Thursday, September 20, 2007

Today's News-Thursday, September 20th

The Pottsville school board has said no to a request from the Schuylkill Intermediate Unit for a proposed upgrade plan for the two technology centers. At their regular monthly meeting, the board considered a resolution to get on board with a $21 million dollar plan to significantly upgrade both Vo-Tech schools. Pottsville’s share would have equated to about $2.7 million dollars over 20 years, or about a half-mill of property taxes. Directors Patrick Murphy and Dr. Jack Dolbin expressed serious reservations about approving the resolution as presented because quote "there are too many unanswered questions" about the proposal, and the taxes that would have to be earmarked for the plan. But, the board as a whole does support improving the facilities in order to better educate and prepare students for the working world, and would consider another plan if all of the details were worked out. Superintendent Dr. James Gallagher said that approximately 15 percent of 10th through 12th graders attend the technology centers. Two districts, St. Clair and Tamaqua, also voted against the proposal. All member schools of IU 29 have until October 1st to vote. In other business, Pottsville's boys tennis team were awarded the Walter Jones Scholar-Athlete Team Award for having the highest grade point average of all of last year’s sports teams. Their average was 3.54. Overall, the 500 plus athletes earned a GPA of 3.2. Jones was an ardent supporter of Pottsville athletics, and employed by this radio station for many years.

A man from Lancaster County, accused of committing several robberies in our area, was arraigned Wednesday. Eric Singley stood before District Judge David Plachko to face several counts, including robbery, theft and receiving stolen property, for committing a robbery at Dairy Queen in Pottsville, and at Blockbuster Video in the Cressona Mall last month, and for an attempted robbery at a stand at Renninger’s Market. According to the Republican and Herald, bail for Singley was set at $50-thousand-dollars cash. Singley was apprehended in Lancaster County, and is linked to other robberies in neighboring counties. A joint investigation by law enforcement led to a confession by Singley to committing those crimes.

Four bids were opened during Wednesday's County Commissioners work session for asbestos removal at the county-owned 1912 building in Schuylkill Haven. The bids ranged from a low of $47-thousand-dollars, to a high of over $75-thousand dollars. County Budget Analyst and Purchasing Manager Mark Catranis was authorized last month to seek bids to remove what he said was a small amount of asbestos discovered on some exposed pipes. Catranis said an abatement contractor did a review of the building and determined asbestos pipe wrap would need to be removed from exposed pipes on three floors, in a tunnel to the east of the building and insulation above a corrugated ceiling in a section of the basement. The building, located next to Rest Haven home and hospital, is unoccupied and only used for some storage. Until recently, county records were stored in the building but have since been transferred to a heated facility the county purchased in Pottsville, near the court house. A contract for the removal and disposal of the asbestos will be awarded during next week's board meeting.

The Schuylkill County Commissioners have been asked to retain a Pottsville attorney to represent the county's interests in an upcoming binding arbitration hearing. At Wednesday's Commissioners work session, they were asked by the Human Resources Department to retain Attorney Alvin Marshall at a rate of $175 per hour. Assistant County Solicitor Jay Jones said contract talks with the Teamsters union representing Corrections officers at the county prison have reached an impasse resulting in binding arbitration. Jones said the present contract expires at the end of the year. The Commissioners are expected to take action on the recommendation at next week's board meeting.

A Port Carbon woman was involved in a crash in Pottsville Tuesday, and faces charges after she left the scene. 28-year-old Diane Bretzius was driving on West Market Street when she swerved to avoid slowing traffic. Her car struck the porch at a home owned by Martin Davis in the 12-hundred-block of West Market. Bretzius left the scene, and was later apprehended by police on Elk Avenue. Bretzius, nor her two young children, were hurt. Charges will be filed by Pottsville Police.

A man working at an area cogeneration plant was injured yesterday afternoon. The unidentified man was hurt in an accident at the Schuylkill Energy Resources plant in Mahanoy Township. The Republican and Herald reports that he suffered several fractures to his right arm while working on a conveyor belt. He was treated at the scene, and then life flighted to Geisinger Medical Center.

MIAMI (AP) - Still at the center of media attention, O.J. Simpson is back in Florida. A pack of reporters and photographers tailed him as he left the Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood International
Airport early today after posting bond in a alleged robbery case in Las Vegas.

LOS ANGELES (AP) - The judge in the Los Angeles murder trial of music producer Phil Spector meets with lawyers for both sides again this morning. The panel's deadlocked after more than a week of deliberations. The judge is refusing to let the jury consider a lesser charge of involuntary manslaughter.

BAGHDAD (AP) - U.S. commanders in Iraq say at least seven Shiite extremists have been captured in a raid overnight on Baghdad Shiite enclave, Sadr City. U.S. troops and Iraqi special forces were backed up by helicopter gunships. Witnesses say at least one person was killed and five wounded.

YANGON, Myanmar (AP) - It's apparently the biggest rally to date by the defiant citizens of Myanmar. Nearly 1,000 Buddhist monks marched through the streets of the nation's largest
city today, protected thousands of onlookers forming a human chain. They're rising up again oppressive military rule. Soldiers today did not interfere.

LONDON (AP) - The words are not new to the English language but they are new to one of its arbiters, the abridged version of the Oxford English Dictionary. There are eco expressions like "carbon footprint" and "green audit." But the new words also include "manbag," a male handbag, and "yummy mummy," meaning an attractive mother.

EASTON, Pa. (AP) - A man convicted of shooting another man in the parking lot of an Easton restaurant has been sentenced to life in prison. A Northampton County jury said it was unable to agree on whether 22-year-old Andrew Paschal should face the death penalty. Judge
Edward Smith imposed the automatic life sentence. Paschal was convicted Monday of first-degree murder in the shooting of Marcellus McDuffie in May 2006, as he left Larry
Holmes' Ringside Restaurant with his fiancee after celebrating his 29th birthday. Paschal told the judge he had nothing to say, but told family members as he was led out, "I'll be home. This is just the beginning."

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. (AP) - A teacher has been convicted of child endangerment for letting her 11-year-old son bring a gun to his school. Police say Linnea Holdren tried to run yesterday after the Luzerne County jury's verdict. She was handcuffed and dragged out screaming.
The Shickshinny woman is jailed pending a bail hearing scheduled for Monday. The judge insisted that she get a psychiatric evaluation before that. Holdren was a learning support teacher for the Northwest Area School District. She is suspended from her job.

BELLEFONTE, Pa. (AP) - Police say a Centre County couple took their 1-year-old in the car to a convenience store the knife-wielding man robbed. Police say they then went home and got their other two children, drove to Pittsburgh, bought crack cocaine and smoked it.
District Judge Thomas Jordan ruled that Clayton and Stephanie Shaw will face trial on charges including robbery and receiving stolen property.

VATICAN CITY (AP) - Pope Benedict plans to travel to the United States in the spring to address the United Nations. The Vatican says other possible stops in the U.S. - including
one in Philadelphia - haven't been confirmed. Benedict accepted an invitation from the U.N. secretary-general. Among other stops being discussed by U.S. bishops and the Vatican are Boston, Baltimore, Philadelphia and Washington. A Vatican spokesman says the only confirmed stop is New York to address the U.N. General Assembly. The trip is Benedict's first international visit planned for 2008.

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Authorities in Pennsylvania have lodged criminal charges against a couple that had been paid $9,000 a month to care for five adopted children, some of whom were disabled, and two disabled adults. Police allege James and Stephanie Dickinson of Lancaster kept the seven locked in a basement cell, feeding them meager meals --including something called "doggie dew stew" -- and rarely allowing them to bathe. An affidavit describes an unlit 4-foot-by-5-foot cinderblock cell that was called the "toy room." Authorities say it was used
for punishment, and it was also where a 14-year-old boy was kept most of the day, sleeping on a concrete floor with only a blanket. A portable toilet was used in the basement. Authorities say one of the children was forced to empty it each day. The seven occupants were removed from the home last October when the couple came under investigation. The Dickinsons are each being held on half a-million dollars bail.

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor says Ben Franklin would probably have "a lot of pithy remarks" about the need for an independent judiciary if he was around these days. O'Connor spoke yesterday in Harrisburg to a meeting of
Pennsylvania judges and lawyers. She says she's disturbed by efforts to strip federal courts of
jurisdiction, have judges impeached after unpopular decisions and eliminate the immunity judges and juries enjoy from civil claims based on their rulings. O'Connor spoke about a push by the anti-incumbent activist group PACleanSweep to defeat all but one of the 67 municipal, county and state elections.


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