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.


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