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.


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