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.


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