Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Today's News-Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Goulds Pumps to lay off employees, transfer some operations

A northern Schuylkill county manufacturer is downsizing and moving jobs out of state. According to the Republican and Herald, Goulds Pumps, Ashland, will lose 86 jobs in the next few months as operations in the slurry and pump assembly, testing and order entry areas are moved to New York. ITT Corporation, the parent company, expects to make the transition during the first quarter of 2009. Some of the jobs are salaried and some are hourly employees, represented by the United Steelworkers Union. Reports indicate that the workers who will lose their jobs will be able to apply for new positions at the Seneca Falls, New York facility.

Schuylkill Chamber names new Executive Director

A familiar face will take over as Executive Director of the Schuylkill Chamber of Commerce. Robert Carl, Jr., area businessman and former Schuylkill County Commissioner will take the helm on January 12th. Lori Kane, former Chamber head, has assumed duties as Executive Director of the Schuylkill Chamber Foundation. Carl has served in various volunteer capacities within the chamber in the past, having served as president in 2001. Carl was previously employed at Reading Anthracite Company, as Director of Real Estate. He worked in the healthcare field for more than 20 years, and owns a beverage distributor in Pottsville.

Fire destroys car in Haven

A cigarette dropped on the floor of a Schuylkill Haven woman's car may have caused a fire that destroyed her vehicle yesterday. Fire crews were called to Parkway Tuesday morning, where Sue Drummer's vehicle was burning. A nearby garage was spared from the blaze. No one was injured.

Ringing in the New Year

As revelers gather to say goodbye to 2008 tonight, many will look back and say good riddance. The past year was plagued with economic troubles, war and other issues on everyone's minds. We elected a new President, the first African American, and locally, we saw a community turned upside down after an illegal immigrant was beaten to death, Catholic churches closed, and the untimely death of a beloved state Senator. Now, we look forward to a better 2009, and in Pottsville, people will gather at Garfield Square to see the Yuengling bottle head up the flagpole at the stroke of midnight to ring in the New Year, and other activities for families will dot the city. Enjoy the New Year safely, and from all of us, HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Pa. courts consider standards for constables

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Pennsylvania's chief justice says the judicial branch is considering whether to impose uniform standards that would improve the state's troubled constable system. Chief Justice Ronald Castille says he recently asked the Minor Court Rules Committee to study a handbook for constables currently used in Chester County that could be adopted statewide. Castille says he distributed the Chester County guidelines to the committee within the past week. He says one possibility is to have each county's president judge play a more active role in supervising the constables. Pennsylvania has about 1,200 active and licensed constables who serve legal papers, transport prisoners and perform other duties for magisterial district courts.

Judge halts closure of 11 Philadelphia libraries

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter says he will appeal a judge's order telling him not to close 11 public library branches. The judge says a 1988 law prohibits the mayor from closing any city-owned building without City Council's approval. Nutter says that doesn't make sense. His office released a statement saying: "The city would grind to a halt if consensus of 18 independently elected officials were required for every decision." Nutter says he's required to balance the city's budget and reluctantly ordered 20 percent of the library branches to close to save about $8 million a year. Library advocates, meanwhile, are hailing the judge's order as a great victory. They're planning a celebration Wednesday afternoon at the Kingsessing branch of the library.

W.Pa. care home closed for alleged neglect

BEAVERDALE, Pa. (AP) - A western Pennsylvania personal care home is closed for what the state Department of Public Welfare calls "gross negligence." State officials and local police arrived Tuesday at Brunett's Personal Care Home in Summerhill Township, Cambria County, to remove the 15 people living there. The state says one resident sexually abused another on Nov. 30. State officials say the care home's operators didn't develop a plan to protect other residents from a known sex offender living there. Care home co-owner William Brunett says he reported the resident assault and followed the law in handling the incident.

US's largest zinc plant sued by "green" group

MONACA, Pa. (AP) - The largest zinc producer in the United States is being sued by an environmental group that claims the company has been polluting the Ohio River. Clean Water Action filed a federal lawsuit on Monday against Horsehead Holding Corp. of Monaca. The lawsuit was filed under the Clean Water Act. Clean Water Action says in a statement the lawsuit is an attempt to "halt the company's long-standing violations of their wastewater discharge permit into the Ohio River in Monaca." Monaca is about 35 miles northwest of Pittsburgh. Horsehead officials were not immediately available to comment. In 2006, Horsehead was fined $110,000 by the state for violating air pollution regulations.

Amid political change, troops prepare for Iraq

FORT DIX, N.J. (AP) - U.S. involvement in the Iraq war may be winding down, but there's no slowing in the deployment schedule for more than 4,000 members of the Pennsylvania Army National Guard. They'll be assuming their positions in Iraq around the same time that President-elect Barack Obama takes the oath of office on Jan. 20. Later, if things go according to plan under a newly ratified U.S.-Iraqi security agreement, they will be among the troops moving out of Iraq's urban areas by June 30 - a major step toward withdrawing U.S. troops from the country by 2012. The changing political landscape has prompted questions among the troops about what's ahead. But there's a resigned acceptance, too, that when it comes to the Iraq war, the one certainty is that there is uncertainty.

Homicides down 15 percent in Philadelphia in 2008

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - The "stop and frisk" tactic used by Philadelphia police to crack down on people carrying guns illegally has caused a dramatic increase in pedestrian stops. Just over 200,000 pedestrians were stopped in 2008, an increase of nearly 60 percent over 2007. The number of guns seized is only 1.5 percent higher. Mayor Michael Nutter and Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey say they think police aren't seizing more guns because criminals know about the widely publicized crackdown. They say that makes criminals leave their guns at home. Nutter says that means fewer gunshots are fired at the spur of the moment. The homicide rate is down 15 percent compared to last year, with 332 killed in 2008 compared to 392 in 2007. The number of shooting victims dropped 11 percent to about 1,500 in 2008 from 1,700 the year before.

Man in Pa. prison arrested in woman's May slaying

WERNERSVILLE, Pa. (AP) - A man who claimed he was having an affair with a married co-worker at a chocolate candy factory is charged in her May slaying. State troopers arrested 43-year-old Glenn Lyons on Tuesday for the stabbing death of Kathy Leibig of Robesonia. Lyons is in Mahanoy state prison on a parole violation. The 45-year-old Leibig's body was found May 4 in her vehicle near Wernersville State Hospital in Berks County. Leibig and Lyons worked together at Linette Quality Chocolates, but Lyons didn't show up for work after Leibig was reported missing. Police say Lyons told them he and Leibig were having a sexual encounter in her vehicle when an assailant entered the car, beat him up and assaulted Leibig. Court officials weren't sure if Lyons has a lawyer.

Pa. hospitals go high-tech on infection tracking

HERSHEY, Pa. (AP) - Electronic monitoring is helping hospitals find and control infection outbreaks. At Hershey Medical Center, a sophisticated computer program allows infection-control staffers to quickly generate reports with charts and graphs illustrating how many patients within a particular unit are infected, and which lab specimen contained the
germs. Pennsylvania health officials view the nascent technology as a critical tool for helping hospitals reduce health care costs by pinpointing problems sooner than is possible through reviewing paper records by hand. Gov. Ed Rendell's administration is expecting more hospitals to adopt the technology under a sweeping 2007 state law designed to reduce infections contracted by patients during their hospital stays. According to the Association of Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology, Pennsylvania is the only state to include "electronic surveillance" - like the Hershey hospital's system - in its infection reporting laws.

NE Pa. mother, daughter accused of stealing from volunteer fire company

SWOYERSVILLE, Pa. (AP) - A mother and daughter are accused of stealing thousands of dollars from a northeastern Pennsylvania volunteer fire company. State police say more than $700,000 that should have been deposited into the bank account of Swoyersville Hose Company No. 1 is unaccounted for. Luzerne County prosecutors accuse 46-year-old Carol Gamble and 77-year-old Treasurer Catherine Drago of theft and related offenses. Gamble was the fire company's president and Drago was its treasurer. They are free on unsecured bail and have a preliminary hearing set for Jan. 7. Gamble and her lawyer, Joseph Cosgrove, declined to comment at Tuesday's arraignment. Drago was not present, but told WNEP-TV when her home was searched in August that all the fire company's money was accounted for.

Pa. vicar ousted for living high life

CARBONDALE, Pa. (AP) - An Episcopal priest at a rural northeastern Pennsylvania parish has been ousted from priestly ministry for flamboyant partying at New York City nightclubs. When a New York newspaper reported on his lavish lifestyle, the Rev. Gregory Malia told the Daily News: "I work hard. I make good money. How I spend it - that is my business." The paper reported Sunday that Malia was a fixture in fashionable nightclubs, spending thousands of dollars on liquor and tips. The Right Rev. Paul Marshall says the Episcopal Diocese of Bethlehem took the action because priests are supposed to observe "normal standards of modest living." Malia is a businessman who served part-time in the clergy, most recently at St. James Episcopal Church in Susquehanna County.

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) - France's foreign minister says he and President Nicolas Sarkozy are considering going to Israel to try and end the violence in Gaza after Jerusalem rejected a 48-hour pause in the fighting. The proposal that Israel put an immediate stop to its five-day campaign of airstrikes in Gaza was floated by France's foreign minister.

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) - Hard-line Iranian student groups are asking the government to authorize volunteer suicide bombers to fight against Israel. The request comes after Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, issued a religious decree on Sunday that said anyone killed defending Palestinians in Gaza against Israeli attacks would be considered a martyr.

WASHINGTON (AP) - Senate Democrats say they won't stand for it. Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich has chosen former Illinois Attorney General Roland Burris to fill President-elect
Barack Obama's vacated seat. Obama says Democrats have made clear that they can't "accept an appointment made by a governor who is accused of selling" that Senate seat.

HONG KONG (AP) - In Asia, stock markets have ended 2008 with a whimper. Trading was sparse at the half-day sessions in the markets that were open New Year's Eve. The Asian markets were mixed despite gains on Wall Street. In Europe, French and British markets were
higher. The German exchange was closed.

SYDNEY, Australia (AP) - It's not auld acquaintances people will be forgetting this New Year. A grim 2008 is coming to a close, and many are eager to put a year filled with financial failings behind them. One British man awaiting fireworks in Sydney says he's looking forward to 2009, "because it can't get much worse."

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Today's News-Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Shenandoah gets new mayor

A former Shenandoah councilman has assumed the mayor's office. Michael Whitecavage was appointed to the job to serve out the final year of Thomas O'Neill's term, according to the Republican and Herald. O'Neill submitted his resignation in October, citing his wife's health among the reasons for stepping down. Whitecavage takes office on Thursday.

DUI checkpoint bounty

Post Christmas partiers were met with a vengeance by state and local police looking for drunk drivers. Friday night, 788 vehicles were contacted and 21 detained in Shenandoah. Two adults were arrested for DUI, and 18 were given traffic citations. All area state and local police will continue to blanket the region looking for drunk and aggressive driving throughout the new year's holiday.

State parks offer way to get away this winter

The Pennsylvania Bureau of State Parks is offering visitors a chance to enjoy winter rest and relaxation with modern accomodations at 23 state parks. The annual "Cabin Fever" lodging promotion offers visitors the opportunity to buy one night's lodging at a cabin, when arriving between Sunday and Wednesday, and receive the second consecutive weekday night free. The promotion is only offered through January and February. Outdoor activities like snowmobiling is just one of the opportunities that await winter travelers. For more information, log on to

Many Pa. restaurants reporting slow season

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - For restaurants like central Pennsylvania's Confit French Bistro, owner and chef Matt Black says New Year's Eve is usually a big night. But Black says reservations at the Camp Hill eatery are down about 20 percent this year for the night restaurants try to put some extra money in the bank. The Pennsylvania Restaurant Association is hearing similar reports elsewhere. Association President Patrick Conway says people's worries about disposable income, job security and up-and-down energy costs create a tough environment for all businesses, and restaurants operate on a tight margin to begin with. Another example, Scott's Grille in Harrisburg was booked up before New Year's 2007, but the reservation book was still only about half full on Monday. A manager, Mandy Rineer, says "We always anticipate walk-ins."

Pa. will enforce new power plant pollution rule

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Pennsylvania will begin enforcing a new federal rule designed to cut power plant emissions of nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide. The Rendell administration said Monday that it will begin enforcing the rule this week after a federal court last week
reversed a lower court's decision to strike down the rule. Pennsylvania is among the nation's top producers of nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide because it's home to so many coal-fired power plants. The pollutants contribute to acid rain and smog, which can cause asthma, bronchitis and other breathing problems. A representative of the state's power plant owners say they already have spent more than $4 billion at Pennsylvania's 30-plus coal-fired power plants to comply with the rule.

Philly mayor: Outside cash could save libraries

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - There's no word yet from a judge hearing a lawsuit that seeks to keep 11 Philadelphia branch libraries open. Mayor Michael Nutter says he must close them due to a budget crisis. Plaintiffs say he can't do so without City Council approval. Also, Nutter says the libraries might reopen as "knowledge centers" if the city can find financial partners. The announcement came at a raucous news conference during which Nutter was repeatedly booed. The mayor is shuttering the branches beginning Thursday in an effort to close an estimated $1 billion spending gap over the next five years. Nutter says the public-private partnerships could be with individuals, corporations, nonprofits or community groups.

Dow Chemical may seek lower price for Rohm & Haas

NEW YORK (AP) - The collapse of a joint venture with a state-owned Kuwaiti company may make Dow Chemical less willing to pay the $15.3 billion price for Rohm & Haas. Dow had initially agreed to that price for Philadelphia-based Rohm & Haas last summer as energy prices peaked. Kuwait's government backed out of the deal with Dow late Sunday. It called the K-Dow Petrochemicals joint venture, "very risky" due to the global financial crisis and crude prices that have tumbled more than 70 percent since July. Midland, Mich.-based Dow had expected more than $7 billion in pretax proceeds from the K-Dow deal. Dow would not comment Monday on the failure of the joint venture or negotiations with Rohm & Haas.

Report: Pollution is factor in crab decline

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - A conservation group says Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania must also do more to control pollution from agricultural runoff. A Chesapeake Bay Foundation report blames pollution and overfishing for devastating declines in Chesapeake Bay blue crabs. According to the report, algal blooms caused by nitrogen and phosphorous pollution have damaged underwater grass beds that are a key crab habitat. Dead zones in the bay are blamed for killing thousands of tons of clams and worms each year, depriving crabs of a food source. The report was based on government data, scientific papers and interviews with leading crab researchers and water quality experts.

Pa. man kills self after killing girlfriend

NORRISTOWN, Pa. (AP) - A prosecutor says a suburban Philadelphia man apparently accidentally strangled his live-in girlfriend days before killing himself. Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Ferman says police went to the Bridgeport apartment the couple shared to notify of her boyfriend's suicide by hanging on Saturday. Instead, police found her badly decomposed body. Ferman said Monday that it appears the 42-year-old woman was strangled during a consensual sexual encounter. She says the boyfriend left a note saying her death was a terrible accident. Police don't believe anyone else was involved in the deaths.

At age 79, Boscov bets $300M on retailer's future

READING, Pa. (AP) - Albert Boscov has a lot to learn about retail. He says so himself. The department store mogul spent more than 50 years at the Reading-based chain that bears his name, but Boscov retired three years ago - a lifetime in retail. He returned as chairman and CEO in early December to guide the troubled company out of bankruptcy. So he needs to bone up. That's why the 79-year-old Boscov has been doing a lot of listening as he gets reacquainted with the business his father started in 1921. Boscov and his brother-in-law, Edwin Lakin, made a last-minute bid for the privately held company when it became clear that liquidation was imminent. The gamble comes at a challenging time for retailers, with the economy in recession and holiday sales shaping up to be the worst in decades.

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) - Hamas government buildings in Gaza have been targeted on the fourth day of a deadly Israeli air assault. Witnesses say 40 people were hurt today when bombs hit five buildings. A militant rocket killed an Israeli woman last night in Ashdod, some 23 miles from the Gaza Strip.

BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) - European stocks have opened higher after most Asian markets posted gains on the final day of trading in what was a terrible year. Japan's Nikkei ends 2008 down 42 percent, while the market in South Korea fell by nearly 41 percent.

BEIJING (AP) - China's president says he wants the pace of reconstruction to pick up after his latest visit to the province where thousands died in a May earthquake. Thousands are still
living in tents and other temporary shelters as winter sets in.

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Marine Corps says it's going to reach its goal of growing to 202,000 troops nearly three years ahead of schedule. Last year the hope was more recruiters, bigger bonuses and an elite reputation would help get the Corps to its target by 2012. Now, officials say it will be reached early next year.

MIAMI (AP) - The FBI is working to determine if a crime was committed when a woman vanished from a cruise ship in the Gulf of Mexico. Her family thinks she took her own life. The woman's husband reported her missing eight hours after a surveillance camera captured a person falling overboard.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Today's News-Monday, December 29, 2008

Thefts at Renningers

State police are investigating two thefts at Renningers Market in North Manheim Township. Over the past week, a 100 pound propane tank was taken from outside the market. The tank was used to fuel a business at the market, and belonged to J Wilson Barto and Company. In a second theft, unknonwn theives took a Coleman generator from inside of the building. Anyone with information should call state police at 593-2000.

Six escape injury in weekend accident

Six people escaped injury in a two vehicle crash Saturday in northern Berks County. State police say 18 year old Victoria Glogg was attempting to merge onto Route 61 at Jetson Drive and her car collided with 68-year-old James Stoner's car. Both cars then crossed the highway median. The drivers nor their passengers were hurt.

Pa. director of health care reform to step down

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Gov. Ed Rendell's first and only director of the Office of Health Care Reform is stepping down from the post. Rosemarie Greco's final day is Wednesday.
The governor's spokesman, Chuck Ardo, says Greco has been a tireless advocate for health care reform. She spearheaded Rendell's health care reform initiative, which included measures that broadened the scope of practice for nurse practitioners and physician assistants. An initiative that calls for expanding health coverage for the uninsured is still pending in the Legislature. Greco will be replaced by her deputy, Ann Torregrossa. She'll continue to serve as a senior adviser on health care issues.

Police: Man slept undetected in Pa. woman's attic

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. (AP) - Police in northeastern Pennsylvania say an intruder slept undetected for days in a woman's attic, stealing food and clothing when the homeowner and her family were away. Twenty-one-year-old Stanley Carter of Arkansas surrendered Friday after he heard a police canine inside the house in Plains Township. Homeowner Stacey Ferrance says Carter was wearing her family's clothes when he descended from the attic. She says she had no idea he was up there. She says she dismissed any noises he made, attributing them to her three children. Police say Carter kept warm by wrapping himself in blankets and insulation. Carter has been charged with offenses including burglary, theft and trespassing. Flight 93 families ask Bush to OK land seizure

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Relatives of those who died aboard United Airlines Flight 93 want the Bush Administration to seize the land needed for a memorial where the plane crashed in Shanksville, Pa., in the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Families of Flight 93 vice president Patrick White said Saturday the group sent a letter in December asking President George W. Bush
to empower the Secretary of the Interior to take the land. The group says ground must be broken early next year in time for a memorial to be build for the 10th anniversary of the crash in 2011. Svonavec Inc. owns one of the last large chunks of land needed for the 2,200-acre memorial, including the area where the plane crashed Sept. 11, 2001.

Death toll climbs...Afghan bombings...He saw a lot

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) - The Palestinian death toll is over 300 as a third day of Israeli air strikes aimed at obliterating Hamas continues. Most of those killed are members of Hamas security forces. A rocket fired into the Israeli city of Ashkelon has left one Israeli dead.

CRAWFORD, Texas (AP) - President-elect Barack Obama's transition team says Obama plans to work closely with Israel while promoting peace between the Israelis and Palestinians. But it's also unclear whether Obama will be as supportive of Israel as President George W. Bush has been.

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) - A suicide car bomber struck a governor's compound north of the capital of Afghanistan while U.S. troops were inside, killing two Afghan civilians and wounding two American soldiers. Two other bombings in the southern province of Kandahar killed three civilians and wounded 21.

DETROIT (AP) - Thousands of homes and businesses in Michigan are without power, as a cold front drops temperatures back into the 20s and 30s. Some could be in the dark until Thursday. Crews from five other states have been brought in to help get the lights back on.

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - After living through parts of three centuries, the nation's oldest man has passed away at the age of 112. Born in 1896, George Francis lived through both world wars
before succumbing Saturday to congestive heart failure.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Today's News-Saturday, December 27, 2008

Diocese OKs plan to mend St. Kieran's

A committee to preserve the history of St. Kieran Church has gotten one step closer to its goal. According to Catherine Clifford, Ashland, a member of the parish committee that recently met with officials of the Diocese of Allentown, the diocese approved a proposal to use the building to preserve the history of the church and the surrounding area known as "Irish Valley." As reported in the Republican and Herald, Clifford said the group submitted a written proposal Oct. 29 regarding the building's use. Irish Echo Online, the Web site of the largest-circulation Irish American weekly newspaper, ran a Dec. 24 article about the St. Kieran building but Clifford said the article may have been premature in its report that the church has been "saved." Clifford said the building would have to be made handicap accessible and brought up to county and local codes before anything can move forward. According to parishioner Joseph "Hap" Anthony, the church was built by Irish miners in 1857 at the direction of John Neumann, the first U.S. bishop to be made a saint. It was one of the churches closed when the Diocese of Allentown consolidated and restructured parishes in July. Although the last official Mass was said at 5:30 p.m. July 12, the church received special permission to host its annual Irish Weekend Mass on July 27 as part of an annual fundraiser for the Clover Fire Company. Parishioners of St. Kieran were merged into St. Michael the Archangel Parish in the former St. Vincent de Paul Church building, Minersville, along with parishioners from St. Vincent de Paul and Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Minersville. The surrounding area, known locally as "Irish Valley," is rich in the history of anthracite mining and the railroads.

Workers add hours to remain full time

One by one, employees in the county controller's office are agreeing to work an additional five hours per week rather than have their pay cut and jobs reclassified as part-time. According to the Republican and Herald, at Wednesday's commissioners meeting, Mike Mehalko and James Moll, two controller's office employees, had their positions reclassified after the commissioners said they only worked 30 hours each week, rather than the usual 35. After the move, Commissioners Chairwoman Mantura Gallagher said Moll contacted her and said he would abide by the new hours rather than lose about $4,000 in annual salary. Two other employees, Charity Conrad Copeland and Paul Buber, also avoided the salary hit. Copeland agreed to work the additional hours after sitting down with Gallagher last week, while Buber accepted a newly created financial analyst position in the county commissioners office. Mehalko is now the only employee to potentially see his job reclassified, effective Jan. 1. The dispute stems from a 1998 schedule change, when courthouse hours changed from 30 hours per week to 35. All employees, excluding elected officials, solicitors, first deputies and public defenders made the switch, other than several in the controller's office. Gallagher said Wednesday's vote on Moll's position will be rescinded. The same would happen for Mehalko, if he agrees to work the additional hours. County Controller Melinda Kantner has said her office has been unfairly singled out by the commissioners, but declined further comment earlier this week pending a review of legal options. Mehalko, who will lose about $8,000 per year in pay if he does not comply, could not be reached for comment Friday afternoon.

Seniors still have a week for rebate applications

Senior citizens in Pennsylvania who haven't yet applied still have time to file for a rebate on their 2007 property taxes for rent. Don Rooney has this report.


Project Blue Light

The holiday season is a great time to remember those who give all year long. A state lawmaker says there's a way for Pennsylvania residents to honor those who have protected and served to the fullest measure. Roseann Cadau has mor information.


Farms, Communities, & Government Agencies can work together to clean our watersheds

From civic groups to the Secretary of Agriculture, Pennsylvanians are working to preserve the state's water and natural resources. A water quality specialist in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences says public-private partnerships hold promise for tackling our state's watershed problems.


Fire Safe Cigarettes to hit Pennsylvania in new year

Representative Tim Solobay of Washington County is hoping the leading cause of fires will be extinguished with a new law set to take effect next month. Roseann Cadau reports from Harrisburg.


PHILADELPHIA (AP) - The Mummers Parade in Philadelphia is a go this New Year's Day thanks to last-minute financial help from donors. The 108-year-old parade's funding has been in jeopardy due to the troubled economy. The City of Philadelphia is reducing its support because of looming budget deficits. But other donors have pledged more than $230,000 to ensure the Mummers strut up Broad Street on schedule. Mummers lawyer George J. Badey III says the donors include the Delaware Valley Regional Economic Development Fund; Joey Vento of Geno's Steaks; the Electric Factory; Forman Mills; and Verizon.

LANCASTER, Pa. (AP) - A minor earthquake has shaken the Lancaster area. The U.S. Geological Survey says the 3.4 magnitude quake hit early Saturday morning, a few moments after midnight. It was centered just outside Lancaster. More than 1,000 people called the Lancaster County 911 center. Many thought there had been an explosion nearby, but there were no reports of injuries or severe damage.

ALLENTOWN, Pa. (AP) - As gas prices fall, ridership on the Allentown area's public transportation is dipping too. Use of Lehigh and Northampton Transportation Authority bus service rose earlier this year as the price at the pump skyrocketed. But when gas prices fell, LANTA ridership growth slowed. It slipped into reverse in November, when fewer people hopped on LANTA buses than in November 2007. Executive director Armando Greco said two factors are largely to blame: the declining price of gas, along with fewer commuters due to job losses in the slumping economy. Greco said 2008 still has been a good year overall for the transit authority. Through last month, year-to-date ridership was up 7 percent versus the same period in 2007. LANTA was created during the national gas shortages in the early 1970s.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - A Philadelphia home fire apparently caused by an exploding kerosene heater has killed seven people, most of whom were found huddled together in the basement. Firefighters say the dead are four adults and three children, including a 1-year-old. Four people survived the fire. Harris Murphy says he was visiting the home when the fire erupted last night. He says a woman at the home had tried to pour fuel into a kerosene heater but it got too hot and she was trying to carry it outside when it exploded. Fire Commissioner Lloyd Ayers says the fire was at a three-story brick home in a working-class neighborhood in the southwest section of the city, close to the Philadelphia International Airport. He says there was only one exit from the basement and that's a code violation.

JERUSALEM (AP) - The Israeli defense minister says his country won't allow Hamas militants in Gaza to continue their rocket and mortar attacks on Israel. He warns the air strikes on militant targets in Gaza will expand "as necessary." Hamas says at least 192 Gazans have been killed in the hours-old offensive.

BAGHDAD (AP) - A bombing in a busy square in Iraq has left at least 22 people dead. Violence has dropped by more than 80 percent around Iraq and especially Baghdad, but devastating attacks still occur. A separate bombing south of the capital killed three people, including an Iraqi soldier.

HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) - International aid agencies warn that the humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe is getting worse. The cholera epidemic is growing and there's been a sharp rise in acute child malnutrition. President Robert Mugabe's government has acknowledged the country's health care system has collapsed.

CHICAGO (AP) - The good weather news is a break in the Arctic cold across the Midwest. The bad news may be that warmer temperatures and rain could bring flooding in Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana and elsewhere. Iowa's overflowing Chariton River is already causing minor flooding. Road flooding has also been reported in parts of Missouri.

HONOLULU (AP) - A blackout in Hawaii is affecting thousands of residents and vacationers, including President-elect Barack Obama. A Hawaiian Electric Company spokeswoman says an emergency generator has been dispatched to Obama's beach house. The outage hit during a thunderstorm.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Today's News-Friday, December 26, 2008

Auburn man has minor injuries in crash

An Auburn man had minor injuries in a crash on Christmas Day in northern Berks County. 46 year old Thomas Rhymer Sr. was southbound on Route 813 near Worman Road, when he lost control on a left curve. His Jeep Cherokee hit an embankment and ended up on its left side. Rhymer complained of pain at the scene and was taken to Schuylkill Medical Center South for treatment. The crash happened before 9am Thursday.

Blood bank reaccredited

Schuylkill Medical Center East has received re-accreditation by the American Association of Blood Banks for its transfusion operation. The intensive on-site assessment means that Schuylkill Medical Center-East joins 18-hundred similar facilities across the United States and abroad.

Pine Grove man charged at casino

A Pine Grove man is charged with several counts following an incident at the Hollywood Casino earlier this week. Stae police report that 67 year old William Moyer became upset that the slot machine he was playing was not working right. Casino employees reportedly did not come to his aid, so he poured a cup of soda into the machine. Moyer was charged with criminal mischief for causing over $800 dollars damage to the machine.

Pa.'s new law improves state's access reputation

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - It was a dubious distinction that may have done more than any other factor to produce a new Right-to-Know Law: Pennsylvania's long-standing reputation as one of the worst states when it comes to letting people know what their government is doing. Those pushing for changes in recent years have often cited a 2002 study of certain aspects of public access by the Chicago-based Better Government Association that ranked Pennsylvania an abysmal 47th. Pennsylvania moved up to 22nd place later that year when a revision of the Right-to-Know Law imposed new timelines for agencies to fulfill information requests and made other reforms. With the new changes, Pennsylvania will shift the burden of proving a record should be produced from the requester to government agencies. But some criticize a provision that allows access to only a list of specific legislative records, and they say some of the penalties for violating the law are weak.

Police identify frozen body found near Erie

ERIE, Pa. (AP) - The frozen body found in the woods near Erie has been identified as a man whose family has been looking for him since the mid-1980s. Erie County Coroner Lyell Cook says the father of 59-year-old James Burchett was notified on Christmas Eve that his son's body had been found near the northwestern Pennsylvania city. Cook says Burchett's father, who lives in Tennessee, told police he has been looking for his son for more than 20 years. Cook says it remains unclear what Burchett was doing in Erie. Burchett was apparently living in a dry culvert in the woods behind a Sam's Club in Summit Township. Police found a sleeping bag and clothes near where the body was found last weekend. Cook is waiting for Burchett's body to thaw before conducting an autopsy.

Peco sends 33 workers to Mass.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Peco Energy says all 33 of its employees who went to Massachusetts to restore electric service following a major storm there have returned home. In a common practice with utility companies, Philadelphia-based Peco sent the workers at the request of Unitil Corp., whose employees were overwhelmed. Many of the customers rely on wells for water, so with no electricity to run the pump, they had no water. Peco spokesman Ben Armstrong says the workers put up 100 utility poles in Ashby, Mass., rebuilding the entire town's electric system. The workers returned home by Tuesday.

Pa. hotel fire displaces guests

FOGELSVILLE, Pa. (AP) - A hotel in Pennsylvania's Lehigh Valley is closed following a fire that broke out Christmas morning. Gene Opdyke, of Summerville, Fla., was among about 30 guests of the Hawthorn Suites in Fogelsville displaced by the fire. He says people didn't panic and the evacuation was orderly. Fogelsville Fire Chief Doug Guth says firefighters were called at about 7:40 a.m. Thursday and the fire was reported contained at 10:30 a.m. The fire damaged the hotel's roof and some guest rooms. The cause was not immediately known.

Winds prevent Washington from crossing Delaware

WASHINGTON CROSSING, N.J. (AP) - Once again, strong winds and a fast current stopped George Washington from crossing the Delaware - by boat, anyway - on Christmas. Portrayer Ronald Rinaldi II, who also played Revolutionary War general last year, instead marched across a bridge from Pennsylvania to New Jersey during the 56th annual re-enactment of the military leader's daring Christmas crossing. For Rinaldi, playing the military leader was the role of a lifetime. It was also a family affair - his father, Ronald Sr., and his 11-year-old son, Ronald III, joined him on the march.

Philly trying to preserve jobs as it makes cuts

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Nearly a year ago, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter took office promising to add hundreds of police officers, scale back taxes and help more people get college degrees. That was before the economy collapsed. Now, Nutter won't be hiring 200 more police officers he promised or cutting back taxes as fast as he hoped. He's also getting an earful for closing down 11 libraries and 68 pools, and for plans to deactivate seven fire companies. With the city facing a $1 billion deficit over the next five years, Nutter is scaling back programs across the board. But one thing has emerged largely unscathed in this union stronghold: jobs. Fewer than 80 of the city's 23,000 workers are being laid off. That's a stark contrast to measures being proposed in other cash-strapped cities.

Couple now charged with murder in February death of 3-year-old brought to Pa. hospital

SCRANTON, Pa. (AP) - Authorities in northeastern Pennsylvania have filed murder charges against a man and woman who vanished after bringing the body of her 3-year-old daughter to a hospital in February. Child endangerment charges were filed earlier against 26-year-old Darak Williams and 25-year-old Kashema Reddish following the Feb. 21 death of Kavannah Salvador. She was pronounced dead on arrival at a Scranton hospital, and authorities say the pair dropped out of sight soon afterward. The Lackawanna County coroner ruled the death a homicide, and final autopsy results this week say the child died of multiple traumatic injuries. Lackawanna County District Attorney Andy Jarbola says most of the injuries were recent, but others were older and indicated a pattern of abuse. Williams was charged Tuesday night with first- and third-degree murder and Reddish with third-degree murder and other counts.

HONG KONG (AP) - A slow day for Asian markets finished mixed. The economic news in Japan was bad, but the Nikkei finished up on the day as investors picked up down-beaten shares. The market in Hong Kong, as well as the major markets in Europe, are all closed.

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - Retailers are doing what they can to finish a dismal holiday shopping season on a high note. Toys-R-Us says some post-holiday prices are getting slashed by as much as 60 percent. A spokesman for Sears and Kmart says "It has a Black Friday feel to it."

RENO, Nev. (AP) - Those in Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana and the Dakotas are all waking up under a winter storm warning. Some parts of the Rocky Mountains could see up to 20 inches of snow, along with 80 mile-per-hour wind gusts.

COVINA, Calif. (AP) - Police say a man who went on a shooting spree at a Christmas party dressed like Santa was avenging a bitter divorce. The suspect shot and killed eight people at his former in-laws' house before torching it. He later committed suicide at his brother's home, where a car he parked also exploded last night.

CHICAGO (AP) - Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich's lawyer wants a House panel considering
impeachment to subpoena a dozen people, including President-elect Barack Obama's incoming chief of staff. The committee meets Monday, and it's unclear what its answer will be.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Today's News-Tuesday, December 23,2008

Attack was well thought out

Investigators believe a 17 year old Blue Mountain high school student intended to harm others, according to court documents filed by state police. Gregory Nason was taken into custody and charged with attempted homicide, solicitation to commit homicide and making terroristic threats last week after he told a fellow student that if a hearing on charges against him didn't go well, he would come to the school to do harm. Students alerted school administrators who in turn contacted state police. Nason is jailed on $100-thousand dollars bail.

New company coming to Highridge

A Michigan based food distributor is planning to build a new distribution center at the Highridge Business Park. Gordon Food Service and SEDCO announced the deal yesterday. The 150-thousand square foot facility expects to be in operation by late next year. Officials from SEDCO say the bidding was tight among several states to bring the company to our area. Gordon Food Service expects to hire 98 employees.

Crash in Blythe Township may be DUI related

A St Clair woman escaped injury but faces charges of driving under the influence following a Sunday morning crash in Blythe Township. Schuylkill Haven state police say that 22 year old Samantha Snukis was traveling too fast for conditions on Route 209, lost control and struck a parked car on Market Street in Cumbola. After impact, the car continued down an embankment and hit a home at 176 Market Street. Snukis was charged with suspicion of driving under the influence and other traffic offenses.

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - An outdoor smoking ban at Pennsylvania's 14 state-owned universities is the focus of a state labor board hearing. The State System of Higher Education's faculty union has filed an unfair labor practice complaint over the ban imposed in September by Chancellor John Cavanaugh. The Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board scheduled a hearing on the complaint for Tuesday morning.

WASHINGTON (AP) - New government population estimates suggest congressional seats could be moving to the south and west and out of the rest of the country. The Census Bureau numbers through July 2008 suggest the nation's migration west and south has slowed because the housing crisis has made it hard to buy homes. But states in the Northeast and Midwest are still projected to lose political clout in Washington after the 2010 census.

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Pennsylvania's banking regulators are imposing tougher rules for the mortgage industry to better protect homebuyers from the prospect of foreclosure. Banking Secretary Steve Kaplan says lenders and brokers will have to make sure that consumers can afford to repay and clearly understand of the terms of their loan.

CARLISLE, Pa. (AP) - Police are seeking the public's help in solving a 2001 murder in south-central Pennsylvania. The body of 33-year-old Tina Myers was found on Dec. 4, 2001, in a wooded area of Cumberland County just south of Mount Holly Springs. Police told reporters Monday that they have no suspects in the death of the woman from the Harrisburg suburb of Lower Paxton Township.

YORK, Pa. (AP) - York County District Attorney Stan Rebert says
the suicide of a rape suspect is justice in the sense that he won't
be able to commit more rapes. But a lawyer for Penn Township
Commissioner Michael Johnson Jr. says his client is entitled to the
presumption of innocence. Defense lawyer Christopher Ferro notes
that the charges against Johnson hadn't gone before a judge or

Monday, December 22, 2008







Today's News-Monday, December 22, 2008

Winter comes with a vengeance

Mother nature welcomed winter with a blast of arctic weather, with stiff winds and wind chills around 8 below zero. Whatever snow melted under sunny skies Sunday has refrozen, so commuters should watch for black ice patches on area roads, and parents should make sure that the kids are bundled up to send them to school, as a Wind Advisory and a Wind Chill Advisory are in effect until 10am.

Break in at East Union home

State police are looking for the burglars who broke into a home in East Union Township over the weekend. Sometime between Friday and Saturday, unknown persons broke into the home of Bernard and Margaret Kulkusky on Arapahoe Circle in Nuremburg. The couple were not home at the time, and a number of items were taken. Frackville troopers are investigating, and need your help. Call them at 874-5300.

State police enforcement for holidays

As you visit with family and friends this season, you may want to enjoy a bit of holiday cheer. However, state police will be looking for drivers who may overimbibe. Troopers will be out in force, looking for speeders, aggressive and drunk drivers to keep the roads safe. State police remind you to allow for extra time while traveling, wear you seatbelts and use a designated driver if you plan on drinking alcohol. The Christmas enforcement period runs from Christmas Eve through Sunday.

New Pa. open records seen as key to public access

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - An overhaul to Pennsylvania's Right-to-Know Law takes effect Jan. 1. The changes are expected to dramatically expand what people can find out about what goes on behind the scenes of the state and local governments. The new Right-to-Know Law will repeal the 52-year-old original, long regarded as one of the nation's weakest. No longer will journalists, activists and other citizens interested in mining government records have to cross their fingers and hope the document they want fits into one of a half-dozen narrow categories. Nor will they have to go court - and probably need to hire a lawyer - to challenge an agency's refusal to turn over a record. The new law is built on the presumption that most government records are open. It also places on public agencies - from state bureaucracies to county governments and local school districts - the legal burden of showing why a record should be withheld, instead of forcing requesters to establish why it should be made public.

Jewish holiday of Hannukah begins

UNDATED (AP) - Sundown Sunday marked the start of Hannukah, the eight-day Jewish holiday that commemorates a military victory over the Greeks. And people across the country are dusting off their Menorahs. Hanukkah celebrates the Maccabees victory over the Greeks and the rededication of the Holy Temple and altar as told in the Book of Maccabees. Lighting the menorah symbolizes the oil that burned in the Holy Temple days longer than expected.

Court denies appeal in Pa. electronic voting suit

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - The state Supreme Court has denied an appeal by the secretary of the commonwealth in a lawsuit filed by a group of Pennsylvania voters who say electronic voting machines violate state election code. The ruling clears the way for the Commonwealth Court to determine whether touch-screen machines violate the state code. The suit filed by 25 voters in August 2006 asks the Commonwealth Court to decertify direct recording electronic voting machines used in 50 of 67 counties. The Philadelphia Inquirer reports the lawsuit says the machines are flawed, that they drop votes and register votes for the wrong candidate, and violate the state election code requirement to have a physical record of each vote.

UNDATED (AP) - Parts of the country start the week in a deep freeze. In Maine, state government offices won't open before noon because of the frigid weather. It was 35 below zero yesterday in Allagash. The entire northern tier of the nation is in the throes of winter weather.

UNDATED (AP) - Winter storms in the Northeast and Midwest have disrupted road, rail and air travel plans ahead of the holiday. Flights were canceled, or late, yesterday at Chicago's O'Hare
International Airport. Some flights arrived two to three hours late at New York's Kennedy Airport and Boston's Logan Airport.

WASHINGTON (AP) - Vice President Dick Cheney says President George W. Bush didn't want to preside over the collapse of the auto industry just as he leaves office. Cheney blames Congress for failing to bail out automakers and says Bush had "no choice but to step in."

NAGOYA, Japan (AP) - Japan's top automaker is expected to barely break even this fiscal year, as auto demand drops and the yen strengthens. Toyota's president says even emerging markets are slowing down.

UNDATED (AP) - The nation's economic troubles are affecting pet owners and their beloved companions. Several shelters and animal advocates say Americans are giving their dogs and cats to animal shelters in growing numbers because they can't afford to pay for the food, the veterinary bills and grooming.

Saturday, December 20, 2008


It will be Dave Argall vs Steve Lukach in the special election for the 29th Senatorial District. Fifty-seven conferees from the 6 counties that encompass the district votes today to unanimously approve Argall. During the three hour meeting at the Schoeneman Corporation headquarters in Norwegian Township, the six candidates had five minutes to make a statement and five minutes for questions. The meeting was open to the public, and about two dozen people attended in addition to the conferees.

Here's Argall's reaction:



Shenandoah Valley High School Drama Club play "Christmas Belles" is still on for Sunday 12/21 at 3 p.m and Monday 12/22 at 7 p.m. in the High School Auditorium. Tickets will be available at the door.



Pottsville Boys Basketball League and Instructional League-cancelled today

Schuylkill Haven Recreation Department Biddy Basketball-Saturday and Sunday cancelled

Blue Mountain vs Shamokin Swim Meet-time change from 10am till Noon

St Clair Biddy Basketball is still on for today

Christmas Party for Jr. Bowlers at Spare Time Lanes Tamaqua is still on for today

Today's News-Saturday, December 20, 2008

Arsenal uncovered in Blue Mountain teens case


That's State Police Corporal Michael Sadusky, commenting on the actions by Blue Mountain High School students in alerting school personnel to a possible threat alleged by a 17 year old male. State police uncovered several weapons, ammo, pellet guns and other military gear when they searched a North Manheim Township home Thursday in connection with a perceived threat at Blue Mountain High School. Investigators say students alerted staff at the school that a student might possibly bring a weapon to school to do harm. Troopers did not release the 17 year old male's name, but WPPA News has learned that the individual is identified as 17 year old Gregory Nason of RD Schuylkill Haven. The teen is charged with criminal attempt and criminal solicitation to commit homicide and 2 counts of terroristic threats. He is locked up in the county prison on $100-thousand-dollars bail.

GOP meeting today

The 29th state Senate Republican conferees will meet today to choose their candidate to run in a special election next year. The 57 conferees will hear from six candidates, then cast their votes. The meeting is open to the public, but the vote will be closed. The chosen candidate will face Democrat Steve Lukach in March to succeed the late Senator Jim Rhoades, who died in October and was re-elected posthumously in November’s general election.

Dozens of accidents, slick roads kick off the weekend

In the aftermath of Friday’s snow and ice storm, travel is slowly returning to normal today. The main roads are clear, many secondary roads and side streets still have some snow and ice on them. Dozens of accidents resulted from the storm yesterday, and there could be some snow showers throughout the day today. Sunday’s forecast includes another chance for snow, followed by much colder temperatures.

Pine Grove chief files suit

Pine Grove police chief Joshua Reager has filed suit against the borough, several business people and the Pine Grove school superintendent. The Republican and Herald reports the suit was filed in US District Court, and states that Reager believes his civil rights were violated and his efforts to enforce the law were hindered. Reager claims that business people tried to prevent him from doing his job as police chief, that the school superintendent told borough officials not to have him involved in any police matters at the school, and that borough officials suspended him for several matters, including his appearance on WPPA’s Step Up To The Mic program. The federal suit is seeking monetary damages, plus costs and attorney’s fees.

Kids can enjoy free movies

The Pottsville Lions Club is giving kids a special Christmas present tonight and tomorrow…free movies and holiday fun! The service organization is sponsoring two shows of the movie “ELF” at the Sovereign Majestic Theatre tonight at 7pm and tomorrow afternoon at 2pm. Santa Claus will pay a visit as well. Friday night’s show was cancelled due to bad weather.

Watch what you buy

If you are looking for that last minute gift for the kids this holiday season, you may want to check out how much noise the toys make. John and Julie Beall, owners of the Sears Hearing Aid Center in Frackville say that toys that make noise may not be as safe as you think. John Beall encourages people to log on to to find out facts about noise induced hearing loss and to view the latest Noisy Toys Study that lists toys to avoid. Some of the toys measure over 90 decibels, compared to a rock concert putting out 110 decibels. Some of the toys are geared for children three years or younger.

Sovereign Bancorp cutting 1,000 jobs amid downturn

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Sovereign Bank says it is cutting 1,000 jobs in an effort to reduce costs. That's about 8.3 percent of its work force. The Philadelphia-based regional bank says that jobs will be cut during the remaining weeks of 2008 and into 2009. Many banks have been shedding staff as the economy worsens and banks struggle with mounting losses tied to the declining value of assets and rising loan defaults. Sovereign Bank's parent company Sovereign Bancorp Inc. is in the midst of being purchased by Spanish bank Banco Santander SA. Shares of Sovereign Bancorp rose 4 cents to close at $2.88.

Fort Dix plot jury to work on weekend

CAMDEN, N.J. (AP) - The jury in the trial of five men accused of plotting to attack soldiers at New Jersey's Fort Dix is going to deliberate over the weekend. Jurors finished their third full day of deliberations Friday. They say they'll be back at 9:30 a.m. Saturday. U.S. District Judge Robert Kugler says jurors told him they were "making progress" and that they might deliberate on Sunday, too. The jury is sequestered in a hotel overnight. Federal authorities portray the case as an example of efforts to stop terrorist attacks before they happen. But defense lawyers say the men, who lived for years in the Philadelphia suburb of Cherry Hill, were not planning anything.

Pa. universities freeze salaries, vacancies

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Pennsylvania's state-owned university system is freezing the salaries of 1,500 nonunion employees and will leave 128 job vacancies unfilled in response to a weakened
state economy. State System of Higher Education Chancellor John Cavanaugh says the salary freeze will be effective for at least six months. The hiring freeze affects all 14 universities and the chancellor's office. Cavanaugh says the universities will still be able to employ enough faculty members and fill other critical positions. The system's board of governors agreed in October to forgo $22 million in state funding to address an expected $1.6 billion state budget shortfall at the end of the current fiscal year.

Pa. lawmakers urge pension fund to undo bonuses

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Several Republican state senators are urging Pennsylvania's public school pension fund to rescind $854,000 in bonuses awarded to staff this year. Sens. Joan Orie, John Rafferty and John Eichelberger say the bonuses are indefensible and a gross miscalculation at such a difficult economic time. A letter they sent to the Public School Employees' Retirement
System this week pointed out that the fund's investments lost money. It also notes the state is cutting programs and withholding cost-of-living raises from other employees to offset a shortfall.
Gov. Ed Rendell also has warned system officials against awarding the bonuses. System officials say the bonuses are justified because the fund's investors outperformed their peers nationally, despite the losses. But the fund's board voted last week to end the bonuses.

Brothers get 20 years in Pa. student's death

READING, Pa. (AP) - Two Allentown brothers will spend 20 to 40 years in prison for their roles in the beating death of a Kutztown University student. Twenty-three-year-old Terry Kline and 22-year-old Kenneth Kline offered tearful apologies Friday to the family of Kyle Quinn. The brothers were convicted last month of conspiracy to commit third-degree murder. A third man, 24-year-old Timothy Gearhart, has already been sentenced to 20 to 40 years after pleading guilty to third-degree murder. Gearhart admitted he hit Quinn in the head with a wooden
table leg during a fight.

State orders Sunoco to clean up W.Pa. gas spill

PITTSBURGH (AP) - The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection is ordering Sunoco Logistics Partners to clean up gasoline that continues to seep into a suburban Pittsburgh creek a month after a valve failure. Some 12,000 gallons of gas leaked into Turtle Creek, killing
most aquatic life for three miles downstream. A ball joint failed as crews were working on the interstate transmission line in Murrysville on Nov. 25. The DEP says fuel that seeped into the ground continues to enter the creek. Under the order, Sunoco must maintain absorbent booms and pads until more effective removal measures are installed. Sunoco must also provide weekly reports documenting the gasoline's disposal, sampling and clean up activities.

WASHINGTON (AP) - President-elect Barack Obama isn't saying whether he plans to tweak President George W. Bush's auto bailout plan when he takes office one month from today. But he is promising to make sure "it's not just workers who are bearing the brunt" of the concessions in the $17.4 billion loan package. The autoworkers' union says it will appeal the plan announced yesterday to the new president.

UNDATED (AP) - A miserable mix of snow, freezing rain and wind has grounded hundreds of flights, slicked up roads and knocked out power to thousands from Iowa to the Northeast. Blizzard warnings are in place in parts of Minnesota. And in New Jersey alone, more than 1,000 snow plows and salt trucks have been dispatched.

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) - Gaza medics say a Palestinian militant has been killed in an Israeli air strike. The death is the first since Hamas militants formally declared an end to a six-month truce with Israel.

BAGHDAD (AP) - Iraq's interior minister says a judge is ordering the release of nearly two dozen officials accused of conspiring to bring back Saddam Hussein's banned Baath party. The minister says the officials are being freed "because they are innocent." Earlier Friday, the minister had said the charges were politically motivated.

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) - Investigators in Florida say pieces of a skeleton found in swampy woods belong to 3-year-old Caylee Anthony. A medical examiner says authorities determined by DNA testing and "circumstantial evidence" that the death of the girl who disappeared this summer was homicide not an accident.

Friday, December 19, 2008



UPDATED: 330pm








Today's News- Friday, December 19, 2008

Arsenal uncovered in Blue Mountain teens case


That's State Police Corporal Bernard Walasavage, commenting on the actions by Blue Mountain High School students in alerting school personnel to a possible threat alleged by a 17 year old male. State police uncovered several weapons, ammo, pellet guns and other military gear when they searched a North Manheim Township home Thursday in connection with a perceived threat at Blue Mountain High School. Investigators say students alerted staff at the school that a student might possibly bring a weapon to school to do harm. Troopers did not release the 17 year old male's name, and gave few details due to the ongoing investigation. The boy is charged with criminal attempt and criminal solicitation to commit homicide and 2 counts of terroristic threats. He is locked up in the county prison on $100-thousand-dollars bail.

Travel note

Motorists will not have to negotiate single lanes in a construction zone in southern Schuylkill County until spring. PennDOT says that barriers at the job site in Port Clinton were removed Thursday on the bridge across the Schuylkill River. With winter weather approaching, the bridge has returned to four lanes. The $1.9 million dollar project began in September and is not expected to be completed until July of next year. PennDOT also reminds motorists to drive carefully during the storm.

Pa. consumer advocate criticizes electric prices

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Pennsylvania's utility consumer advocate says the region's wholesale electricity market is flawed. The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission heard Sonny Popowsky and others testify on the region's electricity prices at a Thursday hearing. Popowsky says millions of customers across mid-Atlantic states are charged extra for electricity. But he says they get no guarantee in return from overpaid power plant owners that they will build cheaper and cleaner plants. Representatives of power plant owners and the wholesale market operator PJM Interconnection say the extra payments are necessary to ensure there's enough power for everybody. They also say the payments are persuading power plant owners to keep plants online that otherwise might be shut down and to build new generation.

3 Pa. Guard members face trial in sexual assault

LEBANON, Pa. (AP) - Three Pennsylvania National Guard soldiers will face trial on charges of sexually assaulting a woman inside a barracks building a year ago. The men waived their preliminary hearings Thursday before District Judge Michael Smith. Smith set a tentative March trial date. Police say the 37-year-old woman went to the Fort Indiantown Gap base with the men voluntarily after meeting them at a Jonestown tavern. Authorities say the woman told investigators she initially engaged in consensual sex with one of the men, but was later forced to engage in various sexual acts with all three. Twenty-seven-year-old Alan Ledford Jr., 24-year-old Sean McMenamin, and 23-year-old Matthew Taggart had been scheduled to be deployed to Iraq. They must remain in the United States to face trial.

Pa. loses 26,000 jobs in Nov., most since 1996

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Pennsylvania just got its worst monthly jobs report in over a decade as the rough economy continues to take its toll. The state Department of Labor and Industry said Thursday that Pennsylvania's nonfarm jobs count tumbled by 26,000 last month, the biggest monthly drop since January 1996. Meanwhile, the state's jobless rate rose three-tenths of a percentage point in November to 6.1 percent. That's the highest since it's been since 1994, but still below the national rate for the seventh straight month. The state now has 5.76 million nonfarm jobs, the fewest since August 2006. Still, the state is doing better than the national average. The national jobless rate is 6.7 percent.

Funeral director sentenced in Pa. body parts scam

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - A Philadelphia funeral director is going to prison for his role in a macabre body parts scheme. A judge sentenced James McCafferty to 3 1/2 to 10 years on Thursday. Authorities say he and two partners sold at least 244 corpses to be harvested for tissue and body parts without relatives' consent. The often-diseased parts were then sold to medical companies for transplants. McCafferty had pleaded guilty in August to conspiracy and theft charges. His partners, brothers Louis and Gerald Garzone, got identical 8- to 20-year terms when they were sentenced in October. Ringleader Michael Mastromarino was sentenced to 25 to 58 years. He is already serving 18 to 54 years for running the scam in New York. A fifth defendant awaits sentencing.

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - He was the Watergate whistleblower known to history as "Deep Throat." A family friend says W. Mark Felt, who kept his identity as the scandal's most famous leaker secret for 30 years, has died of congestive heart failure at the age of 95.

UNDATED (AP) - Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson says President George W. Bush wants to avoid automakers filing for bankruptcy protection and the No. 1 priority is putting them back on a viable path. But he's told a business forum in New York that an "orderly" bankruptcy is one option.

WASHINGTON (AP) - A labor official says President-elect Barack Obama has chosen Democratic Congresswoman Hilda Solis of California to be labor secretary. She's the daughter of a Mexican union shop steward and a Nicaraguan assembly line worker and would be Obama's
third Hispanic nominee.

NEW YORK (AP) - Caroline Kennedy has dined with the Rev. Al Sharpton at a famous Harlem eatery with a throng of about 30 journalists looking on. Reporters asked her why she's considering a run for the U.S. Senate after years of avoiding the political spotlight. She said this is a time when nobody can afford to sit out.

CHICAGO (AP) - Some Illinois residents may get a wake-up call from the elements overnight. Thunder snow or thunder sleet is possible as part of a wintry storm that had all of Chicago's 274
snow-fighting trucks hitting the streets late last night.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Today's News-Thursday, December 18, 2008

Debate brings more candidates to the table

The debate among Republican candidates for the 29th Senatorial District got a little more crowded Wednesday night in Hamburg. The three previously announced candidates, Dave Argall, Gretchen Sterns and Christopher Hobbs, were joined by three new hopefuls, Ed Balkiewicz of Schuylkill County, Willard Dellicker of New Tripoli and Joseph Gattone Jr. of Hamburg. All six were given the opportunity to talk about the issues facing the 29th district and the state in general. Fifty-seven Republican conferees will meet Saturday here in Pottsville to choose who will run for the seat held by the late Senator Jim Rhoades, and will face Democrat Steve Lukach in the special election March 3rd.

Penn State students charged in raid

Two students at Penn State Schuylkill were taken into custody on drugs and weapons charges Wednesday. A search warrant was executed at the campus apartment of Alvin and James Foster, of Philadelphia. Police found several pounds of marijuana, over $3-thousand-dollars in cash and two handguns, along with drug paraphernalia. The arrests were the result of an undercover investigation.

Drug arrest in Pottsville

A Philadelphia man was arrested Tuesday in Pottsville on drug related charges. Narcotics officers from the city police department and the County Drug Task Force executed a search warrant at 818 Mount Hope Avenue. They uncovered 162 packets of crack cocaine valued at about $4-thousand-dollars, plus several cell phones and cash. 21 year old Ernest Harrod was charged with felony and misdemeanor drug counts. In addition, he could face stiffer prison time if found guilty, since the drug sales took place in a Drug Free School Zone.

Another day, another storm

Tomorrow's travel may be an adventure if we get what's forecast. A wintry mix is expected to start late tonight and run right through Friday, with snow sleet and freezing rain. John LeCourt, Meterologist at the National Weather Service in State College says that the weather scenario is familiar:

A Winter Storm Watch will be in effect from late tonight through Friday.

Mt Carmel teen kiled in crash

A Mount Carmel teenager died from injuries in a one vehicle crash in Mt Carmel Township Wednesday afternoon. Police report that 17 year old Robert Sowa's Cadillac SUV struck several trees on State Route 2026 around 3:30pm. He was pronounced dead at the scene. His passenger, Allison Plisiewicz, was flown to Geisinger Medical Center for injuries. She is in serious condition.

NRC issues new security rules for nuclear plants, beefs up protection against cyber attacks

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is beefing up security at commercial nuclear power plants, including more stringent requirements to counter potential cyber attacks. New regulations call for new training and qualification requirements for security officials. They require plant operators to produce new response strategies in case of the loss of part of a plant because of an explosion or fire. But nuclear watchdog groups say the rules fall short of what's needed. They say the NRC still is not addressing fully terrorist threats from aircraft, or from a determined, well-armed band of attackers. The agency rejected a demand by Three Mile Island Alert of Harrisburg, Pa., that power plants be required to post armed guards
at every entrance to a controlled area. The NRC says it is giving plant operators "flexibility to determine if such personnel postings are necessary."

No verdict in 1st day of deliberations in Fort Dix case; jurors peruse informant's testimony

CAMDEN, N.J. (AP) - Jurors are to resume deliberations in the case of five men accused of plotting an attack on the Army's Fort Dix. The panel finished its first day of deliberations without reaching a verdict. Members asked a judge for transcripts of testimony from government informant Besnik Bakalli, who says the suspects used a trip to Pennsylvania's Pocono Mountains as training for waging a holy war. The suspects face life in prison if they're convicted of the most serious charges, which include conspiracy to kill military personnel and attempted murder. Defense lawyers told jurors their clients - all foreign-born Muslims who lived for years in Cherry Hill - were not seriously planning anything.

Mummers vote to march in Philadelphia on Jan. 1, ask for public's help to pay for event

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - The annual Mummer's Parade in Philadelphia will go on as scheduled Jan. 1, but the groups of costumed performers are asking for the public's help in paying for the
event. The city and the groups have been discussing how to pay for the annual parade amid citywide budget cuts. The city has said it can only contribute $300,000, and organizers say they believe the event will cost at least $347,000 to pay for police and cleanup. The Mummers groups voted in favor of an agreement with the city Wednesday night for a shortened 6 1/2-hour parade that will follow the original parade route down Broad Street past City Hall.
Organizers are appealing to the public to go to to contribute money to defray their costs.

Man sentenced to 16 to 32 years for hammer attack on 4 women in Pa. beauty shop robbery

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. (AP) - A man has been sentenced to 16 to 32 years in prison for attacking four women with a hammer during last year's robbery of an eastern Pennsylvania hair salon.
Thomas Leyshon III, of Mountain Top, apologized to the women, who ranged in age from 58 to 76 years old. Authorities say he beat them while robbing the Hairem Family Hair and Nail Care in Luzerne County in August 2007. As Leyshon was led from the courthouse, he said, "I can't take back what I did. It is what it is." Assistant District Attorney Mike Vough says he has never seen such a crime. He says he is happy with the sentence, but the women are still suffering from the crime.

Feds allege Pa. nail salons used 'modern day slavery' and marriage fraud; 3 faces charges

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Federal authorities say they've broken up a conspiracy that forced Vietnamese people to work in what they're calling "modern day slavery" in Pennsylvania nail salons. The U.S. attorney's office in Harrisburg said Wednesday that three people were charged with conspiracy to commit forced labor trafficking, forced labor and marriage fraud. The defendants are 38-year-old Lynda Dieu Phan and 40-year-old Duc Cao Nguyen, both of New Cumberland; and 35-year-old Justin Phan, a resident of Tennessee. Authorities claim Lynda Dieu Phan recruited victims in Vietnam to work in her nail salons in the York area. They say fraudulent marriages were used to bring the victims into the United States.

Police: 2 arrested for burning down historic covered bridge in northwestern Pennsylvania

ERIE, Pa. (AP) - Two men have been charged with setting fire to a historic covered bridge in northwestern Pennsylvania. The Gudgeonville bridge in Girard Township, Erie County, was
heavily damaged by fire on Nov. 8. The bridge was built in 1868 and is the oldest of three covered bridges still standing in Erie County. Police on Wednesday charged 23-year-old Jeffrey Adam Gleason, of Conneautville, and 21-year-old Joshua Michael Bell, of Albion, with arson, causing or risking a catastrophe and related crimes.

Financially troubled archaeology museum at U. of Pennsylvania may lay off 18 researchers

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - A famed Phliadelphia archaeology museum says it will lay off 18 researchers and try to upgrade its exhibits to attract more visitors and improve its finances.
Several prominent scientists are among those being laid off from the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. But officials say some could keep their jobs if grant
money to cover their salaries is found. Museum director Richard Hodges says the institution's finances are unsustainable, and that it must refurbish its "tired exhibits" and increase income.
The 120-year-old museum has a worldwide reputation for its scholarship and for supporting expeditions, from the tombs of Egypt to the temples of the Mayans to the remains of Babylon, Gordion and Troy. The layoffs were first reported by Penn's student newspaper, The Daily Pennsylvanian.

Artifacts from Martin Luther King, Malcolm X and Muhammad Ali in new history exhibit

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - A new touring black history exhibition opening next year includes artifacts such as a letter from President Lincoln guaranteeing the safety of abolitionist leader
Frederick Douglass. "America I AM: The African American Imprint" will open at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia on Jan. 15, Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday. The show is being presented by TV personality Tavis Smiley and includes more than 200 items from every period of U.S. history. It will travel to nine more cities over the next four years. Other artifacts on display include the key to King's jail cell and the stool on which he sat in Birmingham, Ala., where he composed his famous "Letter From the Birmingham Jail." Also included are Malcolm X's Quran and diary, and Muhammad Ali's robe from the "Rumble in the Jungle." The exhibition also includes the "Doors of No Return," through which Africans trod before boarding slave ships in what is now Ghana.

WASHINGTON (AP) - We'll learn more about how the economy is faring today. The Labor Department is expected to report that new claims for jobless benefits dropped last week, but remain near a 26-year-low. The Conference Board's forecast of economic activity is also due today.

DETROIT (AP) - The Big Three are scaling back some more. Chrysler is closing all its North American manufacturing plants for at least a month. GM is halting construction of a plant involved in producing the Volt and Ford also says it will shut down 10 plants for an extra week in January because of sluggish sales.

NEW YORK (AP) - Attorney General Michael Mukasey is recusing himself from the investigation into Bernard Madoff's alleged $50 billion investment fraud. The AG's son is representing, a top financial officer at Madoff's investment firm.

SINGAPORE (AP) - Oil prices are hovering near 4 1/2-year lows in Asia as persistent investor pessimism over global crude demand outweighed OPEC's largest-ever production cut. Light, sweet crude for January delivery edged up 26 cents to $40.32 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange by midafternoon in Singapore.

LOS ANGELES (AP) - The storm that dumped heavy rain and snow in Southern California is moving out of the region. Still, several roads shut down by the snow remain closed stranding thousands of drivers. And a wind gust caused a helicopter to crash yesterday north of Los Angeles, killing an electrical worker on the ground.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008














Today's News-Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Weather creates havoc

As you wake up this morning, you will need to put the ice scraper to good use from the snow, sleet and freezing rain that fell since late Tuesday. A Winter Weather Advisory remains in effect from the National Weather Service as freezing rain and sleet changes over to plain rain as temperatures move away from freezing. Many of the major roadways are wet, but slushy, and the normal colder spots are making for travel troubles early. Numerous accidents were reported last night on snowy roads. As always, just take your time.

Fire at Pine Grove treatment center

A minor fire kept emergency crews busy in Pine Grove Tuesday night. Crews were called to the Northwestern Human Services building on Tulpehocken Street around 6pm. The fire was contained to one room, according to reports and everyone got out safely from the treatment facility.

Make sure your food gifts are safe for holidays

Whether its Christmas cookies or Aunt Betty's seafood dip, special foods are a big part of the holiday season. A food safety specialist in Penn State's College of Ag Sciences has a few tips to ensure that you spread only holiday cheer. With tightening family budgets, many people are considering giving food as gifts for this holiday season. Penn State food safety specialist Martin Bucknavage explains that, when it comes to avoiding foodborne illness, all holiday delicacies are not created equal:


Bucknavage recommends labeling your food gift clearly so that recipients know what's in it and can avoid problems with food allergies.

PPL restores service

PPL Electric Utilities customers will head into the winter season with electric service. The Allentown based company reports it has reconnected all occupied households, making payment arrangements and offering help where possible to help those who are behind on their bills. The company also reminds customers that other programs, such as LIHEAP, the heating assistance program, are available to help in keeping warm this winter.

Bush to speak in Pa. on national security

CARLISLE, Pa. (AP) - President George W. Bush is going to be in south-central Pennsylvania to talk about national security. Bush is scheduled to speak at 10 a.m. Wednesday at the U.S. Army
War College in Carlisle. Bush will host Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at the White
House on Friday. The Bush administration is trying to keep its Mideast peace initiative alive for President-elect Barack Obama's team.

Jury to begin deliberating Fort Dix case

CAMDEN, N.J. (AP) - A New Jersey jury will begin deliberating Wednesday in the case of five men accused of plotting an attack at the Army's Fort Dix. The case was given to the jury Tuesday evening after 29 days of testimony and arguments. Jurors said they wanted to wait until Wednesday to begin discussing the case. The suspects are all foreign-born Muslim men who lived for years in the Philadelphia suburb of Cherry Hill. They face life in prison if they've convicted on the most serious counts, which include conspiracy to kill military personnel and attempted murder. Their lawyers argue that they were not seriously planning anything and say two paid FBI informants prodded them. In an unusual move, Judge Robert Kugler has sequestered the jury during deliberations.

Police: Lockheed guard fatally shoots worker, self

ARCHBALD, Pa. (AP) - Authorities say a security guard at a Lockheed Martin plant near Scranton fatally shot a plant employee, then killed himself. Authorities say 59-year-old George Zadolnny shot and killed 46-year-old Deborah Bachak at the defense contractor's Archbald
plant Tuesday before taking his own life. No one else was injured. State police Trooper Bill Satkowski says the couple had been dating but that the victim broke off the relationship several weeks ago. Hundreds of employees were evacuated and sent home for the day. Zadolnny was employed by Georgia-based U.S. Security Associates. Lockheed says he was "trained and authorized" to carry a gun as part of his duties. Lockheed employs nearly 600 people at the plant, which makes laser-guided bombs.

Pa. kennel where Joe Biden bought dog is cited

POTTSTOWN, Pa. (AP) - The kennel where Vice President-elect Joe Biden bought a German Shepherd puppy has been cited for records violations several days after he picked out the dog.
State agriculture officials cited the Wolf Den Kennel in Chester County on Dec. 10 for a general record-keeping violation and failure to produce records of rabies vaccinations. Kennel owner Linda Brown says workers cleaning up the night before Biden's visit accidentally threw out the records. Biden spokeswoman Elizabeth Alexander says at the time Biden bought the puppy, the kennel had a 100 percent rating on its last five inspection reports. Brown says she has never been cited before.

Omni Hotels takes over Pa.'s Bedford Springs

BEDFORD, Pa. (AP) - Omni Hotels of Dallas is taking over management of the Bedford Springs Resort in south central Pennsylvania next year. The landmark hotel is about 100 miles southeast of Pittsburgh. The hotel is famed for its mineral springs and for being the summer
White House of President James Buchanan in the 1800s. The hotel fell into disrepair and closed in 1990 before reopening after a $120 million renovation and expansion project in May 2007.
The hotel is now managed by Benchmark Hospitality International. Omni will take over on Jan. 1.

Pennsylvania casinos want larger smoking areas

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Pennsylvania casinos want to expand their smoking areas, with at least one casino saying smokers gamble more than nonsmokers. The state law banning smoking in most public places allows casinos to designate 25 percent of floor space for smokers to play
slot machines. The law took effect in September, but also allowed for a 90-day comment period for casinos to provide revenue figures comparing smoking and nonsmoking areas. Those figures aren't out yet, but David LaTorre, a spokesman for The Meadows near Washington, says machines played by smokers did twice as much business as those played by nonsmokers.
The Meadows wants to increase its smoking area to 50 percent. Presque Isle Downs near Erie and Philadelphia Park also want to increase smoking areas.

Rising number of homes without heat in Pa.

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - The number of homes cut off from their heat-related utility service has risen this winter. The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission said Tuesday that the
number is up to more than 17,700. That's up 5 percent from last winter. A spokesman for the state's gas and electric utilities says the companies have worked painstakingly to get service to everyone. However, the spokesman, Michael Love, says the utility commission survey is inaccurate because it counts households twice where both electric and gas service is off. He also says the number of disconnected households in Philadelphia would be lower, but the state welfare department has been slow to distribute financial assistance to low-income households there.

Suspect wounded after western Pa. bank heist

HOPWOOD, Pa. (AP) - Authorities in western Pennsylvania say a man robbed a bank and was injured during his getaway when he tried to run down officers and was shot at. State police say the suspect left the Parkvale Savings bank in South Union Township in a car with a woman and infant. The man later got into a pickup truck while the woman and baby drove off. Police pulled over the woman based on a description of the car at the bank. She then gave them information about the suspect's vehicle. Police say the suspect was caught Tuesday after a chase and
confrontation in which officers fired at the truck. Police say the suspect is slightly injured, but did not have details. Police did not release his name, nor how he may be related to the woman and infant.

Philly firefighters sue over planned budget cuts

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Philadelphia firefighters have sued the city in an effort to prevent what they call dangerous spending cuts in the fire department. The firefighters union filed separate lawsuits in Common Pleas Court and the state Supreme Court on Tuesday, a day after about
1,500 people marched to City Hall to object to the cuts. Philadelphia officials are facing a huge budget deficit. They expect to save more than $10 million a year by deactivating five engine companies and two ladder companies. No stations would be closed and no firefighters would be laid off, but nearly 150 firefighters could be reassigned. City Solicitor Shelley Smith responded to the lawsuits by saying that firefighters have already "lost the issue" because the city has the right to close fire companies.

Gas drillers may have to pay more in Pa.

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Proposals for a 26-fold increase in the fees that companies must pay to drill into the Marcellus Shale natural gas formation in Pennsylvania are past a first hurdle.
A Pennsylvania environmental review board voted in favor of two sets of regulations Tuesday, although the proposals still need approval from the state's general regulatory review board.
The current fee is $100. The increase would be the first in 24 years. It is motivated by
a rush to drill into the Marcellus Shale, which some industry analysts say could be the nation's biggest gas field. State officials say they will use the money to ensure the drilling meets Pennsylvania's environmental rules and resolve complaints from drilling companies about the bumpy application process.

Missing mother, daughter found in 'good condition'

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) - South Florida authorities say they've found a 35-year-old woman who had hidden her two young daughters in a pit under a beach playground for at least two weeks. Tammy Kong-Kham and one of her daughters were recognized Tuesday by a code enforcement officer in Tamarac. The officer called the Broward Sheriff's Office. The sheriff's office says Kong-Kham and the girl, 8-year-old Kimberly, were found in good condition and will be transferred to Fort Lauderdale Police custody. Police found Kong-Kham's other daughter, 10-year-old Kelley, on Dec. 4 begging for food at a Fort Lauderdale mall. Kong-Kham had been on the run since October when she allegedly took her girls from a Philadelphia foster home. Officials have said she was unfit to care for her children.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Today's News- Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Conferees named to pick 29th Republican candidate Saturday

The following link is a list of people who will serve as conferees chosen to select the Republican candidate to run in the 29th Senatorial district special election March 3.


Lukach is nominee

A Schuylkill County row office holder is the nominee for the Democratic party in the 29th Senatorial District. Clerk of Courts Steve Lukach of Mahanoy City has held that office for more than two decades, and wants to advance his political career by seeking the seat held by the late Senator Jim Rhoades. Lukach explains why he's running:


Republican committee people from the six counties that make up the 29th meet Saturday to choose their nominee from Dave Argall, Christopher Hobbs and Gretchen Sterns. Hobbs and Sterns will appear on Step Up To The Mic on WPPA Wednesday and Thursday.

Wintry mix expected tonight into Wednesday

The afternoon commute may present some travel problems as a mixed bag of precipitation is expected to overspread the area. The National Weather Service has posted a Winter Weather Advisory from this afternoon until tomorrow afternoon, as rain, sleet and freezing rain changes to periods of snow this afternoon, then back to a frozen mix of sleet and freezing rain tonight. Temperatures should fall throughout the day, so take your time as you travel this Tuesday.

Scrooge hits Cressona

State police are looking for the Scrooge who vandalized two locations in Cressona borough. Over the past week, someone used a car to tear up grass at the Cressona Grove, and took Christmas lights off of an evergreen tree at the borough playground. The investigation continues.

Ashland woman suffers minor injuries in crash

An Ashland woman suffered minor injuries in a one vehicle crash Monday in North Manheim Township. 26 year old Heather Sullivan was traveling east on the Adamsdale Road, near the Nutty Pear Restuarant when she lost control on a right hand curve. The SUV hit a utility pole. Sullivan was taken to Schuylkill Medical Center for treatment. Her vehicle was moderately damaged and had to be towed from the scene.

Hegins woman dies from injuries in crash

A Hegins woman has died from injuries she suffered in a crash on Interstate 81 in Pine Grove Township. The original crash happened last week when 31 year old Mary Ellen Clark was driving into a pull off area on I-81. A car driven by 18 year old Robert Olavarria of Olyphant hist Clark's vehicle. A passenger in her vehicle, 55 year old Jennie Clark had to be life flighted to Hershey Medical Center, where she died from her injuries. Two children in Clark's car were not hurt. Olavarria and a passenger were also injured in the crash.

No respite as wintry storms spread over nation

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) - Winter storm warnings are up from New Jersey to Nevada. Frigid temperatures, sleet and snow are spreading to virtually all corners of the nation. The arctic air that blustered across the Midwest and West on Monday is now targeting the East and South.
Snow and sleet warnings are posted for parts of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Illinois, Kansas, Missouri, Wisconsin, Colorado, Utah, Nebraska, Arizona, New Mexico and Nevada. The cold air mass slammed into northern Texas early today,
prompting officials to shutter some overpasses because of treacherous driving conditions. The storm and ensuing cold have been blamed for at least 10 deaths since the weekend.

Gas drillers may have to pay more in Pa.

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - A Pennsylvania environmental review board may give approval to increase gas-drilling permit application fees for the first time in 24 years. A vote on the proposal by the Environmental Quality Board is scheduled Tuesday. The proposal by the state Department of Environmental Protection would mean an average 26-fold increase in the fees to be paid by exploration companies rushing to drill on the Marcellus Shale gas formation.
Department officials say they need to raise the fees to hire dozens more field inspectors to monitor whether drilling companies are obeying state environmental rules. The department estimates that it will bring in another $3 million if the new fee structure is approved.
The current fee is $100.

Pa. school pension fund staff bonuses ending

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Pennsylvania's public school pension fund lost $1.8 billion for the 2007-08 fiscal year. That didn't stop 21 investment staff members from receiving bonus payments totaling more than $854,000. The board of the Public School Employees Retirement System is putting an end to that. Bonuses for the 21 investment staff members for the fiscal year ended June 30 ranged from $9,720 to $106,223. The board says because of market conditions and other factors it is rescinding the practice at the end of December. Gov. Ed Rendell sent system officials a letter saying awarding the bonuses this year would be inappropriate given the fund's performance.

PNC wants receiver to protect homeless shelter

PITTSBURGH (AP) - PNC Bank has begun foreclosing on a Pittsburgh building that houses more than 250 homeless, drug-addicted or mentally ill people. PNC wants an Allegheny County judge to appoint a receiver to protect the residents of Wood Street Commons. A hearing on that
request is set for Friday. The building is the brainchild of Tom Mistick who leads the group who owns the building. He says its financial problems resulted when the county decided to stop leasing office space there in September. Those payments largely financed the building's
maintenance. But county and city redevelopment officials say they had a $4 million plan to pay off the mortgage, but it would require Mistick to sell the building.

Philly firefighters say budget cuts pose threat

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Philadelphia firefighters say proposed fire department spending cuts are a dangerous way to deal with the city budget shortfall. About 1,500 people marched to Philadelphia's City Hall on Monday to object to the cuts. The group included firefighters from
Philadelphia and across the state and supporters including trade union members. Philadelphia officials say they would expect to save more than $10 million a year by deactivating five of the city's 61 engine companies and two of its 29 ladder companies. No stations would be closed and no firefighters would be laid off, but nearly 150 firefighters could be reassigned. Officials say even with the cutbacks, response times would still meet national guidelines.

Closings wrapping up in Fort Dix plot trial

CAMDEN, N.J. (AP) - Four defense lawyers and the government are making their final arguments to the jury Tuesday in the trial of five men accused of plotting to attack soldiers on the Army's Fort Dix. The jury is expected to begin deliberating later Tuesday. On Monday, the government and one defense lawyer talked to jurors to start summations for a trial where testimony lasted 26 days. The suspects are all foreign-born Muslim men who lived for years
in Cherry Hill. They face life in prison if they've convicted on the most serious counts, which include conspiracy to kill military personnel and attempted murder. Their lawyers argue that they were not seriously planning anything and say two paid FBI informants prodded them toward action.

Jail, fines possible under Pitt. new gun law

PITTSBURGH (AP) - Pittsburgh has a new law that would fine or jail gun owners who don't report their gun stolen or missing within 24 hours after they realize it's gone. Mayor Luke Ravenstahl allowed the bill to become law on Monday when he returned it to council without his signature. Ravenstahl says he doesn't believe the measure will be enforceable and that it will be pre-empted by state law. But he says he appreciates the effort to reduce gun violence. Some council members say they realize the measure may be illegal, but they feel they must do something to address a rash of recent gun violence in the city.

Supreme Court won't hear rabbinical murder appeal

PITTSBURGH (AP) - The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to hear the appeal of a Pittsburgh-area man convicted in the murder of a Canadian rabbinical student 22 years ago. Forty-six-year-old Steven Tielsch, of Penn Hills, was convicted in 2002 of third-degree murder at his fourth trial in the April 1986 slaying of 25-year-old Neal Rosenblum of Toronto. Three
earlier juries had deadlocked. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court had previously rejected an appeal claiming prosecutorial misconduct and double jeopardy. Tielsch is serving 10 to 20 years in prison. Prosecutors say Rosenblum was shot because he looked Jewish. Rosenblum was wearing traditional Orthodox Jewish garb when he was shot in Pittsburgh.

Pa. mother pleads guilty in kids' fire deaths

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - A woman has pleaded guilty to criminal homicide and other charges in a house fire near Harrisburg that killed two of her children. Debbie Donachy entered her plea Monday before opening arguments began in the trial of her husband, Ryan Donachy. She has agreed to testify against him. The couple's 1- and 2-year-old children died in the November
2007 fire at their Swatara Township home. Debbie Donachy and their 5-month-old daughter were injured. The home's electricity had been cut off because of an unpaid electric bill, and investigators say a candle in the children's bedroom started the fire. The jury must determine whether Ryan Donachy's actions amounted to murder. The verdict will also apply to his wife under her plea agreement.

Police: Pa. student burned with blowtorch at dance

BIRDSBORO, Pa. (AP) - Police say a 12-year-old Pennsylvania boy burned another boy with a makeshift blowtorch at a school dance. The suspect has been charged as a juvenile with aggravated assault and related offenses following Friday night's incident at Daniel Boone Middle School outside Reading. Authorities say the suspect made the torch with an aerosol can and a lighter. He shot the flames at a 12-year-old boy in the middle of the crowded dance floor.
Police say the victim's eyelashes and nasal passages were singed. He was taken to a hospital for treatment and released Sunday. The suspect has been placed on house arrest and suspended from school.

Teen's miscarriage suit moving against Pa. center

ERIE, Pa. (AP) - A lawsuit by a Pennsylvania woman who miscarried in a juvenile detention center is headed to federal mediation. Deborah McIntosh, who is now 19, is suing Erie County because of the miscarriage she suffered in April 2006 at the Edmund L. Thomas Adolescent Center. McIntosh claims the center's staff did too little when she complained of back pain and other problems while she was about 17 weeks pregnant. McIntosh was at the center waiting for an opening at another shelter specifically for pregnant teens. A federal judge has rejected her claims of cruel and unusual punishment, but says claims that the center otherwise violated her
rights can be mediated in hopes of settling them short of trial.

Son, 9, saw father killed by stray shot at deer

HOOKSTOWN, Pa. (AP) - State police say a 9-year-old boy was present when his father was fatally shot by another member of their deer hunting party in southwestern Pennsylvania.
State police Sgt. Erik Hermick says 21-year-old David Logan was in a group of hunters who were pushing deer toward 35-year-old Duane Smith, of Frankfort Springs, on Saturday afternoon. Police say Logan fired at a deer from more than 40 yards away and the bullet instead hit Smith. Police and the Pennsylvania Game Commission are trying to determine if criminal charges are warranted. Smith died at the scene in a wooded area near his hometown, about 25 miles west of Pittsburgh.

Pa. police say runaway truck trailer killed woman

CANONSBURG, Pa. (AP) - Police and a coroner continue to investigate a crash in which a 36-year-old woman was killed when her car was hit by a runaway trailer that disconnected from a
passing pickup truck. Police are not identifying the driver of the pickup that was towing the trailer that broke loose and killed Michelle Kott of Ellsworth. The Washington County coroner says Kott was driving north on Route 19 in North Strabane Township when the trailer came free from a southbound pickup, jumped the median, and crashed into her windshield shortly before 3 p.m. Monday. Kott's vehicle then struck another truck. A woman and girl in Kott's vehicle are also being treated for injuries that aren't life-threatening.

Pittsburgh offices reopen day after chemical leak

PITTSBURGH (AP) - The Allegheny County Office Building in Pittsburgh reopened a day after chemicals used by the medical examiner's office leaked causing 500 workers to be evacuated.
Hazardous materials crews responded about 6:30 a.m. Monday after workers reported an odor. The building was shut down more than two hours later so the chemicals could be removed. The 55-gallon drum that leaked was one of four awaiting disposal. It contained methanol and chloroform. Chloroform is used to extract DNA from body tissues by the medical examiner's office. Investigators are still trying to determine why the chemicals leaked from the drum.

Pa. National Guard members get free trees

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Some members of the Pennsylvania National Guard are receiving free Christmas trees. The Trees for Troops program sponsored by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, state Christmas tree growers and National Guard presented the free trees Monday at the Farm Show complex. Strathmeyer Forests of Dover donated trees to the Pennsylvania National Guard's 56th Stryker Brigade Combat Team. The team is to send 4,000 troops to Iraq in January, and 2,000 more in March.