Thursday, November 30, 2006

Local News-Thursday, Nov. 30th


A Schuylkill Haven teen faces charges after robbing and threatening two people in Landingville Wednesday afternoon. A Landingville teen and 19-year-old Mark Whitman of Schuylkill Haven were traveling south on Tunnel Road on a motorcycle and saw someone standing alongside the road. The juvenile pulled a ski mask over his face, fired a pistol in the air and demanded money from the pair. He fled from the scene on the motorcycle. The District Attorney ordered that the accused will be charged as an adult when apprehended.

The case against Dan Shields will not go to trial as scheduled. A continuance has been granted in the case against the former Nativity sports coach, who is alleged to have secretly videotaped girls in the school's locker room, and inappropriately touched a track team member. The Pottsville Republican reports that Schuylkill County Judge Cyrus Palmer Dolbin granted a postponement of the trial. It had been scheduled to begin on February 12th. The tentative start date is March 5th. Shields' attorney, Emmanuel Dimitriou, is also requesting a change of venue, hoping to move the trial to an out-of-county location because of pre-trial publicity. Dimitriou also requested for a change of venire, hoping that a non-Schuylkill County jury would be brought in to hear the case.

An incident at SCI Mahanoy two weeks ago results in two arrests. Devin Lattimore of Philadelphia was attempting to deliver ten balloons filled with marijuana to Aaron Penn, an inmate at the prison on November 12th. Corrections officers broke up the delivery at the prison, but Penn was able to swallow two of the balloons. After placing him in a separate cell for prisoners who swallow contraband, Penn was able to pass the balloons, but chewed them open and ate the pot. Penn is charged with criminal solicitation, conspiracy and related offenses. The two men will have preliminary hearings in the case later.

The region is pock-marked with abandoned mine sites. One more will be reclaimed in Schuylkill Township. Almost one-million dollars will be spent to create a mine drainage treatment plant and a multi-use recreational facility near Mary-D. Nearly 50 people attended the groundbreaking ceremonies held Wednesday morning. The project will help to clean up acidic mine runoff which flows into the headwaters of the Schuylkill River. The Mary-D baseball field will be the site of the treatment facility. Ten acres of abandoned mine land, donated by the Blaschak Coal Corporation, will be the home of the recreation complex. Funding from the William Penn Foundation, Exelon Corporation and the state of Pennsylvania will push the project forward, and expects to benefit the environment locally, as well as the lives of people all the way down the Schuylkill River.

A security guard was reportedly shot at several times at a construction site in Mahanoy Township last night. A female employee of Anthracite Protective Services was patrolling the site of the Locust Wind Farm off State Route 339 around 7pm. She noticed a suspicious vehicle across the road and heard a gun shot. The suspect then drove onto the dirt road leading to the wind farm and fire two shots a few minutes apart, then drove away. State police are continuing the investigation.

A Tamaqua woman is under arrest after stabbing her husband. 32-year-old Donna Hartranft is charged with aggravated assault and related offenses after she stabbed her husband George in the shoulder during a fight at their home. The pair had reportedly been arguing about money.
Donna Hartranft was taken to county prison after arraignment.

An outgoing Schuylkill County legislator presented grants to five area entities. State Representative Bob Allen of the 125th district announced the grant monies, from the state Department of Community and Economic Development yesterday. He will leave office at year's end. The borough of Auburn will get $25-thousand-dollars to buy a new police car. Pottsville Fire Department is getting $10-thousand-dollars for new firefighting gear. Penn State Schuylkill receives $5-thousand-dollars to fund a preliminary design study for an ethnic heritage center. Schuylkill Haven Free Public Library will get $15-thousand for computer upgrades and the Tulpehocken Rifle and Pistol Club will receive $10-thousand for their shooting range.

State News-Thursday, Nov. 27

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - The contract between The Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News and its largest union expires tonight. There could be a strike if no accord is reached by midnight. Union leaders could also keep their members working without a contract. The Newspaper Guild says it might agree to extend the deadline a few days.

LAS VEGAS (AP) - Skepticism is surrounding reports that Wyomissing-based Penn National Gaming is angling to take over casino giant Harrah's Entertainment Incorporated. Analysts are dismissing talk of a possible deal today, noting that Penn's market capitalization is three-point-two (b) billion, compared to Harrah's 14-point-seven (b) billion.

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Governor Ed Rendell has signed a package of bills intended to toughen penalties for sex offenders who prey on children. The new law includes a measure that would make changes recommended by a Philadelphia grand jury that investigated abuse by Roman Catholic priests.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Authorities say a man suspected of robbing five women at gunpoint in Philadelphia over the past two weeks appears to have a foot fetish. They say he ordered some of the women to remove their shoes so he could touch their toes. Five women -- ages 21 to 55 -- report they've been robbed and groped by the man in the downtown area.

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. (AP) - State police say thieves took equipment for making drivers' licenses in a sophisticated burglary near Wilkes-Barre. It happened late Tuesday night at a driver license center in Hanover Township. Printers and computer equipment were taken, but there was no attempt to take money. The center is scheduled to reopen today.

National and International News-Thursday, Nov. 30th

AMMAN, Jordan (AP) - President Bush continues to reject asking Iran to help Iraq's struggle for peace. But Iraq's leader is leaving the door open for both Tehran and Syria to play a role. The two men held a high-stakes meeting today and Bush pledged to strengthen Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's position.

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - A top Shiite legislator is demanding Iraq's prime minister improve security as a condition for Shiites ending a boycott of the government. They also want more reliable basic services such as electricity and water. The boycott started over the prime minister's meeting with President Bush.

WASHINGTON (AP) - The bipartisan Iraq Study Group has reached agreement on what to recommend as an exit strategy for the U-S from Iraq. The New York Times reports the panel stops short of setting a timetable, instead calling for a gradual pullback of the 15 American brigades now in Iraq.

ISTANBUL, Turkey (AP) - Pope Benedict calls divisions among Christians a "scandal to the world." In a joint ceremony today with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, the spiritual leader of Orthodox Christians in Turkey, Benedict also suggests there's room in the European Union for the mostly Muslim nation.

NEW DELHI (AP) - Children with H-I-V and AIDS worldwide will have more access to lifesaving drugs. Former President Clinton got two Indian pharmaceutical companies to agree to cut their prices. Clinton will announce the deal in New Delhi today ahead of World AIDS Day tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Local News-Wednesday, Nov. 29th

State police have reported some positive statistics for the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. Trooper Edward Maloney, Information Officer for Troop L, which covers most of our area, indicated that there were no fatal crashes reported in the region over the extended holiday weekend. Troopers in Berks, Lebanon and Schuylkill counties investigated 70 motor vehicle crashes, with 23 injuries reported. Seven of the crashes were alcohol related, and 16 DUI arrests made. The number of crashes were down from 85 for the 2005 Thanksgiving holiday.

Two Ashland men were arrested yesterday on warrants for burglary earlier this month. 18-year-old Robert McManus and 19-year-old Ian Hartz were picked up on charges related to the burglary of the M&M Sandwich Shop on November 6th, and Danny’s Drive-In on November 19th. They face a host of charges, including burglary, criminal trespass, theft and related offenses. McManus and Hartz were arraigned and taken to Schuylkill County Prison. A preliminary hearing will be held later.

Groundbreaking will be held today for an important water quality improvement project. State Environmental Protection Secretary Kathleen McGinty, along with representatives from Exelon Energy, the William Penn Foundation, and local and state representatives will introduce a series of projects to treat abandoned mine drainage in MaryD. The event will take place at 10:30am at the facility site off of Route 209.

A New York man's trial on charges of attempted homicide will begin shortly. 25-year-old Kareem Mills broke in and fired a shot at his former girlfriend's home in Tamaqua back in March, then fled the scene. He turned himself in to New York City police on the charges, and has been in the Schuylkill County Prison since his extradition. According to the Pottsville Republican, Mills' court appointed attorney is requesting that his $50-thousand-dollars bail be reduced until his trial begins next month. The argument for reduced bail was presented before County Judge John Domalakes. Mills reportedly fired a shot in the Broad Street apartment of Kelly Dalessio, then entered the apartment to retrieve some of his clothing. Dalessio's boyfriend, Donald Watts, and her two children were in the apartment at the time of the incident. Watts jumped out of the apartment window following the shooting to the street below.

Not sure what Christmas gift to buy for the person who has everything? Maybe a gift card? But be careful. State Treasurer Bob Casey is recommending that Pennsylvanians who purchase gift cards be aware of possible fees and card expiration dates, some as short as 6 months from the date of purchase. Casey recommends that consumers use the gift cards as soon as possible, and if someone has an expired gift card, to take it to the retailer anyway to see if they will honor it. Earlier this month, Governor Ed Rendell signed legislation which provides incentives for businesses that choose to issue cards that do not expire. The National Retail Federation estimates that gift card sales across the country for the 2006 holiday season will total $25-billion-dollars, an increase of $6 billion over last year. Mills case is scheduled to be heard during the December criminal court term.

A Reading woman is charged with possessing a quantity of marijuana at a state correctional institution. 20-year-old Stephanie Radatti was found to have a small amount of pot in her car while she was visiting at SCI Mahanoy Sunday. She is charged with one count of simple possession of a controlled substance.

State News-Wednesday, Nov. 29th

WEST CHESTER, Pa. (AP) - For the first time in 12 years, Democrats have won control of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. Chester County officials settled a pair of hotly contested House races yesterday -- three weeks after the election. In the closest race, Democrat Barbara McIlvaine Smith was declared the winner in the 156th District by a 23-vote margin. Smith owns a water-treatment company. She defeated Republican Shannon Royer, who has worked on the House Republicans' staff for a decade. The vote was 11,614 to 11,591. Both candidates are former West Chester borough council members. In the other race, in the 157th District, Republican Duane Milne, a West Chester University professor, defeated Democrat Anne Crowley by 144 votes -- 13,556 to 13,412. The back-to-back decisions by the Chester County commissioners, sitting as the county Board of Elections, give Democrats a 102-to-101 edge in the House.

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - The Senate's newly elected president pro tempore says he will urge Senate Republicans to discuss measures to make the chamber more open and accountable to the public. But Senator Joe Scarnati of Jefferson County stopped short of endorsing any specific proposals. Scarnati says that among other things, he will consider providing greater public access to Senate leadership accounts. He says the Senate should conduct its voting sessions during the daytime, but that exceptions should be allowed if the Legislature has a deadline to meet. The former restaurant owner was unanimously elected as the Senate's new president pro tempore last week. He is expected to be re-elected to the post when the Legislature returns in January to begin a new session. Scarnati replaces former Senator Robert Jubelirer of Blair County, who was defeated in the May 17th primary.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Federal authorities charge that the older brother of Mayor John Street traded on his last name to obtain lucrative airport contracts for firms and failed to pay taxes on more than two million-dollars in income. Milton Street and two other businessmen face charges of mail and wire fraud, filing false tax returns and related counts. Yesterday's indictment says soon after John Street took office in 2000, Milton Street began hiring himself out as a high-priced consultant to companies that thought he could help them get city contracts. Authorities say One firm paid Milton Street 30-thousand dollars per month and didn't require him to do work. The mayor said says he didn't know details of his brother's financial dealings but defended his right to pursue city contracts. Sixty-nine-year-old Milton Street says he'll be vindicated of the charges and blamed any problems on poor record-keeping.

BETHLEHEM, Pa. (AP) - A jury says five Bethlehem police officers used excessive force when arresting a man now serving life without parole for murder. But jurors awarded 50-year-old Sonny Thomas only one dollar last night -- not the 35 million dollars he was seeking. Thomas stabbed his neighbor more than 80 times with a four-foot-long samurai sword and set the victim's clothes on fire. Bethlehem Mayor John Callahan says the officers' actions were "truly heroic." He notes that the officers entered a room with a burning body with a sword sticking out -- yet they didn't shoot the suspect. One of Thomas's lawyers questions why it took ten officers to restrain a five-foot-six, 160-pound man. She says five men held him while another five hit him.

National and International Headlines-Wednesday, Nov. 29th

RIGA, Latvia (AP) - President Bush wants to hear how Iraq's prime minister plans to mend the bitter Sunni-Shia divide. The two men meet in Jordan today. A New York Times story cites a classified White House memo as saying U-S officials have doubts about the prime minister's ability to stop the bloodshed.

SELCUK, Turkey (AP) - Pope Benedict is visiting one of the holiest Christian places in Turkey. He's holding a Mass at a stone house near the Aegean coast, where the Virgin Mary is thought by some to have spent her last years.

ANDERSON, Mo. (AP) - Investigators in Missouri don't think there's an arsonist on the loose after the deadly blaze at a group home. They're expected to say at a news conference this morning that the fire was an accident. Ten people died. The first funerals are today.

NEW YORK (AP) - According to a study from U-S-C, one in five American parents think their kids spent too much time on the Internet. But that's far less than the 49 percent who complain their kids watch too much television. Almost half of parents say they withhold Internet use as a form of punishment.

BURBANK, Calif. (AP) - Snoop Dogg was leaving the N-B-C studios after appearing on Jay Leno's show last night when police arrested him. The rapper is being investigated for illegally possessing a handgun and drugs. Two members of his entourage also were arrested.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Local News-Tuesday, Nov. 28th-AM Update

The mother of a teenager who committed suicide in the Schuylkill County Prison is suing. Jean Wargo of Mahanoy City says in court papers that her son, Tristan Wargo, shouldn't have been taken off suicide watch and placed in a cell with the sheets he used to hang himself. He killed himself in November, 2004 while in prison on charges that he took $7-thousand-dollars of Oxycontin from a McAdoo pharmacy. Wargo's family contends that he was dependent on the drug after being prescribed it for pain from a back injury. The three (m) million dollar lawsuit filed in federal court in Scranton says that despite Wargo's repeated attempts to hurt himself, prison officials never had him seen by a psychiatrist. County officials are reviewing the suit.

A Lansford woman died in a crash in Mahoning Township Monday afternoon. The mid afternoon deadly accident occurred in Normal Square. 71-year-old Emilie Lutz was driving south on Mill Road and attempted to turn east on Route 443 when she pulled out in front of a tractor trailer. The impact forced her car into a retaining wall and several trees near the Normal Square Inn. She was pronounced dead at the scene by the Carbon County Coroner.

A joint effort between Schuylkill Haven police and state troopers resulted in the arrest of a man wanted in connection with an assault in Schuylkill Haven Sunday night. We reported to you yesterday that John Smith reportedly assaulted his ex- girlfriend at a home on Fritz Reed Avenue in Schuylkill Haven. Smith fled the scene in a stolen car after the incident. Smith was arrested at Blue Mountain Lakes Campground in Wayne Township late Sunday. He was arraigned on charges of motor vehicle theft, receiving stolen property and aggravated assault. He is in Schuylkill County Prison.

STS is reminding residents of their no-cost public transportation program for all county residents over the age of 65. Seniors with proper identification can ride free all day, complements of the Pennsylvania State Lottery and the Schuylkill County Office of Senior Services. STS personnel will be available to register all seniors interested in free transportation at the United Presbyterian Church, Mahantongo Street, Pottsville Saturday from 10am to 2pm. Seniors who are able to show proof of age will receive their bus passes right away at these registrations. If unable to provide proof of age, seniors will still qualify to receive a bus pass if they sign a release of information consent form from the Social Security Administration. More information is available by calling STS at 800-832-3322.

The Sovereign Majestic Theatre is one step closer to completion. State Representative Bob Allen presented the Pottsville Area Development Corporation and the theatre association a check for $90-thousand-dollars to complete the renovations, according to the Pottsville Republican. The Pottsville landmark was built in the early 20th century, closing in 1930. It housed several different businesses and was vacant for part of that time until the Majestic Theatre Association was formed in 1997. The building required major renovations to the interior and exterior, with work financed from grants, along with contributions from numerous businesses and individuals. A performance of "Peter Pan" will be featured at the Sovereign Majestic Theatre on December 29th at 7pm. There will only be 200 tickets sold for the performance, at a cost of $10 each. For tickets, call PADCO at 628-4647.

Police are investigating a break-in at a house of worship in Mechanicsville last week. Port Carbon police now say that someone broke into the Islamic Society of Schuylkill County on East Norwegian Street between Tuesday and Wednesday last week. The thieves made their way into the building through a rear window and removed a wooden offering box containing several hundred dollars in cash and a microphone. The empty offering box was recovered at the Mechanicsville Playground during the investigation. If anyone has information about the theft, contact Port Carbon police at 622-5411.

A Tamaqua man is charged with harassing a woman in West Penn Township last Friday. Frackville State Police report that Reuben Whisenant struck 57-year-old Mary Costas in the face during a verbal altercation on Penny Lane in the township Friday night around 11:30. Charges against Whisenant will be filed in District Court.

An assistant fire chief in Williamstown is accused of setting three fires in the borough earlier this year. 33-year-old Seth Merwine, assistant fire chief at Liberty Fire Hose Company Number One in Dauphin County was arrested and charged with setting the fires in June of this year. Merwine is being held in Dauphin County Prison on $100-thousand-dollars bail. He has been a volunteer firefighter since 1993.

State News-Tuesday, Nov. 28th

WASHINGTON (AP) - A Dubai-owned company will accept final bids within two weeks for the sale of all 700 (m) million dollars' worth of its U-S port operations to an American buyer. The sale was forced by concerns over terrorism security. D-P World acquired the operations at Philadelphia and several other major ports when it bought a London-based company.

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Harrisburg Mayor Stephen Reed is scheduled to present his plan for addressing the city's financial crisis at tonight's City Council meeting. The city has a deficit of 13-point-eight (m) million dollars. The mayor has said the city needs ten-and-a-half (m) million dollars to blunt that.

WASHINGTON (AP) - A suburban Philadelphia company that got a patent for a gas-pedal innovation is heading to the U-S Supreme Court today to defend it. Limerick-based Teleflex got a patent in 2001 by combining two existing innovations. At issue in the case to be heard today is whether combining those two ideas was obvious.

PITTSBURGH (AP) - Attorneys for a Pittsburgh T-V station are due in federal court this afternoon. They want a judge to issue an injunction against former K-D-K-A ex-employee Carey Robinson, who, the station says, illegally recorded phone calls and gathered confidential salary information.

MOUNT PLEASANT, Pa. (AP) - Three Pennsylvania hunters are dead, at least two others accidentally shot themselves, and four others got lost but were rescued in the first day of deer season on Monday. Hunters in McKean and Erie counties died of apparent heart problems. A third man died when a deer jumped through the windshield of his pickup truck.

National and International News-Tuesday, Nov. 28th

RIGA, Latvia (AP) - President Bush has arrived in Latvia for a NATO summit focusing largely on Afghanistan -- but he's looking ahead to meetings later this week with Iraq's prime minister. Bush says he'll ask Nouri al-Maliki to explain his plan for quelling the violence in his country.

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) - Iraq's president has met in Iran with that country's supreme leader -- who's quoted as promising to do what he can to ease the violence there. But Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is also accusing the U-S of destabilizing Iraq through what he calls hired "terrorists" and former members of Saddam's regime.

RIGA, Latvia (AP) - Even though the Taliban insurgency is suddenly stronger in Afghanistan, and casualties are rising, NATO's leader is calling on alliance members to stand firm there. On the eve of the two-day summit in Latvia, the secretary-general today insisted the alliance will prevail in Afghanistan.

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) - Pope Benedict is talking about "brotherhood" between Christians and Muslims, as he starts a visit to Turkey. It's his first visit as Pope to a mostly-Muslim country. He told reporters on the flight to Ankara that he wants to see "understanding" and reconciliation." He angered Muslims with a speech in September seen as criticism of Islam.

ATLANTA (AP) - Mourners are gathering in Atlanta today for the funeral of an elderly woman who, police say, opened fire on narcotics officers as they raided her home. The officers returned fire, killing the woman. Police say the F-B-I will lead an investigation into the shooting. They say an informant told officers he had bought drugs at the home earlier.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Local News-Monday, Nov. 27th

The annual rite of the post-Thanksgiving holiday begins today…the two week rifle deer season. Traffic on area roadways, and at local diners and convenience stores was brisk very early this morning as hunters of all ages made their way to their tree-stands to wait for the open of the season. Nearly one million hunters will take to the woods to find that elusive buck. Motorists should be careful driving on roads during the hunting season as deer are rooted from their bedding areas.

A Tower City man will be charged with driving under the influence after being stopped by state police Saturday night. Robert Morris was stopped on East Grand Avenue around 11pm for a traffic stop. Troopers noticed that Morris was driving drunk and placed under arrest. Charges of DUI and other violations will be filed against Morris in District Court.

An Aristes man was hurt in a one-vehicle crash in Ringtown Sunday morning. State police say that Gregory Yeager failed to negotiate a curve and drove off the left side of 4th Street in Ringtown and hit a mailbox and a tree. He was flown to Geisinger Medical Center for treatment of non-life threatening injuries. Charges will be filed upon completion of the investigation.

Schuylkill Haven police are looking for a man who assaulted a woman Sunday night. Officers were called to 45 Fritz Reed Avenue, where 22-year-old John Smith had grabbed his ex-girlfriend by the throat and choked her while she was holding a child. Smith also reportedly threatened her and made her lock herself inside a bedroom. Smith fled the scene in a white Mercury Marquis. He is wanted on charges of burglary, theft of a motor vehicle and aggravated assault. Anyone with information on Smith's whereabouts should call Schuylkill Haven Police at 385-2747.

A Christmas tree grown in neighboring Carbon County is headed to the White House. The tree, grown by Crystal Spring Tree Farm in Lehighton won the Douglas-fir competition at the Pennsylvania Farm Show last January and went on to win the National Christmas Tree sociation competition, earning the honor of supplying the National Christmas Tree at the White House. Pennsylvania ranks first in the nation for the number of Christmas tree farms and ranks fourth in the nation in the number of Christmas trees cut each year and acres in production. Pennsylvania's German settlers displayed the first Christmas trees in America in the 1830's.

A group of high-energy young people will help to ring in the Christmas season tonight in the Tri-Valley area. ReCreation, an area favorite, will provide a concert of secular and sacred Christmas music Monday night at Tri Valley High School, beginning at 7:30pm. Leon Eshelman, an ardent supporter of the group, and organizer of the performance, explains that the concert will feature secular and sacred Christmas favorites. Special entertainment will be featured at 7:15pm prior to ReCreation taking the stage. There is no admission for the performance, but donations will be accepted at the door this evening.

State News-Monday, Nov. 27th

ALLENTOWN, Pa. (AP) - As Pennsylvania's two-week rifle deer season gets under way today, some hunters are saying they no longer have access to their favorite stomping grounds. Farmers and other private landowners have either restricted hunting -- or banned it altogether -- following a recent jury verdict in Lehigh County. In that case, a landowner was found partly liable for the accidental shooting of a pregnant woman by a hunter. The woman, who survived, was shot in the head as she sat in a car outside her home north of Allentown two years ago. Authorities say the shot was fired by a hunter from a 140-acre orchard near the woman's house.

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - An estimated 900-thousand hunters will head into the woods today for the state's first day of rifle season for deer. That's according to the Pennsylvania Game Commission, which issues hunting licenses. But some hunters are frustrated that there will be fewer white-tailed does and bucks to target. The game commission has changed its herd management policies in recent years because of what it says was deer overpopulation. Officials say the herd had reached unhealthy levels and was damaging forests and crops. Last year, hunters killed more than 354-thousand deer -- including 120-thousand bucks. This year's season ends December Ninth.

READING, Pa. (AP) - The widow of a slain Reading police officer may get a one-point-seven-five (m) million-dollar settlement from the city. Denise L. Wise had filed a lawsuit alleging that Reading police did not have the proper training to distinguish between undercover officers and criminals -- a claim the city has denied. Her husband, Patrolman Michael Wise the second, was inadvertently killed by a fellow officer in June 2004 during an undercover operation. The potential settlement still needs approval from City Council. If members approve it today, Denise Wise will receive 750-thousand dollars from the city and one (m) million dollars from an insurance policy.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Philadelphia police will display over six (m) million dollars' worth of narcotics today, as well as guns and other evidence it had seized. On Friday, police responding to a shooting in Northeast Philadelphia stumbled onto the stash of cocaine. The 61 kilograms found in a house near Oxford Circle amounted to one of the city's largest drug busts this year. The shooting victim, 25-year-old Darnell Romel Bolger, faces conspiracy and drug charges. He was being treated for a gunshot wound to his shoulder. The drugs and other evidence will be displayed in the lobby of police headquarters at Eighth and Race Streets.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Mayoral candidate Jonathan Saidel will be opening his campaign headquarters in Northeast Philadelphia today. The former city controller joins U-S Representative Chaka Fattah in the race for mayor. Former City Councilman Michael Nutter already says he will run. Other likely candidates include state Representative Dwight Evans and businessman Tom Knox.

LEVITTOWN, Pa. (AP) - A couple leaving a Bucks County church on Sunday were struck and killed by an out-of-control pickup truck. Police say 69-year-old Anna Shevchuk died at the scene and her 75-year-old husband, Nick, was critically injured. He later died from his injuries. The Shevchuks were from Trenton, New Jersey. Around noon, a tan pickup truck traveling south on Levittown Parkway hit a red truck going west on Mill Creek Road in Levittown. Police say the red truck spun out of control, crossed the grass yard of the First Ukrainian Evangelical Baptist Church in Levittown and careened onto the parking lot. The vehicle struck the couple, who were just leaving the morning service, before hitting a car in the lot. The case is still under investigation and identities of the drivers have not been released.

STROUDSBURG, Pa. (AP) - A state fire marshal is investigating the cause of a fire in downtown Stroudsburg that heavily damaged three businesses and several apartments. A few other stores appeared to have suffered water and smoke damage. The Pocono Record says firefighters began battling the blaze around 2 o'clock Sunday morning and were still hosing down hot spots around noon. Smoke was first reported Saturday night around 9:30 by an apartment tenant. Firefighters investigated but could not detect the source. They returned early Sunday morning when the flames became visible.

BERWICK, Pa. (AP) - P-P-L officials are investigating why a reactor at the company's Susquehanna nuclear power plant shut down automatically and safely on Saturday. The company says the Unit 1 reactor shut down at 8:42 p-m., while the Unit 2 reactor continued to operate at full power. The Susquehanna plant is located about seven miles north of Berwick.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Companies are hoping they can offset ever-increasing health insurance costs by keeping employees healthy and stress-free. Employers -- including the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania -- are offering financial and other incentives to help workers get and stay healthy. State employees are offered reduced premiums if they take a health risk appraisal and join weight loss or other health programs. Corporations offer workers programs that encourage exercise and stress reduction. Such cost reductions are particularly important in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, where employer health insurance costs outstrip the nation's as a whole.

NEW YORK (AP) - People can make themselves happier. Among the techniques being tested at the University of Pennsylvania is an exercise in which the participant thinks of three good things that happened that day. It makes people focus more on good things that happen, which might otherwise be forgotten because of daily disappointments. A second approach has people choosing their five best strengths -- such as enthusiasm, curiosity and love of learning. Everyday for a week, they are to apply one or more of those strengths in a new way. Last year, these two exercises were found to increase happiness and reduce symptoms of depression for the six months researchers tracked participants.

National and International News-Monday, Nov. 27th

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - Police and witnesses claim U-S forces shot and killed ten Iraqi civilians in a Baghdad suburb last night. The U-S military isn't confirming the attack. Meanwhile, Iraq is lifting a curfew that closed Baghdad's airport to civilian flights for three days.

WASHINGTON (AP) - A draft report from the bipartisan study group on Iraq isn't specifying any timetable for a U-S troop pullout. Officials who've seen the report tell the New York Times it recommends talks with Iran and Syria to stem the violence in Iraq.

WHITE HOUSE (AP) - Just days after returning from Asia, President Bush is heading overseas again today. He will fly first to Estonia, then to a NATO summit in Latvia where Afghanistan will be the main topic. Bush meets Iraq's prime minister in Jordan mid-week.

UNDATED (AP) - It wasn't a bad holiday trip home overall but 15 inches of snow near the Canadian border with Washington state slowed things down. There's a winter storm watch near Duluth, Minnesota, today. Western and southern Wyoming have winter storm warnings and a snow advisory is out for southeastern Oregon and southwestern Idaho.

ATLANTA (AP) - Atlanta Falcons' quarterback Michael Vick is apologizing to fans for using his hands for something other than passing. Vick used both hands yesterday to deliver an obscene gesture toward fans as he walked off the field after the Falcons' fourth straight loss. He cites frustration over the defeat.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Local News-Wednesday, Nov. 22nd-UPDATED 2PM

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A Shenandoah man is facing aggravated assault and other charges after an incident Tuesday afternoon in the city. Pottsville Police were called to the area of Progress Avenue, near the Pottsville Post Office. 24-year-old Jarrid Finneran got into an argument with his 17-year-old girlfriend. He threw her out into traffic in front of a car operated by Michael Mazzuca. Finneran then jumped in front of a tractor-trailer. Both Finneran and the girl were taken to the hospital. He will be charged in both incidents once he’s released from the hospital.

Property taxes will not be increased next year under the $42.6 Million Dollar 2007 Preliminary General Fund Budget adopted by the County Commissioners during Wednesday’s board meeting. County Administrator William Reppy said the budget reflects a lot of hard work by everybody involved. The County’s real estate millage remains at 11.98 mills. In other Business, the Commissioners authorized the issuance of a general obligation note in the amount of $750-thousand-dollars to purchase the building occupied by the Communications and 911 Center located in Pottsville. The Schuylkill County Commissioners approved the issuance of bonds for expansion of a company in the Tidewood East Industrial Park in Tamaqua during their board meeting Wednesday.

The Schuylkill County Industrial Development Authority had asked for a resolution for the issuance of Tax Exempt Bonds for Highwood USA amounting to $5.3-million-dollars. The company is seeking the money to construct an addition to its present plant and the purchase of new machinery and equipment. The Company manufactures synthetic wood products which closely simulates the color and grain and natural wood.
In a related matter, the Commissioners adopted a resolution re-designating SEDCO as the Industrial Development Organization to represent to county for the purposes of the Industrial Development Assistance law. SEDCO and other organizations like it are charged with promoting the development and expansion of business, industry and commerce in their respective counties in the Commonwealth.

The Alcoa plant in Cressona will see a change in hands next year. The aluminum extruder will be under the management of Norwegian-based Orkla ASA, and will be operated under the company's SAPA subsidiary. The joint venture with Orkla is part of Alcoa's downsizing of their soft-alloy business, according to the Pottsville Republican. Three of the soft-alloy production facilities, not including Cressona, will be sold. The plant employs about 1-thousand-employees. The deal is expected to take effect in March, 2007. The local plant was reopened by Alcoa executives and operated as Cressona Aluminum. The plant changed ownership several times until it was purchased by Alcoa several years ago. Alcoa plans to cut 67-hundred jobs worldwide over the next year. It's part of the Pittsburgh-based alumimnum maker's plan to maximize profits.

A former priest who served at a parish in Schuylkill Haven will do time in prison on a host of charges. Schuylkill County President Judge William Baldwin sentenced 59-year-old Reverend Ronald Yarrosh to serve 4 to 10 years for possessing pornography and parole and probation violations, according to the Pottsville Republican. Yarrosh pleaded guilty to sexual abuse of children, theft and receiving stolen property in April, 2005. His original sentence was 3 to 23 months, with 10 years probation. Violations of the terms of his probation warranted the stiffer sentence. Yarrosh served as a priest at St. Ambrose Church, Schuylkill Haven.

A New Jersey man is under arrest after attempting to bring drugs and a gun into the State Correctional Institution at Mahanoy Sunday. State police report that Victor Galarza of Jersey City, New Jersey came to the prison with a 9 millimeter handgun, reportedly stolen, and a small quantity of marijuana. Galarza was arraigned on charges and taken to Schuylkill County Prison, unable to post the required bail.

Two county men have been promoted by the Pennsylvania State Police. Edward Hoke, of Norwegian Township was promoted to Lieutenant and appointed him as implementation manager for the Incident Information Management System in Harrisburg. Hoke has been with the State Police since 1987, having served at several barracks and in various capacities since his enlistment. Michael Sadusky of Schuylkill Haven was promoted to the rank of Corporal. The promotions were announced by State Police Commissioner Jeffrey Miller.

Four county fire companies received funds from the federal government through the office of Congressman Tim Holden. In a whirlwind of presentation ceremonies Tuesday, Holden presented grants to the Liberty Fire Company, Schuylkill Haven, Goodwill Hose Company in Cumbola, Volunteer Fire Company Number One in Coaldale and Columbia Hose in Shenandoah. The monies were funded by the Federal Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program, a part of the US Department for Homeland Security. The monies will be used for various projects at the respective companies.

State News-Wednesday, Nov. 22nd

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - State lawmakers approved a bill that would allow slot-machine parlors to serve unlimited free alcoholic drinks to gamblers. Under current law, bars and restaurants are only allowed to give one free drink to a customer. Racetracks can't give any free drinks. Both houses of the Legislature passed the bill before adjourning for the year last night. It goes to Governor Ed Rendell for his signature, but there's no word from the governor's office about whether he will sign it. Proponents of the measure say it is necessary to allow Pennsylvania's gambling establishments to compete with those in other states. Around-the-clock free drinks are customary elsewhere. This measure would still prohibit serving drinks, whether free or paid, between two a-m and seven a-m.

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Tougher regulations on mercury emissions from Pennsylvania's coal-fired power plants could become final quickly. Efforts by state senators to delay them failed last night. A 30-day legal review by the state Attorney General's Office is the next step. After that, the rule can be enforced as long as it meets federal benchmarks for mercury reductions. Some lawmakers plan to talk with Governor Ed Rendell's administration in hopes of making the rules more palatable to electric companies.

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - The state Senate has unanimously passed legislation that would make broad changes to Pennsylvania's child sex-abuse laws, including some recommended by a grand jury that investigated alleged abuse by Catholic priests in Philadelphia last fall. The measure now goes to Governor Ed Rendell. The legislation would give victims of child-sex crimes will have until their 50th birthday to file criminal complaints. That's 20 years longer than current law allows.

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) - Harrisburg International Airport was one of more than a dozen airports around the United States where breast-feeding mothers conducted "nurse-ins" yesterday. About a dozen women and children showed up for the protest at Harrisburg's airport. They were upset because a nursing mother was removed from a Delta commuter flight operated by Freedom Airlines from Burlington, Vermont, to New York last month. A flight attendant asked Emily Gillette to cover up as she was feeding her one-year-old and when she complained, she was asked to get off the plane.

BELLEFONTE, Pa. (AP) - A nephew of former Centre County District Attorney Ray Gricar says it's great that authorities are still looking for his uncle. But Tony Gricar says he's concerned that the Bellefonte borough police are still running the investigation. He says they don't seem to have the resources needed to do the job. Ray Gricar hasn't been seen since April of last year. Bellefonte Police Chief Shawn Weaver vowed yesterday to pursue "several investigative strategies" recommended by an elite state police unit. Weaver declined to say what those strategies are. Weaver says his agency hasn't ruled out the possibility that Gricar is still alive but for some reason never returned home. Other possibilities are homicide and suicide.

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - The former chief pharmacist for the state Public Welfare Department is facing charges that carry potential prison time. Steven Fiorello of Palmyra was fined more than 27-thousand dollars last year by the State Ethics Commission for using his position to get consulting work. He had earned extra income from sources that included two drug manufacturers -- Pfizer and Janssen. He was arraigned yesterday on criminal charges for the same activity. Fiorello served as pharmacy director for the welfare department's Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services for several years. He left state government and his lawyer says he now works in the pharmacy industry as a consultant. He paid the Ethics Commission fines in April 2005.

ALLENTOWN, Pa. (AP) - A woman is dead and three others badly injured after car crashed through the front window of a jewelry store near Allentown. South Whitehall Township police say the deceased and the injured were all customers of Bixler's Jewelers. Employees of the store, the driver and his passenger weren't injured.

PITTSBURGH (AP) - Alcoa plans to cut 67-hundred jobs worldwide over the next year. It's part of the Pittsburgh-based alumimnum maker's plan to maximize profits. The company also says it will form a joint venture with the Sapa Group of Norway's Orkla A-S-A. The venture would combine Alcoa's soft alloy extrusion business with Sapa's Profiles extruded aluminum business. Alcoa's soft alloy extrusion business has about 64-hundred employees in 22 plants in eight countries. Three of those plants won't be in the new joint venture and will instead be sold. They are in Warren, Ohio; Tifton, Georgia; and Plant City, Florida. Alcoa has 129-thousand employees in 44 countries.

National and International News-Wednesday, Nov. 22nd

WASHINGTON (AP) - Expect Thanksgiving holiday travel to be busy and congested. Triple-A says 38-point-three million Americans will travel at least 50 miles from home, an increase of nearly three-percent from last year. Most of the travelers will be in their cars.

WHITE HOUSE (AP) - Before he can enjoy his Thanksgiving dinner, President Bush has to cut the turkey -- loose that is. In an annual ritual dating back to Abraham Lincoln's time, Bush will "pardon" two turkeys today, sending them to live out the remainder of their lives in a park outside Washington.

WHITE HOUSE (AP) - President Bush is planning to head to the Middle East next week to discuss security with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki. White House officials say the two leaders will hear from a panel examining how to speed up the transition from coalition to Iraqi forces.

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - An attack apparently targeting the controversial Sunni speaker of Iraq's parliament is being condemned by Iraq's largest Sunni-Arab political party. It's a serious security breach for Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone. Violence in Iraq today has killed at least 13 people.

DANVERS, Mass. (AP) - There's been a big explosion and fire in Danvers, Massachusetts, about 20 miles north of Boston. There have been some injuries and damage to residential and commercial property. There's a propane storage area nearby but it's uncertain if that's the source.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Local News-Tuesday, Nov. 21st

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A year-old case involving arson and related crimes has resulted in the arrest of two men. Buddy Noel of Minersville was taken into custody by Schuylkill Haven State Police last week. Troopers now say that Noel's arrest related to the theft and arson of a vehicle from Goodfellas Bar parking lot last November. Noel stole Dionne Harris' vehicle on November 4th, 2005, and with an accomplice, Nicholas Brown, drove the vehicle to an area off the Burma Road in East Norwegian Township and burned the car. Brown was arrested in the case prior to Noel's apprehension. Noel is charged with arson and related offenses, criminal conspiracy, theft by unlawful taking and other charges. He was taken to Schuylkill County Prison, unable to post bail.

A Pottsville man will spend 5 to 10 years in prison for assaulting a man who eventually died. Kenneth Rich Junior learned his fate in Schuylkill County Court yesterday. He pleaded guilty to charges of aggravated and simple assault, reckless endangerment and other offenses. A charge of attempted homicide was dropped. The Pottsville Republican reports that Rich beat Christopher Seebaren on October 5th, 2005. He was found bleeding behind a building on North Centre Street in Pottsville, and was flown to Geisinger Medical Center for treatment. Seebaren died in March of this year from his injuries. Rich disposed of the bloody clothing that Seebaren was wearing, but the evidence was recovered later. Rich will spend 5 to 10 years in state prison, and pay court costs and restitution.

No injuries were reported after a motor home caught fire on Interstate 81 Sunday. Frackville state police say that the RV driven by Lise Sylvestre, of Quebec, Canada was traveling along the Interstate near the Hegins exit in Frailey Township when the vehicle caught fire. Sylvestre, his passenger and their dog were able to escape, but the motor home was destroyed.

There is new leadership in the Pennsylvania Senate. Senator Joe Scarnati, from northwest Pennsylvania has been picked by his Republican colleagues to serve as Senate President Pro Tempore. He is the first new Senate President in over a decade. Senator Jim Rhoades of Schuylkill County was also being considered for the position, but fell short in his bid. Senator Jeff Piccola of Dauphin County was also a contender for the spot. Dominic Pileggi of Delaware County was elected GOP floor leader, replacing David Brightbill, who was defeated in the May primary.

A number of groups are offering free meals and fellowship to those who may be alone or without a hot meal on Thanksgiving. The Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center in Pottsville will serve Thanksgiving dinner at 1:30pm Thursday. Call 621-4002 by today to register. The Frackville Lions Club will be delivering Turkey Dinners Thanksgiving Day to shut-ins, elderly and people with disabilities in northern Schuylkill County by noon. Call 874-2945 or 874-7546 to register. First United Methodist Church in Schuylkill Haven will serve meals at the church on Saylor Street. Call 385-3941 to reserve your spot. Williamstown United Methodist Church will provide noontime meals. Call 717-647-4845 or 717-647-4480 for reservations.

A local hospital has added new scanning technology to detect osteoporosis in women. The Womens Imaging Center of The Pottsville Hospital and Warne Clinic has installed a GE Lunar bone densitometer, known as a DexaScan at the Women’s Imaging Center on the Gordon Nagle Trail. Twenty-five million Americans have osteoporosis. Fifty thousand people die each year because of it. The disease results in more than 1 million hip, spine, and wrist fractures annually. This disorder affects nearly one-half of all post menopausal women, the largest group at high risk for osteoporosis. Using DexaScan, physicians can measure patient bone density and follow it over time.

State News-Tuesday, Nov. 21st

PITTSBURGH (AP) - Former Allegheny County Sheriff Pete DeFazio has agreed to plead guilty today to a misdemeanor charge. People familiar with the case say DeFazio will acknowledge that he benefited from strong-arm political fundraising tactics. They say he won't acknowledge applying such pressure himself, only that he benefited from it and should have known about it.
DeFazio retired last month after nearly a decade as sheriff.

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - The House Select Committee on Academic Freedom meets today. Last week, a report to the committee concluded that political bias is rare at Pennsylvania's public colleges and universities. It said statewide policy governing college students' academic freedom is unnecessary. But the committee didn't adopt the report last week because it didn't have a quorum.

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - State gambling regulators are to hear today from the third bidders for a slot-machine casino license in Pittsburgh. The hearings are the last chance for the applicants to make their case to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, which expects to award the license December 20th. Yesterday, the board heard testimony from two applicants at a meeting in Harrisburg. One application was from Isle of Capri Casinos. The second application was submitted by real estate developer Forest City Enterprises and the nation's largest casino operator, Harrah's Entertainment. The third applicant, Detroit-based casino operator Don Barden, is scheduled to testify today.

SAYRE, Pa. (AP) - State police say a prominent Bradford County lawyer and his wife were found shot to death in their home. Autopsies show that 56-year-old David Keeffe and his 60-year-old wife, Carol, were shot to death. The shootings are considered homicides. State police say the bodies were found yesterday afternoon by Athens Township police. But it's unclear why township police were at the home in the first place. Keeffe was a partner with the DeSisti and Keeffe law firm in Sayre. He was president of the county bar association.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Philadelphia police say a suspect shot himself in the head while in the back of a police car with his hands cuffed behind his back. Police say 26-year-old Oliver Neal the Third is in critical condition at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. Police say they don't know whether Neal was trying to kill himself or if he shot himself accidentally. Police say Neal was pulled over because of a traffic violation just before one a-m yesterday and was then found to be wanted on numerous violations. Police say the officers frisked Neal and found drugs in his pocket but it's unclear why they didn't find the gun.

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - The head of a crime tipsters group says he's a crime victim himself. The president of Central Ohio Crime Stoppers told police that a man attacked him with a baseball bat Sunday and said he should drop a lawsuit against a Philadelphia man. The group is suing Joe Mammana because he pledged 31-thousand dollars for information that would solve a college student's murder. He says he only agreed to pay if someone is convicted but the group says he agreed to pay in the event of an arrest. Mammana says he doesn't know anything about the baseball bat attack.

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) - F-B-I agents in New Jersey have recovered a 1778 painting by famed Spanish artist Francisco de Goya. It was stolen in Pennsylvania as it was being transported to an exhibition earlier this month. The painting, "Children with a Cart," disappeared while en route from Toledo, Ohio, to New York City. The F-B-I says the artwork is in good condition and appears to be unharmed.

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - House Speaker John Perzel says he will examine government reforms such as reducing legislative spending and the size of the Legislature. He says the ouster of 24 state lawmakers shows the public wants fundamental reform in state government. The Philadelphia Republican said in a speech to a Pennsylvania Press Club luncheon he's asking House and Senate leaders to find ways to reduce administrative expenses. He says he'll also ask them to create a bipartisan group to examine reducing the size of the Legislature -- something Governor Ed Rendell says he supports. But Perzel wouldn't talk about last year's short-lived legislative pay raise during a question-and-answer session that followed his ten-minute speech.

National and International News-Tuesday, Nov. 21st

GENEVA (AP) - U-N chief Kofi Annan says the U-S is "trapped in Iraq" and he's urging Washington to carefully consider the best time to pull out. He also tells reporters in Geneva the war could have been avoided and U-N inspectors "should have had a bit more time."

HONOLULU (AP) - President Bush says he's waiting for the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group before deciding his next moves in Iraq. Bush is in Hawaii on the last leg of his trip to Asia. He will have breakfast with U-S troops today.

DETROIT (AP) - Domestic models have been shut out in a new insurance industry list of the 13 safest vehicles. It's due mainly to a new requirement that all cars and sport utilities on the list have systems to keep them stable in an emergency.

NEW YORK (AP) - O.J. Simpson says he's "legally muzzled" from commenting on News Corporation's decision to cancel a project about his ex-wife's slaying. The television and book project featured Simpson describing how he would have killed his ex-wife. It was met with harsh criticism.

LOS ANGELES (AP) - "Seinfeld" co-star Michael Richards says he's deeply sorry for hurling racial slurs at two black hecklers last week. Richards made a brief appearance on David Letterman's show last night. One veteran publicist fears the rant will ruin the comic's career.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Local News-Monday, Nov. 20th

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Shenandoah police arrested two individuals Friday night at a West Coal Street home. Officers executed a search warrant at the home, and found a large amount of cocaine at the apartment. 36-year-old Claudio Baptist and 23-year-old Denette Williams are charged with felony counts of possession with intent to deliver controlled substances and criminal conspiracy, and misdemeanor counts of possession of controlled substances and endangering the welfare of children. Police began investigating the pair in October, through controlled undercover purchases of coke from Baptist. Two children were in the apartment when the raid took place. Baptist and Williams were arraigned and taken to Schuylkill County Prison after they were unable to post bail. The investigation was conducted by members of the Shenandoah Police Department.

An early morning drug busts Saturday in Tamaqua results in several arrests. Officers from Tamaqua and surrounding communities executed Operation Our Town at an Elm Street home, seizing a large amount of cocaine and drug paraphernalia. According to the Pottsville Republican, 50-year-old Judith Allen, who lived in the apartment, Orlando Lebron and Ivan Ortiz of Reading, Tameka Dyer of Lehighton, Christie Cymes of Tamaqua and Adam Venerio, whose address is unknown, were all charged with possession with intent to manufacture or deliver controlled substances, criminal conspiracy and several misdemeanor drug charges. Allen had been previously arrested on similar charges last year. The apartment had reportedly been a hotbed of drug activity in Tamaqua and surrounding communities for some time. Police had been conducting undercover surveillance at the site before the raid. The accused were arraigned Saturday night.

Last Thursday's flooding in Tamaqua has prompted borough officials to schedule debris pickup today. Borough officials have made arrangements with Tamaqua Transfer and Recycling to pickup water-damaged debris from customers' homes. Only borough garbage customers may participate and only water damaged materials from residents basements will be collected. Tamaqua residents who have flood debris in small quantities, six containers or less, should include that debris in their regular garbage collections. If anyone has any questions, call the Tamaqua Municipal Building at 668-3444, or 668-0300.

A Schuylkill Haven woman who was involved in a crash last week is in more trouble. Elizabeth Kuc was injured in an accident on Route 183 in Berks County Thursday. She was taken to Reading Hospital for treatment. Hamburg State Police report that while running a background check on Kuc during the investigation, they found that she was wanted on a felony embezzlement charge in West Virginia. Upon her release from the hospital, she was taken into custody and arraigned on the felony charges. She will be extradited to West Virginia to face charges.

State News-Monday, Nov. 20th

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - A parade of celebrities and billionaires appeared before Pennsylvania state regulators last week to press their case for a casino license in Philadelphia. Sylvester Stalone, famous for his movie role as hard-luck Philadelphia boxer Rocky Balboa, appeared in a recorded video message. So did actor Bruce Willis, one of Stallone's partners at Planet Hollywood International. Music producer Quincy Jones and three billionaires, Donald Trump, Neil G. Bluhm and Robert L. Johnson, showed up in person in Harrisburg. Five competitors are vying for two slot-machine gambling licenses in Philadelphia, which could become the nation's biggest city with a casino. The licensing vote will be taken on December 20th.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb will miss the rest of the year because of a torn ligament in his right knee, ending his season early for the third time in five years. McNabb was injured in the second quarter of Philadelphia's 24-to-13 loss to the Tennessee Titans yesterday.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Local artists dismayed by Thomas Jefferson University's decision to sell the Thomas Eakins' masterpiece "The Gross Clinic" are joining the fight to keep the painting in its hometown. The university said the community can try to match the 68 million-dollar sale price by December 26th.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Hosea Kimutai of Kenya wins the Philadelphia Marathon, but narrowly missed a course record. He finished in two hours, 17 minutes, nine seconds -- just 22 seconds off the standard
for 26-point-2-mile race in Philadelphia. In the women's race, Russia's Maryina Bychkova took the title in a personal best of two hours, 40 minutes and 31 seconds.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - U-S Representative Chaka Fattah has become the second person to officially enter the mayor's race in Philadelphia. The 49-year-old Fattah, a Democrat, is opening his campaign this weekend with a theme of opportunity for all.

National and International News-Monday, Nov. 20th

BOGOR, Indonesia (AP) - President Bush is heading back to the U-S from the Vietnam economic summit by way of Indonesia. His meeting with that country's leaders during a layover today comes despite massive anti-Bush protests by Indonesians upset over Iraq and Afghanistan.

BERLIN (AP) - Authorities in Germany are investigating what they say may have been a plot to blow up an airplane. Prosecutors say the plot, believed to involve at least a-half dozen people, was being cooked up on behalf of "so far unknown" terrorist backers.

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - The bodies of at least 18 more torture victims have been found in the streets of Baghdad. Fourteen of them were kidnapped from their homes last night in a mostly Sunni neighborhood. Meantime, troops looking for four kidnapped Americans and an Austrian report four arrests but no sign of the missing men.

LOS ANGELES (AP) - An 89-year-old Los Angeles man is to be sentenced today for a 2003 traffic mishap that killed ten people and injured dozens more. His car sped through an outdoor farmers market. His lawyers say he panicked after confusing the accelerator with the brake.

UNDATED (AP) - The price of oil may be slipping, but the price of gas at the pump is rising heading into the holiday driving season. The industry's Lundberg Survey puts the average price of a gallon of self-serve regular at two dollars, 23 cents. That's about a nickel jump in the past two weeks.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

WPPA/T102 NEWS Saturday November, 18 2006


Court date set for Shields

One of Schuylkill County's most prominent high school sports coaches will be going to trial in February on three sets of sex-related charges. According to the Pottsville Republican and Herald, Daniel M. Shields Jr., of Pottsville, must appear in Schuylkill County Court at 9 a.m. Dec. 1 for jury selection and Feb. 12 for the beginning of his trial, Judge Cyrus Palmer Dolbin ordered late Thursday afternoon. While Dolbin denied Shields's request that the case be postponed from December until the March term of criminal court, he allowed it to begin in February in order to accommodate the schedule of his attorney, Emmanuel H. Dimitriou, Reading. Dolbin also ruled four alternate jurors, instead of the usual two, should be selected by prosecutors and Shields’s defense. An alternate juror sits through the entire case, and would replace a juror who is unable to continue to serve, but otherwise is dismissed once the judge delivers his charge to the jury. Dimitriou said Friday he was satisfied with Dolbin's order. He also said he did not know how long it would take him to present his case and that it was too early to say whether Shields would testify. First Assistant District Attorney Karen Noon, who will be prosecuting the cases, said she did not know how long it would take. Shields faces charges of aggravated indecent assault, indecent assault, corruption of minors, sexual abuse of minors and invasion of privacy. He is free pending trial after posting 10 percent, $5,000, of $50,000 bail. Pottsville police have alleged that from November 2004 through May 2005 Shields secretly videotaped members of Nativity BVM High School's girls' track team dressing and undressing in the school locker room.

Saint Catherine Medical and employees reach deal

Saint Catherine Medical Center and OPEIU (Office and Professional Employees International Union) HEALTHCARE Pennsylvania have reached an agreement on a three-year labor contract. As reported by the Pottsville Republican and Herald, the new contract becomes effective Jan. 1, 2007. Union members overwhelmingly approved the new contract during meetings held Wednesday. Employees represented by the union include registered nurses, occupational, physical and speech therapists, laboratory medical technologists and registered respiratory therapists. The hospital was purchased by Saint Catherine Healthcare of Pennsylvania, LLC on May 1, 2006, with an extension of the present contract through the end of the year, negotiated by the new ownership.

Click it or ticket

State and local police will be out in full force this Thanksgiving holiday week. As part of the national Click It or Ticket campaign, officers will be checking vehicles to make sure not only the driver is buckled up, but also all passengers as well. The two ticket, two fine process is simple…everyone needs to be buckled up! In addition, state police will be offering free child passenger safety seat inspections at Heritage Ford, Route 61 Orwigsburg, on Tuesday from 9am to 2pm and Wednesday from 2pm to 7pm.

IRS looking for refund recipients

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is looking for nearly 25-hundred Pennsylvania taxpayers who are due more than $2.43 million-dollars in refunds. In Schuylkill County, two dozen taxpayers are entitled to nearly $26-thousand dollars in refunds, an average of $1-thousand-77 dollars. The IRS is holding the refunds because the taxpayer addresses may be incorrect, making check delivery impossible. In some cases, a taxpayer has more than one refund waiting. Taxpayers can receive this refund after taxpayers correct or update their addresses with the IRS. The process for checking to see if you are entitled to an unclaimed refund is simple. Check with your tax preparer, or call the IRS toll-free assistance line at 1-800-829-1040.

PA Preferred Chefs offering recipes for Thanksgiving

If your are looking for alternatives to your traditional Thanksgiving recipes, why not look to Pennsylvania's Best Chefs? Four culinary experts from across the Commonwealth offer their own recipes for potatoes, stuffing, vegetables and dessert, each using fresh Pennsylvania products under the PA Preferred logo. By using PA Preferred products in your holiday feast, your guests will enjoy a meal made with foods that are grown and processed in Pennsylvania, meeting the world's highest quality and safety standards. From potatoes to cream puffs, there is a recipe just for you. If you enjoy these Thanksgiving recipes and would like more tips from the masters, all four chefs will vie for the PA Preferred Best Chef of Pennsylvania title on Jan. 11 at the 2007 Pennsylvania Farm Show. The recipes are available by logging on to slash-agriculture.

United Way Campaign Ends

The Schuylkill United Way 2007 fund raising Campaign came to a successful conclusion with an appreciation breakfast meeting Friday at the Quality Inn & Suites in Pottsville. The Campaign collected $980,079, seven percent above its goal of $915-thousand-dollars. The Tamaqua portion of the campaign also exceeded its goal raising $121,576. General Campaign Chairman Matt Tacelosky said it has been an amazing Campaign. Tacelosky thanked all those involved in the successful campaign. Tacelosky said the 16-member agencies will begin appearing before the United Way board during the first week in December with their requests for funding their programs.


Allentown shoe seller leaves $20 million for nursing program

A man who spent years outfitting nurses with their first pair of white shoes has left his (m) millions to the profession. The late Harvey Farr ran Farr Brothers Shoes Stores in Allentown, long a beacon for nurses looking for comfortable working shoes. He and his wife Elsa, who died in June, developed an appreciation for nurses that's led to a 20 (m) million-dollar gift from her estate to Lehigh Valley Hospital. The money will go to support professional development for nurses. Hospital President Elliot Sussman says the gift will enable nurses to return to school or attend professional conferences. Harvey Farr died last year. Both he and his wife were 96 when they died.

Philly's top cop vows action against drag racing in police car

An Internet video that appears to show a Philadelphia police cruiser in a drag race on city streets has Police Commissioner Sylvester Johnson angry. He says he will find out who was behind the wheel of that police car and take action against the officer. Johnson says drag racers aren't just risking their own lives but those of people on the streets. He says officers should be breaking up drag races, not participating in them. This isn't the first video of Philadelphia police officers to draw attention on the Internet. Just last week, a video showing officers covering another officer's car with toilet paper got widespread viewing. Internal Affairs concluded that one was a harmless prank.

Penn State room and board rates, minority enrollment, on the rise

Penn State University will raise room and board rates by 4.8 percent for the coming academic year. The university's Board of Trustees approved the rate increases today at the main campus in State College. The increases cover
students who live at all nine residential campuses in the Penn State system. On average, charges for an undergraduate living on-campus in a double room will increase by 100-dollars per semester, to 19-hundred-ten-dollars. The price of the most popular meal plan, the 12- or 13-meal option, will rise by 65-dollars, to 16-hundred-80 dollars per semester. Penn State operates the second-largest housing and dining system in the country. The university has 74 dorms and five apartment complexes housing more than 18-thousand students.

ACLU says child sex-abuse bill has major loophole

The American Civil Liberties Union says a bill that would make several changes to Pennsylvania's child sex-abuse laws contains a "dangerous loophole" that will allow a wider range of people to avoid reporting suspected child abuse. The bill was passed by the House on Wednesday and awaits Senate approval. It includes changes recommended by a grand jury that investigated alleged abuse by Philadelphia priests -- such as allowing victims of child-sex crimes to file criminal complaints up until their 50th birthday. The word "ordained" was deleted from a section of the bill that exempts confidential communications to ordained clergy members - a concept similar to attorney-client privilege - from mandatory child-abuse reporting requirements. Larry Frankel of the A-C-L-U's Pennsylvania chapter says the change would allow people who claim to be clergy, but are not ordained, to avoid reporting suspected abuse. But Representative Dennis O'Brien contends the change was minor and intended to make the bill conform to current law.

Justice Sandra Schultz Newman to resign from Pa. Supreme Court

Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Sandra Schultz Newman says she will step down at the end of the year. Newman won a new ten-year term on last year despite voter backlash over judicial pay raises that doomed a colleague. Newman says she plans to head the appellate practice group at the Philadelphia-based Cozen O'Connor law firm. She also plans to run a dispute-resolution unit that she intends to create. Her brother is a partner in the firm. Newman, who is 68, would have been forced off the bench when she reaches the mandatory retirement age in two years. The Legal Intelligencer, a law journal based in Philadelphia, first reported her plans to leave the bench on its Web site today.

Lawmakers, others to see 2 percent pay raise

State lawmakers, top executive-branch officials and judges are expected to get cost-of-living pay increases of roughly two percent for 2007, based on inflation statistics released by the federal government. House and Senate officials certified a one-point-nine-eight percent increase that state lawmakers will begin receiving December First. That will increase lawmakers' base pay from 72-thousand, 187 dollars to 73-thousand, 614 dollars. Governor Ed Rendell, his Cabinet secretaries and other top state officials are expected to receive a two percent increase effective January First along with state judges. The increase is the lowest cost-of-living adjustment for state officials since 2002, when salaries increased one-point-six percent.

Pa. teenager robbed of PlayStation 3 in mall parking lot

Police say a gunman robbed a teenager of his new Sony PlayStation 3 game system in a the parking lot of a mall near Allentown. The 17-year-old victim told police said he was in the back seat of a car at the Lehigh Valley Mall when he was robbed today. The PlayStation 3 went on sale today, but tight supplies and strong demand led to long lines at stores around the nation. Police reported several incidents of violence surrounding the debut of the P-S-3. In Connecticut, authorities said two armed men tried to rob a line of people waiting for the game system to go on sale. Police say a man who refused to give up his money was shot. Also, B-B pellets were fired at people waiting outside a Best Buy store in Lexington, Kentucky.

Jury returns death sentence for man who killed Newtown officer

A jury sentenced Robert Flor to death today for the shooting death of a Newtown police officer inside the emergency room at Saint Mary Medical Center. The jury had to decide whether Flor should face the death penalty or life in prison after he pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in the death of Newtown police Officer Brian Gregg and no contest to 30 other charges, including the attempted murder of Officer James Warunek and emergency room technician Joseph Epp. The jury took less than 90 minutes to return a verdict. As he was being led out of the courtroom, Flor cursed at Bucks County District attorney Diane Gibbons and then invited her to give him the needle.


HANOI, Vietnam (AP) - Condoleezza Rice says the people of Iraq must face up to their differences -- because they have no future unless they get together. Speaking in Vietnam, the secretary of state said Iraqis should make good, tough decisions like Vietnam did.

HANOI, Vietnam (AP) - The White House is applauding a statement by 21 Pacific Rim leaders expressing concern about North Korea's nuclear ambitions. At a summit in Vietnam, President Bush is calling for strong enforcement of U-N sanctions imposed after North Korea tested a nuclear bomb last month.

SINGAPORE (AP) - President Bush says the U-S and Asia have common interests and face common threats. In his weekly radio address, he says they must work together to combat terrorism and to discourage North Korea from proceeding with its nuclear program.

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - A search is on for hostages in Iraq. Iraqi soldiers backed by U-S helicopters swept through a Baghdad neighborhood, looking for dozens of Iraqi men kidnapped Tuesday. In southern Iraq, coalition forces are searching for four Americans and an Austrian missing since their convoy was attacked Thursday.

TOKYO (AP) - A tornado hit a U-S military base in Japan today injuring three Marines. None of the injuries is believed to be life-threatening. The wind damaged cars and knocked out power as it blew across Camp Schwab on the island of Okinawa. Tornadoes are rare in Japan though one just last week killed nine people.

WASHINGTON (AP) - Three detainees held at the U-S Guantanamo Bay prison camp for terror suspects have been released. Officials determined they are no longer "enemy combatants." And the State Department says the government of Albania has agreed to accept the three.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - A decision is finally in over who won the House seat in New Mexico's first congressional district. Republican incumbent Heather Wilson has narrowly defeated Patricia Madrid. Wilson won by just 879 votes out of more than 210-thousand cast.

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Democrats will soon by ruling Congress but Vice President Cheney says that won't change the way President Bush selects federal judges. Cheney has told a group of conservative lawyers Bush will continue to select judges who interpret the law rather than make it.

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Responding to student anger, U-C-L-A is ordering an investigation of a campus police officer's use of a Taser on an Iranian-American student. The university says an attorney who was part of a review of the Rodney King beating will investigate. The student plans to sue.

BOSTON (AP) - It's time for Leonid to make its seasonal appearance, if the weather cooperates. Stargazers in New England, New York and Western Europe could see an "outburst" of hundreds of meteors this weekend during the annual Leonid meteor shower. The display could be even better than usual.

VISALIA, Calif. (AP) - A 29-year-old California man is being held without bail in a small wildfire that led to a deadly plane crash. The crash killed a Department of Forestry battalion chief and his pilot. Authorities say Patrick Courtney has been arrested on charges of homicide and arson.

HURLEYVILLE, N.Y. (AP) - A New York man's efforts to fry a turkey have destroyed his mobile home. It happened yesterday in the town of Hurleyville. Fire officials say the vat filled with hot oil overturned while Steven Devito was loading his turkey into it.

SACRAMENTO (AP) - Many people who've left California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's administration have gotten plum state jobs with his help, including some the governor once said were wasteful. An A-P investigation finds at least half of those saw their taxpayer-funded salaries go up as a result.

HURLEYVILLE, N.Y. (AP) - A turkey dinner cost one New York man his home. Steven Devito of Hurleyville was trying to fry a turkey yesterday when he knocked over the vat of cooking oil, sparking a blaze that destroyed his mobile home.

WASHINGTON (AP) - Senator Barack Obama says he's considering a run for the White House -- but he won't be pushed into it. The Illinois Democrat says there are many considerations -- including whether he thinks he can win.

BRACCIANO, Italy (AP) - The rain has stopped, and the groom has arrived. Tom Cruise waved to fans in the town where he's marrying Katie Holmes. It was raining earlier as the bride arrived with their baby girl.

PARIS (AP) - Authorities in France say a man is suspected of setting a teenage girl on fire last year after she rejected his marriage proposal. The victim has had multiple operations and skin grafts after being burned over 60 percent of her body.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Kansas City's Secret Santa is no longer a secret. Larry Stewart has revealed his identity because he's battling cancer and may have to curtail his tradition of handing out money. He's urging others to take up similar acts of charity.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Local News-Friday, Nov. 17th

Heavy rains wreaked havoc across the region late yesterday and early evening. A storm systems that spawned tornados in the south barreled through Schuylkill County with heavy rains and high winds. As we reported to you yesterday afternoon, there were countless reports of flooded roadways. Rush and Ryan Townships declared states of emergency around dinnertime Thursday evening when water deluged their areas. Art Kaplan, Schuylkill County Emergency Management Coordinator told WPPA\T102 News that the county communications center was inundated with reports of flooded roads, some basements and trees down. The rain subsided by around 6pm and things began getting back to normal throughout the evening.

We now know the identity of the woman who died in an Orwigsburg fire last Saturday. An autopsy was conducted earlier this week on remains found at the Market Street fire. The woman has been tentatively identified as 58-year-old Carol LaTorre, who lived in the apartment building. The cause of the blaze has not yet been determined, and officials concede that one may never be known due to the massive destruction from the fire and collapse of the building at 126 West Market Street in Orwigsburg.

Heavy rains may have contributed to a fatal crash on Route 25 last night. State police at Schuylkill Haven indicate that a woman, whose identity has not yet been released, was traveling on Route 25 in Hegins Township when she lost control on the wet road, flipped on an embankment and struck a tree. She was pronounced dead at the scene. We expect to know more today.

The Schuylkill County Prison Board hired four new corrections officers during a special prison board meeting Wednesday. On recommendation of the Personnel Committee, the board hired Michael Buchanan, Orwigsburg, Jack Connors, Pottsville, Michael Manne of Ashland and Kristen Rauco of Shenandoah. Board Chairman, President Judge William Baldwin, said the special meeting was called for Wednesday to speed up the process rather than wait until next week’s regularly scheduled meeting. He said the necessary background checks can begin immediately and the new officers placed on duty sooner to help alleviate overtime problems at the prison. The new officers will be paid at the rate of $18.61 per hour, after completion of a six-month probationary period. There are 40 correction officers and 270 inmates at the County Prison, not counting those hired Wednesday. In other business during the meeting, the board discussed asking Pottsville Fire Chief Todd March to conduct a safety inspection at the prison to see if there are any issues that need to be addressed. The suggestion was brought about because of a recent fire in a dryer at the prison that was quickly extinguished by the Pottsville Fire Department.

A Schuylkill Haven woman was slightly injured in a crash in Berks County yesterday afternoon.
State police at Hamburg say that 34-year-old Elizabeth Kuc was driving on Route 183 south in Upper Tulpehocken Township when she was diverted off the road due to an accident on the road. Troopers say she was driving too fast to stop, slid across the roadway and up a bank. The car came to rest on the driver’s side. Kuc's passenger, Pat Vannoy, was not wearing her seatbelt and fell on top of Kuc. Both were pinned in the vehicle. Kuc was taken to Reading Hospital for treatment of a broken wrist. Vannoy was treated and released. The investigation is continuing.
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The November general election is one step closer to being certified. Schuylkill County Election Bureau Director Betty Dries announced that the first part of the vote certification was completed yesterday. Anyone wishing to petition the Court of Common Pleas for a recount has five days from yesterday. If no petitions for recount are received by then, the November 7th election vote count will be certified.

State News-Friday, Nov. 17th

PITTSBURGH (AP) - The Internet search company Google Incorporated plans an open house today at its new Pittsburgh office on the Carnegie Mellon University campus. The company has hired about 30 software engineers since it opened earlier this year. The Mountain View, California-based company says it will continue to hire workers to develop search tools at the office on the campus of. Engineers at the facility have focused on text analysis, refining the processing of search requests and improving the search engine's ability to predict what information might be useful to users. The center opened about 10 months ago and has already helped develop the selection and timing of advertisements that appear on Google's site. Construction work on the facility was completed in time for an open house scheduled for tomorrow.

ERIE, Pa. (AP) - The president of a police union says he hasn't said no to a couple who want a 350-thousand-dollar reward offered for capturing the suspect in a police killing. Lawyers for Jack and Gloria Young say their call to Warren city police led to the capture of Ralph "Bucky" Phillips. They're suing, saying the Police Benevolent Association of the New York State Troopers is wrongly withholding the reward. Meanwhile, a man accused of failing to tell authorities Phillips had stayed on his rural northwestern Pennsylvania property in August and left with a gun pleaded guilty Thursday to hindering his apprehension and was sentenced to prison. Prosecutors say Phillips stayed on the property of 31-year-old Todd Nelson, of Ludlow, within the Allegheny National Forest, and left with Nelson's 9 mm pistol. Authorities say Nelson knew Phillips was a wanted felon. Phillips is suspected of killing one New York state trooper and wounding two others.

PITTSBURGH (AP) - A Pittsburgh woman is facing a one year and one day prison sentence for bank fraud. Federal prosecutors say 38-year-old Antoinette Crowley also has been sentenced to five years' probation and ordered to repay the Department of Veterans Affairs 30-thousand dollars. Prosecutors say Crowley forged a series of checks and withdrew money from her late mother's bank account. Authorities say the money came from a Department of Veterans Affairs benefit that should have stopped when her mother died. Prosecutors say Crowley invested most of the money in a failed attempt to open a nightclub called Mirage.

WASHINGTON, Pa. (AP) - Members of the largest union representing Washington County government workers have ratified a new four-year contract. It calls for pay raises, but also requires Service Employees International Union members to contribute toward their health insurance for the first time. County commissioners are expected to vote today on the contract, which expires at the end of 2009. Each employee will get a 250-dollar signing bonus because the contract was ratified before December first. Washington County court-appointed and court-related workers did not participate in the balloting. A bargaining session for them is scheduled Monday.

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - The state Board of Education has voted for an adjustment in scoring of a standardized test given to Pennsylvania's most severely disabled students. The Pennsylvania Alternate System of Assessment, or PASA, has been given annually since 2001. It's administered to students whose physical and mental disabilities prevent them from taking the state's regular standardized math and reading test. The test consists of 40 questions divided evenly between math and reading, with each answer graded on a scale of zero to five. To be considered proficient in math and reading under the new scoring system, students must achieve an average score of four-point-oh-nine to five, rather than four to five, depending on
the grade and difficulty of the test.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Philadelphia's University of the Arts says it more than doubled its endowment with the receipt of a 25 million dollar gift. It is the largest in the school's 130-year history. The money is being given by philanthropist Dorrance "Dodo" Hamilton, the 78-year-old granddaughter of Campbell Soup founder John Dorrance. The University of the Arts says the donation raises its endowment from 18 million dollars to 43 million dollars. This frees up other resources for scholarships, campus development and faculty hiring and retention.

National and International News-Friday, Nov. 17th

HANOI, Vietnam (AP) - President Bush says the lesson to be learned from the Vietnam War is don't quit. He arrived in Vietnam today for a weekend economic summit. Relating that war to Iraq, Bush said it's going to take a long time for the ideology of freedom to overcome the ideology of hate.

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - Government and private officials confirm that four American security workers and an Austrian were kidnapped in southern Iraq yesterday. Nine other civilians in their convoy have been released. Officials report fighting in that same area today.

WASHINGTON (AP) - A new poll finds approval of President Bush's Iraq policy slumping to a new low. The Associated Press-Ipsos survey finds just 31-percent approval of the president's handling of the war. His overall job approval rating is a bit higher at 36 percent.

RIEGELWOOD, N.C. (AP) - North Carolina's governor gets a look today at the damage from yesterday's violent storms. Eight people were killed when a tornado crushed a community near Wilmington. It was part of a line of thunderstorms that caused flooding and damage in a sweep up the Eastern Seaboard.

UNDATED (AP) - If they're not too tired, there could be lots of gameplaying ahead today for owners of Sony's long-awaited PlayStation 3 game console. The five and 600-dollar device went on sale in limited numbers at midnight. Some people cued up days ago to get a spot in line.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Local News-Thursday, Nov. 16th

Schuylkill County's 167 voting precincts would be reduced to 124 if approval is granted by the County Court of Common Pleas. The Schuylkill County Commissioners, meeting as the County Election Board Wednesday, approved a request by Election Bureau Director Betty Dries for the Commissioners to petition the court for the change. Dries said that 47 precincts would be either reconfigured or combined and four new precincts would be added, changing the total precincts from 167 to 124. She said Bondata of Hummelstown was hired in 2005 to study to the precincts and make recommendations. The cost of the study was just over $13-thousand-dollars. Dries said the last reduction in precincts occurred about 10 years ago when 10 precincts were reconfigured or combined. If the Court approves the measure, the changes could be in place by next year's primary election.

The Tamaqua portion of the Schuylkill United Way announced the results of the 2006 campaign yesterday, and the news is very good. Tamaqua Chairman Serge Crush told the crowd of volunteers at Leiby's Restaurant that their hard work paid off, announcing that the campaign raised over $121-thousand-dollars, in excess of 22 percent more than the $100-thousand-dollar target. The county-wide campaign will announce its final numbers at the general campaign breakfast on Friday. Their total currently stands at $895-thousand-dollars, or 98 percent of its $915-thousand-dollar goal. Chrush also introduced next year's chairmen. Todd Miller will head the Tamaqua portion of the 2007 campaign, and Dr. Keith Hillkirk of Penn State Schuylkill will take over as general chairman.

The Pottsville School Board met last evening. A presentation was made to the district from members of the Great Pottsville Cruise committee. The district provide use of their facilities and staff to the group during the annual summertime event. The committee presented the district with a check for $1-thousand-dollars, and director of building and grounds Kerry Anspach was given a plaque of appreciation. Budgets for various winter and spring sports were also approved. The annual reorganization meeting of the Pottsville School District will be held on December 5th, 2006 at 6:30pm in the Directors Room of the Fernsler Academic Center. The December work session and regular board meeting are cancelled.

A Swoyersville woman was injured in a one vehicle crash in Mahanoy Township yesterday. 58-year-old Nancy Marcin was traveling north on Interstate 81 in the passing lane when she lost control. Her car traveled 70 feet on the median and hit the guiderail. She was taken to Geisinger Medical Center via Life-Flight for treatment. Her car was moderately damaged. The crash happened around 1 o'clock in the afternoon.

The investigation into a Shenandoah Heights fire earlier this week is complete. State police fire marshal John Burns and local officials have determined that the blaze that destroyed the double block home at 227 and 229 Schuylkill Avenue was caused by a faulty chimney. Four people were left homeless from the fire.

Maroons Sports Bar and Grill is closed. The sports bar and restaurant was shut permanently by its owner, Aggie Croley, earlier this week. The Pottsville Republican reports that representatives of PADCO were told by Croley that she was closing the business. PADCO has a financial lien on the property, and had the locks changed yesterday. The organization provided a portion of the financing when Croley and her then-husband Jim began renovating the building in 2003. The business, which was themed with Pottsville Maroons and other sports memorabilia, had been opened for several years. According to officials, there is a prospective buyer for the business and property.

Today is the 30th Annual Great American Smokeout. The third Thursday of November is set aside by the American Cancer Society to challenge smokers and tobacco users to smoke less or quit today. The Smokeout grew out of an event in 1976, when over one million smokers quit for the day. According to the Centers for Disease Control, tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death in America, with exposure to second-hand smoke the 3rd leading cause of preventable death. Last year in Schuylkill County, 370 residents died from a smoking related illness. The Burger King franchise in Shenandoah is supporting this year's Great American Smokeout by offering information for patrons or their families about free local resources available to help people quit tobacco for good. The restaurant will also be giving free $5 gift cards to customers who attempt to quit with the help of tobacco cessation professionals. Coaches from the Clinical Outcomes Group Incorporated will provide cessation services for free. Quit today. It may save your life.

A Schuylkill Haven woman is under arrest for theft from a local retailer. Store security at Value City at Fairlane Village conducted an investigation into the theft over the past two weeks. 21-year-old Amber Zimmerman was reportedly over ringing returned merchandise to the store, defrauding the store of $14-hundred-forty nine dollars. State police at Schuylkill Haven were contacted and made the arrest. Zimmerman will be charged with misdemeanor theft by deception.

A company in the Tidewood East Industrial Park in Tamaqua wants to expand and the Schuylkill County Industrial Development Authority wants to help. Frank Zukas of SCIDA attended Wednesday's County Commissioners work session to request approval of resolutions authorizing the $5.3-million-dollar tax-exempt bond issue. Zukas said Highwood USA began operation in 2004 and their sales have grown 600% through this year. They project revenues to grow by 100% per year through 2009. The company manufactures synthetic wood products which simulates the color and grain of natural wood. Zukas said the money would be used to construct an addition to the plant that would more than double its size and to purchase new machinery and equipment. Highwood's owners will contribute an additional $1-million-dollars in equity during 2007 for production equipment. The company has invested $6.2-Million Dollars in their venture through 2006. Zukas said a hearing will be held Friday morning at SCIDA, followed by a board meeting to consider the bond issue. If approved by the authority board, the particulars will be forwarded to the Commissioners for consideration.