Thursday, May 22, 2008

Today's News- Thursday, May 22nd

Joseph Cress has been found guilty of third degree murder in the 2007 death of Roseann Barrett. The Girardville man learned his fate yesterday, having been found guilty of charges, including involuntary manslaughter, aggravated and simple assault and other counts, according to the Republican and Herald. Judge John Domalakes presided over the two day hearing. Cress ran Barrett over with his pickup truck on June 15th, 2007, after she spurned his advances after leaving a bar together. Cress is scheduled to be sentenced in July.

Schuylkill County's Prison board met yesterday. County Adminstrator Darlene Dolzani told the board that half of the nearly $200-Thousand dollars in DUI fines that have been placed into the county's general fund over the last several years, belongs in a separate prison account. Dolzani said state law provides that half of the fines be placed in a prison account and the other half must be placed in an account for exclusive use by Drug and Alcohol. She believes the way it's done now is in violation of state law. County Controller Melinda Kantner said in order for the money to be taken out of the general fund and placed into the two accounts, the county Commissioners will have to approve budget resolutions to set up the transfer of the money. Prison board Chairman, Judge William Baldwin said it's important that the issue be resolved so the prison can get the funding. Warden Eugene Berdanier said the prison is in need of kitchen equipment.

The Pottsville School District passed a tentative budget last night for the next fiscal year, with no projected increase in taxes. Property tax millage will remain at 34 mills. Directors anticipate some capital improvements to facilities and textbook purchases in the coming year. They also plan to add $500-thousand-dollars to the budgetary reserve. The $37.3 million dollar spending plan will lay over for 30 days for public review. It is anticipated that it will be passed at the June 18th meeting.

POTTSVILLE, Pa. (AP) - Trucking companies are hard hit by the rising cost of diesel fuel. Some Schuylkill County companies tell The Republican & Herald the cost of fuel now exceeds their personnel costs. Pennsylvania's average cost of diesel fuel has hit $4.68 a gallon. Owner Alan Felty of Harold M. Felty of Pine Grove says fuel costs for his 11 trucks are now double what they were last year.
Co-owner Terry Ernst of J. Marlin Ernst & Sons Trucking in Orwigsburg says fuel is his number one expense, above drivers' wages and any other costs.
President Bert Evans Jr. of Schuylkill Haven-based Evans Delivery says he's putting a 65 mph speed limit on his trucks, and programming computers to allow only 3 minutes of idling time to cut fuel consumption.

A Pottsville police officer has been honored for heroism. Officer Joseph Murton Jr. received the Emergency Medical Services Outstanding Provider of the Year award from Geisinger Medical Center on Tuesday for providing medical assistance to civilians and fellow officers. Murton, a five year member of the force, was cited for providing life saving assistance on two occasions. The first occurred when a city hall employee went into cardiac arrest. Murton provided CPR and revived the fallen individual. He also provided emergency care to a teacher at John S. Clarke Elementary School who also went into cardiac arrest.
Officer Murton will be formally honored by Pottsville City Council on June 9th.
Murton's father is Pottsville’s Police Chief.

A former priest who served churches in Schuylkill County has been sentenced in New York. A 10-year prison sentence has been given to Thomas Bender, who admitted driving to Long Island intending to have sex with a teenage boy. Bender had a prior conviction for molesting a boy in Gordon in the 1980s. He admitted last year to a federal charge of enticing a minor for sex. He was arrested in March 2006. Prosecutors say he arrived at a Levittown pizzeria intending to meet a boy and take him to a motel for sex. The "boy" turned out to be an undercover police officer.

The County Commissioners saluted the Executive Director of Senior Services during their work session Wednesday on her upcoming retirement. Marie Beauchamp of Orwigsburg will retire at the end of the month after 20-years with the county. Georgene Fedoriska of Pottsville will take her place. Fedoriska was promoted from her position as Aging Care management supervisor. Action on the retirement and promotion will take place at next week's board meeting. Fedoriska'a salary was set at $54,352.00. In other business, the Commissioners were asked to approve splitting duties of the Solid Waste and Recycling and Demolition Coordinators into two other departments. Grant writer Gary Bender's position would become grant writer and demolition coordinator and Michelle Kintzel will become acting solid waste and recycling coordinator. Kintzel was a solid waste and recycling specialist. The Commissioners will take action next week on a request to approve Joseph Groody of Ashland as Chief Deputy at the prison. Former Sheriff, now County Commissioner. Frank McAndrew, said the position is not a new one, but has been unfilled since September, 2005. County Controller Melinda Kantner questioned the need for a position that hasn't been filled in three years. McAndrew said he assumed both duties when he was Sheriff because he didn't find anyone he felt was qualified to replace the retiring Harold Rowan. Rowan came out of retirement to become acting Sheriff when McAndrew resigned to become commissioner. The job pays just over $35-thousand-dollars annually.

Specter: Republicans must do more to regain Pa. voters

WASHINGTON (AP) - Sen. Arlen Specter says the Pennsylvania Republican Party needs to do more to win back voters who switched parties for the Democratic presidential primary. Specter told reporters Wednesday that those are the independent voters he wants on his side when he is up for re-election in 2010. He says he has asked presumptive Republican presidential nominee
John McCain to help out with the effort to increase Republican registration.
Thousands of Republicans switched to the Democratic party to cast ballots in the state's April 22 presidential primary between Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama. Democrats had more than 4 million voters registered for the primary, a nearly 8 percent increase from the November election. Republican registrations dropped nearly 2 percent from the fall.
Pittsburgh moms to be sentenced in fire that killed 5 kids

PITTSBURGH (AP) - Two Pittsburgh mothers are to be sentenced Thursday in the deaths of five children who were home alone when a fire broke out. Authorities say Shakita Mangham and Furaha Love, who are both 26, left the children in the care of two 8-year-olds while they went to a bar. The June 12 fire was started by children playing with matches. Three of Mangham's children died as did two of Love's. Love and Mangham pleaded no contest to involuntary manslaughter in February. Prosecutors dropped charges including endangering the welfare of children and recklessly endangering another person.

Drexel to offer masters programs in Calif.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Drexel University plans to announce that it will begin offering master's degree courses in Northern California. The master's programs are in business administration, engineering, education, information systems and library science. They are targeted at working adults and will be offered at a
location in downtown Sacramento. Drexel's main campus is in Philadelphia.
University President Constantine Papadakis says Drexel sees the Sacramento area as an "innovative region" with an exciting future.

Psychologist: Erie collar-bomb suspect competent to be tried

ERIE, Pa. (AP) - A forensic psychologist says a woman accused in the collar-bomb death of a pizza deliveryman in a suburban Erie bank robbery is competent to stand trial. Dr. William Ryan also says Marjorie Diehl-Armstrong does not have bipolar disorder. She has been diagnosed with the disorder in
the past. Diehl-Armstrong was indicted in July on bank robbery, conspiracy
and a firearms violation in the August 2003 robbery that left Brian Wells dead.
Ryan was testifying Wednesday at a competency hearing for Diehl-Armstrong.
Her attorneys say she has a history of mental illness. Wells told police he was forced at gunpoint to wear a bomb around his neck and rob the bank. As officers waited for a bomb squad, the device exploded, killing him.

Pa. budgetmakers will sort through plans to borrow billions

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Plans to borrow money are all over the table in this year's state budget negotiations. Both Republicans and Democrats looking to finance everything from new alternative energy projects to water and sewer facilities. All told, more than $4 billion in borrowing is tucked into various proposals that will be poked, prodded and plugged over the next six weeks. Negotiators from the House, Senate and governor's office are shaping a spending plan for the fiscal year that begins July 1. Gov. Ed Rendell and Democrats say borrowing is a way to smooth over a rough economy and create job and business opportunities. Republicans have sought to characterize their own proposals as more affordable than the governor's competing plans and attacking desperate needs.

Pa. education board panel approves student member proposal

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Pennsylvania's State Board of Education is moving a step closer to expanding its membership to include students. A board committee voted unanimously to recommend that two students be added to the 22-member board as nonvoting members. One student would serve on the board's basic-education council and the other would serve on its higher-education council. Each council would also have a student member-elect who would become a full board member after one year. Committee chairman Francis Michelini says the board will benefit from having student perspectives on state education policies and regulations. The full board is expected to consider the proposal at its meeting Thursday. The National Association of State Boards of Education says 16 other states, the District of Columbia and Guam currently have students serving on their state education boards. Ex-congressional candidate charged before primary enters plea

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) - A former congressional candidate says he pleaded guilty to three misdemeanors because his lawyer advised him to get the charges behind him. Derek Walker says his ex-girlfriend was being harassed by
Clearfield County authorities over an encounter he describes as an "immature moment." Police say he snuck into his ex-girlfriend's home and took a cell phone video of her in an intimate encounter. Walker is getting a year's probation after reaching the plea bargain that caused prosecutors to drop felony charges. Walker lost the Republican congressional primary, which was held days after he was charged. He says he's planning to run for office again and he's considering suing Clearfield County authorities.

Pa. guardsman, 2 others killed by bomb in Afghanistan

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - A Pennsylvania National Guard soldier and two others were killed by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan. Military officials say 35-year-old 1st Lt. Jeffrey Deprimo of Pittston was killed near the town of Ghazni early Tuesday along with a Navy lieutenant and an interpreter. The driver and gunner, both state Guard soldiers, were injured in the attack and evacuated to Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan. DePrimo worked as a car detailer at a Ford dealership in Exeter. Co-workers say he volunteered to go to Afghanistan.
Deprimo attended Seton Catholic High School and was a 1996 honors graduate of Marywood University in Scranton, where he earned a bachelor's degree in music.

Former restaurant explodes in Dauphin County; no serious injuries

HUMMELSTOWN, Pa. (AP) - The fire chief in the Dauphin County borough of Hummelstown says he's amazed that more people weren't hurt in a gas line explosion. Three people were taken to a hospital by ambulance and a fourth
showed up in a private vehicle. But Fire Chief Charlie Cogan says nobody was seriously injured, despite the blast completely leveling the building that used to house Rosie's East End restaurant. The restaurant had been closed for about a year. Work was being done on curbs and sidewalks in the area and the explosion happened when a backhoe operator hit a gas line. Cogan says it helped that workers were behind a dump truck, which shielded them from flying debris.

BEIJING (AP) - The death toll in China's earthquake has passed 51,000. The announcement comes on a day when an official three-day mourning period came to an end with the resumption of the Olympic torch run. A Chinese government spokesman says 51,151 people are confirmed dead. More than 29,000 people are missing and nearly 300,000 were hurt.

YANGON, Myanmar (AP) - U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is stressing the solidarity of the international community's willingness to help Myanmar recover from a deadly cyclone. Ban is in Myanmar to meet with its military rulers and try to get them to let foreign experts in to help cyclone victims.

CAPITOL HILL (AP) - Oil executives could be in for another rough day on Capitol Hill. They'll appear before a House panel to answer questions about record profits amid skyrocketing gas prices. Senators yesterday accused the executives of pretending to be "hapless victims" while raking in record profits.

CAPITOL HILL (AP) - The Senate is scheduled to vote separately today on a war funding bill for Iraq and Afghanistan and domestic measures that had been included in the bill. President Bush wants a war funding measure with no strings. The other legislation would increase veterans' education benefits and extend unemployment benefits.

WASHINGTON (AP) - A report by the Consumer Product Safety Commission shows there's been an increase in the number of children who drown in pools and spas. The agency estimates that 319 children under five drowned in 2005, the most recent year for which statistics are available. That's 74 more deaths than in 2004.


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