Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Today's News-Wednesday, February 27th

Less than a week after officials met in Cressona to talk about solutions to the problems getting stuck under the railroad bridge, another one did just that. After 3am, a truck was northbound on Route 183 and failed to obey the 11 foot 8 inch warnings and its trailer became wedged under it. No other information was released.

State police have made an arrest in the case of an Auburn house overrun with cats. Earlier this month, the owner of 2256 West Market Street contacted the Hillside SPCA after he discovered the property overrun with cats. Shelter staff found 39 cats still alive, and 13 deceased, and the floors covered with animal feces. The tenant, 54-year-old Rita Rollman, lived in the home for more than 3 years, but the cats continued to breed until they became too much to handle. Rollman left the property on February 14th, leaving the animals without food and water. Rollman will be charged with cruelty to animals.

A Hamburg man is looking to make changes in Harrisburg by running an independent campaign for the state Senate. 58-year-old Dennis Baylor has announced that he is seeking the seat currently held by long term incumbent Jim Rhoades. He is trying to collect the required number of signatures to get on the November ballot. Among the items on his platform are property tax relief by changing the way taxes are assessed, education and blight in communities. A Pottsville native, Baylor is married and has one daughter. He is an engineer.

A two vehicle crash in northern Berks County yesterday afternoon shut a portion of Interstate 78 down for several hours. 21-year-old Andrew Boyer of Friedensburg was passing a tractor trailer driven by Rogelio Valdez of Mechanicsburg when he lost traction and began to spin. Valdez, in attempting to avoid Boyer's car, ran into the back of Boyer's Mustang. The truck rolled over onto its left side. The left lane of I-78 in Bethel Township was closed for 4 hours for cleanup. State police at Hamburg are planning to cite Boyer for not having much tread on his tire. The crash happened after 1 o'clock yesterday.

An Orwigsburg man accused of setting a fire at the borough manager's home was in Schuylkill County Court yesterday. 50-year-old Carl Zehner and his attorney appeared before Judge D. Michael Stine to respond to charges of arson, risking a catastrophe and other offenses for the incident last July at the home of Michael Lonergan, Orwigsburg’s borough manager. The Republican and Herald reports that Zehner admitted to setting the fire, after the borough shut his water off for non-payment of his bill. However, Zehner asked the court to dismiss the charges or have his admission statement thrown out. Police reportedly had been watching Zehner's home to see if he turned the water service back on, as he had done before. Officers told him of his rights and questioned Zehner further about what took place. Lonergan's home incurred about $27-hundred-dollars in damages to his home from the fire, started by a lighted gas bottle thrown on the porch. Judge Stine gave both sides another two weeks to file briefs in the case.

A unique combination of basketball teams will play at Penn State Schuylkill Campus tomorrow night. The PSU-Schuylkill Lady Lions are headed to the Penn State University Athletic Conference tournament this weekend, and the US Army World Team is in training for the World Armed Forces Championship at Indiantown Gap. So, the two teams will lace it up in an exhibition at the campus tomorrow night at 7pm. Penn State Schuylkill Athletic Director John Cooper said that the Lady Lions are the top seed in the tournament, and will play their first game Sunday against PSU-Dubois. The US Army World Team has dominated the World Armed Forces Championship, winning 26 of the last 36 years. Tickets are $4 at the door, and free to Penn State students with valid student ID.

A Tamaqua woman had minor injuries in a crash on a slush covered road Tuesday night. Moira McHale was traveling north on Old Route 209 and slid on the road, causing her to lose control of her Jeep Grand Cherokee. The vehicle spun into a tree. McHale was taken to Pottsville Hospital for treatment. A juvenile passenger was not hurt. State police are expected to cite McHale in the crash that happened around 8:10 last night.

Pa. college-aid agency temporarily suspends federal student loans

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - The acting chief executive of Pennsylvania's student-loan agency says it's temporarily suspending new loans it makes through a federal program in response to a credit crunch that has created turmoil in the bond markets. James Preston says the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency decided two weeks ago to suspend loans made outside the state through the Federal Family Education Loan Program. Preston says it will also send out notices to colleges and universities that it will suspend in-state loans effective March 7. The federal program provides federally subsidized, low-cost student loans to about 500,000 Pennsylvania students. Preston says it's not profitable for PHEAA to finance the federal loans, but the agency will continue to originate, guarantee and service student loans.

South-central Pa. sees more bank robberies, more violence

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - The FBI says bank robberies in south-central Pennsylvania are on the rise - and they're getting more violent. FBI agent Arturo Canedo says he's concerned about the high-powered weapons used today. In some cases, robbers are taking hostages. Canedo says it's only a matter of time before someone gets hurt. Canedo says robbers are picking the area because of the ease of getting onto a major highway for a getaway. He can't explain the increase in violence.

Murtha's Republican opponent tossed off primary ballot

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Democratic Congressman John Murtha could still have a Republican opponent in November. A court says lone opponent Bill Russell doesn't have enough signatures to be on the ballot in the Republican primary. But if a write-in candidate gets at least 1,000 votes in the GOP primary, the leading write-in becomes the party's nominee. Russell says he's looking into that option. Murtha has been a member of the U.S. House of Representatives since 1974 and has been a leading Democratic critic of the Iraq war. He represents the heavily Democratic 12th District in southwestern Pennsylvania.

Casino critic gives earful to Pa. gambling conference

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - State Sen. Jeffrey Piccola, one of the Legislature's most strident opponents of legalized casinos, rarely, if ever, rubs elbows with gambling industry executives. But on Tuesday, the Dauphin County Republican delivered the keynote speech at an industry conference. In his speech, Piccola told the Pennsylvania Gaming Congress that Pennsylvania's law is inadequate to allow a thorough background check of all prospective casino owners. He cited the case of Louis DeNaples, the Mount Airy Casino Resort owner who is now charged with lying about his connections to organized crime figures to win a license. He is proposing numerous changes, including putting background checks under the supervision of the state attorney general's office, instead of state gambling regulators.

Pa. woman testifies in brother's robbery trial

BELLEFONTE, Pa. (AP) - The sister of a Centre County man accused of committing nine armed robberies last summer says she drove him to the crime scenes. But Caroll Patton says she thought they were going to the places in Centre, Clinton, Blair and Huntingdon counties to buy drugs. She says she had a cocaine addiction. She testified Tuesday in the trial of her younger brother, 33-year-old George Patton, formerly of Patton Township. In addition to the armed robberies, George Patton is accused of committing two attempted robberies. Closing arguments are scheduled for Wednesday morning in Centre County Court. Caroll Patton also faces charges. Her case hasn't gone to trial yet.

2 rapes reported at Kutztown University

KUTZTOWN, Pa. (AP) - Kutztown University officials say two rapes were committed on campus about an hour apart. University spokesman Matt Santos says the first attack happened around 3 a.m. Sunday in the Old Main building, which houses a dormitory, classrooms and offices. The woman attacked in Old Main said she knew her attacker. The second attack was in a stairwell of a dormitory building. The unidentified man was described as a while man of college age with dark brown hair. Santos says at the time of the attack, he was wearing a white T-shirt and black shorts at the time, and had a day's worth of facial hair. Campus police say three rapes were reported the Berks County campus during all of 2007.

UNDATED (AP) - The Democratic presidential candidates campaign one more day in Ohio, following last night's debate in Cleveland. Barack Obama will rally at Ohio State University and Hillary Rodham Clinton visits eastern and southeastern Ohio. Last night, they blasted each other's campaign tactics. Ohio and Texas hold
primaries Tuesday.

UNDATED (AP) - Northern New England could get as much as eight inches of new snow today. Upstate New York could get up four. Two highway fatalities are being blamed on storms in Ohio and in Alabama. Alabama and Georgia also saw tens of thousands of storm-related power outages.

ROBERT LEE, Texas (AP) - While part of the U.S. battles winter weather, Texas is dealing with wildfires. Most are in West Texas where the worst one has charred 250,000 acres. Evacuees in the town of Robert Lee were allowed back home, but were told to stay alert.

BERLIN (AP) - It's a record high for the euro against the dollar in European trading today. The euro peaked at nearly $1.51. Europeans think the U.S. Federal Reserve is going to continue cutting interest rates. The surging euro affects tourists in Europe and the U.S., along with exports and imports.

CAPITOL HILL (AP) - Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke goes before Congress today to give his take on how the economy is doing. Analysts think he'll hint at another interest-rate cut today. If that's the final decision, it'll come at the next Fed meeting March 18th.


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