Thursday, September 27, 2007

Today's News-Thursday, September 27th

State Senator Jim Rhoades has weighed in on the property tax elimination debate with a new plan. During a news conference yesterday at the Capitol, Rhoades unveiled his proposed Property Tax Elimination Act, which would eliminate $9 billion dollars in school property taxes for most of the districts in Pennsylvania.


The plan would require a statewide referendum question on the November, 2008 ballot, and would increase the state sales and personal income taxes, and would reduce school property taxes, dollar for dollar, for $9-billion-dollars. That figure represents 96 percent of all school property taxes. The proposal increases sales taxes from 6 percent to 9-point-one-nine percent, and personal income taxes from 3-point-oh-seven percent to 4-point-three-six percent. It would reduce property taxes on all properties. Rhoades said that funds would be directed to districts, with at least $5-thousand-dollars for each student enrolled, or an amount equal to 100 percent of their property tax revenues. The monies must be used for reducing or eliminating property taxes.

A Pottsville woman is under arrest for attempting to buy a controlled narcotic with a forged prescription. City police report that 25-year-old Kayla Mock presented a fraudulent prescription for Oxycodone at the Caresite Pharmacy on Monday. She was unsuccessful in getting the script filled, and was charged with forgery and criminal attempt to obtain possession of a controlled substance. Mock was arraigned and taken to Schuylkill County prison, pending her preliminary hearing in lieu of bail.

A Schuylkill Haven man learned his sentence yesterday for vandalizing a Minersville church earlier this year. Before Schuylkill County Court Judge Jacqueline Russell, 18-year-old Kevin Smith apologized for spray painting ethnic slurs at the Church of the Broken Pieces building in February, according to the Republican and Herald. Smith admitted to the crime, and was charged with ethnic intimidation, conspiracy, institutional vandalism and other counts. He faces 3 to 23 months in prison, additional probation and restitution. He must also perform 80 hours of community service. A 16-year-old was implicated with Smith in the crime.

Two people escaped injury in a morning rush hour crash in West Brunswick Township Wednesday. Oliver Graeff of Leesport and Sheryl Remington of Fleetwood were stopped at the red light at the intersection of Route 61 and 895 near Molino. Graeff began to backup his truck, not realizing that Remington was behind him. The cars collided, causing damage to the front of Remington's SUV. Graeff will be cited.

State police have filed charges against several Tower City residents from fights that took place earlier this month. Schuylkill Haven troopers say that the first altercation took place on September 15th, where April Wagner and a group of male juveniles got into a fight with 42-year-old Earl Boyer in Tower City. Boyer was hurt in the melee, and Wagner and the boys left the scene. An hour later, Boyer and Sheryln Durham got into an obscenity filled shouting match in the same neighborhood. As the investigation continued, Earl Boyer shoved Durham, and had to be restrained. April Wagner, Durham and Kathy Boyer got involved, shouting obscenities, even after they were told to stop. Wagner is charges with riot, disorderly conduct and other counts. Boyer and Durham were charged with numerous offenses related to the fights and lodged in Schuylkill County Prison. Kathy Boyer was charged with disorderly conduct and April Wagner was also charged, but made bail. The juvenile males were charged with simple assault and harassment. Those counts were processed through Schuylkill County Juvenile authorities.

Two prison guards were hired during a special prison board meeting Wednesday, and the debate continued over whether or not to build a prison pre-release center. Vincent LaSelva of Palo Alto and John Yeager of Pottsville were hired to replace two guards who retired. The debate over the pre-release center led to a sometimes heated exchange between Commissioner Robert Carl and Prison Board Chairman Judge William Baldwin, Commissioner Mantura Gallagher and Sheriff Frank McAndrew. Carl and Commissioner Chairman Frank Staudenmeier have been steadfast in their determination to wait for completion of a study by a firm hired by the county to look at alternatives to relieve overcrowding at the county prison. Judge Baldwin, Gallagher and McAndrew favor moving forward on building the pre-release center. Both sides disagree over the cost of the facility and the yearly costs to operate it.
Carl says he has concerns that a tax increase would be needed to support the facility. As has happened in the past, the meeting ended without a decision on the pre-release facility. The final decision on what to do about the overcrowding must have the approval of the county commissioners.

A public hearing was held Wednesday at the Court House on Schuylkill County’s Community Development Block Grant Funding Program for 2008. Stephen Simchak, Chairman of the Rush Township Supervisors requested $50-thousand-dollars, to go toward the cost of solving problems with a sanitary sewer collection system in Hometown that serves approximately 650 customers:


Simchak said the estimated construction cost of the project is $253-thousand-dollars. Simchak said the township plans to identify the problems with the system with local funds and CDBG funds as a multi-funding year project. Repairs will be made with local funds and Penn Vest funds as needed. The Commissioners said the county expects to receive approximately $400-thousand-dollars from the Pennsylvania Small Communities Program for the fiscal year 2008. According to federal guidelines, the funds must be used for activities that benefit low-to-moderate income persons or to eliminate slums and blight.

YANGON, Myanmar (AP) - There are reports of several deaths as soldiers with automatic weapons fired into a crowd of anti-government demonstrators today in Myanmar, formerly known as Burma. The protesters are unhappy about a crackdown that included beatings and arrests.

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER (AP) - Dawn is headed toward a pair of asteroids this morning, hoping to shine a light on the early solar system. NASA's Dawn spacecraft rocketed away from a Florida launch pad in the world's first attempt to journey to more than one celestial body and orbit both.

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) - It's not what alcohol women drink that raises the risk of breast cancer, it's how much. American scientists at a conference in Spain presented evidence that a drink or two a day raises the risk 10 percent while three or more raises it 30 percent.

WHITE HOUSE (AP) - Passengers frustrated by increasing flight delays could get some help as President Bush meets today with top transportation officials. The administration is pushing to upgrade air-traffic control equipment and ease congestion, in part by giving airlines incentives to avoid crunch flying times.

CHICAGO (AP) - The FBI says it's investigating possible "sabotage" on a Chicago area's commuter rail line. It involves missing spikes that help bind the rails to wooden ties underneath. It could cause a bad derailment. An FBI spokesman says agents are checking for possible connections to a domestic violence case involving a Metra engineer.

PITTSBURGH (AP) - The parents of a child who died during last year's Allegheny County 911 outage are suing the company that installed and serviced the equipment. The lawsuit says more than 200 calls didn't go through during the outage, which lasted nearly seven hours.

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Camp Hill-based Rite Aid Corporation says its second-quarter loss widened as it began to integrate its recently acquired Brooks and Eckerd stores. The drugstore chain reports improved margins on substantially higher revenues.

BELLEFONTE, Pa. (AP) - A former Penn State football player's DNA was on a bloody glove found near the body of the man he's accused of killing. That's according to testimony by a state police forensic expert in the trial of LaVon Chisley.

BELLEFONTE, Pa. (AP) - A man with an unusual defense has been convicted of vehicular homicide in Centre County. The lawyer for 21-year-old Anthony Torsell said the Bellefonte man was drunk, but said the pedestrians he hit were so reckless that they caused the crash.

EBENSBURG, Pa. (AP) - The Cambria County commissioners have fired the director of the county's troubled nursing home. The commissioners declined to say why they fired Laurel Crest
Rehabilitation & Special Care Center administrator Robert Wernicki.


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