Thursday, February 14, 2008

Today's News-Thursday, February 14th

The deadline for New World Systems to solve its software problems with the county’s computer system expired Wednesday without any progress in solving the issues and the county is preparing for the next step.
Following Wednesday's County Commissioners meeting Assistant County Solicitor Jay Jones told WPPA / T-102 news that the County plans to go ahead with the termination of the contract and proceed with litigation….
Jones #1 (0010)….
Last week, the county hired Peter Vogel of Dallas, Texas, an expert in computer technology to analyze the Million-Dollar system and help in its case against New World. Jones said the county will meet with Vogel next week at the Courthouse to plan their next move….
Jones #2 (0011)
The system was purchased to reconcile differences in budget periods between the county and some human services departments, which run on the state's budget calendar.

The former executive of Schuylkill Products Incorporated pleaded guilty yesterday to conspiracy charges in federal court. 59-year-old Dennis Campbell, a former vice president of sales and marketing for the concrete beam manufacturer, appeared in federal court in Harrisburg. A 21-month investigation into federal contracts that were to go to minority-owned businesses, but the work was done by Schuylkill Products and their engineering subsidiary, resulted in the plea deal between federal prosecutors and Campbell. He faces up to 5 years in prison and a quarter million dollars in fines. According to a press release from the Department of Justice, from 1993 to 2007, Schuylkill Products and the engineering company used a disadvantaged business enterprise, Connecticut-based Marikina Engineers and Construction, to get $121-million dollars in contracts for transportation projects, but passed them through to Schuylkill Products. Marikina was paid a fee by Schuylkill Products to essentially rent their name to gain the contracts. The investigation was conducted by the Justice Department, the FBI and other federal agencies. Campbell, of Orwigsburg, agreed to cooperate with federal authorities in the on-going investigation.

The proposed Intermodal Trade and Transit Center project in Pottsville is moving forward with the acquisition of a property by the city of Pottsville. The Republican and Herald reports that the former Life Centre Foursquare Gospel Church was purchased for $380-thousand-dollars last week. The purchase of a second property at 300 South Centre Street, owned by Edward Mates, is also being negotiated. The properties are a key part of the plans to construct a bus terminal, train station and the Schuylkill County Visitors Bureau in a $10 million dollar undertaking. It is hoped that rail transportation would also return to the city. Funding has been committed from local, state and federal agencies. Construction plans and studies will now commence to move the project forward. It has been in the works for several years.

Three people escaped injury in a two vehicle crash on a snow covered Route 61 in East Norwegian Township Tuesday afternoon. Charles Brobst of Minersville, and his passenger, Elaine Brobst, were driving in the passing lane on Route 61 south. Larry Bolin of Wadsworth, Ohio was driving a tractor trailer northbound.
Brobst lost control of his car and hit the front end of Bolin’s rig. His car then spun around and came to a stop in the northbound lane. The crash happened around 1:30pm Tuesday.

A Schuylkill Haven woman was involved in a wreck on a slush covered road yesterday afternoon in Berks County. State police at Hamburg say that 44-year-old Joanne Manganiello was traveling south on Hill Road in Tilden Township when she lost control and left the roadway, striking an embankment. Her Chevy Blazer rolled onto the driver's side. She was not hurt, but will be cited in the 5pm crash.

A Lebanon man was involved in a crash in Pine Grove yesterday morning. 38-year-old Jason Martin was southbound on State Route 645 when he lost control and his van struck a mailbox, slid down an embankment and rolled over, coming to rest in a stream. Martin was wearing his seatbelt. He did not request medical attention. He will be cited for driving too fast for conditions.

A Ringtown man is in Schuylkill County Prison on assault charges following an incident in Sheppton on Tuesday. State police from Frackville report that Michael Jevelle and Tina Layton were involved in a romantic relationship. Troopers conducting an investigation arrested Jevelle at his home after receiving a complaint that he forced Layton into a car after visiting a business on Route 924. Jevelle was arraigned on simple assault charges and lodged in the county prison.

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Gov. Ed Rendell says Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's gender could be as much of an obstacle for her presidential campaign as Sen. Barack Obama's race may be for his. In an interview Wednesday on MSNBC, Rendell defended his recent comments to the editorial board of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. He told the editorial board that some white Pennsylvanians are likely to vote against Obama because he is black. Rendell said, "Senator Clinton has the same handicap."

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - The state House has made changes to a centerpiece of Democratic Gov. Ed Rendell's energy independence strategy, adding provisions to expand wind power and subsidize green buildings. The amendments also would encourage homeowners to install more efficient heating systems and help install pollution controls at smaller coal-burning power plants.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - New Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter is planning to propose a $4 billion budget to City Council. Nutter is expected to include increased spending for the police and fire departments in his first budget presentation Thursday. Other departments may be trimmed. Nutter also plans to lower city wage
and business privilege taxes.

MONROEVILLE, Pa. (AP) - Monroeville Mayor James Lomeo has resigned. Lomeo handed in his resignation on Tuesday, saying he was quitting because he was at odds with the municipal council on several issues. Lomeo is a real estate attorney who was first elected in November 2001. The Democrat was re-elected in 2005. Council has 45 days to pick an interim mayor.

SCRANTON, Pa. (AP) - Lackawanna County voters will use a touch-screen system to vote in the April 22 primary. The county commissioners have decided to use machines from Premier Election Solutions. Those machines are already used in 16 other counties. Lackawanna County voters used touch-screen machines in three previous elections, but the state decertified that system.

ATLANTA (AP) - U.S. health officials are urging that Gulf Coast hurricane victims be moved out of government-issued trailers as quickly as possible because of toxic levels of formaldehyde fumes.
Tests on hundreds of trailers and mobile homes in Louisiana and Mississippi show they had about five times the amount people are exposed to in most modern homes.

PENTAGON (AP) - It's been one year since President Bush ordered the troop surge in Iraq, and the U.S. military is using the anniversary to mark some success. A spokesman says the extra 30,000 troops sent to Iraq starting last Valentine's Day helped achieve "a dramatic dropoff in the levels of violence."

CAIRO, Egypt (AP) - The purported head of the terror group, Islamic State of Iraq, wants to use Iraq as a "launching pad" to seize Jerusalem. In the 30-minute audiotape, Abu Omar al-Baghdadi calls for attacks on Israel and the liberation of Palestine. The group is an affiliate of al-Qaida.

WASHINGTON (AP) - President Bush begins a six-day visit to Africa this weekend. But even though violent conflicts threatens nearly every corner of the continent, turmoil and trouble are not expected to be Topic A for the president. He'll be promoting efforts to fight disease and poverty and promoting growth,
development and security.

RIPON, Wis. (AP) - A tiny liberal arts college in Wisconsin is trying to get incoming freshman to give up cars to help solve a nagging shortage of parking places. And any freshman who promises not to bring a car to campus for a full year will get a Trek 820 mountain bike, a helmet and a lock. It's a $400 value.


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