Sunday, August 31, 2008


Jay Levan

Opposing groups on the issue of illegal immigration held rallies in the borough of Shenandoah Saturday night. WPPA/T102 News was at the scene of both gatherings at opposite ends of the borough, one to protest illegal immigration, and one to promote peace and unity. Bicentennial Park was the scene of a gathering of more than 300 people, who raised their voices in opposition to illegals coming into this country, and in Shenandoah in particular. The event was sponsored by Voices of the People USA, a Hazleton-area based group. While the group was loud at times, the demonstration was peaceful. A dozen Pennsylvania state police troopers were on scene to monitor the situation. The situation became tense when Crystal Dillman, fiance' of the late Luis Ramirez came to the rally with a Mexican flag to protest their efforts. Troopers quickly quelled the situation. The organizers called for legislators to do more to stop illegals from crossing America's borders.

In the second gathering, a much more subdued group of Shenandoah residents and Hispanics thatered at the Kehillat Israel Nondenominational Church to counter the other rally. About 75 people prayed, sang and heard speeches about unifying the community during the aftermath of Ramirez's death. Community leaders spoke about beginning the healing process, and letting justice take its course.

Three teenaged boys have been charged in the case.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Today's News-Saturday, August 30, 2008

History comes alive with Civil War events

Schuylkill County men and women have always risen to the call of our nation. That commitment will come alive in the county next week. The Schuylkill County Historical Society is sponsoring "Sparks Around the Campfire...The Story of Schuylkill County in the Civil War" will run from September 3rd thru 6th at various venues in and around Pottsville. A Patriotic Rally at Sovereign Majestic Theater on Wednesday will help visitors relive the music and patriotism of the Civil War. Tour the gravesites of those who served the Union in the Civil War, hear lectures about famous units like the 48th and 96th Pennsylvania, and more throughout the week. Stu Richards, Civil War historian says that Schuylkill County's contribution to the War Between the States was significant:


For a listing of all "Sparks Around the Campfire" events, log onto the Historical Society website at

Employee Steals from Yuengling

A Mechanicsville man was charged with stealing over two thousand dollars in gift shop merchandise from the Yuengling Brewery. Keith Eisenhart, a forklift operator at the Mill Creek operation of Yuengling Beer Company is expected to be charged by East Norwegian Township Police for stealing items over a four to six month period by climbing a ten foot fence to get to the items. According to police reports Eisenhart admitted to the crime and was storing the items at two different locations. Other arrests are possible in the investigation.

SV Mum

The Shenandoah Valley School District is keeping quiet about the choice of two district families involved in the beating death of an illegal immigrant as it concerns the education of their children. District Superintendent Stanley Rakowsky is quoted by the Republican and Herald as stating this is a "private matter and any further comment will have to come from the families." Brandon Piekarsky and Colin Walsh are free on bail at this time.

ERIE, Pa. (AP) - A defense attorney says his client will enter a plea in the bank robbery that led to the collar-bomb death of an Erie pizza deliveryman. Attorney Jamie Mead says Kenneth Barnes will plead guilty to conspiracy for his role in planning the August 2003 heist that left Brian Wells dead.

WARREN, Pa. (AP) - Five northwestern Pennsylvania men are accused of making or exploding pipe bombs. Warren Police began investigating the men after discovering a four-foot-long explosive in July while responding to a possible home invasion call.

NEW STANTON, Pa. (AP) - The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission is closing the New Stanton service plaza for nine months for reconstruction. The service plaza, which only serves westbound traffic, will close Wednesday. It's expected to reopen by next Memorial Day with more food choices and modern facilities.

PITTSBURGH (AP) - A Pittsburgh man will stand trial on charges he shot and killed a man in an argument over an iPod. Twenty-year-old Darin Davis is charged with homicide in the July 21
death of 31-year-old Jason Glenn, of McKees Rocks.

MEADVILLE, Pa. (AP) - A northwestern Pennsylvania man will spend five to 15 years in prison for the sexual assault of two young girls. Christopher Cote, of Cambridge Springs, was sentenced under terms of his "best interest plea" to assault charges. In the January plea, Cote didn't admit to the assaults, but felt it was in his best interest to plead based on the case against him. Police
say he assaulted the girls while watching them in July 2007.

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - With Hurricane Gustav on its way, President Bush has declared an emergency in Louisiana, a move that allows the federal government to help with disaster relief. New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin (NAY'-gin) says an evacuation order is likely. The storm could strike anywhere along the Gulf Coast from the Florida Panhandle to Texas.

GEORGE TOWN, Cayman Islands (AP) - Hurricane Gustav has revved up to a Category 2 storm as it barrels toward Cuba. The National Hurricane Center says top winds are near 110 miles per hour. The storm has left 71 people dead in the Caribbean.

BEIJING (AP) - China's official Xinhua (shin-wah) News Agency says a 6.1 magnitude earthquake has struck Sichuan province. There are no reports of casualties. The region has been hit by scores of aftershocks since the a 7.9 magnitude earthquake hit Sichuan province in May. It killed nearly 70,000 people and left 5 million homeless.

UNDATED (AP) - John McCain's running mate is already energizing conservative religious leaders. A spokesman for the Southern Baptist Convention says Alaska Governor Sarah Palin is "straight out of veep central casting."

DAYTON, Ohio (AP) - The woman who proudly declared she put 18 million cracks in the ultimate glass ceiling is congratulating John McCain's V.P. pick, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin (PAY'-lin). Still, Hillary Rodham Clinton, who picked up 18 million votes in her attempt to become president, says the Republicans' policies "would take America in the wrong direction."

Today's News-Friday, August 29, 2008

Shenandoah teens given options for attending school

Two Shenandoah teens, accused in the beating death of a Mexican illegal immigrant have been given options to continue their education by the Shenandoah Valley school board. 16-year-old Brandon Piekarsky and 17-year-old Colin Walsh were released on bail earlier this week, but the high school seniors cannot return to the classroom. The school board voted in executive session to provide them homebound instruction, taught by a school professional, to earn their high school diploma. Two other options include home-schooling to earn a GED or enrolling in an online cyber school which requires Walsh and Piekarsky to be disenrolled from Shenandoah Valley. A decision by the boys parents must be made by the end of the day today.

Disabled man dies in Shamokin fire

An early Thursday morning fire killed a disabled Shamokin man. The fire was reported around 5am at an apartment building at 709 West Chestnut Street. 65-year-old James Bannon, who lived on the first floor died, and four others were left homeless. Fire investigators say that the flames started in Bannon's apartment near his bed. The cause is undetermined at this point, but appears to be accidental. The investigation continues.

Rallies set in Shenandoah Saturday

A branch from the state's civil rights law enforcement agency is calling for unity this weekend. In conjunction with the anti-immigration protest being held at Babe Ruth Field in Shenandoah, this community unity rally will be at Kahllat Israel Non-Denominational Christian Church. Investigator-trainer with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission-Ann Van Dyke-explains why this weekend's even is so important for the people of Shenandoah:


Van Dyke hopes the borough will post the friendship posters the participants make during the rally. A key responsibility the Human Relations Commission has is to help communities with different types of civil tension.

Labor Day travel expected to be down this year

National travel experts are predicting another decline this holiday weekend. Triple A reports the Labor Day weekend will be the third consecutive travel period with a projected year-to-date decline in travelers. The agency says only around 34-million-Americans will travel 50 miles or more from home, as opposed to the near 35-million from a year ago. Many consumers are concerned about the economy and opting for other means of transportation. Even with the most recent decline in gas prices, a spokesperson for Triple A Schuylkill County says the cost is dependent on global factors:


Research for holiday travel projections are derived from the travel industry association's holiday travel forecast model. For a complete 50-state-list of average daily gas prices, log on to

Third person pleads guilty in Schuylkill Products case

A third man implicated in the Schuylkill Products fraud case has pleaded guilty in federal court. The Republican and Herald reports that 59-year-old Romeo Cruz of West Haven, Connecticut pleaded guilty to conspiring to defraud the state and federal transportation departments. He joins two former executives of the Cressona-based concrete beam manufacturer, who schemed to use a minority based business in Connecticut to gain more than $100 million dollars in valuable government contracts. Dennis Campbell and Timothy Hubler pleaded guilty to federal charges earlier this year.

Crash injures two in Schuylkill Township

Two people were injured in a Thursday morning crash in Schuylkill Township. State Police say 22-year old Anthony Paltanavage of New Philadelphia was driving on Moss Glen Road just before 6:30 when his S-U-V crossed into the opposite lane of travel where it was hit head-on by a car driven by 51-year old Michelle Heisler of Tamaqua. Paltanavage was seriously hurt and taken to Schuylkill Medical Center South. Heisler had moderate injuries and was treated and released. Paltanavage and Heisler were both wearing seatbelts. Paltanavage will be cited for causing the accident.

Obama and Biden on board for post-Denver bus tour

DENVER (AP) - Barack Obama and Joe Biden are setting out on a campaign by bus in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Ohio after wrapping up the Democratic National Convention. If that sounds like a familiar pattern, it should. Republicans George Bush and Dick Cheney took a whistlestop tour by train of Ohio, Michigan and Illinois after leaving their national convention in 2000.
And Democrats Bill Clinton and Al Gore launched a 1,000-mile post-convention bus tour in 1992 that took them to New Jersey, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois and Missouri. The point of these trips is to build momentum in battleground states after the conventions. Obama and Biden will be accompanied by their wives, Michelle Obama and Jill Biden. The candidates hope to build support in the three critical industrial states. They also aim to take away some of the attention focused on Republicans as they gather in Minneapolis-St. Paul to nominate their candidate, John McCain, and his yet-unnamed running mate.

Obama cannot win without Pennsylvania

DENVER (AP) - Joe Biden says his running mate, Barack Obama, will be unable to win the White House without taking Pennsylvania. The Delaware senator is a native of Scranton and made the remarks to the Keystone State's delegation at the Democratic convention. Obama has struggled to gain support from white, working-class voters, and he's hoping Biden can help him avoid a repeat of his Pennsylvania primary loss. Polling in Pennsylvania finds the race to be close. A Quinnipiac University poll conducted last week showed Obama with a 7-percentage-point lead in the state over McCain, but neither with more than 50 percent. Biden is a popular figure in Pennsylvania. He's worked with the state's political leaders throughout his more than three decades in the Senate and is often referred to as Pennsylvania's third senator.

NY ringleader in stolen body parts case slated to enter guilty plea in Philadelphia on Friday

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - A former oral surgeon who has acknowledged trafficking in stolen body parts is scheduled to plead guilty in the case Friday in Philadelphia. Authorities say 44-year-old Michael Mastromarino was the mastermind of a multimillion-dollar scheme to loot hundreds of
corpses and sell bone and tissue for transplants. He was sentenced in New York to 18 to 54 years in prison after apologizing to the grieving survivors. Defense attorney Charles Peruto Jr. said through an assistant Thursday that details of the plea have not been worked out. Peruto and prosecutors have said Mastromarino would end up pleading to only a few of the approximately 1,700 counts. He has been seeking a deal in Philadelphia that would run concurrent to his New York sentence.

Federal agency issues warning on popular bassinet

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - The federal Consumer Product Safety Commission is warning parents and caregivers to immediately stop using a popular brand of bassinet after the death of a second baby attributed to the product. The warning covers the Simplicity 3-in-1 and Simplicity 4-in-1 bassinets. Commission spokeswoman Julie Vallese says the danger is so severe that the agency was compelled to issue the warning late Wednesday ahead of a likely recall.
Wal-Mart, one of the largest distributors of the product, says it is pulling the bassinets off of its shelves and its Web site. Last week, a 6-month-old Kansas girl was strangled after trying to slip through the metal tubes that run down the side of the bassinet. In September 2007, a 4-month-old Missouri girl died after being caught between the rail of her Simplicity 4-in-1 bassinet and
the mattress. Simplicity, of Reading, Pa., recalled about a million cribs in September 2007 after reports of three deaths and seven babies who had become entrapped in its cribs.

Pittsburgh prosecutors seek to jail Carnegie Mellon professor who got 3 DUIs in 8 days

PITTSBURGH (AP) - Prosecutors in Allegheny County are asking a judge to jail a computer science professor who has been charged with drunken driving three times in eight days.
Prosecutors say they are afraid 51-year-old Carnegie Mellon professor Jeffrey Hunker may harm himself or someone else. A judge is scheduled to hear their bond revocation motion on Friday. In the first case Aug. 17, police say Hunker drove through a neighbor's yard, ran over a small tree and hit a house. In the second, they say, he was seen at the wheel of his heavily damaged car and failed a field sobriety test and a blood alcohol test. The third arrest came Sunday. Hunker isn't returning calls on the charges. He was computer security director in the Clinton administration and later was dean of CMU's public policy school.

Trucking firm owner sentenced to 5 to 10 years in Poconos shooting of contractor

STROUDSBURG, Pa. (AP) - The owner of a trucking company has been sentenced to five to 10 years in state prison in the August 2006 shooting death of a contractor in the Poconos. A judge convicted 36-year-old Ray Anthony Velez of Jackson Township in May of voluntary manslaughter and use of a prohibited offensive weapon in the death of 60-year-old Armando Guardiola. Prosecutors say Guardiola and two other men came from New Jersey to Velez's home in Monroe County to discuss a worker's compensation issue. During an argument, they say, Velez shot the victim with a sawed-off shotgun. Velez says he acted in self-defense because he and his 7-year-old daughter were alone in the house with the three men.

Army Experience Center at Pa. mall aims to educate, offer inside look at the life of a soldier

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - The new Army Experience Center opening Friday at the Franklin Mills Mall is not exactly a store, although it is trying to sell something - the military life. The center is staffed by soldiers eager to share their experiences and stocked with high-tech simulators, video gaming stations and interactive exhibits. It's a new frontier in marketing for Army officials who hope to give the public a better understanding of today's military. Chief marketing officer Edward Walters says the Army offers more than 175 careers - from water purification specialist to intelligence analyst - but not many people know it. Officials say the Army has met recruiting targets for the past two years and is on pace again this year to meet its goal of 80,000. But The Associated Press found last year that the Army has been offering more sign-up incentives and has also relaxed rules on age and weight limits, education, and drug and criminal records.

Western Pa. man pleads guilty to setting fires at historic amusement park ballroom, church

MEADVILLE, Pa. (AP) - A northwestern Pennsylvania man is to be sentenced Nov. 7 for setting fires that destroyed an amusement park ballroom and damaged a church. Twenty-year-old Nickolas Dean Pope, of Hartstown, pleaded guilty Thursday in Crawford County Court to two counts of arson on Thursday in Crawford County Court. Authorities say he set fire to the 164-year-old Harmonsburg Presbyterian Church on Jan. 13, causing $180,000 in damage. He also
set a Feb. 1 fire that destroyed the 99-year-old Dreamland Ballroom at Conneaut Lake Park, causing an estimated $1.5 million in damage.

Comcast to set official limit on Internet use to deter bandwidth hogs

NEW YORK (AP) - Comcast Corp., the nation's second-largest Internet service provider, says it will set an official limit on the amount of data subscribers can download and upload each month.
The cable company says it will update its user agreement on Oct. 1 to say that users will be allowed 250 gigabytes of traffic per month. Comcast has already reserved the right to cut off subscribers who use too much bandwidth each month, without specifying exactly what constitutes excessive use. Customers who go over the limit are contacted by the company and asked to curb their usage. Comcast floated the idea of a 250 gigabyte cap in May. The
company mentioned then that it might charge users $15 for every 10 gigabytes they go over, but the overage fee was missing in Thursday's announcement. Comcast has said curbing the top users is necessary to keep the network fast and responsive.

Pa. man gets 15 to 30 years in prison for strangling woman, dumping body in trash bin

WASHINGTON, Pa. (AP) - A western Pennsylvania man has been sentenced to 15 to 30 years for strangling his girlfriend during a fight over drugs and money, then dumping her body in a trash bin. Twenty-eight-year-old Joseph John Natale, of McKeesport, pleaded guilty Thursday to third-degree murder and abuse of a corpse. Authorities say he beat and strangled 22-year-old Amanda Lynn Faux. Her body was found Jan. 6 by a man retrieving papers from the
trash bin outside her apartment building. Police say Natale confessed to grabbing Faux around the neck after she hit him over the head with a glass pitcher.

Pa. man, 60, gets 6 to 15 years in prison for bludgeoning wife with crystal rock, marble lamp

ERIE, Pa. (AP) - An Erie man has been ordered to spend six to 15 years in state prison for bludgeoning his wife with a decorative crystal rock and a marble lamp. Sixty-year-old Richard Valentine pleaded guilty in July to a general count of homicide and agreed to let a judge determine his degree of guilt. The judge later ruled the death voluntary manslaughter, not murder. Prosecutors alleged that the killing was premeditated. But Valentine says he hit 59-year-old Anna Valentine in the heat of the moment after they argued.

Federal appeals court refuses to rehear deportation case of W. Pa. man who was Nazi guard

PITTSBURGH (AP) - A federal appeals court is refusing to rehear the deportation case of a retired western Pennsylvania steelworker who served as a Nazi concentration camp guard and later became a United States citizen. Anton Geiser's only recourse now is to appeal to the U.S.
Supreme Court. His attorney has declined comment. The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia ruled in June that 83-year-old Geiser, of Sharon, should have his citizenship revoked and be deported. The court said his work as a guard meets the type of persecutory conduct banned under the Refugee Relief Act. His attorneys had wanted the three-judge appellate panel or the entire 3rd Circuit to rehear the case. The appeals court refused last week.

Corzine says he won't block hikes on tolls for 4 Philly-area bridges, train line

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) - New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine says he will not block a toll hike for four Philadelphia-area bridges. Corzine has veto power over decisions by the Delaware River Port
Authority, but says he won't exercise it in this case. The toll hikes will go into effect Sept. 14 for the Betsy Ross, Ben Franklin, Walt Whitman and Commodore Barry bridges. Drivers will pay $4, up from $3. The tolls will go to $5 in two years. Fares on the agency's PATCO Speedline commuter trains will also go up by 10 percent on Sept. 14 and again in 2010. Corzine said that without the increase the DRPA would not be able to make important improvements such as the redecking the Walt Whitman Bridge.

DENVER (AP) - With a stirring speech that doubled as a blistering attack on Republican policies, Barack Obama has accepted the Democratic nomination for president. Obama vows to scrap
President Bush's economic policy and replace it with one that'll help hard-pressed families.

DENVER (AP) - John McCain is expected to unveil his vice presidential choice at a rally in Ohio today. The top choices are thought to be Mitt Romney and Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty.

KINGSTON, Jamaica (AP) - Tropical Storm Gustav is expected to become a hurricane later today, as it spins away from Jamaica and back out into open water. So far the storm has killed 67 people in Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) - U.S.-led coalition forces say they've killed a dozen militants after a gunbattle in Afghanistan. Coalition forces were looking for a militant responsible for moving
foreign fighters from Pakistan into Afghanistan when they were fired on.

SYDNEY, Australia (AP) - The Sydney Symphony Orchestra says it faked its performance in the 2000 Summer Olympics opening ceremonies. Officials say it was entirely prerecorded. And even then, it wasn't all them. The Melbourne Symphony Orchestra recorded parts of the performance.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Today's News-Thursday, August 28th, 2008

Shenandoah man charged in rape

A Schuylkill County man is charged with allegedly raping a Bloomsburg University student. Campus police responded to Luzerne Hall for a possible suicide attempt, and found 21-year-old Raymond Searfoss Jr. of Shenandoah with cuts on his arms. Further investigation found that Searfoss had reportedly raped a girl in the dorm. The unnamed victim had scratches and bruises from the attack and was treated at a local hospital. Searfoss is charged with rape, indecent assault and other counts and is in Columbia County Prison on $100-thousand-dollars bail.

Woman locked up, man to be charged with assault in Cass Township

A Cass Township man will be charged after he assaulted a woman and locked her in the basement of his home on Monday. Scott Sargent, 61 High Road assaulted Carla Wolak, but she managed to escape from the basement. Wolak had minor injuries. Assault and related counts against Sargent will be filed in District Court.

One last fling for PA travelers

Pennsylvania travelers are expected to hit the roads this holiday weekend. And with gas prices down for the 39th day in a row, keeping expenses to a minimum is a priority for many families. One local agency wants you to keep them in mind as you plan your holiday getaway. C-E-O of Triple A Schuylkill County Bob Wachter explains why they're more than just the guys who come out and change your flat tire:


Wachter says besides all the benefits and savings of being a member, they're one of few agencies who still offer live, personal customer service.

Molds go to the dump..they're a health hazard

Relics from Rest Haven's 1912 building will be dumped, not donated. The ceramic molds uncovered at the abandoned building by County Controller Melinda Kantner were presented to the county Commissioners last week with the idea to clean them up and donate them to various organizations for use in craft projects. However, County Engineer Lisa Mahall said Wednesday that the items had been stored in a room containing peeling, lead based paint, and they were covered with pigeon droppings. Even if they were cleaned up, there's no guarantee they are safe according to Mahall. The Commissioners directed the molds to be disposed of.

Two charged with trying to deliver drugs to inmate at SCI Coal Township

Officials at the state prison at Coal Township stopped an attempt by two women to bring drugs to an inmate. 40-year-old Patricia Ann Paradeisis of Philadelphia and a teenaged girl tried to bring several bags of pot and other drugs to a relative jailed there. Prison authorities nabbed the pair before they could hand the drugs off. Paradeisis is in Northumberland County Prison and the teen in the custody of juvenile authorities.

Biden's Scranton childhood left lasting impression

SCRANTON, Pa. (AP) - Joe Biden left blue-collar, bare-knuckles Scranton for the greener pastures of Delaware when he was only 10 years old. But Scranton, it turns out, left an indelible impression on him. Barack Obama's running mate has returned again and again to the city of his youth. It's where he attended grammar school at St. Paul's, learned politics at his Irish-Catholic grandfather's knee, and made friendships that have lasted 60 years. That may be one reason Biden's on the Democratic ticket. In choosing a lunch-bucket Democrat, Obama hopes to capitalize on Biden's appeal to the socially conservative, working-class voters who populate Scranton and many other regions of Pennsylvania. They largely spurned Obama in the primary, handing Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton a 10-point victory.

Obama and Biden on board for post-Denver bus tour

DENVER (AP) - Barack Obama and Joe Biden will campaign by bus in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Ohio after wrapping up the Democratic National Convention. They'll be following a familiar route. Republicans George Bush and Dick Cheney took a whistlestop tour by train of Ohio, Michigan and Illinois after leaving their national convention in 2000. And Democrats Bill Clinton and Al Gore launched a 1,000-mile post-convention bus tour in 1992 that took them to New Jersey, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois and Missouri. The point of these trips is to build momentum in battleground states after the conventions. Obama and Biden will be accompanied by their wives, Michelle Obama and Jill Biden. The candidates hope to build support in the three critical industrial states and take away some of the attention focused on
Republicans as they gather in Minneapolis-St. Paul to nominate their candidate, John McCain, and his yet-unnamed running mate.

More people in Pa. are filing for bankruptcy

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Bankruptcies in Pennsylvania shot up more than 10 percent, reflecting the financial struggles of more people. Federal figures released Wednesday showed that 31,494 Pennsylvania residents and businesses sought bankruptcy protection in the 12 months ending June 30. That is a 12 percent jump over the bankruptcy filings during the
12 months prior to that. Nationally, bankruptcies surged 29 percent, and Samuel Gerdano
of the American Bankruptcy Institute said he expects the rate of filings to increase through the end of the year. Of Pennsylvania's three federal districts, the 25-county western district registered the most filings, with 12,471. The 33-county district covering central and northeastern Pennsylvania registered the biggest percentage increase, at nearly 21 percent.

USW authorizes strike against ArcelorMittal

PITTSBURGH (AP) - The United Steelworkers union says its members have voted to give it the authority to launch a nationwide strike against ArcelorMittal. The Pitttsburgh-based union has been negotiating with Luxembourg-based ArcelorMittal since April. The talks are about a
new labor contract that would cover more than 14,000 workers and tens of thousands of retirees. The current contract expires Monday. On Tuesday, the union distributed a notice to workers at 14 plants operated by ArcelorMittal saying there had been a "lack of progress" in the talks and asking for the authority to call a strike if the negotiations fail. ArcelorMittal says it remains committed to working with the union to reach a settlement before Monday. Employees work at plants in Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, South Carolina, West Virginia and Minnesota.

Pa. humane officer: PSPCA flouts jurisdiction laws

PITTSBURGH (AP) - An animal control officer being sued for taking six kittens from a couple admits she overstepped her legal authority. But Tammy Kerr says she was just following orders from her employer, the Pennsylvania Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Kerr says she has been sent to 27 counties since she was hired for her $17-an-hour job in June. But Kerr says she isn't sworn in as a humane police officer to enforce the state's animal cruelty
statute in 20 of them. A hearing on the lawsuit is scheduled for Thursday and Kerr said she is looking forward to talking about the agency's policies under oath. Kerr and former PSPCA officers claim they were routinely forced to take police action outside their jurisdiction. The PSPCA says it never asks for police action outside officers' jurisdiction - just for officers to try to talk people into giving up animals.

Panel on Pa. health reform focuses on price tag

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - A panel discussion in Harrisburg on the state's health care system found consensus that it has serious problems, but little agreement about what to do to fix it.
The panelists repeatedly turned to questions of how much it'll cost to expand insurance coverage - and who'll end up paying for it. The chief executive of the Geisinger Health System says he's concerned that health care reform could, if done incorrectly, wind up pushing more patients into emergency rooms. Business groups say they'd like to see more done to contain the
burgeoning cost of medical care.

Settlement could add Hispanics to Pa. school board

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - A federal judge has approved a legal settlement aimed at adding Hispanic representation to a school board in northeastern Pennsylvania. U.S. District Judge Legrome Davis in Philadelphia approved the agreement Wednesday. It settles a lawsuit filed by a former school board candidate in Bethlehem. All nine board members in the Bethlehem Area School District are currently elected at-large. The agreement will create three geographic seats, including one in an area where voting-age Hispanics make up nearly 40 percent of the population. Hispanics make up about 30 percent of the student body. Plaintiffs in the 2006 lawsuit said the previous methods of electing the board were keeping Hispanics from being elected. They sued after the district sidestepped two Hispanic candidates and instead appointed a white man to fill a vacancy.

W.Pa man charged in pregnant motorcyclist shooting

PITTSBURGH (AP) - Police have charged a suburban Pittsburgh man with firing a bullet at a shooting range that struck a pregnant woman as she rode on a motorcycle more than a mile away. Police say 47-year-old Martin Patterson, of Ambridge, shot over a hillside instead of at the target on Aug. 2. The bullet struck 26-year-old Aliza Musser, of Mount Oliver, in the abdomen, as she rode on the back of a motorcycle. Musser wasn't seriously hurt and her four-month-old fetus was unharmed. Police traced the .223-caliber bullet removed from Musser to
Patterson's rifle. He's charged with aggravated assault and reckless endangerment. Patterson told the Beaver County Times that it was an accident and he's very sorry.

Camp counselor from Del. faces child porn charges

WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) - A Wilmington man who recently worked as a camp counselor has been indicted by a federal grand jury on child pornography charges. The grand jury returned a 14-count indictment charging 22-year-old Brian Briggs with transportation, receipt and
possession of child pornography and related offenses. During an online chat with an FBI agent in Arizona posing as the mother of a 13-year-old girl, prosecutors say Briggs transmitted a
number of images of child pornography and asked to see naked pictures of the girl. Prosecutors say Briggs recently worked at the Friends Central School's Trailblazer Summer Camp in Wynnewood, Pa. and worked as a counselor at the school's aftercare program last school year.

Pa. man who ran down Pitt grad student sentenced

PITTSBURGH (AP) - A man who ran down a University of Pittsburgh graduate student in a stolen car last year has been sentenced to four to eight years in prison, but could serve time in a state prison boot camp instead. Twenty-year-old Christopher Titus of Pittsburgh already spent 14 months in jail. Allegheny County Judge Jill Rangos is recommending Titus serve the remainder of his sentence in a boot camp to give him a chance to change his life. Titus pleaded guilty in June to aggravated assault and other charges. Police say Titus was driving about 70 mph on June 28, 2007, when the car struck 26-year-old Jennifer Burroughs and dragged her for 50 feet under the chassis. She underwent 15 surgeries and spent 182 days in hospitals.
Titus apologized to Burroughs on Wednesday.

Pittsburgh redevelopment boss Pat Ford resigns

PITTSBURGH (AP) - Pittsburgh Urban Redevelopment chief Pat Ford has resigned. Ford issued a strongly worded resignation letter Wednesday, alleging a "culture of deception and corruption" and saying he will no longer support what he believes "to be a failed administration."
The letter comes nearly five months after Ford went on paid leave following revelations that he had accepted Christmas gifts from an executive for Lamar Advertising, which has substantial
dealings with the city. Those included a lease and permit application for a controversial electronic billboard downtown. The revelation prompted a state Ethics Commission investigation but the commission determined Ford did nothing wrong. Ford's resignation is effective at the end of this year, when his contract runs out.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Today's News- Wednesday, August 27th, 2008

Shenandoah pair freed on bail

It only took a matter of minutes for Schuylkill County President Judge William Baldwin to grant bail to those accused of beating a Shenandoah man to death. Family members along with attorneys for 16-year-old Brandon Piekarsky and 17-year-old Colin Walsh worked to secure 50-thousand-dollars bail and their release from Schuylkill County Prison. Three conditions to which Piekarsky and Walsh must comply-no drugs or alcohol, no contact with the other defendants and 7 o'clock curfews. They will also be subject to random monitoring from their probation officer. Defense attorney for Colin Walsh, Roger Laguna, says this has been a hard case:


Both were released yesterday afternoon.

Traffic stop leads to another drug bust in Pottsville

A Reading man is jailed after being caught with drugs in Pottsville. A traffic stop on 28-year-old Christopher Rodriguez on Railroad Street uncovered three bags of suspected crack cocaine, powder cocaine and marijuana. Following arraignment on the drug charges, Rodriguez was taken to the county prison, being unable to post bail.

Cars torched at dealership in East Norwegian Township

Several vehicles were damaged by fire early this morning at an auto repair garage in East Norwegian Township. Schuylkill Haven state police report that the vehicles, two cars and a truck, were set on fire at Ric's Service Station on the Port Carbon/St Clair Highway after 2am. The investigation continues.

Fight with sister results in arrest

A spat in Girardville Tuesday morning turned physical, and a borough man jailed. Gary Romanot and his sister, Susan Dietz, were fighting at their West Ogden Street home, with Romanot allegedly striking and pushing her. He was charged with simple assault and taken to Schuylkill County Prison, being unable to post bail.

Two charged in attempted prescription forgery

Two people are charged with criminal conspiracy and forgery after attempting to get prescription medications fraudulently at a Hometown pharmacy. 28-year-old Phillip Brinich and 22-year-old Ashley Balliet, both of Tamaqua, attempted to get prescriptions from Flamini's Pharmacy with forged scripts. Both were arraigned and taken to county prison.

Casey speaks of father, abortion

DENVER (AP) - Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey says he has "an honest disagreement" with Sen. Barack Obama about abortion. Casey wants to outlaw abortion and Obama wants to keep it legal. Casey praises Obama for showing respect for those who disagree with him - such as by allowing an anti-abortion senator to speak at the Democratic National Convention. In 1992, Casey's father was denied the chance to speak at the convention, creating a rift within the party. Pennsylvania Gov. Robert Casey Sr. also opposed abortion.

More emergency ballots requested for Pa. election

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Voters' rights groups say they are concerned that some Pennsylvanians will be unable to vote on Election Day if electronic voting machines break down.
The groups said this week they are pressing state officials to ensure that poll workers are trained to hand out emergency paper ballots while the machines get fixed. They want the paper ballots to be distributed when at least half of a polling station's machines malfunction. The groups, including Common Cause, Voter Action and the Advancement Project, say there were dozens of reports of inoperable machines in the April primary, but paper ballots were not always
available. In a statement, the Department of State said it is listening to the groups and considers the opportunity to vote a top priority.

USW wants strike authority in ArcelorMittal talks

PITTSBURGH (AP) - The United Steelworkers union has asked more than 14,000 of its members at plants run by ArcelorMittal to allow it to call a strike if ongoing contract negotiations fail. The Pittsburgh-based labor union says in a notice distributed at 14 plants nationwide that a "lack of progress" in the talks with the world's largest steelmaker has prompted the strike authorization vote. The negotiations began four months ago and the strike vote is scheduled for Wednesday. The union has been bargaining with Luxembourg-based
ArcelorMittal SA on behalf of the workers and tens of thousands of retirees. The current contract is set to expire Sept. 1. Union representative Tony Montana, who is participating in the
negotiations, says a work stoppage is still avoidable. U.S.-based spokesmen for ArcelorMittal have not responded to messages seeking comment.

Coroner: W.Pa. toddler dead after shooting self

SIGEL, Pa. (AP) - A western Pennsylvania toddler is dead after he picked up an unattended handgun and shot himself in the head. Elk County Coroner Louis Radkowski says 3-year-old Trey Rosenberger, who was from Beaver County, was at a camp in Millstone Township with family and friends and adults who were target shooting on Monday. Radkowski says the gun was left loaded and unattended on a chair when the boy picked up the gun around 11 a.m. The death has been ruled an accident. State Police are investigating. No charges have been filed.

Pa. state lawmaker planning for Iraq deployment

DILLSBURG, Pa. (AP) - A Pennsylvania state lawmaker is making plans to serve with his Army National Guard unit in Iraq next year. Rep. Scott Perry, a Republican whose district includes parts of York and Cumberland counties, is part of a unit that's scheduled to go to Oklahoma in January and Iraq in April. The 46-year-old Perry is a lieutenant colonel and a battalion
commander in the Guard. He says he'll be counting on his legislative staff to handle day-to-day operations in his absence. Perry is expected to be gone for about a year. He is currently serving his first term in the House and is running unopposed for re-election in November.

House painters rescue dad, son from Philly fire

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - A child and his father are expected to be OK after some quick thinking by Philadelphia house painters got them out of a burning house. Daniel Danger and Donald Miller say they were working nearby when they saw smoke billowing from a house and ran over. The father was holding the child out a third-story window. The painters say they yelled to the father to drop the child and he did. But the father was still trapped inside and firefighters hadn't arrived yet. The painters ran back to their truck to get their extension ladder and provided the father with a way to get out. The father and son were treated for smoke inhalation.

Expired parking meter stirs political debate

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Attorney General Tom Corbett's campaign says his opponent used an official pass to avoid a parking ticket, and it has photos to prove it. The pictures show Democrat John Morganelli's car next to a meter along a Harrisburg street, with a pass from the Northampton County district attorney's office on the dashboard. Corbett's campaign says it was parked for four hours Monday while Morganelli was making a political speech. Corbett's campaign says he should repay the city the six dollars he should have put in the meter.
Morganelli says he fed the meter to cover more than two hours' parking. When he realized the time was up, he says he had only a bill. He says he went to get change but got sidetracked.
He called Corbett's criticism "petty."

Looking ahead to tonight at the convention

DENVER (AP)- Hillary Clinton is making it clear to her supporters what they should do next.
In a rousing Democratic convention speech last night, Clinton declared Barack Obama her candidate and urged her backers to look ahead. She said regardless of which candidate Democrats voted for in the primary, it's time to unite as a single party. She said Democrats "don't have a moment to lose or a vote to spare." Clinton was greeted by a sea of "Hillary" signs and a cheering crowd. Obama's name will be placed in nomination tonight. Clinton has
not indicated whether she would have her name placed in nomination or seek a formal roll call vote. Party leaders are afraid of a national audience seeing discord. Former President Bill Clinton and vice-presidential choice Joe Biden will be tonight's headline speakers.

Former Governor Warner: Party must seize opportunity

DENVER (AP) - Former Virginia Governor Mark Warner is calling Barack Obama the right man for the country. Warner, speaking at the Democratic National Convention, said this presidential election year is a "race for the future." The U.S. Senate candidate was chosen by Obama to be a keynoter. Warner told delegates that the United States won't do well in the increasingly competitive 21st century with "a president who is stuck in the past." He also said America's leaders "have one shot to get it right" and that "the status quo won't cut it."

Romney joins Democratic critics in Denver

DENVER (AP) - Mitt Romney, a potential running mate for John McCain, has joined the Republican shadow operation at the Democratic convention in Denver. At a news conference, Romney charged that Barack Obama's policies would weaken America's economy and national security. The former Massachusetts governor told reporters that Obama has a history of raising taxes and has voted to raise taxes or prevent tax decreases more than 90 times. Romney compared Obama and McCain on spending, saying Obama constantly talks about raising spending. He said McCain is dedicated to reigning in excessive spending.

Stevens wins

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) - Even though a federal trial hangs over his head, Alaska Republicans have given Senator Ted Stevens a primary victory. Stevens survived by taking 63 percent of the vote against six GOP challengers. He'll face popular Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich in November. Begich easily took the Democratic primary, winning 91 percent of
the vote against two minor challengers. Stevens is accused of not disclosing $250,000 in gifts on Senate forms. In Florida, Tom Rooney will face Democratic Representative Tim Mahoney in November for the seat once held by disgraced congressman Mark Foley. Rooney won a tight three-way Republican race with 37 percent of the vote.

Gustav pummels Haiti

MIAMI (AP) - Gustav is back down to being a tropical storm. It weakened from a hurricane while moving over Haiti. The storm is expected to return to hurricane status later this
week, on its expected path between Cuba and Jamaica. Gustav dumped torrential rains across southern Haiti, setting off a landslide that killed at least one man. High water is threatening crops amid protests over high food prices. Oil prices have risen on fears the storm could batter oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico.

Plans to dock boat in Poti canceled

TBILISI, Georgia (AP) - A U.S. Embassy spokesman says plans have been canceled to try to dock a military ship carrying humanitarian aid in the Georgian port of Poti. Russian forces are posted on the outskirts of the city. The ship, the Coast Guard cutter Dallas, was to have come to the Black Sea port on Wednesday morning. But Embassy spokesman Stephen Guice says the vessel instead will dock in Batumi, a port well south of the zone of fighting in this month's war between Russia and Georgia. Guice says he did not have information on why the plan was
changed. Poti's port reportedly suffered heavy damage from the Russian military. Russian troops have established checkpoints on the northern approach to the city and a U.S. ship docking there could have been seen as a direct challenge.

Six more senators seek end to oil drilling impasse

WASHINGTON (AP) - Six more senators have joined a bipartisan group of 10 others in supporting a bill they say will break the stalemate over offshore drilling in Congress. Three Democrats and three Republicans joined the so-called Gang of 10, making it the Gang of 16. The group supports a bill that would lift a ban on oil and natural gas drilling in the eastern Gulf of Mexico and off the southeastern U.S. The bill would also invest 20 billion dollars in the development of petroleum-free motor vehicles and extend tax credits for renewable energy.
Among the new converts are two Republican senators facing tough re-election bids. By signing with the group, Senators Norm Coleman of Minnesota and John Sununu of New Hampshire have broken with the majority of their party. It would like to see the moratorium on drilling lifted along the entire Atlantic and Pacific coasts.

Death probed after fire

BOISE, Idaho (AP) - Officials in Idaho are trying to determine if a fast-moving wildfire killed a Boise State University professor. The body of Mary Ellen Ryder was found in one of the 20 homes burned by Monday's fire. The English professor was supposed to teach her first class of the semester on Tuesday. No other residents were injured by the fire, which spread quickly from a vacant field of sagebrush, up a ridge and into a nearby neighborhood. Seventeen police officers and at least one firefighter were treated for smoke inhalation and other injuries. The cause of the fire is still being investigated, but officials blame strong wind gusts for its rapid acceleration.

Hacker gets into FEMA phone system

WASHINGTON (AP) - The FBI is investigating more than $12,000 in calls made when a hacker broke into the Federal Emergency Management Agency's phone system. The hacker made more than 400 calls to the Middle East and Asia on a FEMA voicemail system in Emmitsburg, Maryland, two weekends ago. Calls were made to places like Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia,
India and Yemen. Some lasted up to 10 minutes. One security expert says this type of low-tech and "old school" hacking was more popular 10 to 15 years ago. The voicemail system was recently installed, and is a traditional corporate phone network used by thousands of companies
and government offices. Many companies are moving to an upgraded version.

Hundreds of new moms get warning

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Kaiser Permanente is telling 960 mothers that they and their babies may have been exposed to a San Francisco maternity ward worker diagnosed with active tuberculosis. Kaiser started notifying patients Tuesday about the worker formerly employed in the postpartum unit of its San Francisco Medical Center. The part-time employee worked at Kaiser from March 10 to August 10 and no longer works for the organization. Kaiser learned of the employee's diagnosis last week and says the medical center followed all appropriate screening procedures when hiring the employee. Kaiser's infectious disease chief in Northern California says the infection risk for patients is low and the worker had a common strain of TB that responds well to antibiotics.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Today's News-Tuesday, August 26th, 2008


Walsh and Piekarsky get bail

Two Shenandoah teens have been granted bail by a Schuylkill County Judge. Attorneys for Brandon Piekarsky and Colin Walsh presented motions to President Judge William Baldwin
to free them from Schuylkill County Prison, where they've been incarcerated since July 25th. Both are charged with third degree murder and related counts in the death of Luis Ramirez. Family members expected that both teens would be released from jail by nightfall.

Former gang member speaks at Shenandoah

A former gang member from California came to Shenandoah Valley High School last night to talk about prejudice, racism and the ways to begin the healing process, following the events of the last month in the borough. Albert Gonzales, a nationally known crisis intervention expert, engaged a crowd of about 50 people to look at the root problems in Shenandoah, and all across the nation. Its all about being accountable for your actions, according to Gonzales:


Gonzales will address students at Shenandoah Valley in two assemblies today.

Fire burns barn in Washington Township, cattle spared

Quick work saved the lives of 20 head of cattle while a barn burned to the ground in Washington Township Monday afternoon. Scott Moyer and his family were able to move the animals to a nearby field. Firefighters were able to keep the blaze away from their home on Covered Bridge Road. Fire officials believe that the blaze was accidental.

Cases of rare blood cancer at 33

Their the only known cases in North America and 33 have been confirmed right here in eastern Pennsylvania.


That's hematology/oncology Dr. Paul Rhoda from Geisinger Hazleton Cancer Center with the latest information on the polycythemia vera illness. Representatives from the agency for toxic substances and disease registry from Atlanta, along with the Pennsylvania Department of Health and Infectious Disease spoke to the public on their five-year study of PV. Tamaqua Mayor Chris Morrison is happy something is finally being done:


A panel consisting of 20 or more experts in areas such as state and federal agencies, the National Institute of Health and doctors from major academic institutions throughout Pennsylvania will decide on the next course of action.

Reading man arrested on drug charges in Pottsville

An undercover drug buy by Pottsville drug agents nets the arrest of a Reading man. City police picked up 33-year-old Alfred Alonzo Mayo for selling crack cocaine earlier this month. Mayo was also on parole for similar crimes. Following arraignment on the drug charges and a parole detainer, Mayo was locked up in county prison. Further charges are also pending.

Biz plan winners announced

Two fledgling businesses in are co-winners in this year's Pottsville Business Plan Competition. Michelle Schuettler, owner of The Dirty Dog, a self service pet washing facility, and Jonathan Paroby, the owner of full service photo operation Schuylkill Photo Memories, will receive a 5 year interest free loan, business and financial services and other amenities in their prize packages. Paroby, a veteran photographer, says that the business plan competition was eye opening:


The competition, broken down in three phases, helps would-be entrepreneurs who have a dream to own their own buisness started in 2004.

Obama's choice of Biden raises stakes for McCain

DENVER (AP) - Barack Obama's choice of Joe Biden as a running mate sets the bar for John McCain. The GOP nominee-in-waiting is in the final stages of deciding who should join him on the ticket, and Obama's selection of Biden is certain to figure into McCain's calculation. His short list of contenders reportedly includes former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, as well as former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge and, perhaps, Democrat-turned-independent Joe Lieberman of Connecticut. A dark-horse pick - like Gen. David Petraeus or former Secretary of State Colin Powell - also is possible. The announcement is expected soon, and McCain's upcoming schedule is fueling speculation. He is to appear at a rally in Ohio on Friday, and another in Washington, Pa., on Saturday - that one with Ridge.

Appalachian poverty rate may dip slightly

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - The number of Appalachian residents living in poverty is expected to fall slightly. But anti-poverty experts say the slight improvement should be short-lived as wages drop, the job market weakens and household expenses rise. The U.S. Census Bureau plans to release figures Tuesday on income, poverty and health insurance coverage from 2007.
In 2006, America's poverty rate was 12.3 percent, down from 12.6 percent the year before.
Economist Jared Bernstein at the Economic Policy Institute in Washington, D.C., says 2007 was probably as good as it gets for awhile. Appalachia includes all of West Virginia and parts of Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, Mississippi, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.

Home sales, prices mostly fall in Northeast

UNDATED (AP) - Homes sales tumbled in most big Northeastern cities last month - with only Passaic, N.J., showing a healthy jump in activity. According to two reports released Monday, sales of distressed properties dragged down median prices in the entire region. The National Association of Realtors says sales of existing homes in the Northeast declined nearly 12 percent in July from a year ago, while the median price in the Northeast was $278,700, down almost 5 percent from July 2007. That reflected the national trend: sales dropped more than 13
percent year-over-year, while the median price decreased 7.1 percent to $212,000. But the Associated Press-Re/Max Monthly Housing Report, also released Monday, showed July sales dropped by at least 20 percent in five of the nine Northeast cities tracked. The report analyzed
home sales recorded by all real estate agents in those cities, regardless of company affiliation.
Real estate agent Ellen Renish of Continental Realty says the sales pace has improved over the last several months in Philadelphia.

Altoona to bid out 8,400 acres for gas drilling

ALTOONA, Pa. (AP) - Altoona is planning to seek bids on 8,400 acres of land for gas drilling that could generate millions of dollars for the city. The bids will be advertised in mid-September. The lease will include a $16.8 million upfront bonus payment, in addition to a 15 percent royalty on gas revenue. Penn State Cooperative Extension gas well expert Ken Balliet estimates the royalties could generate as much as $54 million over 20 years for the city. The move by the city is part of a rush in Pennsylvania to make good on interest in drilling into the Marcellus shale.

Belt air hearing set for Tuesday

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - It's the public's turn to comment on proposed federal rules that would allow coal mines to continue using conveyer belt tunnels for ventilation. The federal Mine Safety and Health Administration has scheduled a public hearing on the rules Tuesday in Charleston. The United Mine Workers has criticized ventilating with belt air, saying the practice is dangerous. Additionally, MSHA's proposal would require flame-resistant belts, carbon monoxide detectors instead of heat-sensing fire alarms, standardized directional signals on lifelines leading to escape routes, emergency air supplies and airtight shelters, among other things. The rules are required by federal legislation adopted after the fatal 2006 Sago Mine explosion in West Virginia and other high-profile accidents.

Central Pa. school district faces strike threat

ROARING SPRING, Pa. (AP) - An Altoona-area school district is facing a strike threat after eight months of talks have failed to yield a deal with teachers. More than 130 members of the Spring Cove Education Association voted Monday to strike if a deal is not reached soon. It was
unclear if there was a time limit set. Union President John Fitzpatrick says the major sticking points are health care and salaries. He says little progress has been made. Spring Cove School District Superintendent Rodney Green says negotiations are proceeding with "mutual trust and respect." There are more than 2,170 students enrolled in the district, which employs about 250 people.

Second lawsuit filed in Philly child death

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Attorneys for the Philadelphia parents charged in the starvation death of their bedridden daughter have filed another lawsuit intended as a class-action on behalf of
28,000 children. The federal lawsuit is filed against the city and state on behalf of children and parents receiving services from the city Department of Human Services. It claims the agency is unsafe, resulting in neglect and deaths of innocent children. It calls for appointment of a federal overseer. Mayor Michael Nutter condemned the lawsuit. He says reforms are under way at the agency and calls the lawsuit irresponsible. A civil lawsuit was already filed seeking damages on behalf of 14-year-old Danieal Kelly. Prosecutors have charged the girl's mother, Andrea Kelly, with murder, and her father, Daniel Kelly, with child endangerment.

Bedford Cty. DA faces private criminal complaint

BEDFORD, Pa. (AP) - A south-central Pennsylvania district attorney is facing a private criminal complaint after he admitted to having an extramarital affair in his office. Bedford County District Attorney William Higgins insists he committed no crime. On Monday, 34-year-old Higgins told the Altoona Mirror the case against him is politically motivated. It is unclear
what the accusations against Higgins include. When charges are filed against district attorneys the Attorney General's Office becomes the prosecutor. The Attorney General's spokesman Kevin Harley says a prosecutor will be assigned to Higgins' case. Higgins, a Republican, says he met the woman at a fundraiser last month, and at the end of the night they went back to his
office and had sex.

Philly police officer critically injured in crash

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - A Philadelphia police officer is listed in critical condition after a crash between his police cruiser and another car. Police say Officer Christopher Simone was responding to a call to assist another officer around 1 a.m. Tuesday when his police car collided with another auto at a downtown intersection. Police say the emergency lights and sirens on Simone's car were in use. Police commissioner Charles Ramsey went to Hahnemann University
Hospital to meet with the injured officer's family. Doctors say Simone, a Ninth District officer, has a leg injury, a fractured rib, and a head injury. His prognosis is said to be good. The driver and two passengers from the other car were also taken to Hahnemann for evaluation. Their conditions were not immediately available.

Shocking: Philly police get their first Tasers

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - The Philadelphia Police Department has begun issuing Tasers to some officers. Up to a dozen officers who completed a training program are carrying the electrical stun guns. Officials sifted through prison data on inmates who had mental health issues and decided to focus training on de-escalation techniques and tactics in three police districts in North
Philadelphia. Lt. Fran Healy says the specially trained officers will use Tasers as a less than lethal use of force during potentially violent encounters, especially with people in "mental crisis."
Healy calls the Tasers "just an additional tool." Police also carry pepper spray and batons.
Officials hope to have about 160 officers trained in the program by the end of 2008.

Pittsburgh police fire volunteer police chaplain

PITTSBURGH (AP) - Pittsburgh police are without a chaplain after Chief Nate Harper fired the volunteer filling the post due to questions raised about her religious credentials. Lara Zinda filled the post for about 10 months, assisted by a partner, Keith Smith. Harper says there were "discrepencies with their documents." He says Smith also has a criminal record. He says Zinda brought Smith and was fired last week as a result. Zinda and Smith both say they are reverends with the Methodist Institute, part of the Methodist Church in America in Newgate College.
But the Western Pennsylvania Conference of the United Methodist Church says it knows of no such organization. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette says it was unable to reach Zinda and Smith for comment on Monday.

SBA helps suburban Philly fire victims with loans

CONSHOHOCKEN, Pa. (AP) - Residents of the burned-out Riverwalk at Millennium apartment complex in suburban Philadelphia can now get help applying for low-interest federal loans. A disaster assistance outreach center has opened in Conshohocken, Pa. The Small Business Administration has set up shop at the Montgomery County fire academy. A recent federal disaster declaration means that low-interest loans are available to renters, businesses, and nonprofit organizations that were affected by the blaze nearly two weeks ago. Resident Rudy Tacconelli says the outreach center has been helpful. He says he and his family "lost pretty much everything." Representatives at the center also will help residents replace important documents destroyed by the fire.

Pittsburgh light-rail tunnel to be dug by 2009

PITTSBURGH (AP) - The Port Authority of Allegheny County says it will resume tunnel boring work in Pittsburgh this week and plans to have two light-rail tunnels completed by year's end.
The tunnels are part of a $435 million plan to expand Pittsburgh's light-rail service. It will connect the city's downtown area to its outlying northern shore, home to popular sports stadiums. The 500-ton boring machine completed the first tunnel last month. Port Authority spokesman David Whipkey says the second tunnel should be completed by the end of the year.

DENVER (AP) - Hillary Rodham Clinton is in the spotlight tonight. Barack Obama's former rival for the top spot on the Democratic ticket will deliver a much-anticipated speech at the Denver convention. She's expected to urge her disappointed supporters to line up in unity behind Obama.

WASHINGTON (AP) - The government says sales of new homes in the U.S. unexpectedly rose 2.4 percent in July. A lot of sellers were cutting prices, and this turned some cautious house hunters into buyers. The Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller index shows home prices dropping a record 15.4 percent during the second quarter.

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Census Bureau reports the nation's poverty rate held steady last year at 12.5 percent, not statistically different from the 12.3 percent in 2006. There were 37.3 million people living in poverty in 2007. Also, the number of people lacking health insurance dropped by more than 1 million in 2007.

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) - Hurricane Gustav is growing rapidly as it closes in on Haiti. Forecasters say maximum sustained winds are near 90 miles per hour. It could become a Category 2 hurricane with winds of 96 or higher before hitting Haiti. Gustav's center is
now about 50 miles south of Port-au-Prince.

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) - Court documents show the mother of a missing Florida toddler wanted to give the girl up for adoption before she was born. Documents released by prosecutors show Casey Anthony's mother insisted that she keep the child. Three-year-old Caylee has been missing since June.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Today's News-Monday, August 25th, 2008

Back to School for many today

Today signals the end of summer for many area students as schools open for classes. PennDOT reminds drivers to watch for children crossing streets and school busses loading and unloading kids. Pennsylvania's school bus stopping law requires motorists to stop at least 10 feet away from busses with flashing red lights. School zone speed limits are 15 miles per hour before and after school. Stiff penalities are in store for violators.

Investigation into helicopter crash continues

Two men remain hospitalized following a helicopter crash Friday night at Mountain Valley Golf Course. Al Roman of Hazleton was piloting the chopper dropping golf balls for an Access Services charity outing when it crashed on the course. Roman is in fair condition at Reading Hospital and co-pilot Joseph Matteo remains in critical condition at Geisinger Medical Center in Danville this morning. Investigators from the Federal Aviation Administration spent the weekend at the crash scene, and have released the mangled helicopter back to its owner. It may be some time until a final report is released as to what caused the Friday evening crash.

Maryland man injured in interstate crash

A Maryland man suffered moderate injuries in a crash on Interstate 81 Saturday night. 61 year old Gilbert Vosburgh Jr. of Bowie, Maryland was driving south in Butler Township when his vehicle hit construction signs and struck a tree head on. Vosburgh was taked to Schuylkill Medical Center-South Jackson for treatment.

Police busy with DUI checkpoints over the weekend

Area police were busy with DUI checkpoints over the weekend. 819 cars were stopped in Shenandoah Friday night, with 4 adults charged with driving under the influence and 12 traffic arrests. During roving DUI patrols Saturday, three adults were charged with drunk driving and 11 with traffic citations. Sobriety checkpoints and roving patrols continue this week on area roadways.

Steel cross installed near Flight 93 site in Pa.

SHANKSVILLE, Pa. (AP) - A cross made out of steel beams from the World Trade Center now stands near the site where Flight 93 crashed in western Pennsylvania on Sept. 11, 2001. undreds prayed and sang at a dedication service next to a volunteer fire company on Sunday morning. The 2-ton, 14-foot high beam is sitting on a base shaped like the Pentagon. Scores of current and retired FDNY firefighters traveled to Shanksville from Brooklyn's Floyd Bennett Field to deliver the beam on Saturday. The memorial is not part of the official $58 million Flight 93 National Memorial. United Airlines Flight 93 was brought down by hijackers just outside Shanksville, about 40 minutes into its flight from Newark, N.J.

AFL-CIO, Change to Win, other unions reunite to urge members to vote for Obama

DENVER (AP) - After years of hard feelings following a difficult split, the nation's organized labor movement is joining forces to urge its members to vote for Barack Obama in hopes of changing the nations labor policies. Leaders from the AFL-CIO and Change to Win shared a stage together at a labor rally for Obama at the Democratic National Convention. The AFL-CIO is the nation's largest labor organization, with 56 member unions. Change to Win is made up of seven former AFL-CIO unions who defected in 2005. The AFL-CIO has mailed out a million flyers to voters in Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin touting Obama. Union members made up 12.1 percent of the working population in 2007. They members made up 20 percent of the work force in 1983. But union members still have major clout inside the Democratic Party. Union delegates represent one fourth of the delegates to the Democratic National Convention, and labor is expected to pump more than $200 million into Democratic coffers by Election Day.

Pa. teen charged in beating death seeks bail

POTTSVILLE, Pa. (AP) - A bail hearing is scheduled Tuesday for a 16-year-old northeastern Pennsylvania boy charged in the beating death of a Mexican man is seeking bail. Brandon Piekarsky is charged as an adult with third-degree murder, ethnic intimidation and other offenses. Prosecutors allege that the July 12 attack on Luis Ramirez was racially motivated.
Another teen, 17-year-old Colin Walsh, is also facing a murder charge. Assistant District Attorney A.J. Serina says prosecutors haven't seen a petition from Walsh requesting a bail hearing. Another defendant, 18-year-old Derrick Donchak, is charged with aggravated assault and other offenses. Prosecutors allege that a fourth teen was involved, but plan to charge him as a juvenile.

Pa. bans restraint technique that can cause death

ALLENTOWN, Pa. (AP) - Pennsylvania officials are banning a restraint technique from being used in youth treatment centers. The "prone restraint," in which the child is held face down
and immobilized, has been blamed for the deaths of more than 70 children nationwide since 1993. Deputy Secretary for Children Youth and Families Richard Gold says the ban will make youth treatment centers safer - both for the youths and the employees. But some say the new state policy will leave workers unable to deal effectively with violent children. Jennifer Gray is a former counselor at KidsPeace near Allentown who quit last year after being assaulted by a 15-year-old girl there. She says the problem isn't the restraint, but its use by people who haven't been trained properly.

Pittsburgh school support workers join clerical workers in threatening to strike

PITTSBURGH (AP) - Hundreds of custodians, food-service workers, truck drivers and others in Pitsburgh's school district have joined clerical workers in threatening to go on strike. Members of two locals of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees have been working under terms of contracts that expired in December 2006. Negotiations are scheduled
to resume Monday. The first day of school for students is Aug. 28. AFSCME Local 297 represents custodians, food-service workers, repairmen, truck drivers and other workers. Union members voted Saturday to authorize a strike. Clerical workers in AFSCME Local
2924 had previously voted to authorize a strike. The votes by the members authorize union leaders to call a strike at any time. The union must give 48 hours' notice to the schools before a walkout begins. The district, the second largest in the state, has about 28,000 students in kindergarten through 12th grade.

Mobile home fire kills south-central Pa. man, critically injures mother

MECHANICSBURG, Pa. (AP) - State and local authorities in south-central Pennsylvania are trying to find out what caused a fire in a mobile home that killed a man and critically injured his
mother. Authorities say Anthony Archer died in the 11:15 a.m. Saturday fire in Silver Spring Township, Cumberland County. Katherine Archer was taken to the burn center at Lehigh Valley Hospital. The state police fire marshal, township police and the coroner's office are investigating.

Man in custody after hit-run kills Philadelphia boy, 5, and critically injures mother

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Philadelphia police say they have a man in custody in connection with the hit-and-run accident that killed a 5-year-old boy and critically injured his mother. Police say a taxi struck the two victims at 1:48 a.m. Sunday in the Logan section of north Philadelphia. The boy was killed and his 23-year-old mother was taken to Albert Einstein Medical Center,
where officials say she was listed in critical condition. Officers found the taxi a few blocks away but the driver was gone. Police say a 62-year-old man from the Olney section of the city turned himself in to authorities Sunday evening.

Pa. town appeals ruling on former officer's pension

EASTON, Pa. (AP) - Easton officials are appealing a judge's ruling that allowed a former police officer who shot and killed a colleague to get a disability pension. A Northampton County judge earlier this month denied the city's request to bar Matthew Renninger from receiving a disability pension worth more than $10,000 a year. He was also granted medical coverage for life. The city is appealing to Commonwealth Court. The police pension committee approved those benefits last year. Renninger resigned from the force in May 2006, more than a year
after he shot and killed Officer Jesse Sollman in the police station. A grand jury later found that Renninger was negligent in handling his gun but that the shooting did not justify charges.

DENVER (AP) - Democrats are directing their message at middle class women on the opening day of the Democratic National Convention. Barack Obama's wife, Michelle, will deliver tonight's
keynote address. A video tribute will honor Senator Ted Kennedy.

DENVER (AP) - Police in Denver have been working with some protest groups in an effort to minimize the number of arrests and disruptions outside of the Democratic National Convention. Daily anti-war demonstrations are planned. One such march drew about 1,000 people yesterday.

MIAMI (AP) - The remnants of Tropical Storm Fay are expected to bring several inches of rain to Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Tennessee all week long. As much as seven inches of rain could fall in some areas between now and Friday but a forecaster doesn't expect major flooding.

BAGHDAD (AP) - An Iraqi soccer match drew tens of thousands of fans to Baghdad stadium yesterday. It was the largest sports crowd the city has seen since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003. The taunt of choice at the visitors, who came from Iraq's dairy region, was a rhyme that translates to "You know how to make yogurt, but you don't know anything about football."

NAPERVILLE, Ill. (AP) - An anti-crime group in Naperville, Illinois, is offering a $1,000 reward for the return of a concrete piece of the Pentagon stolen from a September 11th memorial. The
city installed a surveillance camera after a similar theft in 2005, but it wasn't working at the time of the theft last week.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Today's News-Saturday, August 23, 2008

Chopper crashes at charity event

Two men are hospitalized this morning following a helicopter crash at a charity event near Barnesville. Around 6:45pm, the chopper flew over Mountain Valley Golf Course to drop golf balls on the course when it appeared to develop problems. Ettore DiCasmirro of New Boston was on the practice range and recounts what he saw:


He helped to free the two men from the helicopter. Al Roman, the pilot, and the unidentified passenger were injured and flown from the scene to Geisinger Medical Center and Reading Hospitals. Sheila Davison of Access Services, the event sponsor, asks for the public's prayers for the two men who volunteered their time:


The Federal Aviation Administration is expected on the scene today to investigate.

Piekarsky seeks bail

One of the young men charged in the Shenandoah beating death of an illegal immigrant is asking to be bailed out of jail. Attorneys for 16-year-old Brandon Piekarsky have asked to have a hearing to consider bail on Tuesday before President Judge William Baldwin. Piekarsky and 17-year-old Colin Walsh have been in the Schuylkill County Prison since July 25th when they were charged in the death of 25-year-old Luis Ramirez. Counts of first and second degree murder were dropped against the two at a preliminary hearing. 18-year-old Derrick Donchak is also charged with aggravated assault and related counts in the case.

Haven couple will have their case heard in federal court

A Schuylkill Haven couple who believe they have been targeted by the federal government as possible terrorists will have their case heard in federal court. Erich Scherfen, a commercial airline pilot and military veteran, and his wife, Rubina Tareen are believed to be on terrorist watch lists, and Scherfen's job is on the line because of it. The Republican and Herald reports that a federal judge in Scranton will hear their case in mid-September. Scherfen's employer was planning to terminate his job September 1st if the matter wasn't resolved. That date has been pushed back to October 1st, while their case is heard. The American Civil Liberties Union is providing legal representation.

Firemen's Convention rolls out today in Haven

A massive display of fire apparatus and manpower, along with bands, floats and more roll out on the streets of Schuylkill Haven this afternoon. The 54th Annual Schuylkill County Firemen's Convention is being sponsored by the Liberty Fire Company Number 4th, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. More than 200 units are scheduled to participate in the parade, culminating a week long celebration of volunteer firefighting in Schuylkill County. The parade moves out at 1pm.

Friedensburg man found with drug paraphernalia possession

State police at Schuylkill Haven are charging a Friedensburg man with possessing drug paraphernalia following a stop Friday morning. Troopers say that 19-year-old Aaron Bartosic was parked near the First National Bank of Fredericksburg branch on Route 443 around 2am, when police made a search and found a ceramic pipe inside of Bartosic's vehicle.

Fired Philly TV anchor admits hacking e-mail

PHILADELPHIA (AP) -A fired Philadelphia TV newscaster says he illegally hacked into his co-anchor's e-mail accounts after he ended what he said was a flirtatious and improper relationship with her. Larry Mendte says his actions grew out of a feud with Alycia Lane that began after he ended their long dinners and late nights out together. Mendte pleaded guilty to one federal count of illegally accessing a protected computer. He admitted he obsessively read Lane's e-mails from March 2006 to May 2008, including ones from her agent, her then-husband and
lawyers representing her after she was arrested in New York last year and fired from the station. Lane's attorney, Paul Rosen, says there had never been an an inappropriate relationship and he called Mendte "sick and narcissistic." The charges could bring a jail sentence when the former KYW-TV anchor is sentenced November 24.

Pa. court gives win to casino in fight with Phila

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Philadelphia's mayor can't revoke a license to build on submerged riverfront lands that his predecessor legally granted to the planned SugarHouse Casino.
That's according to a four-to-two decision issued Friday by Pennsylvania's highest court, which handed what appears to be a big victory to the owners of the casino. The administration of Mayor Michael Nutter has fought to get two planned casinos to move off property along the Delaware River. The casinos' owners have resisted those efforts, and several of their fights with the city have already landed before the state Supreme Court. Last year, the court ordered the city to sidestep objections by the City Council and issue building permits to SugarHouse.

Telecom rollouts raise ire over utility boxes

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Several towns have a message for telecom companies that want to install ugly equipment on their street so hey can offer advanced video, Internet and phone services. Not in my front yard!" T&T's nearly refridgerator-sized units are drawing particular
ire - especially after a few caught fire or epxloded. David Crommie, president of a San Francisco neighborhood group, says the companies are putting 21st century technology in 19th
century packaging. Comcast has utility box problems too. Several residents in Lower Makefield, a Philadelphia suburb, are upset about new green boxes Comcast has installed around town,
sometimes between driveways. Resident Bernie Goldberg wants the boxes buried. But Comcast says they need the boxes above ground so they can access them.

Pa. woman in Jordan case to remain in jail for now

MEADVILLE, Pa. (AP) - A northwestern Pennsylvania woman who claims Michael Jordan fathered her son is still in jail because a judge says she hasn't promised not to bother Jordan.
A Crawford County judge barred 35-year-old Lisa Miceli of Meadville from contacting the former NBA star, his family or his representatives. But the judge who jailed Miceli last week, says a letter she wrote promising to comply wasn't good enough. In an order Thursday, the judge says Miceli will serve all of her two- to six-month contempt sentence unless she writes another letter "that states without question" she will follow the court order. Jordan sued Miceli this year to enforce a 2005 agreement to stop contacting him after two DNA tests showed he wasn't the boy's father.

W.Pa. woman to trial in baby snatching, murder

PITTSBURGH (AP) - A suburban Pittsburgh woman has been ordered to stand trial on criminal homicide, kidnapping and other charges for allegedly cutting an infant from his mother's womb and then killing the woman. A district judge says there's enough evidence for 39-year-old
Andrea Curry-Demus to stand trial in the death of 18-year-old Kia Johnson, of McKeesport. Johnson's body was found in Curry-Demus' Wilkinsburg apartment on July 18. Authorities say Curry-Demus tried to pass off Johnson's son as her own. Authorities say the two women met several days before while visiting other inmates at the county jail. Curry-Demus' attorney Angela Carsia says her client has a history of mental problems, but another judge has so far rejected defense arguments that's she's mentally incompetent.

Kerosene company probes if death tied to recall

PITTSBURGH (AP) - A Pittsburgh-area kerosene company recalling its product for fear it could explode is now probing whether the June death of an Amish woman could have been tied to the faulty fuel. Pittsburgh Terminals Corp. of Coraopolis issued the widespread recall late Wednesday. Company spokesman John Arnold says tests found the kerosene was mixed with gasoline, a problem caused by a malfunctioning valve at a storage facility. Pittsburgh Terminals spokeswoman Karen Walsh says the June death of 25-year-old Ada Kurtz is being investigated. Kurtz died of burns caused when she bent to light a heater. The heater exploded. Firefighters believe Kurtz thought she was lighting kerosene, but it was actually gasoline. On Thursday, the company called on the public to inform the Amish of the recall since they have little access to television and radio.

Kutztown opens new 856-student dorm on Saturday

KUTZTOWN, Pa. (AP) - One of the largest dormitories in Pennsylvania's state university system opens this weekend. Kutztown University will welcome 856 students into Dixon Hall.
The new residence hall has a retail and convenience store, an ice cream shop, and an amphitheater. Kutztown University says enrollment is up every year and occupancy in the residence halls has always been 100 percent. Officials describe Dixon Hall as a junior style suite building, with two single rooms or two double rooms sharing bathrooms. The suites and junior suites are offered to upper classmen or honors students. The building is loaded with technology to keep students safe. Two full-time building directors will live in Dixon Hall, and it will have 40 student employees.

8-miles of eastbound turnpike closing in W. Pa.

IRWIN, Pa. (AP) - An eight-mile stretch of the eastbound Pennsylvania Turnpike in western Pennsylvania will be closing for six hours so crews can install concrete beams for a new overpass. The lanes will close between the Irwin and New Stanton exchanges in Westmoreland County at midnight Friday and remain closed until 6 a.m. Saturday. Traffic will be detoured onto Route 30 and toll Route 66 to bypass the closed section of road. The westbound lanes of the road were closed last Saturday as part of the same project. The new overpass is part of a larger plan to widen that stretch of the turnpike, which is the site of frequent accidents.

PennDOT tests soy sealant on Pittsburgh-area road

PITTSBURGH (AP) - It could be the cheaper, vegetarian alternative to road paving.
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation's Pittsburgh region believes a liquid soy product it is testing on a local street could be a cheaper alternative to petroleum-based asphalt
for road paving. PennDOT Pittsburgh-area materials engineer Mike McCart says while most alternative materials are unsuccessful, the new soy product is promising. He says everything is working out well so far for the new bean byproduct road, but he does not say where in the Pittsburgh region the newly paved soy street is located.

Pittsburgh-area record collector shuts down store

PITTSBURGH (AP) - A Pittsburgh-area record collector who hoped to sell his vintage vinyl for at least $1 a record has instead, bitterly, closed up shop. Paul Mawhinney locked up his Record-Rama Sound Archives for good on Thursday, saying he's been squeezed out of business by the
recording industry and big-box retailers who can sell compact discs for about two dollars less than his wholesale cost. Mawhinney stopped buying CDs in 2002 and sold off his 300,000-disc collection in recent weeks. But efforts to sell more than a half-million albums, a million more 45 rpm singles, and thousands of tapes foundered. One buyer went bankrupt while another on eBay turned out to be bogus. The 68-year-old started collecting records in 1951 when he
bought a Frankie Laine single called "Jezebel."

WASHINGTON (AP) - Despite promises of first dibs to supporters who signed up for text messages, Democrat Barack Obama's vice presidential choice leaked to the media first. Obama today chose Delaware Senator Joe Biden, balancing the ticket with an older congressional veteran.

WASHINGTON (AP) - Today's the big coming out party for the Democratic ticket in the presidential election. Barack Obama and Delaware Senator Joe Biden plan to appear together at the Old State Capitol in Springfield, Illinois.

PESHAWAR, Pakistan (AP) - Troops backed by helicopter gunships have retaliated for a string of suicide bombings in Pakistan. Military forces pounded Islamic militants in northwest Pakistan
today, killing 37.

GORI, Georgia (AP) - Residents who fled the strategic Georgian city of Gori are returning to see what they have left after Russian troops pulled back. The Russians haven't gone far and the U.S.
France and Britain have protested that the withdrawal is not complete.

STEINHATCHEE, Fla. (AP) - Tropical Storm Fay is back in Florida for a record fourth time. It's the first storm in recorded history to hit the state with such intensity four different times. Fay
crossed over the central Florida Panhandle early this morning.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Today's news - August 22, 2008


At approximately 6:45 p.m. this evening officials report a helicopter crashed at the Mountain Valley Golf Course just outside Barnesville in Schuylkill County. Eyewitness report seeing the helicopter spin out of control and crash in the area of the eighth hole of the Maple course. Officials confirm one person was air-lifted to a regional hospital with another taken by way of ambulance. Many spectators were in attendance for the charity Access Services Fundraiser which was being held at the course. Tune in to AM-1360 WPPA radio news starting at 7 A.M. for the latest information in this developing story...







HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - The price for having a sweet tooth isgoing up. The maker of Snickers bars and M&Ms candies says it israising wholesale prices more than 12 percent to offset the highercosts of raw materials, packaging and energy. Mars is the secondmajor candy company in the past week to announce such a move. It'smuch larger rival, The Hershey Co., did it last week.

CLAYSVILLE, Pa. (AP) - Eastbound Interstate 70 is closed inPennsylvania about six miles from the West Virginia border after atractor-trailer overturned onto three vehicles. State police saythe rig was westbound when it crossed the highway and overturnedonto the eastbound vehicles. The people in those vehicles are beingremoved and are being flown to hospitals.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - A fired TV newscaster is expected to admitin a Philadelphia courtroom Friday that he illegally hacked into aco-anchor's e-mails. Larry Mendte is charged with illegally viewinghundreds of Alycia Lane's e-mails for more than two years, asleaked information about her personal life contributed to herdownfall. His attorney says Mendte will accept full responsibilityfor his actions.

MEADVILLE, Pa. (AP) - A northwestern Pennsylvania woman whoclaims Michael Jordan fathered her son is still in jail because ajudge says she hasn't promised not to bother Jordan. A CrawfordCounty judge barred Lisa Miceli of Meadville from contacting theformer NBA star, his family or his representatives. But the judgewho jailed Miceli last week, says a letter she wrote promising tocomply wasn't good enough.

KUTZTOWN, Pa. (AP) - One of the largest dormitories inPennsylvania's state university system opens this weekend. KutztownUniversity will welcome 856 students into Dixon Hall. The newresidence hall has a retail and convenience store, an ice creamshop, and an amphitheater. The building also is loaded withtechnology to keep students safe.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Today's News- Thursday, August 21, 2008

Arrest made in 23 year old murder. Reporter Kerry Dowd has more


County to move forward with energy plan

Schuylkill County is moving foward with plans to improve its energy efficiency, and coal will play a part in it. The Board of Commissioners had been negotiating with Honeywell International to change its lighting and heating systems in the Courthouse, Prison and Rest Haven to save money, but coal was not a part of the proposal. Now, a proposal from PPL Resources is on the table, with greater savings. At Wednesday's work session, the Commissioners moved to put PPL's plan on public display. The $2.6 million dollar plan would install dual heating systems in four of the county's buildings. Commissioner Frank Staudenmeier explains:


The plan would also retrofit the lighting systems to save electricity. Total savings over a 15 year period are estimated at between $3.2 and $3.6 million dollars. Chairman Gallagher said that Honeywell notified the county in an email to pull their proposal.

Pottsville schools ready to open, contract negotiations continue

The Pottsville school district is ready to start classes on Monday, with a slightly lower enrollment than last year, and its teachers union negotiating a new contract. The current agreement between the district and its 200 teachers expired in June, and negotiations have been ongoing through the summer. Scott Krater, chairman of the negotiating committee said the parties are making progress. Board president William Zimmerman is confident that things will be business as usual on Monday:


Teachers union president Kathleen Landa deferred all questions about the negotiations to PSEA representative Paul Blunt, who was unavailable for comment last night. Pottsville's total enrollment for the 2008-2009 school year is projected at 3,066, about 14 less than last year. Superintendent Dr. James Gallagher expects that number will rise during the first week of school.

Girardville man admits to killing Chester County woman

A Girardville man is under arrest after killing a Devon, PA woman. The West Chester Daily Local News reports that 49-year-old Randall Harner admitted to killing 52-year-old Deborah French at a home in Chester Springs Sunday. Harner reportedly was angry with French because she ended their relationship, and strangled her. Harner was arrested on Sunday, and is jailed at the Chester County Prison.

Man escapes injury in Pine Grove Township crash

A man escaped injury after hitting a tree in Pine Grove Township yesterday morning. 52-year-old Willard Heinbach was southbound on Geary Wolf Road and his car left the roadway, striking a tree on the berm of the road. His car ended up in a ditch. State police say Heinbach was wearing his seatbelt.

Amish population nearly doubles in 16 years

LANCASTER, Pa. (AP) - Very few people convert to the Amish faith -- yet a new study shows the Amish population has nearly doubled in the past 16 years. That's because Amish couples typically have five or more children. More than four out of every five decide in young adulthood to remain within the church. Elizabethtown College researchers say the Amish now number an
estimated 227,000 nationwide, up from 123,000 in 1992. They're expanding their presence in states far beyond Pennsylvania Dutch country as they search for affordable farmland. Since 1992, Amish settlements have been established in seven new states, putting them in at least 28 states from coast to coast.

Army promises survivors longer help

WASHINGTON (AP) - Brian Faunce was born in Philadelphia and grew up in nearby Bensalem. The Army captain died in 2003 at the age of 28 when he was electrocuted inside a Bradley fighting vehicle in Iraq. Now he's one of thousands of fallen soldiers whose relatives are
getting letters asking what the Army can do to better help them. The letter came as a surprise to Faunce's mother, Judy Faunce of Ocean, N.J., who said it had been years since she'd heard from the Army. Col. Carl Johnson is the director of the Army's Casualty and Mortuary Affairs Operation Center. He told The Associated Press that the Army is now committed to providing services to survivors for as long as the families want the help.

Boy, 11, charged with teens in Pa. gun-store heist

COLLINGDALE, Pa. (AP) - An 11-year-old Philadelphia boy is charged along with four teens in a late-night gun shop heist that netted 14 semiautomatic handguns and a backpack full of ammunition. The child's mother says she thought her son was home in bed during the Monday night robbery in suburban Collingdale. The suspects may have been foiled by the lack of a getaway car. Police say two were arrested at a nearby bus stop and two others at a pizza parlor. A witness helped police find the 11-year-old on a bus home. Police believe the intruders cut the store's phone lines and threw a boulder in the window. Gun shop owner Joseph Galiano says he's stunned an 11-year-old was even out that late - least yet taking part in a crime.

Ex-teacher gets prison for sex with Pa. student

PITTSBURGH (AP) - A former Pittsburgh-area gym teacher will spend up to three years in prison for having sex with a 14-year-old student, and sending the boy erotic text messages and nude pictures by cell phone. Twenty-seven-year-old Beth Ann Chester has been led away in
handcuffs after pleading guilty to statutory sexual assault, corruption of a minor and criminal use of a cell phone. Moon Township police say Chester had sex with a 14-year-old freshman she met last year at Moon Area High School, where she taught 9th grade and coached volleyball.
Chester resigned in December and was arrested in early January after she confessed to having sex with the boy, including once in a school parking lot.

Tolls, fares between Philly, NJ rising in Sept.

CAMDEN, N.J. (AP) - The price of getting from New Jersey to Pennsylvania is about to go up.
The Delaware River Port Authority on Wednesday voted to increase tolls on its four bridges to $4 from $3 effective Sept. 14. The rates will rise to $5 in 2010, then go up by the inflation rate
every other year after that. PATCO Speedline train fares will also rise 10 percent next month
and another 10 percent in two years, with automatic hikes after that. The tolls have not risen since 2000 and the train fares had been steady since 2001. The DRPA says it needs more money to pay for transportation maintenance and improvements. As one concession to angry commuters, the agency agreed to smaller cuts than planned for a senior citizen discount. Other
commuters will see their discount phased out entirely.

Pa. county declared disaster area after fire

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - The federal government has declared a disaster area in the suburban Philadelphia county where an apartment fire displaced hundreds of people. Gov. Ed Rendell says Wednesday's decision to call Montgomery County a disaster area means victims of the Aug. 13 Conshohocken blaze may now apply for low-interest loans. The loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration will help pay to repair damages to personal possessions and buildings.
Loans of up to $40,000 are permitted to repair or replace personal property not covered by insurance. Business owners can borrow up to $2 million.

Petrella replaces Rep. Ramaley on Democratic ticket

PITTSBURGH (AP) - A relative newcomer to Pennsylvania politics, Jason Petrella, will be the Democratic candidate for a suburban Pittsburgh Senate seat, replacing a candidate who dropped out after being charged in a corruption scandal. Rep. Sean Ramaley dropped out of the race for the 47th district after he was charged in an investigation into the use of taxpayer money for political campaigns. Petrella narrowly beat out Beaver County Commissioner Joe Spanik
for the spot, garnering 26 votes - the minimum needed from the 50-member executive committee - to get on the ballot. The executive committee was called on to choose Ramaley's replacement after the Beaver and Lawrence county committees deadlocked. Petrella faces Republican Elder Vogel Jr. in the November ballot.

Pa. woman hangs herself in a Pittsburgh-area jail

PITTSBURGH (AP) - A western Pennsylvania woman arrested for missing court appearances is dead after hanging herself in a police lockup. Twenty-three-year-old Amber Kendzlic was found hanging in a jail cell in Collier's police lockup just after midnight on Tuesday. She was taken to a nearby hospital and pronounced dead. The Allegheny County Medical Examiner ruled Kendzlic's death a suicide. Kendzlic was arrested on charges she missed court appearances
related to theft and traffic violations from 2004. Collier is about 50 miles south of Pittsburgh.

Solar mirror company to open Pittsburgh-area plant

IMPERIAL, Pa. (AP) - A German company is opening its first solar mirror production facility in suburban Pittsburgh. The state has invested $9 million in the project, helping Flabeg choose Findlay, a town about 15 miles east of Pittsburgh, as the location for its new operation. Flabeg already has a factory in Brackenridge, another Pittsburgh suburb, where 200 employees produce automotive mirror glass. That factory will remain active. The new facility will produce mirrors used to generate solar energy and will create about 300 manufacturing jobs in an area
hard-hit by the collapse of heavy industry. Flabeg is investing about $30 million in the project.

BAGHDAD (AP) - Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is in Baghdad. She says there's no agreement yet on a security deal that extends the legal basis for U.S. troops to remain in Iraq past the end of the year. Iraqi and American officials tell The Associated Press a draft agreement is complete.

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. (AP) - Tropical Storm Fay is the cause of some major flooding in Florida, and could dump as much as 30 inches of rain in some parts before it's done. But it's unlikely to ever become a hurricane before it moves ashore for the third time.

MADRID, Spain (AP) - Three days of mourning have begun in Spain, where 153 people were killed when their airplane crashed shortly after takeoff yesterday. Authorities have identified 14 bodies so far. Officials say the process could take several days because many were burned beyond recognition.

WASHINGTON (AP) - If you don't want them, it won't be long before you can make sure a pre-recorded sales call never interrupts your dinner again. The Federal Trade Commission says by December, you should be able to opt out of ever getting such calls.

BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) - Disgraced rocker Gary Glitter is back in Bangkok today, since Hong Kong won't let him in. He was released from a Vietnamese prison two days ago after serving time for molesting children. Thailand isn't letting him leave the airport unless he's on a plane.