Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Local News-Wednesday, Jan. 31st

Schuylkill County officials are pondering their next move in the Mental Health/Mental Retardation program audit. After last Friday’s meeting, a tentative reimbursement amount was thought to have been agreed upon. But, one of the contract providers, ReDCo, believes that its not so. Now, the County Commissioners have to weigh their options as to how to bring the process to a close. Several million dollars were overspent in the program from 2002 to 2004. A nearly three year audit of ReDCo and other service providers has yet to be finished. According to the Pottsville Republican, officials may take some form of legal action to get the audit wrapped up, and monies owed to the county, returned. Minority Commissioner Mantura Gallagher commented earlier this week that legal action may be an option, and her counterparts, Frank Staudenmeier and Bob Carl, have mentioned similar remedies. The audit was to be completed and final results issued by today. It appears that we will have to wait for some time to know the final outcome.

Two Mahanoy City men are in trouble for allegedly stealing diesel fuel earlier this week. Thomas Davidson and George Butcavage were arraigned on theft and related charges after they were reported to be on Gilberton Coal Company property Monday night with 55-gallon-drums on the back of a dump truck. They had already filled nine of the drums with diesel fuel, valued at over $1-thousand-dollars. Davidson was released after posting 10 percent of the $15-thousand-dollars bail. Butcavage was remanded to the Schuylkill County Prison.

Freshman state legislator Tim Seip has received his committee assignments in Harrisburg. The 125th District Representative will serve on four key committees in the 2007-08 legislative session, including the committee expected to handle property tax reform. He was named to the House Finance, Environmental Resources and Energy, Health and Human Services, and Labor Relations committees. Seip also will serve as majority secretary of the Health and Human Services Committee. Seip said the assignments will “enable me to have a greater voice on many of the issues that voters in my district told me were a priority, such as property taxes and the cost of health care and energy”. Seip is from Washington Township.

Its tax filing time, and the state revenue office in Pottsville is here to help. The Pottsville District Office, located at 115 S. Centre Street is offering assistance in filing your state income tax returns. They have the technology to handle most issues that taxpayers have. The Pennsylvania Department of Revenue has two free electronic filing options: Telefile, and pa-dot-direct-dot.file on the internet. Simply bring all of your tax information with you and the staff would be happy to help. They also have a supply of tax forms available if needed. Their hours of operation are Monday through Friday, 8:30am to 5pm. The state’s revenue website is revenue-dot-state-dot-pa-dot-us.

The Pottsville Social Security office is moving next month. Effective, February 12th, customers needing Social Security services will be able to visit the new site at 2221 West Market Street, on the second floor of the Yorkville Center. Clients will be able to enter from the rear of the building, with ample parking available. The office will also be serviced by STS, on the Route 20 bus. Hours of operation are 9am to 4pm, Monday through Friday, except holidays. Many of the services are also available on line at, or by phone at 385-5028.

Hamburg State Police are investigating a break-in at the Perry Golf Course. Troopers now say that someone broke into the clubhouse at the course by smashing a window with a chair. Thieves took the cash register and an undisclosed amount of cash during the overnight hours of January 12th. The investigation continues.

A test drive on the Adamsdale Road resulted in a crash Monday afternoon. 27-year-old Christopher Ayala of Schuylkill Haven, a car salesman, was taking 19-year-old Kristen Friebolin, of Hamburg on a test drive on the Adamsdale Road around noon when he lost control and crashed into a fence. Friebolin complained of neck pain and was taken to Pottsville Hospital for treatment. Schuylkill Haven State Police say that the incident was not reported to them for several hours after the crash. Ayala will be cited for several motor vehicle violations related to the incident.

State News-Wednesday, Jan. 31st

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - House Speaker Dennis O'Brien is scheduled to address the Pennsylvania Newspaper Association in Harrisburg today. O'Brien is a Philadelphia Republican who was elected speaker with mostly Democratic support. It's the first time in modern history that the speaker of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives is a member of the minority party.

JOHNSTOWN, Pa. (AP) - Striking bloodmobile and blood bank workers return to work today at the Johnstown-based chapter of the American Red Cross. The Communications Workers of America went on strike Sunday and are returning with no promise of the new contract they sought. A major issue is how much workers pay for health insurance. Officials from the Greater Alleghenies Red Cross have said they were prepared for the strike and have adequate blood supplies.

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - State representatives are offering the new House reform panel a wide range of suggestions for changing how the chamber operates. In less than two hours yesterday, the Commission on Legislative Reform fielded ideas about lame-duck sessions, the handling of amendments, proxy voting, the power to force a floor vote on a bill, advance notice of the chamber's actions and public access to lawmakers' spending records. The commission's been given six weeks to formulate its recommended changes to House operations, after which it'll take up broader issues of state government. The House is scheduled to consider changes to its rules the week of March 12th.

YORK, Pa. (AP) - A state legislator collected more than 11-thousand dollars in daily expense payments in his final year in office. Stephen Maitland lost his seat in the Republican primary in a race that focused on his support for a legislative pay raise. The Adams County man won't discuss his "per diem" payments totaling 11-thousand-368 dollars. They include some that were retroactive to 2004 and 2005. The "per-diem" payments are controversial because lawmakers can collect them without submitting receipts or detailing their expenses.

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) - Authorities have filed drug and conspiracy charges against 15 people they say were involved in a cocaine and heroin ring in central Pennsylvania. Authorties say a grand jury recommended the charges after an investigation that focused on trafficking and bulk sales of the narcotics in Lycoming, Clinton and Centre counties. Attorney General Tom Corbett says the operation distributed about two million dollars worth of cocaine and heroin over a four-year span, centering on the Lock Haven area. A Mill Hall man, Orlando Diaz Junior, is charged with drug possession and delivery. He's also charged with conspiracy and participating in corrupt organizations as well as a weapons count and related charges.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - A Philadelphia judge says Wyeth won't pay punitive damages to a woman who had breast cancer. Sixty-year-old Mary Daniel of Hot Springs, Arkansas, alleged that the pharmaceutical giant's menopause drug was responsible for her cancer. On Monday, a jury awarded one-and-a-half million dollars in compensatory damages to Daniel and her husband. The jury concluded that Wyeth's actions were bad enough to warrant punitive damages. But Common Pleas Judge Myrna Field ruled yesterday that there wasn't sufficient evidence presented at trial for the jury to reach that conclusion. The jury wasn't told of that ruling. Jurors were allowed to continue deliberating to determine a dollar amount of punitive damages. That's in case Field's ruling is overturned on appeal.

National and International News-Wednesday, Jan. 31st

CAPITOL HILL (AP) - Congress is about to get another earful on what's gone wrong in Iraq. Members of the Iraq Study Group plan to tell a Senate hearing that poor training by the U-S has left Iraq with shoddy law enforcement and a corrupt judiciary. For starters, they say there weren't enough good trainers.

WASHINGTON (AP) - The special inspector general for U-S reconstruction in Iraq says the (b) billions being spent on security hasn't done the job. Stuart Bowen says the job of reconstruction now falls to the Iraqis, who he says are nowhere near ready to handle it. He's releasing a report today detailing the waste.

BIRMINGHAM, England (AP) - Eight more terrorism arrests in Britain. Police say the suspects were picked up in a series of raids this morning in Birmingham. Charges include suspicion of committing, preparing or instigating terrorism. Police aren't saying specifically what they think the eight did.

WASHINGTON (AP) - An advocate for immigrants says the government's plan to nearly double citizenship fees is going to be "devastating." By law, the Homeland Security citizenship office has to cover its costs with fees. Advocates say Congress should chip in.

LONDON (AP) - Police in Britain have released on bail a man caught with a pitchfork last night on the country estate of Prince Charles. The man's charged with trespassing. It's not clear what he was doing there, but he didn't get into the house. The prince and his wife were reportedly safe inside, asleep.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Local News-Tuesday, Jan. 30th

Snowy conditions led to accidents on area roads Monday. It also uncovered several illegal immigrants. State police report that Juan Riscajche of Tamaqua was driving a van owned by Sharon Dover of Frackville, and was leaving the International Bedding Factory in West Mahanoy Township when he slid on the snow and crashed into another vehicle. After a brief search, police found that he was in this country illegally from Mexico. The second driver fled on foot. A second crash happened on Industrial Park Road, when an SUV operated by Robert Fisher of Mahanoy City was struck by a vehicle driven by an unknown Hispanic man. That man also fled the scene. Rush Township Police apprehended Arias-Jose Guadalupe of Hazleton, who was found running along Route 54, attempting to flee from International Bedding Corporation. Guadalupe is apparently in this country illegally, but worked at the factory. Both Riscajche and Guadalupe were detained at the state police barracks, awaiting a deportation hearing. There have been several instances of illegal immigrants being apprehended by police in the past week or two.

The case against a New York man, accused of attempted homicide in Tamaqua last year, will have to wait until the next court term. Judge John Domalakes of the Schuylkill County Court of Common Pleas issued an order to delay the hearing against Kareem Mills of Brooklyn, New York until April, after Mills requested a change of venue and/or jury in the case. Mills allegedly broke into the apartment of his ex-girlfriend in March, and fired shots. The Pottsville Republican reports that Mills was extradited to Schuylkill County after he fled to Brooklyn last year, and his court appointed attorney requested the extension. Domalakes ordered that Mills be released on bail back in November, since he was not tried within 180 days, according to Pennsylvania law. But, Mills has yet to be released because he has not verified a permanent address in Tamaqua, a condition for his release. Mills is charged with attempted homicide, assault, burglary and other offenses.

An apartment in Shenandoah is in shambles and another has structural damage after a car crashed into the building Monday afternoon. It happened just before 4 p.m. at the corner of East Centre and Bridge. The car went into the kitchen of an apartment on the first floor of the building. An elderly couple lives in the apartment. The woman, who uses a wheelchair, had just finished doing dishes and gone into another room when the crash happened. She and her husband were not hurt. Another family on the second floor were also home, but not injured. The American Red Cross is helping both families. There is no word if the driver was hurt. Police are investigating the crash.

A Pottsville man was not hurt following a one car crash yesterday in Wayne Township. 19-year-old Kevin O’Connor was traveling on Front Street, near Route 443 yesterday afternoon when he lost control on a left curve. The car hit an embankment and rolled over, coming to rest on its wheels. O’Connor was wearing his seatbelt and was not hurt. His Dodge Neon was heavily damaged.

A Port Carbon man was arrested for drunk driving early Saturday. Port Carbon police now say that they observed 30-year-old Francis Letcavage driving erratically in the area of Mill and Main Street. When he was stopped, they found he was driving with an expired registration, license and inspection and was under the influence. He failed a sobriety test, and had a blood alcohol level of .14. Letcavage will be charged through a summons. The stop happened around 1am Saturday.

Now that we’ve reached the end of January, a new law is now in effect for drivers in Pennsylvania. The intent of the law is to increase visibility during inclement weather. Representative Joe Markosek, Majority House Transportation Committee Chair that the law was written to make the rule easier to remember during inclement weather rather than requiring headlight use based on distance traveled. Violations of the wiper-light law includes a fine and cost of $100. Another traffic law deals with completely cleaning your vehicle of snow and ice during winter weather. The fines range from $200 to $1,000 dollars, if someone is injured from flying snow or ice on moving vehicles.

State News-Tuesday, Jan. 30th

EAST PEORIA, Ill. (AP) - President Bush says he uses Caterpillar's trademark yellow earth-movers on his Texas ranch. But he'll get a firsthand look at one of their big brothers today during a tour of a central Illinois factory that makes the world's largest bulldozer. Officials say Bush's scheduled stop at the East Peoria plant in Illinois was steered by more than a boyish fascination with the hulking machines. On the eve of his State of the Economy address tomorrow in New York, Bush is touting Caterpillar as an example of how his administration's trade agreements and tax breaks can boost global sales and create jobs for U-S workers. Others, though, say Caterpillar itself is behind a global sales surge that helped the heavy equipment maker post record profits and revenues for three straight years, creating about five-thousand jobs at plants in Illinois, Colorado, Pennsylvania and Tennessee.

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Pennsylvania's House of Representatives has adopted some revisions to the temporary rules that guide how the House operates. The temporary rules are in effect pending recommendations expected in March from a special reform panel that is considering permanent rule changes. That panel -- the Speaker's Commission on Legislative Reform -- is slated to open two days of hearings today. One change that was approved eliminated a rule that allowed representatives preoccupied with official business elsewhere in Harrisburg to have their floor leaders cast proxy votes for them. Other changes created a Gaming Oversight Committee to oversee newly legalized slot-machine gambling in the state; added one seat to every standing committee to give the G-O-P minority more of a voice; and extended the reform panel's deadline from mid-February to mid-March.

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Two Republican senators are calling for passage of an act to cap state spending and guarantee taxpayers a slice of any revenue surplus. The cap would be calculated using the rates of personal income growth, inflation and population change. The proposal from Senators Bob Regola of Cumberland County and Mike Folmer of Lebanon County echoes last year's gubernatorial campaign, in which Republican nominee Lynn Swann advocated a similar measure. Democratic Governor Ed Rendell opposed the idea. The bill, which has the backing of G-O-P leadership, would earmark 75 percent of any budget surplus for a reduction in the state income tax. The rest would be funneled into the state's Rainy Day Fund.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - A jury in Philadelphia days drugmaker Wyeth acted with malice or reckless disregard in selling a hormore-replacement drug that an Arkansas woman said caused her breast cancer. A hearing begins today to consider punitive damages. Yesterday, the jury awarded one (m) million dollars in compensatory damages to plaintiff Mary Daniel and half a (m) million dollars to her husband, Tom. The Hot Springs, Arkansas, woman developed cancer after taking the Wyeth drug Prempro for about 16 months to relieve hot flashes. The drug is a combination of estrogen and progestin. Wyeth's lawyer argued that Prempro is still prescribed to women, and suggested that Daniel's breast cancer was caused by other risk factors, including a family history of cancer.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Pennsylvania leads the nation in the rate of black homicides, with nearly 30 deaths per 100-thousand black residents annually. That's according to a study released by the Violence Policy Center, a nonprofit research group. The study says firearms, especially handguns, were used in the overwhelming majority of the nation's six-thousand-six-hundred-44 slayings with black victims. Eighty-five percent of black victims were male. Pennsylvania recorded 29-point-five-two homicides per 100-thousand black residents in 2004. That's the last year for which the F-B-I figures were available. Louisiana followed closely behind at 29-point-four-eight and Indiana was third with 29-point-three. The national rate of black homicides was 18-point-seven-one per 100-thousand.

GRAND HAVEN, Mich. (AP) - A Nescopeck (Pennsylvania) woman who's agreed to plead guilty to second-degree murder for her role in a 1979 rape-slaying in Michigan waived her arraignment yesterday. Forty-nine-year-old Laurie Ann Swank did so along with three male co-defendants. Prosecutors hoped she would enter her guilty plea yesterday, but her lawyer didn't have time to prepare her properly. Back in 1979, Swank was the boss of 23-year-old hotel clerk Janet Chandler. She was kidnapped and taken to a house where she was beaten, raped and strangled. Prosecutors maintain that Swank conspired with the men.

INDIANA, Pa. (AP) - A former western Pennsylvania borough manager has died while awaiting a judge to decide if he committed a crime. James Gladkosky, who was Indiana Borough's former manager, died Saturday after an extended illness and the Indiana County District Attorney's office says it will dismiss the case. Authorities say in 2001, Gladkosky directed that a former assistant manager's pay be roughly doubled, to 75-hundred dollars a month, beginning in January 2002. The assistant retired in March 2002 and borough officials said the change led to her being overpaid 74-thousand dollars before her pension was reduced last year. Gladkosky maintained his innocence at his non-jury trial in October, contending borough council approved of the raise.

KENNETT SQUARE, Pa. (AP) - Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro's greatest impact might be the future well-being of thoroughbreds. Doctor Dean Richardson says he has learned a great deal from treating the Kentucky Derby winner. He says he will be better equipped to handle a horse with the same injury the next time it comes up. Several vets say they believe other owners now might consider trying to save an injured horse, but cost is still an issue. Barbaro's owners spent tens of thousands of dollars. Barbaro was euthanized yesterday at the New Bolton Center in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, after a campaign to save him failed.

PITTSBURGH (AP) - Nobel laureate Finn Kydland has been named the first Richard Simmons Distinguished Professor at Carnegie Mellon University's Tepper School of Business. The school says the chair was established by a five (M) million-dollar endowment from Richard Simmons, retired chairman of Allegheny Technologies. Simmons also is an adjunct professor at the Tepper School. Kydland earned his doctorate in economics from the university in 1973. He won the 2004 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences with Edward Prescott, who also got his doctoral degree from Carnegie Mellon in 1967.

SAYRE, Pa. (AP) - A dancer and drum maker who collapsed at Mansfield University from a rare and usually fatal form of anthrax is returning to Pennsylvania. Vado Diomande wants to give a thank-you performance for people who saved his life. Last year, the Ivory Coast native who lives in New York City contracted the first case of naturally occurring inhalation anthrax in the United States since 1976. Diomande and health officials believe he contracted the disease while working with a large animal hide to make drums. Diomande lost 45 to 50 pounds during his ordeal. He had to be placed on a ventilator and underwent multiple surgeries to drain fluid from around his lungs. His doctors say his physical fitness and good health played a key role in his survival.

NEW CASTLE, Pa. (AP) - Talk about explosive publicity. The Lawrence County Tourist Promotion Agency says it's been notified by the U-S Trademark Office that it has obtained the trademark as the Fireworks Capital of America. The county is home to two of the world's biggest fireworks manufacturers, Zambelli Fireworks and Pyrotecnico. Tourism officials say the official trademark opens up more promotional opportunities. Tourism is the county's second-largest industry. The county has been using the slogan since 1990, but now has exclusive rights.

National and International News-Tuesday, Jan. 30th

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - Attacks targeting Shiite Muslims marking a holy celebration in Iraq have killed more than 30 people. At least 25 people were killed in two bombings near the Iranian border. Seven died when gunmen shot up a bus taking pilgrims to a Baghdad

WASHINGTON (AP) - The man who is about to become the top American commander in the Middle East concedes a couple of U-S mistakes in Iraq. Admiral William Fallon says the U-S miscalculated the ability of Iraqi forces to take control and underestimated enemy persistence. He faces a Senate confirmation hearing today.

WHITE HOUSE (AP) - President Bush is focusing on the economy this week and his spokesman says many Americans don't realize how robust it is. Bush today will showcase a Caterpillar plant in Illinois as an example of how his tax and trade polices can create American jobs. Some experts say Bush is taking too much of the credit.

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (AP) - Police in Youngstown, Ohio say they're looking for whoever shot and killed three men and a woman. The bodies were found inside a house last night, all with gunshot wounds to the head. Police declined to comment on a possible motive.

LAS VEGAS (AP) - It's another year of bragging rights for Oklahoma as the home of Miss America. Lauren Nelson, an aspiring Broadway star, won the pageant last night. The last time a state won back-to-back titles was in 1960, when Mississippi's Mary Ann Mobley crowned Lynda Mead as Miss America.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Local News-Monday, Jan. 29th

A Friday meeting about the Schuylkill County MH/MR determined that some money will be refunded, but the exact amount and when it will be returned is still up in the air. The meeting of the affected parties, including ReDCo, the county and auditors, was held in Wilkes Barre Friday morning. While the amount, in excess of $300-thousand –dollars, was agreed upon, it is not certain when the money will come back. The 3-year-audit was undertaken due to overspending by the Mental Health and Mental Retardation program through several contractors, the largest being ReDCo of Pottsville, from 2002 to 2004. However, ReDCo officials say that the calls for the reimbursement are premature. In a release issued Sunday, ReDCo Chief Operating Officer Virginia Schenk said the amount in question represents actual expenses paid in the form of benefits to employees who worked in group homes across the county. The auditors say that part of that amount should be disallowed as exceeding state guidelines for MH/MR programs. The final report was expected to be released on Wednesday, January 31st.

Ashland police are looking for a thief who stole jewelry from a home on Friday night. A woman came to a home at 18th and Centre Street around 5pm, in what police describe as a “gypsy” type scam. A heavy set blond woman came to the home, bearing a gift to gain the woman’s trust. After entering the home, and using the bathroom, the thief took three diamond rings, valued at around $23-thousand-dollars from the home, then left quickly. The woman purported to be 8 months pregnant, but they are not sure if that’s true. If you have any information, call Ashland police at 462-1991.

A slick substance on Route 61 caused two simultaneous crashes Saturday afternoon. A car driven by Bernard Kondash of McAdoo lost control on the slick road while negotiating a curve on the road, rolling onto its side. Kondash and his passenger, Barbara Kondash were not hurt. At the same time, Theresa Lane of Frackville lost control of her car and rolled onto its roof. She had minor injuries. State police say that an oil-like substance was on the road at the time of the crashes. PennDOT applied anti skid material on the roadway, forcing the closure of Route 61 for about 2 hours. The mishaps occurred about three miles south of Frackville around noontime.

A slick film on Route 61 caused a two vehicle crash Saturday night leaving the Schuylkill Mall. Lois Hewes of St Clair was southbound on Route 61 and stopped in the right lane while merging into traffic. A car driven by Elizabeth Yocom of Auburn, traveling behind Hewes, slid on an unknown substance on the road and struck the rear of Hewes’ car. No one was hurt. Both drivers were wearing their seatbelts.

No one was hurt in a one car crash on the Frackville grade Saturday. Jill Gordon of Schuylkill Haven was southbound on Route 61 in Blythe Township when she lost control of her vehicle after running over an oil-like substance on the road. The car went up an embankment, then across the roadway, striking a guiderail. Gordon, nor her passenger, William Herrick of Paramus, New Jersey, were hurt. The car had heavy front end damage.

A Klingerstown woman is charged with assault following an incident in Upper Mahantongo Township early Sunday morning. Schuylkill Haven State Police say that 40-year-old Cheryl Klinger and some friends were at the Ridge Road Inn, but as the night wore on, the group apparently got out of hand and were asked to leave the premises. As Klinger and the group were leaving, she swung a beer bottle at Kristie Kocher, striking her in the head and causing a cut above her eye. Klinger will be charged in the incident.

Friday was a busy night for area police during DUI checkpoints. The North Central PA Regional Sobriety Checkpoint and Enforcement Program was in force at the beginning of the weekend and detained 68 vehicles. Four drivers were tested for DUI, with three adult arrests. Thirty five other traffic arrests resulted, including seat belt violations and 5 criminal arrests. Seven police departments participated.

An inmate at SCI Mahanoy is in more trouble following an incident earlier this month. Frackville state police were called to the prison after inmate Richard Goney threw a coup of liquid on a corrections officer when he approached his cell. Authorities don’ t know what was in the cup, so the officer’s uniform was sent to the state police crime lab in Bethlehem for analysis.

A Williamstown man’s car was broken into at a parking area off of Interstate 81 Sunday. Troopers report that Craig Clark’s car was parked on a dirt lot used for carpooling in Frailey Township, when someone smashed the driver’s side window and took a 5-gallon container of gas, jumper cable and the license plate. The investigation continues.

State News-Monday, Jan. 29th

PITTSBURGH (AP) - Until today, it was unclear who was in charge of end-of-life decisions when someone became incapacitated in Pennsylvania. A new law taking effect today spells out who's in charge -- unless the patient designated someone in advance. Under the new law, the decisions are made by the person's spouse, adult child, parent, adult sibling, adult grandchild or close friend, in that order.

JOHNSTOWN, Pa. (AP) - About 160 workers are on strike at a Johnstown-based American Red Cross chapter that provides blood to southwestern Pennsylvania and parts of five other states. The Communications Workers of America began the strike yesterday. A union representative says they plan to return to work, at least temporarily, on Wednesday. The Red Cross had proposed that blood drive employees pay more for their health benefits. Red Cross officials say they were prepared for the strike and have adequate blood supplies. The Greater Alleghenies Red Cross supplies blood to parts of Pennsylvania, Maryland, Kentucky, Ohio, Virginia and West Virginia.

UNDATED (AP) - Barbaro's top veterinarian says he thinks the team will "quit" if a bone treated Saturday breaks again. Doctor Dean Richardson says "it's like a house of cards." He says when one body part fails, that puts more stress on all the other parts. Barbaro is no longer bearing weight on the right hind leg he shattered eight months ago in the Preakness. The fear is that the bone bearing the weight can break. Barbaro has been at the University of Pennsylvania's New Bolton Center in Chester County since his injury.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - While the last mayoral election in Philadelphia focused on public corruption, another problem is likely to dominate the race this year: gun violence. The city notched more than 400 homicides last year, and 2007 is proving no less deadly. A growing field of Democratic candidates are proposing measures to address the crime problem, such as adding police officers or surveillance cameras. Some have accused two-term Mayor John Street of not doing enough to curb violent crime. The Democratic primary on May 15th could decide the race, given the city's overwhelmingly Democratic voter rolls. Democrats who have entered the race include Congressman Bob Brady and retired health care executive Tom Knox, both of whom want to add more police officers. Congressman Chaka Fattah, another candidate, would add more surveillance cameras while former City Councilman Michael Nutter would give more power to police to "stop and frisk" people.

HAGERSTOWN, Md. (AP) - Maryland State Police say a Shippensburg man is in critical condition tonight after crashing a car while trying to flee from authorities. Police were trying to stop 28-year-old William Neil for speeding this afternoon on Route 66, just off Interstate 70. Police say Neil was driving about 88 miles per hour and weaving aggressively in and out of traffic. A state trooper tried to pull him over, but Neil started driving faster. Police say Neil hit two vehicles while trying to elude the trooper. No one in the two vehicles was injured. Police put down two sets of stop sticks, which deflated tires on the unregistered vehicle Neil was driving. He eventually lost control, and the car crashed into a tree and overturned.

LAS VEGAS (AP) - Miss Pennsylvania is looking good after the preliminary swimsuit portion of the 2007 Miss America Pageant. Emily Wills, a 24-year-old Penn State student, won the night's swimsuit competition after donning a black and white striped bikini. Wills, who is from Beaver, takes home one-thousand dollars for the effort. The pageant concludes tomorrow night in Las Vegas, Nevada. In a new format, talent and swimsuit winners are named in each of three preliminary nights. Miss California, 24-year-old Jacquelynne Fontaine, won last night's talent winner for her performance from the opera "Tosca." Preliminary winners on Thursday and Friday include competitors from Hawaii, Nebraska, Texas and Oklahoma.

ERIE, Pa. (AP) - An injured bald eagle spotted by a motorist on Interstate 79 is recuperating at a wildlife rehabilitation clinic in western Pennsylvania. The eagle is among a growing number treated for injuries as the birds have multiplied in Pennsylvania in recent years. Barbara Amato, of Meadville, says she saw the bald eagle hopping along the highway before it flew to the median and walked up an embankment as she was driving home from Pittsburgh. She says she stopped, called 9-1-1 and took pictures of the bird, which came within five or ten feet of her car. The eagle is currently recuperating from a dislocated shoulder at the Tamarack Wildlife Rehabilitation and Education Center in Saegertown.

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) - Hershey Company is going into a joint venture with South Korea's Lotte Confectionary Company to make chocolate in China. Lotte will own a 51 percent stake in the joint venture, to be operated in Shanghai but headquartered in Hong Kong. That's according to the joint statement released by Lotte. In addition, the companies say Lotte will use a Hershey distribution channel in the United States to sell its chewing gum products beginning in March.

SOMERSET, Pa. (AP) - A coalition of groups overseeing efforts to build a Flight 93 memorial is retaining an adviser to evaluate the fundraising performance of a Pittsburgh-based consulting firm. Flight 93 National Memorial partners have chosen T-C Benson, who has led development efforts at America's Promise Alliance, Americans for the Arts and the National Trust for Historic Preservation, to prepare a study of the work of Ketchum Incorporated. Ketchum was hired two years ago and prepared a study saying the group should aim to raise 30 million dollars in private donations. It has helped the group raise 10 million dollars and was to be paid a flat fee of 80-thousand dollars. The firm's contract expires next month.

National and International News-Monday, Jan. 29th

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - At least five people have been killed in two separate bombings in Baghdad today. Meanwhile, the fighting has stopped around Najaf, where an Iraqi spokesman says U-S and Iraqi
troops have the area surrounded. Iraqi officials estimate that 300 militants died in yesterday's battle

CAPITOL HILL (AP) - Top Senate Republican Mitch McConnell says he doubts a resolution opposing an Iraq troop buildup will pass. But a leading Democrat, Senator Joe Biden, predicts widespread opposition to President Bush's Iraq plan will become evident this week. He estimates that only about 20 senators think the
president's headed in the right direction.

JERUSALEM (AP) - Two militant Palestinian groups are claiming joint responsibility for a suicide attack today in the Israeli resort town of Eilat. A bomber killed himself and three other people at a bakery. It's the first such attack in Israel in nine months.

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - Police in Omaha, Nebraska, believe a man fatally shot his daughter, her husband and her two children before turning the gun on himself yesterday. Authorities say all five lived together. Investigators are trying to piece together what led to the shooting.

GAINESVILLE, Ga. (AP) - A display of foreign flags at Georgia high school has been taken down. It was supposed to represent the school's increasingly diverse student body, but school board officials say some people complained the American flag didn't stand out enough. One board member called it "a needless controversy."

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Local News - Saturday Jan. 27

Wolfgang may get lower bail

The father of a Mount Carmel man suspected in the death of his missing wife told a Schuylkill County judge Friday that he could post as much as $100,000 bail if the court would lower his son's current bail set in a district court. According to the Pottsville Republican and Herald, Clare Wolfgang, of Lavelle, also said that his son, Steven Wolfgang, could reside at the home he and his wife, Shirley, share. At a bail reduction hearing before Judge Jacqueline Russell, public defender Lora McDonald asked the court to lower her client's bail from $200,000 set at his arraignment earlier this month to 10-percent of $5,000. Russell asked Clare Wolfgang if there was any money available in the family to help with the bail. After more than an hour of testimony, Russell said she will render a decision later in the day or early next week. At the end of business Friday, the judge had not yet made a ruling, but is expected to do so early next week. Steven Wolfgang, 46, of 207 S. Market St., Mount Carmel, was charged with the Jan. 8 arson of his wife's 1986 Chevrolet Blazer that also burned his hands in a remote area in Eldred Township. State police fire marshal Trooper John F. Burns charged Wolfgang with two felony counts of arson and related offenses, one felony count each of causing or risking a catastrophe and criminal mischief. During Wolfgang's preliminary hearing Thursday before Magisterial District Judge Carol A. Pankake in Tremont, both sides agreed to lower the criminal mischief charge from a felony to a misdemeanor. Assistant District Attorney Michael O'Pake called Wolfgang a "serious flight risk" considering the felony arson and related charges and the fact that he could face murder charges in the near future if his missing wife is found dead. Wolfgang took the stand, first telling the court about a work-related injury he suffers from and how his prescribed medication for that injury is not being administered to him in prison. He also said that he will reside at his father's house and will attend each and every court proceeding that he is required to appear at. Burns testified that he examined the Blazer and determined the fire was intentionally set at two locations in an area between the front and back seats. Wolfgang was arraigned Thursday afternoon before Magisterial District Judge Michael F. Mychak, Mount Carmel, on two counts of child endangerment. Mychak set Wolfgang's bail at $30,000 straight, meaning a percentage will not be accepted. Northumberland County District Attorney Tony Rosini had previously stated the child endangerment charges were filed so that, in the event Wolfgang was able to make bail in Schuylkill County, he could be arrested and held in Northumberland County while the investigation into his wife's disappearance continued.

ReDCo promises $300K

The ReDCo Group, a Pottsville-based nonprofit service provider, agreed to return $300,000 to Schuylkill County coffers during a Friday meeting with county officials, county commissioners said. According to the Pottsville Republican and Herald, no timetable was announced regarding the next step in the auditing process or how much more money may be owed. Officials did promise, though, to push for the public release of the report in "the very near future." The developments came nearly three years after the commissioners hired the private firm Parente Randolph Accountants and Consultants to study contracts between the county and ReDCo for fiscal years 2002 to 2004. The service contracts came under scrutiny after the state Bureau of Financial Operations found a $3.2 million overrun of state and federal dollars used to finance the Mental Health/Mental Retardation programs, leaving the county taxpayers to pick up the tab. Reports filed by the state's Bureau of Financial Operations raised concerns about of oversight which led to the review of several service providers, the largest of them being The ReDCo Group. The commissioners cut human service contracts and reduced spending to reduce the $3.2 million deficit to about $400,000, said county Commissioner Robert S. Carl Jr., a Republican. State officials with the Bureau of Financial Operations did not attend the meeting, although county officials expected their participation.

State News - Saturday Jan. 27

JIM THORPE, Pa. (AP) - Nearly two dozen Carbon County employees had to evacuate their offices after officials found structural problems in a county courthouse building. Officials say support beams in part of the Carbon Courthouse Annex in Jim Thorpe cracked. That caused the floor in the county controller's office to sag two to four inches and forcing the evacuation of some employees yesterday. Inspectors think the damage is isolated to a 30- by 50-foot area of the building. But county officials say engineers will likely inspect the rest of the building to make sure there aren't anyother problems. Commissioners evacuated a total of about 20 employees from the controller and data processing departments, along with employees in the tax assessment, mapping and tax claim bureau.

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - The Pennsylvania State Museum has been closed until further notice for emergency repairs to its fire alarm system. So, you'll have to put your plans on hold if you were hoping to see the gowns of Pennsylvania's first ladies or photos of the state's steel history. Jane Crawford, a spokeswoman for the Pennsylvania Historical andMuseum Commission, says the alarm system at the downtown Harrisburg museum malfunctioned during routine testing. The repairs are expected to take several days. The museum is visited by about 315-thousand children and adults each year.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Prince Charles and his wife are in Philadelphia for a whirlwind weekend tour, after arriving at afour-star hotel last night. Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, along with their 18-person entourage, were welcomed at the Four Seasons hotel yesterday. They begin their official appearances this morning at Independence Hall, where they will be greeted by the mayor, governor and other officials at the very site where colonial settlers declared their independence from Britain. The couple will then meet with students at the Liberty Bell, followed by a reception with community leaders at the National Constitution Center. Tomorrow morning, the prince and duchess will attend services atArch Street Presbyterian Church before taking a private train toNew York.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - A judge has ruled that Philadelphia's jails are so overcrowded and conditions so poor that inmates' constitutional rights are being violated and the jails must again be put under federal monitoring. U.S. District Judge R. BarclaySurrick ordered the city to immediately provide prisoners with clean cells, toilets, showers, beds and medical attention.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Target Corporation will pay 775-thousand-dollars to 14 black workers in Springfield, Pennsylvania to settle discrimination complaints filed by federal civil rights monitors. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission says Target must also train managers and supervisors at its Springfield store about the company's equal opportunity policies.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - A Philadelphia man who said his tormented conscience led him to confess to an unsolved 1987 killing has been convicted by a jury of third-degree murder. Fifty-five-year-old Brian Hall confessed to police in 2005 that he strangled 18-year-old Rosella Atkinson nearly two decades earlier.

National and International News - Saturday Jan. 27

WHITE HOUSE (AP) - President Bush will take some time today to focus on issues closer to home than the war in Iraq. He's using his weekend radio chat today to promote initiatives on health care and energy. He'll hit the road next week to talk up the economy.

WASHINGTON (AP) - Thousands of protesters are expected in Washington today for a rally protesting the war in Iraq. Among them will be a small group of active-duty military troops. Organizers hope the event sparks a nationwide movement to bring U-S troops home.

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - Iraqi police say at least eleven people are dead after two car bombs blew up today in a mainly Shiite area of Baghdad. Nearly three dozen other people were hurt. Some of the victims hit by the second bomb had been drawn to the scene by the first.

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says she has a better understanding of the Iraq prime minister's point of view after meeting with him Friday in Baghdad. Iraqi officials say she also discussed security and Iraq's political situation with President Jalal Talabani.

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) - North Korea denies it's helping Iran develop nuclear weapons. A statement by the foreign ministry says the accusation is a "sheer lie and fabrication" spread by the Western media.

WASHINGTON (AP) - Eight Democratic presidential contenders re slated to be interviewed by one of the most politically influential labor unions. The Service Employees International Union says it wants candidates to spend time with its members before it hands down its endorsement.

NEW DELHI (AP) - At least eleven schoolgirls have been killed in a school building collapse in India. Another 14 were injured. Officials have ended the rescue effort, saying no one else appears to be trapped in the debris.

CHICAGO (AP) - Three people remain hospitalized after a high-rise apartment fire that killed two people in Chicago. Authorities are still investigating the cause of the blaze, which began on the 26th floor of the 43-story building.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Prince Charles and his wife Camilla have arrived in Philadelphia, where they're scheduled to make appearances today at Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell and other landmarks. The couple's two-day trip to the U-S includes a stop tomorrow in New York City.

ARICOPA, Ariz. (AP) - Police in Arizona say a six-year-old girl who was abducted Friday by a registered sex offender may have been molested. Police are looking for George Horner, who had been staying with the girl and her mother. The child was found walking by herself in a nearby town.

TORONTO (AP) - The U-S is keeping him on its terrorist watch list but Canada has apologized to a Syrian-born Canadian for its role in helping the U-S deport him to Syria where he was tortured. Canada is paying him nearly nine (m) million dollars in compensation for the ordeal, exonerating him of any terror connections.

NORTH BONNEVILLE, Wash. (AP) - A Washington state man is in police custody for investigation of domestic assault after he admitted using a stun gun on his wife's 79-year-old grandmother. The man says the two had argued and he shocked her when she refused to leave. She wasn't otherwise injured.

SAN DIEGO (AP) - Navy officials say a helicopter crew had time to put out a mayday call before their chopper crashed off the coast of Southern California yesterday. The helicopter had been on a training mission. One rescued sailor later died. The search continues for the three crewmen missing.

DURHAM, N.C. (AP) - Duke University's men's lacrosse team is back on the field, practicing for the new season. The 2006 season was canceled after a woman accused three players of raping her at a team party. Some of the charges have since been dropped and the prosecutor is accused of ethical misconduct.

LAS VEGAS (AP) - Miss America will be crowned Monday night on the Country Music Television cable channel. The pageant has been moved from its usual Saturday-night spot in an effort to draw a bigger T-V audience. It'll be broadcast live from Las Vegas.

Friday, January 26, 2007

State News-Friday, Jan. 26th

For the first time this winter, we are in an icy grip. Snow squalls overspread the area last night, with a dusting to around an inch in some places and gusty winds have pushed the temperatures to single digits this morning. We are under a weather watch due to the cold temperatures. A number of area schools are operating under delays today. Make sure to bundle up when going out this morning.

A Mount Carmel man has been formally charged, and his case bound for court. Steven Wolfgang was arraigned yesterday for arson and related offenses for burning his wife’s car in a remote area of Eldred Township earlier this month. The search for his missing wife, Sherry,continues. Wolfgang torched his wife’s SUV in what appeared to be a suicide attempt on January 8th. Wolfgang and his wife were apparently drinking on Friday, January 5th and got into an argument. Sherry Wolfgang said she was leaving him, and has not been seen since. Steven Wolfgang was burned in the incident, and while under treatment, allegedly reported that he killed his wife and disposed of her body. A massive search has not uncovered her whereabouts. The Pottsville Republican indicates that Wolfgang waived his preliminary hearing, and will face the charges in county court. A throng of family and friends were stationed outside the hearing at District Judge Carol Pankake’s office yesterday, questioning Wolfgang as to his wife’s disappearance.

A meeting to discuss the audit report pertaining to the Schuylkill County MH/MR program is today, and one attendee has been added to the list. Schuylkill County Commissioner Mantura Gallagher will accompany County Administrator Bill Reppy, MH/MR official Dan McGrory and solicitor Paul Datte to the meeting with Parente Randolph in Wilkes Barre. They will meet with representatives of the firm, who conducted the audit, and with ReDCo officials, the county’s largest mental health provider, and officials from the state Department of Welfare’s Bureau of Financial Operations to discuss preliminary findings. According to the Pottsville Republican, Gallagher is attending due to suspicions that not all of the requested documentation was provided to the auditors by ReDCo during the three year long process. The company defends accusations that they dragged their feet in complying with requests for information during the audit. The county had requested that ReDCo be prepared to respond to the preliminary cost adjustment report by last week. The county commissioners have hoped to have a final report issued to the public by next Wednesday.

A Schuylkill Haven woman was struck crossing a borough street yesterday afternoon. Fern Miller was crossing Columbia Street around 2:30pm when she was struck by a pickup truck driven by a 17-year-old male. Miller suffered head trauma. Following treatment at the scene, she was flown to Lehigh Valley Hospital via MedEvac.

The Pottsville Lions Club Charities and Lions Club Cruise Committee presented checks to two non-profit groups Thursday. The checks were presented to the Schuylkill County Make-A-Wish Foundation and the MarLin Playground Association from proceeds of the annual Great Pottsville Cruise weekend and its sponsors. Cruise Committee Chair Jerry Enders said $15-thousand-dollars has been distributed to local non-profit groups from the event. Enders said the sponsor of the 2007 Cruise car, to be given away at the 14th annual event, will be sponsored by Pioneer Pole Buildings.

The Schuylkill County Commissioners tabled a request at their board meeting Wednesday from two Municipalities that would ask their constituents in the May Primary Election if they want to change their number of Supervisors. Assistant County Solicitor, J. Jones suggested the move saying both Townships might want to place the question on the General Election ballot instead of the Primary ballot because of the separate ballots for the major party’s and for people of other party affiliations that have no ballot to vote on. Voters in Pine Grove Township would be asked to approve a resolution to return to a three member board from the present five members, and West Penn Township would ask its voters to approve a petition to add two Supervisors to it present three member board. Jones will contact both Townships on the matter.

National and International News-Friday, Jan. 26th

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - Another American is dead in Iraq, a Marine killed today in fighting west of Baghdad. At least 14 people are dead and dozens more wounded in a Baghdad bombing today. It happened in a marketplace for pet sales. Authorities say the bomb was hidden in a box of pigeons.

WASHINGTON (AP) - This morning's Washington Post reports the Bush administration has launched an aggressive new campaign to weaken the influence of Iran. The paper says it includes an authorization for U-S troops to kill or capture Iranian operatives inside Iraq.

CAPITOL HILL (AP) - Newly installed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is leading a congressional delegation on a fact-finding mission to Iraq. The trip comes as the Senate prepares to confirm the Army general President Bush has chosen to lead a new effort to secure Baghdad.

ERIE, Pa. (AP) - Interstate 90 through northwestern Pennsylvania has reopened after a 15-hour shutdown caused by a massive chain-reaction pileup yesterday in a snowstorm. One person was killed when about 50 cars and trucks skidded into each other. Looking at the carnage, a Pennsylvania safety official says he
can't believe anybody survived.

GALVESTON, Texas (AP) - B.B. King is listed in good condition with an undisclosed ailment at a hospital in Galveston, Texas. The legendary bluesman missed a performance last night but the hospital says he could be out today or tomorrow. President Bush awarded King the Presidential Medal of Freedom last month.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Local News-Thursday, Jan. 25th

A routine traffic stop last night turned into a three-hour search for suspected illegal immigrants. An officer from Kline Township stopped a van on Route 309 in Rush Township for a traffic violation. While taking the female operator’s information, a dozen men and women ran into the woods, heading south towards Barnesville. The officer was able to stop one of the passengers. Both of them were taken for questioning. The others are suspected of being in the US illegally because of comments made by the driver. A collective search by several police departments, state police and other personnel continued the search for several hours before being called off around 9:15pm. Kline Township is accepting any information on the whereabouts of these people, call them at 929-2354.

Peter “PJ” Symons announced his intention to seek re-election as Prothonotary for Schuylkill County. However, he will not be running as a Republican. He is switching parties, and will run as a Democrat. Symons contends that some members of the county Republican party are out of touch with voters, and his disagreements with them led to his decision to switch parties. Among the accomplishments cited by Symons during his twelve years in office are significant technological advances, including microfilming of documents and optical scanning of information for view on the county’s website.

There will be a meeting Friday, and all the parties involved will be there. The ongoing saga of the Schuylkill County MH/MR preliminary audit will hopefully come one step closer to resolution after a meeting in Wilkes Barre on Friday. At issue are possible overpayments made by the county to ReDCo, a service provider, for MH/MR services from 2000 through 2003. The accounting firm of Parente Randolph has been conducting the audit for several years, in consultation with the state’s Bureau of Financial Operations. County Administrator Bill Reppy said that representatives from Parente Randolph, ReDCo, the state Bureau of Financial Operations and the county will attend, and it is hoped that the issues in the audit report will be worked out and a final report issued by month end. ReDCo issued a statement to the media last evening regarding the audit. Virginia Schenk, Chief Operating Officer said that responsibility for the apparent lack of progress in completing the Mental Health/Mental Retardation audit by Parente Randolph belonged to the auditing firm. The company refutes charges that they “stonewalled” during the review, and stresses that they cooperated in every reasonable way with the Parente Randolph auditing team. Schenk went on to say that they received a fax from the county on January 2nd, but contained no specific accounting documentation. ReDCo said they were instructed to respond by January 19th. Finally, the company said they were prepared to respond by January 11th, but a meeting date with Parente was not set until the 25th. The county was reportedly made aware of that date. It was previously reported that county was unaware of the meeting. The audit will cost $48-thousand-500 dollars to complete.

The proposed prison release center was again a topic of discussion during Wednesdays Schuylkill County Prison Board meeting. Prison Board Chairman, Judge William Baldwin said if a commitment isn’t soon made by the county on the facility, he will have to withdraw a promise of $150-Thousand Dollars a year for the project to hire more staff beginning next year. He said the money comes from the Adult supervision fund and must be used for adult supervision. He said there is no room inside the prison to do the rehabilitation and more staff would be required to do the job outside the prison. Judge Baldwin said the electronic monitoring program has saved 11,334 inmate incarcerations in 2006 alone but his staff is tied up with that program and more people would be required to do the outside rehabilitation work that could be done in the prison release center. The proposed center would allow about 100 inmates to be transferred there and help reduce the prison population. The County has consultants looking at the county’s needs and Commissioners Robert Carl and Frank Staudamier favor waiting for the study to be completed before making a decision.

The investigation into a fire-truck crash during a parade for the Pottsville football team on December 16th is complete. State police at Frackville say that David Womer, the driver of the Mount Carbon Fire Company vehicle, is charged with driving too closely during the parade for the Crimson Tide following the state championship game. The truck collided with the rig from the East End Fire Company of Palo Alto. Both vehicles sustained significant damage in the crash. Those vehicles are in the process of being repaired.

Pottsville police report that a woman was found dead in her car in the city last night. According to the Pottsville Republican, the unidentified elderly woman was found in front of her home on Arch Street around 6:30pm. Police have not released information about her identity until her next of kin are notified. Apparently, she died of natural causes, but an investigation is ongoing.

A Pine Grove man was injured in a crash in Pine Grove Township Wednesday morning. 50-year-old Ralph Graham was southbound on State Route 645 around 6:30am when he lost control on ice while negotiating a right curve. His truck went off the road and struck a tree. After impact, the truck continued on and rolled over, coming to rest right-side up. Graham complained of back pain. His truck was severely damaged and had to be towed from the scene.

Two Pottsville linemen will represent Pennsylvania in the Big 33 Football Classic in June. The Pottsville Republican reports that Brad Hallick will join Gary Bardzak on the state squad at the all-star game in Hershey. The classic contest pits the best players from Pennsylvania against all stars from Ohio.

State News-Thursday, Jan. 25th

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Congressman Bob Brady is speaking later today to begin his campaign for mayor of Philadelphia. Brady is one of five Democrats seeking their party's nomination in the May primary. The winner of the Democratic primary is heavily favored to win the general election. No Republican candidates have joined the race so far.

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) - The president of Penn State University says the institution takes equal opportunity seriously. Graham Spanier wrote to the state Human Relations Commission last night, saying the university has one of the lowest levels of citations for large employers. Spanier acknowledges that the university isn't perfect, but say it takes action when warranted. For example, it fined women's basketball coach Rene Portland ten-thousand dollars and ordered her to attend diversity classes because of a complaint of anti-gay bias. Portland disagreed with that decision. The state commission will review discrimination complaints to see if there's a pattern of bias on its campuses. A report is due in March.

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) - It turns out that 47-year-old John Healy of Yardley wasn't on trial for murder after all. A man identified in court records as Healy was convicted Monday of the murder of a police officer in Oneida County, New York. But it turns out the convict has used about 20 different aliases and authorities aren't sure what his real name is. Prosecutors used the name Healy because the defendant had a driver's license under that name. They say they didn't realize until this month that it was the name of a real person. The real John Healy is a salesman for Home Depot. He says he's been having trouble for some time ever since his identity was stolen. But it wasn't until a couple of weeks ago that he knew someone was being prosecuted for murder under his name.

PITTSBURGH (AP) - Governor Ed Rendell says he's more optimistic that a new arena agreement can be reached to keep big-league hockey in Pittsburgh. There have been several days of back-and-forth exchanges between the governor and Penguins chairman and former star player Mario Lemieux. Now Rendell says he believes an agreement is in reach. In a phone conversation Tuesday night, Rendell and co-owner Ron Burkle discussed some of the arena issues that needed to be clarified and agreed to work on them. The governor also says he expects to speak with Burkle again early next week, but that no new negotiating sessions are scheduled. Burkle is also talking with Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl and Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - There is a Powerball winner. Of the (m) millions of tickets sold for Wednesday night's drawing, one of them matched all six numbers to win the 254 (m) million-dollar jackpot. The winning ticket was sold in Missouri. The multi-state lottery game had gone without a top winner since November 29th, when one player in North Carolina won a jackpot worth 74-and-a-half (m) million dollars. That prize still hasn't been claimed. In addition, 23 players matched five of the six winning numbers in Wednesday's drawing to win at least 200-thousand dollars each. The winning numbers were: nine, 19, 29, 42 and 53. The Powerball was 17. Powerball is played in Pennsylvania and 27 other states, as well as the District of Columbia and the U-S Virgin Islands.

National and International News-Thursday, Jan. 25th

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - At least seven more Iraqis have been killed by bomb blasts this morning in two separate Baghdad marketplaces. One of the bombs was attached to a motorcycle. It's feared
insurgents are stepping up their attacks in advance of a U-S-Iraqi push to secure the capital.

CAPITOL HILL (AP) - President Bush's choice for a new commander of U-S forces in Iraq appears headed for Senate confirmation today. Lieutenant General David Petraeus is also in line for promotion to full general, with a fourth star. This will be Petraeus' third tour of duty in Iraq.

WASHINGTON (AP) - With lawmakers preparing a resolution opposing a troop buildup in Iraq, anti-war protesters are planning a Washington rally Saturday. Among celebrities scheduled to attend is
Vietnam protest veteran, Jane Fonda.

GENEVA (AP) - A U-N labor report out today says the service sector has overtaken farming and industry as the world's biggest source of jobs. The report also says about one and a-third (b) billion people in the world can be classified as working poor, living on less than two dollars a day.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Somebody in the Show-Me state may have good cause to stay home from work today. The multi-state Powerball lottery says the one ticket that hit for last night's big jackpot
was sold in Missouri. It's worth 254 (m) million dollars.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Local News-Wednesday, Jan. 24th

A three month investigation netted the arrest of several people on various drug charges in Auburn late last week. The Schuylkill County Drug Task Force and the Auburn Police Department executed a search warrant Friday at 206 Market Street in Auburn. Police found numerous individuals, both adults and juveniles at the home, as well as a quantity of marijuana and drug paraphernalia. Among those charged was a 17-year-old male juvenile. Charges were also filed against Jamaal Dean and Joenelle Rick for possession, possession with intent to deliver and criminal conspiracy. Rick and Dean were arraigned and taken to Schuylkill County Prison. Both posted the required bail of 10 percent of $10-thousand-dollars, and released. To report illegal drug activity, call the Schuylkill County Drug Task Force at 800-414-1406.

Two men who are in this country illegally were apprehended this week in Rush Township. Officers on patrol saw a suspicious vehicle in the parking lot of My Brother’s Beer Barn. Frank Velasquez, the driver, appeared to be intoxicated and failed a sobriety test. A passenger, Jairo Gonzalez, also had an open container in the car. Both men are from Guatemala. Police found that the car the men were driving in was stolen in Virginia. Both were taken into custody to await a deportation hearing by immigration officials.

A Tamaqua woman suffered minor injuries in a crash in Blythe Township yesterday afternoon. Patricia McHale was traveling on Route 209 north when she left the roadway and got stuck on the guiderails. Her car had severe front end damage. McHale was cited in the crash. The incident happened around 2:30pm.

Two dogs were removed from their kennels in Pine Grove Township overnight Monday. Schuylkill Haven State Police indicate that someone removed two German Short Haired Pointers from the kennel at the home of Ryan Schaeffer. The dogs are valued at $4-thousand-dollars. A reward is being offered for their return. Anyone with information should contact Schuylkill Haven State Police at 593-2000.

Authorities are investigating a break-in at a pizza shop in Nuremberg Monday night into Tuesday. State police report that someone broke into Celeste Pizza Shop on Mahanoy Street between 5pm Monday and 7am Tuesday. During the burglary, a game machine, snacks and drinks wee taken. Frackville troopers are investigating.

State game lands located in our area will grow, thanks to a gift from a Maryland woman. State Game Lands number 211 in Pine Grove Township will grow by 59 acres, thanks to a gift from Jean Jones of Rockville, Maryland. The parcel - 52 wooded and 7 farmland acres will provide a fine habitat for wild turkeys, deer and songbirds, and will augment the existing 44-thousand-373 acres. Ms. Jones placed a restriction on the tract that it could not be sold or transferred for 25 years from the date of the deed. The seven acres of farmable land will also be beneficial to wildlife. The Game Commission has been purchasing State Game Lands since 1920. The State Game Lands system currently contains more than 1.4 million acres.

The Anthracite Regional Center for Independent Living has opened an office in Pottsville. The advocacy group set up shop at Avenues in Mechanicsville at the beginning of the year. The group works on behalf of disabled persons, especially with those who have accessibility issues to public buildings under the Americans with Disabilities Act. The group has been very visible at several locations in Schuylkill County over the past several years to call attention to the difficulties that people with disabilities face in accessing all public facilities. They hope that the new office will help to centralize their operations in a three-county area. The hours of operation at Avenues will be from 9am to 5pm, Monday through Friday.

State News-Wednesday, Jan. 24th

LOS ANGELES (AP) - A California legislator is butting heads with farmers over his proposed regulations to protect lettuce, spinach and other crops E. coli outbreaks. E. coli killed three people and sickened hundreds of others across the country in recent months. State Senator Dean Florez plans to introduce a bill February first that calls for a system to track produce from fields to store shelves.

PITTSBURGH (AP) - The future of the Pittsburgh Penguins remains uncertain, although Governor Ed Rendell remains confident the team will stay put. Rendell says the state might ask the N-H-L to intercede if negotiations for a new arena in Pittsburgh break down. Rendell added the latest proposal is so good that he can't see the league allowing the Pens to leave.

WASHINGTON (AP) - Amtrak's new president wants to upgrade the passenger railroad's image. Alex Kummant tells The Associated Press that the much-maligned railroad is in better shape than he expected when he came aboard. But he says it should do more to capitalize on a growing appetite for rail travel fueled by high gas prices and highway congestion.

UNDATED (AP) - A rabbi and a United Methodist pastor are recovering after a kidney transplant in Philadelphia. Karen Onesti gave Andrew Bossov one of her kidneys. Both have congregations in Mount Laurel, New Jersey. The religious leaders have known each
other for about four years.

UNDATED (AP) - Tonight's Powerball lottery drawing could mean a nearly quarter (b) billion dollar payday for a lucky ticket holder. The jackpot has climbed to 240 (m) million dollars. A single winner choosing the cash payment option would get an immediate 114 (m) million dollar payout.

National and International News-Wednesday, Jan. 24th

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - The U-S death toll in Iraq has risen to at least three-thousand-66 since the war began, with the deaths of two more Marines in combat. And there are reports that some of the five American civilians who died yesterday were shot. They had been in a helicopter crash.

CAPITOL HILL (AP) - The Senate Foreign Relations Committee today takes up a resolution opposing President Bush's troop buildup in Iraq. Even if they don't support the Democratic plan, more and more
Republicans are voicing their concerns about the president's strategy.

CAPITOL HILL (AP) - Even though Iraq is getting much of the attention, President Bush also focused on domestic concerns in his State of the Union address. He urged a 20 percent cut in the amount of gasoline used, and changes in the tax code to encourage more people to buy health insurance.

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Bush administration is once again proposing to give poor students vouchers for private schools. It's part of the president's No Child Left Behind initiative. But the voucher proposal is unlikely to be approved by the Democratic-controlled Congress.

PARK CITY, Utah (AP) - A film that features the rape of a 12-year-old girl is creating quite a stir at the Sundance Film Festival. Despite calls to boycott "Hounddog," child actress Dakota Fanning defends her performance. The movie is up for a prize in the dramatic category.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Local News-Tuesday, Jan. 23rd

Pottsville Police arrested two men in a drug raid early Friday morning. The Drug Investigation Unit executed a search warrant at 514 Mahantongo Street, and arrested 19-year-old Samuel Santiago Jr. and a 17-year-old male, both from Allentown. Police seized crack cocaine, weapons, cash, drug records and drug paraphernalia at the home. Santiago and the teen were charged with criminal conspiracy, drug possession and related offenses. Both were taken to Schuylkill County Prison. The apartment apparently was being used by people from Allentown to sell the drugs. Police have been conducting a month-long investigation into the activities there, which resulted in the arrest. Officials say that they have initiated a stronger effort to crack down on street level purchasers to reduce the drug trade in Pottsville. A confidential number is available for citizens to report illegal drug activity. Call Pottsville City Hall at 622-1234, and access mailbox number 150.

A Minersville woman is accused of making terroristic threats at a local establishment last night. State troopers report that 39-year-old Diane Moran arrived at Plaza Lanes to pick up her daughter around 11:30pm. An argument between Moran’s daughter, some of her friends and 19-year-old Ronald Griffiths ensued. Moran reportedly pulled out a pellet gun from the trunk of her car and pointed it at Griffiths. He quickly fled the scene and called state police. Moran was picked up by Pottsville Police shortly thereafter. Charges are pending in the incident.

A local legislator has been appointed to a bipartisan commission to study reforms in the state House of Representatives. Representative Dave Argall, of the 124th Legislative District has been appointed by House Speaker Dennis O’Brien to the Commission on Legislative Reform. The committee is expected to examine the House operating rules, and will drawn upon experiences from other state legislatures in formulating recommendations. Argall said this is the first important test of the House to work in a bi-partisan fashion, which will be necessary since Democrats hold a 102-101 majority over Republicans. Speaker O’Brien has asked the commission to present their recommendations to the entire House by mid-February. The committee meets in Harrisburg today.

Schuylkill County officials and taxpayers are still awaiting the results of the audit of the MH/MR program. The first deadline has passed. The program has been under scrutiny for three years after cost overruns totaling more than $3-million-dollars. Parente Randolph has been conducting the audit since then, and a preliminary report was released to the county commissioners earlier this month. The ReDCo Group, the service provider, was given an opportunity to review the findings, and asked to respond to the county by last Friday. That didn't happen. A public release of the findings was expected by the end of January. The Pottsville Republican reports that Parente Randolph and ReDCO will meet this Friday, without any county representation, about the matter. The Pennsylvania Bureau of Financial Operations has also been consulting during the audit process. It is apparent that the final results will have to wait a little while longer.

A Shenandoah man was involved in a two vehicle crash in Berks County last night. Hamburg State Police say that Daniel Loeb of Lenhartsville was southbound on Route 183, near the intersection of Interstate 78 in Upper Tulpehocken Township when he attempted to make a left hand turn. He traveled into the path of a car driven by John Lorah the Third of Shenandoah, who was northbound. Loeb’s car hit Lorah’s car on the driver’s side. No one was injured, but both cars had to be towed from the scene. The crash happened around 7:30pm Monday.

Snowy conditions and speed combined in a car and bus crash in Perry Township Monday morning. The crash happened on Route 662 after 8:30 Monday. The Hamburg School Bus driven by Toni Pribica was southbound on Seiger Lane, and a car driven by Hannah Wolfinger of Shoemakersville was headed south on Route 662. Wolfinger lost control on a left hand curve after she saw the bus attempting to turn onto 662. She traveled onto the slush covered shoulder of the road and struck the bus. Her car spun counterclockwise, but the bus remained in place. About 20 children were on the bus at the time of the crash. No one was injured, and were all transferred to another bus at the scene. The drivers of both the bus and car were wearing seat belts. Wolfinger will receive a summons for driving at an unsafe speed. Police said the Escort and bus were both towed from the scene.

State troopers are looking for a pickup truck which was involved in a hit and run crash yesterday morning in North Manheim Township. A blue pickup was eastbound on Route 443, Long Run Road, around 8:30am, when it traveled across the road and hit several mailboxes. The driver reportedly stopped briefly after the crash, but then took off toward Schuylkill Haven without reporting it. Information is sketchy about the make and model of the pickup. If anyone has information about the hit and run, call Schuylkill Haven State Police at 593-2000.

State News-Tuesday, Jan. 23rd

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - After nearly two decades, Brian Hall's conscience got the best of him. The Philadelphia man flagged down a patrolman and gave a confession in the killing of a woman whose case had long confounded police. But it turns out he wasn't ready to admit to first-degree murder. Hall, who's now 55, is expected to plead guilty to a general homicide charge today. Then he wants to let a jury decide his degree of guilt. The proseuctor says Hall committed first-degree murder. But defense lawyers say the facts don't justify a conviction on that charge. The 18-year-old victim, Rosella Atkinson, was found four months after her 1987 slaying. But the body was so decomposed that it wasn't identified until 1990. Hall flagged down the police officer in 2005.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - An interfaith kidney transplant is scheduled today at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. The Reverend Karen Onesti, who pastors a United Methodist church in New Jersey, is donating one of her kidneys to Rabbi Andrew Bossov, whom she met four years ago through the Interfaith Council of Greater Mount Laurel. Bossov's kidneys have been failing for years, forcing him to undergo frequent dialysis, so she offered him one of hers. After months of tests for compatibility, surgeons approved the transplant. Onesti says she believes it's what God wants her to do. Her church is holding a 24-hour vigil beginning to pray for the transplant.

PITTSBURGH (AP) - Pittsburgh City Councilman Bill Peduto has announced his bid for mayor, challenging Mayor Luke Ravenstahl in May's Democratic primary. This is 42-year-old Peduto's second run at the office. He ran in 2005, losing to Bob O'Connor, who died September First from a rare form of brain cancer. Soon after, 26-year-old council president Luke Ravenstahl was sworn in as mayor. Peduto says he has been a financial watchdog in his five years on City Council. Peduto says he has raised about 40-thousand dollars in campaign contributions and has received pledges totaling 500-hundred thousand dollars.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Congressman Bob Brady will enter the Philadelphia mayor's race. Brady plans a formal announcement on Thursday. He joins a crowded field of candidates for the Democratic nomination. Other declared candidates for the Democratic nomination are Congressman Chaka Fattah, former City Councilman Michael Nutter, state Representative Dwight Evans and businessman Tom Knox. Labor leader John Dougherty is considering running. Because of the Democratic Party's dominiation of city politics, its nominee is heavily favored to win the general election. No Republican is running yet, but there is a Green Party

LEBANON, Pa. (AP) - A viewing and service are scheduled today in the Northern Lebanon High School for two 17-year-old students killed in a car accident. Katie Eckert and Charles Bates, both of the Jonestown area, were pronounced dead at the scene of Friday night's crash on Route 343. State police are continuing to investigate the accident. The viewing is scheduled from 3 p-m to 6 p-m in the high school auditorium followed by a service at 7 p-m.

UNDATED (AP) - Scientists in the Delaware Valley region are meeting this week to learn new ways to save area waterways. Scientists with the Delaware Department of Natural Resources are meeting with hundreds of other experts at a three-day conference that begins today in New Jersey. They'll examine the latest research and then discuss how to clean up the Delaware River and Bay.

National and International News-Tuesday, Jan. 23rd

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - Two more bombs have struck Shiite targets in Baghdad, one day after at least 88 people were killed in attacks at a marketplace in the Iraqi capital. At least six people have been killed today. The U-S military is also reporting two additional combat deaths.

WHITE HOUSE (AP) - Energy, health care, education and of course, Iraq, will be front and center in President Bush's State of the Union address tonight. The president seeks to balance the need for Democratic cooperation on his domestic agenda with opposition to his Iraq war policy.

CAPITOL HILL (AP) - The new chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee has nothing good to say about President Bush's leadership of the war on terror. Democrat Jay Rockefeller says al-Qaida and Afghanistan are being neglected and too little is known about Iran and North Korea, all because of what he describes as the president's misplaced fascination with Iraq.

PHOENIX (AP) - He's actually 29, but authorities say a sex offender passed himself off as a 12-year-old and even spent a day as a student in an Arizona middle school. The arrest has raised alarm bells with police in two counties who are checking to see if the man tried to enroll in any others.

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) - Serena Williams says she willed herself to win today at the Australian Open. She won a tough three-setter to advance to the semifinals of the year's first big tennis event. Williams is trying for her eighth Grand Slam title.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Local News-Monday, Jan. 22nd

A water main break in Ashland has forced a water boil advisory. Officials from the Ashland Area Municipal Authority have issued the advisory for all customers in the Borough of Ashland, excluding those customers who reside in Fountain Springs. The break, at 8th and Walnut Street is being repaired, and the system will be chlorinated and flushed upon completion. Water should be boiled for one minute before consumption. For information, contact Ashland Borough at 875-2411.

Three juvenile males were arrested for drug and paraphernalia possession early Saturday morning. During a traffic stop, Frackville police observed an odor of marijuana coming from the vehicle. A search uncovered a small amount of pot and paraphernalia inside the car. A Frackville male and two Ashland teens were taken into custody and will be charged. They were released to the custody of their parents.

State police are investigating a home burglary Saturday afternoon in West Brunswick Township. Troopers say that the Samuel Boyer home, and a storage shed, were entered, and firearms and jewelry stolen. The incident happened between 2 and 5pm. The investigation continues.

A Lake Wynonah home was burglarized Sunday. Schuylkill Haven state police say that someone broke into the home of Joseph and Susan Wolf on Papoose Drive by cutting through a screen and opened a bedroom window. The thieves covered the windows of the home with garbage bags and rummaged through the home. Food was taken from the refrigerator and eaten, and alcoholic beverages consumed as well. Several items, including collectible beanie babies were taken. The investigation into the break-in is continuing.

State police are looking for persons who exploded devices at two home in Auburn Saturday night. Someone placed M-80’s on the porches at 224 and 226 Washington Street in the borough, then exploded them. While no damage was reported, the explosions did create a disturbance.

A Tennessee man is charged with harassment following an incident Friday afternoon. Frackville State Troopers report that Thomas Rentschler and Ann Marie Kovalewski, ambulance personnel from Shenandoah, were treating someone at a home on Swanks Road when 21-year-old John Brennan began yelling obscenities at the pair. State police were called to the scene, and charged Brennan with harassment.

Making the transition from high school to the working world is not an easy one. But a program started in one county high school, with the help of a consortium of businesses, is helping to make the process a bit easier. Your Employability Skills is a program that helps develop fundamental skills employers require to maintain a well-trained workforce. The program was initially developed in 1996 in York County, but initially targeted adults. The transition to high schools came about in 2001. The Northeast Manufacturers and Employers Association, through the Schuylkill Workforce Partnership, offered it to Schuylkill County school districts last year. The Schuylkill Haven School District was the first to offer YES as an elective this year, with 15 students enrolled. Business Education Teacher Bob Boyle explains that the program offers time management skills, various communication skills, diversity and drug abuse topics. Sara Hodon, Director of Workforce Development at the partnership said that 7 partnering organizations are helping to support the YES program, including SEDCO, the Schuylkill Chamber of Commerce and the County Commissioners, among others. Boyle said that one highlight of the program are the speakers who address the class, with tips and experiences of the working world. The class from Schuylkill Haven visited our studios last week. Five more county school districts are signed up to come on board next year.

State News-Monday, Jan. 22nd

UTICA, N.Y. (AP) - Jurors in New York state begin deliberations today in the case of a 47-year-old suburban Philadelphia man accused of killing a police officer. Closing arguments are scheduled this morning in Utica in the trial of Yardley resident John Healy. New Hartford officer Joseph Corr was gunned down in February
2006 as he chased Healy and another suspect, Walter Richardson, after a (m) million-dollar jewelry store heist in central New York. Richardson, the suspected triggerman, was killed the next day in a
shootout with U-S Marshals.

MOUNT LAUREL, N.J. (AP) - New Jersey Reform Rabbi Andrew Bossov and Methodist minister Karen Onesti have known each other for four years. They've talk about leading a congregation and, sometimes, their
views of Scripture. Now, they have something else to share: She's donating one of her kidneys to him.
Bossov's kidneys have been failing. He told Onesti about a year ago that he was on a list to receive a donated kidney. When Onesti, the pastor at Masonville-Rancocas United Methodist Church in New Jersey, heard about his situation, she was decisive. The transplant is scheduled Tuesday at the Hospital of the
University of Pennsylvania.

MCKEES ROCKS, Pa. (AP) - Classes resume today in Allegheny County's Sto-Rox School District in Allgheny County. Classes were canceled Thursday after two 17-year-old students, both boys, were wounded in an after-school shooting on Wednesday. Friday was already scheduled to be a clerical day for staff,
with students having the day off. Two 15-year-old boys have been charged with aggravated assault.
Allegheny County police say one of the victims argued with the shooters, accusing one of them of stealing his iPod the day before. The shooting occurred about four blocks away from Sto-Rox High School, shortly after dismissal.

PITTSBURGH (AP) - The Pittsburgh Steelers today may announce that Mike Tomlin has the head coaching job. People close to the search who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity said the Minnesota Vikings defensive coordinator accepted the job last night (Sunday). The Steelers have asked all parties involved in the search to not speak to reporters until they can make the announcement. Tomlin is expected to make around two and a half (m) million dollars per year. That's the going rate of late for first-time
N-F-L coaching hires. Former Steelers coach Bill Cowher resigned January Fifth following 15 seasons. He apparently rejected a six (m) million dollar per year contract extension offer earlier this year.

National and International News-Monday, Jan. 22nd

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - Explosions in Baghdad have killed about 40 people and wounded more than 60 others. The blasts went off almost simultaneously in a mainly Shiite commercial area in the center of the Iraqi capital.

WHITE HOUSE (AP) - Give the Iraq troop buildup a chance to work. That's President Bush's message to Congress on the eve of the annual State of the Union address. He also tells U-S-A Today the war on terror is a long-term problem that his successors will have to deal with.

WASHINGTON (AP) - Activists on both sides of the abortion issue will hold rallies on this 34th anniversary of the Supreme Court's Roe versus Wade decision. President Bush will make a call to the annual March for Life in the nation's capital.

UNDATED (AP) - While Colorado residents endure another snowstorm, people in the mid-Atlantic are getting their first real dose of winter weather. Snow, sleet and freezing rain are slowing the commute around the Washington D-C area.

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - A Chicago football fan is happy her team won a spot in the Super Bowl but admits, "the Saints needed it more than the Bears." It was a heartbreaking end to a dream season for the team forced out of New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. It's the Bears and Indianapolis Colts in Super Bowl 41.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Local News - Saturday Jan. 20

Equipment missing at Peifer Fire Protection, arrest made

A Pottsville man is charged with stealing equipment from his employer. On January 5th, the owner of Peifer's Fire Equipment reported that a substantial amount of inventory was missing from their business at 800 Mount Hope Avenue. An investigation uncovered that 55-year-old Gary Witmier, the manager of the business, had stolen over $2-thousand-dollars worth of equipment, and resold it for cash. Witmier is charged with theft and misapplication of entrusted property. Those charges were file earlier this week.

Public drunkenness in Frackville

A Mahanoy City man stopped at the wrong place at the wrong time Wednesday night. Frackville State Police now say that 26-year-Christopher Whitaker had apparently been drinking. Around 8:40pm, he entered the State Police barracks lobby in an intoxicated state. Whitaker was cited for public drunkenness.

Man accused of DUI homicide, case to go to court

A Tremont Township man who is accused of vehicular homicide will have his case heard in county court. Neil Hatfield was behind the wheel during a crash in August, 2006. That crash claimed the life of 22-year-old Shannon Sullivan of Pine Grove, Hatfield’s girlfriend. Court records say that Hatfield was twice over the legal limit when the crash happened in Hegins Township. Prior to the hearing at District Court in Tremont, lawyers for both sides agreed that all charges, including homicide by vehicle and homicide by vehicle while under the influence, would be sent to Schuylkill County Court. Hatfield was arrested in December. He has been free on bail. The case will be heard later this year.