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.


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