Thursday, May 31, 2007

Local News-Thursday, May 31st

A pair of Tamaqua men pleaded guilty to a host of drug charges in Schuylkill County Court yesterday. 35-year-old Dennis Helfrich and 37-year-old Joseph Sharpe, who were implicated in the overdose death of Helfrich's half-brother Eugene Moyer last year, will see state prison time after their plea yesterday before Judge D. Michael Stine. The Republican and Herald indicate that both men did not admit to causing Moyer's death, but did possess the drug Fentanyl that caused it. Their charges included drug delivery and possession of a controlled substance and related offenses. Tamaqua police had charged the men in June, 2006. Sharpe will spend 38 and a half months to 10 years in state prison, and pay costs. Helfrich will serve 3 to 8 years, and pay costs as well.

Two Minersville women were hit by a car yesterday afternoon in Minersville. Details are limited at this time, but according to the Republican and Herald, the women were struck by a Jeep making a left turn from Sunbury Street onto Third Street. Their identities, nor the driver’s have been released as yet, but we expect to know more from police today. The accident happened around 3:30pm Wednesday.

State police are looking for thieves who made off with materials from a county construction site.
Between Tuesday and Wednesday, someone made entered the Sara Lee construction site at Highridge in Cass Township and took 500 feet of copper welding material, and 500 feet of extension cord. Their whereabouts are unknown. The investigation continues.

A Pottsville woman was injured during a two-car crash yesterday morning in North Manheim Township. Crystal Staller of Pottsville was eastbound on Route 443 near the intersection with Route 61, and turned left into the path of Diane Bitzer’s SUV, which was westbound. Her Chevy Tahoe hit the passenger side of Staller’s car. Traffic was restricted to one lane for cleanup. Staller was taken to the Good Samaritan Hospital for treatment.

Two men escaped injury following a crash in North Manheim Township early this morning.
Travis Dochat of Northampton was driving south on Route 61 when the truck he was operating drifted off the road and hit a guide rail, then continued on for more than 100 feet, striking the guiderail again twice. Dochat and his passenger weren't hurt. The crash happened around 1:15am today.

The annual trek down the Schuylkill begins Saturday morning. The Schuylkill River Sojourn is a more than 100-mile canoe and kayak trip, beginning at the Island and ending up in Philadelphia nearly a week later. The trip will give participants a sometimes peaceful, sometimes challenging ride on the historical waterway that originates here in Schuylkill County, and was a key to the industrial revolution and the coal industry in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Friday night, Sojourners will gather at the Island in Schuylkill Haven for food, entertainment from the Breaker Boys and to camp out prior to Saturday morning’s start.
WPPA and T102's news correspondent Allie Raring and her father, who have participated in a number of the Schuylkill Sojurns, will be participating in the first three legs of this year’s event. You can hear comments from her journal Monday morning in the news.

National and State News-Thursday, May 31st

WHITE HOUSE (AP) - President Bush discusses Iraqi reconciliation and the rising number of U-S casualties with Iraq's President Jalal Talabani today at the White House. The administration, meantime, says Bush envisions a long-term American military presence in Iraq, similar to the one in South Korea.

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) - The Taliban are claiming responsibility for a helicopter crash in Afghanistan that has killed five Americans, a Briton and a Canadian. Officials say the Chinook transport was apparently shot down.

ATLANTA (AP) - Health officials in North America and Europe are seeking the passenger lists of two trans-Atlantic flights boarded by an American infected with a rare and dangerous form of tuberculosis. Officials want to get in contact with dozens of passengers and crew members who may have come into contact with him.

WASHINGTON (AP) - A top F-B-I official says violent crime has increased for the second year in a row nationwide. Assistant F-B-I Director John Miller says the bureau's focus on counterterrorism has decreased the number of agents devoted to traditional crime fighting.

WASHINGTON (AP) - Cheaper may be safer when it comes to convertibles. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has found that affordable convertibles by Chrysler, Mitsubishi and Volkswagen earned higher marks in side-impact crash tests than some higher-end models by B-M-W and Audi.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Illegal immigrants have filed suit seeking unpaid wages from a janitorial firm facing federal immigration and tax charges. The suit filed in federal court in Philadelphia says some plaintiffs were rounded up in February and deported before
receiving their final paychecks. Others say they worked 80- or 100-hour weeks without earning overtime pay or even the minimum wage. So far, there are 14 plaintiffs, mostly from Mexico, who worked for Rosenbaum-Cunningham International. In Philadelphia, the
janitorial contractor placed workers in Dave and Buster's, the restaurant chain that has a popular waterfront outpost in the city. The company and three executives were indicted this year in Michigan on still-pending federal charges of harboring illegal immigrants and failing to pay $18 million in taxes.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Governor Ed Rendell says all projects in the 10-year capital plan of the Pennsylvania Turnpike will be protected if the state leases the roadway. The governor has been advocating turnpike privatization for months. He says it would generate nearly one (b) billion dollars a year for the state's crumbling road system and cash-strapped mass
transit agencies. But legislators have balked at the proposal, and tunpike commission head Joseph Brimmeier recently said such a move might doom some turnpike projects. Rendell said yesterday officials know that the projects won't be scuttled and "shouldn't try to scare
people." Brimmeier later issued a contrite statement, saying he would not comment further until he spoke to Rendell.

NORRISTOWN, Pa. (AP) - Philadelphia-area parents who owe child support can get their situation cleared up -- no questions asked -- if they pay what they owe by tomorrow (Friday).
But authorities in Philadelphia, Delaware, Bucks, Montgomery and Chester counties say they'll have stepped-up enforcement after the amnesty. Montgomery County Sheriff John Durante says there will be unannounced sweeps by deputies from a five-county task force.
Durante says Montgomery County collected more than one (m) million dollars in back child support in a pilot program last summer that involved a similar regional task force.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Local News-Wednesday, May 30th

Three people are homeless this morning following a fire in Shenandoah Tuesday morning. The blaze broke out in a home at 222 North West Street before 4am, which was unoccupied. It quickly spread to an adjoining home, where John Hower, his mother and son lived.. The fast moving fire was under control within two hours, but not until after it gutted both structures, which adjoin each other. Three other homes in the block had smoke and water damage. The state police fire marshal is assisting Shenandoah fire officials in the investigation. The Schuylkill/East Northumberland American Red Cross is assisting the displaced family and others. To make a donation, call the American Red Cross at 622-9550.

Police, with the aid of concerned citizens in a Pottsville neighborhood, took another drug dealer off of the streets late last week. Investigators from the Pottsville Drug Investigation Unit executed a search warrant at the home of Jose Monroy on Fairview Avenue last Friday.
They found cocaine, cash, drug paraphernalia and wireless surveillance equipment in the raid.
Monroy was selling cocaine in the neighborhood, including at the playground in the 200 block of Fairview Street. Police contacted several of Monroy's customers during the raid, which may result in additional arrests. He was free on bail for other drug charges relating to an arrest in February. Monroy is in Schuylkill County Prison on those charges. Pottsville police encourage residents to contact their confidential tip line if they suspect illegal drug activity. Their number is 622-1234, mailbox number 150.

Its been a busy week for Pottsville drug agents. Officers arrested Andrea Tavares at her West Arch Street home after she made a sale of cocaine outside of her home. She was picked up on an outstanding warrant for a prior sale of cocaine. Tavares was arraigned and taken to Schuylkill County prison, where she remains on $10-thousand-dollars bail. She faces charges on the current bust as well.

An Orwigsburg man will be charged for making terroristic threats and harassment following an incident in West Brunswick Township Sunday afternoon. Schuylkill Haven state police say that Keith Eckroth of New Ringgold came to the home of Adam Spotts, Orwigsburg, to pick up his girlfriend, Regina Drumheller. As they pair passed Spotts' house, he called Drumheller's cell phone and threatened to shoot and kill Eckroth. Drumheller has an active Protection from Abuse Order against her from Spotts, but he allowed her into his home anyway. Spotts will receive charges from state police through the office of District Judge James Ferrier, Orwigsburg.

Two men suffered minor injuries in a crash on Interstate 81 Tuesday afternoon. Frackville troopers say that John Gasperetti was attempting to make a U-turn near Exit 119 in Butler Township, when he failed to yield to a car driven by Michael Zanella of Marion Heights. Zanella's Nissan Sentra hit the front of Gasperetti's tractor trailer. Zanella was treated for minor injuries. A passenger, 20-year-old Joseph Dowkus the Second of Paxinos was life-flighted to Geisinger Medical Center for treatment. Gasperetti will be cited in the Tuesday afternoon crash.

A Brockton man was moderately injured in a crash on Route 209 last night. Edward Valentine Jr. was traveling at a high rate of speed, according to state police. He lost control of his car and went airborne into a wooded area. The rear tires of his car were torn off. Valentine’s condition is unknown. He will be cited for speeding.

A man and woman were hurt in a two vehicle crash in Wayne Township Sunday night. Schuylkill Haven state police now say that Janise Parker of Bernville was southbound on Route 183, and attempted to turn left onto Route 443. Her car collided with the northbound Chevy Cavalier driven by Ben Kovaleski the Fourth of Pine Grove. The impact of the crash forced the vehicles into the Suglia's Pizzeria parking lot. Both drivers were taken to Pottsville Hospital for treatment. Parker will be cited in the crash. The accident happened after 8 o'clock Sunday night.

Seven people died in crashes on Pennsylvania roads during the Memorial Day weekend. State police report that while the total number of crashes were down compared to last year, but none of the drivers who died were wearing their seatbelts. In total, 765 crashes were investigated statewide by troopers. Three-hundred twenty of the drivers were injured. 80 of those crashes were alcohol-related. In 2006, 11 people died and 361 were injured in the 870 crashes investigated by state police.

Three cars were involved in a crash near Port Carbon yesterday afternoon. Stanley Markus of St. Clair apparently fell asleep at the wheel on Market Street and crossed into the southbound lane. His car hit a van driven by Joseph Hannon of Middleport. The impact forced Hannon’s car into the SUV driven by Ryan Hart of St. Clair, who tried to avoid hitting Markus' car. Hart's vehicle went onto the lawn of a home off of the shoulder of the road. Markus and Hart were not hurt, but Hannon had minor injuries. All drivers were wearing their seatbelts.

National and State News-Wednesday, May 30th

ATLANTA (AP) - Federal officials say they're investigating whether a man with a rare strain of tuberculosis infected any of the passengers on two trans-Atlantic flights he took against
doctors' advice. The man is quarantined in Atlanta. He says he traveled to Europe because he didn't want to call off his wedding.

BAGHDAD (AP) - At least nine Iraqi civilians are dead after several mortar rounds apparently targeting a U-S military base in Fallujah missed their mark and landed in a residential
neighborhood. Elsewhere, a roadside bomb struck a police convoy outside Baghdad, killing two guards.

WHITE HOUSE (AP) - President Bush is set to name Robert Zoellick, an executive with Goldman Sachs, as his choice to become the next president of the World Bank. Zoellick would replace Paul Wolfowitz, who resigned after a panel found that he arranged a hefty pay package for his girlfriend.

BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) - Two humpback whales who got lost in California's Sacramento River are nearing the freedom of the Pacific Ocean. At last word, they were in San Francisco Bay, less
than ten miles from the Golden Gate Bridge.

STRATFORD, Conn. (AP) - Authorities in Connecticut say an off-duty officer accidentally shot his 18-year-old daughter in the knee after mistaking her for an intruder in their home. Police say the daughter was re-entering the home through the basement after sneaking out.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - A Philadelphia man has been ordered to stand trial on charges of raping and murdering his best friend's daughter in 2004. Authorities say D-N-A evidence led them to arrest 27-year-old Brian McDonald of the city's Kensington neighborhood in the death
of 15-year-old Nicole Reilly. Prosecutors also say a store security video showed McDonald
buying a drink at a convenience store that was identical to a drink found at the crime scene. Authorities say McDonald denied buying the drink until he was shown the video. The defense lawyer declined to comment after yesterday's preliminary hearing.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Resolution of a dredging disagreement has cleared the way for completion of the years-long process of sprucing up the Benjamin Franklin Bridge. The Delaware River Port Authority will soon pick a contractor to repaint the bridge, which links Philadelphia and Camden, New Jersey. The bistate agency stopped meeting about 17 months ago over the dredging disagreement. Only emergency work could be approved, and
painting was not considered an emergency. The 90 (m) million dollar project is expected to be completed in 2008. The iconic blue bridge has been repainted about every seven
years since it opened in 1926, with intermittent maintenance in between.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - A pair of bald eagles have abandoned a nest at the old Philadelphia Navy Yard -- the first in the city in two centuries. But birdwatchers are holding out hope that the pair will nest again next year. After the nest was spotted in February, state officials began
keeping a close eye on the eagles in hopes that they would breed. But birdwatchers and state officials say the eagles haven't been spotted since April. State officials have gone back to the Philadelphia nesting site several times, but have found no evidence that the birds have
returned. State officials estimate that 20 percent to 30 percent of bald eagle nests fail every year in Pennsylvania.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Local News-Tuesday, May 29th

Firefighters are working a mult-house fire in Shenandoah this morning. The alarm was called in around 3:45am at 220 North West Street in the borough. Several homes are reportedly involved in the fire. Fire crews from Shenandoah, Shenandoah Heights, Ashland and Frackville are on scene at this hour. More details as they become available.

A Ringtown woman is dead following a crash that she and her husband were involved in while delivering newspapers on Memorial Day. According to Frackville State Police, Roy Lindenmuth and his wife Esther were headed west on Breisch Road in Union Township, when their vehicle left the road in thick fog and hit a utility pole. Roy Lindenmuth was life-flighted to Geisinger Medical Center for treatment of moderate injuries, but Esther Lindenmuth was pronounced dead at the scene by Schuylkill County Deputy Coroner Albert Breznik Jr. The crash, which happened around 5:30am, is under investigation.

Sunny skies welcomed the summer season on Memorial Day, and gave pause to remember those that have served and are still serving in our nation’s military. In many towns and villages across the county, parades and services were held to honor veterans. In Pottsville’s Garfield Square, Palo-Alto native and Petty Officer Mark Atkinson was the featured speaker of the 36th annual Joint Veterans Memorial Day celebration. He called for people to support the troops stationed abroad, fight ignorance, honor veterans, and be vigilant. Also in attendance were members of city and county government as well as representatives from the local veterans’ organizations. The program was concluded by honoring the deceased service men and women, with a wreath laying ceremony, firing squad salute, and the playing of Taps.
(Correspondent Samantha Wertz)

A Shenandoah man is under faces drunk driving and other traffic-related charges following a stop in West Mahanoy Township early Sunday. Frackville State Police report that 31-year-old William Dunleavy was weaving in both lanes of Route 54 near Brownsville around 1:40am. When he was stopped, troopers smelled alcohol and conducted a field sobriety test. He failed that test, and was taken to the Frackville barracks, where it was determined that he was three times over the legal limit. Dunleavy was released to the custody of a family friend, and faces charges in District Court.

A Cressona man and woman were arrested Sunday morning following a domestic dispute.
Schuylkill Haven State Police were called to a home on Railroad Street in Cressona, where Jade Stamm and his wife, Mary Beth live. He said his wife woke him to discuss a family matter when she became angry at him and threw hot candle wax on him, and scratched him. Mary Beth Stamm said that her husband woke her and, during an argument, he allegedly punched her in the neck. Both were charged with simple assault. They were arraigned and released on unsecured bail.

Dick Yuengling called his brewery employees together a few weeks before their labor contract was set to expire. He talked about the future of the business and, according to government documents, at one point told them to "read between the lines." Some see Yuengling's speech as a pep talk to urge employees to work harder. Others see it as an ultimatum to dump the Teamsters union, which is what they did. The union has urged a boycott of the 178-year-old brewery's product, but the company says that has fallen flat. Now, the teamsters say they are going to try to get state lawmakers to intervene. Union leaders say Yuengling told workers that he would sell the business or shut it down unless they shed their decades-long affiliation with the Teamsters. The brewery says employees started a decertification drive on their own.
The National Labor Relations Board says it found no evidence that management pressured employees to leave the union.

A donation of $150-dollars can help Pottsville city firefighters. The donations are being sought as part of the Adopt-A-Hydrant program. City council and the department are working to purchase quick-connect adapters for the more than 300 fire hydrants. The devices will make it easier for fire crews to hook up to hydrants during a fire. The donations will be supplemented by grant monies. For more information, or to Adopt-A-Hydrant, call City Hall at 622-1234. For a $150-dollar donation, the hydrant will be painted and a small plague with the donor’s name will be attached to it.

National and State News-Tuesday, May 29th

WHITE HOUSE (AP) - President Bush is hoping new economic sanctions against the Sudanese government will force it to stop blocking international efforts to halt violence in Darfur. More
than 200-thousand people have been killed in four years of fighting there. Bush also wants the U-N to step up pressure on Sudan.

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama is set to unveil a universal health care plan today in Iowa. His proposal calls for subsidies for the uninsured based on their income. And he says he would cover the cost in part by repealing President Bush's tax cuts for the wealthy.

NEW YORK (AP) - Friends and families of fallen soldiers have marked Memorial Day by flying American flags across the country. Veterans and active soldiers in New York unfurled a 90-by-100-foot flag in Central Park. And President Bush paid tribute to U-S troops who have died in a speech at Arlington National Cemetery.

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. (AP) - Opening statements begin today in California in the trial of a former sheriff's deputy charged with shooting an Air Force airman in 2006. The shooting was caught on tape. It shows him appearing to obey an order to get up the off the ground when he was shot.

AHMEDABAD, India (AP) - An Indian firm says it will burn toxic waste from the city of Bhopal, where a gas leak killed about ten-thousand people in 1984. Survivors of the disaster have been
fighting to get the site cleaned up for years. But environmentalists say they doubt the company's ability to dispose of the waste.

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Talk of government reform is easy to find in Harrisburg these days. But signs of real progress, not so easy. Some activists are discouraged, but others aren't, given the wide range of reforms on the Legislature's plate. The House speaker's Legislative Reform Commission has been meeting since January and will vote on another set of recommendations in the next couple of weeks. The governor issued his own reform agenda two months ago. And just last week, House members found themselves arguing over which position on the state
budget constituted "true reform." But actual changes have been less conspicuous, although the
House and Senate have revised some internal operating rules and a couple of bills have made it out of the Senate.

EIGHTY FOUR, Pa. (AP) - Deb Bandel says she and her husband built a farmhouse in southwest Pennsylvania as a peaceful retreat. They didn't bargain on a buzzing, crackling high-voltage power line cutting through their lush 60-acre property. The proposed 500-kilovolt line would hang from towers an average of 125 to 140 feet tall. It has become a point of bitter contention for residents like Bandel who have formed a group called Stop the Towers. Local residents are worried it will hurt property values, the environment and possibly their health. They also question whether it will benefit the area. The line is part of a larger project to build a 240-mile transmission line that would pass through West Virginia and continue to northern Virginia.

SCRANTON, Pa. (AP) - A body found over the weekend in Lackawanna County has been identified as that of a Philadelphia college student missing since March. Swimmers found the body of Matthew Grendel in Roaring Brook Creek near Nay Aug Gorge on Sunday. County Deputy Coroner Joseph Swoboda identified the body yesterday and said Grendel died in an
accidental drowning. Grendel was a junior at the University of Sciences in Philadelphia studying to become a research scientist. He was last seen on March 10th, the day of the annual Saint Patrick's Day parade in the city. Grendel's father, Dennis, says family members have been
preparing themselves for the worst. His mother, Patricia, says now they can be at peace and plan a celebration of his life. A memorial service for Matthew Grendel is planned Thursday at
Egan Hughes Funeral Home in Moosic. His funeral is to be held Friday morning at Saint Joseph's Church in Scranton.

ARLINGTON, Va. (AP) - Just a few years ago, Lance Corporal Steven Szwydek was a classmate of high school students in the mountains of Pennsylvania's Fulton County. Now the fallen Marine is part of their history lesson. Students from all three high schools in his home county visited Arlington National Cemetery this spring and stopped at his grave. The bus trips were paid for by a memorial fund established by the parents of Szwydek. He was 20 when he was killed in 2005 by a roadside bomb during his second tour in Iraq. Nancy Szwydek is a strong supporter of President Bush and the Iraq war. But she says the bus trips are not about politics or joining the military. She and her husband see the annual visits as a way to teach students - quote - "to respect our freedom." Teachers say the trips help students from the rural county
connect with world events.

PENN RUN, Pa. (AP) - Authorities say a fisherman sleeping on the shore of a western Pennsylvania lake apparently rolled into the water and drowned. Friends of 23-year-old Matthew Bernard Bennett tell authorities they found him floating in Two Lick Creek Reservoir on Sunday morning, still in his sleeping bag. Indiana County Coroner Michael Baker says Bennett, of Johnstown, and his friends were camping and fishing near the water's edge.
Baker believes Bennett may have had some kind of seizure as he entered the water.
An autopsy showed that Bennett drowned, but Baker says he's waiting for the results of toxicology tests to determine if anything else might have contributed to his death.
The reservoir is in Cherryhill Township in southern Indiana County.

HICKORY, Pa. (AP) - A small farm tractor rolled over an embankment in Washington County and pinned the driver, killing him. Washington County Coroner Tim Warco says that 64-year-old Joseph Billante's tractor was pulling a mower deck when the accident happened at about 3:40 p-m yesterday in Mount Pleasant Township. Warco says a passer-by called 9-1-1 and Billante was taken to Canonsburg Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. A ruling on the
cause and manner of death are pending.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Local News-Friday, May 25th

A vandalism spree at Minersville Junior/Senior High School last year will cost a Pottsville man time in jail and restitution. Matthew Smith, 19, and a 17 year-old broke into the school a year ago, doing extensive damage to equipment in classrooms and offices. He learned his sentence yesterday in Schuylkill County Court, according to the Republican and Herald. Smith, who pleaded guilty to burglary, institutional vandalism and other charges, will serve 9 to 23 months in the county prison, but given credit for the month he already served and be allowed into the work-release program. In addition, Smith has to pay over $218-thousand-dollars for the damages. A portion will go to Minersville school district, with the remainder paid to their insurance carrier.

An accomplice of a West Brunswick Township drug trafficker has pleaded guilty in Schuylkill County Court. 37-year-old Edward McFadden of Chester County entered his plea of possession with intent to deliver marijuana, along with other charges, before Judge Charles Miller. The Pottsville Republican and Herald reports that McFadden aided Mark Pullano in bringing large quantities of pot into the county for sale. Pullano was sentenced to 3 and-a-half to 10 years in state prison, following an extensive investigation by state police and the attorney general’s office. Sentencing for McFadden is scheduled for mid-July.

The Commissioners on Wednesday tabled for further discussion the hiring of a law student to work in the District Attorney's office. At last week's work session, District Attorney James Goodman requested to hire Douglas Taglieri of Pottsville as a sub-contractor for the period of May 23rd to August 17th to assist in the preparation of drug forfeiture petitions and other related work. At that time, County Controller Gary Hornberger raised the question that the contract might violate IRS regulations over changing someone's status from a part-time employee to a sub-contractor. Hornberger had raised a similar issue over the termination of a part-time employee in the Recorder of Deeds office, then attempting to hire the person back as a sub-contractor to do essentially the same work. The Commissioners last year eliminated all part-time positions. Generally, the IRS considers a worker an employee if the employer can control how the work is done rather than simply requiring a certain outcome. A decision on what form of hiring will be done for Taglieri will be determined by the next commissioner's meeting on June 6th. He would receive $10.00 an hour either as a contractor or a part-time employee from funds the District Attorney receives from the Attorney General’s office.

The week-long challenge to bolster blood supplies by the local chapter of the American Red Cross is still going strong. The program, called Schuylkill 350, was undertaken by the Schuylkill/East Northumberland Chapter to build-up already short blood supplies. Through Wednesday, 139 units have already been collected. The results of two drives yesterday are not yet available. Another drive is scheduled for Saturday at the Lost Creek Ambulance building, from 10 am to 3pm. The County Commissioners proclaimed this week as the Schuylkill 350 Race to Save lives. With the summer season just about ready to start, it becomes increasingly difficult to maintain adequate blood supplies, much less build them up. As an added bonus, participants received a special holiday t-shirt and be entered to win a $50-dollar gas card and an Apple iPod. Anyone 17 years or older, weighing at least 110 pounds and in reasonably good health can donate. For more information, or to schedule an appointment, call 1-800-432-8045, or log onto

Mahanoy City has announced parking restrictions for the Memorial Day weekend. The United Veterans Service on Sunday afternoon will be held at Veteran’s Memorial Park. There will be no parking on Catawissa Street in the area of the park from 1 to 4pm. The Car Cruise will be held Sunday evening. No parking will be allowed on the cruise route through the downtown area from 4 to 8pm. The Memorial Day parade is Monday. No parking will be allowed on various sections of Centre and Mahanoy Streets from 11am to 1pm. Vehicles who are on the posted routes for all events will be towed.

The unofficial start of the summer travel season begins this weekend. With the cost of gasoline skyrocketing, we all need to find ways to milk mileage from every drop. Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Kathleen McGinty offers these tips to help motorists enjoy their travel, and maybe save a few bucks on fuel:

Replace your air filter regularly. Assuming gas is priced at $3 per gallon, a dirty air filter can cost you as much as 30 cents a gallon in lower gas mileage.

Slow down. Every five miles per hour you drive over 60 costs you 20 cents a gallon.

Avoid quick starts. A steady, gradual rate of acceleration can save up to 15 cents a gallon.

Get a tune up. A smooth running engine is worth up to 12 cents a gallon.

Inflate your tires properly. Under inflated tires can cost you 9 cents a gallon.

Lighten your load. Every 100 pounds of extra weight in your trunk costs you 5 cents a gallon.

For more information and other tips to improve fuel economy, visit, keyword “energy”.

National and State News-Friday, May 25th

CAPITOL HILL (AP) - Congress has approved 95 (b) billion dollars for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. But the bill says nothing about a timetable for pulling troops out of Iraq. Democratic leaders say they're just getting started on the debate over the war in Iraq. They plan to ratchet up pressure on the White House.

BEIRUT, Lebanon (AP) - Military aid has arrived in Beirut to help the Lebanese army fight Islamic militants holed up inside a Palestinian refugee camp. The aid arrived after the U-S pledged help. Sporadic gunfire continues at the camp in Tripoli.

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - Alabama is the latest state to express "profound regret" for its role in slavery. The state legislature has passed a resolution apologizing for slavery's wrongs and its lingering effects on the U-S.

SAN DIEGO (AP) - Two-dozen people have been indicted on charges of cheating 18 U-S and Canadian casinos out of at least three (m) million dollars over five years. The group is accused of stealing (m) millions of dollars by bribing dealers to falsely shuffle decks.

WINTERSET, Iowa (AP) - The birthplace of Hollywood legend John Wayne is ready for a big party to mark what would have been his 100th birthday. Winterset, Iowa, is expecting thousands for a weekend celebration that includes film screenings and the groundbreaking for a John Wayne museum.

MOUNT LAUREL, N.J. (AP) - The former Philadelphia Flyers star at the center of a gambling ring investigation is due in court today. New Jersey authorities and lawyers for Rick Tocchet confirmed he would appear, for an unspecified reason. But unexpected court appearances can sometimes signal a defendant is entering a guilty plea. The 42-year-old Tocchet was charged, with much fanfare, in February 2006 with promoting gambling, money laundering and
conspiracy. Authorities say the bettors included the wife of hockey legend and current Phoenix Coyotes coach Wayne Gretzky. Authorities said the ring handled nearly two (m) million dollars
in bets over a 40-day stretch in 2005 and 2006. Tocchet has been on indefinite leave as an assistant coach with the Phoenix Coyotes.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Action on proposed fare hikes for Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority riders has been delayed. The SEPTA board is considering a proposal to increase fares July First by an average of eleven percent for bus, subway and Regional
Rail riders. A vote slated to happen yesterday has been put on hold until next month.
There's also a threat of larger fare increases and service cuts in September if more state money is not provided.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Philanthropist Dorrance Hamilton has given a second gift of 25 (m) million dollars to the endowment of the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. The donation matches one Hamilton made in November. It increases the university's endowment to more than 75 (m) million dollars. Hamilton, a university trustee, is the granddaughter of Campbell
Soup founder John Dorrance. Her donations are the largest in the school's 130-year history.
The University of the Arts has 23-hundred students enrolled in undergraduate and graduate programs on its downtown campus.

PITTSBURGH (AP) - A Pittsburgh-area businessman accused of defrauding an insurance company over flood damage has pleaded guilty to a charge of conspiracy. Michael Smarto of Marshall Township is scheduled for sentencing August 21st after entering the guilty plea yesterday. Federal prosecutors say the 49-year-old Smarto got the help of another person and submitted artificially overstated bids and invoices to an insurance company for repair work on tools and machinery damaged by flooding triggered by Hurricane Ivan in September 2004.
Prosecutors say the insurance company paid more than two (M) million dollars and Smarto got a kickback of more than 300-thousand dollars from the firm hired to refurbish and clean the tools and machinery at his Etna business.

PITTSBURGH (AP) - Allegheny County Sheriff's deputies have shut down a barber shop in downtown Pittsburgh after a judge ordered it closed over allegations of drug dealing. Prosecutors say video surveillance over the past month showed activity consistent with drug sales in the waiting area of Success Barber Shop in Market Square. Prosecutors say police have made 120 drug-related arrests in Market Square since November, some of them in and near the shop. Shop owner Charles Fowlks of Penn Hills has denied the allegation. County Judge Robert Horgos issued a preliminary injunction yesterday to close the shop. Prosecutors will seek to keep it closed at a hearing scheduled for Wednesday.

WILKINSBURG, Pa. (AP) - Police say a three-month-old infant has been caught in the crossfire during a shootout at a playground in Wilkinsburg this evening. Police say the shooting happened at about 9 last night in Wilkinsburg and the baby, who was in a stroller, was
struck at least once. The infant has been taken to Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh.
The child's condition was not immediately available. Police say a man who had been shot was later found in nearby Homewood. Police say he might have been injured in the playground

CLEARFIELD, Pa. (AP) - A Coalport man has been convicted for the second time of killing a romantic rival and dumping his body in a pond nearly ten years ago. Twenty-five-year-old Andrew Callahan faces a mandatory life prison term when he is sentenced next week.
A Clearfield County jury found Callahan guilty yesterday of first-degree murder, aggravated assault and abuse of a corpse in the November Fifth 1997 shooting death of 16-year-old
Micah Pollock of Blandburg. Callahan was first convicted in 1998, but was granted a new
trial on appeal. He and Pollock were classmates at Glendale High School in Flinton. Prosecutors say Pollock was dating Callahan's former girlfriend and jealousy motivated Callahan to kill him.
Callahan's attorney says his client was under the influence of alcohol and drugs and could not form an intent to kill.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Local News-Thursday, May 24th

By Les Blankenhorn

Schuylkill County’s Drug and Alcohol program received approval from the County Commissioners Wednesday to apply for two Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency grants totaling over $663-thousand-dollars. One of the grants will fund the Schuylkill Restrictive Intermediate Punishment program. The other grant is for the Communities Mobilizing for Change on alcohol prevention program. In other business, the Commissioners approved a request by the Emergency Management Agency to enter into a contract for $277-thousand-dollars to develop operation plans for the region’s seven county task force. Beck Disaster Recovery Inc. will develop the plan for the East Central Pa. Counter Terrorism Task Force. The Commissioners issued three proclamations. Jeffery Kovach and John Damiter, both members of Boy Scout Troop 789, Frackvillle were honored for their advancements to the rank of Eagle Scout, and May 20th through 26th was proclaimed Emergency Medical Services Week. Four bids were received for medical and surgical supplies for Rest Haven. Contracts for the supplies will be awarded next month.

A preliminary hearing was held for a former Penn State student who caused a ruckus several weeks ago on campus, prompting a lockdown. 28-year-old Edward Shamonsky the Third of New Philadelphia heard the charges against him in the incident before District Judge David Plachko. He’s charged with risking a catastrophe, arson and terroristic threats. The Republican and Herald indicates that Penn State Schuylkill officials were concerned about Shamonsky’s behavior when he was a student. He dropped out of classes before the incident. State police report that Shamonsky stole guns from a family home, prompting the campus lockdown. He tried to burn the guns in his car, which was found in Schuylkill Township.

A New Ringgold man was injured in a motorcycle crash in East Brunswick Township Tuesday. Frackville state police say that 27-year-old Joseph Rumrill was operating his cycle on Hawk Mountain Road when he lost control on a left-hand curve. Rumrill’s bike went off the shoulder of the road, and he was thrown from it. He was life-flighted to Lehigh Valley Hospital. The crash happened at noon time Tuesday.

State police report that a Cressona woman was hurt in a crash yesterday morning in North Manheim Township. 55-year-old Magdalene Pratt was eastbound on Route 901 when her car drifted into the westbound lane. Her car traveled a short distance before hitting some trees and rolling on an embankment. She was pinned in the wreckage. Her injuries required transport to Lehigh Valley Medical Center. State police were assisted on scene by Cressona, Schuylkill Haven and Pottsville emergency crews. The crash happened around noon.

A Schuylkill County legislator offered his thoughts about giving more power to the voters of the Commonwealth. Senator Jim Rhoades testified before the Senate State Government Committee Wednesday on his proposal to give Pennsylvaniavoters the power to propose laws and reject bills passed by the General Assembly. The bill would amend the state Constitution to givePennsylvanians the options of initiative and referendum. Initiative would allow Pennsylvanians to propose laws or amendments to theConstitution and give voters the authority to enact those proposalsindependent of the General Assembly. Referendum would allowPennsylvanians to approve or reject legislation that is approved by theGeneral Assembly and signed into law. Rhoades said that 27 states give their citizens the power of initiative, referendum, or both.

National and State News-Thursday, May 24th

CAPITOL HILL (AP) - Congressional Democrats are putting their efforts to halt the war in Iraq on hold. A 120 (b) billion-dollar package set for votes today in the House and tomorrow in the Senate would give President Bush money to pay for the war through September.

BAGHDAD (AP) - The drumbeat of bad news from Iraq includes a bomb attack today that killed at least 21 people in Fallujah. The target was the funeral procession for a man killed in violence yesterday. A-half dozen Iraqi police officers were killed today in a bomb attack in the north.

BAGHDAD (AP) - The U-S military confirms that a body recovered from a river south of Baghdad yesterday was one of the three American soldiers missing since an ambush nearly two weeks ago. The family of P-F-C Joseph Anzack Junior had been notified earlier. Authorities also report two more combat deaths, both yesterday.

HARVEYS LAKE, Pa. (AP) - Police say one of the men killed in Sunday's fiery crash with a state police cruiser in Luzerne County had a warrant out for his arrest. Also, there were four guns
recovered from the car, and two of them had been reported stolen.

DOYLESTOWN, Pa. (AP) - A Villanova heiress on probation after allegedly striking her children's nanny a year ago is charged with assaulting another nanny. Susan Tabas Tepper denies the latest allegations, saying her new nanny lied because she was being fired.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - The board of Philadelphia's transit agency plans to vote today on a fare increase. Also, Governor Ed Rendell plans to speak to the board about his proposal for increased state funding for mass transit.

LANCASTER, Pa. (AP) - Police investigating a hit-and-run accident went to an apartment in suburban Lancaster, where they found a woman's body. Police say 48-year-old Karen Crowley was killed in a domestic dispute. Police arrested 25-year-old Pedro Flores, who lived with her.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - The Philadelphia City Council has given preliminary approval to a two percent increase in city spending for schools. The 18-point-four (m) million dollar boost from the city gets the school district closer to filling its budget deficit.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Local News-Wednesday, May 23rd

A suspicious looking man walking near a Schuylkill Haven school district building yesterday caused officials to take precautions to safeguard children and staff. Around 2pm, a teacher saw an older man walking with what was thought to be a gun near the school district athletic fields. District officials contacted police, and a lockdown of the elementary, middle and high school took place. Haven police chief Jeff Walcott told WPPA/T102 News that officers from the borough police department, along with assistance from Penn State police, did a search of the area and determined that the man was carrying a walking stick, not a gun. The man was also wearing an orange hunting hat in order to maintain visibility while walking in the wooded area. Walcott said that the man walks in the area all the time. The lockdown was in effect for about 20 minutes until the situation was cleared, and children were dismissed at their regular time.

The former treasurer of the Tamaqua Elementary PTO will have her case heard in Schuylkill County Court. 33-year-old Melissa Gensure of Barnesville is accused of taking more than $34-thousand-dollars from the organization, through either not making required deposits or writing checks from the account to herself and others. Gensure reportedly turned over $6-thousand-dollars in cash to the organization that she had not deposited. During a hearing Tuesday, District Judge Stephen Bayer of Tamaqua reduced two felony charges to misdemeanors in the case. She waived her right to a preliminary hearing, so the charges will be forwarded to Schuylkill County Court. Gensure's attorney asked to have her freed on recognizance bail. That request was denied, since she is already free on posted bail.

An inmate at the federal prison near Minersville tried to escape with the aid of a Philadelphia woman yesterday morning. The man was seen leaving a wooded area near the prison and got into a car driven by Michelle Lyons of Philadelphia. The pair took off on Route 901, then on to I-81 for a short distance before they were stopped. They tried to take off on foot, but were quickly apprehended by state police. Lyons was arraigned on charges of escape and other offenses. She is in Schuylkill County Prison on $25-thousand-dollars bail. The male inmate was returned to the prison. United States Marshalls are conducting an investigation into the attempted escape.

A Pottsville restaurant held its grand re-opening yesterday. The Subway franchise on North Centre Street was bustling with activity as customers, and well-wishers from the Pottsville business community and Schuylkill Chamber of Commerce, came to welcome John and Angie Onufer as the new owners. The store was open previously under different management, but company President Angie Onufer said that it was a no-brainer to jump into a Subway franchise. The Onufer's own Copycat Business Systems, Minersville, a regional office equipment company as well. John Onufer, Vice President, said that while running a food-service business is vastly different than a business machine operation, but Subway's training provides a step-by-step process to run it. The business has been open for 8 weeks already, and also serves breakfast in addition to the normal lunch and dinner trade. They are open 7 days a week.

A Hegins man suffered minor injuries in a car and motorcycle crash yesterday afternoon. Robbie Klock was driving his cycle westbound on Creek Road in Eldred Township, and Kenneth Brosius was eastbound in his car, attempting to make a left turn onto Millhill Road. Klock tried to avoid Brosius' vehicle, but skidded on the road and went airborne over the car. His motorcycle hit Brosius’ car and burst into flames. The bike was heavily damaged, and Klock injured his leg. Brosius was able to drive away from the scene. The crash happened around 3:45pm.

A very special night of jazz and big band music is planned Thursday at Pottsville High School's Wachter Auditorium. The Thirtieth Annual Pottsville High Stage Band concert begins at 7:30pm. The select group of musicians, which you hear in the background, feature a toe-tapping variety of selections. The second portion of the show is the 24th edition of the Schuylkill County Big Band program. These musicians all have local roots, but travel from as far away as Italy to perform. Tickets are just $2-dollars.

An Andreas man got more than he bargained for when he drove through a speed trap too fast Monday night in West Penn Township. Frackville state police were conducting a speed trap on Route 309 when Justin Lawlor drove through at a high rate of speed. Authorities in Tamaqua also believed that he was involved in an earlier hit-and-run crash. When stopped, Lawlor admitted to police that he was sorry that he left the scene of the accident. Troopers believed he was driving drunk, as he failed a field sobriety test. He underwent blood-alcohol testing at Pottsville Hospital. Lawlor faces DUI and other charges from state police, in addition to charges relating to the hit-and-run. He was released to the custody of his mother.

National and State News-Wednesday, May 23rd

BAGHDAD (AP) - The U-S military says it is looking into a report that the body of a man who was wearing what appeared to be a U-S military uniform has been found floating in the Euphrates River south of Baghdad. A senior Iraqi army official says the body is that of an American soldier. Three soldiers have been missing since an ambush eleven days ago.

BAGHDAD (AP) - U-S military officials are reporting the deaths of nine U-S troops in Iraq yesterday. In the deadliest incident, three soldiers were killed when their patrol was hit by a series of roadside bombs. Three other soldiers were killed in two separate bombings, while another soldier was killed by small arms fire. And two Marines died in combat in Anbar province.

WASHINGTON (AP) - The White House has declassified intelligence from 2005 that states that Osama bin Laden ordered his senior operative in Iraq to plan terror attacks in the U-S. President Bush will cite that information in a commencement address today at the U-S Coast Guard Academy, seeking to rally support for the war.

LONDON (AP) - Amnesty International says the U-S war on terror is eroding human rights worldwide. The human rights group says the U-S and its allies are setting a bad example for other nations.

CAPITOL HILL (AP) - The Justice Department's former White House liaison is expected to receive immunity before testifying before the House Judiciary Committee today. Monica Goodling had invoked the Fifth Amendment when previously questioned about her role in
the firings of eight federal prosecutors.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Philadelphia prosecutors say they'd pursued murder charges against the wrong man for nearly six months in the shooting death of a five-year-old girl. Prosecutors now say the man they initially accused of firing the stray bullet was asleep at the

KUTZTOWN, Pa. (AP) - The state law that would have let schools ease property taxes and get more revenue from income taxes cost Kutztown schools plenty. School officials there say they want the state to pay them for expenses to advertise the ballot question and hold hearings.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - The nonprofit group Wireless Philadelphia says a 15-square-mile test area just north of Center City works well enough to build the rest of a city wireless network. By
autumn, the network should provide a wireless Internet link to the whole city at a low cost.

SNOW SHOE, Pa. (AP) - Police say someone stole a refrigerated trailer containing 23-thousand pounds of cheese from a rest stop off Interstate 80. Police say the driver had left the trailer at
the Snow Shoe rest stop in Centre County to take the tractor to a repair shop.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Local News-Tuesday, May 22nd

Former Nativity coach Dan Shields has reported to prison. Monday morning, the Pottsville man, who pleaded guilty to crimes against former athletes at the Pottsville school, began his sentence at the Schuylkill County Prison. According to the Republican and Herald, Shields will remain there for several days until his paperwork is processed and he can be moved to the State Correctional Institution in Camp Hill. From there, he will be farmed out to another state prison based on classification. Shields was sentenced last Monday by Judge D. Michael Stine. He will serve 18 to 48 months in jail, followed by 6 years probation. He will also be listed as a sex offender for 10 years under Megan's Law.

One week has passed since the primary election, but an issue regarding internet names in the race for Schuylkill County Controller moves to another level. At the end of March, Democratic candidate Melinda Kantner of North Manheim Township lodged a complaint against Republican challenger Jason Gherghel. She alleged that he broke election laws by purchasing her internet domain name and other combinations of it, blocking her ability to establish a website in her name. The appointed Board of Elections, Jerry Knowles, Susan Koch and Lynne Bressi, reviewed the complaint, and a special counsel was hired to look into the matter as well.
In a release issued yesterday, the Board completed their investigation, and believes that there are quote "irregularities that could constitute suspicious circumstances" endquote. The panel cites that their authority and jurisdiction to investigate election matters is limited. They have forwarded the matter to the Schuylkill County District Attorney for review. Both Gherghel and Kantner ran unopposed on their respective tickets.

An Ashland man has been formally charged in a string of burglaries that spanned two years. Trooper Robert Betnar of the Schuylkill Haven barracks reports that 45-year-old Robert Linkchorst was arrested for the thefts, using kids to help him. From April, 2005 till February of this year, Linkchorst drove 12 and 13 year old boys to sites across Schuylkill County, and had them help to steal items. Once they finished, Linkchorst would either keep the goods or sell them for a profit to unsuspecting people. He is charged with more than a dozen counts of burglary, corruption of minors, theft, receiving stolen property and other offenses. He was arraigned before District Judge David Plachko. Linkchorst remains in county prison. He has also been charged with burglarizing several area businesses as well.

A Freeland man is under arrest on theft charges in Shenandoah borough. Police report that 42-year-old Scot McFee was arrested Saturday morning, and a gun belonging to Shenandoah councilman Leo Pietkiewicz was in his possession. McFee reportedly threatened Pietkiewicz with his own weapon. Officials are also investigating an earlier incident between the two men in April, where McFee was drunk and got into a fight with the councilman. No charges have been filed in that incident as yet. Charges of theft and receiving stolen property were filed against McFee in the office of District Judge William Slezosky.

Spring is the time for planting. Residents of Pottsville have an opportunity to do some gardening of fresh vegetables, while beautifying the community. Jenny Wagner, director of Pottsville Project Fit, announced Pottsville’s Adopt a Community Garden Program, which began this week at the Bunker Hill Playground. The garden will provide a learning lab for city youth, a great recreation program for residents and to help beautify the city. Wagner said that they are looking for 8 individuals or families to tend the garden. Each participant will get a 6 by 12 foot section of a raised bed to plant vegetables. Seeds and starter plants will be provided by students at All Saints School. A Schuylkill County Master Gardener will spend an hour per week at the garden to answer questions about successful gardening. If you are interested in putting your green thumb to work, call Pottsville Project Fit at 628-5079.

National and State News-Tuesday, May 22nd

BAGHDAD (AP) - Despite the three-month-old security crackdown in and around Baghdad, at least 25 people have been killed today by a parked car bomb at a packed outdoor market in the Iraqi capital. Another 60 people were wounded in the blast in a mostly Shiite

LONDON (AP) - The Russians have previously said no but British prosecutors say they still plan to ask Moscow to extradite Andrei Lugovoi to face a murder charge in the death of Alexander Litvinenko . The ex-Soviet spy died from polonium-210 poisoning last November, after saying Russia's president was behind it.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - California is hoping to make its case to the federal government today and get permission to set up environmental rules that would force the auto industry to change how it makes cars. At least eleven other states are ready to follow California's lead on greenhouse gases.

LOS ANGELES (AP) - There's another layer of airport security about to be added for some travelers carrying liquids aboard planes. Federal security workers are starting to use hand-held
scanners to check carry-on liquids for explosives. Testing is wrapping up and only passengers selected for secondary inspection will be screened.

LYNCHBURG, Va. (AP) - The Reverend Jerry Falwell will be buried today on the campus of Liberty University in Virginia. The 73-year-old evangelist also will be remembered during a funeral service at his Thomas Road Baptist Church. Burial will be private outside the historic campus building where Falwell kept his office.

MALIBU, Calif. (AP) - Lancaster County native Floyd Landis is scheduled to be cross-examined today in his arbitration hearing. The U-S Anti-Doping Agency accuses Landis of taking synthetic
testoserone during his Tour de France victory.

SINKING SPRING, Pa. (AP) - Berks County has had its third bank robbery in less than a week. Police questioned a woman in yesterday's robbery. A 50-year-old Wyomissing man was arrested and accused of Friday's robbery. The robbery on Tuesday of last week remains unsolved.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama is headed to Philadelphia, where he will host a campaign fundraiser this afternoon. Obama will be at an event at the Electric Factory as he seeks support in Pennsylvania.

SHINGLEHOUSE, Pa. (AP) - The shooting deaths of a man and a woman in rural Potter County are now ruled a murder-suicide. The coroner says 36-year-old David Mesler of Shinglehouse fatally shot his ex-girlfriend, then killed himself.

OLEY, Pa. (AP) - The death of a worker at a Berks County mushroom barn is now ruled to be an accidental electrocution. A deputy coroner says 23-year-old Sergio Flores touched a live wire
on a lighting fixture at the Gaspari Brothers barn yesterday.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Local News-Monday, May 21st

State police at Lykens have arrested three men for a string of vehicle break-ins in Williamstown and Tower City. Between May 13th and the 18th, troopers received 10 reports of items being taken from the cars. Williamstown borough police also investigated 4 similar crimes. Personal items, including cash, CD’s, i-pods and a handgun were taken. Arrested were Joseph Skymba and Clifton Webb of Williamstown, and Shawn Carl of Tower City. Skymba and Carl are in Dauphin County Prison, awaiting a preliminary hearing. Webb faces charges as well.
Some of the items have been returned to their owners.

Schuylkill Haven state police are investigating a burglary at a home in Pitman, Eldred Township on Friday night. Unknown thieves broke into Johannes Zinzendorf's home and ransacked the first floor of the home. Taken in the burglary were numerous pictures , coins, a flintlock pistol and other collectibles. Anyone with information on the break-in should call Schuylkill Haven State Police at 593-2000.

Police were busy during roving DUI checkpoints on Friday and Saturday nights. During the two-day enforcement blitz, 121 vehicles were contacted, with 3 adult and 1 juvenile DUI arrest. Four were nabbed for underage drinking. More than 50 traffic arrests were also made in the two-day swing. Random, roving patrols will be conducted on area roads this week, and through the Memorial Day holiday weekend. The checkpoints are part of the Expanded DUI/Underage Drinking Enforcement Program funded through PENNDot and the National Highway Traffic Safety Network.

A Levittown man is in trouble after some bizarre behavior at a boat and RV center near Hamburg. Friday afternoon, Timothy Wyrauch was causing a disturbance at the business, jumping up and down on equipment and locking himself in a travel trailer. He also threatened an employee. State police at Hamburg report that Wyrauch became unruly when they attempted to take him into custody, and punched a rear window from the cruiser.
Wyrauch's bizarre behavior continued until he was taken to St. Joseph's Hospital in Reading for a mental evaluation. He is charged with harassment, disorderly conduct, criminal mischief and trespass, and institutional vandalism.

A McAdoo man is charged with harassment following incidents in the borough Saturday morning. Frackville state police say that Thomas Gaughan was making harassing phone calls to Katherine Gaughan, and also verbally abused her at her place of work, Andsher Personal Care home. Summary charges are pending against Thomas Gaughan.

Now that gasoline prices have eclipsed $3-dollars-a-gallon, the incidence of drive-offs from the pump will be on the rise. State police at Schuylkill Haven report that Friday morning, someone driving a blue mini-van pulled into the Getty Mart on the Pottsville/St. Clair Highway and proceeded to fill the vehicle with 16 gallons of gas, then drove off without paying. Schuylkill Haven troopers are continuing their investigation. Anyone with information should call them at 593-2000.

Congressman Tim Holden has introduced an amendment to create a specialized badge for veterans. Current law provides for the Combat Medical Badge and the Combat Infantryman Badge. Those guidelines were developed during World War Two, prior to the use of helicopters. Non-Medevac pilots and co-pilots who flew during the Korean War were honored with Combat Badge. Holden’s amendment would honor medevac crews that operated rescue helicopters. The legislation is part of the National Defense Authorization Act, which passed the House last Thursday. The Combat Medevac Badge would make any person who served as a pilot or crewmember of a Medevac beginning June 25th, 1950, eligible for the badge. The Senate has not yet taken action on the bill.

A weasel-like animal not seen in Schuylkill County in more than a decade was found dead along an area road recently. According to Pennsylvania Game Commission officials, an adult fisher recently was hit on a rural road in Pine Grove Township. The fisher, one of the largest members of the weasel family, was found by a local man. A Wildlife Conservation Officer identified it as a fisher. Fishers are about the size of a small fox, and have a dark brown coat. They typically live in forested areas, and subsist on a diet of small forest animals. They aren’t fish catchers, as their name indicates, but will eat dead ones if they find them. The comeback of the fisher may even prompt a highly-regulated trapping season for them. Schuylkill County is also home to other fur-bearers like coyote, bobcat, mink and weasels.

National and State News-Monday, May 21st

CAMARILLO, Calif. (AP) - The upwardly mobile price of a gallon of gas is a record in more ways than one. Analyst Trilby Lundberg says that for the first time, the price at the pump beat the
highest inflation-adjusted mark set in 1981. Self-serve regular is now three-18 a gallon, up eleven cents in two weeks.

CAPITOL HILL (AP) - Senate debate is expected to begin today on compromise immigration overhaul legislation. The bill attempts to improve border security and give illegal immigrants a path to citizenship. Conservative critics say it's amnesty. Liberal opponents say it's unfair to families.

CRAWFORD, Texas (AP) - An overnight visit to President Bush's ranch by NATO's top diplomat ends today with meetings to talk about the violence in Afghanistan and other matters. Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer's stay is also meant to convey ongoing U-S support for the alliance.

ROCHESTER, Minn. (AP) - Iraqi President Jalal Talabani is in Minnesota for a checkup at the
Mayo Clinic. The 73-year-old Iraqi leader arrived last night. A senior Kurdish politician says Talabani has had the appointment for weeks. Talabani jokes that he's there to relax and lose weight.

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) - New Jersey officials have declared a brush fire that burned more than 17-thousand acres under control. No one was killed, but five homes were destroyed. The fire forced about six-thousand people from their homes. It may have been started by a flare dropped by a plane on a military range.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Trial begins today for a Philadelphia man accused drugging women he met through an online dating service, then having sex with them while they were knocked out.
A lawyer for Jeffrey Marsalis says the women are just angry because he'd lied about his accomplishments -- claiming to be a doctor, an astronaut or a spy. In reality, he was a nursing
student. But prosecutors hope to build a circumstantial case against Marsalis. At his preliminary hearing in November, the women told strikingly similar stories. They says they met the smooth-talking Marsalis and then felt unusually intoxicated after returning from
the bathroom or letting him buy a round from the bar. They said they woke up hours later, back at his apartment, groggy and sometimes undressed.

CLEARFIELD, Pa. (AP) - State and federal authorities are still trying to determine why a bus from Chicago to New York crashed in central Pennsylvania. Two people died and 32 others were injured in yesterday's predawn crash on Interstate 80 near Clearfield. That's about 90
miles northeast of Pittsburgh. An official with the bus company, O-K Travel Bus in New York,
says it mainly serves the Chinese community. Investigators initially had difficulty piecing together what happened because most of the passengers don't speak English.

PITTSBURGH (AP) - A World War II veteran from suburban Pittsburgh was awarded the Silver Star, the Army's third-highest award for combat valor, for actions in Germany six decades ago. Wayne Alderson, of Pleasant Hills, was awarded the medal yesterday in a ceremony at the Soldiers and Sailors Military Museum and Memorial. Alderson was an 18-year-old private when he crossed Germany's Siegfried Line, a 940-mile series of trenches, pill boxes and tank dugouts securing the German border, in March 1945. He was involved in close combat for three days, single-handedly defeating a German counterattack, and helping secure the breakthrough of the Siegfried Line despite being injured and sustaining serious head wounds from an enemy grenade. Alderson says he did not seek out the medal, but said it was
wonderful to get. Part of the reason he did not get the medal earlier was that his recommendation letters were destroyed.

HARVEYS LAKE, Pa. (AP) - Authorities say a driver being pursued by Tunkhannock police yesterday morning hit a state trooper's car head-on, causing both vehicles to burst into flames.
The car's driver and passenger were killed, but police say the trooper was pulled from his burning vehicle by another officer. He was taken to Community Medical Center in Scranton.
The crash happened around 7 a-m on Route 29 in Lake Township, Luzerne County. It started in neighboring Wyoming County, where police were attending to a separate accident. Police say a car did not stop for slowed traffic, and instead took off down Route 29. Tunkhannock police gave chase, and a trooper from Luzerne County responded from the opposite direction. That's when the head-on collision happened. The names of the victims have not yet been released.

SCRANTON, Pa. (AP) - Ain't no party like a Scranton party. That line from N-B-C's sitcom "The Office" pretty much summed up the weekend festivities for Brian Baumgartner and Angela Kinsey, who star in the show set in Scranton. The actors, who play Dunder Mifflin Paper Company accountants Kevin and Angela, arrived in Scranton on Friday. They toured some
of the city's watering holes, some of which have been mentioned on the show. On Saturday, they greeted fans at a breakfast, toured the Penn Paper and Supply Company, and attended an autograph session and rooftop party. Fans of "The Office" can now plan to attend a convention in Scranton this fall.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - It's one of the hottest niches in the legal world today -- the lawyer-scientist who understands technology and can explain it to a jury. The demand for patent lawyers is being driven by an explosion in patent applications in recent years. There's also a growing need for lawyers to protect old patents or challenge new ones. The U-S Patent Office estimates that 450-thousand patent applications will be filed this year, up from about 350-thousand five years ago. Law professors say they're seeing more students with strong
science backgrounds make the leap to law, where recruiters are snapping them up.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - A Philadelphia newspaper is reporting that a local police department resold hundreds of confiscated and surrendered firearms to gun shops, including one dealer now in prison for selling weapons to felons. According to yesterday's Philadelphia Inquirer, state
and federal authorities are now looking into the gun resales by the Upper Darby Police Department. Though it's legal for police departments in Pennsylvania to resell weapons, several law enforcement agencies in the Philadelphia region say it is a bad idea. Upper Darby reportedly stopped the resales in 2005. The township now melts down guns that were used in crimes.

TYRONE, Pa. (AP) - Police in Blair County say two men stole nearly 75-thousand dollars worth of pills from a pharmacy. Tyrone police charged William Hampton Junior, of Tyrone, and
Jerry McCahan, of Bellwood, in the theft. Police say the two broke into Community Pharmacy early Friday morning and took thousands of OxyContin, Oxycodene and other pills. Police identified Hampton from a surveillance video. They learned of McCahan's alleged involvement after searching Hampton's home. Police found Hampton in a hospital, where they say he was being treated for a drug overdose. Police say McCahan gave them about 500 pills, a bandanna and a ski mask, and they found drug paraphernalia in his car. Police were searching for several thousand missing pills. The pair were being held in the Blair County jail. It was not immediately clear if they had attorneys.

PITTSBURGH (AP) - The attorney for a Pittsburgh woman accused of putting the remains of her miscarried fetus in the freezer says she was scared and in shock after the stillbirth.
Lawrence Fisher, the attorney for 22-year-old Christine Hutchinson, says the single count of abuse of corpse should be dropped. Hutchinson was charged Thursday after authorities learned she had the body in a freezer. Fisher says Hutchinson didn't abuse the corpse, but put it in
the freezer to preserve it while she sought guidance on what to do. He says her reaction to her postpartum depression is unfortunate, not criminal.

WASHINGTON (AP) - House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is defending a Pennsylvania congressman whom Republicans want to reprimand for threatening a G-O-P lawmaker's spending projects.
Pelosi says she has "no idea what actually happened" during a noisy exchange in the House chamber last week between Representatives John Murtha of Pennsylvania and Mike Rogers of
Michigan. But she says Murtha has "an excellent reputation in the Congress on both sides of the aisle." Murtha is a 35-year House veteran who leads the House Appropriations subcommittee on military spending. The Democrat is known for a fondness for earmarks -- carefully targeted spending items placed in appropriations bills to benefit a specific lawmaker or favored constituent group. Rogers says Murtha told him angrily that he should never seek earmarks of his own because, quote, "you're not going to get any, now or forever." Rogers says he felt that was designed to intimidate him. Murtha's office says his committee gives careful consideration
to requests from members of both parties.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Local News - Saturday May 19

Armed Forces Day

Today is Armed Forces Day. The third Saturday in May is set aside as a day to salute all men and women in all branches of the service who protect our country. Prior to August, 1949, each branch of the military had their own day of celebration throughout the year. The Defense Department created Armed Forces Day to honor each and every defender of the Constitution at the same time. President Harry Truman made the day official in February, 1950. Many communities across the country mark Armed Forces Day with parades and celebrations. When you see a former or active serviceman or woman today, tell them to have a Happy Armed Forces Day.

Soap Box Derby

Boys and girls, start your engines…sort of. The annual Soap Box Derby will take place today from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the course at Laurel Boulevard in Pottsville. The long-standing event features 15 racers in the stock and super stock categories. Each racer will get the chance to zoom down Laurel Boulevard twice, since its double-elimination. Womer's Garage is the event sponsor, along with M&T Bank providing financial assistance. Individual cars also carry sponsorship as well. The event winners will get to advance on to the All American Soap Box Derby in Akron, Ohio.

Chamber hits the Hill

Schuylkill Chamber of Commerce members have a unique opportunity to make their voices heard in Harrisburg on Tuesday. But time is short to sign up. Chamber Day on Capitol Hill is Tuesday, May 22nd and sponsored by the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry and the PA Chamber of Commerce Executives. Thirty six Chambers from across the state are signed up for the event to give participants a first-hand look at what goes on in Harrisburg. The cost is $20, and a few seats are still available. Make your reservation first thing Monday morning by calling the Chamber office at 622-1942.

Record write ins

While the turnout in Tuesday's election was low to moderate, the number of write-in votes in Schuylkill County set a record. Election Bureau Director Betty Dries (dreez) tells WPPA News that 8,174 write in votes were submitted on Primary Election Day, new high mark. Dries said that about 27 percent of registered voters cast ballots Tuesday, a better turnout than had been anticipated. She was pleased that the election went smoothly with such a large number of candidates on the local and county level. The Election Computing Board met Friday to begin the process of certifying the election.

Trindle must stay away from child before trial

A former Schuylkill County woman who is charged in the death of her daughter cannot have contact with her surviving son, according to a Schuylkill County Judge. Amanda Trindle, now living in Levittown, Bucks County, is awaiting trial in the death of her daughter Jade-Lynn Leonard in September, 2005 in Girardville. The little girl was found starved and dehydrated in filthy conditions. Trindle is living with her grandparents in Levittown. Defense counsel for Trindle had asked that the woman could live with her mother, also from Levittown. But Judge D. Michael Stine stipulated that Trindle have no contact with her son, Leland Leonard. The boy is staying with relatives there. The woman is charged with involuntary manslaughter and reckless endangerment. Her husband, Donald Leonard the Third, pleaded guilty to charges related to the boy's death, but manslaughter charges were dropped against him in return for testimony against his wife. He is serving 5 to 10 years in state prison on the charges, but the sentence was stiffened when the court found out that Leonard had numerous burglary convictions on his record.

Commissioners meeting 5/17

The Schuylkill County Commissioners received a number of requests from various county agencies to approve contracts for provider services during Thursdays work session. The Commissioners were also asked to approve several grant applications. The Commissioners issued three proclamations. Alexander Gross of Orwigsburg was recognized for achieving the rank of Eagle Scout. May 20th through May 26th was designated Elder Abuse Week in the County. May 21st through May 25th was designated "The Schuylkill 350" week. The 350 represents the number of units of blood the American Red Cross needs to collect during that week to meet the projected needs of the five medical centers served by the Schuylkill and East Northumberland chapter of the American Red Cross.

Pine Grove looking at setting up Community Watch

The borough of Pine Grove is exploring the possibility of starting a Neighborhood Watch program. Neighborhood Watch is one of the oldest and best-known crime prevention concepts in North America. In addition to the traditional role of the Neighborhood Watch Program, the USAonWatch empowers citizens to become active in homeland security efforts through participation in Neighborhood Watch groups. Pine Grove Police will be hosting a meeting about forming a Watch program on Wednesday, May 30th at 7pm, at the borough police department in Pine Grove. For information, call 345-3555.

State News - Saturday May 19

ERIE, Pa. (AP) - There are still plenty of E. coli bacteria in Lake Erie, but they won't be causing nearly as many beach closings at Presque Isle State Park. That's because park officials have decided to offer swimming advisories when E. coli meets or exceeds the federal limit of 235 colonies per one-thousand milliliters of water. Last year different beaches at the state park were closed 57 times on 16 separate days due to E. coli. Because the park hasseveral beaches, some days saw more than one beach closed at atime. Now, however, park officials say they won't close beaches unless E. coli levels reach one-thousand colonies per one-thousand milliliters -- more than four times the old standard. They say other states that use the same standard have safe beaches. Park officials also say last year was the worst in 20 years for beach visitors -- a factor they blame on all the beach closings.

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. (AP) - A judge has ruled that a man who says he was robbed by a murder suspect may not testify against him at the murder trial. Samuel Goosay identified Hugo Selenski as one of the men who he said stormed into his Monroe County home and threatened him with a gun. Prosecutors hoped to use Goosay's testimony against Selinski and co-defendant Paul Weakley, noting that both crimes involved the useof duct tape and plastic flex ties. But Luzerne County Judge Chester Muroski would not allow it. Selenski and Weakley are charged in the 2002 strangulation deaths of Tammy Fassett and Michael Kerkowski. The victims' bodies were among a number of sets of human remains found on Selenski's rural property outside Wilkes-Barre.

National and International News - Saturday May 19

BAGHDAD (AP) - One of three mortar rounds or rockets fired into Baghdad's Green Zone today hit the British Embassy compound as outgoing British leader Tony Blair was paying an unannounced visit to Iraq. It's not known if he was there at the time. Blair is using his final visit to try to persuade Iraqi leaders to work harder toward a more inclusive government.

WHITE HOUSE (AP) - The White House says President Bush will strongly support a new compromise on immigration legislation. He'll kick it off with his weekly radio address today. The compromise faces an uncertain future in Congress, with lawmakers on both sides panning parts of it.

WASHINGTON (AP) - The administration says its willing to consider benchmarks for the Iraqi government but not troop withdrawal language in a bill to fund the Iraq war. Congressional Democrats offered to let President Bush waive any withdrawal timetable but say the White House turned them down.

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) - A suicide bombing in northern Afghanistan has killed at least eight people including three German soldiers. The explosion went off near the soldiers in a crowded market where they were shopping. A gunbattle with allied forces near the capital, Kabul, left 20 militants dead.

UNDATED (AP) - A cold front expected this weekend threatens to undo some of the progress made on a wildfire burning across hundreds of square miles in southern Georgia and northern Florida. It's about 70 percent contained but a Florida forestry spokesman fears the fire will spread this weekend.

MALIBU, Calif. (AP) - Today is a big day for Tour de France cycling winner Floyd Landis in his effort to overturn charges he illegally used synthetic testosterone. Landis is to testify at an arbitration hearing in California. Another cyclist told the panel it's easy to use the substance and not get caught.

CANUTE, Okla. (AP) - The Oklahoma Highway Patrol says the seven victims of a highway crash may have been illegal immigrants. Police suspect the driver of an S-U-V fell asleep at the wheel and the vehicle went airborne, hitting an embankment. Authorities have asked Mexico to help identify the victims.

GREAT FALLS, Mont. (AP) - A Canadian Air Force pilot has been killed while rehearsing for an air show with the Snowbirds flight demonstration team in Montana. The Canadian team's performance this weekend at an Air Force Base open house has been canceled. An investigation is under way.

SEATTLE (AP) - Federal authorities in Washington state say a man faked his veteran's status to try to gain prominence in the anti-war movement. He claimed to have committed war crimes in Iraq. But his service record shows he never made it past Army basic training and never went to Iraq. Jesse Macbeth is also accused of collecting benefits from the V-A.

LOS ANGELES (AP) - With the Olympics coming up in 2008, host China is planning to be represented at the New Year's Rose Parade. It's a first for Beijing. A formal announcement regarding China's Olympic-themed float is scheduled for Monday at Tournament of Roses headquarters in Pasadena, California.

LITTLE EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP, N.J. (AP) - The Air Force has opened an investigation into a 27-square-mile wildfire in New Jersey that may have been caused by a flare dropped from a jet during bomber training. A huge wildfire burning across the Georgia-Florida state line is 70-percent contained.

CROMWELL, Ky. (AP) - It was good enough for the queen but apparently not for federal inspectors, who shut down a Perdue chicken processing plant in western Kentucky. The inspectors cited concerns about safety and wholesomeness of the product. The plant provided the chicken breasts served at a meal for Queen Elizabeth at the Kentucky Derby.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Local News-Friday, May 18th

An alert guard found a homemade "shank" in a common area during a routine search recently at the Schuylkill County Prison. Guards also discovered inmates making wine in the prison’s kitchen. Prison Warden Eugene Berdanier revealed the discoveries during Thursday’s Prison Board meeting. Berdanier explained that the "shank" was made from a mop, and the ends were sharpened to make a weapon. It was passed among inmates wrapped in a t-shirt, and may have been intended to harm a guard or another inmate. Berdanier commended guards for their quick work in finding the shank. Inmates responsible will be prosecuted when the investigation is completed. He said the wine making was discovered by guards who noticed some unfamiliar activity by kitchen workers, who had access to the materials to make the "hooch". The warden said the adult probation office assisted in administering breathalyzer and urine tests. He said the workers were fired from their prison jobs and a new inmate staff was put in place.

Medical helicopters will be flying from a new helipad in Pottsville very soon. Lehigh Valley Hospital and the University MedEvac service are moving ahead to establish a base of operations in the city at a site developed by Mazzuca Enterprises, according to the Republican and Herald.
The helipad and operations center will operate in the Mount Hope section of the city, in the area of 14th and Cedar Streets. The project has been vehemently opposed by residents who live in the area. The group banded together as the Concerned Citizens of Pottsville, and came en masse to Pottsville City Council meetings and zoning hearings to strongly oppose the helipad, citing noise and safety concerns, among others. After months of procedural wrangling and several hearings, the city zoning hearing board voted to allow the existing helipad to be developed into the base. While the appeal period has not yet expired, the citizens group, who gathered data about helipads and the potential safety risks, reportedly will not fight the decision any longer.

A host of charges against an Orwigsburg man will be heard in Schuylkill County Court. A preliminary hearing for 25-year-old Scott Donati, who is alleged to have committed sex related crimes against four different children was held before District Judge James Ferrier Thursday.
The Republican and Herald said that while the victims and their families were in the building during the hearing, they did not confront Donati for safety reasons. Donati is charged with multiple counts of indecent exposure, assault, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, rape and other sex related crimes. Donati is alleged to have committed the acts over the past two years against the four boys. All charges against Donati will be bound over for trial.

Schuylkill Chamber of Commerce members have a unique opportunity to make their voices heard in Harrisburg on Tuesday. But time is short to sign up. Chamber Day on Capitol Hill is Tuesday, May 22nd and sponsored by the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry and the PA Chamber of Commerce Executives. Thirty six Chambers from across the state are signed up for the event to give participants a first-hand look at what goes on in Harrisburg.
Lori Kane, Executive Director of the Schuylkill Chamber, explains that attendees can meet with their legislators in the morning, then participate in healthcare and transportation discussions in the afternoon. The cost is $20, and seats are filling up fast. For information, call the Chamber office at 622-1942, by noon today.

The borough of Pine Grove is exploring the possibility of starting a Neighborhood Watch program. Neighborhood Watch is one of the oldest and best-known crime prevention concepts in North America. In addition to the traditional role of the Neighborhood Watch Program, the USAonWatch empowers citizens to become active in homeland security efforts through participation in Neighborhood Watch groups. Pine Grove Police will be hosting a meeting about forming a Watch program on Wednesday, May 30th at 7pm, at the borough police department in Pine Grove. For information, call 345-3555.

National and State News-Friday, May 18th

CAPITOL HILL (AP) - The fate of a new immigration plan in Congress is still iffy, but President Bush and key negotiators call it a good compromise. It would beef up border security, but also
grant rights to current illegals. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says it's doomed unless Bush guarantees Republican votes.

MONTERREY, Mexico (AP) - The compromise immigration plan set for debate in Congress next week is already causing concern for (m) millions of poor, would-be migrants in Mexico. Instead of helping guestworkers, the new plan emphasizes visas for skilled workers with good educations.

BAGHDAD (AP) - One of the joint U-S-Iraqi urban outposts has come under attack in a city north of Baghdad. Troops backed by tanks and helicopter gunships fought off insurgents today, killing at least six of them. Three Iraqi police officers are dead in a suicide car bombing elsewhere.

CHICAGO (AP) - A single holdout on the jury has spared an Illinois killer the death penalty. Instead, Juan Luna gets life in prison for killing seven people 14 years ago in a robbery at a
chicken-and-pasta restaurant near Chicago. Luna claims he didn't do it and is appealing his conviction.

WHITEHAVEN, England (AP) - A young British woman is charged with aggravated vehicle-taking after a spat with her boyfriend. Police say she put all his stuff in his van and dumped it in the harbor. The boyfriend says he hasn't told her yet that their wedding is off, but says he thinks she can "put two and two together."

PITTSBURGH (AP) - The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review is reporting that two federal agencies are testing bee feed to determine if it is tainted with the same additive that is being blamed for killing the nation's cats and dogs. So far, the Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration has found no link to the food additive -- melamine.

LANCASTER, Pa. (AP) - Relatives and friends of three members of a slain family of three are planning a memorial service at a Lancaster church on Saturday. The service for Thomas and Lisa Haines and their son Kevin at Otterbein United Methodist Church will be closed to reporters and cameras will be banned. The three were stabbed to death last Saturday in their home.

PITTSBURGH (AP) - An autopsy is scheduled today on the remains of a baby found in a Pittsburgh woman's freezer. Police have charged 22-year-old Christine Hutchinson with abuse of a corpse. A spokesman for the Allegheny County Medical Examiner says until the
autopsy is conducted officials won't release any information about the baby's age or cause of death.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - A federal appeals court is expected to mull arguments about famed death-row inmate Mumia Abu-Jamal for several months before issuing a ruling. Both sides were in court yesterday arguing appeals of a lower court that upheld his conviction for
killing a Philadelphia policeman in 1981 but overturned his death sentence.

BENSALEM, Pa. (AP) - The widow of a soldier from Bucks County killed in Iraq says she always called him her "Renaissance Man." Jennifer Dunckley says that's because her husband, James, did everything he did perfectly. The Pentagon says the 25-year-old Army sergeant was killed Monday by small-arms fire.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Local News-Thursday, May 17th

A Pottsville man is under arrest for stabbing another man early Wednesday morning. City police investigated an incident, where Jeremiah Ruscavage and Anthony Harkins had been fighting. During the altercation, Harkins drew a knife, stabbing and slashing Ruscavage. He was taken to Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center for treatment. Harkins fought with police, kicking and biting an officer while he was being taken into custody. He’s in Schuylkill County Prison on $20-thousand-dollars bail.

Sunoco workers and contractors are at the scene of a gasoline pipeline break near Shamokin.
A Sunoco spokesman says the company is working to fix the line and clean up the mess caused by a bulldozer that ran into the 14-inch pipeline yesterday. Spokesman Gerald Davis says Sunoco learned of the problem when pressure in the pipeline dropped. Workers shut down the long-distance pipeline and sent Sunoco employees who were in the area for an unrelated reason to investigate. That's when they learned the pipleline had been struck by a bulldozer doing excavation work.

The Pottsville School Board has proposed its tentative budget for the 2007-2008 school year, with no tax increase. The $32.2 million dollar spending plan calls for a 2% increase from last year’s budget of $31.6 million dollars. It is expected to be ratified at next month’s meeting.
In other business, the school district Treasurer was elected by the board. John Boran was chosen and will receive an annual salary of 2000 dollars. He chose to donate the money back to the district allocating $1000 to a scholarship fund that will benefit a graduating senior who plans on majoring in education, $500 to the high school Publications department and the remaining $500 to the high school band. The board also approved the hiring of the coaches for the next school year. These include head football coach Kevin Keating, his defensive assistant Mr. John Toomey as well as other fall sport coaches. Superintendent James Gallagher presented the board with a list of 275 prospective graduates for the class of 2007. Commencement is set for May 31st.

An Aristes man had a preliminary hearing yesterday on charges that he threatened his brother.
Troy Schoffler, age 39, is charged with terroristic threats and harassment, relating to an incident with his brother on Easter Sunday. The Republican and Herald reports that Schoffler threatened his brother Lorne Schoffler with a gun, and accused him of having an affair with a former girlfriend. Troy Schoffler was also involved in a standoff with police at his home on April 12th, holding a girlfriend hostage. The standoff ended peacefully after 8 hours. He continues to be housed at SCI Mahanoy on a parole violation. Reports indicate that Schoffler has a history of drug and weapons offenses. The harassment case is bound for Schuylkill County Court.

A Pottsville man was cited by police for an incident on an STS bus last week. State and Schuylkill Township police say that James Delbertis was the only passenger riding on the bus, when he began touching the female bus driver’s back and asking questions that made her uncomfortable. The driver called police when she stopped to pick up a passenger in Tuscarora. She also noted that Delbertis urinated outside of a home in the area while he was waiting for police. Delbertis will be cited by police in the incident, through the office of District Judge Stephen Bayer. The incident happened last Thursday.

The Tamaqua School Board hired a new elementary principal at their meeting last night.
They filled the position internally, moving high school principal Stephen Behr to the district’s three elementary schools beginning in the fall. He fills the position held by retiring principal Thomas Ponting. The Pottsville Republican and Herald reports that the Tamaqua school board unveiled it’s tentative 2007-2008 budget. The spending plan totals $24.1 million-dollars, and projects a $1.2 million-dollar fund balance. The board is expected to ratify the budget at their June meeting.

May is National Foster Care month. In today’s society, many children are growing up in less than ideal situations, putting their safety at risk. Substance abuse, mental health issues and other social problems in the home may force authorities to put kids into foster care until the situation can be fixed. Foster care programs, like those offered by Catholic Charities, help to stabilize the lives of kids until they can either be returned to their families, or be placed for adoption. Dolores Novack of Catholic Charities noted that more than 20 thousand children were placed in foster care in 2005. Foster parents can receive financial help to care for foster children through state and federal programs. Catholic Charities offer training and support to individuals and families who want to become foster parents.

National and State News-Thursday, May 17th

CAPITOL HILL (AP) - The stage will be set today for another round of high-stakes bargaining between congressional Democrats and the White House. The Senate has scheduled a vote on a resolution supporting the troops. It comes after Democrats opposed to the war failed in their bid to cut off Iraq war funding.

BAGHDAD (AP) - The U-S ambassador in Iraq says he's ready to sit down with Iranian negotiators "anytime they like." Iran's foreign minister tells reporters in Pakistan talks about Iraq's security will begin May 28th. The U-S has accused Iran of providing bombs to
militants in Iraq. Tehran denies it.

MIAMI (AP) - Testimony resumes today in Miami at the trial of terror suspect Jose Padilla. One of the prosecution witnesses will be a man sentenced to ten years in prison after pleading guilty to attending al-Qaida camps. He's expected to say Padilla attended one of the same camps.

LITTLE EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP, N.J. (AP) - There's some welcome rain in New Jersey, where firefighters believe they're getting the upper hand on a wildfire that's charred 22 square miles north of Atlantic City. It's 70-percent contained and could be declared under control today.

WEST SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - A whale of a rescue effort is under way in California's Sacramento River. Biologists are playing the underwater sounds of humpback whales to lure what are believed to be a mother and her calf back toward the ocean. They apparently
got sidetracked during their northward migration.

LANCASTER, Pa. (AP) - A Lancaster County police chief investigating the stabbing deaths of a couple and their teenage son says authorities have "promising" leads in the case. But Manheim Township police are still asking for the public's help in solving Saturday's slayings.
Police chief Neil Harkins says the killer may be injured, possibly with a hand injury. He says the killer may have lied about his or her whereabouts from one a-m to three a-m on Saturday.
That's when Thomas and Lisa Haines and their teenage son, Kevin, were slain.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Just a month ago, Michael Nutter was near the bottom of voter polls in the Philadelphia mayor's race. Yet in Tuesday's election, he won the Democratic nomination with a 12 percentage point lead over the second-place finisher. Randall Miller is a political analyst at Saint Joseph's University in Philadelphia. He says voter frustration with the
"character and direction of the city" apparently worked in Nutter's favor. Nutter pushed for ethics reform legislation in City Council. He was portrayed there and in his political ads as the opposite of Mayor John Street. Miller says Nutter also likely benefited from refusing to back
down when rivals criticized his plan for police to use "stop-and-frisk" tactics to fight crime.

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Allegheny County Judge Ron Folino is the Democratic Party's pick for the second nomination for Superior Court. Earlier, Allegheny County lawyer Christine Donohue clinched the other nomination. The Republican nominees are Allegheny County Judge Cheryl Allen and Dauphin County Judge Bruce Bratton. The Democratic and Republican parties each get to nominate two candidates for the pair of open seats.

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - For the third time in less than a decade, a proposal to give local school districts the option of lowering residential property taxes -- with a catch -- has fallen flat.
Voters across Pennsylvania overwhelmingly rejected ballot questions asking them to pay a higher local income tax in exchange for lower property taxes. The tax shifts were an option presented by Governor Ed Rendell and state lawmakers to deliver bigger property tax cuts than the state's new slots parlors have promised to deliver as early as next year. Thomas Gentzel of the Pennsylvania School Boards Association says the results show that the property-tax problem can't be solved locally.

PITTSBURGH (AP) - The trial of a McKeesport man charged with sex crimes involving a runaway is postponed. Thomas Hose was due in an Allegheny County courtroom yesterday
to face sex charges involving Tanya Kach. The girl said she was secretly living in Hose's suburban Pittsburgh home for more than a decade. Hose's lawyer said his client is anxious and as recently as two weeks ago wanted to kill himself. Hose was originally supposed to stand trial in February, but that was delayed when he stabbed himself. He's been in a state mental hospital since then. Hose was charged after Kach told a convenience store owner last March that she was on a missing persons Web site. Kach then told police she had been living in Hose's house since she ran away from home ten years earlier.