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.


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