State police have released details about the death of a Pottsville man at a coal breaker earlier this month. 25-year-olds Nicholas Hnatishion and David Kalbach, both of Pottsville, entered the property of the St. Nicholas Breaker in Norwegian Township on October 18th. Hnatishion climbed on top of a conveyor, and came in contact with wires, and was electrocuted. He was taken to Lehigh Valley Hospital and died from those injuries on October 22nd. State troopers from Frackville and Schuylkill Haven are continuing the investigation into the incident.

An ongoing investigation by Schuylkill Haven Borough Police resulted in the arrest of a Pottsville man for trespassing on borough owned property. In recent weeks, police have received numerous complaints from borough officials and residents that someone has been planting booby traps on trails in the Tumbling Run dam area. Police also report that motorcycle and ATV riders have been causing damage in the area as well. Two borough officers were staked out at Tumbling Run Sunday afternoon when they spotted a motorcycle operated by 42-year old Christopher Schultz of Pottsville. Initially, Schultz ran from police, but crashed the motorcycle in Tumbling Run Creek. He was apprehended there. Schultz is charged with trespassing on Schuylkill Haven Borough property. He was released by police pending charges filed. No one was injured.

Another week, another truck gets stuck under the railroad underpass in Cressona. Just after 5:30pm Monday night, a tractor-trailer became wedged under the bridge on Route 183 in Cressona. The driver apparently did not see the warning signs while approaching the underpass until it was too late. According to reports, the driver tried to deflate his tires to free his rig, but a tow truck had to be called in to remove the rig. The driver has yet to be identified, but faces a fine in the incident. Borough officials, the owner of the railroad and area legislators had planned to meet to discuss the ongoing problem this month, but that meeting had to be cancelled.

An Auburn area woman and her passenger suffered minor injuries following a Sunday evening crash in Wayne Township. 42-year-old Susan Sheriff was westbound on Route 443 around 6:45pm when she struck a deer crossing Long Run Road. The deer was killed. Sheriff and a child passenger had minor injuries. Her car had to be towed from the scene.


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