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.


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