Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Local News-Tuesday, March 27th

Federal investigators say they found "flagrant violations" at the R&D Coal Company mine in Tremont Township where a worker died in a methane gas explosion last year. The U-S Mine Safety and Health Administration says in a report released yesterday that R-and-D Coal Company is the first company cited for flagrant violations under new federal rules forged last year. Federal officials say R-and-D lacked adequate ventilation, safe blasting practices and other proper procedures at its Buck Mountain Slope Mine. The report says those factors directly contributed to the death October 23rd of a veteran miner, 43-year-old Dale Reightler.
State regulators revoked R-and-D's permit to operate the Buck Mountain site. They found 22 state violations and said the company's alleged cover-up of a similar blast in 2004 might have contributed to Reightler's death. It was the first fatality in an underground Pennsylvania anthracite mine in more than eight years.

A Reading man was picked up by Pottsville police after he was caught breaking into a city home.
Around 10:40pm Sunday, officers responded to a break-in at 800 North 2nd Street, owned by the Pottsville Housing Authority. Neighbors saw a man entering the property through a rear door, which was posted no trespassing and had been vacant since the prior tenant moved out.
Raymond Schell of Reading was apprehended, an a screwdriver used to pry open a window found. Schell said he was picking up clothing that was left there. He also appeared to be drunk.
Schell was arraigned on charges of criminal trespass, prowling and other offenses. He was committed to Schuylkill County Prison in lieu of $15-thousand-dollars, 10 percent bail.

If you see more police officers on area roadways this spring and summer, its because they are cracking down on aggressive drivers. The PennDOT Smooth Operator is back in operation.
The program was funded in a 12-county-pilot project last year with positive results, and was expanded statewide, with funding from the Department of Transportation. The Pennsylvania State Police, along with 10 municipal police departments will participate, targeting Routes 61, 309, 901 and 209. Aggressive driving takes many forms, including speeding, tailgating and weaving in and out of traffic. The money will pay for training, overtime and equipment. The program will run through March 31st, then in July, August and September. During the first wave of Smooth Operator last year, over 18-thousand citations and arrests were issued in the 12 county area, including Schuylkill.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is expanding assistance to Schuylkill County for damage to public infrastructure during November, 2006 flooding. The agency made the announcement yesterday. Government and municipal authorities, school districts and private non-profit organizations are now eligible for all categories of public assistance. The aid will provide federal funds to pay 75 percent of the approved costs for removing debris, emergency services related to the disaster and repairing or replacing roads, buildings and utilities damaged by the storms. The state has pledged to pay for the remaining 25 percent. A briefing will be held for local officials shortly to explain how qualifying candidates can apply for funding.

A visitor to the State Correctional Institution at Frackville was caught with drugs during a weekend visit. Mary Louise Nixon of Woodland, Pennsylvania, consented to a routine search of her vehicle Saturday morning in the prison parking lot. Prison officials found cocaine inside of her vehicle. Charges were filed against Nixon in the office of District Judge Bernadette Nahas. She will receive a summons to appear in court to answer those charges.

Two people who vandalized a Minersville church in February have been caught by Minersville Police. Kevin Smith and an unidentified juvenile were apprehended and charged with vandalizing the Church of the Broken Pieces in Minersville. According to the Pottsville Republican and Herald, Smith and the teen were charged with vandalism, criminal mischief and conspiracy, ethnic intimidation and other offenses. The pair spray painted grafitti on the church on February 21st or 22nd. The investigation led to confessions from the two men.
Charges were filed in the office of District Judge Charles Moran.

A Pottsville woman had minor injuries after a two vehicle crash near Cabela’s Sunday night. Hamburg State Police say that Christopher Rae-Kelly of Attleboro, Massachusetts was driving east on Mountain Road, turning left onto the access road leading to Dunkin’ Donuts and Pizza Hut near Cabela’s when he drove into the car driven by Madeline Gravish of Pottsville. Gravish exited her car before putting it in park, and it rolled over her leg. She was taken to Reading Hospital for treatment. Rae-Kelly will be cited for a turning violation.


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