Friday, February 15, 2008

Today's News-Friday, February 15th

A church rectory in McAdoo was heavily damaged by fire Thursday morning. The blaze broke out at St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church rectory on Cleveland Street around 9:30am. A priest discovered the fire on an upper floor of the office building. Crews from McAdoo and surround communities responded quickly to the blaze. One firefighter was overcome with breathing problems while fighting the fire. State police Fire Marshal John Burns said that an overloaded circuit caused the blaze, originating in the ceiling above the third floor. Damages are in excess of $100-thousand-dollars.

A Mahanoy City woman will spend time in prison for taking money from her former employer. 36-year-old Holly Laudeman was sentenced yesterday in Schuylkill County Court. She admitted to taking more than $400- thousand-dollars from Trinity Mission Health and Rehabilitation in Shenandoah. She pleaded guilty to those charges in November. The Republican and Herald reports that Laudeman created fake payroll records for her boyfriend, while working in the human resources department. The payments went on for nearly four years, even though he was never employed by Trinity. Laudeman will serve nine to 23 months in prison, and will be required to make restitution to Trinity for the monies taken.

A hearing is scheduled for today at Penn State Schuylkill Campus to discuss the problem of reassessments on properties when they are bought and sold. The House Local Government Committee is holding the hearing to talk about "spot" reassessments. These evaluations are done when properties are sold, and affect the amount of property taxes paid by the homeowner. 125th District Representative Tim Seip comments on the problem of these reassessments:
Two bills, introduced by Seip, would ban the re-valuations. The bills are co-sponsored by Neal Goodman, 123rd District representative, and Keith McCall of Carbon County. The hearing will be held at the John E. Morgan Auditorium at 10:30am. The public is invited.

The deadline to register to vote or make changes to current voter registration to be eligible to vote in Pennsylvania's April Presidential Primary Election is March 24th. Elizabeth Dries, Director of Schuylkill County Voter Registration/Election Bureau issued that reminder Wednesday. She also said that all county residents that are eligible registered Democrats and Republicans will vote using the new touch screen machines in the upcoming primary scheduled for April 22nd. Voter registration forms can be obtained at the post office, municipal buildings or by visiting the county web site at and download the forms. Dries said absentee ballot applications for electors with an illness, disability or who will be out of the municipality on election day can also obtain an application at the web site. Absentee ballots must be completed and mailed before the April 15 Deadline in order to receive a paper absentee ballot. All voter registration & absentee ballot applications must be mailed to Election Bureau Headquarters at 420 North Center Street, Pottsville, Pa 17901.

The Pottsville Business Association welcomed two new businesses to the downtown section of the city Thursday with welcome boxes of gifts from area merchants. They are Lisa's Ladle at 17 North Center Street and Schuylkill Area Community Foundation at 216 South Center Street. Lisa’s Ladle is operated by Lisa Wapinsky, who along with her husband owned and operated "The Store" in the Yorkville section of Pottsville before moving downtown. They are open for breakfast and lunch. Schuylkill Area Community Foundation Executive Director Eileen Kuperavage explained the services her organization provides….. PBA Association members offically welcome each new business that locates anywhere in the city with welcome boxes of gifts from area merchants.

The Schuylkill YMCA has a lot to celebrate at this year’s “Spirit of the Y” Dinner. The organization moved into, and are renovating their new home at 502 North Centre Street in Pottsville, the former National Guard Armory. Y Executive Director Wayne Stump is excited:
The dinner draws a large crowd each year, for the fundraising auction and the guest speakers. This year, the Schuylkill YMCA welcomes golf trick shot artist Ben Witter. Stump asked Witter to speak, because of the story he has to tell:
The Spirit of the Y Dinner will be held on Wednesday, March 5th at the Schuylkill Country Club in Orwigsburg. For reservations call the Schuylkill YMCA at 622-7850.

The Schuylkill County Commissioners approved a new three-year contract for prison officers and maintenance workers at their board meeting Wednesday. At last week's work session, Assistant County Solicitor Jay Jones said the agreement calls for a 3-percent salary increase each year and several policy changes. Jones said a new sick leave policy requires a doctor's certification for any sick days and a disciplinary system to deal with violations of the policy. He said the new sick leave policy will help reduce overtime costs. In another policy change, employees hired after January 1st will not be eligible for post retirement health benefits that are offered to retirees under other contracts. The new contract replaces one that expired at the end of 2007.

Five bids received by the County for renovations at the William Penn Fire Company have been rejected because they exceeded the amount budgeted for the project. The lowest base bid came in at $136,800. The project included a roof replacement and rest rooms that comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. In other business, the Commissioners approved advertising a public hearing scheduled for March 5th for a Community Development Block Grant program. The purpose of the hearing is to provide citizens an opportunity to comment on the community development and housing needs of the county. The Commissioners announced that the courthouse will be closed Monday February 18th in observance of President's Day.

Superdelegates rethinking support for Clinton

WASHINGTON (AP) - A Pennsylvania "superdelegate" to the Democratic National Convention who used to support Hillary Rodham Clinton is now uncommitted. Sophie Masloff is just one former Clinton superdelegate who's backing away from the New York sentator. Georgia Congressman David Scott says he intends to vote for Obama Barack Obama at the Democratic National Convention. He's citing the wishes of his constituents. He represents a district that gave more than 80 percent of its vote to Obama in Georgia's Democratic primary earlier this month. Fellow Georgia Congressman John Lewis says he isn't ready to abandon his backing for the former first lady. But several associates say the nationally known civil rights figure has become increasingly torn about his early endorsement of Clinton.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers blocks plan to dam Susquehanna

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. (AP) - A northeastern Pennsylvania congressman says he will look into appealing a ruling by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The ruling prevents an inflatable dam from being built across the Susquehanna River in Wilkes-Barre. The corps says it concluded that the dam wasn't the least environmentally damaging way to control floods in the area. U.S. Rep. Paul Kanjorski says the dam would spur development along the river's edge and rejuvenate the old industrial city. He says there needs to be a steady and predictable water level to use the river for recreation. Environmentalists opposed the dam. They noted that the stretch of the Susquehanna between Scranton and Wilkes-Barre is among the most fouled segments of the river.

Archdiocese defrocks priest accused of molestation over 2 decades

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - The Archdiocese of Philadelphia says a priest who's accused of molesting nearly a dozen boys has been defrocked. David Sicoli was moved from church to church over two decades. He had his ministry restricted in 2004, when the allegations first surfaced. He now has been removed from the clerical state, meaning he may no longer perform any function as a priest anywhere. Sicoli began his priesthood in 1975. He was among priests named as abusive in a 2005 Philadelphia grand jury report on sexual abuse in the church. Between May 1975 and July 2004, Sicoli spent time at parishes in Philadelphia, Ambler, Levittown and Yeadon. Sicoli was last known to be living in Philadelphia, but it's unclear where he lives now.

ACLU sues to 'fix' Pennsylvania marriage law

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Lawsuits are in progress to determine who's qualified to preside over weddings in Pennsylvania. The issue arose after a September decision by a York County judge invalidating a marriage because the officiant had no regular congregation or house of worship. He had been ordained over the Internet. The American Civil Liberties Union says by the standard used by the judge, a lot of people widely accepted as clergy wouldn't be allowed to perform weddings. For example, a retired pastor who's still ordained wouldn't qualify. the ACLU says some county officials have been telling couples that their marriages aren't valid when solemnized by "itinerant ministers." The ACLU has filed lawsuits in Bucks, Montgomery and Philadelphia counties over the issue.

Countrywide agrees to provide documents in Pa. homeowner case

PITTSBURGH (AP) - Countrywide Financial Corp. has agreed to provide documents related to a loan issued to a Pennsylvania homeowner who filed for bankruptcy. The California-based mortgage lender is facing allegations that it fabricated letters to Sharon Diane Hill of Monroeville. Countrywide withdrew a motion in federal bankruptcy court that sought to limit information requested by Hill and bankruptcy trustees looking into nearly 300 cases involving the company in western Pennsylvania. The lending practices of Countrywide and other mortgage companies have come under scrutiny amid a surge in home loan defaults among borrowers with poor credit histories.

New Pennsylvania law opens more records to the public

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Gov. Ed Rendell has ended Pennsylvania's distinction of having one of the nation's weakest open-records laws. A new law Rendell signed Thursday will give Pennsylvanians access to a wider array of government records when it takes effect in January. It took 13 months for state lawmakers to agree on a bill that they could send to the governor. The measure will force agencies to disclose all records beyond a list of exceptions, instead of the old law's narrow list of public records that are available. Agencies will also be required to prove records they do not want to release can be secret. The old law put the legal burden on citizens to prove why a record must be disclosed.

Comcast 4Q earnings soar 54 percent, will pay a dividend

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Comcast Corp. is reporting a 54 percent increase in fourth-quarter profit. The nation's largest cable operator is crediting solid revenue gains boosted by acquisitions and customers' increased spending for cable TV. Comcast also says it will start paying a 6 and a-quarter cent quarterly dividend at the end of April, bowing to the desires of shareholders unhappy with its weakened stock price. The Philadelphia-based company is pledging that by the end of 2009 it will spend the remaining $6.9 billion it's allotted to buy back shares to satisfy cries from Wall Street to step up its repurchases. In a conference call with analysts, Chief Executive Brian Roberts allayed any concerns that Comcast would mount another expensive acquisition, such as its past bid for Walt Disney Co.

DEKALB, Ill. (AP) - Tears and hugs this morning outside a fraternity house as more than a hundred students remembered Dan Parmenter. He was one of at least five Northern Illinois University students killed by a gunman yesterday. The shooter wounded several other people and then took his own life. Still no word on a motive.

JOHNSON SPACE CENTER, Houston (AP) - Two shuttle astronauts will install an observatory to monitor the sun when they take their final space walk today outside the international space station. They also hope to have time to check out a jammed rotary joint. It turns one of the space station's two sets of solar power wings.

SAN DIEGO (AP) - Search and rescue teams in Southern California have been working all night, looking for motorists stranded by a surprise snowstorm shutdown a mountain interstate near San Diego. There are no reports of serious injuries from fender-benders over the 27-mile stretch of highway that was closed.

WASHINGTON (AP) - The U.S. is notifying other countries that it plans to try to shoot down a U.S. spy satellite loaded with toxic fuel. The fuel could injure or kill people who happened to be near it if it crashed back to Earth. A Navy cruiser could try to hit it with a missile as early as next week.

WHITE HOUSE (AP) - President Bush is set to leave for a trip to Africa tonight. Twelve African nations receive significant U.S. funding for fighting AIDS. Bush will be emphasizing the positive. Liberia is among the countries preparing a friendly welcome. Its leading pop singer has recorded a song honoring him called "Thank You."


At 10:09 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i read the most inisghtful commentary on the inflatable dam


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