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."


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