Saturday, December 20, 2008

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.


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