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.


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