Friday, August 31, 2007

Today's News-Friday, August 31st

36 students avoided injury, but a Pine Grove man was hurt in a bus and car collision yesterday afternoon in Pine Grove Township. A bus carrying Pine Grove Middle and High School students was stopped in the westbound lane of Route 443 to drop three students off at their homes. Driver Rose Newswanger had the red visual signals and crossing arm activated at the stop.
89-year-old George Nichols was also driving west on 443 and did not see the bus and was unable to stop in time, rear-ending it. Nichols was trapped in his car and had to be removed by emergency personnel. He had to be flown to Hershey Medical Center for treatment. The investigation into the crash continues.

An early morning fire damaged a home in New Boston this morning. The alarm came in around 3:30am for reports of a blaze at 340 Roosevelt Drive. Schuylkill County 9-1-1 says that three companies from Mahanoy City, along with fire crews from Frackville and Ryan Township responded. One person is reported injured, but circumstances surrounding that are unknown right now. One fire truck remained on scene as day broke to watch for hot spots.

A St. Clair man is suspected of driving under the influence, and causing a crash yesterday.
During Thursday rush hour, 40-year-old Elbert Wagner was southbound on Route 61 near Arch Street when his car rear-ended an SUV driven by Kevin Ebner. The impact forced Ebner's car into the jeep of Amanda Grabusky of Orwisgburg. Wagner was taken to Pottsville Hospital for chemical testing, as he was suspected of being under the influence. Ebner was taken to the hospital, complaining of minor injuries. Grabusky was not hurt.

Students at Panther Valley will apparently start school on schedule Tuesday even though cleanup efforts continue on an oil spill at their new middle school. Officials from the district say that the 6-thousand-gallon fuel oil spill from an underground tank continues to be mopped up, and air monitoring will continue at the site in Carbon County. Officials from DEP and Carbon County Emergency officials met with school officials last night. The spill happened about a week ago when contractors pounding a stake to install forms for concrete sidewalk blocks at the new school punctured an underground pipe. No one knew the pipe had been pierced, and the fuel followed a trench drain behind the high school. The crash tied up traffic on Route 61 south for about an hour for cleanup.

A big weekend kicks off today in northern Schuylkill County. The Upper Schuylkill Downtown homecoming festivities offer something for the young and young at heart in the host communities through Monday, Labor Day. A special dinner theatre will start the weekend at 6 this evening at the Mahanoy City Elks, featuring a performance of “Our Town, Your Home, One Heritage”, a look at Schuylkill County history with drama, comedy and song. Breakfast and a farmer’s market opens the day tomorrow in Ringtown, and the musical entertainment of Jay Smar. The borough of Ashland hosts their annual ABA Mummer’s parade and celebrate’s their 150th anniversary. Numerous activities highlight the day Saturday. Girardville, Shenandoah and Ashland host a variety of events during the day and evening Sunday. There are also events planned for Labor Day as well. For a complete list of events, log on to

A Schuylkill County native, who’s been an extremely successful collegiate soccer coach, will be honored Saturday. Butler Township native Joe Bean, who is the nation’s winningest collegiate men’s soccer coach, will be honored Saturday afternoon during the Twin Valley Cup Soccer Tournament at North Schuylkill. Bean, who graduated from Butler Township High School in 1957, has racked up 607 wins over 44 coaching seasons, with 38 years at Wheaton College in Illinois. His impressive record also includes 66 consecutive match wins. His team won NCAA Division Three championships in 1984 and 1997. He was recently inducted into the National Soccer Coaches Association of America Hall of Fame. Bean, and his wife, will be honored during ceremonies at approximately 12:45pm Saturday afternoon. Welcome home to Joe Bean.

It’s the last getaway weekend of the summer. It’s also time to drive defensively. PennDOT Secretary Allen Biehler and State Police Commissioner Jeffrey Miller are encouraging motorists to drive safely and allow extra time for travel during the busy Labor Day weekend. Motorists are reminded that with heavier traffic than usual, they should be aware of posted speed limits, wear their seatbelts, restrict cell phone usage while driving and of course, don’t drink and drive.
According to PennDOT, 1,168 crashes and 13 fatalities occurred during last year’s Labor Day driving period, with alcohol involvement accounting for 190 of those crashes and seven fatalities. In an effort to enhance road safety and protect motorists, the Pennsylvania
State Police will be conducting DUI checkpoints and roving patrols. PennDOT will remove lane restrictions on interstates, including the work zone on Interstate 81 and other high-volume expressways when possible, but restrictions cannot be lifted on some larger projects. Motorists can visit PennDOT’s Web site at and click on “Traveler Information” to find links to interstate travel advisories and weather conditions.

A Girardville man will be charged following an incident in the borough Wednesday. State police say that 46-year-old John Skinner struck 40-year-old Edward Devaney of Girardville in the face during an altercation on Main Street midday Wednesday. Skinner faces charges of harassment.

LONDON (AP) - A Boston woman is among those gathered in London today, remembering Princess Diana, on the 10th anniversary of her death. Arlene Fitch says Diana touched lives around the world. A memorial service will be held near Buckingham Palace, organized by
her sons, Princes William and Harry.

FRESNO, Calif. (AP) - A funeral service is scheduled in California today for the second son a family has lost to the war in Iraq. Twenty-one-year-old Army Corporal Nathan Hubbard died in a helicopter crash August 22nd. His older brother died there in 2004. A third brother is home from Iraq duty.

WHITE HOUSE (AP) - President Bush holds a meeting about Iraq today, in a secure Pentagon conference room, with his defense secretary and the joint chiefs. It's expected they'll tell him
exactly what their worries and recommendations are about keeping troops in Iraq through next year and beyond.

WHITE HOUSE (AP) - President Bush today is expected to offer suggestions and talk of initiatives to help people who are having trouble keeping up with their mortgages. A senior official says the president is also expected to talk about ways to keep people from getting into trouble with risky loans in the first place.

NEW YORK (AP) - Gas prices may be about a dime cheaper than a year ago, but AAA says fewer Americans plan to travel by car this Labor Day weekend. More people are expected to fly this year, in spite of record flight congestion and delays.

CHESTER, Pa. (AP) - The search is to resume in Chester this morning for the father of basketball star Jameer Nelson. Floyd "Pete" Nelson was reported missing from his job as a
dock worker Thursday around noon. Authorities fear that he fell into the Delaware River near Front Street and Highland Avenue, just south of the Commodore Barry Bridge. A search of the river was halted last evening because of darkness and poor visibility. It is expected to resume this morning at daybreak. Floyd Nelson, a Vietnam War veteran, wrote a book about his
son's basketball career in 2004. It was simply titled "Jameer. Jameer Nelson was a basketball standout at Chester High School and with the St. Joe's Hawks. He was drafted in 2004 by the Orlando Magic.

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - A state court will hear arguments today over whether Pennsylvania should halt firearms sales for three days. Governor Ed Rendell's administration says it's neccessary to allow an upgrade of a computerized background check system. More than two dozen gun dealers are asking Commonwealth Court to block the shutdown scheduled from 6 o'clock Sunday evening until 6 o'clock Wednesday evening. Some state lawmakers have protested the shutdown in part because it coincides with the first few days of dove and Canada geese hunting season.

BROCKWAY, Pa. (AP) - A Falls Creek serviceman who died last week in Iraq is to be buried today in Brockway in Jefferson County. The funeral for 33-year-old Army Sergeant First Class Michael Tully is at 11 this morning at the Beechwoods Presbyterian Church with the Reverend Jean Martin officiating. Tully died of wounds from a roadside bomb southeast of Baghdad.

FORT BRAGG, N.C. (AP) - An Army captain from Allegheny County died in Iraq this week after an insurgent attack. The military says 29-year-old Captain Erick Foster of Franklin
Park died ysterday of injuries sustained when his unit was attacked by insurgent small arms fire. Foster was with the 82nd Airborne Division based at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
He graduated from North Allegheny High School in 1996 and Duquesne University in 2000, after which he joined the Army. Foster is survived by his parents, Robert and Barbara Foster,
and sister Abby Foster, all of Franklin Park. Another sister, Elizabeth Werkheiser, lives in South Kirkwood, Missouri.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - One-year-old Delaware twins conjoined at the abdomen have been successfully separated at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. Doctors say Matthew and Andrew Goodman of Seaford, Delaware, are recovering after a 15-hour surgery. The twins, who had shared a liver, pancreas and other organs, could face a lengthy recovery.

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - The state Insurance Department says it will allow up to 35,000 uninsured adults on a waiting list for state-subsidized health insurance an opportunity to enroll in the program. Department spokeswoman Rosanne Placey says the latest effort to
increase the number of working adults covered by the adultBasic insurance program will reduce the current waiting list to 76,000 people. More than 44,000 adults are currently enrolled in the
program. People covered by adultBasic pay a monthly premium of 33 dollars, 50 cents.
Placey says the department will extend benefits to anyone who applied for them before April 30th, 2006.

WEST CHESTER, Pa. (AP) - A man convicted of running a major drug ring in Chester County has been sentenced to more than 150 years in prison and fined more than four million dollars.
He is 37-year-old Oscar Lugo, who was convicted of 63 counts of drug distribution and 30 counts of possessing drugs with the intent to deliver, among other offenses. Authorities say the drug ring Lugo ran was responsible for selling as much as 60 percent of the cocaine in Chester County until a series of arrests in April 2004. The judge ruled yesterday (Thursday) that Lugo's sentence can run concurrently with the 12-year term he is already serving in
Delaware. The judge says it doesn't make any difference since Lugo can't possibly live long enough to finish his sentence.

PITTSBURGH (AP) - A man has been convicted of starting a fire in a Pittsburgh apartment building that killed three people in 1993. A jury convicted 43-year-old Daniel Carnevale yesterday of three counts of second-degree murder, aggravated assault, arson and other
charges. Prosecutors say Carnevale was a drug addict who raided mailboxes in apartment buildings looking for checks he could cash. They say he set the fire to cover up his crime.
Twenty-three-year-old Christopher Stahlman died when he leapt from the third-floor window to escape the flames. Sixty-three-year-old Florence Lyczko and 31-year-old Anita Emery
died of smoke inhalation. Carnevale was arrested last year in California. His attorney
said he was shocked by the verdict.

LOCK HAVEN, Pa. (AP) - A state trooper from the barracks in Lamar, Clinton County, is charged with rape. Prosecutors say 39-year-old Richard Keener of Bellefonte raped a
female acquaintance after accompanying her home following a night out at a tavern last year.
Keener has been suspended without pay. Court papers say Keener met the woman and a female friend at a bar in Lock Haven late on May 16th, 2006, then accompanied them back to the victim's apartment early the next morning. Police say Keener bit the woman numerous times during the assault.

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Asthma patients, doctors and activists have urged U.S. Environmental Protection Agency officials to tighten smog standards. They said at hearings in Philadelphia and Los Angeles that the EPA should protect the public from ailments caused by dirty air.
Industry officials appeared at hearings in both cities yesterday to urge officials to retain the current standard. An official from the National Association of Manufacturers said at the Philadelphia hearing that the current standard is working. He says it helped produce an average 21 percent decline in ozone levels from 1980 to 2006.

PITTSBURGH (AP) - A judge has revoked the sale of the Le-Nature's bottling plant in Latrobe to Giant Eagle. The judge says the grocery chain intimidated Cadbury Schweppes Beverage Group into dropping out of the bidding. So he ordered that the plant be sold to Cadbury Schweppes. Giant Eagle says it did nothing wrong and will appeal. Cadbury Schweppes has told the judge it no longer wants to buy the plant and will sell it if forced to go through with the

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Governor Ed Rendell says he plans to keep the nearly $40,000 he got in 2005 and 2006 from a fundreaiser who's now a fugitive. Norman Hsu is wanted in California for failing to appear for sentencing on a 1991 grand theft charge. Many prominent Democrats are scrambling to distance themselves from the fundraiser. Describing Hsu as a friend, Rendell said he never asked for anything in exchange for his generosity. Rendell says Hsu held political fundraisers and maintained a high profile during the 16 years that authorities supposedly have been looking for him.

SCRANTON, Pa. (AP) - Sameh Khouzam, a Coptic Christian, says he fled Egypt eight years ago to escape religious persecution in his homeland. Egypt calls him a convicted murderer and wants him back to face justice. Khouzam's fate is in the hands of a federal judge after a
hearing yesterday in Scranton to determine whether he can be deported. Earlier this year, U.S. officials agreed to hand Khouzam to Egypt being assured that he will be treated humanely upon his return. A government lawyer says relations with Egypt will break down if the U.S. doesn't take the word of Egyptian diplomats. But Khouzam's lawyers say he will almost certainly be tortured if he is sent back to the overwhelmingly Muslim nation. He was convicted in absentia of killing a woman, but his lawyers contend that's a sham.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - When the musical "Assassins" opens in Philadelphia, a small piece of tissue from John Wilkes Booth is to be displayed in the theater's lobby. The tissue fragment from President Lincoln's killer is believed to have come from the cervical region of his neck. It's to be displayed in a small glass jar. And in a twin bill, theatergoers will also be able view a piece
of the brain of the lesser-known presidential assassin Charles Guiteau. He's the man who killed President Garfield in 1881. The specimens will be on loan to the Arden Theatre from
Philadelphia's Mutter Museum, which boasts a large collection of medical oddities. They're only to be displayed for the musical's opening night on September 19th.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Today's News-Thursday, August 30th

Early morning burglars robbed a Mahanoy Township service station yesterday. Township police say that after midnight, two white males, faces covered with ski masks, broke a side window at Grutza's Service Station and entered the shop. Once inside, they took $18-hundred-dollars in cash, a computer system worth $9-thousand-dollars, cartons of cigarettes and a cash register. The Republican and Herald reports that the pair, both estimated to be between 5 feet, 11 inches and 6 feet, one inch tall, fled on some sort of off-road vehicle. Owner John Grutza discovered the burglary when he arrived for work at 7am. The service station was broken into about a decade ago.

A woman and her son escaped from a fire in Pottsville Wednesday morning, thanks to a smoke detector. 21-year-old Melissa Potter found flames about a quarter to seven yesterday in her North Centre Street home. She quickly picked up her 5-month-old son Jayden Redd and called 9-1-1. When fire crews arrived, there was heavy smoke eminating from the second story. Quick work by firefighters kept the blaze contained to one room, but there was some smoke, water and heat damage to other parts of the house. The initial cause is believed to be accidental, but the investigation is continuing. Damages are estimated at around $10-thousand-dollars.

From the battlefield to the homefront, a Schuylkill County serviceman is helping to make a difference in Iraq. Lt. Colonel Robert Balcavage, a native of New Ringgold, is serving as an officer with the 1st Battalion, 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, serving in Jurf as Sakhr (Jurf a Sucker), Iraq, as part of Operation Gecko. WPPA/T102 spoke with Balcavage yesterday via satellite phone from Iraq. He explains the mission: BALCAVAGE 1
He has been in country since October of last year. He said that the Iraqi army and police are working hard to rid their community of Al-Qaeda fighters who have made their lives difficult. Balcavage said that Iraqis realize that coalition forces will not be there forever to protect them:
The Tamaqua High School graduate entered the Army as an enlisted man, and was given the unique opportunity to attend the US Military Academy at West Point, and became an officer upon completion. He commands a unit of 800 Army personnel. He expects to rotate out of Iraq later this year, and will return to his home base at Fort Richardson, Alaska. In the next week or so, you will be able to hear the entire interview with Lt. Colonel Robert Balcavage on our websites, wpparadio-dot-com (t102radio-dot-com).

People continue to flock to Minersville to view an image on a garage door that some believe is a sign from above. Crowds gather late in the day to view the image at a Lewis Street garage, some believing that God is trying to send a message in the form of the Virgin Mary. Others think its just the way that the sun shines on the door. Whatever people believe it is, it has garnered quite a bit of attention over the past two weeks. According to the Republican and Herald, the image appears around 6pm daily, and has been occurring since August 15th, the observance of the Feast of the Assumption of Mary. Visitors have been gathering to touch the image, while others say prayers, lay flowers on the ground or recite the Rosary.

A Schuylkill County legislator's constituents are taking full advantage of the state's property tax and rent rebate program. State Representative Neal Goodman of the 123rd District reports that his district has more people collecting the maximum property tax and rent rebate than any other district in the state. Goodman mentioned that fact during a property tax reform hearing in Pottsville last week. Goodman said that his district has over 7-thousand households that qualify for the maximum rebate. He believes that getting the word out about the program has resulted in the success. Changes to the state’s property tax and rent rebate were made as a part of Act 1 last year. The deadline for filing has been extended to December 31st.

A Pitman family farm has received loan funds to help them expand and purchase equipment.
The Hepler Family were presented with a check for $160-thousand-dollars for a building and equipment expansion project from the First Industries Agricultural Program, with the assistance of the Northeastern Pennsylvania Alliance. The project totals more than $400-thousand-dollars. The Hepler family farm has been operated by seven generations of the family, dating back more than 200 years. The Hepler's run a dairy and grow feed crops for the animals. The funding will help them expand their milking operation and to construct an additional barn. The Northeastern Pennsylvania Alliance offers a variety of financing programs for businesses.

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Virginia Tech waited too long to warn faculty and students after a student gunman killed his first two victims. That's according to an investigative panel's report on the April shooting rampage that killed 32 people, plus the shooter. Virginia's governor and the panel chairman hold a news conference today.

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - Rescuers in Utah today expect to drill through to a chamber where six missing miners may have gone when the mine caved-in. The plan is to lower a robotic camera down the hole to look for signs of life. Officials say they're hoping for a miracle.
BOSTON (AP) - Two Boston firefighters have been killed fighting a restaurant blaze last night. Officials say a three-ton air conditioning unit partially crashed through the roof, but it's not
clear if that played a role in the deaths. Officials don't believe the restaurant was open when the fire started.

KETCHUM, Idaho (AP) - Firefighters working long hours now have about half a massive wildfire under control in central Idaho. Authorities still don't know when thousands of people who've been evacuated will be able to return home. The fire covers 70 square miles.

BAGHDAD (AP) - Iraq's top diplomat cautions against expecting what he calls "magical solutions" from the upcoming U.S. progress report to Congress. He says more progress has been made in bringing security to Iraq than in the political realm. But he says political
progress will come, too.

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Governor Ed Rendell is advocating sentencing reforms that would allow thousands of nonviolent offenders a year could earn early release from prison. They could
also qualify for alternative programs that would spare them from hard time. The changes are backed by key legislators, district attorneys and county commissioners.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - The Democratic nominee for mayor of Philadelphia is headed to New York City today to meet with Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Michael Nutter is heavily favored to win the general election in November. Since winning the primary, he's been seeking ideas from other city governments. Nutter will tour some city facilities and meet with Bloomberg and his administration.

SCRANTON, Pa. (AP) - An Egyptian national is trying to convince a federal judge in Scranton that he will be tortured if he's returned to Egypt, where he was convicted in absentia of a woman's murder nearly a decade ago. The judge is scheduled to hear arguments today from Sameh Khouzam. He's a Coptic Christian who fled to the United States in 1998.

PITTSBURGH (AP) - There's a hearing today in bankruptcy court about the auction of the former Le-Nature's beverage plant in Latrobe. The Giant Eagle supermarket chain bid 20 million dollars for the closed plant. A bankruptcy trustee wants a judge to void the sale -- contending that Giant Eagle acted in bad faith to keep another company from increasing its bid. Giant Eagle says it acted lawfully.

CENTRE HALL, Pa. (AP) - The Centre County Grange Fair has its last day today. A band called PovertyNeck Hillbillies is performing at the grandstand at 8 p.m. and the exhibit buildings with more than 7,000 items close at 9.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Today's News-Wednesday, August 29th

Pottsville police arrested a city man yesterday on drug charges. A warrant was issued for Richard Deiter, of John O'Hara Street. An investigation by police indicated that Deiter was in possession of several ounces of marijuana, with an estimated street value of $800 dollars. They also uncovered paraphernalia and over $7-thousand-dollars in cash. The Pottsville Housing Authority plans to begin eviction proceedings against Deiter and the woman he lives with. They also will forward the information to the Federal Office of the Inspector General for felony fraud charges. Pottsville police have a confidential tip line to report suspected drug activity. Call 622-1234, mailbox number 150.

Additional persons have been charged in connection with a fight at a Mount Carbon establishment Friday morning. State police at Schuylkill Haven now say that the owner of Goodfella's Café, Michael Glauda, and Herbert Perkins of Pottsville, will be charged with simple assault, harassment and disorderly conduct, according to the Republican and Herald.
As we reported last Friday, the fight broke out around 2am, when Perkins was reportedly arguing with Glauda's daughter. She called for security, and a crowd exited the bar into the parking lot, including Perkins and 34-year-old Carl Johnson of Pottsville. In documents filed in district court, Perkins began fighting with Lawrence James, biting his ear. Glauda reportedly punched Perkins in the face. At Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center, Johnson was arrested for creating a disturbance in the emergency room waiting area. State police from several barracks, as well as several local police departments assisted at the scene. Preliminary hearings will be held for Glauda and Perkins in October before District Judge David Plachko.

As we get closer to fall, its time to begin budget preparations at the Schuylkill County courthouse. Interim County Administrator Darlene Dolzani announced that departmental presentations for the 2008 county budget will begin on September 6th from 9am to 1pm.
The process continues on September 11th, 17th and 25th at various times throughout the day. In October, presentations will take place on October 1st and 4th. All county budget presentations will take place in the Hofmann Room at the County Courthouse.

A Minersville man is charged with numerous offenses following two incidents in the borough.
Claude Taylor and Keith King were arguing over a woman at a home on North Street in mid July, and began fighting. Both were arrested and charged with assault, harassment and disorderly conduct. This past Saturday morning, Taylor stole a purse from a woman, after asking her for a cigarette. The woman had $45 dollars in her purse at the time. Taylor now faces additional charges of theft and related offenses.

Its time to come home to northern Schuylkill County this Labor Day weekend. Upper Schuylkill, an organization uniting 6 northern Schuylkill County communities is hosting the annual gathering all weekend at various venues. Among the events are a special homecoming dinner theatre at the Mahanoy City Elks Lodge at 6pm. An exclusive performance of "Our Town, Your Home, One Heritage", featuring the heritage of Schuylkill County through song, poetry, comedy and drama. The performance is being conducted by Lift Your Spirits Performing Arts. Saturday, its breakfast and a farmers market in Ringtown, the annual ABA parade, and more activities throughout Sunday and Monday. Upper Schuylkill was formed in 2004 to promote downtown revitalization in Ashland, Frackville, Girardville, Mahanoy City, Ringtown and Shenandoah. For a complete list of activities, call Upper Schuylkill's offices at 773-1688, or log on to their website- www-dot-upperschuylkill-dot-com.

An Ashland man is in Schuylkill County Prison for several offenses following an incident early Monday in the borough. The Republican and Herald reports that Ashland police responded to a call about a man breaking into a home on Race Street. Officers found that Robert Earls was found inside the home, grabbing a man by the throat, when they arrived. Earls was charged with criminal trespass, loitering and prowling at night, simple assault and public drunkenness. After arraignment, he was taken to the County Prison, being unable to post bail.

A Freeland man is charged with retail theft after stealing merchandise from a local store. Norwegian Township police now say that Joseph Watson attempted to steal clothing from Boscov's Department Store at Fairlane Village last week. The items are valued at $166 dollars.
He faces charges of retail theft.

PennDOT will suspend work on Interstate 81 northbound in Schuylkill County so traffic moves freely over the Labor Day Holiday. The work will be suspended from early Friday, August 31st until early Tuesday morning, September 4th. Single lane conditions will return early Tuesday morning on I-81 north between the Pine Grove and Tremont Tower City exits.

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - It's been two years since Hurricane Katrina made landfall and flooded 80 percent of New Orleans, killing more than 1,600 people in Louisiana and Mississippi. President Bush and Mrs. Bush are in New Orleans to mark the moment. A candlelight
vigil is scheduled at dusk.

BOISE, Idaho (AP) - Now that he's offered an apology to Idaho -- while still insisting he did nothing wrong -- Senator Larry Craig is waiting to see if voters are in a forgiving mood. He defended himself yesterday against a police report that alleges he tried to engage in a homosexual encounter with an undercover officer.

BAGHDAD (AP) - Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is in Karbala trying to restore
order after two days of clashes between rival Shiite militias. Meantime, Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr has ordered his militia to suspend activities for six months in order to reorganize the force.

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) - Iran's Foreign Ministry says the U.S. military's detention of eight Iranians in Baghdad is an act of interference in Iraq's internal affairs. The government has called a Swiss diplomat who represents American interests in Iran in order to protest the episode. The Iranians have been released.

NEW YORK (AP) - The dog belonging to the late real-estate billionaire Leona Helmsley is set for life -- and for death, too. Helmsley has left her white Maltese, Trouble, a 12-million-dollar
trust fund. When Trouble dies, the will directs that her remains be buried next to Helmsley's in the family mausoleum.

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - A state lawmaker says two western Pennsylvania groups vying for the state's final harness racing license have talked about combining their efforts, instead of
competing against one another for the license. Representatives of Bedford Downs of Lawrence County and Valley View Downs of Beaver County aren't commenting on the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review report.

ATLANTA (AP) - EarthLink plans to cut 900 jobs -- about half its work force -- and close offices in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and in three other states. The Atlanta-based Internet service provider says it's part of a restructuring plan beginning right now and aimed at reducing operating costs. Company president and chief executive Rolla Huff says more cuts could be announced before end of the year.

CATONSVILLE, Md. (AP) - Police in Maryland and Pennsylvania are looking for a criminal suspect who escaped early yesterday from a Maryland state mental hospital. Police have obtained a warrant charging 32-year-old Paul McGlothlin with first-degree escape. A
warrant is also on file with police in Pennsylvania charging McGlothlin with strong arm rape.

PENN HILLS, Pa. (AP) - Allegheny County police have charged an 18-year-old Penn Hills man with stabbing his 11-year-old twin brothers, killing one of them. Police are still looking for Troy
Hill and say he may be armed and dangerous because the did not find the knife they believe he used to stab the boys. The boys' grandfather found Tyrel and Tyron Hill stabbed in the home after school yesterday.

SCRANTON, Pa. (AP) - For the first time in 77 years, Lackawanna County may use paper ballots in the November 6th election. The problem is whether changes made to correct a glitch in a new touch-screen voting system can be certified in time. Wayne County officials also are exploring alternatives. Northampton County is putting its old mechanical voting machines back in service for the election.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Today's News-Tuesday, August 28th

An ongoing battle between the Mayor and borough council is spilling over into county court.
Shenandoah Mayor Thomas O'Neill filed suit against borough council, citing conflicts between the two parties that interferes with O'Neill’s ability to run the police force. According to the Republican and Herald, the lawsuit alleges that members of the police department are ignoring O’Neill's direction, and that the council are backing the department. In the filing, O'Neill asks the court to bar the council from bargaining his authority over the police department away, and protecting his legal authority to oversee the department. The battle between Mayor O'Neill and Police Chief Matthew Nestor has been ongoing for some time. Nestor has filed several grievances against the Mayor over administering the department. The suit, which does not seek monetary damages, was filed Monday.

Two New Philadelphia men are facing charges following an incident early Sunday in the borough. Frackville troopers say that Kenneth Neifert and John Potter were outside of an apartment on Water Street about 3am Sunday and were pounding on the door and shouting, creating a disturbance. During the investigation, state police found a pipe with drug residue inside of it on John Potter. He will be charged with possessing drug paraphernalia and disorderly conduct. Neifert faces charges of disorderly conduct.

Legislators from Harrisburg will be in Coaldale Thursday to discuss property taxes. Representative Dave Argall announced that the House Finance Committee will be in Coaldale to hear testimony about a bill sponsored by him to address the unfair property tax increase imposed on Coaldale homeowners. Argall said that his bill is intended to offer some relief to taxpayers in Coaldale and other communities that are being "squeezed" by unfair tax increases in school districts that encompass residents from more than one county. Schuylkill County residents in the Panther Valley school district were hit with a 28 percent tax increase in 2006.

A Shenandoah man is charged with making terroristic threats and related offenses after an incident Sunday night. Borough police say that 62-year-old Randall Tyson began yelling obscenities and made an obscene gesture against Roger Heidlebaugh while the two were on North Union Street. Heidlebaugh told police that Tyson threatened to cut his head off with a machete'. Police also say that Tyson was on the victim's porch, and threw an unknown liquid on his car. When officers attempted to take Tyson into custody, he fought them before being subdued. He continued to fight police, attempting to kick them. Officers had to spray him with pepper spray. Tyson is charged with disorderly conduct, making terroristic threats, harassment and resisting arrest.

Two men escaped injury following a crash early Monday morning in Berks County, including one from Pine Grove. 20-year-old Derek Fidler of Pine Grove was southbound on Route 419 in Tulpehocken Township when he came upon the car driven by Kyle Batz of Womelsdorf, who was traveling north. Batz attempted to make a turn onto Summer Mountain Road and was struck by Fidler's truck. Both vehicles had to be towed from the scene, but neither was injured.

State police are looking for a hit and run driver involved in a crash yesterday in Cressona. A gold colored car was northbound on Route 183, near Elmer Avenue around 3:30 yesterday. The vehicle struck a parked Chevy van, which was unattended alongside the road, then took off without reporting the crash. Schuylkill Haven state police are investigating.

The condition of the state's 25-thousand plus bridges is now available on the world-wide-web.
PennDOT Secretary Allen Biehler announced that the sufficiency and condition ratings of all state-maintained bridges can be accessed at The release of the list follows the August 14th release of condition ratings of steel deck truss bridges that are similar in design to the collapsed Minnesota bridge. The state inspects each bridge in the system at least every two years or more frequently if the bridge is deteriorating. In Schuylkill County, there are approximately 70 bridges deemed to be structurally deficient, according to information on the website.

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Michael Vick won't be answering questions on a national radio show today after all. The Atlanta Falcons quarterback who pleaded guilty to federal dogfighting charges yesterday canceled a morning appearance on "The Tom Joyner Morning Show." Joyner says there were concerns Vick's words would be taken out of context.

BAGHDAD (AP) - American and Iraqi troops, backed by helicopters and jets, have attacked and killed 33 Sunni insurgents in Iraq. The military says the insurgents were holding back the water supply from a Shiite town in Iraq.

RENO, Nev. (AP) - President Bush plans to urge patience with the Iraq war today as he speaks to thousands of veterans at the American Legion convention. His second major speech in a week
soliciting war support will portray Iraq as a global crossroads, vulnerable to terrorism.

WASHINGTON (AP) - Whoever replaces Attorney General Alberto Gonzales should be prepared to face a tough confirmation. Experts say filling his job could lead to a new standoff between White House Republicans and the Democratic-led Congress. Gonzales resigned yesterday, effective September 17th.

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - A man suspected of killing five people in Texas has been linked to a woman found slain in Pennsylvania. Police say license plates on a car found at the New York home where the suspect was arrested have been traced back to the Pennsylvania

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - State Police Commissioner Jeffrey Miller expects to present the governor with options today on upgrading the computer system for background checks. The system is scheduled to be down for maintenance from Sunday through next Thursday --
preventing anyone from buying guns over that period. Miller says it's possible that the computer work could be pushed back.

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. (AP) - Luzerne County officials say a 7-year-old girl and her 5-year-old brother have drowned in a neighbor's backyard pool. District Attorney David Lupas says the
county coroner's office will perform autopsies on the children today. The sister and brother's names have not been released pending notification of relatives. Lupas says there is no
indication of foul play.

UNDATED (AP) - A suspect in the slaying of four people in Texas and a Franklin County (Pennsylvania) woman is due in court today. He is 43-year-old Paul Devoe III, and he was arrested Monday in Shirley, New York. The Franklin County victim is 81-year-old Betty
Jane Dehart of Greencastle. Her car was found at the home where Devoe was arrested.

PITTSBURGH (AP) - The University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine has been awarded a 16 million dollar federal grant to learn more about the virus that causes AIDS and help develop new drugs to fight the disease. The money will be used to establish the Pittsburgh Center for HIV Protein Interactions. It is one of three centers funded by the National Institutes of Health.

TYRONE, Pa. (AP) - Tyrone Hospital finished the latest fiscal year with a $600,000 loss, but that was a marked improvement over 2006. The Blair County hospital filed for bankruptcy in September 2006 after finishing that fiscal year with a nearly four million dollar loss. A hearing is scheduled October 5th in federal Bankruptcy Court on the hospital's proposed plan for emerging from bankruptcy.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Today's News-Monday, August 27th

Yellow school busses and kids walking to school were seen all across the region today for the first day of school. Most of the shopping and other preparations were finished yesterday, as parents and students decided on new bookbags, and purchasing that special outfit for the first day of classes at area schools. The pre-Labor Day start of school has become commonplace in our area, but in other parts of the state, the first day of school doesn't come until the day after the holiday next Monday. The state legislature is mulling over the idea of mandating that school begin after Labor Day statewide. Business owners have complained that their supply of summer help dries up about the second or third week of August, because college students return to campus, and with an early start of school, the high school labor pool evaporates as well. WPPA/T102 reminds everyone to please drive carefully, and watch for the kids walking to and from school and at the bus stop.

One Schuylkill County community has declared a drought emergency. Orwigsburg Borough Manager Michael Lonergan is notifying all residents of the borough that effective today, non-essential use of water is prohibited. The restrictions include, but are not limited to, watering lawns, paved surfaces, filling or topping off swimming pools and other items, with specific exceptions. Orwigsburg water customers with questions about the declaration should call the borough office at 366-3103.

A New Jersey man died in an ATV accident yesterday in Porter Township. According to Schuylkill Haven state police, 27-year-old Corey McIntosh of New Jersey was riding a 4-wheel-ATV in a wooded area along Route 209, between Tower City and Jolliett. McIntosh lost control of the off-road vehicle and went into the woods. He crashed into a tree, injuring his neck. Emergency medical support began to treat him at the scene, but he died from his injuries. The crash happened around noon Sunday.

LEWISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Two Little League Teams leaving the 61st World Series in South Williamsport are safe and sound after theirbus caught fire this morning in Lewisburg. The bus carrying the second-place team from Japan and theChinese team from Taipei went up in flames near Bucknell Universityjust before 7 a.m. The Susquehanna Trailways bus had picked up the teams and theirchaperons at 6 a.m. and was headed south on U.S. Route 15 to Baltimore-Washington International Airport when the fire broke out in the engine compartment of the bus. Everyone, including bus driver Eugene Parmider of Duboistown, escaped safely. A second bus was called in to shuttle the teams off to Baltimore.

Schuylkill County's population grew over the weekend with the return of students to Penn State Schuylkill Campus. Freshmen from the region and from out-of-state gathered at the campus for orientation and social gatherings in preparation for the beginning of classes this week. For many, it is the first time that the young men and women will be living on their own. Nick Steranko of Orwigsburg is a commuting student at Penn State: STERANKO. WPPA/T102 News stopped by the campus during a student mixer Saturday afternoon as kids lined up to participate in ice-breaking activities. Anders Damas, an Engineering student from Philadelphia is looking forward to the challenge of college: DAMAS. It is estimated that between 300 and 400 new freshmen will begin classes at Schuylkill Campus. Total enrollment at the college, which offers two-year and four-year degrees and affords students to transfer to Penn State's main campus and other commonwealth campuses, is over one-thousand.

An historic tavern in St. Clair is expanding its business, and opening a pathway to history. The Wooden Keg Tavern at 1 West Caroline Avenue, is owned by Jim Croley and his wife Jessica. They have been open for business nearly two years, and are working to open the basement, known as the Tunnel Room, to patrons and history buffs. The building includes a tunnel that is reported to have been used by the Molly Maguires. Croley explains the historical significance of the Wooden Keg Tavern: CROLEY. Croley will be displaying historical artifacts, including bottles that were found in barrels in the tunnel, dating back many years. The owners expect to open the Tunnel Room by Thanksgiving. The room will double the size of the bar, and will offer a private room for parties and dining as well. Croley is still collecting memorabilia for the museum. More information about the project can be found on their website; http://www.woodenkegtavern-dot-com/.

Four people escaped injury in a crash Sunday afternoon in Tower City. State troopers report that 60-year-old Daniel Shuey was traveling south on Route 209 and attempted to make a U-turn at the intersection of 209 and Second Street in the borough. His SUV traveled into the path of Bobby Miller's car, who was also headed south. Shuey's vehicle continued on for about 25 feet and crashed into a wall at 143 East Grande Avenue. Shuey, nor his passenger, nor Miller and his teenage passenger were hurt. The crash happened around 4pm Sunday.

A Pottsville man had minor injuries in a crash Saturday near Fairlane Village Mall . 19-year-old Monty Lash Jr. was southbound on Route 61 and attempted to slow down due to a red light at the intersection. The rear tires of his Ford Explorer locked up and he lost control. Lash's vehicle struck the concrete median and rolled over on its roof. He refused medical treatment at the scene. The investigation continues.

A Tamaqua man escaped injury during a crash Saturday night in Walker Township. A tree that came down during Saturday night's storms was laying across Wildcat Road. 19-year-old Jonathan McHugh rounded a curve and struck the downed tree, pushing it about 20 feet.
His Ford Ranger had moderate damage and had to be towed from the scene.

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Michael Vick is due in federal court in Richmond, Virginia, today. The Atlanta Falcons quarterback plans to plead guilty to a federal dogfighting conspiracy charge. Vick's plea agreement calls for a 12-to-18-month prison sentence, but the judge could give him up to five years.

NORTHWOOD, N.D. (AP) - A tornado has swept through a small town in North Dakota, killing one man and injuring at least 17 others. The Northwood twister destroyed a small trailer court, uprooted trees and damaged homes, businesses and the school. Classes today have been canceled.

ATHENS, Greece (AP) - A top prosecutor has ordered an investigation into whether some of the wildfires blamed on arson could be considered terrorism under Greece's anti-terrorism law.
Hundreds of massive wildfires have ravaged southern Greece, killing at least 61 people.

HUNTINGTON, Utah (AP) - Searchers at a Utah mine have lowered a robotic camera into what they call a "survivable space" in search of six missing coal miners. Officials say it's a long shot that they'll find a sign of life. Images are expected today, three weeks after the miners were caught in a cave-in.

THE DALLES, Ore. (AP) - One worker is dead and another seriously injured in the collapse of a giant turbine tower at an Oregon wind farm. The workers were doing a routine inspection of the turbine when it collapsed. The worker on top was killed. The other had been inside the structure and survived. He's hospitalized in serious condition.

BOSTON (AP) - Dunkin' Donuts is trying to refresh its image by largely eliminating trans fats across its menu. Dunkin' plans to announce today that it has developed an alternative cooking oil and reformulated more than 50 menu items -- doughnuts included. The Massachusetts-based chain says its menu will be "zero grams trans fat" by October 15th across its 5,400 U.S. restaurants. About 400 locations nationwide that took part in a four-month test already have made the switch to a new blend of palm, soybean and cottonseed oils. That includes all restaurants in New York City and Philadelphia. Trans fats increase the shelf life and improve the flavor of foods, but have been linked to obesity, heart disease and diabetes.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - The moment of truth has arrived for more than 13,000 people who registered to try out for "American Idol." Auditions begin today at Philadelphia's Wachovia Center for the seventh season of the hit Fox TV show. Each contestant will get about 30 seconds to impress producers with their singing. Those who make the cut get to come back a second time. Finalists from that round will then get to perform for the show's big guns --
judges Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson. After that, the winners go on to Hollywood for the real competition. Episodes will begin airing in January.

CHESTER, Pa. (AP) - Police in Chester are asking for help from the public in identifying a man whose decapitated body was found in a rubbish fire. Firefighters found the severely burned remains amid the trash fire in a secluded area of the city's West End at about 3 a-m. Sunday.
The Delaware County Medical Examiner will determine the cause of death. Authorities are asking anyone with information about the man to call Chester police or the Delaware County District Attorney's office.

WASHINGTON (AP) - Amtrak says a computer system glitch that blocked customers from buying train tickets online and at station kiosks across the country has been repaired.
The system first went down about 7 a.m. Saturday, forcing Amtrak to switch to a backup system with staff writing manual tickets. There were some reports of long lines as customers could only buy tickets in person. But Amtrak spokeswoman Vernae Graham says the train system continued operating. She says no trains were delayed because of ticketing problems.
Saturday night, technicians discovered the problem was caused by recently installed software. The system was fully restored by 1 p.m. Sunday. Graham says she can't recall another failure of Amtrak's entire ticketing system.

PITTSBURGH (AP) - College students in Pittsburgh's Oakland neighborhood overpowered a man who allegedly entered their residence, robbed them at gunpoint and raped a woman.
Authorities say 21-year-old Tito Rivera of East Liberty was bound with an extension cord and shoelaces when police arrived at the students' residence around 3:20 a.m. Saturday.
Two men say Rivera had approached them outside and asked to use a cell phone before allegedly pulling a pistol and forcing them inside, where he robbed them and two other residents. The suspect allegedly robbed other residents and raped a woman before two of the men subdued him after noticing he had put the gun in his waistband. The gun later was later found to be a BB gun. Rivera was charged with offenses including rape, robbery, making
terroristic threats and simple assault.

VERSAILLES, Pa. (AP) - The smell of rotten eggs in the borough of Versailles is a deadly problem. The odor comes from methane gas. Nearly 660 wells were drilled there after the town discovered it was sitting on a natural gas reserve in 1919. Many were never properly capped.
Now, when methane is found on private property, homeowners and businesses have been forced to put $10,000 vents on their land. In the worst cases, families have been evicted and homes demolished. The borough about 20 miles east of Pittsburgh has been designated by state environmental officials as having one of the highest concentrations of methane gas in the country. Recently, a million-dollar federal grant paid for a survey of the wells. The findings are to be released August 31st, but borough council President Walt Winkler says there isn't enough money to implement recommended solutions.

ELLWOOD CITY, Pa. (AP) - Ellwood City has rescinded an ordinance banning the possession of weapons on borough property except by law enforcement officers. The move came after the National Rifle Association contended that the ban violated state law. The ban was imposed last month amid concern for the safety of office workers at a borough building where customers at a utility bill payment window sometimes become angry and threaten clerks. The council in the borough about 35 miles northwest of Pittsburgh hopes to introduce a scaled-back version of the ban that would limit it to the borough building rather than all borough property.

PITTSBURGH (AP) - Some young researchers are out to prove that digging in the dirt isn't just child's play. Over the summer and into the school year, students recruited from the Pittsburgh area are have been visiting the University of Pittsburgh to sift through dirt samples and isolate microscopic viruses -- called phages -- that infect bacteria. And it's not just a teaching exercise. These students are doing real scientific work in a professional laboratory. Biotechnology professor Graham Hatfull says understanding phages could help in the development of vaccines or new drugs, the discovery of new genes or other therapeutic uses. The Phagehunting program is also designed to excite students about science. Organizers say everyone can benefit from thinking creatively and critically like scientists.

LANCASTER, Pa. (AP) - New funding guidelines mean the state's two biggest cities will get more aid from the Pennsylvania Tourism Office, while awards to smaller agencies are cut.
Democratic State Representative Tom Tangretti of Westmoreland County says Pittsburgh is due to get a 37 percent increase in funds and Philadelphia's share will increase 11 percent.
Tangretti says 47 other tourism agencies across the state face an overall 12 percent decrease in funding for 2008. Pennsylvania deputy tourism secretary Mickey Rowley says a long-ignored law requires the state to give about 12-and-a-half percent more grant money to Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. The new guidelines have been suspended until September 13th while the Tourism Office seeks input and alternative ideas.

LEWISTON, Maine (AP) - The 2008 edition of the Farmer's Almanac goes on sale tomorrow, and it predicts a lot of snow across the Northeast this winter. It says temperatures will be up to three degrees colder than normal along the Eastern Seaboard, and four major frosts will reach into the Deep South. The publication looks for a rough winter also for the Great Lakes region, but thinks it'll be milder than usual out West. Even so, the Farmers' Almanac predicts there will be plenty of snow in Colorado for skiing. Looking ahead, the forecast is for a cool, wet spring in many places next year and another hot summer. The 191-year-old almanac's prognosticator uses a secret formula based on such factors as sunspots and position of the planets. The government's forecast, by contrast, calls for a generally milder-than-usual weather this winter.

SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. (AP) - Make it three straight Little League World Series championships for the United States. Dalton Carriker homered to right in the bottom of the eighth inning as Warner Robins, Georgia, beat Tokyo, Japan, 3-2, in a thrilling Little League title game. The 12-year-old Carriker raised his arms in celebration after hitting a two-and-one pitch from Japan's Junsho Kiuchi over the right-field stands. Georgia reliever Kendall Scott struck out 10 and allowed one hit over five-plus innings to quiet Japan's bats after Georgia fell
behind 2-0 early. Zane Conlon got the last out in the top of the eighth after Scott left the game.
Columbus, Georgia won the crown last year and Ewa Beach of Hawaii won it in 2005.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Today's News - Sat. Aug. 25

POTTSVILLE - A man who was involved in a fight at a Mount Carbon bar early Friday was arrested for disorderly conduct at the Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center. Frackville state police were assisting Schuylkill Haven troopers with a fight at Goodfella's that involved approximately 30 people. 34-year-old Carl Johnson was in the hospital’s emergency room, creating a disturbance. After failing to leave, Johnson was arrested for Persistent Disorderly Conduct via video conference. State Police are conducting interviews for the incident and several others may face charges including Simple Assault and Harassment. He is lodged in Schuylkill County Prison on bail.

CRESSONA — Two people were injured in a single-car accident on Friday at 4:45 p.m., which closed Sweet Arrow Lake Road for several hours. According to the Republican and Herald, State police at Schuylkill Haven said Claire Maffeo, 57, of Pottsville, was driving west on Sweet Arrow Lake Road when she became drowsy and momentarily closed her eyes, at which point she drove off of the roadway and struck a PPL power pole. Police said a passenger, Margaret Landonis, 93, of Allentown, was transported to Pottsville Hospital with a complaint of pain. Maffeo received minor injury in the accident, police said. The other passenger, Joshua Landonis, 10, of Nescopeck, was not injured, police said. All three were wearing seatbelts, according to police. The vehicle, a 2007 Volkswagon Jetta, was towed from the scene. Cressona Fire Company and Friedensburg Fire Company assisted at the scene.

BRANDONVILLE — A 2000 Jeep Wrangler belonging to Samuel White, Brandonville, received damage to the front passenger side window by a BB pellet on Tuesday evening as reported in the Pottsville Republican and Herald. A vandal also damaged two vehicles traveling on Route 924 with a BB gun early Thursday, according to state police at Frackville. Between 12:05 and 12:10 a.m. a blue 2005 Ford Explorer XLT owned by Steve Motil, Nuremberg, sustained damage to its passenger rear door, and a white 2001 Honda Civic owned by Joseph Kriesher, Brandonville, sustained damage to its windshield, police said. Anyone with information is asked to call 874-5300.

SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. (AP) - An acquaintance of a Little League player from Japan diagnosed last week with measles at the World Series may have also contracted the contagious illness. That's according to the state health department, which is awaiting test results to confirm the diagnosis. A Little League spokesman says there's a confirmed second case
of measles, and that the person has no connection to the Little League World Series. State health officials plan a news conference tomorrow at the Little League complex in South Williamsport. They plan to answer questions before the start of the international championship game between Japan and Curacao.

ALLENTOWN, Pa. (AP) - The investigation is continuing today into why a packages delivered on the Saint Lukes Hospital campus sickened at least six people and caused the evacuation of three buildings. The F-B-I, police, firefighters and hazardous materials teams were on the scene Friday. Bethlehem police Lieutenant Dave Strawn says investigators found that the substance had leaked from a box onto other boxes on aFedEx plane. He says the F-B-I doesn't believe this was a terrorist attack. Company officials say FedEx closed its distribution center for about an hour last night so authorities could investigate.

DALLAS, Pa. (AP) - College Misericordia is now Misericordia University. The school has its largest incoming class of more than 300 freshman and has added three new graduate studies to help it achieve university status. Misericordia's Paul Krzywicki says it is exciting to see the
excitement of students, staff and faculty after plenty of hard work. University officials say they expect the expanded studies to bring in more students, but they intend to stay small.

ZAHARO, Greece (AP) - Water-dropping helicopters and airplanes are back in the skies today over southern Greece to battle raging wildfires. But some are hampered for a second day by strong winds. At least 37 people have died in the massive fire area.

UNDATED. (AP) - A 28-square-mile wildfire in central Idaho is only about a 10th contained. It's prompted a mandatory evacuation of nearly 100 homes, with another 200 families being advised to get out. Officials at a nearby resort have placed hoses on top of a ski mountain, but don't expect to have to use them.

UNDATED (AP) - Tens of thousands of people are without power in the Chicago area following this week's storms. Volunteers are scrambling to sandbag low-lying areas against rising water. Storms in southeast Michigan yesterday produced a least one destructive tornado. Parts of Fenton were heavily damaged. The National Weather Service says at least one tornado touched down in Fenton, Michigan, yesterday. Homes and businesses sustained major damage but no serious injuries are reported. Most of the city's 10,000 residents are without power. As many as five other tornadoes may have hit elsewhere in southeast Michigan.

SURREY, British Columbia (AP) - At least 11 people are hurt and two missing after a hot-air balloon caught fire and crashed in British Columbia. The balloon's basket reportedly burst into flames shortly after takeoff. Screaming passengers jumped about 25 feet to the ground.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Today's News-Friday, August 24th

Four people, including three children, were hurt in a crash in Schuylkill Township yesterday.
Police report that Megan Murray and her three young children were traveling east on Route 209 when a truck driven by James Davis of Tamaqua pulled into her path. According to the Republican and Herald, Murray's SUV was pushed off of the road and into a wooded area.
The Murray family was taken to Lehigh Valley Hospital for treatment. Two of the kids were released. Davis was not injured. The crash happened around 9:30 Thursday morning.

Arrests are pending for several people following a fight at a Mount Carbon establishment early this morning. Schuylkill Haven state police were called to Goodfella's Café around 2am after a large fight was reported. Several as yet unidentified individuals were involved in the fight, one was taken to the hospital for a severe cut on the ear, and one treated at a local hospital for facial injuries. Troopers report that there were approximately 30 people at the bar at the time of their arrival. Haven state police were assisted by troopers from Hamburg and Frackville, along with Pottsville city police, and officers from Schuylkill Haven and St. Clair. Assault and harassment charges will be filed against several individuals at the conclusion of the investigation.

A Shamokin man was arrested following an incident in Mahanoy Township earlier this week.
Frackville state police say that 34-year-old James Campbell and 37-year-old Guy Coxe got into an argument at the Schuylkill Energy Resources co-gen plant Monday afternoon. Reports indicate that the argument escalated, with Campbell pushing Coxe against the wall. Campbell was charged with harassment.

State police are investigating two incidents of people’s vehicles being damaged by BB pellets.
Troopers say that two vehicles, owned by Steve Motil of Nuremberg, and Joseph Kriesher of Brandonville, were traveling on Route 924 in Brandonville when they were struck by BB pellets from an unknown shooter. Both cars had minor damage. The investigation continues.

An East Union Township home was burglarized earlier this week. The home of Jennifer Hasker of Oneida was robbed between Monday and Tuesday. The thief got away with a diamond ring and cash from a safe in the bedroom. Troopers from the Frackville barracks are continuing their investigation.

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has announced another round of grants to ensure the safety of the state's drinking water supplies. In an announcement made yesterday, Governor Ed Rendell said that more than $2.6 million dollars in sewage facilities enforcement grants to help municipalities enforce on-lot sewage system requirements. The grants reimburse local governments for costs associated with permitting these systems. In Schuylkill County, 9 boroughs and townships will receive grants, in varying amounts, to help in permitting the sewer systems.

The County Commissioners honored Orwigsburg Troop 624 during their Wednesday meeting.
The troop was presented with a certificate of appreciation for their efforts for being a sponsor for a recycling site in Orwigsburg. The troop was also presented with a check for $1,378.
Dan Grow of the Solid Waste department said the Orwigsburg site has collected 245 tons of recyclable material during the year, among the highest tonnage in the county. In other business, the commissioners approved a request to extend the bid award date for 12 demolition projects from Wednesday to September 12th. The bids were opened during a work session on August 9th. The Commissioners also approved a grant-in-aid application from the juvenile court judges' commission for improving juvenile justice services in the county. The grant is for $272,304 for the period July 1, 2007 through June 30, 2008.

The Schuylkill County Commissioners Wednesday approved two change orders for work being done at the Tremont Senior Center. A blocked sewer line needs repair and an automatic door opener will be provided for the main entrance. The new contract cap for the project is $153,995. The former Tremont school building is being converted into a senior center by Bognet, Inc. of Hazleton. In other business, the ReDCo Group was given a contract for after hours crisis counseling and emergency services. The cost of the service was set at just under $218-thousand-dollars for the period July 1, 2007 through June 30, 2008. The County Economic Development office was granted approval to advertise for a public hearing on the Community Development Block Grant program and to hire a consultant for the program. Mullin and Lonergan Associates of Jamison will provide consulting services for a three year period beginning in 2008, at a cost of $21,700 per year.

UNDATED (AP) - More storms are possible today across parts of the Midwest that could use a break. Chicago storms dumped so much rain yesterday that officials were forced to open locks that release storm water and sewage into Lake Michigan. Parts of Ohio are cleaning up from the worst floods in almost a century.

ST. LOUIS (AP) - Twin tragedies involving hot cars and small children. A seven-month-old girl died after she was mistakenly left in a car in St. Louis, where it was in the upper 90s. Near
Cincinnati, a two-year-old girl died in a car in the parking lot at a school where her mother is assistant principal.

WASHINGTON (AP) - A key Republican says it's time to send Iraq's leaders a message that the U.S. won't keep its troops there forever. Senator John Warner of Virginia says President Bush should bring some troops home by Christmas. That as a new intelligence assessment says Iraqis have failed to govern effectively.

ATLANTA (AP) - A source tells ESPN that Michael Vick maintains he never killed dogs and never gambled on a dogfight. The source says the Atlanta Falcons quarterback will plead guilty Monday to a charge of interstate commerce for the purpose of dogfighting.

UNDATED (AP) - It's a big weekend for lottery players. Both of the nation's multi-state lotteries are sporting huge jackpots. The Mega Millions prize tonight is over 200 million dollars, while tomorrow's Powerball will be at least 300 million.

CHESTER, Pa. (AP) - Governor Ed Rendell is scheduled to visit a troubled Philadelphia area school district today. Rendell will discuss improvements that are being made in the
Chester Upland School District in preparation for the 2007-08 school year. The governor will hold a news conference at Chester High School. The Delaware County school district has struggled for years with low test scores and financial troubles. But the state declared in
March that the district was no longer financially distressed, and it appointed a special empowerment board to address the academic problems. The board is currently looking for a new top executive. Superintendent Gloria Grantham resigned in June, citing personal

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Governor Ed Rendell says he's willing to consider alternatives to Labor Day weekend for upgrading Pennsylvania's computerized criminal background check system. That could be good news for hunters and sportsmen who otherwise will be unable to purchase guns for several days around the holiday weekend. Rendell acknowledged administration officials probably made a mistake by not touching base with sportsmen's groups before scheduling the work. Doing it September second through sixth would require halting gun sales during the first days of dove and Canada geese hunting seasons. The plan drew criticism from sportsmen's groups, gun dealers and some legislators. Rendell says he's naming an informal panel to decide whether the computer work can be done later in the fall.

PLYMOUTH MEETING, Pa. (AP) - The Montgomery County district attorney cautions that the arrest of the 22-year-old son of Philadelphia Eagles coach Andy Reid shows only "the possibility of a crime." Plymouth Township police say Britt Reid was taken to a hospital
for a blood test after he failed a field sobriety test in a store parking lot yesterday. But DA Bruce Castor says he's waiting for the results of that test, which he says won't be available until Monday at the earliest. Britt Reid is already awaiting sentencing in a road-rage case,
in which police say he brandished a handgun at another driver. The prosecutor in that case says a drunken-driving charge would violate Reid's bail conditions.

MILLERSVILLE, Pa. (AP) - Millersville University officials say they're investigating photographs posted on the Web site of an anti-hazing group that appear to show members of the women's lacrosse team at a drinking party. The 16 photos show women wearing men's underwear on their heads, drinking from what appear to be beer cans duct-taped to their
hands, and wearing their hair rolled up in tampons. The Web site ( obscures the women's faces with black bars and circles, but says the names and faces match the
university's current team roster. Time stamps on the photos say they were taken in February 2006 and this year. Millersville athletic director Peg Kauffman says school officials are examining the photos to determine who participated. A spokesman for the Web site isn't saying how the photos were obtained.

CHICORA, Pa. (AP) - A Butler County man has been ordered to stand trial for allegedly killing his girlfriend's 14-month-old son after learning he wasn't the father . Police say 23-year-old Jarred Knight of Harrisville gave investigators at least three different accounts of how 14-month-old Tyler Davis suffered severe head injuries. An Allegheny County pathologist testified yesterday that none of Knight's accounts would have caused the two skull fractures, brain
swelling and retinal bleeding Tyler Davis suffered in June. Knight is charged with homicide, child endangerment and reckless endangerment. Knight's attorney says what happened to Tyler was an accident.

BLUE BELL, Pa. (AP) - A Montgomery County woman accused of killing her bigamist husband is headed to trial. Myra Morton's lawyer says the 47-year-old woman endured multiple
emotional tragedies, including the loss of her husband's affection and the death of a child. She has waived her right to a preliminary hearing and faces trial at a later date. Prosecutors say Jereleigh Morton met his second wife, a younger woman from Morocco, on the Internet. He was shot in his own bed on the day he was to fly to the north African country to try to
impregnate her. A Montgomery County prosecutor says the evidence against Myra
Morton is overwhelming.

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - The state Labor and Industry Department says there's no reason for its secretary to remove himself from the case of contractor accused of underpaying workers.
Pipersville-based Worth & Company is fighting a three-year ban on state work. Worth says Labor Secretary Stephen Schmerin shouldn't be involved in its case because he receives income from a labor union. The department's Bureau of Labor Law Compliance argues that
Worth only alleged a "remote and tangential connection" between Schmerin and any party to the case. The Labor and Industry Department maintains that Worth violated the state Prevailing Wage Act by misclassifying some workers as laborers, rather than as apprentices or journeymen, among other alleged misdeeds.

MIAMI (AP) - Miami City Manager Pete Hernandez says he is waiting for an opinion from his city's Commission on Ethics before deciding what action to take concerning Police Chief John Timoney. The chief, who used to be Philadelphia's police commissioner, has drawn criticism for his free use of a $54,000 sport utility vehicle for more than a year. Timoney says he hasn't broken any laws but acknowledges that his use of the Lexus RX Hybrid provided by a dealership raises ethical questions. Timoney says he bought the vehicle Wednesday for the
full sticker price in an effort to resolve the matter. The Miami area's 900-member Fraternal Order of Police local has scheduled an unusual no-confidence vote Sept. 4 in an effort to
oust Timoney.

JOHNSTOWN, Pa. (AP) - A volunteer firefighter in Cambria County is being charged with setting more fires. Nineteen-year-old Charles Shenego was arraigned in connection
with fires in trash containers outside an auto mechanic shop and a recycling center in May and this month. The Lower Yoder Volunteer Fire Company member was charged on Tuesday with arson, causing or risking a catastrophe, criminal mischief, and loitering and prowling at night.
Police accuse him of setting fire to two vacant homes last month and the auto garage this month.
Shenego's attorney says Shenego intends to accept responsibility for his actions and will receive mental health treatment.

WASHINGTON (Dow Jones/AP) - Further legal fallout from the case of the collapsed Adelphia Communications cable company once based in Coudersport (Pennsylvania). Auditing firm Deloitte & Touche has agreed to pay more than 167 million dollars to a trust set up to pursue litigation on behalf of Adelphia. This comes after a bankruptcy court approved a settlement
between the auditor and Adelphia. The deal settles a lawsuit Adelphia filed against the auditing
company in 2002, as well as a series of claims Deloitte filed in Adelphia's bankruptcy case.
Court papers show a federal bankruptcy judge in Manhattan approved the settlement last week without a hearing.

PITTSBURGH (AP) - Dunkin' Donuts is planning to roll into the Pittsburgh region on a historic scale. The Canton, Massachusetts-based chain plans to open 105 new restaurants in the city and throughout Allegheny County in the next several years. There are currently 10 Dunkin' Donuts locations in the area. The company says the expansion comes through an agreement
with Heartland Coffee of Pittsburgh. It's the largest store development deal in Dunkin' Donuts'
57-year history. The chain says it hopes to triple the number of Dunkin' Donuts stores in the U.S. by 2020, to 15,000.

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) - A small cargo plane carrying hazardous materials made an emergency landing at University Park Airport in State College yesterday. The FedEx plane landed without incident after the pilot reported smoke in the cockpit. No leaks to the hazardous materials were reported. Officials believe the smoke came from cargo labeled "bone
cement," which is used in medical procedures.

WAYNE, Pa. (AP) - Rose Bampton, a soprano who performed 18 seasons at the Metropolitan Opera and established herself as a premier voice in American opera, has died. She was 99.
Bampton died Tuesday in the Philadelphia suburb of Bryn Mawr. That's according to Mark Sullivan, parish administrator at St. David's Episcopal Church in nearby Wayne, where her family attended for years. Bampton made her professional debut in 1929. She appeared
several times with Leopold Stokowski and the Philadelphia Orchestra. She sang with such opera immortals as Lauritz Melchior, Helen Traubel, Rosa Ponselle, Jan Peerce and Ezio Pinza. She
recorded with Arturo Toscanini and the NBC Symphony, and a broadcast version of their "Fidelio" remains in print.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Today's News-Thursday, August 23rd

Schuylkill County District Attorney James Goodman says Jason Gherghel did not violate any present State Election Code rules in blocking Melinda Kantner from registering her own name for use on her campaign website for County Controller. Kantner complained to the County Election Board that Gherghel purchased dot-com identities using variations of her name which prevented her from registering her own name for use on her campaign website. She also said those domain names directed computer users to the "Jason Gherghel for Controller" website. Gherghel subsequently relinquished his reservation to the Kantner name. Goodman, in his findings, said that the County Election Board forwarded the complaint to his office for a ruling on whether Gherghel's action constituted a criminal act under the Pennsylvania Election Code. He said there is no state law presently enacted to address the situation. Goodman said the state of California has enacted a statute making cyber fraud unlawful and that he would forward a copy of that statute to all County Legislators to see if the issue warrants new legislation to prevent similar situations from occurring in the future. Melinda Kantner's campaign released a statement about the DA's ruling, stating that Goodman "affirms her position that Jason Gherghel's actions amounted to a deliberate attempt to mislead the voters of this county."

A Pine Grove Township man who fired a shot during an argument with his father earlier this year learned his sentence in County Court yesterday. 22-year-old Lance Lucas Jr. pleaded guilty to recklessly endangering another person, and was immediately paroled and given credit for time served, according to the Republican and Herald. Lucas, and his father, Lance Sr., got into an argument at their home in March. Lucas Jr. fired a shot into the air during the altercation. Lucas Sr. fired two shots from a shotgun while chasing his son. The father pleaded guilty several weeks ago and sentenced him to probation and a fine. Other more serious charges against him were dropped. Lance Lucas Jr. also must undergo a mental health evaluation, not possess any weapons nor live with his parents during his probation.

The investigation into a suspicious substance being sent to an inmate at the Frackville state prison continues. Reports indicate that a threatening letter, containing a white powder, was uncovered during a routine check of incoming mail in July. The Republican and Herald reports that state police were called in to investigate the matter, and a lab analysis determined that the powder was in fact ground up acetaminophen, found in many pain relievers. Police say that the incident is being considered a terroristic threat.

Two people avoided injury during an early morning crash in Deer Lake yesterday. State police report that 35-year-old Tanya Jefferson of Schuylkill Haven was driving on Route 895, and attempted to turn onto Route 61. Her car went directly into the path of 49-year-old Edmund Govern Jr. of Port Carbon, which was southbound on Route 61. Both drivers were wearing their seatbelts, but the damage to their vehicles required towing. Jefferson will receive a traffic citation.

The Schuylkill County Commissioners Wednesday tabled action on contracts for a sprinkler project at Rest Haven. The county home had forwarded their recommendations for contract awards to the Commissioners for action during Wednesday's meeting. Commissioner Mantura Gallagher questioned whether the bids had been looked at by the Controller's Office to ensure the best price. Controller Gary Hornberger said his office was not involved in the bid decisions but agreed to look at the them. The County Solicitor's office will also do a review. The contracts will be voted on during their next meeting September 5th. In other business, the Commissioners approved resolutions for three North Central Highway Safety Network Grant proposals. The federal grants, which total slightly more than $8.2 million dollars, are administered through PENNDOT with no county funding required. The grants are for the "PA Smooth Operator", "Click it or Ticket" and "Regional Sobriety Checkpoint" programs. The Commissioners announced that the Court House will be closed on Monday September 3rd in observance of Labor Day.

An area organization committed to cleaning up waterways in Schuylkill County received a grant award from a Philadelphia-based utility company. The Schuylkill River Heritage Area and Exelon Nuclear awarded over $61-thousand dollars to the Schuylkill Headwaters Association to upgrade three acid mine remediation projects in the headwaters of the Schuylkill River, which originates in the county. The group has been a strong advocate for cleaning up waters which were polluted for years by acidic water from mining. Two other projects further downriver also received monies to continue their cleanup and remediation efforts.

A Shenandoah woman may have to return to her native Mexico as the result of retail theft at an area department store. 25-year-old Monica Sanchez pleaded guilty to retail theft charges for stealing $165 dollars in merchandise from Boscov's last year. Officials say that she is in this country illegally, and will be deported. The Republican and Herald indicates that a new federal policy requires that any illegal immigrant who commits a crime in the US will be deported. Sanchez is being held at an immigration facility in Berks County on a detainer until she can be sent back to Mexico.

HUNTINGTON, Utah (AP) - Mine operators in Utah today plan to start drilling what they say will be the sixth and final borehole in search of six miners. They were lost in a cave-in more than two weeks ago. Other holes have uncovered no sign of life. Relatives say the owners should do more to find the men.

FINDLAY, Ohio (AP) - People in Findlay, Ohio, are hoping to be allowed back into their homes today following the worst flooding there in nearly 100 years. States of emergency have been declared in six counties. The Ohio floods are blamed in one death: a man who died in a fire caused by a gas can tipped over by rising water.

POZA RICA, Mexico (AP) - Mexico is toting up the damage from one of the most powerful Atlantic storms ever. Hurricane Dean is dissipating in central Mexico, still causing dangerous rainfall. It killed at least 20 people during its sweep through the Caribbean last week, although not a single death is reported in Mexico.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - President Bush has reaffirmed his support for Iraq's embattled Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki , calling him a "good guy." But an intelligence report due out today is said to raise serious doubts about his government. The New York Times says it concludes al-Maliki may not be up to the job of uniting Iraq and stopping the violence.

BALTIMORE (AP) - It was a night for the record books in Baltimore. The hometown Orioles got walloped by the visiting Texas Rangers 30-3. That's the most runs by a team in 110 years. It was Baltimore's worst loss in franchise history. They also lost the nightcap.

ALLENTOWN, Pa. (AP) - Police say a man who gave his 5-month-old daughter an adult pain and sleeping medication and later found her dead is in the Lehigh County Prison. Authorities say 31-year-old Tri Minh Doan of Allentown drove the baby's body to a funeral home Wednesday afternoon after running other errands, and someone at the funeral home called police. Doan was arraigned early today on charges of endangering the welfare of a child and abusing a corpse. He's being held on $100,000 bail. An arrest affidavit says Doan gave the baby a dose of adult Tylenol PM on Tuesday evening because he wanted her to sleep, and
he found her dead later that night. Tylenol PM carries a warning not to give it to children under 12. Coroner Scott Grim says an autopsy will be performed today.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - A police ceremony including an honor guard, pipes, drummers and a 21-gun salute is planned today for Walter Barclay, a rookie Philadelphia police officer who was shot in 1966 and has died four decades later. He was 64. Barclay is to be buried at 11 o'clock at Valley Forge Memorial Gardens in King of Prussia. A coroner has ruled Barclay's death a homicide, saying it resulted from complications related to the 1966 shooting that left
him a paraplegic. That has authorities weighing whether to bring a murder charge
against the man who shot him, William Barnes, even though Barnes is now 71 and has served a prison sentence for attempted murder in the shooting.

BLUE BELL, Pa. (AP) - A preliminary hearing is scheduled today for the Montgomery County woman accused of killing her husband on the eve of his flight to see a second wife. Prosecutors allege that 47-year-old Myra Morton killed her husband shortly before his planned trip to conceive a child with a second wife he had married in Morocco. Prosecutors have suggested that jealousy and control of the couple's more than six million dollars in assets were possible
motives for the killing.

ERIE, Pa. (AP) - Governor Rendell is to cut the ribbon at Erie's new convention center today.
The Bayfront Convention Center has 15 meeting rooms and a hall big enough to have a banquet for 2,000 people. It's attached to a 200-room hotel. The Erie Area Convention and Visitors Bureau says many state associations hold their conventions in the Harrisburg or Hershey
area. Erie's boosters are hoping to get some of those groups to start moving their meetings around the state, hitting the Bayfront Convention Center every fourth year.

ALTOONA, Pa. (AP) - A Blair County man is one of 14 U.S. soldiers killed when a Black Hawk helicopter crashed on a nighttime mission in northern Iraq. Larry Hook says his son -- 25-year-old Army Specialist Michael Hook of Altoona -- died Wednesday doing what he wanted to do. Hook had been in Iraq for almost a year on his first tour and was scheduled to return to his base in Hawaii by late September. The Black Hawk was one of two helicopters and had just picked up troops after a mission when it crashed. The military says it appeared the aircraft was brought down by mechanical problems and not hostile fire. Hook's family members say he was looking forward to coming home because his fiancee is pregnant. Hook was a 2001 graduate of
Altoona Area High School, where he played football.

WASHINGTON (AP) - Bryn Mawr philanthropist John Templeton Junior is among a group of Republican fundraisers and former White House aides who have helped launch a five-week advertising campaign. The 15 million-dollar campaign designed to put pressure on
lawmakers whose backing of President Bush's Iraq war strategy may be wavering. It was launched yesterday by a group called Freedom's Watch. The ads will run in 20 states and will urge viewers to ask their member of Congress to stand by Bush's plan. An anti-war group's
review of the initial TV ad placements shows most will air in Republican congressional districts.
The group is also paying for a substantial ad placement in Iowa, the leadoff caucus state in the presidential nominating contest.

READING, Pa. (AP) - Police in Reading have arrested two suspects in last month's slaying of a fast-food worker at a drive-through window. Police say a 15-year-old boy is suspected of killing 40-year-old McDonald's assistant manager Shawnee Koch on July 18th. A second suspect, a 28-year-old man, was also arrested yesterday. In 2004, a customer was killed at the same McDonald's drive-through. In that crime, 20-year-old Jason Stief was surrounded by five men and shot repeatedly as he waited in his car. Police said after that slaying that they believed Stief was targeted because he had talked to investigators about the shooting death of his neighbor.

PITTSBURGH (AP) - A western Pennsylvania doctor is charged with involuntary manslaughter because state police say he caused the death of a five-year-old autistic boy two years ago.
Doctor Roy Eugene Kerry, who has offices in Greenville and Potersville, is charged in the death of Abubakar Tariq Nadama. The boy suffered from autism, which some people believe can be
caused by heavy metal poisoning. Authorities say he died of cardiac arrest after receiving chelation treatment. The federal government has approved chelation for cases of acute heavy-metal poisoning, but not to treat autism. The boy's parents have already filed a wrongful death suit against Kerry and the Department of State is trying to revoke Kerry's license for his treatment of the boy.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - The Food and Drug Administration says it hasn't found any chemical or biological contamination in Chinese-made dog treats that were recently pulled off the shelves at Wal-Mart. Earlier this week, Wal-Mart said it stopped selling Chicken
Jerky Strips and Chicken Jerky in July after customers, including some in Pennsylvania, said the products made their pets sick. Wal-Mart says 17 tests showed trace levels of melamine, the same pesticide byproduct that led to a widespread pet food recall in March after an unknown number of dogs and cats died. An FDA spokeswoman says the agency is "actively" investigating
Wal-Mart's products in light of the store's pulling the items from its shelves. Tests are continuing.

LOS ANGELES (AP) - A new cable TV series follows actor Jeff Goldblum as he takes on the starring role in a Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera production of "The Music Man." When Goldblum appeared in the play in his hometown, he didn't tell people he was making a TV show out of it. Goldblum says he explained away the camera that accompanied the actors by saying it was for a home video. Goldblum says some of what happens in the series, called "Pittsburgh," is real. Some of it is fiction and it's not always clear which is which. The series "Pittsburgh" makes its TV debut Sunday on Starz Cinema and is out next month on DVD.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Today's News-Wednesday, August 22nd

A Minersville woman was hurt in a tractor-trailer/car crash on Route 61 during rush hour yesterday afternoon. Traffic was shut down for several hours as remnants of the accident were cleaned up near Deer Lake. Schuylkill Haven state troopers report that 23-year-old Amber Blickley was traveling south on Route 61 when her car veered into the northbound lane, into the path of a tractor-trailer driven by 51-year-old Dave Stoudt of Reading. The impact caused Blickley's car to spin and it struck a stone wall. She had to be freed from the wreckage, and was taken to Reading Hospital for treatment of her injuries. Stoudt was not injured. Fuel from the rig spilled onto the highway, and required a haz-mat team to clean it up.

A group of state lawmakers came to Pottsville yesterday to talk about new legislation to reduce property taxes for homeowners. Members of the House Finance Committee, chaired by Representative David Levdansky, received testimony from several civic leaders and residents at the Sovereign Majestic Theatre. About 25 people were in attendance. Hosted by State Representatives Neal Goodman and Tim Seip, the committee discussed House Bill 1600, which would boost the state sales tax by a half-percent and the personal income tax by point 22 in order to reduce school property taxes by 40 to 50 percent. A common theme throughout the hearing was the extreme burden that property taxes puts upon homeowners, specifically the elderly. Several presenters told the panel that school property tax elimination, not just reduction, should be their ultimate goal. Neal Goodman said that the previous attempts at reform, Act 72 and Act 1, were too complex for taxpayers to understand. Among the presenters were Schuylkill County Commissioner Mantura Gallagher and Pottsville Mayor John D.W. Reiley. The bill will be discussed when the state House and Senate return to Harrisburg in September.

A video store in the Cressona Mall was robbed yesterday afternoon. Just before 5pm, a white man entered the Blockbuster Video Store at the mall and gave the clerk a note demanding money. Preliminary reports indicate that the robber may be the same individual who robbed the Dairy Queen store in Pottsville last Saturday, and a stand at Renninger's Market in Orwigsburg on Sunday. State police indicate that the man, reported to be in his late-20's, got an undetermined amount of cash at Blockbuster, and fled the scene in a car parked in the mall parking lot. If anyone has any information about the string of robberies, contact Schuylkill Haven state police at 593-2000.

A Schuylkill Haven man will spend time in state prison for stabbing a man last year. 28-year-old Robert Leymeister pleaded guilty to aggravated assault, reckless endangerment and disorderly conduct in Schuylkill County Court and was sentenced yesterday, according to the Republican and Herald. Leymeister, who had charges of attempted homicide dropped against him, stabbed Edward Bassininsky in the stomach at a home on Fritz Reed Avenue in Schuylkill Haven last June. Judge D. Michael Stine sentenced Leymeister to 8 to 16 years in state prison. He will also have to pay more than $42-thousand-dollars in restitution to various agencies.

We now know the details of a tractor trailer crash on I-81 Monday afternoon. We told you yesterday that a man was injured when his tractor-trailer rig lost control on the wet roadway near mile marker 104 near Ravine. Nelson Gonzalez of Miami, Florida and his rig went onto the shoulder and struck a tree, causing the rig to spin clockwise. He was rescued from the wreckage and taken to Hershey Medical Center for treatment. That crash happened around 3pm Monday.

Three people escaped injury in a two vehicle crash yesterday morning in West Brunswick Township. Raquel Torres of Reading was driving west on Route 895, at the intersection of Route 61, and Raymond Sidella Jr. was driving east. State police say that both had the green light, and Torres attempted to turn left in front of Sidella’s tractor trailer. Sidella's rig struck Torres' passenger’s side. Torres, Sidella and a passenger in Torres' car were not hurt, but her car had to be towed from the scene. The crash happened around 10:30 Monday morning.

Make a Difference Day is just about 2 months away. Organizations who are planning projects, but need funds, can apply for a mini-grant to help. Organizers of the local Make A Difference Day program have announced that mini-grants are once again available for materials required to complete a MADD project. The Schuylkill United Way, Community Volunteers in Action, and Retired Senior Volunteer Program join together each year to organize the event which is traditionally held the last Saturday in October. This year, MADD is scheduled for Oct. 27, and all groups applying for a grant to work on a project must complete the project on or near that date. Grants are available for $50 to $300 through First Federal Charitable Foundation and the Sovereign Foundation and must be submitted by Sept. 7 to any of the three organizations.
For more information on MADD mini-grants, contact the Schuylkill United Way at 622-6421, CVIA at 628-1426, or RSVP at 622-3103.

BAGHDAD (AP) - The military says an Army helicopter has gone down in northern Iraq, killing all 14 U.S. soldiers on board. It's the deadliest crash there since January 2005 when a transport
chopper crashed in a sandstorm in western Iraq and 31 U.S. troops died.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - President Bush is pointing out similarities between the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and World War II and Vietnam in urging patience. Bush plans to tell the Veterans of Foreign Wars convention today that the hard work the U.S. is doing in the Middle East can have the same results as past conflicts in Asia.

CAREY, Ohio (AP) - Ohio residents are the latest victims of flooding in the Midwest and the Plains. Intense rainfall washed out roads, canceled schools and sent rescuers out in boats. In
Minnesota, thousands of homes have been damaged, including more than 250 completely destroyed.

TECOLUTLA, Mexico (AP) - The last tourists have left the beaches of a Mexican resort on the western Gulf of Mexico ahead of Hurricane Dean. The storm is on course to hit mainland Mexico
today, a day after pounding the Yucatan. A physics professor vacationing from Poland says he wanted to stay and see the hurricane but his wife said no.

GIG HARBOR, Wash. (AP) - Two pit bull terriers have left a woman in serious condition in Washington state. The dogs broke into her home through a pet door and attacked the woman in her bed. She managed to get away and call 911. Police used pepper spray to get the dogs under control.

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has unanimously upheld a decision to throw a Cambria County district judge out of office for making inappropriate comments to his staff. District Judge Allan Berkhimer was removed from office in June
2005. A month before he was removed from office, Berkhimer lost both party primaries.

HORSHAM, Pa. (AP) - Toll Brothers says its third-quarter profit tumbled. The luxury homebuilder was hurt by hefty writedowns and higher-than-expected cancellations as the housing downturn and concerns about credit quality continued. Earnings dropped to 16
cents per share. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial expected a loss of 2 cents per share.

SCRANTON, Pa. (AP) - The attorney for a woman who gave birth in a Lackawanna County prison cell says the results of a prison review support what the woman has been saying. Despite her pleas, Shakira Staten of Chambersburg gave birth unattended about 4 a.m. on July
10th. A nurse practitioner had told prison employees to take Staten to the hospital.

EBENSBURG, Pa. (AP) - All charges have been dropped against a Westmont Hilltop school board member and former jeweler accused of stealing two Rolex watches and an automatic winder from a customer. Cambria County District Attorney Patrick Kiniry says there wasn't
enough evidence to pursue a case against 48-year-old Thomas Kirby of Westmont.

UNIONTOWN, Pa. (AP) - Joe Hardy, the millionaire founder of 84 Lumber, is filing for divorce less than four months after marrying his third wife. The Herald-Standard of Uniontown reports that Hardy filed a divorce petition Monday in Fayette County, seeking to end his marriage to 23-year-old Kristin Georgi. The petition says the couple have irreconcilable differences.