Thursday, March 29, 2007

Local News-Thursday, March 29th

The former New Jersey Governor and Bush EPA chief made a visit to Schuylkill County last night. Governor Christie Todd Whitman was the fifth and final speaker in the Penn State Schuylkill-Alcoa Foundation Distinguished Lecture Series at the John E. Morgan Auditorium.
Whitman addressed a number of topics during a press briefing prior to the speech. Whitman told WPPA/T102 News that while ethanol is a viable biofuel, she is concerned that supplying corn to produce it could create a shortage in feed for animals, which may force farmers to produce fewer animals for the food supply. She also added that the diminshing supply of water is probably the most pressing issue in the 21st century, along with global climate change.
An ethanol plant is in the planning stages in western Schuylkill County. She addressed a wide variety of topics during her address, including biosolids, corporate responsibility for cleaning the environment while improving the bottom line and global warming. About 250 people attended the free address. The Alcoa Foundation granted $50-thousand-dollars for the lecture series, which concluded last night after a three-year run.

The Schuylkill County Election Bureau is gearing up for the May Primary election with its voter outreach program. At Wednesday’s County Commissioners meeting Election Bureau Director Betty Dries said the first program will be held April 3rd at Community Banks, 9 North Centre St. in Pottsville, from 10am to 2pm. She said voting machine demonstrations will be held daily, Monday through Friday from 9am to 4pm at the Election Bureau at 420 North Center Street in Pottsville. Additional dates, places and times of machine demonstrations will be made available on the county web site at The web site also features an on-line touch screen demonstration.

The Schuylkill County Commissioners received a $50-thousand-dollar check from the Tamaqua Area Industrial Corporation during Wednesday’s Commissioners Board meeting. Representatives of T.I.D.E. attended the meeting to present the check.
Jerry Knowles, a board member of T.I.D.E. said the money represents an agreement T.I.D.E. made with the County over 6-years ago when they partnered with the state to make funds available to build a building that was recently sold. Knowles said under the agreement, T.I.D.E. would pay the county part of the money it received if it ever sold the building. Knowles said the building’s tenant, High Wood Industries recently purchased the building and is about to undertake a 40-thousan-square foot expansion. Knowles said the company makes synthetic wood products and currently employees 40 people. The expansion, Knowles said, will create more jobs with the company.

Two men were involved in a fight in Gilberton Sunday. Borough police say that Frank Jackowiak Sr. and Vincent Bloss were reportedly fighting in the area of Church and Railroad Streets around 7pm. The Pottsville Republican indicates that when police arrived, Jackowiak was not breathing. He was taken to St. Catherine’s Medical Center, then transferred to Hershey Medical Center yesterday, due to the severity of his injuries. Police are not certain why the fight took place, and plan to continue the investigation once Jackowiak is well enough to be interviewed.

State police have charged three Harrisburg residents for trespassing on Reading Anthracite Company yesterday. Michael Shaffer, Wesley Bescoter and Rie (ree) Kato were all found trespassing at the Old St. Nicholas Breaker in Mahanoy Township by company employees around 2pm. Troopers found the trio on the second floor of the breaker when they arrived.
Criminal Trespass charges are pending.

A Washington Township man made his case for stopping a proposed duck farm in the township at yesterday’s Schuylkill County Commissioners meeting. John Hughes grilled the board about the plan, and questioned the approvals already given for the duck farm. One of his biggest complaints had to do with the approval of a manure cesspool for the 62-acre animal farm. Hughes said that by approving this project, is may set a precedent for other “corporate” poultry farms to come to Schuylkill County. The County Planning Commission gave approval for the farm, but it needs a building permit from the Washington Township supervisors before it can proceed. The farm would raise Peking ducks shipped from Berks County duck farm, and after growing time, would be returned there for processing. Hughes and a group of concerned residents are holding a meeting about the matter at the Washington Township Municipal building in Pine Grove on Tuesday night at 7pm.


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