Thursday, February 28, 2008

Today's News-Thursday, February 28th

The Schuylkill County Commissioners Wednesday approved the payment of $8-thousand-dollars in filing fees in connection with the pending litigation involving New World Systems and the county. Schuylkill County purchased software from New World Systems for $1-Million Dollars in 2005 that has not worked properly, and after efforts to resolve the problems failed, the county decided to terminate the contract and proceed with litigation. After the commissioners meeting, WPPA/T-102 News and local media met with County Solicitor Eric Mika to question him about the status of the litigation. Mika said there were provisions in the contract that governs what the county can say about the dispute. He did say that the contract contains what is called "Alternative Dispute Resolution", a term that he said has become popular in contracts as alternatives to litigation. Mika said the dispute will now go through the process spelled out in the contact. The media has requested copies of the contract under the open records law and Mika said he will comply with the requests.
Earlier this month, the county hired Dallas Texas Attorney Peter Vogel, an expert in computer technology to evaluate the software. He spent a few days in the county before returning the Texas. The outcome of that visit has not yet been announced. The software 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 County Commissioners approved an appraisal agreement on the 1912 building and land during Wednesday’s Board meeting. The appraisal of the building and 34 acres of land will be done by Hudack Appraisal Service, Frackville at a cost of $45-hundred-dollars and will be completed by April 1st. The Advisory Board of Penn State Schuylkill has offered $450-thousand-dollars for the property. North Manheim Township is also interested in the property. Township officials were given a tour of the building Tuesday. Township officials have been critical of the Commissioners in recent weeks claiming they had not been offered the opportunity to purchase the building. At last week's Commissioners work session, Township Solicitor Thomas Lisella said he would like to have the county, township and Penn State sit down to discuss the matter. He also said sub-division of the land might be a part of the discussion. University officials had said acquiring the land is part of Penn State's master plan for campus expansion. They also said the 1912 building would be demolished to make way for a 12-thousand-square foot multipurpose center.

Schuylkill Products Incorporated are moving oversized loads in the next several days to a construction project in Maryland. The Cressona-based concrete beam manufacture will begin transporting loads at 9 and 11am this morning, and at the same times Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Traffic delays are expected at the intersections of Routes 901 and 183, and 183 and 61. The beams will head south on Route 61 to Interstate 78 then onto Interstate 81. Their final destination is the Woodrow Wilson Bridge project in Maryland.

We now know the name of the trucker who got his rig stuck under the Cressona railroad bridge early Wednesday. WPPA/T102 News first reported the crash yesterday morning. 39-year-old Eduard Tengo of Palm Coast, Florida was traveling north on Route 183 and failed to follow signs indicating an 11 foot 8 inch clearance. The trailer, owned by Swift Transportation, became wedged under the bridge around 3am. Tengo will be cited by state police. Ironically, a meeting was held last Friday to discuss the problem area. A number of options were discussed to reduce or eliminate the problem, including additional signs warning of the approaching bridge, traffic pattern changes and other means. This is the second rig to get stuck under the Cressona railroad underpass this year.

A woman from Schnecksville was arrested Saturday in Tamaqua on drug-related charges. Tamaqua borough police indicate that 22-year-old Ashley Snyder was picked up near the Tiki Bar. She reportedly displayed cocaine inside the establishment and refused to put it away when asked. A member of the bar staff called police. Snyder was in her vehicle when police arrived. She was asked if she had cocaine, and responded no, and also refused police when they asked to search her vehicle. Snyder became belligerent with officers while they were taking her into custody. Police uncovered marijuana, cocaine, drug paraphernalia, a handgun and cash in the search. She was charged, arraigned and taken to Schuylkill County Prison, in lieu of $50-thousand dollars bail.

Ashland police are investigating two break-ins at borough businesses. On Sunday, February 17th, unknown burglars broke into the Mineshaft Restaurant at 11th and Centre Street and Black Diamond Video at 927 Centre Street. Anyone with information should contact Ashland police at 462-1991. A reward for information is being offered by Downtown Ashland Incorporated that could lead to the arrest of the culprits.

FORT INDIANTOWN GAP, Pa. (AP) - About 1,200 more Pennsylvania National Guard troops are being told they may go to Iraq within a year. The soldiers are members of the 28th Combat Aviation Brigade, headquartered at Fort Indiantown Gap in Lebanon County. The mission is flying and caring for helicopters ferrying troops, cargo and dignitaries around Iraq.

PITTSBURGH (AP) - An aluminum company based in the Persian Gulf state of Bahrain says in a federal lawsuit that Alcoa bribed former company and government officials to gain a controlling share of the Bahrain firm and forced it to overpay for alumina. The suit by Aluminum Bahrain BSC seeks more than $1 billion in damages. An Alcoa spokesman in Pittsburgh has no comment yet.

WASHINGTON (AP) - Amtrak says it must spend tens of millions of dollars to replace defective railroad ties on the heavily traveled Northeast Corridor. The railroad is warning Congress the problem could delay trains and cost Amtrak business if not addressed quickly. Amtrak says the concrete ties purchased in the 1990s have begun to crack. They normally last about 50 years.

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) - A new report points to a big gap in what local governments pay to keep the Great Lakes clean - and what the U.S. and Canadian federal governments spend. The report estimates local governments spend about $15 billion a year on Great Lakes environmental programs. The federal total is unclear, but the report claims it's "not even close" to that amount.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - Dairy Queen is facing a rebellion from a growing number of mostly mom-and-pop franchise owners - in Pennsylvania and nine other states - who've been asked to update their restaurants. They're suing the Minnesota-based company for breach of contract. Dairy Queen CEO Chuck Mooty says the costs aren't as high as the franchise owners claim.

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Four people, including three children, are listed in critical condition following a shooting yesterday at a South Los Angeles bus stop. Four other people suffered minor wounds. The gunman is still at large and police are trying to find a motive.

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Consumer Product Safety Commission says more than 240 children died from 2002 to 2004 in incidents involving nursery products. Many of the deaths involved cribs, usually from suffocating in soft pillows or other bedding.

WHITE HOUSE (AP) - President Bush hears today from key advisers about the latest economic growth figures. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke has described the economy as wobbly but Bush rejects the notion of a recession. Since summer, housing has slumped, the credit crunch has worsened and unemployment is up.

UNDATED (AP) - Democrat Hillary Clinton stumps for votes in Ohio again today, while her husband campaigns on her behalf in Rhode Island. Later in the day she'll be in Texas, where Democratic frontrunner Barack Obama is also campaigning. Tuesday's primaries in Texas and Ohio could determine whether Clinton keeps going.

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) - Defense Secretary Robert Gates says Turkey should end its offensive against Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq as soon as possible. But he says he's told Turkey's defense minister the U.S. is not making any threat. Turkey wants to eliminate rebels it considers terrorists.


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