Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Today's News-Tuesday, July 31st

State police in several counties are looking for a man that may be linked to several robberies.
As we reported to you yesterday, a young, white male is suspected of robbing the Hess Express market along Route 61. Now, state police feel that the same man may have held up the Comfort Inn, located near the Midway exit of Interstate 81. As the robber did in Orwigsburg, he reportedly brandished a semi-automatic handgun and demanded cash from the desk clerk. Jonestown State Police indicate that mid-morning, a man fitting a similar description entered the First National Bank of Fredericksburg office in Bethel Township. During that holdup, the man got away with several thousand dollars in cash. Reports indicate that one of the explosive dye packs went off after he left the bank. While it is not a certainty, troopers from Schuylkill Haven, Jonestown and Hamburg have a hunch that maybe the three robberies are related.
If anyone has any information, call Schuylkill Haven State Police at 593-2000.

A soaking thunderstorm failed to dampen the attendance and enthusiasm at the Schuylkill County Fair Monday. Family Day kicked into high gear by late afternoon, with a steady stream of people bringing their lawn chairs to the Summit Station grounds in preparation for the evening's entertainment and other activities. Discounted entrance fees helped to bolster the gate, thanks to M&T Bank. Fair officials estimate that about 3-thousand-people attended Monday's fair. A new Queen and her court were crowned in the early evening. By that time, a heavy thunderstorm rolled into the valley at the foothills of the Blue Mountain, sending people running for cover. But, within an hour, the skies cleared and visitors sat back to enjoytwo rocking-good shows by Pittston-native Shawn Klush, an Elvis –tribute artist. This was Klush's third consecutive appearance at the fair. Klush has been on a whirlwind tour of England and Canada within the recent weeks. Between shows, the top three winners of the Schuylkill County Senior Idol, Charles Tamburelli, Mary Wagner and David Watson performed for the crowd. Today is Kids Day at the Schuylkill County Fair. Performing on the M&T Bank stage this evening will be the Majestics at 7pm, followed by country artist Jeff Bates at 9pm.

If you missed an opportunity to help send some deserving kids back-to-school well prepared, you have another week to do so. The Schuylkill United Way's Stuff the Bus campaign has been extended another week, to August 6th. The three Schuylkill County malls have a mini-bus parked inside, and residents have been asked to donate backpacks, notebooks, pencils…anything for back to school. By stuffing the busses, the Schuylkill United Way will ensure that kids who may have not been able to get the supplies they need to start school well prepared, can do so. In addition, monetary donations are being accepted as well. Help the Schuylkill United Way to "Stuff the Bus" by calling 622-6421.

Pottsville resident Thomas Guastavino is Schuylkill County Idol Number 5. After a whirlwind four weeks, and some stiff competition from other young men and women, Guastavino received the winning nod with the most votes from fans who followed the competitors all the way through. The 18-year-old wowed the audience week after week with Broadway show tunes, and garnered the coveted title. He told WPPA/T102 News how he feels about winning:
GUASTAVINO. The final three Idol contestants included Brittany Verchick of Minersville and Francois Bessing of Brockton. Guastavino, who will attend college in the fall, majoring in marketing and theatre, wins a $1-thousand-dollar shopping package from the Schuylkill Mall, along with other goodies. He will perform at the Schuylkill County Fair at 8pm Saturday night, taking the stage before Chuck Negron, formerly of Three Dog Night.

A new family of royalty was crowned at the Schuylkill County Fair last night. Fourteen young ladies entered the contest, vying for Queen, Princess and Little Miss. The competition took the ladies through a question-and-answer phase and a speech about why they wanted to become Schuylkill County Fair royalty. When the votes were tallied, 17-year-old Jaclyn Hoffman of New Ringgold was crowned Queen of the Fair. Two sisters, 14-year-old Chelsea and 7-year-old Megan Dalton of Pottsville earned the title of Fair Princess and Little Miss, respectively.
Megan Dalton told WPPA/T102 News how she was feeling after winning: DALTON
These young ladies will represent the Schuylkill County Fair at various appearances and activities over the next year.

Pottsville police arrested a city woman and charged her with disorderly conduct early Monday.
Officers were called to the home of Crystal Siluk on West Market Street. When they arrived, they heard loud music blaring from the home. Siluk was told to turn it down, or face a citation. When she failed to do so, officers were cursed at by the woman. A very short time later, police were called back to the home for the same reason. Siluk was arraigned and taken to Schuylkill County Prison.

Schuylkill County's unemployment rate is down, according to statistics released by the state Labor and Industry Department. The measure dropped by 2 tenths of one percent from May to June, 2007 in the region, referred to as the Pottsville Micropolitan Statistical area. While month-to-month numbers are significant, year-to-year numbers may show a more significant trend of point-8-oh percent. According to L and I stats, the Pottsville region ranks 46th among the state’s 67 counties.

WASHINGTON (AP) - Chief Justice John Roberts is spending part of his summer vacation in a hospital bed after suffering an unexplained seizure in Maine. The 52-year-old had a similar episode in 1993. Doctors say after two seizures, the likelihood of another at some point is greater than 60 percent.

WASHINGTON (AP) - President Bush's pick to head the Joint Chiefs of Staff -- Admiral Mike Mullen -- is expected to testify before the Senate Armed Services committee today. The White House decided not to renominate General Peter Pace over fears his confirmation hearings would focus on Iraq.

GHAZNI, Afghanistan (AP) - Relatives of the remaining 21 South Korean hostages are pleading with the U-S to help resolve the crisis in Afghanistan. Police found the body of a second captive
killed by the Taliban yesterday. Meanwhile, another Taliban deadline for the release of its fighters has come and gone.

CAPITOL HILL (AP) - The House is scheduled to vote today on a comprehensive ethics reform bill that targets money raised by lobbyists and spending bills known as "earmarks." The bill
requires senators seeking earmarks to certify that they have no direct financial interest in them.

ROME (AP) - Italian film director Michelangelo Antonioni has died at the age of 94. In 1995, Hollywood honored his career work with a lifetime achievement Oscar. His depiction of alienation made him a symbol of art-house cinema with movies such as "Blow-Up" and "L'Avventura ."

WASHINGTON (AP) - Two Pennsylvania congressmen are getting fresh criticism from Governor Ed Rendell over their tactics to prevent tolls on Insterstate 80. A Rendell spokesman says roads in Congressmen Phil English and John Peterson's districts will be rehabilitated with some of the I-80 toll money -- unless their federal excise tax takes effect.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Philadelphia's largest transit agency plans to stop accepting transfers tomorrow -- but the mayor is challenging that in court. Mayor John Street contends that
eliminating transfers would have a dispropportionate impact on the city's poor and on high school students.

SUNBURY, Pa. (AP) - A Northumberland County man has been formally sentenced to death in the fatal beating of his four-year-old stepdaughter. Twenty-eight-year-old Brentt Sherwood
showed no emotion during sentencing yesterday. He was convicted of beating the girl, Marlee Reed, when she was left in his care in December 2004. She died at a hospital the next day.

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) - Morgantown, West Virginia, is hosting a mine rescue competition this week that's expected to draw 19 teams from West Virginia, Kentucky, Ohio and Pennsylvania. The Post Five Mine Rescue Contest will be held Wednesday and Thursday. Teams will show their mine rescue skills in three events -- mine rescue, bench and pre-shift.

KEY WEST, Fla. (AP) - A graduate student from Gannon University in Erie is close to Key West, Florida, and nearing the end of a three-week bike ride for charity. Kevin Caffrey has been pedaling to Florida to raise money for cancer research. He's been on the road for 19 days and expects to ride another five before reaching Key West.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Today's News-Monday, July 30th

Schuylkill Haven State Police are continuing their investigation into an armed robbery yesterday afternoon. Troopers say that around 2:25pm, a white male entered the Hess Express on Route 61 near Orwigsburg, pointed a black semi-automatic handgun at the attendant and demanded money from the register. He left with an undetermined amount of cash and fled on foot. The man is suspected to be in his mid 20’s, between 5 feet 7 and 5 feet 9 inches tall, slender to medium build. He was wearing a white baseball cap, a tan or cream colored shirt, baggy shorts and black sneakers. Anyone who has seen this man should immediately call Schuylkill Haven State Police, at 593-2000.

The 2007 edition of the Schuylkill County Fair got underway in Summit Station yesterday.
The day opened with events in the horse show ring along Route 895, and vendors continued to set up for Preview Day. The gates opened at 5pm Sunday evening to an overcast sky.
A local favorite, The Shoreliners, opened the entertainment portion with a mix of traditional favorites, oldies and the ever-popular polka as a steady stream of visitors came through the gates. The King and Queen contest was held, with three men and three women vying for the title. After a question-and-answer session, the judges awarded first prize to the husband-and-wife team of Bob and Carolyn Archer of Pine Grove. The remainder of the evening's entertainment, the VIH Rhythm and Blues Band, and the Schuylkill Senior Idol contestants, were unable to perform due to a severe electrical storm that passed through the area. While rains at the fairgrounds were not heavy by any means, lightning presented a significant safety risk to the performers and visitors. At 7:45pm, the Schuylkill County Fair closed down for the night. Those that were in attendance had "bushels of fun" at the Schuylkill County Fair.

A crowd of visitors enjoyed food, fellowship and ethnic heritage yesterday at Ukranian Seminary Day in Primrose Sunday. The 73rd Ukranian Seminary Day, sponsored by the churches of the Southern Anthracite Deanery of the Ukranian Church, celebrated the heritage of the faith, and helped to raise monies for St. Josaphat Seminary in Washington, DC. The school trains men for the Ukranian priesthood. Metropolitan Archbishop Stefan Soroka, the head of the Ukranian Catholic Church in America, explains that the local parishes play a sigificant role in the success of the Seminary. Ethnic foods, such as halupki, halushki and many other traditional dishes were available, as well as entertainment and games, drew a large crowd to the picnic grove at St. Nicholas Church in Primrose Sunday.

Several vehicles were vandalized at Hawk Mountain Sanctuary on Friday afternoon. Sometime between 1:30 and 4:30pm, an unknown thief broke into a truck owned by Malcolm Cook of Great Falls, Virginia, who was visiting the sanctuary. A GPS system and various children’s DVD's were stolen, with a value of just over $1-thousand-dollars. An electronic road atlas system belonging to Oswaldo Giolli of Douglassville was also taken, valued at nearly $700 dollars. Hamburg state police are investigating.

A water main break in Minersville caused problems last night. Emergency responders were called to a business to pump water out of a basement. According to the Republican and Herald, officials believe that a broken main caused the ground outside of the business to soften, and a fire truck got stuck. It took about a half hour to free it. A Minersville man crossing the street had minor injuries when he fell into a sinkhole. Borough officials blocked the affected streets off last night.

CAMP DAVID, Md. (AP) - A final day of meetings today between new British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and President Bush take place at Camp David. The leaders hope some private time together will build a good rapport. The leaders plan a midday news conference.

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) - As a Taliban deadline for the lives of 22 South Koreans expired an Afghan governor pleaded with the militants for an extension. The Taliban want some of its fighters released in exchange for the hostages. The governor says militants did not reject his plea outright.

UNDATED (AP) - Corruption in Iraq amounts to a "second insurgency." That's what the latest audit report to Congress says about reconstruction efforts. And a report from Oxfam and other
relief agencies says nearly a third of the Iraqi population needs immediate emergency aid including water, sanitation, food and shelter.

STOCKHOLM, Sweden (AP) - Swedish film director Ingmar Bergman has died. Media reports cite his daughter as saying he died today at his home in Faro, Sweden. Bergman was widely regarded as one of the great masters of modern cinema. He was 89-years-old.

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Food and Drug Administration examines the risks and benefits of the diabetes drug Avandia today. Health advisers will look at whether the heart risks associated with the drug should force it to be pulled from the market or only used in select patients.

PITTSBURGH (AP) - The Carnegie Museum of Natural History's display of dinosaurs and artifacts of ancient cultures is nationally renowned. But as impressive - if not more so - is the 97
percent of the museum's collection tucked away in an inconspicuous building in the city's East End.

ERIE, Pa. (AP) - A sleek, 19-ton armored vehicle designed for speed rather than strength has kept an Erie infantry out of Iraq. But after months of intensive training on the Stryker at Fort
Indiantown Gap's mock villages, the First Battalion's 112th Infantry is expecting to be deployed to Iraq in the next year.

JOHNSTOWN (AP) - Pennsylvania schools are on a construction binge that puts them first in the nation for long-term debt, even as student enrollment declines. The construction, paid for mostly through property taxes, is a political red flag that has seen some school boards voted out and others defending multimillion dollar projects.

ERIE, Pa. (AP) - Seven years after the idea was pitched, the 44 (m) million dollar Bayfront Convention Center in Erie is finally opening this week. Overlooking the lake and with a breathtaking view of Presque Isle Bay and Dobbins Landing, the convention center will host on Thursday its first event.

SHANKSVILLE, Pa. (AP) - A judge has transferred more than 600-thousand dollars from a county-run trust fund to the families of those killed in Flight 93 on September 11th, 2001. The judge ordered the transfer on Friday at the request of the county and the families.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Today's News - Saturday July 28, 2007

SIBT administrators and staff to form new school

POTTSVILLE - The administration and staff of the Schuylkill Institute of Business and Technology will not be resting when ForeFront Education Inc. discontinues service as SIBT. In an attempt to fill a void in local education that is needed the staff announced they will become a nonprofit organization known as Schuylkill Academy. Schuylkill Academy will be located at the location of 118 S. Center Street, Pottsville the site of the current SIBT. Course offerings will include graphic design, business administration, medical assistant, drafting technology, network/internet professional, accounting, and paralegal curriculums. The project is scheduled to open in October.

State police looking for vagrant who stole a car

CUMBOLA - A Middleport man is being sought by State Police for using a Cumbola woman's car without her permission. Troopers issued an alert yesterday, indicating their desire to apprehend 37-year-old Jeffrey Weicicoskie (why-sick-koskie). He took a Cumbola woman’s car and used it without her permission several months ago, but their search for him continued. Wiecicoskie's address is unconfirmed, as he moves around. He may be in the Pottsville or St. Clair area. If you see Weicicoskie, please call Frackville State Police at 874-5300.

Blythe gets extension on BRADS pre-denial letter

BLYTHE TOWNSHIP - A proposed construction landfill has been granted an extension by Pennsylvania regulators to respond to a pre-denial letter of their application. The Department of Environmental Protection announced yesterday that it has granted Blythe Township, a 90-day extension to respond to DEP's April 2007 pre-denial letter. The township requested the extension to address deficiencies in its permit application for the proposed Blythe Recycling and Demolition Site, or BRADS, construction and demolition waste landfill. DEP Northeast Regional Director Michael Bedrin said that DEP officials met with the township earlier this month to discuss the items in their original letter. At that time, the township said it needed more time to address the issues. The original denial letter identified a number of issues that must be resolved by the applicant, including site ownership, leachate management and the need for additional botanical studies. Blythe Township originally submitted a permit application for a 1,500-ton per day demolition debris landfill in early 2004. DEP held a public hearing on the application Dec. 5, 2006, and received testimony from more than 50 individuals.

Fair preparation underway

SUMMIT STATION - One day to go until the opening of the 24th annual Schuylkill County Fair. Older folks have memories of the fair in Cressona, but a full generation now remembers the Great Schuylkill County Fair in Summit Station, and it opens tomorrow, Exhibit Day. WPPA News stopped by the fairgrounds yesterday and found the place buzzing with activity. Vendors of all types were setting up their stands, and have been doing so since Monday, according to Shirley German (gur-man). She anticipates a sell out of vendor spaces for the fair. Paul Kennedy, the fair's director of safety and security, tells us that so far, preparations are going smoothly. Last year, the Schuylkill County Fair was plagued with some misfortune. The June flood did significant damage to the fairgrounds, but with hard work and determination, the annual event opened on time. An oppressive heatwave baked the 2006 fair. Have “Bushels of Fun” at the Schuylkill County Fair.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - A longtime Philadelphia cheesesteak shop with family ties to the inventors of the famous sandwich has gotten the final order to leave a historic downtown market. Reading Terminal Market spokesman Kevin Feeley says management gave Rick Olivieri a final hearing Wednesday. Officials also spent the week discussing their reasons for the change with merchants and others. The board then reaffirmed the decision not to renew the
lease of Rick's Philly Steaks. Olivieri says he does not know whether he has to leave by
Wednesday and plans to meet with attorneys. He said earlier he would fight the eviction in court. Olivieri is the grandson of Pasquale "Pat" Olivieri, who founded the first cheesesteak shop with his brother back in 1933. The 104-year-old market plans to replace Rick's with Tony Luke's Old Philly Style Sandwiches, a locally owned chain.

PHOENIX (AP) - T-V crews in Phoenix have been wiping away tears as they report on a tragedy one journalist says is "too close to home." Two news helicopters smashed into each other during live T-V coverage of a police chase yesterday, killing the two pilots and two photographers onboard.

WASHINGTON (AP) - Doctors are preparing to operate on Vice President Dick Cheney this morning to replace his pacemaker. The vice president's spokeswoman says the device's battery has reached the level where replacement is recommended.

WHITE HOUSE (AP) - President Bush is using his weekend radio chat today to urge Congress to update U-S intelligence laws before lawmakers break for the August recess. He wants an overhaul of the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act that governs federal wiretaps aimed at stopping terrorists.

BRISBANE, Australia (AP) - Australian officials are allowing an Indian doctor to leave the country after prosecutors dropped a charge linking him to the attempted terror attacks in Britain. Twenty-seven-year-old Mohamed Haneef was released from a Brisbane prison yesterday.

BARABOO, Wis. (AP) - Testimony continues in Wisconsin in the murder trial of a 16-year-old boy charged with shooting his high school principal to death. The defense attorney says Eric Hainstock didn't mean to kill his principal. Prosecutors say Hainstock was upset over being bullied and that his anger had been building.

BEIJING (AP) - China has sentenced two men to death for masterminding a plan to steal oil from an underwater pipeline. China's state news agency says the plot netted only 65 barrels of oil, but caused tens of millions of dollars in damages.

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AP) - News media in Pakistan are reporting that President Musharraf has held secret talks with opposition leader and former prime minister Benazir Bhutto. They're reportedly discussing a possible power sharing deal.

BAGHDAD (AP) - Commanders in Iraq say an airstrike after a fierce gunbattle in Karbala killed some 17 militants Friday. U-S troops are also said to have captured four militants suspected of links to networks that smuggle weapons and fighters from Iran. And the military has also announced the death of another U-S soldier.

WASHINGTON (AP) - A Hawaii man has been hospitalized with symptoms of botulism poisoning after eating canned chili that was subject to a massive food recall. Officials continue to find recalled canned foods on store shelves nationwide more than a week after Castleberry's Food Company warned the products were possibly contaminated.

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) - Washington state Supreme Court has sided with a dentist who's a practical jokester. The oral surgeon was sued by his assistant for temporarily implanting fake boar tusks in her mouth while she was under anesthesia and taking pictures of it. His insurance company wouldn't cover her claim against him, so he sued the company and won in court.

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Minnesota rescue workers have recovered the body of a 23-year-old sewer worker. Another worker remains missing. The two were working 150 feet below ground when a sudden rainfall sent water rushing into storm sewers.

NEW YORK (AP) - The maker of Aquafina bottled water is changing the label to clarify that the drink comes from the same source as tap water. PepsiCo will now spell out "public water source" on its bottles.

NEW YORK (AP) - Wall Street has wrapped up its worst week in five years. The Dow Jones industrial average dropped more than 500 points in two days. Investors are worried that borrowing costs will climb for both companies and homeowners.

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) - More bad news for Michael Vick. Shoemaker Nike has suspended its contract with the Atlanta Falcons quarterback who's been indicted on dogfighting charges. And Reebok has taken the unprecedented step of stopping sales of his Number-Seven jersey. Vick has pleaded not guilty.

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Barry Bonds says his proximity to the all-time home-run record is sinking in now. He's just one away from tying Hank Aaron. Bonds hit number 754 against the Florida Marlins last night. The two teams play again tonight.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Today's News-Friday, July 27th

While a West Reading man, who is serving time for killing an Orwigsburg man in 2004, will stay in prison while awaiting a new trial. We reported to you yesterday that Desmond Hammond will get a new trial, as part of a ruling from President Judge William Baldwin. Hammond was found guilty by a jury in 2005 for third-degree murder in the death of Clinton Hallick.
According to the Republican and Herald, prosecutors are expected to appeal Baldwin’s new trial ruling to the state court. The judge stated that Hammond did not receive effective representation during his original trial.

A Pottsville man was hurt in an incident last night. City officers say that Raymond Zweizig was arguing with Brandon Starr of Seneca Street about him putting trash in a dumpster on Zweizig's property. Starr got into his car, and Zweizig grabbed the wheel while the car was moving slowly. Zweizig slipped and he was injured by the rolling car. He was taken to Good Sam hospital for treatment. The investigation continues.

A group of teenagers are coming to Pottsville in early August to roll up their sleeves and get dirty to help the community. The 20 kids, named Darryl's Army, after Pastor Darryl Duer , the group is part of the New Dover Methodist Church in Edison, New Jersey. The teens will come to the city to paint, cleanup and beautify the northern corridor of the city as part of the Elm Street Project. Michael McGeever, Elm Street coordinator, said that this hard working group of young people will be here for a week, and will be housed at the Blue Mountain Christian Retreat in Berks County. However, while they are here in Pottsville, they will need to be fed each day. McGeever is asking businesses in Pottsville and the surrounding area to step up and provide donations to feed the boys and girls while they are working to better downtown Pottsville.
It won’t be all work and no play while Darryl’s Army is in the city. They will be the guests of the city at a splash party at JFK Pool and will be treated to a movie at the Sovereign Majestic Theatre, among other amenities. If you’d like to donate, contact McGeever at 622-1995.

A long-time employee of the Schuylkill Transportation System has been promoted by the The ReDCo Group. STS announced yesterday that Michael Micko has been promoted to Vice President for Public Transportation, responsible for overall management of the Schuylkill Transportation System. He replaces Dennis Zahora, who left the post recently. Micko, a public transit veteran with 32 years of experience in SchuylkillCounty, has worked for STS over the last 25 years. He most recently served as STS Director of Operations. STS, a division of the ReDCo Group, provides public transportation services all over Schuylkill County's 778 square-mile area. Each month about 11,000 riders use shared-ride van services and 20,000 riders use the fixed-routebus system to get to their destinations.

A Pottsville man was hurt in a motorcycle and car crash in Pottsville late Wednesday night.
City police responded to the corner of Route 61 and East Norwegian Street, where 45-year-old Ruth Smillie was attempting to make a left turn onto southbound Route 61. Her car collided with a motorcycle operated by 39-year-old William Horning Jr. Smillie told police that she did not see Horning as he attempted to cross 61. Horning, who was not wearing a helmet, had to be flown to Lehigh Valley Medical Center. Smillie's car had minor damage.

A Pottsville woman was almost hit by a car while crossing a city street Wednesday afternoon.
City police say that around 3:30pm, 89-year-old Viola Gaumer was crossing in the middle of the block on Laurel Boulevard. Dustin Dean of Pottsville was driving east on the street when he had to swerve to miss hitting Gaumer, who admitted that she did not look both ways. Gaumer reportedly was startled by the car and fell to the street, suffering minor injuries. She was taken to Pottsville Hospital for treatment.

The Schuylkill County Commissioners approved the purchase of 176 acres of agricultural easements to prevent future development of the farmland. Earle and Laverne Otto will receive $25,400 for 25.4 acres of land they own in Wayne Township. Ina & Craig Luckenbill and Connie Wright will receive $58,600 for 58.6 acres also in Wayne Township. Lyndon & Dianne Hepler will receive $92,480 for 92.48 acres of land in Eldred Township. The County's land preservation program is designed to preserve the most productive farmland by purchasing perpetual agricultural conservation easements which prevents future development of the land. The County pays farmland owners $1,000 per acre but is considering increasing that amount in the future. The County provides a 50-50 match from funds from the State's Growing Greener Program and has between $250- to $300-thousand-dollars left in county funds for the program. At last week's Commissioners work session Chairman Frank Staudenmeier said the county will be applying for more funding to continue purchasing easements. Almost 8-thousand- acres are now under the county program.

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER (AP) - A retired NASA executive expects there will be congressional hearings after today's release of a report on astronaut health. A space agency official confirms the study contains allegations of "heavy use of alcohol" before launch, but stresses they haven't been confirmed.

SEATTLE (AP) - A doctor who missed his flight in Seattle and allegedly phoned in bomb threats to get the plane to return is due at a federal detention hearing today. He's been charged with making a false threat against an aircraft. Officials say he called 9-1-1 three times, until the plane was sent back.

CAPITOL HILL (AP) - A package of security measures recommended by the Nine-Eleven Commission goes to the House today for approval. The Senate O-K'd the measure last night. High-risk states and cities would get more federal money and air and sea cargo would get
more thorough screening.

BAGHDAD (AP) - Local Iraqi officials say nine people are dead and nearly two-dozen wounded from fighting between joint U-S and Iraqi forces and Shiite militiamen south of Baghdad. Separately, the military says another U-S soldier has been killed in fighting, raising the two-day U-S death toll to eight.

NEW YORK (AP) - Investors are nervously eyeing Wall Street this morning following yesterday's nose-dive. Worries over the U-S mortgage and corporate-lending markets are blamed. Asian markets have dropped today, investors pulling out of what are viewed as
riskier assets.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee is to appear in Philadelphia today. He's to speak before the AmericanLegislative Exchange Council. That's the same gathering of state lawmakers that President Bush spoke to yesterday. Huckabee is seeking the Republican Party's nomination for president next year.

NORRISTOWN, Pa. (AP) - Eagles coach Andy Reid's oldest son,24-year-old Garrett Reid, will serve at least three days in jail after pleading guilty to drug and traffic offenses. His 22-year-old brother, Britt Reid, arrested in a separate case the same day, has opted to go to trial on drug and weapons charges. Police say hewaved a handgun at another motorist.

ALLENTOWN, Pa. (AP) - Hazleton Mayor Lou Barletta says he will appeal a decison from a federal judge striking down his city'scrackdown on illegal immigrants. The law would fine landlords whorent to illegal immigrants and deny business permits to companies that give them jobs. A number of towns nationwide have passed laws modeled on Hazleton's.

PITTSBURGH (AP) - A 21-year-old art student will stand trial for allegedly spray painting graffiti throughout Pittsburgh. It caused some 577-thousand dollars worth of damage. Daniel Montano of Highland Park waived a preliminary hearing yesterday. A police officer says he caught Montano with paint-spattered hands finishing a so-called tag on a garage door.

ERIE, Pa. (AP) - Three boys are very happy to be high and dry today. The three had a narrow escape yesterday from the raging waters inside a large concrete pipe that carries a creek under the streets of Erie. One of the boys was rescued at the entrance of the Mill Creek Tube, but the other two were carried inside by therushing water.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Today's News-Thursday, July 26th

The Shaak family of Cressona will try and rebuild their lives following a fatal fire Monday, with help from the community. Family members have announced that the Shaak Family Memorial Fund has been established to aid James Shaak, his son and his mother-in-law Sandy Spirko, who survived the fire. Lisa and Joab Shaak perished in the blaze at their Wilder Street home.
James Shaak is still in the Lehigh Valley Medical Center, recovering from injuries. Noah Shaak and Spirko were not hurt. Contributions to the fund can be made at any Community Banks branch office in Schuylkill County. The home was destroyed in the fire. State fire marshal John Burns said that the fire appears to have started in the basement, but an exact cause has yet to be determined.

Auburn police arrested a man who is in the US illegally yesterday. Officials say that Daniel Ramirez, who lives on Orchard Street in Auburn, was stopped yesterday for motor vehicle violations, including an expired registration and inspection. At that point, Ramirez ran from police into a wooded area off of Market Street in the borough. The Republican and Herald reports that Auburn police called for backup from Orwigsburg, Schuylkill Haven and Penn State, Schuylkill to look for Ramirez. He was found a short time later. During an interview, police asked Ramirez if he was in the country illegally. He reportedly told them no. He is charged with resisting arrest, attempting to elude police and motor vehicle offenses. He was arraigned and taken to Schuylkill County Prison. Immigration officials will be contacted.

A West Reading man who was found guilty of murder in 2005 may get a new trial, after a ruling in Schuylkill County Court yesterday. President Judge William Baldwin upheld his ruling to grant a new trial to Desmond Hammond, who was found guilty of third-degree murder of Clinton Hallick in 2004, according to the Republican and Herald. Baldwin, who presided over the original trial, granted an initial retrial motion in June, citing that Hammond did not receive effective legal advice from his then attorney, Jay Nigrini. His current counsel is seeking that Hammond be released on bail while the process moves forward, but that has not been decided yet. He is serving his sentence at the State Correctional Institution in Wayne County. Hammond and Hallick got into a fight at a club in the Schuylkill Mall, which spilled over to a housing project in Minersville. Hammond was convicted of shooting Hallick there on the evening of March 12, 2004. Unless Baldwin's ruling is overturned by a higher court, Hammond will get a new trial on the charges.

A Catawissa man’s truck crashed on Route 25 yesterday morning in Hegins Township. Police report that 28-year-old Todd McCarthy lost control of his dump truck on the steep mountain road and it rolled over, sliding more that 200 feet on its side. McCarthy was taken to St. Catherine's Medical Center for treatment. The crash happened around 8:30am Wednesday.

A write-in candidate for County Commissioner complained to the Board of Commissioners Wednesday that he was contacted by a member of the county Board of Elections and asked to not wage his write-in campaign. John Schickram of Tamaqua, who decided to mount a write-in campaign after failing to win in the Republican Primary election claims Jerry Knowles approached him this past June and asked him not to mount a campaign. Knowles, who is a former County Commissioner, was appointed to the County Election board along with two others because the Commissioners, who normally serve in that capacity, were candidates for re-election. Schickram said he had been contacted several more times by Knowles to meet with him. He said he sent Knowles a letter telling him that because Knowles is a member of the Election board and he is a candidate for election, they should not discuss politics until Knowles' obligation on the election board is finished.

The Schuylkill County Commissioners Wednesday granted permission to hire a Bethlehem firm to provide professional services to assist in a County Planning and Zoning Commission project.
Urban Resources and Development Corporation will receive $97,600 to assist in the preparation of a comprehensive revision to the County Ordinance and maps. A state grant was received which provides 50% of the total project costs. In other business, the Commissioners approved a contract for just over $292-thousand-dollars with Schuylkill Community Action of Pottsville for Bridge Housing, Emergency Shelter, Outreach Case Management and Project Care Services for the period July 1, 2007 through June 30, 2008. Pottsville's Goodwill Fire Company was honored with a proclamation recognizing the company on its 125th anniversary. Several people were hired during Wednesday's meeting. They include; Amanda McKee of Schuylkill Haven as Fulltime Social Services Caseworker at Rest Haven; Nancy Nork of Frackville as a fiscal technician in the MH/MR office; Kevin Dillman Jr. of Frackville and Brian Murray of Pottsville as 9-1-1 center telecommunicator and Amamda Wright as caseworker in the Children and Youth Department.

Harnessing the sun's energy is not new. But for a home in Tamaqua, using the sun will save the homeowner money. Schuylkill Community Action, who provides affordable housing to low-and-moderate income families, introduced the solar heating system at a home on Hazle Street in Tamaqua earlier this week. Through a grant, Schuylkill Community Action was able to acquire the solar technology from PPL. The installation will allow the homeowner to use the sun's rays to warm the water and put it in to a tank in the home for use. During times of limited sunshine, water will be heated through other means like a conventional home heating system. Schuylkill Community Action is planning other homes that will use the solar heating plant. This is the fifth home that SCA has built to help low-to-moderate income families.

BAGHDAD (AP) - An official says five Iraqi police officers are dead and two wounded from a roadside bomb that struck their patrol south of Baghdad today. Meantime a top U-S commander says there's more indication that Iraqi extremists are being trained in Iran.

HANOI, Vietnam (AP) - Officials say the suspected remains of three U-S soldiers killed during the Vietnam War are on their way back to the U-S. They were recovered from three different sites in Vietnam over the past three months. The remains will be identified at a military laboratory in Hawaii.

MANADO, Indonesia (AP) - A tsunami warning has been called off in eastern Indonesia following a powerful earthquake. The quake had a preliminary magnitude of seven. There've been reports of damage, though panicked residents fled from markets, hospitals and schools.

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - N-F-L star Michael Vick is due to appear at a bond hearing in federal court in Richmond, Virginia, today and enter a plea on dogfighting conspiracy charges. Prosecutors allege the dogfighting business operated on Vick's property in rural Virginia.

GOURETTE, France (AP) - A French newspaper says the Tour de France should be canceled. The paper says it's become a "caravan of ridicule." At least three top cyclists have been sent home under a cloud of suspicion involving doping, including race leader Michael Rasmussen.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - President Bush is to speak to a gathering of state lawmakers in Philadelphia today. It's the second time in three years that Bush has appeared
before the American Legislative Exchange Council. The group is made of lawmakers from all 50 states. A spokesman says the council deals mostly with fiscal policy. About two thirds
of the members are Republicans. A group protesting the war in Iraq is to appear outside.

VILLANOVA, Pa. (AP) - Three incoming freshmen on Villanova University's football team have been kicked out. A woman accused the men of rape the weekend before last. The school decided last night to rescind their admission. A school spokeswoman says campus security officers didn't notify township police because it was the woman's choice not to. Football coach Andy Talley says the ordeal "is extremely disappointing to our coaching staff and our football team."

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - A bill signed by Governor Ed Rendell sets licensing standards for "assisted living residences." Those are homes for those who need more services than personal-care homes provide but don't need the full-time attention of a nursing home. The law signed yesterday (Wednesday) ends a decade-old debate and makes Pennsylvania the 40th state to mandate licensing standards for assisted living facilities. Some residential centers are already using the term to describe their programs. The law requires assisted living centers to have single living units - unless two residents voluntarily share a room. The units must have private bathrooms, kitchens and minimum space requirements. Also, health services must be sold separately from the residential agreement.

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Governor Ed Rendell is angry over a congressional amendment that he says could undermine the state's nearly one (b) billion dollar-a-year transportation plan.
He's vowing to solicit bids on leasing the Pennsylvania Turnpike to provide the funding.
The Democratic governor originally advocated leasing the turnpike, but scrapped the idea as part of a compromise with Republicans in the state Legislature. The governor signed that plan
last week. It's based largely on revenue that would come from adding tolls to Interstate 80.
But an amendment to the federal transportation funding bill would bar the use of federal money to place tolls on I-80. It was sponsored by Republican Congressman John Peterson and Phil English, who both serve districts that the highway passes through.

SCRANTON, Pa. (AP) - An alleged Scranton-area mobster who has drawn the interest of state gambling investigators has appeared before a grand jury in the state capital. A lawyer accompanying William D'Elia declined comment as he left the grand jury meeting room in Dauphin County Court yesterday. County prosecutors decline to comment on the grand jury
proceeding. In December, an attorney for D'Elia told The Associated Press that an investigator from the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board had contacted him. The attorney said that the investigator asked to interview D'Elia about whether he had any connections to a northeastern
Pennsylvania businessman who was applying for a slot-machine license.

CROSBY, Pa. (AP) - State prosecutors have charged Norfolk Southern with violating environmental laws in a train derailment last year that spilled harmful chemicals into a pristine trout stream. The Norfolk, Va.-based railroad company was charged yesterday with two counts of unlawful conduct and one count of polluting waters. The train derailed June 30th, 2006, near the village of Gardeau in rural north-central Pennsylvania. A chemical spill killed fish in several high-quality creeks, some as far as 30 miles downstream from the derailment. Norfolk Southern spokesman Rudy Husband says the company plans to work with the attorney general to resolve the issue.

MEADVILLE, Pa. (AP) - A 144-year-old fountain that started the transformation of a popular Meadville park from a cow pasture to a pastoral public setting has been dry since May.
The iron fountain is waiting for overdue renovations. The fountain was donated in 1863 by the son of a local judge, and was the first feature in what is known today as Diamond's Park.
A local historian says the area was initially used by drovers to rest their cattle. As the introduction of trains made this unnecessary, the area was turned into something more attractive. City official Joe Gigler says workers are applying epoxy to the fountain's pockmarked cement. Then it will be painted. He says the work should be complete within two weeks.

JOHNSTOWN, Pa. (AP) - Dozens of carrot-crunching, lettuce-munching vegetarians have descended for the 13th year on an unlikely town for their annual seminar. Johnstown is a former steel town known for its carnivorous habits. But it has played host to the Vegetarian Summerfest since 1994. The group uses the University of Pittsburgh's Johnstown campus.
The president of the North American Vegetarian Society, Jennie Kerwood, says the town 70 miles east of Pittsburgh is a convenient meeting place for the vegetarians, who mostly come from the northeast and Midwest. The five-day festival includes seminars, classes and other
social activities.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Today's News-Wednesday, July 25th

A Deer Lake man is in Schuylkill County Prison on charges that he had inappropriate sexual contact with a teenage girl. Schuylkill Haven state police report that on July 14th, 57-year-old Dean Elliott had inappropriate sexual contact with the girl at his home on Pine Boulevard in Deer Lake. He was charged with deviate sexual intercourse, indecent assault and corruption of minors. His arraignment took place at the county prison via videoconference. Elliott was unable to post bail of $30-thousand-dollars, and remains there today. His preliminary hearing is scheduled for next Tuesday.

An Orwigsburg man who attempted to set fire to the borough manager's home has had his hearing continued. The preliminary hearing for Carl Zehner was carried over yesterday, after he came to the hearing without counsel. The Republican and Herald says that Zehner did not have a public defender representing him because the public defender's office had not received an application. According to reports, Zehner is also looking for other legal representation.
Last week, Zehner allegedly threw a bottle of gasoline with a lit cloth fuse at the home of Michael Lonergan, Orwigsburg's borough manager. Zehner is charged with arson, reckless endangerment and other offenses. He remains in Schuylkill County Prison, in lieu of bail. Another hearing will take place at a later date.

Two Hamburg residents were hurt in a crash early this morning in West Brunswick Township.
Before 1am today, 20-year-old Ashley Bohn of Hamburg was northbound on Route 61 near Port Clinton when she was momentarily distracted. Her car slid across the highway and over the concrete divider, then continued across the southbound lanes. Bohn’s car went down an embankment and hit several trees. State police believe that Bohn was traveling at a high rate of speed. Bohn and her brother were both wearing their seatbelts, and had minor injuries.

One person had minor injuries in a four vehicle crash in North Manheim Township yesterday afternoon. The chain reaction crash happened when William Ellinger was stopped at a stop sign, attempting to turn left from Manheim Road onto East Main Street. A bee distracted Keith Runkle, who ran into Shelby Walton’s SUV. Walton’s car ran into Terry Kriner’s vehicle, which struck Ellinger's car. Ellinger complained of neck and knee pain. All vehicles had minor damage.

A Pottsville man who fought the legal system at every turn is going to prison on drug and weapons charges. 59-year-old John Philips is going to jail for 5 to 10 years for possessing drugs, carrying a firearm without a license and terroristic threats. That sentence was handed down yesterday by Schuylkill County Judge Cyrus Palmer Dolbin. The Republican and Herald reports that Philips, who professed himself to be a prisoner in the war on drugs, and showed blatant disregard for the legal system, taunted Dolbin to quote "throw the book at me." Philips has had problems with the law on a number of occasions, but was arrested in September of last year for growing marijuana at his Pottsville home. He also had a loaded weapon at the time of his arrest. In addition to jail time, Philips has to pay costs, restitution and submit a DNA sample, which he said he'll resist giving.

The Schuylkill County Idol competition has ended its sixth year. The three remaining contestants made their final attempts at impressing the audience and judges. All they can do now is wait. Each performer prepared 2 songs of his or her choice in addition to one song that was hand picked by the judges. The singers stepped up their performances in the final round by adding more energy and audience interaction. Francois Bessing of Brockton even wore an Elvis costume to go with his performance of Suspicious Minds. Bessing felt that the competition was his biggest motivator to push the envelope. Even the audience got caught up in this energy as they clapped along with the music and waved signs for their favorite contestants. The final results will be announced Monday, July 30th in center court of the Schuylkill Mall.

Vandals hit a radio tower in Schuylkill County. Sometime between June 29th and last Sunday someone broke into two storage sheds and the tower owned by the Schuylkill Amateur Repeater Club in Mahanoy Township. Police say the vandals caused damage to the electrical service to the tower, as well as lights, and windows in the sheds, an entrance gate and guide wire to the tower. Damages are estimated at one thousand dollars.

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (AP) - Taliban militants are claiming they shot and killed one South Korean hostage today in Afghanistan. But Western officials say some of the 23 Korean captives were freed and taken to a U-S military base. A South Korean news agency says eight
Koreans have been released.

WASHINGTON (AP) - A federal warning urges airport safety personnel to watch for terrorists practicing to carry bomb components onto planes. Security experts say there are mixed
messages. One says transportation authorities don't get the seriousness of the message. Another expert says the warning is just precautionary and there's no need to "be alarmed."

LONDON (AP) - British Prime Minister Gordon Brown wants to update England's anti-terrorism laws. He has told Parliament that police need more time to question suspects -- longer than the current 28-day maximum.

WASHINGTON (AP) - President Bush is getting recommendations on how to improve veterans care today. Poor conditions at Walter Reed medical center prompted the president to create a special panel to look into the issue. Officials say the final report does not seek to assign blame.

NEW YORK (AP) - Stock prices are surging on Wall Street this morning, recovering from yesterday's sell-off. The Dow was up 100 points, the Nasdaq and the S-and-P 500 were also showing gains. Strong earnings from Amazon-dot-com and Boeing helped trigger the

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Philadelphia residents gathered in the Wynnefield neighborhood last evening to protest malfunctioning security cameras. They blamed the lack of working cameras for an unsolved murder on Saturday. The head of the agency that operates the cameras says they weren't working because of lightning damage.

OAKDALE, Pa. (AP) - The Kelly Commissary is on its way to getting four (m) million dollars in federal funds that could help keep the facility running after the military closes the Charles E.
Kelly Support Center next year. Congressman Tim Murphy says the money is attached to a defense appropriations bill that is making its way through Congress.

EASTON, Pa. (AP) - Trial is under way in Easton for a 14-year-old boy charged with a gang killing. The prosecution says Qu'eed Batts was trying to rise in rank in a gang when he burst
onto a porch in February 2006 and opened fire, killing 16-year-old Clarence Edwards and wounding 18-year-old Cory Hilario as they tried to run inside.

EBENSBURG, Pa. (AP) - Cambria County prosecutors want a psychiatric evaluation for a mother accused of killing her newborn daughter. Jennifer McKendree, who is from Upper Yoder Township, is accused of placing her newborn in a plastic bag after giving birth in April 2006, in a bathroom at her parents' home in Johnstown.

ERIE, Pa. (AP) - Things are hopping at an Erie grocery. Bombarded by a sudden invasion of little white bunny rabbits, workers at the Tops Friendly Markets have spent the past 24 hours
trying to capture the furry creatures. Workers believe someone may have dumped the bunnies - 16 so far - in the woods behind the store.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Today's News-Tuesday, July 24th

A community is in mourning today following the death of a mother and son in a Cressona fire yesterday. The early morning fire gutted the Shaak family home at 75 Wilder Street, and took the life of Lisa Shaak and her 4 year-old son Joab. Shaak's husband James, 9-year-old Noah and Lisa's mother Sandy Spirko were all able to escape. James was taken to the hospital for treatment. The home was reportedly engulfed in flames when the alarm was called in after 2am. Lisa Shaak was apparently protecting her son from the smoke and flames in a second floor hallway when she was overcome. State police fire marshal John Burns determined that the fire originated in the basement of the home. Damages are estimated at $200-thousand-dollars. Fire crews from Schuylkill and Berks counties battled the blaze.

A Pottsville woman is charged with stealing money and other crimes from her Berks county employer. 26-year-old Patricia Ann Long is accused of various offenses after she submitted false invoices to her employer, JMH Trailers, of Hamburg. The invoices quoted work that was never performed. Long submitted the bogus bills for a non-existent company, and received over $16-thousand-dollars in the process. Long is also accused of having another check written out to her non-existent company for more than $40-thousand-dollars, but that check was not honored by the bank. She is also accused of taking more than $3-thousand-dollars in cash that she received on behalf of the company, which should have been deposited in the bank. The thefts took place from May to July of this year. Long voluntarily turned herself in and was arraigned yesterday on 6 felony and 8 misdemeanor counts. She was released on her own recognizance. Her preliminary hearing is scheduled for July 30th.

State police are looking for the persons who broke into a West Brunswick Township home yesterday. Troopers from Schuylkill Haven say that between 7 am and 9:45 last night, someone entered a home on Summer Valley Road by prying open a breezeway door. Once inside, the thieves rummaged through the home, removing several items and damaging others. They were gone from the scene when the owner's returned. The investigation continues.

The first day of Joe Snedeker’s "GO JOE" tour came to a wild conclusion in downtown Pottsville yesterday. Polka music, classic cars and a crowd of hundreds welcomed the WNEP weatherman to downtown Pottsville yesterday. Snedeker embarks on the Go Joe ride each year to raise money for St. Joseph's Center in Dunmore, a facility for those with severe mental and physical challenges. He is riding his bicycle across northeast and central Pennsylvania this week. Snedeker tells us that the idea started small, and he hopes that it will create a legacy for St. Joe's. The quirky weatherman was joined by meteorologist Tom Clark, and Pennsylvania Outdoor Life host Don Jacobs during the stop, which included live TV appearances during the evening’s newscasts. Mary Adams of Pottsville tells us that she watches Joe nearly every day and enjoys his antics. Today, Snedeker left Pottsville, riding to Knoebel's Amusement Resort in Elysburg for lunch, and ends his day in Lewisburg, Union County. GO JOE!

An Illinois man who was being transported by Shenandoah police threatened those officers Sunday night. 34-year-old Charles Horn was being taken to the Shenandoah police holding cell at the request of Frackville police. During transport, Horn shouted profanities at the police and threatened to kill the officer. In addition, Horn was kicking at the windows in the car. Captain Jamie Gennarini, who was driving the prisoner, pulled over and told Horn to settle down or he would spray him with pepper spray. Horn didn’t heed the warning, and was sprayed. At the station, Horn spit on one of the officers and had to be subdued before returning him to the cell. Horn was arrested by Frackville police Sunday night for public drunkenness. Frackville police asked Shenandoah PD for help, leading to the fracas. Horn is a construction worker who has been in the Frackville area for a while.

WHITE HOUSE (AP) - President Bush is heading to South Carolina today to make his case for giving his Iraq strategy more time. He's visiting Charleston Air Force Base to address airmen and watch a C-17 cargo jet be packed with supplies and equipment heading for Iraq.

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) - Democratic presidential candidates were in Charleston last night for another debate. This time they took questions from the public, submitted via YouTube. Some of the presentations were earnest, some bizarre. One political analyst sees the forum as a gimmick that might be necessary to hold interest in a long campaign.

BAGHDAD (AP) - Amid high-level security talks in Baghdad between the U-S and Iran, violence continues. At least two dozen people are dead and even more are hurt after a suicide bomber struck a busy commercial district in a Shiite city south of Baghdad.

WASHINGTON (AP) - The federal minimum wage goes up today. Workers now get paid at least five dollars, 85 cents an hour. That's a 70-cent increase. President Bush signed legislation in May that calls for minimum-wage jobs to pay at least seven dollars 25 cents an hour by 2009.

NEW YORK (AP) - Drew Carey: Come on Down. The comic tells David Letterman that he's replacing Bob Barker on "The Price is Right." Carey says he knows what a big responsibility it is to host the longest-running game show in American T-V and says he hopes to "keep it that way."

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - State Supreme Court Justice Thomas Saylor says his dissent against reinstating pay raises for elected judges reflected independent thinking. He says it wasn't a bid to enhance his chances of winning a retention vote this fall. He says he treated the pay raise case just as he treats any other case that comes before the court.

NEW YORK (AP) - Former N-B-A referee and Pennsylvania resident Tim Donaghy (DAHN'-uh-hee) is expected to surrender to authorities later this week or early next week. Donaghy is being investigated for betting on games he'd officiated, although he has not yet been charged with any crime. N-B-A Commissioner David Stern has called a news conference today.

MEADVILLE, Pa. (AP) - A Crawford County man convicted of having sex with a 13-year-old girl is facing a five- to 15-year prison sentence. Prosecutors say 43-year-old Brian Catalano of Cambridge Springs sexually assaulted the teenager at his home in July 2005. He also was found guilty of having sexual contact with a 12-year-old girl -- and giving alcohol to both girls.

SCRANTON, Pa. (AP) - A Lackawanna County Prison inmate is suing over how the prison staff responded when she went into labor. Shakira Staten says she pleaded for help for four hours yet was left to give birth alone. She's suing in federal court, alleging that the baby fell from her womb to the prison floor. A county commissioner says the jail staff did nothing wrong.

SOMERSET, Pa. (AP) - This week marks the fifth anniversary of the Quecreek Mine accident. Nine miners were finally rescued after spending 77 hours trapped below the surface of the earth. The miners became trapped by flooding water when they breached an abandoned mine. They had been relying on outdated maps which showed the mine was 300 feet away.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Today's News-Monday, July 23rd

Fire crews battled a blaze early this morning in Cressona. The call came in at 2:15am, to a home at the intersection of Cherry and Wilder Streets, in the vicinity of the Blue Mountain Elementary School-Cressona building. The night supervisor at the 9-1-1 Center told WPPA/T102 News that as of 4:30 am, crews were still on scene. In addition, a Schuylkill County Coroner was requested at the scene by Schuylkill Haven State Police. Stay tuned for more on this developing story.

Details are just coming to light about a theft on the internet. Schuylkill Haven state police say that last Monday, Mary Seibert of Orwigsburg told them that she was selling an X-box game system on the web via E-bay. Seibert received a bid from an individual in Nigeria. The game system was mailed to the buyer after she thought the transfer of money was made. She later learned that the account from which the money was sent, was fraudulent. The investigation is continuing.

A Delano man was hurt in a one-vehicle crash near Barnesville Sunday morning. Frackville state police say that 36-year-old Gary Steibler was driving his Hyundai SUV on Route 54 and the intersection of State Route 1017, and failed to make a sharp right turn. The car traveled across Route 54 and the parking lot of the Barnesville Post Office. The vehicle continued down an embankment, hitting several trees and rolling onto its passenger side. Steibler was flown to Lehigh Valley Hospital for treatment of his injuries. The crash happened around 1:30am Sunday. A St. Clair man is facing charges following two assault incidents Saturday.

21-year-old Nicholas Kurchock is alleged to have punched 19-year-old Ashley Martin in the face on East Laurel Boulevard in Pottsville. During a second confrontation at Martin’s home in St. Clair, Kurchock reportedly smashed her head against a wall at the home. Martin reportedly was bruised and had swelling to her face and head. Charges against Kurchock are pending the completion of the investigation.

Two people were severely injured when their motorcycle crashed yesterday afternoon in Wayne Township. Robert and Victoria Hindle of Middle River, Maryland were driving their Harley Davidson north on Route 183. A car was stopped to make a left turn onto Blue Mountain Road. Hindle tried to pass the stopped car on the right side, when just prior to passing, the car swung to the right to make the turn. The motorcycle hit a pipe on the berm of the road. Both of them were thrown from the bike, and went airborne. The couple sustained severe injuries and had to be flown to Lehigh Valley Hospital.

Motorists on Interstate 81 are reminded of continued work by road crews. PennDOT says that I-81 will be reduced to one lane between Exit 100 at Pine Grove and Exit 107 at the Tremont/Tower City exit until mid-August. The construction project includes concrete patching and road resurfacing. In addition, new line painting will take place and raised pavement markings and shoulder rumble strips installed. The single lane restriction is in place round the clock, and work will continue as the weather cooperates.

One of northeast Pennsylvania’s most recognizable faces will be in downtown Pottsville today. Its Joe Snedeker! The morning meteorologist from WNEP embarks on his annual Go Joe tour to raise money for St. Joseph’s Center in Dunmore, a facility for the severely mentally and physically challenged. His goal for this year’s trek will be to surpass the $1-million-dollar amount since he began the effort nearly a decade ago. His stop in Pottsville will be at the Schuylkill County Municipal Authority, South Centre Street, from 5 to 7:30pm. Area residents are encouraged to stop by and say hello to Joe. Go Joe the Tenth will wind its way across northeast and central Pennsylvania, returning to the Wyoming Valley on Saturday, July 28th.
WPPA and T102 will be out front of our studios as part of the fun today. GO JOE.

BAGHDAD (AP) - Despite stepped-up security, a busy Baghdad district frequently targeted by bombers has been hit again. At least a dozen people are dead in three separate car bombings this morning in Karradah. In southern Iraq, a roadside bomb missed a police patrol and killed a civilian.

BAGHDAD (AP) - With some prodding by Iraq's government, representatives of the U-S and Iran are to sit down for talks tomorrow in Baghdad. It's a followup to talks in May that
represented the first formal meeting between the two countries in 27 years. The U-S blames Iran for some of the violence in Iraq.

BOISE, Idaho (AP) - The situation in Idaho this morning is dead cattle, threatened ranches and a lot of scorched grazing area. A mammoth wildfire covers nearly 900 square miles of territory in Idaho and Nevada and is only about 15-percent contained. Still, no serious injuries have been reported.

SYDNEY, Australia (AP) - The government's top doctor in the fight against infectious diseases says the third world is losing the numbers game in the battle against H-I-V-AIDS. Doctor Anthony Fauci told a conference in Australia today there are six new cases for every one person entering treatment.

NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - A Texas League baseball coach has been killed at a game in Arkansas. Mike Coolbaugh of the Tulsa Drillers was hit in the head by a line-drive foul last
night in North Little Rock. He had stopped breathing by the time the ambulance got to the hospital and doctors were unable to revive him.

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. (AP) - Franklin County may be centuries behind in rent on two of its public buildings - having accumulated a debt of more than 200 roses. Benjamin Chambers, the founder of Chambersburg, first established the custom by requiring three churches that settled
there to give his family one flower a year in return for land. The congregations consistently have paid the annual floral rent to Chambers' descendants. But the county apparently has not. A 1784 deed transferring two lots for use as a county courthouse and jail also requires rent of
one rose a year. John George, a descendant of Chambers, said before he died earlier this month that the county owed his family more than 200 roses. Rose rent traditions date back to 15th-century Britain.

OCEAN CITY, N.J. (AP) - Police say two Pennsylvanians were among five people injured yesterday when an amusement park ride malfunctioned at the Jersey shore. According to police in Ocean City, the five received minor injuries on the "Log Flume" ride at Gillian's Wonderland Pier on the Boardwalk. The Pennsylvanians were identified as 27-year-old Travis
Lindenmoer and 23-year-old Danielle Summreil, both of Lehighton. Also injured were a 40-year-old New Jersey woman and two children. The victims were taken to Shore Memorial Hospital. There was no information immediately available on what happened to the ride, but police say it will remain closed until state officials determine the cause of the accident.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Police say five people were shot to death in Philadelphia over a span of six hours yesterday (Sunday), three of them after an argument in a neighborhood bar.
Police say a man opened fire shortly after midnight at Abay Wheelers Bar in the Kingsessing section of the city, killing three and injuring a fourth. In North Philadelphia shortly before 5 a-m, police say a man was shot several times in the chest and pronounced dead about half an
hour later. Police also say a man in the Wynnefield section of West Philadelphia was fatally shot in the head yesterday morning (Sunday). No suspects were immediately arrested in any of the shootings. The city has tallied more than 230 murders so far this year, and is on pace to record the highest number in a decade.

PITTSBURGH (AP) - Representatives of the Libertarian Party visited Pittsburgh over the weekend to consider the city as a possible location for the party's national convention in 2010 or
2012. Party officials say the gathering would be far smaller than similar events held by the Democrat and Republican parties, but that it could bring as many as one-thousand people to the city. Libertarian Party chairman William Redpath says a site for the 2010 convention would be chosen this year at the earliest, while the site of the 2012 convention would be selected sometime in 2008. The Libertarian Party was founded in 1971 and adheres to a limited-government ideology. It has more than 200-thousand registered members nationwide, including about 36-thousand in Pennsylvania.

PITTSBURGH (AP) - A motorcyclist crashed and was critically injured after fleeing police at speeds of at least 140 miles per hour. Authorities say 33-year-old David Webster of Fort Myers, Florida, was flown to Mercy Hospital in Pittsburgh after the accident in Clarion County on Saturday afternoon. State police say they initially clocked Webster riding his Kawasaki Ninja Z-X-10-R at 103 miles per hour westbound on Interstate 80, and that he refused to stop for a patrol car that was pursuing him. Webster then fled at higher speeds, traveling around and between other vehicles, before crashing on a ramp at exit 53. He faces charges of fleeing and eluding police, recklessly endangering other persons and multiple summary traffic offenses.

MOUNT PLEASANT, Pa. (AP) - Nearly 300 soldiers gathered Saturday in Westmoreland County for a ceremony honoring them for their year-long service in Iraq. The troops from the Pennsylvania Army National Guard 1st Battalion, 110th Infantry, were presented with commemorative flags, lapel pins, coins and medals during the ceremony at Mount Pleasant
Area High School. Three of the soldiers were awarded Purple Hearts. The battalion is based in Mount Pleasant, about 30 miles southeast of Pittsburgh. It comprises units from Mount Pleasant, Connellsville, Canonsburg, Friedens and Washington. The soldiers were deployed to Iraq in June 2005 and returned 12 months later.

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia have long been considered diseases of the young. But experts say in recent years more women have been seeking help in their 30s, 40s, 50s, and older. And some treatment centers are creating special programs for these more mature patients. People who study eating disorders suggest several reasons there might be more women over 30 seeking treatment for what is typically
a young woman's problem. They include growing public awareness, social pressure to be thin and an aging group of baby boomers. The Renfrew Center, a network of treatment centers in the eastern U-S, says about 20 percent of patients treated at its Philadelphia center in 2005 were 30 or older. Last year, about 13 percent patients were in that age group.

READING, Pa. (AP) - A spate of pit bull attacks in Reading may lead officials there to impose new restrictions on the dogs' owners. According to the Humane Society, Reading has tallied 32 dog bites this year, with about 60 percent by pit bulls. A city ordinance requires restrictions against a breed in the year after more than 30 dog bites occur and a particular breed is
responsible for more than 40 percent of them. The restrictions include keeping dogs of that breed muzzled and on chain leashes while outdoors. Nonsterilized dogs would require a
500-dollar permit. Dylan Heckart, the society's humane officer, said the restrictions will go into effect against pit bull owners in February unless City Council takes action. The most recent attack occurred Friday, when a pit bull bit a man and a police officer who went to help. Police shot and killed the dog after several unsuccessful attempts to subdue it.

BALA CYNWYD, Pa. (AP) - For all those moms who are jealous of their children's fun-filled days at summer camp, listen up. An entrepreneur in the Philadelphia suburbs is giving women an opportunity to take a break from the rat race. Take Five, a day camp for women, is Carole Blum's way to give harried women like herself a guilt-free way to spend some time focusing exclusively on themselves. But instead of making s'mores and weaving friendship bracelets,
adult campers can cook with renowned chefs, get massages and learn about fine wine.
Take Five is structured like a typical day camp, running from 9:30 a-m to 2:30 p-m, Monday through Thursday. It costs 100 dollars for a full day. The camp continues through August Ninth.

HOUSTON, Pa. (AP) - A Washington County man died Saturday after being thrown from his lawnmower and run over by the machine. Authorities say 74-year-old James Dellorso of Houston was riding the mower on a hillside on his property around 4:30 p-m when it
struck a rocky area, causing him to fall off. He was hit by the tractor and mower deck, but was able to walk about 100 feet to his truck and drove to a neighbor's house. An ambulance took him from the neighbor's house to Canonsburg Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 5:50 p-m. The Washington County coroner says Dellorso's death was accidental and the result of multiple blunt force trauma.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Today's News - Saturday July 21, 2007

POTTSVILLE - One of northeast Pennsylvania's most recognizable faces will be in downtown Pottsville on Monday. It's Joe Snedeker! The morning meteorologist from WNEP is embarking on his annual Go Joe tour to raise money for St. Joseph's Center in Dunmore, a facility for the severely mentally and physically challenged. His goal for this year's trek will be to surpass the $1-million-dollar amount. His stop in Pottsville will be at the Schuylkill County Municipal Authority, South Centre Street, from 5 to 7:30pm. Area residents are encouraged to stop by and say hello to Joe. Go Joe the Tenth will wind its way across northeast and central Pennsylvania, returning to the Wyoming Valley on Saturday, July 28th. WPPA and T102 will be out front of our studios as part of the fun. GO JOE.

SUMMIT STATION - It's just one more week until the 24th edition of the Schuylkill County Fair! The annual celebration of agriculture in Summit Station promises to be "Bushels of Fun" for the entire family. Whether you are searching out your favorite food, to learning more about agriculture, one of Schuylkill County’s economic drivers, or the top-notch entertainment, the Schuylkill County Fair will not disappoint. Some of the headlining acts this year include rock and roll greats the Grass Roots and Chuck Negron, formerly of Three Dog Night, the country sounds of Lee Greenwood and Jeff Bates, and local favorites, the VIH Band and Psycho Bettie. The Schuylkill County Fair is a great family value, with daily admission, including entertainment, just $9 dollars. Children under 12 are just $6 dollars. The fair opens with Preview Day on Sunday, July 29th, and closes Saturday night, August 4th.

POTTSVILLE - A man, accused of fraud and other crimes, was picked up in Georgia earlier this week. Pottsville Police Detective Glenn Dove reports that 29-year-old Jimmy Smith, whose last known address was on 2nd Street in the city, was arrested in Floyd County, Georgia, where he was being detained on outstanding felony warrants in Pennsylvania, including Pottsville and Schuylkill Haven. The incidents in question are from March 28th and April 20th, in which Smith is accused of taking mail from victim's homes, then using the information to make cash withdrawals or produce counterfeit checks on the accounts at a local bank. Smith is charged with forgery, access device fraud, identity theft and theft by deception. Pottsville police were aided by US Postal Inspectors. Smith was due to be arraigned in Federal Court in Georgia, then is to be extradited back to Pennsylvania.

WASHINGTON TOWNSHIP - A Washington Township man is in Schuylkill County Prison on drug possession charges. Wednesday evening, agents from the Schuylkill County DA's drug task force and Pennsylvania State Police, executed a search warrant at the home of 29-year-old Justin Currey, on Stony Top Road. The search of the residence uncovered several bags of marijuana, packaged for re-sale, and other drug paraphernalia. Currey was charged with possession and possession with intent to deliver marijuana, and associated offenses. He was arraigned and taken to Schuylkill County Prison.

SCHUYLKILL HAVEN - A Schuylkill Haven man who forged prescriptions in Carbon County learned his sentence this week. 47-year-old Mark Drey, who worked as a pharmacist in Lehighton, repeatedly forged prescriptions for erectile dysfunction drugs for himself avoided a criminal record this week when he was placed in a probation-without-a-verdict program. Drey who's in a 3 year drug treatment program, was also ordered to get a mental health evaluation, complete 30 hours of community service and make restitution at an amount to be determined by Carbon County probation officials. Drey worked for Eckerd Drugs, and apparently forged scripts for Viagra and Cialis, using doctor's names and a fictious man from Northampton, and an Eckerd pharmacy customer who had no idea what was going on. Drey is charged with theft, identity theft and forgery.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - A state Senate leader says investors are talking to Major League Soccer officials and state lawmakers about bringing a team to Chester. Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi says plans would involve building a 100 million dollar waterfront stadium. Pileggi says the talks are still in the preliminary stages and he's been asked not to identify members of the group. A league offical confirms that talks have been going on with potential investors for a franchise in the Philadelphia area. But he wouldn't identify the individuals involved or the exact locations being discussed.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Governor Ed Rendell has signed legislation aimed at making health care more accessible and less expensive for Pennsylvanians. Rendell calls it a good first step but says more work is needed to achieve full-fledged reform. One law is aimed at eliminating hospital-acquired and antibiotic-resistant infections. The other expands the scope of duties that can be performed by some medical professionals, including nurse practitioners, midwives and dental hygienists. The initiatives are part of the governor's broader "Prescription for Pennsylvania" agenda. It intends to reduce health care costs and improve the quality of care.

NEW YORK (AP) - Bookstores across the U-S and around the world welcomed eager readers young and old at the stroke of midnight, all waiting for the final book in the Harry Potter series. Twelve (m) million copies of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" have been printed for the U-S alone.

WHITE HOUSE (AP) - President Bush undergoes a routine colonoscopy today. The procedure will take place at the presidential retreat at Camp David, Maryland. While Bush is under anesthesia, Vice President Cheney will assume the powers of the presidency. Polyps were found in past tests.

WHITE HOUSE (AP) - President Bush and Congress continue to battle over Iraq. Democrats are pressing for a withdrawal. Bush says they're delaying action on much needed money to fight the war. Despite Bush's characterization of it as a must-pass funding bill, the war bill debated in the Senate this week is a policy measure.

NEPHI, Utah (AP) - A wildfire that has already burned thousands of acres in Utah is now threatening a small town. Residents from about two dozen homes in Indianola have been told to be ready to evacuate quickly. Dozens of wildfires are burning in the West, nearly half of them in Nevada and Idaho.

LA PLATA, N.M. (AP) - A 19-year-old woman is recovering from burns she suffered after her cigarette lighter sparked a blaze at a New Mexico gas station. Witnesses say Brianna Sanchez was fiddling with the lighter while pumping gas when flames shot out of the tank. The extent of her burns isn't known.

BAKER, La. (AP) - The C-D-C is going to begin testing trailers issued to hurricane victims by FEMA for high levels of formaldehyde. The move comes after government documents revealed government lawyers tried to hide reports of dangerous levels of fumes in the trailers.

NEW YORK (AP) - It could take several more days before cleanup of a steam pipe explosion in Manhattan is complete. City officials say businesses in the "frozen zone" could lose hundreds of (m) millions of dollars if the cleanup goes much beyond next week.

BERTHOUD, Colo. (AP) - A chlorine explosion at a water treatment plant in Colorado has injured four people and heavily damaged the facility. Fire officials say yesterday's explosion occurred because chemicals being unloaded were not compatible with others already at the plant.

UNDATED (AP) - The N-B-A acknowledges the F-B-I is investigating a referee for betting on games, including ones in which he officiated. Law enforcement officials say they're looking at whether Tim Donaghy made calls to affect the point spread in games he and associates had bet on.

HONOLULU (AP) - A tropical depression is expected to bring flooding, strong winds and high waves to Hawaii. The National Weather Service says it could dump up to ten inches of rain on the Big Island. Officials are warning people to be careful driving in the rain.

CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. (AP) - A Marine convicted of kidnapping and conspiracy to murder an Iraqi civilian won't have to serve any more jail time. Corporal Trent Thomas has been reduced in rank to private and given a bad-conduct discharge.

ABINGDON, Va. (AP) - Purdue Pharma and three of its executives have been ordered to pay a 634-and-a-half (m) million dollar fine for misleading the public about its risk of addiction to OxyContin. The pill, if crushed and then swallowed, snorted or injected, produces heroin-like effects.

LAGUNA NIGUEL, Calif. (AP) - Former Vice President Al Gore's son is now charged with possessing drugs including marijuana. A California prosecutor filed charges Friday against Al Gore the Third. Police say they found the drugs when they pulled him over for speeding on the Fourth of July.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Today's News-Friday, July 20th

A cooperative effort by several law enforcement agencies led to the arrest of a Philadelphia man on identity theft and other felonies. Pottsville police report that on May 25th, Jaime Reed's wallet was stolen from her purse. The Schuylkill Haven woman is employed by a Pottsville law firm. Her credit cards were used to make a substantial amount of purchases within minutes of it being stolen. On Wednesday of this week, 41-year-old Kevin Davis of Philadelphia was arrested on theft and related charges. He was initially arrested in Philadelphia and in Montgomery County for similar crimes. His arrest by Pottsville police was the result of a joint effort by the police departments and the Pennsylvania State Police Criminal Intelligence Center. Davis was arraigned by District Judge James Reiley for his various crimes and then taken back to Montgomery County Prison. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for August 3rd.

A man suffered minor injuries during a crash in Pottsville on Wednesday afternoon. Pottsville police say that 22-year-old Ashley Krise was entering the rear parking lot at Hadesty's Hardware on West Market Street when her car struck a vehicle driven by 82-year-old Albert Chesonis, who was near the exit of the store on West End Avenue. Both vehicles had to be towed from the scene. Krise refused medical treatment at the scene. Chesonis was taken to Pottsville Hospital. The crash happened around 4:50pm Wednesday.

A Tower City woman had moderate injuries when her car hit a tree in western Schuylkill County Wednesday afternoon. Lykens State Police say that 29 –year-old Lindsay Ressler was headed eastbound on State Route 325, approximately 2 miles from the Dauphin county line, when she lost control and struck a tree. The crash happened around 1pm Wednesday.
The historic transportation bill signed by Governor Rendell earlier this week will be positive for Schuylkill and Berks county, according to one state legislator. State Rep. Tim Seip said the transportation improvement plan, is projected to provide a 14 percent increase for Schuylkill and Berks counties respectively. Schuylkill County's funding plan will rise by over $90-thousand-dollars, and Berks, an increase of over $135-thousand-dollars. Seip commented that the money will help cut down on the repair backlog that has left six state bridges in Schuylkill and 19 in Berks structurally deficient. The backlog also includes delayed repair work on 136 miles of Schuylkill County roads, that are rated poor. The transportation plan avoids any new state taxes, according to Seip. The major sources of new transportation funding will be increased revenue from the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission and placing tolls on Interstate 80, where about 72 percent of the traffic is traveling through the state.

A Mount Carmel man is going to jail for torching his wife’s SUV, after sentencing in Schuylkill County Court Thursday. 47-year-old Steven Wolfgang was sentenced for arson and criminal mischief for setting fire to his wife Sherry Wolfgang's vehicle on state game lands in Eldred Township back in January. He pleaded guilty to those charges in May. The Republican and Herald reports that Wolfgang will spend 12 to 24 months in state prison, with credit for time served. He will also have to pay costs and restitution, plus give a DNA sample to law enforcement officials. His wife, Sherry, disappeared at that time. A body was found in June in Mahanoy Creek, but authorities have yet to identify that body. Wolfgang, while suspected in his wife's death, has not been charged.

A cooperative effort between two police departments in Schuylkill County has been finalized. Mahanoy Township and Gilberton can now share officers from each other’s police force, under the supervision of Gilberton's chief, Mark Kessler. According to the Republican and Herald, the departments actually started shared services in June. The arrangement allows for either municipality to get out of the agreement by written notice. Several new part time officers were hired, and an existing part time officer recommended for promotion as second in charge of the joint police department.

A hungry black bear made the rounds of bird feeders at some homes in Pottsville and neighboring North Manheim Township yesterday. State and Pottsville city police say that the bear was rummaging through the bird feeders, looking for the nuts and seeds that they love to eat, at a couple of homes in the Deerfield Drive area and on Glenworth Road. After the bandit raided the feeders and ate the contents, it went back into the woods. Residents are reminded to take down bird feeders, to lock up garbage cans and remove anything that might attract bears and other animals. Game commission officials say that bears will eat just about anything.

PENTAGON (AP) - U-S military commanders in Iraq are now pitching November not September as a key date for judging the success of the latest troop buildup. At the same time, the top U-S civilian in Iraq says Iraqis are gripped by fear as their government struggles
to meet security and political goals.

BAGHDAD (AP) - The war continues to claim the lives of coalition soldiers. The military says an American has died of wounds suffered yesterday when a bomb went off next to his vehicle in Baghdad. Three British soldiers were killed in an attack on their base in southern Iraq.

BOISE, Idaho (AP) - A seven-day forecast of hot, dry, windy weather in the West does not bode well for efforts to control wildfires burning in ten states. One of the fires, a 200-square-mile blaze in Idaho, has forced the evacuation of dozens of families from the town of Murphy Hot Springs.

SAO PAULO, Brazil (AP) - Officials investigating Tuesday night's jetliner crash in Sao Paulo, Brazil, think one of the plane's two thrust reversers had been turned off. The devices are used to slow down jets after they land. At least 189 people were killed.

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (AP) - Lindsay Lohan has been released on her own recognizance in Beverly Hills, California, in a drunken driving case. The 21-year-old celebrity turned herself in yesterday to be fingerprinted and photographed. Police say she crashed her Mercedes over Memorial Day.

PITTSBURGH (AP) - The word "public" is back in Pittsburgh schools. Following an outcry from parents and residents, Pittsburgh Public Schools Superintendent Mark Roosevelt says he will continue using the word as part of the district's commonly used name after unveiling a policy last week to drop the word "public" from Pittsburgh Public Schools in hopes of avoiding the negative attitudes and perceptions some people have about public schools.

WASHINGTON, Pa. (AP) - Washington County is getting a 90 (M) million-dollar retail outlet mall. Tanger Factory Outlets is scheduled to open next summer in South Strabane Township and will have 75 stores, including Banana Republic, Nine West, Nike, Brooks Brothers, Old Navy, Sketchers and American Eagle.

PITTSBURGH (AP) - P-N-C Financial Services Group says it has agreed to buy Sterling Financial for 565 (M) million dollars in cash and stock. P-N-C says the deal would make it central Pennsylvania's largest bank by deposits. The Pittsburgh-based bank is already one of the country's largest regional banks, with 126 (B) billion dollars in assets and 850 branches.

PITTSBURGH (AP) - A Butler County company that admitted it provided inadequate fall protection to a worker who plunged 48 feet through a skylight to his death has been fined 25-thousand dollars and sentenced to one year's probation. American Asbestos Control
Company of Cranberry Township pleaded guilty in April to one federal count of willful violation of Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulations for the April 2005 death of
27-year-old Saul Martinez of High Point, North Carolina.

JOHNSTOWN, Pa. (AP) - The owner of the now-closed Moxham Personal Care Home in Cambria County has been ordered to stand trial in connection with the death of a disabled resident who was left overnight on a hallway floor. Prosecutors say 50-year-old John
Anthony Senior could have saved the life of 47-year-old Gregory Hanks by calling 9-1-1 after Hanks had collapsed on the floor the evening of December 21st.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Today's News-Thursday, July 19th

The County Commissioners were asked during their workshop meeting Wednesday to approve a contract for professional services to assist in a County Planning and Zoning Office project. Urban Resource and Development Corporation, Bethlehem would be paid $97-thousand-600 dollars to provide assistance for the preparation of a comprehensive revision to the County Zoning Ordinance and maps. The County has received a state grant which provides for 50% of the total project costs. In other business, the Commissioners were asked to approve a fee for service and program funded contract with Schuylkill Community Action of Pottsville, for Bridge Housing, Emergency Shelter, Outreach Case Management and Project Care Services at a cost of more than $292-thousand-dollars. Pottsville's Goodwill Fire Company #4 will be honored at next weeks board meeting with a proclamation recognizing the Company on it 125th anniversary.

The County Commissioners have been asked to approve adding just over 176 acres of farmland to the county's land preservation program. County Conservation District Director Craig Morgan attended Wednesday's Commissioners work session to ask for approval to purchase agricultural easements for three properties, two in Wayne Township and one in Eldred Township for just over $176-thousand-dollars. The program is designed to preserve the most productive farmland by purchasing perpetual agricultural conservation easements. The easements prevent future development on the land. The County pays farmland owners $1,000 per acre for the easements but Morgan said consideration should to given to increase that amount. Commissioner Chairman Frank Staudenmeier said the county provides a 50-50 match for funds from the State's Growing Greener Program and has between $250 to $300-thousand-dollars left in county funds for the program. He said the county will be applying for more Growing Greener funds to continue purchasing easements. Morgan said almost 8-thousand-acres of land is now under the county program.

Two Schuylkill Haven residents had their bank account defrauded by a Hamburg teenager.
Carl Boger and Michelle Melcher contacted state police about unauthorized withdrawals from their checking account for just about $45 dollars. Further investigation determined that the teen recently bought a car from the victims. There was information inside of the car about their bank account, and the teen used that information to make purchases on the internet, at his home in Upper Bern Township. The teen will be charged with various fraud and identity theft charges. They will be processed through the Berks County Juvenile Justice System.

With the 2007-2008 school year drawing nearer, the Pottsville Area School District continues to make preparations for the start of school. At Wednesday night's board meeting, members presented topics such as newly hired positions, salaries and facility requests. Positions for professional positions such as nurses, psychologists and therapists were filled. The board approved bids for fall sports equipment and supplies. The board also discussed that various opportunities that kids have during the summer, including splash parties and hoopfests at the JFK complex. The Majestic Theatre also opened their doors to children with kids movie nights.
The Pottsville School Board acknowledged the 5 percent increase in basic subsidy funding from the state under the new budget signed earlier this week by Governor Ed Rendell. The funding amounts to just over $11-point-1 million dollars.

Five people had minor injuries in a crash yesterday afternoon in Mahanoy Township. Frackville state police report that William Alonis of Frackville was driving on the Frackville-Morea Road when he traveled into the intersection of Route 54 and into the path of a car driven by Andrew Leibenguth of Tamaqua. Alonis was taken to the hospital for treatment. Leibenguth and his three passengers all chose to seek medical attention on their own.

The County Prison Board Wednesday approved the hiring of three new correctional officers to replace three who are retiring. The three new officers are Timothy Doyle and Michael Galavage of Pottsville and Robert Selgrade of Shenandoah. The three retiring officers are Merle Wertman, William Laudeman and Howard Pollman. Prison Warden Eugene Berdanier said the three new Officers will begin their duties after the normal hiring process is completed.

A Pottsville man is charged with trespass following several instances of sneaking into a city home to find shelter. Pottsville police say that 18-year-old Kevin Smith had reportedly entered the home of Deborah Mullins on Hornung Street several times to find shelter. He was warned that if he was found there again, he would be arrested. Smith is charged with a felony and misdemeanor counts of criminal trespass. He was taken to Schuylkill County Prison, being unable to post the $15-thousand-dollars, percentage bail.

WASHINGTON (AP) - Members of Congress have one private meeting and one public one today on Iraq. They're getting a classified briefing from a top commander and the U-S ambassador. Ambassador Ryan Crocker also gives a progress report to a Senate committee.
He's expected to urge senators to give the troop surge more time.

BAGHDAD (AP) - Two American soldiers in Iraq have been accused of murder. They're charged in the death an Iraqi last month in Kirkuk. A lieutenant colonel has been relieved of his command in connection with the investigation.

KASHIWAZAKI, Japan (AP) - There's a report in Japan today that regulators have discovered another radioactive leak at a nuclear power plant damaged in this week's earthquake. Inspectors say the leak was a small one and poses no hazard to the public.

NEW YORK (AP) - Some people who heard the steam pipe explosion in midtown Manhattan during the evening rush hour say they were sure it was a terror attack. But New York's mayor says it was a failure of the city's infrastructure. Streets near the site remain closed but some subway lines are running again.

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland (AP) - It's cold and raining in Carnoustie (kar-NOO'-stee), Scotland, where Tiger Woods has teed off in search of a British Open three-peat. K.J. Choi, who's won twice on the P-G-A tour this year, birdied four of the first six holes to take an early lead.

READING, Pa. (AP) - A woman shot while working at a McDonald's drive-through in Reading has died. Forty-year-old Shawnee Koch died Wednesday evening at Reading Hospital, hours after being shot in the head. There were several other people inside the restaurant at the
time Koch was shot, but no one else was hurt. This is the same McDonald's drive-through where a 20-year-old customer was surrounded by five men and shot repeatedly in 2004.
Police said they believed Jason Stief was targeted because he'd given a statement to police that helped them arrest a suspect in the shooting death of his neighbor eleven days earlier.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Authorities have broken up an extensive gun trafficking network in which guns were stolen from homes in the Philadelphia suburbs and then sold illegally in Philadelphia and Norristown. Police charged seven suspects in connection with more than 40
burglaries in Montgomery, Chester and Berks counties. One of them is from Philadelphia, while the rest are from the suburbs. Authorities say the gang stole cash, jewelry, electronics and
more than 50 guns over an eight-month period, then sold them on the streets. Some of the guns have been confiscated from a house in Philadelphia, but prosecutors say there are still more than 30 guns out there. Police learned about the break-in after one of the suspects
bragged to friends he was part of a burglary ring.

WASHINGTON (AP) - About two-thousand I-R-S employees in Philadelphia are to lose their jobs in September. It's because the paper processing they do is being taken over by
electronic filing. Now Senator Bob Casey is trying to force the I-R-S to hire the workers for jobs in debt-collecting positions done by private contractors. Casey says private collectors return four-dollars for every dollar spent, while I-R-S employees collect 15-dollars for every
dollar spent. Paper processing work is also scheduled to end in 2009 at an I-R-S center in Andover, Massachusetts. Both of that state's senators are joining in Casey's effort.
A Philadelphia-based I-R-S spokesman, declined to comment on the senators' effort. But he says the agency has been working to find new jobs for affected employees.

PITTSBURGH (AP) - Verizon Communications says it hopes to deliver television programming over its fiber-optic network to several Pittsburgh-area municipalities by year's end. The company has announced it is close to reaching franchise agreements with 19 municipalities in Pittsburgh's northern and southern suburbs. Those agreements are necessary before Verizon can begin offering the service. A Verizon spokesman says the company expects to offer its Fi-OS T-V service to more than one hundred thousand households in the Pittsburgh area. The move is expected to intensify competition between Verizon and local cable providers, especially Philadelphia-based Comcast.

ERIE, Pa. (AP) - An Erie-based plastics company is shutting down, eliminating 150 jobs in an already economically depressed part of the state. O-E-M-Erie is a plastics industry leader that specializes in parts for the auto industry. The company has transferred its work to Plastech Engineered Products in Detroit. Patricia Birch, O-E-M's director of human resources, says some
of the Erie workers have been offered a chance to transfer, but all the positions in the city are being eliminated. She says O-E-M has implemented cost-cutting measures and other
policies in the past year to try and save the company, but failed.

COUDERSPORT, Pa. (AP) - Empereon Marketing will open a customer contact center in Coudersport, near the New York State border, bringing at least 450 jobs to the area over the next three years. Empereon Marketing is a telemarketing company that does outsourcing for cable television operators and other big companies. Hiring will begin next month. Travis Bowley, Empereon's chief executive officer, says the company was attracted to Coudersport because of the area's pool of skilled customer service employees. Governor Ed Rendell says the state lured the firm with a 450-thousand dollar grant and a series of low-interest loans.

WASHINGTON (AP) - Members of the U-S House Judiciary Committee are seeking more details about the prosecution of Doctor Cyril Wecht. Wecht resigned as Allegheny County coroner last year after being indicted on charges of theft, mail fraud and wire fraud. The case
has not yet gone to trial. Four Democratic committee members sent a letter to Attorney
General Alberto Gonzales requesting more information about the case. They say they want to know if the Wecht case and two others are "part of a pattern of selective, political prosecutions."
Wecht is well known for his private consulting work that includes such celebrity deaths as Elvis Presley and JonBenet Ramsey.

ERIE, Pa. (AP) - Court papers allege that the man killed in the suburban Erie collar-bombing had his neck measured for the device. The search warrant unveiled yesterday (Wedenesday) says pizza deliveryman Brian Wells also met with the people charged in the case at least a month before he died. Wells was killed after robbing a P-N-C Bank in Summit Township
in 2003, when a bomb fastened around his neck blew up. He told police before it exploded that he was an unwilling participant. He said the collar was placed on him against his will when he was accosted while delivering pizza. Authorities now say Wells worked with 58-year-old Marjorie Diehl-Armstrong and 53-year-old Kenneth Barnes. Wells' family insists he didn't know the suspects.

AKRON, Ohio (AP) - Donna Moonda is getting life without parole -- not the death penalty -- for the murder-for-hire of her husband. The Hermitage (Pennsylvania) woman got her lover to kill her wealthy husband by promising him half of the multi-(m)-million-dollar estate. Her lover, Damian Bradford, was the star witness against her and got 17-and-a-half years. The jury's decision came yesterday (Wednesday) afternoon after jurors asked the judge if there were any other options besides death or life without parole. The judge told jurors that those were
the only choices.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Two Moldovan teenagers brought to Philadelphia to testify against a man accused of "sex tourism" faltered on the stand. One was unable to identify the defendant in the crowded courtroom yesterday (Wednesday). The other said he couldn't remember if a second encounter with 44-year-old Anthony Mark Bianchi occurred before his 16th birthday. That's relevant because prosecutors say 16 is the age of consent in child-sex cases --
although the defense argues that it's 15. Earlier, two other teens testified that Bianchi invited them to his room in a boarding house on separate occasions and caressed them. One said Bianchi performed oral sex on him and gave him about 16 dollars' worth of local currency the next day.

WASHINGTON (AP) - Newly released F-B-I documents tell a story of a plot allegedly discussed by mobsters in the Lewisburg (Pennsylvania) federal penitentiary in 1979.
The documents describe mobsters planning to kill Warren Burger, then the chief justice of the U-S Supreme Court. It was unclear if it was anything more than idle chitchat, but the inmates were big names in two of New York City's Mafia families and a Montreal don. That made the plot plausible enough that F-B-I headquarters in Washington approved going to mobsters in seven U-S cities, including Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. The idea was to warn them off doing anything rash that they might come to regret. The plot was first reported by a Montreal newspaper, The Gazette. It remains unclear why Burger might have been targeted.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Former President Bush has presented his World War Two service revolver to the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia. Bush had given the gun to a lieutenant 60 years ago after a submarine rescued him. He had been piloting a fighter plane that
was shot down. The late lieutenant's son returned the .38-caliber Smith-and-Wesson to the former president yesterday (Wednesday). Bush in turn presented it to the Constitution Center, where it will permanently be on display. The Constitution Center is a nonprofit organization founded in 2003 dedicated to increasing public understanding of the Constitution. Bush serves as the chairman of the board of trustees for the center, and has been involved with it since its creation.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Merchants at a Philadelphia farmers' market are planning a rally in support of a cheesesteak stand. Rick's Steaks is being forced out of the Reading Terminal Market in favor of another cheesesteak shop. The Reading Terminal Market Merchants Association is designating Saturday as "Save Rick's, Save the Market Day," as it tries to
keep Rick's Steaks from having to leave by July 31st. Last month, market management refused to renew Rick Olivieri's lease. Olivieri says they're retaliating against him because he
often clashed with management as president of the merchants association. Market management denies this, saying it wants a "premier" cheesestak shop in. Olivieri is the grandson of Pat Olivieri, who founded the first cheesesteak shop with his brother in 1933.

SHANKSVILLE, Pa. (AP) - The U-S Postal Service says it will offer another Flight 93 pictorial postmark honoring the 40 passengers and crew. The postmark will be available for 30 days only at the Shanksville post office, starting on the sixth anniversary of the September Eleventh, 2001, terror attacks. The postmark will bear the image of the Thunder Bell, located at
the Flight 93 Memorial Chapel near the crash site. It would be the fifth Flight 93 pictorial postmark offered at the post office. The postmark can be obtained by mail or in person.
Last year, the post office got seven thousand requests for the postmark bearing the image of the Flight 93 crew monument, also located at the chapel.