Monday, April 30, 2007

Local News-Monday, April 30th

Two girls were hurt in an ATV accident last night. The Republican and Herald reports that the girls, and a teenage boy, rolled over when their ATV hit a puddle on private property in Mahanoy Township, near St. Nicholas. Emergency crews treated them on scene, then were transported via helicopter. Mahanoy Township police are investigating.

PennDOT has announced several areas of road repair and construction today. Pothole patching will begin today on State Route 501, between the Berks County line and Pine Grove. Lane restrictions will be in effect. The work is expected to last all week. Bridge repair will begin on Interstate 81 at the McAdoo exit. While no road restrictions will be in effect, motorists should watch for crews. Brush cutting will be conducted this week on I-81 between Exits 119 at Highridge and 112 at Hegins. Crews will be working along the shoulder of the road. Rain will delay the work on those roads.

Port Carbon police investigated two incidents over the weekend. Early Friday morning, James Harig reportedly threatened Stephanie Correll while she was in her car at the intersection of Pike and Coal Streets in the borough. He will be charged with disorderly conduct. An early morning hit & run incident damaged two parked cars on Pottsville Street Sunday morning. Around 3:30am, Stephen Pytak and Dorothy Zemanik told police that their driver’s side mirror was damaged on each of the cars. Anyone with information should call Port Carbon police at 622-5411.

State police at Schuylkill Haven are looking for thieves who broke into a Tremont Township business early Friday. They broke into a shed at the R&D Coal Company near Joliett and took about a dozen pipe fittings and an industrial motor. They also tried to break into another shed, but were unsuccessful. The investigation continues.

A dump truck was taken from a construction site in Rush Township Friday evening. Frackville state police say that a GMC dump truck belonging to Berger Construction Company of Freeland, was stolen from a parking lot at Air Products. The dump truck is white in color, with red letters identifying the company name. It was last seen in the Palmerton area of Carbon County. If anyone has information, call Frackville State Police at 874-5300.

Sunday’s nice weather was an opportunity to do things outdoors. For some pet owners, it was a chance to take their dogs for a walk and to raise money for the Ruth Steinert SPCA. The walk collected money and food donations to benefit the shelter, located near the Joe Zerbey Airport. About 1-thousand-dollars was raised in the effort, with nearly 3 dozen dogs and owners participating. The shelter has begun construction on a brand-new animal facility.

DUI patrols conducted Friday netted several arrests. Six police departments conducted the enforcement effort across the region, according to the North Central Highway Safety Network.
Two drunk driving arrests, one criminal apprehension, three underage drinkers and eight other traffic arrests were made. A total of 837 contacts were made. The group will conduct more roving patrols this week on area roadways. To report any drunk drivers, call 888-UNDER21.

National and State News-Monday, April 30th

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) - A San Francisco Bay-area highway that melted and collapsed after a fiery crash could mean a traffic meltdown for commuters this morning. Transportation officials say it could take months to repair the damage and urge motorists to use public transportation in and out of San Francisco.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Police in Kansas City, Missouri, shot and killed a gunman who opened fire in a parking lot and shopping mall. Police say the man killed two people and wounded three others yesterday, including a police officer. The gunman was driving the
car of an elderly woman found dead earlier.

WASHINGTON (AP) - Investigators say the continuing violence in Iraq along with corruption and poor maintenance is preventing an effective reconstruction effort. The latest audit by a special inspector general concludes Iraq will not be able to manage its own reconstruction anytime soon.

ATLANTA (AP) - Delta Air Lines is set to emerge today from more than a year and a half in bankruptcy with a major facelift in place and plans to do even more to remake its image. And the airline could also consider jettisoning Comair, a subsidiary that provides regional service.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - Trans-fat is no longer on the menu at K-F-C. The chain says all 55-hundred of its U-S restaurants have stopped frying chicken in artery-clogging trans fat. The company says it has switched to a new soybean oil believed to be less likely to cause heart disease.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Classes are canceled today at all campuses of Delaware County Community College in response to a threat. College President Jerome Parker says there won't be any decision about reopening the school until police assure college officials that it's safe.
The threat was recieved Thursday via e-mail. There's an unrelated threat at another suburban Philadelphia campus. Somebody spray-painted a bomb threat on a bathroom wall more than a week ago at Penn State-Abington. The threat said a bomb would go off there today. They're planning hold classes as scheduled, but with a heavy police presence.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - The state lawmaker who introduced a gun-registration bill is now pushing a new version. Representative Angel Cruz says he wants to make it so only Philadelphia residents will need to register their guns. He plans to give details to reporters today at a news conference in North Philadephia. A previous version of the bill would have mandated gun
registration statewide and would require gun owners to pay a ten-dollar-per-gun annual fee. That generated intense opposition from the state's gun owners.

PITTSBURGH (AP) - Doctors at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center have figured out how to remove brain tumors without cutting open patients' faces. Using slender instruments, they're able to remove tumors through the nose. Entry through the nose isn't feasible for brain tumors in some locations, but it works in many. Doctors at U-P-M-C first reached the spinal cord through the nose about two years ago. Many questions remain about the approach of using the body's natural openings, such as the the mouth, vagina or rectum. But doctors say it holds the promise of providing a faster recovery with less pain and no visible scars. And in the brain, it can avoid a need for manipulating tissue that could disturb brain and eye

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Just six months ago, millionaire businessman Tom Knox was barely a blip on the political radar. Now polls show him as the frontrunner in the Democratic primary for
Philadelphia mayor. The former health-care executive used a surge of self-funded T-V ads to build his image as an outsider who grew up poor. He portrays himself as a politically debt-free outsider ready to put the kibosh on corruption and crime. Now comes the hard part. Opponents have stepped up attacks on Knox's self-funded campaign, his past business practices and ties
to the political establishment. Among other things, Knox is being attacked for his involvement with a bank that engaged in "payday lending" -- short-term, high-interest loans.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - A Philadelphia judge running for state Supreme Court operates a real estate business from his chambers. The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that neighbors complain that Judge Willis Berry's properties are dilapidated eyesores. Berry's daughter lives in a building of his with fresh paint and pansies out front. But former tenants of other properties said they paid 400- or 500-dollars a month for cold, rat-infested apartments. A "For Rent" sign on three of his buildings rings into the judge's chambers. The newspaper found that Berry's secretary helps collect rent, while a judicial aide sometimes helps with maintenance work.

NEWTOWN, Pa. (AP) - State authorities are now investigating the death of a woman who was struck and killed after an argument with her boyfriend, a former prosecutor. Lawyer Richard Patton of New Hope previously worked as an assistant Bucks County prosecutor and in the state Attorney General's Office. The 51-year-old Patton was driving the car that struck 34-year-old Heather Demou after the two argued outside a Newtown restaurant. According to police, Patton says Demou stepped in front of the car to stop him from leaving. Toxicology and other tests are pending, and he has not been charged. The state A-G's office has taken over the case from local authorities. Officials say that office can handle the probe because Patton worked there under a different administration.

PITTSBURGH (AP) - Former Governor Tom Ridge told graduating students at the University of Pittsburgh that the world's political, social, economic and security issues cannot be shaped
from the land of one superpower. Ridge, the nation's first director of Homeland Security, also
congratulated the graduates for not allowing their differences on the war in Iraq to become a cause of division. He applauded the graduates on their tolerance, saying they have embraced patriotism by doing so. About six-thousand students on Pitt's main campus received their
degrees yesterday, which were marked at the Petersen Events Center. Another one-thousand Pitt students who received degrees from satellite campuses in Bradford, Greensburg, Johnstown and Titusville received their degrees in separate ceremonies.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Local News - Sat. April 28, 2007

Cressona Route to be closed Sunday

A problem bridge in Cressona is going to get some much needed repair on Sunday. Officials from the Blue Mountain and Northern Railroad will be making modifications to the railroad underpass on Route 183 from 7am till 11am Sunday to make it more visible to truck traffic, who have consistently gotten stuck under the 11 foot 8 inch underpass. Both north and southbound lanes of Route 183 will be closed to through traffic, except emergency vehicles, during that time. Traffic control will be in place. This is the second weekend that railroad employees will be working in the area.

Seip backs energy-dependence legislation

(HARRISBURG)-State Rep. Tim Seip joined other members of the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee this week to announce energy-independence legislation. Seip , Representative for the 125th Legislative District, said that these bills would attract and assist projects like the ethanol plant in western Schuylkill County. He said we need more efforts like that to reduce our dependence on foreign fuels and boost our economy by keeping our energy dollars right here in Pennsylvania. Members of the Environmental Resources and Energy Committee announced the introduction of legislation to implement portions of Gov. Ed Rendell's proposed Energy Independence Strategy. The governor has said the plan would save consumers and businesses an estimated $10 billion in energy costs over the next 10 years.

BRADS landfill gets pre-denial letter

WILKES-BARRE – The Department of Environmental Protection Friday announced it has issued a pre-denial letter to Blythe Township, Schuylkill County, on its proposed construction and demolition waste landfill known as Blythe Recycling and Demolition Site, or BRADS. This action is the result of inadequate responses by the township to DEP’s December 2004 review letter. "Blythe Township failed to address issues we raised in our original comment letter regarding the application or the comments we received at our recent public hearing," said Northeast Regional Director Michael D. Bedrin. DEP's pre-denial letter identifies a number of remaining issues that must be resolved by the applicant, including site ownership, leachate management, and the need for additional botanical studies. In addition, the applicant has not adequately addressed harm and benefit issues related to the affects on local emergency management resources, mine subsidence potential, affects to recreation and local land use, potential traffic harms, potential air quality affects, and aesthetics. Blythe Township originally submitted a permit application for a 1,500-ton per day demolition debris landfill in early 2004. DEP held a public hearing on the application Dec. 5, 2006 and received testimony from more than 50 individuals.

PPL Gas Utilities’ Safety Record Recognized by American Gas Association

(Allentown)-The American Gas Association has honored PPL Gas Utilities for excellence in accident prevention and workplace safety. Robert Geneczko, President of PPL Gas Utilities said that reducing accidents and properly maintaining our pipeline system helps ensure we are offering safe and reliable natural gas service that is the best energy value for our customers. PPL Gas Utilities has substantially improved its workplace safety record since the year 2000, reducing employee injuries by 66 percent. PPL Gas Utilities is a subsidiary of PPL Corporation and provides natural gas delivery service to 76,000 homes and businesses in Schuylkill and 33 other Pennsylvania counties.

Don't feed the bears

With spring blossoming around the state, many Pennsylvanians are seeing signs of new life in the outdoors as migratory birds continue their northward migration and other wildlife shake off their winter slumber. Among the wildlife becoming more visible are Pennsylvania's roughly 15-thousand black bears, all of which will be looking for food. Pennsylvania Game Commission biologists say that food for bears is scarce at this time of the year until plants begin to grow, so sightings and, in some cases, conflicts increase as bears look for food. Homeowners should begin now to remove food sources or make them unavailable to bears. In addition, don’t feed wildlife. Bird feeders and other seed products attract bruins like magnets. For more information about keeping bears away, log on to, then go to the hunting section under black bear.

State News - Sat. April 28, 2007

EMPORIUM, Pa. (AP) - A Cameron County man has died after his house in Shippen Township caught fire yesterday morning. County Coroner Ted Walters says 88-year-old Armand Venture died of asphyxiation due to smoke inhalation. A state police fire marshal has ruled the fire an accident. He says the failure of a 30-amp electrical circuit caused the 7:14 a-m fire.

MEDIA, Pa. (AP) - Threatening e-mails sent to two Delaware County Community College campuses prompted the school to shut downall five of its locations until at least Monday. Police say college departments at the Exton and Downingtown campuses in Chester County received about a dozen e-mails yesterday threatening "violence against numerous persons." Officials say they will use a search warrant to find the sender,whom they believe may be a student. The investigation is focusingon the Exton campus. The college, which serves about 10-thousand day students, also has campuses in Marple, Sharon Hill andBroomall. A college official says the campuses were closed in part because of the massacre at Virginia Tech, when 33 people died in the deadliest shooting rampage in modern U-S history.

National and International News - Sat. April 28, 2007

LONDON (AP) - There are reports of structural damage but no injuries from a moderate earthquake in southeast England this morning. The U-S Geological Survey puts the force of the quake at magnitude four-point-seven. People say they heard loud cracking noises and felt about ten-to-15 seconds of shaking.

WASHINGTON (AP) - Congressional Democrats are reaching out to Republicans in an effort to pass an Iraq war-funding bill that President Bush will sign. Bush plans to veto a bill with troop-withdrawal language, but has invited leaders from both parties to the White House next week to discuss alternatives.

WHITE HOUSE (AP) - President Bush puts the Iraq war aside for a moment today to push for immigration overhaul. He'll use a commencement speech at Miami Dade College and his weekly radio address to push for a guest visa program that conservatives balked at last year.

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - A new book by an ex-C-I-A director says the Bush administration was warned months before the 2003 Iraq invasion about possible bad consequences. Former Director George Tenet writes that C-I-A analysts came up with several scenarios similar to what's occurring now.

TULSA, Okla. (AP) - Vice President Cheney says progress in the cause of peace and security never comes easy. Speaking at a political fund-raiser in Oklahoma yesterday, Cheney said an Iraq troop-withdrawal timetable is a bad idea. Underscoring President Bush's veto promise, Cheney says the only way the U-S can lose in Iraq is to quit.

WAYCROSS, Ga. (AP) - The wildfires that have scorched 95 square miles of drought-stricken forest and swampland in southeast Georgia continue to burn despite the efforts of hundreds of firefighters. Most evacuees have been allowed to return home but officials are keeping a nervous eye on the wind.

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) - The Dutch are taking the lead in trying to make sure any global push toward biofuels to replace gas and oil is sustainable. A commission has proposed ways to make sure that biofuel crops don't do more harm than good.

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) - Afghan and coalition forces say they've killed at least 21 insurgents in separate clashes today with Taliban militants. NATO-led forces are on their largest ever operation to root out militants in southern Afghanistan. Meantime, a new al-Qaida video claims the terror group is ready to "finish off" the coalition.

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) - Saudi Arabia says one of the biggest roundups since it started cracking down on religious extremists has broken up terrorist attack plans that included air assaults on refineries and suicide assassinations. The Saudis say the sweep netted 172 Islamic extremists.

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) - Police in Michigan say a 15-year-old student has admitted he planned a massacre at his Traverse City high school like the one at Virginia Tech. Detectives say they found ammunition and 12 guns at the boy's home that apparently belong to his parents. The boy is being evaluated at a hospital.

UPHAM, N.M. (AP) - A portion of the cremated remains of Star Trek actor James Doohan will head for space today if all goes as planned. The ashes of Doohan will be on a suborbital rocket to be launched from a spaceport in New Mexico. Ashes from about 200 others will also be on board, including astronaut Gordon Cooper.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Local News-Friday, April 27th

(POTTSVILLE)-A routine traffic stop in Pottsville early Wednesday uncovered drugs and a concealed firearm. City police stopped David Rich of Tamaqua and Johnathan Paulin of Saylorsburg in the 18-hundred block of West Market Street. During the investigation, police uncovered a loaded 9-mm handgun, cocaine, marijuana and cash. Paulin was arraigned on drug and weapons charges. He is locked up in Schuylkill County Prison. Rich was released, but charges are pending in the ongoing investigation.

(NEW RINGGOLD)-A New Ringgold man is jailed on drug possession charges. Agents from the Schuylkill County DA’s Drug Task Force, along with Auburn Police, served an arrest warrant at the home of Stephen Prentice for an unrelated charge March 30th when they found pot and drug paraphernalia inside the home. The Monday arrest was followed by arraignment, and committal to the Schuylkill County Prison. The DA’s office encourages anyone who suspects illegal drug activity to call their toll free, confidential hotline at 800-414-1406.

(POTTSVILLE)-The May primary is a little more than two weeks away, and county election officials are gearing up. Betty Dries, bureau director, tells WPPA/T102 that there are a few important dates to remember for candidates and the public. Beginning May 1st until its done, election bureau workers will be conducting logic and accuracy tests on the voting machines at their offices in Pottsville. The public is invited to witness that testing. On Friday, May 4th, finance reports for the period ending April 30th are due at their office. In addition to a host of local races on the ballot, registered voters will be asked to consider ballot questions about property tax reductions, shifting some of that burden onto an earned income tax. In the next two weeks, WPPA/T102 News will begin previewing the county races, as well as the Act 1 property tax questions, in our regular newscasts and on our websites.

(NORTH MANHEIM TOWNSHIP)-A four-car crash had traffic tied up on Route 61 Wednesday afternoon. James Lick the Third of Schuylkill Haven was southbound when he unable to stop for traffic which was lined up at the Cressona Mall. His truck rear-ended Melissa Gernert’s car, which was pushed into vehicles driven by Tammy Yudiski and Nova Harris. Gernert’s car was forced onto its side. She suffered minor injuries. No one else was hurt. Lick will be cited in the accident that occurred before 3pm.

(SHENANDOAH)- A Shenandoah man is facing a host of charges, including kidnapping and sexual assault. 54-year-old Julian Bednarek, of 526 Washington Street, was arrested Thursday night by borough police after they were informed that two girls at the Shenandoah Valley School District had allegedly been sexually assaulted the night before. The Republican and Herald said that Bednarek reportedly took something that belonged to them while they were walking in front of his house. He allegedly locked the girls in the home for about 30 minutes, and touched them inappropriately. They were able to flee after one of the girls kicked Bednarek. In addition, the girls reportedly told police that he had pictures of them on his wall from a myspace-dot-com website. Bednarek is charged with kidnapping, unlawful restraint and other offenses. He is in Schuylkill County Prison.

(POTTSVILLE)-The Schuylkill County Commissioners awarded several contracts during Wednesday’s board meeting. A contract with Preferred Meal Systems, the lone bidder for nutrition services for the Office of Senior Services, was awarded for just under $594-thousand-dollars. Uniform Corner of Schuylkill Haven was awarded a contract for just over $25-thousand-dollars for uniforms at Rest Haven. Roy Manbeck of Frackville was awarded a two-year contract to supply coal for the Court House and Prison at a cost of $133 per ton for the first year, and $145 for the second year. Smith & Smith General Contractors, Inc. was low bidder for the installation of ADA compliant restrooms in the Cass Township Municipal building at a cost of $53,690. Shepard Brothers Inc. was awarded a contract for nearly $126-thousand-dollars for 14 small transit buses that are wheel-chair accessible. In other business, the Commissioners opened bids for a water line replacement project in the village of Keffers and an ADA bathroom installation at the Gordon Municipal Building. Bids for both projects will be awarded May 2nd.

National and State News-Friday, April 27th

LAPORTE, Ind. (AP) - At least seven people have been hurt in storms slamming the Midwest. High winds have been racing across four states. Tornadoes hit Tennessee and Illinois. A police car was tossed over a three-foot-high fence in Indiana. The detective driving escaped with cuts and bruises.

WAYCROSS, Ga. (AP) - No relief yet for hundreds of Georgia residents repeatedly evacuated because of a stubborn wildfire. Ninety-five square miles in a parched forest and swamp have been scorched over the past week and a-half. Eighteen homes have been destroyed.

CAPITOL HILL (AP) - Republicans and Democrats are already maneuvering for position on a follow-up bill to the war-funding legislation President Bush plans to veto. A new version would
likely drop a timetable for withdrawing troops from Iraq and add goals for Iraq's government.

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Jack Valenti once said his ringside seat to the world of politics and Hollywood made him "the luckiest guy in the world." He was a White House aide before taking charge of the Motion Picture Association of America. Valenti died yesterday of complications from a stroke suffered in March. He was 85.

MOSCOW (AP) - Master cellist Mstislav Rostropovich has died in Moscow. Rostropovich had been living in self-imposed exile in Paris and suffered from intestinal cancer. He fought for the rights of Soviet-era dissidents, and later played Bach suites below the crumbling Berlin Wall. He was 80.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Rainstorms dumping two inches or more are prompting flood warnings today in parts of southeastern Pennsylvania. The National Weather Service issued flash flood warnings for Chester and central Bucks and central Montgomery counties as the storms moved through, first until 4 a-m and now extended to 7:45. Officials say water is over roads in some areas in Montgomery and Bucks counties and some roads are closed. Officials are warning motorists not to drive into water over roads where the pavement cannot be seen and may be washed out.

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) - State College police say they will announce criminal charges today in an off-campus apartment confrontation that involved members of the Penn State football
team. Police yesterday called the matter a "burglary, criminal trespass, simple assault incident." Several players were interviewed by police, but it was unclear whether any player will be charged. Penn State coach Joe Paterno said last weekend that the investigation had not become a distraction. Police say they were told that about 10 men pushed their way into an apartment shortly after midnight on April first and assaulted several partygoers. Investigators say the clash apparently stemmed from a "street confrontation" about an hour earlier. A university spokesman says residents of the apartment received a letter a few days later asking them to drop the charges and signed, "The Voice of the Penn State Student Body."

WASHINGTON (AP) - U-S Senator Bob Casey says he wants to see a tax on what he calls "excess" profits in order to help poor people pay for gasoline. The Pennsylvania Democrat's proposal was announced on the same day that Exxon Mobil Corporation reported higher first-quarter profits. Casey wants a 50 percent tax on major oil companies profits' from crude oil priced at more than 50 dollars per barrel, where it has been trading for most of the past two years. The bill, similar to others proposed by members of Congress in recent years, also would eliminate oil industry tax breaks and raise the royalties companies pay to the government for offshore drilling leases. The American Petroleum Institute, which represents the oil industry, says the earnings of the oil and gas industries are similar -- as a portion of overall revenue -- to those of other industries.

SHERBURNE, N.Y. (AP) - A New York company has begun voluntarily recalling pet foods manufactured with a certain shipment of rice protein concentrate that officials say may be contaminated. The U-S Food and Drug Administration says rice protein concentrate shipped to Chenango Valley Pet Foods may be contaminated with melamine. Melamine is an industrial chemical used to make plastics and fertilizers. It can lead to illness or fatalities in animals if consumed. The pet foods were sold to customers in Wisconsin, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania, who in turn sold the products to their customers through catalog mail orders or retail outlets. No illnesses or injuries have been reported to date. Pet owners who purchased the products should not use them and return them to the place of purchase for a full refund. Consumers with questions may contact the company at: 610-821-0608.

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Governor Ed Rendell's administration wants to reduce the amount of money the state's student-loan agency must contribute toward health benefits for retirees. State Budget Secretary Michael Masch says that would free up an additional eleven (m) million dollars for the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency to spend on state grants to college students next year. Masch says the agency asked the administration in December to look into its contribution rate because they believed it was high compared to that of other state agencies. The agency originally planned to use 60 (m) million dollars from its student-loan proceeds for the grant program. Spokesman Keith New says reducing the contribution requirement, coupled with other savings, would allow 75 (m) million dollars to be used for student grants.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - A federal judge dismissed a former Temple University student's lawsuit alleging that he was denied a master's degree because of his political views. Former graduate student Christian DeJohn says he was denied his degree because of his views on the Iraq war. Attorneys for the university say DeJohn was a marginal learner who turned in an awful thesis. Before a jury could take up the case, U-S District Judge Stewart Dalzell ruled that DeJohn's free speech and equal protection rights had not been violated. University attorneys hailed the decision, saying the case was not about free speech but about the right of professors to grade poor work. Attorney David French of the Alliance Defense Fund, a Christian legal group, says his client was disappointed with the decision. The judge earlier upheld DeJohn's objections to former provisions of the university's sexual harassment policy. Yesterday, he barred Temple from reimplementing the policy but awarded DeJohn only one dollar in damages. University attorneys have appealed but say the policy has already been changed.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Local News-Thursday, April 26th

The county's request for the state Auditor General's office to investigate the REDCO controversy has been accepted but the County will not hear anything about its progress until it's complete. Commissioner Mantura Gallagher said that they received a letter explaining that the investigation would take place, but that no updates on their progress will be given until the work is complete. The Auditor General's office in Scranton will handle the investigation into more than $439-thousand-dollars in overpayments to ReDCo through the county's MH/MR program.


We have a correction to a story we aired yesterday about a proposed duck farm in Washington Township. Reports had indicated that the state DEP provided final approval for the Stoltzfus duck farm. However, we have learned that is not the case. Opponents of the farm, from Township Residents Asserting Control of Their Community Inc. emailed WPPA/T102 news to report the error. The Pottsville Republican states that DEP has not signed off on the project, and do not expect to do so until after they finish their study, and a hearing is held, possibly in June. We apologize for the error.

It was a time to honor businesses and individuals who’ve helped Penn State Schuylkill students attend college. Schuylkill's Scholarship and Awards dinner was held at the Schuylkill Country Club last night, to thank several dozen donors who have contributed to help deserving students further their education. John Hillkirk, Executive Editor of USA Today newspaper was the guest speaker. As the man in charge of the nation’s largest daily newspaper in terms of circulation, Hillkirk said that the newspaper is challenged on a daily basis to provide accurate and timely in the era of 24-hour-a-day news cycle. He said that the media's tendency to get news out immediately can sometimes compromise accuracy. One student from New York City said she feels very fortuate to receive financial help to continue her education at Penn State Schuylkill:
More than 150 people attended last night's dinner.

The Schuylkill County Prison Board had a lengthy discussion Wednesday on the problem of over crowding at the prison. Chairman Judge William Baldwin said he must respond to a state inspection of the prison that found some deficiencies. He said that some deficiencies that go unresolved could lead to citations which presently carry no serious consequences, but he said regulations are being studied that would decertify prisons that are cited three years in a row.
Judge Baldwin said one of the deficiencies was a third person in a cell sleeping in a cot that does not allow for the cell door to fully open. The discussion led to prison overcrowding, a possible pre-release center and the status of a study being done by consultants on the county's needs in all those areas. The County Commissioners are the ones who have the final say on what course of action will taken, and the Republican Majority Commissioners want to have a business plan in place before any action is taken. County Administrator William Reppy said the present study includes staffing, renovations to the present facilities and a pre-release center, among other things, but not building a new prison. The Commissioners assured Judge Baldwin a decision will be made by the end of the year on what direction to go.

The Schuylkill County Commissioners held their board meeting at Pottsville Area High School Wednesday. Annually, the Commissioners take to the road to honor the Schuylkill County Outstanding Athlete, chosen by Chapter 25 of the National Football & College Hall of Fame.
Pottsville High's Brad Hallick was this years Outstanding Athlete. Hallick said holding the meeting at high schools gives the students an opportunity to see government in action. This is only the second time in the history of the Chapter that a school has had three Outstanding Scholar Athletes in a row. Ryan Pilconis won the honor in 2005 and Dave DeMarkis was chosen last year.

The state's Keystone Opportunity Zone program has provided numerous tax incentive programs for businesses across the state. Now, the PA House wants to take a closer look at its effectiveness. Representative Dave Argall and Luzerne County Representative Todd Eachus worked together to request a study to analyze the effects of KOZ's on rural areas. The pair hopes that the study will determine if KOZ's are really effective, and how successful they are in bringing employers and jobs to rural areas. Argall, who earned his PhD from Penn State, studied KOZ's as part of his doctoral dissertation.

National and State News-Thursday, April 26th

BAGHDAD (AP) - At least ten Iraqi soldiers have been killed in a suicide car bomb attack at a checkpoint in a province north of Baghdad. It's the same province where nine American soldiers were killed Monday. Sunni militants are believed to have flocked there because of the ongoing security surge in Baghdad.

WASHINGTON (AP) - President Bush promises to veto war-funding legislation expected to get a final congressional nod in the Senate today. The measure includes the first timetable for withdrawal. A veto would coincide with the fourth anniversary of Bush's Iraq "victory" speech delivered on the deck of an aircraft carrier.

BAGHDAD (AP) - The commander of a military police unit at the main U-S prison camp outside Baghdad has been arrested and charged with a number of offenses including aiding the enemy. Charges against Army Lieutenant Colonel William Steele include providing an unmonitored cell phone to detainees and fraternizing with a detainee's daughter.

BEIJING (AP) - China says it has banned melamine from food products after it was found in protein shipped to the U-S. China denies that's what poisoned pet food but the Food and Drug
Administration suspects otherwise. China says it's cooperating in an investigation.

LOS ANGELES (AP) - The man behind the "Girls Gone Wild" videos is in more legal trouble. Joe Francis is charged with misdemeanor sexual battery for allegedly groping an 18-year-old woman. Francis was indicted earlier in Nevada on federal tax-evasion charges.

NEW CASTLE, Pa. (AP) - A preliminary hearing is scheduled today for a New Castle man charged in the death of a woman whose body was found dumped in a parking lot. Lawrence County authorities charged 44-year-old Gaylord Spell after D-N-A tests tied him to blood and
semen found on the body of 40-year-old Sueann Brest.

PITTSBURGH (AP) - Trial is under way for three men accused of gunning down a Carrick High School student outside the Allegheny County school two years ago. A prosecutor told jurors yesterday that Jheri Matthews, Howard Kelley and Shawn Wilmer pulled up next to a car carrying 17-year-old Keith Watts Junior and fired a gun at him on March 16th, 2005. Watts was killed.

WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. (AP) - A Philadelphia man on trial in Williamsport has denied shooting another man two years ago in a car on a city street. Twenty-four-year-old Jonathan Mitchell is charged with shooting 28-year-old Idreis Jones, also of Philadelphia, on May 24th, 2005. According to a police report, Jones was one of several men who assaulted Mitchell in Philadelphia in 2000.

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - People in the Harrisburg area who ride Capital Area Transit will be paying higher fares July first. The base fare will go up a dime to one dollar, 60 cents -- and the
increases could be even bigger if the state does not increase its allocation to the agency.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - The state Supreme Court has denied a plea by the city of Philadelphia to modify its order stopping a casino referendum. A lawyer for the city says the way things stand, even if the city prevails, there won't be time to get the question on the May 15th ballot. That's because the election must be advertised once a week in the three weeks preceding the primary.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Local News-Wednesday, April 25th

Three Hispanic men who were involved in a drug ring in our area have been sentenced in federal court. Lorenza Garcia-Avila, Hector Rodriquez and Jose Flores'-Tejada were sentenced in US District Court Monday. The men were involved in a cocaine-distribution ring that spanned Berks and Schuylkill counties last spring. Officials from the Drug Enforcement Agency say that over 15 kilos of cocaine and more than $95-thousand-dollars in cash were seized.
The trio pleaded guilty to conspiracy and possession charges. Avila and Rodriquez will spend 10 years in prison, while Tejada was sentenced to 121-months in jail. Federal, state and local law enforcement participated in the investigation.

Whether we want to acknowledge it or not, there is a drug problem among teenagers. One school district in northern Schuylkill County wanted to hit that point home with students yesterday. The Spartan Task Force at North Schuylkill Junior/Senior High School hosted a program for all kids in grades 7 through 12, presented by the Philadelphia Police Department.
Sgt. Tom Gleeson, a 28-year narcotics officer, presented two sessions at the school as part of the HEADS UP program. He said that even though we live in a rural area, we are not immune to the drug problem, and that it is not drawn along racial or social lines. The multi-media presented a graphic representation about what drugs can do to you, to make students realize that life is all about choices, and that bad choices can kill you. The message was sobering for the audience. Bonnie Yanuskiewicz, facilitator for the Spartan Task Force, said that students are reacting positively to the work of the task force, and are sick of drugs in their schools. The program will be presented again for parents Tuesday, May 1st at 7pm at the high school auditorium. Attendees can win prizes at the event, and are assured of a straight-forward, no-nonsense message about drugs and our kids.

Pottsville's Yuengling Park was vandalized recently, prompting a police investigation. Earlier this week, a resident reported that a tree was busted off at its base at the park on Norwegian Street. Police say that they will review video tapes of the area to find clues as to who did the damage at one of the city's most attractive spots. Officials say that this is the first act of vandalism at Yuengling Park since it opened a few years ago.

With the winter heating season pretty well behind us, the state agency that administers the LIHEAP program is asking for residents' input about proposed changes to the program. The PA Department of Public Welfare will hold hearings across the state about the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, to gain input how the program should be operated for the next heating season. On July 9th, a hearing will be held in Harrisburg. Residents who are unable to attend may submit written comments to the department. If you have any questions, or wish to have a copy of the proposed state plan, call the County Assistance Office at 621-3062.

A woman who was involved in a crash with a Rush Township police car on Sunday night will not be charged. Frackville State Police determined that Carol Patorella of Sugarloaf was not able to see the police cruiser driven by Brian Thompson because her view was obstructed at the intersection of Routes 54 and 309. Based on witness interviews, police have decided not to press charges. Thompson was injured in the crash.

A Shenandoah man is charged with several offenses in two separate incidents last week.
Borough police say that Richard Karahuta will be charged with public drunkenness after he was found walking with an open can of beer, and intoxicated on West Arlington Street last Thursday. On Sunday, police found Karahuta assaulted his sister, Cathy Heb, on Poplar Street. He faces charges of harassment in that incident.

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection this week has given farmers from Pine Grove approval to construct a Pekin duck farm in Washington Township. Earth movers were expected to be on Farm View Road today to start creating a driveway for the farming project. The 65-acre Stoltzfus family farm will become the 18th independent farm raising ducks for a Shartlesville, Berks County processor. Earlier this month, a citizen's group concerned about the potential environment effects encouraged the board of supervisors to adopt an ordinance to ban the project, but the supervisors rejected that argument. The Republican Herald reports the farm which will house nearly 38-thousand ducks, expects to be operating by the end of the summer.

National and State News-Wednesday, April 25th

DALLAS (AP) - Nine people are dead from a ferocious storm that roared across the Mexican border into Texas last night. At least six were killed in the Eagle Pass, Texas, area. The twister
destroyed about 20 homes and an elementary school, along with a sewer treatment plant. More than 70 people were hurt in Texas.

BAGHDAD (AP) - A U-N report released today says Baghdad continues to endure high levels of violence. It's the first human rights report issued since the troop surge was launched in mid-February in the Iraqi capital. Civilian casualties remain high.

WASHINGTON (AP) - U-S troops would have to begin leaving Iraq by October First, according to a war funding bill the House votes on today. Democrats predict enough votes for passage. President Bush promises to veto the measure.

PORTSMOUTH, N.H. (AP) - Arizona Senator John McCain has a big speech today in New Hampshire. He'll officially begin his second bid for the presidency and make his case for why he should be the Republican nominee. The former P-O-W says he's the most experienced
candidate in the field.

MOSCOW (AP) - Former U-S Presidents George Bush and Bill Clinton were among those at today's funeral for former Russian president Boris Yeltsin. Some two-dozen white-robed priests presided over the ceremony in a Moscow cathedral. The current Russian leader, Vladimir Putin, also attended.

WASHINGTON (AP) - Look for Democrats in Congress to dig deeper into the firings of eight federal prosecutors. The House Judiciary Committee today will consider whether to subpoena York County, Pennsylvania, native Monica Goodling, a former aide to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, or grant her immunity from prosecution.

ANNVILLE, Pa. (AP) - The remains of an American soldier who died in a prison camp during the Korean War are to be buried today in central Pennsylvania. Miltary officials say Clarence Robert Becker was a 19-year-old private when he disappeared on December first, 1950, after his convoy was ambushed.

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - A state senator says lawmakers are unlikely to pass Governor Ed Rendell's proposal to expand state-subsidized insurance through a new business payroll tax.
Senator Jake Corman says it's because of questions about its legality and its effect on businesses. Corman says he doesn't know of anyone in the House or the Senate who will vote for the tax.

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Black lawmakers are demanding a police investigation of a banner held at a gun rights rally in the state Capitol. The banner called for the author of a gun-registration bill to be "hung from the tree of liberty." The head to the Legislative Black Caucus says that's a threat to a collegue's life -- and also an act of racism.

NEW CASTLE, Pa. (AP) - Lawrence County prosecutors say D-N-A evidence collected from the body of a woman found dumped in a gravel parking lot last month has led investigators to charge a man who lived near the victim. Prosecutors have charged Gaylord Spell of New Castle with homicide and abuse of a corpse in connection with Sueann Brest's death.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Local News-Tuesday, April 24th

A fire damaged several homes in Mahanoy City last night. The blaze gutted a home at 117 West Mahanoy Avenue, and damaged two others according to the Pottsville Republican. Nine persons, including several children, were displaced from the fire, which investigators are calling an accident. The investigation is expected to continue today.

Congressman Tim Holden announced the awarding of grants and loans for a vital sewer treatment project near Pine Grove yesterday. The announcement will provide over $12-million-dollars in loans and grants from the federal government to complete the Pine Grove Join Treatment Authority Plant and for several miles of piping. The monies came from the US Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Program.

A Tamaqua man charged with murder has been denied bail in Schuylkill County Court. Judge Charles Miller turned down the request of 32-year-old Robert Hartranft, who faces homicide charges in the death of David Ruhl in March. The Pottsville Republican and Herald reports that Judge Miller ordered Hartranft to remain in Schuylkill County Prison without bail.
Hartranft got involved in a fight with Ruhl at the home of Edward Sestakaukus. During the scuffle, Ruhl allegedly taunted Hartranft to shoot him, and put the barrel of a shotgun in his mouth, and went off. A hearing in the case is scheduled for mid-May.

A seven hour search for an Orwigsburg man yesterday ended safely. Hamburg State Police issued a missing persons report around 1pm for Ronald Geist, who was reported missing in the area of the Perry Golf Course in Berks County. He reportedly walked away from the course, where he was playing a round with his brother. Geist was reported to be confused, and was seen by several people during the search throughout the afternoon, headed toward his home in Orwigsburg. Thankfully, Geist was located just before 9pm last evening.

April is being observed as Holocaust Month in schools across the country. For one local district, it provides an opportunity for a wealth of knowledge about the murder of Jews in Europe during the Second World War. The reading department at the DHH Lengel Middle School has been working on a unit about the Holocaust, complete with speakers and other interactive activities for students, including raising money for various charities and observances. Stephanie Ziegmont, an 8th grade literature teacher, said that the students are collecting pennies, a quarter million of them, to purchase trees for the Children's Garden in Israel to mark the number of children who died in the Holocaust. They have collected more than one hundred thousand pennies already. Included in the program will be a visit from Auschwitz survivor, Severin Fayerman, a businessman from the Reading area. He will be in class Tuesday, May 1st to speak with students, and will present a program for the community that evening at 6pm at the Lengel Middle School auditorium. Ziegmont says the students’ were deeply moved about the horror of the Holocaust.

A Tamaqua man was hurt in a motorcycle crash Monday night. Frackville State Police report that Barry Bittner was riding his Harley Davidson on Lofty Road in Delano Township when he lost control and was thrown into the woods. He was air-lifted to Lehigh Valley Hospital for treatment of his injuries. The crash happened around 7:30 last night.

Two people were injured in a truck and tractor-trailer crash early this morning on Interstate 81. A truck operated by Kevin Sickels of Weatherly was north bound on the Interstate when his vehicle was struck in the rear by a rig driven by Casey McPeak of Willis, Virginia. The tractor-trailer flipped over on the driver’s side. Both vehicles were heavily damaged.
Sickels was taken to Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center. McPeak was treated at Pottsville Hospital. The crash is still under investigation.

National and State News-Tuesday, April 24th

WASHINGTON (AP) - President Bush and Congressional Democrats are heading toward a showdown over funding for the Iraq war, with Democrats seeking to tie (b) billions of dollars to a U-S troop withdrawal. Bush promises a veto. Democrats say military might alone won't make Iraq a democracy.

BAGHDAD (AP) - American troops are facing increasing danger as they enforce the security crackdown in Baghdad, and a bombing yesterday is evidence of that. Nine U-S troops were killed in an attack on a patrol base in Diyala province. It was the deadliest attack on American ground forces since December of 2005.

CAPITOL HILL (AP) - A House committee holds a hearing today on misleading information from the U-S military regarding the friendly fire death of football star-turned-Army Ranger Pat Tillman in Afghanistan. Among the lingering questions: was a U-S drone flying overhead and if the incident was captured on videotape, where is the footage?

TOKYO (AP) - It's getting more difficult for General Motors to hold on to its title as world's top automaker. Rival Toyota became the world's top auto seller in the first three months of the year, selling more cars than G-M for the first time.

MOSCOW (AP) - Ordinary Russians get their chance today to pay their last respects to former President Boris Yeltsin, who died of heart failure yesterday. His body will be placed for public viewing at the Christ The Savior Cathedral, a vast, gleaming church that is the most potent symbol of the Russian Orthodox revival after decades of Communist atheism.

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Starting today, instructors and coaches at Pennsylvania's 14 state-owned universities will vote on whether to authorize a strike. The vote continues through Thursday. A union leader says negotiations are continuing with the State System of Higher Education, but the union wants to be prepared in case talks break down. A State System spokesman says about 25-thousand students who enroll in summer courses would be affected if a strike happens over the summer.

GIBSONIA, Pa. (AP) - A student from Allegheny County wounded in the Virginia Tech massacre is back home. Nineteen-year-old Hilary Strollo was released from the hospital
Monday and was home in Gibsonia not long after. She was released a week after she was shot three times in the abdomen, head and buttocks. Yesterday was also the first day of class at Virginia Tech since last week's shooting rampage. Officials say attendance was at about
75 percent.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - No one was reported injured when a six-alarm fire swept through a warehouse near the Delaware River in Philadelphia overnight. Flying embers forced the closing of the Tacony-Palmyra bridge that carries Route 70 traffic across the river to New Jersey.
The fire broke out about midnight in a warehouse that Fire Commissioner Lloyd Ayers says was filled with shipping supplies. Motorists had to find alternatives to the Tacony-Palmyra Bridge for several hours. Ayers says the fire swept through the warehouse as firefighters battled wind and water problems, and it took until shortly before 3 a-m to control the blaze. The bridge reopened shortly before 5 a-m. Ayers says it will take time for the building to cool down
enough to determine the cause of the fire.

GREENSBORO, Pa. (AP) - A Washington man working at a Greene County power station has died after falling 70 feet. Allegheny Energy officials say 40-year-old Michael Cox was
working on the scrubber project at the Hatfield's Ferry power plant when he fell yesterday.
Cox worked for Minnotte Contracting in Pittsburgh. He was pronounced dead at Uniontown Hospital. Officials say it is not immediately clear what Cox was doing when he fell. No one saw him fall. The scrubber project is a 650 (M) million dollar plan to install scrubbers on the plant to remove sulfur dioxide from plant emissions. It is scheduled to be completed in 2009.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Is Sam Katz running for mayor of Philadelphia again? It's possible. The Republican nominee for Philadelphia mayor in the last two elections has left the party just in time to qualify to run as an independent. Katz won't say why he changed his voter registration. He told The Philadelphia Inquirer -- quote -- "It is what it is. I wouldn't read too much into it."
There are five major candidates in the May 15th Democratic primary. Poorly funded candidate Al Taubenberger is unopposed in the Republican primary. But election law allows him to
withdraw in favor of another candiate. That would be most likely to happen if a candidate thought to be weak in the general election wins the Democratic primary.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - A bloody, bullet-filled weekend left eleven people dead across Philadelphia. Drugs and disrespect have trumped brotherly love and the murder rate is on pace to be the highest in a decade. The city has seen more than one killing a day this year,
totaling 127 as of yesterday afternoon. That's 17 percent higher than last year at this time.
New York, Chicago and Los Angeles have had fewer homicides this year, and all three of those cities have populations much larger than Philadelphia's one-and-a-half (m) million. The spike over the weekend was partly blamed on the first warm weather of the season.

PITTSBURGH (AP) - The Pittsburgh International Auto Show is going to open this week, more than two months after the event postponed because a section of the floor at the convention center collapsed. The auto show is annually one of the biggest events held at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center. The show was supposed to be held in February, but was postponed after a huge concrete slab collapsed onto an outdoor walkway on February Fifth. No one was injured. Authorities say an expansion joint at the end of a beam failed and did not move with changing temperatures. The center reopened March Ninth. The auto show will run Thursday through April 30th.

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Philadelphia Park expects to become Pennsylvania's first casino to plug in five-player slot machines that mimic table games. Philadelphia Park Casino's president Dave Jonas says eleven of the games made by Shuffle Master are set to arrive tomorrow at the
suburban Philadelphia racetrack and casino. That's just five days after the games received approval for use in Pennsylvania by state gambling regulators. Jonas says Philadelphia Park hopes to turn them on May 5th. Table games with a human dealer like poker and blackjack are
illegal in Pennsylvania. For now, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board has approved just
the blackjack program on the Shuffle Master game, which comes with software that allows it to play multiple games. Its five-player capacity counts as five slot machines.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - The Philadelphia Inquirer plans to start a business news column that will be sponsored by a bank. Inquirer editor Bill Marimow says the column will be completely
independent of its sponsor, Citizens Bank. The bank's logo will appear above the column, encased in a border. Kelly McBride is in charge of the ethics department at the Poynter Institute, a think tank for journalists. McBride says readers will assume that the bank controls the column unless the newspaper does something to counter that perception. She says the
Inquirer might want to consider adding a line at the bottom of the column saying the content remains under the purview of the editorial staff.

WASHINGTON (AP) - Congressman Bob Brady is the acting chairman of the Committee on House Administration. He replaces Representative Juanita Millender-McDonald, a
California congresswoman who died Saturday at the age of 68. The committee oversees daily operations of the House, federal election procedures and management of the Library of Congress and the Smithsonian Institution. Brady is the acting chairman; it's unclear who the permanent leader will be. Brady is one of five major candidates seeking the Democratic
nomination for mayor of Philadelphia. His chief of staff, Stanley White, says Brady has been able to balance his work in Washington and the campaign.

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - The Hershey Company says it will close its plant in Reading next year, affecting 260 unionized workers. The move is the company's second plant-closing announcement in a little over two months, and is part of a wider move to cut labor and material costs. Spokesman Kirk Saville says the company's plants operate at less than half-capacity over seven days and it needs to make significant changes to remain competitive. Saville says the company will work out severance agreements with the workers. Hershey is looking to shift more manufacturing to India, China, Mexico and private contractors in the United States.
It has already announced it will cut up to 900 of three-thousand workers from three plants in its hometown and close a plant in Smiths Falls, Ontario.

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Pennsylvania's student loan agency has adopted a code of ethics for its lending practices. Officials say it's another step toward making the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency more accountable to the public. PHEAA spokesman Keith New says the ethics code formalizes what both PHEAA and its national business division, American Education Services, already practice. Provisions of the code include banning revenue sharing between PHEAA or A-E-S and colleges, They also include prohibiting the lenders from paying for gifts to or trips for university employees and not paying financial aid officers who serve on student-loan advisory boards.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Local News-Monday, April 23rd

A New Cumberland man is dead following a motorcycle crash yesterday afternoon in Eldred Township. 57-year-old Richard Alvarez was traveling north on State Route 125 when he lost control of his motorcycle. Alavarez, who was not wearing his helmet, was pronounced dead at the scene by Schuylkill County Deputy Coroner Sandra Poletti. The crash happened after noon Sunday.

Two people were injured in a three-vehicle crash in Rush Township Sunday night. Brian Thompson, a Rush Township police officer was en-route to a call on Route 54, when his patrol car crashed into a car driven by Carol Patorella of Sugarloaf, who apparently didn’t see the police car. The impact forced the police car into a vehicle operated by Justin Bove of Tamaqua, which was stopped at the intersection of Route 54 and 309. Thompson was taken to Coaldale Hospital for treatment, then released. Patorella complained of some minor injuries, while Bove was not hurt. The police cruiser and Patorella’s car had to be towed from the scene. The crash happened around 8:15 last night.

A Ranshaw man escaped injury during a one vehicle crash in Foster Township early Saturday morning. Schuylkill Haven State Police say that Travis Reibsome was headed west on Route 901, in Buck Run, at an apparent high rate of speed early Saturday when he lost control of his Dodge Neon. The car left the roadway, hit a ditch, traveled through some trees and hit a large rock. Police say he suffered an injury to his face. Reibsome apparently fell asleep at the wheel. He was not wearing his seatbelt.

A Myerstown man crashed a dirt bike into a house in South Manheim Township Sunday morning. Kyle Goddard lost control on a tight turn and struck the front porch at 703 Berne Drive. The homeowner, Irene Fix, came to the aid of Goddard and fell over the damaged portion of the porch, injuring herself. Goddard was treated at the scene. Fix was taken to Pottsville Hospital for treatment of her injuries. Goddard will be cited in the crash. The accident happened around noon Sunday.

Pottsville Mayor John Reiley was honored by a state organization. The Pennsylvania League of Cities and Municipalities honored Reiley and 21 others for their leadership, receiving the Governor’s Award for Local Government Excellence. Reiley, who serves as First Vice President of the organization, also received an individual award recognizing his outstanding community service. Reiley served as a city councilman in 1969, and as Mayor since 2000. In 2004, he was named Mayor of the Year by the state Mayor’s Association. The presentation was made by Lt. Governor Catherine Baker Knoll late last week.

A group of Philadelphia police officers will address students at North Schuylkill High School tomorrow. HEADS UP, which stands for Heroin Education and Dangerous Substance Understanding Program, was established to attack drug problems from a preventive standpoint. The officers, along with volunteers from the recovering community and family members who have lost loved ones to drugs and violence, make up the team. They are bringing their message to students at North Schuylkill in two programs Tuesday. They will return to present a free program for parents on Tuesday, May 1st at 7pm. The program is presented by the Spartan Task Force.

Police have charged another man in the vandalism of the Church of the Broken Pieces in Minersville. Pottsville police picked up Kevin Smith on Sunday, and turned him over to Minersville police to be charged as one of the vandals who damaged the Church of the Broken Pieces in February. According to the Pottsville Republican and Herald. Smith, who is apparently homeless, was wanted on an outstanding warrant in the case. A teenager implicated in the vandalism had been arrested in mid-March, and implicated Smith. Smith was arraigned on charges of ethnic intimidation, institutional vandalism, criminal mischief and other offenses after the pair spray-painted graffiti on the church building. He is now in Schuylkill County Prison.

A woman from Hecksherville is in Schuylkill County Prison after she reportedly assaulted a police officer. Stephanie Miller was picked up by Cass-Foster Township police on a host of charges, including aggravated and simple assault, harassment and public drunkenness. She is alleged to have assaulted a township officer at the police station Saturday night. Being unable to post bail, Miller was jailed after arraignment.

National and State News-Monday, April 23rd

BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) - One week after the deadliest school shooting in U-S history, classes will resume at Virginia Tech today. The 32 students and teachers killed will be remembered in a
tribute at the dormitory where the rampage began and through a moment of silence and the ringing of bells.

BAGHDAD (AP) - A shop owner in northern Iraq says no place in his country is safe from "the terrorists and their evil deeds." Three suicide bombings killed at least 27 people and wounded nearly 60 in different parts of the country today. One attack occurred outside an office of the Kurdistan Democratic Party near Mosul.

BAGHDAD (AP) - The U-S ambassador to Iraq says the American military will "respect the wishes" of the Iraqi government in regards to a barrier being built around a Sunni enclave in Baghdad. But he stopped short of saying construction would stop, even though Iraq's prime minister has ordered a halt to construction.

LOS ANGELES (AP) - House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says California Congresswoman Juanita Millender-McDonald was a "trailblazer." The seven-term Democrat died over the weekend of cancer. With the Democratic victory in November, Millender-McDonald became the first
black woman to chair the Committee on House Administration.

LAGUNA BEACH, Calif. (AP) - Police shot to death a man and a woman at a luxury oceanfront resort in Laguna Beach, California, over the weekend. Police say the pair disobeyed orders to drop their gun. Officers were responding to a domestic dispute at a bungalow that went for 22-hundred dollars a night.

CAMBRIDGE SPRINGS, Pa. (AP) - An Amish girl who had been missing for four days was found safe yesterday and her father was charged with concealing her whereabouts. Police found 17-year-old Mary Gingerich in McKean County, about two hours from her home in Crawford County's Amish community. Gingerich's father, Edward, spent five years in jail for killing
and disemboweling his wife in a schizophrenic frenzy. Since 1993 when her mother was killed, Mary Gingerich has lived with her grandparents and will be returned to them after a judge
awarded them custody on Thursday.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Philadelphia's murder rate continues to climb. Police say the city is up to 125 homicides as of Sunday afternoon. That includes five fatal shootings in a span of less
than 24 hours over the weekend. Homicide detective Ron McClane says the spike in killings could be partially due to the warm weather, which brings out more people. The recent spate of five murders began around 10 p-m Friday and continued until Saturday afternoon. Police have charged a suspect in one of the cases. Last year, the city had a total of 406 homicides -- the highest number in nearly a decade. Philadelphia will exceed that number this year if the current pace continues.

LOCK HAVEN, Pa. (AP) - Months after returning home from Iraq, thousands of U-S soldiers are learning that they didn't escape the war unscathed. Many tell military authorities that they have no mental health problems. But some troops just don't want to bother with the paperwork. And others don't have any symptoms until three to six months later. There's now a program designed to identify soldiers who don't immediately recognize they need help. Since 2005, a quarter (m) million troops have undergone a second, mandatory mental health assessment.
The Defense Department says about 22 percent of those troops have been referred to mental health professionals, though not all may end up needing treatment.

LOS ANGELES (AP) - California researchers say losing weight is easy but keeping it off is another story. Organized diet programs, prescription pills, psychotherapy, even hypnosis may work for a while -- but then the weight inevitably creeps back up. So researchers say give up the gimmicks and yo-yo dieting and do the right things that will keep the weight off. U-C-L-A researchers analyzed 31 diet studies that followed people two to five years after they went on diets. Between one-third and two-thirds gained back the weight they lost. A small number were able to successfully maintain their weight loss. So how can you lose weight and keep it off?
Experts say the way to do it is to eat breakfast daily, get about 60 to 90 minutes of exercise daily and keep a moderately lowfat, high-carbohydrate diet.

STROUDSBURG, Pa. (AP) - A Monroe County man accused of being an accomplice in a 2004 murder in a Wal-Mart parking lot is denying that he gave a weapon and bulletproof vest to the killer. Twenty-one-year-old John Brabazon of Tobyhanna told jurors he never planned to rob two friends and did not know how Joseph Alvarado got the gun he used. Prosecutors say 23-year-old Alvarado, also of Tobyhanna, shot and killed 20-year-old David Sigmund Junior and wounded 20-year-old Chris Nowak in a car in the East Stroudsburg Wal-Mart lot in December 2004. Alvarado has testified that he and Brabazon wanted more cocaine, so Brabazon devised a plot to rob Sigmund by luring him to a meeting under the pretense of wanting to buy drugs. Alvarado says Brabazon supplied the gun and a bulletproof vest. The trial resumes today, with closing arguments and jury deliberations expected tomorrow.

PITTSBURGH (AP) - To grow, Pittsburgh needs to attract immigrants. But to bring in newcomers, the city needs more jobs. The situation is so severe, recruiters have quit their jobs in frustration and research indicates Pittsburgh will be in dire need of workers by 2020. Eugene Matta moved from New Mexico to Pittsburgh in 2001 to head the city's Hispanic Center. He spent three years making promotional videos, pitching Pittsburgh across the Midwest and asking nurses to move to the former steel town. Matta, who now works for the Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation, says immigrants want to live near people like
themselves. He says Hispanics do not have a tradition in Pittsburgh like they do in California or Texas.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - The mayor of New Orleans has apologized for remarks he made saying Philadelphia is a dirty city. WPVI-TV in Philadelphia is reporting that Ray Nagin says he
meant no offense. Nagin says he had a great time visiting the city last week, to learn about anti-blight programs. Nagin made the remarks about Philadelphia on Saturday to a group of New Orleans residents concerned about the city's recovery from Hurricane Katrina. Nagin told them that while New Orleans still has some work to do, at least the city is cleaner than Philadelphia.

NEW YORK (AP) - Thirteen-year-old Morgan Pozgar has the fastest thumbs in the West.
And the East, too. She wins the L-G National Texting championship. The teen from Claysburg in Blair County takes the crown by typing the word "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious"
from "Mary Poppins" in just 15 seconds. Morgan defeated nearly 200 competitors to become East Coast champion and then beat the West Coast champ -- 21-year-old Eli Tirosh of Los Angeles -- in the New York competition. Morgan wins 25-thousand dollars and says she's going on a shopping spree. She gets plenty of texting practice. Morgan figures she sends more than eight-thousand text messages a month on her cell phone.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Local News-Friday, April 20th

A hearing was held last night about a proposed medical helicopter site in Pottsville. The meeting of the Pottsville Zoning Hearing Board was convened to consider an application by Mazzuca Enterprises to establish a site for University MedEvac to operate its service from a helipad in the Mount Hope section of Pottsville. Mazzuca’s initial application was denied by city zoning officials. The Pottsville Republican reports that Mazzuca was granted approval to proceed with the project in a 3 to 2 vote of the board. The Pottsville Concerned Citizens Group, made up of residents opposed to the plan, have contested the project from the start, citing noise and safety concerns for their neighborhood. By receiving approval, Mazzuca can proceed onto the next step, and await the decision by the city for an occupancy permit. Pottsville Concerned Citizens have 30 days to appeal the decision.

All five candidates for the three member Board of Schuylkill County Commissioners met with members of the business community during an informal get-together at Luther Ridge Thursday. The candidates are; incumbent Democrat Mantura Gallagher and her running mate, County Sheriff Frank McAndrew; Incumbent Republicans Frank Staudenmeier and Robert Carl, and John Schickram an unendorsed Republican candidate. Each talked about their qualifications and accomplishments. Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Lori Kane told WPPA/T102 News that the forum was held to inform the business community, and provide an opportunity to meet the candidates face to face. The event was sponsored by the Chamber’s Government Affairs Committee. Chairperson, Judith Schweich said the good turn-out shows that there is a lot of interest in county politics, and that its imperative to get involved.

We now know more details about questions surrounding representation on Schuylkill County’s special election board. WPPA/T102 News reported yesterday that West Penn Township resident William Mackey Jr. questioned whether Jerry Knowles could serve on the board, since he is employed by the state. In a document received from the county, Assistant Solicitor Jay Jones outlined portions of the state constitution that Mackey called into question about Knowles ability to serve as one of three members of the board, replacing the standing county commissioners who are seeking re-election. In summary, Jones said that the election board is not serving as district election officers, but rather as the election return board. Under the constitution, Jones feels that Knowles is able to serve in that capacity, even though he works for the state in Harrisburg. Mackey questioned Knowles authority to serve at this week’s county commissioners work session.

A locally-based beauty education company is merging with another to form the largest one of its kind in the US. Empire Education Group has announced their merger with Regis Corporation, based in Minnesota. Frank Schoeneman, CEO of Empire, made the announcement yesterday about the combination. The deal only affects Regis cosmetology schools. Empire would be the majority owner. The company will operate 88 cosmetology schools in 18 states nationwide.

A missing persons case ended safely in northern Schuylkill County yesterday. State police were notified that Edwin Andaluz, a resident at White Owl Manor in Mahanoy Township, was missing yesterday morning. Andaluz reportedly left the home to purchase cigarettes at a local convenience store, but never returned. After an all-out search of the area, Andaluz was spotted walking on FireTower Road in Ryan Township, and police were contacted. He was taken to Pottsville Hospital for a checkup, and then returned to the personal care home. State police were assisted by Mahanoy City police.

National and State News-Friday, April 20th

WASHINGTON (AP) - The House could be poised to pass an Iraq war funding measure that has a weaker troop withdrawal provision than some Democrats wanted. Diane Watson of California says House members want to send President Bush a bill and let him veto it.
Bush is on the stump in Michigan today for a no-strings measure.

BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) - Parents and officials are urging people to focus on the victims of the Virginia Tech shootings. Virginia's governor has declared today a day of mourning and called for a moment of silence at noon. One parent of a victim says the world should "know and celebrate our children's lives."

WASHINGTON (AP) - The fate of Paul Wolfowitz is under discussion at the World Bank. The organization's board has ordered an ad hoc group to discuss the turmoil created by revelations that Wolfowitz helped his girlfriend get a big raise. The World Bank fights global poverty.

NEW YORK (AP) - BlackBerry users now know it was a software glitch that left (m) millions of them without wireless e-mail access. BlackBerry maker Research in Motion says the problem was an insufficiently tested software update at the company's network data center. About eight (m) million of the devices are now in use.

STOCKHOLM, Sweden (AP) - A Swedish hospital says it's getting too much static that needs to stop. So the hospital wants to ban its staff from wearing those popular Crocs plastic clogs. It says the U-S-made shoes generate static electricity blamed for knocking out some medical equipment.

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) - Remembrances for the Virginia Tech massacre are planned for Penn State's annual Blue-White spring football game tomrrow . Students wearing maroon and orange shirts are to form a "V-T" symbol in the stands. Cheerleaders are to lead "Let's Go Hokies" chants. Yesterday, relatives of shooting victim Jeremy Herbstritt sat quietly in the front of a worship hall in State College during a memorial. Students and staff lit candles and
signed a condolence banner to mourn the death of the Penn State graduate and 31 others slain in the massacre. Herbstritt was a grad student at Virgnia Tech. Several students and staffers wore Virginia Tech sweat shirts, while others donned clothing with maroon and orange, Tech's school colors.

WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. (AP) - Prosecutors in Williamsport say a fatal shooting there was payback for an earlier crime involving two Philadelphia men. The district attorney contends that 24-year-old Johnathan Mitchell killed 28-year-old Idreis Jones in 2005. Prosecutors say Mitchell shot Jones because Jones had robbed and kidnapped Mitchell a few years ago. They also say Mitchell confessed to a friend after the fact and also called his mother saying he had killed someone. There were no witnesses to the murder and the weapon used has not been recovered. Trial resumes this morning in Lycoming County Court.

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) - John Amaechi says he hasn't heard a word from any former N-B-A teammates since he publicly acknowledged his homosexuality. But was the exact opposite with his former Penn State teammates. He says he's received messages from every one of them. Amaechi he got a warm reception during a 90-minute appearance at his alma mater last night. In his talk to students Amaechi said he was a "geek" and "gym rat" in his college days.
He encouraged students to strive for perfection, and to not be apathetic about issues of diversity.

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) - State College school district officials canceled classes today, the anniversary of the killings at Columbine High School. Police say a threatening note was found late yesterday afternoon in a high school bathroom and authorities are investigating the credibility of the threats. Authorities say they are concerned because today marks the
eighth anniversary of the killings of 13 people at Columbine High School in 1999 -- and in light of the shootings this week at Virginia Tech. In western Pennsylvania, Plum School District, about 15 miles east of Pittsburgh, will ban backpacks and large purses today based on an unspecified threat. Bethel Park, Thomas Jefferson and Allegheny Valley school districts, all in the Pittsburgh suburbs, also have dealt with unspecified threats this week.

PITTSBURGH (AP) - The trial of three Beltzhoover men accused of gunning down a student with an assault rifle outside Carrick High School is moving forward despite an effort by the defense to have it postponed because of the Virginia Tech massacre. Allegheny County Judge Jeffrey Manning ruled yesterday that jury selection will begin today for 21-year-old Jheri Matthews, 22-year-old Howard Kelley and 24-year-old Shawn Wilmer. They are charged in the March 16th, 2005, shooting death of Keith Watts Junior. Matthews' attorney, Michael Foglia, asked Manning to postpone the trial for two months because news coverage of the Virginia Tech
massacre would influence jurors. Manning polled potential jurors and only six out of 70 said the
Virginia Tech massacre would influence them.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Former heavyweight champion Joe Frazier has moved to drop a lawsuit against his daughter after she pledged to help him locate his missing business records.
A lawyer for Jacquelyn Frazier-Lyde says the file at the center of the legal dispute never left "Smokin' Joe's" North Philadelphia gym. Frazier's lawyer says he reluctantly agreed to drop the suit but vows to refile it "quicker than a Joe Frazier left hook" if Frazier-Lyde does not comply. Frazier filed the suit in Philadelphia Municipal Court this month charging that his daughter refused to return contracts and other financial records she kept when she managed her father's legal affairs. Frazier's lawyers say he may be missing out on film royalties,
product endorsement fees or other income promised in the old contracts.

PITTSBURGH (AP) - A federal jury has found that a Westmoreland County company illegally exported components of military night vision equipment without a federal license. Sentencing is scheduled July 13th for Electro-Glass Products of Norvelt, convicted of unlawful exportation of defense articles. Prosecutors say that between May 2003 and August 2004, the company sold and exported to a company in India 23-thousand solder glass preforms. The preforms are components of military night vision equipment. Federal law requires a license from the State Department to export them. Electro-Glass Products did not have such a license.

DANVILLE, Va. (AP) - The Federal Aviation Administration says two people were killed when a small plane crashed in Danville, Virginia. The plane was flying from Washington County, Pennsylvania, to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, when the Danville airport and the city's Emergency Operations Center received word that someone on board was having medical difficulties. The wreckeage of the single-engine, two-seat Grumman was found about 9:30 a-m in a wooded creek bottom. First responders used chainsaws to get to the wreckage. Identities of the victims were not immediately available. The F-A-A is investigating.

ALIQUIPPA, Pa. (AP) - A second man has been arrested in connection with the shooting of Aliquippa High School basketball star Herb Pope. Police say 21-year-old Tremayne Foster of Aliquippa threatened 18-year-old Pope in the early morning hours of March 31st and punched the basketball star in the face as he sat in a car Foster has been arraigned on charges of simple assault and harassment. Police say Pope and Foster fought before 19-year-old Marcus
Longmire of Pittsburgh joined in and shot Pope four times. Longmire is charged with attempted homicide, aggravated assault, simple assault and a firearms violation. Pope has been released from a Pittsburgh hospital. He led the Quips to the WPIAL Class Double-A championship this season.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Local News-Thursday, April 19th

The Schuylkill County Commissioners approved the hiring of a Berks County attorney to serve as special counsel to the county board of elections for matters related to the County Controller's race. Terry Weiler of Reading will serve at a rate of $125-dollars per hour, pending court appointment. Weiler will advise the board on a matter dealing with a complaint filed by Democratic Controller Candidate Melinda Kantner against Republican Candidate Jason Gherghel. Kantner maintains that Gherghel violated the Pennsylvania Election Code by purchasing internet addresses using variations of her name, making it impossible for her to establish a campaign web site. Weiler was selected by the county Elections Board, that includes former County Commissioner Jerome Knowles, former county tax claims director Susan Koch and Pottsville attorney Lynne Bressi. The County Commissioners usually serve as the board of elections, except during the years like this one, when they are running for re-election. The County Solicitor's office, which normally advises the Election Board, removed itself from the case involving the Controller's race. When asked by County Commissioner Mantura Gallagher about the recusal, Assistant Jay Jones indicated that anything that would come from the County Solicitor's office would be questioned by Kantner. Kantner has been persistently critical of county Solicitor Paul Datte stemming from his roles as former solicitor for the North Manheim Township Zoning Hearing Board and current solicitor for the North Manheim Township Sewer Authority. Kantner serves as a member of North Manheim's Planning Commission.

There will be plenty of teaching opportunities next school year in the Pottsville School District.
At Wednesday's meeting, 17 more faculty members, and a special education supervisor, submitted retirement letters, bringing the total for the year to 40. Superintendent Dr. James Gallagher said that the dedicated employees would be quote "very difficult, if not impossible to replace". Lori Bendetti, a parent of a special needs student, addressed the board about concerns for her son, who will be a freshman at Pottsville High School in September. Dr. Gallagher was to meet with Mrs. Bendetti and the special ed staff today to discuss the matter in further detail. Board member Dr. Bill Davidson announced to the board that 71 percent of the senior class have received acceptance letters to colleges all across the country, a testament to the quality of education at Pottsville High. Superintendent Gallagher noted one change to the school calendar. Friday, June 1st has been changed from an in-service day to an Act 80 day. Students will still finish classes on Thursday, May 31st, with commencement that evening.

The massacre at Virginia Tech on Monday is affecting college students locally. WPPA/T-102 News spoke with Matthew Swatchick, director of Student Affairs at Penn State Schuylkill about the mood on campus since the murder of 32 students by Cho Seung-Hui in Blacksburg, Virginia on Monday morning. He said that there has been some discussion among students about the events at Virginia Tech, but for most, its business as usual. Swatchick also said that some students are worried about such an incident could happen here. He said that while no formal observance is planned at this point, student groups were planning to discuss the incident during their regular meetings. University President Graham Spanier has addressed the matter with faculty and staff, and reiterated that the University is committed to keeping all Penn State campuses a safe place to learn.

A Tremont man is in jail on numerous theft charges. Twenty-one year old Brandon Merwine was arrested by Schuylkill Haven State Police Tuesday night for thefts at the R&D Coal Company and a home, both in Tremont Township, in March. Burglary, theft, conspiracy and other offenses are among the charges Merwine faces. He was arraigned via video conference by District Judge David Plachko. His combined bail was set at $35-thousand-dollars, 10 percent bail.

The Schuylkill County Commissioners lifted a disaster declaration at noon Wednesday that they declared Monday because of severe weather across the region. Monday’s spring storm, with its heavy snow and high winds, caused dangerous road conditions and power outages in various sections of the county, which they said threatened the health and welfare of county residents.
The declaration directed the County Emergency Management Coordinator to take any and all appropriate action needed to alleviate the effects of the disaster and to aid in the restoration of essential public services. The declaration was officially adopted during Wednesday’s Commissioners work session.

A non-jury trial will be held in Schuylkill County Court for an Orwigsburg man who is charged with killing his wife. Jeffrey Zimmerman’s trial will begin on May 1st, and heard by President Judge William Baldwin. Zimmerman faces a possible life sentence in prison for murdering his wife Cindy in her parents home in Orwigsburg in July, 2006. The Pottsville Republican reports that DA Jim Goodman will not seek the death penalty for Zimmerman. The defendant’s attorney said that Zimmerman will likely testify on his own behalf during the trial, which is expected to last 3 days. Several photos of the deceased that were introduced as evidence were deemed inadmissible by Baldwin. Other evidence presented by the DA’s office will be allowed.
Zimmerman is charged with criminal homicide, aggravated and simple assault and other offenses. He is currently in Schuylkill County Prison without bail.

Schuylkill County is pitching in for the Great Pennsylvania Cleanup. The Office of Solid Waste has announced that the trash collected between April 21st and 28th by cleanup participants can be taken to the CES Landfill for free. Groups or individuals who would like to register for the Great Pennsylvania Cleanup can do so online at, or by calling Schuylkill Keep It Pretty at 628-3758. The waste collected can either be dropped off at the landfill, or stack it along the road for PennDOT to pick it up.

The first round of the Smooth Operator program was successful in cracking down on aggressive drivers. Statewide, law enforcement issued more than 20-thousand citations and arrests during the week of March 25th to 31st. Over 16-thousand of the citations were for speeding, tailgating and other unsafe driving practices. Others were for seat belt and other traffic violations. In Schuylkill County, citations and arrests totaled over 11-hundred. PennDOT is investing $2-million-dollars statewide. Smooth Operator enforcement will resume during Fourth of July week, as well as in August and September.

The appointment of former County Commissioner Jerome Knowles to the Schuylkill County Board of Elections is being challenged by a West Penn Township man. William Mackey Jr., who was unsuccessful in a bid to unseat David Argall in the 124th legislative district race last year, attended Wednesday’s Commissioners work session and said Knowles appointment to the election board violates the state constitution. According to Mackey, state election laws prohibit anyone employed by government from serving on the board of elections and Knowles’ hiring by Representative Argall for special projects violates that law. Knowles was one of three people appointed by the County Commissioners to serve as the board of elections. Normally, the Commissioners serve as the board except during the years when they are candidates for election.

National and State News-Thursday, April 19th

BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) - One Virginia Tech student says Cho Seung-Hui's final words and images show he had "completely lost his mind." Some people at a restaurant near the
campus cried and others cringed as they watched portions of his video tirade broadcast last night. The killer had mailed his manifesto to N-B-C.

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - A retired Virginia state police superintendant says it's too early to judge Virginia Tech officials on their handling of Monday's deadly campus rampage. He's been
named to lead the panel that will conduct the state's investigation into what happened.

BAGHDAD (AP) - Grief-stricken Iraqis are retrieving the bodies of those killed in yesterday's horrific bombings, and burying their dead. Four attacks yesterday killed more than 180 people, making it the bloodiest day since the U-S troop increase began more than two months ago.

CAPITOL HILL (AP) - This is the day Attorney General Alberto Gonzales makes his long-awaited appearance before a Senate panel to explain the ouster of eight U-S attorneys. It could determine whether he keeps his job, amid allegations of waffling, contradictions and playing politics with justice.

WASHINGTON (AP) - Some of the nation's biggest lenders are coming to the rescue of homeowners threatened with eviction after getting squeezed by so-called subprime mortgages.
Government-sponsored Freddie Mac, for one, has put together a 20 (b) billion-dollar rescue package of easier loans.

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - A state lawmaker says he hopes to introduce a bill this year to privatize the state liquor stores. Senator Rob Wonderling, a Montgomery County Republican, says it makes sense now that the governor is asking for the Pennsylvania Turnpike to be put on the market. Past privatization efforts have failed. Groups wanting to limit availability of alcohol oppose privatization as do those trying to preserve thousands of union jobs.

MECHANICSBURG, Pa. (AP) - A township manager in Cumberland County is taking his expertise to Iraq. Upper Allen Township Manager Lou Fazekas is to work on a team attempting to help Iraqi provincial governments become more functional. The goal is to make it so people have less reason to turn to Islamic militias for services. Fazekas is also a colonel in the Army National Guard. He is undergoing a crash course at the State Department's Foreign Service
Institute in Arlington, Virginia, in preparation for a year with one of 10 Provincial Reconstruction Teams. The township's assistant manager and engineer are handling his
duties while he's gone.

HAGERSTOWN, Md. (AP) - A Hagerstown, Maryland, man sentenced to life in prison for the slaying of a Waynesboro (Pennsylvania) man has been granted a new trial. An appeals court says the jury that convicted 25-year-old Tyshawn Jones two years ago should have been asked to confirm its verdicts. Jones was convicted of first-degree felony murder and other
charges in the March 2004 slaying of 19-year-old Jonathan Dennis of Waynesboro, (Pennsylvania). The appeals court also ruled that that the robbery was an act
separate from the shooting -- so it didn't support a conviction for first-degree felony murder.

WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. (AP) - A 24-year-old Philadelphia man accused of a murder in Williamsport goes on trial today. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for Jonathan Mitchell, who's charged in the 2005 shooting death of Idreise Jones. Police say Jones was shot three times in the head and that a friend of Mitchell's says he confessed to the murder.

CONFLUENCE, Pa. (AP) - A 12-year-old girl has testified she was sexually molested eight years ago by the husband of the owner of a small home-based day care center in Somerset County. At a preliminary hearing yesterday , the girl said she was napping in a room at the Milford Township day care when 67-year-old Gordon Marker woke up her and made her perform a sex act. Prosecutors accuse Marker of exposing himself to the girl and making her perform a sex act. State police say Marker admitted to exposing himself to the girl, but denies asking her to perform a sex act. Marker is ordered to stand trial on several charges, including
rape, statutory sex assault and involuntary deviate sexual intercourse.

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - A ruling is being criticized by the state Ethics Commission that says a state Supreme Court candidate need not disclose investments and debts jointly held with his spouse. The commission says that creates a "gaping loophole" for political candidates seeking to avoid public scrutiny. In a friend-of-the-court brief filed with the state Supreme Court, the commission says that the state Ethics Act requires candidates and public officials to disclose all significant income and debts -- regardless of their marital status or whether their spouse also has an interest. The brief deals with a lower court ruling that excused Supreme Court candidate Mike Krancer for failing to disclose investments and debts held jointly with his wife. Krancer is one of three Republicans seeking nomination for the Supreme Court in the May 15th primary.

ALLENTOWN, Pa. (AP) - A man who carjacked a woman at knifepoint in a mall parking lot apologized to her as he was sentenced to 20 years in prison. Ferlanda O'Neil Thomas still faces sexual-assault charges in state court for the daytime attack at the Lehigh Valley Mall. The victim has said she jumped from the speeding vehicle as she was being assaulted. The 23-year-old Thomas had pleaded guilty to aggravated carjacking. Thomas fled to Mississippi after the September 14th assault, where prosecutors say he was caught driving the stolen G-M-C Yukon.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - A female tiger who risked injury mating with an inexperienced male at the Philadelphia Zoo is expecting cubs in May. Keeper Tara Brody says Kira, the Amur tiger, could deliver two to four cubs by May 21st. Brody has been watching for signs of pregnancy since Kira mated with the male tiger Dmitri, risking that the inexperienced Dmitri could become frustrated and lash out with sharp claws and injure or kill her. That didn't happen, and the two last mated on February eighth. Now Kira is becoming more sleepy, her appetite has increased,
and she daily devours as much as eight pounds of beef, up from three to six pounds normally.
Brody says the cubs should arrive just over three months after conception, good news for the genetic diversity of North America's captive tiger population of 144.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Local News-Wednesday, April 18th

Crews were back at work this morning to restore power to the remaining homes and businesses affected by Monday’s storm. PPL Electric Utility workers from other regions were brought in Monday evening to restore power to the hardest hit areas serving a portion of Schuylkill County. At one time, more than 14-thousand PPL customers were without power. That number was whittled down to about one thousand Tuesday evening. As of 10:30am, there were about 300 customers without electricity in communities in the Ashland/Frackville area, and in the villages of Donaldson and Llewellyn. PPL spokeswoman Martha Herron said that all service would be restored this afternoon. The heavy, wet snow and fallen trees brought down power lines, particularly in the northern part of the county, and outside of Minersville.

State police saw an increase in drunk driving arrests in 2006. Information Specialist, Trooper Edward Maloney said there was a 10 percent increase in DUI arrests last year, totaling 15-thousand-forty seven across the state. The Troop L coverage area, which includes Schuylkill County, saw a spike of 100 more arrests. They made 694 DUI arrests in 2006, 283 of them involving traffic crashes. Maloney said that the arrests are the highest in Pennsylvania State Police history for one calendar year. Troopers will be running more special enforcement operations in the coming months.

A Lebanon man is under arrest for having inappropriate contact with a young boy in Tremont Township earlier this year. Schuylkill Haven state police conducted the investigation, resulting in charges of indecent assault and corrupting the morals of a 4-year-old boy against 27-year-old Bradley McGarvey at a home at Echo Valley Campground in February. Troopers say he had inappropriate contact with and in front of the child. A preliminary hearing is scheduled in the case.

State police are warning residents to watch for criminals who prey on the elderly during the spring and summer months. Hstorically, the state sees an influx of transients who travel great distances, looking for victims at this time of year. Among the scams these criminals use are home repair schemes, home invasion thefts and burglaries and sweetheart swindles, where young females befriend older gentlemen. Officials offer some simple tips to avoid being scammed. Keep your doors and windows locked at all times, beware of unsolicited home repairmen and never agree to any work on your home unless it is in writing. As always, if you suspect that something is not right with the people who come knocking at your door, call local or state police at once.

This year’s Schuylkill Chamber of Commerce Leadership Class has undertaken a big project.
For the last 17 years, each class is challenged to take on a project to leave a lasting impression on the citizens of the county. This year’s class have constructed a pavilion at Sweet Arrow Lake County Park. Starting with a class budget of $2-thousand dollars, funding from the Alcoa Foundation, the Friends of Sweet Arrow Lake Park, some grant monies and the support of Miller Brothers Construction and Pioneer Pole Buildings, the 24 by 35 foot pavilion took shape this past weekend. It adds another jewel to the Sweet Arrow Lake County Park property.
The Schuylkill Chamber of Commerce Leadership Class represents a cross section of individuals from all walks of life, spending 5 months learning about the county, and how to become leaders in their communities. Congratulations on a job well done.