Friday, December 28, 2007

Today's News-Friday, December 28th

NORWEGIAN TOWNSHIP - All they wanted was one officer, Sgt. John Zuratt. But, come Tuesday, he will be out of a job as Norwegian Township's police officer. That was the recurring theme repeated by a standing room only crowd inside and listening through open windows at the Norwegian Township public hearing called to give the residents a voice on the municipality's proposition to cease the operation of its police department effective January 1st. Supervisor Chairman Robert Kirwan opened the meeting to public comment to afford those gathered the opportunity to air their opinions about the proposal made in early December to turn police service to the state police full time. During the comment portion residents, concerned citizens, and a large contingent from law enforcement repeatedly expressed concern about safety by not having someone on the streets on a consistent basis. And that the supervisors’ decision should reflect the view of the majority of the residents. After hearing the public input, the supervisors defended their proposal by recalling a previous contract and the possibility of Zuratt's retirement in February at age 55, but those items did not sway the public's opinions. Township supervisors always contended that the issue was not about money. Keeping in mind the financial ramifications on the tax base, they studied options including adding man power to make it an around the clock force, a regionalized police force, adding part time officers, and turning the responsibility to the state police. In the end, and after much discussion, shouting, and unrest by the crowd the supervisors went with their original plan and disbanded the local police force. Following the meeting, we spoke with Mrs. Zuratt who was in shock and asked her what their next move would be. Her only comment was that her husband's career has been taken from him.

SHENANDOAH - Shenandoah's mayor, not the borough council, controls the police department, Schuylkill County Judge Cyrus Palmer Dolbin ruled Thursday. According to the Republican and Herald, Dolbin issued an injunction barring the council from approving any changes to its collective bargaining agreement with the borough police department that would interfere with Mayor Thomas F. O'Neill's "right to have full charge and control" over that department. The council had planned to adopt those changes Thursday evening at its meeting. Specifically, Dolbin barred the council from approving sections of the pact that would have given Chief Matthew R. Nestor final say over the seven-member department's work schedule and the scheduling of part-time police officers, authorized officers to leave the borough during meal breaks and barred O'Neill from access to the police office and records. The council cannot bargain away the right of the mayor under the code to control the department, Dolbin wrote. Dolbin ruled O'Neill had proven his case at the 2½-hour hearing attended by about 20 borough officials and citizens.

POTTSVILLE - Pottsville's 2008 budget has been passed. Yesterday, Mayor Reiley and the members of the city council met to pass the spending plan. The new budget anticipates a 1.5 mill tax increase, which will allow the city to continue providing municipal services to its residents. Thomas Palamar, Pottsville's City Administrator, commented on the new budget, saying that the city is committed to continuing the high level of services that citizens have come to expect, and they are looking ahead to 2008.

SUNBURY - After months of psychiatric evaluation, Richard C. Curran has been declared competent to stand trial for the 2005 shooting death of his wife. At a hearing at the Northumberland County Courthouse held Thursday, Judge Robert B. Sacavage heard testimony from Curran, Dr. John M. Hume, a psychiatrist from Marysville, and Dr. Neil Blumberg, a psychiatrist from Timonium, Md. Both doctors testified that Curran, of Shamokin, was competent to stand trial at this time, according to the News Item. A hearing was scheduled on the defendant's previously filed pre-trial motion for Feb. 13. Curran was previously ordered additional psychiatric treatment during a teleconference held in Sacavage's chambers in August, where he was ruled unfit to stand trial. Curran is charged by Coal Township police with the shooting death of his wife, Tina S. Curran, on Aug. 24, 2005. She was shot several times with a .40-caliber handgun in the loading dock area of Shamokin Area Community Hospital during a break in her shift. He was arrested later that evening while trying to cross the Canadian border in Niagra Falls, N.Y. At the time of the murder, Curran was employed part-time as the police chief of Bernville in Berks County.

POTTSVILLE - Four men escaped injury after a 19 year old fell asleep behind the wheel and caused a two vehicle accident on Route 61 about 8:30 a.m. Thursday, according to police. Following the accident, which took place just south of Brokhoff Road, traffic along Route 61 was backed up and had to be rerouted for more than an hour. According to the Republican and Herald, State police at Schuylkill Haven said Joshua Petrozino, Saint Clair, was traveling north in the left lane of travel when he fell asleep and traveled over the center median into the path of a 2001 Dodge Ram driven by Joseph Wallace, of Port Carbon. The 2003 Pontiac Grand Am driven by Petrozino struck the left front of Wallace's vehicle and continued traveling down the left side of the truck until severely impacting the left rear of the vehicle. The impact, police said, disconnected the dual wheel axle of Wallace's vehicle. Following the impact, Petrozino's vehicle continued north on 61 for approximately 15 feet before coming to rest in the northbound lanes, while Wallace's vehicle began spinning before coming to rest on top of the median facing west approximately 183 feet south of the point of impact. Petrozino and his passenger, Eric Betz, of Saint Clair, as well as Wallace and his passenger, Vincent Madonna, of Port Carbon, refused medical treatment from Pottsville/Schuylkill Haven Ambulance, according to police. The vehicles were severely damaged and towed from the scene. Assisting at the scene were Mount Carbon and Pottsville City fire departments, as well as fire police.

POTTSVILLE - The County Commissioners approved five appointments, five promotions and one transfer during their meeting Wednesday. Roy Heim's resignation was accepted from the Schuylkill Municipal Authority and he was reappointed to fill the unexpired term of Clayton Ost who resigned. Commissioner Gallagher voted against the measure. She previously was against reappointments to several boards and commissions until after their terms expire in January. After a ruling by Assistant Solicitor Jay Jones that those appointments were not allowed until January they were set aside. The Heim reappointment could be made because it filled a position left vacant by a resignation. Four appointments and one transfer were approved for Rest Haven and one promotion each was approved for the Drug & Alcohol and MH/MR departments. Two of three promotions in the 9-1-1 Department were unanimously approved but Commissioner Robert Carl voted against establishing a new position of 9-1-1 Training Supervisor. Carl complained that the new position, which would be filled by a promotion from shift supervisor, was not budgeted for and will not result in the reduction of a position. At last weeks work session, Department Head Scott Krater said he still has some vacant positions to fill but does not want to eliminate any of them in exchange for the extra position. During the salary portion of the meeting, Carl and County Controller Gary Hornberger both voted against the salary for the position which was set at $19.25 per hour.

PHOENIX (AP) - US Airways plans to call more than 200 laid-off flight attendants back to work starting Feb. 15 in anticipation of the summer-travel season. Recalled employees will be assigned across five crew-member bases in Boston; Charlotte, N.C.; Washington, D.C.; New York City and Philadelphia. The carrier started giving eligible employees notices on a seniority basis Wednesday.

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - A grand jury proceeding looking into whether a Scranton area casino owner told the truth to gambling regulators has resumed. Dauphin County prosecutors say the grand jury is investigating whether Louis DeNaples lied in his sworn testimony to the state Gaming Control Board. Prosecutors say the question is whether DeNaples has ties to organized crime.

CLEVELAND (AP) - The FBI is about to give its most wanted bank robbers, violent criminals and terrorists a higher profile. Photos and information on recently committed crimes will soon appear on 150 digital billboards in 20 cities nationwide, along with images of missing children. The FBI is teaming up with Clear Channel Outdoor following a successful test run in Philadelphia.

PITTSBURGH (AP) - Three Pittsburgh media outlets are appealing a judge's decision to keep secret the names of jurors in next month's fraud trial of former Allegheny County Coroner Doctor Cyril Wecht. The 22-page federal appeal by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and WPXI-TV argues that U.S. District Judge Arthur Schwab is violating the First Amendment.

SOMERSET, Pa. (AP) - A forensic pathologist from Mercyhurst College in Erie is helping state police in Somerset County to determine the identity of a woman whose skeletal remains were found near an industrial park. Police believe the woman likely was a hitchhiker and that evidence at the scene shows she spent time in Raleigh, N.C., and was at one time on Interstate 80.

GARHI KHUDA BAKHSH, Pakistan (AP) - Opposition leader Benazir Bhutto has been interred at the mausoleum of Pakistan's most famous political dynasty, a day after a suicide attacker killed her. Hundreds of thousands of mourners paid their last respects to the former prime minister.

GARHI KHUDA BAKHSH, Pakistan (AP) - The rioting in Pakistan continues following the assassination of Benazir Bhutto. As her funeral was taking place, angry supporters elsewhere shot it out with police, trashed banks and torched train stations.

WASHINGTON (AP) - An ongoing survey suggests the Iraq war is starting to play second fiddle to pocketbook issues among voters as election year approaches. More than half the voters in the survey for The Associated Press and Yahoo News say the economy and health care are extremely important.

CAPITOL HILL (AP) - Congressional mailings by House members, often seen as the government equivalent of junk mail, cost taxpayers more than 20 million dollars last year. Nearly 116 million mailings covered everything from meeting announcements to tips on car care and just plain bragging.

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Wal-Mart says it's investigating the possible re-sale of an x-rated MP3 video player. A father who gave the gift to his 10-year-old daughter says it apparently had been a return that was put back on sale and the previous owner had loaded it with porn and explicit songs.

BAGHDAD (AP) - At least 11 people have been killed by a car bomb that exploded in a crowded, popular market in central Baghdad.Police and hospital officials say 64 people were wounded. It's not the first time the market has been targeted by insurgents.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - His once commanding national leadevaporated, Republican presidential hopeful Rudy Giuliani is changing tactics. His latest ad debuting today invokes the Nine-Eleven attacks which made him the face of U.S. resolve and put him on the national political map.


Post a Comment

<< Home