Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Today's News-Tuesday, September 30th, 2008

Dauphin County man dies in two vehicle crash in Frailey Township

A Dauphin County teenager is dead after a crash in western Schuylkill County late Monday morning. Schuylkill Haven state police report that 52-year-old Donald White was driving a dump truck south on Route 209 near the intersection of I-81 when 18-year-old Jason Martin pulled into the path of the White's truck, hitting it in the drivers side. The truck was forced over the side of the overpass bridge. Martin died from injuries in the crash. White was injured as well, but his condition is unknown. The crash happened after 11am.

Burglary at East Norwegian Township restaurant

State police are looking for the burglars who broke into an East Norwegian Township restaurant. Troopers say that someone disabled the power at John's Family Restaurant on Route 209 and entered through the men's room window. Food was taken from the freezer inside, money was removed from a cigarette machine and video game and approximately $900 dollars in change and bills stolen. State police at Schuylkill Haven are asking anyone with information about the burglary to call them at 593-2000.

Tamaqua water authority issues water boil advisory

A water main break in Tamaqua has prompted officials to issue a water boil advisory. The Tamaqua Water Authority says that as a precaution, customers in the borough of Tamaqua and portions of Walker and West Penn Township should boil their drinking water and conserve it until further notice. The advisory applies to all Tamaqua Water Authority customers south of Taggartsville Road in Tamaqua. Customers in Hometown or north of the borough are not affected. Water for human consumption should be boiled for a full minute before use. If you have any questions, call the Tamaqua Water Authority at 668-3444.

Philadelphia police officer to be buried in afternoon

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - The fifth Philadelphia police officer killed on duty in the past three years is to be buried in the afternoon. Thirty-year-old Officer Patrick McDonald was shot as he chased a man on foot following a traffic stop on Sept. 23. The gunman was then killed in a shootout with another officer. A funeral mass will be held at a downtown Philadelphia cathedral
at noon, followed by burial at Resurrection Cemetery in Bensalem. Bensalem Police say there will be road closings on sections of Street Road and Hulmeville Road during the procession, and during the service at Resurrection Cemetery.

Ex-judge spent insurance money on house, hot tub

PITTSBURGH (AP) - Federal prosecutors say a retired Pennsylvania superior court judge spent $440,000 in insurance money on a new house, hot tub, motorcycle, jewelry and cosmetic surgery for a woman he has since married. Michael Joyce is scheduled to stand trial Oct. 20 in federal court in Pittsburgh on charges he got the money by exaggerating loss claims in a 2001 car accident. The 59-year-old judge lives in the Erie suburb of Millcreek Township and retired in January after 10 years on the appeals court. Prosecutors listed the spending in a court document Monday in response to a defense motion. The defense wants to keep the judge's financial records out of the trial, saying the expenses are an attack on Joyce's character
and not proof he had a motive to commit fraud.

Pa. lawmakers weigh audio school bus surveillance

PITTSBURGH (AP) - State lawmakers are in Pittsburgh to take testimony on a proposal that would exempt school buses from the state's wiretapping and surveillance laws. Many schools use video cameras in buses, but under Pennsylvania law it is illegal to record the audio without the permission of those on the bus. The House judiciary subcommittee is considering a bill that
would make an exception for school buses. Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala Jr. says audio recordings could help investigators deal with complaints about sexual harassment and bullying in ways that video-only recordings can't.

Pa. city eyes bond borrowing for surveillance net

BETHLEHEM, Pa. (AP) - An eastern Pennsylvania city proposes a $2.9 million wireless surveillance camera network but assures residents it will not play the role of Big Brother.
Bethlehem police commissioner Randy Miller says the cameras that would be placed anywhere from concert venues to parking garages would scan only what goes on in public. He says masking software would block out views such as residents' windows. Miller says, "It's not '1984."'
Mayor John Callahan told the City Council on Monday that officials hope to pay for the wireless network and other projects with part of a $7.5 million bond next year. The council is expected
to receive details of the mayor's proposal later this week.

Pa. man appealing federal-gun application case

ERIE, Pa. (AP) - A man wants the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to decide whether state police can prosecute him for allegedly lying on a federal gun-purchasing form. Attorneys for 44-year-old Charles Baxter, of Erie, say he never bought the gun in question. Still, he's been convicted on charges that he omitted his mental health problems and criminal record on state and federal gun applications. An Erie County judge ruled the state police could prosecute Baxter about the state form, but not for omitting the same information on a federal form. The state Superior Court reversed that decision last month, so now Baxter's attorneys are appealing to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. Police charged Baxter after he tried to buy the gun at a store near Erie in 2004.

Pastors' political endorsements draw complaints

WASHINGTON (AP) - A Philadelphia minister is defying a federal law that bans tax-exempt religious institutions from supporting political candidates. Pastor Fran Pultro of Calvary Chapel on the King's Highway is backing Republican presidential candidate John McCain. It's part of
a protest organized by the Alliance Defense Fund, a conservative legal group that contends that the law is unconstitutional. The pastors intend to send copies of their sermons to the Internal Revenue Service. But another group, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, didn't wait for that. That group filed complaints Monday with the IRS about Pultro and five other pastors whose sermons were detailed in news reports.

Pa. strangling suspect sought in Tampa, Fla.; Columbia, SC

JONESTOWN, Pa. (AP) - Police say the suspect in a Berks County woman's strangling death has ties to Tampa, Fla., and Columbia, S.C., and may have fled to one of those cities. Police say 32-year-old Julio Lastra strangled Marisol Rivera early Thursday in her Frystown home, then put the body in the trunk of a car. Later, Lastra was pulled over for a traffic violation just outside Harrisburg. He fled on foot and stole a vehicle that was found ditched in Baltimore. He remained at large Tuesday. Authorities say Rivera's sister was Lastra's ex-girlfriend and they had recently broken up.

Federal judge in Fumo corruption trial replaced

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - The federal judge who has delayed the trial of Pennsylvania state Sen. Vincent Fumo due to illness has been replaced. Jury selection is expected to resume as scheduled on Oct. 20 with U.S. District Judge Ronald Buckwalter replacing U.S. District Judge William Yohn Jr. Yohn battled flu-like symptoms during jury questioning earlier in September. He announced a monthlong postponement because of his illness. A one-sentence order on Monday put Buckwalter in charge. Both judges are in their early 70s, were appointed to the
federal bench almost two decades ago and are serving as senior judges. Federal prosecutors say the 65-year-old Fumo misused more than $3.5 million in funds and resources from the Senate, a charity and a museum. Fumo is charged with 139 counts of fraud and corruption. Fumo denies doing anything illegal.

Pot seized in central Pa. yard, couple arrested

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - A central Pennsylvania couple says marijuana they are accused of growing for distribution was for their own use. Officials say police tipped by a neighbor seized 15 to 20 marijuana plants ranging from 4 to 7 feet tall in a Harrisburg-area back yard about a mile from a state police barracks. Officers confiscated bundles of plants being dried and jars and cans of marijuana buds. Officials say the pot is worth more than $60,000. Peter Vandermeij and Lori Flynn of Susquehanna Township were arraigned on charges of manufacturing marijuana and possessing it with intent of distribution. On the porch of their home Monday, the two said the marijuana was for personal use. Flynn says they used it to help them sleep. The two are free on $50,000 unsecured bail.

Pittsburgh-area man survives bridge-jumping bet

OAKMONT, Pa. (AP) - A man who survived jumping from a bridge over the Allegheny River near Pittsburgh told them he did so on a bet - and now police are looking for whoever made the wager. Police say 42-year-old August Futryk jumped about 50 feet from the Hulton Bridge in Oakmont into the river below. Oakmont is about 10 miles northeast of Pittsburgh. Police say Futryk was visibly intoxicated and complained of chest pains so he was taken to a hospital after his rescue Sunday afternoon. He's facing public drunkenness, disorderly conduct and other charges. Oakmont police Chief David DiSanti says Futryk was wearing only undershorts at the time. The Associated Press cannot locate a listed phone number for Futryk.

W.Pa. county seeks injunction against Amish sect

EBENSBURG, Pa. (AP) - A western Pennsylvania county has gone to court to prevent conservative Amish families from living in homes without sewage disposal permits. The Amish are members of the Swartzentruber Amish. While all Amish shun the modern world, the Swartzentrubers are known for their more severe restrictions on technology and interaction with the outside world. Swartzentrubers contend their religious convictions prevent them from disposing of outhouse waste according to state sewage laws. Cambria County's sewage enforcement and building code agencies sought the injunctions Friday to prevent one family from moving into a home being built and to prevent another family from continuing to live in their home. A Nov. 13 hearing is scheduled.

NEW YORK (AP) - Stocks appear to be rebounding after yesterday's record plunge. A report that Americans' confidence in the economy actually improved this month is helping. The Dow was up more than 250 points by midmorning.

WASHINGTON (AP) - President Bush is warning of "painful and lasting" damage to the economy if Congress doesn't get a financial rescue plan back on track. Speaking at the White House this morning, Bush conceded the 700-billion-dollar proposal is huge, but he says it's dwarfed by the trillion dollars lost in yesterday's stock plunge. He says that "will have a direct impact on retirement accounts, pension funds and personal savings" of millions of Americans.

WASHINGTON (AP) - "Doing nothing is not an option," says House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer. The House is not scheduled to meet again until Thursday, but lawmakers are working to put together a new rescue proposal for the nation's financial system. President Bush is pledging to work with congressional leaders on it.

WASHINGTON (AP) - John McCain and Barack Obama are both calling for raising federal deposit insurance to $250,000. Obama says the move would help small businesses, make the banking system more secure and restore public confidence in the nation's financial system. McCain says Washington hasn't convinced people that it's "a rescue effort" that all Americans need and not "a bailout" for Wall Street.

FORT HUNTER LIGGETT, Calif. (AP) - The forest service says more than 800 firefighters are battling a wildfire in California's Los Padres National Forest. It broke out Saturday night along the coast in Monterey County. It nearly doubled in size yesterday to more than 1,700 acres.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Today's News-Monday, September 29, 2008

Hit and Run crash in McAdoo

State police have charged a Kelayres man with hit and run and related charges in an incident early Sunday in McAdoo. Frackville troopers report that 29-year-old Ryan Eckhart was traveling south on Route 309 and hit a car parked on Kennedy Drive in McAdoo, then fled. Police followed leads and found Eckhart's vehicle in an alley behind his home. Charges will be filed in District Court.

State police announce fugitive apprehension

A commercial vehicle inspection detail conducted by state police on Interstate 81 nabbed a fugitive from justice. State police were stopping vehicles at the interstate weigh station, and found that the driver, Eric Don Jones of Clinton, North Carolina was wanted for failing to register as a sex offender in his home state. Jones was arraigned via video conference, and was remanded to the county prison on $50-thousand-dollars bail. He awaits extradition to North Carolina.

Shenandoah man wanted for Franklin County warrant, apprehended

A 37-year-old Shenandoah man is jailed following a traffic stop in Mahanoy Township Saturday night. State police at Frackville say that Freddie Rodriquez was found to be wanted by Franklin County, PA officials on an outstanding warrant, and charged with driving with a suspended license and registration.

Fire in Marion Heights

An explosion in the kitchen of a pizza shope in Northumberland County sends a Marion Heights man looking for a place to stay. The News Item reports 87 year old Mitch Burach stood outside the Tower of Pizza in Marion Heights after fire tore through his upstairs apartment Sunday night. The owners of the pizza shop were just leaving the business Sunday after eight p.m. when the fire erupted with an explosion. There's no word at this time as to the exact cause ofthe blaze. No one was hurt fighting the fire.

Cephalon to pay $425M for improper drug marketing

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Federal authorities have announced a $425 million civil settlement with a pharmaceutical company charged with off-label drug marketing. Authorities in Philadelphia say Cephalon marketed three drugs for uses other than what they were federally approved for.
Authorities say Cephalon marketed one of the drugs, Actiq, for maladies including migraines and injuries. But authorities say the fentanyl lollipop is a highly addictive narcotic only approved for
certain cancer patients. The suburban Philadelphia company has signed an agreement to
plead guilty to one count of distribution of misbranded drugs.

Pa. man accused of shooting ex; she later dies

LEWISBURG, Pa. (AP) - A 46-year-old Lewisburg man is accused of shooting his estranged ex-fiancee - and charges are expected to be upgraded now that she had died. Police say Roderick Sims shot 27-year-old Charity Spickler on Saturday. Sims was arrested after a brief standoff and charged with attempted homicide and other offenses. He was held in the Union County Jail in lieu of $500,000 bail. Spickler died early Monday at Geisinger Medical Center.

Pittsburgh's new convention center not seeing boom

PITTSBURGH (AP) - Pittsburgh's $373 million David L. Lawrence Convention Center isn't attracting the larger events and convention attendees that backers had hoped for. The center opened almost five years ago and is much larger than its predecessor. But in only one year has attendance been higher than in the last full year the old center was open. The new center
also hasn't hosted more events in a given year than the old center. Heywood Sanders, a professor at the University of Texas San Antonio who studies convention centers, says many other cities that expanded their centers also aren't seeing expected results. Pittsburgh's convention center and tourism officials say numbers tell only part of the story. They say money spent by visitors is largely up, as are hotel bookings.


Philadelphia council aide apologizes for accusation of racism at TV station

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - A Philadelphia City Council aide says she shouldn't have made accusations of racism after a television reporter investigated her work habits. But Latrice Bryant says Philadelphia's Fox affiliate used "bush-league ambushing" in its report.
Reporter Jeff Cole says he has video of Bryant attending to personal business while she was logged in as working at her City Hall office. During a City Council meeting, Bryant held up signs accusing Cole and his employer of racism. Cole is white and Bryant is black. Now Bryant says her behavior was "inappropriate and inexcusable." But she says she never ripped off the city and her lawyer says a defamation lawsuit is possible.

MSHA schedules hearings on drug test rules

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - The federal Mine Safety and Health Administration has scheduled public hearings on its proposal to test all miners for drugs and alcohol. MSHA says hearings will be held via a Webcast on Oct. 14 for Washington, D.C., Pittsburgh and Englewood, Colo. A joint
audio-only session also is planned Oct. 14 for Beaver and Birmingham, Ala. The federal agency's proposal would prohibit the possession and use of drugs and alcohol at coal, copper, gold or any other type of mine. It calls for testing of all job applicants and for random testing of existing miners.

Death penalty phase continues Monday for Pa. man who murdered, robbed pair from Brooklyn, NY

BROOKVILLE, Pa. (AP) - The defense is scheduled to present witnesses Monday in the death-penalty case of a western Pennsylvania man already convicted of killing two people in 2006
kidnapping and robbery. The jury convicted 27-year-old Jason Clinger of first- and second-degree murder in the 2006 killings of 22-year-old Davon Markeys Jones and 21-year-old Dianikqua Arshell Johnson, both of Brooklyn, N.Y. The jury reached a verdict late Thursday after about five hours of deliberation. The death penalty phase of the trial began Friday and continues Monday because some defense witnesses weren't available. Hunters found the bodies of Jones and Johnson in the woods of rural western Pennsylvania in November 2006. Prosecutors say the shootings were drug-related.

Suburban Philadelphia woman accused of sex with boys due in court

DOYLESTOWN, Pa. (AP) - A woman accused of engaging in sex acts with two teenage boys at a suburban Philadelphia sleepover is due in court. Bucks County prosecutors say 38-year-old Angela Honeycutt did so at a sleepover hosted by a friend of hers, 45-year-old Lynne Long-Higham. The boys attending the sleepover were 14 and 15 years old. Honeycutt is due in court Monday. Long-Higham pleaded guilty earlier this month to three counts each of corruption of minors and endangering the welfare of children. She was ordered to continue mental-health counseling until sentencing is scheduled.

South-central Pa. head-on crash kills 2 from Md.

LITTLESTOWN, Pa. (AP) - State police in south-central Pennsylvania say a head-on collision killed two Maryland men over the weekend. Police in Gettysburg say one vehicle heading south on Frederick Pike veered into the other lane and collided with a vehicle carrying three people. The accident happened Saturday afternoon in Germany Township, Adams County. The driver of the first vehicle, Richard Allen Peregoy of Taneytown, Md., died at the scene. The other driver, Walter Lee Chrobot, of Westminster, Md., was pronounced dead at York Hospital. One of his passengers, Margie Chrobot, also of Westminster, Md., was listed in stable condition at York Hospital early Monday. Police are investigating the accident.

WASHINGTON (AP) - House floor debate has begun on a 700 billion dollar financial industry bailout. House Financial Services panel chairman Barney Frank calls the measure a "tough vote," but a necessary one. The package cleared a test vote this morning. A final House vote could come by this afternoon.

NEW YORK (AP) - Citigroup is buying Wachovia's banking operations in a deal brokered by the government's FDIC. The move greatly expands Citigroup's retail outlets and secures its place
among the U.S. banking industry's Big Three. Citigroup says it will try to shore up its capital position by selling 10 billion dollars in common stock and slashing its quarterly dividend.

NEW YORK (AP) - Stocks are down sharply in late morning trading. Markets are strained ahead of the planned House vote on a the rescue plan for troubled financial companies.

DISTRICT HEIGHTS, Md. (AP) - A teenager who survived a traffic accident and a fatal helicopter crash is clinging to life at a Maryland trauma center. She's the sole survivor of a weekend medical helicopter crash that killed the four other people aboard. Investigators are looking into the cause of the crash, which came after the pilot twice radioed for help in foggy weather.

MACHIAS, Maine (AP) - Maine has escaped a direct hit from Hurricane Kyle, and Canada was nearly as lucky. In Maine, the Category 1 storm showed up as little more than a classic -- but
very wet -- nor'easter. Kyle weakened to a tropical storm by the time it reached Canada. High winds and heavy rains continue, and thousands of people are without power in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Today's News - Saturday Sept. 27

A woman dies in a Cressona crash

Troopers say 27-year old Amanda Reifsnyder of Schuylkill Haven was driving along Route 183 in Wayne Township just North of Schuylkill Mountain Road when she lost control of her pick-up in a turn on the wet road and was hit by a pick-up towing a trailer driven by 37-year old Robert Heaps, also of Schuylkill Haven. The collision happened just before 11 Friday morning. Reifsnyder was pronounced dead at the scene. Heaps and one of his passengers, 36-year old Sharon Heaps, suffered moderate injuries. His other passengers, 30-year old Shawn Kondafh of Orwigsburg and a 5-year old girl, who was in a car seat, suffered what police say were minor injuries. Reifsnyder was not wearing a seatbelt. Heaps and his adult passengers were belted.

Lock on police station changed

PINE GROVE - The Mayor of Pine Grove said Friday a lock to the police station has been changed in absence of the department’s chief who, according to the Republican and Herald, was the only person with the key to the station. Reager has not been on the job since early September after a group of business owners made issue with the conduct of the Borough Police Department on WPPA’s step up to the mic program. Pine Grove Area School District Superintendent Terence Maher said Sept. 18 he wrote a letter to the borough this month asking that the chief not respond to calls on school grounds after a profile on the MySpace.com social networking site containing images of scantily clad females linked to his Lebanon business surfaced in late August. Business owners are meeting again at 7 p.m. Oct. 15 at the Lion’s Den on Birds Hill Road, Pine Grove, to discuss a future association.

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Gov. Ed Rendell has nominated a senior adviser to become Pennsylvania's top public health official. Everette James would succeed Dr. Calvin Johnson as state health secretary if confirmed by the Senate. James will become the department's secretary-designee on Monday. The 46-year-old James has advised Rendell on public health, insurance and pension matters since March 2007. James previously practiced health-care and regulatory law and served in the U.S. Commerce as a deputy assistant secretary for service industries and finance in the Clinton administration. Johnson had been health department secretary since April 2003. He is leaving the Rendell administration for an executive post at Temple University Health System in Philadelphia.

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Pennsylvania's highest court says a state judge can't refuse her 11 percent pay raise. The state Supreme Court on Thursday upheld a lower court ruling that said it's illegal for Superior Court Judge Joan Orie Melvin to reject the salary increase. The raise was part of a legislative pay hike enacted in July 2005, but repealed in November 2005, after public criticism. The Supreme Court reinstated the raises for 1,100 state judges in September 2006. Melvin's annual salary increased from $145,658 to $162,100. Commonwealth Court has said Melvin can donate her raise to charity.

BEIJING (AP) - China has completed its first-ever spacewalk, and showed it on live television. Mission commander Zhai Zhigang (zheye zhu-dawng) waved a Chinese flag for the cameras. The walk paves the way for China's next goal, assembling a space station from orbital modules.

OXFORD, Miss. (AP) - The presidential candidates now take the themes from an intense first debate on the road, looking for traction in a tight race. Republican John McCain played the battle-tested elder while Barack Obama claimed his opponent made wrong policy choices.

WASHINGTON (AP) - Senior lawmakers from both parties have yet to sit down with one another for final haggling over a 700 billion dollar financial bailout. Democratic Congressman Barney Frank of Massachusetts says he's "convinced" tomorrow's the day for the big bailout of Wall Street bankers. Lawmakers say there's progress and they'd like to see a deal before Asian markets open Monday.

UNDATED (AP) - Wall Street's meltdown is having a chilling effect on Main Street where people trying to get credit are running into a deep freeze. Credit markets are seizing up, meaning fewer and smaller loans at higher rates, if they're available at all.

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) - A federal judge has ruled that homeless people in Orlando, Florida, can eat at the park. The judge yesterday struck down a city ordinance that barred large group feedings for homeless at downtown parks. Activists who did the meals sued the city.

UNITED NATIONS (AP) - Iraq's foreign minister says he hopes the global financial crisis won't lead to an immediate pullout of U.S. troops from his country. He says the financial meltdown means "there is a new world now." But he says a pullout could be bad for Iraq.

BEIRUT, Lebanon (AP) - A rare car bomb attack in Syria has killed 17 people and injured 14. Syrian state TV says the blast occurred at an intersection leading to a holy shrine for Shiite Muslims in the capital, Damascus.

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) - Afghan laborers held hostage for nearly a week in Western Afghanistan are free today. Afghan officials say that militants today released the last 30 or so of the 150 kidnapped last Sunday. Police say no ransom was paid.

LONDON (AP) - Prime Minister Gordon Brown suggests there'll be no British bailout like the one for the U.S. financial meltdown. Brown, who was in Washington to meet President Bush, tells the BBC that the best thing for Britain is to increase liquidity.

MIAMI (AP) - Another tropical weather system could become a hurricane today. Tropical Storm Kyle is the 11th named storm of the season. It's currently west-southwest of Bermuda with winds near 70 miles an hour.

WASHINGTON (AP) - Federal prosecutors have introduced a note that reads "No paper trail" in the corruption trial of Alaska Senator Ted Stevens. Prosecutors say it was part of a scheme by Stevens and an oil contractor to conceal more than $250,000 in home renovations and other gifts from the contractor.

BOSTON (AP) - Senator Edward Kennedy, who has brain cancer, is back at his Cape Cod vacation home after a brief trip to the hospital. He complained of feeling ill and a statement from his office attributed the episode to a change in medications.

LOS ANGELES (AP) - This dodger wasn't very artful. In fact, he wasn't a Dodger at all, Los Angeles Dodger, that is. Ronald Higgins has pleaded not guilty to criminal charges for allegedly stealing a uniform from Dodger Stadium and posing as one of the team's players.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Today's News-Friday, September 26th, 2008

Firebug admits to starting four fires in southern Schuylkill

State police investigators have taken a man into custody after he admitted to setting four fires over the past several weeks. State police fire marshal John Burns will be filing charges against the unidentified man for starting the blazes that heavily damaged Precisionaire Industries last Saturday, destroyed Red Hill Gun Club and two other properties in Wayne Township. In addition, the suspect has admitted his involvement in starting fires outside the county.

Workers at vacant plant in Port Carbon hit gas line

Emergency crews responded to a gas leak at a vacant building in Port Carbon Thursday afternoon. The 6 inch line was hit as a demolition crew was dismantling a boiler at the former Pottsville Bleach and Dye plant. Officials say that there was no danger to residents in Port Carbon from the leak. PPL utility crews fixed the leak within a short time of the break.

Thursday crash injures Canadian woman

A Canadian woman had to be flown from the scene of a crash on I-81 near Pine Grove. Danielle Swackhammer of Ontario was a passenger in a truck operated by David Birch when the rig left the roadway and went down an embankment near milemarker 99 in Pine Grove Township, then went through the guiderails. Swackhammer was flown to Geisinger Medical Center for treatment. The crash happened around 3:30 Thursday morning.

Boscov's bankruptcy hearing postponed

A hearing in Delaware bankruptcy court on the proposed the sale of the Boscov's department store chain has been postponed until next week. The court had been scheduled to consider the proposed bid procedures, but the matter was rescheduled for Oct. 1. Boscov's, based in Reading, Pa., filed for Chapter 11 protection in August and announced that it would close 10 of its 49 stores. Philadelphia-based Versa Capital Management has emerged as the lead bidder for the company. Versa has offered to pay $11 million in cash and assume Boscov's debt. But the U.S. trustee has filed an objection, saying that Boscov's seems to be impermissibly favoring Versa over other bidders. The trustee says, among other things, that Versa has not been required to post a good-faith deposit. The trustee also says the firm is getting information about competing bids, but that there is no provision for the other bidders to receive the same information.

An area Catholic college is now recognized in the state as a university. Alvernia College is now Alvernia University. State officials have granted the Franciscan institution's application for University status. The institution began 50 years ago in Reading to prepare nuns to become teachers. Alvernia has nearly three-thousand students, ranging from traditional undergraduates to PhD candidates. In addition to its 123 acre campus in Reading, it has satellite campuses in Philadelphia and Pottsville.

Governor Ed Rendell wants Congress to give more money-besides bailing out our nation's financial industry. He's proposing an additional 100-billion-dollars to improve roads, bridges, dams and other infrastructure across the country. Rendell released a letter sent to members of Pennsylvania's Congressional delegation a half hour after Democrats and Republicans in Washington announced an agreement in principle on a $700-billion dollar bailout of the financial industry. His infrastructure initiative would help recharge the American economy and create nearly 5 million good paying jobs. The bailout plan has stalled.

The nations third largest drugstore chain is shaking things up a bit in their management. The Camp Hill based Rite Aid has named John Standley as President and CEO and Frank Vitriano as CFO and CAO. Both were previously with grocery chain Pathmark. The management shakeup was announced along with an earnings report that said its losses nearly tripled in the second quarter.

Pennsylvania state police find woman's body in car trunk; multistate search for fleeing driver

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - An autopsy is scheduled Friday on the body of a woman found in the trunk of a car that crashed in central Pennsylvania. Police say the driver fled and is the subject of a multistate search. Police say 32-year-old Julio Lastra crashed the car at around 1
a.m. Thursday after being pursued by state troopers for making a left turn at a red light in suburban Harrisburg. Police say troopers were about to give Lastra a sobriety test when he ran
away. Troopers then found the body of 41-year-old Marisol Rivera in the trunk of the car. Police say she had been killed about an hour earlier in Bethel Township, about 30 miles east of Harrisburg. Investigators say Rivera and Lastra knew each other but they would not elaborate on the nature of the relationship. Authorities say Lastra has ties to Lebanon and is also known as Jose Ramon Ayala.

Feds: Pa. lawyer cries foul to charge he faked wills after brother's plane crash death

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Federal authorities allege that a prominent criminal lawyer cut from his brother's will helped produce fakes after the brother and sister-in-law died in a plane crash.
But a defense lawyer says Allentown lawyer John Karoly - who has won several large police-brutality awards - is being targeted over a family dispute. According to the indictment, Karoly and his brother, Peter, disbanded their law practice in an acrimonious 1986 split. A year
earlier, authorities say, Peter Karoly and his wife, Allentown dentist Lauren Angstadt, had signed wills leaving their estate to various siblings - except John. The couple and a pilot died in February 2007 when their small plane crashed in bad weather trying to land at a Massachusetts
airport. The indictment alleges a conspiracy by Karoly, his son, John "J.P." Karoly III, of Orefield, and a family friend from Allentown. Prosecutors accuse them of conspiring to create phony wills that included John Karoly, J.P. Karoly, and several other nieces and nephews as heirs. Messages left for J.P. Karoly's lawyer, Thomas Bergstrom, and Shane's lawyer, George A. Heitczman, were not immediately returned.

Joe Biden sending mixed signals on coal

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. (AP) - Joe Biden has been sending mixed signals about his position on coal. Last week, he told a woman in Ohio that he and Barack Obama don't support clean coal. He flatly said, "No coal plants here in America." But campaigning in Pennsylvania coal country on Thursday, the Democratic vice presidential nominee said the government should steer more money to clean coal. The term is used to describe a variety of emerging technologies that burn coal for electricity without producing as much pollution. It's an issue that resonates with some working-class voters in Pennsylvania, a group that Democratic presidential nominee Barack
Obama has had trouble connecting with. Pennsylvania Democrats gave Sen. Hillary Clinton a 10-point victory in the April primary. Pennsylvania is the nation's No. 4 coal-producing state; the industry employs more than 7,000 people at nearly 800 mines, and many voters come from coal-mining families. The administration of Gov. Ed Rendell has invested millions of dollars in clean coal technology in the state. The Obama campaign has said it supports clean coal technology, specifically the development of coal-fired plants that capture carbon dioxide emissions and store the gas underground.

Pols, execs and unions pump cash Pa. campaigns

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - The races for Pennsylvania's three row offices have become a multimillion dollar affair. Documents filed this week with the state elections bureau say
more than $3.7 million flowed to races for the state's three row offices - attorney general, auditor general and treasurer. And that doesn't count donations to two GOP candidates whose reports are not yet on file. The documents say Rob McCord increased his personal stake in his
campaign for state treasurer by another $400,000. A national GOP fundraising group gave Attorney General Tom Corbett $100,000. Auditor General Jack Wagner relied heavily on organized labor, with one in every five dollars he raised since May 13 coming from unions. John Morganelli, the Democratic candidate for attorney general, received a $50,000 boost from a national Democratic donor. Still unavailable are reports from Tom Ellis, the GOP candidate
for auditor general, and Chet Beiler, the GOP candidate for auditor general. The reporting period covered May 13 through Sept. 15.

Pennsylvania Marine cleared in Haditha killings sues Congressman Murtha for slander

PITTSBURGH (AP) - A former Marine Corps lance corporal from Pennsylvania has filed a federal lawsuit accusing U.S. Rep. John Murtha of slander by saying he and other Marines killed two dozen Iraqis in Haditha in "cold blood." Justin Sharratt has filed the suit in federal court
in Pittsburgh. In the lawsuit, Sharratt alleges that the comments Murtha made in 2006 about the Haditha killings also violated the Marine's constitutional rights to due process and presumption of innocence. Sharratt was charged with murder in a military court in the
November 2005 killings but was exonerated after a full investigation and hearing. Only one of the seven others charged is awaiting trial. Another Marine was acquitted and charges were
dropped against the others. Sharratt was honorably discharged last year. He says he's
received hate e-mails and been called "baby killer" when he goes out in Canonsburg, about 15 miles south of Pittsburgh.

Decisions to parole convict who fatally shot Philly cop under review, Pa. governor says

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Gov. Ed Rendell says his administration is reviewing a state board's decision to parole a prison inmate who shot and killed a Philadelphia police officer on Tuesday.
Rendell says the review will determine whether the state parole board exercised correct judgment when it released 27-year-old Daniel Giddings last month. Giddings was sent to a halfway house in Philadelphia after serving 10 of the maximum 12 years of his sentence for robbery and assault. He had run away from the halfway house and was wanted for
assaulting other police officers when he shot and killed Officer Patrick McDonald during a traffic stop. Rendell noted that Giddings would have been released in two years even if he hadn't been paroled.

Erie woman pleads guilty to killing friend's 3-month-old infant while baby-sitting

ERIE, Pa. (AP) - A western Pennsylvania woman will be sentenced in November in the death of her friend's 3-month-old infant. Forty-five-year-old Crystal Clayton pleaded guilty to
third-degree murder in Erie County Court in the Jan. 31 death of Shadoni Steele. Authorities say Clayton caused fatal head injuries to Shadoni while she baby-sat her on Jan. 29. At a February court hearing, Clayton said she didn't immediately take Shadoni to the hospital
because she was "high." Police say Clayton initially told them the baby had fallen off a bed, but later said the child had fallen out of a baby carrier. Other charges, including aggravated assault and endangering the welfare of a child, were dropped in exchange for the plea. Clayton
is scheduled to be sentenced Nov. 5.

WASHINGTON (AP) - Closed-door negotiations are to resume today in Washington on a massive financial bailout plan. But it's unclear whether House Republicans will attend. The GOP lawmakers are refusing to embrace a proposal that appeared close to acceptance by the Senate and most House Democrats.

NEW YORK (AP) - The collapse of Washington Mutual, its seizure by the government and the purchase of its banking assets by JPMorgan Chase should mean little to depositors and other
customers. But it also means that shareholders' equity in WaMu has been wiped out, and private equity investors are being left empty-handed.

WASHINGTON (AP) - The current financial crisis is casting a cloud over the first scheduled presidential debate between Barack Obama and John McCain. Obama says he plans to show up at the University of Mississippi today. But McCain wouldn't commit, saying the massive financial bailout plan comes first.

BERLIN (AP) - German newspaper Bild reports state police tell them a special commando unit stormed a KLM flight in Cologne early today and arrested two terrorist suspects. The newspaper, which didn't identify its source, says a suicide note was found in their apartment saying they wanted to die for the "jihad."

WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH, N.C. (AP) - A strong low-pressure system is promising to dominate the weather along the mid-Atlantic coast into the weekend. The storm is bringing strong winds, waterfront flooding, high surf and power outages.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Today's News-Thursday, September 25, 2008

Shenandoah Valley School District closed today
Trinity Academy in Shenandoah is on a 1 1/2 hour delay

Due to power outages

Two fires ruled arson, suspect identified

Two major fires in our area over the last week have been ruled arson. State police have identified a suspect. Trooper John Burns released details of the investigation, indicating that the fire that heavily damaged the Precisionaire Industries plant in Auburn Saturday started on the loading dock and caused more than a million dollars in damage. Tuesday morning's fire at the Red Hill Gun Club in Wayne Township was intentionally set outside of the building, completely destroying it. Damages exceed $300-thousand-dollars. The suspect's identity hasn't been released yet.

Delays expected as damaged equipment removal begins today

Travelers on Route 924 should expect additional delays in a construction zone today. A piece of damaged equipment has to be removed by contractors, and will extend the normal delays in the work zone. Stoppages of 10 to 15 minutes are expected, and motorists should allow extra time for travel between Frackville and Shenandoah, beginning at 9am.

Blight legislation moves forward

The Senate Urban Affairs and Housing Committee has approved legislation that would help municipalities prevent blight. Hanson Quickel has more from the State Capitol with Senator Jim Rhoades:


Going green

Its a green product that is most commonly overlooked, but now more than ever experts are promoting this incredible tree. T102 News Reporter Kerry Dowd explains:


An animal getting near power lines caused more than 5 thousand people to lose power this morning in northern Schuylkill County. Before 5am, PPL reported the outage, causing a dark start for many.

2 jump from burning Philadelphia building; 1 dies

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - A woman is dead and a man is in critical condition after jumping from a burning second-story apartment in Philadelphia. Fire Commissioner Lloyd Ayers says it was a "fast, hot fire " that was under control in 12 minutes. Speaking before dawn Thursday, Ayers said he didn't know yet if the fire that broke out around 1 a.m. was arson.

Sentencing set in Pa. student loan scam

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Federal prison and forfeiture of a 38-foot yacht face a man sentenced in federal court in Pennsylvania in a student loan scam. Prosecutors say 65-year-old Phillip Fenner submitted fictitious documents to officials claiming he had a daughter at Oxford
University in England. He obtained more than $120,000 in student loans and grants.
Fenner pleaded guilty in 2005 to making false statements to get the student loans, but he fled before his sentencing. Federal authorities found him two years later on the yacht near Grenada.
He's been sentenced in federal court in Harrisburg to 21 months in prison and 2 years of supervised release. As for the yacht, Fenner must also pay $120,676 in restitution. Authorities say part of that may be recovered from the sale of the boat.

Pa. Republican congressman declines debate

INDIANA, Pa. (AP) - Republican presidential candidate John McCain isn't the only one citing the economic crisis as a reason to delay debate plans. Republican U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster of Hollidaysburg is declining an invitation to debate Democratic candidate Tony Barr. The event
is scheduled Oct. 12 by the League of Women Voters of Indiana County. Shuster's spokesman, Jeff Urbanchuk, says Congress may need to be dealing with emergency legislation. He says the campaign will look for a debate time after emerging from the crisis. Barr argues that the financial crisis is all the more reason to hold a debate and discuss appropriate actions. McCain cited the financial crisis in calling for a delay in Friday's scheduled debate with Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama. Obama says voters need to hear the candidates' views
now more than ever.

Study: Pennsylvania hospitals see lower death rates, slight uptick in readmission rates

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - A state health care research agency says Pennsylvania's hospitals have experienced an overall decline in death rates for 25 conditions and procedures over a four-year period. The Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council is issuing its annual hospital performance report today. The report says the patient mortality rate across the commonwealth dropped to 4.2 percent in 2007 from 4.6 percent in 2004. The largest mortality rate decline in a single treatment category was in respiratory failure without mechanical ventilation, from 17 percent in 2004 to 11.7 percent in 2007. The council's study also found a slight increase in readmission rates for 19 conditions and procedures over a three-year period.
That went from 18.6 percent in 2005 to 18.7 percent in 2007. Carolyn F. Scanlan, president and chief executive officer of the Hospital & Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania, says the
report is generally good news for hospitals. But she cautions that chronic illness may be responsible for some readmissions.

Man who shot Philadelphia police officer had been paroled in August, fled halfway house

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Philadelphia police say a man who shot and killed a police officer after a traffic stop was paroled last month. And officials say he had a warrant out for his arrest for
assaulting officers about a week after his release from state prison. Investigators say 27-year-old Daniel Giddings was killed by police on Tuesday afternoon after he shot and killed Officer
Patrick McDonald. Officials and court records say Giddings was paroled from the Frackville state prison on Aug. 18 after serving time for an October 1998 robbery and aggravated assault. He was sent to a halfway house in Philadelphia, but fled from there on Aug. 25. Police say two days later, he was involved in an assault on four officers. Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey called Giddings a "thug" who "should have still been in jail." Ramsey says Giddings had served 10 years out of a maximum 12-year sentence when he was released in August. Board of Probation and Parole spokeswoman Sherry Tate has declined comment.

Settlement reached in pedophile priest lawsuit, terms not disclosed

DOVER, Del. (AP) - A Navy doctor who was awarded $41 million in damages by a federal jury after alleging that he was raped by a Catholic priest has settled a separate state lawsuit against church officials. Attorneys for Commander Kenneth Whitwell said Wednesday that he
has settled a lawsuit against Archmere Academy in Wilmington and the Delaware, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin branches of the Norbertine religious order. The settlement involves an undisclosed sum of money, as well as public apologies by Archmere and the Norbertines for the abuse Whitwell alleged he suffered from the Reverend Edward J. Smith. A similar settlement was reached with the Catholic Diocese of Wilmington in January, with the diocese agreeing to pay Whitwell $450,000. Whitwell won a $41 million default judgment last year after
Smith failed to respond to a federal lawsuit. Smith was removed as principal at St. John Neumann High School in Philadelphia amid allegations of sexually abusing children, but
began working at Archmere Academy two years later. The Pennsylvania Norbertines acknowledged that "mistakes were made" in assigning Smith to Archmere.

Pa. soccer mom targeted for carrying gun to game

LEBANON, Pa. (AP) - A central Pennsylvania woman says she plans to appeal the revocation of her concealed weapons permit following complaints that she carried a loaded handgun to her 5-year-old daughter's soccer game. Meleanie Hain, of Lebanon, says she takes her holstered Glock 26 everywhere for personal security. She tells the Lebanon Daily News that she's "just a soccer mom" who has always openly carried a firearm and has never had a problem before.
Youth soccer coach Charlie Jones says "more than one parent was upset" by seeing the gun at the Sept. 11 game. So, he says he approached Hain and asked her to move to the other side of the field, away from the sideline where the children were standing. Hain later received a notice that her permit was being revoked by Sheriff Michael DeLeo. He cites a section of state law barring such permits for people deemed a danger to public safety, and he says Hain showed poor judgment by wearing her gun at the game. DeLeo acknowledges that the decision will force Hain to keep her weapon in plain view whenever she carries it, but he says he feels some action is needed and he cannot legally confiscate her gun.

Medical examiner says Pittsburgh-area man who was hit with Taser died from taking cocaine

PITTSBURGH (AP) - A medical examiner says a Pittsburgh-area man who died shortly after being zapped with a police Taser died from cocaine intoxication that stopped his heart.
Allegheny County Medical Examiner Dr. Karl Williams says there is no evidence that the electric shock contributed to the Aug. 4 death of 37-year-old Andre Thomas. Williams has already said he does not believe police used excessive force against Thomas. But the man's family says abrasions on the body indicate otherwise. Howard Messer, the Pittsburgh attorney representing Thomas' family, says he doesn't believe Thomas died of a cocaine overdose, despite what Williams said. He says the family may file a wrongful death suit, but they must wait for a forensic pathologist they hired to complete an autopsy before making a decision.

Angel takes flight: 1,200-pound statue stolen from Barto, Pa., shrine to Saint Padre Pio

BARTO, Pa. (AP) - State police say someone stole a 1,200-pound bronze angel statue from the National Centre for Padre Pio in eastern Pennsylvania. The theft occurred late Tuesday or early Wednesday. State police believe someone backed up a truck to the statue and pulled it from
its pedestal with chains. The 8-foot statue is known as the Angel of the Roses. Its first home was in San Paolo, Brazil. The founder of the Pennsylvania institution bought the statue when it was available at auction and had it installed at the center in Barto. Padre Pio Centre officials say they have notified law enforcement authorities and scrap metal dealers in several states.
The institution is devoted to Padre Pio, a 20th century Italian monk who was canonized in 2002.
Hot dogs outside Philly ballpark cause bomb scare

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Nobody knew just what to make of three items heavily wrapped in white packaging and duct tape outside the Philadelphia Phillies' ballpark. So, a few hours before Wednesday night's game, someone called the police as a precaution. The bomb squad showed up to detonate the three packages. Turns out they contained hot dogs. The wrapping that made them so suspicious was so the team mascot, the Phillie Phanatic, could fire them from a hot-dog launcher. The franks has been left behind inadvertently after a commercial photo shoot for the hot-dog maker. Team vice president Michael Stiles says Phillies employees aren't bomb experts, so it made sense to call the police.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Today's News-Wednesday, September 24th, 2008

Tractor trailer rolls over on I-81, ties up traffic

A Virginia man escaped serious injury when the tractor trailer he was driving rolled over on Interstate 81. Jonestown state police say that Ronald Cromer of Staunton, Virginia was driving south near the Pine Grove exit when the rig left the road, struck several trees and rolled over. Traffic on the Interstate was backed up for hours for cleanup. The crash happened after 8am.

Ways to save money
Saving money heating your home this winter is easier-and more cost effective than originally thought. Reporter Kerry Dowd has more:


Car chase ends in arrest

A Pottsville man is locked up in jail after he heisted a car in the city and led police on a chase. 48-year-old Edward Miller Jr. took cash and the car from a relative Tuesday afternoon, then took off with police in pursuit into Palo Alto where he was apprehended. Miller was arraigned on theft and related charges and taken to Schuylkill County Prison. He was also taken to Schuylkill Medical Center for a blood alcohol test.

Multiple cars broken into in Ringtown

Four Ringtown residents vehicles were broken into early Tuesday morning. Frackville state police say the unlocked vehicles were burglarized on Arch, East Wood and East Main Streets between midnight and 4:30am. A number of items were taken from the vehicles. The investigation continues.

Economic stimulus payments still open for the taking

The deadline to file a 2007 federal tax return and receive an economic stimulus payment is coming quickly. Especially if you receive social security or certain VA benefits and normally don't file a federal return. You may qualify for a payment, but you need to file and find out before October 15th. In Schuylkill County, 24-hundred-60 recipients of these benefits could be entitled to an economic stimulus payment, and over 4 million nationwide. So…with around 3 weeks to go, the Internal Revenue Service says…"don't let the economic stimulus payment pass you by". And, oh, by the way, October 15th is the deadline for file your 2007 federal return if you requested an extension in April.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter says the man who stood over a policeman on the ground and shot him in the chest "acted in a completely subhuman manner." Officer Patrick McDonald is the fourth Philadelphia police officer killed at work in 11 months.

NORRISTOWN, Pa. (AP) - A suburban Philadelphia county is buying more voting machines. Montgomery County commissioners says they expect a big November election turnout. A county official says it's important to avoid forcing voters to wait in long lines on Election

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Former Philadelphia TV anchor Alycia Lane has filed a lawsuit accusing co-anchor Larry Mendte of invading her privacy and leaking personal information to the media. Mendte pleaded guilty in August to a charge that he illegally accessed Layne's e-mail.

WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) - Police say a worker from Swarthmore, Pa., fell to his death while checking skylights at a Delaware elementary school. A Christiana School District spokeswoman says no children were in the room where 58-year-old Frank Heinrichs plunged to his death.

JOHNSTOWN, Pa. (AP) - A 28-year-old Johnstown woman is accused of encouraging two teenage girls to fight after a video of the incident was posted on YouTube. Denise Burt is charged with corruption of minors. Police say the girls were punching and slapping one another on the head.

WASHINGTON (AP) - President Bush says Congress will pass a "robust plan" to bail out failing Wall Street companies. But many lawmakers still insist on changes to the administration's plan.

LONDON (AP) - Markets around the world are showing mixed reactions to the proposed bailout on Wall Street and Warren Buffett's pledge to invest billions into Goldman Sachs. Most of the
markets in Asia showed modest gains today. That hasn't been the case in Europe.

GALVESTON, Texas (AP) - Residents of Galveston, Texas, are getting their first chance to rummage through the damage caused to their homes by Hurricane Ike. Cars were lined up 10 miles deep as people waited for permission to return home. Residents were allowed back starting at 6 a.m. local time.

WASHINGTON (AP) - A new AP-Yahoo News poll indicates as many as 18 percent of likely voters still aren't sold on a presidential candidate yet. Many of them say the economy has them hurting and is their top issue in the race.

LAS VEGAS (AP) - The O.J. Simpson trial resumes for an eighth day of testimony in Las Vegas. Two former co-defendants are among those who could testify as soon as today in the kidnapping and robbery trial. An alleged victim could take the stand tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Today's News-Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Fire at Red Hill Gun Club

Firefighters are on the scene of a blaze at a Wayne Township gun club this morning. Crews were called to the Red Hill Gun Club, 97 Red Hill Road, after 3am. Schuylkill County Communications tells WPPA/T102 News that the building was fully involved when firefighters arrived. More details as they become available.

ID left behind at scene of attempted robbery

A would be robber left a trail for police to follow after an attempted holdup at a convenience store near Tamaqua Sunday afternoon. West Penn Township police say that John Maculloch entered Fegley's Market, placed his driver's license on the counter, attempted to buy cigarettes and pulled a knife on the clerk and demanded money. When the clerk said she couldn't comply, Maculloch fled, leaving his license behind. Police have a warrant out for his arrest, but could use your help. Contact West Penn police at 386-1100.

Theft suspect arrested

A Lykens man has been arrested in connection with an August burglary. State police at Lykens report that 20-year-old Gregory Pennell was arrested for taking almost $10-thousand-dollars in hand tools from a garage at 248 North Second Street in the borough. Troopers recovered the tools from Pennell's home and at the borough compost dump. He's charged with burglary, criminal trespass and related counts.

Minersville man picked up on outstanding warrant

Minersville police picked up a borough man on an outstanding felony warrant Sunday. Officers found 32 year old Robert Edwards hiding in a bedroom at his home on Sunbury Street. He was wanted on charges of robbery, simple assault and other counts from another crime. He was arraigned and lodged at Schuylkill County Prison in lieu of $25-thousand-dollars bail.

Saucon Valley teachers to be back on the job Tues.

HELLERTOWN, Pa. (AP) - Students in an eastern Pennsylvania school district are heading back to class after having a week off due to a teachers strike. Teachers in the Saucon Valley School District in Hellertown decided to go to nonbinding arbitration to resolve their contract
dispute with the district. No settlement has been reached. The two sides differ over pay
and the amount teachers contribute for health care benefits. Teachers union president Vivian Demko says teachers are eager to get back to their classrooms. District officials are telling
students to plan for a regular day at school Tuesday. The teachers had been on strike since Sept. 15.

Carnegie Mellon prof remembered as 'genuine hero'

PITTSBURGH (AP) - A Carnegie Mellon University professor whose "last lecture" became an Internet sensation has been remembered for urging people to do more than they thought they could - and to have fun doing it. About 400 colleagues and friends gathered Monday at the
Pittsburgh university to remember Randy Pausch. He died of cancer in July, 10 months after giving the lecture that touched millions of people worldwide. He was 47. Brown University professor Andy Van Dam, who was Pausch's mentor, called Pausch "a genuine hero."
Pausch was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in September 2006. A year later, he gave the popular 76-minute speech that became the inspiration for a book "The Last Lecture," co-written by Pausch and Wall Street Journal reporter Jeffrey Zaslow.

Salt shortage, high prices may mean slippery roads

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - A shortage of road salt and higher salt prices could mean slippery roads this winter. Heavy snow last year heightened demand for salt, and now many towns can't find enough of it. The shortage could force many cities to salt fewer roads, increasing the risk of accidents. Other communities are abandoning road salt for less expensive - but also less effective - sand or sand-salt blends. Salt prices have tripled from a year ago. The salt industry says increased demand and higher fuel costs are to blame for higher prices. But some officials insist salt prices have spiked more dramatically than fuel costs. The United States used a near-record 20.3 million tons of road salt last year, largely because areas from the Northeast to the
Midwest had heavier-than-average snowfall.

Pa. House sends prison crowding bills to governor

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - State lawmakers have passed a package of prison and sentencing-reform bills that aim to reduce the number of nonviolent inmates and cut costs for counties.
Gov. Ed Rendell signaled Monday that he would probably sign them. The four bills would establish new parole and recommitment guidelines, and allow some terminally ill inmates to die in hospitals or hospices. Nonviolent drug offenders could be resentenced to addiction-treatment programs. Nonviolent offenders who behave well and complete certain programs could shorten their sentences. The bills passed the House overwhelmingly. But Attorney General Tom Corbett says he is concerned about the prospect of releasing prisoners to ease overcrowding.

Police: Pa. landlord secretly videotaped tenants

PHOENIXVILLE, Pa. (AP) - A suburban Philadelphia landlord is charged with secretly videotaping female tenants with cameras hidden in their apartments. Police say 45-year-old Thomas Daley of Phoenixville may have been at it for 20 years. They say he hid cameras behind mirrors, cabinets and ceiling fans - and that the cameras sometimes started taping with the flip of a light switch. Daley is being held on $1 million cash bail. It was not immediately clear if he has a lawyer. Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Ferman says the victims feel violated after being videotaped in their own homes.

Police: Pa. travel agent stole $187K in tour funds

NORRISTOWN, Pa. (AP) - A suburban Philadelphia travel agent is charged with stealing nearly $200,000 in tour payments and spending the money on clothes and QVC purchases. Officials in Montgomery County say most of Frances Balshan's victims were senior citizens interested in an African safari. The 66-year-old Balshan, of Abington, ran World Travel Vignettes, which linked customers with a tour being organized by the St. Louis Zoo. District Attorney Risa Ferman says Balshan collected $197,000, but forwarded only $10,000 to the zoo. Balshan is charged with felony theft and fraud. She defended her reputation to reporters on Monday and says the allegations are a result of a misunderstanding. The safari went on as planned, thanks to funding from a nonprofit that supports the zoo.

Airliner nearly hits light plane at Pa. airport

ALLENTOWN, Pa. (AP) - An airliner preparing to take off from a Pennsylvania airport came within 10 feet of hitting a light plane on the runway because of a trainee's error in the air traffic
control tower. United Express Flight 7138 had to swerve to avoid hitting the Cessna four-seater at Lehigh Valley International Airport near Allentown on Friday night. Federal transportation officials said Monday that the jetliner was going about 140 mph when the flight crew spotted the smaller plane and aborted takeoff. Officials say the Cessna had just landed. The National Air Traffic Controllers Association says a trainee mistakenly thought the Cessna had left the runway and cleared the United Express flight for takeoff. There were no injuries to those aboard the Cessna or among the 60 passengers on the jet, which was operated by Phoenix-based Mesa
Air Group Inc.

Pa. attorney general candidates set debate dates

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - The major-party candidates for Pennsylvania attorney general have agreed to a pair of televised debates in the days leading up to the Nov. 4 election. The plan for back-to-back debates that will air Nov. 2 and Nov. 3 was confirmed by incumbent Republican Tom Corbett's campaign and Democratic challenger John Morganelli. Both debates will be taped in late October. The first debate, sponsored by the Pennsylvania League of Women Voters, will be held in the studios of WPVI-TV in Philadelphia. The second debate will be at the studios of WFMZ-TV in Allentown. Libertarian Party candidate Marakay Rogers, a York lawyer, says
she intends to take part in the Philadelphia debate. She says she has no information about the Allentown debate.

NEW YORK (AP) - The Dow Jones industrials start today at 11,015 after losing 372 points yesterday. Overseas markets have calmed somewhat today. In Asia, regional stock markets have been mixed. Futures in the Dow industrials and Standard & Poor's 500, meanwhile, are inching higher.

SINGAPORE (AP) - Oil prices have dipped below $108 a barrel in Asia. Prices surged yesterday in volatile trading, spiking more than $25 a barrel at one point. The choppy market is driven by
uncertainty about whether a 700 billion dollar U.S. plan to buy bad mortgage debt will stabilize the financial system.

WASHINGTON (AP) - The proposed financial bailout package continues to take shape in Congress. One provision may include government help for homeowners who need to refinance their mortgages. Another could keep executives at some failing firms from getting pricey "golden parachutes." The Treasury chief and Fed chairman will discuss the plan on Capitol Hill today.

MIAMI (AP) - A new government tally finds more than 7.5 million people are spending half of their income or more on housing costs. Traditionally, most lenders consider a homeowner financially burdened if he or she is spending 30 percent or more of their income on housing.

WASHINGTON (AP) - Defense Secretary Robert Gates will be painting a somber picture of the situation in Afghanistan when he testifies before a Senate panel today. Among other things, his
prepared testimony says the U.S. is trying to help Afghanistan build reliable security forces, but U.S. commanders still have too few troops to do the job.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Today's News-Monday, September 22nd, 2008

Precisionaire fire update

The cause of a major fire at Precisionaire Industries in Auburn is still undetermined, and the plant will remain closed for several days. After 1am Saturday, a fire broke out in the back of the plant, which makes air filters. It took firefighters from more than 50 companies almost a whole day to fully extinguish the blaze. The business, a subsidiary of Flanders Corporation, North Carolina, employs more than 100 people, none of whom were in the building at the time. Employees are urged to call 252-946-8081 and ask for the Pennsylvania helpline to get an update on the plant's status.

Harrassment in Pine Grove Township

A Pine Grove man was taken into custody Saturday afternoon following an incident where he hit two people and damaged a car. 41-year-old Kyle Madison got into an argument with Randi Spell and James Zuppert, which turned physical. Madison allegedly hit both victims several times, and they fled to a vehicle to escape. Madison smashed the driver's side rear window with his fist. He is charged with harrassment and criminal mischief. Police took Madison into custody, since the crime violated his parole.

Items missing from Walker Township company

State police are investigating a theft at a Walker Township business. Frackville troopers say that between mid-July and last week, two 25-pound hydromite blasting agents, described as 4 and a half inch tubes, were taken from Mauree and Scott Sales Incorporated. The company reports that the missing items may be an inventory problem, but police are treating it as a theft until proven otherwise. Officials from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms were notified,according to state police.

Fire retardants could harm children

Protecting Pennsylvania children from fire could be hazardous to their health. A recent nationwide study finds high levels of chemical fire retardants in the systems of toddlers and preschoolers. Eric Mack explains:


McCain to visit Scranton on Monday
SCRANTON, Pa. (AP) - Republican presidential nominee John McCain and running mate Sarah Palin are appearing at a rally in suburban Philadelphia on Monday afternoon. McCain will be in northeastern Pennsylvania on Monday morning for an Irish-American town hall meeting at the Scranton Cultural Center. He and Palin will hold a rally on the steps of the Delaware County Courthouse in Media on Monday afternoon. WPPA/T102 News Kerry Dowd will be in Scranton to cover the visit live.

3 children killed in eastern Pa. house fire

COATESVILLE, Pa. (AP) - A two-alarm fire tore through an eastern Pennsylvania home over the weekend, killing three children only hours after a birthday celebration. Coatesville police say the blaze started shortly before midnight Saturday and the home was engulfed in flames when firefighters arrived. Authorities say two adults were rescued but three children died. They were identified as 11-year-old Brian Westmoreland, 4-year-old Tyrone Hill, and 3-year-old Tyzhier Hill. Three adults were treated for injuries. Neighbors say a party to celebrate the recent birthdays of Brian and Tyzhier had been held the afternoon before the flames broke
out. About 100 fire, police and medical personnel from around the county responded to the scene, officials said. The blaze was extinguished shortly before 2 a.m. Sunday. The cause has not been determined. Coatesville is about 30 miles west of Philadelphia.

W.Pa. town sues church for housing the homeless

BROOKVILLE, Pa. (AP) - A quaint western Pennsylvania town and one of its churches are throwing the books at each other. For the town of Brookville, the book is the law. Solicitor
Stephen French has taken the church to court for housing the homeless in a commercial district. He says that violates borough zoning regulations. But the Rev. Jack Wisor, who heads the First Apostles Doctrine Church, says the book he follows - the Bible - requires him to help the needy.
A district judge fined Wisor $500 in August for allowing three homeless men to live in the 111-year-old church parsonage. Wisor appealed to the Jefferson County Common Pleas Court. A hearing is scheduled for November. Brookville is about 80 miles northeast of Pittsburgh.

Pa. treasurer's race pits lawyer vs. finance pro

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - A bond lawyer and a venture capitalist are competing to be the next state treasurer. Republican Tom Ellis and Democrat Rob McCord would be first-timers in Harrisburg, having never served in office at the state level. Both are Ivy League products who live in Montgomery County. Ellis is a former county commissioner and McCord once worked as an aide in Congress. Also running is Libertarian candidate Berlie Etzel, a retired college mathematics and science professor and elected constable from Clarion County. The person who wins on Nov. 4 will oversee a department with a budget of $60 million and more than 500 employees responsible for managing the state's cash and cutting checks. Incumbent Treasurer Robin Wiessmann did not seek re-election.

Fire destroys century-old church in western Pa. shortly after Sunday morning Mass

COUPON, Pa. (AP) - Authorities in western Pennsylvania say fire destroyed a century-old church shortly after Sunday morning mass. Ashville fire chief Rick Zupon says crews from a dozen stations in Cambria and Blair counties battled the blaze at St. Joseph Roman Catholic Church in Coupon, near Altoona. Five firefighters were injured when a brick chimney attached to the church collapsed, but Zupon says the injuries are not believed to be serious. Deacon Steve Luke says Mass ended at about 11 a.m. Sunday, and choir members reported smelling smoke about 45 minutes later. Zupon says heavy flames were coming from under the roof and steeple by the time fire crews arrived. A service marking the churchs 100th anniversary was held last
month, although Luke says the cornerstone was dedicated Sept. 30, 1908. Father Brian Saylor, the pastor, says the blaze is devastating for parishioners. He says any decision about rebuilding will have to come from the Altoona-Johnstown diocese.

1,205 fugitives surrender at Philly church

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - More than 1,200 fugitives have turned themselves in at a Philadelphia church over the past four days. They started coming to True Gospel Tabernacle on Wednesday as part of a national program called "Fugitive Safe Surrender." The initiative is designed to clear up some of the 38,000 misdemeanor warrants outstanding in the city. Authorities picked a church as a surrender point because many consider it less intimidating than a police station or courthouse. Judges and lawyers were on hand to process paperwork. Most fugitives were able to surrender, arrange a new court date and go home. When the program ended Saturday night, 1,205 fugitives had turned themselves in.

Scranton man held for trial in triple slaying

SCRANTON, Pa. (AP) - A man has been held for trial in a triple slaying in northeastern Pennsylvania. Twenty-five-year-old Randall Rushing faces three counts of first- and third-degree murder in the July killings in Scranton. He was in Lackawanna County Court for a preliminary hearing last week. Authorities say the victims were found bludgeoned to death in a
home on July 17. They have been identified as 20-year-old Justin Berrios, 22-year-old Dustin Hintz and 16-year-old Leslie Collier. Investigators say Rushing used a knife and a hammer in the fatal attacks. Four other people were found inside the home unhurt. Authorities say one of them had recently ended a relationship with Rushing. Rushing, a Scranton resident, was captured in nearby Wilkes-Barre several hours after the murders.

Mall in suburban Philly reopens after evacuation due to suspicious odor

SPRINGFIELD, Pa. (AP) - A suburban Philadelphia mall has reopened after being evacuated the day before due to a suspicious smell. The Springfield Mall in Springfield was evacuated around 12:30 p.m. Saturday and was closed for the rest of the day. Mall officials say they made the decision after getting a report of a foul smell coming from the lower level. They say they believe it was related to the sewer. Officials say three people went to the hospital, but it wasn't
immediately clear what their symptoms were. The mall reopened Sunday at 11 a.m.

Owner of defunct Pa. diner offers it for free

HUNTINGDON, Pa. (AP) - Anyone want a diner? Jerry Grubb is offering to give away his beloved former eatery in central Pennsylvania for free. There's only one catch: The new owner must transport the 1950s-style restaurant to a new location and reopen it. Grubb's Diner was a 24-hour institution in Huntingdon until it closed last year to make way for a new pharmacy.
Grubb then had the 68-foot-long silver landmark hauled to a temporary storage area while awaiting a buyer. The diner was recently appraised for $100,000. But Grubb is willing to negotiate a lower price or donate it to the right person.

HONG KONG (AP) - The financial bailout plan being worked on in Washington appears to have brightened the mood of Asian investors. China's main stock index has shot up almost eight percent, while markets in Japan and Hong Kong climbed more than one percent.

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Bush administration and the Federal Reserve are moving on multiple fronts to calm financial markets ahead of the day on Wall Street. Last night, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, the country's last two major investment banks, were granted approval from the Fed to change their status to bank holding companies.

WASHINGTON (AP) - Congressional leaders have endorsed the proposal to allow the government to buy up a mountain of bad mortgage loans that have been weighing down financial companies. But Democrats say the plan must be expanded to include more protections for homeowners and limits on executive payouts.

ANAHUAC, Texas (AP) - Power is coming back, cell phone service is improving and businesses are starting to re-open along the hurricane-battered Texas Gulf Coast. Worshippers took time out from the clean-up for Sunday services on a basketball court outside a damaged church.

ATLANTA (AP) - The man accused of killing four people in a rampage that started in an Atlanta courthouse more than three years ago goes on trial today. Lawyers for Brian Nichols concede he
fatally shot a judge, a court reporter, a sheriff's deputy and a federal agent. But they say he didn't know right from wrong.

Friday, September 19, 2008

New Look at Schuylkill Medical Center

Today's News-Saturday, September 20th, 2008

Fire at West Brunswick Facility

Firefighters from three counties were summoned to Precision Air in West Brunswick Township around 2 a.m. this morning for what they originally thought was a fire in multiple tractor trailers. Upon their arrival the incident was upgraded to a fire in a commercial structure. Precision Air is known for manufacturing filters for furnaces and air conditioning units and is located at 2033 West Market Street in West Brunswick Township. Crews were still on the scene this morning WPPA News will keep you updated as more information becomes available.

Ashland man sent to prison for 5 years on drug charges

An Ashland man will spend five years in a federal prison after being sentenced Thursday in U.S. District Court in Scranton for participating in a drug trafficking conspiracy. According to the Republican and Herald, Eugene Klinger, who pleaded guilty in July 2007 to conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute in excess of 50 grams of methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana, helped bring all three drugs into Schuylkill County from 2005 to 2007, according to federal prosecutors. While Klinger and four co-conspirators imported all three drugs to the county, methamphetamine was the primary one that also resulted in the imposition of the mandatory five-year prison term. Klinger and his co-conspirators obtained drugs from suppliers in California and Nevada, had them shipped in Federal Express packages and distributed them in Dauphin, Philadelphia and Schuylkill counties, according to the indictment that was handed down against them Jan. 16, 2007 by a grand jury. The federal Drug Enforcement Administration, Pennsylvania State Police and local police in Schuylkill County participated in the investigation. The other defendants named are Michael Klinger, David Ricciardo, Michael Lawson and Dan McDonald. The investigation is continuing.

Woman charged with assault

An Auburn woman was arrested by state police late Thursday night after she assaulted a man. Troopers from the Schuylkill Haven barracks say that 32-year-old Sheila Jo Leininger and 51-year-old Jeffrey Parker got into a verbal argument that turned physical. Parker suffered injury to his pelvis during the fight and was taken to Schuylkill Medical Center-South for treatment. Leininger was charged with aggravated and simple assault. Bail was set at $75 thousand dollars, ten percent bail. Parker will be charged with harrassment.

Kaplan honored with state award

The coordinator of the Schuylkill County Emergency Management Agency has received an award from his peers across the state. Art Kaplan, Frackville, is the winner of the Harry Robidoux Award for Excellence in Emergency Management by the Keystone Emergency Management Association. The award recognizes one county coordinator every other year, who exhibits "all that is good and right in Emergency Management in Pennsylvania." Kaplan was honored for his lifelong service to the community, both in his professional and personal life. The award is named for the late Harry Robidoux, a former Schuylkill County resident who served as Monroe County Emergency Management Coordinator.

Measure to reduce overcrowding in state prisons passes state Senate

The state Senate has approved a bill that's intended to reduce overcrowding in our state prisons and rein in spending on our correctional system. Howard Ondick has this report:


NEW YORK (AP) - A lawyer for Lehman Brothers says the sale of its investment banking and trading businesses to Barclays is "a good match economically." Harvey Miller says it will save
thousands of jobs. A bankruptcy judge approved the plan early this morning.

UNDATED (AP) - Republican presidential candidate John McCain has been rather silent on the government financial rescue plan. He does say the Federal Reserve should stop bailing out failed companies. Democrat Barack Obama says he supports the rescue plan.

WASHINGTON (AP) - John McCain opened the campaign spending spigot wide last month. He raised 47.5 million dollars and spent 41 million. Barack Obama raised a record 66 million dollars and spent 55 million.

STERLING, Va. (AP) - Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Biden says worshipping at "the shrine of deregulation," is part of the cause of the financial meltdown. Speaking in Virginia, he says it's time to end "the cowboy mentality of the Bush-McCain era."

PARIS (AP) - A French customer who bought a possibly toxic recliner made in China says it's stunning to realize that a comfortable chair is really "a bomb under your butt." Customers
have complained of allergic rashes and infections. An anti-mold chemical is being blamed.

Today's News-Friday, September 26th, 2008

Shenandoah man jailed after high speed chase

A Shenandoah man is jailed in Schuylkill County prison after leading state police on a high speed chase through the county Thursday morning. Troopers noticed 39-year-old Christopher Vari driving his motorcycle at a high rate of speed on Route 61 South. When police tried to stop him, he took off, sometimes in excess of 120 miles an hour. Vari forced vehicles from the road, avoided roadblocks and struck a state police officer with his motorcycle, finally being thrown from the bike. Vari was treated for injuries, arraigned and taken to Schuylkill County Prison on a host of charges and a probation violation. The state police trooper, David Mayes, was also treated and released.

Hearing held about health insurance in Pottsville

The cost of healthcare is a burden to individuals as well as doctors and hospitals. The state House Policy Committee, chaired by Democrat Todd Eachus of Hazleton, along with Reps Tim Seip and Neal Goodman heard testimony from the healthcare community, advocates and individuals at Schuylkill Medical Center South yesterday. They talked about PA ABC, an affordable health insurance program for those who don't have regular coverage. The low-cost plan can help individuals and small businesses, but doctors are still struggling because of the cost of malpractice insurance and reduced reimbursements from insurance companies. The premium rebates that doctors got are gone...and the future is scary,according to Schuylkill Medical Center Emergency Room Director Dr. Jeffrey Narmi:


The ABC plan was approved by the House earlier this year, but its been hung up in the Senate since then. Another hearing will be held next Thursday in Montgomery County on PA ABC.

Versa makes bankruptcy purchase bid for Boscov's

The Boscov's department store chain is seeking approval of a Delaware bankruptcy court for a possible buyout. Philadelphia-based Versa Capital Management has emerged as the lead bidder for Reading, Pennsylvania-based Boscov's, which filed for Chapter 11 protection in August and announced that it would close 10 of its 49 stores. According to papers filed with the court, Versa has offered to pay $11 million in cash and assume Boscov's debt. Attorneys for Boscov's are asking for a hearing next week to approve the proposed bid procedures and schedule an October auction or sale date. The court filings indicate that Versa wants to operate the department store chain as a going concern, and that Boscov's senior managers will remain involved with the business. But attorneys for Boscov's say any sale must be closed before the upcoming holiday season, the most important period of the year for the retailer. They say that failing to close by the end of October could hurt Boscov's ability to avoid liquidation. Boscov's has a location at Fairlane Village.

Reiley given ARD for driving under the influence

A Pottsville District Judge will begin the probationary phase of his DUI case after a judge's ruling yesterday in Schuylkill County Court. 46-year-old James Reiley was arrested for driving under the influence, highest rate, in June, 2007. He's been admitted into the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition program for first time offenders. In addition to paying costs for the program, Reiley must attend classes, have his license suspended for two months and perform 10 hours of community service. Reiley will not be able to hear DUI related cases during the year long ARD program. He can, however, begin to hear cases involving the Pottsville police department, a restriction that has been in place since his arrest. Charges against James Reiley will be dismissed if he completes the program satisfactorily. Reiley has been District Judge in Pottsville since 1993.

Central Pa. county cuts administrator post

CARLISLE, Pa. (AP) - One central Pennsylvania county is eliminating a key administrative post in a cost-cutting move. Cumberland County Commissioners said Thursday they are eliminating job of county administrator on Oct. 3. The job carries a $72,832-a-year salary. Commission Chairman Gary Eichelberger says there will be some pay increases for other top administrators who take on some of the county administrator's duties. Eichelberger says commissioners have discussed the move for some time. He says Rich Moore, a former Monroe Township supervisor hired for the post in 2004, has known his job was ending.
Cumberland County also eliminated a human services administrator
post this year, and commissioners say they are looking for other cost-cutting opportunities.

Pittsburgh Episcopal bishop ousted from ministry

NEW YORK (AP) - Episcopal Bishop Robert Duncan of Pittsburgh has
been ousted from the national church. The Episcopal House of Bishops voted 88-35 Thursday to remove Duncan from ministry on a charge of abandoning the communion of the church. There were four abstentions.
Duncan's conservative Pittsburgh diocese is set to vote October 4 on a proposal to split from the liberal denomination. Duncan is also a leader in a national network of conservative parishes that are breaking with the church. The Pittsburgh diocese says it will move ahead with a secession
vote despite Duncan's removal. Duncan's ouster is the latest fallout from the church's 2003 decision to consecrate the first openly gay bishop, V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire.

Souderton teachers back to work Friday

SOUDERTON, Pa. (AP) - Striking teachers in the Souderton School
District in suburban Philadelphia will be back in the classroom Friday after agreeing to nonbinding arbitration. Robert Broderick of the teachers' union says the teachers voted unanimously to go back to work on Friday and will work through arbitration with the school board on a new contract. School district Superintendent Charles Amuso said in a statement he is delighted a wonderful year is about to begin. Teachers had been on strike since Sept. 2.

Gorbachev urges caution in Rice's call for action

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev is
urging Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to use more caution in her call for the West to stand up against what she called Russian aggression.
In a scathing criticism of Moscow on Thursday, Rice called on the West to stand up to Russian aggression following its invasion of Georgia last month. Gorbachev says Rice should be "more careful and show greater
calm and responsibility" for her judgment in calling for the West to unite against Russia. Gorbachev is in Philadelphia to receive the Liberty Medal on Thursday night for his role in ending the Cold War.

Poll shows tight race in 7 Big Ten states

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Barack Obama and John McCain are statistically tied in their race for the presidency in seven of the eight states home to Big Ten universities, according to a poll released Thursday. The race is within the Big Ten Battleground Poll's margin of error in Ohio, Iowa, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Indiana and Pennsylvania. Obama has a 16 point lead in his home state of Illinois, a Democratic stronghold he represents in the U.S. Senate. The poll, the inaugural from a partnership of eight Big Ten universities, asked 600 randomly selected registered voters in each of the eight states for their views on the candidates. Pollsters say they show the region's states are again the most competitive in the country and will help determine who becomes the next president.
"We all expected this to be tight - it's extraordinarily tight," said poll co-director Ken Goldstein, a University of Wisconsin-Madison political scientist. "What it's really going to come down to is the next president is going to be the one to win the Big Ten." His co-director and UW-Madison colleague Charles Franklin said the states have moved back to highly competitive races after both parties held their national conventions "with neither candidate having a clear lead, except in Illinois." The eight states account for 117 electoral votes and both
campaigns are spending big money to advertise on television and
organize their supporters in them. On Thursday, McCain was
campaigning in Iowa and Wisconsin while Obama's running mate Joe
Biden visited Ohio. Obama had slim leads in four of the seven competitive states - Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio and Minnesota. The candidates were tied in Iowa and Pennsylvania. McCain was ahead only in Indiana, a Republican-leaning state that Obama is trying to win. All seven of those states were within the poll's margin of error of four
percentage points. Poll results show voters in the region overwhelmingly believe the country is on the wrong track and that the economy has gotten
worse in the last year. That pessimism should work in Obama's favor
after eight years of President Bush, whose favorability rating was in the 30s in most states, pollsters said. But voters view McCain much more warmly than Bush. Both he and Obama had favorability ratings above 50 percent in the eight states in the poll, which will be conducted again in late October.

NEW YORK (AP) - The government is working on a plan to rescue banks from bad debts. The legislation could take some of the immediate pressure off the two remaining major independent investment banks, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, to reach deals to ensure a steady flow of funds for their operations.

HONG KONG (AP) - Word of a possible U.S. government plan to rescue banks has sent Asian stock markets soaring. In Tokyo, Japanese stocks roared back Friday as investors welcomed yesterday's rally on Wall Street.

PANMUNJOM, Korea (AP) - No comment yet from the White House on
North Korea's announcement that it plans to begin restoring its nuclear reactor. The communist regime accuses the U.S. of failing to fulfill its obligations under a six-party disarmament deal.

ESPANOLA, N.M. (AP) - Barack Obama is promising fresh ideas to
calm America's financial meltdown. The Democrat says he will unveil
new proposals today in Florida. Obama has been ridiculing John McCain's promise to fire the head of the Securities and Exchange Commission if elected president.

NEW YORK (AP) - New York City police say a young bull made a dash for freedom through the streets of Queens before being lassoed and tranquilized. But it died suddenly before it could be taken to an animal sanctuary. No word on what the bull died of.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Today's News-Thursday, September 18th, 2008

Schuylkill Transportation System looking for grant monies

STS is applying for monies to buy new busses and make some improvements to their facilities and equipment. Officials sought approval for the $1.2 million dollar grant from the Schuylkill County Commissioners Wednesday. The monies would buy 4-12 passenger busses and two-28 passsenger busses. In other work session business, Interim Chief Clerk Darlene Laughlin will be promoted to the job permanently at next week's Commissioners meeting. She replaced Jean Heffner, who retired.

Construction worker hurt in hit and run on I-81

A construction worker was injured in a hit and run along Interstate 81 last night. 23-year-old Bryan Barletta of Dallas was resetting downed reflective pylons near mile marker 115 after 9pm when his arm was struck by the mirror of a passing car. The driver didn't stop. After the incident, Barletta drove himself 7 miles to seek help from another construction crew. Barletta was taken to Schuylkill Medical Center East for treatment. Frackville state police are looking for a white car with possible damage to the passenger side of the vehicle.

Pottsville teacher negotiations to continue


That's Pottsville school board negotiating committee chair Scott Krater, updating the board on the negotiations between teachers and the district last night. Krater was referring to a two-hours plus session Tuesday night. The teachers have been working without a contract since the end of June. Negotiations are being moderated by an arbitrator, and representatives for PSEA and the district have not responded to our repeated requests for comment. The date for the next session is not yet known. In other business, the Pottsville High Boys Tennis Team was awarded the Walter F Jones Scholar-Athlete Award for having the highest GPA of all the 2007-2008 sports teams. Their grade point average was 3.76 out of a possible 4.0. Jones was Sports Director of WPPA and T102 for many years. The award was named in his honor nearly a decade ago.

House committee to conduct healthcare hearing today

Members of the House Majority Policy Committee will hold a hearing today to discuss healthcare. State Representative Tim Seip is hosting the event at Schuylkill Medical Center South at 1pm. The panel, chaired by Luzerne County Democratic Representative Todd Eachus, will take testimony about Governor Rendell's basic healthcare plan, PA ABC. The program, which already passed the House, offers health insurance at a lower cost for Pennsylvanians who can't afford regular coverage. The public is invited to attend. Eachus will be a guest on Step Up To The Mic on WPPA later this morning.

Fumo corruption trial to resume Oct. 20; judge ill

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - The long-anticipated trial of state Sen. Vincent Fumo is being delayed a month due to the trial judge's illness. Jury selection will resume Oct. 20. Jurors selected this month for a preliminary 42-person pool will likely be questioned anew about holiday commitments and other hardships. The trial is set to last three months.
U.S. District Judge William H. Yohn Jr. battled flu-like symptoms during last week's jury questioning. The 65-year-old Fumo is charged with 139 counts of fraud and corruption. Federal prosecutors say he misused more than $3.5 million in funds and resources from the Senate, a charity and a museum. Fumo insists that he's done nothing illegal.

Nearly 35,000 in W. Pa. powerless 3 days after Ike

BUTLER, Pa. (AP) - Thousands of people in western Pennsylvania remain without power as a result of Hurricane Ike-related damage.
Utilities said nearly 35,000 homes and businesses remained without electricity and that full power would not be restored until Friday or Saturday. High winds from remnants of Hurricane Ike tore through the
region Sunday, and at least two people died during cleanup efforts. One of the hardest-hit areas was Butler County, a largely rural area of just over 180,000 not far from the Ohio border. County officials declared a state of emergency on Tuesday.

Bill addressing crowded prisons gets Pa. Senate OK

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Legislation making the most significant changes in many years to how Pennsylvania deals with nonviolent criminals is getting closer to final approval. The bill seeks to move nonviolent offenders out of Pennsylvania's overcrowded prisons more quickly by rewarding them for good behavior and providing greater access to addiction treatment. The bill passed the state Senate on Wednesday, 48-to-2, after the chamber made minor changes to it.
Legislative officials say they expect final approval from the House in the coming days. Prompted by prison overcrowding, lawmakers have worked on a set of related bills for more than a year.

Pa. getting emergency federal heating aid

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Pennsylvania and other states are getting
emergency federal aid to help poor people heat their homes this winter, but Gov. Ed Rendell says it's too early to release state money that's been set aside for that purpose. The Bush administration said Wednesday it's releasing $121 million in emergency funds nationwide for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program. Pennsylvania is expected to receive more than $6.5 million. The state's consumer advocate and others have urged Rendell to release $10 million in state money that's been set aside to supplement the federal aid. Rendell spokesman Chuck Ardo says the administration will make an announcement about its plans for making the money available "closer to winter, when it is most needed."

Obama ad highlights closure of Pa. TV tube plant

WASHINGTON (AP) - Barack Obama's new TV ad highlights the closure of Corning's plant in State College and says Washington -- with John McCain's help -- sold out the workers. The ad features photos of blue collar workers. It claims that, in 2004, the company hired many of the workers back to dismantle the equipment so it could be shipped to China.
It also accuses McCain of supporting tax breaks to companies that moved jobs overseas and of voting against a crackdown on unfair trade practices. Obama campaign spokesman Sean Smith says the ad will run
statewide in Pennsylvania and 12 other states. Obama has been seeking to connect with blue collar workers, many of whom voted for Hillary Rodham Clinton in Democratic primaries.

Obama won't repeal 'don't ask' on his own

WASHINGTON (AP) - Democrat Barack Obama says if elected president he would not try to repeal the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy on his own. Obama says in an interview to run in gay publications Thursday
that he wants to work with military leaders to build a consensus on
removing the ban on openly gay service members in the armed forces.
He says that wouldn't be accomplished by attaching a signing statement to a military spending bill, a process that President Bush has used to set other military policies. Obama's interview was with Mark Segal, publisher of the Philadelphia Gay News, on behalf of the Gay History Project, a coalition of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender publications.
Segal says Republican presidential nominee John McCain did not respond to an interview request.

W.Pa. state prison hit with power outage, phone problems; lights back on, lockdown remains

SOMERSET, Pa. (AP) - Officials at a western Pennsylvania prison
say lighting has been restored after power was lost for about six
hours because of malfunctioning generators but prisoners remain in
lockdown. The medium-security State Correctional Institute at Somerset
lost power Wednesday afternoon during a monthly test of the generator system and the entire prison was without power at 2 p.m. Department of Corrections spokeswoman Sue McNaughton says lights came back on about 8:20 p.m. Wednesday, but the lockdown will remain in effect until the problem was fixed. The outage also affected telephone lines. As of last month, the prison housed just over 2,300 inmates. Visitations were also suspended until power is restored.

Pa. man charged with kidnapping girl he met online

OAKLAND, Md. (AP) - Authorities in western Maryland have charged
a Pennsylvania man with kidnapping and sexually abusing a 14-year-old New York City girl he allegedly met online. The Garrett County Sheriff's Office says 28-year-old Andrew Pettitt, of Arnot, Pa., had been living with the girl in his car for three days before deputies found them parked on a dirt road early Tuesday. Investigators say the pair met through an online gaming Web site in January and started a sexual relationship.
Deputies say the girl willingly left her home in the Bronx with Pettitt about a week ago. She has been released to her parents. Pettitt is being held on more than $300,000 bond.

HONG KONG (AP) - Asian markets started rebounding from a rough
start after Europe's central bank announced it was joining the Federal Reserve and other central banks around the world to pump more money into global markets. One analyst says the move appears to be restoring investor confidence.

MOSCOW (AP) - Russia's finance minister tells news agencies there trading on Russian exchanges won't resume until tomorrow. He also says Russia's three largest banks will be getting an extra 2.36 billion dollars to help bolster financial markets that have dropped to their lowest points in nearly three years.

WASHINGTON (AP) - President Bush meets with his top advisers to discuss an economy in turmoil. It bumps a fundraising trip to Alabama and Florida. The last few weeks have seen a series of federal interventions aimed at preventing an economic collapse.

JERUSALEM (AP) - Tzipi Livni has won an election to take over Israel's ruling party. She's in line to become the first female to lead Israel in 34 years. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert says he's stepping down amid allegations of corruption.

LAS VEGAS (AP) - O.J. Simpson's robbery and kidnapping trial continues in Las Vegas. Back on the stand will be the detective who
first arrived on the scene of an incident involving Simpson last year. He says because of Simpson's fame, he and his partner made sure "everything was right" before arresting O.J.