Saturday, December 15, 2007

Today's News-Saturday, December 15th

WEATHER ADVISORY - The region could be in for another mixed bag of precipitation tonight and Sunday. A storm approaching from the southwest will bring snow and sleet early this evening, then change over to sleet and freezing rain, particularly in southern Schuylkill County. There could be some ice buildup overnight. During the day Sunday, the wintry mix will continue, with freezing rain and possibly plain rain continuing. By Sunday night, the precipitation may return to snow as winds pickup and temperatures fall. The National Weather Service has issued a Winter Weather Advisory for Schuylkill County from 7pm tonight through midnight Sunday. Stay tuned to WPPA for updates and WeatherWatch.

POTTSVILLE - The armed trio who stole diamond rings from Murphy Jewelers in Pottsville on Thursday night may have benefitted from the cover of darkness caused by inoperative street lamps, store co-owner Patrick J. Murphy said Friday. According to the Republican and Herald, in less than a minute, Murphy, said the robbers grabbed the rings, neither the amount nor value have been released, and struck him on the head with a pistol. They bound his hands with duct tape, then fled out on to the 100 block of West Market Street, where the PPL-owned street lights had been out for several days, Murphy said. Pottsville police said Friday they are pursuing leads and have released a surveillance photo of the trio entering the store. The fuses had blown on four PPL light poles and were repaired Friday morning, said Martha M. Herron, regional community relations director for PPL. Daniel E. Kelly, the city's superintendent of streets, said Friday he reported the matter to PPL "either Monday or Tuesday." He said he wasn't sure how long the lamps had not been working. Murphy said he pursued the robbers out of the store at 115 W. Market St. to a getaway vehicle on the 200 block of West Market Street shortly after 7 p.m. Pottsville police Capt. Ronald J. Moser said they vehicles believed to be used in the robbery was located Friday in Port Carbon. Moser said the investigation is ongoing. The robbery happened when the store, which specializes in jewelry, timepieces, china, crystal, silverware and accessories, was fully stocked for the holidays, Murphy said. The digital video security cameras inside the store recorded the robbery, which lasted 53 seconds, from a few angles, Murphy said. Moser reviewed the video at City Hall on Friday, while Murphy watched it in the store's office. The video shows the robbers entering the store at 7:11 p.m., two in dark hooded sweatshirts and a third wearing a dark-blue parka. All three were wearing gloves and covered their faces with black scarves. Murphy said one of the burglars forced him into an office at the rear of the store by striking him in the right temple with a pistol, then bound Murphy's hands behind his back. Murphy said Friday he was in the process of doing an inventory and would not speculate on how many items were taken or the value of the stolen merchandise. Police asked that anyone with information about the crime call 622-1234.

SCHUYLKILL HAVEN - A Schuylkill Haven man is in Schuylkill County Prison after he was arrested in an internet child sex sting. PA Attorney General Tom Corbett announced the arrest of 45 year old Michael Deane, Haven Street in the borough, after he reportedly used internet chat rooms to sexually proposition what he believed to be a 14-year-old girl, as well as sending sexually explicit photos and webcam videos to the "girl". The girl in fact was an undercover agent from the Attorney General's Child Predator Unit. Deane operates a DJ and karaoke business from his home. Deane initially contacted the undercover agent in July, 2007. He was arrested yesterday by the Attorney General's office and Schuylkill Haven police. During the search, six computers, a webcam and various data storage devices. Deane is charged with four counts of unlawful contact with a minor, and one count of criminal use of a computer, all felonies. He was arraigned and taken to Schuylkill County Prison, in lieu of $75-thousand-dollars bail. His preliminary hearing is scheduled for December 24th. The Attorney General's Office has arrested 112 Internet predators from Pennsylvania and several other states, since the inception of the investigation unit in 2005.

PINE GROVE - A Schuylkill County landfill has received certification for expansion work. The PA Department of Environmental Protection made the announcement yesterday that the Pine Grove Landfill can reopen, as soon as next week, with an additional 2.4 acres of landfill space. This is the last expansion allowed at Pine Grove, and should provide an additional 4 and a half years of operational life. An expansion proposed in 2004 was denied, and following appeal by Waste Management, the owners of the site, the company decided to abandoned further plans to expand. This final step was approved by DEP in June. In addition, Pine Grove Landfill is involved in a landfill gas-to-energy project that will provide electricity to the Guilford Mills, a textile and industrial fabric facility in Pine Grove Borough.

NORTH MANHEIM TOWNSHIP - Two people were hurt in a crash on Route 61 at Cressona Mall yesterday afternoon. Pottsville resident Albert Flail temporarily lost consciousness due to a coughing spell, and lost control of his car. The vehicle crossed the center lane, hit the concrete divider and hit a car driven by Robert Seaman of Reidsville, North Carolina. Flail's car then struck a Volkswagen driven by Paul Hutira of Orwigsburg. Flail and Hutira were taken to Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center. Their cars had to be towed from the scene. The crash happened around 2pm Friday.

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - Heavy snow in the Plains today will be problematic for crews working to restore power in the region. About 280,000 homes and businesses are still without power following a storm earlier in the week. Kansas appears to be in for the worst of today's winter blast.

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AP) - Six weeks of emergency rule in Pakistan have come to an end. Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf has lifted the crackdown and restored the constitution.

BALI, Indonesia (AP) - It's a dramatic finish to the U.N. climate conference in Indonesia. World leaders have agreed to negotiate a global warming pact by 2009. Today's agreement came after the U.S. backed off in a showdown with developing countries over special help they say they'll need.

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) - Two blasts have rocked Afghanistan's capital city, Kabul, killing at least five people. In the first attack, a rocket landed in a crowd of civilians near the city's police headquarters. Moments later, a truck full of rockets rigged as a bomb exploded nearby.

WHITE HOUSE (AP) - President Bush will use his weekly radio address today to push Congress to wrap up its budget work. Democrats have agreed to accept Bush's spending limits on domestic programs. He's calling on lawmakers to pass a "fiscally responsible" bill that won't raise taxes.

TORONTO (AP) - The Royal Canadian Mounted Police has ordered restrictions on the use of Tasers by its officers. The decision comes after a report concluded the Mounties are using the stun guns too often. The review was prompted by three recent Taser-related deaths.

CALGARY, Alberta (AP) - It's a severe case of cell-phone sticker shock for a man in Canada. The 22-year-old Calgary resident racked up $142,000 in charges over a two-month period by using his phone to download music and movies. He's negotiated the bill down to about $3,200.

WASHINGTON (AP) - Attorney General Michael Mukasey is saying "no" to a congressional request for details on the government's investigation of why the CIA destroyed videotapes of terror-suspect interrogations. Mukasey says telling Congress might compromise the integrity of the probe.

BEIJING (AP) - Chinese police have caught up with a coal mine official who has been in hiding since an explosion a week and a-half ago killed 105 miners. Chinese media say police are still looking for the mine's owner. Reports have blamed the disaster on management mistakes.

TROY, Ohio (AP) - An Ohio jail is getting a pink and purple makeover. Officials at the jail in Miami County are citing pink's perceived calming abilities as the reason for the change from cream colored walls. The bars will be painted purple.

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - A passenger in a car involved in a South Carolina police chase tried to save an officer's life moments after being arrested. The officer suffered a fatal heart attack. The handcuffed passenger tried to use officer's radio to call for help. The driver was caught later and is being charged with involuntary manslaughter in the death.

NEW YORK (AP) - A New York City man wants "ladies' night" to be declared unconstitutional. The man is suing several Manhattan nightclubs over promotions offering women free or discounted cover charges and drinks. A lawyer for one club calls the suit frivolous. Another club notes the special nights are also good for male customers because they attract more women.


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