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.


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