Thursday, January 31, 2008

Today's News-Thursday, January 31st

The borough of Ashland is trying to recover from Tuesday morning's fatal fire. Audrey and Victor Klinger, ages 3 and 6 respectively, died in the fire that burned a block of Centre Street. The children died of smoke inhalation, and their deaths have been ruled accidental. Their brother, Gunner, has been released from the hospital after treatment from injuries received when he and his father, Michael escaped from the home during the blaze. Michael is still in the hospital, recovering from his injuries. Angela Klinger was not hurt. The fire is still being investigated by the state police fire marshal.

The Schuylkill County Commissioners opened bids for work at the William Penn Fire Company on Wednesday. Five firms submitted bids. The apparent low bidder was Soojian Strausser Construction of Orwigsburg who submitted a bid of $136,800 dollars. The project is for a roof replacement and construction of Americans with Disability Act compliant restrooms. Funding for the project will come from CDBG monies. The contract award date is February 13th. In other business, the Commissioners approved a request from the Parks and Recreation Department for the purchase of a snow thrower from M & S True Value Hardware in Tamaqua for just over $2-thousand-dollars. The machine will be used at the Sweet Arrow Lake County Park. The department indicated that renovations to the park created approximately 8-thousand-square feet of sidewalk and a large amount of un-plowable parking areas and because the park and clubhouse are available year round, the public needs to have properly cleared and safe access to the facilities at the park.

The Schuylkill County Commissioners approved pay increases for poll workers, mileage and poll rental during Wednesday's board meeting. Judge of Elections, Inspectors and Constable will each receive a $10.00 increase. The new rates will be $105.00 for Judge of Elections and $100.00 each for the inspector and Constable. Polling place rental was increased by $10.00 to $80.00 and mileage rate will increase to 45-cents per mile. In a related matter, a polling site change for Sheppton in East Union Township was approved. The polling site was moved from the firehouse to the New East Union Twp. Building. In other business the Commissioners approved several appointments. Bonnie Yanuskiewicz and Eleanor Sanayka, both of Frackville, were appointed to three year terms on the Drug and Alcohol Advisory Board. Eugene Berdanier, Holly Nyce and Bette Brennan were reappointed to three year terms on the Mental Health/ Mental Retardation Advisory board. Angela Toomey of Pottsville, Janine Lucas of Ashland and Erica Ramus of Schuylkill Haven were appointed to four year terms on the Assessment Appeals board. Five individuals were reappointed to two year terms on Schuylkill Community action’s board of Affordable Housing Trust Fund.
They are, Kenneth Huebner of Orwigsburg William Mackey of Andreas, Anna Hoover Smith of Frackville, Randy Stump of Pine Grove and Kay Williams of Pottsville.

Grant monies for Pottsville's Elm Street corridor will be used to demolish several properties on North Centre Street. Mike McGeever, Elm Street manager, tells WPPA/T102 News that the funds, left over from a 2006 grant, will be used to tear down two vacant buildings at 521 and 523 North Centre Street, and two adjoining lots as part of their effort to reduce blight in the corridor. The properties were purchased at sale in December.
McGeever notes that the PA Department of Community and Economic Development must okay the transfer of funds for the demolition project.

State Representative Dave Argall has announced he will seek an additional term in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. The Lake Hauto resident has been serving the 124th District for more than two decades.
Argall says his top priority is continuing to push for the elimination of the state’s archaic school property tax, along with other economic and environmental initiatives. In a related note, Tamaqua businessman John Schickram is contemplating a run for the House seat held by Argall. He is expected to make an announcement by mid-February. The Schuylkill County Republican Executive Committee is scheduled to hold their Spring Endorsement meeting tonight at the Schoeneman Corporation headquarters in Pottsville to formally announce their slate of candidates for the April 22nd primary.

A Pottsville business has earned recognition as one of the leaders in their field by a national trade publication. Heaven and Earth Salon and Spa, North Centre Street, has been recognized as one of Salon Today’s Top 200 fastest-growing salons in North America. Kim Greis and her husband Scott own the full service spa. Kim talks about what the honor means:
The company was judged on several factors, including the types of services they offer, along with sales and growth of their business. Greis says that their success is a team effort:
Heaven and Earth will celebrate its 12th anniversary in March. They employee 22 people.

A Maryland man was arrested on outstanding warrants from his home state during a traffic stop in Rush Township. Township officers picked up 35-year-old Romonda Southall of Owings Mills, Maryland during the stop. A records check indicated that he was wanted for failing to appear for a hearing on burglary charges. An arrest warrant was outstanding for him by Charles County Sheriff’s Department in Maryland.
After arraignment, he was taken to Schuylkill County Prison.

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - The debate over property tax cuts has sputtered to a halt in the state House of Representatives. It's bogged down in a familiar dispute over how many homeowners should benefit. The House ended its session Wednesday afternoon without revisiting the tax cut debate that has dominated House action this week.

CHESTER, Pa. (AP) - Officials say a new state funding package could help bring pro soccer to the Philadelphia region. Gov. Ed Rendell and state Sen. Dominic Pileggi decline to discuss specifics of Thursday's planned announcement in Chester, Delaware County. Local investors envision a $115 million, 20,000-seat stadium there.

WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. (AP) - The cost of cleaning up Chesapeake Bay will be felt by sewer customers far north in Pennsylvania where rivers like the Susquehannna flow toward the bay. Without some form of federal or state relief, customers of the Williamsport Sanitary Authority and municipalities that contract with it will see a big increase in sewer bills.

PITTSBURGH (AP) - The final findings of an investigation into a collapse at a Pittsburgh convention center will be released Feb. 5. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette says the report apparently does not assign blame to any individual contractor for the collapse of a section of flooring. The collapse occurred last February. No one
was injured.

JOHNSTOWN, Pa. (AP) - Unemployment continues to rise in Cambria and Somerset counties, even though there are more jobs. The Center for Workforce Information and Analysis says Cambria County added
200 jobs in December and Somerset added 100. An analyst with the center says those filling the jobs may not necessarily live in the area.

HOLLYWOOD, Calif. (AP) - Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton will be the only two candidates present when the Democratic presidential hopefuls square off tonight in the final debate before the Super Tuesday primaries and caucuses. John Edwards pulled out of the campaign yesterday. And he has not announced an endorsement of either senator.

WASHINGTON (AP) - A new poll suggests Americans are not pleased with the way things are going in this country. A new AP-Yahoo News survey shows about three-fourths of those who were polled say the
country is on the wrong track. As candidates lobby for the Oval Office, the poll suggests Americans think a president has considerable power to influence such things as interest rates and the price of gasoline and health care.

UNDATED (AP) - Americans and Canadians can no longer just state that they're a citizen in order to get into the U.S. Those 19 and older have to show proof of citizenship, like a passport or birth certificate, along with a government ID, such as a driver's license. But an official says officers won't be too strict at first.

CAPITOL HILL (AP) - Senators could start today to vote on two rival plans designed to stimulate the economy. A new one adds more Senate-supported rebates and benefits to a House bill that
President Bush supports. Both sides agree the sooner the president can sign a measure and get money in circulation, the better.

LOS ANGELES (AP) - For the second time this month, Britney Spears is in the hospital. The Los Angeles Times cites unidentified authorities as saying she was taken to the UCLA Medical Center to be placed on a "mental evaluation hold." The hospital tells The Associated Press it won't comment because of privacy

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Today's News-Wednesday, January 30th

Two young children lost their lives in a horrific fire in Ashland early Tuesday. Firefighters encountered a fully engulfed blaze at properties on the corner of North 5th and West Centre Streets in the borough before 2am.
First responders tried everything they could to get into the building to save 6-year-old Victor Klinger and 3-year-old Audrey Klinger from the raging inferno, but they succumbed to their injuries and were pronounced dead by County Coroner Joseph Lipsett. Their father, Michael, 18 month old Gunner and their mother were able to get out. Gunner Klinger was taken to Hershey Medical Center for treatment. Jeremy Klinger, Michael's brother, was not hurt. Their home was destroyed, along with the Breakfast Nook restaurant, and the American Legion Post. The apartment building at 511 West Centre Street was heavily damaged, displacing 3 people. One firefighter was injured when he fell on the ice. The exact cause has not yet been determined by state police fire marshal John Burns, but it is believed that the blaze started at the rear of Klinger’s home.

Tuesday's surprise ice storm wreaked havoc on area roadways. State and local police were kept very busy throughout the morning and afternoon responding to fender benders and more serious accidents. Schuylkill Haven resident Mary Kay Hollenbach was leaving her Schuylkill Mountain Road home yesterday morning and lost control on black ice. Her car struck a tree and suffered moderate injuries to her head and knees. She was taken to Pottsville Hospital. Christine Ratkiewicz lost control on the ice covered Aristes Road, left the shoulder of the road and hit a tree. Her car came to rest on its side in a field in Union Township.
As temperatures slowly rose to near freezing and above, and road crews were able to apply salt and cinders, normal traffic flow resumed. Several schools posted transportation delays, and Williams Valley and North Schuylkill elementary schools closed for the day.

Several fire funds have been established in the wake of yesterday's tragic fire in Ashland, where two children died and 5 others were left homeless. Patty Rader, Executive Director of Upper Schuylkill Downtown Incorporated told WPPA/T102 News yesterday morning that an Ashland Fire Victims Fund has been established at Susquehanna Bank, 735 Centre Street to help out. Checks should be made payable to "Ashland Fire Victims Fund". In addition, two funds have been set up to help the Klinger family, whose two children perished in the fire. One has been established at Wachovia Bank in Frackville, and another at the M&T Bank branch in Ashland. The American Red Cross was on the scene quickly to help those who lost nearly everything in the blaze.

Schuylkill County's efforts to get a million dollar computer system up and running appears to be seeing some early results. County officials have been frustrated by the lack of cooperation from New World Systems of Troy, Michigan to get the system working, nearly two years after it was installed. Several representatives from the county administration went to Michigan last week to give the company an ultimatum…either fix the system or give them their money back. According to the Republican and Herald, a team of technicians from New World Systems have come to Schuylkill County to try and fix the problems. A deadline of February 13th has been set to rectify the situation, or the contract will be cancelled, and legal action may be taken to recoup the monies already paid.

Five vehicles were involved in a crash on Route 61 in Butler Township during yesterday's ice storm. Jose' Montero-Rivera of Pottsville was northbound on 61 and lost control of his Chevy Blazer and struck a parked car which was pulled off the road due to icy conditions. Rivera's car continued on and hit a Jeep head on that was parked along the road. The impact pushed the Jeep into another SUV that was disabled from a previous accident. Rivera's car then spun around and hit another parked vehicle. Injuries were minor in the crash for Rivera and his passenger.

A Williamstown man is in Dauphin County Prison on sex related charges following incidents in the borough last year. State police served a warrant against 25-year-old Tony Fairburn on Monday. He is accused of statutory sexual assault, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse and related offenses against a juvenile female in Williamstown. After arraignment, Fairburn was taken to Dauphin County Prison in lieu of $100-thousand-dollars bail.

Nothing is more frustrating than losing a call on your cell phone. Senator Jim Rhoades is calling for a study of the problem. In an attempt to, once and for all, identify areas where dropped cell phone calls are most frequent, Rhoades yesterday unveiled his plan to direct a comprehensive study of the problem and find lasting solutions. Rhoades said that in the technology age, dropped calls are frustrating for consumers:
Senate Resolution 206 would require the Pennsylvania Legislative Budget and Finance Committee to study telecommunication "dead spot" areas within the cell phone industry and identify a broad-based set of solutions to eliminate these "dead spot" areas. The committee would be required to report their findings, conclusions and recommendations to the General Assembly.

Schuylkill Haven police are investigating a traffic incident in the borough yesterday. A UPS delivery driver, Richard Stianche of Tamaqua, was crossing West Columbia Street around noon when 32 year old Cynthia Moss of Mahanoy City struck him with her car. Stianche suffered a head injury and was taken to Pottsville Hospital. Police are looking for any eyewitnesses that could shed some light on the incident in Schuylkill Haven.

House to mull constitutional amendment on schoool taxes
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - The Democratic leader in the state House of Representatives says lawmakers will consider an amendment to the state Constitution over school taxes. The amendment would end school districts' authority to levy real estate property taxes in 2010. This comes after overwhelming approval of a plan sponsored by veteran Republican floor strategist Rep. John Perzel of Philadelphia. The Perzel plan would would dedicate the billion dollars or more a year that the slots gambling industry is projected to generate to pay the taxes of older Pennsylvanians who have incomes below $40,000 a year. Should the Perzel plan become law, it would be a big win for 600,000 seniors. But it would mean another 2.7 million homeowners
who'd get tax relief under other plans would get nothing.

NEW: Open records bill waits for a day in Pa. Senate
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - The Senate plans to vote on a rewrite of Pennsylvania's open records law today.
Lawmakers made several technical changes Tuesday to the bill the House passed six weeks ago. Legislative leaders are working to overhaul Pennsylvania's 50-year-old Right-to-Know Law, which is widely regarded as one of the nation's weakest freedom-of-information laws. The bill is designed to subject more government records to public access and give citizens a better chance in court when challenging a government rejection of a records request. While the chambers have disagreed over numerous aspects of the legislation, House Democratic leader Bill DeWeese says he believes a final agreement is possible this week. A House Republican
spokesman says, however, the Senate's version still raises concerns over protection of privacy.

Body parts found along highways in northeastern Pa.
SWIFTWATER, Pa. (AP) - A woman's severed head has been found in a trash bag in northeastern Pennsylvania -- one of eight bags found with body parts. But state police Lt. Robert Bartal says it's possible that more
body parts will be found. Bartal says troopers have searched along Interstate 80 in Monroe, Carbon, Luzerne and Columbia counties, but it's possible that something was dumped down an embankment. The woman's identity was not immediately determined. An autopsy is scheduled for Wednesday.

NEW: Police commissioner to outline crime-fighting strategy
PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey is to unveil his crime-fighting strategy for the city today. Ramsey says there is "nothing fancy" about his proposal, but it's expected he'll call for more patrol officers in crime-infested neighborhoods. During a series of town-hall meetings in recent weeks, the
former Washington police chief made no secret that he wants to shift more of the department's 6,600 officers into those areas and to focus on building closer bonds with the neighborhoods. Ramsey compiled the report after Mayor Michael Nutter declared a "crime emergency" during his Jan. 7 inaugural address. Ramsey is also expected to respond to the mayor's request to review the department's policy on the use of deadly force following three fatal shootings by police this year.

Wecht defense attacks cadaver-for-lab space allegations
PITTSBURGH (AP) - The defense in the fraud trial of celebrity pathologist Cyril Wecht is attacking the allegation that he traded cadavers for lab space. Wecht gave bodies to Carlow University and the university let him use its labs for his private practice. But under cross-examination, a prosecution witness acknowledged that Wecht continues to teach at Carlow even though he's no longer the coroner and isn't sending bodies there. By law, Wecht had the power as Allegheny County's coroner to donate unclaimed morgue bodies to science. Wecht is accused of using his government staff for his family and his private pathology practice. Prosecutors say Wecht illegally used county workers to cut costs in his private practice.

WASHINGTON (AP) - Exit polls in Florida show John McCain led Mitt Romney among people who said the economy is the country's most pressing issue. McCain won the GOP primary in the Sunshine State,
boosting his campaign heading into next week's coast-to-coast contests.

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) - Rudy Giuliani appears to be close to dropping his presidential campaign. After Giuliani finished third in the Florida primary, Republican officials say the former New York mayor will be throwing his support to John McCain today. The GOP candidates will be in California for a debate.

INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION (AP) - The two American astronauts on the international space station are on a spacewalk this morning. They're trying to fix one of two equipment failures that have crippled the power system and threaten to stall space station construction.

CHICAGO (AP) - One forecaster near Chicago calls it a "hard, vicious slap-in-the-face from Mother Nature." Bitter cold has settled in after severe weather sent temperatures plunging 50 degrees in a matter of hours yesterday. Hundreds of flights were canceled at O'Hare Airport.

BRATTLEBORO, Vt. (AP) - A Vermont town considering whether to indict President Bush and Vice President Cheney for crimes against the Constitution has been barraged with nasty e-mails and phone calls. Some have accused Brattleboro town leaders of being "wackjobs" and "nuts." The petition that goes to a town-wide
vote in March has no legal standing.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Today's News-Tuesday, January 29th

A massive blaze has claimed the lives of two people in Ashland early this morning. The blaze broke out before two am at West Centre and Fifth Streets. Four buildings were affected, including a home, restaurant, a flower shop and an apartment building with an antique shop in the first floor. The American Legion Post was also damaged. The fire reportedly started in the home where the victims were found. They have not yet been identified. The American Red Cross is assisting 7 victims displaced by the fire. Ashland Downtown Incorporated has set up a fund for the fire victims at Susquehanna Bank in Ashland. Checks should be made payable to Ashland Fire Victims Fund, at 735 Centre Street, Ashland. For more information call 875-3571.

The Blue Mountain School District is growing, and they are studying ways to plan for more in the future.
The district hosted a public meeting last night at the Blue Mountain Middle School, where administrators, faculty and taxpayers listened to architect James Lewis outline possible solutions to upgrade buildings and plan for anticipated growth of their student population. The problems result from aging buildings, overcrowding due to the addition of special needs students and increasing enrollment. Lewis outlined 5 different scenarios for renovating two of the elementary buildings, East and West, and possible new construction on the current elementary campuses. The middle and high school buildings may be put in a similar position down the road if enrollment projections are realized. The options are costly, and taxpayers who spoke at the forum, are concerned about the economic realities of building new facilities and possible tax increases. Business Manager Andrew Smarkanic stated that a worst-case scenario could see a possible one mill property tax increase for two years to pay for the debt incurred for the projects. Superintendent Dr. Joyce Romberger tells WPPA/T102 News how they arrived at this point:
Repairs and renovations at Blue Mountain Elementary East and West appear to be of the most immediate concern. The board will consider all options in the next several months. Once a decision is made, a public hearing will be held to detail their plans.


Renovate and expand Blue Mountain Elementary East-COST $14.7 million


Renovate and expan Blue Mountain Elementary West-COST $14.5 million


Build a 5th Grade only building, and remove those grades from East and West-COST $12.2 million


Renovate East and West Buildings- COST $21.7 million


Build a 5th grade building, attached to East, and repair the East building-COST $21.3 million

Senator Jim Rhoades of Mahanoy City is looking for another term in the state Senate. The incumbent, who was first elected in 1980, says that he’d like to continue in Harrisburg to work on education, tax relief for property owners and to help needy families with home heating assistance. Rhoades is a former educator, and currently chairs the Senate Education committee and holds positions on other senate committees.

A Mahanoy Plane man's bid to sue the county and related parties over poor medical treatment received at the Schuylkill County Prison can proceed, according to a federal judge’s ruling. Judge John Jones stated in an opinion that Thomas Zimmerman, who served time in county prison on drug charges, can continue parts of his lawsuit. Zimmerman contends that he received poor medical treatment and that his artificial leg was broken while in jail. The Republican and Herald reports that Warden Gene Bernadier and the deputy warden can't be held liable under the Americans with Disabilities Act for an injury Zimmerman incurred in the prison's shower. Other employees cannot be sued over charges that Zimmerman was denied medical care, and claims against Prime Care Medical and St. Luke's Physician’s Group. Judge Jones did say that Zimmerman can amend his initial suit, filed in 2007, to reflect the excluded items. Zimmerman is incarcerated at the State Correctional Institution at Camp Hill.

Pottsville fire fighters were called into service last night for a fuel leak at a city home. A fuel leak was reported at 8 South 13th Street. Officials report that a broken fuel line led to the spill of several hundred gallons of heating oil. Several inches accumulated in the basement of the home, according to the Republican and Herald.

An Andreas man is looking to challenge incumbent Representative Dave Argall for the 124th District state house race. William Mackey made his bid for the Democratic nomination last night in Tamaqua. Mackey is a retired pipefitter, who ran against Argall in 2006. As he did in his last campaign, his platform centers around property tax elimination and the effectiveness of the state House to get anything done to help taxpayers. Argall has served in the 124th District for more than two decades. He is expected to announce his re-election bid soon.

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Progress on cutting property taxes for Pennsylvania homeowners has been slow in the state Legislature. The House spent five hours discussing just one of the dozens of amendments to be considered. The chamber has to consider all amendments before a final vote on a bill can occur.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter has named two women to top education posts in his administration. Lori Shorr, a vice president at the Philadelphia Youth Network, will be his chief education officer and child advocate. Shorr's deputy will be Sharon Tucker, currently an adviser in the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

PITTSBURGH (AP) - Two Carnegie Mellon professors have received a three-year, $1.1 million grant to study how the brain works. Los Angeles-based W.M. Keck Foundation has given the money to cognitive
neuroscience professor Marcel Just and computer science professor Tom Mitchell.

BRADFORD, Pa. (AP) - The federal prison in McKean County has a new warden. Francisco Quintana took over the Federal Correctional Institution on Jan. 20. He replaces Helen Marberry, who became warden of the United States Penitentiary in Terre Haute, Ind. Quintana has been warden at the Federal Correctional Complex in Beaumont, Texas.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Today's News-Monday, January 28th

An Auburn man has died from injuries suffered in a traffic accident last Tuesday. Schuylkill Haven state police report that 85-year-old Mark Brensinger died at Lehigh Valley Hospital over the weekend. He was involved in a four vehicle accident in West Brunswick Township. Brensinger's vehicle crashed into two of the other cars, and debris from the crash hit another along Route 61. Brensinger's car ended upside down inside the basement of a home near Deer Lake. Two other people involved in the crash had minor injuries.

A traffic stop in Pottsville Sunday morning resulted in a drug arrest of a Philadelphia man. Pottsville police stopped a Dodge Neon driven by 18-year-old Craig Taylor in the 300 block of Howard Avenue. Officers found 10 grams of crack cocaine, valued at $12-hundred dollars, a small amount of marijuana and a large sum of money. Taylor broke free from police, and a foot chase ensued, but he was captured a short time later.
Officers also found a BB pistol under the seat of his car. Taylor admitted to police that he carried the weapon in the drug trade, as well as admitting to selling the crack cocaine. He was arraigned on various drug charges, as well as escape and resisting arrest. He was taken to Schuylkill County Prison after he couldn’t post the $35-thousand-dollars bail.

The ongoing problems with Schuylkill County's computer system may come to a head in the next several weeks. The million dollar operating system has been fraught with problems ever since it was installed two years ago, and county officials have now put New World Systems of Troy, Michigan on notice that the company either fix the numerous problems, or the contract will be cancelled and Schuylkill County will sue.
Commissioner Chairwoman Mantura Gallagher, Assistant County Solicitor Jay Jones and County Administrator Darlene Dolzani traveled to New World's headquarters last week to deliver the termination notice, according to the Republican and Herald. The contract would be cancelled as of February 13th unless New World makes progress to fix the problems. If some headway is made by that date, Schuylkill County may extend that date. But, if there is no progress, the county will sue New World. In November, the county told New World that they had 90 days to straighten out the mess or they would be sued.

State troopers from Schuylkill Haven and Orlando, Florida police are investigating a fraud committed at a Orwigsburg area convenience store. An unknown female called the Hess Mart on Route 61, identifying herself as a technician from Western Union. She requested that the clerk conduct two tests of the money transfer machine. But in fact, they were not tests at all, but two money transfers for $700 dollars each, which were sent to a 7-Eleven store in Orlando, Florida. The female received the funds at the store. Orlando Police and local state police are continuing the investigation into the stolen funds.

The Greater Pottsville Winter Carnival crowned two young ladies as royalty Saturday night. The Snowdrop and Snowflake Pageant was held at Wachter Auditorium at Pottsville High, with 43 candidates vying for the Snowdrop crown, and 17 girls from area high schools for the Snowflake’s top spot. After rounds of questioning about this year’s theme “Through the Eyes of Winter Carnival, the Pottsville Maroons are Our Champions” and various events through the month, the finalists were chosen. Blue Mountain High School Junior Kelsey Fanelli was crowned Snowflake Princess, and John S. Clarke second-grader Gillian Revenis of Seltzer was coroneted the Snowdrop Princess. Saturday night, the Greater Pottsville Winter Carnival comes to a conclusion with the Senior Princess Coronation Pageant will be held held at Pottsville High School.

PITTSBURGH (AP) - Pennsylvania has one of the tightest, most restrictive liquor control systems in the country. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that the system generates millions for state coffers but frustrates critics who say it remains susceptible to political influence. Proponents say the state's position as one of the largest single buyers of wine and spirits in North America allows it to offer quality wines at reasonable prices while making millions for the state treasury. But critics maintain that the system imposes exorbitant taxes and burdensome regulations while forcing party planners to make separate stops to buy beer, wine and food.

PITTSBURGH (AP) - The trial of Cyril Wecht is about to begin. Federal prosecutors say Wecht used resources from his day job as Allegheny County coroner to pursue some of his lucrative private consulting work. He's also accused of trading unclaimed cadavers for laboratory space at a university. Wecht successfully staved off similar accusations in the early 1980s, when he was accused of using county morgue employees to
examine slides for his private practice. The case led to his ouster, although he would later settle a related suit for $200,000 and return in 1996 to serve a second 10-year stint as coroner. He resigned after he was indicted in January 2006. Even while under indictment, Wecht continues to be in demand as a consultant. The trial begins Monday.

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Two state lawmakers are calling for training all police officers in Pennsylvania about when they may strip-search people. Republican Sen. Stewart Greenleaf and Democratic Rep. Harold
James say officers need to be trained on when searches are legal. James is a former Philadelphia police officer.
Federal courts have ruled on when people arrested for minor offenses may be strip-searched. The courts say police may do so only when there are clear reasons to believe arrested people are hiding drugs or weapons.
Greenleaf and James say they're responding to a December investigation by The Philadelphia Inquirer. The newspaper found some police departments and county jails were strip-searching thousands of people charged with minor, nonviolent crimes.

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) - A laptop recently reported stolen from a Penn State faculty member contained personal information on several hundred former students. The computer held files from 1999 to 2004. They included Social Security numbers for 677 students who attended Penn State during that period. University officials say the laptop was stolen while the faculty member was traveling. They say it appears to have been a random theft. Chief privacy officer David Lindstrom said in a statement Friday that he has no knowledge that the information has been accessed by unauthorized individuals. The school is notifying those who may be affected.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - The Philadelphia Inquirer is endorsing Sens. Barack Obama and John McCain in the presidential primary races. In the Republican primary, the paper's editorial board calls McCain "the authentic candidate in a field of wannabes and flip-floppers." On the Democratic side, the paper says Obama can "lead this nation past the nasty, partisan, Washington-as-usual politics." Pennsylvania's primary isn't until April, but neighboring New Jersey and Delaware vote a week from Tuesday.

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Two members of the state Legislature who were elected in 2006 say they're so frustrated they won't seek second terms. They are Rep. Lisa Bennington, an Allegheny County Democrat, and
Rep. Carl Mantz, a Berks County Republican. Both are citing frustration at the slow pace. Many major bills are stuck in gridlock. Other freshmen in the Legislature acknowledge such frustration, but say they're going to seek second terms. Rep. Patrick Harkins, an Erie County Democrat, says he "wouldn't trade it for the
world" -- even though he has been discouraged by the level of cynicism in Harrisburg.

WHITE HOUSE (AP) - The economy and Iraq will be two of the topics highlighted by President Bush in his final State of the Union address tonight. Bush is expected to call for Congress to quickly approve an economic stimulus package and argue that troop withdrawals will happen when they won't undermine Iraq's success.

HONG KONG (AP) - World markets are showing volatility for a second week as Asian stocks are stumbling amid worries about a possible U.S. recession. China's benchmark index is at its lowest point in six months. U.S. stock index futures are pointing lower.

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - The Mormon church leader who oversaw one of the greatest expansion periods in its history has died. At 97, Gordon Hinckley was the oldest president in the church's history. According to church tradition, the most senior apostle will become president. That man is 80-year-old Thomas Monson.

CAMARILLO, Calif. (AP) - The average gas price across the nation has dropped by about nine cents over the last two weeks. The Lundberg survey reports the average price of regular gas to be $2.98 a gallon. The cheapest gas can be found in Tulsa, Oklahoma, while Honolulu has the most expensive.

NEW YORK (AP) - The agent for Roger Clemens has put out an 18,000 word report to challenge allegations that the pitcher's career rebounded about the time he's accused of using steroids. The report claims Clemens was able to "adjust his style of pitching as he got older." Clemens denies accusations in baseball's Mitchell
Report that he used performance-enhancing drugs.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Today's News-Saturday, January 26th

POTTSVILLE - Some of the famous and not-so-famous people who helped shape Pottsville will be memorialized on the city's "Welcome to Pottsville" mural, officials announced Friday. According to the Republican and Herald, in December, the public was asked to submit ideas for two windows on the mural at North Centre and Nichols streets. Out of the 34 submissions collected, seven were chosen. The original plan was for only two ideas to be chosen, but the judges decided to combine some of the submissions because of similarities. The final result will be a collage of historical figures, community servants and patriotic figures. Margie McGuinness-Mataka, Barbara A. Wollyung, Beth Cerullo, Joseph T. Cescon, Chris Wood, Vanco M. Georgevic, all of Pottsville, and Elizabeth Tracey, Saint Clair, submitted the winning ideas. The mural includes three windows, with the middle window featuring a view of the Schuylkill County Courthouse. The winning concepts will now be presented to the painter, Martin R. Braukus, Pottsville, for his artistic interpretation. One of the mural's windows, the "Serving Country and Community" window, will include images of Nicholas Biddle, the first to shed blood in the Civil War; Gen. George A. Joulwan, a retired NATO Supreme Allied Commander; and Pvt. Robert Reid, a Congressional Medal of Honor recipient during the Civil War. Images depicting a volunteer fireman, a police officer and an EMS worker will also be on the patriotic window. The other window, a historical window, will include images of miners and garment workers. Also on the historical window will be the figures of John Pott, the founder of the city; Necho Allen, a hunter who discovered the city's coal in 1790; and a football player from the Pottsville Maroons, the team who won - and lost - the 1925 NFL Championship. Now the public is again being asked to help with the mural: If anyone has a picture or painting of either Pott or Allen to use as a reference for the mural, they are asked to contact Mike McGeever at 622-1995.

FRACKVILLE - A business owner whose Shenandoah store was ravaged in a November fire is closing his new shop after borough pressure to comply with ordinances. According to the Republican and Herald, Vinnie Campanile, owner of Berk's Thrift Store at 1 Lehigh Ave., has received several warnings from a code enforcement officer, borough council and police officers to stop obstructing the walkway in front of his business and to hire a commercial trash hauler. Councilman Patrick O'Boyle Sr. and borough Code Enforcement Officer John Burda contend Campanile has repeatedly obstructed the sidewalk in front of his business. Both men said the borough has received several resident complaints - some written - of Campanile's obstructed sidewalk. Campanile said he displayed his wares out front to draw business to his store, stating he did the same thing while in Shenandoah. However, his store was set back from the sidewalk in Shenandoah. Campanile's thrift store was previously located at 113 N. Main St., Shenandoah. He relocated his store to Frackville after a Nov. 23 fire destroyed his business, the neighboring Thunder Road nightclub, and other structures in the heart of downtown Shenandoah.

MOUNTAIN TOP, Pa. (AP) - Police say a woman and her son were shot to death inside their home in rural Luzerne County. State police found the bodies of Maureen Oleski and her 25-year old son, Christian Oleski, under a sheet in the kitchen of their Rice Township home around 10:30 a.m. Friday. Police say they have a suspect in custody. Court documents say 62-year-old Charles Oleski called a friend saying he shot his wife and son.

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - The federal government is asking Pennsylvania's student-loan agency to repay as much as $15 million that officials say it received in excess loan subsidies over a two-year period. The U.S. Education Department outlined its request Friday in a letter to the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency. The department's inspector general released an audit in November saying PHEAA was overpaid $35 million in federal subsidies over a three-year period. But department officials say they didn't accept all of the audit's findings. PHEAA spokesman Keith New says the agency has been negotiating with the department over how much money, if any, it should repay the government. The negotiations are part of a separate federal program review of the subsidy payments.

SCRANTON, Pa. (AP) - Court documents in Scranton state that the man who is awaiting trial with Hugo Selenski on murder charges has agreed to plead guilty to a federal racketeering count. It comes in connection with the slayings of a man and woman whose bodies were unearthed on Selenski's property. Paul Weakley and Selenski are charged in the strangulation deaths in 2002 of pharmacist Michael Kerkowski and his girlfriend, Tammy Fassett. The victims' bodies were among as many as 12 sets of human remains found on Selenski's rural property outside Wilkes-Barre in 2003. Court documents filed today state that Weakley has agreed to plead guilty to one count of racketeering conspiracy stemming from the slayings of Kerkowski and Fassett, and the robbery of the couple and of a Monroe County man. He is scheduled to appear in federal court in Scranton this afternoon. The documents say Weakley will cooperate with the government as part of his plea. He'll face life in prison without parole, rather than a death sentence.

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - It's primary day for Democrats in South Carolina where the black vote is expected to be a deciding factor. Polls show Barack Obama leading top rival Hillary Clinton. Blacks are expected to make up more than half of today's voters.

LOS ANGELES (AP) - One skier is dead, another is hospitalized in critical condition and as many as three others are missing following several avalanches in mountains near Los Angeles. Meanwhile, canyon residents in Orange County are under a voluntary evacuation order ahead of another big storm expected in Southern California tonight.

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) - A five-year-old girl is expected to be reunited with her mother in Mexico after spending a terrifying night alone in the Arizona mountains. The child, part of a group of illegal immigrants, was rescued yesterday after being abandoned by the smuggler. Her stepfather had been found earlier.

WASHINGTON (AP) - The FCC is proposing a 1.4-million-dollar fine for dozens of ABC television stations over a 2003 episode of "NYPD Blue." The fine is for a scene that depicted "multiple, close-up views" of a woman's "nude buttocks." The FCC isn't buying ABC's claim that "the buttocks are not a sexual organ."

WEST ORANGE, N.J. (AP) - Protesters are fighting a 10-day deer hunt slated to begin in northern New Jersey next week. Officials say there are simply too many deer in the region. Animal rights activists are pushing for other ways to control the deer population, such as contraceptives.

LOS ANGELES (AP) - One person is dead following a helicopter crash on a busy Los Angeles freeway late Friday. Recovery crews found the body in the burned out remains of the small chopper. Apparently no cars were hit.

WASHINGTON (AP) - Retirees living off Social Security want to be included in an economic stimulus package designed to put more cash into the pockets of taxpayers. Senate Democrats will work to add additional benefits to the plan when they get it from the House despite a warning by President Bush not to delay.

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AP) - Up to 30 suspected militants are dead in Pakistan following raids on hideouts of Taliban rebels who had hijacked ammunition supply trucks. Elsewhere, militants have attacked a checkpoint, killing two police officers and a soldier.

NEW YORK (AP) - Saddam Hussein intentionally let the world think he had weapons of mass destruction in order to deter Iran. An FBI interrogator who questioned Saddam also tells CBS's "60 Minutes" program that the Iraqi leader thought the U.S. invasion threat was a bluff.

LAS VEGAS (AP) - Las Vegas fire officials are investigating the cause of a rooftop fire that forced the evacuation of the Monte Carlo hotel-casino and rained burning embers onto the Vegas Strip Friday. Firefighters quickly gained control over the midmorning blaze. Seventeen people were take to hospitals, but no serious injuries were reported.

NEW YORK (AP) - Sylvester Stallone has disclosed that he used human growth hormone to put on muscle for his new "Rambo" movie. The 61-year-old actor tells Time magazine that "HGH is nothing" and "anyone who calls it a steroid is grossly misinformed." The substance has caused concern in baseball and other sports because it's nearly undetectable.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Today's News-Friday, January 25th

The remains of David Reed have been exhumed. Investigators and forensic experts from the Pennsylvania State Police, and county officials were present for the removal of the Schuylkill Haven boy’s skeletal remains at Schuylkill Memorial Park Thursday. After nearly two hours of work, troopers removed the small grey container from the grave at 2:23pm. After removal, the remains were taken to Pottsville Hospital to be cataloged by Dr. Richard Bindie, then shipped to world renowned forensic pathologist Dr. Anthony Falsetti at the University of Florida. Coroner Joseph Lipsett told WPPA/T102 News what Falsetti might learn from studying the remains:
Lipsett, a retired state police trooper, was involved in the original investigation in 1985. A handful of Reed's family members and various media were kept about 150 yards while the exhumation took place. Sgt. Craig Stine, Schuylkill Haven State Police station commander recaps the events that led to Thursday's retrieval of David Reed's remains, more than two decades after his death:
Reed disappeared in August, 1985 and his decomposed remains were found in a wooded area in Cressona 4 months later. His death was ruled unknown in 1986.

The Schuylkill County Prison board met Wednesday for the first time in the new year. Judge William Baldwin, Chairman, was unanimously re-elected to that position by his fellow board members. County Controller Melinda Kantner was appointed Secretary. Warden Gene Berdanier provided a prison population analysis for 2007. The number of inmates incarcerated there was 296 for the year, consisting of 260 men and 36 women. The month of June was the highest, with an average of 322 inmates. As of Wednesday, 275 inmates were being held at the county prison. Chairman Baldwin announced that an informational meeting is scheduled for next Wednesday with representatives of the US Department of Agriculture about the loan process, which would be necessary to fund a pre-release center to alleviate overcrowding. Baldwin said that several steps, including approval from the state Department of Corrections for the site near the Frackville State Prison, would be necessary before a loan application could be filed with USDA. The feasibility study ordered by the former Board of Commissioners about the county prison system is still ongoing. Commissioner Chairwoman Mantura Gallagher told the prison board that a final report is expected in February. Finally, the Prison Board discussed a proposal from GTL for an upgrade to the inmate phone system. That system is provided for prisoners to be able to make collect calls, and is a revenue generator for the county. Last year, more than $86-thousand-dollars was earned through the phone system. The board of Commissioners is expected to consider the matter in the near future.

Two area men involved in the accidental shooting of a Schuylkill Haven man in 2007 have been sentenced in county court. William Kistler and Marty Shappell were riding along with Leon Wessner, on their way to work in Florida when a gun went off in the truck, striking Wessner. He died at Geisinger Medical Center from his injuries. The incident happened last February in West Brunswick Township. Kistler will serve a total of 9 to 23 months in prison on the charges of simple assault and reckless endangerment. Shappell was sentenced to 7 to 23 months for reckless endangerment, according to the Republican and Herald. Judge D. Michael Stine ordered that the men be allowed to participate in the work release program immediately after they begin their sentence next month.

A fire at a home in Shenandoah that burned Wednesday re-ignited Thursday morning, destroying the property. Fire crews worked the blaze Wednesday afternoon at 219 North Chestnut Street. The property was being renovated by Roy Bowen. Around 5:30am yesterday, flames erupted again. The state police fire marshal will investigate the cause early next week.

State police are investigating a break-in and theft at a sporting goods store in Zion Grove. Between Wednesday night and Thursday afternoon, someone broke into McAfee's Sporting Goods in North Union Township. The thieves took rifles and handguns from the business, along with the cash register.
Frackville state police are asking for information to aid their investigation. Contact them at 874-5300.

A Pottsville woman was involved in a traffic accident in Frackville Wednesday afternoon. Heather Lewis was traveling south on Route 924. As she passed several cars, she lost control of her Jeep Grand Cherokee and crashed into a wooden planter and a vehicle parked at Harper's Auto Body. Lewis's vehicle traveled through the intersection with Catawissa Street and struck another parked truck, and a stop sign. Frackville police expect to charge Lewis with numerous traffic violations.

A former Schuylkill County Commissioner and businessman has died. Franklin Shollenberger, Schuylkill Haven passed away Tuesday at Lehigh Valley Hospital. He was 82 years old. Shollenberger was a lifelong county resident, and active in civic affairs. He was the owner of Westwood Auto Parts, retiring in 1986.
Shollenberger served the county as Treasurer from 1956 to 1960, and County Commissioner from 1984 to 1996. Services will be held Monday night at Jerusalem Lutheran Church in Schuylkill Haven.

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - A state senator on the board of Pennsylvania's student-loan agency is criticizing an ongoing audit of the agency's spending practices. Philadelphia Senator Vince Fumo says the review of the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency's spending by state Auditor General Jack Wagner is
politically motivated.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Philadelphia's new mayor has revoked a license to build a slots casino on wetlands along the Delaware River, chiding the previous administration for rushing through the approvals. Mayor Michael Nutter opposes the waterfront sites of both casinos to be built in Philadelphia, saying no one had fully
studied their potential impact.

ALLENTOWN, Pa. (AP) - Prosectors say two Lehigh Valley high school girls used their cell phones to take pornographic video and photos of themselves, and sent the images to dozens of classmates. The district attorney says he won't prosecute the 40-some Parkland High School students who got the images as long as they show their phones to police by Tuesday to prove the images have been erased.

GREENSBURG, Pa. (AP) - Police say a chess game between two friends at a Westmoreland County apartment turned violent when one put a gun to his head and the other was shot in an ensuing scuffle. Greensburg police say the bullet hit Dennis Kleyn in the elbow and narrowly missed Zachary Lucov's 9-month-old son who was nearby.

ERIE, Pa. (AP) - The attorney for an Erie woman accused of planning a bank robbery that ended in the death of a pizza deliveryman says she probably has a mental disease and is incompetent to help her case. Assistant federal public defender Thomas Patton is asking the court to schedule a competency hearing for Marjorie Diehl-Armstrong.

WASHINGTON (AP) - Tax rebate checks could be on their way to Americans as soon as May. Congressional leaders have forged a deal with the White House that would put more cash into the pockets of consumers in an effort to spark the economy. Typical checks for taxpayers would be $600 for individuals and $1200 for married couples.

UNDATED (AP) - Democrats Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have pulled critical radio ads against each other in South Carolina ahead of tomorrow's presidential primary. They're trying to downplay a feud. A South Carolina poll shows Obama with a slight lead over Clinton and John Edwards a distant third.

RAFAH, Egypt (AP) - Egypt is trying to gradually reseal its broken border with Gaza. Palestinian militants tore down part of the border Wednesday. Border guards in riot gear have been posted along the area of the breach in an effort to keep thousands of Gazans from passing through to stock up on supplies.

BEIRUT, Lebanon (AP) - A car bomb in Beirut has killed at least five people, including a top anti-terror official. The blast rocked a Christian area of the city today and set dozens of cars on fire. Three people were killed in a car bombing earlier this month apparently aimed at employees of the U.S. Embassy.

WASHINGTON (AP) - President Bush's final State of the Union address Monday may sound familiar. The president will recycle past proposals in remarks that are expected to last about 45 minutes. White House aides acknowledge that since the president has so little time left in office, there's not much point in pushing new plans.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Today's News- Thursday, January 24th

The remains of a Schuylkill Haven boy who died under mysterious circumstances more than 20 years ago will be exhumed today. State police investigator Trooper Robert Betnar said yesterday that David Reed's remains will be removed from their resting place at Schuylkill Memorial Park at 1pm today. Reed disappeared in August, 1985 and his decomposed remains found four months later near the Schuylkill Haven/Cressona borough line. A firm conclusion as to the cause of death was not able to be made at that time, but new information and the availability of forensic technology will hopefully give investigators answers as to the boy’s death. The remains will be sent to a forensic pathologist's lab in Florida for study. An area of the cemetery will be cordoned off for the media and family and friends of David Reed today.

A Schuylkill County woman, who was fired last year for posing in a men’s magazine while a Berks County Prison guard, is back on the job. 29-year-old Holly Hull appeared in Playboy last March in a simulated corrections officer's uniform. She was fired by the prison warden in April for improper conduct. An arbitrator recommended that Hull be reinstated to the job as a guard, and Warden George Wagner agreed to allow her to return to the $41 thousand dollar a year position, but she was not granted back pay. Hull told the Reading Eagle that she didn’t think anyone would recognize her in the photo shoot when she posed for the layout in 2006. Prisoners at the Berks County facility are allowed to subscribe to men’s magazines like Playboy, but does not permit magazines that depict graphic sexual acts.

The Schuylkill County Sheriff's office has a new weapon to help control prisoners in their care, thanks to a gift from the Pottsville Housing Authority. At Wednesday's work session, Sheriff Harold Rowan asked the Commissioners for a supplemental budget appropriation of $1-thousand-dollars to purchase the TASER weapon, with monies from the Housing Authority. County DA Jim Goodman requested that the Salary Board consider the hiring of two full-time Assistant District Attorneys. Attorney Bill Reiley resigned his part time position, and Attorney Jennifer Lehman of Washington Township would fill one full time slot, with the difference in salary paid for through a budgetary line item adjustment. A second position, funded for three years by a drug fighting grant through the City of Pottsville, was approved for Michael Stine Jr. of Tamaqua. Both positions pay over $40-thousand-dollars a year. A new Interim Assistant County Clerk position was filled by the board. Marc Freligh of Pottsville had been appointed to the position at last week's meeting, but he chose not to take the job. Patricia Hotsko of Tamaqua was appointed to the position from the secretarial pool at an hourly rate of $16.68 per hour.

The County Election Bureau is gearing up for the April 22nd primary. Director Betty Dries told the Commissioners at Wednesday's work session that poll workers will receive an increase in pay for their work, beginning in April. The raises were budgeted for 2008, and approved by the Commissioners. Dries also said that she is gathering prices for new scanners from Preimer Election Systems, formerly Diebold Election Systems, to read absentee paper ballots on election night. Dries explains what she is looking for:
The Commissioners also approved the annual contract from Premier for programming, audio and site support for the touch-screen voting machines. That contract totals over $46-thousand-dollars. Dries also informed the Commissioners that a Voter Registration Campaign is under way for the upcoming primary, with applications now online through the county's website, She noted that in a Presidential election year, voter turnout is higher than other elections. The effort focuses on 18 year olds who are able to vote for the first time, as well as those who are not registered with either the Republican and Democratic parties. People who are affiliated with other parties are not able to vote in the primary, but may do so in the general election. The deadline for registering to vote in the April primary is March 24th.

Firefighters in Shenandoah made quick work extinguishing a fire in the borough yesterday afternoon.
The call came in around 2:30, where flames were coming from a single home at 219 North Chestnut Street.
Owner Roy Bowen was in the process remodeling the home. It is believed that the fire started in the basement of the home, according to the Republican and Herald. The state police fire marshal and borough fire investigators will continue to investigate an exact cause. No one was injured in the blaze. Shenandoah fire companies were assisted by the Englewood Fire Company from Frackville in fighting the fire.

A Tower City man who looked to run for the Republican nomination for the state house has changed his mind.
Dan Daub, former county GOP party head, had announced his intention to run for the 125th District party nomination on Monday. He tells the Republican and Herald that he will not run, and is throwing his support behind county Recorder of Deeds Matt Dudish, who is considering a run. Citing time and family concerns for the change of heart, Daub said that he is not supporting Gary Hornberger, who also announced his candidacy Monday morning. Hornberger is running a grass roots campaign, and not seeking the county Republican party's blessing nor support. The winner of the nomination will face incumbent Democrat Tim Seip in the November election.

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. (AP) - Four people are dead in two early morning fires in Luzerne County. The first happened in Duryea around 2:30 a.m. Thursday. The second occurred minutes later at an apartment house in
Wilkes-Barre. The Luzerne County deputy coroner confirms three people died in the fire on South Franklin Street in Wilkes-Barre. Officials say about a dozen people lived in the six apartments building. The ages and names of the three who died have not yet been released. The coroner also confirms that one person died in the fire at a house on Main Street in Duryea. The fire broke out around 2:30 a.m. but that victim's name also
has not been released. At least one rescue worker went to the hospital after an ambulance on its way to the fire in Duryea was involved in an accident.

ERIE, Pa. (AP) - Erie County is under a lake effect snow warning, with up to eight inches possible. The National Weather Service says the heaviest snow will fall Thursday morning and that it should taper off in the afternoon. The warning runs through 4 p.m. About four to six inches of snow is expected by late morning
in most areas.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Hillary Clinton says the tension between her and presidential rival Barack Obama will end once the Democratic nomination is finalized. Clinton spoke yesterday in Philadelphia, where she picked up the endorsement of Gov. Ed Rendell. Rendell expressed displeasure with the recent infighting between Clinton and Obama.

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) - Vermont Gov. Jim Douglas will testify before a Senate committee in Washington today about his dismay at the Environmental Protection Agency's refusal to allow his state and 15 others to regulate vehicle emissions. Douglas will join governors from Pennsylvania and Maryland who object to the agency's decision not to grant California a waiver that would have allowed for its first-in-the-nation greenhouse gas limits on cars.

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Hershey, the nation's largest candymaker, says its fourth-quarter profit dropped almost 65 percent as it spent heavily to close plants in North America and expand overseas. Sales were almost flat in what The Hershey Company says is an increasingly competitive environment.

PITTSBURGH (AP) - Pittsburgh Steelers receiver Cedrick Wilson says his ex-girlfriend has kicked him and he fears she would shoot him if she gets a gun. Wilson has made those claims in a protection-from-abuse court order he obtained against 26-year-old Lindsey Paulat of Fawn Township after she allegedly fired two shots
in Wilson's home.

LONDON (AP) - European markets are surging today following yesterday's big rebound on Wall Street. Meanwhile, trading in Asia has closed mixed for the day. U.S. futures show stocks look to be headed toward a moderately higher open.

WASHINGTON (AP) - House Minority Leader John Boehner has promised more information today on a potential bipartisan deal between Congress and the White House on an economic stimulus package. An agreement appears to be close following movement in negotiations last night with Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson.

UNDATED (AP) - Republican John McCain may have the best chance to beat either one of the two Democratic front-runners for the White House in the fall. A new Los Angeles Times-Bloomberg poll shows McCain even with Barack Obama and just four points behind Hillary Clinton. Clinton and Obama each lead the other GOP
contenders by more than 10 points in the survey.

WASHINGTON (AP) - A liberal group is planning on shelling out 8.5 million dollars to ensure President Bush's approval ratings don't improve during his final year in office. Americans United for Change plans an advertising campaign to keep what it calls Bush administration failures in the public eye.

BAGHDAD (AP) - An Iraqi police chief and two other officers have been killed by a suicide bomber while touring the site of yesterday's explosion in Mosul. That attack left at least 34 dead and 224 hurt. Yesterday's violence is still under investigation. The U.S. military is blaming al-Qaida in Iraq for today's bombing.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Today's News-Wednesday, January 23rd

Several people were injured in a crash near Deer Lake yesterday afternoon. After 4pm, 85-year-old Mark Brensinger of Hamburg was traveling north on Route 61 when he struck a car driven by Corey Freed of Orwigsburg, who was attempting to turn onto Laurel Boulevard. Brensinger's car continued on and struck a car driven by Alisha Hartranft of Hamburg, which was southbound on the highway. The Brensinger vehicle hit the guiderail, lost its front tire, crossed the road again and hit a utility pole. The car went down an embankment and struck the basement of a home, landing upside down. Brensinger was life-flighted to Lehigh Valley Hospital. Hartranft and her passenger, Megan Hartranft had minor injuries. Freed was not hurt. A fourth car, driven by Joshua Price of Orwigsburg, was damaged by flying debris from the crash. Lanes of travel on Route 61 were shut down for a time for cleanup. The investigation continues.

A Lancaster County man died in a crash yesterday in Tremont Township. Police say 21-year-old Joshua Manley of Denver, PA was driving south on Route 125, apparently speeding when the car went off the roadway, hitting a guide-wire post and then slamming into a large tree. Manley was pronounced dead at the scene by Deputy Coroner Diane Zimmerman. Manley's passenger, Sean McFadden of Terre Hill was flown to Geisinger Medical Center for treatment. He was reported to be in fair condition by hospital personnel late last night. Police say that the two were not wearing their seatbelts.

A Tamaqua man was severely hurt when he was struck by a car early Tuesday. Derek Bade, age 20, was removing groceries from his car on Spruce Street around 4am when he was struck by a car driven by Chanita Guerrero of Tamaqua. The impact pushed Bade's car up against a building, pinning him underneath it. Emergency personnel prepared Bade for air transport to St. Luke's Hospital. Guerrero was given a blood alcohol test, suspecting that she was driving under the influence. State and Tamaqua police conducted an accident reconstruction at sunrise yesterday, and their investigation continues.

Tamaqua police are investigating a break-in at a borough fire company over the weekend. Thieves forcibly entered the Citizens Fire Company on Rowe Street, and took more than $4-thousand-dollars from the office and a vending machine Saturday morning. If anyone has information about the theft, call Tamaqua police at 668-5000.

The saga of the Pottsville Maroons and the stolen championship is receiving more notoriety, this time from an HBO film crew. The pay-channel sports crew was filming for a piece on Inside the NFL about the 1925 NFL Champions that will air on January 30th at 10pm. The Republican and Herald indicates that the film crew shot interviews with Dr. Jack Dolbin, who played for the Denver Broncos, and Pottsville head football coach Kevin Keating. ESPN sportswriter David Fleming wrote "Breaker Boys: The NFL's Greatest Team and the Stolen 1925 Championship" about the team, and has spearheaded an effort to have the team's championship restored by the NFL owners. An online petition drive has been signed by more than 10-thousand-people to date for the reconsideration.

Participants in the 2007 election have some unfinished business to complete. Betty Dries, Schuylkill County Election Bureau Director, reminds all candidates and candidate committees from the 2007 General Election that Annual Expense Reports must be filed with the bureau by January 31st. If there are any questions, contact the bureau at 628-1467.

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Northampton County District Attorney John
Morganelli is expected to announce that he's seeking the Democratic
nomination for state attorney general. Morganelli has an event
scheduled Wednesday afternoon in the state Capitol Rotunda, where
the announcement is expected.

BELLEFONTE, Pa. (AP) - Software systems engineer Tim Wilson is
running for the state House of Representatives. Wilson is the
second Democrat seeking the Democratic nomination for the seat of
state Rep. Kerry Benninghoff, of Bellefonte. Wilson is 33 years old
and from Spring Township. The district covers parts of Centre and
Mifflin counties.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter is
ordering a complete review of policy on the use of deadly force by
police. Three people have been fatally injured by police gunfire
since New Year's in Philadelphia. Current policy says police may
use firearms only if all other means fail.

ALBION, Pa. (AP) - Two employees at a western Pennsylvania state
prison from which a convicted murderer escaped have been fired. A
spokeswoman for the State Correctional Institution at Albion says
two other employees have been suspended for 30 days without pay.
Malcolm Kysor got away on Nov. 25 and remains at large.

BEAVER FALLS, Pa. (AP) - A Beaver Falls couple is accused of
animal cruelty after their emaciated and burned dog was euthanized.
Officials say Ronald and Rebecca Tomko brought their Great Dane
named Tank to the Western Pennsylvania Humane Society in Pittsburgh
on Jan. 7. An official there says the burns were possibly caused by
a chemical.

TOKYO (AP) - The Fed's big, emergency interest-rate cut has been
good news for Asian markets, which rebounded today from a two-day
plunge based on U.S. recession fears. But European markets slipped
in early trading and U.S. futures suggest the Dow will open down a

DAVOS, Switzerland (AP) - Leading economists are expressing
mixed opinions about whether a U.S. recession could spread around
the world. At the World Economic Forum in Switzerland, economists
do say the overall forecast for the global economy this year is

BAGHDAD (AP) - A drive-by shooting at a checkpoint in central
Baghdad has killed eight Iraqi soldiers and wounded two. The attack
in the heart of Baghdad is seen as an example of the challenges
still faced by Iraqi forces trying to take over their own security

GUADALAJARA, Mexico (AP) - A cousin of missing Marine Cesar
Laurean (SEH'-sahr LOHR'-ee-uhn) says he visited relatives in
Mexico last week. Laurean is wanted in the slaying of a pregnant
colleague. The cousin says Laurean left without saying where he was

NEW YORK (AP) - Actor Mel Gibson says the death of
Oscar-nominated "Brokeback Mountain" star Heath Ledger is a
"tragic loss." Gibson says he had high hopes for Ledger, whose
body was found in a New York apartment with sleeping pills nearby.
An autopsy is scheduled today.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Today's News-Tuesday, January 22nd

A Shenandoah Heights man was busted for various drug counts in a raid yesterday. Keith Barlow, age 24, was picked up at his home after police and agents from the DA's office executed a warrant at his Florida Avenue home before 5pm. Authorities seized marijuana, cocaine, other drug paraphernalia and the means to grow pot in a hydroponic garden in the apartment. Police also retrieved a stolen gun. The Republican and Herald says that a 17 year old girl was at the residence at the time of the raid. Charges are pending against her, but she was released to the custody of her mother.

The field for the GOP nomination in the 125th Legislative District widened yesterday. Former County Controller Gary Hornberger announced his candidacy for the nomination on WPPA and T102 yesterday morning. He states that he is running without the blessing or support of the county party. Former county Republican Party chairman Dan Daub of Tower City announced that he is also running for the Republican nomination in April. At a meeting of the Schuylkill County Teenage Republicans last night, candidates made their pitch for support from the group. County Recorder of Deeds Matt Dudish is also contemplating a run for the seat, currently held by first termer Tim Seip. He announced his re-election bid over the weekend. The Republican and Herald reports that newly re-elected county Prothonotary PJ Symons is contemplating a run against long-time state Senator Jim Rhoades. Rhoades has not yet announced his re-election bid. A former Pennsylvania State Trooper, Toni Gilhooley, is running as a Republican against US Congressman Tim Holden. Gillhooley got the Teenage Republicans backing at the gathering at Maroons Sports Bar and Grill.

State Police are investigating a fatal crash this morning here in the county that claimed the life of a Denver, Pennsylvania man. The crash happened just before four this morning on Tremont Road that's Route 125 in Tremont Township. Police say 21-year-old Joshua Manley was driving south on Route 125, apparently speeding when the car went off the roadway, hitting a guide-wire post and then slamming into a large tree. Manley was pronounced dead at the scene by Deputy Coroner Diane Zimmerman. Manley’s passenger, Sean McFadden of Terre Hill was flown to Geisinger Medical Center for treatment. Police say that the two were not wearing their seatbelts.

The police chief in the borough of Lykens is out of a job. The borough council terminated Chris Wade as its top cop, following a suspension relating to accusations that he took money seized in drug busts, and failed to divulge a prior arrest when he was hired. The Patriot News of Harrisburg reports that Dauphin County authorities charged Wade with taking the money after a search of his home uncovered some of the cash.
Wade worked for Lykens borough police since 2005.

Police in Sunbury, Northumberland County spent part of the day Monday afternoon looking for a murder weapon. The Daily Item reports several police officers along with volunteer fire fighters spent several hours in the blistering cold looking for the weapon used in Friday's deadly slayings of a man and woman in Sunbury. It's believed 39-year-old Michael Harrell used a sawed off .30 caliber rifle in the shootings of 25-year-old David Moore and 24-year-old Crystal Scholl-Gordon at an apartment in the 200 block of North Fourth Street. Harrell remains in custody, however he has not been officially charged with the murders.
There's no word if the murder weapon was found.

A Schuylkill County rehab center has earned another three-year accreditation. Schuylkill Rehabilitation Center announced that it has received another three-year accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities. Currently, there are about 130 outpatient medical rehabilitation centers throughout the United States. Schuylkill Rehabilitation Center is accredited in both single service and multiple disciplinary out patient therapy services. Pennsylvania has only 3 multi and 11 single service therapy CARF accredited programs in the state. CARF establishes national and international standards of excellence in rehabilitation of which the facility strives to achieve.

Rendell budget counts on economic growth; doomsday discounted
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Gov. Ed Rendell is predicting his toughest budget season since his first year in office.
He's still counting on economic growth in the coming year, but with the economy in a tailspin, he expects growth at a slower pace than the previous three years. Rendell isn't ready to pull any austerity measures out of his toolbox. Budgetmakers and economists say it's just too early to know whether Pennsylvania's financial situation will turn dire.

Former congressman to run for state House
LEVITTOWN, Pa. (AP) - A former suburban Philadelphia congressman who lost his seat to an Iraq war veteran on 2006 says he will run for the state Legislature this year. Republican Michael Fitzpatrick says he will run for the 142nd District seat now held by Democratic state Rep. Chris King. Fitzpatrick has been practicing law since he was defeated by Democratic challenger Patrick Murphy in the 2006 election. Murphy is being challenged this year by Republican candidate Tom Manion, whose son was killed in Iraq. Murphy opposes the war in Iraq and Manion supports it. Most of the congressional district is in Bucks County, in Philadelphia's northern suburbs.

UPDATE: School workers picket, meetings planned
DANVILLE, Pa. (AP) - School board members are preparing for a closed meeting prior to a 7 p.m. public meeting to discuss the strike by support workers in the Danville Area School District. The board has called off classes for a second day Tuesday as cafeteria workers, custodians and secretaries picket. The board
will consider whether to change its contract offer, then seek public input on issues including pay.
Superintendent Susan Bickford says the board may consider opening for half days to get children back in class without operating cafeterias. Workers in the Montour County district overwhelmingly rejected a
contract offer Saturday. The 137 members of the Professional Support Personnel at Danville have been without a new contract for two years. The school district serves 2,600 students.

Catholic school says city's STD video not in line with teachings
PHILADELPHIA (AP) - A Roman Catholic school didn't like the results it got after inviting a Philadelphia public health nurse to speak about sexually transmitted diseases. Archdiocese officials say a video shown to Archbishop Ryan Catholic High School students last week had a message that contradicts church teachings. The video says that those who are going to be sexually active should use protection. But the church
teaches that abstinence is the only way. Officials say 50 students who attended three workshops will meet
with school officials to reaffirm the church's stance on abstinence. Archbishop Ryan High School has more than 2,000 students in ninth through 12th grades.

NEW: School board member accused of assault
SAXONBURG, Pa. (AP) - A school board member in Butler County is accused of assaulting a woman at his Saxonburg bar. Mark Rowe of Saxonburg and the woman were at his bar, Rowe's Tavern, early Friday morning. Police say Rowe refused to allow the woman to leave the bar and the two fell to the floor. Police accuse Rowe of then picking the woman up by her neck and striking her in the face. Rowe, who's also a lawyer, was sworn in last week to the South Butler County School Board. Rowe was arraigned Saturday on aggravated assault, reckless endangerment, unlawful restraint and other charges. He is free on $15,000 bond. A message left for Rowe was not immediately returned.

Police hope DNA will help ID infant found in '84 and mother
MILLVILLE, Pa. (AP) - A DNA profile has been made for a newborn whose decomposing remains were found 24 years ago in Columbia County. Fortunately for today's investigators, police saved a bone sample back in 1984, so there was no need to dig up the remains for a DNA test. The results have been logged in a national DNA database in hopes of someday finding a match. The infant's remains, with a portion of the umbilical cord still attached, were apparently mutilated by animals. They were found in a yard along the Austin Trail near Millville in July 1984. Authorities say the infant is believed to have been a boy.

Panel meets this week to discuss changes to Pa. dog law
ALLENTOWN, Pa. (AP) - A board appointed by Gov. Ed Rendell meets this week to discuss reforming the state dog law. The goal is to crack down on puppy mills and dirty kennels. The Dog Law Advisory Board is to meet in Harrisburg on Wednesday. The board plans to examine both a new draft dog law and revised administrative regulations put forth by Rendell's aides. The dog law covers the licensing of nearly 1 million dogs statewide, around 2,600 kennels, and the handling of strays and dangerous dogs. The regulations spell out how government employees will enforce the law. But animal organization leaders are worried that the Rendell
administration is confusing matters by changing administrative regulations and the dog law itself at the same time.

NEW: Pa. animal cruelty hot line launched
PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Pennsylvania animal rescue officials hope a new toll-free hot line will make it easier for those who witness abuse of animals to get help. The Pennsylvania Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to
Animals plans to officially launch its statewide toll-free line on Feb. 1. But Executive Director Howard Nelson says calls to the line are already being answered. The number is 1-866-601-SPCA. The nonprofit PSPCA is based in Philadelphia, with six satellite facilities across the state and a staff of 14 law enforcement agents with authority to enforce animal cruelty laws. Nelson says abuse cases have been increasing. The group
responded to 8,000 calls last year, up from 6,000 in 2006.

NEW: Pirates break ground Tuesday on Dominican Republic complex
PITTSBURGH (AP) - The Pittsburgh Pirates plan to break ground Tuesday on a training center in the Dominican Republic. It will be similar in appearance to the Pirates' minor league complex in Bradenton, Fla.
The site in El Toro will be the headquarters for the Pirates' Latin American operations. The Pirates have 20 scouts in nine countries in the region, including Mexico, Colombia, Nicaragua and Panama. The president of the Dominican Republic, Leonel Fernandez Reyna, is expected to attend the groundbreaking ceremony on a 46-acre site recently purchased by the Pirates. The complex is expected to be completed in about 18 months. The current one has only one field and no housing. The Pirates' Dominican Summer League team will be based at the training center.

NEW: South Phila. development proposal to be announced
PHILADELPHIA (AP) - An announcement is planned Tuesday about a development proposal for part of the South Philadelphia Sports Complex. The announcement is to be made by Comcast-Spectacor, the sports
division of Comcast Corp. Last week, Comcast-Spectacor's president said that the Wachovia Spectrum could be demolished to make room for an entertainment complex. The city owns the property but gave Comcast development rights when it built the neighboring Wachovia Center, which opened in 1996. The Spectrum once held big-league pro basketball and hockey games. It is now home to minor league hockey, indoor soccer,
concerts and other events. It's uncertain where the teams will go if they're evicted.

NEW: Former hospital to be razed for arena
PITTSBURGH (AP) - Demolition of the former St. Francis Central Hospital is expected to begin later this week or next week to make way for a new arena for the Pittsburgh Penguins. The city-county Sports and Exhibition Authority has already razed a dozen buildings to make room on the arena site. The 10-story hospital building is the largest and will make way for a 500-car garage. Officials say Michigan contractor Homrich Inc. is being paid $868,000 to raze the hospital. The new $290 million arena will replace Mellon Arena, where the
hockey team currently plays. The Penguins plan to open the new 18,500-seat arena in time for the 2010-11 season.

NEW: Gettysburg Elks close building
GETTYSBURG, Pa. (AP) - The Gettysburg Elks Lodge says the building it moved into in 2006 is closing its doors. Chairman Tom Ford of the Elks' house committee says that shuts down the social side of the century-old Gettysburg club. The group began with a meeting of about 150 members, most of them doctors and
lawyers, in 1906. Ford says the club was unable to pay for hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of renovations to the building and make the large mortgage payments on the property. Ford says he can't say the Gettysburg Elks will never reopen at another location, but at present it is not economically feasible.

NEW YORK (AP) - The Federal Reserve has cut a key interest rate by three-quarters of a percentage point. The move comes after a global stock sell-off fanned by growing fears of a U.S. recession. It's the biggest one-day move by the central bank in recent memory.

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (AP) - "No Country for Old Men" and "There Will Be Blood" are the leaders with eight Academy Awards nominations each, including best picture and acting honors for Daniel Day-Lewis and Javier Bardem. However, it remains to be seen whether any actors will show up for the ceremony, because of the writers strike. Other nominees for best picture are "Atonement," "Juno," and "Michael Clayton."

WASHINGTON (AP) - Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson is calling on Congress and the White House to agree quickly on an economic stimulus package. President Bush is set to meet with congressional leaders today to discuss ways to boost the economy.

BAGHDAD (AP) - A suicide attacker targeted an Iraqi high school today, just as students and teachers were arriving. Authorities say a bystander was killed, and more than 20 people were wounded.

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Illegal immigrants in Michigan can no longer get driver's licenses, starting today. The new policy also keeps people who are legal but not permanent U.S. residents from getting licenses. A bill to let people on temporary work or student visas get licenses is pending in the state's legislature.

Monday, January 21, 2008


012008- Theft at Pinedale Self Storage


Unknown thieves got away with a cache’ of items from an Orwigsburg man’s self storage unit over the past week.

Between Saturday, January 12th and Thursday, January 17th, Schuylkill Haven state police say that the unit rented by Michael Stramara at Pinedale Self Storage was broken into and numerous items taken.

Reported as stolen were several mountain bikes, valued at almost $29-hundred dollars.

Anyone with information should contact state police at 593-2000.



















Saturday, January 19, 2008

Today's News-Saturday, January 19th

NORTH MANHEIM TOWNSHIP - A Pottsville woman is dead following an accident early Friday morning in Schuylkill Haven. State police say that Barbara Tenney and James Smith, both of Pottsville, were traveling south on Route 61, following each other in the left hand lane. 55-year-old Frances Eichert was on foot, attempting to cross Route 61 from University Drive when she struck the driver’s side rear of Tenney's car. After impact, Eichert was struck by Smith's driver's side. Eichert was pronounced dead at the scene. The crash happened around 7:40am.

MAHANOY CITY - A significant drug bust was executed at a home in Mahanoy City yesterday morning, seizing a large cache' of heroin. Mahanoy City PD and agents from the DA's drug task force executed a warrant at the home on West South Street. Six people were taken into custody. Among those arrested were Jennifer Davila, of Mahanoy City, Emmanuel Morel of New York City and Kyle Wronski of Morea. Two juveniles were also nabbed. A Connecticut man, Ales Rojas, took off from the home but was apprehended quickly. A backpack filled with heroin and other paraphernalia had been tossed by Rojas onto the roof of a neighboring home, but was picked up. The seizure netted 600 bags of heroin, along with weapons, cash and cell phones apparently used in the drug trade. A stash of marijuana was also uncovered. The four adults were arraigned and are housed in the county prison.

POTTSVILLE - A freshman legislator from the 125th Legislative District is seeking re-election. Tim Seip of Pine Grove will announce his bid for a second two-year term in Harrisburg on Sunday. Seip cites unfinished business that he wants to complete in a second term. He will make his circuit run to announce his re-election tomorrow with two stops. First, at the Centerport Lions Club at noon and at the Sweet Arrow Lake Club House at 3pm.

POTTSVILLE - In observance of the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King and Christian Unity Week, the Unity Coalition of Schuylkill County is hosting a special event on Sunday. The group, in existence since 1998, promotes the understanding of diversity in our community. At the Sovereign Majestic Theatre tomorrow, there will be a special showing of the Peace Tree Movie, a heartwarming film which shares the message of embracing different cultures. It is the group’s hope that the movie will spark discussion and understanding of cultural diversity. In addition to the film, which will be shown at 2pm at the Sovereign Majestic, there will be activities for the kids, including the opportunity to make ornaments for a Peace Trees that will be on display throughout the county. Tickets are $5 for adults. Children are free, but must be accompanied by an adult.

SCHUYLKILL HAVEN - New life continues to blossom at a former factory in Schuylkill Haven. The Walk-In Shoe Company, which closed more than a decade ago, was acquired by Albert Evans Jr. and his company, Evans Delivery in 2002. The manufacturing portion is expected to be used for a community and cultural center. And yesterday, a $23-thousand-dollar grant from the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources will help to get that project going in a portion of the 90-thousand-square foot space. Walk-In Shoe was a major supplier of children’s orthopedic shoes worldwide for many years before closing. A portion of the building is also under renovation as the new home of the Schuylkill Haven police department. Their new space on the second floor of the factory is expected to be ready in spring.

MINERSVILLE - Minersville police responded to a crash in the borough Friday morning. 19 year old Tristan Killian was traveling east on Berger Street at an unsafe speed on the snow and ice covered road. He lost control of his vehicle and collided with a concrete abutment, severely damaging his vehicle. Killian will be cited by Minersville police for traveling at an unsafe speed.

POTTSVILLE - The County Commissioners made several appointments and reappointments during their board meeting Wednesday. James Setlock of Orwigsburg was reappointed to a four-year term on the Planning Commission. Joseph Chiaretti of Girardville and Kenneth Lehman of Pine Grove were appointed to four-year terms as new members of the planning commission. Michael Chickersky of Gorden was reappointed to a three-year term on the Zoning Hearing board and Craig Shields of Pottsville was appointed to a five-year term on the Schuylkill County Airport Authority. The Prison board will meet next Wednesday at 11am in the Commissioners board room.

SUNBURY - Police give few details of a double homicide in Northumberland County during a press conference. Police did identify the female victim. She is 24-year old Crystal Gordon of Selinsgrove. The male victim, a black man in his 20s, has not been identified pending notification of next of kin. The two were shot in an apartment on 4th Street in Sunbury around one Friday morning. Both victims bodies are undergoing autopsies at Lehigh Valley Medical Center. Police say they do have a suspect in custody but did not name that person. They have not found the murder weapon. They are using a helicopter to continue to search for evidence. They also executed a search warrant for a home on Fairmount Avenue in Sunbury yesterday morning, but would not say whether it was the suspects home or not.

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - Republican John McCain is hoping to hold off Mike Huckabee in South Carolina's GOP primary today and score a follow-up victory to his New Hampshire win. A Fox News poll shows McCain with a slight lead. A Carolina snowfall could hurt turnout.

LAS VEGAS (AP) - Democrat Hillary Clinton is gambling that an attack on Barack Obama over comments admiring Ronald Reagan will win her more delegates in today's Nevada caucuses. Obama has been endorsed by a powerful union that represents 60,000 workers on the Las Vegas strip.

WHITE HOUSE (AP) - President Bush will be using his radio address this morning to reiterate the need for congressional action to stimulate the economy. Congressman Barney Frank will speak for the Democrats. He says they stand ready to work with Republicans to put together a bipartisan package that will include tax rebates for most Americans. President Bush's endorsement of an economic stimulus package failed to rally Wall Street yesterday as it wrapped up a bad week. An analyst says investors are "disappointed in the size" of the stimulus package, which the president puts at up to 150 billion dollars.

KIRKUK, Iraq (AP) - A double bombing has killed at least two people observing a Shiite holiday in northern Iraq. Five more people are hurt in the attack that took place during a traditional holiday march. Iraqi officials have stepped up security to protect processions during the week-long celebration.

WASHINGTON (AP) - Former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge says there is no doubt in his mind that waterboarding is torture, under any set of rules. Current Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff says the question of waterboarding must be asked in the context of specific facts.

MEXICO CITY (AP) - Federal agents acting on a tip have found six bodies buried in a shallow grave at a house in northern Mexico. An anonymous caller told police that the house, about 250 miles south of El Paso, Texas, is used by the Juarez drug cartel.

LOS ANGELES (AP) - A former Los Angeles gang member who started an anti-violence group called No Guns has pleaded no contest to federal weapons charges. The group received one and a-half million dollars in city funds last year. The contract was canceled after authorities found out the founder had hired his gang member son to work for the group.

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) - Police in Florida say eight men whose skeletal remains were discovered in Fort Myers last year were murdered. Police aren't saying how they died and have stopped short of tying the murders to a serial killer. Only two of the men have been identified.

WASHINGTON (AP) - A problem on the drawing board for NASA's next generation of spacecraft. The rocket being designed to help lift astronauts to the moon could shake so violently after lift off that it could destroy the entire vehicle. NASA hopes to have a fix for the design flaw in a matter of months.

HONOLULU (AP) - An autopsy shows a toddler thrown off a pedestrian overpass onto a busy Honolulu freeway Thursday was killed by the 30-foot fall, not by the car that hit him. Police are investigating how the 23-year-old suspect in the case got hold of the child.

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Striking writers could begin informal talks with Hollywood studios as early as next week in an effort to end their two-month walkout. That word follows a tentative agreement with the studios and the directors union.

LOS ANGELES (AP) - St. Louis' "first lady of sports" has died. Georgia Frontiere brought the NFL's Rams to her hometown from Los Angeles in 1995. Frontiere inherited the franchise from the sixth of her seven husbands. She was 80 and had been hospitalized with breast cancer.

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) - A popular Malaysian rock singer has been deemed too hot for TV. The singer has slapped with a three-month ban for taking his shirt off during a live television concert. Malaysia's communications commission calls the stunt "insensitive" to viewers and the country's culture.